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Latest reviews – Ottomans, Nazi administrators, Godfrey of Bouillon and reproduction response


We start today with Michael Provence’s The Last Ottoman Generation and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Ramazan Hakkı Öztan and the author debate an exemplary reinterpretation of the history of the inter-war Middle East (no. 2231, with response here).

Then we turn to Female Administrators of the Third Reich by Rachel Century. Kate Docking praises an eye-opening, analytical and highly nuanced book that sheds light on ‘ordinary women’ (no. 2230).

Next up is Simon John’s Godfrey of Bouillon: Duke of Lower Lotharingia, Ruler of Latin Jerusalem, c.1060-1100. Andrew Buck and the author discuss a book which will be read and enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the political world of 11th-century Europe (no. 2229, with response here).

Finally we have a response from author Katherine Paugh to Trevor Burnard’s earlier review of The Politics of Reproduction: Race, Medicine and Fertility in the Age of Abolition (no. 2214, with response here).

Bibliography of British and Irish History updated – March 2017 – “Guide for students”


The latest update to the Bibliography of British and Irish History was published on 23 March 2018. There are 3,738 new records. Of these some 633 new records relate to Irish history while 149 deal with the history of London, 276 with the history of Scotland and 90 with the history of Wales. The overall total of records available online is now 597,689.

To help students use the Bibliography we have created a “Guide for Students” page. It includes basic material on what a bibliography is, and why you should use one, as well as a case study. We plan to add additional material in the future.


So the basic question – why use a bibliography?

You’ve been given an essay on the impact of World War I on the home front; the changing nature of motherhood; the development of royal government under Henry III; or the representation of Jews in medieval England.

Where to start? You’ll probably already been given a reading list by your tutor. This is a basic bibliography – a listing of relevant books and journal articles covering a particular subject usually listed by author name. You may very well access this listing through your local VLE or Moodle account in which case links to local library holdings, and often online text, will be included.

So there’s no reason to go “off piste” and use another bibliography is there? Well no, not really. But if you are interested in the subject and feel additional research is needed, fine. And if you want your essay to stand out from the crowd, and for your tutor to know that you’ve gone the extra mile, it really helps (and your tutor will probably appreciate reading something more original).

It’s also a good habit to explore other options so that when you come to write your dissertation or long essay you are more aware of the resources available. Also increasingly, courses are assessing students on such additional resources whether they be primary sources, bibliographies or online material. And certainly if you are preparing for any post-graduate course knowledge of additional resources is paramount.

But of course everything is supposedly on Google or Google Books/Scholar or even available in huge databases such as EBSCO or JSTOR. So you don’t need a bibliography or to search a bibliography. Right again. But try searching for the above subjects on Google; what search terms to use; how to narrow searches; or access only academic material?

Google also remembers your previous searches, your language settings, your location, what you clicked on last – all of which will skew your search results.  And let’s face it who checks pages 3 onwards for Google results?

Again try searching EBSCO or JSTOR – full of incredibly useful academic material, but again what terms to use – The Great War, First World War, World War One, World War One? How can you filter these terms? Can you focus on one particular aspect of World War I, such as the impact of war on the people in northern England? Or how many resources were published in each decade afterward? Or, can you compile an historiographical outline on a given topic?

Using Henry III of England as an example: according to Wikipedia there are 16 entries for a “Henry III” from the Duke of Bavaria to the King of Navarre. Below lists the search results for a variety of resources looking for Henry III (of England).

Henry III
“Henry III”
“Henry III” England
Specialist search
Google 60,900,000 744,000 453,000 74,000 “Henry III” England
Google Books 474,000 277,000 173,000
JSTOR 151,464 4,626 3,552 2,933 ((“Henry III”) AND disc:(history-discipline)
Copac 52,915 6007 2755 569 (Henry III, King of England 1207-1272)
Historical Abstracts (EBSCO) 262 221 28 26 (PE ” HENRY III, King of England, 1207-1272″)
International Medieval Bibliography 552 255 (default to Henry III, King of England)
BBIH 820 317 (default to Henry III, king, 1207-1272)

All searches conducted during October 2016.

From the above table it seems obvious that a search on JSTOR, Copac, Historical Abstracts, IMB and BBIH provide the student with easy access to quality academic material on a relatively manageable scale.

I’m not saying don’t use Google or other search engines; and I’m not saying an online bibliography is the one-stop shop for all your research needs, but it should certainly be the first stop. From that initial manageable listing it’s then easier to undertake your research using Google Books or better still Google Scholar.

