Born on the remote Caribbean island of Nevis, Alexander Hamilton (1755/7–1804) rose from an impoverished upbringing to become one of the founding fathers of America. Today, he is best known for featuring on the $10 bill in the United States and as
'During the American Revolutionary War (1775-83), Alexander Hamilton became aide-de-camp to George Washington, before gaining military glory at the battle of Yorktown in 1781, a final victory for the American colonies over the British. Alexander Hamilton was a key figure in the ratification of the US constitution and a prolific writer in its defence, and later he served as the first treasury secretary of the United States during Washington’s presidency. He died in 1804 following an infamous duel with sitting vice president Aaron Burr. As the statesman who laid the foundations of the US government’s financial mechanisms and systems, Alexander Hamilton is a hugely important figure in American history; the impact of his political rivalry with Thomas Jefferson is still seen today. Here, Jem Duducu shares seven facts about Alexander Hamilton… 1 Alexander Hamilton was a fighter From virtually the first shots fired in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), Hamilton was a volunteer in the rebel militia. By 1776, he had raised a company of artillery in New York and was elected its captain. At the end of the war he had fought in eight separate battles, seven of them between 1776 and 1778, when he became a lieutenant colonel and aide-de-camp to George Washington. As the war rumbled on, Hamilton became frustrated that he was no longer involved on the front lines. That changed when a reprimand by Washington, which in no way spelled disaster for his military career, was used by Hamilton as an excuse to leave Washington’s personal staff to become a frontline officer again. The decision allowed him to fight alongside French units at the siege of Yorktown in 1781. This battle was to be the final victory of the American rebels and French forces over the British in the American fight for independence. 2 Hamilton’s taxes started a rebellion When George Washington became the first president of the United States, he made Hamilton the country’s first secretary of the treasury. This meant that Hamilton was the man who laid the foundations of the US government’s financial mechanisms and systems, including the establishment of a national bank and the US mint. Ron Chernow on Alexander Hamilton: the man behind the hit musical Why does the United States of America celebrate Independence Day on 4 July? The dark side of Alexander Hamilton All governments need to raise revenues through taxation and, as the revolution had shown, Americans didn’t like paying taxes (who does?). One of Hamilton’s earliest tax targets was whiskey (both domestic and imported), which he saw as preferable to taxing land. But the tax was unpopular from the start, especially in rural America where farmers often produced their own whiskey, and opposition became increasingly fierce. The Whiskey Rebellion lasted for three years from 1791 and forced President George Washington out of military retirement in order to lead troops to quell the uprising. The climax came in July of 1794 at the battle of Bower Hill in Pennsylvania, where hundreds of tax rebels clashed with government troops. Washington and Hamilton both believed that it was imperative to the future of government funding that US troops enforce the government’s authority to collect taxes, and the defeat of the rebellion demonstrated that the government was willing and capable of stopping resistance to the law. Only a handful of people died, but the long, drawn-out affair and its violent climax were due solely to Hamilton’s tax. Tax rebels ‘tar and feather’ a federal tax collector during the Whiskey Rebellion, Pennsylvania, 1794. Hamilton’s tax was unpopular from the start, especially in rural America where farmers often produced their own whiskey, and opposition became increasingly fierce. (Photo by Fotosearch/Getty Images) 3 Hamilton (and the Americans) didn’t always pay their bills The French contribution to the rebel cause during the American Revolution wasn’t just another excuse for the French to annoy the British: the help came at a cost. Therefore, after independence had been achieved, France expected America to pay its bills. As the first secretary of the treasury, Hamilton ensured that America honoured its debt. However, by 1798, two things had changed: firstly, Hamilton was no longer in charge of the treasury; secondly, and more importantly, the French regime that had come to the aid of the rebels had changed. Even after the French monarchy had been overthrown, the United States had continued to pay its debts. Revolutionary France received money from revolutionary America, but by 1798, it had dawned on America that it was honouring a debt that – technically speaking – didn’t exist anymore. Unsurprisingly, the French saw things differently and when the money stopped coming, the so-called Quasi-War followed. This was a period (1798-1800) under the presidency of John Adams, when French and American ships fought unofficial naval battles in the Atlantic. Although he saw no action, Hamilton came out of retirement and was one of the leaders of the American forces during this period of uncertainty and violence. The reality was that France had bigger fish to fry (such as fighting the Royal Navy threat in the Mediterranean) and hostilities had petered out by 1800, when it was Napoleon who wanted to end what had become an annoyance. The conflict came to an end when both sides signed the Convention of 1800. Want to receive our latest podcasts, articles and more via email? Sign up to receive our newsletter! Thanks! Our best wishes for a productive day. Sign me up! Sign up to our free newsletter 4 Hamilton was an intellectual Hamilton was a key contributor to the brand-new Constitution of the United States, but almost as importantly, he initiated a project called ‘The Federalist Papers’. This was a collection of essays to explain and support the provisions of the historic document. During the writing of the Constitution, Hamilton had argued for the president and the senators to have lifetime tenure. This made James Madison, the future president, suspicious of Hamilton, arguing that he was trying to introduce monarchy to the fledgling republic. The debates, while heated, were constructive and as a result, Hamilton signed the final draft and argued eloquently for its implementation. Illustration of four of the United States founding fathers (from left): John Adams, Robert Morris, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson, 1774. (Photo by Stock Montage/Getty Images) Along with laying the foundations of US financial institutions, Hamilton established the Revenue Cutter Service to protect the country’s coasts from smugglers who were thwarting another revenue stream for the government; the service was later to become the United States Coast Guard. Starting all of these from scratch, as well as being a vital contributor to the country’s Constitution, shows a remarkably sharp intelligence. Why does the United States of America celebrate Independence Day on 4 July? American history myths: 7 things people get wrong Alexander Hamilton: the rise and fall and rise of an American founding father American presidents: 9 things you (probably) didn’t know 5 Hamilton was a media mogul So far we have looked only at Hamilton’s astonishing achievements while he was in government, but he kept himself busy in retirement too. In 1801 he managed to secure $10,000 from a group of investors to fund the launch of the New York Evening Post . Although the name has since changed to the New York Post, it is America’s oldest continuously published daily newspaper. Hamilton’s motives in starting the newspaper were not entirely philanthropic, and he used the paper to push his political agenda. In 1804, there were a number of articles attacking vice president Aaron Burr. These regular verbal muggings enraged Burr so much that they led to one of the most bizarre moments in American history… 6 Hamilton unfortunately fought a duel It is not beyond reason to think that the founder and first secretary of the treasury and America’s sitting vice president would be able to have an intelligent conversation about their differences. But that is not what happened in the summer of 1804, when Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. Hamilton himself said he was “strongly opposed to the practice of duelling”, but Burr had no such qualms and seems to have been intent on killing Hamilton. The two men met on 11 July 1804, at Weehawken, New Jersey. Burr fatally wounded Hamilton, but he lived long enough to receive a final communion and died in the presence of his friends and family. Hamilton is buried in the Trinity Churchyard Cemetery in Manhattan. An engraved illustration of the Burr-Hamilton duel in 1804. Burr fatally wounded Hamilton during the incident. (Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images) Meanwhile, Burr was charged with murder in the states of New York and New Jersey, but neither case was heard. The vice president of the United States got away with murder… literally. Unbelievably, this wasn’t Burr’s most controversial moment: shortly after leaving his role as vice president, he was tried for treason. He was said to be the head of a conspiracy whose goal was to create an independent country in the heart of the North American continent and part of present-day Mexico. Burr’s version was that he intended to take possession of a farm of around 40,000 acres in the Texas territory, land that had been released to him by the Spanish crown. Despite no firm evidence, president Thomas Jefferson ordered Burr to be arrested and indicted for treason. While the true intentions of the plan will never be known, Burr was eventually acquitted of the charge, but the accusation of treason, as well as the duel with Hamilton, destroyed his political career. The 5 most notorious presidents in US history A brief history of impeachment and what it means for President Trump 7 Hamilton is on the money The debate about which historic figures should appear on currency is an argument that never pleases everyone. Though Hamilton was undoubtedly a key figure in shaping America and its constitution, and the country’s financial system owes him a huge debt of gratitude, he was not that well remembered in America prior to the hit musical which opened in New York in 2015. He had been on the $10 bill since 1928 but, by the new millennium, this was seen as a rather old-fashioned choice, and the decision was made to replace him with a woman. However, the currency decisions were taking place at the same time as Hamilton the musical was becoming a monster hit. Therefore, in 2016 it was announced that he would remain where he had been and that a woman from American history would appear on the $20 bill instead (bad news for president Andrew Jackson). The creator of ‘Hamilton’ Lin-Manuel Miranda (centre) and other cast members perform on stage during the 58th GRAMMY Awards at the Richard Rodgers Theater in 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage) Alexander Hamilton was a founding father, statesman, veteran, political intellectual, economist and media tycoon. While all of this is impressive, it may seem like none of it screams ‘hit Broadway musical’. But the rest, as they say, is history. Jem Duducu is author of The American Presidents in 100 Facts (Amberley Publishing, 2016). You can find Jem on Twitter and Facebook. This article was first published by History Extra in September 2017'
Born on the remote Caribbean island of Nevis, Alexander Hamilton (1755/7–1804) rose from an impoverished upbringing to become one of the founding fathers of America. Today, he is best known for featuring on the $10 bill in the United States and as
Jane Austen (1775–1817) is one of the most recognised names in English literature. Her six major novels – Pride and Prejudice; Sense and Sensibility; Persuasion; Mansfield Park; Northanger Abbey and Emma – are considered classics today, renowned for
'Jane Austen, a parson’s daughter who grew up in quiet rural Hampshire in the 18th century, is one of England’s most acclaimed novelists. She originally started writing to amuse herself and to entertain her family, who enjoyed reading aloud to each other. Although Jane’s books sold steadily during her lifetime, it was not until the Victorian period that she was recognised as a great author. By the 20th century her reputation had reached cult status and today a thriving commercial industry has grown out of her fame – a fact that would probably have astonished and amused Jane. But did you know… 1 Jane Austen’s life was saved by her cousin In 1783 Jane’s parents, the Revd George Austen and his wife Cassandra, decided to send Jane’s sister, also called Cassandra, to Oxford with her cousin Jane Cooper, to be tutored by a Mrs Ann Cawley. This was probably to reduce Mrs Austen’s workload, for as well as caring for five boys of her own she had to look after several boys who lived at the rectory while being tutored by her husband. What did Jane Austen really look like? The real reason Jane Austen never married Jane Austen: a day in the life Jane, then aged seven, was devoted to her sister and would not be separated from her, so she went to Oxford as well. A few months later Mrs Cawley moved house to Southampton, taking the young girls with her. While there Cassandra and Jane became very ill with what was then called “putrid sore throat” – probably diphtheria [a potentially fatal contagious bacterial infection that mainly affects the nose and throat]. Jane was so ill that she nearly died, but Mrs Cawley, for some inexplicable reason, made no attempt to alert her parents. The young Jane Cooper took it upon herself to write and inform her aunt that Jane’s life was in danger. Without delay Mrs Austen and her sister Mrs Cooper set off for Southampton to rescue their daughters, taking with them a herbal remedy that would supposedly cure the infection. The Austen sisters recovered under their mother’s care at home but tragically Mrs Cooper caught the infection and died soon afterwards at her home in Bath. The three girls never returned to Mrs Cawley. Without her cousin’s timely intervention Jane Austen would almost certainly have died and the world would have been deprived of her outstanding talent. Want to receive our latest podcasts, articles and more via email? Sign up to receive our newsletter! Thanks! Our best wishes for a productive day. Sign me up! Sign up to our free newsletter 2 Jane Austen had a little-known brother The first biography of Jane Austen, which was written by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh in 1869, gives the impression that she had only five brothers: James, Edward, Henry, Frank and Charles. There were, however, six sons in the Austen family – George was the second child of Revd Austen and his wife. He was also largely omitted from family memoirs. George, who was born in 1766, suffered from epilepsy and learning difficulties and was probably deaf too. For this reason he did not live with his family – he was instead looked after by a family who lived in the village of Monk Sherborne, not far from Steventon Rectory where Jane was born and where she grew up. The Austens made financial provision for George and visited him regularly, but he was not truly part of their lives. Apart from a few early letters that mention George and reveal his parents’ concern for him, he was not mentioned in later correspondence or in any of Jane’s letters. The Austens clearly cared about George and they perhaps felt that he would better receive the attention he needed living quietly with another family than in the overcrowded rectory, which was also home to several of Revd Austen’s pupils. George died at Monk Sherborne on 17 January 1838 at the age of 71. He lies in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of All Saints Church. Romance and reality in Jane Austen’s world Top 5 Jane Austen recipes Should we rewrite Jane Austen’s novels? 3 Jane Austen was partial to a Bath bun Jane became fond of Bath buns (or ‘bunns’) while staying, and later living, in Bath. These large, rich cakes, which were similar to French brioche bread, were served warm and soaked in butter. The Austen family ate theirs for breakfast (traditionally 10am in the Georgian period), with tea or coffee. Some bakeries, including the famous Sally Lunn’s Bakery in North Parade, delivered these buns to their customers warmed and ready to eat. Jane, who seems to have had a sweet tooth, also liked sponge cake – in a letter to her sister in June 1808 she wrote: “You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge-cake is to me”. There are many references to food and meals in Jane’s letters. She clearly enjoyed her food but she also took an interest in it because she helped her mother and sister to run the Austen household on a tight budget. Jane noted the cost of food items, which rose and fell during the years that England was at war with France, and she collected recipes for the servants to try. Bath bun. (Photo by Richard Hancock/Alamy Stock Photo) 4 Jane had a seaside romance All her heroines fell in love with and married their perfect man, but Jane Austen was not so lucky herself – she received only one known offer of marriage. This unexpected proposal came from Harris Bigg Wither, the brother of her friends Elizabeth, Catherine and Alethea, who was heir to a considerable estate. At first Jane accepted this tempting offer but soon changed her mind because she knew she would not be happy if she married a man she did not love. Many years after Jane’s death her sister Cassandra revealed that Jane had enjoyed a brief holiday romance while staying in Devon in the summer of 1802. The identity of the man concerned is not known, but it is believed that he was a clergyman. The girls’ nephew James Edward wrote that Cassandra thought this man “worthy to possess and likely to win her sister’s love”. When they parted he expressed his intention to see Jane again, and Cassandra was in no doubt that he intended to propose to her. Sadly, though, they did not meet again because the unidentified man died suddenly not long afterwards, and Jane remained unmarried for the rest of her life. If Jane had married the man she met in Devon and become a mother, the demands on her time would probably have made it very difficult for her to continue writing, meaning her last three novels might never have been written. 5 Jane Austen was renowned for her manual dexterity According to her nephew, Jane Austen was “successful in everything she attempted with her fingers”. All girls of her class were taught to sew by their mothers, and Jane’s needlework was exquisite. Jane, who was usually very modest, was proud of her skill with the sewing needle. In a letter to her sister written in September 1796 from her brother’s home, Jane wrote: “We are very busy making Edward’s shirts and I am proud to say that I am the neatest worker of the party”. Jane was particularly good at folding and sealing letters, which was a useful skill in the days before ready-made envelopes. Her nephew recorded that “her paper was sure to take the right folds, her sealing wax to drop into the right place”. Much to the delight of her nephews and nieces, Jane excelled at the game bilbocatch. A bilbocatch comprised a wooden handle with a pierced ball attached by a string . The player tossed up the ball and tried to catch it in a cup on the top of the handle. She was known to have caught the ball more than 100 times in succession, until her arm ached. When she needed to rest her eyes after reading or writing for long periods, she often played bilbocatch; how many times might she have caught the ball during the writing of the 55 chapters of Emma (1815), her longest novel? Jane Austen’s bilbocatch can today be seen at the Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire. 6 Jane Austen thought of her novels as children In letters to her sister, Jane described Pride and Prejudice (1813) as her “darling child” and wrote “I am never too busy to think of S & S ( Sense and Sensibility ). I can no more forget it than a mother can forget her sucking child”. This is an interesting analogy because, like pregnancy and childbirth, the creation of her novels was a long and laborious process. Pride and Prejudice , for example, was a long time in the making – she started the first draft in October 1796 but the book wasn’t published until January 1813. The (unread) manuscript was rejected by the first publisher to whom it was sent. In regarding her novels as her children Jane may also have been acknowledging that if she had followed the traditional path of women of her class and become a wife and mother she would probably not have written them. Her letters contain no indication that she regretted not having children but, if she did, at least she had the compensation of her many nephews and nieces, to whom she was a devoted and much-loved aunt. ‘Sense and Sensibility’ by Jane Austen – Lady Middleton’s son is shy before company. First published in 1896, Chapter VI. Illustration by Hugh Thomson (1860-1920), 1896. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images) 7 Emma was dedicated to the Prince Regent, even though Jane Austen hated him Jane once recorded in a letter that she hated the Prince Regent because of the unkind way he was said to treat his estranged wife, Caroline, such as restricting her access to their daughter. So why did she dedicate Emma to him? In the autumn of 1815 Jane nursed her brother Henry when he was dangerously ill. One of the doctors who attended him at his home in London was the Prince Regent’s physician. When he realised that his patient’s sister was the author of Pride and Prejudice the physician informed her that the prince was a great admirer of her novels and kept a set in every one of his residences. Much to Jane’s dismay the physician then informed the prince that she was in London, and the prince instructed his librarian, James Clarke, to invite her to Carlton House, his London home, to show her the library and his other apartments. During her visit Mr Clarke told Jane that he had been instructed by the Prince Regent to say that she was at liberty to dedicate any forthcoming novels to him. At first Jane was not inclined to do so, until she was advised, probably by her brother Henry, to regard the invitation as a command. Reluctantly, therefore, Jane asked her publisher to dedicate Emma , then being prepared for publication, to him. Austen’s influences: Lucy Worsley on the author’s life and work From Austen & Brontë to Woolf: literature’s forgotten female friendships Jane Austen’s fiction: an accurate portrayal of life in Georgian England? 8 There is no mention on Jane Austen’s gravestone that she was an author Jane is today known as such a famous author that she is to feature on the next £10 note, but there is no indication at all on her gravestone in Winchester Cathedral that she was a writer. Her grieving family did not consider it worth recording on the stone, and Jane was buried in the cathedral only because she died nearby and it is believed that her clergyman brother obtained special permission from the Dean. Jane’s reputation grew slowly after her death at the age of 41. Her nephew, in his biography, wrote: “Her reward was not to be the quick return of the cornfield, but the slow growth of the tree which is to endure to another generation”. Jane Austen’s gravestone in Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire, England. (Photo by Peter Barritt/Alamy Stock Photo) Even in the middle of the 19th century, when Jane’s fame and popularity as an author were increasing rapidly, one of the vergers of Winchester Cathedral was mystified by the large number of people seeking out her grave. “Was there anything special about this lady?” he asked. A brass memorial tablet, which mentions Jane’s writing, was placed on the wall near her grave in 1872. It was purchased with the profits of her nephew’s biography of her, which he wrote to satisfy the growing curiosity about her life and work. There was such a demand for it that a second, extended, edition was soon published. This was to be the first of countless biographies and books about one of England’s best-loved novelists. Helen Amy is the author of The Jane Austen Files: A Complete Anthology of Letters & Family Recollections (Amberley Publishing, 2015) and Jane Austen: In Her Own Words and The Words of Those Who Knew Her (Amberley Publishing, 2014). This article was first published on History Extra in March 2016'
Martin Johnes considers how history has impacted on the construction of Welsh national identity
