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New reviews: James I, French mercenaries, Welsh missionaries and Greek crises

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James_I_EnglandWe start today with Alastair Bellany and Thomas Cogswell’s The Murder of King James I. David Coast and the authors discuss a book which adds much to our understanding of early Stuart politics (no. 1963, with response here).

Next up is a review article by Helen Roche of Mussolini’s Greek Island: Fascism and the Italian Occupation of Syros in World War II by Sheila Lecoeur and History, Time, and Economic Crisis in Central Greece by Daniel M. Knight, two books which leave our understanding of current Greek attitudes to the past inestimably the richer (no. 1962).

Then we turn to Routiers et mercenaires pendant la guerre de Cent ans, edited by Guilhem Pépin, Françoise Lainé and Frédéric Boutoulle. Christopher Allmand recommends a valuable contribution to our understanding of the weaknesses of the French crown in this period (no. 1961).

Finally we have Andrew May’s Welsh Missionaries and British Imperialism: The Empire of Clouds in North-east India, and Andrew Avery believes this work deepens our understanding of British colonial experience in 19th-century northeast India (no. 1960)­.

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New reviews: women appeasers, Islamic views of the West, childhood and travel in Russia

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Nancy-Astor-001We start this week with Julie Gottlieb’s ‘Guilty Women’, Foreign Policy, and Appeasement in Inter-War Britain, as Daniel Hucker and the author broadly agree over the first gendered history of British foreign policy in the age of appeasement (no. 1959, with response here).

Next up is Arabic-Islamic Views of the Latin West: Tracing the Emergence of Medieval Europe by Daniel G. König. Harry Munt and the author debate a key resource for future scholars interested in medieval Muslims’ views of their non-Muslim neighbours (no. 1958, with response here).

Then we turn to Shirleene Robinson and Simon Sleight’s edited collection Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World. Rosie Kennedy and the editors discuss a collection which enhances our knowledge and understanding of the histories of childhood and youth (no. 1957, with response here).

Finally we have Exploring Russia in the Elizabethan commonwealth: The Muscovy Company and Giles Fletcher, the elder by Felicity Stout. Tatyana Zhukova recommends a book which will appeal to students and researchers of Elizabethan political culture (no. 1956).

 

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Man of 70 million words Philip Carter joins the IHR

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carterThis post originally appeared on the School of Advanced Study website.

Historian and digital publishing specialist Dr Philip Carter is set to join the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) as its new head of digital publications. He will take up his post at the institute, a member of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study (SAS), in mid-October.

Dr Carter, who replaces Professor Jane Winters, now the School’s chair in digital humanities, is currently senior research and publication editor at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB), and a member of the history faculty at Oxford University. At 70 million words, the ODNB is the world’s largest collaborative research project in the humanities, and records the lives of 60,000 notable figures in British history.

Since 2004 he has been responsible for the Dictionary’s pre-1800 content and for developing and extending its online edition in a changing digital environment. More recently, he has promoted the ODNB online as a resource for first-time research in the humanities, and has managed a series of digital partnerships with external academic programmes and heritage organisations. His recent publications consider the opportunities for, and future of, large-scale online reference works.

Professor Lawrence Goldman, director of the IHR, is delighted to welcome Dr Carter as a colleague at the IHR. ‘I know him to be a brilliant historian of modern and early modern Britain, with extensive experience of historical research at the highest level,’ said Professor Goldman. ‘His wide academic range and interests, the network of professional contacts he has amassed, and his long experience of both print and online publication, make him the ideal person to lead the IHR Digital Publications Department.’

Dr Carter will be responsible for the existing IHR Digital resources such as British History Online and the Bibliography of British and Irish History, both of which are used extensively by historians and members of the public. He will also develop new digital historical projects, some of them located in the Institute of Historical Research, others in collaboration with other SAS institutes, and some with external partners in the university and heritage sectors.

Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford – where he gained a first class degree in history and studied for his doctorate – Dr Carter specialises in 18th-century British social history. His book, Men and the Emergence of Polite Society, Britain 1660-1800, was an innovative study of social relations in this period, and he has since published on aspects of 18th-century Britain and historical biography. His contributions to the Oxford DNB include more than 150 biographies of people active between the 17th and 20th century. As publication editor he also has considerable experience of organising academic events, the use of scholarly information in social media, and promoting of historical content to non-specialist audiences.

