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April 2016 • www.h
historyextra.com/bbchistorymagazine reviewed by

The secret meanings behind
his most famous plays
PLUS The great
mysteries of the
playwright’s life

IRONSIDE The earthquakes

ANGLO-SAXON that panicked
WARRIOR KING Georgian Britain


e s e c rets of R o m e ’s s uccess
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APRIL 2016


It was 400 years ago this month that England’s best-known historyextra.com
writer breathed his last. The anniversary of Shakespeare’s The history website in association
with BBC History Magazine
death will see a plethora of cultural events take place across
the country, accompanied by a range of exciting new programmes Weekly podcast
on BBC television and radio. But though his works have been endlessly Download episodes for free from
analysed over the centuries, there is always more to discover about iTunes and other providers, or via
our website: historyextra.com/
a man who had a huge impact on popular history as well as literature.
In this issue, historian Jerry Brotton offers a different perspective
on Shakespeare’s plays, showing how the historical events and History Extra Weekly
characters about which he wrote frequently mirrored those of his Catch up on the latest history stories
own lifetime. How much, for example, did Shakespeare’s Richard II with our free iPad/iPhone app. Search
for ‘History Extra’ in the app store
hint at the decline of Queen Elizabeth I? Can we also see echoes of
the gunpowder plot in the tale of Macbeth? Turn to page 40 for the Our digital
beginning of our Shakespeare coverage, which also includes a panel editions
discussion about some of the big mysteries of the playwright’s life. BBC History Magazine e
One of Shakespeare’s preoccupations was, of course, ancient Rome is available for the
Kindle, Kindle Fire,
and that’s a topic that we’re also covering in detail this month. Ahead of
iPad/iPhone, Google
an upcoming BBC TV series, Mary Beard explains how Play and Zinio. Find
Rome was able to forge such a powerful empire (page 32), us in your app store
while on page 26 Alison Cooley takes us on a world tour or visit the website:
with the wall-builder, Hadrian.

If that’s not enough to whet your historical appetite zine/digital
this month, we also have articles on Catherine How ward
(page 22), Anglo-Saxon king Edmund Ironside (pagge 59) Facebook and Twitter
and the dissolution of the monasteries (page 80). twitter.com/historyextra
Rob Attar
Editor Collector’s Edition:
BSME Editor of the Year 2015, Special Interest Brand Vikings and
The story of two groups


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APRIL 2016

Features Every month
11 The latest history news
14 Backgrounder: Labour and Europe
16 Past notes: Easter eggs

The latest releases, plus Clare
Jackson discusses Charles II
Tackling the big
77 TV & RADIO questions about
The pick of new history programmes
Earth-shattering: find out about history’s
80 OUT & ABOUT eventful life
most notable earthquakes on page 54 80 History Explorer: the dissolution
of the monasteries
85 Five things to do in April
22 The death of innocence 86 My favourite place: Malta 32
Josephine Wilkinson explores the
meteoric rise of Catherine Howard 99 MISCELLANY Mary Beard on
– and her fatal fall from grace
99 Q&A and quiz the incredible
26 The globe-trotting emperor 100 Samantha’s recipe corner rise of Rome
101 Prize crossword
Alison Cooley examines the boundless
ambitions and exploits of Hadrian
32 How Rome ruled the world Francine Stock chooses the poet
How did a small town in Italy come to Guillaume Apollinaire
dominate western Europe? Mary Beard
offers her explanation
Save when you
y subscribe today

40 Focus on Shakespeare
Our expert panel looks at the life and
impact of England’s best-known writer

46 Politics in Shakespeare
Jerry Brotton considers how contempo-
rary events shaped Shakespeare’s work

54 When London shook

Andrew Robinson describes how a series
of earthquakes rocked Georgian Britain
USPS Identification Statement BBC HISTORY (ISSN 1469-8552)
(USPS 024-177) April 2016 is published 13 times a year under licence from
59 Edmund Ironside BBC Worldwide by Immediate Media Company Bristol Ltd, Tower House, Fairfax Street,
Bristol BS1 3BN, UK. Distributed in the US by Circulation Specialists, Inc., 2 Corporate
Sarah Foot appraises an Anglo-Saxon king Drive, Suite 945, Shelton CT 06484-6238. Periodicals postage paid at Shelton, CT
and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to BBC HISTORY
who battled the Vikings MAGAZINE, PO Box 37495, Boone, IA 50037-0495.

How Edmund Ironside
battled the Vikings

Henry VIII’s
tragic queen

The life and turbulent
times of Charles II

Dominic Sandbrook highlights events that took place in April in history

20 April 1653 28 April 1789

Cromwell forcibly dissolves Mutiny on

the Rump Parliament the Bounty
The angry leader takes an armed force into the House Disaffected crew seize control
of Commons and drives out all the MPs from their ship’s captain

n the morning of 20 April 1653, go!” At that, he went outside and t the beginning of April 1789,
O Oliver Cromwell took his seat, as
usual, in the House of Commons. The
returned with a troop of musketeers,
whom he ordered to clear the chamber.
A HMS Bounty left the South Pacific
island of Tahiti, carrying plants to the
Rump Parliament, as it was known, was According to one account: “He told West Indies. The ship had been in Tahiti
supposed to have been only a caretaker Sir Henry Vane he was a jugler; Henry since the previous autumn, and the crew
legislature, paving the way for godly Martin and Sir Peter Wentworth, had amused themselves in the sunshine
reform and a permanent political that they were whoremasters; Thomas with the local women. But as they
settlement after the execution of King Chaloner, he was a drunkard; and ploughed through the Pacific, they
Charles I. But instead of meekly Allen the Goldsmith that he cheated chafed at the restoration of discipline
complying with the New Model Army’s the publick.” Then he gestured angrily under the captain, William Bligh. By the
demands, MPs showed themselves rather at the mace, the symbol of parliamentary night of 27 April, his old friend Fletcher
more interested in defending their own power, and said dismissively: “Take away Christian had decided to act.
privileges. And by 20 April, Cromwell’s that Fool’s Bauble”. In the early hours of the following
patience had run out. When Cromwell’s troops had cleared morning, Christian and a few allies
For a little while he listened grimly the room, the doors were shut. The secured the upper deck and armed them-
to his colleagues’ speeches. But then he Rump was dissolved. Cromwell, shortly selves with muskets. Some time after five
cracked. “You have sat too long for any to become lord protector, was now the o’clock, Christian led them into Bligh’s
good you have been doing lately,” he undisputed master of Britain. Later, a cabin. By his own account, the captain
shouted bitterly. “Depart, I say; and let us wag posted a notice on the door: “This “called as loudly as I could in hopes of
have done with you. In the name of God, house is to be let; now unfurnished”. assistance”, but the mutineers managed
to drag him away. By now, the Bounty
was in chaos. On the quarterdeck,
surrounded by mutineers, Bligh shouted
for help, urging his shipmates to “knock
Christian down”. Amid the general
yelling, Christian exhorted the men to
back him instead; to one, he remarked: “I
have been in hell for weeks past. Captain
Bligh has brought this on himself.”
Contrary to Christian’s expectation,
many of the men were determined to
support the captain, not the mutineers,
which suggests Bligh’s reputation for
harshness is ill deserved. In all, 18 men
joined Bligh in the ship’s launch. The
carpenter’s mates and armourer wanted
to go too, but Christian forbade it.
“Never fear, lads,” Bligh said. “I’ll do you
justice if ever I reach England.”
Bligh did reach England, months later.
But the mutineers’ fate was wretched.
Fleeing across the Pacific, many were
captured, others killed. Christian

The scene in the House of Commons in 1653 after Oliver Cromwell lost was killed on Pitcairn (where some
his temper with MPs and forced them all to leave mutineers eventually settled) in 1793.

6 BBC History Magazine

Dominic Sandbrook is a historian and
presenter. His latest series,
Let Us Entertain You,
recently aired on BBC Two

Captain Bligh is set adrift in an open boat with loyal crew members after the seizure of HMS Bounty by mutineers. Bligh’s
chances of survival weren’t great, but he would eventually get back to England, while the mutineers didn’t fare so well

BBC History Magazine 7

19 April 797 21 April 1509 27 April 1805
The Byzantine emperor Constantine Afflicted with tuberculosis, In what is modern day Libya,
VI is blinded and deposed by a coup Henry VII of England dies US Marines and Arab
organised by his own mother, Irene at his new palace in mercenaries attack the port
(shown on a coin with her son), who Richmond, Surrey at the of Derna, hoping to crush the
assumes power herself. age of 52. power of the Barbary corsairs.

Richard I (left) – shown on a set of tiles with Islamic leader Saladin during the Third Crusade
– was suspected of being behind the death of Conrad I of Jerusalem in 1192

28 April 1192 friend Philip, Bishop of Beauvais when

he was accosted by two men, who
Members of Assassins cult kill plunged their daggers into his body.
Conrad I of Jerusalem Death almost certainly came very
swiftly. One of the murderers was killed
on the spot; the other, wounded, was
put to torture. It turned out that he was
In spite of his renowned vigour and intelligence, Conrad was a member of the infamous Assassins,
murdered just four days after becoming king a Nizari Shia sect led by the ‘Old Man
of the Mountain’, who supposedly
encouraged them to gear themselves
onrad of Montferrat, who became wrote one chronicler. But by that point, up for murder with copious amounts
C king of Jerusalem during the Third
Crusade, was widely regarded as one of
Conrad was also dead.
For Conrad, the spring of 1192 was
of hashish.
In reality, many of the lurid stories
the most impressive men of his genera- dominated by a bitter feud with associated with the Assassins were

tion. “Conrad was vigorous in arms, Richard I of England over the throne probably invented. The real author of the
extremely clever both in natural mental of Jerusalem. On 24 April, secure in his plot to kill Conrad was almost certainly
ability and by learning, amiable in fortress at Tyre, Conrad heard the news somebody much closer to home: Richard
character and deed, endowed with all that he had been elected king. Only four the Lionheart. Indeed, when Richard
the human virtues, supreme in every days later, however, the Assassins struck. was later imprisoned by Leopold of
council, the fair hope of his own side It was lunchtime, and Conrad was Austria, Conrad’s murder featured
and a blazing lightning-bolt to the foe,” returning home from the house of his heavily on the charge sheet.

8 BBC History Magazine

26 April 1986

reactor explodes
A catastrophic nuclear
accident starts in Ukraine

he Chernobyl disaster, which began

T on 26 April 1986, was the worst
nuclear accident in history.
Even now, its legacy continues to
blight Belarus , Russia and Ukraine, the
countries worst affected by the fallout.
And although the Soviet authorities
initially tried to cover it up, the accident
dealt a hammer blow to their manicured
image of socialist modernity.
The accident began during a routine The Chernobyl reactor after the explosion in April 1986 that spread radioactive fallout
test at Chernobyl nuclear power plant in across Europe and the northern hemisphere
Ukraine, scheduled for just after one
o’clock in the morning of 26 April. Only at Hiroshima. In less than a minute, the fighters on the other truck picked it up.
moments after the test had started, majority of the workers in the building ‘It’s hot,’ he said.”
reactor four suffered a huge and had received fatal doses of radiation, As Khmel admitted, none of the fire
unexpected power surge. though none of them knew it. Within crews knew anything about radiation.
What followed was the engineers’ three weeks, most of them were dead. “Even those who worked there had no
worst nightmare: a rapid steam explo- Local fire crews arrived only moments idea. There was no water left in the
sion, rupturing the fuel channels and after the alarm sounded. One of the driv- trucks. Misha filled a cistern and we
severing the coolant lines. Seconds later, ers, Grigorii Khmel, later recalled: “We aimed the water at the top. Then those
another explosion sent fragments of the arrived there at 10 or 15 minutes to two boys who died went up to the roof –
nuclear core flying into the air, hurling in the morning… We saw graphite Vashchik, Kolya and others, and Volodya
more radioactive fallout over the scattered about. Misha asked: ‘Is that Pravik … They went up the ladder… and
surrounding area than had been released graphite?’ I kicked it away. But one of the I never saw them again.”

COMMENT / Jonathan Hogg

“Chernobyl makes it harder for people to believe in a safe nuclear future”
Worldwide perceptions of nuclear ongoing, which is extremely expensive for serve as a reminder of the risk, uncertainty
safety would never be the same countries involved. A sarcophagus built and danger inherent in humanity’s
again. A deadly radioactive cloud drifted around the reactor to contain contamina- use of nuclear technology.
across Europe, and many countries had to tion has failed; a new protective building
deal with contamination for decades. should be completed in 2018.
Areas within 20 miles of the reactor Historically, all governments that use
remain deserted. The immediate impact nuclear technology for power generation Jonathan Hogg is the
was devastating, with rates of thyroid put a positive spin on it: after all, its citizens author of British Nuclear
Culture: Official and
cancer in children increasing in heavily will receive cheap, clean energy. Chernobyl
Unofficial Narratives in
contaminated areas. Regarding longer undermined such confident nuclear the Long 20th Century
term effects, many studies claim the rhetoric, making it harder for people to (Bloomsbury, 2016),
number of people affected stretches into believe in the promise of a safe nuclear and senior lecturer in
the thousands. Animals and plant-life were future. While the events leading up to the 20th-century history
harmed, causing complications relating to accident can be blamed on the crumbling at the University
the human food chain. The clean-up is Soviet regime, the disaster should still of Liverpool

BBC History Magazine 9

Celebrate William Shakespeare
Contemporary coins for a man way ahead of his time

William Shakespeare is one of the greatest writers who ever lived, whose plays and words are still as
stirring and relevant today as in Shakespeare’s own time. In 2016, in the year of the 400th anniversary of
his death, The Royal Mint is proud to strike a range of coins celebrating the playwright and his great works.

Experienced coinage artist John Bergdahl has created bold designs, which capture the passion of
Shakespeare’s work. Three coins represent Shakespeare’s most famous bodies of work, his comedies,
histories and tragedies.

The Shakespeare 2016 UK £2 Silver Proof Coins

• Three individual coins represent Shakespeare’s comedies,

histories and tragedies
• Struck in 925 sterling silver, finished to Proof standard
• Just 5,000 Limited Edition Issue of each coin are available
• Endorsed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

RRP: £60.00*

Online: royalmint.com/history Phone: 0845 450 38 06

(For FREE UK delivery on orders over £45 please enter (Lines open 9am-6pm Monday-Sunday)
the Promotional Code P1619T on Your Basket page)

/theroyalmint @RoyalMintUK

*Price of £60 applies to each of the £2 silver Proof coin in the Shakespeare range. Coins specifications available on request. Coins shown are not
to actual size. For our full Terms and Conditions please visit royalmint.com/terms.Calls charged at local rate. Lines open 9am to 6pm Mon-Sun. P1619T
Refer to website for delivery charges. Standard despatch of in-stock items is within 3 days of receipt of order. © The Royal Mint Limited 2016.
The latest news, plus Backgrounder 14 Past notes 16

Have a story? Please email Matt Elton at matt.elton@immediate.co.uk

Superiority complex
Herman Lundborg, photographed
in the early 1920s. The work of the
Swedish ‘eugenicist’ has been
linked with the appropriation of
the indigenous population’s land

The father of eugenics’ affair

with a ‘racially inferior’ woman
Newly discovered letters show ne of the leading voices in eugenics from the supposedly ‘inferior races’ that he
actively contradicted the move- studied. In particular, the letters reveal for
that a leading eugenicist’s
ment’s rules in his own personal the first time that Lundborg had a lengthy
ideas about racial purity didn’t life, a new study reveals. relationship with Maria Isaksson, a woman
extend to his own private life. Herman Lundborg, born in 1868, was who he regarded as being of mixed Finnish
Emma Hartley reports a Swedish eugenicist and the head of the and Sami, or indigenous, origin. The
world’s first state institute dedicated to couple later married and had a child.
‘racial biology’, which opened in the city The research features in a new biography

of Uppsala in eastern Sweden in 1922. of Lundborg by award-winning writer Maja

A large cache of personal letters discovered Hagerman, set to be published in Sweden
in a library in the city suggests that he had this spring. It details how Lundborg and
a series of sexual relationships with women Isaksson met on a field trip, and that she

BBC History Magazine 11

History now / News


An ancient wheel is the

oldest UK find of its kind
A fully intact Bronze Age wheel found
at Must Farm in Cambridgeshire is
the earliest and largest example yet
unearthed in the UK. The 3,000-year-
old wheel, which measures a metre
in diameter and still features its hub,
was discovered at a site at which
a series of finds have been made
in recent months, including beads,
pots and circular wooden houses.

Can’t quit smoking?

Blame the Neanderthals
Uniformity of thought Nazi minister Heinrich Himmler addresses a group of female Some instances of modern medical
Hitler Youth in 1937. The Nazis’ ideas of ‘racial hygiene’ were, in part, based on the
phenomena – including a tendency
work of Herman Lundborg, a key proponent of eugenics in the 1920s and 1930s
towards tobacco addiction – may
be influenced by DNA inherited from
our Neanderthal ancestors, experts
became his assistant. Her role involved contemporary colonial attitude towards suggest. The research, published
helping Lundborg with his research, Sweden’s indigenous people, which in Science, found the associations
aimed at discovering where the popula- experts suggest made it possible to when searching for people with
the same genetic variations as the
tion was at its most ‘racially pure’. appropriate their land with impunity.
ancient species. Scientists stress,
The biography charts how, months Lundborg was also influential outside however, that there is no direct
after they met, Isaksson joined Lundborg of Sweden. He was given an honorary causal link to the medical conditions.
at Uppsala, where she lived in his doctorate by Heidelberg University in
apartment at the institute and was paid Germany in 1936 for his contribution
a salary as a cleaner. When she became to the ‘science’ of race biology, and was
Henry VIII may have
pregnant she was sent miles away to give sympathetic to the aims of the Nazis. suffered brain damage
birth to their child, Allan, from whom He made a speech at a population Repeated head injuries – including
she was briefly separated. But after conference in Berlin in 1935, praising those sustained in jousting – may
Lundborg retired from academia in 1935 the regime for its approach and stressing have contributed to Henry VIII’s
and his first wife had died, he moved to his belief that Jews had no place in volatile temper and poor self-control,
US researchers have suggested. The
be with Isaksson and their son, and they Europe because he considered them
study, published by Yale Memory
spent their remaining years away from a ‘non-European’ people. Indeed, the Clinic, argues that “traumatic brain
the public gaze. cache of papers contains a letter from injury could have caused diffuse
At the time that Lundborg’s research SS commander Heinrich Himmler axonal injury [which leads the wires
began, many of Sweden’s political parties detailing his plans for the SS to be made linking cells in the brain to become
showed at least some interest in the study “racially hygienic”, based in part on damaged] which led to a change in
of eugenics, the widely discredited Lundborg’s work. the psychological makeup of Henry”.
theory that people can be sorted into a His apparent hypocrisy is also However, Tudor expert Tracy Borman
hierarchy of ‘racial’ groups. In fact, by interesting because of the impact he may urged caution, pointing to the pain
the 1920s, sorting people into imagined have had on Sweden’s attitude to race – of a leg injury as a more likely cause.
racial hierarchies had become politically with ramifications that are still being
and academically fashionable. Lund- played out today.
borg’s work has been linked to a Marius Turda, a historian at Oxford
Brookes University, said: “I hope this
“Eugenicists were real book will be translated into English:
eugenicists were real people, living
people, living in the in the real world with real problems.
It is vital to know this rather than
real world, and it is vital

exoticising them.”
to know this rather than Käraste Herman: rasbiologen Herman
Lundborgs gåta by Maja Hagerman
Might Henry VIII have experienced
head trauma?
exoticising them” is published in Swedish by Nordstedts

12 BBC History Magazine


Which historical
figures are you
talking about?
T his summer sees the return of
our annual History Hot 100 list –
and we want to know which historical
figures are grabbing your attention
at the moment.
Whether they are featured in a book
that you are reading, portrayed in
Earlier than Egypt
Part of the ritual centre found a recent television or radio drama, or are
in Bulgaria. Experts believe simply a character that you find particu-
that it may be more than larly fascinating, we want you to tell us
1,000 years older than the about them. You can choose up to three
first Egyptian pyramid
people from any historical period, as
long as they died more than 30 years ago
ARCHAEOLOGY (before 1 January 1986). You will have up
to 100 words to tell us the reasons behind
Scientists uncover the world’s your nominations.
We will also be disclosing the biggest
oldest pyramid… in Bulgaria winners and losers compared to last
year’s inaugural list, which was topped

F or millennia, the pyramids of Egypt

have inspired awe among those
lucky enough to witness them. But, in
on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.
This has led archaeologists to suggest
that the site functioned as a solar temple.
by Plantagenet king Richard III.
Which historical figure has experienced
a sudden surge of popularity? Who
at least one respect, it seems that a series The upper steps of the pyramid also has slipped from public attention in
of massive rock steps recently discovered feature rock-cut altars, while a series the past 12 months? And why? We’ll
deep in the mountains of Bulgaria may of mysterious channels are carved reveal all…
put the pharaohs’ celebrated resting into the rock. Voting opens on 24 March and closes
places in the shade. It seems that the rock-cut altar was at midnight on 18 April. We will then
This natural pyramid-shaped quite a late addition to the site. In fact, count the votes and publish the full
rock formation was, experts believe, the team of archaeologists investigating Hot 100 list in an issue of BBC History
fashioned into an important ritual centre the find – led by Bulgarian academic Magazinee later this year.
at some point between 4,500 and 4,000 Vassil Markov – believe that it was made To take part, visit historyextra.com/
BC – meaning that it was used at least in around 2,500 BC, centuries after bbchistorymagazine/hot100, where you
1,350 years before pyramidic structures the area was first used as a cult centre. can also read the full terms and condi-
were built in Egypt, and 1,100 before And, far from standing in isolation, the tions – and get voting! Matt Elton
those of the Mesopotamian civilisation. pyramid is part of a larger prehistoric
Located near the Bulgarian village of ritual complex of up to a square mile.
Kovil in the Rhodope mountains, the This latest find follows the discovery
15-metre-high edifice features five of two smaller, pyramid-shaped rock
natural rock steps. On the lowest and outcrops also used for cult practices. Yet
largest of these, is a rock-cut altar that is it is the sheer scale of the new discovery
illuminated by the sun’s rays at sunrise that makes it stand out. “I was stunned
when I stood in front of it,” said Markov,
“Experts have found an head of the University Research Centre
for Ancient European and Eastern
altar that is illuminated

Mediterranean cultures at Bulgaria’s

by the sun on the vernal South-West University. “I am unable to
offer an explanation as to why it had Richard III and Marie Antoinette
and autumnal equinox” been missed by scientists.” David Keys both featured in last year’s top 100

BBC History Magazine 13

History now / Backgrounder
Politicians sing The Red Flag
at the 1967 Labour party
conference, the year PM
Wilson (second from right)
applied for EEC membership

The historians’ view…

What’s the story
behind Labour’s
stance on the EU?
The referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU
approaches. Last month we looked at the Conservative
party’s views on the issue: this month we turn the spotlight
on Labour. Two historians offer their personal perspectives
on the party’s thinking on Europe since the Second World War
Interviews by Chris Bowlby, a BBC journalist specialising in history

There has always By the late 1960s, Britain’s global position

had changed, and so too had the European
Shirley Williams, advocated a more
exclusively European role for Britain or
been scepticism Community (EC). In 1967, Labour PM Harold saw membership of the EC as the centre of
Wilson applied for membership. He had little Britain’s internationalism. Most simply had
in the Labour party love for “Europe”, but could see alternatives a realistic view of Britain’s future interests.
about involvement in were worse. “Going it alone” was possible but After the 1979 election, the left gained
undesirable. Britain would become, the cabinet more influence in the party, and in 1981,
the EC/EU. But it always thought, a “greater Sweden”. Jenkins, Williams, David Owen and Bill
wanted the European The Labour party accepted Wilson’s
application without much enthusiasm.
Rodgers established the Social Democratic
Party (SDP). They felt British politics was
grouping to succeed French President de Gaulle’s opposition to becoming polarised, and sought to reclaim
British entry meant Wilson could not take the middle ground. Support for EC mem-
DR HELEN PARR Britain in, but his application laid the bership was one part of that.
ground for Edward Heath’s successful bid Labour’s heavy election defeat in 1983
in 1973. galvanised Neil Kinnock to push the party to

W hen, in 1950, the French proposed a

supranational European coal and
steel community, Clement Attlee’s Labour
In 1975, Wilson was back in Number Ten.
By this time, Labour was divided about
membership. The left, encouraged by Tony
accept EC membership. Margaret Thatcher
advocated free markets; the European
Commission proposed a Social Chapter. The
government did not seek to join, but then Benn, came to advocate an ‘Alternative EC, Kinnock argued, was the only body with
Britain’s position in the world was very Economic Strategy’ of nationalisation and sufficient influence to regulate markets and
different – it was an imperial power and centralised state planning. Membership of to secure employment rights for its people.
leader of the Commonwealth. Sterling was the EC would undermine these proposals, There has always been scepticism in the
the world’s second most influential currency, and many came to see it as a Catholic, Labour party about British involvement in
Britain conducted most of its trade outside conservative and capitalist club that wore the EC/EU. But Labour always wanted the
Europe, and close ties with the US gave away parliamentary sovereignty and would European grouping to succeed. Since 1967,
Britain a special responsibility to maintain never put the rights of workers first. The Labour’s appetite for power has been
newfound peace in Europe. French proposals majority in the Labour party, however, bound up with its acceptance that while
seemed inimical to British constitutional were agnostic. Labour might not love
traditions, and the government did not want With the party split, 1975’s referendum Europe, Britain has
to restrain economic sovereignty, particularly was a ‘life raft’ to maintain unity. Wilson to be a member.
after the nationalisation of the coal and steel suspended collective Cabinet responsibility.
industries. Deputy PM Herbert Morrison The majority of Britain’s political centre- Dr Helen Parr is senior
famously said Britain could not participate ground supported Britain’s continued lecturer in international
because “the Durham miners won’t wear it”. membership. Some, such as Roy Jenkins or relations at Keele University

14 BBC History Magazine

Labour deputy PM Morrison said Britain
couldn’t join a European coal and steel
community as Durham miners “won’t wear it”

required support of the eurozone, or of

Britain’s membership of it.
The EU question has been fairly unique in
British politics as it is an umbrella issue,
incorporating lots of other issues – econom-
ics, the environment, Trade Union regula-
tion, parliamentary and legal sovereignty,
The EU question clear that while Tony Blair wanted to retain
good relations with the EU and European
transport policy and more. Therefore, it has
been very difficult for UK political parties to
has been fairly nations, he focused his attention on the US maintain a unified policy towards the EU.
and President Clinton. It can be achieved, as the Liberal Demo-
unique in British politics Blair was fairly supportive of the idea of crats have shown, but it is very challenging,
as it is an umbrella Britain joining the single currency, the euro, especially for larger parties, where individu-
although that was always going to be a very als may agree on some policy areas but not
issue, incorporating lots difficult policy to implement, due to public on others. Within the Labour party there are
of other issues disquiet on the issue. Gordon Brown as
chancellor was considerably more sceptical
still some members who are more apathetic
towards the EU than others.
DR VICTORIA HONEYMAN about the chances of success of the eurozone. It is likely that in the forthcoming
And even after gaining office, the Labour referendum on EU membership some of the
party was still keen to ensure that it was party will join the ‘Out’ campaign while
viewed by the public as being responsible others will join ‘In’, as was the case during

I f there was one leader who wanted to

make Labour more decisively pro-Euro-
pean, it was Tony Blair. He argued that
with the economy.
Therefore Brown was able to push for the
introduction of the five economic tests, five
the 1975 referendum. But the party overall
has certainly become more accepting and
supportive of the EC/EU since the days of
previous PMs, Heath excepted, had privi- key questions that the government would Neil Kinnock’s leadership.
leged the US-UK relationship above that need to answer before beginning the process
with Europe, and that this was unnecessary: to join the eurozone. This allowed him to
Britain could work with both EU and US. win the argument, keeping Britain out of the
However, foreign policy was one area eurozone, largely due to that public disquiet
where Blair was largely inexperienced, and concern from financial markets and
having held no foreign affairs portfolio in economic experts on the realities of
opposition. The realities of government soon launching a new currency zone with such Dr Victoria Honeyman is
began to impede his scope for action, as it diverse economies within it. a lecturer in British politics at
the University of Leeds
became clear that the EU and the US are not The subsequent eurozone crisis has
always in agreement on policy, leaving the certainly led the Labour party to be
UK somewhat stuck between a rock and a relieved that it did not allow Britain to join DISCOVER MORE
hard place. This meant that when a decision the eurozone, but has not necessarily BOOK

had to be made, Blair, like his predecessors, severely dented faith in the European Union. 왘 Britain’s Policy towards the European
valued the US-UK relationship more than The EU and the eurozone are distinct if Community 1964-7: Harold Wilson and
good relations with the EU. As early as 1998 deeply connected organisations and Britain’s World Role by Helen Parr
over the situation in Kosovo, it was already supporting the EU has not necessarily (Routledge, 2005)

BBC History Magazine 15

History now / Backgrounder


A packet of vipers is
sent through the post
Manchester Courier and
Lancaster General Advertiser/
1 September 1899

V ictorian Britain relished its news

reports, and as the literacy of the
population grew, so did its desire for
news. Local, national and international
news – the public could not get enough.
Soon, newspapers relied not only on
their own journalists but on reports
from the newly set up ‘news agencies’.
One popular agency was Dalziel’s, set
up by Sir Davidson Dalziel Baron of Until the days of mass production, Easter eggs were made by hand
Wooler in 1890. He had spent much of
his early life working as a journalist in As we get set to binge on Easter eggs, Julian Humphrys
New South Wales and the United States, serves up their history in bite-sized chunks
and on his return to England used these
connections to set up his agency. Why are eggs linked with and soon became the chocolate of
In 1899, a ‘Dalziel telegram’ was Easter time? choice for British Easter eggs.
reported in newspapers across the It’s a mixture of symbolism and
Who ate them?
country, carrying a tale of “dastardly practicality. Eggs had long been seen
Initially just the rich. The early
attacks” on Ricciardi, the bishop of as a symbol of new life and therefore
chocolate eggs were rather compli-
Nardò, in Italy. The bishop had of spring and, in later times, of the
cated to make and were seen as a
previously been subjected to bomb resurrection of Christ. Added to this
luxury gift. But improved methods of
attacks, and now, the Rome correspon- was the fact that eggs were regard-
production and transportation and a
ed by the medieval church as meat
dent reported, his enemies had changed lowering of trade tariffs on cocoa
and were therefore forbidden during
tack, become far more cunning. The eventually made chocolate eggs
Lent. But as hens continued laying
bishop had received a packet marked affordable to a mass market,
during the period this meant that
“dried fruits”, but, being suspicious by although adults remained the target
there would be plenty of them around
nature, and cautious given the recent audience until the 1950s.
by Easter.
attacks, had sent it on to the police. What are the world’s most

What were Easter eggs like in

On opening it, the packet was found expensive Easter eggs?
the medieval period?
to contain “eight deadly vipers”, which The jewelled eggs that were created
Hard boiled and decorated. Edward I
sprang upon the waiting policemen. by Peter Carl Fabergé and his
of England is reported to have paid
The reptiles “were only killed with the company for the Russian royal family
for 450 eggs to be boiled and stained
between 1885 and 1917. The 1887
greatest difficulty” by the policemen. for distribution to the royal household
egg was rediscovered in 2012 and
News story sourced from britishnewspaper at Easter.
was valued at £20m.
archive.co.uk and rediscovered by When did people start eating The intricacy of the design of these
Fern Riddell. Fern regularly appears chocolate eggs? eggs is legendary. The first Fabergé

on BBC Radio 3 3’ss Free Thinking The first were produced in France
Th egg featured an enamelled shell
nd Germany in the early 19th which opened to reveal a gold yolk
entury. JS Fry of Bristol made which in turn opened to reveal a
Brritain’s first chocolate egg in 1873, multicoloured gold hen containing a
nd Cadbury of Birmingham followed diamond replica of the imperial crown
uit two years later. from which hung a ruby. Just 50 of
These early eggs were made of these luxurious eggs were made
ark chocolate, but in 1905 Cad- – that’s a far cry from the 200 million
ury’s launched its Dairy Milk Cadbury Creme Eggs that are sold in

hocolate which was an instant hit Britain every year.

