Category Archives: HISTORY

Coffee-houses in 17th century England

Coffee-houses in 17th century England


Coffee was one of the fancy new comestibles introduced to England in Stuart times. The first coffee-house was opened in Oxford in 1650; two years later they began to appear in London, and then elsewhere in the country; by the 1660s they were pretty well established. Customers generally ad to pay a penny for a cup, and the coffee-house was sometimes called the ‘penny university’, reflecting the intellectual stimulation visitors could expect. The habitués were almost entirely male, and fairly well-off. Inevitably, men of various professions and political persuasions came together at particular haunts.

Inside the Third Reich

Inside the Third Reich

For German families living under the threat of mass bombing, many experiences of everyday living were similar to those known in Britain. The blackout was strictly enforced, for example, and people had to get used to finding their way round in the dark, sometimes wearing luminous patches or using feebly glowing torches. Gas masks were issued and German children, like their british counterparts, took furtive delight in blowing rude noises through their rubbery cheek pieces.

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.

History of the game: “Tennis balls, my liege”

History of the game: “Tennis balls, my liege”

The insulting ‘treasure’ that France’s Dauphin sent to Henry V in Shakespeare’s play had long since played its part in French sport. Louis X (1314 – 16) was an enthusiastic player of jeu de paume or ‘game of the palm’ from which modern tennis is derived, and his innovation of an indoor court supplemented the game’s outdoor version.

Book review: July 1914: Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin

Book review: July 1914: Countdown to War by Sean McMeekin
Author: Sean McMeekin
Publisher: Icon Books
Reviewed by: Nigel Jones
Price (RRP): £25

There are two conflicting schools of thought in the historiography of how the Great War – probably the biggest disaster in human history – began.