All About History 2018 Vol. 60

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henry VIII razor vs MARY I gangs

Bloody Mary’s troubled Tudor childhood

The turf war that terrorised 1920s Sydney


Russias ’

ultimate conqueror How the unstoppable ruler enthralled an empire with sex, lies & military power

25 Unmissable


Must-see events and exhibitions for 2018

EUROPEAN SUPERSTATE conspiracy Inside the secret ’50s plot to

unite Britain and France

Issue 060

the golden age of Steam railways

Alexander the great: When the romans the college years ruled the waves

Trains, tracks and engineers that revolutionised travel

Did studying with Aristotle How the Mediterranean was shape the iconic king’s reign? conquered at Cape Ecnomus

have a blast in

atomic City The all-night Las Vegas cocktail parties that taught America to love the Bomb

Gamblers watch as a nuclear blast illuminates the early morning sky. Find out how Vegas capitalised on America’s atomic arms race from page 48


Russia has had its fair share of conquerors. Ivan the Terrible was the first Muscovy prince to call himself ‘tsar,’ meaning ‘Caesar’ or ‘emperor’, and spent his life waging wars. He absorbed the khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan into the motherland, as well as the Volga and the Urals. But he also lost the Livonian War and could not gain access to the Baltic Sea. He faced constant attack from the Crimean Tatars, who burnt Moscow to the ground in 1571. Ivan eventually defeated them, but it left Russia financially ruined. Peter the Great sought to ‘Westernise’ Russia not just through social and economic reform, but by literally moving the border westwards. He expanded into modern-day Estonia and Latvia, as well as building his glorious Saint Petersburg in

Editor’s picks lands he had captured from Sweden. But his Great Northern War was no easy victory and he also lost the Black Sea to the Ottomans. Catherine the Great, however, ruled a third of the world by the time she died. The Russia she left behind was living through a golden age, having realised many of the reforms Peter had only dreamed of. Not bad for a minor German princess born with limited prospects, eh? Discover how Catherine not only seized power but expanded her empire from page 28.

Be part of history


Australia’s Peaky Blinders


Napoleon of the West


Stunning photos

Meet the razor-wielding gangsters whose terrifying turf war kept 1920s Sydney on a knife-edge.

Soldier-statesman Santa Anna is demonised for different reasons in both Mexican an American history, but does he deserve his black legend? Discover the shortlisters and winners of the first-ever Historic Photographer of the Year Awards, which celebrates the world’s greatest heritage sites.

Jack Parsons Editor

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Catherine the Great 28 D  iscover the rise and rise of the Russian ruler whose reign oversaw her country’s golden age

16  Timeline

Steam Trains

How the world got moving during the Industrial Revolution

18 Inside history

Uncover the armoured trains that have helped win wars

20  Anatomy of

A Victorian railway fireman

20 A  day in the life

Could you hack it as an infamous Wild West train robber?

24 H  all of fame

Meet the ingenious industrialists that build the world’s railways

26 H  istory answers Readers’ questions solved



40 2  018 history hit list

Discover the biggest anniversaries, must-see exhibitions, blockbuster biopics and best books of the year

48 A  tomic City, USA Discover how Las Vegas taught America to love the Bomb

54 Educating Alex

72 Bringing up Bloody Mary

Henry VIII’s divorce didn’t just rattle Rome — it had a lasting effect on his first-born, too

84 Historical Photographer of the Year

Did Alexander the Great’s one-to-one lessons with Aristotle shape his rule?

60 Razor gangs: sex, slashers and sly grog

Meet the razor-wielding gangs that dominated 1920s Sydney and the women who led them

4 Be part of history

We bring you jawdropping heritage pictures from the inaugural competition’s winners

Win! £1,000 worth of prizes Find out how from page 47



Every issue


06  History in pictures

Four incredible photos with equally amazing stories

38  Time traveller’s handbook What to do and say to survive in Jacobean Scotland

66 Bluffer’s guide

Everything you need to know about the Bayeux Tapestry

68  Greatest battles


A step-by-step guide to how the Romans ruled the waves at Cape Ecnomus

78 What if

80  Hero or villain?

A secret plan to unite Britain and France in the 1950s could have transformed Europe

Santa Anna is hated by Americans and Mexicans alike — but was he as bad as he’s made out to be?

91  On the menu

Was haggis, Scotland’s national dish, actually invented by Vikings?

92 Reviews

Our verdict on the latest reference books, novels and films

60 54 68

98 History vs Hollywood

Gunpowder went out with a bang, but how much of it actually happened?


Rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley of rock band KISS poses with his Gibson Flying V guitar. 6 January marks the 60th anniversary of the odd-looking instrument. Though its radical body design was inspired by the tailfins that epitomised American cars of the era, the Flying V was not well received in 1958. However, it found fame as the instrument of choice for artists including Stanley, Albert King and Lonnie Mack.




© Getty


history In Pictures The siege that shook Britain

In London’s East End, 200 armed police and soldiers faced off with two suspected Latvian anarchists. The shoot-out, known as the Siege of Sidney Street, lasted six hours, only ending when the wanted men’s hideout caught fire. Winston Churchill, then Home Secretary, was also at the scene (pictured on inside left). He forbade firefighters from intervening until the criminals ceased shooting; both men burned to death. Newsreel footage of the violence shocked the country.

© Getty




the long, slow evac

Wounded US Marines used a tank as a makeshift ambulance during the Vietnam War battle to retake Huế. The city was lost during the Tet Offensive, a coordinated strike by 80,000 North Vietnamese troops to capture 100 towns and cities on 30 January 1968. While American and South Vietnamese forces held them off, the offensive eroded US public support for the war, leading to a slow, painful withdrawal from the region.

© Getty



history In Pictures giving peace a chance

After the horrors of World War I, the League of Nations was founded to maintain world peace and held its first meeting in Paris on 16 January 1920. A precursor to the UN, 58 countries from around the globe signed up – though at the time nearly all of Africa consisted of Western colonies. The League is widely remembered as a failure, but it did prevent war between Greece and Bulgaria, fought slave traders and rescued Turkish refugees.




© Getty


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All About

Steam trains

Discover the evolution of the engine that drove the Industrial Revolution, from how it transformed transportation to how it was weaponised for war Written by David Crookes, Michael Haskew, Katharine Marsh and Jack Parsons






Steam trains

Steam travel’s rise and fall Standing start

Tracking the history of the Industrial Revolution’s answer to travel

Time to move

Richard Trevithick created ‘Puffing Devil’, the earliest steam-powered passenger vehicle. Destroyed a few days later, Trevithick went on to build the first steam locomotive designed to run on a track.

Scotsman James Watt built the first stationary steam engine. He later improved the design so it could produce enough power to move six to eight miles an hour.


Express d’Orient The train ran


a week

Renamed Orient Express in


It could get you from Paris to Istanbul in just over

Hours 1883

A new crime

Jesse James was one of the first bandits to hold up a moving train and steal the money on board. However, he could only find $2,000 so he decided to rob the passengers, as well.

21 July 1873

The beginning of the end?

Dr Rudolf Diesel patented the compression ignition, or diesel, engine. Later refinements made it more economical to run than steam.



24 December 1801

Going public

The Stockton and Darlington Railway became the world’s first-ever public railway to run a steam train. It was hauled by George Stephenson’s ‘Locomotive No. 1’.

27 September 1825

Coast to coast

After getting approval from the president, Abraham Lincoln, the first transcontinental railroad opened, bridging the Pacific coast to the central United States.


Quintinshill rail disaster At 6.45am, a train carrying a troop of soldiers crashed into a stationary passenger train near Gretna, Scotland, as a result of mistakes made by the railway signalmen. 230 people died.

22 May 1915

This is one of the biggest railway disasters to have ever taken place in Britain

Speed demons In 1828, ‘Rocket’ reached


In 1904, GWR 3700 Class ‘City of Truro’ reached


In 1938, Class A4 4468 ‘Mallard’ reached


American steam

Stourbridge Lion, the United States’ original steam locomotive, began work. However, its excessive weight forced it to become a stationary boiler as the rails couldn’t support it.


Going underground

The first-ever underground railway, The Metropolitan Railway, opened in London, connecting Bishop’s Road (now Paddington) and Farringdon Street.

By the time George Stephenson died, Britain had about 2,440 miles of track for its 30 million passengers

Connecting cities Built by George Stephenson, the world’s inaugural steam-powered intercity railway opens in the UK, connecting the industrial hubs of Liverpool and Manchester.


Weapon on wheels

Soldiers began modifying trains by adding weapons to them during the American Civil War. This practice continued across the world during both World Wars.

During the American Civil War, railways were often fought over as they were strategically advantageous

Steam comes to India


steam passenger train runs in India

It’s hauled by



It ran on

34 kilometres

of track



Changing times End of an era Diesel locomotives were brought into regular use in the US and steam began to be phased out. The transition finished in the 1960s.

16 April 1853

The last passenger steam train service ran in Britain. The next day, privately owned steam locomotives were banned on the main line, although this was lifted in 1971 and the Flying Scotsman was exempt.

Keeping the past alive

>160 Run by

heritage railways and steam museums in the UK

They’re home to at least


operational engines

The last mainline steam service was known as the Fifteen Guinea Special because of the expense of the tickets volunteers


11 August 1968

Present day


Steam trains Main armament

Armoured Trains

The PL-37 mounted a pair of 76.2 Model 1902/30 field guns modified for service aboard the armoured rail car. The Model 1902/30 was an improved variant of the original Model 1902 that was deployed extensively during World War I. Its maximum range was 13.29 kilometres and its rate of fire was 10-12 rounds per minute. The PL-37 guns were mounted in traversing turrets fore and aft, and further protected by armoured embrasure collars.

Commander’s seat

The commander’s seat was located midway along the 14.69-metre length of the car inside a cupola with elevation that allowed the officer to communicate effectively with crewmen at either end. He entered the car from the ground via a stepladder and utilised a hatch located in the top of the cupola for external visual orientation — and as an avenue of escape if the vehicle was disabled in action.

worldwide, 1861-1945

Born out of military expedience, a weapons system capable of rapid offensive and defensive operations gave a new dimension to mid-19thcentury warfare. The first recorded use of such a vehicle was in the American Civil War, when the Baldwin Locomotive Works modified a baggage car with oak planks sheathed in boiler plate to protect a 24-pound howitzer. Thus, the armoured train was born. In the 19th century, the Franco-Prussian War, the Boer Wars and the Russo-Japanese War all saw the trains in use. Meanwhile, some in the UK were developed for coastal defence and the British Expeditionary Force deployed one at the First Battle of Ypres at the start of World War I. On the Eastern Front, the Russians armed their trains with light artillery, while the Bolsheviks had over 100 of them during the civil war of 1918-20. It was in World War II that armoured trains peaked. The Polish Army used them against the invading Nazis, prompting the Germans to develop their own, and Soviet ones, working in teams of two or three, were classified as light or heavy depending on their size and weaponry. They were often armed with anti-aircraft guns, light artillery and machine guns, while some transported infantry. However, the train’s primary flaw was its reliance on rails — when the track stopped, so did the train. Furthermore, its vulnerability to air attacks also increased throughout World War II and as tanks improved, the armoured train’s relevance was gradually eclipsed. While only about two dozen were produced, the Legkaya Broneploshadka PL-37 Light Artillery Wagon (pictured) showcased Soviet power in World War II. Armed with a pair of 76.2mm field guns and six 7.62mm machine guns, it was protected by armour up to 20mm thick and held 30 men.



The standard rail car was constructed for combat as the PL-37 artillery wagon with a chassis supported by the Diamond brand 55-ton twin axle truck system, a proven structure that was in service prior to World War II. The system was capable of supporting the additional weight of armour plating that included skirt sheeting to protect the undercarriage along with the significant tonnage of the twin 76.2mm turrets.

Armour protection

The armour protection of the PL-37 made the weapon system viable and somewhat survivable in combat. Weighing 68.75 long tons, the car was protected with 20mm of armour plate along its flanks and 15mm on its roof, due to the unlikely event of a direct hit by enemy fire from above. The turret was protected by 20mm of armour as well, sufficient to ward off small-arms fire and reduce damage sustained by larger calibre shells.

Glass visors and a PTK panoramic periscope facilitated the commander’s view of the surrounding territory, allowing him to select targets and identify threats within reasonable time to take action. Artillery direction was the primary purpose of the periscope, as the PL-37 was often deployed with infantry in a fire support role.

Crew entry

The majority of the 30-man crew entered the armoured rail car through a hatch at its centre. The troops climbed a short external ladder and then moved to their stations inside. Comfort was of little or no concern in the car’s design, and robust ammunition storage space resulted in cramped conditions. During combat, the noxious fumes of discharging weapons caused some crewmen to become ill despite ventilation.

Secondary armament

A complement of six 7.62mm Maxim water-cooled machine guns provided secondary armament aboard the PL-37, effective defensively against charging infantry and cavalry and in an offensive fire support role. The machine guns were placed in sleeve and ball mounts in the hull and in the 76.2mm turrets adjacent to the main weapons. The Maxim was fed from a 250-round belt and its sustained rate of fire was 600 rounds per minute.

Ammunition storage

The PL-37 was heavily loaded with 560 rounds of high explosives and armourpiercing 76.2mm ammunition. These were stored in bunkers in the mid and aft sections of the armoured rail car. Additionally, 30,000 rounds of 7.62mm machine gun ammunition were stored in readily accessible bins. Although the ammunition was a necessity, its detonation due to enemy fire would prove catastrophic, probably destroying the car and wiping out the crew.

The cupola

The commanders of the forward and rear 76.2mm guns were stationed inside the turrets with triplex glass visors for target acquisition and field observation. Space within the turrets was quite limited, particularly during the heat of combat as crewmen serviced the weapon and responded to orders from the commander. Manual elevation wheels raised and lowered the guns. A small hatch allowed the gun commander to view his surroundings externally or exit in an emergency situation.

Maintenance access doors

Maintenance and servicing of the undercarriage and suspension system of the PL-37 were continual. Technicians accessed these vital components through doors located in the lower sections of the armour plating and performed such services as wheel lubrication that allowed the armoured artillery wagon to function along the Soviet rail network. The Red Army used armoured trains effectively in defence against the German invasion in 1941; however, a large number of them were lost in action.

© Osprey Publishing

Field of vision


Steam trains

Grease top hat


Heads up!

It was rare to find a fireman without a hat. More than a means to keep coal smut out of their hair, it provided some protection if they hit their head on the cab’s low, metal ceiling. The hat might also sport a badge advertising the railway they worked for.

Oily rag Grease is the word In a cab filled with hot metal and covered in grease, a rag was like a glove for everyone on the footplate. Used to open the firebox doors and on oil-covered surfaces, it was musthave. At the end of the week, they were all sent to be rung out and their excess oils were then used for oiling points on the railway lines.

Firing Shovel © Kevin McGivern

Tool of the trade


A fireman’s most important tool, a shovel with a sturdy handle, was used to get the coal into the far reaches of the firebox. A delicate balance had to be achieved with the coal — too little and not enough pressure was created, but too much and there wouldn’t be enough air for the coal to burn. Some firemen also had a slightly more unorthodox use for the shovel — frying up eggs and bacon on the hot (and filthy) metal.

Anatomy of

Bib and brace Looking the part

While many Victorian drivers wore waistcoats, firemen had a bib and brace — a kind of overalls to protect their clothes — and matching cloth jacket. They also often had a neckerchief to keep out the cold as they hurtled through the countryside in the winter and a pair of sturdy boots.