‘I’m very pleased to be joining the Institute of Historical Research and the excellent team at IHR Digital. The IHR enjoys a national and international reputation for quality and innovation, and IHR Digital has been central to this for more than 20 years’, said Dr Carter.

‘I look forward to continuing to provide, and extend, the key IHR resources on which historians and students depend, and to working with staff at the Institute to develop new ways of exploring the past. I’m particularly keen to widen participation in, and discussion of, digital history as an exciting discipline. I also look forward to working with Jane Winters, who’s done so much to make IHR Digital a success, and with other researchers across the School of Advanced Study.

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The global reach of the Bibliography of British and Irish History

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Click here for interactive version

Click here for interactive version

 

Place name tree search details here

Place name tree search details here

For this blog post, we wanted to present the global scope of the Bibliography. Despite being called the Bibliography of British and Irish History, material covering the rest of the world makes up a significant proportion of our resources. Using data visualization tools, we mapped the number of resources available onto a global frame using the figures from the latest update in June 2016 and the place names listed.

 

 

 

Click here for interactive version

Click here for interactive version

The expansion of the British Empire explains the large amount of resources concerning North America, the Indian Subcontinent, Australia, South Africa, but other less obvious areas also feature prominently. Russia has 2,257 resources, China has 1,674, and Japan 876.

As expected, European relations account for a large chunk of material, with France being the highest European candidate with 9,337 resources, followed by Germany (5,222), Italy (2,808), and Spain (2,384). Interestingly, these figures highlight the close links that Britain and Ireland have had with the continent, and shows that our political and cultural relationship with Europe has continuously shaped our nation, as part of a wider historical legacy.

The resources are as diverse thematically as they are geographically; a brief search on ‘Crete’ reveals not just a selection of resources on the World War II campaign such as The Ariadne objective : the underground war to rescue Crete from the Nazis, but The man who deciphered linear B : the story of Michael Ventrisand Did Greek wine became Port? Or why institutional interventions matter (c. 1350-1780), an article exploring Cretan wine in medieval England. 

Even more intriguing are the countries who have merely one resource to their name, Belarus has scraped in with the cosily titled Prince Potemkin and the Benthams, Mali has one resource called Barrow’s Boysa book about exploration in the early nineteenth century, and Christmas Island gets some recognition in British imperialism and Australian mini-imperialism in the 1950s

The visual representations of our resources really highlights the global reach of the BBIH, please click on the interactive links above to explore the full range of material.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 12.51.07

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New reviews: C19 refugees, Elizabeth I, Kissinger and the Ottoman Empire

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shaw2We start this week with a semi-Brexit-appropriate book, Caroline Shaw’s Britannia’s Embrace: Modern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief. Tehila Sasson and the author discuss a book which traces the 19th-century history of refuge in Britain (no. 1955, with response here).

Then we turn to Elizabeth I and her Circle by Susan Doran, as Valerie Schutte praises a book which is refreshing in its scope and methodology (no. 1954).

Next up is Greg Grandin’s Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman. James Cameron recommends a highly ambitious, very stimulating and extremely readable work (no. 1953).

Finally we have State, Faith and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands by Fred Anscombe, and Alex Drace-Francis believes this book will be of interest to anyone researching or teaching Ottoman or comparative imperial history (no. 1952).

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Æthelthryth of Ely, perpetual virgin

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Full page miniature of Æthelthryth, London, British Library, Add MS 49598

Full page miniature of Æthelthryth. London, British Library, Add MS 49598, fol. 90v

