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Volume 61 Issue 9 September 2011

The conquest of Java, now part of Indonesia, is one of the least known episodes of British imperialism. But this short interregnum influenced the governance of the Indian Raj and proved a significant stepping stone in the career of the founder of Singapore.

Having fled Hitler’s Berlin, Oscar Westreich gained a new identity in Palestine. He eventually joined the British army, whose training of Jewish soldiers proved crucial to the formation of Israel, as his daughter, Mira Bar-Hillel, explains.

The idea that the German foreign office during the Nazi period was a stronghold of traditional, aristocratic values is no longer tenable according to recent research, as Markus Bauer reports.

Richard Lansdown introduces Hugh Welch Diamond, one of the fathers of medical photography, whose images of the insane both reflected and challenged prevailing ideas about visually recording insanity.

As Matthew Shaw demonstrates, scandal sold newspapers 200 years ago, just as it does today.

Lauren Kassell reveals how the casebooks, diaries and diagrams of the late-16th-century astrologer Simon Forman provide a unique perspective on a period when the study of the stars began to embrace modern science.

Christopher B. Krebs considers Irene Coltman Brown’s article on the ambivalent and ironic Roman historian Tacitus, first published in History Today in 1981.

Rupert Murdoch’s motives only make sense from a historical perspective, argues Piers Brendon.

We like to think of ourselves as having made progress from those repressed Victorians. However, since the 1970s, feminists, gay activists and historians have been questioning the notion of sexual repression. Anna Clark considers important recent studies on this most stimulating of subjects.

A selection of readers' correspondence with the editor, Paul Lay.

Patricia Cleveland-Peck looks at the long history of plant dispersal between the New World and the Old.

In a reign of just 15 years Æthelstan united the English for the first time. Yet many of the facts about him remain elusive. Sarah Foot describes the challenges of writing his biography.

In the late 1890s Herbert Hoover, the future 31st President of the United States, took his new bride to Tianjin in north China to pursue his career as a geologist. Hal Wert describes how the couple became embroiled in the violent uprising that broke out in the summer of 1900.

The discovery of a letter written by the great physician sheds new light on one of the most dramatic events in Roman history, as Raoul McLaughlin explains.

The American Civil War was not a simple struggle between slaveholders and abolitionists, argues Tim Stanley.

The Russian prime minister was shot during festivities to mark the centenary of the liberation of Russia's serfs on September 14th, 1911.

The creator of Meccano, Hornby model railways and Dinky toys died on September 21st, 1936, aged 73 and a millionaire.

George III was crowned on September 22nd, 1761, aged 22. One of the longest reigns in English history was under way.

In the last quarter of a century our understanding of medieval castles has been transformed. Instead of seeing these buildings, as we did, primarily as instruments of war, their architectural development the product of a dialectical struggle between defender and attacker, we now appreciate them for their variety of function – political, military and symbolic – interpreting their architecture as a medium for the expression of messages about power, history and authority.

The British obsession with crime has long roots. Gruesome, moralising accounts of murder and violence have been a mainstay of the press since the invention of print. Some of the earliest best-sellers were the ‘coney-catching’ pamphlets of the 16th century, which chronicled the crimes of swindlers and thieves against their unwilling victims or ‘coneys’. Glossaries of the vocabulary of crime have just as long a history. Among the earliest guides to the world of crime was Robert Copland’s Highway to the Spital-House (c.

Everyone can enjoy Virginia Nicholson’s latest book, Millions Like Us. Named after a wartime recruiting film it is, like the 1943 movie, inclusive and democratic, exploring the experiences of women from across the social spectrum as well as from all corners of the nation and observing with a sharp eye the changes that war on the Home Front imposed on women. Of course the book goes further than the film. Not only is it franker about sex and love, conscientious objection and slacking at work, but it takes us into the postwar period.

If you thought Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders was the 18th century’s Belle de Jour then prepare to stand corrected. Most often portrayed as a bodice-ripping wench sexing up the Georgians, of all fiction’s heroines Defoe’s Moll has perhaps been done the greatest disservice in dramatised adaptations. As Siân Rees’ new book reminds us, Moll was, in fact, not really conceived as an 18th-century gal at all. Although the novel was published in 1722, Defoe imagines his heroine putting pen to paper to recount ‘her’ tale in the late 17th century.

If Deborah Lutz is correct, the Swinging 1960s really began in the 1860s. It was then that coteries of artists and intellectuals began to push at the boundaries of acceptable sexual behaviour. They prized greater openness about sex and expressed themselves through shocking representations of the body, writing pornography and finding in some cases fulfilment through flagellation and same-sex love. Bohemianism became a licence for transgression. There was nothing buttoned-up about these Victorians.

For over a thousand years the right of a criminal to protection within the walls of a consecrated church was universally accepted in western Europe. Then, within the space of the 16th century, sanctuary protections were abolished or severely limited. Karl Shoemaker’s book tells the fascinating tale of how this practice was developed, adapted and eventually abandoned.