The Impact of the Norman Conquest of England

The conquest saw the Norman elite replace that of the Anglo-Saxons. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Norman conquest of England, led by William the Conqueror (r. 1066-1087 CE) was achieved over a five-year period from 1066 CE to 1071 CE. Hard-fought battles, castle building, land redistribution, and scorched earth tactics ensured that the Normans were[…]

A Brief Biography of William the Conqueror

An accomplished diplomat, gifted military commander, and ruthless overlord. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction William the Conqueror (c. 1027-1087 CE), also known as William, Duke of Normandy and William the Bastard, led the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 CE when he defeated and killed his rival Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings. Crowned King[…]

The Roman Baths in Bath: A Deep Dive into Britain’s Ancient History

There is little evidence remaining from the pre-Roman worship, as they left little footprints of their spiritual practice for us to study. By Wanda MarcussenHistorian Introduction Bath, the famous spa town in Somerset England, has attracted people from near and far for centuries to its healing springs and baths. Today the city is known for its beautiful Georgian architecture and[…]

Rights, Resistance, and Racism: The Story of the Mangrove Nine

Examining what prompted the backlash of black British people against the police. By Rowena Hillel and Vicky Iglikowski The trial of the nine arguably represents a high point of the Black Panther movement in the UK, showing the power of black activism and the institutionalised police prejudice. But what prompted the backlash of black British[…]

How a British Royal’s Monumental Errors Made India’s Partition More Painful

The partition of India led to more than a million deaths. A scholar argues how British royal, Lord Louis Mountbatten, who hurriedly drew the new borders in secret, was largely responsible. Introduction The midnight between August 14 and 15, 1947, was one of history’s truly momentous moments: It marked the birth of Pakistan, an independent India and[…]

Entertainment in Georgian Britain, from Pleasure Gardens to Blood Sports

During the Georgian period a host of entertainments were available to those seeking relief from their everyday routines. Theatre The 18th century was the great age of theatre. In London and the provinces, large purpose-built auditoriums were constructed to house the huge crowds that flocked nightly to see plays and musical performances. A variety of[…]

The English Reformation: Tradition and Change

Introduction The English Reformation was part of a European-wide phenomenon to reform the church which began in 1517 when legend has it that the German monk and theologian Martin Luther nailed 95 theses (propositions for discussion) to the door of the castle church at Wittenberg to be debated publicly. Chief among these was the church[…]

‘All Change!’: A History of Britain’s Railways

Exploring Britain’s railways from 1812 to 2007. 1812: The First Effective Locomotive-Powered Railway The coal-carrying Middleton Railway, near Leeds, introduced rack-and-pinion locomotives to haul its trains in 1812. Formerly, coal had been transported from the Middleton pits by wagon way, using horse-drawn wagons. The locomotive’s cylinders drove the pinions through right-angled cranks, so that the[…]

The Native Americans Who Drew the French and British into War

The Anishinaabeg played an outsized role in world affairs. When a young George Washington approached the forks of the Ohio River in the spring of 1754, he was nervous. The previous year, as he scouted the area that would become Pittsburgh to contest French claims to the region, he came across seven scalped settlers. His[…]

Does the British Empire Still Have a Grip on America?

From the coins we count to the democracy we practice, the mother country’s influence is holding strong in our demographic whirlpool. Introduction In 1776, on the brink of his first battle with British troops after America declared independence, George Washington gave a spirited defense of breaking from British rule. “The fate of unborn millions will[…]

Topography and Prehistoric Britain

Britain’s prehistoric landscapes are depicted in prints and drawings across the British Library’s collections. The prehistoric monuments of Britain are strewn across the landscape but because their identity and purpose has been obscured, they have presented a challenge to topographers.  Of all of them, Stonehenge was too monumental to be ignored and its representation dominates[…]

The Rise of Cities in Georgian Britain

Life in the 18th-century city would have provoked a dazzling mixture of sensations: terror and exhilaration, menace and bliss, awe and pity. Cities expanded rapidly in 18th century Britain, with people flocking to them for work. Matthew White explores the impact on street life and living conditions in London and the expanding industrial cities of[…]