Railway fireman

United Kingdom, 1800-1900s Leather Satchel Bagging up the goods

Leather satchels were used by firemen to keep their belongings together while on the engine. They usually held some food, a lamp for when it got dark and, perhaps most importantly to an Victorian, a flask of tea — although this was sometimes left on the shelf above the firebox to keep it nice and warm.

Hand lamp Lighting the way

Lanterns were carried by most members of staff on the railways while working at night. They usually ran off lamp oil and had different coloured glass lenses — red, green and orange — to send signals to signalmen and crossing keepers.

Coal pick Breaking up the fuel

Just in case the lumps of coal were too big or got stuck together, a fireman always had a handy coal pick. To use it, he’d climb into the fuel bunker and swing it like a pickaxe to make sure that the coal was all the right size for the firebox.

UNCOVER THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL NATION Explore the iconic leaders, fierce conflicts and unforgettable events that have defined the United States in our fascinating new bookazine.



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Steam trains

Day in the life of...

a train robber

There is always a risk that a meticulous plan gets derailed Wilcox, Wyoming, US, June 1899 Trains travelling through the vast wilderness of the American West, often miles from help, were frequently targeted by bandits. Gold worth $41,000 was stolen from a passenger train west of Reno, Nevada, in 1870, for example, and gang leader Jesse James derailed a locomotive by loosening the track and attaching rope to steal $3,000 in 1873. In most cases, however, the biggest prize for would-be train robbers was the express car as these carried high-value freight including payroll shipments. Guarded by an expressman, they were highly desirable — and a challenge for any gang wishing to crack such a lucrative moving safe.

Early start

Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch gang started planning their robbery a few months before 2 June 1899. They brought 500 rounds of ammunition, blasting powder, dynamite and horses and waited patiently for a train to arrive near Wilcox, Wyoming.

Flag the train

The gang knew that the Union Pacific Overland Flyer No 1 was due about 2.20am, and with three mail cars, a baggage and express car and a carriage containing 300 passengers, it seemed to be an ideal target. Three men carrying Union Pacific signal lanterns flagged the train down at milepost number 609. The engineer brought it to a halt.

Confront the engineer

It was a stormy night and the engineer, W.R. Jones, thought the men were trying to warn him that a small wooden bridge ahead had been damaged. Instead, masked men — including Harry A Longabaugh, aka the Sundance Kid — boarded the cab carrying revolvers. They ordered the engineer and his fireman to climb down.

Start robbing

The fireman was told to break through the door to the first mail car with a coal pick but when it began to take too long, shots were fired. Ultimately, dynamite had to be used to blow the Butch Cassidy is not thought to have taken doors off the car. part in the robbery but is believed to have masterminded it


Deal with the unexpected

Isolate the problem

The robbers told the engineer that he had five minutes to uncouple the two passenger cars or be shot. He succeeded and the robbers then ordered him to move the train three kilometres further along. When he struggled to get it moving, Logan struck him with the butt of his gun.

Take the Express

The robbers wanted access to the express car so they ordered its messenger, Charles Woodcock, to open it. Woodcock refused so the robbers blew the doors open. When they then tried to get the safe open using dynamite, they ended up blowing the car’s sides and roof off, too. Coins, bills and jewellery were all theirs.

Time to exit

Having uncoupled all but the express car and taken it a mile further ahead by rail, the robbers — joined by George Currie — were able to grab their booty, estimated to be worth around $36,000, and escape to the north towards a well-known outlaw enclave called Hole-in-the-Wall. They divided their spoils but they were now fugitives.

On the run

The men used a relay of horses, providing fresh legs for the escape. A posse was swiftly summoned by the sheriff to find the men and they reached Wilcox five hours after the robbery. A few days later, on 6 June, Currie, Logan and the Sundance Kid were discovered 120 kilometres away but when Logan shot the Converse County Sheriff Josiah Hazen, they escaped. Banknotes damaged by the dynamite surfaced across America for many years. The Union Pacific Railroad Car was destroyed by dynamite

© Getty Images

The Wild Bunch were a gang of US outlaws from Wyoming that included (l-r) Harry A Longabaugh (aka the Sundance Kid), Will Carver, Ben Kilpatr ick (the Tall Texan), Harvey Logan (Kid Curry) and Robert LeRoy Parker (Butch Cassidy)

The robbers were met with a sudden surprise as they noticed the headlight of another train — they didn’t know the evening trains were proving so popular at this time that they were being sent out in pairs. The engineer moved the locomotive over the bridge and just as the last passenger car got across, the robbers blew the bridge up.


Steam trains

Hall of Fame

Expert Engineers

Meet the ingenious industrialists who designed and built some of the world’s greatest railway lines

Isambard Kingdom Brunel British 1806-59

Brunel is considered one of the Industrial Revolution’ s greatest faces

henson George Step e age t th helped star ilways of steam ra

A titan of the Victorian Industrial Revolution, Isambard Kingdom Brunel built the SS Great Britain and laid telegraph cables across the Atlantic, but he was foremost a rail engineer, working for the Great Western Railway. A stickler for detail, he got the job with no prior railway construction experience and went on to build 25 lines as well as the Wharncliffe Viaduct, Paddington Station and the longest railway tunnel in existence at the time. He envisaged a line down to the coast where some of his ships would then take the travellers abroad and made a strong effort to decrease journey times from London to the southwest of England.

Zhan Tianyou Chinese 1861-1919

The first-ever Chinese member of Britain’s Institution of Civil Engineers, Zhan Tianyou was appointed chief engineer of the Peking-Kalgan Railway in China in 1905. The inaugural railway built in China with no foreign assistance, most believed it would never be finished because of its determined path through the mountains north of Peking. Nonetheless, Zhan put his PhD in civil engineering to good use and completed the project two years ahead of schedule and even managed to finish under budget. He helped design and build a further 14 railways and went on to found the Chinese Institute of Engineers.

George Stephenson British 1781-1848

Known as the ‘father of the railways’, George Stephenson wanted to create a national network of lines running at a ‘standard gauge’ with as few gradient changes as possible. He was recruited as an engineer on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the first in the world designed specifically to use locomotives. A civil and mechanical engineer, he built many experimental Stephenson’s locomotives while working Zhan is known as the ‘father of in the Killingworth Colliery son, Robert, China’s railroad’ in Newcastle upon Tyne went on to invent between 1814 and 1826. Rocket, an early steam The first, Blücher, was the only engine use flanged locomotive, in 1829. wheels rolling on smooth American 1885-1957 It became a template for iron rails at the time. He Only the second woman to graduate from was appointed the original locomotives for the Cornell University in civil engineering, Olive president of the Institution of Dennis began working as a draftsman for the next 150 years Mechanical Engineers in 1847. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1920 designing bridges. A year later, she was made the company’s first ‘service engineer,’ responsible for improving passenger experience. She invented and held the patent for a ventilator system and also played a major role in air conditioning, dimming overhead lights, reclining seats and stain-resistant upholstery. She also simplified the overcomplicated timetables to make them easier to read. As the first female member of the American Railway Engineering Associating, Dennis Olive Dennis worked for the railroad until her retirement in 1951.

Olive Dennis

Dennis fought against discrimination throughout her entire career


“The idea of civil engineering just wouldn’t leave me”

Theodore Judah American 1826-63

Known to his colleagues as ‘Crazy Judah’, this pioneer was the brains behind the Transcontinental Railway that connected the newly created state of California to the rest of the Union. He solved critical problems like where and how to lay track through the Sierra Nevada mountains while recruiting the initial investors and making sure Abraham Lincoln passed the 1862 Pacific Railroad Act. Unfortunately, he didn’t live to see his project completed as he died six years beforehand of yellow fever.

Sir Edward Watkin British 1819-1901

Ghega walked the mountainous route to learn its topographical features

Although a cotton merchant and Member of Parliament, Sir Edward Watkin was also a rail enthusiast. Throughout his life he was chairman of several different lines including the Metropolitan Railway and the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. A very early pioneer for the Channel Tunnel, he envisaged the line connecting Calais and Dover in 1880, which would be connected to a new main line in the north of England and thus provide Sheffield, An avid Manchester and Leeds with a direct link to the continent. traveller, Watkin However, financial and political claimed to have issues halted the project and it wasn’t completed until 1994. travelled more than 1.5

Sir John Fowler British 1817-98

million miles by train in several different countries by the end of his life

Carl Ritter von Ghega Albanian-Austrian 1802-60 After studying railway systems across Europe and the US, Carl Ritter von Ghega was put in charge of the construction of the Semmeringbahn railway in 1842. In just six years, his designs for Europe’s first full-gauge mountain line were completed and approved and it opened on 17 July 1854. Connecting Vienna and Trieste, its highest point is 896 metres above sea level and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.

Ghega was knighted by Kaiser Franz Josef in 1851 for his railway design as the idea had been considered impossible before he began

Locke is conside red one of the early pioneers of ra ilway development

For years, Charles Pearson, a solicitor, had been lobbying for an underground railway system in London. Finally, in 1860, the Metropolitan Railway began building tunnels under the British capital and Sir John Fowler was appointed chief engineer. Originally connecting Paddington, Euston and King’s Cross, Fowler’s men worked around the clock to complete it and the line was finished on 9 January 1863. Over 150 years later, the London Underground is over 400 kilometres long.

n, As a politicia Witte helped st ia’s fir design Russ 1906 in constitution

Fowler went on to design the Forth Bridge in Scotland

Joseph Locke British 1805-60

Never one to be defeated by adversity, this apprentice to George Stephenson tried things never before attempted in railway building including constructing lines that were thought impossible due to steep gradients. Throughout his life he worked on several railways, created the West Coast Main Line — one of the most important tracks in the UK to this day — and even designed and built the Paris and Rouen Line in France.

Count Sergei Witte Russian 1849-1915

Although the Trans-Siberian Railway had been ordered previously, it was only when Count Sergei Witte was appointed Russia’s finance minister that the project picked up steam. Appointing the future Tsar Nicholas II as the head of the railway’s committee was an shrewd move by Witte as it meant that the mammoth project was given priority. Running from Moscow to Vladivostok, the line was finished in 1916 and remains the second longest in the world.

© Getty Images

Watkin spent most of his money promoting causes he believed in

Judah also worked on the first railroad west of the Mississippi River


Steam trains

History answers

How did Mussolini make trains run on time? Steve Gomez The short answer is he didn’t. After becoming prime minister in 1922, Benito Mussolini spread the word that he had radically improved Italy’s dilapidated railway system but most of the work had been done before his rise to power. The results also weren’t the huge success that fascist propaganda claimed — the lines used by tourists generally arrived on time but smaller ones still ran behind schedule. However, the reporting of rail accidents or delays was banned, even by foreign correspondents.

What was so special about the Flying Scotsman? Anibal Smith The Flying Scotsman was the flagship locomotive of the London and North Eastern Railway and the star attraction of the 1924 British Empire Exhibition. In 1928, it was selected to run the London to Edinburgh line, travelling 631km in eight hours, and it set the record for fastest locomotive, reaching speeds of 160.9km/h in 1934. In 1989, 26 years after it had been retired from service, it set another record: the longest nonstop run by a steam engine, travelling 679km in Australia.

Why does no one remember Marc Brunel? Rhoda Lower a machine to mass manufacture pulley blocks for the British Navy during the Napoleonic War. However, his greatest achievement was London’s Thames Tunnel. Described as the eighth wonder of the world when it opened in 1843, it was the first subway constructed under a river. The secret to its success was an invention Brunel called the tunnelling shield, which protected workers as they dug. This technology would prove essential to building the London Underground.

Next month’s topic is… Women’s suffrage. Send your questions to






© Getty

Marc Brunel was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1841

Marc Brunel is often overshadowed by his ingenious son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, but was also one of the greatest engineers of his own generation. Crucially, he also made a significant contribution to the railways. The French émigré made a name for himself as chief engineer of New York City, designing docks, commercial buildings and housing. However, he also had a knack for mechanical engineering and invented machines for sawing and bending timber, making boots, knitting stockings and printing. He also built

Imperial Russia

“Her reign is considered the Golden Age of Russia but her time on the throne was full of salacious scandal, intrigue and hidden truths”


The Scandalous Reign of

Catherine the Great How the unstoppable Russian ruler enthralled an empire with sex, lies and military might


he has gone down in history as ‘Catherine the Great’ thanks to her dedication and devotion to her adopted country. One of the Russian Empire’s greatest leaders, Catherine oversaw its unprecedented expansion, a series of military successes and the arrival of the Russian Enlightenment. Her reign is considered the Golden Age of Russia but her time on the throne was full of salacious scandal, intrigue and hidden truths that others used to tarnish her legacy. So, what really happened during her reign? Catherine was born in 1729 as Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, an impoverished German royal. Her prospects were dim until Elizabeth, empress of Russia, wrote to Sophie’s mother proposing a match with her nephew and heir, Grand Duke Peter of Holstein. It was keenly accepted and Sophie was determined to seize her destiny, learning to speak Russian fluently, which greatly impressed Elizabeth. She was a perfect fit for the Russian throne. In contrast, her betrothed was a terrible choice for an emperor. Born and raised in Germany,

Written by Jessica Leggett

Peter was brought to Russia aged 14 and he hated it. He refused to convert to the Russian Orthodox Church — unlike Sophie, who converted and adopted a new name, Catherine, in 1744. A year later, the couple married in Saint Petersburg. Recalling the wedding in her memoirs, Catherine stated that her “heart predicted but little happiness; ambition alone sustained me.” Catherine thought greatness awaited her. Instead, her husband turned out to be a drunk who played with toy soldiers like a child. They despised each other and their marriage went unconsummated for several years. But Catherine didn’t want to waste her life and she told herself that she would become “the sovereign Empress of Russia in [her] own right.” Feeling isolated and unloved, Catherine was getting desperate. After years of marriage, there was no heir, Elizabeth was breathing down her neck and the court was watching her every move. She started a series of affairs, firstly with Sergei Saltykov, a handsome rake and court member. Elizabeth actually encouraged their relationship, hoping it would result in a pregnancy.

Catherine finally gave birth to a long-awaited heir, Paul, in 1754. The paternity is still debated today but Catherine implied in her memoirs that it was Saltykov, though possibly only to spite Peter. Regardless, she succeeded in her purpose and stabilised her position at court as the mother of the future emperor. However, Catherine barely saw her baby as Elizabeth whisked him away and raised him herself. Catherine was devastated and her affair with Saltykov ended when he was sent away, too. Meanwhile, Peter’s behaviour became foolish, worrying those around him. His wife, having fulfilled her duty, couldn’t bear Russia crumbling in his insipid hands because he had failed to do his. She began to mastermind his downfall. Elizabeth died in 1761 and Peter became Peter III. Catherine was now empress consort but it wasn’t enough — she wanted sole power. Support for her grew after Peter’s childish behaviour at Elizabeth’s funeral, where he created a game to alleviate his boredom. Taking advantage of this, Catherine openly grieved for the deceased empress, winning many admirers in the process.


