Anyway, we begin this week with Richard McMahon’s The Races of Europe: Construction of National Identities in the Social Sciences, 1839-1939. Ian Stewart and the author debate a valuable contribution to the histories of ideas and science, linking them to the cultural history of national identities (no. 2173, with response here).
Next up is Lincoln, Congress, and Emancipation, edited by Donald R. Kennon and Paul Finkelman. Susan-Mary Grant and the editors discuss a collection largely dedicated to the heroes of America’s national story (no. 2172, with response here).
Then we turn to Jonathan Healey’s The First Century of Welfare: Poverty and Poor Relief in Lancashire, 1620-1730. David Hitchcock recommends an history of poor relief in Lancashire across the 17th and early 18th centuries (no. 2171).
Finally we have Unpopular Sovereignty: Mormons and the Federal Management of Early Utah Territory by Brent M. Rogers. James Williamson believes any historian seeking to understand debates over sovereignty within antebellum America should consult this work (no. 2170).
Those who read English history in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries encountered significant coverage of Wales. English readers of late fifteenth-century chronicles, however, found little sense of the situation of Wales, even regarding its role in the invasion through Wales of Henry VII, a king with Welsh ancestry. This change suggests there were limits to English fifteenth-century preoccupations with Welsh threats. It also accentuates the significance of the rediscovery of Welsh pasts that took place from the fifteen-thirties, due to the monarchy’s Welsh identity and the importance in English historical writing of men with marcher connections like Richard Grafton and Edward Hall.
The 2017 Historical Research/Wiley lecture was designed to raise some general issues about the nature of ‘civil wars’ as a prelude to a conference that looked at many examples across time and space. It takes the events of the sixteen-forties across Britain and Ireland and notes that very few participants accepted (at least publicly) that they were engaged in one or more civil wars. There was widespread seventeenth-century understanding that the term ‘civil war’ (bellum civile) had been developed in late republican and early imperial Rome but as just one of several terms used to analyse and describe internal wars and conflicts. This article explores the implications of this for our understanding of the first great crisis of the Stuart kingdoms.
This article investigates office-holding and private enterprise in eighteenth-century Sicily through a case study of the activities of Baron de Piro, a native of Malta. Based on documents held in Maltese and Sicilian archives, the article demonstrates how political developments in the kingdom both opened up and circumscribed the opportunities within which an upwardly-mobile household sought its fortune by identifying the social, political and economic contexts in which they operated. In doing so, it delivers insights into the impact of successive regime changes on the socio-economic landscape in Sicily as it passed from the Austrian Habsburgs to the Bourbons of Naples.
Princess Elizabeth Tudor’s holograph letters have long been prized, but often reveal more about her education than about her life before she became queen in 1558. Her scribal letters, by comparison, can offer more matter-of-fact insights into these years, showing how Elizabeth negotiated with the governments of her brother Edward VI and sister Mary I, how she managed her household and estate, and how she sued for property for herself and patronage for her servants. The article presents diplomatic transcriptions of seven scribal letters, written between 1547 and 1556, adding significantly to our understanding of her life during these years.
This article examines the evidence of the early medieval Latin Physiologus manuscripts for compilatory practices within the context of Carolingian ecclesiastical and educational reform in the period c.700–1000. It argues that miscellany manuscripts, in which the Physiologus is exclusively found in this period, represent a conscious and highly organized encyclopaedic drive that created multi-purpose manuals as part of the response to programmatic social change at a local level. Miscellanies are therefore a key and overlooked source for the use of knowledge in monastic writing centres, and for early medieval intellectual history more generally.
When Simon de Montfort took control of the government of England in 1264, he replaced the sheriffs appointed by Henry III. The new sheriffs were relatively obscure and have been little studied. The baronial reform movement raised expectations that sheriffs should be honest, and natives of the counties they governed. De Montfort’s sheriffs largely met these requirements, as their backgrounds and careers demonstrate. Unpublished exchequer records show that they were sometimes surprisingly successful as administrators in a time of disorder. They were men of the knightly class, serving their counties, rather than being ideologically attached to the reform movement.
This article examines how some key Conservative leaders conceptualized the problem of ‘the future’ in the final stages of the Second World War. It contends that the mental map employed by senior Conservatives for navigating the challenges of post-war national renewal has remained significantly misunderstood. The article conducts a close reading of Conservative positions on a range of issues – from economic modernization and constitutional propriety to geopolitical tensions – and highlights some previously neglected dimensions to domestic political debate. It concludes that the arguments developed by Conservative leaders were more sophisticated and coherent than has often been recognized.
