What’s in a name?

Christian attitudes to hell seem to have changed somewhat in the last century or two. Tertullian and Aquinas both thought that one of the delights of heaven would be a ringside seat to watch the torments of the damned. By contrast, in the salons of Proust’s...

An Imaginative Punishment

The reputation of English wine has improved dramatically in recent years, and even some world-class wines are being produced, but in general England is not thought of as a centre of viticulture. So it’s not surprising to find that in London in 1364, at the...

Plus ça change

The recent bank bail-out is still fresh in the public mind, as shown by the Occupy London campaign. A look at volume XII(2) of English Historical Documents reveals that bank bail-outs are nothing new. Document 62 is an article in The Economist from December 1890, in...

Three Godfrey of Boullions in one day

A colleague is working on English Historical Documents and came across the name of Godfrey of Boullion in the context of Caxton’s publications. In Caxton defends the historicity of King Arthur (1485), Caxton, in his preface to Malory’s King Arthur, outlines his “nine...

Transported Women and Sailors

In an earlier post about the sexual mores on board transportation ships, I wondered what might have happened to the women when they arrived in New South Wales. Some of them undoubtedly were pregnant but presumably all the sailors they had partnered with during the...

The Murder of Bishops and the Decline of Violence

Steven Pinker’s new book about the decline of violence has been getting some media coverage in the past few weeks. I have been looking forward to reading the book for quite a while, and I was encouraged to see a positive review by the political scientist David...