History Blogs


Edwardian Promenade

Consuelo & Alva Vanderbilt: The Dollar Princess and Her Mother by Julie Ferry - Mon, 15 May 2017
As mother and daughter relationships go, Alva and Consuelo Vanderbilt’s was perhaps one of the worst during the Gilded Age. Alva, a Southern belle who married into the rich Vanderbilt family when she wed Willie K Vanderbilt on 20 April 1875 was determined from the moment her only daughter was born to ensure she made […] Read more...

PERIOD DRAMA ALERT: Howards End (2017) - Fri, 05 May 2017
The BBC and Starz have teamed up to produce a new adaptation of E.M. Forster’s 1910 novel, Howards End. Just released is the first official picture from the series, showing Hayley Atwell as Margaret Schlegel and Matthew Macfadyen as Henry Wilcox dining at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand (if you’ve read the book, you remember the scene!). BBC press […] Read more...


The Early Modern Intelligencer

Playing and Playgoing in Early Modern England, Oxford, 23-24 June 2017 - Tue, 16 May 2017
Playing and Playgoing in Early Modern England The Queen’s College, Oxford, Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th June This interdisciplinary conference…

Birkbeck Arts Week: 15-20 May 2017 - Thu, 04 May 2017
Join Birkbeck for Arts Week 2017 running from Monday 15 to Saturday 20 May. Over the course of the week Birkbeck…


Cardinal Wolsey’s Today in History

The All Saints Flood of 1570 - Fri, 02 Nov 2012

 Drawing: Hans Moser, Scheldt Flood, 1570(wiki)
As we look at the images of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast USA his week, here's a reminder of a devastating 16thC flood in Holland which took place this week in 1570.  This was the All Saints' Flood (Allerheiligenvloed) which may have killed 20,000 in Holland and neighbouring countries, leaving many more thousands homeless.
In fact there are a series of All Saints' (Aller Heiligen) floods along the North Sea coasts of Holland, Belgium, and Germany,  all taking place on or around 1st November, All Saints Day. Others took place in 1170, 1532, 1675 and most recently in 2006.

 The 1570 flood took place at a critical point in the history of the Netherlands. Tax reforms had led to increasing dissatisfaction with the rule of the Spanish king Philip II and his governor, and the flood only compounded the general feelings of unrest.

By 1581 the Dutch Republic had been formed and the foundations were being laid for the Dutch golden age of exploration and influence. Although Elizabeth I of the England sent troops under Robert Dudey to assist the Dutch against the Spanish, England and Holland would end up in conflict as Dutch naval power grew in the 17thC.


How Greece lost her Marbles - Wed, 23 Mar 2011
photo: a decent view of the Parthenon without too much scaffolding (copyright the author)

On a recent trip to Athens, the cultural hot potato that is the Elgin Marbles was very much in play. Piles of leaflets at the entrance to the Acropolis make the case for the return of these treasures of the Parthenon (or stolen booty depending on your stance) from the British Museum to Athens.

A brief summary of the story:

From 1799 the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople was Thomas Bruce, Earl of Elgin. At this time the Ottomans were in charge of Athens, and in 1801 Elgin obtained permission (or so he claimed) to remove around half the existing sculptures from the Parthenon and other structures on the Acropolis. This his agents duly did and in by 1812 they had been shipped back to Blighty.

Although Elgin's motives were based on a love of antiquity (he had heard that some sculptures had previously been burnt to extract lime), a row broke out almost immediately, and has been running off and on for the 200 years since.

Arguments for keeping the marbles in the BM:

1. They are closer to my house (and for Londoners generally). OK, this might have held water when it took a week by sea to get to Athens, but that was before Easyjet & co.

2. The Greeks won't look after them. Pollution in Athens is less of an issue since the Olympics clean-up, and the fab new Acropolis Museum makes the BM look very last year. They even have a space ready.

3. It will set a precedent for returning stuff which will empty our museums. Well, you shouldn't have nicked it in the first place. See this site for more hot potatoes.

4. We built a nice gallery for them. Just move with the times and use it for a permanent exhibition of our best graffiti artists. The Athens galleries are full of light and a much better setting for the marbles.

That's my balanced opinion anyway.


History News Network

This is why presidents want backchannels and how it can go wrong - Sun, 28 May 2017
Other presidents have set up back channels too

Trump Angled for Soviet Posting In the 1980s - Sun, 28 May 2017
“Donald Trump, in the mid-1980s, aggressively pursued an official government post to the USSR, according to a Nobel Peace Prize winner with whom Trump interacted at the time.”


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