For help in searching Google – try using some of the search options.


History Day 2018: Call for Papers and Save the Date


We are excited to announce that our sixth annual History Day will take place on 27 November 2018. The event is aimed at postgraduate and undergraduate students, academics, early career and private researchers who are looking for advice on how to find and make best use of sources in their historical research. It brings together libraries, archives and other organisations, all showcasing their collections together in one place. It is a great opportunity for researchers to learn about diverse collections and chat with experienced, specialist staff about their research.

Jenna Pateman, a third year undergraduate student, recommended the event for all students of history, writing of History Day 2017, “The fair allowed attendees to speak one-on-one with representatives from these institutions, and discover the many possibilities open to researchers. Thanks to some of these conversations, I have had quite a few ideas for my dissertation as well as new ways to look at my research, and discovered new places where I can hunt for sources.”

Sandra Freshney, archivist from the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences described it as “a really fun day” where “over 200 attendees including undergraduates, postgraduates and established academics ‘shopped’ among the 56 tables”. Claire Titley from the London Metropolitan Archives recommended History Day as “a good chance to catch up with colleagues in other offices and see the range of activities being undertaken across different archives and libraries” and was inspired by the breadth of the collections present.

History Day 2018 will include talks throughout the day, detailing to researchers how to work successfully with research materials held by different repositories. We invite researchers and collections professionals to share their experiences and projects in an open call for papers. We are particularly looking for papers aimed at a general audience on broad topics, including cross-repository research, interesting methodologies, or collaboration. The deadline for submissions of abstracts for 15 minute presentations (by individuals or groups) is 8 June 2018.

Organisations are already signing up for stands, and we’re keeping a running list of participating organisations. Find out more and register interest on behalf of an organisation via the registration form. Registration for individual attendees will begin in summer 2018. Follow the news of the event using the hashtag #histday18 and look out for blog posts about researchers’ experiences of working in libraries and archives on the History Collections blog. Save the date for the event described in previous years as “the single most effective networking opportunity for researchers in the UK.”

Daring Dynasty: Custom, Conflict and Control in Early-Tudor England by Mark R. Horowitz


He founded perhaps the most famous dynasty in history: the Tudors. Yet, in 1485 when Henry Tudor defeated Richard III to become King Henry VII, he possessed the most anaemic claim to the throne since William the Conqueror. In defiance of the norms of medieval rule, he transformed England from an insolvent, often divided country in the waning years of the Wars of the Roses into an emerging modern state upon his death in 1509, a legacy inherited by his larger-than-life heir, Henry VIII. How did this happen? Through impressive archival research over several decades and a provocative perspective, Daring Dynasty illuminates what occurred by exploring key aspects of Henry’s reign, which included a dark side to royal policy. It will provide historians, students, history enthusiasts and devotees of “all things Tudor” with an understanding of how the populace and political players melded into a nation through the efforts of its king and his government.

Mark Horowitz’s new volume contains collected essays including articles originally published in the IHR’s journal Historical Research. For more information see here.

Mark was guest editor of the journal’s special issue Who was Henry VII? The 500th anniversary of the death of the first Tudor King (August 2009)

Latest reviews – Punjab, American sectionalism, Angevin England and Muslim conspiracy


We start with Mark Condos’ The Insecurity State: Punjab and the Making of Colonial Power in British India. Michael Brunner and the author discuss a thought-provoking and profound analysis of colonial insecurities, violence and legislation (no. 2228, with response here).

Then we turn to American Sectionalism in the British Mind, 1832-1863 by Peter O’Connor. David Tiedemann recommends a book which does an excellent job linking intellectual history with politics and culture (no. 2227).

Next up is Michael Staunton’s The Historians of Angevin England. Colin Veach believes this book will influence the way we approach medieval English historiography (no. 2226).

Finally we have A Muslim Conspiracy in British India? Politics and Paranoia in the Early Nineteenth-Century Deccan by Chandra Mallampalli. Zak Leonard praises an elucidating and gripping account which will appeal to students of both British and South Asian history (no. 2225).

The proceedings of the ‘Happy Parliament’: 1624 records of House of Commons now online


Philip Baker, former Research Fellow of the History of Parliament and Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University, explains the background to and completion of a History of Parliament project for which he was Editor. This new online resource provides access to primary source material relating to the House of Commons during the Parliament of 1624.