We start this week with Better Active than Radioactive! Anti-Nuclear Protest in 1970s France and West Germany by Andrew S. Tompkins. Sinead McEneaney and the author discuss a work which places the focus squarely on the transnational connections between activists and activist groups (no. 2169, with response here).
Next up is Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf’s ‘Most Blessed of the Patriarchs’: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination. David Houpt enjoys a fascinating look into the psyche of one of America’s most enigmatic figures (no. 2168).
Then we turn to the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership database. Daniel Livesay praises a tremendous resource and tool for the history of slavery, the West Indies, Britain, and the Atlantic World (no. 2167).
Finally we have a response by author Dušan Zupka to Nora Berend’s review of Ritual and Symbolic Communication in Medieval Hungary under the Árpád Dynasty.
B.791 VIC/A Letters of Queen Victoria 1837-1861, Volume I
Over summer, our Wohl Library intern, Rachel Moore, spent some time looking at our collections of letters relating to Queen Victoria. In this post, she looks at the publishing project inaugurated by Edward VII, Letters of Queen Victoria 1813-1861, ed. Arthur Christopher Benson, vol 1, which can be found in the first floor of the Library.
Researchers will know that these letters have been carefully selected and heavily edited, but nevertheless, they provide a wealth of insight into Victoria’s reign. According to the Preface of the text:
Her Majesty Queen dealt with her papers… in a most methodical manner; she formed the habit in early days of preserving her private letters, and after her accession to the Throne all her official papers were similarly treated, and bound in volumes (v).
Owing to the large number of letters available, the individuals charged with building the volume chose ‘to publish specimens of such documents as would serve to bring out the development of the Queen’s character and disposition, and to give typical instances of her methods in dealing with political and social matters’ (vii). It is therefore a volume of politics and public events, devoid on the surface of any more telling emotion or subjects.
Despite the edits, Victoria’s letters possess a distinct voice that is reflective, stately, and kind-hearted. This is similarly noted in the Preface:
We see one of highly vigorous and active temperament, of strong affections, and with a deep sense of responsibility, placed at an early age, and after a quiet girlhood, in a position the greatness of which is impossible to exaggerate (viii).
In the anthology, we are provided with the memoirs of Victoria herself and the fond letters of her relatives. Throughout the volume, we are introduced to and immersed in her history.
Victoria speaks fondly of visits to Windsor and Claremont, remembering visits with family as a child (Chapter II). She also describes in detail several members of her family throughout her early years (Chapters II and III). The qualities of Victoria in her youth are evident in these texts, but are also noted by the editors: ‘She was high-spirited and wilful, but devotedly affectionate, and almost typically feminine’ (27).
A few short years prior to her accession to the throne, Victoria learned a great wealth of political knowledge and advice from the King Leopold, King of the Belgians. The two individuals exchanged hundreds of letters throughout Victoria’s teenage years and beyond, and the love between them is clearly evident (chapter IV). Even after the Queen’s accession, Leopold continued to be a trusted confidante.
Upon the imminent death of King William IV, Victoria’s uncle, she wrote a letter to Leopold concerning her accession (which she refers to as “the event which it seems is likely to occur soon”). In said letter, she writes, “I am not alarmed at it, and yet I do not suppose myself quite equal to all; I trust, however, that with good will, honesty, and courage I shall not, at all events, fail” (95). This was the sentiment with which Her Majesty ruled.
Although the majority of our library consists of books and journals, we also provide access to a large number of digital resources for readers physically in the building or, in the case of the Churchill Papers, remotely for members of the library. We are also keen, as funds allow, to expand the number of resources that we provide access to, particularly those that fit with our collecting remit of published primary materials and supporting reference works. As a result, we occasionally have trials of commercial digital resources, which are accessible via the computers in the reading rooms.
The supplier provides the following overview of the packages:
ProQuest has teamed with The Hatfield House Archives to digitize their privately held collection of almost 30,000 documents gathered by William Cecil (1520-1598), Lord Burghley and his son Robert Cecil (1563-1612), First Earl of Salisbury. This important collection includes many sixteenth- and seventeenth-century state papers, grants from the Crown, legal documents, treaties, correspondences, and political memoranda.
One of Elizabeth I’s closest advisors, William Cecil was both Lord High Treasurer and Secretary of State – a position also held by his son, who continued to serve Elizabeth’s successor, James I. Occupying some of the highest offices of state in the land, these men were at the heart of events during one of the most dynamic periods in western history.
