History Matters

Thoughts, opinions and commentary on all things historical.

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General de Gaulle on 18 June 1940 in the recording studio of the BBC at Broadcasting House, London.

The relationship between France, Germany and Britain is at the heart of the European story. Three historical figures embody it.

Revolting: members of the CRS throw grenades during student riots in Paris, 1968.

France’s elite police unit is being compared to the SS – not for the first time.

Safe haven: Fatebenefratelli Hospital, Tiber Island, Rome, 2019.

In one Italian hospital, an invented disease helped save hundreds from the occupying Nazis.

Rainy day: a flooded Piazza San Marco, Venice, 1966.

Founded to safeguard the world’s heritage, UNESCO’s status often threatens what it seeks to protect.

Stark warning: AIDS poster, UK, c.1980s.

Good intentions, misinformation and fear contributed to haemophiliacs becoming the hidden victims of HIV in Ireland.

Laws prohibiting homosexuality helped create new languages of same-sex desire.

Pin-heads: postcard showing the Imperial government bowled over by the threat of revolution, Russian, 1905.

Short, angry missives pinged across the world – Russian propagandists used postcards to get their message across.

Castro (right) with fellow revolutionary Camilo Cienfuegos, 8 January 1959.

Were US-Cuban relations soured for the want of ten dollars?

Palace of Communications: the Lisbon Post Office, known as Palácio das Comunicações, early 1950s.

The buildings that came out of Portugal’s New State were described as an ‘architectural lie’.

Boys just want to have fun: February scene from the Trivulzio tapestry, by Benedetto da Milano, after a design by Bramantino, Milan, 1504-9.

Venetian officials sought to stem a ‘plague’ of sodomy by promoting the heterosexual sex trade.