International Relations

Relations across the UK, Europe and globally are frequently changing, and have done so across our history. How these relations are recorded, monitored and treated are discussed in the collection of articles and podcasts here. The very concept of international relations is explored as are when boundaries and discussions between states and groups started to matter. What are the procedures, protocols and outcomes of a world according to the history of international relations are all under scrutiny?

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  • The Duchy of Courland and a Baltic colonial venture across the ocean

    Article

    The Duchy of Courland’s attempts to establish outposts in the Caribbean and Africa were not the only Baltic ventures across the Atlantic during the seventeenth century. However, the expeditions of the small vassal dukedom were possibly the most unlikely. The article introduces the motivations behind the Couronian colonial project, as...

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  • From Lithuania to Lancashire: life and death in the pursuit of freedom

    Article

    In this article, Simon Bromiley explores the history of twentieth-century Lithuania through the life of his grandfather. He experienced much of its difficult history, including the Soviet annexation of 1940 and the German invasion and occupation of the following year. The article follows him as he made a new life for himself in...

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  • How Sweden almost became a nuclear-armed state – and why it didn’t

    Article

    This article examines the conditions under which Sweden considered and subsequently pursued nuclear weapons. After failing to secure the establishment of a Scandinavian defence union, the Swedish government initially viewed nuclear arms as an effective means to safeguard the country’s neutrality. Owing to technical limitations, reassessments on the value of such...

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  • Flight from Kabul: a historical perspective

    Article

    In this article, Matt Jux-Blayney compares the British retreat from Kabul in 1842 with the most recent flight of NATO from Kabul in August 2021. Matt explores the various similarities between the two campaigns and includes personal recollections from his service in Afghanistan with the British Army. On 6 January...

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  • Sweden’s forgotten revolution

    Article

    People are sometimes surprised to learn that for much of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, Sweden was one of Europe’s great powers. The revolution that transformed Swedish government following the death of Karl XII at the end of the Great Northern War is still less widely-known. But though largely carried...

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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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  • History Abridged: The City of Alexandria

    Article

    History Abridged: This feature seeks to take a person, event or period and abridge, or focus on, an important event or detail that can get lost in the big picture. Think Horrible Histories for grownups (without the songs and music). See all History Abridged articles One of the oldest cities...

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  • Film: How new is Asia’s ‘new era’?

    Article

    The 2021 Medlicott Medal recipient was Professor Rana Mitter, expert on Modern Chinese history and politics. Professor Mitter's Medlicott lecture was on the subject of ‘How New is Asia’s “new era”?’.

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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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  • ‘Zulu’ and the end of Empire

    Article

    In this article, Nicolas Kinloch examines the 1964 film Zulu. He suggests what it might tell us about the reality of the British Empire and asks if it has anything to say about the era in which the film was made. One of the most successful British films of 1964...

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  • Legacies of the Cement Armada

    Article

    Steven Pierce writes about Nigeria, long known for its flamboyant corruption, some of which stems from accidents of history. Its true international notoriety emerged in 1974–75, when half the world’s concrete supply was mysteriously diverted to the port of Lagos, paralysing it for a year. This article examines how the press coverage...

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  • Out and About in Cairo

    Article

    Nicolas Kinloch guides us round the fascinating city of Cairo. Cairo has always been a traveller’s destination. That indefatigable explorer, ibn Battuta, arrived there in 1326, and declared that it was ‘boundless in its multitude of buildings, peerless in beauty and splendour...extending a friendly welcome to strangers’. Most of this is...

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  • Ancient Athenian inscriptions in public and private UK collections

    Article

    Peter Liddel introduces us to a rich source of historical information and encourages us to make some purposeful visits to museums. From the seventeenth to the mid nineteenth century, travellers from the UK explored the Mediterranean lands of ancient civilisations in search of trophies that demonstrated the achievements of the classical world. Highly...

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  • German universities under the Nazis

    Article

    In this article A.D. Harvey draws out the influence that Nazism and Nazi practices had on German universities and their staff. He explores how some university professors were active members of the party while others saw a chance of advancement by becoming conduits of the Nazi ideas. Finally he considers...

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  • History Abridged: The Berlin Conference 1884–1885

    Article

    History Abridged: This feature seeks to take a person, event or period and abridge, or focus on, an important event or detail that can get lost in the big picture. Think Horrible Histories for grownups (without the songs and music). See all History Abridged articles In 2020 there was lots...

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  • Real Lives: Surviving the War in the Soviet Union: recollections of a child deportee

    Article

    This 'Real Lives' piece is based on a series of interviews Annette Ormanczyk carried out in 2019 with Mrs Irena Persak, who was deported as a five-year-old child with her family in February 1940. As well as offering a fascinating personal account of life in the Soviet Union during the Second...

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  • Why was it so important to see Dunkirk as a triumph rather than a disaster in 1940?

    Article

    Karin Doull investigates the perceptions of the outcome of the Dunkirk evacuation within the contextual framework of the time at which it occurred. In May 1940 the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and a proportion of the French First Army group had withdrawn, under heavy fighting to the port of Dunkirk on the...

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  • Monty’s school: the benign side of Viscount Montgomery of Alamein

    Article

    Field-Marshal Montgomery has a reputation as a strong-willed battle-hardened leader, with a touch of the impetuous. Few know of his charitable side and yet in his later years this side was just as important to his activities. In this article we find out a bit more of this often simplistically...

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  • Blood and Iron: the violent birth of modern Germany

    Article

    Katja Hoyer discusses Germany’s unification 150 years ago: an event that cast a long shadow over the troubled young nation and would alter the course of European and world history. Shivering in the cold winter air that drifted in through the windows of his temporary residence in Paris, Wilhelm I, King...

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  • Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs

    Article

    David Smith investigates how the USA made such a big mistake in the Bay of Pigs. In his inaugural address, President Kennedy attempted to balance the demands of Cold War rhetoric with setting out a vision of a post-Cold War world. Praise for the speech came across the political divide, with the Republican minority leader Senator...

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