Key events covered in this collection include:
The clandestine plans for James’ accession to the English throne
Mary Queen of Scots’ imprisonment and execution
Tudor re-conquest of Ireland
The Spanish Armada
Military events in the Low Countries
The Main Plot and imprisonment of Sir Walter Raleigh
Early English settlement of America
All the documents, which include a number of contemporary hand-drawn maps, tables, and letters, have been reproduced as full-color, high-quality images directly from original documents. These images can be examined using a dynamic viewing tool or downloaded as PDFs of JPEGs.
Documents on British Policy Overseas
This history database contains tens of thousands of U.K. government documents relating to Britain’s international relations, including foreign policy instructions, letters and memos, business reports, and more. These primary source materials have been selected by the official historians of Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and, in many cases, have been declassified at their request for inclusion in this series.
With Documents on British Policy Overseas, researchers gain a more complete understanding of the tensions, motivations, politics, and relationships that shaped Europe and the world throughout the twentieth century.
This easily searchable database is the online version of three print content sets:
British Documents on the Origins of War (1898-1914), which includes documents related to the Anglo-German tensions leading to World War I
Documents on British Foreign Policy (1918-1939), which addresses post-war settlement, re-armament, and growing tensions in Europe, Africa, and the Far East
Documents on British Policy Overseas (1946-present), which covers topics such as atomic energy, the Korean Conflict, and the Cold War
It’s easy to join the library as a member to gain access to these, and many other resources. Full details are on our Membership page.
We start this week with Tom Crook’s Governing Systems: Modernity and the Making of Public Health in England, 1830–1910. Christopher Hamlin and the author discuss a book big in scope, range, and thought (no. 2166, with response here).
Next up is Stamped from the Beginning, The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi. Richard King and the author debate a National Book Award winning attempt to re-cast of the framework of assumptions and vocabulary of concepts used in writing about slavery and race (no. 2165, with response here).
Then we turn to S. T. Ambler’s Bishops in the Political Community of England, 1213-1272. Robert Swanson thinks that although this book is not totally successful, it offers a stimulating approach which merits serious attention (no. 2164).
Finally we have English Benedictine Nuns in Exile in the Seventeenth Century by Laurence Lux-Sterritt. Kristof Smeyers believe the themes of this book – diaspora, displacement, abandon, isolation, community – are universal (no. 2163).
As part of the lead up to History Day 2017 I asked if I could write a blog post for it, and given that there was the general theme of the supernatural I suggested I would highlight some of the resources readers could find in the Institute of Historical Research’s library on the history of witchcraft.
Selection of works found in the library’s Ecclesiastical History collection
With these discoveries in mind a small exhibition has been put together on the third floor of the Institute highlighting four examples from British witchcraft history. Case 1 considers the famous trial of Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, as well as her associates, Margery Jourdemayne, Roger Bolingbroke and Thomas Southwell, the second display case considers the example of Ann Watts which, although a minor case, gives some tantalizing clues to late seventeenth century occult book ownership, the third display highlights the harrowing case of Ruth Osborne from the mid-eighteenth century – an Age of Reason? – while the final case* tells the story of Helen Duncan and the how the Witchcraft Act of 1735 was used for the final time at the Old Bailey towards the end of the Second World War.
The exhibition will be available to view over the next few months and certainly throughout History Day on the 31st October.
* We would like to thank the staff at Senate House Library for allowing some scans to be made from works within the Harry Price Collection included in this display.
We start this week with Shane Nagle’s Histories of Nationalism in Ireland and Germany: A Comparative Study from 1800 to 1932. Jean-Michel Johnston and the author debate a book which reveals interesting similarities and differences between important texts in the national historiographical traditions of Ireland and Germany (no. 2162, with response here).
Next up is The Fear of Invasion: Strategy, Politics, and British War Planning, 1880-1914 by David G. Morgan-Owen. Christian Melby and the author discuss a book which offers new insights into a leadership who tried to balance an offensive military policy with defending the heart of the empire itself (no. 2161, with response here).
Then we turn to Rashauna Johnson’s Slavery’s Metropolis: Unfree Labor in New Orleans During the Age of Revolutions. Matthew Stallard believes this book offers scholars of the African diaspora and many other areas a fruitful conceptualisation with which to frame future projects (no. 2160).
Finally we have an expanded response to last week’s review of An African Volk by author Jamie Miller.
Following on from the success of our top ten favourite articles from 2016, we thought we would bring you a round-up of the most interesting and unusual articles that we have indexed on the Bibliography so far this year. From anger to laughter, beer to bank managers, we hope you enjoy this small sample of the many resources available.
Once again, the list has been compiled chronologically.
