For five centuries the legend of a Christian priest king, in Asia or in Africa, sustained the hopes of Europeans in their struggle with Islam. Those who joined the search for Prester John were looking for a man who was not there.
The French emperor was a hero to the composer, inspiring a revolutionary symphony. But disillusionment was soon to follow.
Behind the dominating presence of Frankenstein, the richness of Mary Shelley’s life is in danger of being lost.
The man who conspired to kill Julius Caesar was not quite the friend to Romans and countrymen that his legendary status suggests.
Henri Pirenne transformed the way historians think about the end of the Classical world and the beginning of the Middle Ages.
The myths that surround the ultimately tragic rule of Charles I mask the realities of a courageous and uxorious king who fell foul of a bitter struggle between two sides of English Protestantism.
What goes on in other people’s minds? The idea of writing about what we can never know – the interior lives of others – was born in the fertile hybrid culture of 12th-century England and made possible by the pursuit of romantic love.
A lack of historical knowledge is easily exploited in the fractious world of social media.
During the Second World War, Britain, the US and the Soviet Union worked together in oil-rich Iran. But cooperation was to degenerate into suspicion and hostility.