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 »

 

Hastings: The Battle that Changed the Western Europe

Hastings: The Battle that Changed the Western Europe

The year 1066 is the most celebrated in English history. To every English schoolchild it evokes a Saxon hero, Harold, and a French villain, William, who met and fought at the battle of Hastings. The outcome was decided by an arrow in Harold’s eye. But history is seldom as commonly related. Harold, son of Godwin, was no Saxon and had no claim to the throne beyond Edward’s deathbed blessing. William was no Frenchman but descended from the Norse warrior Rollo, granted Normandy by the French king Charles the Simple in 911. He too had no claim beyond Edward’s apparent, but earlier, blessing. Both Harold and William were of the direct Viking descent.

A Day in Shakespeare’s London

A Day in Shakespeare’s London

If you can’t settle to sleep as usual and find yourself up before the break of day, you may care to venture outside the city where the dust on the roads is already been stirred up by country higglers, burdened with baskets of eggs, herbs, flowers, butter and beans. As they pass by, the unlicensed beggars from the hedgerows are gathering their tatters and trying to bear themselves like honest men as they think how to slip through the city gates, past weary watchmen, to ply their trade on the streets of the capital.

Who was Ada Blackjack?

Who was Ada Blackjack?

On 16th September 1921, four young men, Americans Lorne Knight, Milton Galle, and Fred Maurer; and Allan Crawford, a Canadian, were despatched to the remote, uninhabited Wrangel Island, off the coast of Siberia, in order to claim it as Canadian territory. Accompanying them was one woman – an Iñupiat Inuit named Ada Blackjack, hired as a seamstress. In a dictated statement, printed in Stefansson’s book, Blackjack wrote: “When we got to Wrangel Island, the land looked very large to me, but they said that it was only a small island. I thought at first that I would turn back, but I decided it wouldn’t be fair to the boys. Soon after we arrived I started to sew.”

Medieval horse armour

Medieval horse armour

Such investments needed to be protected, and it is unsurprising that there should be a development in horse armour that parallels that of armour for the knight. It was by no means a total innovation; the late Roman army had used horses wholly covered in mail or lamellar armour for the catapbracti (literally ‘completely enclosed’) or klibanophoroi (meaning ‘camp oven’; a humorous reference to how quickly these fully armoured men and horses would heat up!), both of which were adopted from their Sassanid Persian neighbours who spanned the Middle East between second and seventh centuries. Whilst such armour continued to be used in small numbers in the Byzantine Empire, this practice had died out in Western Europe long before.

Key moments of the American Civil War

Key moments of the American Civil War

Union and Confederate armies clashed close to the Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg in the battle we now know was a defining moment in the American Civil War. At the time of the American revolution it was legal to hold human beings as ‘property’ in all of the British colonies that rebelled. But in the wake of the revolution slavery was abolished in New England and, gradually, in the mid-Atlantic states as well. In the south, though, where most enslaved people were held, abolitionism stalled and slavery expanded rapidly.