European History

The Office of the Coroner and the Birth of the Modern English State

Matthew Lockwood— The image of the detective is a familiar one to modern eyes. Contemporary culture is rife with crime dramas, police procedurals, and medical investigations. Searching for the origins of this ubiquitous cultural type in the Anglo-American world, few would delve deeply into the past, pinpointing instead the nineteenth

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The English Reformation: Was Henry VIII the Founder of Roman Catholicism?

Peter Marshall— The Reformation in England—heralded by Henry VIII’s repudiation of the authority of the pope in 1533-4—is usually conceived of as a process of societal conversion, through which one kind of religious culture gradually transformed itself into another. A fundamentally Catholic nation became an overtly Protestant one, and the

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Sick Labor: Illness and Treatment in Stalin’s Gulags

Golfo Alexopoulos— In the Gulag or forced labor camp system under Stalin, 1929-1953, prisoners represented the state’s “human raw material.” Camp officials recorded prisoners’ illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths as a way of tracking one of the most important pieces of data for the party—“lost labor days.” The Stalinist camp system

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Louis Barthas: Eyewitness to the French Army Mutinies, May-June 1917

Edward M. Strauss— “On May 26 [1917] the first American combat troops arrived in France…. “The arrival of the first American troops coincided with a dramatic change on the French sector of the Western Front, where the growing number of desertions turned, on May 27, to mutiny.  At the Front

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Notes from the Gulag

The following two poems are written by Arsenii Formakov, a Latvian Russian poet, novelist, and journalist, during two terms in Soviet labor camps, 1940 to 1947 in Kraslag and 1949 to 1955 in Kamyshlag and Ozerlag. This correspondence, which Formakov mailed home to his family in Riga, provides readers with

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A Sociological Look at World War Combat

Alan Allport— The Second World War was not just one of the two greatest military efforts ever undertaken by the United Kingdom, but also, albeit quite by chance, one of its two greatest ever sociological experiments. Between 1939 and 1945, Britain mobilized around 5.8 million men and 640,000 women for

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Architect of the Holocaust

Martin Kitchen— The Oxford historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, whom British Intelligence had appointed to counter Soviet claims that Hitler was not dead but had sought refuge with the Western Allies, interviewed Albert Speer while he was in custody at Kransberg Castle, where he awaited trial at Nuremberg. He had found him

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Cnut: Danish Warlord and Anglo-Saxon King

Timothy Bolton— The events of Cnut’s life are relatively straightforward to chronicle. He was born sometime in the decade before the year 1000 in Denmark, as the second son of its king, Sven ‘Forkbeard’, who had seized the country a decade or so before that from his own father, Harald

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The New Power of Popular Protest

Nathan Stoltzfus— The new administration’s condemnation of dissent and the arrogation of more and more power in the president’s hands have made street protest and its images more forceful. The president made his way to power by creating images of himself with broad brush strokes vague enough to appeal to

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The Private Life of Il Duce: Mussolini and His Last Lover Claretta Petacci

R. J. B. Bosworth— During the American election campaign last year, a splendid cartoon did the rounds. It displayed Donald J. Trump dressed in military and militant uniform. His telling wedge of blond hair jutted from beneath a Fascist helmet. The caption read ‘Il Douche’. Then and now some commentators

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