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This Month’s Magazine

August 2020

In the August issue:

  • The Power of the Royal Mistress
  • The Franco-Prussian War
  • Captain Cook’s Contested Claim
  • A War of Words
  • What is History?
  • Community Policing
  • Statues
  • Who’s Afraid of the Stasi?
  • Rhinos

Plus reviews and more!

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Selected articles from this issue

Rhinoceros, by Albrecht Dürer, woodcut, 1515. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC / Wikimedia/Creative Commons.

For centuries, one grossly distorted woodcut defined the ideal of a rare beast.

Ben Jones

The sinister reach of East Germany’s Ministry for State Security did not end in 1989. According to the British press, the Stasi is still with us.

Allegory of the Siege of Paris, 1870,  by Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier © Bridgeman Images.

The conflict that broke out between France and an ambitious new German state 150 years ago can lay claim to be the first modern war.

Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland with her son, possibly Charles FitzRoy, by Peter Lely, c.1664. Philip Mould & Company/Bridgeman Images.

The French tradition of the royal mistress gave new opportunities for women at the court of Charles II.

Landing of Captain Cook at Botany Bay, 1770, by E. Phillips Fox, 1902. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Gilbee Bequest, 1902.

The concept of terra nullius has long been at the heart of explanations of why the British did not treat with Aboriginal people following Cook’s arrival in Australia. But should it be?

A Metropolitan Police officer, late 19th century © Popperfoto/Getty Images.

Brutality, corruption and abuses of power in the Metropolitan Police at the turn of the 20th century led to an inquiry – but no reform.

Parliamentary propaganda of Cavalier cruelty, woodcut, 1644 © Bridgeman Images.

Politics, propaganda and censorship during the Civil Wars. 

Remnants from a probable statue of Demetrius the Besieger, c.300 BC. Courtesy American School of Classical Studies at Athens: Agora Excavations.

In the ancient world, statues were not symbols of virtue and could take revenge on those who attacked them.

The Sharp Family, by Johan Zoffany, 1779-81 (John is next to Frances  in blue; Elizabeth plays the harpsichord beside Granville; James holds a ‘serpent’, William waves his hat and Judith plays the lute) © Stefano Baldini/Bridgeman Images.

The Sharp siblings show the power of family to help and support each other towards greatness.

Women at a quilting bee. Lithograph, 1876 © Bridgeman Images.

Women, non-importation agreements and spinning bees in the American Revolution.

Justin Champion

Justin Champion, Professor of the History of Ideas at Royal Holloway University of London, died peacefully on 10 June, aged 59.

Summer Reading

Eight historians share the books they’ve enjoyed this year and reveal what’s on their ‘to-read’ pile. 

Central transept of the Great Exhibition, c.1851, John Nash.

Snobs, bores and triumphs at the Royal Society of Arts.

Sunday Afternoon, by Leopold von Kalckreuth, 1893 © Bridgeman Images.Sunday Afternoon, by Leopold von Kalckreuth, 1893 © Bridgeman Images.

The presence of Covid-19 is a reminder of our new proximity to the fragilities and perils of the past.