Imperial Russia The empress knew that if her coup was to Peter’s behaviour was inexcusable. He skipped his own coronation and withdrew from the Seven succeed, she needed someone with influence and power by her side. She started an affair with Years’ War — despite the fact Russia was winning Grigory Orlov, a lieutenant of the Izmailovsky — returning all the land that they had conquered Guards who had caught her eye the year before. from Prussia. His actions disrespected those Catherine had chosen her new lover killed or injured during the conflict, wisely. Alongside his brother and alienating the army. Peter’s contempt fellow guard, Alexei, he had the for the Church and his desire political influence that she to wage war against Russia’s needed to sway the imperial long-time ally of Denmark guardsmen to her faction. exacerbated growing hatred Aside from the political towards him. He flaunted benefits, the couple also fell his mistress, Elizaveta deeply in love and Orlov was Vorontsova, stating his desire determined to see his beloved to divorce Catherine and on the Russian throne. disinherit their son. However, there was one By April 1762, the situation obstacle that stopped Catherine was unbearable. Peter publicly from seizing power: she fell humiliated Catherine at a state pregnant with Orlov’s child. banquet by denouncing her as a Previously, Catherine and Peter had fool, leaving her in tears. Whispers Catherine soon after been sleeping together infrequently circulated that night that the emperor, her arrival in Russia and she could have claimed that he incensed and drunk, had ordered his was the baby’s father, however unlikely it may wife’s arrest. Fortunately, Prince Georg Ludwig of have seemed. But as communication between Holstein, Catherine’s uncle, managed to dissuade the two had practically stopped, there was no him from committing such an impulsive act. It denying a secret liaison. Nobody could uncover was the final straw and Catherine knew that she the truth, lest it risk Catherine losing her valuable and her son were now in grave danger.

“The seriousness of the situation sank in as he arrived at Monplaisir to find it abandoned, with Catherine long gone” Catherine wore military dress when she deposed Peter III

Nakaz, or Instruction, outlined Catherine’s vision for Russia’s future


supporters. She managed to hide her pregnancy under voluminous dresses for months, fooling everyone around her. In April 1762, she secretly gave birth to a little boy, who ended up being raised far away from court. Peter soon left for Oranienbaum, in preparation for his fight against Denmark, while Catherine stayed at the nearby palace of Monplaisir. Her supporters prepared themselves and among them were the Orlov brothers, a number of guardsmen and Princess Dashkova, Elizaveta’s sister. Even Nikita Panin, the politician entrusted as Paul’s governor by Elizabeth, supported Catherine. With his control over her heir, Panin’s backing was vital for the empress if she wanted the takeover to be seen as legitimate. Peter ignored rumours of an impending coup but a conspirator was arrested on 27 June. Fearing that she would be exposed, Catherine, barely dressed, climbed into a waiting carriage and rode straight to Saint Petersburg in the early hours of 28 June. She headed to the barracks of her loyal guardsmen, visiting the Izmailovsky regiment first. The colonel of the regiment, Krill Razumovsky, had loved Catherine for years. They pledged their allegiance to her and those who resisted were arrested. The usurper made her way to the Winter Palace to be sworn in as Russia’s new ruler, to the exclamation of the crowd there. As for Peter, the seriousness of the situation sank in as he arrived at Monplaisir to find it abandoned, with Catherine long gone. Despairing, he begged with his estranged wife, hoping to negotiate an escape to his native duchy of Holstein with Elizaveta. The answer was no.

Catherine the Great

Date for an Empress

Who is the perfect lover for Catherine the Great? YES









Peter and Catherine as grand duke and duchess of Holstein

Peter fell into a drunken stupor, while Catherine readied herself outside the Winter Palace, wearing the uniform of a male guard. Climbing onto her horse, it was time to arrest her husband. Word arrived of Peter’s arrest and Catherine sent him a document of abdication, which he was forced to sign. Just over a week later, Peter was killed at Ropsha while in the custody of Alexei Orlov. Catherine waited a day before issuing a statement, claiming that Peter died of “a haemorrhoidal colic.” But as Peter’s body lay in state, it was bloody and bruised, the hallmarks of strangulation likely committed by Alexei himself. When Alexei wrote to Catherine to inform her of Peter’s illness, he stated ominously, “I fear that he might die tonight, but I fear even more that he might live through it.” As suspicions arose that Catherine had committed regicide, she became nervous that her reign was already tainted. Was she involved in Peter’s death? It couldn’t be proven, but the fact that her position was now more secure is beyond certain. Catherine wanted sole, autocratic power, yet some of her co-conspirators, namely Panin and Dashkova, expected her to assume the regency on behalf of her young son. Catherine remained stubborn and was finally crowned in a sumptuous coronation in September 1762. Her message that she was in control came across loud and clear. Catherine discovered the Enlighenment movement as a young girl and dreamed of modernising Russia. Conversing with some of the most famous French philosophers of the day, such as Voltaire and Diderot, Catherine had the opportunity to become the enlightened leader she craved to be. However, Russia was a mess. With a poor administrative system and a backwards economy, the country languished in the shadows of the other world powers. It needed a complete overhaul.




Peter lll of Russia Catherine’s cold and childish husband hated his adopted country of Russia, managing to upset the army, the Church and the nobility just a few months into his reign. Catherine and Peter despised each other and he even threatened to divorce his wife and replace her with his mistress. Catherine deposed her husband in 1762 and he soon died under suspicious circumstances.

Catherine fell in love with Poniatowski while she was still a grand duchess and together they had an illegitimate daughter, Anna. Poniatowski was forced to leave the Russian court during the Seven Years’ War and his affair with Catherine ended. They kept in contact and with Catherine’s support, Poniatowski was elected king of Poland, although she used him as puppet.



Count Grigory Orlov

Prince Grigory Potemkin

Orlov was Catherine’s foremost supporter in her plot to overthrow her husband and played an instrumental role in the coup in 1762. He remained Catherine’s favourite for over a decade and together they had an illegitimate son, Alexey. Orlov’s downfall was guaranteed once she discovered his affairs with other women and she banished him from the court.

Catherine and Potemkin had an extremely passionate, if short-lived, love affair. Just like Orlov, Potemkin supported Catherine during the coup and eventually succeeded him as her favourite. After their physical relationship ended, Potemkin remained by Catherine’s side and was the most powerful man in her court for two decades before his early death aged 52.


Imperial Russia

Expansion of an Empire Colonisation, 01Alaska 1766

Russo-Turkish War, 02First 1768-74

Catherine wrote to the governor of Siberia, declaring the indigenous people of the Aleutian Islands and the Alaska Peninsula to be Russian subjects. She instructed the Russian fur-traders to treat their new fellow subjects well. After this, tax collectors accompanied Russian furhunters on their voyages to Alaska and the government licensed fur-hunting expeditions.

The first in a series of wars between Russia and the Ottoman Empire was sparked by a conflict over borders. Catherine’s victory led to Russia expanding its influence in Europe and gaining territory in modern-day Ukraine. The Turks were forced to accept the Crimean Khanate’s independence, providing an opportunity for Catherine to annex it later on.

Rebellion, 03Pugachev’s 1773-75

After Catherine usurped the throne, she faced a number of rebellions from pretenders, with the most serious revolt led by a Cossack, Yemelyan Pugachev. He claimed to be the deceased Peter III and his rebellion gathered pace as the government failed to see it as a legitimate threat. Catherine eventually had it brutally suppressed, leaving thousands of rebels dead.

06 07 05 02


03 08

War, 06Russo-Swedish 1788-90

The Ottoman Empire formed an alliance with Gustav III of Sweden against Catherine, his cousin. Gustav wanted to depose her, hoping that it would bolster his popularity in Sweden, but despite some success, the war racked up some serious debt. As for Catherine, she gained nothing from the conflict and wanted to reach peace deal, which was concluded in 1790.


Uprising, 07Kościuszko March 1794

Following the first and second partitions of Poland, there was a popular uprising against Russian control over the country. Following Russian demands that the Polish downsize their army, the supreme commander, Tadeusz Kościuszko, led a rebellion. He was captured seven months later and the revolt was repressed, leading to the third and final partition of Poland in 1795.

Catherine the Great

How Catherine extended Russian territory Russo-Turkish 04Second War, 1787-92

Still reeling from their defeat 13 years earlier, the Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia once again. They attempted to regain the territory that they had previously lost to Russia but instead suffered a decisive defeat. Following the Treaty of Jassy in 1792, the Turks were forced to accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea that had occurred in 1783.

05Polish-Russian War, 1792

War broke out in Poland between the antiRussian, pro-reform Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the anti-reform Targowica Confederation. The latter was supported by Catherine, who was angered by a new alliance between the Commonwealth and Prussia made in an attempt to stop Russian interference in Poland. Poniatowski believed that Russia would eventually win and sought a ceasefire, to the anger of his countrymen.


KEY Russia before 1700 Acquisitions (mostly) by Peter the Great (1700-1772) Acquisitions by Catherine the Great (1772-1796) Area of the Pugachev Rebellion (1772-1775)

08Russo-Persian War, 1796 The last war of Catherine’s lifetime, Russia went to war against Persia after the latter invaded Georgia, a country that Russia had sworn to protect, in 1795. Russia hoped to depose the shah, Agha Mohammad Khan, who hated Russia, and replace him with someone who liked the country. Catherine’s armies were winning but following her death, her successor, Paul, withdrew the Russian troops.

Catherine wanted to introduce a better education system, build new cities, develop Russian culture and possibly abolish serfdom. She wrote the Nakaz, also known as the Great Instruction, a momentous piece that took her two years to complete. It was inspired by the principles of Western philosophers and formed Catherine’s idea of the perfect government. She presented it to the Legislative Commission, assembled in 1767, which consisted of approximately 500 people, all from different classes of society. On the surface, it advertised Enlightenment thinking as a way to revitalise Russia — in reality, it reinforced Catherine’s belief in absolutist monarchy. The Commission failed to achieve anything before it was disbanded in 1768. It embodied the hypocrisy that Catherine would peddle throughout her reign — she wanted to be perceived around the world as an enlightened leader but the truth was a very different story. The obvious example is the issue of serfdom. At one time, Catherine may have considered reforming or abolishing serfdom in the Russian

“Her personal collection of artwork was the largest in Europe” Empire altogether but the economy depended too heavily on the workforce, who belonged to the aristocracy, and Catherine ultimately relied on the nobles for support. Consequently, apart from slightly improving the rights of serfs, Catherine actually did nothing to improve their situation throughout her reign. Nevertheless, she did accomplish some of her goals. She was committed to improving education in Russia to bring it in line with the West and alongside new towns and cities, she founded academies, libraries and schools across her vast empire. For the first time, free schooling became available for all children — except serfs — and the curriculum became standardised. Furthermore, Catherine championed education for women and even established the Smolny Institute for young noble girls, the first of its kind, in Saint Petersburg in 1764. As a fierce patron of the arts, her personal collection of artwork was the largest in Europe at the time. Having amassed thousands of masterpieces, she founded the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg in 1764 and it is still a museum of art and culture today, open to the public since 1852. She also imported Western literature and encouraged the arrival of foreign artists and architects to improve Russia culturally. A woman on a mission, the empress even sent Russian academics abroad to learn the ways of Western culture and society and disseminate them back in the motherland.


Catherine the Great

Allegory of Catherine’s victory over the Turks, 1772

Alexey, Catherine’s illegitimate son by Orlov

A portrait of Catherine by Fyodor Rokotov

As for foreign affairs, Catherine took massive strides in comparison to her predecessors. She patronised her former lovers with titles, money and power throughout her reign. However, there was one that she went the extra mile for — Stanisław Poniatowski. They had had an affair back in 1755, when he was the Polish secretary to the British envoy in Russia, but it had ended after Poniatowski was forced to leave during the Seven Years’ War, which pitched Russia against British-backed Prussia. He had hoped to reignite their romance but Catherine knew this was too dangerous and told him, “You are likely to get us both slaughtered.” Instead, when the Polish throne became vacant in 1763, Catherine promised it to Poniatowski. It was the perfect chance to expand her empire and he was elected under the threat of the Russian military in 1764. Straight away, Poniatowski attempted to pass a series of reforms that weren’t part of Catherine’s plan. She needed Poland to remain a weak protectorate and her former lover was supposed to be her puppet, not a lone wolf. When rebellion broke out in Poland in 1768, partly in reaction to Russian influence in the country, Catherine invaded under the pretence of restoring control. Her dominance over Poland concerned Prussia, Austria and, in particular, the Ottoman Empire, which suffered a series of defeats at her hands during the ongoing Russo-Turkish War that had also broken out in 1768. These losses shifted the European power of balance in Russia’s favour, no doubt to Catherine’s delight. However, the arrival of bubonic plague in Moscow between 1770 and 1772 and the resulting riots pushed Catherine into seeking a truce as a reprieve. To rebalance the power in Europe, Russia, Austria and Prussia all agreed as neighbours

Enlightenment pen pals

Catherine corresponded with many of the great minds of her day Voltaire

Catherine and the French philosopher Voltaire never met but wrote to each other for years. While Voltaire is famous for savaging the French monarchy for its extravagance, he approved of Catherine’s role as an ‘enlightened despot’, nicknaming her the ‘Star of the North’. Some have interpreted Catherine’s side of the correspondence as a public relations exercise, casting her in a more positive light in Europe, but she had been an enthusiastic reader of Voltaire since she was a princess, so no doubt she was flattered to chat with one of her adolescent idols.


Baron von Grimm

Frederich Melchior, Baron von Grimm, hung out in Paris’ progressive literary circle thanks to his acquaintance with Jean-Jacque Rousseau. He wrote a cultural newsletter for foreign sovereigns and nobility that were keen to keep up with 18th-century French fashions. However, Catherine and Grimm also kept up a personal correspondence for 26 years. Grimm fed her tidbits about what was going on in European courts while she patronised some of Grimm’s preferred architects. Despite both being of German descent, the pair always wrote to one another in fluent French.

Denis Diderot Another French thinker, Diderot, is best known for co-founding and heavily contributing to the Encyclopédie, the definite work of Enlightenment thought. When the empress heard that he was in need of money, she offered to buy his library. She also appointed him caretaker of it until he died and paid him a 25-year salary in advance. Diderot felt obliged thank her in person in 1773, but the trip was mired when he tried to lecture her on the best way to govern Russia. Though Catherine dressed him down for this, she continued to patronise Diderot until his death in 1784.

Catherine the Great of Poland to partition the country among themselves, without discussing it with the Polish king. As a result, Catherine gained around 92,000km2 of territory for her empire — almost the size of modern-day Portugal. It was the first of three partitions of Poland, which led to Poniatowski’s downfall in 1795, just a year before Catherine’s death. He spent his final years in Russia, surviving on a pension that was provided by the empress. Following Catherine’s victory over the Turks in the Russo-Turkish War in 1774, tensions were high with the Ottoman Empire. With the territory she gained, she established a province to the south of Russia, known as New Russia, now part of modern-day Ukraine). When she annexed Crimea in 1783, a former Turkish territory, a second conflict broke out. The second conflict, fought from 1787 to 1792, saw the Turks heavily defeated again and Catherine’s authority over Crimea was secured. It was one of the greatest military achievements of her reign. During the trouble with Poland and the first Turkish war, Orlov continued to dominate the court as Catherine’s lover. During the decade since the coup, Orlov was rewarded with lands and titles and is credited for dealing with the Moscow plague riots. Catherine considered marrying him, until she realised that such a move was far too controversial. Despite concern about Orlov’s power, he held no sway over Catherine or her governance of Russia. She knew that he was too politically inept to deal with such matters, choosing to consult Panin instead. Orlov’s relationship with Catherine sparked intrigue and jealously from others, especially Panin, and by 1771, he was plotting his rival’s downfall. His scheming paid off as Catherine was made aware of Orlov’s various infidelities.