16 BBC History Magazine
London, 1666
As the city burns,
the hunt for a killer begins.

From the No.1

Daily Telegraph

Financial Times

C.J. Sansom

Your views on the magazine and the world of history

bankrupted itself fighting two world
Decimal delight wars in less than 50 years, battling for
the freedom of other nations as well as
I enjoy reading BBC History Magazine our own. Years of harsh austerity and the
LETTER each month but was particularly Cold War prevented our country feeling
OF THE pleased to read the article on the good about itself. However, we still
MONTH introduction of decimalisation in managed to deliver major benefits to the
the February issue (Anniversaries) world, such as the discovery of the
because, just for a change, I can say: structure of DNA and the invention of
“I was there!” Neil Jacobson remembers the t the World Wide Web, and today have
likes of farthings and sixpences fondly
Though only a little over seven years old, much to celebrate in the arts and sport.
I remember the weeks leading up to the big LSD prices, LSD shops give LSD change”. Don Chester, East Yorkshire
day as if it were yesterday. I still own the The clear message was that decimalisation
Britain’s First Decimal Coins souvenir set in was the fast-paced, go-ahead future, and Judge and be judged
its blue plastic wallet, and the Waddingtons that the old money was best retired off. Stephen Gadd more than excelled in
game Decimal Dominoes, with its slightly I was of the generation that quickly took highlighting the darker side of Henry V
garish green-and-purple cardboard to the new money, but still old enough to (Letters, February), albeit – as he said
dominoes, which aimed to educate us about remember fondly the florins and thrupenny – writing at a safe distance of 600 years.
the new coinage and its financial equiva- bits. Happy days! I remember a conversation I had many
lence to the old money. Neil Jacobson, Harrow years ago with the formidable provost H
My best memory is of the government 쎲 We reward the letter of the Wilson, PhD. I had described Edward II
public service adverts that, if I remember month writer with our ‘History as a “weak king”. The provost retorted:
correctly, featured the upbeat ditty: Choice’ book of the month. “You’d not dare say that if he were
“Decimal shops have decimal prices, This issue it is India’s Warr by standing next to you now!”
decimal shops give decimal change,” along Srinath Raghavan. Read the How to judge Henry? Like all of us,
with the rather sombre “LSD shops have review on page 69 he falls somewhere betwixt angel and
devil. Another (and equally formidable)
mentor of my earlier years was Matron
Independence doh! She refers to Sir John Franklin, whose Gordon, who would intervene in
Chris Given-Wilson’s article on North-West Passage expedition was attempts at character assassination
Henry IV (The Usurper King, February) a failure. But Franklin had previously by saying:
was excellent and informative, but one enjoyed a successful career, fighting at “There’s so much good in the worst of us,
minor aspect has upset me no end. I have Trafalgar, leading other expeditions and And so much bad in the best of us,
long believed that Bolingbroke landed at serving as governor of Tasmania. That is That it ill behoves any of us
Ravenspur on 4 July 1399, going on to why there are statues to him. In the case To say aught but good of the rest of us!”
depose Richard II. Over the years this of the North-West Passage expedition, Rev JE Moore, Glossop
has enabled me to tease and confuse my the record would have looked different if
American friends about their extrava- he and his crew had survived, but it was The forgotten radical
gant celebrations for ‘Ravenspur Day’, an the then-unknown hazard of lead I am ashamed to admit that, until
event largely forgotten in England. I am poisoning from new food tins that slowly reading your excellent article The
now told that the landing was on 30 June, killed everyone – not incompetence. One-Woman Revolution (February),
and can find nothing in my various I have a different view of ‘h
i Ihhad
d neveer heard of Victoria Woodhull.
histories that disproves this or confirms failure’. To me, Britons adm mire Whilee I accept my own ignorance, it
my original view; several state ‘early personal endeavour and is interesting that a female of such
July’. My annual joke has rather lost its courage, win or lose. And ped
digree is still hidden, even in
edge. Can anyone help me? I feel bereft! it follows that the greatest th
hese days of supposed equality.
Martin Sinnatt, Bordon personal efforts often also We have far to go before history

involve a high risk of iis a truly representative entity,

Losers or heroic risk-takers? failure. The populist press but at least articles such as this
In February’s History Essay, Why the relishes stories of defeat make a start.
British Love a Plucky Loser,
r Professor as much as of success, Ken Peterson, Norfolk
Stephanie Barczewski examines Britain’s thus helping cement the
apparent admiration for ‘heroic failures’ perception in the public
A picture of the 19th-century
and quotes the opinions of others mind that we enjoy failure. so
ocial campaigner Victoria
expressing our “gloomy satisfaction” Another modern factor is Woodhull – the US’s first female
with national decline. that our country exhausted and prresidential candidate

The opinions expressed by our commentators are their own and may not represent the views of BBC History Magazine or the Immediate Media Company

18 BBC History Magazine

What you’ve been saying
on Twitter and Facebook

@HistoryExtra: What are

your views on the new
history curriculum?

Matthew Lewis History teaches

skills. The topic is almost irrelevant if
it sparks interest and equips students
to research and question

Tom George Caddick Yes, teaching

British history in British schools is
important, but teaching histories of
other countries and civilisations is
also what teaching history at school
should be about

Jackie Dinsdale I don’t think it is a

bad thing to teach history from
around the world but British history
shouldn’t suffer for it nor should it
become a religious battle

Lesley Sage It’s a huge mistake not to

teach the history of our own country.
It’s PC gone mad

Anne White As an academic, I find

this horrifying. Any culture that
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, pictured on skis in the Alps in 1894. The creator of downplays its own historical
Sherlock Holmes is credited with introducing skiing for sport to Switzerland development is a sham! World
history should be taught but British
history, in Britain, should be
onne of the British pioneers of sport skiing:
Siir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of @HistoryExtra: Who do you
think was the most important
Shherlock Holmes. He is credited with woman in history and why?
ntroducing skiing to the Swiss Alps
when he visited Davos for his first wife’s Jayde Dixon Elizabeth Woodville
health (she would eventually die of TB). – a pivotal woman in history whose
intelligence, tenacity and resilience
Conan Doyle was also a keen cricketer has often been overlooked
who played for the MCC, and an amateur
ootballer of some renown. Paula Mumby Rosa Parks… If it
hris Hough, Pudsey wasn’t for her making a stand about
sitting down where she wanted on a
bus, the civil rights movement
Pests in pastry: was rat pie eaten Correction
C wouldn’t have had a much needed
in Paris in 1870 as a last resort? 쎲 In Verdun: Hell on Earth (February), kick in the pants
we stated that Loos is in Belgium; it is in
fact in France. Thanks to John Seriot for ljosalfur4940 Astrid Lindgren – She
Survival rat-ions made us laugh and feel strong. She
With reference to the article What Was spotting this error. Mr Seriot also queried
showed the world that children
whether the image of a soldier on a horse
the Best Meal in History? (March), may matter and have human rights, too
on page 60 was in fact taken at Verdun.
I point out that Parisian ‘gastronomes’ We have found no conclusive evidence Doreen Klose Elizabeth I. She was a
ate rats not because they were a delicacy either way, so if any readers can help to mighty monarch in a man’s world
but because France had just been clarify the matter, please get in touch.
ignominiously defeated in the Franco- Ceri Lowen Jane Austen: despite
the pressures on her she followed

Prussian War, and Paris was under siege. her own path and has left us with
The inhabitants were reduced not only to WRITE TO US an insight into regency life of the
eating rats but also to devouring every We welcome your letters, while middle classes
animal in the Paris zoo. reserving the right to edit them.
We may publish your letters on our Pipi Newmai Catherine II of Russia,
Jenny Farmer, Bristol
website. Please include a daytime an enlightened despot and one of
phone number and, if emailing, a postal my favourite empresses
Pioneer on the piste address (not for publication). Letters
Julian Humphrys’ article about the popu- Pauline Orr Golda Meyer and Indira
should be no longer than 250 words.
Ghandi. For paving the way for
larisation of skiing in the 19th century email: letters@historyextra.com women in politics
(Past Notes, February) did not mention
Post: Letters, BBC History Magazine,
Immediate Media Company
Bristol Ltd, Tower House,
Fairfax Street, Bristol BS1 3BN
BBC History Magazine 19

The story of
and Anglo-Saxons
This new compendium
p of the best articles from
BBC History Magazine explores a fascinating period in
Britain’s history, from the fall of the Romans until the eve
of the Norman Conquest. Discover the origins of the
Anglo-Saxons and Vikings and find out how they battled
tto dominate the British Isles.

Inside you will find:
◆ A timeline of the key events in this period
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◆ Gripping tales of medieval warfare
ONLY ◆ Biographies of key figures such as Alfred
tthe Great and Æthelstan
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Michael Wood on… why museums matter

“They provide a sense of identity

and place in troubled times”
Bede’s World has been saved. A few stops A Sunderland man, Bede spent his life at Jarrow. With
down the Tyne and Wear metro from its sister house nearby at Monkwearmouth, Jarrow
Newcastle, the museum has been going became one of the greatest centres of culture in the west,
since 1993, housing a Saxon village with small scale but of incalculable influence. Here wealth was
farm animals as well as a display of the archaeological ploughed into art and learning by willing royal families
finds from the monastery founded in the last quarter of and by an aristocracy who revelled in the links with
the seventh century. One of the foundational places of Europe and Rome, in the beautiful productions of its
English, British and European history, it is a popular scriptorium, in its architecture, sculpture and glass, and
attraction for tourists and school visits, and was only its music, painting and words. They bought into the
recently the subject of a World Heritage bid. Out of the transforming power of Christian civilisation, which in
blue in February it was announced that the museum was violent times enabled Germanic kingship to reinvent itself,
closing for lack of funds. Then, just as we were going to and to remake English society in the process.
press, the South Tyneside and Newcastle Groundwork That’s why Jarrow matters so much. After so many visits
charity stepped in to save the day. over the years since I was a student, I still get a thrill alight-
But not all museums have been so lucky. In Bradford, ing at the station at this former ship-building and colliery
the former National Museum of Photography (latterly the town, which is inextricably connected with great mo-
unfortunately renamed National Media Museum) is to ments in our story from Bede to the Jarrow March of 1936.
lose one of its major assets, the Royal Photographic Society The statistics tell us history is among the biggest leisure
collection, which is to be moved to London. Across the participation activities in the UK. The closures of
UK, well over 40 museums have gone since 2010, with museums over the past five years actually coincide with
more facing imminent closure. record numbers of visitors. Public participation has
Some (including Melvyn Bragg) have seen these increased hugely since records began: last year 52 per cent
decisions as a kick in the teeth to the north, and to the of us visited museums, up from 42 per cent a decade ago.
regions in general, while millions are still ploughed into Public attitudes surveys show that we have great attach-
cultural projects in London and the south. As Bragg put it, ment to our local museums: they are places that fire the
museums are places where one generation learns what imagination, especially in the young. They also contribute
made us who we are – and why history matters. to the economy. Every pound invested in culture yields two.
And Bede’s World certainly matters. Here at Jarrow, in And there’s something else less definable. History gives
the seventh and eighth centuries, the former barbarians of value and meaning to the present, and the public opinion
Northumbria created a pathway for post-Roman Europe. Michael Wood surveys show that museums are trusted places where we
Assimilating elements of Irish civilisation, making links is professor of want to learn to understand our history. Museums are of
with the Scots and Picts and with Europe and Rome, public history, and for their communities, a key educational resource
they helped lay the foundations of England, and of the University of providing a sense of identity and place in troubled times.
continental renaissance under Charlemagne, which Manchester. His Jarrow was, and is, all this. There are few more resonant
is the true beginning of modern Europe. latest BBC TV places in our story. From Bede to the tale of modern
There were many key figures – abbesses, abbots, series was The industrial Britain, the existence of Bede’s World on that
monks and scholars – but the greatest of them all was Story of China windy promontory looking over Jarrow Slake gives us
surely Beda (Bede). He was one of the first historians of the something more than a museum: in a community that has
English and the man who in a sense defined what England gone through unbelievable ups and downs, it says: “This is
would – or could – be. part of us – and we are part of it.”


BBC History Magazine 21
Catherine Howard

The death

When Henry VIII’s

fifth wife, Catherine
Howard, went to the
block at a pitifully
young age, she did
so not because of
her own crimes,
argues Josephine
Wilkinson, but the
failings of older men

An 18th-century
engraving of a Hans
Holbein the Younger
portrait thought to
depict Catherine
Howard. Catherine’s
rise from relative
obscurity to queen of
England was meteoric
but her past would
soon catch up with her

22 BBC History Magazine

of innocence

n the evening of minor nobleman and a life of domesticity –
Sunday 12 February and she was placed into the household of
1542, Catherine her step-grandmother, Agnes, Dowager
Howard, queen of Duchess of Norfolk to be educated with
England, was told to this end in view.
prepare her soul, for Yet this new position was to prove a
she was to be put to poisoned chalice, for, while living with the
death the following duchess, Catherine was sexually exploited by
morning. She asked for the block to be two men of the household. The first, Henry
brought to her room, saying that “she wanted Mannock, was her music teacher; the second
to know how she was to place her head on it”. was the duchess’s gentleman usher, Francis
Then, having “tried and placed her head on it Dereham. Both men took advantage of their
by way of experiment”, she made her position of authority in the household – and
confession. There was nothing to do now Catherine had no means of defending herself.
except wait as the last hours of her life Redemption seemingly arrived when
passed away. Catherine was selected to be a maiden of
It was still dark when Catherine arose the honour to Henry VIII’s new queen, Anne of
following morning. Her ladies helped her to Cleves. While at court she got to know a
dress in a black velvet gown, a French hood, cousin, Thomas Culpeper, a gentleman of the
gloves and a furred mantle – it was almost as king’s privy chamber. They quickly became
though this were just any other day. Then the firm friends, and gossip had it that they were
constable of the Tower came and escorted her to be married. However, Catherine was never
across the short distance from the queen’s to become Mrs Culpeper, for when King
lodgings to the scaffold. Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves broke
Catherine addressed the crowd who had down, he fell head over heels with her new
come to watch her die. She did not protest her maiden of honour. Within a matter of weeks
innocence, but accepted the verdict of the law. – in what was a truly spectacular rise from
When her ladies had removed her mantle and obscurity to the seat of power – Catherine
hood, she knelt in the straw and placed herself Howard had become his fifth queen.
on the block that was now so familiar to her.
The headsman struck off her head with a Extended honeymoon
single stroke of the axe. Henry adored Catherine, who restored to him
“Henry adored Catherine Howard, the fifth
wife and queen of Henry VIII,
the youth and vitality he thought he’d lost.
After an extended honeymoon they settled
Catherine, who was dead. She was possibly as
young as 17.
into married life and Catherine showed every
sign of becoming a good queen. But her past
restored to him the Catherine was the youngest was about to catch up with her.
of Henry’s wives and her reign In the summer of 1541, the court embarked
youth and vitality had been one of the shortest. upon a royal progress to the north country.
That she had become queen While they were away a courtier, John
he thought he’d at all was remarkable. The Lascelles, took the opportunity of some free
daughter of a younger brother time to visit his sister Mary. She had once
lost. There was of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, worked for Duchess Agnes, and Lascelles

nothing he would Catherine had few prospects.

The best she could hope for
suggested she apply for a place on Catherine’s
staff. Mary, however, was unenthusiastic. She
not do for her” was a good marriage with a remembered Catherine’s earlier sexual

BBC History Magazine 23

Catherine Howard

A lettter of the Lords of the

Counc cil “concerning Queen
Catherine Howard’s
infideliities”. Catherine and
Cullpeper never had sex
but their fates were
Catherine was the niece of Thomas …she met Henry VIII after being appointed sealed
s by his claim that
Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk… maiden of honour to Anne of Cleves (above) they had intended to

experiences with Henry Mannock and persistently denied it had ever existed
Francis Dereham, but blamed the young girl because, as she explained, “all that
for what had happened. She concluded that Dereham did unto her, was importunate
Catherine was “light both in living and [persistent] forcement, and, in a
conditions”. When asked to elaborate, Mary manner, violence, rather than of her
spoke of Mannock, who had boasted that he free consent and will”. And because
knew Catherine’s “privates from all others by she had not consented, she thought
a privy mark”, and Dereham, who was so that any contract or marriage
familiar with Catherine “afore her marriage between them was invalid.
to the king that he did lie with her a hundred Before this point could be debated,
nights in the year in his doublet and hose another factor emerged which super-
abed between the sheets”. seded everything. Under intense
The shocked Lascelles had no choice but to interrogation, and possibly torture,
reveal what he had learned – not to do so Dereham blurted out that he and
would leave him open to charges of mispri- Catherine had not continued their
sion of treason, which meant imprisonment relationship because he had been
and forfeiture of his property. He told replaced in her affections by
Archbishop Cranmer, who set down the facts Thomas Culpeper.
in a letter. When the court returned from
progress, Cranmer left the letter in Henry’s Blind youth
pew for him to find. Culpeper tried to exonerate himself by
At first Henry was incredulous, but he was blaming Catherine and Jane Lady
obliged to investigate the claims. He ordered Rochford, her chief lady in waiting. He
those involved to be interrogated – and so the claimed Lady Rochford had “provoked
whole story of Catherine’s past came out. him much to love the queen”, adding that
“she said also to him how much the queen
Their “naughty life” loved him by which means he was tricked and
Henry’s grief that Catherine had not been brought into the snare which blind youth
pure when she came to him was made worse hath no grace to foresee”.
when he discovered that she might never Culpeper added that Catherine had given
really have been his wife. When Dereham him gifts and they had met secretly at night
seduced her, he asked her to call him during the progress on several occasions.
husband, while he called her wife. Catherine Though it soon became obvious that his
agreed and, since their relationship had friendship with Catherine “had not passed
clearly been consummated, they were beyond words”, his closing remark would seal
technically married according to canon law. the fate of them both: “He intended and
Then it was noted that, during the progress, “Henry Mannock meant to do ill with the queen and that in like
Dereham had asked Catherine for employ- wise, the queen so minded to do with him.”
ment and she had given him a position in her boasted that he This brought them within the range of the
household. His job granted him access to her 1534 Treason Act, under which anyone could
chamber, and this was now made to look as
knew Catherine’s be judged a traitor. It was immaterial whether
though the two had contrived to continue
their “former naughty life”.
‘privates from or not Catherine and Culpeper had actually
had sex because malicious intent was enough

Details of Catherine’s pre-contract with all others by – and when it came to the safety of the king
Dereham – which could have served as her and the succession, anything could be
defence – were suppressed. Catherine a privy mark’” deemed malicious.

24 BBC History Magazine

How old was
Catherine when
she died?
Catherine Howard’s death is made all
the more tragic by the fact that she was
younger than most historians have
traditionally had us believe. Received
opinion – inspired by the guesswork of
the French ambassador Charles de
Marillac – has it that she was born in
1521, and so was 21 when she went to
the block. While it isn’t possible to
pinpoint Catherine’s exact age, the wills
of two of her relatives place her year of
Thomas s Cranmer apprised birth between 1523 and 1527, suggest-
Henry of
o Catherine’s “infidelities” ing that she was significantly younger
than 21. The Spanish Chronicle goes
further, asserting that Catherine was
born in 1525, which would have made
Lady Jane and the other deponents her no more than 17 when she died.
were simply telling the interrogators A birthdate of 1525 is consistent with
what they wanted to hear. In the end, Catherine’s career as a maiden of
it did not matter – the queen’s fate honour. She did not serve Anne Boleyn
was already sealed. Catherine’s when Anne became queen in 1533
household was broken up, while she because she was too young. The age
was removed as queen and exiled to requirement for the position of maiden
Syon House with only a small staff to was at least 12 years but, if she was
attend her. born in 1525, Catherine would only have
been eight in 1533.
Shortly afterwards Culpeper and
In 1536, Catherine received music
Dereham were tried and, their guilt lessons, which were intended to
being predicated on the presumption of “polish” her in readiness to join Queen
Catherine’s, they were condemned to Anne’s court. Sadly, by the time
death for treason. Those who had known Catherine was old enough to serve at
Catherine in her youth were found guilty of court, Anne was dead. Catherine was
misprision. Catherine would not face trial, still too young to serve Jane Seymour
but instead would be condemned to death by (who became queen in 1536), and so
an Act of Attainder, signed by her own had to wait until Anne of Cleves married
husband’s hand. Henry before she could take her place
at court. The new queen’s maidens
Queen Catherine Howard went to the
were selected in late 1539, by which
scaffold because it was thought she had time – assuming the Spanish Chronicle
intended to commit adultery with Francis was correct – Catherine was 14.
Dereham and Thomas Culpeper. In other
words, though she was innocent of any
actual crime, the terms of the 1534 Treasons
Act allowed Henry to condemn her for
presumptive treason. While he could have
annulled their marriage – on the grounds
Everyone who had lived at the duchess’s that Catherine had really been Dereham’s
house was interrogated about Catherine’s past wife – he chose not to. Instead, angry that
and their stories agreed. Lady Rochford was Catherine had not been of “pure and
questioned about Catherine’s relationship honest condition” when he married her,
with Culpeper. She confirmed that they had and that he had been “deceived concerning
met several times, adding that she thought her”, he wanted to destroy the “jewel for
“Culpeper hath known the queen carnally womanhood”, whom he had once loved
considering all things that this deponent hath so dearly.
heard and seen between them”. But she also
asserted that Catherine and Culpeper had Josephine Wilkinson is an academic historian

“talked so secretly that she heard not their who specialises in a wide range of periods,
conversations” and that she was “never the including 16th-century England
privier” about what went on between them.
Catherine, too, had said that Lady DISCOVER MORE
Rochford “would many times, being ever by, BOOK A portrait of a lady, probably Catherine
sit somewhat far off or turn her back and she 왘 Katherine Howard: The Tragic Story Howard, in c1540, when she may have
[Catherine] would say to her: ‘For God’s sake of Henry VIII’s Fifth Queen by Josephine been as young as 15
madam even near us.’” Wilkinson (John Murray, April 2016)

BBC History Magazine 25

Romans / Emperor Hadrian


HADRIAN was not the type of
emperor to lock himself away in
Rome, far from his subjects, and wait
for the world to come to him. He ruled
over what was possibly then the
largest empire in history, and he was
hellbent on seeing it – hunting lions in
north Africa, soaking up the culture
of Athens and surveying the frigid
northern outpost of Britain. But, says
Alison Cooley, Hadrian’s travels
weren’t simply the result of a
pleasure-seeking wanderlust. Here
was a man determined to remind
his provinces who was in charge…

26 BBC History Magazine

A second-century AD bust of
Hadrian. The emperor was
commander-in-chief of his
armies, and what better way of
monitoring their performance
than travelling the empire to
watch them train in the flesh?

BBC History Magazine 27

Romans / Emperor Hadrian

ortunately for historians of them, though, Hadrian and Antinous

of the Roman world, the together dispatched the beast, and their
emperor Hadrian and valiant deed lived on in verse.
his courtiers could not From these two small scraps of evidence –
resist the impulse to an inscription carved upon an ancient statue
engrave their names, and a fragment of papyrus – we gain a vivid
together with poems impression of an emperor at leisure, taking
about their travels, upon advantage of a visit of several months to Egypt
the great monuments of in order to see the sights.
Egypt. It was, you might say, the ancient There’s little doubt that Hadrian, who
equivalent of a selfie. reigned from AD 117 to 138, travelled around
As a result, we have an eyewitness account his empire to a much greater degree than
1 Athens, Roman
of a trip to the Colossi of Memnon that most other emperors. According to an ancient
Hadrian and his wife Sabina made on biographer, he may even have evoked some of province of Achaea (Greece)
20 November AD 130. The royal couple were the landscapes he saw on his travels in Hadrian transformed the physical
joined by their courtiers, including Julia designing his villa at Tivoli (‘Villa Adriana’): fabric of Athens, as well as its eco-
Balbilla, who composed the following poem: “His villa at Tibur was marvellously con- nomic and cultural environment,
funding grandiose monuments and
“By Julia Balbilla, when Hadrian Augustus structed, and he actually gave to parts
setting up a league of cities known as
heard Memnon: I had been told that Memnon of it the names of provinces and places of the the Panhellenion. He spent many
the Egyptian, warmed by the ray of the sun, greatest renown, calling them, for instance, months there on several occasions,
spoke from his Theban stone. And when he Lyceum, Academia, Prytaneum, Canopus, and reinstated Athens as cultural and
saw Hadrian, king of all, before the rays of the Poecile and Tempe.” intellectual capital of the Greek world.
sun, he greeted him as best he could… Then Whether or not actually true, this reflects Little wonder that he was reputedly
the lord Hadrian himself also offered ample a perception that Hadrian was unusually nicknamed Graeculus (‘Greekling’).
greetings to Memnon and on the monument influenced by the provinces, and the idea that
left for posterity verses marking all that he he deliberately evoked their landscapes within
had seen and all he had heard. And it was his villa still lives on in the way in which the
made clear to all that the gods loved him.” villa is presented to tourists today.
The aim of Hadrian’s visit was to marvel 4 Lambaesis,
at one of the wonders of ancient Egypt – a Commander-in-chief Roman province of
colossal statue that ‘sang’ as the sun’s rays But Hadrian was not simply a pleasure-seek-
struck it each morning. The statue actually ing emperor. His travels also allowed him to
Africa Nova (Algeria)
In AD 128, Hadrian inspected the
depicted Pharaoh Amenhotep III, outside his make contact with his troops on deployment
troops of the III Augustan Legion at
temple near Luxor, but the Romans believed it in the provinces, and, as commander-in-chief their military headquarters at
was the mythical hero Memnon, son of of the Roman army, he took an active interest Lambaesis. His speech exhorting
Dawn, greeting his divine mother. Just as in inspecting his soldiers and encouraging them to continue training hard, and

visitors now flock to the Great Pyramids at them to maintain their training to the his praise for the exercises he had
Giza, so Roman tourists 2,000 years ago were highest standards. reviewed, is preserved as an
eager to hear this amazing phenomenon. During a visit to the headquarters of the inscription on a monumental column
It was a mark of Hadrian’s favour from the III Augustan Legion at Lambaesis in north set up in their parade ground.
gods that he heard the statue sing not once, Africa, Hadrian carefully monitored their
but three times. Others were not so lucky. training exercises and then proceeded to Memorials at the ruins of the
barracks of the III Augustan
And if you now fancy following in Hadrian’s deliver a speech, in which he addressed all the Legion in Algeria
footsteps to hear the statue sing, be warned: different units in turn with observations
following repairs some years after Hadrian’s about the qualities and shortcomings which
visit, the statue fell silent forever.
While in north Africa, Hadrian made an
excursion into the desert along with his lover,
Antinous, in order to participate in that most
kingly pursuit, lion-hunting. The dramatic
“Hadrian’s travels
moment when a lion charged at the two of
them was immortalised by Pancrates, a poet
allowed him to
from Alexandria, whose epic-style verses make contact with
happen to have been preserved on a papyrus
found at Oxyrhynchus: “Straight he rushed his soldiers in the
upon them both, scourging with his tail, his
haunches and sides while his eyes, beneath his provinces and
brows, flashed dreadful fire; and from his
ravening jaws the foam showered to the earth inspect their training”
as his teeth gnashed within.” Between the two

Hadrian’s travels
Six of the locations that the globe-trotting emperor A bust of Hadrian
(right), found near his
visited – for duty and pleasure – during his 21-year reign country residence
(below), the design of
2 Antioch on the influenced by the
places he visited
Orontes, Roman province
of Syria (Turkey)
At the time he became emperor in
AD 117, Hadrian was governor of
Syria, based at Antioch. Hadrian
abandoned Emperor
Trajan’s conquests
along the Euphrates
and Tigris rivers –
even though it’s
rumoured that
Trajan’s wife, Plotina 3 Tibur,
(pictured), engineered
r modern
his succession. Tivoli (Italy)
Hadrian built himself a magnificent
country residence at Tibur, roughly
20 miles to the east of Rome. The
architecture of Hadrian’s Villa is
striking both for its innovative
designs and luxurious multi-co-
loured marbles. It was a place
where Hadrian could retire for
privacy, but also where he could
entertain guests on a lavish scale
or transact official business.

