Magazine Issue
November 2017
BBC History Magazine1 min read
“Popular interest in Richard III seems to show little sign of abating, as his first place in our recent History Hot 100 poll confirmed. But is there really anything more to say about him? Well, according to Chris Skidmore, author of this month’s cove
BBC History Magazine1 min read
This Issue’s Contributors
Richard III’s ascent to the throne is usually regarded as a calculated Machiavellian plot, cementing his reputation as the personification of evil. But could Richard really have planned to seize the crown? • Chris reassesses the pressures that forced
BBC History Magazine2 min read
Fire Destroys the Crystal Palace
When, at seven o’clock on the evening of 30 November 1936, Sir Henry Buckland stepped out of his front door to take his dog for their evening stroll, he could scarcely have imagined what lay ahead. For more than 20 years, Sir Henry had been the manag
BBC History Magazine2 min read
Gustavus Adolphus Is Killed at Lützen
Dominic Sandbrook is a historian and presenter. His Radio 4 show on The Real Summer of Love is available at Archive on 4 Sweden’s Gustavus Adolphus leads a cavalry charge during the battle of Lützen, in the Thirty Years’ War. Despite his troops se
BBC History Magazine2 min read
Elizabeth I Hears of Mary I’s Death
For the daughters of Henry VIII, 17 November 1558 was a day of tragedy and apotheosis. For months, Mary I, England’s first undisputed reigning queen, had been ailing. After a controversial five-year reign, she was suffering from ‘dropsy’ (possibly ut
BBC History Magazine2 min readSociety
Chaos Ensues in the Newport Rising
In the late 1830s, south Wales was not a happy place. Thousands lived in grinding poverty, while the government’s rejection of the People’s Charter of 1838 – which demanded the right to vote for working men – had provoked intense political discontent
BBC History Magazine1 min readPolitics
“Chartism in Wales Never Fully Recovered From the Newport Rising”
“Chartism was effectively 19th-century Britain’s civil rights movement and the Newport Rising was originally conceived as part of a nationwide series. That ambitious project was abandoned at the end of October, but the rising in the ‘black domain’ of
BBC History Magazine2 min readSociety
“By Age 35, 8 Per Cent of Chester’s Population Had Been Infected With Syphilis”
My research focuses on Chester between 1773 and 1775. My investigations into the rate at which adult residents were admitted to Chester’s infirmary for treatment of the ‘pox’ (what we now know as syphilis) suggest that, by age 35, almost exactly 8 pe
BBC History Magazine1 min read
5 Things You Might Not Know About… Armistice Day
BBC History Magazine4 min readPolitics
Why Are America’s White Supremacists on the March Again?
“For many white Americans, moves towards an interracial democracy in the late 19th century represented a world turned upside down”PROFESSOR MANISHA SINHA The notion that Confederate monuments and the Confederate flag itself are innocuous symbols of
BBC History Magazine2 min read
Past Notes Royal Weddings
Were royal weddings always highly public affairs? Some were. When Henry I’s daughter Matilda married Emperor Henry V at Worms (now Germany) in 1114, nobody could remember seeing so many great people in one place before. Meanwhile, Westminster Abbey
BBC History Magazine3 min read
Michael Wood on… Historical Statues
Michael Wood is professor of public history at the University of Manchester. He has presented numerous BBC series and his books include The Story of England (Viking, 2010) “I’ve become very conscious of statues recently. They are everywhere, once yo
BBC History Magazine4 min read
A very dear friend bought your magazine and on reading the article Captured, Deported, Humiliated, Victorious (July) contacted me and said “It’s your father’s story!” On reading it, it was about my late father Julian Bester, born in Lvov (Polish Ukra
BBC History Magazine1 min read
The Limitations of Statues
In response to RT Britnell’s letter on statues (October), the arguments in favour of these public monuments can be summarised as follows: 1) they convey valuable lessons on history; 2) they are reminders of the uncomfortable aspects of our past; 3) t
BBC History Magazine1 min read
Social Media
As Victoria and Abdul and The Limehouse Golem arrive in UK cinemas, what’s your favourite film about the Victorians and why? John Dakin The Charge of the Light Brigade – the Tony Richardson film (1968), not the Michael Curtiz one. A brill
BBC History Magazine14 min readPolitics
The Red Dawn
Orlando Figes is the author of A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution (Bodley Head), which was republished in a centenary edition earlier this year Catherine Merridale is a writer and historian specialising in Russia and the Soviet Union. Her
BBC History Magazine12 min read
Did Fear Drive Richard to the Throne?
