Revealing the Secrets of the Burnt Magna Carta

A 1297 copy of the Magna Carta on display in the Members’ Hall of Parliament House, Canberra, Australia / Wikimedia Commons One of the four surviving 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts was burnt in the Ashburnham House fire of 1731. Then a failed restoration attempt in the 1830s rendered much of its text illegible. In the charter’s 800th anniversary[…]

The Medieval English King’s Escheator

Edinburgh Castle / Photo by Becks, Wikimedia Commons The escheator was the local official responsible for upholding the king’s rights as feudal lord. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 07.26.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief The escheator was the local official responsible for ‘escheats’, that is broadly speaking for upholding the king’s rights as feudal lord, and[…]

The Victorian Supernatural

The Fashionable Science of Parlour Magic / British Library, Public Domain Challenging the idea of the 19th century as one of secularisation, exploring the popularity of mesmerism, spiritualism and ‘true’ ghost stories in the period. By Dr. Roger Luckhurst / 05.15.2014 Professor of Modern Literature Birkbeck College University of London The 19th century is routinely thought[…]

The Law of Inheritance in Medieval England

Allstedt Castle catching the early morning sun / Photo by Andreas Vogel, Wikimedia Commons The rules of common law inheritance, or primogeniture, were largely settled by the end of the thirteenth century. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 07.26.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Inquisition Post Mortems (IPMs) are documents concerned with the inheritance of land. That inheritance[…]

The Origins of Magna Carta

Professor David Carpenter and Professor Nicholas Vincent discuss the reign of King John, the grievances of the barons and the circumstances in which Magna Carta was created in 1215. Exploring the medieval context in which the historic agreement at Runnymede was created, examining King John’s Plantagenet heritage, his loss of French territory and his relationship[…]

The Impact of the Napoleonic Wars in Britain

The start of the 19th century was a time of hostility between France and England, marked by a series of wars. Throughout this period, England feared a French invasion led by Napoleon. Ruth Mather explores the impact of this fear on literature and on everyday life. By Dr. Ruth Mather Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Exeter[…]

The Impact of the French Revolution in Britain

1789 Engraving, James Gillray / Public Domain Considering how Britain’s intellectual, political and creative circles responded to the French Revolution. By Dr. Ruth Mather Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Exeter Intellectual debate A New Patriotic Song, from a collection of material relating to the fear of a French invasion: This ballad sheet from 1803 typically demonstrates publications[…]

Making Home in Britain: Asian Immigration and Assimilation in the 19th Century

British Library, Public Domain How early Asian settlers earned a living and made a home in Britain.      By (left-to-right) Dr. Susheila Nasta, Dr. Florian Stadtler, and Dr. Rozina Visram Nasta: Professor of English, The Open University Stadtler: Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Literatures, University of Exeter Visram: Independent Scholar in Asian Studies Making a permanent home in Britain was not[…]

Forgotten Voyages of the Mid-20th Century Caribbean ‘Windrush Generation’

HMS Empire Windrush / Royal Navy official photographer, Wikimedia Commons Looking at some of the forgotten voyages that brought men, women and children from all over the Caribbean to Britain. By Naomi Oppenheim / 07.05.2018 AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Student British Library University College London ‘The S.S. Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury on 22 June 1948 with 492 Jamaican men[…]

A Right Royal Gift Book: ‘The Wedding at Windsor’, 1863

Engraved illustration from Harper’s Weekly newspaper of the wedding of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and Alexandra of Denmark / Harper’s Weekly newspaper dated 11 April 1863, Wikimedia Commons Both the marriage of Edward VII and Alexandra – and the Princess’s landing at Gravesend and royal entry into London – were commemorated in a lavish volume[…]

Bagpipe Bandits: How the English Blew Scotland’s National Instrument First

This could come to blows. zoetnet, Creative Commons There’s something every Scot should know about those caterwauling pipes. By Dr. Vivien Williams / 02.25.2016 Research Assistant in Musicology University of Glasgow The Great Highland bagpipe is as central to Scottish identity as tartan and Robert Burns. Walk down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and you’ll hear that familiar wail,[…]

Rediscovering a ‘Lost’ Roman Frontier from the Air

Rewriting history from the air. William S Hanson Scrutinizing archives of aerial photography, we have been able to identify as Roman two more walls that will transform our understanding of the frontier of the Roman Empire in Eastern Europe.    By Dr. William S. Hanson and Dr. Ioana Oltean / 09.16.2013 Hanson: Professor of Roman Archaeology,[…]

While Elgin Marbles Debate Still Rages, a Market for Looted Antiquities Remains

Detail, Phidias(?), Parthenon Frieze, c. 438-32 B.C.E., pentelic marble (420 linear feet of the 525 that complete the frieze are in the British Museum) (photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA) The international art market that deals in ancient cultural objects casts a destructive shadow. By Dr. Simon Mackenzie / 02.14.2014 Professor of Criminology, Law and Society University[…]

Britannia, Druids and the Surprisingly Modern Origin of Myths

Sky Atlantic We think of the Druids as being embedded in British culture from the mists of ancient times. But what we think we know about Druids is of surprisingly modern provenance. By Dr. Matthew Kelly / 01.16.2018 Professor of Modern History Northumbria University, Newcastle The new TV series Britannia, which has won plaudits as heralding a new generation of British folk-horror, is clearly not intended to be strictly historical. Instead[…]

Alfred the Great May Not Have Been So Great

The Last Kingdom. BBC/Carnival/Des Wille New research suggests his military achievements might have been exaggerated. By Dr. Stuart Brookes / 03.17.2017 Senior Research Associate in Archaeology University College London The Last Kingdom – BBC’s historical drama set in the time of Alfred the Great’s war with the Vikings – has returned to our screens for a second[…]

6,000-Year-Old Monument Offers Tantalizing Glimpse of Britain’s Neolithic Civilization

Cat’s Brain long barrow is near the more famous Stonehenge (pictured) but predates it by hundreds of years. Shutterstock An archaeological dig at Cat’s Brain has unearthed a remarkable insight into life in Britain before Stonehenge. By Dr. James Leary / 11.20.2017 Director of Archaeology Field School University of Reading This summer, the University of Reading Archaeology Field School excavated[…]

How the Discovery of Julius Caesar’s First Landing Point in Britain Could Change History

Wellcome Trust/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA At Ebbsfleet, in northeast Kent, archaeologists have finally uncovered the site where JuliusCaesar’s fleet landed in 54 BCE By Dr. Andrew Fitzpatrick / 11.29.2017 Research Associate University of Leicester During the nine-year-long Battle for Gaul, Julius Caesar fought his way across northwest Europe. He invaded Britain twice; in 55BC, and again in 54BC. But while archaeologists have found evidence of the[…]

Why We Should Be Celebrating the Treatment of Women in Anglo-Saxon England

By Lynda Telford / 05.20.2018 Events and Projects Officer Richard III Society, Yorkshire Branch What was the way of life for most ordinary women during the early Middle Ages in England? The answer is surprising. In Anglo-Saxon England – before the Norman Conquest in 1066 – men and women enjoyed relatively equal rights and social,[…]

How King Arthur Became One of the Most Pervasive Legends of All Time

Vuk Kostic/www.shutterstock.com Historic heroes like King Arthur have helped audiences through the ages to cope with troubling times. By Dr. Raluca Radulescu / 02.02.2017 Professor of Medieval Literature and English Literature Bangor University King Arthur is one of, if not the, most legendary icons of medieval Britain. His popularity has lasted centuries, mostly thanks to the numerous incarnations of his story that pop[…]

Iconology of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey: Body, Reputation, and Power in Tudor England

Portrait of Thomas Wolsey, artist unknown, late 16th century — National Portrait Gallery via Wikimedia Commons Characterised as manipulative, power-hungry, and even an alter rex, Henry VIII’s right-hand man Cardinal Thomas Wolsey has been typically depicted with a body mass to rival his political weight. Katherine Harvey asks if he was really the glutton of popular legend,[…]

Archaeology is Revealing New Truths about the Origins of British Christianity

Centre for the Study for Christianity and Culture, University of York., Author provided New archaeological research on Glastonbury Abbey pushes back the date for the earliest settlement of the site by 200 years – and reopens debate on Glastonbury’s origin myths. By Dr. Roberta Gilchrist / 03.23.2018 Professor of Archaeology University of Reading New archaeological research on Glastonbury Abbey pushes back the date for[…]

You Had to Speak French to Get Ahead in Medieval Britain

Medieval teaching scene. gallica.bnf.fr / BnF Back in the Middle Ages, as well as speaking English and Latin, many people living inBritain also spoke French. By Dr. Huw Grange / 03.16.2018 Junior Research Fellow in French Jesus College University of Oxford The study of modern languages in British secondary schools is in steep decline. The number of students taking French and German GCSE[…]

The Health of Children and Youth in Early Modern England

Scene from frontispiece to EPB/47966/A: Jane Sharp, The compleat midwife’s companion: or, the art of midwifry improv’d (London: J. Marsall [sic], 1724). Wellcome Images L0028111. / Wellcome Library By Dr. Linda Payne Inaugural Sirridge Missouri Endowed Professor in Medical Humanities and Bioethics University of Missouri-Kansas City Children and youth in early modern England (1500-1800) were[…]

Vikings Struck Deep into the West of England – and May Have Stuck Around

There’s something in the water. Shutterstock The reach of the Vikings in England went further than we thought. By Dr. Derek Gore / 04.18.2016 Teaching Fellow of Archaeology University of Exeter It’s well chronicled that wave after wave of Vikings from Scandinavia terrorised western Europe for 250 years from the end of the eighth century AD and wreaked particular havoc across vast areas of[…]

A History of Covering Up Paintings to Make Room for Others

Behind the mask. National Galleries of Scotland By Dr. Elsje van Kessel / 10.31.2017 Lecturer in Art History University of St. Andrews An exciting discovery for British history buffs: an unfinished portrait believed to be of Mary, Queen of Scots has been revealed under a 16th-century painting using X-ray photography. The hidden portrait is a special find by[…]

Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson: English Renaissance Theatre

The Globe Theatre, Panorama Innenraum, London / Photo by Maschinenjunge, Wikimedia Commons    By Dr. Kevin Seiffert and Dr. Rosemary Sutton Seiffert: Professor, Department of Educational Administration, Foundations, & Psychology, University of Manitoba Sutton: Vice President for Student Learning and Success, Cascadia College, Bothell English Renaissance theatre, also known as early modern English theatre, or (commonly) as Elizabethan theatre, refers[…]