'In the early 1980s the approaching 700th anniversary of the conquest of Wales raised awkward questions about how it should be commemorated. In Ruthin, plans to celebrate the awarding of the town’s 1282 charter by Edward I caused an outcry, with one councillor arguing that a “lot of people think we are celebrating the death of a nation”. After a public meeting, it was decided that there should be a celebration of the town’s general history rather than the awarding of its charter by a conquering English king. In contrast, the Welsh Tourist Board decided to hold a festival to celebrate the building of castles around north Wales. The fact that these were symbols of foreign conquest meant the plans annoyed nationalists – especially when one of the associated slogans reversed historical fact to declare: “Wales is a country worth defending. That’s why we have so many castles”. Across Europe history has played an important role in sustaining and even inventing a sense of national identity. As 19th-century Germany and Italy demonstrate, a selective reading of the past can offer a powerful source of stories and pride that can overcome contemporary divisions. That was not so straightforward in Wales, where too many heroes from Welsh history were figures of defeat rather than victory. As one historian put it in 1950: “Those who seek flame-bearers of Welsh nationhood are apt to burn their fingers.” Wales simply did not have a golden age like the Romans, or even a leader on a par with William Wallace, though a case could be made for Owain Glyndŵr. Owain Glyndwr: The last Welsh Prince of Wales Bleddyn ap Cynfyn: the first Prince of Wales? History explorer: the conquest of Wales That did not mean that some people did not try to employ history to promote the idea of Welsh nationhood. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, romantics in and outside Wales had used the Celts and druids to build a picture of the Welsh as a mysterious and poetic people, the true ancient Britons. By the late Victorian period that seemed out of place in an era of modernity, and history was rewritten to stress the devoutness and cultural achievements of the Welsh. As the mock-medieval investiture of the future Edward VIII as Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle in 1911 showed, even the symbols of conquest were recast to declare Wales as a partner rather than a subject of England. What people in 19th- and early 20th-century Wales knew about their collective history was a different matter. There was certainly a strong sense of genealogy in rural areas and many ordinary people were as proud of their roots as any aristocratic family. Matthew Arnold, a Victorian professor of poetry at Oxford, claimed that everywhere in Wales had its own traditions and that the Welsh people knew and clung to this living past. How this attachment came together to form a sense of national awareness was less certain. Many people, especially in industrial areas, were ambivalent, sometimes even embarrassed, about their Welshness. For every patriotic Welshman or woman there were others who saw their nation as a stigma, an unwanted hangover from the past that should be cast aside. 16 things you (probably) didn’t know about St David’s Day traditions My history hero: Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan (1897–1960) “The anglocentric view we have of British history is unsustainable,” says Misha Glenny Teaching Welsh history The establishment of compulsory education in the late 19th century could have changed that, but before the Second World War school history lessons more often than not focused on celebrating British rather than Welsh nationhood. Yet, despite later claims that Welsh children were kept ignorant of their history, this was not true everywhere. The poet Dannie Abse, born in 1923, remembers being taught at his Cardiff school that Owain Glyndŵr had rebelled in defence of justice and liberty and was in the heart and soul of every true Welshman.After the Second World War such patriotic teaching gained official support. In 1952 the Welsh department of the Ministry of Education issued a report which called for more teaching of Welsh history in the belief this would contribute to the survival of the Welsh nation. The teaching of Welsh history may have grown in the 1950s to 1970s but it was not always popular. One Wrexham man remembered being “force-fed” Welsh history at school in the 1940s and early 1950s: “Yet it had seemed so impossible to disentangle, so difficult to absorb, what with all those names of squabbling Welsh princes, [and] long-vanished principalities.” In 1959 in Flintshire the director of education was condemned for promoting Welsh history. “They fear that you are creating in the mind of a child an awareness that there is such a concept as the Welsh nation,” he said of his critics. Gwynfor Evans, president of Plaid Cymru from 1945 to 1981, wrote his own history of Wales, a tale of English oppression and a glorious linguistic heritage – a story not always too concerned with historical complexities. Such tales of the survival of Wales against the odds may have been more propaganda than pure history but they helped inspire a new generation of activists who were even willing to go to prison in the name of their nation. One such figure was Dafydd Iwan who wrote the popular song Yma o Hyd (Still Here), another questionable account of the past but one that demonstrated the appeal of a simple historical message. By the 1970s the focus of Welsh history was beginning to look beyond medieval princes and the questions of culture and language that had been deemed central to promoting Welsh identity. The closure of collieries and other industrial works was creating a sense that a certain kind of Welsh community was in retreat. This brought a greater interest in industrial, social and political history and a realisation that it was as much a part of Welsh history as medieval principalities. Rethinking Welshness Not everyone welcomed this new turn in Welsh history. To some nationalists, industrialisation was associated with Anglicisation and the undermining rather than the building of a nation. It was, for example, the late 1980s before the Welsh Folk Museum (now St Fagans National History Museum) embraced industrial history by erecting a row of miners’ cottages. Television was quicker to take to this wider understanding of the Welsh past. Two series were particularly important. The BBC’s Wales! Wales? (1984) placed industrial south Wales centre stage and emphasised how Wales meant different things to different people. HTV’s The Dragon has Two Tongues (1985), meanwhile, emphasised not just the plurality of the Welsh experience but how it could be interpreted in conflicting ways. Both shows made significant impacts, and historical debate seemed to be moving out of the classroom and into the pubs and living rooms of Wales. The reclaiming of the history of the industrial working class as a central element in the Welsh past was an important part of that working class rethinking its Welshness. Being Welsh was losing its associations with a restrictive old-fashioned Nonconformist culture. Its newly stressed plurality allowed a greater part of the Welsh population to see Wales as something to be proud of and maybe even something with a political significance. This was a slow process but, alongside the alienation many felt with Thatcherism and de-industrialisation, there was enough of a politicisation of Welshness among the working class to transform the resounding ‘No’ vote in the 1979 devolution referendum to a narrow ‘Yes’ in the 1997 re-run. Quite what role the growing awareness and rewriting of Welsh history played in that process is open to debate but the research of political scientists certainly pointed to the crucial swing coming in the industrial south, precisely the place that had been written into Welsh history. A new history of Wales on the BBC, The Story of Wales , has ambitions of encouraging debate and kindling interest rather than simply depicting the nation’s past. The internet now means that opportunities for people to engage with, instead of simply consuming, narratives of history are unprecedented. Yet perhaps the sense of urgency Welsh historians once had in wanting to tell their stories to wider audiences has faded. Welsh nationhood no longer seems so controversial and fewer people are denying their nationality. Wales does not seem in any danger of perishing in the near future. Crucially, since devolution, Welsh nationhood is no longer so dependent on the past. It is no more a nation that has to look backwards to see that it exists. Yet the fact that a political state of sorts has come about at all owes much to the perspectives people have drawn from Wales’s history, even if their reading of that history was sometimes rather selective. Martin Johnes is head of history at Swansea University and the author of Wales Since 1939 (Manchester University Press, 2012) This article was first published in the January 2012 issue of BBC History Magazine'
Forty years ago, Iran’s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled Tehran – and 2,500 years of monarchy ended, to be replaced by an Islamic republic. Here, Ali Ansari examines the causes and legacy of the Iranian Revolution of 1979
'On 5 November 1978, a weary Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shahanshah (‘King of Kings’) of Iran and Aryamehr (‘Light of the Aryans’), sat uncomfortably behind his desk at Niavaran Palace in Tehran in preparation for an impromptu television broadcast to the nation. After months of mounting protests against his rule, some of his officials had determined that it was time to make a decisive break with the past. The shah should take control of events, they suggested, placing himself at the head of this ‘revolutionary’ movement. Six days that shook the Middle East History under attack: the destruction of antiquities in the Middle East Film rushes of this moment show a monarch, clearly uneasy with the situation, being handed a script with barely time to scan it. Haltingly, he read out the prepared statement acknowledging his past mistakes. In a particularly striking passage, he proclaimed to his somewhat bewildered subjects that he had “heard the voice of your revolution”. The broadcast proved to be a turning point in the history of Iran – but not in the way the shah and his supporters had hoped. Far from presenting a sense of strong leadership, the shah appeared not only to waver but to also confirm that the country was indeed in the throes of a revolutionary upheaval. People who had hitherto been uncommitted now made preparations for the future. And that future did not include the shah – who was to be the last of the monarchs who had ruled this land for some two and a half millennia. Dream of progress The year 1978 had begun on an upbeat note for Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. US president Jimmy Carter, on his way home from a summit in Poland, had called in to spend New Year’s Eve with the shah. British sources regarded the visit as a great triumph for the shah, and an indication of the international esteem in which he was held. Carter went even further in his toast at the New Year dinner, praising the shah’s leadership and referring to Iran as “an island of stability” in an otherwise troubled region. The shah had reasons to be cheerful, reinforcing the sense of complacency that had come to define the previous few years of his rule. Buttressed by enormous oil wealth – Iran’s revenues had increased enormously after Middle Eastern oil producers vastly hiked prices in December 1973 – he had spent much of the 1970s pursuing his dream of the ‘Great Civilisation’, a sort of welfare state on steroids. The shah envisaged a state that, by the turn of the millennium, would care for its citizens from cradle to grave, allowing Iran to take its place among the top five global powers. The speed with which he hoped to achieve this goal was at least partly motivated by an early diagnosis of cancer, which had reinforced his sense of mortality and fatalism. Few were aware of that diagnosis, instead ascribing the urgency to hubris; regardless, it is certainly true that the shah’s impatience for progress led to a series of politically inept decisions intended to circumvent the last vestiges of constitutional monarchy and place even more power in his own hands. American approval: US president Jimmy Carter and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi share a toast at New Year 1978. The American leader called Iran “an island of stability”. (Photo by Jean-Claude Deutsch/Paris Match via Getty Images) The decision to abolish what Mohammad Reza Pahlavi referred to as the “tiresome” two-party system and replace it with a single-party state might have been considered a sensible rationalisation; after all, everyone knew that the two separate parties existed only for cosmetic purposes. However, the shah’s proclamation that everyone should join his Rastakhiz (Resurgence) Party or leave the country did little to enhance his reputation among the very people who might have endorsed his reforms. Similarly, his decision to abruptly change the official calendar to an imperial system dating to the accession of Cyrus the Great in 559 BC displayed the worst kind of tunnel vision that rendered him blithely ignorant of a political hinterland that was becoming increasingly restive. The shah was clearly much more interested in articulating his ‘vision’ and in the dynamics of international politics. His ministers, seemingly overawed by the adulation he received from foreign leaders, were disinclined to provide him with the details of domestic politics that did not conform to his lofty ambitions. The consequence was a dangerous regress into sycophancy; one courtier later told the shah that, whereas officials were scared of telling his father a lie, they had been scared of telling him the truth. Such was the atmosphere at the start of 1978. The shah began the year urging his minister of information to deal with Ayatollah Khomeini, a particularly troublesome Shia cleric who had been preaching in increasingly robust terms against the shah. Khomeini was the ostensible leader of the religious opposition to the shah, and had been sent into exile in Iraq after an especially abrasive speech in 1964. Yet his appeal was not merely based on religion, and he was careful to cultivate the loyalty of Iran’s burgeoning student population – a constituency that should have naturally leaned towards the shah and his vision. Khomeini appealed to both left-wing and religious dissidents, and made pointed attacks on the character of the shah Although the shah, convinced that his son should inherit a more consultative system with a functioning constitution, had begun to toy with a measure of liberalism, he held back from engaging with the serious political reform the country needed. Indeed, the imposition of the one-party state seemed to be a move in the wrong direction. Students, bereft of avenues through which to engage in politics, increasingly allied themselves to the underground politics of the left or to the politics of religion. That latter move, towards Islam, appeared to bother the shah less, because he considered his primary foe to be communism. Yet the shah’s officials, recognising Khomeini’s genius in appealing to both left-wing and religious dissidents along with his pointed attacks on the character of the shah, realised finally that the situation needed to be addressed. Attack on the Ayatollah On 8 January 1978, a scurrilous anonymous article was published in the newspaper Ettelaat. It seemed relatively innocuous at the time, but historians now think it may have been the firing of the starting gun of the revolution. The article, which attacked Khomeini and described his character in deeply unflattering terms, sparked a series of demonstrations – encounters for which the regime was not ready. Iran’s security forces were not prepared for civil disturbances, and lacked the equipment to deal with mass protests. As a consequence, the military was deployed – with the kind of results that often ensue when soldiers are asked to perform a policing role for which they are ill-suited: demonstrations in many cities turned to violence, and a number of protesters were killed. This led to political paralysis and the unravelling of a government machinery overly dependent on decisions from the top. Michael Wood… on radical Islamism Why Islam crushed the crusaders Even so, until the summer of 1978 few people took the demonstrations seriously; still fewer considered them a threat to the regime. Diplomats, somewhat naively, urged the shah to handle these protests with a light touch, arguing that they were the natural consequence of his admirable decision to ‘liberalise’. The British ambassador Sir Anthony Parsons later conceded that the relaxed approach was partly dictated by the fact that the shah’s problems seemed to be the envy of Arab rulers. Indeed, in contrast to other Arab states of a similar size and population, Iran was generously endowed with resources and a growing economy that, for all its flaws, held great promise for the future. It was clear the shah was losing control, not least because he appeared unwilling to make any decisions By autumn, though, it was clear that the shah was losing control of the situation, not least because he appeared unwilling to take any decisions. A belated attempt to impose martial law resulted in serious bloodletting: more than 80 protesters were killed by troops in Tehran, most of them in Jaleh Square, on ‘Black Friday’ 8 September. This event appears to have been a psychological turning point for the shah who, for all his dictatorial pretensions, found himself ill-suited for that role. As he later said, a dictator might shoot his people, but “a sovereign may not save his throne by shedding his compatriots’ blood”. At this point he appeared to be genuinely bewildered by the dawning realisation that large sections of the population might not hold him in strong affection, and became gripped by paralysis. Contingency plans were made at alarming speed by people in Iran and farther afield. Those Iranians who might have been considered the shah’s natural constituency prepared to move abroad or made pledges of loyalty to the opposition. Western governments, meanwhile, began preparations for a political transition, accelerating the pace of the now inevitable unravelling of the shah’s regime. On 16 January 1979 Mohammad Reza Pahlavi departed, initially to Egypt, ostensibly for a holiday. It was an enforced absence that effectively rendered useless the final pillar of the regime – the army. And by February, Khomeini had returned to the country, to a rapturous reception. The midwife of Islam Elizabethan England’s relationship with the Islamic world This twofold turn of events provoked widespread disbelief. The shock spread to the triumphant revolutionaries, who could not believe the speed of the transformation and, arguably, the relatively low cost of that victory. Claims that martyrs of the revolution numbered up to 70,000 were hyperbole; thanks to the shah’s unwillingness to shed the blood of his people, in the year preceding his departure 2,781 deaths were recorded. The real reckoning occurred only after his departure, when the revolution turned on itself. Fragmentation and fracture The Iranian revolutionary Ebrahim Yazdi liked to comment that the real leader of the Islamic Revolution was, in fact, the shah, because only he was able to unite the disparate groups into a single opposition. Once he had departed the scene, that focus was removed – with devastating results. Khomeini, now Iran’s titular leader, found himself buffeted by competing forces aligned with the religious right and the populist left. A third group, the secular nationalists, found themselves squeezed out in the bloody struggle that was to follow. Indeed, 1979’s ‘Spring of Freedom’ proved all too brief, and the left succumbed in a bitter and bloody struggle against Islamist forces determined to seize control of the revolution. Having abolished the monarchy through referendum, a new constitution was drafted, marrying elements of the French Fifth Republic with a theocratic structure developed by Khomeini that saw the entire system supervised – and, in practice, dictated – by a supreme ‘religious jurist’: Khomeini. This attempt to weld western and Islamic ideas in the form of an ‘Islamic Republic’ was to prove contentious and unwieldy, but survived largely because of the charismatic Khomeini’s hold over his followers. March against the veil: Women demonstrate against the new Islamic Republic’s compulsory hijab ruling in Tehran in March 1979. More than 100,000 took to the streets to protest against strict new edicts, one of which required all women to wear a headscarf to cover their heads in public. (Photo by Getty Images) Two fractures in international relations – one self-inflicted, the other imposed – also served to shore up a tenuous stability. First, Khomeini approved the seizure on 4 November 1979 of the US embassy by armed Iranian students. The justification given was that the Americans, having admitted the ailing shah into the United States for cancer treatment, were intent on repeating the 1953 coup that had toppled the nationalist prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq. The occupation of the embassy was intended to be a temporary protest. Instead, it became a protracted 444-day exercise in hostage-taking that transformed an already fraught relationship into one of growing enmity. Then, in September 1980, Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein launched an opportunistic invasion of Iran – an action that the international community, still reeling from the occupation of the US embassy, could not bring itself to condemn. Hostage crisis: Blindfolded American hostages, among 66 taken as Iranian students seized the US embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979, beginning 444 days of occupation. The last of the hostages were released on 20 January 1981. (Photo by Getty Images) Shadow of the revolution The eight-year war with Iraq and the growing antipathy with the United States had a profound effect on the direction of the revolution and the Islamic Republic it spawned. They created an acute sense of ongoing crisis that the political settlement, marred by inconsistencies and contradictions, did little to assuage. For all its democratic pretensions, the Islamic Republic remained stubbornly authoritarian, as the office of the Supreme Leader – as the religious jurist became known – gradually grew in size and took on the characteristics of the monarchy it had replaced. Britain and Islam: a matter of faith The (forgotten) Iraq war Ayatollah Khomeini died on 3 June 1989, under a year after the end of the war with Iraq. One of his immediate legacies was another international crisis: on 14 February 1989 he issued a fatwa on British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie for alleged blasphemy in his book The Satanic Verses. Khomeini’s successors have been fighting over his legacy ever since but, given a choice between tackling the serious structural problems still facing the country and being diverted by a foreign crisis, they seem all too willing to lean towards the latter. In this, they have been well served by successive US administrations. The revolutionary elite have become so preoccupied with their continuing confrontation with the United States that they have neglected urgent domestic problems such as the economy and the environment, at great long-term cost to the stability of the Islamic Republic. Iran’s Islamic Revolution has cast a long shadow. Not only were the geopolitics of the Middle East transformed and political Islamism thrust uncompromisingly into the lime-light, but the dramatic fall of the shah also had a profound effect on a generation of developing-world leaders. This became all too apparent when, during the Arab Spring of 2010–12, a number of Middle Eastern autocrats wondered whether they, too, might go the way of Iran’s monarch. In that febrile atmosphere, Russian president Vladimir Putin saw an opportunity to show regional allies – notably Bashar al-Assad of Syria – that, unlike the US, the Russians can be relied on. The impact of all this has been so profound that 1979, rather than 1989, might be considered the truly transformative year of our modern age. Ali Ansari is professor of history at the University of St Andrews, and author of Iran: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2014). This article was first published in the February/March 2019 issue of BBC World Histories Magazine'
The British royal family has owned many dog breeds over the centuries, with Henry VIII, Queen Victoria and Edward VII all proving that 'man's best friend' is actually a monarch's too. But which dogs from history are the most famous?
'Here, Emma White, author of A History of Britain in 100 Dogs , highlights just a few of the brave, loyal and friendly canine companions who stand out in British history… 1 Friend, the brave sea rescuer William Phillips, a wealthy businessman from London, was bathing in the sea at Portsmouth in 1789 when he got into difficulty, and although a man tried to save him, he was unable to be reached. Two unscrupulous men nearby with a boat were called upon to help but they refused to do so without payment. Luckily for Phillips, a Newfoundland dog was on the shore nearby and heard the commotion, and pulled him to shore by his bathing cap. Phillips subsequently purchased the dog, who he named Friend, and decided to create a coat of arms dedicated to the loyalty of his companion, which he displayed on his cutlery and other items. Animals at war: 12 amazing pictures Queen Victoria’s pets and animals 2 Boye, the Cavalier’s fighting mascot During the Civil War the Royalists, also known as Cavaliers, had a secret weapon that sent fear through the ranks of the Parliamentarians (Roundheads): a white poodle named Boye. Prince Rupert, who led the cavalry of the Cavaliers, had spent time in confinement after he was captured by his enemy during the Thirty Years’ War and was given a dog to keep him company. Soon the dog, named Boye, was permanently near his master’s side – even in battle. Boye the dog killed at the battle of Marston Moor, 1644. (Photo by Chronicle/Alamy Stock Photo) The men found Boye to be a huge asset, as he was clearly visible and could be used as a rallying point because he was sure to be near his master at all times. To the enemy, meanwhile, Boye was considered to be an agent of the devil who had magical powers to sneak into the Parliamentarian camp at night and discover information. Unfortunately, Boye therefore became a target for the enemy and on Marston Moor Prince Rupert lost not only the battle but his companion as well, who was undoubtedly killed by his opponents. 3 General Howe’s prisoner of war In October 1777, during the American War of Independence, General Howe and General Washington faced each other at Germantown. The battle was considered a narrow victory for the British and afterwards a terrier-type dog was found by the American lines and handed over to General Washington. The dog was found to have his owner’s name in his collar – that of General Howe, the British commander. All sorts of ideas were passed around as to how the men could take advantage of their hostage. However, Washington – a dog-owner himself – was steadfast in deciding the dog would be returned unharmed to Howe, along with a note with compliments from Washington. Even in the midst of war, Washington was unwilling to part master and pet. Sergeant Stubby of the First World War: the heroic story of America’s most decorated war dog 10 famous people in history and their bizarre pets 4 Boatswain, Lord Byron’s Newfoundland So devoted was Lord Byron to his Newfoundland, Boatswain, that when the dog died he erected a memorial at his home at Newstead Abbey in Nottingham where he was buried. In 1808 Boatswain had been bitten in a nearby village and contracted rabies. Byron reported in his letters to have nursed him without realising what was afflicting his faithful companion. 5 Nipper, the naughty dog who sold records From the Andrex puppy to the Old English sheepdog synonymous with Dulux paint, dogs have pride of place in many a modern-day advertisement. A much older example of a dog used to help advertise products is Nipper, appropriately named because he used to nip people’s legs. More than 100 years ago, Nipper was painted listening to records of his master speaking on a phonograph. After updating the record machine in the original painting (by his master’s brother) and renaming it ‘His Master’s Voice’, the painting was sold and has appeared as advertising for various companies, most recently HMV. HMV dog, 1951. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images) Nipper lived in Kingston-upon-Thames and when he died in 1895 he was laid to rest in a small park in Clarence Street. A bank now sits on the site, but inside it a plaque can be found and a small street nearby is named Nipper Alley in his memory. 6 Dash and other right royal dogs British monarchs through history have taken dogs to their hearts. Henry VIII had two favoured canines named Cut and Ball, and Queen Victoria had many dogs of varying breeds, including greyhounds, a Pekingese and a King Charles Spaniel named Dash, who was reportedly given a bath by the new queen after her coronation. Other examples of royal dog-lovers are Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s son, who had a favourite pooch named Caesar. Caesar was so dedicated to Edward VII that he accompanied his master’s funeral procession, along with Edward’s horse. Meanwhile Queen Elizabeth II’s love for the corgi breed is renowned, but the royal family has owned many breeds over the centuries – as witnessed by the memorials that appear for several of these dogs in the gardens at Sandringham. Queen Victoria with her pet dog named Sharp at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, 1867. (Photo by W& D Downey/Getty Images) 7 Cap and Jack, nurses’ best friends Before she became a nurse, Florence Nightingale cared for Cap, the sheepdog of a local farmer, who had been hurt by a group of boys throwing stones. The farmer feared the dog would have to be put down if bones were broken. Fortunately, Florence and her friend cared for the pooch and he fully recovered. Shortly afterwards, Florence had a ‘vision’ that inspired her to devote her life to nursing and caring for those in need. Another famous nurse, Edith Cavell, also cared for dogs and had at least one of her own in her clinic during the First World War in Brussels. Jack was reported to have howled for her at the clinic after she was executed by firing squad in October 1915. In pictures: dogs of the First World War The surprising history of Victorian dog shows 6 facts about animals in ancient Rome 8 The Darling’s Nana One of the most famous dogs in literature has to be Nana from Peter Pan , depicted by author JM Barrie as a loving caregiver to the Darling family. She is based, however, on Barrie’s own dogs, Porthos and Luath, a St Bernard and a Newfoundland respectively. Other famous fictitious dogs include Spotty Dog from the 1950s children’s programme Woodentops ; Dougal from The Magic Roundabout ; Muttley from Wacky Races ; and K9 from Doctor Who . Each of these pooches form part of memorable childhood moments spent in front of the television. Blue Peter , meanwhile, has had a dog since 1962, and most of us can probably recall the name of the dog that featured in the show during the years we watched it after school. Nana from the 1953 film ‘Peter Pan’. (Photo by AF archive/Alamy Stock Photo) Emma White is author of A History of Britain in 100 Dogs (The History Press, 2016). This article was first published on History Extra in November 2016'
Alan Forrest, professor of modern history at the University of York, considers whether the importance placed upon the battle is justified..