Health, Hygiene, and the Rise of ‘Mother Gin’ in Georgian Britain

Investigating health and hygiene in 18th century Britain, against a backdrop of industrialization and the subsequent over-crowding in the cities. Medical knowledge was very basic during the this period. While there were gradual improvements in healthcare, for many people even minor diseases could prove fatal. Living Conditions The growth of cities and towns during the[…]

Crime and Punishment in Georgian Britain

From gruesome, public executions to Georgian Britain’s adoration of the ‘heroic’ highwayman, the author investigates attitudes to crime and punishment in Georgian Britain. Introduction Throughout this period many people viewed criminals and law breaking as heroic and courageous, and the activities of robbers and villains were often widely celebrated in popular culture. Stories of daring[…]

‘Valiant Lunatics’: Heroism and Insanity in the Charge of the Light Brigade

The charge of the Light Brigade always elicited ambivalent responses from eyewitnesses. The charge of the Light Brigade has always elicited ambivalent responses from eyewitnesses. Even though he was writing at a remove of time and distance from the action, Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem echoes the conflicted reactions of both British and Russian witnesses who[…]

The Ancient Roman Dead: Revealing the Diversity of Roman Britain

New research has rubbished perceptions of Roman Britain as a region inhabited solely by white Europeans. Our knowledge about the people who lived in Roman Britain has undergone a sea change over the past decade. New research has rubbished our perception of it as a region inhabited solely by white Europeans. Roman Britain was actually[…]

Analyzing ‘The Favourite’ and the 18th-Century Court of Queen Anne

How two female courtiers vied for influence over Queen Anne. One of the challengers at this year’s Oscars is “The Favourite,” a film set in the early 18th-century court of British monarch Queen Anne. Focusing on the political and sexual intrigues of a female-led state, the film has, at its center, not only the queen[…]

From Munitionettes to Citizens – British Women in 1918 during the ‘Great War’

The experience of the Great War helped to radically change notions of citizenship in Britain. Three days after the armistice was signed, a general election was called and was held on Saturday 14th December 1918. Over six million women were able to vote in parliamentary elections for the first time following the Representation of the[…]

‘Dinnae Meddle!’: Scotland and the Historiography of Homosexual Law Reform

Scotland has its own independent legal system, education system and religious institutions, and gay men were criminalized there long after England ended their laws. A curious, or perhaps irksome, aspect of ‘British’ approaches to the history of sexuality is that they tend to neglect the variation of experience within the United Kingdom. I’ve lost count[…]

The Roman Dead: New Techniques are Revealing Just How Diverse Roman Britain Was

New research has rubbished perceptions of Roman Britain as a region inhabited solely by white Europeans. Our knowledge about the people who lived in Roman Britain has undergone a sea change over the past decade. New research has rubbished our perception of it as a region inhabited solely by white Europeans. Roman Britain was actually[…]

The Many Lives of Ned Coxere: Were British Sailors Really British?

How to get away with smuggling in the Early Modern world? Be someone else! By Alexis Harasemovitch-TruaxPhD Candidate in HistoryThe University of Texas at Austin The Spanish Man-of-War is bearing down on the English merchant ship and Ned is in the cabin, stuffing Barbary Ducats into his hat and shoes. After escaping from Spanish captivity,[…]

Viking Raids in England

Although the Vikings may have begun as little more than pirates in Britain, they would eventually arrive as great armies under skilled military leaders. Introduction The Viking raids and subsequent settlements define the period known as the Viking Age in Britain which had profound consequences on the development of the culture and language. The raids[…]

The Good, the Bad, and the Ague: Defining Healthful Airs in Early Modern England

Combating malaria through travel, diet, natural remedies, and architecture in early modern England. From standing PoolesFrom boggs; from ranck and dampish Fenns,From Moorish breaths, and nasty Denns,The sun drawes up contagious fumes. Thomas Dekker, News from Graves End (1604) In 1664, Nathaniel Henshaw, a founding fellow of the Royal Society, conceived of an invention which, he thought,[…]