Red Indians and how to tame them

The Elizabethans’ colonial voyages brought them into contact with a people very different level of civilisation from their own—the ‘Indians’ of the New World, as is illustrated by the account written in More »

Mormons in search of Promised Land, 1846-69

The Mormons have been described as the most systematic, organised, disciplined and successful pioneers in American history. For over 20 years they were one of the main forces driving the settlement of More »

‘Alien’ citizens in the Medieval England

Thousands of foreigners poured into England in the Middle Ages. Similar like today, they have been attracted to England by job opportunities or possibility to study. Finding these everyday immigrants is no easy task. More »

Napoleon Bonaparte’s relatives after he lost power in France

What happened to Napoleon Bonaparte‘s relatives after he lost power in France? They could not stay in France but, perhaps surprisingly, they came to little harm – with the exception of Napoleon’s More »

When and where was the trebuchet invented?

Like many premodern technologies, it is not known when or where the first trebuchet appeared. Unlike ancient artillery, which relied on torsion (twisting) to supply ballistic force, medieval trebuchets utilised a simpler More »

 

When and where was the trebuchet invented?

When and where was the trebuchet invented?

Like many premodern technologies, it is not known when or where the first trebuchet appeared. Unlike ancient artillery, which relied on torsion (twisting) to supply ballistic force, medieval trebuchets utilised a simpler lever action to propel projectiles. Like a seesaw, once one side of the lever was forcefully brought to the ground, by pulling on ropes (traction trebuchets) or a weight (counterweight trebuchets), a projectile – most commonly a stone – was released from a sling attached to the other side. 

Mazzini’s ‘Young Italy’

Mazzini’s ‘Young Italy’

The situation facing the forces of liberalism and nationalism in Italy in 1830 was apparently more hopeless than that facing the same forces in Germany. The German Confederation, however inadequate as a form of national expression, did at least provide a common meeting place for the delegates of the princes; in Italy there was no such confederation, but all the states were totally independent of each other.

Belgian independence

Belgian independence

The union of Holland and Belgium under the Dutch king, William I, in 1815 had been one of the less successful parts of the Vienna settlement. The economic and strategic motives which had seemed to justify the union proved less potent than the religious and cultural sentiments which were offended by it. William I had shown a sympathy for Belgium’s economic needs, but neither he nor his officials could understand the claims of Belgian Catholics nor the enthusiasm of Belgian liberals. That short-lived movement, the liberal Catholicism associated with Lamennais in France, had encouraged a temporary union of liberals and Catholics in Belgium, and the 1830 revolution in Paris infected the citizens of Brussels with its spirit.

The Mfecane 1816-28

The Mfecane 1816-28

The rise of the Zulu empire under its warlike king Shaka (r.1816 -28) sent shock waves throughout southern Africa, triggering mass migrations of refugee peoples. Known as the Mfecane (`to be weak from hunger’), these upheavals completely rearranged the pattern of settlement in southern Africa and left vast areas depopulated. The Zulu belong to the Nguni, the most southerly branch of the Bantu-speaking peoples. As a result of the Mfecane the Nguni are now widespread throughout southern Africa, inhabiting  Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa.

Place to visit: Blenheim Palace

Place to visit: Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace: a magnificent rival to Versailles. Blenheim is only a few miles out of Oxford at the edge of the little town of Woodstock. It was built on land given to John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, by Queen Anne to celebrate his victory over the French at Blenheim in 1704. His success prevented Louis XIV from dominating Continental Europe and, as his descendant Winston Churchill wrote, ‘changed the political axis of the world’. Vanbrugh was commissioned to design a palace suitable for the hero, and £240,000 was voted for it by Parliament.