4 2

5 Palmyra, modern Syria
Hadrian visited in AD 129, in celebra-
tion of which the Palmyrenes adopted
the name Hadrianoi. This would have
taken the emperor into a distinctive
cultural environment, where Aramaic
was the local language and where
distinctly non-Roman deities, such
as Baal Shamin, were worshipped.
During his visit, a prominent local
citizen provided olive oil for visitors
and Palmyrenes, and contributed Hadrian would have visited
to the upkeep of the soldiers, Palmyra’s Temple of Baal
presumably in Hadrian’s Shamin, shown here in 2008 6

Hadrian travelled to the Colossi of Memnon

in AD 130, hoping, we’re told, to see one of
the statues sing when the sun struck it
Romans / Emperor Hadrian
How Hadrian’s
Wall made waves
they had displayed to him. To one group of which provided us with justice and gave us across the empire
men, he offered encouraging words of praise: laws, not after conquering us but at our
“You have built a lengthy wall, made as if for request; that it is Athens you go to and Did Hadrian ever see his wall?
permanent winter-quarters, in nearly as short Sparta you rule.” He was one of the most widely travelled
a time as if it were built from turf which is cut Hadrian’s extended visits to Athens were of all Roman emperors, but there’s
in even pieces, easily carried and handled, different in character from his Egyptian every chance that Hadrian didn’t set
eyes on the landmark with which his
and laid without difficulty, being naturally expedition. He intervened in the politics,
name will forever be associated. We
smooth and flat. You built with big, heavy, culture, religious life, and economy of the city know that the emperor visited Britain in
uneven stones that no one can carry, lift or lay in order to re-establish Athens as the AD 122 – coins issued in Rome some
without their unevenness becoming evident.” prestigious centre of the Greek world. He years later tell us so – but, as he left for
The troops clearly appreciated the issued a decree taking personal responsibility Gaul the same year, he may not have
emperor’s words, since the speech itself was for increasing revenues for the city from the found time to travel north and view the
inscribed upon a monumental column set up production of olive oil in the surrounding construction project.
in their parade ground. This reminds us that territory of Attica. He intervened in a dispute
the Roman army’s power lay not just in its about leadership succession within the How impressive a piece
fighting ability, but also in its engineering philosophical school of Epicurus. He built of engineering was the wall?
Very. It consisted not only of a stone
achievements, one of which – Hadrian’s Wall several brand new magnificent structures,
wall, but of a defensive ditch, fortlets at
in northern England – is still so visible today. including a library, pantheon, gymnasium, every mile, and two turrets between
and aqueduct. He completed and dedicated each milecastle. Its purpose – despite
Athens reborn the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which had the assertion by Hadrian’s biographer
From AD 124–32, Hadrian spent much of his been started some six centuries earlier, but that he “was the first to build a wall over
time in Athens, staying there for longer than had remained uncompleted despite sporadic a distance of some 80 miles, in order to
any other city apart from Rome. At this time, interventions by Hellenistic and Roman separate barbarians and Romans” –
Athens had long lost the dominance that it client kings. was not simply to act as a defensive
had won in the days of Pericles. Where once it With some justification, then, Hadrian barrier to stop the northern barbarians
had been leader of a league of Greek cities, it was represented as a new founder for the from over-running the area conquered
by the Romans. The presence of
was now merely one of many cities in the city, supplanting its mythological hero,
numerous gates suggests that it was
province of Achaea, utterly dependent upon Theseus. His achievement was proclaimed just as important a means of controlling
Rome. Nor was it even the capital of that on an arch built near the Temple of Olympian mobility, enabling the authorities to
province: that position was now held by Zeus. On one side of the arch, an inscription supervise the passage of people and
Corinth, which had been destroyed by the recorded: “This is Athens, the former city of goods from north to south, and collect
Romans in 146 BC but refounded as a Roman Theseus,” to which an inscription on the taxes due.
colony 100 years later. other side replied: “This is the city of
Despite this, a residual sense remained of Hadrian, not of Theseus.” Did it impress the wider
Athens’ former importance. Young Romans Hadrian set up a new league of cities, the Roman world?
like Cicero’s son or the poet Horace might Panhellenion, and established Athens as its If the works of art celebrating the wall
are anything to go by, yes. Three
still be sent there to enhance their education, headquarters. This league included cities
beautiful copper-alloy pans, with
and some Romans remained conscious of a from at least five different Roman provinces, multi-coloured enamelled inlay, have
cultural debt to Athens. Pliny the Younger and created a sense of shared kinship among been found in scattered geographical
admonished a friend about to take up a post them. Its members included cities on locations. One was discovered in the
in the Greek city: mainland Greece that are well known to us well of a Roman villa at Rudge in
“Remember that you have been sent to the for their prominence in the classical period Wiltshire, while another was unearthed
province of Achaea, to the pure and genuine – Athens, Sparta, Argos, and Corinth – but even further afield, in a Roman house at
Greece, where civilisation and literature, and also included remote cities such as Phrygian Amiens in northern France. The third,
agriculture, too, are believed to have origi- Synnada in central Anatolia (modern Suhut, the Ilam Pan or Staffordshire Moors
nated… Pay regard to their antiquity, their in Turkey) and Libyan Cyrene. Pan, was discovered only in 2003, and
is on display in the British Museum.
heroic deeds, and the legends of their past… The figure of Hadrian himself was central
All three vessels bear images of the
always bear in mind that this is the land to the Panhellenion: not only did it establish forts along Hadrian’s Wall, all labelled
a new cult of Hadrian Panhellenios, but the with their name, in geographical order,
member cities could now club together in starting from the west: Bowness-on-
order to send embassies to the emperor with Solway (Mais), Burgh-by-Sands

“Hadrian intervened various requests and be guaranteed a

favourable reception.
(Aballava), Stanwix (Uxelodunum),
Castelsteads (Camboglanna), and
in Athens’ politics, In addition, three new festivals were set up
– the Panhellenia, the Hadrianeia, and the
Birdoswald (Banna). Perhaps the
soldiers who served on the wall took
culture and economy Olympieia – alongside the long-established home with them a keepsake of their
experience. Or maybe the wall itself –
festival at Athens, the Panathenaia. As a
to re-establish it as result, Athens was now the only Greek city to
like the Colossi of Memnon – became
an ancient tourist attraction, and
have an important festival every single year,
the centre of the attracting the best athletes, poets and orators
individuals bought these artefacts as
souvenirs of their visit to the northern
to compete for prizes. This must have
Greek world” completed the transformation of Athens from
outpost of the empire.

small provincial city into cosmopolitan

30 BBC History Magazine

“Roman tourists may
have bought souvenirs
of their visit to metropolis, as competitors and audiences
descended upon the city from all corners of
the northern outpost the Roman world. (Imagine the London 2012
of the empire” Olympics being an annual event!)

Famous last words

Hadrian’s interest in the intellectual life of
classical Greece extended well beyond Athens
itself. As ruler of the Roman world, he was the
ultimate arbiter in settling local disputes, and
cities constantly sent him petitions requesting
his help. Recently published are the last words
known to have been issued by Hadrian,
probably in early AD 138, shortly before he
died, in a letter to the small town of Naryka in
Locris (Greece), as inscribed upon a bronze
plaque. In this letter, Hadrian responded to a
dispute over whether or not Naryka could
regard itself as a city. In justifying Naryka’s
city status, Hadrian alluded to its role within
the Panhellenion he had established.
The fact that Naryka was represented not
only within other local leagues but also
within the supra-regional Panhellenion was
one clear reason to confirm its status.
Hadrian also cited as evidence in favour of
city-status the political structures in place
there – its council, magistrates, priests and
tribes. Most striking, however, is Hadrian’s
assertion that “You have also been mentioned
by certain of the most celebrated poets, both
Roman and Greek, as ‘Narykians’, and they
also name certain of the heroes as having
started from your polis.” This reflects how
the mythical past of classical Greece had
reverberated through the centuries to become
important in the eyes of the ruler of the world.
Travelling around the empire was not a
necessity for a Roman emperor; if his subjects
wanted help, it was up to them to set off to
seek an audience with him. Hadrian, though,
has been dubbed “the restless emperor”.
This highlights the fact that he seems to
have had an unusually proactive attitude –
A milecastle on Hadrian’s Wall. visiting many parts of the empire to settle
Though it was bristling with disputes, review his troops and act as
fortlets, the wall enabled the benefactor towards many provincial
Romans to supervise the
passage of travellers, as well
cities. Who can blame him if, in the course
as keep ‘barbarians’ out of his travels, he took some time out to see
the sights?

Professor Alison Cooleyy is a classicist based at

the University of Warwick. Her books include
Pompeii and Herculaneum (Routledge, 2013)

The second-century BOOK
AD Staffordshire 왘 Hadrian: The Restless Emperor
Moorlands Pan bears by Anthony Birley (Routledge, 2000)
the names of forts along
Hadrian’s Wall. Was it LISTEN AGAIN
made for a soldier 왘 Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss
who served there? Hadrian’s Wall on In Our Time

BBC History Magazine 31

Romans / Their path to power

How did an insignificant little settlement by
the river Tiber grow into a mighty empire
encompassing the Mediterranean
world and much of western
Europe? Mary Beard reveals
the secret that lay behind
the Roman empire’s
extraordinary expansion
Accompanies the forthcoming BBC Two series
Mary Beard’s Ultimate Rome: Empire Without Limit

A second-century AD relief shows

defeated enemies of the Roman empire
submitting to its soldiers – but in time
these men might well have had the chance
of becoming citizens themselves

BBC History Magazine 33
Romans / Their path to power

he Roman empire respect they were no different from any of
at its height, in the their neighbours, who were just as committed
second century AD, to warfare as any Romans.
stretched from the The image we have inherited – partly from
Sahara to Scotland, the comic strips of Astérixx – of a load of
from Syria to Spain, thuggish Roman squaddies ploughing into
and was home to well Gaul, where the plucky local inhabitants were
over 50 million busy at their harmless crafts, defended by no
inhabitants. more than a magic potion, is quite wrong. In
We might now deplore it: think of the fact one traveller to Gaul in the early first
brutal suppression of rebels such as Boudica, century BC was shocked to discover so many
the garrisons of occupation in the provinces, severed enemy heads pinned up outside those
or the central imposition of taxes right across pretty little Gallic huts (not something you
the western world. Or we might admire its saw further south – though, he conceded, you A triumphant Roman emperor is
achievements, from the roads and super- did get used to it after a while). shown trampling his enemies in a
fourth-century AD cameo
highways that still underlie the transport And equally wrong is the idea that the
networks of Europe to the single currency or Romans gained control of the Greek world in
even the little luxuries of life (such as baths the third and second centuries BC simply by
and plumbing) that Rome offered to some
lucky residents even as far away as Britain.
riding roughshod over a load of philosophers
barely capable of putting up a fight. The
“Equally wrong is
But, whether we deplore or admire (and for Greeks who fell victim to the Roman swords the idea the Romans
most of us it’s a mixture of the two), we have were the tough descendants of Alexander the
to ask how on earth an ordinary little town in Great, not a bunch of effete intellectuals. gained control of the
central Italy actually acquired all that territory. The question is not why the Romans kept
How did an undistinguished, mosquito- going to war Warfare was endemic in the Greek world… by
ridden, settlement by the Tiber climb to the
top? Starting out back in the eighth century
ancient Mediterranean, peace only rarely
broke out, and the Romans were no better or
riding roughshod
BC, and playing second or third string to worse than any others. The question is why over a load of


much richer and more successful neighbours the Romans kept on winnin
north and south, what gave it within just a few Part of the answer to that might possibly lie philosophers
centuries control over the whole Italian in some small element of superior determina-
peninsula, and soon over all of the tion in the Roman psyche. But there is no sign barely capable of
Mediterranean world? It was something no that the early Romans had any concerted plan
other state has ever managed, before or since. to gain an empire, still less that some cabal of putting up a fight”
Thanks in part to Edward Gibbon’s great ambitious Roman generals sat down over a
book, The History of the Decline and Fall of the map in (say) the fourth century BC, as Roman
Roman Empire, we are used to debating why
the empire collapsed (Barbarian invasions?
Lead in the water pipes? Inflation? Immorality
and decadence?). Just as important, and just
as puzzling, is why it rose in the first place.

More than military glory

Some of the favourite explanations just won’t
do. For a start, the Romans were not more
militaristic than anyone else in the
Mediterranean world. To be sure, they put
enormous store by military glory. There was
no more spectacular ceremony in Rome, at
any period in its history, than the triumphal
procession, celebrated after all the greatest
Roman victories (or bloodiest massacres,
depending on your point of view), putting on
display, to the cheers and jeers of the Roman
crowds, the loot that had been captured and
the enemy prisoners taken.
And the earliest examples of Roman boasts
to survive, preserved on the first tombstones
and sarcophagi of Roman grandees, point to
military prowess (“he captured Taurasia,
Cisauna and Samnium, he subdued the whole
of Lucania and he took hostages”, one epitaph
of the early third century BC runs). But in this

34 BBC History Magazine

expansion was beginning to get seriously At first sight what the Romans did differ-
under way, plotting a world takeover. For a ently may not seem a huge innovation. The
start they didn’t have maps, which made the standard pattern of warfare in Rome’s early
formulation of any grand territorial plan days (let’s say from the eighth century BC to
almost impossible. Even Caesar’s conquest of the fifth, before it had moved very far beyond
Gaul seems to have been based on word of its own hinterland) was brutal but straight-
mouth not on geographic planning. forward. Rome, like its neighbours, would
An equally small part of the answer might generally have been ‘at war’ in most summers.
lie in superior military tactics or hardware. ‘War’ is perhaps a rather grand term for
The Roman army did have some unusually it. In practice, the sorties would have been
nasty weapons at their disposal. In a few battle not much more than glorified cattle raids
sites in Gaul, for example, the simple Roman between small towns or even villages. If
equivalent of modern land-mines have been the raiders won, they would have returned
discovered: small hooked iron barbs laid just home with a good handful of the enemy’s
under the ground surface intended to lodge cows and some compensation in the form
Trajan was the first Roman emperor to
themselves irremovably and excruciatingly of bullion (before the age of minted coinage), hail from Spain – a clear indication of
painfully in the soles of the enemy feet. But, no doubt leaving a trail of laddish destruc- the openness of the Roman political
by and large, despite many modern myths tion in their wake. It would be a matter of establishment. Even the emperor might
about Roman military genius, battle tactics in “see you again next year”, when maybe the come from elsewhere
the ancient world were fairly rudimentary on tables would be turned.
all sides, and superior weaponry was not
usually the deciding factor. Rules of engagement “What counted most
What counted most in securing victory was The Romans did not change those basic rules
manpower, simply the number of boots you of engagement, but they did change their in securing victory
could put on the ground. And that is precisely
where the Romans soon found their advan-
outcome. Instead of just carrying their spoils
back home, they gradually came to make
was manpower,
tage, by a simple mechanism that was unique
in the ancient world: extending its citizenship
permanent links with those they trounced:
turning the defeated into Roman citizens, or
simply the number
to outsiders, including those it had defeated forming some similar permanent alliance of boots you could
and, in the process, massively increasing its with them.
fighting force. The secret of Rome’s success Why they did this is a mystery, and it may put on the ground”
was something invisible to the eye, and much always have been an unplanned, lucky
more sophisticated than hooked barbs; it was improvisation, rather than a considered
a radically new definition of what “being a strategy. But it had revolutionary consequenc-

citizen” meant, with all the rights and es. For a start Rome broke the link that Roman citizens: the empire
expanded by absorbing
obligations that entailed. applied in most ancient societies between the peoples it defeated,
giving rights and obligations
to former outsiders

Romans / Their path to power

citizenship and birth. The ancient democratic the gods; Virgil, the great poet of the first
Athenians, for example, had rigorously century BC, imagined Jupiter, the king of the
restricted full Athenian citizenship to those gods, prophesying that the Romans would
born of two citizen parents. The Romans were have “an empire without limit”. But the root
emphatically saying that citizenship did not cause of expansion from the fifth century BC
depend solely on where, or to whom, you were onward was the manpower that repeatedly
born. It was even possible to be a citizen of gave it victory, thanks to the unprecedented
two places at once: both one’s home town and extension of Roman citizenship.
Rome (the Norman Tebbit ‘cricket test’, as The Romans themselves realised how
many of us remember from the 1990s, would important this was, and they underlined that
have asked which team these people would in the stories they told about their own
support in a sporting fixture. But the Romans origins. The Athenians, like the citizens of
seem to have taken the possibility of dual many Greek states, claimed that their original
loyalty on board without as much problem population had miraculously sprung from the
as we’ve had). very soil of Athens: the land and the people
were integrally bound together. The Roman
Multiculturalism A first-century BC Pompeian fresco
myths were very different, and insisted that
In the long term, this set the foundations for shows the Trojan war hero Aeneas the Romans were always in a sense foreigners
the extraordinary multiculturalism of the being tended for his wounds to their own land.
Roman political hierarchy. It is thanks to One Roman story, made famous by Virgil
these principles laid down early in Roman in his Aeneid, told how the Roman race had
history that, centuries later, we find on the been established in Italy by a war refugee:
imperial throne Roman citizens from Spain Aeneas, in flight from his distant hometown
(including the emperors Trajan and Hadrian) of Troy, after its destruction by the Greeks in
and Africa (Septimius Severus). But back in the mythical Trojan War. Another focussed
the early days, those same principles gave the on the dilemmas of Romulus who, the story
Romans a massive advantage in their battles went, had founded the city of Rome on its
with their neighbours, and then with enemies permanent site on the hills by the Tiber.
further afield – for some obvious reasons. Romulus realised he had only a handful
Citizenship carried privileges, from the of citizens, so declared his new town a
right to the protection of Roman law to the place of asylum, announcing that criminals,
right to vote (though how many people from foreigners, runaways and ex-slaves were all
communities miles away would have made welcome. The idea was simple: Rome was
the trek to exercise those rights, we can only built, and thrived, on its incorporation
guess). It also carried obligations, the main of new citizens.
one being for the men to serve in Rome’s Indeed it was, and it did. And, in a way, that
The story goes that Romulus – shown
armies. To put that another way, the more with his twin, Remus, suckling a wolf in
remains a challenge to our own times. As we
Rome incorporated those they had defeated, a mosaic of the city’s foundation myth – see an increasing desire to enforce modern
rather than leaving them alone to fight another encouraged outsiders to settle in Rome boundaries, we might do well to remember
day, the more troops the Romans had to call on. that the biggest empire in the west was
It was a brilliant mechanism (even if an proudly built on the idea that it was originally
inadvertent one) for converting one-time an empire of asylum seekers. I am not
enemies into Roman soldiers with a stake in suggesting there is a direct lesson; the Romans
Roman victory – everyone had a share in the rarely offer us direct lessons. But it does show
rich spoils that came with winning. And it us, as we look to close down our own borders,
underpinned more Roman victories that in or turn a blind eye to the beaches of modern
turn produced more Roman soldiers, and Greece or camps at Calais, that there is
more victories, and so on. By the mid-second
century BC, according to one canny Greek
“Romulus declared another way of looking at this, and other
aspirations to celebrate. The origins of the
observer, through this nexus of connections
Rome could draw on more than 700,000
his new town a Roman empire might, indirectly, still have
something to teach.
troops – more than any western power had place of asylum…
been able to do before. When, soon after, Mary Beard is professor of classics at the
Rome’s great enemy, Hannibal from Carthage, announcing University of Cambridge
knocked out legion after Roman legion, there
were always more where they had come from. that criminals, DISCOVER MORE

Those numbers were the secret of Rome’s

success. It would be naive to imagine that no
foreigners, runaways BOOK
왘 SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
Romans were greedy for the wealth that came
from conquest, or that none were relishing
and ex-slaves were by Mary Beard (Profile, 2015)
the chance of political dominance overseas. all welcome” 왘 Mary Beard’s Ultimate Rome:
And later Romans, looking back, could claim Empire Without Limit is due to
that the Roman empire had been ordained by be shown on BBC Two this spring

36 BBC History Magazine

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Taming of the Shrew
946 The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips
Imogen Cymbeline renamed and reclaimed
The Merchant of Venice
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk
The Inn at Lydda
WWI eyewitness accounts


Death from above

In part 23 of his personal testimony series, Gabrielle ‘Bobby’ West
Peter Hart takes us to April 1916, when Gabrielle ‘Bobby’ West was born in 1890, the
Zeppelins gave the people of London an daughter of a vicar. As a member of the Red
Cross, she had helped in accommodating
unwelcome introduction to the horrors of Belgian refugees and also cooked and
cleaned at the Standish hospital.
war. Peter will be tracing the experiences
of 20 people who lived through the First Bobby West was working as solemn account of the whole
World War – via interviews, letters and the night canteen manager- performance. Just as the last boy
ess at the Woolwich Arsenal. was served, out went the lights.
diary entries – as its centenary progresses Most nights were busy, but As soon as the lights go out each
on Saturday 1 April she had foreman is supposed to lock the
ILLUSTRATIONS BY JAMES ALBON a real shock courtesy of a
door of his shop. This is a
German Zeppelin raid. Prewar
books like the HG Wells necessary precaution because
classic The War in the Air, one could not have hundreds
published in 1908, had of panicky men and women
painted a terrible picture charging about in the dark in
James McCudden of the slaughter that might the open. However, we were
ensue from such an attack. not locked in, though we had
Born in 1895, James joined the Royal Flying a watchman standing at one
Corps as an air mechanic in 1913. By A frightful thrill – have door and the foreman at the
December 1915, he had become a regular been through an air raid! other, which opens into the
observer/gunner for several pilots with I must give you a full and bandolier shop.
3 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps.

Flight Sergeant James quite a good ‘tail-up’ landing at

McCudden had been sent fully 70mph.
back to England where he My instructor was quite
began his much-anticipated pleased, so it must have been
training as a pilot. He pro- all right. I had seen so many
gressed well and was soon
accidents through want of speed
allowed to embark on his
first solo flight, in a Maurice that I determined that I would
Farman Longhorn, on 16 April. not stall on my first solo. Oh!
That feeling when one has done
I got off the ground one’s first solo. One imagines
safely, but I do not oneself so frightfully important.
remember quite what happened That same day McCudden An illustration
while I was in the air. I only have qualified for his Royal Aero shows a Zeppelin
a vague recollection that I sat Club Certificate by flying solo airship caught
quite still, flying automatically while carrying out four figure in searchlights
until I landed. During this first of eight turns, followed by a during a bombing
solo I got up to 300 feet, and controlled glide from raid over England
1,200 feet to land within in 1916
then came down all the way to
the ground with the engine on. 40 yards of a specific point.
When about 10 feet off the He still had much to learn –
but at last he was a pilot.
ground, I switched off and made

“Oh! That feeling when one has done

one’s first solo flight. One imagines
oneself so frightfully important”

38 BBC History Magazine

PART 23 APRIL 1916
Some of the girls in the shops “The cabinet had concluded
near started to squeal and then
began to sing, but the boys were that the war could only be ended
absolutely quiet. There wasn’t a by fighting, and several were
sound except the policemen
whistling to each other and the most anxious for a definite
foreman and watchman calling: victory over German arms”
“Are you there, Tom?” “Yes
George!” Then all of a sudden William Collins
the guns began. They don’t
make a great noise only a sharp, Bill Collins was born into a
short bang almost like revolver working-class family in Croydon. Sir Douglas Haig
shot. I made tracks for the door He worked in a shop and as a
gardener before joining the Royal
in hope of seeing. General Sir Douglas Haig was commander of
Army Medical Corps as a the British 1st Army. That already made
The ‘Zep’ was just about three stretcher bearer in 1913.
miles up like a small sausage in him one of Britain’s most senior soldiers, yet
the sky. The minute it came into On the western front, Ser- in December 1915 he had been promoted
geant William Collins was still again, appointed to command the British
sight three searchlights were
serving with the No 1 Cavalry Army on the western front.
playing on it and the guns
opened fire. It was hit three Field Ambulance, Royal Army Meanwhile General Sir I was told that 150 would
times. Each time it lurched and Medical Corps. He noticed Douglas Haig, commander in be provided by 31 July.
that an increasing number of chief of the British Expedi-
then gave a bound. Then it rose I said that was too late. Fifty
wounds he encountered in tionary Force, was facing a
higher still in the air, turned treating patients were caused were urgently required. Swinton
round and did an ignominious time of great responsibility. is to see what can be done, and
by high-explosive shells Planning had begun for a
bolt. The whole performance which spat out great chunks will also practise and train
massive offensive to be
was over in five minutes. of steel shell casing. launched alongside the ‘Tanks’ and crews over obstacles
As the Zep retreated it began French in the Somme area of and wire similar to the ground
dropping bombs. These landed The Germans had begun the western front. The Allied over which the attack will be
partly in the river, one or two in to use high-explosive plans had already been made. I gave him a trench map
north Woolwich where they shells instead of shrapnel. Very disrupted by the surprise as a guide and impressed on him
destroyed two or three houses different – much more severe German attack on the French the necessity for thinking over
and killed several people, and wounds. One of the worst I had at Verdun in February 1916. the system of leadership and
the rest in open ground where to deal with was a private of one Now Haig was checking control of a group of ‘Tanks’.
no damage was done. of the Yorkshire regiments. An with his political masters that
they were indeed content for In the end Haig would be
Obviously the Zep was badly HE shell had dropped right in thwarted and, in fact, none
the attack to go ahead as
hit as she came down very low among them and blown off both planned. On 14 April he at all would be made available
and seemed lopsided as she his legs, half way up the thigh, met the secretary of state until mid-September. His
disappeared and made an effort leaving the femurs exposed as if for war, Lord Kitchener, and men would attack on 1 July
to get home but failed, for in the they were two crutches. the chief of imperial general without the benefit of support
morning there was great He sat upon the stretcher, staff, General Sir William from the new tanks.
rejoicing at the news that she looked down at his legs and Robertson, at the War Office
had come down in the Thames. said: “If only my missus could in London. Peter Hart is the oral historian at
During another Zeppelin raid
see me now! Give me a ciga- I asked them definitely: the Imperial War Museum. His
on 13 April, Bobby’s pet dog rette!” That was the guts and “Did His Majesty’s books include Voices from the Front:
courage of those men. All we government approve of my An Oral History of the Great War

‘Rip’ met with a misfortune.

could do was to cover the combining with the French (Profile, 2015)
‘Rip’ rushed out to bark wounds up with gauze, to keep in a general offensive during
at the guns and fell in the the dirt and air away as much as the summer?” They both agreed DISCOVER MORE
ditch that runs round the possible, and put him on the first that all the cabinet had come to WEBSITE
danger area. This ditch is full of ambulance away. the conclusion that the war 왘 Read previous instalments of
pectic acid and the result was The greatest danger to that could only be ended by fighting, “Our First World War” at
first that he was very sick and man was shock. The wounds and several were most anxious
secondly that for months he was could be dealt with, but the for a definite victory over
bright canary yellow. No shock to the body and the brain German arms.
왘 The BBC’s First World War
amount of baths would take it was the greatest danger. In seven In making his plans, Haig was coverage is continuing –
off. It wasn’t until he changed or eight hours’ time he’ll get the keen to exploit the potential of please check the
his coat in the autumn that he reaction. The reaction would be a new weapon developed in TV & Radio updates
became white again. He really immense. If he was exception- great secrecy – the tank. on historyextra.com
looked most peculiar. ally strong he might survive it. /bbchistorymagazine