'When they are examined with the benefit of hindsight, battles are rarely accorded the significance given to them. Few become venerated among a nation’s lieux de mémoire , or contribute to the foundation myths of modern nations. Of the battles of the Napoleonic Wars, it is arguable that Leipzig [the 1813 battle lost to the Allies by French troops under Napoleon] has its place in the rise of German nationalism, even if its real importance was greatly exaggerated and mythologized by 19th-century cultural nationalists. In Pierre Nora’s magisterial study of France, only Bouvines, in 1214 [which ended the 1202–14 Anglo-French War], makes the cut. Waterloo, unsurprisingly, does not figure. Yet at the time Waterloo was hailed in Britain as a battle different in scale and import from any other of the modern era. It had, it was claimed, ushered in a century of peace in continental Europe. It had brought to a close, in Britain’s favour, the centuries-old military rivalry with France. And it had ended France’s dream of building a great continental empire in Europe, while leaving Britain’s global ambitions intact. If the Victorian age could be claimed as ‘Britain’s century’, it was her victory over Napoleon that had ushered it in. Britain, it seemed, had every reason to celebrate, every reason to claim Waterloo as its own. 7 things you (probably) didn’t know about the Napoleonic Wars How the French won Waterloo (or think they did) But does this really justify the importance that the British attached to this one battle? Waterloo was a decisive encounter that left Napoleon’s army routed and incapable of re-forming, but it did not determine the outcome of the Napoleonic Wars or change the course of history. The Hundred Days were perhaps a stirring military adventure, at least from the French standpoint, but the Waterloo campaign was a mere codicil to what had gone before, to more than 20 years of war. Besides, Napoleon could have won at Waterloo and still lost the campaign: huge Austrian and Prussian forces lay in wait to the east. The outcome had already been decided by the Allied leaders and their diplomats long before the firing began. Where Waterloo did play a greater role was in determining the outcome of the peace negotiations that followed; negotiations that were far tougher for the defeated French than those the previous year after Napoleon’s first abdication. Further territory changed hands; a huge indemnity was imposed; and an army of occupation was imposed on France until that indemnity was paid. French civilians were made well aware of the scale of Napoleon’s defeat, and of the conviction across Europe that he alone bore full responsibility for the final phase of the war. Just as important, from Britain’s point of view, was the fact that it was now present at the peace negotiations as one of the major players – a country whose army had won a land campaign against Napoleon, and hence was better placed to press for its interests to be protected in the final peace settlement. French cuirassiers charging a British infantry square at the battle of Waterloo, 1815 (1906). From Cassell’s ‘Illustrated History of England, Vol. V’ (Cassell and Company Limited, London, Paris, New York, Melbourne). Artist P Jazet. (Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images) That, for Wellington as for the British government, was probably Waterloo’s principal importance, the justification for spilling so much blood, and it contributed to the jubilation that greeted the news of Napoleon’s defeat. Poems and novels celebrated the battle; paintings recorded the scene for posterity; and across Britain and the Empire the names of Waterloo and its hero were immortalised in cities, suburbs, streets, columns, victory arches and railway stations [although Waterloo Station, which opened in 1848, was only indirectly named after the battle – it was named after Waterloo Bridge (1817), which in turn was named after the battle]. What killed Napoleon Bonaparte? Napoleon Bonaparte: facts about his life, death and career In the weeks that followed, Britons crossed the Channel to stare across the battlefield. The following year, Britons could watch military reviews or attend shows about the battle at William Bullock’s Egyptian Hall in London or in the newly fashionable panoramas that opened across the nation. The British, it appeared, could not have enough of Waterloo. They claimed it as a uniquely British victory; a victory for British arms and peculiarly British military values. Elsewhere in Europe the jury was still out. It was not immediately hailed as a great battle or an iconic moment. There remained an uncertainty about the real significance of Waterloo that is shown by the somewhat mixed memories that it evoked in the countries that had contributed soldiers to the battle. Of course, the Allies all praised their successful generals and gave thanks for the sacrifice of their men (the level of sacrifice at Waterloo, for a battle that was contained within a single day’s fighting, was quite extraordinarily high: this had been a bloody, bludgeoning encounter between two armies that pounded each other mercilessly for most of the day before the arrival of Blücher’s Prussians in the late afternoon swung the odds irresistibly Wellington’s way). They named some streets and squares after the battle, and there were a few public monuments – like the Waterloo column in Hanover, or the Waterlooplein in Amsterdam, or (using the name by which Prussians knew the battle) the Belle-Alliance-Platz in Berlin. Waterloo was not forgotten. But it did not hold that central place in the national imagination that it did for 19th-century Britain. Why Waterloo fires our imaginations 10 moments that decided the Waterloo campaign In Holland, for instance, Waterloo was seen as a dynastic triumph for the House of Orange, which was not only restored to the throne after the Napoleonic Wars, but also enjoyed the kudos that came with the annexation of the former Spanish territories of Belgium [they stopped being Spanish-held a century earlier, in 1713]. Waterloo for the Dutch was forever associated with their prince Willem [aka William], who had led part of Wellington’s army and had been wounded, albeit fairly lightly, in the course of the day. The Lion Mound on the battlefield, erected in 1826, is Holland’s memorial to a Dutch hero. And if Hanover, elevated to a kingdom in 1814, honoured the part played in the battle by the King’s German Legion, across Prussia Waterloo had to take its place in the more general celebration of Blücher and his role in the wars against Napoleon. But Waterloo was no more than a footnote to the battle of the Nations in 1813. It was Leipzig that continued to hold centre stage in the public’s imagination. As we look around Europe on the Bicentenary of Waterloo, it is impossible not to be struck by the plasticity of public memory, and the degree to which, in each succeeding generation, it is made to reflect current political concerns. Wellington himself manipulated the memory of the battle, and of his own role in it, to help further his political career. By the early 20th century, with a different system of alliances across Europe, it could seem impolitic to celebrate a victory over the French too insensitively. At the time of the centenary in 1915, the British were eager to stress the courage and gallantry of the French, who had become their allies in the struggle against Germany. Today, allies in a European Union that was created with the express aim of ensuring future peace – neither France nor Germany shows much appetite for celebrating military triumphs won at the other’s expense. Perhaps Britain, too, can now commemorate Waterloo not for the death and destruction it wreaked, but rather for the decades of peace that it heralded across Europe – peace that held for the greater part of a generation until the conflict in the Crimea in the 1850s. Alan Forrest is the author of Waterloo: Great Battles Series (Oxford University Press). He is professor of modern history at the University of York. This article was first published by History Extra in June 2015'
Jem Duducu, author of The Napoleonic Wars in 100 Facts, reveals seven things you might not have known about the 25 years (or so) of conflict..
'The Napoleonic Wars are often seen as a clash of European powers fighting for dominance over the European continent. In many ways they were, but they are also an example of world war before 1914. Here are seven largely forgotten facts about the Napoleonic Wars… 1 The young Napoleon showed little promise The Bonapartes ( Buonapartes in Italian) originated in Italy, but Napoleon was born into a branch of the family that moved to Corsica [an island in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to France]. His parents were both of minor Corsican nobility and had married young. The couple had had another son called Napoleon four years before the more famous one, but the child died in infancy. Growing up in Corsica, Napoleon’s first language was Italian, not French. However, as his family was well off (by Corsican standards), he and his brother Joseph were sent to military academies in France. What killed Napoleon Bonaparte? Napoleon Bonaparte: facts about his life, death and career Napoleon did not fit in particularly well. While he did learn French, he spoke it with an accent that betrayed his roots, and he was teased for sounding like a peasant. Furthermore, the other boys came from well-connected and more affluent families, and while they were good at dancing, Napoleon’s skills lay in gardening. It was not a promising start for a boy who, at various times, dreamed of becoming an officer in the French navy or an artillery instructor in the Ottoman Empire. How different history would have been had he taken one of those routes. Aged 15, Napoleon was admitted to the elite École Militaire in Paris. This was a huge honour, which turned into a disaster when his father died of stomach cancer while Napoleon was in his first year. The young cadet was now expected to be the family’s chief source of income, while at the same time attending one of the most expensive schools in France. The situation forced him to complete the two-year course in just one, and while he came only 42nd in a class of 58, graduation meant he could become a commissioned officer just after his 16th birthday. A portrait tiled ‘Bonaparte as First Consul’ by John James Masquerier. (Photo by Print Collector/Getty Images) By 1791, as war was about to break out across Europe, Napoleon, still a second lieutenant stationed in a sleepy garrison town, went on leave to see his family in Corsica. This was about as unexceptional a start to a military career as can be imagined. No one could have predicted that within 10 years Napoleon would be the most feared military commander in Europe, and later would become one of the greatest generals in history. 2 The royal navy attacked a city France was courting Denmark and Norway in 1801, and, if they could be persuaded to join the fight, it looked like Russia might also join them. The possibility that Denmark might attack the British mainland could not be contemplated – something had to be done. Step forward Admiral Parker, who was sent to carry out some very British gunboat diplomacy (ie turn up with some warships and force a settlement). It wasn’t necessarily meant to be a shooting war. When the royal navy arrived, the Danish fleet was moored against the gun batteries and naval defences of the city, so a frontal assault would have been impossible. However, Parker’s subordinate was Vice Admiral Nelson, who was just the right mix of brilliant, brave and mad. He attacked the weaker southern end of the Danish defences, which resulted in a brutal artillery duel between land and sea. Parker lacked Nelson’s grit and, on seeing the devastating effect of close-quarter cannon fire, signalled the retreat. Nelson replied with a signal that acknowledged the order, but did nothing. Instead, he lifted his telescope to his blind eye and said to his flag-captain, Thomas Foley: “You know, Foley, I only have one eye. I have the right to be blind sometimes.” 5 facts you (probably) didn’t know about Nelson’s navy History explorer: the Napoleonic Wars With that, he continued to press his attack. In the heat of the battle, Nelson was seen to be carefully preparing a letter for the terms of Copenhagen’s surrender – amid the roar of cannons, the screams of men and the sound of splintering wood. This forced at least one of his officers to conclude that Nelson had lost his mind, but Nelson calmly explained that if he was seen to have the time and the conditions to prepare a decent letter, it would make the Danes think they weren’t causing as much damage as they were. It was remarkable logic, and an example of the ultimate cool head under fire. The ruse worked, and Copenhagen surrendered. Remarkably, no royal navy ships were sunk; however, around 1,000–1,200 British crew were either killed or wounded. The Danes suffered 50 per cent more casualties and lost three ships, including their flagship, the Dannebrog , when it exploded. After this short but bloody encounter, the two nations agreed an armistice. Following this, Parker sailed the fleet to Sweden in an attempt to persuade it to break away from the armed neutrality league that had been set up in the Baltic, but the Swedes declined his offer. As a result of Parker’s wavering at Copenhagen, followed by his rather lacklustre display in Sweden, he was relieved of duty, and Nelson was promoted to vice-admiral. 3 All sides understood the ‘propaganda war’ The Napoleonic Wars were not the first to use the medium of print for propaganda purposes – The Times , for example, started in 1785 as The Daily Universal Register , was not above bias. But this particular era of conflict excelled at printing scurrilous opinions and defamatory cartoons. The leaders of the age knew the power of the press. As Napoleon once said: “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.” However, it wasn’t just opinion pieces that influenced; imagery was often more powerful and lingered longer. Napoleon understood this, and became known for self-aggrandisement. The famous painting of him crossing the Alps (painted by the French artist Jacques-Louis David between 1801 and 1805), for example, shows a strongly idealised view of the real crossing that Napoleon and his army made across the Alps. Napoleon also made sure his coronation as emperor was immortalised in oil paintings, and both he and his wife, Josephine, commissioned regal portraits of themselves in their splendid imperial robes. While Napoleon didn’t plan his own tomb, it continued the themes of power and supremacy – this time with Napoleon as an Adonis; a god among men. Brilliant general he assuredly was, but physically Napoleon was a little on the pudgy side, and had a crooked nose. Napoleon had the twin advantages of being both a general and an absolute ruler; he was able to dictate and control the French press. Britain did not provide its monarchs and leaders with the same benefits; it had a freer press, and parliamentary democracy meant magazines could draw witheringly satirical cartoons of friend and foe alike. For example, Napoleon’s nickname, ‘Boney’, was a British invention designed to conjure antipathy. At the time, it was thought that having some meat on your bones was a good thing; therefore, horrible old ‘Boney’ was a wraith to be feared or mocked. ‘Boney’ stood in stark contrast to the famous John Bull cartoon popularised first by British print makers. Bull was the national personification of England; a plump, down-to-earth patriot and beer lover. Napoleon is often portrayed as compensating for his lack of stature with comically large hats and boots. But to set the record straight, Napoleon wasn’t short. This misunderstanding arose because French measurements were different to British ones, and we now know that Napoleon was a little taller than the average man of his time (although he would probably have looked diminutive standing next to someone like the Duke of Wellington). The idea that Napoleon was short still exists to this day, all thanks to British propaganda from 200 years ago. 4 The best way to defeat Spain was to invade Argentina By 1806, Britain had been at war almost constantly for well over a decade. Its continental allies were continually being humbled by French armies, and Britain’s own contributions to the war thus far had been mainly naval victories. However, William Pitt and Sir Home Riggs Popham (the British royal naval commander) had been mulling over for a year or so ideas to weaken France’s main ally, Spain. Spain’s South American empire was largely undefended. Trying to resist a British invasion there would take Spanish troops away from the resources that Napoleon could use in Europe. So, in short, it was decided (by Popham, without authorisation) that the best way to win a war against France in Europe was to invade Argentina in South America. These operations were referred to as the British invasions of the Río de la Plata. Britain achieved early success when it captured Buenos Aires – one of the key cities in the area – and held it for more than a month. When the invaders were ejected, it wasn’t thanks to the arrival of Spanish troops, but an uprising of the local population. In 1807, the British responded by sending a larger invasion force – this time successfully storming Montevideo, where they stayed for a few months just to prove a point. Shortly afterwards, the British sent a third force back to Buenos Aires, but after heavy fighting with a combined force of Spanish soldiers standing side-by-side with the local militia, they were pushed back and suffered more than 50 per cent casualties. The British lost this campaign. It was an ambitious plan that had assumed resistance could only be achieved by Spanish regular troops. In fact, it was the bravery of the locals that saved Río de la Plata from becoming part of the British empire. The repercussions of this attempted invasion were unforeseen by everyone. The Spanish were, at first, overjoyed that their colonies had resisted so resolutely. However, those same colonies felt their actions had earned them the right to be considered the equal of their colonial masters in Spain. The Spanish were, at this time, also having serious trouble with a French invasion of their own country, so could do little. By 1810, the South American colonies felt confident enough to carry out their own revolution (the May Revolution), which removed the Spanish Viceroy and set up a local government for the first time. This led, in July 1816, to the declaration of independence for the United Provinces of South America, which later became known as Argentina. At the time, some of the ex-Spanish colonies were at war with each other but, overall, shrugging off the old colonial overlord was seen as beneficial. The irony then was that while Britain lost the campaign, it achieved its goals of weakening Spain and distracting Spanish priorities and forces. Another irony is that today in Argentina, Britain’s actions of 1806–7 are seen as the trigger for independence, and are widely considered to have been a good thing. 5 Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition to end The story of the Spanish Inquisition [a tribunal established in 1478 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, intended to maintain Catholic orthodoxy in their kingdoms] is a long and complex one. However, the first area to come under its scrutiny was in 12th-century France. The more notorious version of these religious enquiries into potential heretics or apostates started in Spain in the late 15th century, and never really went away until the 19th century. The French Revolution (which began in 1789) sparked real concerns in Spain. King Charles IV worried about how his people might regard the wealth and power not only of the monarchy, but also of the church. With this in mind, he took steps to clip the wings of the Spanish Inquisition. A number of the monolithic Catholic organisations were anathema to the enlightenment ideals of revolutionary France, and there were a number of times Napoleon (and others) dismantled century old ‘Holy Cows’ in the name of modernity. What triggered the French Revolution? Fighting for freedom: the storming of the Bastille and the French Revolution When the French invaded Malta they had ended the Hospitallers; a religious organisation founded in the Middle Ages. Napoleon also abolished another ancient organisation, the Holy Roman Empire, the argument being that it too was a remnant of a theocratic past incompatible with a new Europe. So it should therefore come as little surprise that once the French invaded Spain, it was Joseph Bonaparte who tried to abolish the Spanish Inquisition once and for all. However, Bonaparte was king of Spain from 1808 to 1813, which wasn’t long enough to overthrow all the old ways. Consequently, by 1814 the inquisition was back in business. The last person to be killed by the Spanish Inquisition was a teacher in 1826, for suggesting so-called heretical ideas. The inquisition was officially abolished in 1834. An Auto da Fe illustrated in Historia Inqisitionis, published 1692. Ritual of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates that took place under the directives of the Spanish Inquisition. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images) 6 The showdown at Waterloo was delayed due to rain With the battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny fought on 16 June 1815, and all the main forces still in roughly the same area, it would have been safe to assume that the next clash would be on the 17th. However, there were surprises in store for everyone. First of all, Marshall Ney, Napoleon’s right-hand man returned to Quatre Bras to fight the second round of this encounter… except that when he got there, he found that Wellington had largely moved on. The challenge then was to find the allied positions and engage. However, while a brief skirmish did take place between the British and French on the 17th, it quickly faded as the heavens opened and torrential rain lashed all the armies for hours. A year earlier, Wellington had been in this very region, and had recognised that a ridge with a reverse slope would be the perfect defensive position for a battle, should one ever take place in the area. Now was the time, and he positioned his forces both along and behind the ridge, located near the small Belgian town of Waterloo. How the French won Waterloo (or think they did) Why Waterloo fires our imaginations Wellington spent the night at a Waterloo inn, impatiently waiting for communication from the Prussian leader Blücher. It finally came at around 2am. After that, Wellington was wide awake and spent the rest of the night consulting with his officers and sending out orders. Blücher’s message had been delayed while he argued with his subordinate, Gneisenau, about how their forces could effectively work with Wellington’s. Blücher knew that a concentration of troops was the best bet to beat Napoleon; however, Gneisenau distrusted the British. Meanwhile, Napoleon was unusually indecisive. Grouchy had not advanced as fast as he’d hoped, and in the middle of the night Napoleon was seen going for a walk. He sent ambiguous orders to Grouchy who, instead of coming to his aid, continued to advance towards Wavre. Napoleon bedded down in a farmhouse and, in the morning, had fine breakfast with his officers. When they expressed concerns about Wellington – the only major allied general Napoleon had yet to face on the battlefield – Napoleon admonished them by saying: “Just because you have all been beaten by Wellington, you think he’s a good general. I tell you Wellington is a bad general; the English are bad troops, and this affair is nothing more than eating breakfast.” On the morning of 18 June, Napoleon delayed the start of battle as he waited for the ground to harden after the downpour of the previous day. This, he believed, would make it easier to reposition his artillery, and would allow better conditions for cavalry movements. He gave Ney operational command and could be seen sitting in an armchair, miles from the front line. It seems that Napoleon had been, once again, struck down with illness, and his haemorrhoids made it impossible for him to remain in the saddle for the whole day. 7 Waterloo was not the final battle against France Conflicts are messy. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that there is no neat ending to this period of warfare. Waterloo was undeniably the most pivotal battle of this campaign, and it shattered Napoleon’s authority – less than a week after the battle, Napoleon abdicated. But the fighting had been in Belgium, and the race was now on to get to the French capital to ensure an allied army was present to oversee the dismantling of Napoleonic power and the return of Louis XVIII. The French, however, didn’t see things in quite the same way. They had around 65,000 troops in the area [25,000 others had been killed or wounded at Waterloo, and 9,000 captured], and French General Vandamme led part of that army out to meet the approaching Prussians at a small town to the south of Paris. Wellington’s forces were also on their way, so quite what Vandamme was hoping to achieve is uncertain. He might not have been able to win in the long run, but in the short term he’d be damned if he’d allow Blücher to march to the capital without a fight. The allies had come in a southerly direction because Paris’s main defences had been constructed north of the Seine. The battle was a Prussian/French affair because Vandamme chose to attack Blücher, rather than Wellington. Battle commenced on 2 July 1815 around the town of Issy and the commanding heights of Meudon. That night a council in Paris discussed whether it was time to surrender; however, it was Davout, one of Napoleon’s most loyal and talented marshals, who dug in his heels and insisted that Vandamme should try to oust the Prussians from their position. The next day the French attacked the Prussians (who by now had barricaded themselves in) with artillery fire. Then the French infantry advanced. After fierce fighting, the French were driven back, only to regroup and try to break the Prussians once more. This attempt also failed, and for the rest of the day the French alternated between pounding the Prussians with cannon fire and then surging forwards with an infantry assault. Napoleon’s retreat from the battle of Waterloo. Original artwork after a painting by Steuben. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)c But the French never threw everything they had into any assault. Vandamme, for reasons unknown, never fully committed to the battle, and because of this the Prussians were able to hold their positions (despite high casualties). Ultimately, the French were forced to retreat back to Paris. The Prussians pursued Vandamme’s retreating men, and some forward units even clashed with the French rear guard in the Parisian suburbs. This was quickly followed by a unilateral French ceasefire, and by now, Wellington had linked up with Blücher. Allied negotiators met French representatives at the Palace of St Cloud, chosen as a relatively neutral location. It was here that Paris formally surrendered in a hastily created document now rather formally known as ‘The Convention of St Cloud’. Ironically, the palace was destroyed by German troops the next time the Prussians attacked Paris, in 1870. In summary, the Napoleonic Wars are like most of history – a swirling mass of facts, with areas that simply don’t fit into an easy narrative. But they shaped the political and cultural landscapes from Egypt to Russia and from Argentina to Belgium. Today, their legacy reverberates throughout Europe and beyond. The above facts are abridged versions taken from Jem Duducu’s The Napoleonic Wars in 100 Facts (Amberley Publishing, 2015). To find out more, click here . J em is also known as @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter . This article was first published by History Extra in June 2015'
It famously went on to inspire everyone from Cromwell to Gandhi, but what impact did King John's Great Charter have on his subjects in the year that it was sealed? David Carpenter investigates..
