Socialism and the Vampire: Comrades, Capitalists, and Bloodsuckers

Vampire fiction as class allegory predates Dracula. In May 1897 Constable and Co published a limited print run of a new novel by a London-based Irish theatre manager and occasional author named Bram Stoker.  Stoker had enjoyed moderate critical recognition with a series of overly-sentimental pot-boilers and ghoulish short stories over the course of the[…]

The Irish Revolution and the Birth of Dáil Éireann

January marked the 100th anniversary of Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s Parliament. This month marks the 100th anniversary of Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s Parliament. Amid the better-known events of a century ago that led to Ireland’s independence from its union with Britain, such as the Easter Rising or the island’s partition with the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the significance of[…]

Liberty and Property: The Levellers and Locke

The turmoil of the English Civil War in the 1640s and 1650s generated political and institutional upheaval, and stimulated radical thinking about politics. By Dr. Murray N. Rothbard Since the Civil War was fought over religion and politics, much of the new thinking was grounded in, or inspired by, religious principles and visions. Thus, as[…]

George Winstanley’s True Levellers, or Diggers, in Early Modern England

Their original name came from their belief in economic equality. Introduction The Diggers were a group of Protestant radicals in England, sometimes seen as forerunners of modern anarchism,[1] and also associated with agrarian socialism[2][3] and Georgism. Gerrard Winstanley’s followers were known as True Levellersin 1649 and later became known as Diggers, because of their attempts to farm on common land. Their original name came from their belief in[…]

A Brief History of the Kingdom of Israel before the Assyrian Captivity

Israel was a regional superpower, but unable to retain its independence in the face of Assyrian imperialism. According to the Bible (the only thorough source for this period of Israel), the united kingdom of Solomon was divided after his death in ca.931. His son Rehoboam, we are told, increased the taxes, and provoked a rebellion[…]

The Constantinian Shift: Rome’s Transition from Pagan Tolerance to Christian Supremacy

Roman religion and tolerance for others drastically began to change following the Edict of Milan. Introduction Constantinian shift is a term used by some theologians and historians of antiquity to describe the political and theological aspects and outcomes of the 4th-century process of Constantine’s integration of the Imperial government with the Catholic church that began with the First Council of Nicaea.[1] The term was popularized[…]

Ancient Rome’s First and Second Triumvirates: Uneasy Transition from Republic to Empire

Balances of power and ambitious pursuits. Introduction A triumviratus is literally a college of three men. In the ancient Roman republic, there were several boards of tresviri. For example tresviri agro dando divided newly conquered land among farmers; tresviri capitales were responsible for the jail and prisoners; tresviri coloniae deducendae founded new towns (coloniae); tresviri epulones took care of the dinners that[…]

The Strange Politics of Gertrude Stein

Was the den mother of modernism a fascist? Why were so many prominent modernist writers and philosophers attracted to fascist or authoritarian regimes in the first half of the twentieth century? A list of those who were not—Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, and Robert Musil—pales in comparison to a list of those who were—Ezra[…]

Parlor Politics: The Activist Legacy of Harriet Beecher Stowe

She was a famous activist in her day, arguably the most famous in the world. What is her relevance today? By Tom Christopher Katherine Kane, executive director of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Connecticut, has no doubts. As she escorts me through Stowe’s home, a 4,500-square-foot Victorian “cottage,” Kane points out that the[…]

The Historical Context for the Protestant Reformation

To circumscribe the Reformation solely within the sphere of theological disputation is to mask the complexity of both its birth and afterlife. By Jay Gundacker and Sean Hallowell Martin Luther To understand the rapid spread of Luther’s ideas, a brief account of the role that the Church played in Medieval society is necessary. In the[…]

The Church in Medieval Europe

The Church dominated the culture and society of Medieval Europe so powerfully that its people thought of themselves as living in “Christendom” – the realm of the Christians. Introduction Overview Medieval Christendom was divided into two parts. The Christians of eastern Europe were under the leadership of the patriarch of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul, in Turkey). Those in[…]

Ancient Phoenician DNA Tells a Story of Settlement and Female Mobility

A study investigate how Phoenicians integrated with the Sardinian communities they settled. By Tessa Gregory The Phoenicians were an ancient civilization that emerged in 1800 B.C. in the northern Levant and by 800 B.C. had spread their culture across the Mediterranean to parts of Asia, Europe and Africa through trade networks and settlements. Despite their[…]