Angered and heartbroken, she sent Orlov away from court, never to regain her favour again. During her relationship with Orlov, Catherine became close to Grigory Potemkin. Their love story is infamous but not straightforward. They met on the night of the coup and Catherine rewarded him for his loyalty by promoting him to gentleman of the bedchamber, a position that allowed them to meet frequently. Potemkin had loved Catherine ever since and unlike the other men at court, he wasn’t afraid of Orlov. Potemkin was too bold, openly declaring his love for Catherine at every opportunity. She enjoyed his attention but was too hesitant to pursue anything, perhaps because of Orlov. However, she didn’t discourage Potemkin and, seeing his potential, Catherine began to forge him a political career — the start of his dramatic rise within the court. After suffering a severe eye injury, Potemkin suddenly left the court. Catherine missed him terribly and after 18 months, she demanded his return in 1767. She appointed him as an army paymaster before promoting him as the Guardian of Exotic Peoples for her Legislative Commission, a politically important role. When the First Russo-Turkish War broke out, Potemkin was desperate to go the front and Catherine allowed it, though she longed for his return.

After Orlov’s dismissal, Catherine distracted herself with a new, younger lover, Alexander Vasilchikov, much to Potemkin’s disappointment when he briefly returned in 1772. However, Catherine’s interest in Vasilchikov faded quickly, although she compensated him with a sizeable pension and lands. Instead, her thoughts turned back to Potemkin, now a war hero thanks to his military success abroad. When Potemkin disappeared from court again at the start of 1774, Catherine finally accepted their love. He returned and their affair started, with Catherine in her mid-40s and Potemkin a decade younger. With his military experience, he was a useful advisor and the first of her lovers with whom Catherine shared power. She bestowed upon him a number of military and political promotions, including governor-general of New Russia, granting him absolute power over the region. The couple‘s numerous love letters to one another indicate that they secretly married. In a letter to Potemkin, Catherine refers to him as “my dear, sweet angel, my very own friend, my husband,” and in another tells him that she’ll “remain [his] true wife to the grave.” Whether they actually married is uncertain, but considering the nature of the letters and Potemkin’s influence at court, it is a possibility.

“Orlov’s relationship with Catherine sparked intrigue and jealousy from others, especially Panin” The Siege of Ochakov was a key battle in the Second RussoTurkish War, led by Potemkin

Catherine fought for her power and refused to let it go


Imperial Russia

A Pretender to the Throne

The tragic tale of the rightful heir to the Russian Empire

Ivan VI as a young boy


Catherine spurred the Neoclassical movement in Russia, commissioning St Petersburg’s Marble Palace

“Her sexuality became the focus of lewd jokes and crude satires designed to criticise her in Russia and further afield in Europe” Unfortunately, their great love affair didn’t last. Catherine and Potemkin were both passionate but, plagued with jealousies and insecurities, their relationship mutually cooled. By 1775, Catherine had a new favourite but unlike her previous lovers, Potemkin retained his position of personal and political influence over her for the rest of his life. In fact, he held so much control that rumours swirled that he procured new lovers for Catherine. Scandalous gossip also spread that the empress’ lovers were vetted for their bedroom skills by one of her ladies-in-waiting before she slept with them. This was likely baseless slander but Catherine’s love for men was well known. Her sexuality became the focus of lewd jokes and crude satires designed to criticise her in Russia and further afield in Europe. Potemkin’s influence over her was also subject to such attacks, causing cracks in her image as an absolute ruler. Her vice was exposed — but Catherine was no less powerful as a result and neither was she ashamed. While Potemkin was abroad as commanderin-chief during the Second Russo-Turkish War, Catherine caught sight of a vain young officer, Platon Zubov. At 22 years old, he was almost four decades younger than the empress, who at that point had turned 60. Their affair began in 1789 and Catherine loved him deeply. She relied on him, perhaps because of her advanced age, and Zubov rose far quicker than any of her previous lovers. However, the toy boy nature of this relationship once again opened the aging empress up to sexual ridicule.

Catherine’s happiness was hampered by the arrival of tragic news in October 1791 — Potemkin had passed away abroad while negotiating peace treaty with the Turks after days of suffering with fever and symptoms of pneumonia. Catherine was grief-stricken. For the past two decades, he had been her pillar of strength and now she had to manage without him. For the last five years of her life, the empress lavished her attention on Zubov. He played a crucial role in making decisions during her reign, leaving him envied and despised and the court couldn’t understand Catherine’s infatuation with him. Zubov even managed to convince the empress to give his brother command over her army in the Russo-Persian conflict, which began in April 1796, instead of a seasoned general. Although it turned out to be a good decision, with the younger Zubov returning in victorious glory, there is no denying that this was a different ruler to the one who had usurped the throne three decades earlier. But Catherine never saw the outcome as she passed away in November 1796. Perverse stories of her unbridled sexuality surfaced, aimed at destroying her legacy and reputation. The most famous one claimed that she had died after engaging in bestiality with a stallion, which crushed her when its supporting harness snapped. The reality is actually far less vulgar — Catherine collapsed following a stroke, never to regain consciousness. It was an uneventful end for an unabashedly colourful woman, who will always be remembered through her epitaph as Catherine the Great.

© Getty Images, Kevin McGivern, Nicholas Forder

Catherine may have successfully seized the throne but throughout her reign she faced off a total of 26 pretenders, all claiming to be the true heir. With the murky details surrounding Peter’s death, a number of pretenders identified themselves as the dead emperor, including Yemelyan Pugachev, whose rebellion developed serious support before it was crushed. There was even a female pretender, Princess Tarakanova, who said that she was the daughter of Empress Elizabeth and her favourite, Alexis Razumovsky. However, there was one person that Catherine was desperate to keep hidden from the Russian people — someone with a real claim to the imperial throne. With the drama of Catherine’s coup, it is possible to forget that Empress Elizabeth had gained her crown through usurpation as well, but this time the deposed was an innocent baby boy. Ivan VI was only two months old when he became emperor after the death of his grandaunt, Empress Anna, in 1740. Ivan’s mother, also named Anna, assumed the regency for him. This new arrangement lasted for just over a year before Elizabeth’s coup, herself a popular figure as she was the daughter of Peter the Great. Elizabeth vowed to never sign a death warrant during her reign and did not kill Ivan and his family, instead choosing to imprison them together. Ivan was separated from them after rumours of his imprisonment circulated and he ended up at the Shlisselburg fortress where his true identity was so fiercely protected that even his jailer had no idea who the boy really was. By the time Peter ascended the throne, Ivan was almost 22 years old. When he visited to the prisoner, it was clear that spending almost his entire life isolated and confined had left Ivan mentally impaired. Peter could see that the boy would be no threat, not realising that the real danger was already within his court. It was during Catherine’s reign that Ivan became a problem. One of his guards, a lieutenant, discovered his true identity and was determined to restore him to the throne. Gathering some men, the lieutenant attacked the jail and demanded the release of Ivan. There was one thing they didn’t know — instructions had been left to kill Ivan if an attempt was ever made to rescue him, orders left by Elizabeth and reinforced by Catherine. Ivan was murdered and quietly buried, an innocent victim in the brutal game for the throne.


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k o o b d n a H ’s r e l l e v a r T Time Jacobite scotland


he Stuart dynasty, which ruled Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales for over 400 years, ended 30 years ago and now the House of Hanover rules. However, not content to live out their exile in peace, the Stuarts are attempting to win back their birthright. With the risings of the deposed James II & VIII in 1689 and his son James Edward Stuart from 1715 failing, its up to Charles Edward Stuart to restore the dynasty. Better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender, Charles is plotting to reclaim the British throne with the help of his supporters, the Jacobites. Landing in the Scottish Highlands, he has rallied his army and tried marching on London. After failing to take the capital, his army has been pushed to the very north of Britain where he will be defeated in the climactic Battle of Culloden, outside Inverness.

Britain, 1745-46


Dos & don’ts Choose your friends carefully. Rebels will be mercilessly hunted after the failed ’45 rising, with some fleeing to continent to become mercenaries in the European wars.

Inverness aberdeen


Make yourself self-sufficient. The Young Pretender failed to take London as the French military support he was relying on failed to materialise. Make grandiose claims. Sweeping statements are great for gaining popular support, like Bonnie Prince Charlie’s promise to abolish the Union if he became king.

Where to stay

Write some folk songs. Many famous traditional Scottish tunes, like ‘Loch Lomond’ and ‘The Skye Boat Song’, will be inspired by the 1745 Jacobite rising.

With roving bands of Jacobites in the Highlands, the safest place is Ruthven Barracks. Built by the government after the last Stuart rising in the Highlands, it has withstood an assault by hundreds of Jacobites with a garrison of just 14 men. It survived another assault the following year — until the garrison surrendered after being subjected to cannon fire. The Jacobites will set fire to the barracks after their defeat at Culloden, but it will be soon be up and running again — though it will only see intermittent use in the ensuing years.

Be caught by the government. Jacobite prisoners can expect a gruelling march to London and then to be shipped off to the Americas or Jamaica, never to return.


Call this is a national struggle. Jacobites exist in Ireland and England while some Scots are fighting for the ruling king. Be seen in your favourite tartan or with some bagpipes. These are seen as aspects of Highland culture and have been banned. Be taken in by the Young Pretender’s easygoing nature. Despite his optimism, Bonnie Prince Charlie has little hope of winning back the throne for the Stuarts.


Time Traveller’s Handbook Jacobite scotland Who to befriend

Duke of Cumberland The son of the reigning king George II, the duke of Cumberland, commands the government forces while the majority of the British military is committed to the continent. Although he forged a bloody name and reputation in the highlands – known as Butcher Cumberland – the duke will beat the royalist rebels and see a fragile peace return to the country. He will be able to shelter you from the brutal repression of the Highlands after the rising, although he will be the man sanctioning it.

Who to Avoid


Extra tip: Avoid playing the bagpipes and wearing tartan when around the duke. These hallmarks of Highland culture will be outlawed after the Battle of Culloden with severe penalties for any who flaunt it. Tartan won’t be popular in Scotland again until Walter Scott revives it for George IV’s visit.

Helpful skills

Bonnie Prince Charlie The Young Chevalier may rope you in with his charisma and optimism but, as the Jacobites will discover at Culloden, his cause is doomed. Lacking military experience and decisive action, the Young Pretender’s rebellion will fail to take London and eventually be torn to ribbons by musket fire on Culloden Moor. Siding with the prince will likely see you having to flee to Europe alongside him dressed as a washerwoman. If you’re not careful, you could end up spending your remaining years with the exiled prince at the bottom of a wine glass.


With open rebellion sweeping the British Isles, you’ll need this essential know-how to survive Master a weapon

As the war engulfs large areas of England and Scotland, knowing how to swing a sword or load a musket may well save your life.




Learn Gaelic Hide your true loyalties

Jacobites would go to great lengths to secretly show their allegiance to the ‘king over the water’ by passing their glass over a bowl of water while toasting King George II. Wealthier supporters also used glasses engraved with coded symbols.

If you’re spending time in the Highlands, being able to speak the local language can help enormously whether you’re fleeing government troops or looking for a place to stay.


2018Hit List History

Discover the biggest history anniversaries, must-see exhibitions, blockbuster biopics and best books of the year Written by Dom Reseigh-Lincoln


2018 History Hit List Frankenstein comes to life 1 January 1818

Two centenaries ago, science fiction hit the shelves for this first time thanks to Mary Shelley. A heady mix of Gothic melancholy, Frankenstein — or The Modern Prometheus, as it was known briefly — was very much a product of its day. While it was first published in 1818, it was written in 1816, the ‘year without summer’, when the world had been plunged into darkness following a volcanic eruption. Shelley wrote the initial draft as part of a competition to write the scariest story with her lover and future husband Percy Shelley and fellow poet Lord Byron while on holiday. But over time she expanded on it, drawing on the cutting-edge science of Galvanism, the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and her own recent miscarriage. The macabre result is an enduring legend that has been adapted many times for both stage and screen. However, when it was first published it didn’t even have Mary’s name on it as writing books — especially a book like Frankenstein — wasn’t considered a th fitting profession anniversary for a lady.



The Tet Offensive bloodies Vietnam 30 January 1968

Half a century ago, the Việt Cộng and the North Vietnamese People’s Army of Vietnam launched one of the most ambitious and bloody campaigns in the Vietnam War, changing the course of the conflict forever. With the war having pitched north against south, dividing the country into a bloody battlefield, the Việt Cộng planned to strike at the heart of their enemies and the US troops fighting a seamlessly endless war of years ago attrition in the heat of the jungle. Named after the country’s traditional new year’s celebrations, the Tet Offensive caught the south and the US completely off-guard. In one coordinated operation, 80,000 Việt Cộng troops attacked over 100 cities and towns in the south, causing widespread fear, panic and bloodshed. It was the largest military operation of the war and left more than 14,000 civilians dead. The sheer brutality of the attacks ultimately helped turn public US opinion against the Vietnam War and would eventually lead to America’s departure from the conflict.


February Women’s suffrage wins the vote 6 February 1918 While it would ultimately take another decade for every Englishwoman to have the right to vote, the passing of the Representation of the People Act 1918 was a watershed moment. Granting women of a certain means over the age of 30 the right to vote changed the fabric of British society forever. Interestingly, there was almost always a small percentage of women whose investment in equity gave them a lawful right to vote — around 1 million or so were registered by the turn of the century — but the vast majority were openly denied it and suffrage movements were sweeping the western world in defiance. Suffrage societies formed in every corner of Britain and they eventually calcified into a number of national movements designed to pressure the government to finally hear the voice of its female population, led by the likes of Millicent Fawcett and the more militant Emmeline Pankhurst. Even the suspension of suffrage during World War I wasn’t enough to derail its momentum. The Representation of People Act was also notable for extending the vote to all men over the age of 21, regardless of whether they owned property, which was a huge step forward for working class rights.


Jorvik Viking Festival 12-18 February

Celebrating York’s Norse roots, this festival takes place across the city. You can visit an encampment of Vikings to learn what they traded, the clothes they wore and the sagas they shared. The Wattlington Hoard of Viking treasures is on loan from the British Museum and you can taste mead as well as trying your hand at sword fighting and archery. The festival finale is a live-action battle with 100 warriors. Family passes are £54.95. For more information, visit

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Unmissable Anniversaries The assassination of MLK 4 April 1968

500 million perish from Spanish Flu 11 March 1918


Past centuries had their fair share of epidemic and pandemic nightmares but no one could have foreseen the mass medical malady that struck the world’s population like a biological tidal wave in the early 20th century. With many a nation across the globe still embroiled in World War I, no one was prepared for an onslaught that ignored borders, ethnicity and geographical divides. The first reported case of Spanish Flu was found in Camp Funston, Fort Riley, Kansas, where US troops were being drilled for deployment in World War I. However, modern research has identified evidence that an early outbreak was documented at a military camp in Étaples, France, although this wasn’t immediately identified at the time. The disease spread through Europe like wildfire years ago with the expansive movement of troops and displacement of civilians and soon crossed oceans, seemingly infecting every corner of the planet in its first year. Cases were documented in even the furthest reaches of civilisation, including the bitter cold of the Arctic. By the time the pandemic burned out in December 1920, the world’s population had been reduced by three to five per cent, causing life expectancy to Titanic plummet as a result. Stories

The Civil Rights Movement of the anniversary 1960s transformed American society but it would be a success that came with incredible hardship and sacrifice. One loss rocked the African American community more than any other — the assassination of clergyman, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Fatally shot while staying at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, MLK’s death shocked the world. Initially, it intensified racial tensions across the country. But, as a figure who built his beliefs on nonviolence and inclusion, King’s passing eventually led to national period of mourning that helped speed up the passing of the Equal Housing Bill, the last significant piece of legislation achieved by the Civil Rights Movement.