In his desire to obtain the protectorate, something he believed was his right, Richard had potentially engineered his own downfall Westminster, February 1483. Richard, Duke of Gloucester was a man who seemed to have the world at his feet. Now aged
BBC History Magazine2 min read
A History of Love
Gotha – Town Centre © Lucy Dodsworth Friedenstein Palace, Gotha, Lorbeerhaus Laurel House and Gardens © Monheim GmbH …IT’S EASY TO UNDERSTAND WHY THURINGIA WAS HELD IN SUCH REGARD BY THE ROYAL LOVERS AND MODERN TRAVELLERS For Queen Victoria and Pr
BBC History Magazine7 min read
Heaven on Earth
“An intriguing idea is that the divine can only be reached when the whole community is involved” What can objects tell us about different belief systems through time? The exhibition and radio series Living with the Gods is not about individual fai
BBC History Magazine9 min readPolitics
The Victorian Shadow Over the 20th Century
Stanley Baldwin was the dominant political figure of the 1920s and 30s but his outlook was rigidly Victorian There were two very different versions of the 19th century, both of which exercised a large but contrasting influence on 20th-century Briti
BBC History Magazine8 min readReligion & Spirituality
“The Destruction of the Monasteries Makes What Isis Did in Palmyra Look Like a Child’s Picnic”
the cover of a pamphlet of Martin Luther’s 1520 tract To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation a 1525 depiction of the German peasant revolt a c1532 painting of Luther A 16th-century Protestant pamphlet image showing Luther und
BBC History Magazine9 min read
Why the Gunpowder Plot Went in Smoke
A contemporary depiction of Guy Fawkes, whose father was a Protestant official 1 Was Guy Fawkes the brains behind the gunpowder plot? Fawkes may have been the man charged with lighting the fuse to the gunpowder in the Palace of Westminster but h
BBC History Magazine9 min readPolitics
The Line in the Sand
At around 9.40pm on Friday 23 October 1942, Flight Lieutenant Tommy Thompson, a Battle of Britain and Malta veteran, was flying over the Alamein line on his return from a strafing mission. Suddenly, the guns below opened up and it seemed to Thompson
BBC History Magazine3 min readPolitics
The War in the Sun 10 Milestones on the Road to El Alamein
The Italian leader declared war on Britain in June 1940 and began desultory attacks on the British island of Malta lying at the heart of the Mediterranean. On 4 July the British destroyed the French fleet at Oran on the coast of French Algeria – to p
BBC History Magazine6 min read
Massed Tanks Arrive
“From 200ft we could see our tanks well past the line. They looked peculiar nosing their way around” James qualified as a pilot in April 1916 and shot down his first aircraft in September. By June of 1917 he had been made a captain. That year he was
BBC History Magazine7 min readPolitics
“From the Reformation to the Cold War, Social Networks Played a Role”
Most of us think of ‘social networks’ as modern phenomena. Why did you want to examine the role they have played throughout history? “Social networks were the driving force behind a series of shockwaves felt across Europe” Social networks weren’t
BBC History Magazine3 min readPolitics
Frosty Foreign Relations
A poster from 1949 celebrates the victory of communism in China. As Odd Arne Westad’s new book highlights, the spread of communism accelerated the Cold War’s global impact Westad emphasises the truly global nature of the struggle between capitali
BBC History Magazine2 min readPolitics
Breaching the Blockade
Icon books, 320 pages, £20 Between 26 June 1948 and 12 May 1949, US and British aircraft undertook more than 270,000 flights to deliver 2.3 million tonnes of supplies to the western sectors of Berlin that had been blockaded by Soviet forces occupyin
BBC History Magazine2 min read
Royal on the Run
Charles spent 43 nights on the run, successfully evading capture William Collins, 336 pages, £20 In one of the 20th century’s most memorable funeral eulogies, Charles Spencer rued the irony that his late sister, Diana, Princess of Wales – “a girl
BBC History Magazine2 min readPolitics
A Decade of Disruption
English intellectuals and writers were inspired to think in new ways Granta, 560 pages, £25 The 1790s was a tumultuous decade. Traditional beliefs and hierarchical social structures were thrown into question, and a new world rose in their place –
BBC History Magazine2 min read
Papal Attraction
IB Tauris, 320 pages, £25 The funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005 was attended by the Prince of Wales, the British prime minister and the archbishop of Canterbury. As Stella Fletcher comments, “the establishment of a previously anti-papal nation co