394 years ago today, what was to be the final Parliament of King James I opened at Westminster. Unfortunately, bad weather meant that around half of the members hadn’t yet arrived and so the assembly was adjourned the same day. The 1624 Parliament eventually sat for some 80 days, however, and the History of Parliament is proud to announce today, on the anniversary of its opening, the completion of its project to provide free online access to the Commons’ debates of the entire Parliament. Hosted by British History OnlineProceedings in Parliament 1624: The House of Commons consists of around 800,000 words of political debate, religious argument, legal wrangling and legislative action from the so-called ‘Happy Parliament’.

Palace of Westminster in the 16th century. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Set against the European backdrop of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), and situated between the earlier, often rumbustious assemblies of James and the even more turbulent ones of Charles I that followed it, the Parliament is perhaps most notable for two things. The first is the unsuccessful attempt by Charles (as Prince of Wales) and the Duke of Buckingham to promote a war against Spain following Charles’ humiliation by the Spanish in his attempts to woo the Spanish Infanta. The second is that the Parliament saw an incredible seventy-three acts reach the statute book, the most in a single session since the reign of Henry VIII and almost the first notable legislation passed since 1610.

The proceedings themselves bring together for the first time some twenty manuscript sources that are scattered throughout England and America, the vast majority of which have never before been published. While some are fair hand copies of notes, others are certainly more difficult to read in their original form. Both Edward Nicholas and Sir Nathaniel Rich employed ‘speed writing’ techniques – a combination of shorthand symbols, abbreviations and longhand – the Star Chamber lawyer John Hawarde wrote in the Law French of the court system, while the appalling handwriting of John Lowther is a challenge for even experts of the period. Although the diary of the Staffordshire barrister Richard Dyott is in an extremely clear hand, large parts of it are now illegible even under UV light. It was placed in a safe in London during World War II, which did an excellent job of protecting it from the bombs of the Luftwaffe, but was rather less successful in preventing it from becoming seriously water-damaged.

Work on an edition of the proceedings of the 1624 Parliament actually began in America almost a century ago, under the guidance of the great parliamentary historian Wallace Notestein. Further research was undertaken in the US by Robert Ruigh and Mark Kennedy, and the project was subsequently taken over by the Yale Center for Parliamentary History. The 1624 materials were eventually transferred to the History of Parliament, which began working on them in 2012, generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the Friends of the Yale Center for Parliamentary History and the Mercers’ Company of the City of London. On this day in 2015, the first in a progressive release of the proceedings appeared online, which culminates today in the release of the proceedings for the final month of the Parliament.

The publication of Proceedings in Parliament 1624: The House of Commons fills a considerable hole in early modern parliamentary history, as it means that a composite edition of materials on all of the Tudor and early Stuart Parliaments is available for the first time. But used in tandem with the articles already published online from the History’s volumes on The House of Commons, 1604-29 and those forthcoming on The House of Lords, 1604-29, it also offers the prospect of a connected set of electronic resources which will enable scholars to dig more deeply and more easily than ever before into the vexed political world of the early modern Stuarts.

This post was first published at the History of Parliament blog.

India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire – Reviews in History round table special


This week in Reviews in History  we are focussing on a single book, Jon Wilson’s India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire.

We invited five reviewers to contribute to a round table discussion and take up different aspects of the book, with the author then responding to each in turn.

Do let us know what you think, and make sure to send any suggestions for future roundtables to

Read all five reviews here (no. 2224) and Jon Wilson’s response here.

From Roman villa to brutalist architecture – homes, housing and households in BBIH



Cotterstock (2) Roman villa, mosaic pavements (from E. T. Artis, The Durobrivae of Antoninus (1828)) from British History Online

To celebrate the IHR Winter Conference 2018 entitled, Home: new histories of living it seems sensible to explore the theme in the Bibliography of British and Irish History.

There is much on Roman villas and their mosaics as well as articles on their interior decoration and layout such as Classical reception rooms in Romano-British houses which argues that by the late antique period the reception facilities and associated social life and conduct were as those found in other parts of the Roman Empire.

Moving to Anglo-Saxon and Viking Britain there is coverage of household goods including toys, combs, doors and furniture. A similar pattern is followed in the medieval period with highlights including Beds and chambers in late medieval England : readings, representations and realities which claims to be the first interdisciplinary study of the cultural meanings of beds and chambers. The book uses a range of literary and visual sources, including manuscript illumination, household goods, romances, saints’ lives, plays, wills, probate inventories as well as church and civil court documents. The article Space and gender in the later medieval English house uses “The Ballad of the Tyrannical Husband,” a late fifteenth-century text, that associates men with the outdoors and women with the home and the domestic. The article also draws upon probate inventories as well as archaeological evidence and contrasts peasant and bourgeois society as shown in the physical fabric and furnishings of homes.

