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Man Reading, attributed to Rembrandt, c.1648.

We remember the Dutch Golden Age for its paintings – which may be why so few realise that it was Europe’s publishing powerhouse. 

Occupying British troops march past the Nusretiye mosque in Istanbul in 1920, as the Ottoman Empire collapses.

Across the Balkans, relics of Ottoman glory and decline, such as mosques, bridges and hamams, exist in various states of disrepair. Can they be brought back to life?

Modern reproduction of the Capua Limb  (c.300 BC), a now-destroyed Roman artificial leg, 1905-15.

The classical world created a variety of means of mobility for the disabled – both mythical and real.

The Catalan Atlas (detail) by Abraham Cresques, 1375.

Africa has been global for millennia, but its history is too often eclipsed by narratives that focus on slavery and its abolition.

The ‘Great Farini’ (William Leonard Hunt) and Krao, by W. & D. Downey, 19th century.

In Victorian Britain, attitudes towards race, gender, disability and Empire were all to be found in the popular ‘freak shows’.

Soviet soldiers on Vienna’s Ringstrasse, 1945.

At the centre of a war-shattered Europe, Vienna was divided between the victorious Allied powers. Restoring civil society proved a major challenge. 

Charles Hutton, engraving by H. Ashby, 1824.

From the pit to Pythagoras, the self-made man rose to the top of the mathematical world and divided it in two. 

Section of the Thai- Burma Railway along the River Kwai, Thailand, December 2009.

The Thai-Burma railway was built by prisoners of war in appalling conditions. The dead were treated with a dignity denied the living.

‘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?

illustration of Aztec cannibalism, from the Codex Magliabechiano, 16th century.

The Conquest of Mexico was justified by the Spanish as an evil necessary to save a people who practised human sacrifice and worshipped false gods.