Fighting Across Borders

Regional rabble-rousing: a suffragette under arrest in Dundee, Scotland, c.1910.In popular culture and public memory, the full reach of the campaign that led to the Representation of the People Act in 1918 is not often remembered as the backbone to the success of the women’s suffrage movement. The concept of a united national campaign for women’s suffrage, spreading as far as the Northern Isles, is in danger of being lost.

The locations of the two new statues of Emmeline Pankhurst and Millicent Garrett Fawcett – in Manchester and London respectively – are telling. There is no doubting the significance of these two cities to the history of women’s suffrage, but each part of the United Kingdom and Ireland had prominent and active ties to the campaign that worked in unity. This was acknowledged by the leaders as they travelled around the nation on rallies and demonstrations, promoting their cause and rallying campaigners. The 1913 Suffrage Annual and Women’s Who’s Who reveals a wealth of societies in every corner of every county of every country, demonstrating how popular the campaign was.

Helen Antrobus | Published 01 October 2018
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Volume 68 Issue 10 October 2018

A New Peru

José Luis Bustamante y Rivero, c.1940s. (Alamy)This October marks 70 years since the overthrow of José Luis Bustamante y Rivero, a reform-minded Christian Democrat, first elected president of Peru in 1945. Bustamante’s victory was significant in many ways. Not only was it, arguably, the first truly democratic election in Peru’s history, but it produced a government formed without members of the established elites. Peru’s political and economic life had long been dominated by landed, commercial and military figures. The majority of Peru was subjected to a state akin to feudalism, a discriminatory electoral system that prevented most Peruvians from casting a ballot and land ownership restricted to a powerful oligarchy. In confronting social issues, they often employed a carrot-and-stick approach: undertaking welfarist schemes while suppressing civil rights and seeking to prevent the spread of popular politics. In the early 20th century such politics was represented most strongly by the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA). Formed in 1924 to develop a socialist society for the benefit of Peru’s working class and historically exploited indigenous Indian population, APRA was viewed as a threat by the traditional elites and was outlawed.

Vittorio Trevitt | Published 27 September 2018
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Volume 68 Issue 10 October 2018

Wolsey’s Own Accord

Projects for a peaceful Europe go back centuries. Occasionally, they succeed – for a while at least.

Cardinal virtue: Thomas Wolsey, by Sampson Strong, 16th century. (Bridgeman Images)

Thomas Wolsey is today best known for his downfall in 1529, following the failure to fix Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon. But, 500 years ago this month, the grand cardinal, who was also the king’s Lord Chancellor, staged one of the most extraordinary diplomatic coups in European history. Given the state of the ongoing Brexit negotiations, it may be worth revisiting, for inspiration at least.

Wolsey had been concerned that England and its young king were heading for diplomatic isolation. Francis I of France, Henry’s military rival, had defeated the Swiss, once thought invincible, at the Battle of Marignano in 1515. In the wake of his victory, he had signed treaties with a number of continental powers.

Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

Taylor Downing | Published 14 September 2018
Daniel Ellsberg is well known as the whistle blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Less well known is that, at the time he copied the secret documents about Vietnam, he also copied a mass of material about US nuclear policy that he similarly intended to leak, but which was eventually lost. The Doomsday Machine goes back over his time as a nuclear war consultant at the RAND Corporation, the think tank that advised the US Air Force, and his later work for the Department of Defense and the White House. The revelations are truly shocking. Official US policy...Read more »
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Canada’s First Nations

Reconciliation: a heart garden planted during the Indian Residential Schools Truth  and Reconciliation Commission,  3 June 2015. (Press Association Images/Sean Kilpatrick)

Documenting the effects of the Indian residential school system (governmental boarding schools for indigenous children), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015) recently defined reconciliation as ‘establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples’. The Commission determined that this is a relationship that Canada does not presently have. The country is at an important moment in its relationship with First Nations. It is beginning to acknowledge its own colonial history and there is discussion of how reconciliation might be achieved. The context of why reconciliation is needed relates to dark aspects of Canadian history, which linger on today.

William Rees | Published 13 September 2018
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Published in
Volume 68 Issue 9 September 2018

St Edmund the Viking Saint

English resistance: miniature showing Edmund’s death, from  ‘The Lives of St Edmund and  St Fremund’, c.1450. (Bridgeman Images)A Viking army invaded the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia in 869 and killed its king, Edmund. The murdered monarch would be venerated as one of the great saints of medieval England, but his cult began in Danish East Anglia and was promoted by the people who killed him.

The development of Edmund’s cult in the Danish kingdom of East Anglia (which existed between 869 and 917) undermines the stereotype of Edmund as a symbol of Anglo-Saxon resistance to Viking invaders. The enthusiasm with which the Vikings embraced the figure of Edmund suggests that his commemoration became a way of forging a common Anglo-Danish identity for the people of eastern England – an identity that would become increasingly important as Danish kings dominated England in the 11th century.

Francis Young | Published 10 September 2018
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Volume 68 Issue 9 September 2018

The History of Council Housing

David Brady | Published 31 August 2018
In the 1950s, the nation gathered beside the wireless to enjoy Take It From Here , the BBC Home Service comedy about Ron Glum and his fiancée Eth, suffering an interminable engagement because they were unable to find a home of their own. In Municipal Dreams , John Boughton, who has blogged about the history of councils for years, provides an overview of the beginnings and the development of local government housing. After setting out the background, he moves briskly through a chronology of council estates. Examples include the Latchmere Estate in Battersea (opened in 1903), which was built by...Read more »
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We All Scream for Ice Cream

Sweets made of ice or snow have been with us for millennia, evolving slowly into the modern chilly treat.

The Ice Cream Seller, Austria, 1895

Who doesn’t like ice cream? According to the International Dairy Foods Association, 3.7 million tons of it are consumed in the US each year alone – an average of 23lbs per person. But, while we are only too eager to guzzle it down, we seldom pause to consider how our favourite frozen dessert came into being.

Feminist Energy vs Vehement Opposition

Lyndsey Jenkins | Published 24 August 2018
Detail from the song sheet of Ethyl Smyth’s The March of the Women, by Margaret Morris (1911). One hundred years after some women in Britain won the right to vote, we are once again experiencing an extraordinary moment of feminist energy and vehement opposition. A woman’s right to choose seems to be in reach in Ireland, yet is under increasing attack in the US. High profile campaigns on sexual harassment and equal pay are bringing together women across classes and countries, but legitimate concerns are being raised about whose voices are privileged within these movements. Women have new platforms and...Read more »
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