1. Starting with alcohol (not that we ever would, of course) we have Bring Me Three Large Beers: Wooden Tankards at Roman Vindolanda, an article by Rob Sands and Jonathan A. Horn in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology. It discusses three drinking vessels found at Vindolanda, skillfully carved from yew, and each holding up to four pints. Perhaps unsurprisingly, tankards of this sort seem to a British trend, rather than a Roman import. The article explores the significance of yew as a material from the late Iron-Age in Britain, and the significance of feasting, drinking and comradeship that carried on with the establishment of Roman forts such as Vindolanda.
2. On a more sobering note, The Devil’s Daughter of Hell Fire: Anger’s Role in Medieval English Felony Cases by Elizabeth Papp Kamali in Law and History Review looks at cases of murder and manslaughter from the thirteenth and fourteenth century, and discusses how emotions such as anger could inform the decisions made by the jurors. Although on the one hand anger in medieval times was seen as the result of an ill-formed conscience, and therefore the accused was guilty of moral failings, but on the other hand it could also partially excuse the accused, as anger in its extreme form could be seen to prevent rational reasoning. These nuanced readings of the legal texts create a broader understanding of the medieval psyche and adds further scope to the history of emotions.
4. Soundings of Laughter in Early Modern England: Women, Men, and Everyday Uses of Humor by Joy Wiltenburg in Early Modern Women reflects on laughter as a way to explore gendered social dynamics. Although a difficult subject to comprehensively analyse, she looks at two different angles ‘troublesome laughter’, when laughter was not appropriate (at least to those in authority), and private humour, such as that expressed through letters and diaries. She explores attitudes towards laughter, how it links into social structure, religion and politics, and how rowdy laughter was seen by some as uncivilized.
5. Jeremy Boulton’s article The Painter’s Daughter and the Poor Law: Elizabeth Laroon (b. 1689 –fl.1736) in The London Journal relates the sad life of Elizabeth Laroon, daughter of the artist Marcellus Laroon the elder (c.1648/9–1702). Elizabeth was relatively comfortable financially when her father died, but this article charts the progress of her life, ending up as a pauper. She also experienced the parish workhouse and two visits to the venereal hospital. This article highlights the vulnerability of single women in society in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, and how the parish poor law reached out to the community.
6. One for all you cataloguers and list-makers out there: ‘Orderly made’: re-appraising household inventories in seventeenth-century England by Donald Spaeth in Social History reveals how probate inventories were compiled by amateur appraisers and can now be used to assess the growth of material culture and consumption in early modern England. Through skillfully assessing the value of household goods and ordering lists to reflect the value, some appraisers gained enhanced social standing, such as Andrew Parslow from Thame in Oxfordshire. The article looks at the different ways that lists could be ordered, according to the individual assessor; room by room, or by groups of similar objects, such as bedding. However, after the Restoration, the ‘summary’ format was popularized by Andrew Parslow, and used for wealthier households, which reflects the amount of material goods being accrued in the seventeenth century.
7. Smelling salts at the ready for ‘Under Cross-Examination She Fainted’: Sexual Crime and Swooning in the Victorian Courtroom by Victoria Bates in the Journal of Victorian Culture. This article looks at accounts of rape in court, and how women losing consciousness in court had social, medical and legal ramifications. Using legal texts as cultural records, the use of ‘fainting’, ‘insensibility’, ‘swooning’, or ‘syncope’ all had slightly different meanings, and highlights the complex issue of unconsciousness. Victorian attitudes towards the fragility of women are also explored, as are the witness accounts in the courtroom, and how they interpreted the act of fainting.
8. From the edges of the empire, Business Fashion: Masculinity, Class and Dress in 1870s Australia by Melissa Bellanta in Australian Historical Studies looks at the emergence of business dress among men in late nineteenth century in Australia. The rise of bankers and stock-brokers in the gold-mining towns such as New South Wales sparked a male interest in smart and professional fashion, which offers new insights into masculinity in colonial Australia, as well as social structure and material wealth.
London Underground, 1960 tube stock trailer No. 4904. Image: Wikipedia
9. How We Came to Mind the Gap: Time, Tactility, and the Tube by Simeon Koole in Twentieth Century British History is an article that many urbanites will relate to. Charting the growth of the London Underground and our attitudes towards it, this article looks at how commuters cope with their personal space being encroached, and how the desire to get somewhere quicker has driven the design of tube trains, such as automatic doors and more standing room. These innovations have led to closer contact with strangers, requiring a constant need to adapt to shifting personal boundaries and tacit unspoken agreements about space-sharing.