Probate records and inventories are a useful source for not only furnishing but also the arrangement and interior decoration of the household. The book Women’s voices in Tudor wills, 1485-1603 : authority, influence and material culture  has a chapter The dispersal of assets: undressing the house, undressing the body that looks specifically at the household arrangements including the use of the parlour as a dining room and, as women aged, a bedchamber.

Christopher Dyer’s article, Living in peasant houses in late medieval England also uses probate inventories (mainly of fifteenth-century Yorkshire) revealing the use of furniture in halls, chambers and kitchens. The use of probate records and regional history is carried over in two further works: The material culture of the tradesmen of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1545-1642 : the Durham probate record evidence and From flock to feather and harden to holland : an investigation of the beds of Nottingham through the use of probate inventories 1688-1757 (East Midland Historian, 11, 2001 p. 47-57).

Looking at influences on taste and interior decoration, the long eighteenth-century covers both oriental influence (chinoiserie) and classical influences. The oriental influences include wallpapers, tapestries and, of course, porcelain and highlights include Fashioning bluestocking conversation : Elizabeth Montagu’s Chinese room (contained in Architectural space in eighteenth-century Europe: Constructing identities and interiors) and “Luscious Colors and Glossy Paint” : The taste for China and the consumption of color in eighteenth-century England (in The materiality of color : The production, circulation, and application of dyes and pigments, 1400–1800).

There is much more on classical influences on interior decoration and design. Ranging from articles on Inigo Jones in Representations of Inigo Jones’s Banqueting House : Development of sketches and architectural symbolism and From timber to plaster : Inigo Jones’s ceiling designs and London artisans in the 1630s (London Topographical Record, 31, 2015, p. 50-62) to monographs such as,  James ‘Athenian’ Stuart 1713-1788 : the rediscovery of antiquity. 

The work of Robert Adam is discussed in Fashion and function : the decoration of the library at Kenwood in context (contained in The country house : material culture and consumption; edited by Jon Stobart and Andrew Hann). The Stobart and Hann book leads us nicely into the Victorian/Edwardian country house era made popular by the Downton Abbey effect.

Taking a slightly different tack, let’s explore the demise of the country house in Lost mansions : essays on the destruction of the country house which covers Ireland, Scotland and the Marks Hall estate in Essex. The effects of World War One are explored in The country house and the Great War : Irish and British experiences. In Ireland the demise of the “big house” was hastened by the continuing wars (the subject even warrants a page on Wikipedia). Examples of articles on the subject include, The burning of country houses in Co. Offaly during the revolutionary period, 1920-3 (in The Irish country house). Big house burnings in County Cork during the Irish Revolution, 1920–21; and The destruction of the country house in Ireland, 1879-1973 (in Lost mansions).

The ruins of Moore Hall, County Mayo, abandoned after being burnt down by the IRA in 1923 (Wikipedia)

Of course not everyone lived in country houses. The growth in philanthropy and social reform led to a concern for the living conditions of the rural and urban poor in slums. Attempts to rectify the situation included the gardens city movement, new towns, local and central government involvement, private charity including the establishment of almshouses, and the work of town planners and architects.

The title of this piece opened with Roman villas and ended with Brutalist architecture – for which we have “Group-cum-Brutalism”? Highgate Spinney, London, 1964–66, discussion of a five-story block of 30 flats designed by John Howard and Bruce Rotherham. Ben Highmore’s The art of Brutalism : rescuing hope from catastrophe in 1950s Britain not only explores the style adopted by painters, sculptors and other artists but also examines the styles influence on consumer culture and the domestic settings including the impact on the Ideal Home Exhibition.

Latest reviews – Summer Palace, WW2 BBC, early modern memory and climate change


We start this week with Collecting and Displaying China’s “Summer Palace” in the West, edited by Louise Tythacott. Andrew Hillier believes that though its essays are stimulating, this book represents a missed opportunity to explore the wider issues implicit within them and to have brought Chinese scholars into the debate (no. 2223).

Then we turn to Edward Stourton’s Auntie’s War: The BBC during the Second World War by Edward Stourton. Ross Davies finds this paean to ‘Auntie’ as even-handed as can be expected from a BBC veteran (no. 2222).

Next up is Memory in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800 by Judith Pollmann. Sarah Ward praises a book which refutes a number of fairly entrenched historiographical views, and in doing so carves out a thesis of continuity as well as change (no. 2221).

