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History Matters

Thoughts, opinions and commentary on all things historical.

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King Oliver and his Creole Jazz Band, Chicago, 1923, showing Louis Armstrong and his wife, Lil Hardin © Gilles Petard/Redferns/Getty Images

For many Americans, jazz was the music of demons, devils and things that go bump in the night.

British concentration camp for the internment of insurgent Boers. Illustration by Jean Veber, from L’Assiette au Beurre, 1901 © Ullstein bild/Getty Images

Even for Nazi camp survivors who sought to eradicate them, they were hard to define.

William Maxwell Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook. Caricature by Paolo Garretto for The Graphic, 3 March 1928 © Illustrated London News/Mary Evans Picture Library

Beaverbrook’s radical vision and prominent platform gave him enormous political sway.

'The fourth age'. Detail from a photo montage of the Members of the International Medical Congress, London, 1881. Wellcome Collection.

During the Renaissance, the beard was the defining feature of a man.

Disturbances  at Manchester!, illustration by Atkins, 1819 © Mary Evans Picture Library

Commemoration of Peterloo remembers the dead, but also promotes future democratic change.

Graham Greene (left) and Alec Guinness on film location at Sloppy Joe’s bar, Havana, 20 April 1959 © Peter Stackpole/LIFE/Getty Images

The author’s trips to Cuba had an impact on more than just literature.

The Ochre Horse, equine rib inscribed with horse image. Courtesy Dave, Nottingham/Wikimedia Creative Commons

Recent press coverage of a cave filled with ‘witch marks’ misses the point.

'Finding of the Sibylline Books and the Tomb of Numa Pompilius', workshop  of Giulio Romano with Polidoro Caldara da Caravaggio, c.1524-25 © Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Rome

Antiquities were high stakes and high profit in 16th-century Rome, and no one was above breaking the law for loot.

Peace process: the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between Japan and Russia, 7 February 1855

Writing treaties in two languages can lead to unexpected problems.

‘Oh, my fur and whiskers!’:  a hare or rabbit mosaic, from the House of Dionysus, Cyprus, third century AD © Bridgeman Images

Not content with bringing aqueducts, sanitation and roads, the Romans transformed Britain’s flora and fauna.