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 »

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 »

 

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.

The entertainment in Tudor England

The entertainment in Tudor England

Apart from eating and drinking (and smoking), the Tudors were enthusiastic merrymakers: they liked to entertain and to be entertained. Henry VIII loved not only sport and food, but also music. He played several instruments, including bagpipes, recorders and flutes, and the virginals. His Chapel Royal included dozens of musicians, many of whom used to accompany him wherever he went.  Church music was generally written to be sung unaccompanied, but Henry liked to have trombones to accompany the plainsong of the choir.

First portrait of a criminal published in a British newspaper

First portrait of a criminal published in a British newspaper

On 27th June 1881, 64-years-old coin dealer Isaac Gold was brutally murdered on the 14:00 London to Brighton express train. At preston Park station the ticket collector noticed a man smothered with blood who,on inquiry, claimed he had been attacked by two passengers who had fled. There was no evidence against the man, Percy Mapleton, but he was arrested because police thought he might have attempted suicide (then a criminal offence). Adetective escorted him to his home in Surrey and waited patiently outsidewhile Mapleton went in to change his clothes. Meanwhile Gold’s body had been found beside the railway track, stabbed in the chest and shot in the neck.

Key develoments in the British army in 17th century

Key develoments in the British army in 17th century

In the 1690s the English army’s matchlock musket (slow to load, clumsy to operate at the mercy of the elements) was replaced by a lighter weapon with a more robust firing system known as the flintlock. At the same time the old plug bayonet gave way to a socket version that fitted around the muzzle and enabled the gun to be fired. When allied to the new tactic of fighting three ranks deep and firing rolling volleys by platoons (18 to a battalion), these innovations made the English (later British) infantrymen the dominant factor on the battlefield.

Organised crime in Medieval England

Organised crime in Medieval England

A large sum of money – £4,000 in gold, to be precise – is due to be transferred from London to the king at Leicester, a distance of ninety miles. How many men do you think will be guarding it? Fifty? A hundred? Two hundred? You might be surprised to hear that this massive treasure is to be guarded by just five archers. Your thoughts on this might not differ greatly from those of many criminals in England at the time.