Miscellanies

Miscellanies is History Today's free weekly long read. Every Wednesday, 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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Timsah Arena, Bursa.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party has consolidated its power with relentless construction projects, pursued at the expense of Turkey’s cosmopolitan heritage. The country’s historic football stadiums are among the collateral.

In medieval Ireland divorce, contraception and abortions were readily available. The country’s recent political and cultural changes take it much closer to its pre-modern past.

During the First World War, the deliberate destruction of western Europe's medieval heritage changed how people thought about their nations' pasts. Heritage tourism is one of the war's lesser-known legacies. 

With her newspaper, The Lily, Amelia Bloomer changed how American women thought about themselves; with her popularisation of the bloomer, she changed how they dressed. Her progressive thinking remains relevant in her bicentenary year. 

While Antony and Cleopatra have been immortalised in history and in popular culture, their offspring have been all but forgotten. Their daughter, Cleopatra Selene, became an important ruler in her own right. 

Fiery, energetic and preached by charismatic frontmen, Pentecostal Christianity had a big influence on rock and roll in its formative years. Many early stars had religious upbringings, inspiring their personas, music – and fears of eternal damnation.

'When the Time is Ripe': American cartoon by D.R. Fitzpatrick, 1947.

After its liberation in 1945, Czechoslovakia soon fell behind the ‘Iron Curtain’. That it would do so was not a formality: the US could have brought the country into the Western Bloc – had it been so inclined.

If you want to know what really mattered to a medieval king or queen, look at what they called their children. The names given to royal offspring reveal rebellious, pious and pretentious parents.

The career of Tunisian singer Habiba Messika was cut tragically short in 1930. Her murder devastated her fans, but in its aftermath her records spread across the French-occupied Maghreb, fanning the flames of insurgent nationalism.

Still life with flowers, Hans Gillisz. Bollongier, 1639.

Historians have overplayed the extent of the moral, social and economic impact of the 17th-century craze for trading tulip bulbs. The original Dutch sources reveal a much more subtle cultural turning point behind its collapse in 1637.