King John II of England ascended to the throne in 1199 after a tumultuous accession war with his nephew, Arthur of Brittany, and his ally Phillip II of France. His inheritance was the Angevin Empire, consisting of England, most of Wales and Ireland, and a large swathe of France stretching south to Toulouse and Aquitaine. And yet, this empire was crumbling. It is in this context that one of the greatest legal documents in the world was written.
The importance of Magna Carta—both at the time it was issued on 15 June 1215 and in the centuries which followed, when it exerted great influence in countries where the English common law was adopted or imposed—is a major theme of events to mark the charter’s 800th anniversary.
In April 1822, sailors from the British warships HMS Iphigenia and HMS Myrmidon, after a brief but fierce fight, captured two Spanish and three French slave ships off the coast of what is now Nigeria. Prize crews sailed the ships to Freetown in Sierra Leone, where the international mixed commission which was competent to hear cases regarding the slave trade decided to liberate the slaves found on the Spanish schooners, as well as those slaves found on a Portuguese ship which the British naval vessels had taken earlier.
Happy Australian Library and Information Week! We’re wrapping up Library and Information Week here in Australia. This year’s theme is “Imagine.” Help us celebrate all of the fantastic libraries and librarians doing great things over on that side of the world. Oxford University Press has put together a quiz about all things Australia and New Zealand. Once you’ve made it through the quiz, reward yourself with a dollop of Vegemite or catch a Russell Crowe flick to get your fix of the good old outback.
‘Anzac’ (soon transmuting from acronym to word) came to sum up the Australian desire to reflect on what the war had meant. What was the first Anzac Day? At least four explanations exist of the origins of the idea of Anzac, the most enduring legacy of Australia’s Great War.
Lincoln was not the first president of the United States to be photographed, but he was the first to be photographed many times, and not only in the portrait studio. His photo archive makes him a modern figure, a celebrity. His short presidency happened just at the time when photography first became straightforward and reliable. Many of the Lincoln photographs were taken by Scottish-born Alexander Gardner.
World War Two was the most devastating conflict in recorded human history. It was both global in extent and total in character. It has understandably left a long and dark shadow across the decades. Yet it is three generations since hostilities formally ended in 1945 and the conflict is now a lived memory for only a few. And this growing distance in time has allowed historians to think differently about how to describe it, how to explain its course, and what subjects to focus on when considering the wartime experience.
With the recent uproar surrounding President Obama’s executive order declaring Venezuela a national security threat, it is worth reading up on how this Latin American country has changed since the end of the 20th century. This excerpt from Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know by Miguel Tinker Salas examines the impact of the election of Hugo Chávez on Venezuelan politics.
It’s Thursday evening in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. I am late for an appointment to see my friend Shimanto (lit. boundary [Sanskrit]). On the street I shout ‘ei mama jaben?’ (Hey uncle, will you go? [Bangla]) to catch an auto-rickshaw (auto [English] man-powered-wheeler [Japanese]). After striking the deal, I sit inside the three-wheeler. As the young driver speeds up almost hitting passers-by and curses ‘jyam khub kharap!’ (Traffic jam [English] is very bad! [Persian]), I recollect the writing at the back of the car: ‘allāḥ sarvaśaktimān’ (God [Arabic] almighty [Sanskrit]).
How do you approach the history of love? Is it through psychology and the understanding of emotion? Is it through the great works of literature? Or is it through sound — from the chord that pulls the heart strings to the lyric that melts your heart? But this music has a strange history of its own. We can trace our ‘saccharine’ comments to Ancient Rome and the language of servitude to the Convivencia.
Whether we like it or not, we are all children of the Reformation. It was a seismic event in history, whose consequences are still working themselves out in Europe and across the world. The protests against the marketing of indulgences staged by the German monk Martin Luther in 1517 belonged to a long-standing pattern of calls for internal reform and renewal in the Christian Church. But they rapidly took a radical and unexpected turn, engulfing first Germany and then Europe as a whole in furious arguments about how God’s will was to be discerned.
The list of explorers that changed the way we see the world is vast, so we asked Stewart A. Weaver, author of Exploration: A Very Short Introduction to highlight some of the most interesting explorers everyone should know more about.
On the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and death camp at Auschwitz, I hope we can keep telling the stories of survival and miracles that the victims experienced. But never shall we forget the six million Jews that were murdered. There are many stories of the Shoah (Holocaust) that are told over and over again by survivors, witnesses, and children of survivors.
Iran has long had a difficult relationship with the West. Ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 overthrew the monarchy and established an Islamic Republic, Iran has been associated in the popular consciousness with militant Islam and radical anti-Westernism. ‘Persia’ by contrast has long been a source of fascination in the Western imagination eliciting both awe and contempt that only familiarity can bring.
In 1968, as the world convulsed in an era of social upheaval, Cuba unexpectedly became a destination for airplane hijackers. The hijackers were primarily United States citizens or residents. Commandeering aircraft from the United States to Cuba over ninety times between 1968 and 1973, Americans committed more air hijackings during this period than all other global incidents combined.
The Second World War affected me quite directly, when along with the other students of the boarding school in Swanage on the south coast of England I spent lots of time in the air raid shelter in the summer of 1940. A large German bomb dropped into the school grounds fortunately did not explode so that we survived.