Category Archives: MODERN HISTORY

Napoleon: Saint, Sinner or Both?

Napoleon: Saint, Sinner or Both?


Seventy years ago, interned by the Germans in Buchenwald concentration camp, the Dutch professor Peter Geyl tried out on the inmates his view that the place of Napoleon in history should be reconsidered in the light of Hitler’s tyranny. Although Napoleon was not the author of genocide and was wedded to equality and the rights of man, Geyl nevertheless thought that Napoleon was responsible for murder and massacre on a grand scale.

Reform in England, 1820-1850

Reform in England, 1820-1850

The years immediately following the peace settlement of 1815 are known as the restoration era. However, it was impossible to restore the old regime. The revolutionary dreams of individual liberty, rep­resentative government, and national fulfillment had been momen­tarily defeated but not destroyed. Technology had begun the slow but accelerating alteration of economic activity that would in turn trans­form the social and political structure of Europe.

A survival manual for Georgian coutiers

A survival manual for Georgian coutiers

The great drawing room, crammed full of courtiers, lies at the heart of the Georgian royal palace. Here the king mingles most evenings with guests, signalling welcome with a nod, and displeasure with a turned back. The winners and losers of the Georgian era- which runs from 1714 – 1830 with the reigns of Kings George I to IV – can calculate precisely how high they have climbed (or fallen) by the warmth of their reception at court.

The coming of the French Revolution

The coming of the French Revolution

Although it was the American revolution that set the French Revolution vibrating, no two countries could have been less alike than the United States and France in 1789. The one was vast, undeveloped land that offered boundless opportunities to a free and democratically-minded people; the other an ancient, monarchical state shackled by traditions and privileges.

Robert Owen’s social experiment at New Lanark

Robert Owen’s social experiment at New Lanark

One of the Scotland’s great social reformers was a Welshman, Robert Owen, born in 1771. He would have been saddened that such misery still exists. Twenty miles south-east of Glasgow, further up the Clyde, where the river is not the broad, shipbuilding estuary of the great city but a tumbling stream hurtling through narrow, tree-lined gorges, is the scene of the great experiment to make the world a better place.