Cover Story

‘Grover Cleveland Taming the British Lion’, Joseph Keppler, Puck, 1888.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 16 empires of varying size and reach. At the end of the century, there was just one: the United States. How did this happen and what role did Britain play in smoothing America’s path to global hegemony?

German stormtroops depicted in ‘Either … Or …’, from the magazine Simplicissimus, August 1918. Illustration by Eduard Thöny.

When the Great War broke out in 1914, the German imperial army was regarded as the finest fighting force on earth. Just four years later, it was crushed by Britain and its allies.

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn Observed by Queen Katherine (1870), by Marcus Stone.

For the lesser-known members of the great Tudor dynasties, loyalties were divided. Should you support your king, queen or family?

‘The Masked Council’, members of Broadstairs Council conduct a gas drill, 29 November 1938.

The wait for the outcome of the Munich Conference and the looming spectre of another war hung over Britain in 1938. Its impact was deeply felt.

The Russian Revolution should not be confined to 1917. The legacy of its leader and chief ideologue lives on in all its terrible contradictions.

'Monstra Niliaca Parei', from Aldrovandi’s History of Monsters, 1642.

Some of the most intelligent people in early modern Europe were convinced of the existence of merpeople.

Bust of Marcus Tullius Cicero, first century AD

The man who conspired to kill Julius Caesar was not quite the friend to Romans and countrymen that his legendary status suggests. 

Greek comedy mask, terracotta, second century BC.

From sausage-sellers to suffragettes, questioning and puncturing our political leaders through satire has been essential for democracy ever since comedy was born in Ancient Greece, argues Edith Hall.