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Miscellanies

Miscellanies is History Today's free weekly long read. Every Thursday, we publish a specially commissioned essay or long read from our archive. The subject? History. As the name suggests, we can’t be more specific…

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Mosaic from Hagia Sofia depicting Constantine I with a representation of the city of Constantinople

Though the beginnings of the Byzantine Empire are unclear, its demise is not. The history of the Eastern Roman Empire, from its foundation in 324 to its conquest in 1453, is one of war, plague, architectural triumphs and fear of God's wrath.

Bran Castle, March 2013.

Bram Stoker’s novel was a mixed blessing for Romania. It attracted tourists, but the legend was at odds with communist ideals and made a villain of a national hero.

Alarm about moral degeneracy and ‘family values’ provoked Hollywood to instigate its own self-censorship codes in the 1920s. The industry's preoccupation with American morality proved to be the source of inspiration and even genius.

The struggle for control of the straits dividing Sicily from southern Italy brought the two great empires of the Mediterranean, Carthage and Rome, head to head. It was a world in which ruthless mercenaries prospered.

An uncanny ability to mould public desire made Edward Bernays one of the 20th century’s most influential – yet invisible – characters, the architect of modern mass manipulation.

Restaurants went mainstream in the 19th century, but the boom in places to dine out brought unexpected perils – menu anxiety, excessive table talk and ‘strange ladies’ among them.

What’s the difference between man’s best friend and the ‘enemy of all society’? In the decades before Darwin, the distinction between the domestic dog and its feared wild ancestor was absolute.  

A warped path from Caspar David Friedrich to Adolf Hitler arrives at the dark heart of German Romanticism. Does a painting represent human triumph or a humbling? The answer is in the ideological eye of the beholder.

When the Cuban Revolution succeeded in January 1959, Fidel Castro had a problem: he was 550 miles from Havana. Undeterred, the would-be leader turned his journey to the capital into a victory march.

In 1904, when tobacco farmers of Kentucky and Tennessee formed an association to unite against the American Tobacco Company, a vigilante splinter group decided to deliver its own brand of rough justice.