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Volume 57 Issue 4 April 2007

A decisive engagement in the War of Spanish Succession was fought on April  25th, 1707.

The Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III died on April  2nd, 1657.

Michael Staunton considers how Thomas Becket, a controversial figure even in his own lifetime and ever since, was described by his earliest biographers.

Richard Hodges says the rubbish tips of Anglo-Saxon London and Southampton contain intriguing evidence of England’s first businessmen.

Tobias Grey introduces a film about the North African soldiers in the Second World War which has taken France by storm, and is opening in Britain on March 30th.

Patricia Cleveland-Peck visits a Canadian city that looks to the future yet has an intriguing past.

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition, ‘Surreal Things: Surrealism and Design’, opens on March 29th. Becky Conekin looks forward to it.

One of the great conspiracy theories of the Second World War is that the ­Americans struck a deal with Mafia mobsters to ­conquer Sicily. Tim Newark exposes the truth behind this notorious story of Mafia collaboration.

Although most well-known cartoonists have been men, one of the most influential early figures in the field was a woman, Mary Darly. Cartoon historian Mark Bryant looks at her influence as an artist, publisher and  educator.

The Shakespeare First Folio is one of the iconic books in the cultural tradition of the West. Jonathan Bate explains why he is the first scholar for centuries to produce a proper edition of its text.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the recovery of Henry VIII’s flagship Mary Rose from the seabed of the Solent. David Childs examines how her long career was influenced by the threat of French naval galleys and how these may have contributed to her loss.

Richard Willis believes the government should pay attention to the history of teacher-training in its plans for school-based training schemes for graduates.

John Horne asks why the heroic efforts of the two Irish divisions, the 16th (Irish) and the 36th (Ulster), in the bloody events on the Western Front in 1916, have been viewed so differently both at the time and since.

For her latest book, historical biographer Sarah Gristwood has turned to the story of Elizabeth I and Leicester. Here she discusses some of the risks and pleasures of writing about such a well-known relationship, a process that she found unexpectedly fascinating.

Richard Cavendish explains how plans for a coup against King Hussein ibn Talal of Jordan eventually melted away on April 13th, 1957.

On the city’s 800th anniversary in 2007, and the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade, John Belchem examines Liverpool’s cosmopolitan profile and cultural pretensions.