Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • History

The Age of Interconnection by Jonathan Sperber

Infectious disease in the twentieth century

In the first half of the century, the three great killers among endemic diseases—smallpox, malaria, and tuberculosis—raging around the world (we think today of malaria as a tropical malady but in the 1920s there were outbreaks as far north as Siberia) were each responsible for more deaths than the 80 million who died in both world wars. Innovations stemming from the Second World War, an immense hothouse of technological progress, made it possible to contemplate combatting infectious disease on a global scale.

Read More

Nine literary New Year’s resolutions

Do you need some inspiration for your New Year’s resolutions? If you’re in a resolution rut and feeling some of that winter gloom, then you’re not alone. To help you on your way to an exciting start to 2017, we’ve enlisted the help of some of history’s greatest literary and philosophical figures–on their own resolutions, and inspiring thoughts for the New Year.

Read More
Rome: Strategy of Empire

The history of Ancient Rome: a timeline

From Octavian’s victory at Actium to its traditional endpoint in the West, the Roman Empire lasted a solid 500 years—one-fifth of all recorded history. Embark on your own journey through the past with this informative timeline detailing major events within the Roman Empire.

Read More
The Catholic Church and European State Formation, AD 1000-1500

Bringing the Church back in: European state-formation, AD 1000-1500 [long read]

European state-formation would have looked very different if rulers did not constantly have to negotiate with a strong clergy, independent townsmen, and the nobility over, inter alia, the wherewithal for warfare, succession and public peace. But the medieval Church shaped European societies in other ways than this. It was the one institution of late antiquity that survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century, and it carried the torch of the Roman world after the Empire collapsed.

Read More
Excommunication in Thirteenth-Century England by Felicity Hill

Excommunication in thirteenth-century England: a volatile tool

Reactions to excommunication in thirteenth-century England varied considerably, but its consequences for society as well as individuals were significant. The fact that sentences needed to be publicised so that communities knew who to avoid made excommunication a valuable tool of mass communication. However, when the sanction was used unfairly or vengefully, this publicity shone a light on such abuses, with potentially damaging consequences for the church.

Read More
Leonardo's Salvator Mundi and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts

Salvator Mundi: the journey of a false saviour

Discovering the provenance of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi formed a significant part of the book that I co-authored with Margaret Dalivalle and Martin Kemp. Determining which records and references pertained to the original and which to the many copies and derivations of the painting required the unraveling of dozens of documentary threads, intertwined and occasionally knotted, stretching across the centuries.

Read More
Emperors and Usurpers in the Later Roman Empire

Civil war and the end of the Roman Empire

Adrastos Omissi argues that the collapse of the West Roman Empire in the fifth century AD was caused not, primarily, by invasions of external “barbarians” from Germanic Europe, but was rather a product of the endemic civil wars that sprang up in the Roman Empire from the third century AD onwards.

Read More