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Volume 39 Issue 9 September 1989

Richard Cavendish visits an organisation devoted to the maps and plans of the capital's past.

A country divided, degenerate and in cultural decline? Robert Oresko examines the changing views historians are developing of Italy between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries and finds a society far more vibrant and complex than tradition suggests.

Alexander Kazhdan considers the influence of totalitarianism and meritocracy in the Byzantine empire – and its relationship to the growth of the Russian and other successor states in the East.

Rosemary Burton on a handbook for Hadrian's Wall

Clare Thomson on the pace of change in the Baltic States.

Charlemagne may have been the first Holy Roman Emperor but what did he do to dispel the 'Dark Ages'? Mary Alberi looks at the work of his leading court intellectual, Alcuin, and how his hopes for a 'New Athens' in the Aachen palace school promoted the Carolingian Renaissance.

Peter Parker describes the difficulties in writing historical biographies and his effort on writer and editor J.R. Ackerley.

Sharp practice or sharp 'prentice? Paul Seaver argues that the tale of how a Bristol notary and his erstwhile trainee fell out and went to court in 1620 tells us much about the social aspirations and intimacies of 17th-century England.

Tony Aldous on the restoration of a mansion of an outstanding early 18th-century Scottish architect.

Ann Hills explores long-term excavations on the ancient Central American civilisation.