NEXT ISSUE: “If there was any French girl behind the lines, he’d desert with her”
BBC History Magazine 39
When did the actor,
playwright and poet find
fame? Was his marriage
happy? How did he learn,
write and die? And is there
really any doubt that he
was the author of the
‘Shakespeare’ plays? On
the 400th anniversary
of Shakespeare’s death,
a panel of experts address
the big questions about the
life and work of England’s
best-known scribe
Complements the BBC’s Shakespeare
Festival on TV, radio and online


40 BBC History Magazine

The panel

The ‘Flower Portrait’ of
Shakespeare is inscribed with
the date 1609, though analysis
by National Portrait Gallery
experts published in 2005
indicated that it was painted
as late as the 19th century

Michael Dobson
is director of the
Shakespeare Institute
at the University of
Birmingham, and
co-editor of The
Oxford Companion
to Shakespeare
(OUP, 2015)

is head of research
and knowledge at
the Shakespeare
Birthplace Trust
and author of
Shakespeare: Ideas
in Profile (Profile
Books, 2015)

Laurie Maguire
is professor of
English language and
literature at Magdalen
College, Oxford
and co-author of
30 Great Myths About
Shakespeare (Wiley
–Blackwell, 2012)

René Weis is a
Shakespeare expert
based at University
College London. He is
the author of Shake-
speare Revealed:
A Biographyy (John
Murray, 2007)

BBC History Magazine 41

Shakespeare’s life

An illustration of a 16th-century grammar school, similar to that attended

by Shakespeare. “You couldn’t find a better course in the materials
and skills a playwright would need,” says Laurie Maguire

Why do we seem to know so little about Richard III. Yet unlike Ben Jonson, who loves
Shakespeare’s private life? talking about himself, Shakespeare did not
Michael Dobson: I think ‘seem’ is the keep a commonplace book or diary – or at
operative word here. In terms of his financial least none survives.
arrangements, provision for his family,
baptism, marriage certificate, addresses, will, How much did Shakespeare’s early life
and other legal and economic matters, we and schooling influence his writing?
know a great deal – far more than we know Laurie Maguire: By coincidence, the
about most other people of the period. But we ‘national curriculum’ of the 16th-century
don’t have Shakespeare’s own musings about grammar school provided an ideal regime
it because he isn’t an autobiographical writer: for training future dramatists. It focused on
he leaves his characters free to be themselves dialogues, debates, flexibility of phrasing,
instead of using them as vehicles for rhetoric, Roman comedy – you couldn’t find male heirs. New Place, the large, fine house
editorialising or navel-gazing. a better course in the materials and skills that Shakespeare bought in 1597 (when he was
a playwright would need. only 33), was an impressive family home.
René Weis: We know rather more about Sonnet 145, probably his earliest surviving
Shakespeare than is commonly assumed, and Paul Edmondson: Shakespeare was formed poem, seems to refer to Anne’s surname (‘hate
there is at least one piquant anecdote about by Stratford-upon-Avon – its geography, away’ for Hathaway). He and his wife probably
his private life from the period. This is customs, religious beliefs, economy and enjoyed making poetry as well as love together.
recorded by the lawyer and diarist John people. The classical, humanist education
Manningham, who reports that Shakespeare of the kind offered to the town’s boys by its RW: People have worried away at his marriage
and [Richard] Burbage vied for the favours of grammar school is writ large in his work. Every because Anne was almost certainly older than
the same woman when Burbage was playing time he alludes to the work of the Roman poet Shakespeare, allegedly a siren vamp trapping
Ovid, for example, or shapes a powerful speech the 18-year-old Will and becoming pregnant.
with rhetorical devices, he is to some extent They obtained a special wedding licence to
recalling his school days and the culture that ensure that their first child, Susanna, would
“The Sonnets formed him. Though Warwickshire words
appear in his works (for example, ‘batlet’ for
be legitimate. Then there is the business of
the ‘second-best bed’ of Shakespeare’s will,
may suggest that a laundry-paddle, and ‘chimney-sweepers’ for
the seeded heads of dandelions), he is primarily
apparently the poet’s final repudiation of
his wife. And the Sonnets – assuming they
the poet was a showman, writing about kings and nobles; he
set more than half of his plays overseas.
contain at least a trace of real life – may
suggest that the poet was romantically, and
attracted to a How happy was his marriage to
adulterously, attracted to both a glamorous
young man and another woman in London.
young man Anne Hathaway?
PE: We know next to nothing about the LM: They were hardly a power couple, and it
and another Shakespeares’ marriage except that they had
to marry in a hurry in November 1582 (he was
seems they may not have been a happy couple.
Though Shakespeare returned to Stratford
woman only 18; she was 26 or 27 and already
pregnant.) They had three children: Susanna
annually, and retired there, there’s evidence
that he kept his wife short of money during

in London” (1583–1649), then twins Hamnet (1585–96)

and Judith (1585–1662). The death of their
his absences in London. I am very persuaded
by Shakespeare expert Katherine Duncan-
René Weis only son aged 11 would have been very keenly Jones’s interpretation of events following the
felt: Elizabethans always longed for strong death of the Shakespeares’ son, Hamnet, in

42 BBC History Magazine

was fascinated
by identity,
the power of
to transform
selves and
Laurie Maguire

playwright he was able to exert artistic control

over the development of his dramatic talent as
could no other theatrical writer of his time.

PE: Shakespeare probably started acting when

he was very young because he realised he was
good at it. He was just five when Stratford-
upon-Avon first welcomed professional
actors to perform there, visits authorised
by his father, who was then bailiff. To act is to
LEFT: The title page of Shakespeare’s poem Venus and Adonis, published
in 1593 while London’s playhouses were closed due to a plague outbreak.
imagine, and Shakespeare’s young imagination
ABOVE: This drawing, made in 1708 and probably traced from a 16th-cen- seems also to have seized the opportunities for
tury original, is the only surviving image that may depict Anne Hathaway freedom that creative writing provides. When
he started working in London, he probably
1596. Most couples would have attempted to a freelancer, and finding his feet – perhaps began by frequenting the fashionable
conceive another heir; Duncan-Jones thinks helping out at the Stratford grammar school, playhouses, and started to act and write
that they did not do so because conjugal assisting with his father’s wool-dealing, and professionally with friends he made there.
relations had long ceased. starting to visit London.
LM: Does one ‘choose’ such things?
What do you think Shakespeare was How and why did Shakespeare choose Shakespeare was fascinated by identity,
doing during his so-called ‘lost years’ of to become an actor and writer? the power of imagination to transform
1578–82 and 1585–92? MD: We don’t know – again, because he wrote selves and worlds. Drama is a natural home
RW: There is no colourable evidence to place plays rather than memoirs. We do know, for such explorations.
Shakespeare anywhere other than in Stratford- though, how he became famous. At a key early
upon-Avon before 1592, when he was accused stage in his career as an actor and scriptwriter, What do we know of Shakespeare’s
of plagiarism by a jealous rival in London. the London playhouses were closed during an process when writing his plays?
The antiquary John Aubrey reported that outbreak of plague. With financial support RW: The plays may hold universal appeal
Shakespeare “in his younger years” had been from the Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare but they were conceived and written for
“a schoolmaster in the country”, while at the published a narrative poem, Venus and Adonis money over a period of around 20 years,
same time noting that acting and poetry were (1593). It isn’t his best-known work today, but from c1590 to 1613. In contemporary texts
in Shakespeare’s blood and that he probably it was easily his most popular printed work in based on Shakespeare’s manuscripts, the
fetched up in London as a jobbing actor at the his own time. name of the actor playing a particular role is
age of 18. None of this is as plausible as him An elegant, compassionate but very funny sometimes given instead of the part, showing
staying put as a glover in the family business piece of literary soft pornography – mostly quite how familiar Shakespeare was with the
until he had to leave Warwickshire. consisting of the goddess Venus’s successive rest of his company. He also used sources
panting, voluptuous but futile rhetorical extensively. Whole passages of Henry V and
PE: I don’t believe in the ‘lost years’; the phrase attempts to persuade the sulky youth Adonis to Antony and Cleopatraa were demonstrably
is nothing more than a biographical construct. have sex with her – it made Shakespeare’s name written with Holinshed and Plutarch open
Typical lives in Shakespeare’s time contain overnight. He quickly followed it up with the on his desk. Increasingly, scholars believe that
many gaps. From around 1578, Shakespeare tragic poem The Rape of Lucrecee (1594), and Shakespeare wrote most of his post-1597 plays
may have started his apprenticeship, as most when the theatres reopened he was no longer at New Place in Stratford.
boys of his age and class did. He should have just one more freelance hack but an established
taken up his trade when he came of age in author. As a result, he was able to become MD: We have no eyewitness reports of his
1585, but his prospects changed with his a shareholder in the pre-eminent theatre methods, other than the tribute to his fluency
much-too-early marriage. For the next 10 company of the time, the Lord Chamberlain’s made by his fellow-actors Heminge and
years he was making his way in the world as Men. As a manager as well as an actor and a Condell in their preface to the First Folio. It’s

BBC History Magazine 43

Shakespeare’s life

worth pointing out, though, that unlike many Why do you think Shakespeare’s plays
other playwrights of the time, who usually are still so admired today?
worked in collaboration, Shakespeare did both LM: The plays are untypical of the time in
the breaking down of his stories into scenes their depiction of psychological aspects.
and the writing of the dialogue. His plays vary Middleton and Jonson dramatised types
in terms of the pre-planning involved: some, and caricatures but Shakespeare always tried
like Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About to see beyond the stereotype. This is the heart
Nothing, follow a minutely worked-out of Shylock’s anguished speech in which he
timetable of events, whereas for others – such
as Hamlet and As You Like It – Shakespeare “There is no asks to be seen as a human, not merely
pigeonholed as a Jew: “If you prick us, do we
seems to have had a well-known story open in
front of him and improvised his own theatrical reason to believe not bleed?” Shakespeare’s plays show people
– people falling in love, having children,
variation on it as he went along.
that early in trying to make a go of a situation. These are
transhistorical and transcultural concerns –
Many people assert that Shakespeare
didn’t write the plays attributed to him. Shakespeare’s the human heart doesn’t change.

Is there any substance to this claim?

MD: There isn’t a serious dispute about career he was RW: Shakespeare’s plays live and breathe
theatre and dramatic timing. They burst at
whether Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare’s
plays, any more than there is a serious dispute having his the seams with rhetorical energy. Some of the
magnetism of Shakespeare derives from his
about whether Nasa really managed to land
astronauts on the moon. Since the mid-19th portrait extraordinary language. Part of this is due to
the pervasive influence of the English Bible
century there have been various evidence-free
conspiracy theories – some attributing the drawn with and the way the greatest moral and spiritual
questions were, for the first time, posed in the
plays to aristocrats who were dead before
many of the plays were even written. But vegetables” vernacular. Hamlet, for example, resonates
with biblical lines and dilemmas.
since everybody in Elizabethan and Jacobean Shakespeare’s metaphors and similes rarely
England who said anything on the subject Michael Dobson cease to jolt us by their aptness and by the
said that Shakespeare’s plays and poems novel perspectives they afford on familiar
were written by the famous and well- ABOVE: In 2015, Country Life published human experiences.
documented William Shakespeare of a claim that this illustration on the title
page of The Herball, a 16th-century book
Stratford, and since absolutely nobody Is it accurate to describe Shakespeare
on plants, depicts William Shakespeare
said they weren’t, I’m inclined to go along as England’s greatest literary figure?
with the unanimous testimony of the MD: Yes – though I think it would be
contemporary eyewitnesses. dramatists. He claimed that the “sweet swan of parochial to do so, and above all else
Avon”, the “star of poets”, was “not of an age Shakespeare’s writings aren’t parochial.
LM: Such claims fail to understand how the but for all time”. He belongs to the world.
creative imagination actually works. Some
argue that someone who wasn’t a lawyer could What do you think was the most likely LM: It is tricky to speak of art in absolutes,
not write about the law (therefore Shakespeare cause of Shakespeare’s death? but it is true to say that Shakespeare’s plays
was Bacon), that someone who wasn’t an RW: Typhoid. In 1662 the Reverend John have been performed in a great many
aristocrat could not write about the court Ward reported that Shakespeare had died of countries in most centuries – that sounds like
(therefore Shakespeare was the Earl of Oxford). a ‘fever’ contracted while carousing with greatness to me! The enthusiastic reception of
Shakespeare wrote sensitively about women Drayton and Jonson. Ward must have known Shakespeare’s Globe’s production of Hamlet
– does that mean he was really a female? Shakespeare’s younger daughter Judith, who (which visited every country in the world
lived near him and died in 1662; he alludes to 2014–16) illustrates this point perfectly.
How famous was Shakespeare in her in his diary. So his reference to ‘fever’ may
his own lifetime? not only reflect local lore but may derive from PE: That would be to insult many other great
LM: He was famous for his non-dramatic Judith Shakespeare-Quiney herself. We know English writers. Shakespeare is one of the
poems. His theatre company, the King’s Men, from Shakespeare’s son-in-law John Hall that greatest who happens to have become an
was famous for its plays, and so was he – but typhoid, known then as the ‘new fever’ or the international currency through the endless
probably not more than other major writers ‘spotted fever’, was particularly virulent in translatability of his writing. He is also one of
who also wrote for the King’s Men, such as Warwickshire in 1615–16. the handful of humans whose names have
Middleton, Jonson or, later, Fletcher. become a sort of shorthand for the
Does the picture ‘discovered’ last year phenomenon of genius itself.
RW: By 1597, roughly the period of the Henry and announced in Country Life really
IV plays, he was wealthy enough to buy one of depict Shakespeare? DISCOVER MORE
the largest private manor houses within the MD: I am serenely confident that it does not. TV, RADIO AND ONLINE
jurisdiction of Stratford. Ben Jonson did not There is no sensible reason for believing that, 왘 The BBC’s Shakespeare Festival,
praise easily but, in his paean to Shakespeare in early in Shakespeare’s career, he was having his which launches on 23 April, is a
the First Folio, he elevated his friend to the portrait drawn with vegetables to ornament month-long celebration featuring

status of mythic genius, ranking him above his the title page of a gardening manual. It’s just plays, musical performances,
English peers and next to the great classical some ingenious wishful thinking. documentaries and online material

44 BBC History Magazine


The Making of Shakespeare’s

First Folio
The extraordinary story of the
creation of the First Folio – the
birth of Shakespeare’s legend.
9781851244423 HB £20

Mapping Shakespeare’s World

Fascinating and fully illustrated
exploration of Shakespeare’s
play settings.
9781851242573 PB/flaps £25

A Shakespearean Botanical
Shakespeare for plant lovers!
Beautiful gift book illustrated
with 17th-century hand-
coloured botanical engravings.
9781851244379 HB £12.99

Portraits of Shakespeare
New research and examination
of Shakespeare’s mysterious
likenesses and their afterlife.
9781851244058 PB/flaps £14.99

Searching for an adventure to an unspoiled destination?

From the depths of the South Atlantic Ocean to the Shakespeare’s Dead

top of Diana’s Peak, St Helena Island presents a Chronicles the ingenious

ways of dying in Shakespeare.
journey of discovery. Watch our website for details of Accompanies the exhibition at
adventure of active exploration. 9781851242474 PB/flaps £19.99

publishing@bodleian.ox.ac.uk bodleianshop.co.uk
Shakespeare’s plays

Lord Ronald Gower’s statues of Shakespeare

and the future Henry V, who is trying on a crown.
Shakespeare’s Henry V play is ostensibly a celebra-
tion of the exploits of a young and virile king. But
was it also a coded attack on England’s elderly and
infirm reigning queen?

46 BBC History Magazine

Shakespeare’s history plays were influenced every
bit as much by contemporary events as episodes
from the past. Jerry Brotton reveals how eight of
Shakespeare’s works reflected political crises of the
day – much to the ire of Queen Elizabeth’s censors
Complements the BBC’s Shakespeare Festival on TV, radio and online


England bleeds again

The military reversals dramatised in
Henry VI, Part 1 would have been all
too familiar to Shakespeare’s audience
In the early 1590s an exciting young playwright called
William Shakespeare burst onto the Elizabethan theatre
scene with three popular plays about the Lancastrian king
Henry VI (1421–71) and the civil discord that eventually
culminated in the accession of the Yorkist Richard III in
1483. The cycle catalogues the young king’s weakness
and how, as Shakespeare wrote later in Henry V, “so
many had the managing” of his state that “they lost
France and made his England bleed”.
The action in Henry VI, Part 1 is driven by the wars in
France and the contrast between the heroic Lord John
Talbot (c1387–1453) and the French warrior Jeanne la
Pucelle, known in Britain as Joan of Arc (1412–31). They
fight over various French cities, including Rouen, which
changed hands in 1418–19.
In the play, the English soldiers “sit before the walls of
Rouen”. That historical siege displayed direct parallels
with events that were taking place as Shakespeare wrote
his play. In 1589 Elizabeth sent an army to France to
oppose the Catholic League and support the Huguenot
king Henry IV. During the winter of 1591–92 the English
forces besieged Rouen, but political confusion, military
mismanagement and disease led to the abandonment of
the siege, with huge loss of English life and disillusion-

ment with the whole campaign. No wonder the three parts

of Henry VI were so successful: they were effectively
military and political reportage of current events, as well
as broader reflections on pre-Tudor English history.

BBC History Magazine 47

Shakespeare’s plays
Fiona Shaw plays
Richard II in a 1995
production. The
play ponders the
justifications for
deposing a monarch,
a topic too conten-
tious for Queen
Elizabeth’s censors


Scripting sedition
Was Shakespeare’s Richard II
a thinly veiled swipe at the

ageing Queen Elizabeth?
In 1595 Shakespeare began work on
a second tetralogy of English history plays
covering a period even earlier than his
previous series. His new cycle began with
Richard II (1367–1400), and ended in 1420, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
five years after Henry V’s triumph at the
battle of Agincourt. Jews in the firing line
Today Richard II is often performed as
the tragedy of the downfall of a querulous The Merchant of Venice mirrors the dark fate
poet-king who belatedly discovers his of Elizabeth’s personal physician
humanity after his deposition at the hands of
Henry Bolingbroke, the future King Henry IV. Written around 1596, The Merchant of exclusively through Jewish intermediar-
But in the mid-1590s it engaged in a politically Venice remains one of Shakespeare’s ies. Perhaps the greatest inflfluence on
dangerous debate on the rights and wrongs most controversial plays. Modern the play was the public execcution in
of overthrowing a legitimate monarch. As audiences understand it as being about 1594 of Elizabeth I’s personal physician,
Bolingbroke prepares to depose Richard, Shylock, a Jewish moneylender living in Dr Roderigo Lopez, a Portug guese-born
the bishop of Carlisle asks: “What subject Venice, though its title actually refers to Jewish convert to Protestan ntism,
can give sentence on his king?” his Christian adversary, the Venetian convicted of treason for allegedly trying
When the play was first printed in 1597 merchant Antonio. It is called a comedy to poison the queen. Before e he was
the climactic deposition scene was missing, but revels in attacking Jews, with executed, it was reported thhat he said
suggesting that Elizabeth’s censors deemed it Shylock pursuing the murderous “he loved the queen as well as he loved
too provocative. Inviting parallels between the settlement of a bond that enables Jesus Christ; which coming from a man
weak Richard and the elderly Elizabeth in the him to take a “pound of flesh” from of the Jewish profession mo oved no
1590s was certainly dangerous. Others, such Antonio’s body. small laughter in the standers-by”.
as the historian John Hayward, were arrested Shakespeare’s interest in Shylock The cruel but uneasy laugghter that
for comparing Elizabeth’s former favourite might seem odd, considering that Jews accompanied Lopez’s death h permeates
Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, to Henry had been officially expelled from Shakespeare’s play. Shylock calls his
IV. On the eve of Essex’s rebellion against the England in 1290 and were only bond with Antonio “a merry sport”, and
queen, his supporters paid Shakespeare’s readmitted under Cromwell in 1656. though his famous speech “Hath
“ not
company to perform a play about Richard II at Yet a small number of Jews did live in a Jew eyes?” inspires sympathy, its
the Globe Theatre, to show the righteousness Elizabethan London, inspiring several conclusion is somewhat darrker:
of deposing a monarch like Richard – for plays that influenced Shakespeare, “If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should
example, Elizabeth. Though the performance including Christopher Marlowe’s his sufferance be by Christiaan exam-
did not have the desired effect of inciting The Jew of Malta (1589–90). ple? Why, revenge. The villainy you
rebellion, a subsequent anecdote claimed that But Shakespeare probably knew teach me, I will execute.” Per ps the
Elizabeth knew exactly how her enemies saw more about Jews from England’s trade Christians are more of a problem
her, saying: “I am Richard II, know ye not that?” with Morocco, conducted almost than the Jews.

Henry Urwick plays Shylock in The Merchant of

48 Venice, a play that “revels in attackin
ng Jews”
By comparing the Earl
of Essex, shown in a 1599
portrait, to Henry V,
Fear of the Moors
Shakespeare was Was Othello modelled on
playing a risky game
a Moroccan ambassador
to the English court?
Subtitled ‘The Moor of Venice’, Othello is one
of Shakespeare’s greatest high tragedies,
written either just before or after Queen
Elizabeth’s death and King James VI and I’s
accession in 1603. The play contained highly
topical resonances for its English audience.
‘Moors’ came from Mauretania (as Iago says),
in what’s now Morocco, and inspired both
racial and religious anxieties for Elizabethans.
The region was predominantly Muslim,
under the control of the Sa’adian dynasty.

The disgrace of Essex Elizabeth allied herself with Morocco,

establishing the Barbary Company to trade
English munitions for sugar (which wreaked
Henry V was written at a time when another, less such havoc on her teeth). In the summer of
accomplished military leader floundered in Ireland 1600 the Moroccan ambassador Muhammad
al-Annuri and his retinue arrived in London
Shakespeare’s second tetralogy September 1599, he was executed and stayed for six months, negotiating
ended with Henry V – and also nearly after a botched uprising in 1601. treaties with Elizabeth. Al-Annuri, rumoured to
got him into hot water, again involving In Henry V’s penultimate Chorus be a Morisco (a Spanish-born Muslim forced
the troublesome Earl of Essex. The speech, probably written as London to convert to Christianity, but who in this case
play dramatises the reign of Henry V awaited news of Essex’s Irish then reverted) even had his portrait painted.
(1386–1422), depicting his victories at campaign, Shakespeare made his Was al-Annuri the model for Othello?
the siege of Harfleur and battle of only reference to contemporary Shakespeare’s Othello describes himself in
Agincourt in 1415, and his famous political events, comparing Henry V to ambiguous terms, speaking “Of being taken
rallying cry of “God for Harry, Essex, “the general of our gracious by the insolent foe”, which we assume to be
England, and Saint George!” But at empress”, “from Ireland coming”, and the Ottomans, and then of being “sold to
the time it was written, in late 1599, bringing “rebellion broached on his slavery”; his “redemption thence” suggests
the aged Queen Elizabeth was under sword”. Was this an endorsement of his conversion to Christianity. But by the
pressure to name a successor, and Essex and a criticism of Elizabeth? We end of the play, after killing Desdemona,
struggling with rebellion in Ireland. In may never know because the rebellion he compares himself to “a malignant and
spring 1599 she sent the Earl of Essex failed. But writing a play about a virile a turbaned Turk”. His identity is clearly far
to defeat the Irish
Irish. The campaign was youn monarch when Essex was
young more complex than that of being simply

a disaster, and the disgraced Essex challlenging the authority of an elderly ‘black’, and suggests how conflicted the
returned to London. Arrested in queen was certainly a risky move. Elizabethans felt about the Muslim world.


A war on Catholics
Maacbeth reflected the paranoia of London
in the
t aftermath of the gunpowder plot
The ‘Scottish play’ is perhaps he was probably delighted to regarded equivocation as a sign
Shaakespeare’s most topical. watch a play showing “weird” of Catholicism’s duplicity.
Jammes VI of Scotland’s witches that “trade and traffic It’s an idea that suffuses
accession to the English throne with Macbeth / In riddles and Shakespeare’s play. Macbeth
led Shakespeare to consult the affairs of death”. condemns the witches as
historian Raphael Holinshed’s But Shakespeare also spirits who “palter [equivocate]
Chrronicles (1587). He rewrote exploited London’s tense with us in a double sense”.
Holiinshed’s story of Macbeth’s atmosphere following the Immediately after Duncan’s
murrder of Scottish king Duncan unsuccessful gunpowder plot murder the porter answers the
a d the role of the witches in his
an of November 1605. One of the knocking at the castle’s gates
dowwnfall, while celebrating the executed conspirators was the by saying: “Here’s an equivoca-
importance of Banquo, from Jesuit father Henry Garnet, who tor,” someone “who committed
whoom it was believed James had written a book on equivo- treason enough for God’s sake,
wass descended. cation, directing Catholics to yet could not equivocate to
The king had written a book give misleading or ambiguous heaven.” This alludes to
aboout his belief in witchcraft, answers if arrested by the Garnet’s presumed failure to
ed Daemonologie (1597), so
calle Protestant authorities. Many argue his way into heaven.