8 March — 7 January 2019


Rethink what you know about the Titanic thanks to the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall’s new exhibition. ‘Titanic Stories’ presents artefacts never seen before along with survivors’ testimonies. It examines how the event was quickly commodified to sell newspapers, souvenir postcards, books and, of course, movies — from Nazi propaganda to James Cameron’s blockbuster. Tickets are £13.50 for adults and £6 for children over 5. For more information, visit


The Warsaw Ghetto fights back 19 April — 16 May 1943


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From the moment they began their invasion of Poland, the Nazis systematically forced the nation’s Jewish population into closely guarded and overcrowded ghettos. Three years later, large portions of the community were already being deported to concentration camps across the country. Thousands upon thousands of men, women and children were marched from the destitute conditions they had been forced to live in and by 1943, only the last remnants of Poland’s Jewish people remained. Knowing what fate awaited them in the camps, a small pocket of resistance rose up in the form of the Jewish Combat Organisation (Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa, or ŻOB). Under orders from Heinrich Himmler, Nazi troops entered the Warsaw Ghetto the morning before Passover and were caught off-guard by a barrage of gunfire and grenades. It was a brief moment of defiance and the Nazis responded with utter brutality, killing over 13,000 Jews and destroying the ghetto entirely.


An Unlikely Trust Released: 1 January 2018

Love and Dishonour in Elizabethan England

Gerard Helferich takes you on a journey into the economic history of the United States, exploring the relationship between President Theodore Roosevelt and big business financier J Pierpont Morgan. While their relationship has been portrayed as adversarial, Helferich argues it is more complex than that and both of these two business goliaths helped transform the fiscal strength of the nation and shaped the economics of the wider world.

Using detailed records from the National Archives and the Court of Requests, Ralph Houlbrooke explores the life of a newly married couple in Elizabethan England. Through the story of Charles and Elizabeth Forth, see how gender, politics and social expectation shaped marriage in the 1500s and how one woman used the law of her era to circumnavigate its limitations.

Released: 16 February 2018

2018 History Hit List The Hundred Years’ War 24 May 1337 — 19 October 1453 Despite being conquered by a Frenchman in 1066, the nations of France and England were far from united. William I ruled his new kingdom from afar and his successors continued to place an inherited claim on both thrones, but divisions were growing and war was inevitable. Between 1337 and 1453, England and France were embroiled in a series of conflicts over the control of the duchy of Aquitaine and possession of the French throne. The conflict began with King Edward III of England, who found his claim on French sovereignty ignored when the crown was instead placed on the head of th Philip VI. Philip almost immediately annexed the highly valuable region of Aquitaine anniversary and Edward responded in kind by landing troops on French soil. The war endured long after Edward and Philip, with five generations clashing for over a century. Both sides would collect their victories and losses — perhaps most notably Henry V’s victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. As the biggest collective war of the Middle Ages, the divisions between France and England were highlighted as their national identities were defined.


The arrival of the Empire Windrush 22 June 1948


The arrival of the Empire Windrush at the Tilbury anniversary Docks in Essex brought 492 Caribbean migrants to Britain. The anniversary of the cruise ship’s arrival also chimes with the passing of the Nationality Act, which established common citizenship for all British subjects connected with the UK or its colonies. This act was intended to encourage mass migration from the countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth to fill shortages in the labour market — British Rail and the new National Health Service, in particular — after so many died during World War II (the Windrush was itself a captured German ship). The so-called Windrush Generation was initially met with Chalk fear mongering , but Valley History have since come Festival to symbolise the 25 June – 21 July origins of British At time of going to press, this year’s line up had multiculturalism. yet to be announced, but you can expect to walk through history brought to life by performers, demonstrations you can get involved with, attend talks from writers and TV presenters, and watch an air show. Last year’s event included a WWI trench, cooking with Celts, a Medieval sword school and a Napoleonic cavalry charge. Ticket pricing is TBC. For more information, visit



The end of the Korean War 27 July 1953

The execution of the Romanovs 16-17 July 1918

Following two bloody and exhaustive global wars, the mid-20th century faced another conflict that was boiling away in Asia. The war itself erupted in 1950 when northern communist forces marched south. Three years of intense conflict followed with an estimated 2.5 million civilians killed or wounded as a result. China, the Soviet Union and the United States all took part but none were willing to fully commit out of fear of igniting World War III. An armistice was reached on 27 July 1953 and the separate nations of North and South Korea were born.

While last year saw the anniversary of the Russian Revolution, Russia’s royal family did not die until the following summer. After Tsar Nicholas II abdicated in March 1917, the monarch, his wife Queen Alexandra and their five children were years ago kept under house arrest at Alexander Palace. However, following Lenin’s Bolshevik uprising in November 1917, civil war broke out. With concerns that royalist sympathisers would attempt to rescue the tsar and undermine


the revolution, a death sentence was passed. On 16 July, the royal family and four of their servants were gunned down, beaten and stabbed to death.



Inglorious Empire Released: 1 February 2018

A Short History of Ireland, 1500-2000

From esteemed German scholar Jörg Rüpke comes an original — and incredibly ambitious — take on the development of religion in the Mediterranean from the Bronze Age onwards, how it shaped Ancient Rome and became synonymous with Roman culture, politics and class between the 9th and 4th centuries BCE.

The Indian politician and former diplomat Shashi Tharoor takes on the tumultuous history of British colonialism in India and how occupation ultimately stunted the country’s development to the point that growth was cut six-fold by the time the nation gained independence in 1947.

John Gibney offers a broad exploration of Ireland’s history from the Protestant Reformation in 1500 right through to the turn of the millennium. Gibney doesn’t shy away from the most controversial moments, including the bloody fight for independence.

Released: 13 February 2018

Released: 15 February 2018


Unmissable Anniversaries Slavery Abolition Act 1833 is passed 1 August 1834 Throughout the 18th century and well into the 19th, Britain had built its fortunes and power base on the backs of thousands of slaves deported from Africa and the Caribbean. Emancipation transformed a nation into an empire, one that expanded deep into the New World and filled its coffers deep off countless men and women sold like cattle. However, the mixture of a changing world economy where Britain’s sugar plantations were struggling to


compete with its rivals and the growing influence of abolitionist movements helped usher in this watershed moment of British political history. With King William IV providing royal assent, thus entering the act into the UK law of its time, the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 came into full effect on 1 August 1834. With the trade effectively outlawed, over 800,000 slaves were granted freedom. The emancipated workers were spread far and wide across the empire, from British soil all the way to the cold reaches of Canada. However, the legislation didn’t include British-owned slaves in what was known as British North America, mainly due to a relatively small number of emancipated workers compared to those DigNation enslaved in other 22-23 September British colonies.

Discover buried treasure at this inaugural archaeology festival. The two-day event at Lindisfarne will include professional excavations of the Medieval monastery, plus a ‘lab’ where families can get stuck in. Tony Robinson, who set up the festival in honour of his Time Team co-presenter Professor Mick Aston, will headline a series of lectures. A ‘virtual festival’ will also engage armchair archaeologists with live video and a podcast. A full weekend ticket costs £150, but one-day tickets are only £35. For more information, visit dignationfest


In the aftermath of the World War I, the borders of Europe were redrawn, resulting in entirely new years ago nations being added to the map. One of these new countries was Czechoslovakia, which included a population of over 3 million Germans who now found themselves living outside of their homeland. This ‘Sudetenland’ caused tension between Germany and its neighbours for decades, and proved to be one of Adolf Hitler’s most popular policies when he rose to power as he called for the unification of all of Germany’s scattered peoples. When riots on the streets of the Sudetenland reportedly led to the death of 300 civilians — a figure that ultimately proved to be false — Hitler used the news to position German forces along the Czech border. With Germany flexing its growing military strength so openly, British prime minster Neville Chamberlain joined leaders from France and Italy to agree terms with Germany to peacefully end tensions. The result was the Munich Agreement, which annexed the Sudetenland into German possession with official recognition from some of Europe’s leading powers. It proved a major political victory for Hitler, strategically weakened Czechoslovakia and ultimately failed to slow Germany’s growing desire for sociopolitical reawakening.


When Jean-Michel Basquiat was found dead in his New York studio apartment from a heroin overdose, the art world lost an expressionist like no other. Once a graffiti artist who had emerged from the notorious American Punk scene of his native city, Basquiat entered the mainstream art world as a voice that championed more than just unbridled expression. His work challenged class structure, racism and poverty using poetry, abstract art and his background in graffiti to create social commentaries that engaged his audiences as much as captivated them. The tragic death of one of the leading figures of NeoExpressionism occurred at the very height of his fame and his collection remains one of the most lucrative with one untitled piece setting a US record of $110,500,000 in 2017.


Chamberlain and Hitler’s Munich Agreement

30 September 1938

Jean-Michel Basquiat dies 12 August 1988

2018 History Hit List Lawrence of Arabia captures Damascus

100th anniversary

1 October 1918

While immortalised on the silver screen of one cinema’s most iconic films, the real Lawrence of Arabia’s impact on the course of World War I and the fabric of Arabian society remains just as enduring. The Welsh-born, Oxford-educated Lawrence arrived in Egypt in 1914 as an intelligence officer before travelling to Arabia two years later to witness the revolt against Ottoman rule by Hussein ibn Ali, the emir of Mecca. Having convinced his superiors of the importance of helping Hussein, Lawrence was sent to advise the Arabian army. The diplomat proved himself to be an immensely talented strategist and his implementation of guerilla tactics helped the Arabian army strike hard at the heart of the Ottoman war effort as it fought its way to the Syrian capital, Damascus. Lawrence wasn’t present for the formal surrender of the city, having just escaped from the clutches of an Ottoman prison, but arrived just a few hours after its fall. He became instrumental in the formation of a provisional government led by Hussein’s son Faisal and continued to nurture strong relations between Britain, its allies and what he hoped would become a unified, sovereign Arab state.

October Welles’ broadcast causes Martian panic 30 October 1938 80 years ago, one man’s voice sent panic sweeping across the United States. Reading an adaptation of HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds for radio, actor Orson Welles deep, resonant tones were mistaken for a news report. The broadcast wasn’t planned to be a hoax, with CBS Radio issuing alerts that it was a production by Mercury Theater before the show. Unfortunately, a large proportion of the audience had been listening to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy Charlie McCarthy on a different station and had tuned in after Welles had begun. While the mass panic it induced is now often exaggerated, over 1 million listeners were said to have taken the broadcast as real.

The Troubles begin 5 October 1968

Police officers hitting protestors at a banned civil rights march with batons and water cannons in Londonderry 50 years ago is often regarded as the beginning of the Troubles. News coverage brought the situation in Northern Ireland to international attention, while sparking rioting locally that escalated to the point the British Army had to intervene in 1969 (pictured). Paramilitary groups soon remerged and the civil disorder gave way to 30 years of violent conflict.

AngloSaxon Kingdoms 19 October 2018 – 19 February 2019

The British Library are staging an exhibition on the history and culture of Anglo-Saxon England. Covering everything from the fall of Roman Britain to the Norman Conquest, it will unite the four principal manuscripts of Old English poetry for the first time, feature treasures from the Staffordshire Hoard, and show the Codex Amiatinus, which will be back in England for the first time in 1,300 years. Ticket prices TBC. For more information, visit

Christopher Columbus discovers the Americas 12 October 1492 Interestingly, Christopher Columbus is often cited as the man who first set eyes on American soil, but that’s only a half-truth. While the Genoan-born explorer never set foot in North America, his four famous voyages did take him to the Caribbean and parts of South America. It was in 1492, as captain of Santa Maria, that Columbus and two other ships set out to discover a new route to the East Indies in Asia and its lucrative trade routes. What he and his fellow sailors discovered was, in fact, one of the islands in the Bahamas. Having sailed for three months from the Spanish port of Palos de la Frontera, Columbus made landfall on one of the islands and named it San Salvador (‘Holy Savior’). He named the indigenous people ‘indios’ (or ‘indians’, as he still believed he’d

landed in the Indies), noting their friendliness upon his arrival. He eventually learned that these peaceable people had fought off attempts from other islands to enslave them. In a cruel twist of fate — and a precursor to the booming slave trade these islands would eventually support — Columbus remarked in his private journal, “I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased.”




Release date: Autumn 2018 Now entering its sixth season, the History Channel’s violent retelling of Lothbrok’s saga and the clash of Scandinavian reavers with the rest of world shows no sign of slowing down. With Michael Hurst (he of Elizabeth and The Tudors fame) still on writing duties and a story that melds politics, family and an ocean of gore, there’s never been a better time to join the Vikings.

Outlaw King Release date: TBC

This Netflix production casts Chris Pine as the infamous rebel Scottish monarch Robert the Bruce who defies the English in a bloody battle for independence. With director David Mackenzie, who worked with Pine on 2016’s Hell on High Water, on board and Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Tony Curran also in the cast, Outlaw King looks like it could definitely be one to watch in 2018.


Release date: Summer 2018 With its opulent sets, lavish wigs and juxtaposed electronic soundtrack, Versailles will be making a triumphant return to our screens in 2018. The new season will see Louis XIV become the centre of a cultural revolution in Europe while battling William of Orange abroad and rivals at home. With the fallout of season two’s finale to deal with (no spoilers), Versailles will no doubt return with a bang.

Mary Queen of Scots

Release date: 2 November Based on John Guy’s book My Heart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots, this retelling of the Scottish queen’s tumultuous life at the heart of Elizabethan political conspiracy features Saoirse Ronan in the titular role. There’s also a pedigree of talent to support her, including Margot Robbie, Guy Pearce and David Tennant.

The Post

Release date: 19 January The Academy Award hopeful The Post tells the gripping story of how both The Washington Post and The New York Times newspapers published the leaked Pentagon Papers, exposing the depth of the United States government’s role in the Vietnam War. With Steven Spielberg helming the project and Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks leading the cast, it will be arriving in cinemas this January.


The Great War finally ends 11 November 1918 At the beginning of 1918, the conflict that would come to be known as World War I was moving in favour of Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm II. The routing of Russia on the Eastern Front and its humiliating withdrawal from the war, coupled with a naval campaign that was throttling the British war effort, had left the Allies on the back foot. Germany and the Central Powers were poised to claim victory. However, what should have been a swift victory in the Michael Offensive, in which Germany aggressively drove the Allies back across the Somme, turned into a decisive failure as Britain and France launched a counterattack. With the fresh influx of US troops, the British blockade of key German ports and the rise of tank and aerial warfare, Germany was forced to agree to an armistice that effectively brought years ago the war to close. It would be the leaders of the German army that would concede defeat, forcing the kaiser to abdicate on 9 November 1918. Two days later, the Armistice was signed, the guns of either side fell silent and the Great War finally came to an end.