'1215 will surely always be defined by Magna Carta. When, on 15 June of that fateful year, King John reluctantly agreed to seal a great charter in the meadow of Runnymede beside the river Thames, he put his name to a document that has perhaps done more than any other to champion the cause of the rule of law over absolute power. That fact alone makes 1215 a hugely significant year in English history. That the events of 1215 have resonated down the centuries is beyond doubt. As countless history books have proclaimed, the charter inspired everyone from the opponents of Charles I, through the founding fathers of America, to those struggling for freedom in the 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela among them (for more on this, see our feature later in this issue). But what those history books, for the most part, have not revealed is what this famous document meant to the people of England in 1215. What was its impact on those who worked the land, went to church, administered justice and ran local government as the country emerged into the 13th century? Who did Magna Carta benefit – and short-change – the most? Barons call the shots It’s often assumed that the summer of 1215 found the people of England more or less united behind the barons in their opposition to the king. There is undoubtedly some truth in this, yet the England of 1215 was still a very divided, unequal society – one dominated by 100 or so earls and barons. And there’s no getting away from this fact when you read Magna Carta. This was an aggressive document that did not merely reflect social divisions but actively sought to re-enforce them. It thus discriminated against unfree peasants and women, and gave less to towns and knights than they might have hoped. The chief beneficiaries of many chapters of the charter were those who held their land directly from the king, his so-called ‘tenants-in-chief’, a body several hundred-strong dominated by the earls and greater barons. The national assembly set up by the charter to give the kingdom’s consent to taxation was thus made up exclusively of tenants-in-chief, with the earls, greater barons (and bishops and abbots) receiving a personal summons to attend and the rest of the tenants-in-chief being summoned generally through the sheriffs. That meant that there was no place in the assembly for representatives of London and other towns, although there is evidence that Londoners thought there should have been. This was not the only way in which Magna Carta discriminated against the capital: when the city joined the barons’ revolt against John, it was promised that tallage – an arbitrary tax levied by the king on towns – would only be raised with the kingdom’s consent. During the negotiations at Runnymede, this demand was dropped. In overlooking London, the barons were acting in their own interests – for if the king lost the right to tallage his towns as he pleased, the barons might find their ability to tallage their towns compromised too. While England’s leading earls and barons were undoubtedly the chief beneficiaries of Magna Carta, the implications for the country’s 4,500 knights were far more mixed. The knights were an influential constituency in early 13th-century England. Most held their land from earls, barons, bishops and abbots – though a few hundred were tenants-in-chief. For all their powers, the knights would have found some of the early baronial demands in 1215 disappointing. In the one known as the ‘Unknown Charter’, the king’s concessions were made largely to his tenants-in-chief (so excluding the majority of knights). There was nothing at all about the running of local government, a major knightly concern. Knights fight for their rights Yet, as knights joined the rebellion, they were able to transform the baronial programme. Magna Carta was to stipulate that four knights, elected in the county court, were to sit with the king’s judges when the latter visited the counties to hear the common law legal actions. That charter also stated that 12 knights, elected in each county (so not chosen by the barons), would investigate the abuses of the king’s local officials. This chapter in the charter, greatly strengthened during the negotiations at Runnymede, placed tremendous power in the knights’ hands. The knights were able to draw another significant concession from the barons. Under the terms of Magna Carta, the king could no longer allow a baron to levy a tax on his men, save on three occasions: to knight his eldest son, ransom his body or marry his eldest daughter. This met a major knightly grievance, because John had often allowed taxes to be levied for other purposes, notably to help a baron pay his debts to the crown. Yet this victory was short lived. The chapter preventing barons levying taxes on their free men was left out of all the versions of Magna Carta after 1215 and so never appeared in the definitive charter of 1225. What’s more, the body of knights and freemen in the counties was unrepresented in the national assembly that the 1215 Magna Carta said should be summoned to agree to taxation, since, as we have seen, this was to be composed simply of bishops, abbots, earls, barons and other tenants-in-chief. There was no suggestion that knights elected by their counties should attend, despite the fact that the charter had locally elected knights sitting with the king’s judges and investigating local abuses. In this respect, King John was actually more progressive than the barons. In 1213, he summoned to a meeting four knights from each county to discuss the kingdoms’ affairs – an example not followed by the barons in the national assembly they envisaged in Magna Carta. In the event, knights representing the counties weren’t summoned to a parliament (as national assemblies were increasingly called) until 1254. And it was only in 1265 – in the great parliament convoked by Simon de Montfort – that knights from the counties and burgesses from the towns were summoned together: the beginnings of the House of Commons. Dividing the spoils If the barons and knights were divided over the question of who should enjoy the spoils of Magna Carta, when it came to discriminating against the unfree peasants on whose labours their wealth depended, they were ruthlessly united. Perhaps half of England’s population of around 3 million in 1215 were unfree. These villeins or serfs had very little share in John’s concessions in Magna Carta. The most famous chapter in the charter – 39 – laid down that “no free man” was to be deprived of property save by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land. In other words, lords could dispossess their unfree peasants as they wished. Chapter 40 appeared more promising. “To no one will we deny, delay or sell right or justice,” John proclaimed. The trouble is, it was the law itself that denied villeins access to the king’s courts in any matter concerning their lands and services. As Bracton, the 13th-century book on English law, put it, when a villein woke up in the morning, he did not know what he would have to do by nightfall. He must do as he was bid by his lord. The solitary chapter in Magna Carta that apparently safeguarded villeins was less effective than it, on first reading, seems. It was carefully drafted to protect villeins from fines imposed by the king, but not from fines imposed by their lords! The situation for free women was slightly less bleak. Magna Carta stipulated that widows were to enter their dowers and inheritances without charge and difficulty, and also protected widows from compulsory re-marriage. And though chapter 39 of the charter safeguarded the “free man” from arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, dispossession and “destruction”, “man” in 1215 would have been widely understood as meaning human being, and so embraced women as well as men. Coming so soon after John’s ‘destruction’ of Matilda de Briouze and her eldest son (they were starved to death in Corfe Castle after their family fell out with the king), these words’ significance would not have been lost on many people. Second-class women Magna Carta, however, also reflected the inequalities between the sexes. A woman enjoyed far fewer property rights than her male counterparts: she only inherited in default of a brother, and, in marriage, her property was controlled by her husband. The charter also highlighted the way in which women were sidelined in public life. It gave the names of 39 men: John himself, his lay and ecclesiastical counsellors, and the foreign sheriffs and castellans who were to be dismissed from office. And how many women were named in the document? Not one. Although women were entitled to the judgment of their peers, those peers would have been entirely male – for women did not sit on juries, and they did not (save for on very rare occasions) hold public office. Worse still, the only chapter in Magna Carta where the word ‘femina’ did appear put women on a lower level than men. This stated that no one was to be arrested for murder on a woman’s accusation, unless the deceased happened to be her husband. Legal records suggest that women were lodging a high number of appeals at the time of Magna Carta. As they could not be made to backup their accusation in a trial by battle, the suspicion was that women were making accusations irresponsibly – either on their own account or because they were being manipulated by men. Whatever the truth of that view, the chapter does not suggest that the men behind Magna Carta had a particularly high opinion of the opposite sex. For the people of England in 1215, therefore, Magna Carta proved a socially divided and divisive document. It buttressed, rather than challenged inequalities, ensuring that power remained very much in the hands of a tiny clique at the top. Yet, for all that, Magna Cart met real grievances and asserted one fundamental principle: that of the rule of law. It was a tenet from which everyone could potentially benefit. And that was crucial. Magna Carta: A story of survival When, on 15 June 1215, King John sealed Magna Carta, he did so because he found himself on the wrong end of a massive rebellion against his rule – sparked by his harsh treatment of his subjects and military defeat in Normandy – led by some of England’s most powerful barons. Magna Carta’s 63 chapters and 3,550 words (all written in Latin) placed a series of restrictions upon the king, limiting his ability to take money in arbitrary fashion, and insisting he no longer sell, deny and delay justice. Yet the charter was also designed as a peace treaty between John and his opponents. In that it was a failure. Within little more than a month of Runnymede, John was asking the pope to quash it. The result was civil war. Magna Carta may have been lost to history then. It survived because, after John’s death in October 1216, the minority government of his son, the nine-year-old Henry III, accepted what John had rejected and issued a new version of the charter in the hope of tempting rebels back into the king’s camp. Having won the war, and in order to consolidate the peace, Henry issued a second version in 1217. And, then in 1225, in return for a great tax, he issued what became the final and definitive version. It was this, the 1225 charter of Henry III (in its essentials, the same as the charter of 1215), that was to be confirmed by later kings. And it is chapters of the 1225 charter that remain on the Statute Book of the United Kingdom today. Over time many of the charter’s details became outmoded, but Magna Carta survived because it asserted a fundamental principle, that of the rule of law. The king could no longer seize property and arrest individuals as he pleased. He could only do so by lawful process. “I hope that 100 years from now Magna Carta will still be at the forefront of popular acclaim” David Carpenter tells Rob Attar why Magna Carta retains its relevance in 2015 Why is Magna Carta still so important after 800 years? My answer here is totally unoriginal! It is because it asserts a fundamental principle that the ruler is subject to the law and can’t treat his subjects in an arbitrary fashion. That’s summed up in the most famous chapter: no 39, which is still on the statute book of the United Kingdom today. There’s also chapter 40, which says that nobody will be denied their rights or justice. That too is still part of the laws of this country. Magna Carta is also important because of its history. It has become an iconic document, used by the opponents of Charles I and then the founding fathers of the United States, among others, as a general principle of lawful rule. And it is still part of the political debate in Britain today. Did the authors of the charter have any idea of how iconic a document it would become? At the time they certainly hoped it would have a very long-term future. After all, it was granted by King John in perpetuity for himself and his heirs and the aspiration was that it would become a fundamental document governing the constitution of England. However, within a few months of Magna Carta being issued, both sides had abandoned it, to the extent that it looked like a dead letter by the autumn of 1215. You’ve just written a new book on Magna Carta. What have been the main findings of your research for that project? There were three discoveries that excited me the most. The first was a letter written by King John in 1209 that showed that he was trying to reassert overlordship over Scotland at this time. It means that the Magna Carta revolt saved Scotland from English domination and so the whole history of Anglo-Scottish relations may now need to be rethought. The second discovery was that one of the four copies of Magna Carta went to Canterbury Cathedral, which we never knew before. Then my third most exciting finding was the sheer number of copies of the charter that were produced, many of which are variant texts. These throw new light on the negotiations at Runnymede and were themselves very important in spreading news of Magna Carta. Just as importantly, my research has enabled me to open a window onto English society in 1215, focusing on women and peasants, as well as earls, barons and knights. What are the main popular misconceptions about Magna Carta nowadays? The thing people often get wrong is thinking it was signed, rather than sealed. It is amazing how common that mistake is. Actually, though, it’s salutary to realise how many people know nothing about the charter at all. I remember last year giving a talk about new Magna Carta discoveries to a group of prospective history undergraduates. I began by saying how there had been many exciting new discoveries in the run-up to the 800th anniversary and someone in the front row held up her hand and said: “Yes, but please could you tell me: what is Magna Carta?” So you can’t take anything for granted. You have to remember how few people study medieval history, and I wonder how many people would even know the date of Magna Carta. What do you think the 800th anniversary will mean for Magna Carta? In the short term, I suppose that everyone hopes that the anniversary will boost interest in the charter – both the historic document and the themes and principles that it embodies. We hope that it will come to the forefront of public awareness. One thing I do think about is that we are (in 2015) between the past and the future in a way. It’s not so difficult for people like me to reach back to the 700th anniversary during the First World War. I knew people who fought in that war and I also feel in touch with some of the historians who wrote in the Magna Carta Commemoration Essays (published during the Great War), particularly Maurice Powicke. There are people still alive today who knew Powicke well. As well as reaching back, I often think about the 2115 anniversary when none of us will be alive. We don’t know whether the charter will still be celebrated then or what kind of academic work will be going on, but it’s fascinating to speculate about it. Of course, I hope that 100 years from now Magna Carta will still be at the forefront of both academic and popular interest and acclaim. David Carpenter is professor of medieval history at King’s College London. He is a co-investigator on the Magna Carta Project, which provides text, translations and expert commentaries: magnacartaresearch.org This article was first published in the February 2015 issue of BBC History Magazine'
From Nero to King George IV, historian Sean Lang rounds up nine of history's most outlandish rulers
'How do you define eccentricity, especially in a monarch? ‘Eccentric’ means literally “off-centre”, behaviour that is definitely a bit odd or out of the ordinary, but not necessarily insane. There are certainly rulers who have been famed for their mental instability, such as the murderously unstable Roman emperor Gaius Caligula, or our own George III, whose illness, probably porphyria [a rare hereditary disease in which there is abnormal metabolism of the blood pigment haemoglobin], prompted some decidedly eccentric behaviour: he once ordered his carriage to stop in Windsor Great Park while he popped out to have a chat with an oak tree, apparently under the impression it was the King of Prussia. King Henry VI’s mental instability, meanwhile, led him into a catatonic state, leaving a power vacuum at the heart of English politics and ushering the period of extremely bloody conflict we call the Wars of the Roses. Henry VI may have had a “sex coach” – plus 4 more curious facts about his life 12 things you (probably) didn’t know about the Wars of the Roses 8 of the nicest kings in history However, these are probably cases of extreme mental illness rather than of eccentricity: they were serious enough to impair the monarch’s ability to rule rather than merely oddities of behaviour. It has sometimes been pointed out that the very nature of a monarch’s life, often insecure and with little privacy, is itself somewhat eccentric, so it is no great surprise if it engenders eccentricities in crowned heads. Certainly the court etiquette of Versailles, which required the monarch to get up and go to bed twice each day, once in public and once for real, might have turned anyone a bit odd. James VI and I’s obsessive fear of witches and assassins looks eccentric to modern eyes, but perhaps a certain paranoia is permitted in someone who was, after all, the target of the Gunpowder Plot. And the 19th-century Queen Ranavalona I of Madagascar might have made the list for her undoubted cruelty, but reports of her as actually insane were very much the product of Europeans with an eye on her kingdom. Meanwhile, some might think the extravagant lifestyle of Egypt’s playboy King Farouk (reigned 1936–52) would qualify him for inclusion, though his behaviour was perhaps more a case of extreme insensitivity to the plight of his people than eccentricity. In any case, much can be forgiven the man who once commented that there would soon be only five monarchs left in the world: the King of England, the King of Spades, the King of Clubs, the King of Hearts and the King of Diamonds! Here, then, are nine monarchs I would consider among history’s most eccentric… Want to receive our latest podcasts, articles and more via email? Sign up to receive our newsletter! Thanks! Our best wishes for a productive day. Already have an account with us? Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences Sign in Register Sign me up! Sign up to our free newsletter 1 Nero (ruled AD 54–68) Rome’s emperor Nero is often written off as mad, but this is a gross misreading of this intelligent but decidedly eccentric man. Nero came to the throne after the death of Claudius and seemed at first to offer Rome a bit of stability. There is no doubt that he was ruthless: he murdered his stepbrother and rival for the throne Britannicus; had two of his three wives murdered (he kicked one of them to death himself); and even engineered the grisly murder of his own mother. However, some of the most colourful stories about him are regarded as suspect because of the hostility towards him of many ancient writers, and that hostility can be traced to what the Romans considered his definite and rather demeaning eccentricities. Unlike his predecessors and successors, who made their name on the battlefield, Nero’s interests were cultural and artistic. A penchant for writing poetry or playing the lyre might have been tolerated in a ruler had it been kept strictly private, but Nero openly paraded his artistic side, forcing senators to sit for hours during his dramatic performances and introducing a poetry competition into the Olympic Games specifically so he could win it. Dancing and performing in public were generally considered ill-becoming to the dignity of Rome’s chief citizen, and it was probably this disgust which led to the most celebrated story of Nero’s eccentricity: that he sang and played the lyre while watching the spectacle of the city of Rome ablaze – “fiddling while Rome burns”, as the saying goes. It is almost certainly untrue: Nero may possibly have remarked on the spectacle, which did evoke memories of the destruction of Troy, but he seems in fact to have been directing the firefighting rather than rhapsodising. However, since he then built a massive Golden House for himself in the middle of the area of destruction, perhaps a bad press after the event was only to be expected. Roman emperor Nero. (Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images) 2 King Charles VI of France (ruled 1380–1422) Charles VI inherited the throne during France’s long conflict with England, the Hundred Years’ War. Charles, who had come to the throne as a minor, had been kept out of power until he reached the age of 20. Far from showing signs of eccentricity, as a young man Charles seemed able and popular. In 1392, however, while on campaign in the forest of Le Mans, he had some sort of seizure that badly affected his mind and caused him to violently attack his companions, killing four of them. From then on he was subject to periodic fits of violence, while his everyday behaviour became ever more bizarre. He took to running wildly through the corridors of his palace and sometimes seemed unaware of his own name, never mind that he was king – though he did once appear to claim to be Saint George. The king also suffered from the delusion that he was made of glass and could shatter at any time. On one tragic occasion, on 28 January 1393, he attended a wedding with some of his attendants, all curiously disguised as wild men and covered in pitch. During the celebrations the costumes caught fire and four of the attendants burned to death. The incident became known as the ‘ball of the burning men’. Charles was also king of France when Henry V revived England’s claim to the throne of France and inflicted the disastrous defeat of Agincourt on the French nobility. Charles was in no state to resist Henry’s demand to be made his heir. Charles’s death in 1422 was largely a relief for all concerned. The throne passed to Henry V’s infant son, Henry VI, while Charles VI’s son, Charles VII, carried on the fight that would eventually drive the English from France. Charles VI, King of France, is attended in his bedchamber by servants and ministers, c1400. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) 3 Emperor Rudolf II (ruled 1576–1612) There are those who view Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, Archduke of Austria and King of Hungary and Bohemia, as a much maligned figure, a true Renaissance patron of the arts. However, he was certainly regarded in his lifetime as dangerously insecure, to the point that he was overthrown and replaced by his own brother. This was the period of religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants, and Germany had been deeply divided between the two camps. However a compromise peace was working successfully by the time of Rudolf’s accession. Rudolf was a staunch Catholic, like the rest of the Habsburg clan. However, his spiritual life was further fuelled by an increasingly absorbing interest in the occult and a strong sense of paranoia. This was not entirely ill-founded: Rudolf’s reign did witness a major revolt in his Hungarian lands and an invasion by the Turks. He proclaimed liberty of conscience but also turned against his Protestant subjects, prompting the German Protestant princes to form an Evangelical Union in self-defence. Meanwhile Rudolf, who was prone to bouts of what would today be recognised as mood swings and depression, shut himself away in his apartments in Prague Castle, refusing to see or speak to anyone for days on end. The Habsburg family, alarmed that Rudolf’s impulsiveness might tear the empire apart, engineered a palace coup that put Archduke Matthias on the imperial throne in place of his brother, which merely served to increase the violence of Rudolf’s persecution complex. It may be that Rudolf has been unfairly judged, but his behaviour did seem dangerously erratic to those around him and it certainly sowed the seeds for the disastrous Thirty Years’ War (1618–48), which engulfed Europe six years after Rudolf’s death. Portrait of Rudolf II of Austria. Found in the collection of Skokloster Castle. Artist anonymous. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images) 4 Sultan Mustafa I (ruled 1617–1618; 1622–1623) The stifling nature of life and deadly power struggles in Constantinople’s Topkapi Palace might have driven many a prince over the edge into mental instability. It certainly did in the case of Mustafa I, who was twice briefly Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in the early 17th century. The Sultanate of this powerful and expanding empire was supposed to be defended ruthlessly and it was normal practice for an incoming Sultan to have all his brothers put to death to avoid any possibility of their claiming the throne. This did not happen to Mustafa when his elder brother Ahmed I came to the throne in 1603, possibly because Ahmed felt some affection for his brother, though more likely because there was no alternative direct heir. In any case, Mustafa’s behaviour seemed to suggest that he was a harmless eccentric. Like many other rulers, he developed a high degree of paranoia, (perhaps understandable at the Ottoman court), and he certainly had no desire to rule. When Ahmed died in 1617, Mustafa succeeded mainly because no-one could agree on another candidate. He is described as having enjoyed teasing the viziers, knocking off their turbans or pulling at their beards. Other rulers have behaved in a similar fashion in history but been strong enough to get away with it: in Mustafa’s case, it merely underlined his unfitness to rule. After only a year as sultan he was overthrown by his nephew Osman II, but Osman was himself overthrown and murdered in a palace coup by the Janissaries, the palace guard, and Mustafa was restored to the throne. This unexpected turn of events seems to have disturbed Mustafa’s mind still further: he convinced himself that Osman II was still alive but hiding, and spent hours looking for him in cupboards and dark corners. In the end, Mustafa was removed from the throne with the agreement of his mother, on the condition that her son’s life be spared and, rather remarkably for the Ottoman court, it was. Ottoman Sultan Mustafa I, watercolour, 19th century. (Photo by The Art Archive/Alamy Stock Photo) 5 Queen Christina of Sweden (ruled 1644–54) Christina of Sweden has proved irresistible to opera composers, dramatists, filmmakers and romantic novelists alike. She was something of a celebrity in her time and was definitely regarded as eccentric. Her father was the famous Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus, who triumphantly led the Protestant princes in battle against the Holy Roman Empire until he was shot in the head at the 1632 battle of Lützen – though his grieving widow would not allow his body to be buried and opened the coffin up from time to time to see how her late husband was decomposing. Christina succeeded to the throne and immediately attracted comment because of her penchant for rejecting all the behaviour expected of a queen. She determined not to marry, not simply for reasons of state, as Elizabeth I had done, but because her own sexual orientation probably ran in the other direction. She certainly enjoyed dressing in men’s clothes, which at the time was seen not just as eccentric but as a rejection of the laws of god. Christina was a great patron of the arts, commissioning paintings and welcoming writers, so that Sweden became, for a time, a major centre of European learning. She was unconventional in her approach to politics, too, undermining her own chancellor, Oxenstierna, in the peace negotiations at the end of the Thirty Years’ War. Her father had been a hero to Protestant Europe, but Christina developed an interest in Catholicism and converted. In 1654 Christina suddenly abdicated: it is possible that she had suffered some sort of breakdown. She retired to Rome, though her arrival was anything but low-key, as she arrived in full state, dressed as an Amazon. Nevertheless, she was a welcome figure at the Vatican – prominent royal Protestant converts were something of a rarity – and she was eventually buried there. It may well be that Christina would have been happier in our time than her own, but in 17th-century terms she certainly counts as an eccentric monarch. Portrait of Queen Christina of Sweden, c1650. Artist David Beck. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images) 6 Tsar Peter I (ruled 1682–1725) Peter the Great of Russia was a man of enormous dynamism and energy. He was also a very dangerous man to cross and his behaviour can certainly be described as unpredictable and eccentric. He came to the throne having only narrowly escaped with his life from the deadly intrigues at the Romanov court, and it may be that this awareness of the fragility of his royal existence affected his behaviour. He certainly conducted himself with a minimum of thought for anyone else. Early in his reign he left Russia to undertake an extensive tour abroad – itself a highly unusual and potentially dangerous thing to do. During his stay in England he lodged in the Thameside house of the diarist John Evelyn. Peter and his friends trashed the place, using pictures for pistol practice and covering the floors in vomit and urine. 7 forgotten monarchs 9 of the worst monarchs in history The remarkable friendship between Henry the Young King and William Marshal Peter showed a similar lack of concern for the sensitivities of his subjects. To encourage the boyars (nobles) to abandon their traditional dress and adopt western styles he lined them up and cut off their beards himself, and he punished revolt and defiance with mass executions, which he was happy to start with his own hands. Like many other such worryingly headstrong rulers, Peter was a great builder: he ordered the construction of the city of St Petersburg as a window on the west, and he didn’t worry too much that building it on a marsh would inevitably cause the deaths of thousands of labourers. He brooked no opposition or criticism, even from his son, the unfortunate tsarevitch Alexei, whom he condemned to death and enticed home from his refuge in Vienna. The tsarevitch died in prison from ill-treatment and torture. It may be that Peter’s reign pushes the definition of eccentric rather too close for comfort to ‘homicidal autocrat’, but as an unpredictable and dangerously impulsive monarch, Peter I merits inclusion here. Tsar Peter I. Private Collection. Artist Carel de Moor. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images) 7 Tsar Paul I (ruled 1796–1801) Paul I was the product of a line of Romanovs who might almost have been considered to have invented the concept of royal eccentricity. His mother, Catherine II, was a very able ruler but with a ravenous appetite for lovers and favourites. Paul seems to have determined to be as different from his mother as he could, even to the point of having the body of her minister and lover, Grigory Potemkin, dug up so his bones could be scattered. More worrying, perhaps, was Paul’s attitude towards his guards, since palace guards had been instrumental in the bloody coups and palace revolutions that marked 18th-century Russia. Paul developed an obsession with the fine details of their ever-more elaborate uniforms and insisted that they be kept in pristine condition. Anyone who fell short of his ideal was liable to be flogged, sometimes by the tsar himself. He insisted on full parades outside his palace even in the depths of the Russian winter, and once sent a regiment off to march all the way to Siberia before changing his mind and sending word for them to turn back. It was erratic changes of mind that particularly alarmed his nobles and the rest of Europe. Paul demanded absolute loyalty from his nobles and would dismiss anyone he suspected of the least departure from his wishes, but at the same time he happily set free nationalist rebels and anti-royalist critics. His hatred of Britain made him a firm ally of the French revolutionaries and a great admirer of the young Napoleon Bonaparte, until Napoleon seized the island of Malta on his way to conquer Egypt. Paul was Grand Master of the Knights of St John of Malta and he took a very dim view of the French action, changing sides and joining the war against France that followed the failure of Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign. Paul was convinced that his enemies at court were plotting to kill him, and so they were. In 1801 he was murdered in a gruesome scene in which he was apparently garrotted with a silk scarf supplemented at one point in the struggle by a paperweight. His son, who then became Tsar Alexander I, was downstairs at the time and knew all about the plot, though he hoped his father would abdicate peacefully and be locked away in comfort. Perhaps not surprisingly, he proved almost as mercurial and unpredictable as his father. Tsar Paul I, c1796. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images) 8 King George IV (Regent 1811–20; king 1820–30) The Prince Regent was not a murderous character but he showed distinct signs of eccentricity, especially as his health declined towards the end of his reign. He was the product of the famously dysfunctional Hanoverian dynasty, where mutual hatred of father and son, passed down through each succeeding generation, became virtually enshrined as a constant factor of British political life. In his youth George had rebelled against the stiff morality of his father’s court by devoting himself to the usual rebel son’s repertoire of gambling, drinking and fornication – though George took it a worrying stage further by going through with a clandestine marriage to a Catholic widow, Mrs Maria Fitzherbert. His ‘official’ marriage to the German princess Caroline of Brunswick was a celebrated disaster: they detested each other at first sight, George taking immediate comfort in a stiff brandy. After the wedding night, when they conceived their daughter, Princess Charlotte, the pair lived apart, though Caroline was determined to be crowned queen when the time should come and George was equally determined to stop her. When George III finally died in 1820, George forced the government to institute legal proceedings in parliament to prove his wife guilty of adultery so he could divorce her and stop her coronation. The attempt failed but on coronation day Queen Caroline was turned away from the door of Westminster Abbey because she did not have a ticket, which worked just as well. History explorer: The decline of George III 7 royal babies who were once seventh in line to the throne 7 facts about Buckingham Palace George had spent a long period of his life waiting for his father to die; his wait was rendered all the more frustrating by the fact that for the last 10 years of his life George III was mad, blind and incapable of ruling. At this point, George was named Prince Regent, and launched into the lavish patronage of the arts with which the Regency is still associated. However, his tastes were unquestionably eccentric: the most memorable monument to his reign is the magnificent but decidedly odd Brighton Pavilion, built on a huge scale in a combination of Indian and Chinese style that reflects both the fashion for things oriental and George’s love of the garish. With little else of importance to do, George avidly consumed news of the war against Napoleon and was so thrilled by the news of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo that he studied every detail of the battle, gradually becoming convinced that he had actually been there. He would embarrass dinner parties by reminiscing about his part in the battle, leading the King’s German Legion under the name ‘General Bock’. On one occasion he reminisced to the Duke of Wellington about how he had led his men in a charge down a steep slope. “Very steep, sir”, the Iron Duke replied, drily. As George’s health declined towards the end of his life he became ever fatter and nearly blind; he was heavily drugged to reduce the pain of his gout, which further affected his grip on reality. George IV, c1811. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) 9 King Ludwig II of Bavaria (reigned 1864–1886) No list of royal eccentrics is complete with Ludwig, possibly the most eccentric of them all. Even before he succeeded to the throne, his mother was concerned that her son was not mentally stable enough for the task of ruling Bavaria and he very soon proved her right. Ludwig had no interest in politics or the military or any of the other usual concerns of a monarch. Instead his interests were artistic and he had an all-consuming passion for the music of Richard Wagner. He invited Wagner to Bavaria, where the town of Bayreuth became a shrine to Wagner’s operas; Ludwig gradually withdrew almost completely form public life to devote himself to art. A visit to France had shown him the way the French were restoring their medieval and renaissance monuments, and he decided that Bavaria needed a similar architectural revival, or else, if there were no old chateaux to restore, he would build them. He spent extravagantly on his beloved fairytale castles, like the famous Schloss Neuschwanstein on which Walt Disney later modelled the castle in Sleeping Beauty (1959). King Ludwig II of Bavaria. (Photo by Roger Viollet/Getty Images) Ludwig was shaken back into reality by the rise of Prussia and its successful wars with Austria (1866) and France (1870). A strong Catholic, Ludwig supported Austria at first but then swung behind Bismarck in the Franco-Prussian War. The proclamation of the German Empire in 1871 effectively ended the independent status of Germany’s various smaller states, but Ludwig continued as king of partly-autonomous Bavaria. His behaviour, however, was giving his ministers increasing cause for concern. He called off his marriage plans, almost certainly because of his own hidden homosexuality, and spent ever more lavishly on his beloved castles until his ministers felt forced to act. They obtained the services of a number of doctors who were prepared to declare Ludwig insane and therefore incapable of ruling, even though most of them had never met him, still less examined him. When they turned up at the palace Ludwig deployed Bavarian police to hold them off, and they were dispersed by a feisty lady of his court who set about them with her umbrella. However, the doctors and ministers came back and managed to get Ludwig removed from power and confined in a nearby manor house, where he was shortly afterwards found dead in circumstances that have never been satisfactorily explained. Sean Lang is a senior lecturer in history at Anglia Ruskin University, specialising in the history of the British Empire. He is also a professional playwright and a regular broadcaster on radio and television. You can follow him on Twitter @sf_lang This article was first published on History Extra in August 2016'
Women's football hit the big time in Mexico, 1971, thanks to a World Cup that boasted blanket press coverage, huge sponsorship deals and packed-out stadiums. So why, asks Roger Domeneghetti, did the tournament cause barely a ripple in Britain?
'As Leah Caleb and her England teammates stepped off the plane that had taken them to Mexico City, they were greeted by huge crowds at a packed airport. Arc lights illuminated the night sky. “One of the other players turned to me and said: ‘There must be someone special here,’” Caleb remembers. “It was us.” The year was 1971 and the England team were about to take part in the unofficial women’s World Cup. The tournament – organised by the Fédération Internationale Européenne de Football Féminine (FIEFF) – was met with overwhelming apathy back in England. But in Mexico it was a popular sensation, its canny manipulation of merchandising and sponsorship – and its ability to tap into the host nation’s passion for football – setting the template for the multi-million pound extravaganza that will be the 2019 Women’s World Cup. From Mary, Queen of Scots to the FIFA Women’s World Cup: a brief history of women’s football 1921: the year when football banned women A history of women’s football in Scotland Body blow In some ways, it’s remarkable that the 1971 tournament took place at all. Having shown little interest in women’s football – and fearful that the game might fall “into the hands of promoters” – Fifa, world football’s governing body, prohibited the Mexican Football Federation from helping to organise the women’s tournament. In turn, the federation threatened to fine any organisation that allowed either their stadia or training facilities to be used. But Fifa’s attempts to strangle the tournament at birth failed – chiefly because, over the previous few years, international women’s football had seen a surge in popular interest. In 1970, 50,000 fans had converged on Turin’s Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino stadium to watch Denmark beat Italy 2-0 in the final of a non-sanctioned tournament called the Martini Rosso Cup. That same year, Mexico had hosted Italy in a series of friendlies – the first watched by 60,000 spectators and broadcast on the national TV company Canal 2 . Face of Mexico: A pennant showing the tournament mascot, Xochitl, who appeared on dolls, t-shirts and badges. (Image by National Football Museum) These friendlies may have hinted at the massive public appetite in Mexico for women’s football, but FIEFF weren’t taking the World Cup’s success for granted. And, in a bid to generate even greater anticipation in a country that the previous year had hosted a spectacularly successful men’s World Cup, the organisers commercialised the tournament in exactly the same way that the men’s tournaments had. They created a mascot, Xochitl (which, in the Mexican language Nahuatl, means ‘flower’), a young girl dressed in a Mexico kit with a football under her arm. Xochitl gave the tournament a visual focal point and appeared on a range of merchandising, including magazines and programmes, dolls, t-shirts, badges and bags. Soon, a posse of high-profile corporations were in on the act, the likes of Carta Blanca beer, Nikolai Vodka, the slimming drink Dietafiel and Lagg’s tea joining Martini & Rossi as official sponsors. Although FIEFF clearly respected the players’ on-pitch abilities, they weren’t afraid of exploiting their gender to promote the tournament. Xochitl wore pigtails and had an ‘hour-glass’ figure, while the goal posts were painted pink and white. In a New York Times article prior to the tournament, Jaime de Haro, the head of the organising committee, declared: “We’re really going to stress the feminine angle. It’s natural, the combination of the two passions of most men around the world: soccer and women.” The head teacher of Leah Caleb’s school asked the local authority to agree to allow her to play for the boys’ team. It said no Looking back from the 21st century, these words may appear crass, but there’s little doubt that the organisers’ marketing strategy worked in whipping up anticipation – as the England team discovered when they touched down in Mexico. No sooner had they left the airport than they were in demand from the local media – a far cry from the complete lack of interest in women’s football back home. “There were a few snippets in the British press but it was a jokey type of thing,” remembers England winger Gill Sayell, who was just 14 when the tournament began. “But in Mexico we were chaperoned everywhere, taken to functions and we went on TV. For a schoolgirl, to be plucked into that limelight was quite surreal.” Teenage kicks: Leah Caleb in 1971, sporting a t-shirt with the Mexican World Cup mascot. The England player was aged just 13 when she took part in the tournament. (Image by Leah Caleb) The media interest continued throughout the team’s month in Mexico. The national newspapers Excélsior and El Heraldo de México both produced regular match reports and updates on the various teams’ off-pitch activities. The England squad also had numerous social engagements to fulfil, including a cocktail reception at the British ambassador’s residency. “You could feel in the weeks leading up to the games that something special was about to happen,” recalls right winger Leah Caleb, who, at 13, was even younger than Gill Sayell. “Everywhere we went there would be people coming up to us for our autographs. We had police escorts going to matches. Once, our coach was stopped on the highway because they all wanted to shake our hands through the window and give us things.” Want to receive our latest podcasts, articles and more via email? Sign up to receive our newsletter! Thanks! Our best wishes for a productive day. Already have an account with us? Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences Sign in Register Sign me up! Sign up to our free newsletter A passionate advocate Alongside Mexico, Argentina, Denmark, France and Italy, England were one of six teams to contest the 1971 World Cup. That they were there at all was largely down to the pioneering work of a coach called Harry Batt. In 1969 Batt, supported by his wife June, had formed Chiltern Valley Ladies FC and quickly affiliated the team to FIEFF. Batt, who had fought in the Spanish Civil War and was fluent in several languages, was a passionate advocate of the women’s game. “In the future there will be full-time professional ladies’ teams in this country,” he declared. But in 1970s England, that brave new world appeared a distant dream. The 1971 World Cup took place at a time when women’s football was treated with contempt and ridicule. That ridicule was especially conspicuous in the national press: when England played Scotland in 1973 (in what was by then an ‘official’ game), one prominent Sunday Times journalist wrote: “It’s like a dog walking on its hind legs. It’s not well done but it’s surprising to see it done at all.” Brush with fame: England winger Gill Sayell in training. “In Mexico we were chaperoned everywhere, taken to functions and we went on TV,” she recalls. “The limelight was quite surreal”. (Image for Gill Sayell) That attitude filtered down to school football. Neither Caleb nor Sayell were allowed to play for their school teams. The head teacher of Caleb’s school asked the local authority to agree to allow her to play for the boys’ team. It said no. Football “wasn’t the chosen sport for girls but you just got on with it”, remembers Caleb, who played under Batt for Chiltern Valley Ladies. “I just started playing football in the playground at my primary school because the boys were kicking a ball and the girls joined in. You soon developed a passion for the game because you could play. Those were the days of George Best, Denis Law and Pele – it was an exciting time for men’s football and of course England hadn’t long won the World Cup, so there was lots of inspiration.” Aged nine, Sayell had joined a boys’ team (pretending to be a boy – her teammates called her ‘Billy’) but when other teams realised she was a girl they refused to play against her – purely because she was better than them. And when playing for Thame ladies, she recalled: “We’d get a few people watching. It was mocked a little bit and it wasn’t an easy ride.” Changing times: the England team during training for their first ever official international: against Scotland in 1972. England won 3–2. (Photo by Ian Showell/Keystone/Getty Images) Deafening crowd While some of England’s older players had to choose between playing in the World Cup and their jobs, Caleb and Sayell encountered few problems, as the tournament took place during the school holidays. “I’d never been on a plane before,” says Sayell. “My dad had to rush out and get me a passport.” A few weeks later, Sayell and her England teammates played group rivals Argentina and Mexico, with the latter played in front of 90,000 people at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, which had hosted the men’s World Cup final the previous year. “I remember coming up the steps from the changing room, which was below the pitch, and the noise from the crowd was deafening,” says Sayell. Unfortunately, in both games the England players failed to do themselves justice, losing their first match 4-1 and the second 4-0. Against Argentina, their problems were compounded when their striker Janice Barton was controversially sent off for stepping off the pitch to remove her shin pads. Barton had already scored in the game and would add two to her tally in the team’s 3-2 defeat to France in the 5th/6th play-off. I’d never been on a plane before,” says England’s Gill Sayell, who was 14 years old. “My dad had to rush out and get me a passport The Mexicans, responsible for England’s second defeat, would go on to reach the final, where they succumbed to Denmark 3-0. Contemporary estimates suggest the attendance figure for the final at the Azteca Stadium was 110,000, something that surviving footage supports. However, the game has effectively been wiped from history: in the record books, it is the 90,185 that watched the 1999 final (in what was the third Women’s World Cup organised by Fifa) that is hailed as the biggest ever crowd for a women’s match. While the Danes celebrated their victory, the England players returned home to a country that had barely noticed they’d gone. When Caleb and Sayell returned to their schools after the tournament, no mention of it was made in assemblies. “From the high of Mexico, it was just back to normal,” says Sayell. “I found myself thinking, ‘did that actually happen?’ which is a shame. It would have been great if the women’s game had gone on from there but it just sort of went flat.” Rubbing salt into the wounds was the fact that the players all received short playing bans from the English governing bodies for taking part in an unofficial competition, while Harry Batt was banned for life for “bringing the game into disrepute”. “I was very disappointed,” says Sayell. “You go from representing your country and then you can’t even play for your home team.” “Whether the FA or WFA [Women’s Football Association] agreed or didn’t, the fact is that a team went there and represented England,” adds Caleb. “It happened, it’s real. People actually wanted to watch women’s football. They can’t take that away and I don’t know why you’d want to.”. Roger Domeneghetti is a senior lecturer in journalism at Northumbria University. He is the author of From the Back Page to the Front Room: Football’s Journey Through the English Media (Ockley Books, 2017) The BBC will be covering every game in the 2019 Women’s World Cup across TV, radio and online, starting on 7 June Timeline: the highs and lows of women’s football in the UK 1881 THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL Teams from Scotland and England meet at Hibernian’s Easter Road ground in Edinburgh. Scotland run out 3-0 winners in front of a crowd of around 2,000. It is the first recorded women’s football international. 1895 NORTH HAMMERS SOUTH Nettie Honeyball forms the British Ladies’ Football Club. ‘The North’ beats ‘The South’ 7-1 before a crowd of 10,000 in Crouch End. Press coverage chiefly focuses on the women’s looks and attire. 1920 WAR DIVIDEND Following a surge in interest in women’s football during the First World War (when many male players were away at the front), the Dick, Kerr Ladies factory team play St Helen’s Ladies at Goodison Park on Boxing Day in front of a crowd of 55,000. 1921 THE PATRIARCHY BITES BACK The success of women’s football causes resentment among the male football establishment. Both the Football Association (FA) and Scottish FA ban affiliated clubs from letting women’s teams use their grounds. 1971 HALF-HEARTED SUPPORT The ban is lifted but little changes. In England, the Women’s Football Association, formed in 1969, does not become affiliated to the FA until 1983. The FA allocates few resources to the women’s game which continues on an amateur basis. 1972 BREAKTHROUGH GAME Greenock’s Ravenscraig Stadium plays host to a match between England and Scotland, the first official international for either country. England come from behind to win 3-2, with Pat Davies scoring the winner. 1984 ON TOP OF THE WORLD England finish runners up to Sweden in the two-legged final of the inaugural Uefa Women’s Euros. The English media pay virtually no attention. The following year England win the Mundialito, an unofficial forerunner to the World Cup. 1989 MATCHES FOR THE MASSES Channel 4 broadcasts coverage of the WFA Cup Final and nearly 3 million tune in to watch Leasowe Pacific (now Everton) beat Friends of Fulham 3-2 at Old Trafford. Coverage over the next few years regularly pulls in around 2.5 million viewers. 1998 CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE Hope Powell is appointed the first full-time coach of the England women’s team. Twenty Centres of Excellence for girls are established, and sponsorship is gained for both the women’s FA Cup and Premier League. 2015 A LANDMARK FOR THE LIONESSES England’s Lionesses defeat Germany in the third-place play off of the official World Cup. It’s the best finish by a senior England team since the men’s team won the 1966 World Cup. 2019 BRAVE NEW WORLD Barclays agree a three-year deal worth more than £10m to sponsor the Women’s Super League. In June and July, 24 teams – including England and Scotland – will contest the Fifa Women’s World Cup, staged in France. The BBC will be covering every game in the 2019 Women’s World Cup across TV, radio and online. This article was first published in the July 2019 edition of BBC History Magazine'