B History Magazine 49
Shakespeare’s plays

A map shows the

English arriving in
Virginia in 1607 and
establishing their
first ever colony

Brave new world

The Tempestt may have been
inspired by English forays to
the Americas
Written in late 1610 or 1611, The Tempestt is
often regarded as Shakespeare’s farewell
to the stage, in which he announces “now
my charms are all o’erthrown”. It is a strange,
unclassifiable play about Prospero, the
deposed Duke of Milan (seen as Shake-
speare’s self-portrait) who, set adrift on a
Romans attempt boat, finds his way to an island where he uses
to make peace magic to engineer the marriage of his
with the famously daughter Miranda to Ferdinand, heir to the
authoritarian kingdom of Naples.
Coriolanus in a
The play’s ethereal atmosphere belies its
illumination acute political contexts. There is a colonial
dimension to Prospero’s relations with the
island’s compliant Ariel, who begs for
“freedom”, and with the rebellious Caliban,
whom Prospero calls “this thing of darkness
I acknowledge mine”. The colonial element
seems to have been inspired by pamphlets
written in 1610 describing an English fleet
shipwrecked in Bermuda – Ariel’s ‘still-vexed
CORIOLANUS Bermudas’ – en route to the fledgling
Jamestown colony in Virginia. This suggests
Death before starvation that the play is set in what it calls the “brave
new world” of the Americas.
Class conflict looms large in the tale In 1613 the play was performed as part of
of the Roman warrior Coriolanus royal celebrations for the eagerly anticipated
marriage of King James’s daughter Elizabeth
The central character of Shakespeare’s more significant rural rebellions to the Protestant Frederick, the Elector
last Roman play, usually dated 1608, is throughout the late Elizabethan and Palatine. The Tempestt also contains a masque
the semi-mythic Roman general Caius Jacobean period – exposed a faultline that Prospero calls a “contract of true love to
Martius, who took the name Coriolanus running throughout English society that celebrate” Miranda and Ferdinand’s nuptials.
after his siege of the Volscian city of found its expression in Coriolanus. The Though not necessarily written for the
Corioli. Coriolanus is a warrior who tries first act opens with mutinous armed marriage, the play seems to reflect the belief
and fails to forge a political career, and citizens “resolved rather to die than to that dynastic marriages could establish peace
is banished from Rome. famish”. When the patricians enter, the and security within Europe. It was a forlorn
Shakespeare took his story from the citizens protest they “ne’er cared for us hope: in under a decade, Shakespeare was
Greek historian Plutarch, but deviated yet; suffer us to famish, and their dead and the Palatinate dispute led to the
from his source to write a play obsessed storehouses crammed with grain”. horrors of the Thirty Years’ War.
with food, starvation, blood and bodies. One of the senators tries to calm the
The reasons for this were closer to home citizens with the famous ‘belly fable’, Jerry Brotton is the author of This Orient Isle:
than ancient Rome. In spring 1607, with arguing that all parts of the body need Elizabethan England and the Islamic World,
rocketing corn prices, the fear of famine to work together. When Coriolanus which is published by Allen Lane in March

and the escalating enclosure of common enters he condemns the rebels as

land, more than 5,000 protestors rioted “fragments” of uneaten food. DISCOVER MORE
across the Midlands, including Shake- Such class conflict would only
speare’s home county, Warwickshire. intensify throughout the Jacobean TELEVISION
King James brutally crushed the and Caroline period, and came to 왘 The Hollow Crown, an adaptation
rebellion, hanging its ringleaders, but define the battles between royalists of Henry VI, Parts 1–3 and Richard III,
the Midlands Rising – just one of the and republicans in the 1640s. will be broadcast on BBC Two soon as
part of the BBC’s Shakespeare Festival

50 BBC History Magazine

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Romans / Their path to power

How did an insignificant little settlement by
the river Tiber grow into a mighty empire
encompassing the Mediterranean
world and much of western
Europe? Mary Beard reveals
the secret that lay behind
the Roman empire’s
extraordinary expansion
Accompanies the forthcoming BBC Two series
Mary Beard’s Ultimate Rome Empire Without Limit

A second-century AD relief shows

defeated enemies of the Roman empire
submitting to its soldiers – but in time
these men might well have had the chance
of becoming citizens themselves

32 BBC History Magazine 33


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Houses collapsed, sheep ran wild,

w Westminster Abbey
shook and the people tremble ed in fear of armageddon.
Andrew Robinson describes what happened when
a series of earthquakes rocked London in 1750

ust after 12.30pm on 8 February rattled and crockery clattered on its shelves. A third quake, with its epicentre at nearby
1750, Britain’s lord chancellor was In Leadenhall Street, part of a chimney fell. In Colchester, rattled the Houses of Parliament in
sitting in Westminster Hall with Southwark, south of the Thames, a slaughter- 1884. Puzzled MPs were halted in their tracks,
the Courts of King’s Bench and house with a hay-loft collapsed. jolted against walls or felt papers and briefcases
Chancery when the room began Little did they know it, but Londoners were jerked from their hands. They suspected a Guy
to shake. For a moment everyone being shaken and stirred by the first of several Fawkes-style explosion, perhaps set off by the
thought the great edifice was going earthquakes that would strike England that notorious Dynamiters then being prosecuted
to collapse on their heads. year. Although small – with an estimated for their Irish nationalist activities.
In Lincoln’s Inn Fields, meanwhile, magnitude of just 2.6, according to today’s But it was 1750, the so-called ‘Year of
Newcastle House trembled so much that the British Geological Survey – the epicentre of the Earthquakes’ that triggered a country-wide
Duke of Newcastle sent out his servant to 8 February quake was shallow and centred obsession with seismic events and kick-started
enquire what had happened from a neighbour, beneath the capital, apparently around London the scientific study of the subject. So, strange as
the physicist Gowin Knight. The servant found Bridge. So the city received a considerable jolt. it is to report, seismology began not in seismic
Knight busy investigating the signs of This wasn’t the first, nor the last, year in California or Japan but in stable Britain.
disturbance in his own residence, including which the earth would move under London. At first, an earthquake was not accepted as
a bed that had moved. In 1580, an earthquake beneath the English an explanation for the 8 February tremor – so
In Gray’s Inn, a lamp-lighter very nearly fell Channel collapsed part of the white cliffs at improbable did it appear to be. London’s 1692
from his ladder. At Leicester House, home of Dover, killed two children in London, rang shock was too distant to be remembered.

the Prince of Wales, the foundations were the great bell in the Palace of Westminster Instead, there were theories about cannon-fire
believed to be sinking. Throughout the City and was referred to in William Shakespeare’s and exploding powder magazines. Then it was
and Westminster, people felt their desks lurch, Romeo and Juliet. In 1692, another thronged said that Isaac Newton, before his death in
chairs shook, doors slammed, windows the streets of London with confused crowds. 1727, had predicted the jolt by calculating that

54 BBC History Magazine

Jupiter would approach close to Earth in 1750. bed. Reporting to the society that very day, he
Within two or three weeks, Londoners began “T
This frantic terror noted that the vibratio on and noise could not
to forget the strange experience.
Almost exactlyy four weeks after the first
prevails so much,”
pr have been that of a passsing cart or coach – to
which manyy comparedp it – because everything
y g
shock, at 5:30am on 8 March, came the second.
It was more pronounced, and covered five
reported Horace was quiet at such an early hour. He remarked
that the shock had been felt on the outskirts of
times the area – a circle with a diameter of Walpole, “that London: “I sent a servant out about 7 o’clock,
40 miles ,with its centre roughly three miles and he met a countryman, who was bringi
north of London Bridge. Two houses in women sit outdoors load of hay from beyond Highgate, and wh ho
Whitechapel collapsed, and several chimneys was on the other side of the town when the
fell in various parts of London, as did stones all night wearing shock happened; he did not, he said, feel it, as
from the new towers of Westminster Abbey. t at the pe le
saw in the town of Highgate ere all grea y
Violent vib
bratio surprised, saying they had had th heir house
Horace Walpoll , man of letters and politic very much shocked, and that the chairs in
was in bed in ceentral London. Three , me were thrown about in thei rooms.”
he reported to friend: “On a s l Holland House, in west ondon, th he
bolster lift up head; I tho Londoners flee the city during ry Fox, while coun ing his s ep,
the earthquake panic
was getting fro under m of April 1750
, solid ground move m like a
found it was a strong ea k q g sand, causing much alar
near half a min te, wi a e ls d some c ws nestin in
great roaring. I rang m a t . H s y of Britissh
came in, fright ned t f es , s vison no otes that “c ts
an instant we ard sta s d, she p ran abou ut, a
in the neighbou ur g . , th water bei
up and found peo t a , sev ral ponds
streets, but saw no f e u e waater and w re
there has been ssom w s r all d
flung down, sevver a currred on
much china-wa e.” arc a n ca e a powerfful
The presidentt of t it m a h k, exactly a
antiquarian Maartin l e one, woulld

BBC History Mag


Quakes that shaped history

Lisbon, 1755
A seismic event that dealt Portugal’s empire a grievous blow
The sudden destruction of Lisbon by an the eruption of Vesuvius. In Portugal, the
earthquake and tsunami in 1755 exerted an devastation accelerated the long-term decline of
influence on 18th-century Europe as far-reaching the country in Europe and the colonial world,
as the obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by which had been caused by its over-reliance on
atomic bombs in the 20th century. This is gold revenues from its colony Brazil and what
epitomised by Voltaire’s 1759 novel, Candide, many saw as the pernicious influence of Jesuit
satirising religious explanations of the disaster orthodoxy. Although Lisbon was gradually, and
and the philosophy of optimism. impressively, rebuilt under the near-dictatorship
By the 19th century, images of a shaking Lisbon of the marquess of Pombal, the country
were icons of natural disaster comparable with continued to weaken economically, especially
the smothering of Pompeii and Herculaneum by after Brazil gained its independence in 1822.

A crowd congregates around

a damaged building in the
Mission area of San Francisco
in 1906. The Californian city
recovered from the earthquake
remarkably quickly

João Glama’s allegorical

painting of the Lisbon earth-
quake, in which 30,000–40,000
people died in the city alone

swallow up London. The rumour was started the fields, or lay in boats all night; many people the activities of religious preachers during
by an army trooper who would eventually be of fashion in the neighbouring villages sat in March. Charles Wesley, a founder of the
despatched to Bedlam, London’s lunatic their coaches till daybreak; others went to a growing Methodist movement, bluntly
asylum. By 4 April, doomsday had somehow greater distance, so that the roads were never sermonised: “God is himself the Author, and
advanced to the very next day, and panic took more thronged, and lodgings were hardly to be sin is the moral cause.”
hold. “This frantic terror prevails so much, that procured at Windsor; so far, and even to their A leading clergyman, William Whiston,
within these three days 730 coaches have been wits’ end, had their superstitious fears, or their successor to Newton as Lucasian professor of
counted passing Hyde Park corner, with whole guilty conscience, driven them.” mathematics at Cambridge University,
parties removing into the country,” reported a Part of the blame must undoubtedly fall on expressed his belief that the end of the world
sceptical Walpole. “Several women have made was close at hand, as predicted by 99 signals.
earthquake gowns; that is, warm gowns to sit No 92 was that there would occur a terrible
out of doors all tonight.” – but, to good men, a joyful – earthquake,
“In several ponds which would destroy one tenth of an eminent
Superstitious fears city. Given his standing in London society,
That Walpole was not exaggerating is fish leaped out of Whiston’s ideas were seriously discussed.
confirmed by the ‘Historical Chronicle’ of
April published in the monthly Gentleman’s
the water and were But it was the warnings of the bishop of
London, Thomas Sherlock, that attracted the
Magazine. For 4 April, this reads: “Incredible
numbers of people, being under strong
seen to dart away in most attention. Sherlock’s A Letter to the Clergy
and Inhabitants of London and Westminster…

apprehensions that London and Westminster all directions,” noted on Occasion of the Late Earthquakes apparently
would be visited with another and more fatal sold 10,000 copies in two days, was reprinted
earthquake… left their houses, and walked in Charles Davison several times, and is said to have sold more

56 BBC History Magazine

Caracas, 1812
Did Venezuela’s agony lead to a political revolution?
An earthquake in Venezuela in 1812 republic’s collapse four months later
destroyed much of the country’s under attack by Spanish forces.
buildings including those of its Captured by the Spanish, Bolívar was
capital, Caracas. The damage sent into exile, and settled in
happened to be worst in the areas Cartagena. There he unexpectedly
controlled by Simón Bolívar’s became the leader of a much wider
recently proclaimed First Republic of independence movement than the
Venezuela and relatively light in areas one he had led in Venezuela.
sympathetic to the colonial ruler, So, indirectly, the 1812 Caracas
Spain – a fact immediately exploited earthquake may have led to the birth
by the local Catholic authorities, who of new South American nations –
supported Spain. through Bolívar’s liberation of Bolivia,
By Bolívar’s own admission, the Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and
earthquake directly precipitated the Peru from Spanish rule in the 1820s.

The Caracas earthquake – shown

in a 20th-century painting by Tito
San Francisco, 1906 Salas – led to the birth of a new
South America
An economic powerhouse rose from
the rubble of this natural disaster
The fire that destroyed three-quarters of San Francisco
over three days in 1906 was started by an earthquake
that disabled the water supply of the city, including its
fire hydrants. San Francisco recovered remarkably
quickly, largely because the city authorities, local
businesses and even the insurance industry treated the
disaster as incendiary rather than seismic, so that
residents were permitted to claim on their fire insurance
and investors were not discouraged from financing
reconstruction through fear of future earthquakes.
And no attempt was made to introduce anti-seismic
emergency and building regulations.
Within a decade, San Francisco was rebuilt and its
economy was expanding. In the 1950s, it spawned the
nearby industrial area, today known as Silicon Valley,
also located on the San Andreas fault. The 1906 San
Francisco earthquake became history’s leading example
of how a great earthquake can trigger the ‘creative
destruction’ of a city.

than 100,000 copies in less than six months. appendix to its Philosophical Transactions. Despite being a clergyman, Michell boldly left
Sherlock urged his readers to repent, and to One of the society’s fellows was John the divine out of his analysis: the first thinker
ignore “little philosophers, who see a little, and Michell, a Cambridge astronomer who had about earthquakes to do so since the ancient
but very little into natural causes… not a remarkable range of interests, including Greeks. Thus, the English ‘Year of
considering that God who made all things, geology. During the 1750s, Michell examined Earthquakes’ led to the first recognisably
never put anything out of his own power”. eyewitness reports from England in 1750 and scientific steps in understanding this
When London failed to fall, there was a from the devastating Lisbon earthquake in influential, but still embarrassingly
general air of sheepishness in society. Many 1755, and analysed them according to unpredictable, phenomenon.
people simply blanked the earthquakes from Newtonian mechanics. His important if flawed
their memory, and no attempt was made to paper, ‘Conjectures Concerning the Cause and Andrew Robinson’s most recent book,
protect London’s buildings from future shocks. Observations upon the Phaenomena of Earth-Shattering Events: Earthquakes,
Natural philosophers, however, remained Earthquakes’, published in the Philosophical

Nations and Civilization, is published

fascinated. At this time, despite Newton’s Transactionss for 1760, correctly concluded that by Thames & Hudson this month
achievements in understanding the solar earthquakes were “waves set up by shifting
system, the science of the Earth had advanced masses of rock miles below the surface” – DISCOVER MORE
no further than the musings of the ancient although his explanation for this shifting relied
Greeks such as Aristotle, who postulated a wrongly on explosions of steam, as
왘 A History of British Earthquakes
‘central fire’ inside underground caverns, underground water encountered underground by Charles Davison (CUP, 1924)
which then collapsed, generating earthquakes. fires. There were two types of earthquake wave, TALK
By the year’s end, almost 50 articles and letters he said: a “tremulous” vibration within the 왘 Andrew Robinson will be discussing the
on the subject had been read before the Royal Earth, followed by an undulation of the Earth’s 1750 earthquakes at the London Library on
Society, which were promptly published as an surface – once again coming close to the truth. 21 June. Go to londonlibrary.co.ukk for details

BBC History Magazine 57

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Edmund II – better known as

Edmund Ironside – shown in
a 14th-century manuscript.
Ironside was renowned for
valour in battle, but his death
robbed England of its chance
to expel Cnut and the Danes

One thousand years after he became king,

Sarah Foot recounts the life of a bold leader who
took the fight to the Vikings in one of the most

blood-soaked periods in English history

BBC History Magazine 59

Edmund Ironside

ew Anglo-Saxon leaders And so, while his two older siblings were Ecgberht, was already dead (he witnessed no
who went to war with the being groomed for power, Edmund was free royal documents after 1005, presumably
Vikings in the early years of to lead what it seems was a rather colourful perishing in that year) and so, when
the 11th century emerged life – one that saw him clash with his father Æthelstan succumbed to illness in June 1014,
with their reputations on a number of occasions. Edmund suddenly found himself the eldest of
enhanced. King Edmund II, We’re told that King Æthelred intervened to the king’s surviving sons.
who ruled the English for prevent Edmund from appropriating an estate But that didn’t mean Edmund was
seven tempestuous months from the church at Sherborne in Dorset, even universally accepted as Æthelred’s successor.
in 1016, was one of those who did. going as far as making the prince pay £20 for The Life of Edward the Confessorr (written
Such was Edmund’s reputed martial the privilege of having the use of the land for 50 years later) claims that when Æthelred’s


second wife,
wife Emma
Emma, was pregnant with her
his exploits more than a century after his married the widow of one of his friends, he first child, all Englishmen swore that if it were
death. Writing in the 12th century, the did so “against the king’s will”, as a near- a boy, they would accept him as king. This
Anglo-Norman poet Geoffrey Gaimar contemporary chronicler put it. had been a serious blow to Edmund and his
described Edmund as “bold as a leopard”. eldest brother. Their response was to look to
Another 12th-century chronicler Threat to security Northumbria and the five main Danish towns
lauded Edmund’s leadership skills. These family disagreements were played out of the Midlands for support in securing the
And so impressed were Edmund’s against a backdrop of the most violent and succession, allying themselves with two
immediate successors by his valour protracted warfare seen in early medieval prominent thegns, Sigeferth and Morcar.
on the battlefield that they gave him England, as Danish armies, led first by King Following Æthelstan’s death, Edmund was
the epithet by which he has been best Swein and then his son Cnut, sought to left to fight on alone – and soon found himself
remembered ever since – ‘Ironside’. conquer the realm. at loggerheads with his father’s chief adviser,
Yet, when Edmund was born in thee Not since the days of Alfred the Great Eadric Streona. When, in early 1015, Eadric
late 10th century he was an unlikely had England’s peace and security been so had Sigeferth and Morcar “basely” killed –
candidate to earn himself an threatened. But unlike Alfred, King Æthelred having enticed them into his chamber –
enduring reputation as a mighty was woefully unable to mount an effective Edmund defied his father and Eadric by
warrior-king. In resistance to the Viking attacks. In fact, the marrying Sigeferth’s widow and acquiring all
fact, he was an English were so comprehensively out-fought the former thegns’ estates in the Midlands.
unlikely candidate and outmaneuvered by the Danes that, in
to become a king 1013, they bowed to the seemingly inevitable
at all. and submitted to Swein as king. Æthelred was
That’s because forced to take shelter with the family of his
Edmund was born second wife, Emma of Normandy.
the third son of We don’t know what part, if any, the young
English king Edmund played in these military reversals.
Æthelred (‘the But we do know that his life was utterly
Unready’) and his transformed by the death of his eldest brother,
first wife, Ælfgifu. Æthelstan in 1014. Æthelred’s second son,

Edmund takes a stand

An illustration from
om a
13th-century manu-n
script depicts Ironside
clashing with his
Danish nemesis Cnut
(wielding a sword d) at
the battle of Ashingdon

60 BBC History Magazine

FAMILY TREE The West Saxon royal line
Edmund’s sons never ruled England, but grandson Edgar rebelled against William I

‘the Unready’
(reigned 978 1016)

Ælfgifu (1) = = (2) Emma

(daughter of Richard,
duke of Normandy)

Queen Emm
Æthelstan Ecgberht Edmund Eadred Eadwig Edgar Four Edward the Alfred Godgifu who married King Cnut after
the death of her first
(died 1014) (died c1005) Ironside (died 1017) daughters Confessor (ddied 1037)
(reigned (reigned
husband, Æthelred.
April–Nov 1016) 1042 66) LEFT: Edward the
Confessor, Ironside’s
half-brother, shown
= Ealdgyth in the Bayeux
(widow of Sigeferth) Tapestry

Edmund Edward the Exile = Agatha

(died 1057) (niece of Henry,
German emperor)

Edgar the Christina Margaret = Malcolm III,

Ætheling king of Scots
(died c1125) (reigned 1058–93)

“So impressed were

Edmund’s successors
by his valour on
the battlefield that
they gave him the
epithet of Ironside”

BBC History Magazine 61

Edmund Ironside

Now, with the people of the north now Somerset. Cnut, who became
submitting to him, Edmund had undisputed king of England, later
clearly set himself up as a rival to visited and left gifts at his tomb.
Æthelred’s regime. Edmund Ironside’s brief reign
As Edmund and Æthelred left few records, but his family’s
continued to fall out, the Danish role in British history persisted
king Cnut invaded England with a long beyond his death. Edmund’s
large army. Eadric Streona led the stepmother, Emma, married Cnut
forces of the ailing king while and may have influenced his
Edmund gathered his own army. decision to exile Edmund’s sons to
The two English forces briefly Hungary, where the younger one
came together but when Edmund died. Edward, the eldest son, was
realised that Eadric wanted to however invited back by the
betray him, he withdrew. Eadric English in 1057 in the hope that he
then decided to switch his might succeed the childless
allegiances. Taking 40 ships from Edward the Confessor.
the king’s fleet with him, he joined Edward the Exile died that same
the Danish side. year, before having met the king,
From then onwards, the but his own son Edgar retained
Anglo-Saxon chronicler presented some political significance. As the
Edmund in a completely different only candidate for the throne in
light. Gone was the rebellious 1066 directly descended from an
younger son unchecked by a weak English king, Edgar participated
father. Edmund suddenly became in various rebellions against
a military leader of great energy England in late 1016 Ironside and Cnut agreed to divide England William the Conqueror after the
and effectiveness. He fought in two, with Cnut taking Mercia and the north, as our map shows Norman invasion, including the
several engagements in 1016 – northern uprising of 1069–70.
the first in the north Midlands,
supported by Earl Uhtred of
“Edmund and Cnut made Although Edgar never gained
power, his sister, Edmund’s
Northumbria – although without peace… they divided the granddaughter, Margaret, became
achieving victory. queen of Scotland by marrying
When Cnut occupied Yorkshire country in two, with Cnut King Malcolm III.
and had Uhtred executed, Edmund
went south to London, where his taking control of Mercia” Defence of the realm
father died on 23 April. He was soon Had Edmund lived, the course of
forced to flee the city as the English history might have been
advancing Danes prepared to besiege it, but that the Welsh dragged Edmund from the different. Refreshed and re-armed after the
not before all the city’s inhabitants and such battlefield before he could be cut down. “All battle of Ashingdon, Edmund could have led
national counsellors as were present had the nobility of England was there destroyed,” an army successfully against the Danes in the
chosen him as king. the Anglo-Saxon chronicler lamented. north, driven Cnut back to his Scandinavian
Gaimar reports that Edmund married the According to another Scandinavian poem, homeland and reunited England under West
sister of a Welsh king (presumably his first the Danes and English met in one further Saxon rule.
wife had died) and that the Welsh fought with battle at ‘Danaskógar’ (perhaps the Forest of His son and grandson could have followed
him. A German chronicler also included the Dean), after which Edmund and Cnut made him on the throne, displacing Edmund’s
Welsh among those fighting in England in peace at Alney in Gloucestershire. They half-brother Edward from the succession and
1016, and an Old Norse poem called divided the country in two, with Cnut thus preventing the political crisis of 1066
Liðsmannaflokkr (‘Song of the Men of the taking control of Mercia and the north that led to the Norman Conquest. But 1,000
Host’) mentioned Danish blows falling upon (and receiving a significant monetary years after his death, Edmund Ironside’s
Welsh armour. payment for his army) and Edmund ruling enduring legacy now rests only on the

the land south of the Thames, the historic military prowess he demonstrated in his
Sensing victory kingdom of Wessex. valiant defence of his realm.
During a series of clashes between English This arrangement was to be short-lived
and Danes across southern England and the for, by the end of November, Edmund was Sarah Foot is the regius professor of ecclesiastical
Midlands, Edmund appeared to seize the dead. Contemporary English sources shed history at Christ Church, University of Oxford.
advantage. He drove his enemies into Kent little light on how he died – though, in the Her books include Æthelstan: The First King of
and on into Essex, where he joined battle with 1070s, the chronicler Adam of Bremen England (Yale English Monarchs Series, Yale, 2011)
Cnut at a hill called Ashingdon on 18 October. claimed that he had been poisoned. Gaimar’s
With Ealdorman Eadric once more version of events is the most extraordinary. DISCOVER MORE
changing sides and backing him again, He claimed that someone had fired an arrow
Edmund may have sensed victory. But his up into Edmund while he was sat on the privy, 왘 Royal Authority in Anglo-Saxon England
luck was about to run out. Eadric’s men fled piercing his body as far as his lungs. by Gale R Owen-Crocker and Brian W
from the battlefield, all but condemning Edmund was buried beside his grandfather, Schneider (eds) (British Archaeological
Edmund’s army to defeat. Gaimar reports King Edgar, at Glastonbury Abbey in what is Reports, 2013)

62 BBC History Magazine


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Experts discuss and review the latest history releases

on our

Clare Jackson with a

17th-century bust of Charles II
in the Fitzwilliam Museum,
Cambridge. “One of the
attractive things about
Charles is that he didn’t
take himself overly
seriously. He had
irony in abundance,”
she says
Photography by
Ian Farrell


“Charles II had to appeal to public

opinion more than his predecessors did”

Clare Jackson talks to Matt Elton about her new biography of Charles II, which explores how
his early experiences shaped his reign – and why he was uniquely aware of his own image

BBC History Magazine 65

Books / Interview
Currently senior tutor of Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, Jackson
studied history at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and moved to
her current college in 2000. She was co-editor of the Historical Journal
between 2004 and 2011, and presented the documentary series The Stuarts
and The Stuarts in Exile for BBC Two in 2014 and 2015.

IN CONTEXT those 43 days both haunted and inspired his behalf, and key mistresses and courtiers,
Born in 1630, Charles II’s
early life was disrupted by the outbreak him for the rest of his life, and later became but there is a sense that this was very much
of civil war in the early 1640s. He fled into very central to Restoration public memory. someone who also kept his own counsel.
exile, while his father, Charles I, was It’s also telling that he preserved his life
executed in 1649. After a brief return to precisely because he had to disguise his Some historians argue that Charles’s
Scotland in 1650–51, Charles remained majesty. He avoided capture because people personal life distracted him from
in exile until the collapse of Richard thought that he was an ordinary subject, and being king. What’s your take on that?
Cromwell’s ‘protectorate’ led to him so the notion thereafter that Charles might Charles II was unusual in the extent to which
being invited back as king. His reign was sometimes have ‘played at’ being king is he flaunted his conquests, very publicly
marked by political instability but also by quite fitting, given his civil war experiences. dignifying most of his illegitimate offspring
the production of distinctive cultural
with aristocratic titles. But I think interest in
works. Notable events included the
plague of 1665, fire of 1666, and the Do you think that this role-playing his personal life, as much among contempo-
Dutch wars. Charles, who had many was a way of Charles dealing with the raries as by modern historians, has tended to
mistresses and illegitimate offspring, instability of his life and reign? overshadow analysis of the rest of his reign.
died in 1685 and was succeeded by his Yes, and I think that it was very effective. There are, however, political dimensions to
brother, James II and VII. One of the attractive things about writing his personal life. If one sees Charles primarily
about Charles II is that he was not someone as a pragmatist, one may ask why he didn’t
who always took himself overly seriously. follow Henry VIII’s example and divorce his
You write that Charles’s personality He had irony in abundance – and irony wife so that he could remarry and have
was shaped by instability. How far can is not something that one often encounters a legitimate heir. Their fertility problem was
we trace this to his formative years? in absolute monarchs. clearly not his: he had at least 14 illegitimate
Rather than assuming that Charles II only A courtier later claimed that Charles even children and, just as uncertainty over the
becomes of interest when he returns as king tended to talk about himself in the third succession had destabilised Elizabeth I’s
at the age of 30 in 1660, one of the major person, saying things such as “Charles Stuart reign, the fact Charles’s brother and heir was
things that I wanted to emphasise in this might do this, but the king would do that”, openly Catholic destabilised the Restoration.
biography is that the first three decades of while hinting that, in practice, he tended And yet Charles clearly felt the divine right
his life were profoundly influential in how to follow the former. He had a brilliantly of his kingship very strongly: he had waited
he would rule as king. self-aware capacity for duality, which I think years after his father’s execution to gain his
His first decade fell during Charles I’s shrinks any pretentions that biographers thrones, after all. From that angle, divorcing
‘personal rule’: his parents’ court preserved may have that they can somehow capture Catherine and having another child, or
royal majesty by creating distance and an individual’s single, ‘definitive’ self. retrospectively legitimising his eldest son,
detachment from his people. But Charles’s the Protestant Duke of Monmouth, was
childhood was cut short when his father’s Who, aside from Charles, do you see as actually depriving the rightful heir. However
authority started to disintegrate, first in the key figures in this story? potentially problematic his brother’s
Scotland and then in Ireland and England. One of the results of Charles’s experiences Catholicism was, Charles believed that he
So, from the age of nine or ten onwards, he in exile was that he was unlikely to vest total had a God-given right to succeed.
would have been aware of great political confidence in any one person. Many of his
instability and was constantly on campaign councillors described him as inscrutable, and Why was Charles so keenly aware of
with his father – if not leading armies, then if that’s how contemporaries saw him, then his public image, and how unusual is
witnessing key battles in the civil wars. he’s going to be a challenge for biographers! this in a monarch?
Charles parted from his father in 1645 So although he was very affable and Charles was unlike most of his predecessors
and never saw him again. He fled to France, gregarious, it’s quite hard to identify people because the civil wars had seen a massive
chased by parliamentarian enemies, and in whom he placed complete trust. There expansion of popular engagement in politics
spent several years in exile. After his father’s were key figures at different points in his – hence a new PR of kingship was needed.
execution, he returned to Scotland in 1650, reign who managed political business on Although we don’t think of him as a king who
but this ended in military disaster when he produced lots of written works, more of his
invaded England and suffered a huge proclamations and parliamentary speeches
military defeat at the battle of Worcester in
1651. It was a rout of the royalists, and
“Those 43 days on were printed than of any previous monarch.
In other ways too, Charles’s use of PR was
Charles then spent 43 days on the run.
He was only 21 years old and forced to
the run gave Charles effective. When we think of him as a tactile
monarch, we think in terms of his sex life
rely on his subjects’ courage. It gave him a
unique insight into how ordinary people
a unique insight and mistresses, but he was also ‘in touch’
with many ordinary subjects. Indeed,
lived in a way that no other monarch really into how ordinary through the ‘royal touch’ – thought to be a
had. Eventually he managed to get to cure for scrofula, or ‘the king’s evil’ – Charles
Shoreham and then over to France, but people lived” physically touched more of his subjects than

