The Obelisks of Ancient Egypt

One of the oldest and most iconic structures of ancient Egypt is the obelisk. A rising tower of stone, it was designed to astound mortals with its height and impress the immortals More »

The baby who provoked a revolution

The birth of a male heir to James II of England made possible a permanent Catholic dynasty. Several Protestants echoed Mary and Anne’s doubts that the baby had been smuggled into the More »

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 »

 

On this day: London’s Great Fire in 1666

On this day: London’s Great Fire in 1666

Thomas Farynor, known in London as the King’s Baker, had a bakery in Pudding Lane, near London Bridge. He needed to keep his ovens at a steady high temperature, so he kept lots of dry wood in his kitchen. At about two o’clock in the morning of Sunday 2nd September, this wood caught fire. Actually, the fire may have been caused by a spark from the oven falling
onto a pile of fuel nearby.

Political-religious struggle in Germany

Political-religious struggle in Germany

As Holy Roman emperor, Charles V felt a deep moral responsibility to protect the universal Church. Despite his political differences with the papacy, particularly Clement VII, he was bound by his conscience as a Christian prince to maintain the religious solidarity of Europe against both infidels and heretics. he recognized that abuses existed and was willing to support reforms that did not alter the basic Catholic dogma. However, when conciliation failed he attempted to crush heresy with all the power at his disposal.

King George III’s illness

King George III’s illness

Recent research has thrown considerable doubt on the claim that King George III suffered from variegate porphyria, but indicates that he suffered recurrent attacks of mania as part of his bipolar disorder. George III’s last episode of ill health occurred during the final decade of his life (1810–20). This has been diagnosed as chronic mania with an element of dementia. During this period the king was blind and possibly deaf, which may have contributed to his psychiatric condition.

Civilising the cannibals

Civilising the cannibals

Western visitors to Fiji in 19th century liked to watch what they ate. Traveller John Erskine, for instance, was suspicious about some ‘pork’ he was offered and threw it away, convinced it was human. Similarly, labour recruiter John Gaggin paid close attention to the cutting up of a pig “to satisfy [himself] it was… not a baked boy or girl”.

William Herschel’s new planet

William Herschel’s new planet

After a drink-fuelled night discussing Homer, the medical student John Keats wrote his famous lines comparing his own wonderment with that of  “some watcher of the skies / When a new planet swims into his ken.” Keats was referring to William Herschel, the astronomer who had enlarged the solar system with a seventh planet, now known as Uranus.