Boydell Brewers banner

Volume 62 Issue 7 July 2012

The romantic ‘braveheart’ image of Scotland’s past lives on. But, as Christopher A. Whatley shows, a more nuanced ‘portrait of the nation’ is emerging, one that explores the political and religious complexities of Jacobitism and its enduring myth-making power.

Patricia Cleveland-Peck tells the story of Fanny Calderón de la Barca and her life as an author, ambassador’s wife and governess to the Spanish royal family.

Given the state of academic life today, we should not be surprised that scholars seek stardom, argues Tim Stanley.

The recent killing of British soldiers by their Afghan allies echoes events of the 19th century, writes Rob Johnson.

Ann Natanson visits an exhibition in Rome that highlights the papacy’s interaction with major figures of European history.

The Jews of Algeria had lived side by side with Muslims for centuries, but the struggle for Algerian independence presented them with stark choices, as Martin Evans explains.

During the Napoleonic Wars Britain occupied the strategically important island of Sicily. Most of its inhabitants, tired of long-distance Bourbon rule, welcomed the arrangement, but their monarch did not, as Graham Darby explains.

Antony Beevor, author of a new account of the Second World War, talks to Roger Moorhouse about the importance of narrative and why he thinks new technology is not the future for history in a post-literate age.

Roger Hudson examines a photograph from 1920 taken on the eve of a profound split on the French Left.

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

Mathew Lyons finds stimulation in an allusive article on Sir Walter Ralegh, first published in History Today in 1998.

As the democratic franchise expanded in the 19th century, British historians were eager to offer an informed view of the past to the new electorate. We need similar initiatives today, argues John Tosh.

In 1573 Catherine de’ Medici successfully campaigned for her third son, Henri, Duke of Anjou, to be elected to the throne of Poland. Robert J. Knecht tells the story of his brief, dramatic reign.

The chain of events that led to the rule of Saddam Hussein began with the murder on July 14th, 1958 of the 23-year-old King Faisal. Antony Hornyold was a junior diplomat at the British embassy in Baghdad at the time.

Japan flexed its muscles and launched a full-scale invasion of China following an incident on July 7th, 1937.

A classic children's book was born on July 4th, 1862.

The illustrious champion of science was created on July 15th, 1662.

As the Eurozone countries wrestle with the fate of the single currency, Mark Ronan discovers parallels in Wagner’s Ring cycle.

Christopher Hale reports on a long campaign to discover the truth about the killing of Malayan villagers by British troops in 1948.

How to squeeze the many achievements of James Breasted, as documented by Jeffrey Abt, into one short review? I can do no better than quote the great man himself:

The limited space to which this article must be confined will permit no more than the meagrest outline.

It is peculiar that Reinhard Heydrich has not been the subject of a few more serious-minded biographies. After all, as an architect of the SS-state and the Holocaust, he offers a remarkable perspective on the inner workings of the Third Reich, while as an individual he displays the sort of nefarious, Mephistophelean character traits that would have many historians salivating.

The British Empire was never wholly English, of course, or even predominantly so. Scotland had its own colonial enterprises before the Act of Union (1707), and afterwards arguably contributed more to their joint imperial project than its southern neighbour. Of course you don’t find the Scots celebrating this much now, as imperialism is no longer generally considered to have been A Good Thing and the idea that they were colonial victims seems a better card to play for a people striving (some of them) for national independence.

Fans of Dominic Sandbrook will love this latest volume of his panoramic social history of Britain since the 1950s. The book opens with a brilliant snapshot of the Americans filming Star Wars in a Hertfordshire studio. Away from the futuristic set George Lucas and his team found a seemingly backward nation, with its measly three TV channels and restrictive practices.

There is a huge contrast, almost a yawning gulf, between the pathetic inadequacy of Heinrich Himmler as a man – let alone the Aryan supermen he admired – and the vast evil he wrought. Myopic, hollow-chested, with a weakly receding chin, Himmler was a martyr to agonising stomach cramps and other ailments, never saw combat service and was violently sick on the one occasion when he witnessed a massacre of Jews as part of the Holocaust he had unleashed.