Manhattan was taken on September 8th, 1664.

A plan of New Amsterdam, 1661New York City started its glittering history in a modest way as the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam. The story begins in 1609 when Henry Hudson, an English sea captain working for Dutch merchants, was trying to find a north-west passage to Asia. Exploring along the Atlantic seaboard of North America, he came to the island of Manhattan and then sailed north for 150 miles or so up the river later named after him. Returning to Europe, he reported that there was a good prospect of profitable trading in furs there and in 1614 the Dutch established a trading post called Fort Nassau, later Fort Orange, near today’s city of Albany. 

Historians gathered at Warwick this summer to celebrate the contribution of Christopher Andrew.

Doyen of espionage historians: Christopher AndrewWhen did the study of secret intelligence become a recognised field for historians? The consensus at a conference held at Warwick University in July was 1984, with the publication of The Missing Dimension: Governments and Intelligence Communities in the Twentieth Century by Professor Christopher Andrew and his colleague David Dilks.

The occasion was a festschrift and cohors amicorum for Andrew, the doyen of espionage historians. It brought together former students and intelligence officers to mull over the pros and cons of throwing light on secret operations.

Arguably the wall of secrecy surrounding intelligence had been breached a decade earlier – in 1974 – when a former RAF officer, F.W. Winterbotham, published The Ultra Secret, the first book to provide a detailed, if flawed, account of the breaking of German Enigma codes at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. Its appearance soon led to a reappraisal of many aspects of that conflict, such as the Battle of the Atlantic. 

The Politics of Spanish Inquisitors

From 1478 a new ‘Inquisition’ against Christian ‘heresy’ spread throughout Spain and its overseas possessions in Europe (Sicily) and America. It would last until the 19th century and acquire a reputation for almost totalitarian cruelty, but was attacked at the time by Spain’s enemies and by lovers of religious liberty. In recent decades it has been the object of a vast amount of historical work by scholars from various countries.Read more »
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Disgust, or Deathly Terror? Ghost Pranks Past and Present

A graveyard in Abney Park, north LondonRecently Anthony Stallard, 24, was fined for 'pretending to be a ghost… in a cemetery' in Portsmouth. It seems fair to assume that the witnesses, who reported a group 'engaging in rowdy behaviour and one of them throwing their arms in the air and saying "woooooo"', after an evening’s drinking, found the imitation more distasteful than terrifying. And it also seems reasonable to imagine that, had Stallard been alone, and cloaked in a white sheet for his imitation, few people would have been frightened by the sight. By contrast, throughout the 19th century, most people believed in ghosts. And when somebody decided to imitate one, a white sheet and some dark shadows were sometimes quite enough to frighten their victim to death.

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The True Herod

Herod the Great is remembered as one of history’s bogeymen: the paranoid king of Matthew’s Gospel, scared of anyone usurping his rule. On hearing from Magi and priests about the future Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem, he has every child aged two years old and under slaughtered. Herod casts an ominous shadow over the nativity stories seen in primary schools, a pantomime villain.Read more »
More articles by Joan E. Taylor

The Aesthetics of Loss

In August 1932 the German artist Käthe Kollwitz was present at the unveiling of the war memorial she had designed at the German war cemetery in Eesen Roggeveld in Belgium. In itself this was not remarkable, as in the years following the First World War thousands of memorials to the dead and missing were erected in the cemeteries, battlefields, villages, towns and cities of Europe, as societies profoundly affected by the mass loss of life during the war attempted to mark it.Read more »
More articles by Lucy Noakes