Finally we have Joshua Howe’s Making Climate Change History: Documents from Global Warming’s Past. Katrin Kleemann enjoys a book which aims to be ‘a series of starting points, wormholes into historical worlds both familiar and strange’ (no. 2220)

Home in the IHR library: inventories in the library collection


For the IHR Winter Conference on Home: New Histories of Living we are highlighting some relevant sources in the IHR library. Inventories of furniture and possessions are especially well represented in our large collection of primary printed material, a fascinating way into the domestic arrangements of particular houses and the day-to-day lives of the people who lived there.

Some of the inventories describe the rich and extraordinarily varied possessions of the grandest families in society, including Lorenzo de’ Medici at home : the inventory of the Palazzo Medici in 1492, Inventarios reales: Bienes muebles que pertenecieron a Felipe II and Noble households : eighteenth-century inventories of great English houses.

The focus here, though, is on the inventories of middling families in the towns and villages of pre-industrial England, typically probate inventories drawn up in connection with the legal validation of wills. Many are published in local and regional record series, either as general collections from a local probate court or as specialist compilations on particular subjects. For comparative research, the IHR library is a good place to access many editions in one place.

The inventory of Thomas Symonds of Birmingham, yeoman 1567 from Birmingham Wills and Inventories 1512-1603, Publications of the Dugdale Society 49, 2016, pp.198-202.

Inventories often give an idea of the sequence of rooms in a house, using phrases such as ‘the street parlour’ or ‘the chamber over the hall’. It is interesting to see the changes between early and later inventories. The will of William Robinson, linen weaver of Northallerton (1705), details the rooms and layout of his house as he divided it between existing occupants and allowed rights of access through other parts of the house. (Northallerton wills and inventories, 1666-1719, Surtees Society 220, 2016, p.xxxi and pp.146-8).

The probate inventory of Sarah De Morais, widow (1691), a French immigrant in London, lists the contents of ‘the Daughters Roome’ and ‘the widdows Roome’, both with multiple beds. Artisans usually worked from home, and the inventory of Thomas Grafforte, merchant tailor in St Giles Cripplegate, noted ‘4 weavers loomes, one warpe . . . 2 paire of Vices & a few Bobbins with other lumber’ in his ‘workeing roome’. (Probate inventories of French Immigrants in Early Modern London, 2014, pp.97-9 and 37-9)

Turning from towns to the countryside, Farm and Cottage Inventories of Mid-Essex brings together probate inventories from two rural parishes, accompanied by a useful introduction which discusses the sorts of furniture and other goods mentioned in the inventories.

The inventory of Theophilus Lingard of Writtle in 1744 has a detailed description of the furniture and items in his house, as well as his livestock, farm equipment (including cucumber frames), produce and crops. The total value was £247. Five rooms contained beds: the best room, the little room, the striped bed room, the garrett and the maid’s room.

The best room included

‘a sacking bottom bedstead with blue mohair curtains lined with India Persian, a feather bed, bolster, and two pillows, three blankets, one quilt, a chest of draws, a dressing table and glass, six cane chairs, one elbow ditto, a stove grate, shovel, tongs, poker and holders, a hearth brush, a pair of window curtains and rod, a looking glass, the paper hangings’.

The maid’s room had

‘a corded bedstead with old curtains, a set of yellow ditto not put up, a feather bed, bolster, one pillow, two blankets, one rug, two old hutches (cupboards), four old chairs, an old trunk, a brass kettle, one small ditto, two old water potts, a pair of garden sheers, a pair of cobirons’.

His house also had a best parlour, pantry (with sixteen pewter plates, fifty-five pieces of Delph and earthenware), hall, cellar, buttery and out cellar. (Farm and Cottage Inventories of Mid-Essex, 1635-1749, pp.269-70).

By contrast John Day the elder of Highwood in Writtle, carpenter (1726), lived in a much humbler dwelling, with goods worth only £15. His hall was simply furnished, though he owned a clock. Although he had four beds, one was ‘indeferant’, one ‘sorry’ and two ‘very mean’. (Farm and Cottage Inventories of Mid-Essex, 1635-1749, p.260).

Inventories are complemented by other types of household records, for example building accounts and household accounts. The Russells in Bloomsbury 1669-1771 is based on letters, accounts and household bills. Extraits des comptes du domaine de Bruxelles des XVe et XVIe siècles concernant les artistes de la cour details payments to artists and the type of work they were producing.

The library collection is also strong on guides to sources and bibliographies, and the following are examples that will help with finding and interpreting inventories:

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