European History

The Rising of Croatia

Marcus Tanner— The long rule of the Turks over most of Croatia came to a sudden end in the 1680s. Responsibility for the conflict fell squarely on the Turks. In 1683 the Sultan’s Grand Vizier, Kara Mustafa, decided to revive the tradition of conquest of the previous century. Marching an

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America’s Long Jewish History

Jonathan D. Sarna— New Amsterdam, part of the remote Dutch colony of New Netherland in present-day New York State, was among the New World’s most diverse and pluralistic towns. A French Jesuit missionary in 1643 reported that “eighteen different languages” were spoken by local inhabitants of different sects or nations.

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The Emperor and His Family

Geoffrey Parker— In 1855 the French historian Jules Michelet hailed Archduchess Margaret of Austria as ‘The real “strong man” of the family’ whose efforts, above those of all others, ‘made the House of Austria great’. Rather like the eulogy of Henri Pirenne, this is an exaggeration: although the archduchess proved

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The History of Humour

Terry Eagleton— Perhaps the single most contradictory political phenomenon of the modern world is nationalism, which ranges from the Nazi death camps to a principled resistance to imperial power. In terms of sheer political ambiguity, however, humour runs it fairly close. If it can censure, debunk and transform, it can

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From House Telegraphs to Mobile Phones

Lee Jackson— In December 1858, Punch, the satirical magazine, imagined the next stage in the nineteenth century information revolution: the “house telegraph.” With such a device, one could be both at home and yet in constant telegraphic contact with the wider world. But was this really a good idea? A

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A Century of Moscow’s Meddling in US Politics

David Brandenberger— Allegations of Russian dirty tricks in the 2016 US presidential campaign often treat the issue of interference as if it were a historic, unprecedented transgression. But although the means used for such meddling (WikiLeaks, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) may have been new in 2016, the meddling itself was much

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The Past and Present of Print

Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen— Does Tim Berners-Lee regret inventing the internet?  At the time, the internet was trumpeted, like any step forward in information culture, as a liberating force, an instrument of democratic empowerment. No-one foresaw the dark web, online betting, still less fake news. Citizen journalism begat

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Remembering (and Forgetting) Epidemics

Kevin Siena— Every year my undergraduates are surprised to learn that 50-100 million people died a century ago during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918–20. We can probably thank the stunning success of twentieth-century biomedicine for this particular episode of historical amnesia. Generations of North Americans raised in relative security

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Examining the Secular Age

Nicholas Wolterstorff— Recently I dipped once again into Charles Taylor’s massive A Secular Age, and one of the themes he develops there led me to reflect on the implications of that theme for the place of religion in the university—by which I do not mean the place of the study

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On Narcissistic Leaders and Personality Cults

David Brandenberger— Although the similarities between Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orban, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Rodrigo Duterte are often overstated, all these leaders are united by their cultivation of personality cults. Recently, pundits have linked indulgence in this sort of thing to something referred to as “narcissistic personality disorder”—a

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