History Matters

Thoughts, opinions and commentary on all things historical.

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Thomas Becket before Henry II, English manuscript, 14th century © Bridgeman Images.

An audacious plan to install an English saint as the patron saint of Ireland.

Diagram of the Brookes, 18th century. Alamy.

The anniversary of the abolition of slavery reminds us how visible the memory of Britain’s slave trade remains.

A Gypsy encampment, Belvedere Marshes, Kent, 1936 © John Topham/Topfoto

Recent government proposals are merely the latest in a long history of hostility.

 ‘Is This a Time for Sleep?’, 1883, in which Cholera looms over New York Harbor while Science sleeps 23 © Granger/Bridgeman Images.

Quarantine is intended to protect, but it can also punish.

Woden surrounded by his descendants, English manuscript, 12th century © Bridgeman Images.

In Anglo-Saxon England a hill could be a dragon’s lair and a ditch the home of gods.

‘The city of lovers / Is glowing this evening’: view from the roof of Notre-Dame, 1961. Photo by Gunter R Reitz/Michael Ochs Archives © Getty Images

What does it mean to rebuild Notre-Dame?

A fishing fleet on the Grand Banks off the coast of Newfoundland, copper engraving, French, 1683 © Bridgeman Images.

The first pilgrim settlers to America tried, and failed, to settle in Newfoundland.

Poster by Elena Krylova-Nurenberg, 1972.

The past and future of punctuation marks.

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.