The 23rd June is the feast day of Æthelthryth, an Anglo-Saxon queen and founder of a double monastery at Ely, who took a vow of celibacy despite being married twice. She was born c. 636 near Newmarket, Suffolk, and died at her monastery in 679 where she had been abbess for seven years, and is sometimes known as Etheldreda, or Audrey. She lived at a time when Christianity was really taking a foothold in England, and the story of her fiercely-protected virginity made her an ideal icon for spreading the message of the new church. According to Bede, her body remained uncorrupted after death, a sure sign she had not been defiled. In Signs of devotion : the cult of St. Aethelthryth in medieval England, 695-1615, the long-standing popularity of Æthelthryth is explored from its origins in the seventh century through to the early modern period. The story of the Northumbrian queen preserving her chastity as a sign of her devotion to God, fleeing from her second husband Ecgfrith when he tried to rape her and travelling back to her homeland to found the monastery at Ely in 679 obviously struck a deep chord in the medieval psyche, and her royal lineage propelled her to cult status. She also had a sister who succeeded her as abbess at Ely, and The Kentish Queen as Omnium Mater : Goscelin of Saint-Bertin’s Lections and the Emergence of the Cult of Saint Seaxburh explores the importance of themes such as maternity and sanctity in medieval hagiography.

 

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

 

Æthelthryth’s life has been well-documented in medieval sources such as Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica, Ælfric’s Lives of Saints and Goscelin’s Lives of Female Saints, and her elevated status is also apparent in the tenth-century manuscript, London, British Library, Add MS 49598. The manuscript contains the Benedictional of St Æthelwold, written in a beautiful caroline minuscule and sumptuously decorated with gold initials. The article The Structure of English Pre-Conquest Benedictionals discusses the possibility that Æthelwold himself wrote the blessing for the feast of Æthelthryth. As Æthelwold was a pioneer of the tenth-century monastic reform, it is easy to see how the promotion of the cult of Æthelthryth would have suited his agenda. Ely had been destroyed by Viking raids and was refounded in 970 by Edgar and Æthelwold as part of their rebuilding programme.

 

Benedictional for Æthelthryth

Benedictional for Æthelthryth, from The Benedictional of St Æthelwold, London, British Library, Add MS 49598

 

The writing on the leaf pictured above (fol. 90r, using the Latinised version of her name yet retaining the Anglo-Saxon letter forms), highlights her sanctity, declaring the blessing for the feast day of saint Æthelthryth the perpetual virgin: Benedictio in natale s[an]c[t]e Aethelðryþae perpetue virg[inis].

Æthelthryth died from a tumour on her neck (probably plague), which she interpreted as a punishment for her former love of fine dresses and jewels, and Anglo-Saxon Woman : Fame, Anonymity, Identity and Clothing and The Adornment of Virgins : Æthelthryth and Her Necklaces explore the theme further. Unlike the miracles of St Brigid, Æthelthryth does not seem to have performed anything remarkable during her lifetime (apart from evading Ecgfrith and choosing a site for the monastery), but saved her powers for use posthumously. The Liber Eliensis (book of Ely), written some 500 years after her death, embellishes the miracles recorded by Bede, and The Changing Hagiography of St. Æthelthryth discusses her healing abilities, apparently curing people’s eye-diseases when they touched her coffin. She also inflicted death on those who disturbed her tomb, including a Viking, and a group of priests sceptical about her uncorrupted body. Sixteen years after her death, Seaxburh wanted her body interred inside the cathedral, and miraculously chanced up a white marble sarcophagus for the purpose, which happened to be an exact fit for Æthelthryth’s corpse. The symbolism of her virgin body and connection to Ely is explored in Ely’s St. Æthelthryth : The shrine’s enclosure of the female body as symbol for the inviolability of Monastic space.

Shrine and relics of Æthelthryth. Image from Wikipedia

Shrine and relics of Æthelthryth. Image from Wikipedia

Æthelthryth’s popularity has continued to the present day. She is often depicted with a crown of flowers or a book, and is the patron saint of throat ailments. Her church in Holborn, known as St Etheldreda’s church, is the oldest Roman Catholic church still surviving in England, and she continues to be worshipped in her hometown of Ely at St Etheldreda’s church, where her shrine and relics are contained. Lace and silk necklaces are associated with her cult, and were sold on her feast day in Ely at St Audrey’s Fair. The work ‘tawdry’ derives from this, referring to the inferior quality of these tokens.

