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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Beauty, Leningrad Zoo, c.1932.

The Siege of Leningrad imposed horrific conditions on its residents, severe food shortages among them. Remarkably, many of the animals in the city’s zoo survived.

After decades of turmoil, in 1181 Jayavarman VII restored order to the Angkor Empire by embracing Buddhism and introducing an unprecedented public healthcare programme.

Life and death in a Viking battle depended not on military prowess, but on the favour of the valkyries. Why were these mythical figures, who decided a warrior’s fate, female?

In 1805, a lady’s maid from Cork visited the palace of a Russian princess and inadvertently became one of the first published Irish writers on Russia.

Soviet soldiers in Bornholm, 1945.

The small island of Bornholm gave Stalin a Danish foothold at the end of the Second World War. Why did he give it up?

Ancient Rome by Giovanni Paolo Panini, 1757.

The French Grand Tour was the preserve of the elite, but in the decades before the Revolution ‘the art of being abroad’ endured a crisis. Who should travel and why?

First aid to the wounded on the battlefield at Colenso during the Boer War, print after J.J. Waugh, c.1900.

Eight years after giving up medicine for writing, the internationally famous creator of Sherlock Holmes became Dr Doyle once more, on the front line of the Boer War.

Poachers 1

A double murder in an English wood became a Victorian cause célèbre, provoking a national debate about the tyranny of land ownership and the loss of ancient liberties.

A Palestinian woman in Ramallah, 10 July 2014.

Starting in the 1960s, the Palestinian revolution was galvanised by the production of protest posters which depicted a united people and a hopeful future. As the liberation movement fractured, such visions disappeared.

Nguyen Ai Quoc (Ho Chi Minh), 1921.

When, in 1931, the Vietnamese revolutionary Nguyen Ai Quoc was discovered to be hiding in Hong Kong, the French authorities requested the British extradite him to Indochina where a death sentence awaited.