European History

How the Russian State Sustained an “Empire of Difference”

Janet M. Hartley— In the late thirteenth century, Muscovy was a small, landlocked principality and a vassal state of the Mongol Empire. By the late the sixteenth century, however, it had experienced an extraordinary expansion of territory under the control of Ivan IV, who styled himself no longer grand prince

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Brexit as a British State of Mind

Vernon Bogdanor— Is Britain part of Europe? Of course, geographically we certainly are part of Europe. But politically? The answer is by no means clear. Britain has long had an ambivalent relationship with the Continent. It is apparent even in the way that we speak. We speak of entering Europe

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Oblivion or Glory

David Stafford— Shortly before noon on Wednesday 26 January 1921 an express train bound for Shrewsbury in England was speeding towards the small rural station of Abermule, close to the Severn river in Wales. It was on a single-track line. A safety system used by the Cambrian Railway Company involving

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A Vanished Kingdom’s Monumental Achievement

Richard Butterwick— The ancient Roman historian Sallust pronounced, “It is better to live in perilous liberty than in tranquil servitude.” But on May 3, 1791, a path beyond the Sallustian dilemma of perilous liberty or tranquil servitude was offered to old Poland, otherwise known as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Their parliament,

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The ‘Oskar Schindler’ of Vienna

Helen Fry— 11 March 1943. In a cell at Latimer House in Buckinghamshire, two German soldiers, a lower rank infantry officer captured in Tunisia the previous year, and a paratrooper captured in Algeria a few months before, are discussing the interrogations they have undergone. The previous day, British agents had

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Looking to the Past to Find Ourselves

Michael Hattem– For a few decades, American history has played a prominent role in the most current iteration of culture wars in the United States. We saw this most recently in some of the ways that President Trump motivated his base in the 2020 presidential election. These included holding “the

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Heinrich Heine

George Prochnik— What’s life without glory, blazing love affairs, and apple tarts? That’s to say, what is life without song and true liberation for all? Heinrich Heine at thirteen, diminutive and dashing with wavy chestnut hair and a passion for play, charged into the crowd beneath the linden trees of

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Why Collecting is Viral

Natalya Semenova– Why do people even begin collecting? This has been bothering me for a long time. After all, I collect the stories of my protagonists in the same way they collected paintings and sculptures. Collecting is undoubtedly one of the most ancient viruses, even though collectors as we know

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Witch Villages and Cursing Wells

Thomas Waters— Witchcraft differed from one region to the next, but it also varied over much shorter distances. Certain desolate, inhospitable or generally ominous locations were known as the favoured haunts of witches. Prolley Moor in Shropshire was a notorious meeting place for practitioners of the dark arts, as was

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The Warm South

Robert Holland— On 16 August 1822, it took Lord George Byron, his friend Edward Trelawny, a gaggle of Tuscan soldiers and a local health official an hour to find the spot on the beach near Viareggio where Percy Bysshe Shelley’s corpse had been left two weeks before in the burning

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