History Matters

Thoughts, opinions and commentary on all things historical.

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The body beautiful: the Wound  of Christ, from the Prayer Book of Bonne de Luxembourg, attributed to Jean Le Noir, French, c.1345 © akg-images

Medieval women’s bodies were a battleground: they were either irretrievably sinful, or they were Christ-like.

Mail-order radiation protection suits made by Civil Defence Supply, c.1980 © Hulton/Getty Images.

The 1980 Protect and Survive booklet opened government plans to ridicule.

Flagellants known as the Brothers of the Cross proceed through Tournai to free the world of the plague. Chromolithograph after the Chronica Aegidii Li Muisis (1349) © Ann Ronan/Getty Images.

The Plague was not just a medieval illness.

Written in stone: graffiti on the Great Wall of China © Warren Pettine/Getty Images.

Carving our names on great monuments is a millennia-old tradition, but why do we do it?

Labour Cabinet ministers walking in the Peak District, 1947. Roderick Floud, courtesy James Franklin/Gresham College.

Britain’s National Parks are a forgotten legacy of postwar reconstruction.

American military base in South Vietnam, 2 November 1968 © Getty Images.

The need to preserve alliances was a compelling reason not to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam.

African slaves in a Dutch-owned sugar mill, 17th-century engraving © Bridgeman Images.

The Dutch role in the slave trade cannot be dismissed as a matter of numbers.

miniature showing a battle, from 'The Book of Feats of Arms and of Chivalry', by Christine de Pisan, French, 1434.© Bridgeman Images

To whom should one pledge fealty? Lord, king, brother or nation?

A meeting of the British Communist Party, Earls Court, London, 5 August 1939 © Hulton Getty Images.

It was not the Nazi-Soviet Pact, but the ‘Party line’, which brought an end to the era of ‘fellow travellers’, 80 years ago.

Italian ice-cream seller, London, early 1900s © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Aliens Act of 1905 created a new type of immigrant to the UK and a new way of dealing with them.