Terror of the supernatural was widespread in 18th-century Britain. Martha McGill serves up five examples of opportunists exploiting that fear for their own (often nefarious) ends – from committing robbery to spreading religious hate
'1 Scratching Fanny’s quest for revenge The 18th century may be known as the Age of Enlightenment but that doesn’t mean that Britons’ fear of the supernatural had passed into history. On the contrary, many of our Georgian ancestors regarded the threat of the paranormal as real and terrifying – and that left them vulnerable to the ghost hoax. Such hoaxes saw people pretending to be ghosts – or fabricating ghost stories – in order to advance their own interests. Those interests included spreading religious hate, securing the dream marriage… and, in the case of a London clerk called Richard Parsons, exacting revenge. In 1759, Parsons let a room in a house in Cock Lane to a widower called William Kent, who was accompanied by Fanny Lynes, his dead wife’s sister, and now his mistress. Relations soured when Parsons borrowed money from Kent and failed to repay it. Kent and Lynes moved out, and soon afterwards Lynes died, apparently of smallpox. In 1762, Parsons and his 12-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, reported the ghost of Lynes was haunting the house in Cock Lane. The ghost, known as ‘Scratching Fanny’ (because it sounded like it was clawing at the furniture), claimed that Kent had poisoned her with arsenic. Want to receive our latest podcasts, articles and more via email? Sign up to receive our newsletter! Thanks! Our best wishes for a productive day. Already have an account with us? Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences Sign in Register Sign me up! Sign up to our free newsletter to get more from History Extra The case attracted mass public attention. Newspapers across the country reported on it, and curious crowds went to visit Cock Lane. Educated men held séances to speak with Scratching Fanny, and the famous writer Samuel Johnson formed part of a commission that investigated. Finally it was determined that the whole thing was a hoax: instructed by her father, who wanted to get back at Kent, Elizabeth Parsons was acting the ghost. Richard Parsons was subsequently sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, and he was pilloried three times. This case arose from a petty feud between Kent and Parsons. However, the controversy surrounding it demonstrates deeper fissures running through British society. Methodists argued that ghosts might be real; Anglicans rejected the possibility. Even after Richard Parsons was convicted, public opinion was divided. Speaking some time later, Samuel Johnson summarised the continued uncertainty around ghosts: “It is wonderful that 5,000 years have now elapsed since the creation of the world, and still it is undecided whether or not there has ever been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it; but all belief is for it.” A royal ghost tour: 5 haunted sites around Britain Spooky Stuart ghost stories James VI and I: the king who hunted witches 2 The marital woes of a fallen poltergeist In 1737, an Aberdeenshire man called Geordie Watt went to his minister with an unusual conundrum: he was being tormented by the ghost of his dead mother. This spirit had informed him that it was “the will of the great God” that Watt should marry the family’s serving girl, Tibbie Mortimer, as she was destined for eternal glory. Unless Watt agreed to this unequal match, he and his six brothers would be “consumed with fire from heaven”. (Illustration by Ben Jones for BBC History Magazine) Upon hearing this story, the minister agreed to visit Watt’s farm. The ghost duly appeared, and the minister charged at it. The ghost started to run away, but promptly fell over. The church records then note that the minister “made such a trial of the apparition as he thought agreeable to the principles of Christian revelation and true philosophy” – that is, he hit her with a stick, and so ascertained that she was no incorporeal spirit. Stripping away the ghost’s veil, the minister revealed Tibbie Mortimer herself. The ghost appeared, and the minister charged at it. The ghost started to run away, but promptly fell over The records suggest that Mortimer was pregnant; both she and Watt were fined for “fornication”. The church also found Mortimer guilty of blasphemy. On Sundays she had to sit at the front of the church service on the so-called Stool of Repentance, wearing coarse sackcloth – a punishment that went on for over a year. There is no record of what became of the child, but the sorry story does not seem to have ended in marriage. A servant such as Mortimer was left with few options when she found herself pregnant, and so it appears that she cooked up the ghost ruse in an attempt to persuade Watt to marry her. By invoking supernatural authority, social underdogs could attempt to influence their ‘superiors’. Unfortunately, in this particular instance, the attempt fell flat on its face. 9 haunted historic houses 10 things you didn’t know about the history (and mystery) of Halloween A spell-binding history of witches 3 Acts of terror from beyond the grave The question of whether or not ghosts exist has been debated for centuries. Protestant theologians thought they had the answer. Ghosts, they argued, were a Catholic superstition, and so they sought to discredit ‘papists’ by associating them with ghost hoaxes. Stories circulated of Catholic priests fabricating hauntings to exhort payment for exorcisms, or dressing up as ghosts to sneak into the bedrooms of virtuous young women. One particularly dramatic case was reported in 1733, in a publication called Revolution Politicks . A group of Catholics supposedly attested that they had been terrorised by a spook. This ghost claimed that it could not rest unless its body was buried under the pulpit in one St Clement’s Church. After the Catholics made a ‘present’ to the local minister, he agreed to allow the burial, and the funeral took place. That night, the rector dreamed that his church was on fire. His level-headed wife told him to go back to sleep. Every time he closed his eyes, though, the dream returned. Finally the priest got up, dragged a gravedigger out of bed, and went to inspect the newly buried corpse. The two of them prised open the coffin – and instead of a corpse, they found “Fire balls, and other combustibles, and a match lighted in order to have blown up the church”. It was claimed that Catholic priests dressed up as ghosts to sneak into the bedrooms of virtuous women “Say some,” the author continued, “this was another intrigue laid against the church, as deep as the fifth of November.” This tale of a hoax burial was almost certainly a hoax itself, but it demonstrates how ghost stories could be used to advance certain political or religious agendas. In the 1730s, amid fears of potential Jacobite invasion, stories such as this seemingly confirmed an accusation that many Britons already believed: that Catholics were enemies of the state. In 1733, as part of a plot to blow up a Protestant church, a group of Catholics claimed they were being terrorised by a poltergeist… or so the story went. (Illustration by Ben Jones for BBC History Magazine) 4 Mugged by a knife-hurling apparition Unscrupulous Georgians sometimes used ghost stories to scare their victims out of their wits – and their possessions. One example of such a crime came before the courts in 1810, after a woman called Margaret Salter targeted a Mary Anderson, who had been staying in the same lodging-house as her. From the start, Salter behaved strangely, conducting what appeared to be rituals. She cut rings from white cloth and placed them in the fireplace; filled a teacup with sand and surrounded it with paper figures; and offered Anderson broth laced with a mystery powder. There was worse to come. One day, the two were sitting together when a knife came hurtling across the room at Anderson. But who had thrown it? The assailant was the spirit of a man called Richard Connors, explained Salter. Connors was, in fact, alive. He made frequent visits to the guest house and later married Salter. But Salter claimed his spirit desired Anderson’s possessions, and would torture her if she refused. The naive Anderson was compelled to hand over a sprigged muslin gown, a cotton gown, a petticoat and stays, and five caps, among other accoutrements. Eventually, Anderson wised up to the deception and went to the courts. Mr Justice Chambre fined Salter a shilling and sentenced her to 12 months’ imprisonment in the ‘House of Correction’. Connors was acquitted. Salter was not alone in her opportunism. There are stories of villagers dressing up as spectres to swipe their neighbours’ chickens, or highwaymen donning white sheets to frighten gentlemen. Invoking the supernatural became a way to circumvent earthly norms of behaviour – in these cases, to pernicious ends. (Illustration by Ben Jones for BBC History Magazine) 5 The ghost that meant well… but ended up in jail While some Georgians pretended to be ghosts for financial gain, at least one claimed a more altruistic motive. In 1815, stories began to reach The Times of a supernatural being haunting St Andrew’s Holborn, London. A group of the “lower orders”, the newspaper reported, had begun gathering near the graveyard to look out for the phantom. One night a general alarm broke out: the ghost had appeared! It wandered between tombstones, laughing hysterically and letting out three “sepulchral groans”. Police officers were on the scene. Unperturbed by the apparition, they marched into the graveyard and found a young man in white trousers, a white shirt and a white cap. (Illustration by Ben Jones for BBC History Magazine) Hauled before local magistrates, the youth identified himself as 16-year-old James Cainess. He explained that a gentleman had paid him to go into the graveyard and investigate the ghost. Having established that the spectre was no more than a shaft of moonlight striking a tombstone, Cainess decided to dress up as the ghost to catch the attention of the “credulous multitude”. His plan was then to “undeceive” them. After his respectable father vouched for his future good conduct, Cainess was released without punishment. The young man’s plan chimed with a long-standing idea that combating superstition was a public service. In 1693, the Enlightenment thinker John Locke had urged parents to prevent maidservants from telling their children ghost stories, which might leave them afraid of the dark for the rest of their lives. Cainess may well have hoped to enlighten his neighbours by debunking the dreaded ghost. But his tactics suggest an ignorance of the lingering emotional power of first impressions. Top five hauntings in history Phantasmagoria: creating the ‘ghosts’ of the Enlightenment 3 curious medieval ghost stories In all of the cases in this article, scepticism won out in the end. But the stories reveal the persistent fear that ghosts might lurk in the shadows. We see this even in modern society: the BBC’s 1992 Ghostwatch hoax, a fictional drama presented as a live documentary, reportedly gave some viewers post-traumatic stress disorder. Georgian ghost hoaxes reflect tensions that ran between different religious and social groups, and the curious strategies that individuals might adopt in the pursuit of social empowerment. They also reveal the enduring sinister allure of the supernatural world. Martha McGill is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Warwick. Her book Ghosts in Enlightenment Scotland was published by Boydell and Brewer in 2018 This article was first published in the July 2019 edition of BBC History Magazine'
An announcement that Cambridge University will investigate its historical links with slavery has prompted a wealth of discussion. Anna Whitelock examines the reaction on social media
'Britain’s uneasy relationship with its colonial past continues to create headlines, with universities now sharply in focus. Following the announcement of a two-year investigation to determine the extent to which the university “contributed to, benefited from or challenged” slavery and the slave trade, Cambridge has been in the eye of the storm. Many took news that the inquiry will be chaired by a white man, classics professor Martin Millett, as evidence of disingenuous tokenism. Kehinde Andrews ( @kehinde_andrews ) tweeted to say that the fact the investigation is to be run by “an almost exclusively white centre for ‘African’ studies” means the initiative is “at best, a publicity stunt”. He added that: “The worst outcome of ‘decolonising’ is that the university is recreating inequalities by giving white scholars more topics to publish and promote on.” History explorer: the British slave trade Lincoln and slavery: “If I could save the union without freeing any slave, I would” Cecily Jones ( @CessjJones ) went further, tweeting: “Just wondering why so many ‘modern slavery/anti-slavery projects’ are either solely or primarily staffed by white academics? Or why senior academics on these projects tend to be white, while black academics are mainly research assistants?” The news was evidence to many of disingenuous tokenism Based at Cambridge University, academic Priyamvada Gopal ( @PriyamvadaGopal ) called on the university “to co-opt” leading black British scholars to the committee, to “stop tokenising and begin reparations on representation”. Writing for The Guardian , David Olusoga ( @DavidOlusoga ) suggested that by “curing itself of amnesia”, Cambridge “might help Britain understand its past”. The article, headlined, “Why are so many afraid to confront Britain’s historical links with the slave trade?” also prompted others to reflect on the nation’s attitude to its colonial legacy. Lord Nelson and slavery: Nelson’s dark side Harriet Tubman and the ‘Underground Railroad’ Among them was Tom Holland ( @holland_tom ), who pointed out that: “Part of the problem is that the moral well-springs of abolitionism have been forgotten, and so it becomes very difficult to make sense of why and how slavery came to be abolished by any standards save those of the present day.” In a similar vein, Dame Averil Cameron ( @19Averil ) said: “There was no call for abolition in the New Testament or in many centuries of Christianity, so it was all the more remarkable when it came.” Holland also noted: “To us, it seems so clear that slavery is iniquitous that we forget just how recent, radical and contingent an opinion it is.” Anna Whitelock is director of the London Centre for Public History and Heritage at Royal Holloway, University of London. Join the debate at twitter.com/historyextra This article was first published in the July 2019 edition of BBC History Magazine'
The diary of Anne Frank (1929–45), written while she and her family were in hiding in Amsterdam during the Second World War to escape from the Nazis, is one of the most famous – and bestselling – books of all time. But how much do you know about the
'Here, Zoe Waxman, senior research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, shares 12 interesting facts about Anne Frank and her diary… 1 Anne Frank’s diary is (arguably) the most famous diary of all time Anne Frank’s diary, originally written in Dutch and published in 1947 in Holland as Het Achterhuis: Dagboekbrieven 12 Juni 1942–1 Augustus 1944 (The Secret Annexe: Diary-Letters 12 June 1942–1 August 1944), had an initial print run of only 1,500 copies, but has since become something of a phenomenon. It has been translated into more than 60 languages – from Albanian to Welsh – including Farsi, Arabic, Sinhalese and Esperanto. In 2009 it was added to the Unesco Memory of the World Register. The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam – Anne’s hiding place during the Second World War – is also the most visited site in the Netherlands, and Anne now even has her own unofficial Facebook page. Children from all around the world continue to write letters to Anne as if she were their friend. She has remained irrevocably the eternal child. Forgotten voices of the Holocaust (exclusive to The Library) Sewing for the Nazis: who were the dressmakers of Auschwitz? Songs of the Holocaust: the music of Aleksander Kulisiewicz (exclusive to The Library) 2 Anne’s sister, Margot Betti Frank, also wrote a diary Anneliese Marie Frank, known as ‘Anne’ to her friends and family, was born in Frankfurt-am-Main on 12 June 1929. She was the second and youngest child of an assimilated Jewish family. Her sister, Margot Betti Frank, who was three years older than Anne, also wrote a diary – although it has never been found. Margot was the more studious sister. Anne, while intelligent, was often distracted by talking to her friends during school. Want to receive our latest podcasts, articles and more via email? Sign up to receive our newsletter! Thanks! Our best wishes for a productive day. Already have an account with us? Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences Sign in Register Sign me up! Sign up to our free newsletter to get more from History Extra 3 Anne Frank received her diary as a 13th birthday present Anne chose her own diary – an autograph book bound with white and red checked cloth, and closed with a small lock – as a present for her 13th birthday. This birthday, on Friday 12 June 1942, was the last before she and her family went into hiding. To mark the occasion, Anne’s mother, Edith, made cookies for Anne to share with her friends at school. Anne also enjoyed a party with a strawberry pie and a room decorated with flowers. Anne’s first entries describe how her family were segregated and discriminated against. Anne addressed many of her entries to an imaginary girl friend, ‘Dear Kitty’ or ‘Dearest Kitty’. Anne Frank, second from right, with her sister Margot, father Otto and mother Edith, in the Merwedeplein, Amsterdam, 1941. (Photo by Granger, NYC/Alamy Stock Photo) 4 Anne Frank and her family went into hiding after her sister was summoned to a German work camp After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, Anne’s family decided to escape to Amsterdam, in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, to flee the rapidly escalating anti-Semitism in Germany. Anne and her family went into hiding in Amsterdam on 6 July 1942, the day after Anne’s elder sister, Margot, received a call-up for a German work camp. Anne’s parents, Otto and Edith, had already planned to go into hiding with their daughters on 16 July, and had been arranging a secret hiding place. They went into hiding earlier than planned following Margot’s call-up, seeking refuge in the house behind Otto’s office on Prinsengracht 263 and leaving behind Anne’s beloved cat named Moortje. Laurence Rees on the perpetrators of the Holocaust: “What they told us was, at the time, they felt it was the right thing to do” (exclusive to The Library) 7 must-see Second World War films 5 acts of kindness that changed history 5 Four other Jews lived in the secret annex alongside the Frank family The Franks were soon joined by four other Jews: Hermann and Auguste van Pels with their son Peter (the boy Anne was to fall in love with), and for a time, Fritz Pfeffer, a German dentist. Anne’s diary describes in great detail the tension between the eight individuals, who had to stay indoors at all times and remain quiet so as not to arouse the suspicion of staff working in the warehouse downstairs. The entrance to the annex was concealed behind a moveable bookcase. 6 Anne Frank spent a total of two years and 35 days in hiding During that time she was unable to see the sky, could not feel the rain or sun, walk on grass, or even walk for any length of time. Anne focused on studying and reading books on European history and literature. She also spent time on her appearance: curling her dark hair and manicuring her nails. She made lists of the toiletries she dreamt one day of buying, including: “lipstick, eyebrow pencil, bath salts, bath powder, eau-de-Cologne, soap, powder puff” (Wednesday 7 October 1942). 7 Anne wanted to become a famous writer While in hiding Anne hoped that she would one day be able to return to school and she dreamt of spending a year in Paris and another in London. She wanted to study the history of art and become fluent in different languages while seeing “beautiful dresses” and “doing all kind of exciting things”. Ultimately she wanted to become “a journalist, and later on a famous writer” (Thursday 11 May 1944). With no friends to confide in, Anne used the diary to express her fear, bordedom, and the struggles she faced growing up. On 16 March 1944, she wrote: “The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings, otherwise I’d absolutely suffocate.” In addition to her diary, Anne wrote short stories and collated her favourite sentences by other writers in a notebook. The house in which Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis from 1942 to 1944. (Photo by DESK/AFP/Getty Images) 8 Anne rewrote her diary after listening to a BBC broadcast On 28 March 1944, Anne and her family listened to a BBC programme broadcast illegally by Radio Oranje (the voice of the Dutch government-in-exile). Gerrit Bolkestein, the Dutch minister of education, art and science, who was exiled in London, stated that after the war he wished to collect eyewitness accounts of the experiences of the Dutch people under the German occupation. Anne immediately began rewriting and editing her diary with the view to future publication, calling it The Secret Annex . She did this at the same time as keeping her original, more private diary. 9 The Franks were discovered just two months after the Allied landings in Normandy By listening daily to the broadcasts of Radio Oranje and the BBC, Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was able to follow the progress of the Allied forces. He had a small map of Normandy that he marked with little red pins. On Tuesday 6 June 1944, Anne excitedly wrote: “Is this really the beginning of the long-awaited liberation?” Tragically, it was not to be. Two months after the Allied landings in Normandy, the police discovered the Franks’ hiding place. 10 Anne Frank’s diary was rescued by Miep Gies, her father’s friend and secretary On 4 August 1944, everyone in the annex was arrested. On 4 August 1944, three days after Anne’s final diary entry, the Gestapo arrested Anne together with her family and the other people they were hiding with. They were betrayed by an anonymous source who had reported their existence to the German authorities. Otto’s secretary, Miep Gies, who had helped the Franks go into hiding and visited them frequently, retrieved Anne’s diary from the annex, hoping to one day to return it to her. 11 The exact date of Anne Frank’s death is unknown Anne was first sent to Westerbork, a transit camp in the Netherlands, before being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. More people were murdered at Auschwitz than at any other camp – at least 1.1 million men, women and children perished there, 90 per cent of them Jews. Anne and her sister Margot survived Auschwitz only to be sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. There the two girls died of typhus shortly before the camp was liberated by the British Army on 15 April 1945. The exact date of their deaths is unknown. Margot was 19 years old and Anne was just 15. The Jews who fought back: the story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Life under Nazi rule: the occupation of the Channel Islands How has public memory of the Holocaust changed over the years? 12 Anne Frank’s father was initially unsure about publishing her story Anne’s father, Otto, was the only person from the secret annex to survive. He returned to Amsterdam following the liberation of Auschwitz, learning en route of his wife’s death. In July 1945 he met one of the Brilleslijper sisters, who had been at Bergen-Belsen with Anne and Margot. From her, he learned that his daughters were dead. Miep Gies passed on Anne’s diary to Otto Frank in July 1945. Otto later recalled: “I began to read slowly, only a few pages each day, more would have been impossible, as I was overwhelmed by painful memories. For me, it was a revelation. There, was revealed a completely different Anne to the child that I had lost. I had no idea of the depths of her thoughts and feelings.” After initially feeling uncertain about publishing Anne’s diary, he finally decided to fulfill his daughter’s wish. The diary of Anne Frank was first published in the Netherlands on 25 June 1947. Zoe Waxman is a senior research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and the author of Pocket Giants: Anne Frank (The History Press, 2015), a biography of Anne Frank. This article was first published on History Extra in March 2016'