BBC History Magazine2 min read
Killing Time
Aurum Press, 320 pages, £20 In 1901 Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, turned his attention to a historical case featuring many of the elements that had become the stock in trade of the detective genre: a sensational murder, a kille
BBC History Magazine3 min read
Yale, 608 pages, £19.99 The Yale English Monarchs series is a distinguished one, and Chris Given-Wilson’s Henry IV certainly earns a place in the front rank. The difficulties facing the biographer of a medieval king are formidable, but this is a stu
BBC History Magazine2 min read
Fiction Disease and Devastation
Allen & Unwin, 568 pages, £20 Minette Walters is well known as a crime writer. Her contemporary thrillers, such as The Sculptress and The Dark Room, have sold millions of copies and won great critical acclaim. Walters’ new book – her first full-leng
BBC History Magazine1 min read
Three More Novels Set in the 14th Century
Oswald de Lacy survives the Black Death but his life is irrevocably changed by it. The deaths of his father and older brothers mean that the young man must take charge of the family estate. No sooner has he done so than a woman is murdered and the vi
BBC History Magazine2 min read
The Shock of the New
Janina Ramirez discovers how a thousand years of tradition were smashed in the 16th century “Every man, woman and child listened to these texts for all the big moments in their lives” Scheduled for October For more than four centuries, a trio of
BBC History Magazine1 min readPolitics
Also Look out For…
In 1967, following the Six-Day War, two distinct visions for Israel emerged. One was of settlements and the annexation of territory. But there were also dissenting voices. One such was that of painter, satirist and writer Shimon Tzabar, who was among
BBC History Magazine7 min read
The sumptuous interior of the Royal Opera House retains much of its Victorian splendour The jewel in the Royal Opera House’s crown is – unsurprisingly – its magnificent Grade I-listed auditorium Just around the corner from the lively string quarte
BBC History Magazine1 min read
Opera in Britain: Five More Places to Explore
In 1880 social reformer Emma Cons reopened the Old Vic as a temperance music hall, staging scenes from operas every Thursday night. Under Cons and her niece Lilian Baylis, the site’s opera provision gradually expanded into full-scale productions. Bay
BBC History Magazine2 min read
Five Things to Do in November
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 19 October–18 February 2018 01865 278000 • Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum has launched an important new exhibition examining the visual culture of the earliest periods of major world
BBC History Magazine4 min read
Jaipur, India
A magnificent silver water urn designed to carry holy water from the Ganges Visitors to Amer Fort can take in the magnificent views from the back of an elephant “Jaipur is known for its palaces, forts, slow-moving elephants, and vibrant bazaars
BBC History Magazine3 min read
HALF TERM Heritage
Experience 700 years of history at Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Young visitors can let off steam in the adventure playground, take on the challenge of finding their way through the 100 year old Yew Maze or enjoy a ‘fang-tastic’ pr
BBC History Magazine2 min read
Autumn Heritage Collection
Uncover the rainbow of colour at Calke this autumn across the ancient parkland and through the gardens – don’t miss the clashing of antlers among the stags as rutting season begins. Joseph Wright was one of the most
BBC History Magazine3 min readPolitics
Q Are there rules that have to be followed when naming a royal baby? Darren Frost, Bristol A There are plenty of conventions and traditions at stake, not to mention the weight of the past, for the British family that knows more of its history than a
BBC History Magazine1 min read
1. What was unusual about Guinefort, an inhabitant of the diocese of Lyon who was venerated as a saint by the local population following his death in the 13th century? 2. How did Emily Roebling help finish what her husband and father-in-law had st
BBC History Magazine3 min read
Gertrude Bell 1868-1926
Bell (centre) among a party including Winston and Clementine Churchill and TE Lawrence, in front of the Sphinx, 1921 Gertrude Bell was a writer, traveller, linguist, archaeologist and probable spy. She explored and mapped parts of the Middle East,