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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Let There Be Wind

From DIY experiments to giant offshore farms, the history of extracting electricity from air has been driven by individual innovation pursued against the headwinds of public scepticism.

Jaipur’s Last Stand

The new government of an independent India sought to curtail the influence of the old princely order. When the Maharani of Jaipur entered politics in 1962, it had a popular problem to contend with.

The Trouble With Madeira

The Portuguese island of Madeira had the misfortune to play host to more than its fair share of expatriate religious strife in the early Victorian period. In the 1840s, tensions reached a violent crescendo.

Who’s Afraid of the Dog-Banditti?

For as long as dogs have been valued as companions, they have been a target for thieves. Their theft and ransom became a lucrative practice in the 18th century, with high-profile victims.

The Paris Commune’s Bloody Week

In May 1871, a short-lived Parisian revolution in social relations was brutally suppressed. What is the legacy of the Paris Commune, 150 years on?

The Spanish Witches of Cartagena

The Spanish Inquisition arrived in the New World convinced of the existence of heretics and witches. Learning to navigate the Inquisitors’ demonic expectations was one way to survive, as shown by the case of Paula de Eguiluz.

The Myths and Realities of Ping-Pong Diplomacy

When the United States’ table tennis team was invited to China in 1971, the trip was about far more than sporting competition. Dubbed ‘ping-pong diplomacy’, it heralded a thaw in diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Revolting Romantics

The story of a young William Blake warning Thomas Paine of impending danger is one of the great myths of English Romanticism. But did it happen?

The Autograph Fiend

There was no known remedy available to help those afflicted with ‘autographomania’. Spreading far and wide in the late 19th century, the obsession with collecting autographs held ‘all sorts and conditions of men in its deadly grip’.

Challenger and Chernobyl, Cold War Catastrophes

In 1986, the world’s superpowers were each rocked by disasters occurring just three months apart. Technological prowess had driven the Cold War: what did it mean for it to fail in such catastrophic circumstances?