To explore the cult of Æthelthryth further, please visit the Bibliography of British and Irish History:

Screenshot for advanced search for 'Æthelthryth'

Figure 1. Screenshot for advanced search for ‘Æthelthryth’

 

Screenshot for search results for 'Æthelthryth'

Figure 2. Screenshot for search results for ‘Æthelthryth’

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New reviews: rational action, Russian religious toleration, royal touch and US left

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thomas_0First up this week is Rational Action: The Sciences of Policy in Britain and America, 1940–1960 by William Thomas. Tom Kelsey and the author discuss a book which deserves serious attention from historians of science (no. 1951, with response here).

Then we turn to The Crisis of Religious Toleration in Imperial Russia: Bibikov’s System for the Old Believers, 1841-1855 by Thomas Marsden. J. Eugene Clay believes this book to be a major contribution to understanding the history of Russian state policy toward religion (no. 1950).

Next up is Stephen Brogan’s The Royal Touch in Early Modern England. Benjamin Guyer praises a book which offers a compelling revision of popular religious belief and practice in early modern England (no. 1949).

Finally we have The Cultural Left and the Reagan Era: US Protest and Central American Revolution by Nick Witham. Evan McCormick reviews a deftly and concisely written book which confirms the enduring importance of US interventions in Central America (no. 1948).

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New reviews: First World War, Irish witches, British documentaries and early modern astrology

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sneddonWe begin this week with Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1918 by Alexander Watson. Jonathan Kwan and the author discuss an important book that reconfigures our understanding of the First World War and of European history (no. 1947, with response here).

Then we turn to Andrew Sneddon’s Witchcraft and Magic in Ireland, and Mary Ann Lyons believes this book provides an excellent, fresh insight into the nature of beliefs about these phenomena (no. 1946).

Next up is A New History of British Documentary by James Chapman. Patrick Russell recommends a book whose methodology and contents raise numerous questions (no. 1945).

Finally we have the latest in our occasional podcast series, as Jordan Landes talks to Darin Hayton about his new book The Crown and the Cosmos: Astrology and the Politics of Maximilian I (no. 1944).

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New reviews: Victorian politics, Scottish parliaments, Irish nationhood and American Baptists

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victorianWe begin this week with Victorian Political Culture: ‘Habits of Heart and Mind’ by Angus Hawkins. Simon Morgan and the author discuss a judicious and elegant synthesis of recent research which will appeal to novices and aficionados alike (no. 1943, with response here).

Next we turn to The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, and Julian Goodare gives three cheers for this latest product of the digital age, and an extra cheer for the remarkable monument of 19th-century scholarship it is based on (no. 1942).

Then we turn to And so began the Irish Nation: Nationality, Nationalism and National Consciousness in Pre-Modern Ireland. Joan Redmond believes this book shows Brendan Bradshaw’s continuing ability to provoke debate, and to pose questions regarding some of the central issues in early modern Irish history (no. 1941).

Finally we have Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins’ Baptists in America: A History. Matthew Bingham recommends an ideal choice for students, the general reader, and scholars of American religion (no. 1940).

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John Dee, Tudor Polymath

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M0010334 Portrait of John Dee Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Portrait of John Dee Stipple Engraving Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Portrait of John Dee
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

To complement the popular exhibition of Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee at the Royal College of Physicians, it seems an opportune moment to showcase the resources listed in the BBIH. John Dee was a man of many interests, and his expertise in subjects such as navigation, astronomy and mathematics is demonstrated in the wide variety of resources available.

Dee’s early interest in mathematics is established in the article On the Origins of Dee’s Mathematical Programme: The John Dee–Pedro Nunes Connection, which explores the connections between Dee and Pedro Nunes, a Portuguese cosmographer and mathematician. Although little is known of their relationship, Nunes had a great influence on Dee, who become interested in his work in the early 1550s, and may have inspired Dee to pursue his interest in the nautical sciences of navigation and cartography.

