The Elizabethan Age and the English Renaissance

The Elizabethan Age is viewed so highly because of the contrasts with the periods before and after. Introduction The Elizabethan Age is the time period associated with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603) and is often considered to be a golden age in English history. It was an age considered to be the height[…]

A History of the British Crown Jewels

The regalia includes several medieval articles and gemstones. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Crown Jewels of the monarchy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are today kept in the Tower of London and date mostly to the 17th century CE, with a few later sparkling additions such as the Koh-i-Noor and[…]

On Young England: A Parliamentary Movement in the 1840s Taking on Class

They were appalled at the state of party politics, class conflict, and the economic and moral condition of Victorian England’s poor. Young England was the name of a short-lived social and political movement that developed from the altruistic ideas of a small parliamentary ginger group within the Conservative Party in the 1840s. The name, coined by[…]

The Nichols Family and Their Press: The Antiquarian Community in Victorian England

Looking at of the Gentleman’s Magazine, printers of county histories, collectors of manuscripts, and founder members of historical societies. John Nichols: Printer and Antiquary For three generations the Nichols family was central to topographical research and publication. Julian Pooley explores how as editors of the Gentleman’s Magazine, printers of county histories, collectors of manuscripts and[…]

Women on the River and the Railway in Victorian England

The impact of the early railway was registered as both exciting and horrifyingly destructive by Victorian writers. The opening of the first direct railway line from London to the Kent coast in 1862 challenged traditional dichotomies between town and country, and contributed to a growing nostalgia associated with the river. Fin-de-siècle writers used the apparent[…]

The New London Docks, 1800-1830

William Daniell’s prints of the new docks represented London’s modernization in particularly exultant terms. Introduction From 1800, London’s dock system was revolutionised, and many commemorative prints were published to celebrate the transformation. William Daniell’s prints of the new docks represented London’s modernisation in particularly exultant terms. Alice Rylance-Watson explores. In the 1790s a formidable and[…]

Underground Comics and Britain’s Obscenity Trials in the 1970s

Like its American counterpart, the burgeoning British underground scene held comics in high esteem. By John Harris DunningComics Writer Oz was a seminal 1960s counterculture publication that originated in Sydney, Australia in 1963. It quickly raised a storm of controversy around its coverage of abortion and homosexuality, and its editorial team was promptly charged with[…]

Crime and Punishment in Elizabethan England

Looking at crime in Elizabethan England and the brutal punishments offenders received. Thieves and Pickpockets The crowded nave of St Paul’s Cathedral was a favourite with pickpockets and thieves, where innocent sightseers mixed with prostitutes, and servants looking for work rubbed shoulders with prosperous merchants. A visitor up from the country might be accosted by[…]

Precedent and Motives for the Anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780

The Gordon Riots began when England was involved in the American Revolutionary War with England virtually isolated by France and Spain. By Patryk Zalewski Introduction The Gordon Riots were caused by anti-Catholic views and the resentment towards Catholics that was long held and never truly reversed. Led by Lord George Gordon, the rioters found reason[…]

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[…]