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 »

 

The changing faces of Santa Claus

The changing faces of Santa Claus

On 23 December 1951, the Catholic clergy at Dijon organised an execution of Santa Claus. An image of him was hanged from the railings of the cathedral and then burned in front of several hundred Sunday School children. Santa Claus arouses strong feelings.

The short history of banishment

The short history of banishment

Even in primitive societies, the threat of exile struck terror into people’s hearts and minds. A savage punishment, it snatched men from their wives and children, so condemning even the innocent who were left behind to a precarious existence. A few who were banished survived the perils of isolation.

The Venerable Bede

The Venerable Bede

Bede was a Northumbrian, born in 673 on the lands of the monastery of St Peter at Wearmouth. At the age of seven, his parents sent him to St Peter’s to begin his education. And there he remained, first as student and then as master, either at Wearmouth or at the twin monastery of St Paul at Jarrow on the river Tyne, till his death in 735 at the then ripe age of 62. 

William Marshal: The archetypal knight

William Marshal: The archetypal knight

A younger son of a minor nobleman who became a notable tourneyer and warrior, a comrade to princes and kings, a powerful landowner and, ultimately, the regent of England and preserver of the Plantagenet dynasty, William Marshal’s career perhaps best typifies the breadth of the world of the knight.

Delphi: The end of the gods

Delphi: The end of the gods

The Apollo of Delphi was the god of black jokes. Herodotus says that Croesus, legendarily wealthy king of Lydia, feared an attack from the envious Persians. He couldn’t decide whether to hold fast or launch a pre-emptive strike, so he sent emmissaries to consult the oracle at Delphi. She said that if he crossed the River halys and attacked with vigour he would  destroy a great nation. He did, in 532 BC, and he did destroy a great nation, his own. His army was annihilated.