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Bastards and thrones in Medieval Europe

Today we use the term “bastard” as an insult, or to describe children born to non-marital unions. Being born to unmarried parents is largely free of the kind of stigma and legal incapacities once attached to it in Western cultures. Nevertheless, it still has associations of shame and sin. This disparagement of children born outside of marriage is widely assumed to be a legacy of Medieval Christian Europe, with its emphasis on compliance with Catholic marriage law.

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Co-living: Utopia 2.0?

Eight months on from its opening, in May 2016, the London-based co-living enterprise known as The Collective Old Oak is still going strong. The residential concept, situated between North Acton and Wilesden Junction, now boasts 546 residents. The project has piqued the interest of locals and the media alike.

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Oxford Bibliographies

Michelangelo’s uncelebrated birthday and uncertain death

We will scarcely acknowledge, much less celebrate, the unremarkable 502nd anniversary of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s birth. Nor would Michelangelo. While the aristocratic artist was alert to the precise time and date of his birth, he paid absolutely no attention to any of his subsequent birthdays.

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Can we have more than one friend? According to Montaigne, no

The Essais are the perfect mate to accompany anybody, throughout all stages of life. It is always interesting to explore Michel de Montaigne’s life and his marvellous book: the Essais. Within his lifespan, Montaigne was able to find true friendship for himself and record its effects therein. Here we propose to navigate Montaigne’s approach to friendship.

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Why queer history?

Fifteen years ago, as a junior scholar, I was advised not to publish my first book on the persecution of gay men in Germany. And now, one of the major journals in the field has devoted an entire special issue to the theme of queering German history. We have come a long way in recognising the merits of the history of sexuality–and same-sex sexuality by extension–as integral to the study of family, community, citizenship, and human rights.

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Oxford Historical Treaties

From hostage to fortune to prisoner of war

On 10 August 1678, France and the Republic of the United Provinces of the Northern Netherlands signed a peace treaty at Nijmegen [Nimeguen]. The treaty, which was one of several between the members of opposing coalitions, ended the war which had started with the nearly successful surprise attack by the French King Louis XIV (1638–1715) on the Dutch Republic in 1672.

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The curious tale of Roman emperors as judges

The first dynasty of Roman emperors, collectively known as the Julio-Claudians, knew how to make headlines. From the frequent accounts by contemporary and later writers of their use of torture, rape, and murder to the more recherché ways of humiliation and abuse such as seeking to appoint a horse as consul (as the historian Cassius Dio says of Caligula), there is little to suggest that the administration of justice was very high on their agenda.

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The European Left’s legacy of nationalism

Since the end of the Second World War, it’s been difficult to talk about nationalism in Europe as a force of progress. Nationalism, which seemed to reach its logical conclusion in violent fascism, has appeared anathema to liberalism, socialism, and other ideologies rooted in the Enlightenment. It’s been seen as the natural enemy of tolerance, multiculturalism, and internationalism.

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The enduring legacy of François Truffaut

On 6 February 2017, François Truffaut (1932-1984) would have been 85 years old. As it was, he died tragically from a brain tumor at the age of 52, thus depriving the world of cinema of one of its brightest stars. His legacy, nevertheless, continues, being particularly evident in his influence on the current generation of filmmakers.

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The distinctiveness of German Indology – and its expression in German philosophy

German Indological scholarship was something of an anomaly given the link between colonial power and colonial knowledge. The German fascination surrounding “ancient Indian wisdom” unfolded in parallel with the rising interest in Germany’s pre-Christian past. What German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel is most known for today—with respect to his appraisal of Indian art, religion, and philosophy—is not how much time and energy he devoted to studying and writing about them, but instead his harsh critiques, unkind representations, his rudeness transgressing into outright racism.

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Brexit and the Anglo-German relationship

As Britain embarks on its journey towards the exit from the European Union, the Anglo-German relationship is bound to play a central role. No other country is likely to matter more for the outcome of the negotiations than Germany, one of the UK’s most reliable partners in recent years. So how should we now think of this relationship which has defined modern Europe?

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Rethinking if not resetting

A quiet but intense debate has been going on among the dwindling group of Russian experts in the United States and Europe, who are increasingly disturbed by the hyperbolic rhetoric about Russian leader Vladimir Putin during and since the American presidential campaign, in the media, and from public intellectuals. Putin has been described as Hitler, Stalin, without a soul, and even crazy.

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A tragic necessity? The Reformation approaches 500

Pope Francis recently visited Lund, Sweden to acknowledge with Lutherans the religious significance of the coming year leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on 31 October 2017. This is the customary date given when Martin Luther placed his 95 Theses on the Castle Church door of Wittenberg, Saxony. A plethora of events across the globe are in the works to commemorate the epochal event.

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The end of the Cold War and the End of History?

Twenty-five years ago today, the Soviet Union of Socialist Republics collapsed, effectively ending the Cold War that had defined the latter half of the twentieth century and had spanned the globe. The previous day, 25 December 1991, General Secretary of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev had resigned, transferring the Soviet nuclear codes to Russian president Boris Yeltsin.

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JSH

Passenger lists: the example of Anglo-American marriages

On 27 April 1885, Alice Brereton (née Fairchild) returned to America with her family. The Aurania’s passenger list includes her British—born husband and their three children. From information contained in the list—name, age, citizenship, and occupation—we can reconstruct aspects of the family’s history revealed in other public documents.

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British and Irish family names [infographic]

As the population of Britain and Ireland grows, some surnames are becoming even more common and widespread, alongside a steady continuation of uncommon surnames; but how many of us know anything about our family names’ origins – where it comes from, what it means today, and exactly how long it has actually been around for? Names derive from the diverse language and cultural movement of people who have settled in Britain and Ireland over history

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