This Guilty Land: Every Possible Lincoln

Eric Foner, 17 December 2020

Today, Abraham Lincoln is widely revered, while many Americans, including some historians, consider John Brown mad. Yet it was Brown’s strategy that brought slavery to an end. In a note written shortly...

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The European Coup

Perry Anderson, 17 December 2020

The EU of today is neither the creation of a revolution, nor does it enjoy any homogeneity of culture or language, nor is it united by the intoxicating prospect of expansion. Moreover, and decisively,...

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Down with Occurrences: Baroque Excess

Erin Maglaque, 3 December 2020

Fernand Braudel’s Italy is radiant, luminous, dazzling; its culture glows, sparks, illuminates Europe. It is a broken mirror, a glinting mosaic. This is a visual language that seems to spring naturally...

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Did he have things to confess? Was he someone people confessed to, like a priest? The term seems to have been attached to him by successive biographers in an attempt to get him canonised as a saint, and...

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The Napoleonic Wars were in no sense purely European events. They involved individuals from around the world and had worldwide ramifications. They left a stamp on everything from the westward expansion...

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A Regular Grey

Jonathan Parry, 3 December 2020

To​ have one brother killed by an African animal would be a misfortune. To lose two, at different times, is surely remarkable. Such was the distinction of Sir Edward Grey, who served as foreign secretary...

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Mr Dug-out and His Lady: Woman’s Kingdom

Helen McCarthy, 19 November 2020

The Endell Street hospital showed what the First World War had made possible for the well-educated spinster. She found useful work, won the vote and became eligible to run for Parliament.

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Mothers were different: The Breadwinner Norm

Susan Pedersen, 19 November 2020

Fathers sat down to a kipper or a boiled egg at breakfast (and gave one fav­oured child the top); their dependants ate porridge. Kind fathers sometimes shared tidbits; others avoided the whole drama...

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Don’t break that fiddle: Eclectic Imitators

Tobias Gregory, 19 November 2020

The boundary between the broader and narrower senses has never been firm, and the history of literary imitation has always been bound up with the histories of philosophy, rhetoric and education. Plato,...

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The End of the Plantocracy

Pooja Bhatia, 19 November 2020

For most Haitians, it didn’t matter whether the plantation owner was Black, mixed-race or white; or whether he claimed France, Britain or Haiti as his nation, nor did it much matter whether the system...

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They saw him coming: The Lockhart Plot

Neal Ascherson, 5 November 2020

Secret emissaries promise that a certain army general will bring ten thousand soldiers across to you. Émigré ‘experts’ assure you that the peasantry of a certain province is itching...

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A Thousand Slayn: Ars Moriendi

Barbara Newman, 5 November 2020

Fifteenth-century tracts instructed the imperilled soul to repent, make a good confession and detach from worldly goods, including wife and children. But the idea of dying as an art points to something...

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We know it intimately: Rummaging for Mummies

Christina Riggs, 22 October 2020

Egyptologists operate under quite a large illusion: that the history of their field is something to celebrate rather than scrutinise. The drama plays out against palm trees, pyramids and Nile boats,...

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A Rock of Order: Through Metternich’s Eyes

Christopher Clark, 8 October 2020

While the peacekeeping aspects of the post-Vienna order continue to attract admiration, the same is not true of the intensified surveillance and repression of dissenting political networks that was another...

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Ah, how miserable! Three New Oresteias

Emily Wilson, 8 October 2020

Misogynist tropes often involve present­ing women as interesting in precisely the ways that Aeschylus’ female characters are interesting: charming, articulate, danger­ous, deceitful, too...

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The stories concocted about Mary Toft are a hybrid of science, folklore, fantasy, pornography and satire, drawing on medical knowledge of pregnancy and childbirth while fuelling ancient superstitions about...

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The worlds, pre-internet, were so much smaller and dingier and more accidental than those of today’s feminisms. Whether or not you knew about this group or that argument depended on who you...

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The Spanish Habsburg line expired on the death of the hermaphrodite Charles II. Ferdinand I of Austria suffered from hydrocephalus and crippling epilepsy, which prevented him from reigning effectively...

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