Monas hieroglyphica Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

Monas hieroglyphica
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

Dee is renowned for his spiritual interests and they had clearly developed by 1564, when he published a work titled Monas hieroglyphica, a treatise on a glyph he invented made up of esoteric and astrological symbols, incorporating the sun, moon, Aries and the cross. This work is widely regarded as perplexing and obscure, yet The Reception of John Dee’s Monas Hieroglyphica in Early Modern Italy: The Case of Paolo Antonio Foscarini (c. 1562-1616) demonstrates the influence that Dee’s work had on Italian scholars in 1592. Foscarini’s Scientiarum et artium omnium ferme anacephalaeosis theoretica is a booklet comprising 344 theses, some heavily drawn from the Monas hieroglyphica and placing extreme importance on Dee’s monad, citing it as a symbol of the ‘word of God’, although he does not elaborate on the extensive allusions to alchemy present in the original work.

However, the following chapter in Supernatural and Secular Power in Early Modern England titled John Dee, Alchemy and Authority in Elizabethan England provides an in-depth account of the alchemic interests of prominent Tudors, including William Cecil, Thomas Smith and even Elizabeth I. The machinations of courtly life are outlined, with Dee’s fall from grace after the reception of the Monas hieroglyphica; as a Catholic priest he was a prime target for the evangelic Protestants who surrounded Elizabeth and they orchestrated rumours that Dee consorted with the Devil. Elizabeth’s interest in alchemy inhibited Protestant reformers such as John Whitgift and Christopher Hatton from outright denunciation, but they certainly discredited Dee by using whispering campaigns to sabotage his royal patronage.

John Dee performing an experiment before Queen Elizabeth I. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org

John Dee performing an experiment before Queen Elizabeth I
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

Fortunately, Dee was a man of many talents and in Cartography as a Tool of Colonization:Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s 1583 Voyage to North America, he plays an important role in the burgeoning discipline of cartography during Elizabeth’s reign. Maps began to move from objects of symbolism to objects of function, providing important visual details to guide colonists’ ships across to North America. Dee created two nautical charts for the expedition in the early 1580s, drawing on the wide resources he had amassed in his personal library, and from gathering information from European travellers, and even pirates. It is clear from this article that Dee strongly supported the idea of colonization, as he listed over twelve British claims to the territory of North America on the back of the map, ranging from King Arthur to Frobisher’s recent voyage in 1577. The political intentions of the maps are clear, ‘fantasy’ islands were omitted and meticulous detail paid to the coastline, yet the interior of North America is left blank, to signify to Elizabeth the potential for colonization. The academic merit of Dee is certainly something to be admired; he produced these resources purely from his own research, as he was not a seaman, and never travelled to the Americas. Interestingly, Dee signed one of these charts with his personal glyph mentioned above.

Münster's map of America 1561

Münster’s map of America 1561 (Image from Wikipedia)

 

Magic in the Cloister: Pious Motives, Illicit Interests, and Occult Approaches to the Medieval Universe is a fascinating account of magical texts that were owned by the monks at St Augustine’s of Canterbury during the thirteenth and fourteenth century, that came into Dee’s possession after its dissolution. It explores the use of these manuscripts, and the monks attitudes towards them; they were not hidden away as dangerous objects, but shelved in the main collection of the library. The monks had a positive attitude towards magic, combining it with other intellectual interests, although perhaps the somewhat sheltered environment of monastic life allowed a more liberal approach to these texts. It is apparent from Dee’s annotations in the margins that he made use of these texts after he acquired them, and even practiced some of the rituals to seek spiritual advancement, although it is emphasized that he did this for philosophical reasons. For a more thorough review, see Reviews in History.

The final article John Dee’s Ideas and Plans for a National Research Institute provides another aspect to Dee’s life. Concerning his desire to established academic institutions at his home in Mortlake and St Cross, the plans are analyzed and explore Dee’s ideas on shaping the social and intellectual role of natural philosophers. The article surmises that Dee’s plans differed from other projects of the time, and compares his proposal to Francis Bacon’s.

The exhibition Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee portrays Dee as a man of many talents, with a wide-ranging intellect and interests in many fields. From examining the recent resources featured in the Bibliography, John Dee’s far-reaching accomplishments are represented and provide yet more fascinating aspects to a much misunderstood man. Visit the Bibliography of British and Irish History to explore more:

Advanced search screen shot for John Dee

Figure 1: Advanced search screen shot for John Dee

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 16.30.04

Figure 2: Screen shot of resources for John Dee

For a review of the exhibition, see Reviews in History 1925

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