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[…]

Unearthing the Health of Victorian London

What bones tell us about the lives and deaths of the dead. In 2011, AOC Archaeology completed an archaeological excavation at St John’s Primary School, Peel Grove, in Bethnal Green, London, ahead of the construction of a new nursery school. The site was a former burial ground privately run as a commercial business by pawnbroker[…]

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[…]

An American Socialite and the Biggest British Constitutional Crisis Since Henry VIII’s Divorce

It was the biggest constitutional crisis since Henry VIII divorced Catherine of Aragon. By Anna Pasternak It was the biggest constitutional crisis since Henry VIII divorced Catherine of Aragon – except this time everyone agreed who the villain was. On December 10, 1936, Edward VIII renounced what Winston Churchill called “the greatest throne in history,”[…]

Carucage: Land Taxes in Medieval England

Introduced by Richard I in 1194, the taxable value of an estate was initially assessed from the Domesday Survey, but other methods were later employed. Introduction Carucage[a] was a medieval English land tax introduced by King Richard I in 1194, based on the size—variously calculated—of the estate owned by the taxpayer. It was a replacement[…]

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[…]

The Glorious Revolution: A Significant Step in the Long Evolution of England’s Parliament

The Glorious Revolution is considered by some to be one of the most important events in the long evolution of powers possessed by the Parliament and by the crown in England. Introduction The Glorious Revolution was the overthrow of James II of England in 1688 by a union of Parliamentarians and the Dutch stadtholder William[…]

Magna Carta and John’s Kingship

When Magna Carta was created, England had endured 16 years of John’s kingship – a rule based largely on extortion, legal chicanery, blackmail and violence. Introduction ‘It is not for the king’s subjects to question or condemn his actions.’ This was the opinion of one of the most learned royal administrators in the age 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[…]

The Domesday Book: Counting a Person’s Worth in William the Conqueror’s England

The record is unique in European history and, packed full of statistics and snippets which reveal details of medieval life in England. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Domesday Book was a comprehensive survey and record of all the landowners, property, tenants and serfs of medieval Norman England which was compiled in 1086-7 CE under the orders[…]

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[…]

The ‘Lawe of Nations’: How Diplomatic Immunity Protected an Elizabethan Assassin

When the Spanish ambassador to Elizabeth I’s court was implicated in a plot to kill her, he was protected by the fledgling laws of diplomacy. A foreign state sponsors a political assassination on English soil. The attempt fails. In its aftermath, Her Majesty’s government asks her expert advisers what is the appropriate level of response[…]

Five Ways England Tried to Mark the Regicide of King Charles I

Upon the scaffold he turned to his companion, Dr William Juxon, and uttered the word: ‘Remember’. In January 1649 Charles I, King of England, was found guilty of treason against his own people, and, on the 30th day of the same month, he was executed at Whitehall. Upon the scaffold he turned to his companion,[…]

The Reivers: Raids along the Medieval and Early Modern Anglo-Scottish Border

Their heyday was in the last hundred years of their existence, during the time of the Stuart Kings in Scotland and the Tudor dynasty in England. Introduction Border reivers were raiders along the Anglo-Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century. Their ranks consisted of both Scottish and English[…]

‘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[…]

Mapping the British Caribbean in the Early Modern Atlantic World

Analyzing how three maps of Barbados promoted a flattering image of British colonialism in the Caribbean. To any nation pursuing the creation of a New World empire during the early modern period, maps indisputably held great importance. Together with other products of the geographic trade, they provided a fundamental means to construct and disseminate among[…]

The Socialist League of Great Britain in the Late 19th Century

The Socialist League was one of several early socialist groups which arose in Great Britain during the 1880s. Abstract The Socialist League was one of several early socialist groups which arose in Great Britain during the 1880s. Among these, the League was distinctive for its eclectic membership and its focus on education and outreach as[…]

British Labour Government and Russian Fake News in 1924

There are lessons to be learned from this story. In October 1924, during the general election campaign that followed the fall of the first ever British Labour government, a document hit the press and the streets that caused a political sensation—and has been the subject of controversy ever since. It was a letter supposedly written[…]

The Politics of the Turtle Feast in 18th-Century England

The humble sea turtle became the pinnacle of haute cuisine in the eighteenth century. From calipash to calipee, the green sea turtle was without doubt the most expensive, status-laden, and morally contested feat of eighteenth-century English cuisine. Virtually unknown as human food before mid-century, the amphibious reptile quickly became an enduring symbol of both refined taste and savage indulgence,[…]

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,[…]

Foundlings and Orphans in 18th-Century England

Exploring the world of poverty, high mortality, prejudice and charity that influenced the creation of Oliver Twist. Introduction Children lacking one or both parents are a frequent theme in Charles Dickens’s novels, which would not have surprised his Victorian readers because high mortality at the time meant that becoming an orphan was not a rare misfortune.[…]

Hearing, Sensing, Feeling Sound: On Music and Physiology in Victorian England, 1857-1894

Acoustical science fundamentally transformed the ways that Victorians conceptualized the relations between aesthetics and the body. This article focuses on new developments in the burgeoning field of acoustical science that emerged in the mid-to-late-nineteenth century. During this time, sound science began to flourish in England, particularly through lectures by Hermann von Helmholtz and John Tyndall[…]