Certain battles acquire iconic status in history. The victors have been celebrated as heroes for centuries, the vanquished serve as a cautionary tale for all, and nations use these triumphs to establish their founding myths. These battles are commemorated in paintings, verse and music, marked by monumental memorials, and used as the way points for the periodisation of history.
Romans sometimes worried that you couldn’t tell enslaved and free people apart. By the second century CE, many senators were descended from Gauls and Iberians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and Syrians—the very peoples Romans had conquered as they extended their empire. So, was the Roman empire unusually inclusive? Or even a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic civilization? None of that seems very likely.
When planning a trip to Italy, the major cities of Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice are usually on the must-see list. Yet many people also yearn to find the “undiscovered hidden gem” waiting to be explored. For the latter group, Molise is waiting. This region is so underrated that Italians have a running joke: “Il Molise non esiste” (“Molise doesn’t exist”).
One of the most curious features of sudden-onset secularisation on the island of Ireland has been the revitalisation of religious politics. This is most obvious in Northern Ireland, where within the last three months, the chaotic introduction of the Brexit protocol, loyalist riots, and a controversy about banning so-called “gay conversion therapy” have been followed by dramatic declines in electoral support for and leadership changes within the largest unionist party that can only be described as chaotic.
Every year on 9 May, Russia observes Victory Day as its most important national holiday. It celebrates the end of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) by staging events that dwarf those of any other country. But Victory Day is not just about the past. It is also about national identity in the present, and as this identity project has changed, so has the memory of the war.
The SHAPE (Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy) initiative advocates for the value of the social sciences, humanities, and arts subject areas in helping us to understand the world in which we live and find solutions to global issues. As societies around the world respond to the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, research from SHAPE disciplines has the potential to illuminate how societies process and recover from various social crises.
The Spanish invasion of Mesoamerica, leading to the collapse of the Aztec empire, would have been impossible were it not for the assistance provided by various groups of Native allies who sensed the opportunity to upend the existing geopolitical order to something they thought would be to their advantage. No group was more critical to these alliances than the Tlaxcaltecs.
13 August 2021 marks the moment, exactly five hundred years ago, when Spanish conquistadors won the battle for Tenochtitlán, completing their astonishing conquest of the Aztec Empire, initiating the three-century colonial era of New Spain. At least, that is the summary of the event that has since predominated. In recent decades, scholars have developed increasingly informed and complex understandings of the so-called Conquest, and opinions in Mexico itself have become ever more varied and sophisticated.
As Europe reopens, consider a Roman road trip that takes inspiration from an ancient travel guide. The Vicarello itineraries describe what we might call the scenic route from Cádiz to Rome. Glimpses of the empire’s superlative architecture can be found along the way, and emerging digital tools can put primary sources at your fingertips.
Mexico had been battling its way towards independence from Spain for some years when, in 1820, the Mexican-born officer, Agustín de Iturbide y Arámburu (1783-1824), proclaimed a new rebellion on behalf of what he called the Plan of Iguala. This called for Mexican independence, a constitutional monarchy with the Spanish king or another member of the Bourbon dynasty at its head, the Catholic religion as the only religion of Mexico, and the unity of all inhabitants, no matter what their origin, ethnicity, or social class.
The nineteenth century saw the publication of several books explaining how magical effects and spectral appearances could be performed using the science of optics. It started in 1831, when Sir David Brewster (famed for his discovery of Brewster polarization and inventing the kaleidoscope) published “Letters on Natural Magic.” In this book, Brewster showed how to produce images of ghosts using partially silvered mirrors and by using a magic lantern to project images onto screens or onto clouds of vapor.
Though not a believer himself, Napoleon was well aware that religion was a vital tool for any ruler, especially when many of his subjects were believers. As he said to his secretary, Emanuel Las Cases, on St Helena at the end of his life: “from the moment that I had power, I hastened to re-establish religion. I used it as foundation and root. It became the support of good morals, of true principles, of good manners.”
Bastille Day is a French national holiday, marking the storming of the Bastille—a military fortress and prison—on 14 July 1789, in an uprising that helped usher in the French Revolution. In the lead up to the anniversary of Bastille day, we’re sharing some of the latest French history titles, for you to explore, share, and enjoy. We have also granted free access to selected chapters, for a limited time, for you to dip into.
In the long history of America’s influence on the politics of innovation in Europe, the case of the planned football Super League stands out. This is not because of the project as such, but simply because, of all the variety of responses Europe has produced when faced with the latest American novelty, none has provoked enthusiasm and rejection—above all rejection—with such extraordinary intensity, unity, and speed.
The question of whether Athens was a Greek or Roman city seems straightforward, but among scholars there is some debate.
On 16 June 1871 the Prussian army, 42,000 strong, entered Berlin in triumph. Wilhelm I, King of Prussia, had been proclaimed German Emperor five months before in Versailles.