66 BBC History Magazine

Charles II travels to Westminster on 22 April 1661, the eve of his coronation, in this contemporary illustration. “Charles clearly felt
the divine right of his kingship very strongly: he had waited years to gain his father’s thrones, after all,” argues Clare Jackson

any monarch before: estimated to have been

around 100,000 people during his reign.
This was also remarked upon at the time and
hugely boosted contemporaries’ morale.
“The legacy of
So this was someone who understood the
powerful message that divine kingship could
The flipside of the quick succession of
plague in 1665, fire in 1666 and a humiliat-
instability inherited
hold. It’s telling that the peaks in ‘royal touch’
ceremonies coincided with the times of
ing naval defeat in 1667 – when the Dutch
fleet sailed up the river Medway and
by Charles would
greatest pressure and instability in his reign. captured the Royal Navy’s flagship – was
that contemporaries could also see this
have challenged
Charles is also notable for reigning
over a period of remarkable culture.
catalogue of catastrophes as a dreadful
providential verdict. The fact that the fire
any monarch”
How key was he in its development? happened in 1666, and the number ‘666’
The extraordinarily rich culture of the denoted the ‘sign of the beast’ in the Book of stand him, you can’t begin in 1660: you also
Restoration is one reason many of us think Revelation, generated a brooding sense that need to explore his years growing up and the
we know something about Charles – perhaps all was not well at the heart of Charles’s court. years that he spent in exile.
better than we really do. Much of this is due I’d also like to stress the sheer radicalism
to Samuel Pepys: a wonderfully accessible, Are there any lessons from this period of what happened during the 1640s and
irresistibly interesting diarist, who chronicled that we can apply to the world today? 1650s and its importance in shaping the
in detail the first decade of Charles’s reign. I’m always quite sceptical about searching volatile nature of Charles’s inheritance
It’s also the case that Charles was centrally for ‘modernity’ in early modern history, but as king. As Joseph Glanvill, the rector of
involved in many aspects of culture, such as there are resonances. The excitement earlier Bath Abbey, said, a “people that rebelled
theatre and architecture. Unlike any of his this year about the identification of gravita- once, and successfully, will be ready to do so
royal predecessors, Charles had spent over tional waves may well echo the anticipation often”, just “as water that has been boiled,
a decade in exile, visiting various European that surrounded experiments carried out by will boil again the sooner”. That legacy of
palaces and courts, and he therefore took a the new Royal Society in the 1660s. And all instability and unpredictability would have
lot of interest in architectural projects, both of the coffee shops springing up in Restora- been challenging for any monarch, and may
before and after the 1666 London fire. tion London would seem very familiar, too! explain why popular attention is often
I also think that recurrent fears about deflected to focus on Restoration theatre or
This is, of course, the period of that a ‘Popish plot’ in this period very much echo to Charles’s mistresses. I think that it’s very
fire, and of plague and war. How did current anxieties about the capacity for important that we don’t lose
Charles’s response to these events religious radicalism to translate into sight of the air of pervasive
shape how people saw him? political extremism. instability and trauma that
That point about the PR of kingship is he inherited.

important: this is a king that many children What misconceptions about Charles
first encounter in tales of the ‘Great Fire of would you like this book to correct? Charles II: The Star King
London’, with images of Charles and his I’d like to reconnect the first three decades by Clare Jackson (Allen Lane,
brother physically manning water pumps. of Charles’s life with his reign. To under- 144 pages, £12.99)

BBC History Magazine 67


New history titles, rated by experts in their field

It was this realisation that set the
young Raghavan off on the journey
that was to end with this excellent
book. The problem, he recognised,
was a pervasive popular culture in
India that considers its history to have
begun in 1947, and that anything that
happened before was irrevocably
tainted by association with the Raj.
Raghavan’s achievement is, quite
simply, superb, and I have waited a long
time to read a book as good as this.
His intention was to understand the
military history of India during the
Second World War in its widest context:
strategic, political and economic. Few
have done this successfully before, and
Raghavan’s work is therefore particu-
larly notable for doing so in a finely
balanced and objective way.
It is clear on every page of this
beautifully written analysis that
the history of wartime India was not
black and white, but instead reflected
a vast and colourful kaleidoscope of
views, opinions and attitudes that were
themselves the product of a complex
country of 300 million people sharing
MAGAZINE little more than a common history
CHOICE of imperialism. For example – bearing
out the results of my own research
– Raghavan shows that most Indian
Soldiers during the battles of Imphal and Kohima against Japanese forces, 1944. Srinath soldiers were able to appreciate the need
Raghavan’s book is a “beautifully written analysis” of India’s war story, says Robert Lyman to defeat Japanese fascism by fighting
in the Indian army of the Raj, while
also maintaining their desire for, and
Fighting misconceptions determination to achieve, some form
of independence once the war was over.
ROBERT LYMAN has high praise for an ambitious history Likewise, most otherwise loyal
Indian soldiers saw the Indian National
of India’s role in the Second World War Army (INA), which formed an alliance
with imperial Japan, as an aberration
India’s War: The Making of company’s unusual title. He realised caused as much by British failure to
Modern South Asia, 1939–1945 that there was something wrong about protect India’s interests as by the perfidy
Srinath Raghavan his lack of knowledge: why did this and of individual soldiers who swapped
Allen Lane, 576 pages, £30 other names, designed as battle honours sides in 1942. This explains the distinct
– in this case, a 1945 Allied victory lack of enthusiasm for prosecuting
When the young against Japanese forces – not resonate captured INA soldiers at the end of the
officer cadet with him and other young men joining
Srinath Raghavan up as potential junior leaders in India’s
was allocated to the modern army? It would have been “The book’s vast
Meiktila Company inconceivable for an Australian officer
at the Indian Military cadet to fail to recognise the name of sweep encompasses

Academy at Dehra- Gallipoli, for instance, or a young the story of the

dun, he had no idea of Briton arriving at Sandhurst to know
the provenance of his nothing of Normandy or El Alamein. Indian army at war”

BBC History Magazine 69

Books / Reviews
“Hitler continues to fascinate historians and, next issue, we’ll be
conssidering a major new account of his life. Studies of subjects
uding China and Culloden will also be up for analysis, and I’ll
be ta
alking to Kate Summerscale – author of The Suspicions of Mr
Whicher – about her new book. ” Matt Elton, reviews editor

war. It is the calm, careful balance of

judgments such as these that makes this Pride and prejudice
book so satisfying and, quite frankly, a
JOANNA BOURKE commends a look at the social contributions
long-awaited antidote to some of the
one-sided tomes that have preceded it. of gay cultural figures – and the opposition that they faced
Raghavan also pleasingly intersperses
his account with juicy vignettes, such as Homintern: How Gay Culture Woods’ history of the ‘homintern’ is in
material about the Nazis’ Indian Legion, Liberated the Modern World turn hilarious and horrifying. He treats
as well as tasty morsels derived from the by Gregory Woods readers to an account of the first time the
letters and diaries of Indian participants. Yale, 440 pages, £25 word ‘orgasm’ was used in an English
The book’s vast sweep effortlessly court, during the infamous Salomé trial
and accurately encompasses the story The term ‘homintern’ of 1918 (both the judge and prosecuting
of the Indian army at war across the near is a lighthearted counsel had no idea what it meant, asking
and Middle East, north Africa, Italy and gesture towards the whether it was “some unnatural vice”).
the far east: Malaya, Singapore and, of international commu- Woods also documents shocking levels of
course, most famously, Burma. The 1944 nist movement the persecution. Homophobia was pervasive,
clashes at Imphal and Kohima, and the Comintern, and a play and vicious. Gay individuals were
1945 battle of Meiktila, south of on words used by the routinely pathologised, banished into
likes of Cyril Connolly, exile, imprisoned and driven to suicide.
“Srinath Raghavan’s WH Auden and their But this is not a gloomy book. Woods
friends to refer to a network of homo- lovingly presents a range of gloriously
achievement is, quite sexual writers, artists and other cultural outrageous gay and lesbian individuals
figures. Hostile commentators, however, and couples. Although many found it
simply, superb. I have took it to mean something much more necessary to cultivate ‘discretion’ (which
waited a long time for sinister: an international homosexual Woods says is a “broader concept than the
conspiracy that was having an excessive ‘closet’, but it occupies the same wardrobe
a book as good as this” impact on society. Even Friedrich Engels space”), they also lauded creative
fretted about the influence of homosexu- expression. Literature and dance would
Mandalay, represented two dramatic als, complaining in an 1869 letter to not be the same without their energies.
defeats by the Indian army of the Sigmund Freud that “the paederasts [sic] It is not a simplistic story. Not all
Japanese during the Second World War. are beginning to count themselves and homosexual people felt comfortable with
In other countries these victories would find that they make up a power in the ‘gay liberation’, for example. Still others
be recorded annually with processions state”. By the Cold War, such rhetoric believed that the movement was for the
and parades. Even Britain, in a 2012 reached near-hysterical levels: it was young. As 60-year-old John Cheever
debate organised by the National Army feared that gay men and lesbians might confessed in his diary in 1972, “I am
Museum, acknowledged Imphal and even destroy civilisation itself. tired of… brooding on what a gay bar
Kohima to have been India’s “greatest Gregory Woods here offers a history of must be like. Are they filled with scented
battle”. Not so in India. the roles that homosexual writers, artists, hobgoblins, girlish youths, stern beauties?
Yet Raghavan’s success is to demon- musicians, dancers and academics have I will never know.” Such melancholic
strate convincingly the importance to played in society. In many ways, Woods sentiments aside, the liberation move-
modern India (and Pakistan) of their is the subject of his own book: he is ment blossomed, as gay and lesbian
coming of age in 1947 through the trials, a poet, literary critic and, in 1998, people began (in Engels’ words)
tribulations, achievements and victories became the UK’s first “to count themselves and
of their armed forces in the years from professor of gay and find that they make up
1939–45. It can only be hoped that his lesbian studies. When a power in the state”.
book will allow young Indians to take a his appointment
new and positive view of their modern became public, the Joanna Bourke
history, one that does not dismiss the then shadow home is the author of
final years of imperialism as irrelevant, secretary, Ann The Story of Pain
but sees them instead as the essential Widdecombe, (OUP, 2014)
birth pangs of the modern nation. denounced it as a
“phenomenal waste
Robert Lyman is the author of Among the of public money”.

The poet WH Auden

Headhunters: An Extraordinary World War II Others declared it stars in a new look
Story of Survival in the Burmese Jungle, set evidence of national at gay cultural figures’
to be published by Da Capo in June degeneration. Plus ça change. impact on society

70 BBC History Magazine

titles such as ‘The Friend’s Tale’), relating
the stories of lesser-known individuals
such as Richard de Clare, one of the
pioneering Anglo-Norman conquerors
of Ireland, and Nicola de la Haye, the
remarkable female sheriff called upon
to defend Lincoln Castle from rebel siege
in 1216. The stories advance chronologi-
cally through the 12th century, from
the origins of the empire in the dynastic
schemes of Henry I to its disastrous
collapse during the reign of King John.
It’s an innovative approach that, when
it works, works very well indeed. One of
the standout chapters is about Henry the
Young King, eldest surviving son of
Henry II, so-called because, uniquely in
English history, he was crowned in his
father’s lifetime but then died before his
father in 1183, and thus never got to rule
in his own right. The young Henry, who
was for a time the darling of the interna-
tional tournament circuit, is deftly
drawn, “handsome, dashing and brave”,
and his world brought vividly to life.
A 13th-century depiction of the crowning of Henry the Young King. The “handsome, dashing Part of the reason that the Young
and brave” Henry and his world are “brought vividly to life” in Richard Huscroft’s book King’s story grips, however, is that there
is enough material to sustain it, and that
is not true of all the stories on offer. The

Family empire book begins, for example, with the tale

of William Ætheling, son of Henry I,
another heir apparent who predeceased
MARC MORRIS enjoys an innovative study of the Angevin empire, his father, in this case by drowning in
the medieval collection of states ruled over by Henry II and his sons 1120. Huscroft relates this well-known
episode with gusto, but then has nowhere
Tales from the Long approach can have its limitations. Just as to go, because dying a tragic death is the
Twelfth Century the kings themselves found it impossible only interesting thing William ever did.
by Richard Huscroft to be everywhere at once, so historians Elsewhere Huscroft is able to spin out
Yale, 336 pages, £20 who follow in their footsteps find it taxing limited material to much greater effect.
to cover all the ground. Howw can readers Some of his most memorable scenes
How does one tell the be expected to care about the affairs of are of Henry II’s daughter, Joan, married
story of the Angevin Gascony when they are preoccupied with for a time to the king of Sicily, whom
empire, that vast but the titanic struggle between Henry II we are invited to picture dressed in
ramshackle assemblage and Thomas Becket, for instance? Muslim fashions like the other ladies
of provinces cobbled Richard Huscroft’s solution is to of her husband’s court. Her tale is so
together by Henry II? widen his cast of characters considerably, engrossing that it’s aggravating when
Henry, and afterwards and to focus not on the Angevin kings her brother Richard sails into town and
his sons, Richard and but on a host of supporting players. supplants her in the narrative. The kings
John, ruled not only His book is a collection of 10 interlock- still have a tendency to thrust themselves
England but all of western France, and ing tales (with deliberately Chaucerian into the foreground, and more compres-
claimed to be overlords of Wales, Ireland sion of these sections would have given
and Scotland. Their dominion stretched a good, original book more kick.
a thousand miles from north to south “Huscroft’s approach,
and half that distance from east to west. Marc Morris is the author of King John:
The traditional answer is to tell this
when it works, works Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna
story through those of its rulers, but this very well indeed” Carta (Hutchinson, 2015)

BBC History Magazine 71

Books / Reviews

Plato and Aristotle discuss philosophy

in ‘The School of Athens’, an early 16th-
century fresco by Raphael. “Ancient
arguments over religious belief seem eerily
familiar,” says our reviewer Miles Russell

Original sinners?
MILES RUSSELL on a study of religious disbelief in the ancient
world that shows that atheism is far older than we may think
Battling the Gods: Atheism establishment of Christian orthodoxy in
in the Ancient World the Roman empire of the fourth century
by Tim Whitmarsh AD, Whitmarsh is a thought-provoking
Faber, 304 pages, £25 and thoroughly engaging guide.
We encounter free-thinking charac-
Before reading this ters such as Plato, Thucydides, Diagoras
book, I had assumed (arguably the first self-professed atheist)
atheism was a product and Democritus, who pondered if reality of an absolute and unshakable religious
of the European comprised nothing more than particles conviction, it would appear, do not.
enlightenment, when spinning randomly in the void. Perhaps We sometimes forget that the loose-
17th and 18th-century most prescient is Lucretius who, in the knit cities of the ancient Greek world had
philosophers began to political turmoil at the end of the Roman no central authority that bound them
question the absolute republic, used the example of Agamem- together, with no single religious doc-
nature of religion and non – who was advised to sacrifice trine and no sacred set of laws to which
religious thinking. Tim Whitmarsh his daughter to allay the wrath of the all citizens adhered. Although possessing
shows that, before the imposition of goddess Artemis – to act as a warning a shared mythology, Greek gods had a
state-sanctioned Roman imperial mono- of the “terrible evil that religion was able distinctly regionalised feel, and there was
theism, many in the ancient world openly to induce”. The specifics of belief and constant debate within the intellectual
expressed doubt about the gods and their the names of the gods may change over elite as to the importance of deities, the
role in the natural order of things. time but the dangerous consequences precise nature of the world and ultimate
Whitmarsh is at pains to point out place of humanity. Crucially, this debate
that he is not part of a larger movement was fuelled not by religious fervour but
determined to prove a ‘truth’ or expose “Democritus pondered by secular philosophy. When the Greek
an ancient falsehood; his book is “a work world was conquered and forcibly ab-
of history, not of proselytism”. In guid- if reality was nothing sorbed into the Roman empire, the gods
ing us through the lives of those who set but particles spinning themselves remained, albeit tactfully
out to question the divine, from the first rebranded to better fit the new order. The
stirrings of the Greek city state to the randomly in the void” intensity of philosophical debate may

Behind bars book. Humans have long been enchant-

ed by unfamiliar beasts, some of which
have graced menageries, museums and
HELEN COWIE explores an account of how the English came
zoological gardens. Menageriee traces
to love wild animals, which features a diverse supporting cast the collection and exhibition of exotic
animals in England from the Norman
Menagerie: The History of Cross’s menagerie in the Strand, Chunee conquest to the accession of Queen
Exotic Animals in England was a noted figure in the city and a staple Victoria and reveals their continuous
by Caroline Grigson of the tourist circuit. Now considered presence in British life. In the process,
Oxford University Press, 368 pages, £20 a dangerous beast, he was sentenced we are introduced to a colourful cast of
to death by his owner, perishing in characters, from the boxing kangaroo in
In spring 1826, London a hail of bullets in the cage where he had Gilbert Pidcock’s menagerie to the Duke
was “elephant-struck”. spent the last 12 years of his life. It was of Devonshire’s expectorating llama. We
The reason: the famous a sorry end for a much-loved animal, and also learn about the keepers who cared for
elephant Chunee had a scene that would imprint itself on the these animals, the dealers who sold them
gone ‘mad’, and was memory of Londoners for years to come. and the scientists who dissected them.
threatening to break Chunee’s tragic demise is just one of Grigson provides a supremely detailed

out of his den. A long- many fascinating encounters with exotic account of England’s exotic animals. Her
term resident of Edward animals related in Caroline Grigson’s zoological expertise enables her to

72 BBC History Magazine

For interviews with authors of the latest books, check
out our weekly podcast at historyextra.com/

A divisive figure
GRAHAM SEAL is swept along by a big, bold biography of the
19th-century outlaw Ned Kelly, which may attract critics
Ned Kelly FitzSimons invokes no less a historian
by Peter FitzSimons than Leopold von Ranke in supporting
Bantam Press, 848 pages, £30 his approach in telling “how it essentially
was”. In the end, not surprisingly, he
Peter FitzSimons writes comes down on Ned’s side, as many
Australian popular historians have, although some recent
history – a lott of it. He research partly rehabilitates the police.
have lessened within the famously deity- concentrates on topics FitzSimons has a formula for his hugely
tolerant, multifaith society of Rome, of mythic interest to successful books. He interviews relevant
but the questioning of belief systems mainstream Australian experts (here, a number of eminent Kelly
remained, at least until later emperors notions of national scholars) then whips the results into a
ensured that non-adherence to orthodox identity, and has highly readable narrative – “recreating
Christianity was no longer an option. written blockbusters on the whole story”, as he puts it. He employs
Whitmarsh offers a lucid examination Gallipoli and several iconic Australian invented dialogue and recreated primary-
of early western intellectual debate. It is heroes. His latest title is a biography of source quotations, as well as imputed
interesting that, 2,000 years on, ancient the contradictory bushranger, Ned Kelly. emotions and motivations. Not surpris-
arguments over religious belief seem Even today, the Kelly saga is controver- ingly, this makes him unpopular with
eerily familiar. This is a timely reminder sial, the focus of an extensive industry some academic historians who feel he is
that atheism is a tradition comparable in endlessly recycling the tragic tale. In his inventing, rather than interpreting, the
antiquity to the earliest religions and, introduction, the author explains his need past. His work is regularly attacked on
as such, is an effective argument against to do it all again: because it is “a huge these grounds by historians who argue
the view that the worship of gods is hard- and quintessentially Australian story”. that he is fostering rather than dissecting
wired into the human mind. It would The tale of a bushman’s defiance of the mythologies in which his subjects are
appear that debate and disbelief are, like authority involves a deep-seated drenched. Whether it’s history as defined
the gods themselves, as old as the hills. perception of injustice within the small by professional historians depends on
farmer community of north-eastern your point of view on such grand matters
Miles Russelll is senior lecturer in Victoria. It is an epic of inept and as what ‘history’ is and who owns it.
archaeology at Bournemouth University oppressive policing, conflicts of class and On the other hand, FitzSimons is not
ethnicity as well as the problem that an academ
academic; he is a writer of popular
lies at the base of every historicaal non-fictio on with an eye for detail and
Robin Hood tradition: access character and a sharp sense
identify more obscure species exhibited to the land and its resources. of what appeals to readers.
by showmen, while her archival work The traumatic violence that Here he brings Kelly’s
allows her to untangle their complex erupted fro
f om this local neever-ending story up to date.
journeys to and within the British Isles. situati
tion turnned Ned Kelly Hee does not tell us anything
The book would, in places, benefit intto a local hero, then a folk neew about the man and the
from deeper discussion of the wider h and ultimatelyy a national
hero pootency of his legend, but he
cultural significance of exotic animals. hero – at least to some. To delivers a comprehensive
The conclusion touches on some of these others he was, and remai ains, package with characteristic
issues, notably the relationship between just a murdering thu ug. The vverve and drive.
animals and empire and the question of ways in which this is difference
animal cruelty, but these might have been n of opinion, and d the drama of Grraham Seall is professor of
dealt with at greater length. Nonetheless, the historical
cal period in which fo
olklore at Curtin University,
this remains a valuable contribution to Kelly liveed, tie in to notions of Western Australia
the history of animals and makes for an Austraralian national identity
entertaining and informative read. makakes the subject irresistible to
a popular historian who wears his h A 20tth-century lithograph

Helen Cowie is the author of Exhibiting national identity on his sleeve (h he of Ne

ed Kelly. His saga is
Animals in Nineteenth-Century Britain is currently chair of the Austra- “a qu
uintessentially Australian
y”, a new book argues
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) lian Republican Movement).

BBC History Magazine 73

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– at one point Gellatel dubs teerin a course around the tions of modern societ ”. This
Stalin’s Curse: Battling talin as a “new kin of aricature of ‘the Victorian’, s an excellent be inners’ uide
for ommunism in m eror”. Nor is it new: it dates an e teases rea ers wit ust for students and eneral
War an ol War ac to t e ear y Co War. a hint of threat buzzin in the rea ers alike.
Ro ert Ge ate T e eve opments o row s o Victoria s coronation
xford, 496 pages, 12.9 3 –53 nee to e seen in t e procession e ore excavatin s an assoc ate
roa er context o arge-sca e roo ing ur an crisis an ember of the histor facult
T is is a surve 20t -century internationa su ur anisation. He t en at the University of Oxford
of Soviet histor onflict. Events, especiall grapples with nationhood and
an orei n rom t e ate 1930s e to t e mpire, c ass, re igion an
po icy un er atal weakenin of states that gen er e ore ro ust y tac ing The Story o Londo
ta in, etween ad been ‘great powers’ on t e perio s economic ec ine. b Stephen Porte
t e signing o ither si e of the econ Worl e c apters on re igion an mberley, 96 pa es, £9.9
the Molotov War. Con ict an aut oritar- mpire are master u , convey
Ribbentro ian overnments discredited in a c ear narrative ana sis te hen Porter
Pact between the R an t e po itica orces o t e ri t with a sense of chronolo and as iven us
Nazi German in Au ust 1939 in Euro e an t e ar east. e ate. T ere is a use u urt er man accounts
an his eath in 53. The is, wit w es rea o u ar rea ing section an an o Lon on s
long-term ‘curse’ (also referred u ering, generate mass in ex an t e text is peppere ast e ore, ut
to as an ‘ab ss’) is the politica ovements on t e e t. uc with enerous lossar boxes i i i m
economic s stem imposed on eve opments were certain xp ainin in oism, t e East am itious et: a
the R an other countries. ot a t e ma in o t e man In ia Company an got ic n rr iv
o ert Ge ate is hom the author escribes as r viv li m – n m f w cit s istor rom t e ear iest
a istinguis e istorian, “the Kremlin boss”. A central cha ter ex lores times to the resent. It is
most o w ose revious wor w h Vi ri n w h ir copious i ustrate , o ten
as re ate to t e Nazis an van Maw s e is onorar wn ast, resent and future. wit p ates provi e y t e
ermany. His atest oo is an pro essiona researc e ow This ties in with Gan e’s core aut or imse – inc u in one
im ressive iece o sc o ars i , at t e University o G asgow essa e that we need to be of the Tabar Inn in outh
usin pu is e materia ma e aware of the shiftin lens war , mentione in Geo re
v il l in R i in h l through which the Victorians C aucer s 14t -centur
980s as we as recent western he Victorian ave been interpreted by others, anter ury Ta es w ic your
inter retations. T is a er ac Davi Gan e there flections, reviewer a never seen e ore.
e ition is to e we come . neWorld, 208 pa es, 9.99 efractions s ear as t e time o Be e in
Th h r m in in h h rationa es t e ei centur , Lon on a
follows neither the tra itional Featur ng an emer ed s a ma or commercial
nor t e revisionist sc oo s in nugge s evoca centre, po itics comin
is interpretation o t e Co on steam- later. Thi sco e means that,
War. He is certain y not a un , despite book’s brevit , there
revisionist: e oes not accept D W are man nfamiliar ems.
Soviet securit concerns as n ea For exam e, the Roman name
le itimate, and nor does he expe itions ‘Lon in m’ owes less to Latin
assi n an ame to t e US. view the ecl se, than to earlier lan ua e
But it is hard to see him on the referrin o ‘a place at the
basis of his two fun amental amount o groun in its 200 navi able river’. And the Great
ar uments, as an thin other pages. But is never anyt ing Fire of 16 6, familiar to all
than a well-informe tra ition ess t an an engaging, c ear n from the ork of Pep s, ma
alist. The first ar ument is that t orou appetisin sc o r have des
Stalin took Leninism ver introduction to the multip roporti of the Cit than a
seriousl , and that this, rather i entities in ra i e a ance confla ra ion in about AD 125
than ower olitics or ersonal t at c aracterise t e Victo his short book on a bi
ps chosis, is what explains his rian era. It wou e a c a ge sub ect, ll presented.
actions. The secon is that to pro uce anyt ing more
A woman poses in
Soviet initiatives or res onses e p u in terms o giving Step en i ni r

the latest Victorian

le to the ol War. The stress stu ents a map t roug w fashions, c189 m r fP m r k
on ideolo is correct, but not to meanin u aunc t ei olle e, Universit
alto ether consistent or subtle own ex orations into t e e . o Cam r

BB History Magazin 75
Books / Fiction


Every Man for Himself

Beryl Bainbridge (1996)

Bainbridge’s charac-
tteristically idiosyn-
cratic novel about
tthe Titanic’s maiden
vvoyage is narrated
by an (invented)
nephew of the
American financier
JP Morgan, cocooned in the
privilege of the ship’s first-class
quarters as it steams towards
catastrophe. Unknown to them-
selves, the narrator and his fellow
The Titanic
c succumbs to the waves in a 20th-century lithograph. David Dyer’s wealthy passengers are dancing on
“moving, compassionate novel” finds new things to say about the disaster the edge of the abyss – and reality,
in the shape of the iceberg, is about
to intrude into their cosseted lives.

FICTION Crabwalk
Gunter Grass (2002)
Sea change TThe last major work
NICK RENNISON on a novel that manages to find a fresh oof fiction by the Nobel
PPrize-winning German
take on the much-covered subject of the Titanic’s final days aauthor, this compli-
ccated and deviously
The Midnight Watch charismatic captain of the Californian, ttold story has at
speaking unwillingly to reporters, its heart the sinking
by David Dyer
Steadman scents a scoop. in 1945 of the German
Atlantic, 336 pages, £12.99
As he continues to investigate, he ship th Wilh
hi the Wilhelm Gustlofff, then
packed to the gunwales with troops
begins to hear unpleasant, inexplicable
and civilians fleeing the Red Army.
The tale of the Titanic rumours. The Californian was much More than 9,000 lives were lost.
and its encounter closer to the Titanicc at the time of its Grass’s narrative focuses on
with an iceberg in sinking than Lord is prepared to admit. a journalist in the 1990s, whose
April 1912 has been Some of its crew claim to have seen mother survived the disaster and
told so many times, distress rockets fired from the doomed wishes him to write about it.
both in fiction and vessel but nothing was done in response.
non-fiction, that Does the answer to the mystery lie in The Lifeboat
it is difficult to find the puzzling relationship between Lord Charlotte Rogan (2012)
a new angle from and his sensitive, unassertive second
which to approach it. By focusing not officer Herbert Stone, the man in charge T year is 1914, just
on the passenger liner itself but on events of the bridge during the vital hours? after the outbreak of
tthe First World War,
aboard the SS Californian, a British What did Stone tell Lord, and when?
and the ocean liner
steamship whose captain and crew were As Steadman probes for the truth, tthe Empress Alexan-
later accused of ignoring the Titanic’s Dyer cleverly combines his fictional and dra has foundered
distress signals, David Dyer has come real-life characters in a narrative that in the north Atlantic.
up with an original take on the tragedy. refuses to apportion blame too readily, The lifeboats are
John Steadman, a character Dyer has instead acknowledging the complexity launched and Rogan’s gripping
invented, is an American journalist with of human motivations and recognising novel follows, day by day, events
a taste for liquor and a nose for scandal. the unanticipated results of human on one of them, seen through the
He is assigned by his newspaper to cover actions. This is a moving novel that eyes of her unreliable narrator
the story of the Californian’s arrival in opens up a new perspective on the Grace Winter, as she and her fellow
passengers struggle to survive.
Boston in the aftermath of its involve- familiar story of the Titanic.