Sometimes considered brusque and prone to lapses in tact, Prince Philip has nonetheless excelled in his principal role: as the Queen's stalwart companion for 70 years. Here, Sarah Gristwood discusses their long union and the tricky job of a consort
'Her husband, said Queen Elizabeth II in her golden wedding speech, “has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years” – and what a lot of years it has turned out to be. This is the longest royal marriage in recorded history. Her grandson, the Duke of Cambridge, says the support that Prince Philip has given the Queen is something of which she often speaks in private too. This partnership has been one of the great achievements of the Queen’s reign. And it is all the more striking because the choice of consort for a female monarch has always been a vexed one – so vexed that, back in the days of the Tudor queens, the power a foreign husband might have over his spouse was often held to rule out a female monarch. Back in the 1940s, some courtiers expressed the same concerns about Philip. 12 surprising facts about Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II: the queen who saved the royals (exclusive to The Library) At the wedding breakfast, on 20 November 1947, King George VI said: “Our daughter is marrying the man she loves.” Philip, newly naturalised as a British subject, said that he was proud, “proud of my country and my wife”. Princess Elizabeth, as then she was, said that: “I ask nothing more than that Philip and I should be as happy as my father and mother have been, and Queen Mary and King George before them.” This summed it up: love, duty and tradition. It was a genuine romance, but from a girl who was already so well-adapted to her regal role as only to fall in love within a limited gene pool. Philip was the great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria, and had been partly raised in Britain despite his Greek and Danish titles and his Danish and German blood. The two first met at family occasions when Elizabeth was a child. Then, in 1939, the 13-year-old princess accompanied her parents to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, where 18-year-old Philip was a cadet, helping to entertain the royal party. The two exchanged letters and from that moment the idea of a match appears to have been in currency, not only with the protagonists, but with Philip’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten, who fostered the idea every step of the way. Elizabeth, recalls her cousin Margaret Rhodes, was obviously taken with this young man who seemed like “a Viking god”. Philip, even at this early stage, told his naval commander that he might marry the future queen – or so he’d been told by his “Uncle Dickie” (Mountbatten). But it was after the war that things became serious. By the time Philip was invited to Balmoral in the summer of 1946, it was clear Elizabeth was in love. She accepted his proposal that August, though the king’s consent had still to be obtained. George VI had doubts about ‘Prince Philip of Greece’ – about the young man’s somewhat raffish reputation; about the fact Philip’s own father had been forcibly rejected by his country, leaving his family as penniless exiles; and about the role the ambitious Mountbatten hoped to play. The princess’s parents asked her to wait some months and took her away on a long South Africa tour. But in July 1947 it was posted from Buckingham Palace that, “with the greatest pleasure”, king and queen announced the betrothal of their dearly beloved daughter to “Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, RN”, who had renounced his nationality, his name and his Greek Orthodox religion to make this a possibility. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip: 8 milestones in their marriage Life of the Week: Prince Philip Prince Philip at 90 There were still some cavils – precisely equivalent, rather oddly, to those that had greeted Prince Albert’s engagement to Queen Victoria. Albert too had been the candidate of a favourite uncle, and there were concerns too over German Albert’s foreignness, about his title. (Victoria, who had wanted him to be king consort, rather than prince consort, “raged” in a perfectly “frantic” way.) The complaints of some MPs about the cost of Elizabeth and Philip’s wedding echoed those about the income Victoria and Albert would enjoy. In fact the royal family themselves had qualms about whether, so soon after the Second World War, and with rationing growing ever more stringent, a large public ceremony was really appropriate. But the majority opinion proved to be that of Winston Churchill, that it would be “a flash of colour on the hard road we have to travel”. It was less than 30 years since the royals had begun holding their weddings in public, after centuries of private ceremonies, but it was already apparent that this was one of the best weapons in their armoury. The wedding presents were put on display at St James’s Palace – though not presumably the Aga Khan’s thoroughbred filly, or the Siamese kitten from two district nurses in Wiltshire. Nor, indeed, the hunting lodge from the people of Kenya. But there was the sapphire and diamond set from the king, who also gave Purdey guns, the dinner service from President and Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the tea cloth Gandhi spun on his own wheel. (Queen Mary took it for one of his loincloths, and exclaimed at the indelicacy.) The wedding dress from British designer Norman Hartnell was to be a triumph of patriotic production, with even the nationality of the worms turning out the silk proving to be a matter of debate. Hartnell’s inspiration came from Botticelli’s paintings, and the dress was to be a festival of flowers, with the blooms picked out in crystal and pearls – a promise of rebirth and growth after the long winter of war. At the dance in the palace two nights before the wedding, King George lead a conga through the state apartments, while the groom’s stag night took place at the Dorchester Hotel. The crowd on the day was 50 people thick, despite the November weather. But the archbishop of York, officiating alongside the archbishop of Canterbury, said that the wedding in Westminster Abbey was “in all essentials exactly the same as it would have been for any cottager who might be married this afternoon in some small country church”. The bride promised to obey, and the couple left the abbey to the strains of Mendelssohn’s ‘Wedding March’. The wedding breakfast was an ‘austerity’ event for a mere 150 guests, with the main course a casserole of unrationed partridges. As the couple set off to spend the first days of their honeymoon at Broadlands, Lord Mountbatten’s Hampshire home, they were accompanied by the princess’s favourite corgi. This was the first time newsreel cameras had been allowed to follow a wedding party into the abbey itself – an omen, perhaps, of the modernising role Prince Philip would come to play within the royal family. Crowds around the world rushed to the cinemas to feel a part of what commentator after commentator described as a fairy story. Perhaps the only fly in the ointment was the tensions that meant that Philip’s three surviving sisters, married to German princes, were not invited to the ceremony. The couple’s early years together were eased by the fact that Elizabeth (unlike Victoria) was still only a princess when she wed, hence the long spell in Malta the couple were able to enjoy, with Elizabeth living the comparatively private life of a naval wife. George VI’s failing health soon led to Philip’s giving up his naval career, but in 1952 news of the king’s early death, and Elizabeth’s precipitous accession, was arguably as great a shock for husband as for wife. At Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953, Prince Philip was the first to swear allegiance to her, that he would be her “liege man of life and limb”. But there had always been debate about his precise titles and place in the royal pecking order. Now, with the new queen already the mother of two, the question of a surname arose – of whether, as Philip’s uncle unwisely boasted, the House of Mountbatten now sat on the throne. The decision was taken that those directly in line for the throne should keep the name of Windsor, causing Philip to curse, reportedly that he was “just a bloody amoeba”, valued for his reproductive function and no more. There would be other issues, over what Prince Philip’s role was supposed to be. Before the Queen’s accession, Philip said, whatever they did was done together and “I suppose I naturally filled the principal position”. Becoming Queen: Elizabeth II’s coronation (exclusive to The Library) Elizabeth II and her prime ministers (exclusive to The Library) No longer. Accounts vary as to whether it was the courtiers or the Queen herself who decreed he should not be privy to the red boxes of state papers or present at the weekly audiences with her prime ministers. (Just as Victoria had limited Albert’s role to “dealing with the blotting paper”. But Victoria’s pregnancies gave Albert his opportunity, so that he was able to fulfill his hope of becoming not only “the natural head of the family”, but Victoria’s “sole confidential advisor in politics… her private secretary and her permanent minister”.) In 1972, the radical MP Willie Hamilton asked Prince Philip whether he saw his role as equivalent to Prince Albert’s as the power behind the throne. He got the answer that “times, circumstances and personalities are entirely different” today. In the late 1950s, when the first adjustments of the new reign were over and everyone was settling down for the long haul, there were indeed press reports of a ‘rift’ between the Queen and her husband. But these would soon die away. Prince Philip found a way to accommodate himself to the situation and then stuck to it. As his grandson William says, he “totally put his personal career aside to support her, and he never takes the limelight, never oversteps the mark”. He has often been a force for change, insisting on the reform of some of the more arcane practices of the royal household (like the powdering of footmen’s wigs). He cheered and encouraged the Queen into undertakings she did not at first find easy – the social, crowd-pleasing, aspect of her duties. He should perhaps take some share of the credit for the recent resurgence in the popularity of the monarchy. But the bottom line is that he is “always on her side, and he’s an unwavering companion”, as Prince William put it appreciatively. Of course, the Duke of Edinburgh has not always been viewed so warmly. His famous gaffes, his brusqueness with the press and his impatience may just be the natural expression of a man of his age and background; or they may be an essential escape valve – a letting off of steam – for a man not temperamentally attuned to life in his wife’s shadow. More serious is the fact that the Queen and Prince Philip’s own happy marriage somehow failed to provide an example their children were able to follow. The marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer was also widely seen as a fairy story – hence the bafflement, from Queen as well as country, that it turned out so disastrously. Here, perhaps, the Queen’s principle of allowing her husband to wear the trousers in their private life – sending Prince Charles to Gordonstoun, urging him into marriage before he was ready – has made for difficulty. But another generation on and the royals may be able to take Elizabeth and Philip as an example and a legacy. The Duchess of Cambridge has spoken of how “special” it must be for the Queen to have the support of a husband on public occasions “and behind closed doors”, that having to fulfill her role alone would be “a very, very lonely place to be”. At the Queen’s diamond jubilee, after gallantly standing by his wife, tapping his foot to music as the royal barge steered up the Thames through drenching rain, Prince Philip had to be hospitalised suddenly. The Queen had to face the crux of the celebrations without him, and to some if felt like a symbol of what may be ahead. And it might be only after the duke is gone that we are likely to appreciate him properly – to realise that this partnership, almost 70 years long, has been genuinely extraordinary. Philip is Britain’s longest-serving male consort. But how did five of his predecessors fare? 1 Mary I (1516–58) and Philip II of Spain Mary Tudor was always determined to marry into her mother’s Spanish/Habsburg family, but the alliance proved deeply unpopular in England. The concern with the husband of any reigning queen was that he would have mastery not only of her, but of her country – fear that seemed justified when England followed Spain into a costly war with France. Mary’s example was a dreadful warning to her sister Elizabeth, the ‘Virgin Queen’, as was the example across the Scottish border… 2 Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–87) and her three husbands Mary’s first youthful marriage made her dauphine, and then briefly queen consort, of France and risked making Scotland a satellite of that country. Her second, to Lord Darnley was bedevilled by his conviction that his gender should give him precedence, and by his part in the murder of David Rizzio, her private secretary. When Mary made a third marriage with the Earl of Bothwell, widely suspected of Darnley’s own murder, the scandal cost the queen her country, and ultimately her life. 3 Mary II (1662–94) and William of Orange William and Mary are unique in that his role was not merely that of consort. Indeed, he continued to rule England alone after her death. In 1688, 11 years after marrying Mary, William invaded England to seize the crown from her unpopular Catholic father, James. He had the support of many of the ruling classes who, however, wanted to crown Mary as sole monarch, a proposition William (and his wife) refused. In their joint monarchy, there was no doubt his was the mastery. 4 Queen Anne (1665–1714) and Prince George of Denmark Queen Anne’s husband is the forgotten man among royal consorts, despite having fathered some 17 children with her (none of whom lived to maturity). Younger brother to the Danish king, dull George was acceptable as a Protestant and because the Danish alliance represented a curb on Dutch power. By contrast to his brother-in-law William, George played only a minimal role in Anne’s reign. He was widely blamed for the mismanagement of the navy, but his death left her devastated. 5 Queen Victoria (1819–1901) and Prince Albert The keynote of their relationship was set when Victoria, already a reigning queen, had to propose to Albert, rather than he to her. The early years of their marriage saw some flaming rows about his role and status, but Victoria’s frequent pregnancies ultimately gave him his opportunity to play a larger part in state affairs. He was a beneficial and a calming influence until his early death at 42 flung her into extreme mourning which led even to doubts of her sanity. This article was first published in BBC History Magazine’s ‘Queen Elizabeth: 90 Glorious Years’ bookazine'
In 1464, England's most eligible bachelor, King Edward IV, shocked the nation by announcing that he had taken a bride: Elizabeth Woodville, an impoverished widow with two young sons. The match brought his queen's family into the thick of the Wars of
'One of 12 surviving siblings, Elizabeth herself was the product of a runaway match between Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, and a knight, Sir Richard Woodville. Here, Susan Higginbotham, author of The Woodvilles: The War of the Roses and England’s Most Infamous Family , reveals eight things you might not have known about Edward IV’s in-laws… 1 Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, could have become queen When Henry V died in 1422, he left his infant son, Henry VI, as king. During the royal minority, Henry V’s younger brothers, John, Duke of Bedford, and Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, governed the kingdom – Bedford was in charge of the crown’s French possessions, while Gloucester handled affairs at home. Elizabeth Woodville: Edward IV’s controversial queen (exclusive to The Library) Marrying for love: Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville When royals marry ‘commoners’: a brief history In 1433, the widowed Bedford took as his second wife Jacquetta de Luxembourg, the 17-year-old niece of the Bishop of Thérouanne. Had little Henry VI died, under the usual order of succession Bedford would have become king of England, and Jacquetta his queen. This, of course, did not happen. Instead, Bedford died after just two years of marriage, leaving Henry VI to grow up to rule disastrously on his own, and Jacquetta to make a shocking, secret marriage to Sir Richard Woodville, the son of Bedford’s chamberlain. But although Jacquetta never wore a crown, her daughter Elizabeth would, through making her own clandestine marriage to Edward IV. Want to receive our latest history articles via email? Sign up to receive our newsletter! Thanks! Our best wishes for a productive day. Already have an account with us? Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences Sign in Register Sign me up! Sign up to our free newsletter to get more from History Extra 2 Elizabeth Woodville founded Queens’ College – again Margaret of Anjou, Henry VI’s queen, founded a college at Cambridge in 1448. When Henry VI lost his crown to Edward IV, the college fell on hard times. Enter Elizabeth, Edward’s queen. In 1465 she refounded the college, and gave it its first statutes 10 years later. It is often said that the placement of the apostrophe in Queens’ reflects the fact that two queens founded the college, but the college disputes that story. Even if Elizabeth can’t claim credit for the placement of an apostrophe, her portrait hangs in the college. Elizabeth of York: a Tudor of rare talent (exclusive to The Library) 6 myths about Richard III The 5 greatest mysteries behind the Wars of the Roses 3 Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, was accused of witchcraft In 1469, Edward had a falling-out with Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, over foreign policy and over what Warwick believed was the undue influence Edward gave to upstarts such as the Woodvilles. Relations between the two deteriorated to the point where Warwick revolted against Edward, taking him prisoner and killing Elizabeth Woodville’s father and her brother John. During this period of upheaval, a follower of Warwick produced some lead images that he claimed Jacquetta had made for the purposes of witchcraft and sorcery. Despite the shock of her recent bereavement, Jacquetta refused to be cowed by the accusations, and wrote to the mayor and the aldermen of London for their assistance, which they granted. Further intervention proved unnecessary, however, for Warwick found it decidedly awkward to keep holding the king captive, and released him. With Edward back in charge, the king’s council cleared Jacquetta of the charges against her. The accusations of witchcraft did not die, however, but were revived by Richard III in 1484, when his parliament declared that Jacquetta had used witchcraft to procure her daughter’s marriage to the king. Elizabeth Woodville with Edward IV in 1464. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images) 4 Anthony Woodville helped save London from a Lancastrian attack Warwick reconciled with Edward IV, but the amity was short-lived. In 1470, Warwick allied with the exiled Margaret of Anjou to put the now imprisoned Henry VI back on the throne. Having been forced to flee the country, Edward IV returned to reclaim the throne and defeated the Lancastrians at the battles of Barnet (14 April 1471) and Tewkesbury (4 May 1471). The Yorkist victory at Tewkesbury, however, did not end the conflict. Although Warwick was killed at Barnet, and Henry VI’s teenage son was killed at Tewkesbury, Henry VI remained alive inside the Tower of London. With the thought of freeing him, a Neville relation known as the Bastard of Fauconberg launched an attack on London, which Edward had left in the charge of the Earl of Essex and Anthony, Earl Rivers, Elizabeth Woodville’s brother. As Fauconberg’s men attacked Aldgate, Anthony drove them back, thus helping save London for the Yorkists – a feat his contemporaries would remember in verse: “Through his enemies that day did he pass / The mariners were killed, they cried “Alas!” 5 While abroad, Anthony Woodville was robbed The most cultivated of the Woodville family, Anthony went on pilgrimage to Italy in 1476. The 2nd Earl Rivers did not travel light, and in Venice he was robbed of his jewels and plate, which were worth at least 1,000 marks. It helps a traveller, however, to be the brother-in-law of the king of England. The Venetians promptly set about searching for the criminals and restoring to Anthony his jewels – which had been purchased by local citizens – while arranging to reimburse those who had bought the purloined goods in good faith. When Anthony finally resumed his travels, the Venetians were probably happy to see the last of him, as he had been a rather expensive visitor. 6 Anthony Woodville was a ‘techie’ In late 1475 or early 1476, William Caxton brought a newfangled device to England – the printing press. Soon he had produced the first book printed in England: an edition of Geoffrey Chaucer’s ever-popular Canterbury Tales . The nobility, however, were slow to embrace this new technology, with Edward IV himself preferring to amass illuminated manuscripts. One nobleman, however, seized upon this new opportunity to disseminate knowledge to the masses: Anthony Woodville. He translated three books for Caxton to print, and may have been responsible for sending several others to press as well. Caxton even made a joke about Anthony’s love life. In his epilogue to Anthony’s translation of The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers (a book which, sadly, has not withstood the test of time), Caxton noted that Anthony had omitted some of Socrates’ unflattering observations about women. He surmised: “But I suppose that some fair lady hath desired him to leave it out of his book. Or else he was amorous on some noble lady…” c1800: Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers. Engraved by Gerimia from the book A Catalogue of the Royal and Noble Authors published 1806. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images) 7 The Woodvilles didn’t rob the treasury In 1483, Edward IV suddenly died, leaving a 12-year-old heir, Edward. By the time the dust settled, Edward IV’s younger brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was king (Richard III), and Prince Edward and his younger brother had been taken to the Tower of London, never to be seen again. For reasons that remain debatable, Gloucester arrested Anthony Woodville and several others after Edward IV’s death, and Elizabeth Woodville fled into sanctuary. Legend has it she took with her part of the royal treasury, which she supposedly divvied up between one of her brothers and her oldest son from her first marriage. But did this really happen? The sole source for the story is an Italian observer, Dominic Mancini, who reported the treasury story only as a rumour he had heard, not as an established fact. Richard III never accused Elizabeth or her family of stealing royal treasure, nor is there is any evidence that he believed any treasure was missing. In fact, as historian Rosemary Horrox has shown, excursions against the Scots had left the treasury seriously depleted by the time Edward IV died, and defending the realm against French pirates left England even poorer. One Woodville, however, did acquire a very large sum during this time: Sir Edward Woodville, Elizabeth Woodville’s youngest brother, who was busy patrolling the seas when Anthony was captured. In mid-May 1483 he seized some £10,250 in English gold from a vessel, claiming it for the crown. Soon afterward, learning that Gloucester had ordered his arrest, Edward sailed to Brittany – presumably taking his gold with him, for it was never heard of again. How could the son of Henry VIII become Edward VI? 12 things you (probably) didn’t know about the Wars of the Roses Did fear drive Richard III to the throne? (exclusive to The Library) The real history behind The Spanish Princess 8 Sir Edward Woodville lost his teeth for Ferdinand and Isabella Having helped Henry Tudor defeat Richard III at the battle of Bosworth in 1485, Edward went to Spain the following year to fight the ‘infidels’, possibly in fulfillment of a vow. Having joined forces led by Ferdinand and Isabella to fight the Moors, Edward was mounting a scaling ladder when he was struck by a stone that knocked him unconscious and cost him his two front teeth. Visited later by Henry VII and his queen, Edward quipped of his missing teeth: “Our Lord, who reared this fabric, has only opened a window in order to discern the more readily what passes within.” When Edward finally returned to England, he did not go empty-handed: Queen Isabella sent him away with 12 Andalusian horses, two beds with rich hangings, and other valuables. But Edward’s next foreign adventure proved to be his last: in 1488, he was killed while fighting for Brittany against France. Susan Higginbotham is the author of The Woodvilles: The War of the Roses and England’s Most Infamous Family (The History Press, March 2015), the first non-fiction book on the Woodville family. To find out more, click here . This article was first published by History Extra in May 2015.'
With the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup approaching, we revisit an article from Dr Ariel Hessayon who reflects on women's surprisingly long involvement with football..