The Phoenician Alphabet and Language

Phoenician is a Canaanite language closely related to Hebrew. Introduction Very little is known about the Canaanite language, except what can be gathered from the El-Amarna letters written by Canaanite kings to Pharaohs Amenhopis III (1402 – 1364 BCE) and Akhenaton (1364 – 1347 BCE). It appears that the Phoenician language, culture, and writing were[…]

When Paris Was Reno: American Divorce Tourism in the City of Light, 1920-1927

Traveling to Paris for a divorce became all the rage in the early 1920s. It was one of the Franco-American scandals of the 1920s. It brought Americans on an eastward ho to undo in Paris what had been wrought in America.  It led to questionable legal practices at the Paris bar and diplomatic tensions over[…]

After 100 Years, Mussolini’s Fascist Party Is a Reminder of Freedom’s Fragility

It was 100 years ago this month that Benito Mussolini created the fascist party in Italy. Today, his life offers cautionary lessons for contemporary politics. One hundred years ago, in March 1919, Benito Mussolini created the fascist party in Italy. For more than two decades, when he came to be known as “Il Duce,” or “the leader,”[…]

The Surprising Detective Work of a Renaissance Drawings Curator

Puzzling questions are the focus of the exhibition Spectacular Mysteries: Renaissance Drawings Revealed. By Tristan BravinderSocial Media ProducerGetty Research Institute Though it may be hard to imagine, the roles of a curator and a detective have much in common. Both follow clues and evidence in an attempt to uncover the truth behind a mystery. While[…]

Illuminated Manuscripts: A Step-By-Step Look at a Beautiful, Centuries-Old Craft

What place does the paper book have in our increasingly all-digital present? What place does the paper book have in our increasingly all-digital present? While some utilitarian arguments once marshaled in its favor (“You can read them in the bathtub” and the like) have fallen into disuse, other, more aesthetically focused arguments have arisen: that[…]

Rise and Fall of the Landline: 143 Years of Telephones Becoming More Accessible – and Smart

A century ago, a three-minute call from New York City to San Francisco on a landline cost $500. Today, you can make the same call on a cellphone for a few cents (or free). The global economy has changed dramatically over the past century and a half. When I lecture my Boston University business students on this topic, I[…]

A History of Jewish Political Activity in the Early Modern and Modern Periods

In the early modern period, political activity among Jews was limited exclusively to the Jewish community. Introduction In the early modern period, political activity among Jews was limited exclusively to the Jewish community. Autonomous congregational structures existed in the early modern “triple congregation” Dreigemeinde consisting of Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbek. It was only in the[…]

Jewish Migration from 1500 to the 20th Century

The beginnings of Hamburg’s Jewish community are linked to the Jews’ expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula at the end of the 15th century. Introduction The term migration is used to describe different, interconnected processes, especially mobility, immigration and emigration, internal migration, labor migration, seasonal migration, flight and expulsion. Among the most extreme forms of forced[…]

Ancient Chinese Warfare: Confucianism and Absence of Glory

The absence of a glorification of war in China was largely due to Confucian philosophy and literature. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction In ancient China warfare was a means for one region to gain ascendancy over another, for the state to expand and protect its frontiers, and for usurpers to replace an existing dynasty of rulers.[…]

The Most Popular Gods and Goddesses of Ancient China

There were over 200 gods and goddesses worshipped throughout ancient China, but if one were to count every deity or spirit, the number would be over 1,000. By Emily MarkHistorian Introduction There were over 200 gods and goddesses worshipped throughout ancient China, but if one were to count every deity or spirit, the number would be[…]

Slavery’s Traces: In Search of Ashley’s Sack

Until now, Ashley’s identity has been unknown. Overview One of the most enigmatic objects on display in South Carolina’s Middleton Place, this unbleached cotton sack features an embroidered text recounting the slave sale of a nine-year-old girl named Ashley and the gift of the sack by her mother. Until now, Ashley’s identity has been unknown.[…]

Things You May Not Know about Slavery in British North America

Exploring common misconceptions about slavery in the American colonies. While there are many misconceptions about this time period in American history, some of the most egregious surround the institution of slavery in the mainland colonies of British North America. It is common to read back into colonial times an understanding of slavery that is based[…]