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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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.

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Orwell & Empire

The Mahatma and the Policeman: how did George Orwell view Gandhi?

George Orwell served for five years in the 1920s as an officer in the Imperial Police in Burma, at that time part of the British Raj. He was to write about the Empire as an unjustifiable despotism. Mahatma Gandhi did more than anyone else to bring about the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the first step in the dismantling of the Empire. Orwell should have seen Gandhi as a comrade in arms, a fellow anti-imperialist, even a hero. Instead he speaks of Gandhi with suspicion, hostility, irritation, and ” sort of aesthetic distaste.” Why?

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The Absolutely Indispensable Man

When Ralph Bunche met Princess Margaret

As the Under-Secretary General of the UN, Ralph Bunche was one of the leaders in the fight to end empire in the second half of the Twentieth Century, In 1965, he had the opportunity to speak to Princess Margaret about the role of the British Empire in the world.

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Cold War: A Very Short Introduction

Nine new books to understand the Cold War [reading list]

This October marks the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tense political and military standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. To mark the anniversary, we’re sharing some of our latest history titles on the Cold War 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.

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Walking Among Pharoahs

Howard Carter and Tutankhamun: a different view

On 4 November 1922, Englishman Howard Carter acted on a “hunch” and discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, setting the world at large on fire, archaeologically speaking. “King Tut’s tomb” and the (much older) Pyramids of Giza;:have any other monuments come to symbolize ancient Egyptian civilization—and archaeology—better?

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Conquering the Ocean

Reconstructing Claudius’ arch in Rome

A look at the process of reconstructing Claudius’ Arch in Rome and how it was informed by the latest research in archaeology and classical studies to provide a better understanding of the significance of the Roman Invasion of Britain.

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When Money Talks: A History of Coins and Numismatics

A silver thread through history [video]

With a history spanning back over 2,000 years, coins are much more than just money. They are also a means of storing and communicating information, resembling tiny discs of information technology that convey images and text across vast swatches of time and territory. Coins are the first world wide web linking us together. While they […]

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OUPblog

The top 10 history blog posts of 2021

Travel back in time to the recent past and explore the OUPblog’s top 10 history blog posts of 2021. From dispelling Euro-centric myths of the Aztec empire to considering humanity’s future through the lens of environmental history, think outside the box with the latest research and expert insights from the Press’s history authors.

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Smashing the Liquor Machine

20 people you didn’t know were Prohibitionists

The full story of prohibition—one you’ve probably never been told—is perhaps one of the most broad-based and successful transnational social movements of the modern era. Discover 20 key figures from history that you didn’t know were prohibitionists.

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Agincourt

Mapping the great battles [interactive map]

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.

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SHAPE

SHAPE and societal recovery from crises

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.

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Native conquistadors: the role of Tlaxcala in the fall of the Aztec empire

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.

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Charlie Brown's America

9 new books to explore our shared cultural history [reading list]

How did the Peanuts gang respond to–and shape–postwar American politics? How has a single game become a cultural touchstone for urban Chinese Americans in the 1930s, incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II, and Jewish American suburban mothers? Were 19th Century Brits very deeply bored? Cultural and social history bring to life the beliefs, understandings, and motivations of peoples throughout time. Explore these nine books to expand your understanding of who we are.

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A Story of Us

What if COVID-19 had emerged in 1719?

We’re often told that the situation created by the attack of the new coronavirus is “unique” and “unprecedented.” And yet, at the same time, scientists assure us that the emergence of new viruses is “natural”—that viruses are always mutating or picking up and losing bits of DNA. But if lethal new viruses have emerged again and again during human history, why has dealing with this one been such a struggle?

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