'Breasts and balls While medieval girls and women played and were entertained by a variety of bat and ball games, the earliest specific association I know of comes from a mid-15th century poem. This was a satire by the prolific East Anglian monk John Lydgate. In it the poet enlarged upon the attractions of “my fair lady”. She wore a green hood and had two small breasts squeezed together so they appeared like a large “camping ball” (East Anglian dialect for football). 1921: the year when football banned women A history of women’s football in Scotland Did the First World War Christmas truce football match really happen? Spectators By the 16th century, women’s involvement in football had moved beyond associations between their breasts and the ball, to a spectator scene. The most famous 16th-century female football spectator was Mary, Queen of Scots. In the 1970s a ball made of leather and inflated with a pig’s bladder was discovered in the rafters of the Queen’s Chamber, Stirling Castle (Mary’s residence). It is now proudly displayed in the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum. It is claimed to be “ the Oldest Football in the World ”, although archaeologists at Winchester have dug up two leather balls (roughly the size of modern tennis balls) that are about 500 years older. In June 1568, having abdicated and fled to England, Mary watched a football match on a “playing-green” somewhere between Carlisle Castle and the Scottish border. The game involved about 20 of her retinue, who played for two hours “very strongly, nimbly and skilfully, without any foul play offered, the smallness of their balls occasioning fair play”. Mary, Queen of Scots (Credit: Imagno/Getty Images) Unsuitable players The 16th-century English physician John Caius (pronounced ‘Keys’) recommended a number of vigorous sports and pastimes to improve health – but not football. Although he discouraged men from playing football because they were likely to get their legs broken, it’s interesting that Caius suggested women take up bowls as suitable exercise. Football, he appeared to have thought, was not suitable for women. The playwright James Shirley had one of his comic characters express a similar sentiment: women were unsuited to football because they were too light and knocked down too easily. At first glance this seems to contradict other evidence. For in a pastoral “dialogue between two shepherds” the Elizabeth courtier and poet Sir Philip Sidney has a mother recall a time “when she, with skirts tucked very high, with girls at stool-ball plays”. (According to some sources, however, this was written by Sidney’s sister, Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke.) This, however, was not the ‘violent’ men’s game of that name, but perhaps what was sometimes called ‘balloon ball’ – batting a large inflated ball back and forth, much like modern volleyball. Alternatively, Sidney may have meant a bat and ball game popular with young women of the period. A diarist even recorded that at Oxford on Shrove Tuesday 1633 women played stool-ball and men football. 5 facts about the history of football In pictures: when England won the football World Cup 10 facts you (probably) didn’t know about the First World War The 18th century So we come to the earliest indisputable reference I’ve found to a woman participating in a football match. It comes from a contemporary newspaper account of a match played on Shrove Tuesday, 23 February 1773. The game involved married gentlemen playing against bachelors in Walton, a village in Yorkshire. After more than an hour’s struggle, with much pushing to the ground and several broken shins, the married men were in trouble. Until, that is, a bold woman “seeing her husband hard press’d, entered the field to his assistance”. Instead of being intimidated by the “superior strength” of her opponent she, “like a true Amazon… pursued the ball, and soon determined the victory”. Just over 20 years later, a doctor from Inveresk in Midlothian noted some peculiarities about the women of his parish: “their manners are masculine”. Nor did this surprise him, since these “fishwives” did the same work as the men. Besides playing golf frequently there was an annual Shrove Tuesday football match between the married and unmarried women. Because the married women were said to have always emerged victorious, a few modern commentators have speculated – when it was fashionable – that the game’s origin was a fertility rite. But there’s no evidence to confirm this. Victorian lady footballers Finally we come to the British Ladies’ Football Club, formed in 1894. This was the brainchild of Nettie Honeyball and Lady Florence Dixie. Nettie saw it as a business opportunity and was keen on turning young middle-class women into professional footballers. Florence, on the other hand, used her privileged background to speak out on a range of topical political and social issues – including family planning and suitable women’s attire. Following an advertisement to recruit teams, a match was played between the North and South in north London on 23 March 1895. A crowd of more than 10,000 saw the North win convincingly 7–1. But press coverage was largely negative. There was ‘tut-tutting’ about the supposedly unfeminine kit, while the North’s tricky left-winger, Miss Gilbert, was unkindly nicknamed “Little Tommy”. Further exhibition matches were played around the country, yet the novelty soon wore off. In the long term this initiative failed to establish an officially sanctioned league. The FA actually banned women’s football for a time. So it’s clear that women’s football has a long and often repressed history. Thankfully we’ve since moved on. Women’s football is encouraged in schools up and down the country, and this World Cup in Canada promises to be the biggest ever. Yes, the women’s game is still regarded with less interest than men’s football. But that’s largely for historical reasons. With the ball finally rolling in the right direction, however, all eyes are now on the women equalising with the men. Dr Ariel Hessayon is a senior lecturer in the Department of History at Goldsmiths, University of London. This article was first published in 2015.'
On 19 May 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, was executed by beheading within the confines of the Tower of London. She’d been queen for just three years. Here, Claire Ridgway, creator of The Anne Boleyn Files website, considers
'Anne Boleyn, thought to have been around 35 years old, was found guilty of high treason by a jury of her peers in the king’s hall at the Tower on 15 May 1536. She had been charged with having sexual relationships with five courtiers, including her brother, George Boleyn (aka Lord Rochford), and the king’s good friend and groom of the stool, Sir Henry Norris. According to the indictments, not only had she slept with these men (as a result of her “frail and carnal appetites”), but she had also conspired with them to kill her husband, the king. 11 things you (probably) didn’t know about Anne Boleyn Guilty or not guilty: why did Anne Boleyn have to die? (exclusive to The Library) The dates of her alleged crimes ran from October 1533 to January 1536, but, as the late historian Eric Ives has pointed out, three-quarters of the dates mentioned in the indictments do not make sense for either Anne or the accused man; Anne was not present at the places at the times stated. For example, in October 1533, when Anne was accused of “procuring” Sir Henry Norris to “violate” her at Westminster, Anne was still confined to her chambers at Greenwich after the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth. In 1535, when she was supposed to have been seducing Mark Smeaton at Greenwich, the queen was actually at Richmond. The charges were nonsensical, but if any doubt had been cast on these dates, then this was covered by the addition of “divers [diverse] days before and since” and “several times before and after” in the indictments. A painting by Édouard Cibot of Anne Boleyn in the Tower of London (1835). (Photo by Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images) Why was Anne Boleyn executed? The majority of modern historians believe that Anne Boleyn was an innocent woman framed: either by her husband, who was intent on moving onto a new wife with whom he hoped to have a surviving male heir; or by his loyal servant, Thomas Cromwell, who devised the case against Anne to remove a threat and an obstacle to his plans. Anne disagreed with Cromwell’s plans for the monasteries and her pro-French stance on diplomacy was a problem when Cromwell wanted an alliance with the Holy Roman Empire. Anne’s almoner had attacked Cromwell and the advice he was giving the king in a sermon preached in the presence of the king. In Tudor law, defendants were presumed guilty until proven innocent (the burden of proof was on the accused to prove their innocence) and defendants were often unaware of the exact charges and the evidence being used against them before the trial, so it was incredibly difficult for them to defend themselves properly. The jury also knew what was expected of them in a case of high treason, a case of six people conspiring to kill God’s anointed sovereign. Anne; her brother George Boleyn, Lord Rochford; Sir Henry Norris, groom of the stool; courtiers Sir Francis Weston and William Brereton; and musician Mark Smeaton had little hope of justice. Imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys, in his dispatch regarding the trial of four of the men, wrote that they “were condemned upon presumption and certain indications, without valid proof or confession”. No witnesses were produced against Anne and her brother either, and they defended themselves admirably, with George being described as replying “so well” to the charges “that several of those present wagered 10 to 1 that he would be acquitted”. It was no good, though. All were found guilty and condemned to death. An illustration depicting Anne Boleyn raising her arms in despair upon being sentenced to death for high treason. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) How did Anne die? The men were sentenced to being hanged, drawn and quartered, but the king in his ‘mercy’ commuted their sentences to beheading. Anne was sentenced to burning or beheading “as the King’s pleasure shall be further known of the same”. Nevertheless, the Hangman of Calais, who was renowned for his skill at beheading by sword, was sent for, possibly before Anne had even been found guilty. George Boleyn, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton were all executed on Tower Hill on 17 May 1536. Poet Sir Thomas Wyatt, who was imprisoned in the Tower at the time, wrote of witnessing their executions from the Bell Tower, a sight “That in my head sticks day and night”. In his poem, he wrote of how those “bloody days” had broken his heart and also of his recognition of how Tudor justice worked: “By proof, I say, there did I learn: Wit helpeth not defence too yern, Of innocency to plead or prate.” An illustration of the Tower of London, c1543, taken from ‘A Short History of the English People’ by John Richard Green (1893). (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images) On the very same day, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer declared the annulment of the marriage of Anne and Henry VIII. Anne’s execution was scheduled for 18 May, and work began on a new scaffold to be built “before the House of Ordnance” at the Tower of London, between the White Tower and what is now the Waterloo Block (home to the Crown Jewels) – not where the present glass memorial can be found on Tower Green, which commemorates all those executed within the tower walls. Anne prepared herself to die that day, making her last confession and celebrating the Mass in front of Sir William Kingston, constable of the Tower of London. Chapuys reported to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V “that before and after her receiving the Holy Sacrament, she affirmed, on peril of her soul’s damnation, that she had not misconducted herself so far as her husband the King was concerned”. But Anne’s execution was postponed when Sir William Kingston received orders from Thomas Cromwell to clear the Tower of “strangers”, i.e. foreign diplomats who would include their accounts of the execution of a queen of England in dispatches to their masters and mistresses. Cromwell and the king would not want sympathy stirred for Anne or for Henry VIII to appear the villain. The way Anne handled herself in her final hours, and the way she comforted her ladies and joked about her “little neck”, led Kingston to report that the queen had “much joy and pleasure in death”. Did Anne Boleyn crave the crown? (exclusive to The Library) A brief history of the Tower of London Dressed for death On the morning of 19 May 1536, Sir William Kingston escorted Queen Anne Boleyn from her apartments in the Tower’s royal palace – the same apartments where she had stayed before her coronation in 1533 – to the scaffold. Anne had taken care with her appearance: the ermine trim on her outfit confirmed her status; her kirtle was crimson, the colour of martyrdom; and her hood was the traditional English gable hood, that cumbersome head-dress that resembled the gable of a house and which covered the wearer’s hair (rather than the more fashionable French hood, which showed some hair). An illustration of Anne Boleyn kneeling on the scaffold before the executioner holding an axe. She was in fact executed with a sword. (Photo by Photo 12/UIG via Getty Images) On the scaffold, Anne made a simple speech, sticking to execution protocol: “Good Christian people, I have not come here to preach a sermon; I have come here to die. For according to the law and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the King and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never, and to me he was ever a good, a gentle, and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me.” The executioner beheaded the queen with one stroke of his sword and then her distressed ladies wrapped Anne’s remains in white cloth and carried them to the nearby Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula. Nobody had thought to provide a coffin for her burial, so a yeoman warder had to fetch an old elm chest, which had once contained bow staves, from the Tower armoury. Anne’s head and body were placed in the chest and buried in the chancel near to the remains of her brother, Lord Rochford. The Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, the parish church of the Tower of London, where Anne Boleyn is buried. (Photo by Peter Carroll/Alamy Stock Photo) Anne Boleyn’s burial site and exhumation In 1876, restoration work was carried out on the chapel. The chancel floor was found to be sinking, and so the remains buried there were carefully exhumed. The Victorian team used the Tower records to identify the burial spots and the persons buried. In the spot recorded as being the resting place of Queen Anne Boleyn, the team found the bones of a female. Dr Frederic Mouat confirmed that they belonged to “a female of between twenty-five and thirty years of age, of a delicate frame of body, and who had been of slender and perfect proportions”. The Victorian team did not doubt that they had found Anne Boleyn, particularly as they then found the remains of two men close by, believed to have been the Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland, who were recorded as lying between Queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. The surprising place where Henry VIII is buried After careful examination, Anne’s remains were put in a leaden coffer inside an oak box bearing a leaden escutcheon [emblem] inscribed with her name, date of death, and the year of reinterment (1877). The box was buried in the spot where Anne had been found, at four inches below the surface, and the earth was filled in before a layer of concrete was spread over the top. A special decorative memorial tile bearing Anne’s coat of arms, her name and title – “Queen Anne Boleyn” – and year of death, was laid to mark the spot. Every year on 19 May, the anniversary of her execution, a basket of roses is delivered and laid on Queen Anne Boleyn’s memorial tile. It is not known exactly who is responsible for sending it and the card with it reads simply “Queen Anne Boleyn, 19th of May 1536”. Floral tributes from visitors to the Tower are also laid on the tile and the glass memorial on Tower Green which remembers all those executed within the Tower walls. The glass memorial on Tower Green. (Photo by Linda Dawn Hammond/Alamy Stock Photo) Words etched on the memorial, written by the sculptor, Brian Catling, read: “Gentle visitor pause a while, where you stand death cut away the light of many days. Here jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life. May they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage, under these restless skies.” Claire Ridgway runs the popular website The Anne Boleyn Files and is author of The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown (MadeGlobal Publishing, 2012) and George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat (MadeGlobal Publishing, 2014). You can follow her on Twitter @AnneBoleynFiles To read more about Anne Boleyn, click here .'
We asked 10 leading historians to select what they consider to be some of the most important photographs of all time. From the bombing of Hiroshima to Ali's victory in the ring, here are 10 images that shook the world..
'1 A lone protest in Tiananmen Square Beijing, 5 June 1989 (Image by Bettmann/Getty Images) When this image of a lone protester standing before a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square first appeared on newspaper front pages, its message seemed simple. Here was a powerful regime brutally dealing with protesters, and this was the point at which that regime would, and should, end. Except it didn’t collapse or democratise; instead China became a huge economic superpower, making this image hard to interpret as part of a liberal historical sequence. This photo pulls together the factors that have shaped not just events in 1989, but the whole trajectory of Chinese history: the supremacy of the state; the continuing impact of conflict; and the enduring power of the individual to re-emerge. Rana Mitter is professor of modern Chinese history at the University of Oxford There was more to the 80s than Maggie (exclusive to The Library) Cold War summits: David Reynolds and Kristina Spohr explain The six ages of China (exclusive to The Library) 2 Earthrise Apollo 8, 24 December 1968 (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images) Few would argue the importance of this, one of the first images of Earth rising over the Moon, taken during the Apollo 8 mission – the first manned voyage to do a full lunar orbit. The image was soon circulated around the globe, allowing people to see the planet in a way that earlier generations could only have dreamt of. But its significance in our understanding of Earth as more than just somewhere we inhabit was slow to sink in – arguably it is still doing so. Photographing Earth from space was a feat in itself, but its influence on our views of Earth as a living organism that connects us all, is ongoing. OA Westad is professor of international history at LSE Opinion: Was the Moon landing really a great leap for mankind? (exclusive to The Library) 5 historical space travel facts 8 weird and wonderful pictures from the past 3 Ali floors Liston Maine, 25 May 1965\u2028 (Image by Bettmann/Getty Images) In the words of Malcolm X: “The revolt of the American negro” was part of “the rebellion against oppression and colonialism” that characterised the postwar world. It’s this rebellion that the image of the 23-year-old Ali, standing exultant over the defeated Sonny Liston during the rematch to retain his world title in May 1965, encapsulates. When Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) first defeated reigning heavyweight champion Liston, in February 1964, sports fans were shocked. When Clay then converted to Islam and named himself Muhammad Ali, he captured the attention of the world. By the 1970s, Ali’s was among the most famous faces on the planet and sport had been established as a global lingua franca . Dr Peter Thompson is a lecturer in American history at the University of Oxford Want to receive our latest history articles via email? Sign up to receive our newsletter! Thanks! Our best wishes for a productive day. Already have an account with us? Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences Sign in Register Sign me up! Sign up to our newsletter to get more from History Extra – podcasts, features and news 4 The dead of Antietam Nr Sharpsburg, Maryland, 19 September 1862 (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images) Taken just two days after the battle of Antietam, this image is among the first in history to show dead soldiers on the field of battle. The impact of this and other similar images of civilians was extraordinary. One reporter wrote: “If he [Mathew Brady, who exhibited the images] has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along streets, he has done something very like it…” This and other photographs like it found their way into the homes of tens of thousands of 19th-century Americans, who purchased stereograph images to view in 3D, presumably with a mixture of horror and disgust. Antietam was the bloodiest day of the American Civil War up to that date, with 3,600 dead and 17,000 wounded. The battle triggered an escalation in the brutality of the fighting, marking the end of the first, more restrained period of the war. Dr Adam IP Smith is senior lecturer in history at UCL 5 The nightmare of Hiroshima Enola Gay, 6 August 1945 (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images) Taken from the aircraft that dropped the first atomic bomb, this photograph of the giant mushroom cloud that rose above Hiroshima within minutes of detonation brought home to the world the sheer magnitude of what had happened. Released on 11 August and published in the US press the following day, Caron’s photo captured the awesome power of modern military technology and prepared the world for other, more striking shots of an image that would most haunt the postwar imagination. The photograph’s focus on the mushroom cloud distanced viewers from the horrific destruction on the ground – shots of which were censored for weeks – making it easier to rationalise the use of an atomic bomb on an urban area. Dr Adrian Bingham is a senior lecturer in modern history at the University of Sheffield Was the US justified in dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War? You debate Should America have dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? (exclusive to The Library) The countdown to Hiroshima 6 Nelson Mandela’s walk to freedom Paarl, South Africa, 11 February 1990 (Photo by Allan Tannenbaum/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images) When Nelson Mandela left prison after 27 years, he carried with him the great hopes of the majority of South Africans – but also the fears of those who supported white minority rule. To many, this image of Mandela – his right fist raised in the power salute of the ANC – symbolised the beginning of the end of apartheid. No photograph had been seen of Mandela in a generation, so few people knew what he looked like. Just before his release, a photograph with President de Klerk showed Mandela standing stiffly, with grey hair. But his first steps to freedom showed that – now 71 – his commitment to the struggle for a non-racial, democratic future was undiminished. Mandela’s walk to freedom was celebrated across the world. Four years later, he became South Africa’s first black president. Dr Susan Williams is a senior fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London 7 Fear and pain at the Somme July 1916, northern France (Photo by Geoffrey Malins/IWM via Getty Images) Although not technically a photograph – it’s taken from the 1916 film The Battle of the Somme – this image sums up the grim realities of trench warfare. A far cry from the straight, neatly sandbagged ‘stage trenches’ constructed in London’s Kensington Gardens, the real things on the western front were revealed as confused, crumbling and shallow – offering minimal protection. Nearly half of all Britons saw the film, which was released barely a month after the bloody campaign, in which more than 1 million Allied and German troops were killed or wounded. The fear and pain on this soldier’s face as he struggles with a wounded comrade still serves as a reminder of extraordinary lives forced upon ordinary men. Dr Rachel Duffett is a lecturer at the University of Essex 8 Stalin erases Trotsky from history Outside the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, 5 May 1920 (Photo by Time Life Pictures/Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images) (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images) Stalinism as a system was peculiar in many ways but perhaps unique in one – in its morbid, almost paranoid, fear of its own revolutionary past. This is why Stalin killed the old Bolsheviks during the 1930s, why history was constantly being rewritten to fit into the needs of the Soviet state, and why one of the most famous revolutionaries of all – Leon Trotsky – had to be deleted from the historical record. This image is one of the most famous examples of Stalin’s attempts to ‘airbrush’ history. In the top image, Trotsky leans against a wooden pulpit as Lenin rallies troops; in the second image, he is nowhere to be seen. Its significance still resonates today. Vladimir Putin would of course deny that his own regime and that created after 1917 have anything in common, yet I think they do: they both believe in the old Stalinist maxim that ‘history’ has no other purpose than to serve the needs of the authoritarian state. Michael Cox is emeritus professor of international relations at LSE 9 Raising the red flag over the Reichstag Berlin, 2 May 1945 (Photographer: Yevgeny Khaldei © Getty) First published in the Soviet magazine Ogonek , on 13 May 1945, this image of a soldier flying the Soviet flag from the roof of the Reichstag in Berlin, high above the smoking ruins of Hitler’s capital, has become one of the most recognisable symbols of the destruction of Nazi Germany and the Allied victory. Far from being a candid shot, the photograph was carefully staged by photographer Yevgeny Khaldei, and subsequently manipulated, yet it remains a symbol of some of the key aspects of 20th-century history, not least the appearance of the USSR as a power that would dominate Europe for the next 45 years. The image resonated with war-weary Europeans as a symbol of Nazi defeat, the end of the bloody conflict, and the dawn of a new era. Evan Mawdsley is professor of international history at the University of Glasgow Stalingrad: the crushing of the Reich The 11 most significant battles of the Second World War 10 key Second World War dates you need to know 10 The burning girl of Trang Bang South Vietnam, 8 June 1972 (Getty Images) This image of nine-year-old Kim Phuc (left), her features contorted with pain and fear as she and other children flee their burning village, is not one that can be forgotten quickly. The sight of Phuc – a victim of the accidental napalm bombing of civilians fleeing Trang Bang village, carried out by the planes of US-backed Saigon – prompted questions that revealed not just the horrific pain and disastrous personal impact of the conflict, but war’s capacity to produce appalling consequences from grotesque error. Anti-war sentiment was well established by 1972; it did not need this image to justify or sustain it. But it made the Nixon administration anxious in the build-up to the presidential election campaign. White House tapes for 12 June 1972 reveal Nixon’s aide, HR Haldeman, suggesting the image may have been “fixed” by Nixon’s political opponents for electoral gain. Five days after this conversation, burglars operating for the Campaign to Reelect the President entered the Democratic National Committee’s HQ at the Watergate offices in Washington, the result of which really did change the world. The terrified girl survived her injuries and later established the Kim Phuc Foundation, providing medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war. Richard Carwardine is president of Corpus Christi College, Oxford Interviews by Charlotte Hodgman This article was first published in the January 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine'