The Prince of Quacks (and How He Captivated London)

James Graham, founder of the Temple of Health, benefitted from his undeniable flair for showmanship and his talent for leaping on trends. Let me set the scene: In late eighteenth-century England, ladies and gentlemen flocked to exhibitions of solar microscopes. The miniature world of mites and polyps was blown up and cast on the wall like[…]

The Theodosian Walls of Ancient Byzantium

The fortifications were the largest and strongest ever built in either the ancient or medieval worlds. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Theodosian Walls are the fortifications of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire, which were first built during the reign of Theodosius II (408-450 CE). Sometimes known as the Theodosian Long Walls, they built upon[…]

The Varangian Guard: The Byzantine Emperor’s Secret Service

The Varangians were probably as shocking a sight to Byzantine enemies as tanks would have been to WWI infantry. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The mercenary Varangian Guard was an elite Byzantine army corps and the personal bodyguard of emperors beginning with Basil II in c. 988 CE. The Viking unit was famous for the stature[…]