November December

Grapes of Wrath author John Steinbeck dies

I Object 6 September 2018 – 20 January 2019

The British Museum’s autumn attraction shows how objects have been used to mock the powerful and challenge the status quo throughout history. From a defaced Roman bust to 18th-century satirical prints to modern African cloth, dissent can take many forms and the oldest object is 5,000 years old. Highlights include the suffragettes of the Edwardian era and the work of outspoken Chinese artists. Both the title and the ticket price for this event are TBC. For more information, visit

20 December 1968

John Steinbeck died 50 years ago this winter. The writer is best known for The Grapes of the Wrath, the story of dispossessed Oklahoma tenet farmers who flee to California to escape the Dust Bowl. The novel grew out of newspaper articles he wrote about the dreadful conditions of migrant farmhands. Steinbeck wrote two further novels in the 1930s about the plight of Californian labourers: In Dubious Battle and the school curriculum favourite Of Mice and Men. However, while a sense of social justice often ran through his writing, his most enduring theme was his native California, writing romantically about both its luscious valleys and pacific coastline in To a God Unknown (1933), Tortila Flat (1935) and Cannery Row (1945). Steinbeck went one step further and wrote an ambitious saga about the Salinas Valley he grew up on in and his own family’s history in the monumental East of Eden (1952).

50 years ago

© Getty Images

Must-watch historical TV & movies

Win £1,000

worth of prizes

Make the most of 2018 with Jorvik Viking Festival tickets and hot new history books To help kickstart your year of history, we have some amazing prizes to giveaway, including tickets to one of the must-see events of 2018. The largest of its kind in Europe, Jorvik Viking Festival is a weeklong commemoration of York’s Norse roots and regularly attracts over 40,000 visitors to the historic city. Taking place on 12-18 February, this year’s theme will be conquest of England by the Great Viking Army in 866. Living history displays, walks, talks and tours around the city will also explain how the Norsemen settled down and made Medieval York the Viking capital of England. The festival includes have-a-go archery, music from the world-renowned artist Einar Selvik and a feast fit for Valhalla at the Great Viking Army Banquet.

The festival’s grand finale is a dramatic 100-strong combat performance, in which Viking warriors face-off with doomed Anglo-Saxon defenders. Leading the charge will be three brothers and Viking legends — Halfdan Ragnarsson, Ubba Ragnarsson and Ivar the Boneless — while pyrotechnics enhance the night-time battle royale. Thanks to the Jorvik Viking Centre, which reopened last year and runs the festival, we have two ‘group passports’ for a family of five up for grabs. Worth £54.95 each, these passes will give the winners free membership to the Viking Centre and other York attractions, including DIG, Barley Hall and the Richard III & Henry VII Experience for 12 months. They will

also allow the winners to access all of the festival entertainments at these sites as well as the living history encampments across the city. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s more! The two passport winners plus seven other runners up will also receive a bundle of brand-new history books worth £100 each. These must-read page-turners will range from the Middle Ages to the modern day and cover everything from military to music history. Titles up for grabs include The Square and the Tower by the critically acclaimed Niall Ferguson, Hue 1968 by Black Hawk Down author Mark Bowden, The Mayflower Generation by Rebecca Fraser, On the Ocean by Barry Cunliffe and The Private Life of Edward VI by John Ashdown-Hill.

For your chance to win, visit and answer the following question: In what year did the Great Viking Army invade England?

A. 1066

B. 866

C. 1666

For more information, visit

TERMS AND CONDITIONS The closing date for entries is 2 February 2018. Please be aware that answers must be submitted to the above website only. This competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom and Ireland only. Future Publishing has the right to substitute the prize for a similar item of equal or higher value. Employees of Future Publishing (including freelancers), their relatives or any agents are not eligible to enter. The editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash. Full terms and conditions are available upon request. From time to time, Future Publishing or its agents may send you related material or special offers. If you do not want to receive this, please state it clearly on your competition entry.


Cold War America

A Las Vegas casino gives soldiers from the nearby nuclear test site the VIP treatment in 1954




Written by Dominic Green

How Las Vegas boomed during the Cold War and taught America to love the Bomb through cocktail parties and beauty pageants


hat happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” goes the saying. Las Vegas is America’s sin city, a year-round resort of high-rolling gamblers, low-living hedonists, couples who are wed by Elvis impersonators and families visiting this spectacular and seamy city in the Nevada desert. In the 1950s, while the Mafia were building the city’s hotels and casinos and stars like Frank Sinatra were packing in the crowds at the nightclubs, the neon lights of Las Vegas’ ‘Strip’ were eclipsed by another crowd-puller: the detonation flash and mushroom clouds of the atomic bomb. Massive discharges of radiation happened near Vegas and none of it stayed there. At dawn on 27 January 1951, a US Air Force B-50 bomber dropped a nuclear warhead from 6,096 metres above Frenchman Flats — only 104 kilometres northwest of the Strip. President Harry Truman had ordered the conversion of an 800,000-acre Air Force bombing range in the barren Nevada Desert into the Nevada Proving Grounds, the heart of the United States’ Cold War nuclear programme. The location was perfect for testing nuclear devices — the desert setting was predictable, with clear skies, low humidity and a low civilian population. Over the next four decades, until the cessation of testing in 1992 with the end of the Cold War, the Department of Energy was to test 928 nuclear devices at the site.  That first warhead, codenamed Able, was more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima


and Nagasaki combined. When Able exploded 323 metres in the air above the desert floor, it emitted a blinding flash of light. The ground shook and the detonation echoed through the mountains. The distinctive mushroom cloud took shape as the heat and radiation erupted outwards, almost in slow motion, showering the surrounding area with poisonous radiation. Technicians registered and recorded the shock waves and the radioactive fallout as they tested the bomb’s destructive potential on animals, cars, trees, houses and shop window mannequins from JCPenney. Reporters, photographers, government visitors and local dignitaries were allowed to watch from News Nob, a hill on the test site, but the flash was so bright that it could be seen 643 kilometres away in San Francisco. Meanwhile in Las Vegas, residents were driving to the edge of the city and having picnics as they watched the mushroom cloud spread across the sky. Tourists clambered onto the diving board of hotel swimming pools to get a better view. Las Vegas was ‘Atomic City, USA’, and the bomb was one of its unique attractions. The post-war years were, in the title of the English poet Jeff Nuttall’s 1968 book, the years of Bomb Culture. Rather than ending conflict forever, World War II had demonstrated that mankind had finally contrived a method for its total annihilation. The future seemed tinged with fear and touched with expectation of apocalypse. Americans knew what damage nuclear blasts and radiation could do — they had seen the pictures of the devastation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Welcome to Atomic City, USA

“The flash was so bright that it could be seen 643 kilometres away”


Watching an atomic test by the pool in the Old Frontier Village, 1953

Americans also feared that the ‘Red Menace’ of the Soviet Union, now engaged in an atomic arms race, would nuke their cities. Schoolchildren were trained in emergency drills in case of attack. “This was the height of the Cold War and the ‘Duck and Cover’ drills,” recalls local historian Dennis McBride, whose mother worked at the test site. “It’s so hard to even articulate, being instilled with the sense that at any moment your life could come to a horribly frightening, bloody end.” You might think citizens would have protested about the rain of atomic fallout on their homes but Las Vegas was not like other places. People didn’t only move there to work as waiters, croupiers and pool attendants; they came because of the military and scientific jobs that it created. “The best thing to happen to Vegas was the Bomb,” casino owner Benny Binion claimed in the 1970s. Between 1950 and 1960, the city’s population doubled from 40,000 to 80,000, and then doubled again in the 1970s. From the start, federal funds had always powered the city’s expansion. Gene Nelson performs the ‘Atom Antic’ near the test site


Entertainer Dean Martin acting as a dealer at a Las Vegas casino

Before Las Vegas became Atomic City, it had branded itself as ‘The Gateway to the Boulder Dam’. Now the military personnel and civilian nuclear technicians who settled inside the test site itself at Mercury, Nevada, became a significant presence in the area’s year-round population and contributed to the state’s economy. Over the course of the Cold War, about 125,000 people held jobs at the site.  In its radioactive heyday, Mercury had a military barracks, a bowling alley, a cinema and even a swimming pool, but the desert around the town is still pockmarked with craters from atomic detonations. One of them, the Sedan crater, is the largest man-made hole in the United States. Part of a test into the use of nuclear bombs for mining, it was created when a 104-kiloton detonation displaced 12 million tons of earth and rock, and it’s nearly 396 metres wide and 97 metres deep.  Indeed, the very oddity of Las Vegas is reflected in the fact that one of the few notable objections to the testing programme came from Howard Hughes. The eccentric millionaire was terrified of dirt, disease and contamination, and he was worried about radiation getting into the water supply. However, the Department of Energy insisted that there was no danger and the people of Las Vegas were advised to take a shower if they had been directly exposed to any fallout. They were also issued with military dog tags, just in case any accidents occurred. Instead of protesting, Las Vegas incorporated the weapon into the leisure industry. The first test in 1951 was marked by a parade with a float adorned with a giant mushroom cloud and swimsuit-clad models. The city designated the Nevada Proving Ground as a tourist attraction and the Chamber of Commerce printed calendars that listed detonation times and recommended the best vantage points. Benny Binion’s Horseshoe Casino and the rival Desert Inn capitalised on their north-facing vistas by holding ‘Dawn Bomb Parties’. These all-night events saw guests dance and drink ‘atomic cocktails’. Carefully coordinated with the military tests, these

The Atomic Cocktail “It’s the drink that you don’t pour / Now when you

take one sip, you won’t need anymore,” the jazz hipster Slim Gaillard sang on his 1945 song ‘Atomic Cocktail’. “When you see it coming, grab your suitcase / It’ll send you through the sky like airmail.” Gaillard, who features in Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel On the Road, knew about flying and explosives. In 1943, he suspended his jazz career to fly B-26 bombers in the Pacific.  The atomic cocktail was a real drink and it was served in Vegas during the bomb testing years. Mix ½ ounce (43 millilitres) of vodka, 1½ ounces of cognac and a teaspoon of sherry in a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass, and add a further 1½ ounces of chilled Champagne. As Gaillard sang, “Boom!”

Sherry Cognac

Nuclear anxiety

Champagne Vodka

Welcome to Atomic City, USA

Soldiers crown Miss Radiation 1955 with a mushroom cloud tiara

Operation Sunbeam was the last series of aboveground Nevada tests

© Getty Images, Las Vegas News Bureau

Spectators watch the bright atomic blast with black glasses

parties went out with a bang — the flash of a nuclear blast, brighter than the sun, went off at dawn. The mushroom cloud became one of Las Vegas’ most iconic symbols, like the palm tree, the neon sign and the roulette wheel. It appeared on billboards, casino marquees and, in a reflection of the prominence of the nuclear business in whitecollar local employment, on the cover of the Las Vegas High School yearbook. The Sands Hotel even adapted the traditional beauty contest — entrants for Miss Atomic Bomb wore cotton wool mushroom clouds along with the usual swimsuit and high heels. By 1954, 8 million tourists were visiting the city every year. Nuclear radiation was known to be fatal but its effects were not yet quantified. The US Army brought truckloads of soldiers and sat them close to the blast site without any protection. Instead, they were sometimes told to cover their eyes or sit with their backs to the blast in case the flash damaged their sight. Afterwards, the dust from the detonations was hosed and brushed off their uniforms and skin. Unsurprisingly, those exposed in this way suffered high rates of premature death from cancer. So did the ‘downwinders’, people living downwind from the blasts in the small farming communities of Utah. Las Vegas’ citizens were also unacknowledged conscripts of the testing programme and, on average, there was a detonation every three weeks

throughout the 1950s. The Las Vegas of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr — the Vegas of slot machines, cabarets and free ribeye suppers — was also a living test ground for the effects of atomic radiation. Photographers filmed the tests from as little as 11 kilometres away, protected by nothing more than dark sunglasses. “We used to get up in the morning, drive out to the highway and watch the blast,” Las Vegas resident Gail Andress told the Las Vegas Weekly in 2012. Andress and his wife Donna, now both in their 80s, were regular spectators of the detonations. “It looked like the sun come up again. It lit the whole area. We were assured there wasn’t going to be a problem. It was real interesting. It was an attraction.” Andress, who had served as a US Navy aerial gunner in World War II, would count from the time of the blast to “see how long before the wind would come and rattle the blinds.” Closer to the action, Alveta McBride was a switchboard operator at the test site. On one occasion, she and her co-workers were driven to a viewing area 1.5 kilometres from the blast — the dust hit them with such force that it knocked hats from heads and blew some viewers off their feet.  Las Vegas’ atomic party came to an end in 1963. The Cuban Missile Crisis the previous October had brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. The Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 was a joint attempt to lower the rising

temperature of the Cold War, banning testing in the atmosphere, in space and underwater. Although atomic experiments continued in Nevada until the 1990s, they were only conducted underground, meaning they couldn’t be seen from any hotel swimming pool, so didn’t have the same draw. Still, the bomb remains part of Las Vegas’ tourist industry today. The National Atomic Testing Museum is situated just over 1.5 kilometres from the Strip and visitors can view Atomic Age souvenirs like boxes of Kix cereal, each with a giveaway Kix Atomic Ring; spiced candy called the Atomic Fireball; the Superboy comic book, with its atom-powered hero in radioactive tights; and a real atomic bomb, presumably deactivated. There are also essential handbooks for visitors to 1950s Las Vegas such as Survival Under Atomic Attack and Atomic Cocktails: Mixed Drinks for Modern Times. Once a month, the Department of Energy takes visitors on a free tour of the ghostly testing ground, now known as the Nevada National Security Site, with no cameras, videos or selfie sticks allowed. Today, the town of Mercury, Nevada, is dying, with many buildings pulled down and others collapsing — but the tower and cabling for the Icecap test still stand undamaged. On 2 October 1992, days before a warhead was scheduled to be detonated from the top of the tower, President George HW Bush signed into law a moratorium on further nuclear experiments. Atomic City was well and truly gone.


Cold War America

Having a blast Different series of tests meant that Las Vegas’ tourist industry just kept on booming

Between the first detonation in Nevada in 1951 and the 1992 moratorium on nuclear testing, 928 American nuclear tests were carried out at the Nevada Proving Grounds. 100 of these were detonated above ground and 828 below but it was the aboveground ones that really drew the crowds. These were conducted in

codenamed batches or series. The chart below shows all the aboveground tests that occured in Nevada prior to the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty. The ‘total yield’ refers to the combined amount of energy released by all the bombs dropped in each series. For reference, one kiloton is equal to the power of 1,000 tons of TNT.


The Grable test used artillery dubbed ‘Atomic Annie’ to fire the warhead

340 330 320 310 300

Ranger Fox, 6 February

290 280 270 260

Total yield (Kilotons)

250 240 A nuclear detonation showing fireball and ‘rope tricks’

230 220 210 200

Buster-Jangle Dog on 1 November 1951

190 180 170 160 150 140 130 120 110 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0



Ranger 1951

Buster-Jangle 1951



Tumbler-Snapper Upshot-Knothole 1952 1953

167 Teapot 1955

Operation name / year


Welcome to Atomic City, USA

Plumbbob Priscilla on 24 June 1957

Boomtown stats Las Vegas was the fastest-growing city in the United States in the 20th century • 1910s •

Las Vegas was incorporated as city in 1911. It was an important stopover for miners working in the area but it still remained rather small.

• 1930s •

The year 1931 was pivotal to Vegas as Nevada legalised gambling, reduced requirements for divorce to six weeks and work started on the nearby Hoover Dam.

