Volume 61 Issue 2 February 2011

As we soak up television dramas that revel in the scandalous personal lives of popes and kings, we are in danger of losing sight of these figures’ real historical importance, argues Tim Stanley.

Few guns achieve iconic status. One that indubitably has is the AK-47 – the Kalashnikov. Simply engineered, reliable and easy to use, it is now nearly ubiquitous, with an estimated 100 million currently in circulation. Instantly recognisable the world over, it is a subject of political iconography from the gable-ends of Belfast to the flags of Hezbollah and Mozambique and is the weapon of choice for generations of freedom fighters, terrorists and jihadis. It has become ‘the people’s gun’.

Richard Cavendish remembers the death of Emperor Septimius Severus on February 4th, AD 211.

The creation of the modern unified German state in January 1871 constitutes the greatest diplomatic and political achievement of any leader of the last two centuries; but it was effected at a huge personal and political price, argues Jonathan Steinberg.

The English diet has been mythologised as one of roasted meats and few vegetables but, as Anita Guerrini concludes from a survey of early modern writings on the subject, the nation’s approach to food has been rather more complicated than that.

Few British soldiers have written of their experiences of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Here, former infantry officer Patrick Mercer recalls his tours, which offer lessons for today’s soldiers and politicians.

In our series in which historians look back on the changes that have taken place in their field in the 60 years since the founding of History Today, Daniel Snowman takes a personal view of new approaches to the study of the history of culture and the arts – and of music in particular.

The innocence of France’s Captain Dreyfus – a Jewish officer incarcerated on Devil’s Island after he was accused of spying for Germany – has long been established. But was there a real traitor? And what part did Oscar Wilde play in the murky affair?

The successful Broadway run of The Pitmen Painters, Lee Hall’s drama set in a north-east mining community, has introduced US audiences to a remarkable chapter in British working-class life, writes  Robert Colls.

Jan Gossaert made his name working for the Burgundian court and was among the first northern artists to visit Rome, writes Susan Foister, curator of 'Jan Gossaert's Renaissance', the only exhibition in more than 45 years of works by this archetypal ‘Old Master’.

Decadent, effeminate, outdated, the image of the Cavalier remains that of his enemies, victorious in the Civil Wars. John Stubbs offers a rather more complex corrective view.

Chris Wickham revisits an article by J.B.Morrall, first published in History Today in 1959, on the strange, shortlived emperor who in the tenth century sought to rule the lands we now call Germany and Italy.

The English diet has been mythologised as one of roasted meats and few vegetables but, as Anita Guerrini concludes from a survey of early modern writings on the subject, the nation’s approach to food has been rather more complicated than that.

Few British soldiers have written of their experiences of the Northern Ireland Troubles. Here, former infantry officer Patrick Mercer recalls his tours, which offer lessons for today’s soldiers and politicians.

Richard Cavendish remembers Ivan Pavlov who died on February 27th, 1936. Pavlov won the Nobel Prize for physiology in 1904.

George Augustus Frederick was appointed Prince Regent to his father King George III on February 5th, 1811. He was a heavy drinker and a compulsive gambler.

A series of violent attacks by pale shrouded figures on lone pedestrians, especially women, was widely reported in the early 19th century. Jacob Middleton uncovers the sham ghosts of Georgian London.

The current House of Commons is notable for the number of members who are also historians. Will Robinson welcomes this trend, while reminding us of Parliament’s sometimes troubled relationship with its own past.

A monarch’s divine ability to cure scrofula was an established ritual when James I came to the English throne in 1603. Initially sceptical of the Catholic characteristics of the ceremony, the king found ways to ‘Protestantise’ it and to reflect his own hands-on approach to kingship, writes Stephen Brogan.