This is a powerful tale of life and

ment in the search for the bodies of death in extreme circumstances.
those drowned in the Titanicc disaster. Nick Rennison is the author of
As he listens to Stanley Lord, the sternly Carver’s Questt (Corvus, 2013)

76 BBC History Magazine

Jonathan Wright previews the pick of upcoming programmes

Mid-Atlantic gardening The key of life
Costing the Earth
RADIO Radio 4, Lucy Worsley looks back at a musical prodigy’s MAGAZINE
scheduled for Tuesday 19 April
adventures in Georgian England
In 1836, HMS Beaglee visited volcanic
Ascension Island, midway between Mozart in London Yet this proved to be a key moment in
South America and Africa. One of the TV BBC Four, scheduled for late March the young Mozart’s musical develop-
passengers, Charles Darwin, found it ment. His father needed quiet to recover,
a barren spot, yet today a lush cloud The idea that the Austrian-born Wolfgang so the eight-year-old boy was banned
forest covers the peak of 859-metre- Amadeus Mozart, who spent his adult from performing or practising. Instead,
high Green Mountain. BBC weather life in such cities as Salzburg and Vienna, he wrote down music, composing his
presenter Peter Gibbs travels to the thought of himself as a “dyed-in-the- Symphony No 1 in E flat major. “It
island to see how Darwin, botanist and wool Englishman” seems fanciful. Yet, as contains the seeds of so much of his later
explorer Joseph Hooker, Kew Gardens a new documentary from Lucy Worsley career,” says Worsley. “It’s simple, and in
and the Royal Navy worked together to reveals, Mozart’s career was profoundly some ways naive, but it contains the most
create a completely artificial but fully shaped by a childhood visit to England. beautiful, daring, clashing harmonies
functioning ecosystem on Ascension, “His time in Georgian London taught that would prefigure much to come.”
including Norfolk pines, first planted him a lot about the elusive nature of However, a concert of the symphony
as replacement masts for sailing ships. commercial success, and about resilience, proved financially unsuccessful. “The
composing and silver linings,” Worsley disappointed Mozarts had to resort to
tells BBC History Magazine. Mozart and playing in a downmarket tavern in order
his family arrived in London in 1764 on a to earn the money to leave London.”
tour of Europe organised by his musician It’s a reminder that we shouldn’t get
father, Leopold. Partly bankrolled by an too distracted by the giggling genius of
emerging merchant class, the musical Amadeus. Rather, we need to remember
scene in London was “exciting, vibrant” that “he was also a member of a family
and “the place to go as a musician”. and a profession” – living, moreover, at
“There was lots of music-making going a time when the expectations of boys
on for Mozart to listen to and join in,” and girls were very different.
Worsley adds. “It was a musical melting “What’s missing from our picture of
pot unique in Europe, and the young Mozart, I think, is his sister [Marianne,
Mozart met performers he’d work with 1751–1829],” says Worsley. “She was just
as an adult.” Then, worryingly, his father as talented a performer, but it was her
fell sick, leading to fears that Leopold destiny to get married. Expectations
British soldiers shelter behind barrels might die, leaving his wife, daughter and were so different for girls. I feel annoyed
during the Easter Rising in 1916 son stranded in a foreign country. on her behalf!”

Understanding Ireland
1916: A Letter from Ireland “Mozart’s time
RADIO Radio 4,
scheduled for Easter Sunday, 27 March in London taught
him a lot about
The year of the Easter Rising helped to
define modern Ireland. But how did the success, resilience
events of that momentous year seem to
those living through them? In a bid to
and composing”
learn more, the 1916 Letters Project has Lucy Worsley traces
gathered 3,000 letters, essays and other a musical genius’s visit
transcripts from private collections. This to the British capital
five-part series uses these documents to
build up a picture of life in Ireland a
century ago – a picture that looks

beyond the perspective of nationalists

agitating for change. Check listings for
more BBC programmes about the rising.

BBC History Magazine 77

TV & Radio

We’ll send you news of the best history shows
every Friday. Sign up now at historyextra.com/

Students enjoy a tea party

at women-only Royal
Holloway College in 1895

Exams past and present The Three Gorges Dam on

the Yangtze river in China

Scenes from Student Life boxing match through the prism of a How have working-class people
RADIO Radio 4, scheduled for Monday tavern dispute, the St Scholastica Day riot shaped, and been portrayed by,
18 April of 1355. And looking at the pressures of British culture over the past 70 years?
being a student, the series finds parallels It’s a question tackled by Stuart
Maconie in Archive on 4:
The subjects studied may have changed between the writings of Abraham de la
Working Class Heroes and Poverty
down the years, but it seems there are Pryme, a 17th-century diarist whose Porn (Radio 4, Saturday 16 April),
recurring themes in the student friend was driven to suicide by his which takes postwar British cinema
experience – and not just booze and bad workload, and the complaints of a as its starting point and ends with the
behaviour. That’s the message of a new 21st-century blogger. world of reality TV. The documentary
weekday series fronted by recent history In other episodes, Cawthorne also features archive recordings and an
MA student Ellie Cawthorne – who also celebrates Royal Holloway, the first interview with writer Peter Flannery
happens to be BBC History Magazine’s women-only college; charts the experi- (Our Friends in the North).
new web assistant. ences of Manchester history students In Our Time (Thursday 24 March)
The series sees Cawthorne travelling during the First World War; and learns continues with a look at Aurora Leigh
(1856), Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s
around the UK, comparing the experi- that students have long struggled to fund
epic poem, which was much admired
ences of students current and past. We’re their lifestyles – even Lord Byron, as an by, among others, John Ruskin.
shown the annual Oxford Town v Gown 1806 college wine bill proves. For In the Footsteps of Judas
(BBC One, Good Friday) vicar Kate
Bottley considers the life of the
in deniable talks in which both
Chilly negotiations sides were hugely suspicious of
Bible’s most notorious villain.
Highlights on Yesterday include
Bridge of Spies each other. Impossible Engineering (Tuesday
DVD (20th Century Fox, £9.99) It was a task that demanded 5 April), which considers how
huge moral courage. Accordingly, modern technological marvels rest
On 1 May 1960, a surface-to-air in Steven Spielberg’s masterful on innovations in the past. The Three
missile downed a U-2 spy plane over thriller based on the incident, Tom Gorges Dam, the world’s largest
the Soviet Union. The pilot, Gary Hanks plays Donovan with a kind of hydroelectric power station, for
Powers, parachuted to safety and everyman determination that recalls example, could never have been
was tried for espionage. The Cold Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to built without the work of Nikola
War got a little frostier. By 1962, Washington. Balancing this is Mark Tesla. Among the channel’s re-runs,
though, Powers was set to be freed Rylance, who won an Academy Award The Real King’s Speech (Monday 4
as part of a prisoner swap that for his performance as Abel, a softly April) tells the story of King George
would see KGB agent spoken and enigmatic figure. VI’s battle to overcome his stammer.
Rudolf Abel, held by The duo anchor For those with satellite, Forged in
the US, returned to a picture that’s old- Fire (History, Thursday 24 March) is
the Soviets. fashioned in all a hands-on exercise that culminates

Key to this the best ways – by in two expert metalworkers trying to

exchange was which we mean craft a Japanese Katana, as used
James B Donovan, beautifully crafted, by samurai warriors. “Bake-Off with
Abel’s lawyer, who evocative in its blades,” claims the press release.
went to a divided conjuring up of Also on History, a second season of
Berlin and secretly the 1960s and Treasure Island d prequel Black Sails
spoke for the US agonisingly tense. arrives (Tuesday 22 March).

Tom Hanks plays the lawyer James B

Donovan in the “masterful” Bridge of Spies

78 BBC History Magazine

Red alert for the Sumatran tiger. Fauna & Flora International seeks urgent support
to respond 600% increase in poaching threat. 25 April deadline.
Photo: Evan Bowen-Jones/FFI

Latest tiger population figures released: just

350 Sumatran tigers remain - down from 500.
Urgent support needed for action plan.
• £83,131 is needed to help us fund more rangers and step up action against the poachers in
Kerinci Seblat National Park.
• This is one of the final strongholds of the incredibly rare Sumatran tiger, a place where the
This Critically Endangered tiger has been pushed to
battle to save the Sumatran tiger will be won or lost.
the edge of extinction – 350 or fewer remain. Give to
stop the poachers at www.FFIsumatrantiger.org • FFI’s work here could be all that stands between the Sumatran tiger and extinction.
Latest figures just released show 350 Sumatran increase our patrols to protect tigers from poachers – and Your support is needed now: Fauna & Flora
tigers remain - down from 500. The figures, from the work towards greater protection for their delicate habitat. International (FFI) has launched an emergency
Sumatran Ministry of Forestry, show how the ruthless If we’re going to save the Critically Endangered appeal, backed by Sir David Attenborough, to
assault from poachers is pushing this magnificent Sumatran tiger from complete extinction, it’s vital that we raise £83,131 to save the Sumatran tiger.
creature right to the edge of extinction. have the means to take action now. These items are vital to help save the remaining
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has put out an FFI must raise £83,131. To do that, the charity is Sumatran tigers from extinction.
urgent call to the global community to save the last asking for you to make an urgent contribution today. £6,500 could buy a replacement 4WD jeep to
Sumatran tigers currently existing in the wild – and transport rangers to distant patrol sites - our current

Photo: Gill Shaw

specifically to employ more rangers. There are now only vehicle has severe engine problems.
around 350 Sumatran tigers left.
FFI is urgently seeking funds to step up their crucial £3,000 could help get two extra rangers into the field
conservation programme in Kerinci Seblat National Park, to prevent poaching.
Sumatra, Indonesia. In order to safeguard the future £400 could buy camping equipment or boots for 28
existence of these magnificent creatures, it is vital that rangers.
more rangers are employed £72 could buy first aid kits to treat injured rangers
Right now, the Sumatran tiger faces a number of very whilst out on patrol.
serious threats, which are putting their very survival in £32 could help buy charging units for telephones;
jeopardy. And, sadly, they are all man-made threats. essential to getting extra help if poachers are spotted.
Poaching activity has reached unprecedented levels.
Hunters make good money from the tiger’s beautiful skin “If you value the natural world – if you think it should be Donations large or small will help us save the
and demand is constantly growing. Also, its bones are Critically Endangered Sumatran tiger from the 600%
protected for it’s own sake as well as humanity’s – then
illegally exported to use as ingredients in traditional Asian upsurge in the poaching threat.
please support Fauna & Flora International.”
What is really worrying now is that poachers have
Sir David Attenborough, OM FRS Cut the coupon below and return it to
increased the number of tiger snares laid by 600% since Fauna & Flora International vice-president FFI, together with your gift, to help save
2011 and snares are being found at record levels. the Critically Endangered Sumatran tiger.
This is against a backdrop of a very serious loss of Alternatively, go to www.FFIsumatrantiger.org.
Please send a gift, by no later than 25 April to help
habitat. In the last ten to 15 years, natural forest cover in
safeguard the future survival of the last few remaining Thank you.
Sumatra has been slashed by almost a staggering 40%.
And recently, great swathes of forest have been consumed wild Sumatran tigers.
I want to help save the remaining 350 Sumatran
by fire, destroying more of the forest habitat. Together, we can save the Sumatran tiger from
tigers today, with a donation of £________
These majestic forest dwellers have been designated extinction – but only if we take action immediately.
To take action for the Sumatran tiger please go to Title Forename
as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, making
www.FFIsumatrantiger.org or cut the coupon. Surname
the Sumatran tiger one of the most endangered tiger
subspecies on the planet. This is a rating reserved for If the coupon to the bottom right is missing, please Address
animals that face an extremely high risk of extinction send your cheque (payable to FFI) to: Sumatran
in the wild. Tiger Appeal, FREEPOST FAUNA & FLORA
Latest surveys have indicated that there may now be INTERNATIONAL, The David Attenborough Building, Postcode
as few as 350 existing in the wild. Kerinci Seblat National Cambridge, CB2 3QZ by 25 April. Keep me updated by email:
Park is one of the last places on Earth where they can still Phone No
be found.
Today, around 170 tigers live in and around Kerinci I enclose a cheque payable to Fauna & Flora International OR
Photo: Debbie Martyr/FFI

Seblat National Park – the largest known population of I wish to pay by credit/debit card
tigers anywhere in Sumatra. Since 2007 the number of Type of card: Visa/Amex/Mastercard/Maestro/CAF

tigers in the park has stabilised – largely thanks to the Card No:
vital work of FFI’s Tiger Protection and Conservation
Expiry Date: Issue Number (Maestro only):
Programme. However, now the upsurge in poaching puts
Stop press - Poacher apprehended with help from FFI 3 digit security code:
these gains under threat. (Last three digits next to the signature)
The team identified an individual who was identified as
Debbie Martyr, FFI Team Leader of the Kerinci Tiger We store your details securely and will never sell, trade or rent
Project in Sumatra, says: a go-between for poachers and traders. After steadily your personal information to other organisations. If you’d prefer
“Ranger teams walked almost 1100 miles on forest collecting evidence they were able to apprehend him not to be mailed or telephoned , please tick the appropriate
in early 2016, striking a blow against the illegal wildlife box or contact us at any time.
patrols in and bordering the national park and destroyed Please return to: Sumatran Tiger Appeal,
more than 60 active tiger snares - an increase of 600% since trade in the area. FREEPOST FAUNA & FLORA INTERNATIONAL,
2011. That is why we need to step up patrol regimes”. The David Attenborough Building,
Tiger populations are dreadfully fragile. Fauna & Flora International, founded in 1903, was the world’s first Cambridge, CB2 3QZ
international conservation organisation. Today its work spans the You can call 01223 49019 to donate now.
If FFI cannot recruit more rangers to protect the tigers
globe, with over 140 projects in more than 40 countries. It has a
against the increased efforts of the poachers all our good strong history of finding creative solutions to conservation problems Or go to: www.FFIsumatrantiger.org to donate online.
work could be undone. and of working with local communities. FFI is supported by the most
Registered Charity No.1011102. Registered Company No. 2677068. PR ST16H
Please note: If Fauna & Flora International succeeds in raising more than £83,131 from this
For all of these reasons, it’s now absolutely vital that we eminent scientists and members of the conservation movement. appeal, funds will be used wherever they are most needed.
The dissolution of
the monasteries
Adam Morton and Nige Tassell visit Fountains Abbe
the most recognisable reminder of Henry VIII’s
campaign to eradicate Rome from English life

here are few more awesome that this was merely an act
sights in the depths of winter of revenge by an angry monarch, as the
than the ruins of Fountains University of Newcastle’s Adam Morton
Abbey in North Yorkshire. explains as we stroll down the estate’s gentle
Abandoned and ruined it may slopes towards the ruins.
be, yet the abbey stands proud “There’s a danger of seeing Henry as
and majestic, its crumpled walls bearing the a stage villain,” he says. “He’s often viewed in
scars of Henry VIII’s campaign to dissolve black-and-white terms – as someone who
the monasteries nearly 500 years ago. was motivated by lust or who was unstable.
We’re visiting in February half-term, so But above all else, the Dissolution was an
the shrieks of children fill the chilly air while exertion of power. Henry now had this new
a procession of dog-walkers take to the paths type of kingship – royal supremacy. It made
of the 273-hectare (674-acre) National Trust him head of church and state – and there was
estate in which the abbey sits. The only sign no better demonstration of that than
of conflict is when a cocker spaniel strains at dissolving the monasteries.”
his lead in an attempt to disturb a brace of By the mid-1530s, a quarter of a century
pheasants lurking in the undergrowth. into his reign, Henry had spent much of his
Things weren’t always so peaceful. inheritance, while the monasteries were
During the early decades of the 16th century, known for being cash-rich. Again, though,
Fountains was the country’s richest Morton warns that we shouldn’t interpret
Cistercian monastery – before it became one the king’s actions as mono-causal. Rather
of the biggest casualties of Henry’s attempt than being a simple cash grab, the financial
to wipe the influence of Rome from the aspect was part of a wider restructuring of
English landscape. The sweeping pro- society. “However, accusing the monasteries
gramme of closures – orchestrated by the of avarice or of hypocrisy – preaching
king’s right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell charity while being very, very rich – was
– left Fountains, and hundreds of other certainly part of the polemical strategy to
monasteries and abbeys, empty and downgrade them in the eyes of the
at the mercy of the elements. populace or parliament.
The decision to dissolve England’s “We also have to consider
monasteries was a consequence of how Henry saw himself. It’s very
Henry’s split from the Catholic church easy for us to think of him as
after Pope Clement VII refused to greedy or avaricious, but he saw
annul the king’s marriage to himself as an Old Testament
Catherine of Aragon in 1527. Not monarch. Rightly or
wrongly, he viewed his The ruins of Fountains Abbey in
North Yorkshire. Henry’s motives
break from Rome as when dismantling such monaster-
This copy of a portrait of
Thomas Cromwell by Hans biblical – as the way in ies “were much more complex than

Holbein shows Henry’s which a king should act. pure revenge or pure avarice
enforcer in around 1532–33 He often described alone”, says Adam Morton

80 BBC History Magazine


BBC History Magazine 81

Out & about / History Explorer

The vast vaulted cellarium,

in which food, wine and ales
were stored, indicates the
abbey’s wealth. In 1535 it
was the richest Cistercian
monastery in England

himself as King David or King Hezekiah. being applied at Fountains ended with eight “The more educated and confident could
These were iconoclasts. And what do members of the community being charged ask whether it was technically legal. Who
iconoclasts do? They break superstition and with immoral acts including self-abuse, actually owned the monasteries? Who
deliver the word to their people. His own affairs with women both married and single, owned the founders’ rights? And does the
motivations were much more complex than and sodomy with young boys – exactly the state have the right to run roughshod over
pure revenge or pure avarice alone.” kind of juicy stories on which Henry’s loyal them? This is why psychological pressure
confidant could go to town. was really important. Cromwell was
Cromwell’s campaign While delivering this programme of essentially trying to get around things by
As we step inside the ruins, Morton explains political spin, Cromwell and his men also forcing people to give up the monasteries.”
the methods of Cromwell and his men. applied scare tactics to the monasteries Two years after the 1536 act of parliament
The Valor Ecclesiasticus was a crucial tool: themselves. “The abbot and the monks that legitimised the first wave of closures, the
a survey to discover how rich each monas- would have experienced a huge exertion of
tery was – and how immoral the behaviour pressure,” explains Morton, “placing them
of its residents. “The ability to commission under a psychological strain. Their obedi-
a report of that size tells us of Henry’s will ence was being questioned. Do you accept
for royal supremacy,” says Morton. It was the royal supremacy? If you don’t, does that
a huge undertaking. And for Cromwell “it mean you’re a traitor?
was particularly opportunistic. When it “Houses were visited by Cromwell’s men,
came to persuading parliament and the who applied pressure for closure. They called
populace that these places should be closed, people to interviews. They publicly demand-
he made the exceptional seem the norm. ed loyalty. In the early stages of closure, the
He found the juiciest stories, the juiciest crown was looking for those monasteries
examples of corruption, and would say: where the resistance wasn’t going to be the
‘These people are all like this.’” most acute. It was pushing a policy of
Indeed, a 1535 investigation by a pair of voluntary surrender – getting the abbot to
royal commissioners into the moral code surrender the monastery to the crown.


shown in a 1901 illustration.
THE JUICIEST EXAMPLES OF CORRUPTION” This uprising of 1536 was a
protest against the break with
Rome and the Dissolution

82 BBC History Magazine

Fountains Abbey TO EXPLORE
1 Bath Abbey, SOMERSET
campaign was stepped up with the appoint- Where a king’s work was undone
ment of Richard Ingworth. “He was – and I’m
Bath Priory was surrendered to the crown
looking for a non-partisan word here – an in 1539 during the Dissolution, after which
effective administrator,” says Morton. “He it was stripped of its fabric and aban-
closed a lot of the larger monasteries without doned. In 1574, Elizabeth I sought to repair
the sanction of parliament, before the bill to the damage caused by her father’s
do so was actually passed.” campaign, and ordered that funds
be raised to restore the building to
Rebellion against reformation its former glory.
The Dissolution was not welcomed. Not bathabbey.org
Fountains, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 3DY
only was the Catholic church very popular, 쎲 fountainsabbey.org.uk 2 Furness Abbey, CUMBRIA
but the monasteries also performed numer- Where the ruins run red
ous functions for communities, providing
This 12th-century abbey at the northern
education, charity, medical facilities and
edge of Barrow-in-Furness was England’s
hospitality for passing travellers. Their “The response was emotional, above second-richest Cistercian monastery after
intended closures were opposed for more anything else. It was a sense of loss. Rebel- Fountains Abbey. Built from red sandstone
than just religious reasons. “Early-modern lions in this period were fundamentally in a shallow valley, it’s the subject of the
people generally didn’t like novelty, they conservative. We think of popular revolt William Wordsworth poem At Furness
didn’t like change. So something as destruc- in a very 19th or 20th-century way, about Abbey,y where because of “rash undoing /
tive as this was very, very hard to sell to them.” pushing forr change. But rebellion in this Man left this Structure to become
Here, in the north of England, there was earlier period was almost always triggered Time’s prey”.
open dissent – the ‘Pilgrimage of Grace’ – by a breach of custom – by the state doing english-heritage.org.uk
not just against the philosophical justifica- something unprecedented. These people
tion for the Dissolution but also against the rebelled againstt change. They wanted
3 Glastonbury Abbey, SOMERSET
Where an abbot met a grisly end
physical dismantling of the monasteries. things to go back.” And once the king had
“There is a case to be made that the successfully placated the rebels, many of Destroyed by fire in the 12th century but
quickly rebuilt, Glastonbury became the
Pilgrimage of Grace was the most significant the ringleaders were publicly executed. “It
richest abbey in England after Westmin-
rebellion in England faced by the Tudor was a huge display of Henry’s displeasure ster. Its last abbot resisted the raid on its
monarchs,” declares Morton. “Estimates and of his power,” says Morton. “Thiss was valuables during the Dissolution, and was
suggest that between 30,000 and 50,000 royal supremacy.” hanged, drawn and quartered on nearby
people were involved. In the first instance, After just five years, 800 monasteries had Glastonbury Tor, reputedly for treason.
Henry was forced to negotiate, to placate the been closed and the crown had grabbed their glastonburyabbey.com
rebels. There wasn’t a standing army in the assets. Increasingly, though, to fund overseas
4 Leicester Abbey

16th century. The state didn’t have the power wars Henry sold off the land to private
to deal with that many people. individuals who, as a result, climbed the Where “unnatural vice” occurred
social ladder. In 1540, one year after its abbot Officially known as the Abbey of St Mary
and 30 monks were pensioned off, the de Pratis, Leicester Abbey was very much
Fountains estate was sold to the merchant Sir in decline by the time of the Dissolution
thanks to mismanagement by successive
Richard Gresham, who promptly peddled
abbots. The Valor Ecclesiasticus made
some of the fabric of the abbey for building reference to “adultery and unnatural vice”
materials. The crown had already melted here, and not even the attempted bribery
down the valuable lead from its roofs and of Thomas Cromwell could halt its closure
pipes, while a subsequent owner used the in 1538. The outlines of the foundations
abbey’s stonework to build Fountains Hall. can be seen in Abbey Park.
As we walk back up the hill, sidestepping leicester.gov.uk
an impromptu kids’ kickabout on the lawns,
we glance back at the abbey – a victim of 5 Walsingham Priory, NORFOLK
Where the pilgrims flocked
short-termism and plunder, but somehow
defiant in the low February sun. It now stands Home to a shrine of the Virgin Mary, for
as a memorial to a time when the fabric of centuries Walsingham was a popular
destination for pilgrims, among them
English religious life changed forever.
six kings – including Henry VIII himself.
However, the shrine was removed during
Historical advisor: Dr Adam the Dissolution, the priory largely
Morton (left), lecturer in dismantled and the site then sold
the history of Britain at by Henry for £90.
Newcastle University. walsinghamabbey.com
Words: Nige Tassell

BBC History Magazine 83

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Out & about


Queen of style
Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of
Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe
Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh
21 April–16 October
콯 0303 123 7334
쎲 royalcollection.org.uk

T his exhibition opens on 21 April, the day of the

monarch’s 90th birthday, and it demonstrates her
support for British couture and millinery throughout her
reign, with costumes by renowned designers that she wore
at high profile events around the world.
On show will be day and evening wear by British
couturiers including Sir Norman Hartnell, Ian Thomas and
Stewart Parvin. Items range from a hat by milliner Philip
Somerville, worn for a Holyrood garden party for 8,000
guests in 2009, to a sombre black silk-velvet and taffeta
dress, worn with a veil for an audience with Pope John
Paul II in 1980.
Outfits worn at state occasions in Scotland take centre
stage, including a magnificent Hartnell evening gown of
pale-blue silk worn at a performance of Rob Royy at the Royal
Lyceum, Edinburgh during the state visit of King Olav of
Norway in 1962. Another highlight is an elegant pale-green
Hartnell gown of silk chiffon, worn in 1957 while the Queen
was on a visit to the US as a guest of President Eisenhower.
This is the first of three exhibitions to be held at royal
official residences in 2016, each with different costumes and
accessories from childhood to the present. (The other two

are at Buckingham Palace from 23 July, and Windsor Castle This Norman Hartnell evening gown, worn by the Queen on a visit to
the US in 1957, is among the royal outfits on display at Holyroodhouse
from 17 September).


Sicily: Culture The Ornate and Roman Treasures Celts: Art and Identity
and Conquest the Beautiful of Cheshire National Museum of
British Museum, London Bishop’s Palace, Wells Scotland, Edinburgh
Museum of Liverpool
21 April–14 August 16 April–2 September Continues to 25 September
Continues to 19 June
콯 020 7323 8299 콯 01749 988111 콯 0300 123 6789
콯 0151 478 4545
쎲 britishmuseum.org 쎲 bishopspalace.org.uk 쎲 nms.ac.uk
쎲 liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

Sicily was settled by many Rare ecclesiastical textiles go This major exhibition, in
Two recently discovered
different cultures and this on display this month, telling partnership with the British
Romano-British Cheshire
exploration of 4,000 years of the story of fashions in Museum, spans 2,500 years
hoards are on display in an
history focuses on the Greeks church vestments from the and tells the story of the
exhibition exploring their
in the seventh century
c t andd 14th century to the present. different peoples called
context in the Romano-British
the Normans in the 11th. The Included will be altar fronts ‘Celts’ through the ages.
north-west. The Malpas
range of decora ative objects and chasubles (outfits worn Hundreds of objects are on
Hoard, a group of Iron Age
on display runs from by the priest to celebrate display, from gold torcs to
and Roman coins buried
marble sculpturres to mass) featuring cloth of gold statuettes, chariot fittings,
shortly after the Roman
Byzantine and ornate embroidery. The helmets and shields – all
conquest, was found in 2014.
mosaics, via exhibition will include items displaying remarkable
The Knutsford Hoard, found
ceremonial not seen on public display craftsmanship. Many have
in 2012, comprises coins and
glassware and since 1930. never been shown in Scotland
jewellery items buried in the
gold jewellery. before, including Denmark’s
late second century AD.
Gundestrup cauldron.
A gilded bronze falcon from
Sicily or southern Italy, c1200
BBC History Magazine 85
Out & about

Malta is a stepping
stone between worlds:
MY FAVOURITE PLACE Europe and north Africa,
ancient and modern

by James Holland
For the latest in our historical
holidays series, James
Holland visits an island
whose history spans several millennia

or the lover of history, side. It was so immediately
sunshine and identifiable with black and white
sparkling turquoise photographs of the 1930s and
sea, the tiny island of 1940s that for quite a while I
Malta is hard to beat. simply stood there, taking it all in.
From prehistory to an epic siege This harbour has seen so
during the Second World War, it much. It is a haven in the centre
is a place rich in incredible art of the Mediterranean, visited by
and human drama, and which sailors and merchants through
has seen astonishing sieges and many millennia. Odysseus came
battles in the skies above and on here, as did Saint Paul; it was
the sea all around. here that, in 1941, the aircraft The skyline of Malta’s capital,
It is also a place where this carrier Illustrious took shelter Valletta, is punctuated by the
great dome of the Basilica of Our
incredibly rich seam of history from the Luftwaffe. It was also Lady of Mount Carmel and the
can be seen on almost every from these bastions that the spire of St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral
corner. There are ancient tombs Grand Master de Valette and
and stone circles, huge bastions, his 2,000 men fought off the
more churches per square mile might of the Ottoman empire Maltese gondola. You will pass crumbling remains of the
than anywhere else in the world, in 1565. under the Siege Bell that chimes Lazaretto, a former quarantine
masterpieces by Caravaggio, and A good way to see not just every day at noon, and then past station where graffiti inscribed by
underground bunker systems Grand Harbour but also the harbour wall. It was through former inmates, including Byron,
that helped save the island from Marsamxett Harbour, on the here on Malta’s most important still scars the walls. This was also
an Axis invasion. Malta has it all. other side of Valletta, is to take feast day in August 1942 that the where Malta’s celebrated 10th
I first came here some 15 years a dghajsa – a brightly painted stricken tanker Ohio inched Submarine Flotilla was based
ago, when I was researching the slowly to safety, her cargo intact. during the Second World War; it
wartime siege. It was evening It was a turning point in is easy to half close one’s eyes and
when I landed at Luqa, site of the breaking the wartime siege. imagine HMS Upholderr moored
international airport, and by the As you pass the tip of the alongside, her submariners
time I reached Valletta, Malta’s Valletta peninsula you glide over sitting on the terrace beneath the
capital, it was getting dark. wrecks beneath the waves, while curved arches.
I remember walking down to rising over you is the elegant, Malta is smaller than the Isle
the Upper Barrakka Gardens, towering skyline of the city. On of Wight and it never takes long
the terraces that overlook Manoel island in the heart of to get around. Perched on an

Grand Harbour, and gazing Marsamxett Harbour stand the outcrop at the centre of the
down at this iconic finger of island is the majestic ancient
deep water and across to the walled city Mdina, known as the
The Siege Bell Memorial was
creamy limestone elegance of created in 1992 to commemo-
‘Silent City’. Vehicles are banned
the Three Cities (a group of rate the valour of Malta in from its marble streets, which
historic fortified cities) on the far resisting the Great Siege offer an oasis of calm after the

86 BBC History Magazine


Malta is blisteringly hot in
August; May or September
would be ideal months to
explore the island.

