Was Titus Oates Ugly?

I’m struck by the fact that in Volume 8 of English Historical Documents, both the documents which deal with Titus Oates concentrate on his physical appearance. Roger North’s Examen (document 397) describes him like this: He was a low man, of an ill-cut,...

Christmas violence

The Christmas story is a violent one, at least according to the account in Matthew’s gospel: When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old...

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 A look at volume XII(2) of English Historical Documents reveals that bank bail-outs are nothing new.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A colleague is working on English Historical Documents and came across the name of Godfrey of Boullion in the context of Caxton’s publications.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...