• 1900s •

The town of Las Vegas was founded in 1905 when 110 acres of land adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks were auctioned off.

Year/Population 1900..........25 1910.........800 1920......2,304 1930......5,165 1940......8,422 1950.....24,624 1960.....64,400 1970.....125,787

Teapot MET, tested on 15 April 1955

• 1930s •

The construction of the Hoover Dam from 1931 to 1935 brought an influx of workers and their families to the city.

Hardtack II De Baca, 26 October 1958

• 1940s •

• 1950s •

Studying plutonium contamination

One-point safety tests

Post-war prosperity led to lavishly decorated hotels and casinos appearing in the desert, offering big name entertainers to attract tourists.

Testing damaged warheads

With the arrival of Manhattan Project scientists and staff to test atom bombs in the desert, the population grew 192.4 per cent between 1940 and 1950.

• 1960s •

By 1960, the city’s population had grown another 161.6 per cent. A firmly established tourist attraction, Las Vegas continued to grow after aboveground nuke testing ended in 1963.






Project 56 1955

Plumbbob 1957

Project 57 1957

Project 58 1958

Hardtack II 1958




Did Alexander the Great’s one-on-one lessons with Greek intellectual giant Aristotle shape the iconic king’s rule?


lexander III of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great, built an empire that stretched from Greece to the Indian border in little more than a decade. But as well as being a mighty conqueror, he was famed for his intellect, showing a keen interest in philosophy, medicine and science. This perhaps comes as no surprise as he was taught by none other than Aristotle, the Greek philosopher whose ideas are now a pillar of Western thought. But how did this intellectual giant come to teach a teenage prince and how faithfully did the conqueror live up to his schoolmaster’s ideals? Most of our knowledge of Alexander the Great comes to us from second- and thirdhand accounts written hundreds of years after his death, which tend to give his life the soft glow of myth. The most referenced extant source we possess is Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, which he wrote in the 2nd century CE, nearly 500 years after the emperor’s death. Plutarch gives us few details about the threeyear period that the young Alexander spent studying under Aristotle, between the ages of 13 and 16. But what we do know is tantalising as, although this tutorship only lasted a short time, it may have altered the course of history. Alexander was born in 356 BCE in the Macedonian capital of Pella. The son of King Philip II and his fourth wife, Olympias, he was raised with royal intent, receiving military training alongside schooling from Aristotle.


Written by Tom Cohen

Aristotle was about 40 when Philip hired him in 343 BCE. He had spent the previous 20 years studying with Plato, another great philosopher, at his Academy in Athens. However, he left the school suddenly around 348 BCE, most likely because Plato did not select him as his successor, appointing his nephew Speusippus instead. Although Philip considered other eminent philosophers to tutor his son, he ultimately invited Aristotle to teach the precocious prince. This may have been because Aristotle, like Alexander and Philip, was Macedonian and his own father, Nicomachus, had served as the court physician for Philip’s father, Amyntas. While it would have been a great honour to train a future monarch, Aristotle never explained why he accepted the job of royal tutor. The philosopher was widely respected in his own lifetime, so would have other options after leaving Plato’s Academy. Aristotle possibly already dreamt of establishing his own rival school in Athens and knew royal patronage would make this possible. As part of Aristotle’s contract, we do know Philip agreed to restore his home city of Stagira, which the king had razed several years earlier as punishment for an uprising against his rule.

Educating Alex

Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great for three years

Aristotle was given a small temple dedicated to the nymphs to use as a classroom in the village of Mieza, just outside of Pella. Incredibly, you can still see the stone seats they sat on and the shady walks the philosopher was wont to take among its ruins today. As well as Alexander, Aristotle’s school took in several other high-ranking children. Many of these would go onto become some of Alexander’s most trusted generals and companions, including Hephaestion, Ptolemy, Cassander and Cleitus. Plutarch says that the class’ lessons were centred on ethics, politics, philosophy and rhetoric. Aristotle may have also lectured the group on Plato’s so-called ‘unwritten doctrines’. While these are now lost to history, they likely included Plato’s metaphysical and spiritual speculations, which were normally reserved for initiates of his Academy and not widely shared. Aristotle also wrote short instructional pamphlets specifically to train Alexander in becoming a good king. Again, we don’t know exactly what these contained but a later biographer, Diogenes Laërtius, preserved the titles, which include On Kingship, In Praise of Colonies, Alexander’s Assembly and The Glories of Riches. The general education of young men in Ancient Greece at that time involved a close study of poets, philosophers and playwrights from Homer to Sophocles. But Aristotle also had an immense interest in the sciences and he made sure to teach Alexander everything he knew about biology, physics and medicine. The prince must have taken this on board as in later life he was known to aggressively prescribe diets, medicines and exercises to his friends when they fell ill. Alexander also sent exotic plants and animals back to his old tutor so that he could study them.

Alexander depicted in a mosaic found in Pompeii

A Roman copy of a bust of Aristotle by Lysippus in 330 BCE

After his death in Babylon, Alexander’s will went so far as to suggest his quest to conquer the world was partially scientific, and that he had planned to cross the Indian Ocean and circumnavigate the Horn of Africa to further both his dominion and understanding. While this could be chalked up as bluster (after all, Napoleon made similar claims), Alexander was as much the intellectual heir of Aristotle as he was the royal successor of Macedonia. This philosophical inheritance was handed down to Aristotle from Plato, who himself had been taught by Socrates — a triumvirate that includes some of the greatest Ancient Greek minds. Alexander took this role very seriously. When on campaign in Persia, he found out that Aristotle had published some of Plato’s aforementioned unwritten doctrines. He wrote a stern letter illustrating his displeasure, saying, “I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion.” However anecdotal this correspondence may be, it certainly does characterise Alexander’s charisma and the ideology of Aristotle. The future leader of Macedonia believed that he was exceptional and that philosophy was sacrosanct — his education had helped him to achieve his rank. It is possible that Aristotle’s teachings had informed his selfperception as well as his ability to attain greatness. Like most royals, Alexander was primed for success, but seldom does a prince have instruction in how to bring this quality to fruition. A major part of Aristotelian philosophy is actually concerned with realising potential — a person who wants to be great is required to practice wisdom and strive for excellence. This excellence, or arete, is the Ancient Greek concept that the greatest excel through virtue, intelligence, nobility of birth and beauty of body.


Alexander the Great

Aristotle taught the prince everything he needed to rule

In addition, Aristotle wrote about entelechy, which is concerned with how a person can realise their potential. It examines causes and effects to better understand how events unfold and how people develop. Aristotle would have taught Alexander to analyse his life to make it more excellent and how to study a range of outcomes to select the best course of action. This is to say that Aristotle would have taught the prince how to unlock his potential and this is why Alexander repudiates his tutor for sharing knowledge with others, because he knew that if they were to read the philosopher’s ideas, they would have access to what he saw to be the ‘secret knowledge’ necessary to take the world. Alexander’s education manifests itself in others ways as well. For example, he didn’t strive to enslave the world through mere butchery and violence. Rather, he was known to treat the people he conquered with humanity and to have shown amnesty to the wives and daughters of the Persian emperor after defeating him in battle. While excellence is an Aristotelian ethic, the tutor would have taught the prince to read and appreciate how other revered authors treated glory, excellence and virtue. Plutarch notes that Alexander slept with a copy of Homer’s Iliad under his pillow, annotated by none other than Aristotle himself. Achilles, the protagonist of the epic poem that was composed several centuries before this period, is concerned chiefly with his own personal glory and reputation, not with money or prizes. Alexander undoubtedly reflected this in his insatiable desire to conquer the world and his simultaneous charity, giving away presents and money to his soldiers and allies.

Aristotle was himself a student of the equally great Greek philosopher Plato, and the pair would walk and dispute together

The ruins of the school Aristotle established for Alexander and his friends at Mieza

56 56

Throughout his life, Alexander’s predilection for philosophy never faded. There are several anecdotes about his interactions with other eminent philosophers during his ceaseless military campaigns across eastern Europe and Asia that suggest he had a personal affinity for their eccentricities as well as their views. Indeed, upon meeting Diogenes of Sinope, one of the founders of Cynicism who was known for his extremely simple lifestyle — and for living in a large jar in an Athenian marketplace — Alexander addressed him and offered him anything he wanted. The cheeky Diogenes merely asked the Macedonian to step out of the way so he could sunbathe more easily. Alexander, suitably impressed remarked, “But truly, if I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.” Despite these anecdotes that show a certain humility, Alexander’s unprecedented military successes would eventually cause him to exhibit some very un-Aristotelian vices, like indulgences in wine, flattery, violence and excessive sleep. The conqueror even came to believe that he was a god and he is said to have remarked that only “sleep and sex” made him feel mortal. On one infamous occasion, he drunkenly burned down the Persian capital of Persepolis just five months after capturing it and, in a separate incident, he killed his friend Cleitus in a drunken quarrel, spearing him through the chest and then immediately weeping with regret. When Aristotle’s tutorship of Alexander came to an end in 340 BCE, the philosopher returned to Athens and established his own school of philosophy, the Lyceum. He and his students came to be known as the Peripatetics as a result of their habit of strolling the gardens during their lessons. But after Alexander’s demise in Babylon in 323 BCE, the proMacedonian government of Athens fell and Aristotle was forced to flee for his life, remarking that he would “not allow Athens to sin against philosophy twice”, in reference to the city’s execution of Socrates. After Alexander’s death, his generals greedily carved up the empire and fought among themselves. Known as the Diadochi, or Successors, several of them had been Alexander’s old classmates. Ptolemy, who may have been the late ruler’s half-brother, seized Egypt, and his family would rule it for several centuries until the arrival of the Romans. In fact, the infamous Cleopatra, of Julius Caesar acclaim, was a member of the Ptolemies. Just as Alexander’s successes in war and statecraft can in part be attributed to Aristotle’s education, so can Ptolemy’s.

Alexander’s classmate Ptolemy would become ruler of Egypt and found the Great Library of Alexandria

Educating Alex Alexander the Great’s

Report Card Grade




A dedicated scholar of Greek literature, Alexander even slept with a copy of Homer’s Iliad under his pillow long after his school days were over.



Alexander killed his friend Cleitus in a drunken quarrel but this is somewhat balanced out in his kind treatment of Darius’ wife and daughters after conquering the Persian Empire.

Physical Education


Alexander had a long history of physical fitness and military success, and he was a notable cavalry commander. However, he was also known to overindulge in alcohol and late nights.



Alexander’s conquests brought him unparalleled booty but he was also known to give away large sums of gold, expressing that the tons of treasure held him back from conquering more.



Alexander inherited a curiosity of nature from Aristotle and is said to have sent his tutor exotic animal and plant specimens from the countries he conquered for cataloguing and study.



Alexander’s conquests revealed huge new swaths of the globe and connected India to Greece with trade. His will expressed his desire to explore the Indian Ocean and Africa, adventures he would never take.

Two other former students, Antipater and his son Cassander, would come to rule large swaths of Alexander’s empire, including where it had begun in Greece and Macedonia. Aristotle also named Antipater the executor of his will when he died in 322 BCE, suggesting they remained good friends in subsequent years. The same can’t be said for Aristotle and Alexander. Alexander fulfilled his father’s promise and restored Stagira. The specimens he sent his old tutor allowed Aristotle to establish an impressive zoo and botanical garden. The king also patronised the Lyceum, so Aristotle could afford to build a vast library. But Plutarch suggests the pair fell out in later years, possibly over Alexander’s treatment of the Persians. Aristotle hated the Persians, in part for how the treated fellow Platonic mentee Hermias of Atarneus. After the city Hermias ruled rebelled against the Persians, Artaxerxes III tortured and executed Aristotle’s old friend.

Much of our knowledge of Alexander’s life comes from Plutarch

Alexander the Great is best remembered for his military genius, such as his victory over Darius III at the Battle of Issus

Alexander successfully took the Persian Empire, but after overthrowing Darius III he did not show any of Aristotle’s intolerance or xenophobia towards his people. In fact, his Macedonian and Greek solders would famously mutiny because Alexander was showing too much favour to the Persians, adopting their style of dress and giving them officer ranks in the military. Most notably, in a show of solidarity with his conquered people, Alexander went so far as to marry his generals and officers en masse to Persian noblewomen using Persian traditions in the city of Susa in 324 BCE. Alexander himself, still married to Roxana, also married Stateira, the oldest daughter of Darius, in order to better unite the royal families of the two territories. It is possible that he understood that conquering an empire required very different virtues from ruling one and that he needed to extend qualities like grace and tolerance to all of the people in his dominion — not just Greeks — in order to rule effectively and fairly. It is seldom in history that a great conqueror also loves virtue and knowledge. In The Republic, written 25 years before Alexander’s birth, Plato anticipates a “Philosopher King” who would rule himself with virtue and lead his nation with a love of knowledge, excellence and justice. Perhaps Aristotle had been considering this idyllic goal when tutoring the Macedonian prince and hoped to unlock the incredible potential he saw in the future conqueror when he agreed to be his tutor. But Alexander died long before he could realise those lofty goals and his death cast a long shadow on the ancient world. Despite this, Alexander’s indelible accomplishments caused each subsequent conqueror to feel inadequate. Famously, Julius Caesar would weep in envy of Alexander and his memory transcends the cities that still bear his name today, such as Alexandria in Egypt. Like Aristotle and Plato, Alexander’s legacy was felt in the tidal wave of philosophy, art and ideas that poured their way from Greece to Iran, Pakistan and India in the wake of his military conquests, creating an immense synthesis of new knowledge, learning and trade across the continent.


© Alamy, Getty Images



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Razor Gangs: Sex, Slashers & Sly Grog In the wake of a new era for Australia, vice-hungry vagabonds ruled the streets of Sydney Written by Tanita Matthews

Four men caught in a police raid in Darlinghurst. Raymond Neil (left-centre) was injured while fighting the arresting officer


Razor Gangs: Sex, Slashers & Sly Grog

The Underbelly Down Under

Rough around the edges and savouring the pre-war era, Australia’s New South Wales in the early years of the 20th century was a place where prostitution, gambling, narcotics and guns were not just tolerated, but in most instances legal. But in 1905, the country’s government began to slowly erode away all the bad habits its inhabitants had clung to for comfort. A combination of laws passed such as the Vagrancy Act of 1902, the Gambling and Betting Act of 1906, The Police Offences (Amendment) Act of 1908, the Liquor Act of 1916 and the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act of 1927 made street prostitution, gambling and alcohol sales after 6pm illegal. Thanks to an everincreasing anti-narcotics movement, chemists and small-time traffickers were put out of business. With the sales of sex, drugs and alcohol driven underground, criminals flocked together like birds of a feather. Australian tabloids, latching onto the Al Capone era that was plaguing America on the other side of the globe, declared East Sydney was “the Chicago of the South” and a “breeding place of vice”. Australia would draw a lot of parallels to the US and its Prohibition Era as it mirrored the strict laws imposed regarding the sales and distribution of alcohol on its civilians. In the wake of a revolution for transport, the eastern part of the capital resembled shantytowns when newer and flashier homes in other areas of the city attracted the working class. As Larry Writer summarised in his book Razor: A True Story of Slashers, Gangsters, Prostitutes and Sly Grog, the areas that commonly became known as ‘Razorhurst’ were born from an “ill-starred confluence of betweenthe-wars social conditions, well

intended but wrong-headed laws and a truly extraordinary group of ambitious and ruthless crime entrepreneurs determined to cash in on the vices of beloved Australians.” Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Wooloomooloo, Paddington and King’s Cross districts became the stomping grounds of infamous vice queens Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh and their gangs, along with Melbourne razor gang leader and standover merchant Norman Bruhn, and Phil ‘The Jew’ Jeffs, a cocaine pusher and sly grog patron. Each madam was determined to outdo the others, insistent on being the most powerful and infamous criminal their country had ever seen. Between them they forged armies of brutes who waged war on the streets of Sydney. Following on from the 1927 Pistol Act, which prohibited guns being carried, villains donned a new weapon of choice: the razor blade. A silent but deadly accomplice to crime, thousands of men and women found themselves brutalised victims of slashings and stabbings. Sydneysiders didn’t fear death so much as the trademark L-shaped scar on their cheek that marked them as the prey of underworld gangs. None evoked such terror as the razor gangs of Sydney and the men and women behind them.

