Culture

The definitions of what is culture may change but the practice of understanding, and unpicking cultural history is an important dimension to understanding any historical period. In this section articles explore the way that definitions of culture have changed and how those changes have affected values and attitudes.  The impact of the written word on fashions and ideas and the role of historic movements such as the renaissance are all addressed in this section.

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  • The Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms and Europe

    Article

    The riches of surviving Anglo-Saxon manuscripts showcased in a fabulous new exhibition at the British Library emphasises the essential interconnections between England and the Continent.

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  • The Borgia: from fact to fiction

    Article

    For their meeting in September 2017 the Bolton Branch requested a talk on Renaissance Italy. What they heard dealt with the Italian portion of the Borgia family, led by Pope Alexander VI, though the topicality of Catalan nationalism meant that the principal figures were introduced with comment on the Italian,...

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  • The British Empire on trial

    Article

    In the light of present-day concerns about the place, in a modern world, of statues commemorating figures whose roles in history are of debatable merit, Dr Gregory Gifford puts the British Empire on trial, presenting a balanced case both for and against. In June 2020 when the statue of slave-trader Edward Colston...

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  • The Christian Kingdoms of Nubia and Ethiopia

    Article

    Adam Simmons draws our attention to the need for further research into the relationship between the medieval Kingdoms of Ethiopia and Nubia – a fascinating time and place in African history which is neglected in the historical archive and about which, so far, there are only limited sources. The kingdoms of Ethiopia...

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  • The Great Spa Towns of Europe: a UNESCO World Heritage Site

    Article

    Catherine Lloyd introduces us to an international heritage initiative to celebrate ‘spa’ culture. From ancient times, people believed that gods and spirits brought the means of natural healing. Step back in time to imagine an eerie wilderness, a glade in a wood, or a pool by a river, where the snow...

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  • The Memory of a Saint: Managing the legacy of St Bernard of Clairvaux

    Article

    When Bernard of Clairvaux died in 1153, the Cistercian Order was faced with a problem. The self-proclaimed ‘chimera of his age’ had enjoyed an unusual and varied monastic career, as abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux and papal confidante, making him remarkably well-known for a monk. At the funeral the...

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  • The Somme: a last innings for Yorkshire and England

    Article

    Ronan Thomas explores a tragic sporting outcome of the Battle of the Somme. At the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the losses suffered by the British Army still have the power to shock. On 1 July 1916 alone nearly 60,000 men became casualties, of whom almost 20,000 were...

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  • The Venerable Bede: recent research

    Article

    The eighth-century monk is renowned as the ‘Father of English History’, but recent scholarship has demonstrated how important he was as a scientist and theologian and how his writings on the Bible can illuminate his famous history.

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  • The Wonderful Land of Oz

    Article

    In the year of the centenary of the first publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L.Frank Baum, Douglas Horlock considers its political and intellectual context. On 7 May 1898, Frank Baum sat down in his Chicago home with a group of children including his sons. As on other...

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  • The amazing adventures of Pytheas the Greek

    Article

    Alf Wilkinson explores the achievements of Pytheas, the first person, as far as we know, to sail completely around the British Isles in around 325 BC. When we think of the Ancient Greeks we tend to think of warfare, drama, myths and legends, perhaps mathematics, medicine and science. What we...

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  • The cultural biography of opium in China

    Article

    Zheng Yangwen shows that despite its association with trade, war and politics, opium was first of all a history of consumption. Opium has fascinated generations of scholars and generated excellent scholarship on the opium trade, Anglo-Chinese relations, the two opium wars, and Commissioner Lin. The field has diversified in the post-Mao...

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  • The emergence of the first civilisations

    Article

    Paul Bracey – The emergence of civilisations provided fundamental changes in the capacity for human development. This said, they exhibited similarities, differences, frailties, negative and positive attributes and should be related to a broadly based appreciation of the past. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the assumption was that...

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  • Travel

    Article

    Perhaps I should start by saying what impels me to visit remote places, and that means saying what I'm not. I'm not an anthropologist: I have attempted to read anthropological texts, and confess to finding them amazingly dull when compared with what they're attempting to describe. There are exceptions: Piers...

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  • What did it mean to be a city in early modern Germany?

    Article

    Alexander Collin examines the significance of cities within the Holy Roman Empire in early modern times. With a strong political identity of their own, cities were at the heart of the Empire’s economy and, also, centres of theological and social change. If you have ever read a description of a...

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  • What is interesting about the interwar period?

    Article

    The years between the Armistice of November 1918 and the German attack on Poland in September 1939 were undoubtedly a period of massive transformations. Public appetite to learn about specific aspects of this era remains strong. The making of communist rule in revolutionary Russia, the tribulations of Weimar Germany, the rise...

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  • When was the post-war?

    Article

    There is a peculiar tension at the heart of scholarship about the years and decades after the Second World War. On the one hand, the political developments following the breakdown of the war-time alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union have spawned an enormous literature, in parts as old...

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  • William Morris, Art and the Rise of the British Labour Movement

    Article

    Commenting in early 1934 at the University College, Hull, at the time of the centenary of William Morris’ birth and of a large exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the historian and active socialist, G.D.H. Cole commented, William Morris’ influence is very much alive today: but let us not...

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  • Yr Ysgwrn: keeping the door open

    Article

    Naomi Jones describes a Welsh poet who has left a different kind of memorial to the First World War.

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  • ‘Our March’: art and culture in the Russian Revolution

    Article

    Peter Waldron explores the role of art in communicating to the masses the ideas of politics and change in Bolshevik Russia.

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