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Historical Period

Arminius and Calvin
Since the establishment of the Church of England under Elizabeth I, a myth has been built up - and perpetuated by historiography - that showed puritans as a dangerous group, seeking to turn the world upside down, to destroy the sacred position of…
Samuel Pepys
Pepys’s diary is remarkably frank when it comes to his pursuit of love. Between 1660 and 1669 he recorded his daily life, including his interest in over twenty women who weren’t his wife, and much of what he wrote was so explicit that editors before…
Pierre Henri Révoil, Mary Queen of Scots Separated from Her Faithfuls, 1822
Mary Queen of Scots is an enigma. For the last four hundred and fifty years she has been presented as a romantic heroine, a Catholic martyr, a weak and feeble female used as a pawn by scheming men, and a murderer and adulteress. But despite the…
Philippe de Mezieres presents his treatise to Richard II
The last two decades of the fourteenth century stand out in English history, distinguished by cultural, social and political shifts that have echoed through the centuries. Yet perhaps the most widely-accepted and lauded change in this period came…
The ruins of a church in the mud of No Man's Land.
The myths of the ‘Great War’ are the foundation myths of the twentieth century, providing a frame of reference for understanding ourselves and our community. In Britain, the pervading myth is one of soldiers bravely sacrificing themselves in a…
The sentencing of Strafford in parliament, 1641
That by the early 1640s parliament’s relationship with the king had become so oppositional it was unworkable is obvious, but what is less obvious is how it came to be so: had there been a ‘high road to civil war’, evident in the increasingly…
Copy of the Whitehall mural showing Henry VIII, his parents, and Jane Seymour
Henry VIII could be called England’s most memorable king. Everyone has seen his image: tall, imposing, and rotund. Likewise, everyone knows that he had six wives, and that he divorced two of them, and executed a further two. He brought the…
Final scene from Hogarth's 'A Rake's Progress'
Bethlem is a place so famous for chaos and confusion that its nickname, Bedlam, has entered the English language as a synonym for madness. But has its reputation been deserved, or has it been on the wrong end of morbid fascination and sensationalism?
William with his half-brothers depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry
Without doubt, the Norman Conquest had an impact on England, but recently historians have stressed its continuity, questioning whether the invasion can be viewed as a cataclysm. After all, any incident claiming the description must have far-reaching…
The trial of Charles I
30 January 1649 was bitterly cold. It was enough to make Charles I, King of England, don two shirts: he didn't want the crowd to see him shivering as he was led to his place of execution. Charles' downfall had come about through unsuitable…
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