Malta International Airport is
on the old wartime airfield of
Luqa. Air Malta, Ryanair and
easyJet offer regular flights
from the UK. Alternatively,
Sicily is just 60 miles and
a short ferry journey away.

Lots of sunscreen, a hat,
swimming trunks and a
mask and snorkel. Prepare
to cover up with respectful
garb when visiting churches
and palaces.


Malta is known for hand-
blown glass – watch it being
made at Ta’ Qali craft village
– while Gozo is renowned
for hand-made lace.

Explore the beautiful,
historic streets of Valletta
on foot and then indulge in
a cocktail at the Phoeni-
cian Hotel while admiring
the art deco interior
@Annie Witcomb
hubbub of Valletta. From Malta has plenty of beaches The Maltese isle of Gozo was
Mdina’s walls the island spreads and some of the best diving in the reputedly Calypso’s island in I have visited Malta more
before you – the views are Mediterranean, with wrecks and The Odyssey,y and it seems that than 30 times! I would
spectacular. Saint Paul lived here ancient rock carvings to explore. temptress is still luring visitors strongly recommend the
National War Museum and
after his shipwreck, and Malta’s Back on terra firma, the ancient with her irresistible charm.
Fort St Elmo in Valletta
great families have always sites of Hagar Qim and Tarxien Malta is a place that quickly @marksimner
resided here, too – it is a place of – with temples dating back to works its way into the heart: visit
magnificent villas and palaces. around 3600 BC – are reminders once, and you’ll be sure to Mdina is a must – it’s so
During the Second World that this is a truly ancient place. return over and over again. enchanting! Gozo is quaint
and beautiful
War, RAF pilots flying from Ta’ Malta is a stepping stone between
Emma Williams
Qali airfield were based at the worlds: Europe and north Africa, James Holland d is a historian and
17th-century Xara Palace. It’s no ancient and modern. broadcaster. He is author of Fortress
longer an RAF airfield but the For this reason Malta was of Malta: An Island Under Siege 1940 43
superb Malta Aviation Museum great strategic importance in the (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2009)
now displays a Hurricane and Second World War. Reminders
a Spitfire, both fully restored. of the terrible two-and-a-half- Read more about James’s
year siege are all around, from experiences in Malta at
Been there… the old underground war rooms historyextra.com/bbchistory
Have you been to Malta? at Lascaris to air raid shelters dug magazine/malta
Do you have a top tip for into the limestone and a pair of
readers? Contact us via Spitfire cannons still visible in Next month: Frank McDonough
Twitter or Facebook
the field where the plane crashed. explores Berlin
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The 2016 Osterley Park and House

2016 is set to be a great year for historical
anniversaries and there really is no better
time to explore some of Britain’s best

b b palace
l caught ht between
b t town
t andd country,
t Osterley
O t l Park
P k
heritage sites, exhibitions and festivals. and House is one of the last surviving country estates in London.
Why not consider some of the Explore the 18th-century house designed by architect Robert
Adam, fashioned for show and entertaining, and the elegant pleasure
membership opportunities to feed your gardens including cut flower borders, the Tudor walled garden and the
passion? Head out and support Great Meadow. Hundreds of acres of parkland are perfect for whiling away
a peaceful afternoon, with plenty of delicious homemade food available from
Britain’s heritage this year. the Stables Courtyard.

Contact details
web: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/osterley
email: osterley@nationaltrust.org.uk

National Civil War Centre

t iis 370 years since
i th
the ffallll off N
Newarkk during
d i theth B
iti h Civil
Ci il W
Wars andd
to mark the anniversary two spectacular weekends are planned. Pikes
and Plunder: Annual Civil War Festival on 1st and 2nd May 2016 will see
scores of colourful re-enactors descend on the National Civil War Centre,
Friary Gardens and Newark Castle. Both days will feature living history,
musket drills and parades. Fantastic and colourful – make sure you make a
date to join us! Then on 8th May re-enactors will return to commemorate
the very day when Newark surrendered after a bitter six month siege. Drills,
displays and wreath laying will make it a day-long event to remember.

Contact details
web: www.nationalcivilwarcentre.com
email: civilwarinfo@nsdc.info
The 2016


n 2nd July 2016 Eleven Norman invaders; to the great kings
Arches will premiere and queens of Tudor, Elizabethan
“Kynren – An Epic and Victorian times; high culture
Tale of England” – a of Shakespeare to the industrial
live-action night show of dazzling genius of George Stephenson, to
proportions. Set against the the great sacrifice of two World
magnificent backdrop of Auckland Wars. The production includes over
Castle, home to the Bishops of 1,800 costumes, armies of actors
Durham for nearly 900 years, professionally trained in combat,
the venue sits astride the path of and 34 of the finest show horses,
Dere Street the roman road from as well as chariots, carriages and
York to Scotland. On a 7.5-acre a coronation coach. The visually
open-air stage with full scale lake, sumptuous theatrical experience is
in a show which includes mass accompanied in surround-sound by
choreography, horses, ships, a an evocative original music score
steam train, carriages, pyrotechnics created by one of the music and film
and spectacular lighting and water world’s rising stars. Only the second
effects; 1,000 cast and crew will of its kind in the world and unique
bring the story of the nation to life to the UK, the ‘Kynren’ night show
in a grand spectacle of great scale. is already tipped as the must see
Audiences of up to 8,000 a night attraction for 2016. There will be
Contact details will be transported in a storytelling fourteen shows in Bishop Auckland,
journey through 2,000 years of County Durham running July –
web: www.kynren.co.uk British history from early myth and September with tickets £25 - £55.
email: enquiries@kynren.co.uk religion, through Roman, Viking and

Stay at the home of the Dambusters

Enjoy fabulous food, great hospitality and beautiful surroundings in the heart of Bomber County

Set in 30 acres of beautiful grounds in the heart of Lincolnshire,

The Petwood Hotel is a perfect base for exploring the county’s coast, the Wolds, aviation heritage sites and the historic city of Lincoln

Contact us directly for our best available rates and special offers. Call Reservations on 01526 352411 or email reception@petwood.co.uk
Petwood Hotel, Stixwould Road,Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, LN10 6QG
The 2016

English Heritage

elling the story of something to see and do. From
England’s magnificent clambering over Roman ruins to
history, English Heritage discovering secret wartime tunnels,
cares for over 400 historic there are lots of amazing discoveries
places across England, including at every turn and a chance to
Stonehenge, Dover Castle, Hadrian’s experience history first hand. When
Wall, Tintagel castle and many more. you become a member you’ll also
receive free or reduced price entry
This year the charity is marking to events, free entry for up to six
the 950th anniversary of the children (under 19 and within the
Norman Conquest with a year of family group), a free handbook and
exciting events and activities at Members’ Magazine four times a
many historic Norman sites across year.
the country, including the Battle of
Hastings battlefield itself. As well English Heritage is offering an
as a new exhibition, for the first exclusive 25% off new annual
time visitors will be able to stand on memberships until 1st May 2016. To
the roof of the Great Gatehouse of receive your offer, call quoting code
Battle Abbey – getting a whole new BBHIST25 or visit the website and
perspective on the most famous enter the code at the checkout.
battle in English history.
Contact details With membership to English
web: www.english-heritage.org.uk/join Heritage you can explore over 5,000
tel: 0370 333 1181 years of history – there’s always

Historical Association

f you don’t already have the HA provides a treasure trove
membership of the Historical of resources, including thought-
Association then it’s probably provoking articles and pamphlets, as
time to give it some thought. The well as podcasts that can be accessed
association can offer you so much – via a truly fabulous podcast section
whether it’s through expanding your on their website. These podcasts are
knowledge, bringing you together easy to download and offer bitesize
with other history enthusiasts or audio clips of 15-20 minutes by
helping you with research, the HA leading historians.
community is here for you. All you
need is a love of history. The Historian is the flagship journal
of the HA, and each quarterly issue
One of the HA’s strongest assets is themed with in-depth articles
is its thriving branch network. The from experts in their field. Recent
HA calls on the support of over editions have honed in on historical
300 volunteers who run its 50 anniversaries including the Battles of
local branches and put together a Agincourt and Waterloo, as well as
vibrant and distinctive programme more general topics of interest such
of historical walks, talks and visits. as women in history.
Members gain access to all these
events as part of their membership The Historical Association is the
Contact details alongside annual conferences, tours most significant organisation for all
and national events. things historical, providing members
web: www.history.org.uk//go/HA with the best possible resources and
tel: 0300 100 0223 In terms of subject knowledge support. Why not get involved?

Manchester Histories Festival Westminster Abbey Association

elivered by charity Manchester Histories, Manchester Histories e part of our future. Westminster Abbey is one of the nation’s most
Festival (MHF) is unique amongst histories festivals in the UK for important buildings and the greatest repository of British history.
working in collaborative partnerships with communities, individuals Now, for the first time in 1,000 years, you can experience more with
and organisations. membership of the Westminster Abbey Association.
Join today and benefit from:
Taking place from the 3–12 June the 2016 festival will offer ten days of • Free and unlimited entry to the Abbey
music, film, debate, talks, performance, walking tours, visual arts and much • 10% discount in the Abbey shop and the Cellarium café
more. MHF aims to both celebrate the familiar and reveal the new and • Exclusive events and priority notification about selected public services
hidden histories and heritage from across Greater Manchester. Whether • The Association newsletter and the Dean’s Christmas letter
people would describe themselves as histories fans or not the festival will • Associates will entered into a ballot for two tickets to the Abbey’s
have something for everyone. Christmas services each year
Contact details Contact details
web: www.manchesterhistories.co.uk email: association@westminster-abbey.org
tel: 020 7654 4843

Historic Royal Palaces

embership to Historic particularly excited about is the
Royal Palaces is a unveiling of the Magic Garden at
brilliant way to visit Hampton Court Palace, a spectacular
all six historic royal new adventure play garden inspired
palaces and it’s fantastic value for by the mystery of Tudor England
money. Your membership would and stories of the palace.
cover entry into the Tower of
London, Hampton Court Palace, Membership is great value for money
the Banqueting House, Kensington and you only need to make one visit
Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough to each palace to save money, so
Photo credit: © Historic Royal Palaces

Castle. All of which are packed full of become a member today and get to
great days out and opportunities for know these palaces better. We look
families to really spend quality time forward to welcoming you to our
together. historic royal family.

As well as unlimited access to all six Historic Royal Palaces is the

palaces, members also get a host of independent charity that looks
fabulous benefits to enjoy all year after all six palaces. We receive no
round including an exclusive member funding from the Government or the
event calendar, 10% discount in our Crown, so we depend on the support
restaurants, shops and cafes and of our visitors, members, donors,
Contact details much, much more! volunteers and sponsors.

web: www.hrp.org.uk There are so many exciting things Join as a member today, prices start
tel: 020 3166 6327 happening this year. One that we’re from £48.

Woburn Abbey and Gardens Lincoln Cathedral

b Abb
Abbey iis th
the currentt ffamily
il hhome off the
th 15th D
k andd i l Cathedral
incoln C th d l isi one off the
th finest
fi t examplesl off Gothic
G thi architecture
hit t
Duchess of Bedford. The Earls and Dukes of Bedford and their in Europe. Built by command of William the Conqueror, the West
families have been at the centre of social and political events for front is largely the original 11th century building. The Cathedral stood
almost 400 years. Learn more about their lives and discover great tales of as the tallest in the world for almost 300 years and is still a breathtaking
imprisonment, beheadings, love affairs, Royal Pardons, Prime Ministers, feature of the Lincolnshire skyline today.
Royal state visits and much more by exploring the 22 rooms within the
Abbey. A magnificent stately home celebrated for housing one of the most Whether you visit to experience the beauty and history of the stunning
important private art collections in the world, including the work of famous Cathedral and libraries, join one of our roof and tower tours, find tranquillity
artists such as: Reynolds, Gainsborough, Rembrandt, Van Dyck and the for quiet contemplation, or simply visit our café and shop, you will receive
famous collection of Venetian views by Canaletto. the warmest of welcomes.

Contact details Contact details

web: www.woburnabbey.co.uk web: www.lincolncathedral.com
email: admissions@woburn.co.uk tel: 01522 561600

Lichfield Cathedral Cathedral Church of

St Barnabas – Nottingham

i hfi ld C
ichfield Cathedral
th d l is
i the
th only
l medieval
di l three-spired
th i d Cathedral
C th d l in
i ore tto N
tti h than
th just
j t Robin
R bi Hood.
H d TheTh Cathedral
C th d l Church
Ch h
the United Kingdom, and is a treasured landmark in the heart of of St Barnabas is the Cathedral for the Diocese of Nottingham.
England. It is one of the oldest places of Christian worship, and sits Built in 1844 and designed by Augustus Welby Pugin, famous
within one of the best preserved closes in the country. Here you can see the for his work in the Houses of Parliament. The Cathedral has seen many
St Chad Gospels, a medieval wall painting, the famous Herkenrode stained reordering’s with the most recent taking place in 1993 to celebrate the
glass, the Lichfield Angel, examples from the Staffordshire Hoard, and much 150th Anniversary of the Cathedral. This reordering looked to recapture
more. Enjoy picturesque gardens, stunning buildings and a vibrant history. the quintessence of Pugin’s vision, which had been lost over the years.
Entrance is free, but we do ask each visitor to make a donation. This included the restoring of some of the paint work which had been
covered over. One of the most beautiful parts of the Cathedral is the Blessed
Sacrament Chapel. Which gives the best example of the work of Pugin; it
really gives a glimpse of Pugin’s vision of Catholic Churches.
Contact details Contact details
web: www.lichfield-cathedral.org web: www.stbarnabascathedral.org.uk
email: enquiries@lichfield-cathedral.org tel: 0115 953 9839

English Heritage Holiday Cottages

t English Heritage, we want to offer you the the inspiration for the Tale of Little Pig Robinson;
most exciting and engaging ways to explore English Heritage holiday cottages put you at the heart
England’s past. Whether you find inspiration of key moments in history.
in the evocative settings, little-known details or
colourful characters of history, staying at one of our Why stay as part of an English Heritage holiday?
sites will make for an unforgettable experience. As • Complimentary access to as many English Heritage
other visitors leave, you can discover a new side sites you can visit during your stay
as you explore all by yourself. Soak up the unique • Explore the grounds when the site is closed to the
atmosphere of the sun setting on hundreds of years of public
history and, come morning, see it light up some of the • Welcome hamper
most iconic sights in the country. • Discounts in our shops, cafés and tearooms

Whether at Battle Abbey where the Kings fought for

the right to rule England 950 years ago, Audley End
House and its tranquil ‘Capability’ Brown designed
gardens or Pendennis Castle towering over Falmouth

Contact details
web: www.english-heritage.org.uk/holiday-cottages
tel: 0370 333 1187 email: holidaycottages@english-heritage.org.uk
The 2016

Rosslyn Chapel Syon Park

ome face to face with over 550 years of history at Rosslyn Chapel. ust a short journey away from Heathrow is Syon Park, the London
The beauty of its setting and the mysterious symbolism of its home of the Duke of Northumberland. The magnificent House and
ornate stonework have inspired, intrigued and attracted visitors for Gardens are set in 200 acres of parkland and Capability Brown
generations. A new visitor centre tells the Chapel’s story – from its 15th designed gardens, which includes the Great Conservatory, lakes, restaurant,
century origins to the Da Vinci Code and beyond. an indoor adventure playground and gift shop.

Open daily. Good public transport links from Edinburgh (just 7 miles from Whether it is as a heritage site, film location or as an exclusive hospitality
city centre). venue, Syon Park continues to welcome, inform and fascinate its visitors.
For more information, admissions and opening times please contact the
Estate Office or visit the website below.

Contact details Contact details

web: www.rosslynchapel.com web: www.syonpark.co.uk
tel: 0131 440 2159 email: info@syonpark.co.uk

Durham Cathedral Senhouse Roman Museum

iscover 2,000 years of history at Durham Cathedral, one of the verlooking the coastal town of Maryport and the Solway Firth, the
best examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe. Renowned Museum houses an internationally significant collection of objects
for its spectacular location at the heart of the Durham UNESCO recovered from the adjacent Roman fort and civilian settlement.
World Heritage Site, Durham Cathedral is the Shrine of St Cuthbert and Visitors can discover what life was like for the soldiers and their families on
resting place of the Venerable Bede. The Cathedral boasts some of the UK’s the Solway Coast Frontier of Hadrian’s Wall.
best-preserved medieval monastic buildings, home to Open Treasure, a new
world-class exhibition experience open from summer 2016. Embark on a Offering something for anyone interesting in the history and archaeology
journey of discovery through the medieval Monks’ Dormitory to the Great of Roman West Cumbria, the Museum has a year-long events programme
Kitchen as the remarkable history of Durham Cathedral and its incredible including a Summer Roman Festival. See website for opening times,
collections is revealed. admission charges and events programme.

Contact details Contact details

web: www.durhamcathedral.co.uk web: www.senhousemuseum.co.uk
email: enquiries@durhamcathedral.co.uk email: senhousemuseum@aol.com

Fishbourne Roman Palace Doddington Hall

egun in 1595 by Robert Smythson Doddington Hall, near Lincoln, was
ishbourne Roman Palace is a remarkable archaeological site, with
completed in 1600 and has never been sold or cleared out since. An
a fascinating story to tell. Visitors to the site have an unrivalled
example of a fine late Elizabethan Mansion, it is still a lived-in and
opportunity to explore this first century home and marvel at the
much loved family home, alive with history and interest.
largest collection of early mosaic floors in Britain. Make the most of your
visit by joining in with one of the popular guided tours of the remains and
The Estate continues to grow and since 2006 there has been much
then enjoy a stroll around the reconstructed Roman gardens.
development including the restoration of the walled Kitchen Garden and
the opening of an award-winning Farm Shop. The gardens are full of colour
The site is open daily from 1st February to 15th December with special
and interest year-round whether it is the spectacular Irises in early June or
events, talks and tours on offer throughout the year.
biennial Sculpture Exhibition (30 July–11 September). See website for full
opening times and event details.

Contact details Contact details

web: www.sussexpast.co.uk/fishbourne web: www.doddingtonhall.com
email: adminfish@sussexpast.co.uk tel: 01522 812510

SeaCity Museum Segedunum Roman Fort

ort Out, Southampton Home, SeaCity Museum’s new exhibition for egedunum Roman Fort is at the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall, the
2016, will tell the story of the great ocean liners that sailed from the 73 mile frontier system built in AD122 on the order of the Emperor
city, and will evoke the romance of sea travel and life on board. Hadrian along the most northern edge of the Roman Empire.

The exhibition includes a wide range of rarely seen items from the city’s Nestled on the banks of the River Tyne in North Tyneside where the old
maritime collection, including ship models, posters and photographs, see Swan Hunter shipyards were, Segedunum is the most excavated fort along
furniture and other items from famous ships such as Mauretania, Queen the Wall. With surviving foundations of several buildings and part of the
Mary and QE2, and learn about the people who travelled and worked on Wall itself, there is a large interactive museum plus a section of Wall. The
them. Visitors of all ages can have a go at activities such as deck quoits or 35 metre high viewing tower provides outstanding views across this World
try on a captain’s or steward’s uniform! Heritage Site.

Contact details Contact details

web: www.seacitymuseum.co.uk web: www.segedunumromanfort.org.uk
email: museums@southampton.gov.uk email: info@segedunumromanfort.org.uk

Llangollen Railway Crich Tramway Village

langollen Railway is a Heritage Railway line starting at Llangollen rich Tramway Village offers one of Derbyshire’s great family days out
Station and continuing upstream to the town of Corwen. The 10 mile with vintage tram rides, exhibitions, a Woodland Walk and Sculpture
section of line offers a sample of the sights and sounds of yesteryear Trail, plus tearooms, pub and shops. Exhibitions include ‘Tramway
passing through some of the finest natural beauty North Wales has to offer. Tommies and Clippie Girls’ detailing the recruitment of men for the army,
The Railway offers service trains everyday from the end of April to which left many tramways short of staff for the tramcars. The Great
September. Exhibition Hall contains an array of trams covering the period from the
1860s to 1960s, while the Stephenson Discovery Centre provides an audio
and visual development of transport and people’s changing lives.

The Village is open daily from 19th March until 30th October 2016.

Contact details Contact details

web: www.llangollen-railway.co.uk web: www.tramway.co.uk
email: info@llangollen-railway.co.uk email: enquiry@tramway.co.uk

A visit to award winning Strawberry Hill is a truly

   Ǥ ϐ  
eccentric and colourful rooms, visitors will enjoy the beautiful
interiors of Horace Walpole’s ‘little gothic castle’.


Try your hand at this ONLINE
month’s history quiz QUIZZES
1. Which German car magazine/quiz
brand derives its name
from the daughter of the
19th-century motoring enthusiast
Emil Jellineck?

2. What was invented in 1557

by the Welsh mathematician
Robert Recorde?

3. England’s oldest example of what is

believed to be in Stoke d’Abernon
Chhurch in
4 . Which
o rganisation
was joined in
941 by fashion
Hardy Amies
( shown left)?

5 The
Red Maids’
Hospital was
founded in

Q How did people feast in the

Bristol in
11634. What
is its significance today?

6. Who was the first woman to be Middle Ages? And what food would
awarded one of these?
have been served to the feasters?
Stefano Gelano, via Facebook

Feasting was one of the great fish might be served – if the participants
A communal activities of the Middle
Ages, with participants ranging from
could afford it.
Food came to the table in courses
lords and their households to agricul- made up of separate dishes. An elite
tural workers marking the harvest. meal might start with a pottage (a thick
The dining practices of the late soup or stew) served alongside boiled
medieval elite travelled through society: meats such as beef and mutton, and
the structure of meals, their timing, maybe a fried dish – a ‘fritter’. A second

and the style of cuisine – especially an course might comprise further pottage,
enthusiasm for spiced foods and acidic with roast meats and prestigious birds
sauces that accompanied most dishes. such as peacocks and herons, a set
What people ate depended on the cream dish or jelly and a fritter. A third
religious calendar. Abstinence from course might include further creams,
meat (it stimulated lust and gluttony) roasted small birds such as sparrows,
was common in England in the later possibly a fruit dish and a fritter. Fruit
QUIZ ANSWERS Middle Ages, not just on Fridays but and cheese might conclude the meal.
1. Mercedes 2. The equals sign 3. A monumental
brass – this one is of Sir John d’Abernon, who died also on Saturdays, the seasons of Lent
in 1277 4. The Special Operations Executive and Advent, and on days preceding Chris Woolgar, professor of history and
5. It’s the oldest surviving girls’ school in England major saints’ days. On these occasions archival studies, University of Southampton
6. Florence Nightingale, who received the Order
of Merit in 1907

BBC History Magazine 99



Write to BBC History Magazine, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol
RECIPE CORNER BS1 3BN. Email: historymagazine@historyextra.com
or submit via our website: historyextra.com/bbchistorymagazine

Every issue, picture editor The cardinal

Samantha Nott brings you a directions were
recipe from the past. This month it used in many
cultures, but it is
is a fried dough treat traditionally thought that the
made on the island of Jersey Chinese were
the inventors of
the compass

Jersey wonders
These delicious doughnut the fridge to rest and chill for
style treats, still popular at at least half an hour.
fairs and festivals in Jersey, Next, cut off a small golf
are a time honoured recipe ball sized piece of dough
and well worth the calories! and flatten it out, using a
Traditionally, so the story rolling pin, into an oval
goes, Jersey households shape. Cut three even slits in
would cook the wonders as the centre of the dough and
the tide went out – because then twist the top end of the
cooking them on an oval through the middle slit.
incoming tide would result in Repeat the process until all
fat overflowing from the pan.
I made sure I cooked these
the dough is used up.
Heat a pan of oil or lard Q When and why did people
at low tide and was very
pleased with the result.
(I used sunflower oil) making
sure there is enough oil in
start using the cardinal directions:
the pan to cover the dough.
When the oil is hot, drop in a
north, east,
north east south and west?
• 3¾oz caster sugar few wonders at a time and Catherine Smith, by email
• 7oz soft unsalted butter fry until golden brown.
• 3 large eggs The modern terms entered Cardinal directions were
• pinch of ground nutmeg
• 1lb plain flour
My wonders were wonky as
A the Romance languages as
adaptations of Germanic words
known in Asia, Arabic cultures,
the far east, the Americas and
• oil or lard for frying I found the twisting part a bit during the great migrations of the Australia. Maps from Qin and
fiddly. However, they were
fourth to the ninth centuries AD. Han China show the north and
METHOD great fun to make, tasted
Beat the sugar and butter delicious and were gone But the use of the four so-called south respectively at the top,
together until pale and within minutes. ‘cardinal directions’ is ancient, though Chinese and other
creamy and then add the because the sun moves roughly cultures also added a fifth
eggs and nutmeg and mix Difficulty: 5/10 east to west through the day, direction for the centre.
well. Add the flour gradually Time: 1 hour while north and south are at an Modern geographic and
and then once the dough Taken from a 19th-century approximate 90-degree angle to cartographic conventions
becomes stiff turn it out onto recipe found in Pride and the line of the sun’s movement. emerged with the dominance
a work surface and knead for Pudding: The History of We assume that the earliest of western science in the
20 minutes. Wrap the dough British Puddings by Regula societies navigated by land- 19th century, but in history
in cling film and then leave in Ysewijn (Murdoch, 2016)
marks, but the sun and stars, the cardinal directions were
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BBC History Magazine 105

My history hero

“His galvanising of his peers

in early 20th-century Paris –
Picasso, Jarry, Chagall,
Cocteau – was crucial to many
of the movements we now
recognise as modern, in both
literary and visual arts”

Broadcaster Francine Stock chooses

Apollinaire Guillaume Apollinaire,
(1880–1918) painted with Marie Laurencin
by Henri Rousseau in 1909,
was “an experimenter and
innovator who was also a
leader”, says Francine Stock

uillaume Apollinaire was a poet and writer who visual arts. He had a particular sensitivity for the Cubism of
played an important role in the avant-garde move- human experience: deracinated himself, he could inhabit other
ments of the early 20th century. He spent most of his perspectives with insight and compassion, such as that of a gunner
adult life in Paris, where he published a number of from Dakar caught in the chaos of a European war. While he
volumes of poetry while befriending and promoting experimented with form (even on a page, in verse pictures), his
several leading lights in the city’s art scene. After war broke out in work is always accessible, rich in humanity and humour. He’s also
1914, Apollinaire served in the French infantry. In 1916 he was the only French poet I know of to have written a poem about
wounded and subsequently discharged, returning to Paris and his Landor Road in Clapham.
literary work for the last two years of his life. Even his death has an absurd lyricism. His health was compro-
mised in the First World War when he received a shrapnel wound
When did you first hear about Apollinaire? (after which he was trepanned), and he succumbed to the Spanish
Though I studied French at university, I’d barely registered influenza pandemic days before the armistice in November 1918.
Apollinaire except as a phenomenon – the distinctive young French
poet of the First World War, a poster-boy for the Modern, the man Is there anything you don’t admire about him?
who named both Cubism and Surrealism. Then a couple of years His ebullience was surely exhausting; his amorous pursuit
ago, while I was working on the 1914 section of the BBC Radio 4 potentially intimidating; his work is not consistently brilliant;
series The Cultural Front, I re-read his poem The Little Car,
r about some of the erotic juxtapositions he includes in accounts of war
the outbreak of war. Its immediacy and insight, combining seem too obvious, at least to a contemporary reader. And I’ve not
reportage, vulnerability and an ambition to synthesise the conflict yet tackled the pornographic writings that made him the money
in unforgettable images, sent me back to read him again. to continue with more experimental work – but maybe one day…

What kind of person was he? How would you describe Apollinaire’s legacy today?
Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowitsky He’s insufficiently enjoyed and celebrated. To rectify that I
(Apollinaire’s name at birth) was a dazzling amalgam. Born in recommend a new edition of his selected poems with parallel
Rome the illegitimate son of a young Polish aristocrat and, it’s translation by Martin Sorrell (OUP, 2015).
assumed, an Italian army officer (though one fantasy has it that he
was conceived in the most private chambers of the Vatican), he If you could meet Apollinaire, what would you ask him?
was eventually raised with his brother in France, a country he I’d love to know what he made of a 21st century in which we
adopted and fought for. Artist and adventurer, he was at the heart commune mainly with electronic devices but are as obsessed as
of the Parisian avant-garde. As creative as he was sociable, he was any 19th-century symbolist with the meaning of our interior lives.
an experimenter and innovator who was also a leader and an And I’d want to talk about animals. The Bestiary (an early work
eroticist who could be profoundly romantic. illustrated by Raoul Dufy) is a series of short verses, observations
on animal traits, that are also acute and amusing about human
What made Apollinaire a hero? behaviour. Published in 1911 in a limited edition of 120, only half
He may not score high on conventional valour (though he was of the books sold. Which would make a cat laugh.

fearless in pursuit of love) but his invention and his galvanising

of his peers in early 20th-century Paris – Picasso, Alfred Jarry, Francine Stockk is an author and broadcaster. Her BBC Radio 4
Chagall and Cocteau among them – were crucial to many of the series The Cultural Front, about the impact of the First World
movements we now recognise as modern, in both literary and War on art and society, returns on 9 April

106 BBC History Magazine

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