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Volume 64 Issue 4 April 2014

It is the issue of Russian identity, rather than strategic or economic importance, that lies at the heart of the Crimean crisis, argues Alexander Lee

The legacy of the Crimean War still resonates in Ukraine, as Hugh Small explains.

Robert Knecht revisits an article marking 400 years since the assassination of Henry III of France and asks why the last Valois king has attracted so little attention from English-speaking historians.

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

John Henderson challenges received ideas on how medieval and early modern societies dealt with perils such as plague.

The suffering of prisoners of war at the hands of the Japanese during the Second World War has coloured the British view of the conflict in the Far East. Clare Makepeace highlights a little known aspect of the captives’ story: their quest for compensation.

Jessie Childs recounts the chilling story of an exorcism performed in an Elizabethan household in Hackney.

The strangeness of the past can be evoked more effectively in pick and mix fantasies than in those novels, films and TV dramas that aspire to realism, argues Suzannah Lipscomb.

Chris Wrigley explores the hugely beneficial impact of the First World War on the British tobacco industry and looks at how smoking became an approved symbol of comradeship and patriotism.

Roger Hudson takes a roadside view of the automobiles about to embark on the arduous, 22,000-mile journey.

The turmoil in Ukraine has a strong religious dimension. Catherine Wanner asks if a common Christian heritage may yet help maintain relations with its Russian neighbour.

James Romm tells the story of Agrippina the Younger, mother, sister, wife and lover and part of the Roman elite, who sought to escape the restrictions imposed on her sex.

Henry V's right-hand man was made Archbishop on April 27th, 1414.

The society lady was born in Piccadily on April 23rd, 1814.

The Irish ruler met a bloody fate on April 23rd, 1014.

The military potential of unmanned flying ‘drones’ is well known. But what about their use in archaeology?

There are striking parallels between state survelliance in the Tudor age and today.

London’s oldest extant market is celebrating its millennium.

The notorious malady of the 18th century is on the increase in the UK.

From earliest times warfare has been a recurrent theme in the arts. But what roles have art and the artist performed in times of war? In an impressively researched and richly illustrated book Monica Bohm-Duchen examines the work of a wide range of visual artists from all the principal combatant nations in the Second World War. How far did artists support the war effort of their respective nations and perhaps become a propaganda arm of those fighting it – and did the quality of their art necessarily suffer as a result?

Alexis de Tocqueville was an author of conspicuous eloquence and vivacity, full of stimulating ideas. However, on the basis of the translated evidence presented here, Professor Lucien Jaume does not share Tocqueville’s fluency of expression. Tocqueville’s tremendous reputation as an interpreter of history, democracy and the United States, neither as a socialist nor a fascist, but as an anxious liberal, means he is held up as a corrective to all the progressive tendencies which reactionaries deplore.

Arthur Phillip, white Australia’s founding father, is an English Enlightenment hero that England has never been enlightened enough to honour. This fine biography illuminates the astonishing achievements of a man poorly born, sent to sea aged nine, who later achieved physical and moral miracles in transporting and governing the settlement of convicts and marines in New South Wales.

Sick building syndrome is familiar to us all: the feeling of malaise that can be suffered by people working and living in poor indoor environments such as modern open-plan offices, with their non-opening windows and chemical contaminants. Our Renaissance forebears would have known just what to do.

‘Smallpox filled churchyards with corpses and disfigured those it did not kill, turning babies into changelings and rendering the maiden an object of horror to her lover’, wrote Thomas Macaulay in 1848. Around the middle of the 17th century smallpox replaced bubonic plague as the most fatal and feared disease. Indiscriminate in its attacks, the ‘speckled monster’ was as likely to infect the rich and powerful as the poor and weak; its victims included Queen Mary of England (1662-94) and Louis XV of France (1710-74).

In their celebrated spoof history, 1066 and All That, Sellar and Yeatman famously concluded that English history contained only two memorable dates: 1066 itself and the year 55 BC (when Caesar invaded Britain, if memory serves). But there can be little doubt, given their choice of title, that they thought the Norman Conquest of 1066 was the most memorable of all.

How did people below the ranks of the gentry and aristocracy remember the past in the pre-modern period? Undaunted by the difficulty of recovering their voices, The Memory of the People is a powerful and imaginative attempt to answer this challenging question. Drawing upon thousands of depositions recorded in contemporary courts of law, Andy Wood reconstructs in compelling detail how ordinary men and women understood custom and deployed it as a cultural resource to negotiate everyday social relations.

In February 1915 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George, delivered a speech at Bangor, North Wales, in which he sought to focus the war effort onto the need for efficiency in the industrial production of ships, bullets and shells. The address was wide-ranging but Lloyd George paid particular attention to a peril at the heart of British cultural life. ‘I hear of workmen in armament works who refuse to work a full week for the nation’s need’, he told his audience. ‘What is the reason? Sometimes it is one thing, sometimes it is another, but let us be perfectly candid.