Sly grog queen of Sydney

Leigh, the older of the madams and the only Australian native of the four leaders, was born in 1881 in Dubbo, Central Western New South Wales, to Timothy and Charlotte Beahan. The eighth of 13 children, she was a wilful spirit, always in

Nellie Cameron, also known as the ‘Kiss of Death Girl’, in 1930

trouble for stealing, hitting other children and playing truant. After four years in a girl’s home for ‘delinquent’ and uncontrollable girls following years of maltreatment as a child, she worked as a waitress and in factories in Glebe and Surry Hills. Soon the young woman’s dreams of living beyond a mediocre pay packet prompted her to seek the company of criminals. At 21 years of age, she married her first husband, Jack Leigh, a 30-year-old carpenter and petty crook. The two had a daughter together but parted ways following a stint in the gaols when Leigh’s husband was tried for assaulting another man. Leigh attempted to swing the jury in their favour by lying in court but the judge sentenced her to prison with her husband for perjury.

“They forged armies of brutes who waged war on the streets” Sydney in the 1920s

Tilly Devine Born 8 September 1900 Died 24 November 1970 Also known as - Worst Woman in Sydney - Queen of the Loo

times Arrested a staggering 79 ne, alo 5 192 between 1921 and t her ins aga s rge cha had ine Dev ft, the g, tin for whoring, figh aviour beh ve nsi offe and ng ari swe als. min cri h wit and consorting

Kate Le igh

Born 10 March 1 Died 4 8 Februar 81 y 1964 Also kn own as - Most Evil Wo man in - Queen Syd Of Surr Althoug y Hills ney h Leigh was cha occasio rged on ns she only we 107 times. nt to p Charges rison 1 include murder 3 d and pos robbery session phenoba , theft of the rbitone , sedativ . She s prison e erved 1 for dru 2 g posse months ssion i in n 1930.


Crime history

Suspected conman Edward Dalton (right) bears the distinctive scar of a razor attack on his face

“At the height of her career, L eigh operated almost two dozen sly groggeries” Following her release, she strayed once again from the straight and narrow and by 1913 she was convicted for running a brothel and placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond. The following year, Leigh, the lover of gangland criminal Samuel ‘Jewey’ Freeman was sentenced again for perjury after she supplied a false alibi for Freeman, who had conducted the great Eveleigh Workshops payroll robbery. “Seven years for sticking to a man. I’ll swing before I stick to another,” she uttered before she was locked away. She wouldn’t be released until 1919, having served less than five years of her sentence. It was at this time that Leigh decided to fill a gap in the market. With the 1919 temporary (soon to be permanent) ban in place across Australia, which had enforced a 6pm closing time on pubs, Leigh began selling illegal liquor, or ‘sly grog’, to quench the thirst of those left dry mouthed by the new restriction. At the height of her career, Leigh operated almost two dozen sly grogeries — rooms at the back of grocery shops and other inconspicuous premises. As well as a sly grog entrepreneur, she was a brothel owner and cocaine merchant, a fearless and flamboyant woman dubbed the ‘Long John Silver of Sydney’.

New girl on the block

Born Matilda Twiss, Tilly Devine was a fabulous, fair-haired beauty. She could be as generous as


she could be vicious. Born in London during the final year of Queen Victoria’s reign, Devine grew up in pitiful poverty. She was determined to see better days than those where she had starved and shivered as an infant. Leaving school at the age of 12, she realised that a life in the sweatshops would not afford her the luxuries she desired. A stunning young woman with big blue eyes and luscious blonde locks, she sold herself on the Strand earning almost ten times the average wage as a prostitute. As a fresh-faced 16-year-old, she met and fell in love with Australian soldier Jim Devine, a former sheep shearer and petty crook with a violent temper, and they married later that year. One biographer describes him as a man who “used the word ‘fuck’ as if it were a comma.” Otherwise known as ‘Big Jim’, he didn’t try to stop his wife earning a living as a whore and revelled in her hard-earned cash. A few times Devine was arrested for soliciting in the Strand, ordered to pay fines or thrown into Bow Street. But when the war was over, Devine’s husband sailed back to Australia. She followed him a year later leaving their son behind with her own parents and she began work as a prostitute almost immediately from their Paddington flat in Sydney. Meanwhile, her husband continued to seek out whatever illegal activity he could to earn a living, from gambling to acting as a standover man for businesses, demanding protection money from illegal premises.

Razor Gangs: Sex, Slashers & Sly Grog

sydney’s gangland Key crime scenes in the razor gangs’ turf war

03 02


groggery 01 Sly robbery

6 June 1927


Bruhn’s associate Frank ‘Razor Jack’ Hayes was gunned down by Tom Kelly in response to the members of Devine’s violent razor gang robbing Jeff’s sly grog shop and making off with the proprietor’s takings, cash and jewellery.

02Blood Alley Battle 7 May 1929

Phil ‘the Jew’ Jeffs and his gang were challenged to a fight when a Wooloomooloo gang discovered that the drugs peddler was mixing cocaine with barboric acid and selling it as pure powder.

03Crossing the border 8 August 1929

Devine and her gang, armed with guns and razors, stood on the cusp of Leigh’s stomping ground. Threats and jibes were exchanged before a battle broke out. More than a dozen were badly injured.



04Attempted murder 27 March 1930

After a spate of attacks on her home on Riley Street, Leigh came face-to-face with four gangsters looking for her henchman Tomlinson. Leigh shot one man in the stomach and he died. She was arrested for attempted murder but found not guilty on the grounds of self-defence.

05Leigh’s grog shop 1951-64

A flat above a fruit and vegetable store on 212 Devonshire Street was Leigh’s main dispensary where she lived out her days until she died in 1964 at the age of 82.

06Chez Devine 1945 onwards

The Tradesman’s Arms was at the heart of Devine’s stomping ground in Darlinghurst. Across the Road at 191 Palmer Street she and Big Jim sometimes lived. The house was also Devine’s main brothel.


Crime history

Vice, vice baby es

With multiple illegal activiti from which to profit, each empire had ample opportunities to line their pockets

Prostitution 101: ‘Gingering’

t a Devine’s prostitutes would accos wait to lover while an accomplice lay in his sneak the busy punter’s wallet from cocleverly chucked clothes. Another ing to be conspirator would burst in claim and kick the prostitute’s jealous husband them out. Afraid to return to the home or to enlighten cops to his illegal romp, the customer would suffer the loss of a week’s wages.

Slice of the profits

when Leigh’s profits would haemorrhage rival gangs extorted them from her cocaine trade. Standover men would approach her decoys, slashing them with razors when they refused to pay up.

Roll of the vice

ng With gambling banned, illegal betti article shops thrived. A People Magazine Devine in the 1950s described Leigh and and,” as “the queens of Sydney’s sluml with “an empire of brothels, gambling joints, verminous flophouses, sly groggeries and gin mills.”

The brewery bump

ts Leigh would buy beer, wine and spiri or ries brewe local from bulk in for distilleries at wholesale prices one shilling and sixpence, including delivery. At her late-night sly grog shops, she would charge three shillings a drink.

Snow business

itutes Devine would often pay her prost ng in a mix of cash and cocaine, getti them hooked on the drug so that they would be more eager to sell themselves to afford it, or happier to take it as payment.


Between the pair of them, the Devines racked up over 100 charges. In 1925, she and her husband found themselves serving time in the gaols together — she for slashing a man with a razor in a barber’s shop, him for living off her ill-gotten wages. Now 25 years old, Devine decided she would take a new course of action following her release. While laws prohibited men from running brothels, it mentioned nowhere that a woman was unable to do so. Over the years, Devine accumulated her fortune through hiring girls to do the dirty work while she, their madam, collected a percentage of their earnings in exchange for the use of one of her dens. Devine was kind and generous to those who were loyal to her but she was not opposed to a fist fight if someone double crossed her or tried to skip out on paying their dues. Some of her most violent consorts included her husband and Frank ‘the little gunman’ Green, a “psychopath, drunkard and cocaine addict.” Although Devine and Leigh’s empires were of completely different natures, and given that each had their own stomping ground, some areas of their lives overlapped. Leigh dabbled as a madam and Devine, with her empire of whorehouses, often paid her girls with a mix of money and cocaine. Theirs was a rivalry of a more personal nature. As the only two female arch-criminals in Sydney, each strived to be more vulgar, more extravagant, more wealthy and more feared than the other and were not opposed to fighting each other in the streets on multiple occasions when their paths crossed. Leigh would encourage her men James ‘Big Jim’ Devine was Tilly’s husband and partnerin-crime

to disfigure Tilly’s prostitutes with a flick of their razor blades. In retaliation, Tilly would have her heavies slash the faces of Leigh’s criminal decoys and smash up her sly grog shops. Leigh would send her gangsters to smash up Tilly’s brothels. The whole time, the women tittle-tattled on each other to the police.

Shooter, slasher sly grogger, spy

Outside of their personal feud, a more deadly war was waging in Sydney. For two years, the violence had bubbled beneath the surface, threatening to erupt in all its bloody fury. Beginning with the Blood Alley Battle in the winter of 1927, which saw dozens of armoured gangsters injured, Devine and Leigh struggled for control of East Sydney vice rackets. Dozens were injured, many killed and all refused to name their attackers as part of the criminal code. On the evening of 17 July 1929, Devine’s enforcers, Green and Sidney McDonald, came face to face with Leigh’s henchman, George ‘Gunman’ Gaffney. Green was shot with a revolver, although not fatally. After taking him to the hospital, McDonald dashed to the Devines in Darlinghurst and relayed the ordeal before the three of them returned to the couple’s Maroubra home. Once amended, Green met up with the trio at around midnight. But within the hour another taxi pulled into Torrington Road. Stepping out of the cab, Gaffney and Thomlinson came to blows with ‘Big Jim’ as they clambered into his yard baying for Green’s blood for fear he had lived to tell the tale. But the tables turned when Gaffney was fatally wounded by ‘Big Jim’ and a .303 military rifle.

Razor Gangs: Sex, Slashers & Sly Grog

Rivals Kate Leigh and Tilly Devine in 1948

“Dozens were injured, many killed and all refused to name their attackers” At his trial, Devine’s husband’s defence was that he had opened fire to protect his home and wife, something that the court deemed justifiable. Leigh was outraged that Gaffney had been killed at the hands of her enemy and offered a large bounty for his killer. The Leigh-Devine war ensued with the Devines’ gang taking the offensive. Leigh’s faction suffered a tremendous amount of casualties in a number of bloody and violent battles. By the end of 1929, the government, at its wits end with the razor gangs’ destruction on Sydney’s streets, passed the Consorting Clause, insisting on harsh punishments for those who “habitually consorts with reputed thieves, or prostitutes, or persons who have no visible or lawful means of support.” It was a clause that gave the New South

Wales Police the utmost power in convicting anyone thought to be contributing to the country’s out-of-hand criminality. By the end of January 1930, a newly formed Consorting Squad was on the rampage to bring down the criminal factions. That year, more than 100 residents were charged under the new clause and at least half went to prison. Among those arrested was Devine. However, she avoided prison by promising the judge that she would leave Australia for two years and eventually she was shipped off to England, leaving her husband behind. But with the ever-increasing threat of being prosecuted, ‘Big Jim’ found himself on trial for murder within a year. By the time Devine returned, her gang, which had once been the pinnacle of criminal activity, was falling apart.

Cut off

With the Consorting Clause in place, judges and juries were much harsher in handing out sentences and a lot more affirmative with helping police do their job and Devine wasn’t the only vice queen to suffer from the stricter laws. Leigh was arrested following a police raid on one of her rented houses in Surry Hills and she was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment in February 1929 for her role in providing a premises on which criminals could gather. However, the most damning charge came after a raid on her East Sydney home in the middle of 1930. The Drugs Bureau found cocaine and arrested three female distributors. Despite her apparent luck in avoiding the gaols for most of her adult life, Leigh was finally convicted of cocaine possession and handed down the heaviest sentence ever imposed in New South Wales for a narcotics offence — 12 months’ imprisonment and a fine of £250, or another 12 months behind bars at the discretion of the court. Her right-hand man, Frederick Dangar, was also arrested and found guilty for drugs charges following an arrest for attempting to purchase 15 grams of cocaine without a prescription. The magistrate fined Dangar £250, in default of 12 months’ imprisonment. Through her political contacts, Leigh managed to persuade the courts to release her a year early in exchange for paying a £250 fine. However, she was arrested again shortly after her release in January 1933 for receiving stolen goods. This time she was exiled from Sydney and its surrounding areas for five years. The Drug Bureau and Consorting Squad eliminated cocaine trafficking as a major organised crime activity by the mid-1930s. Consorting Squad operations’ Mr Chaffey declared that, “The reign of terror is ended.” Although the madams continued their lives in Sydney, their reputations and their days as crime syndicate leaders were in tatters as their gang members perished at the hands of the law. It was Devine who felt she had the last laugh when her arch-nemesis passed away six years before she did in 1964.

Although Leigh’s sly grog shop was a successful business,

sold in such establishments, taking note from a raid on

it was not the first of its kind in Australia. Speaking to

an Adamsfield sly grog shop. Alcohol such as bottles and

Tasmanian historian Nic Haygarth, All About History

flasks full of whisky, gin, ale and schnapps were taken

delved into the roots of sly grog shops and the link to the

from the illegal premises. One writer also commented in

mining communities.

his book that Leigh sold a drink known as ‘pinkie’, which

Haygarth said that the reason for existing of the sly grog shop was “the absence of moral authority (police,

consisted of new wine fortified with cheap spirits. So why were miners so eager to keep the alcohol

church, local government) and the absence of a licensed

business alive? According to Haygarth, the men who

hotel” during the 19th century. “Someone was always

established premises such as the ‘Digger’s Rest’ and

going to meet the demand for alcohol,” he continued.

‘Miner’s Delight’ “appear to have been small-time criminals

In his online blog, the professor at the University of

or at least will to take a risk to meet demands for gambling

Tasmania lists the types of drinks that would have been

and alcohol.”

© Alamy, Getty Images Sydney Living Museums, State Archives NSW

Digging into the history of sly grog


Bluffer’s Guide

The Bayeux Tapestry France, 1070s Did you know? Technically, as the designs of the wall-hanging have been embroidered on rather than woven, it is not actually a tapestry.

Timeline 1070s

1476 Although little is known about the tapestry’s origins, its creation is believed to have been around the 1070s because of its historically accurate details.


1526 The first surviving record of the tapestry is found in an inventory list for Bayeux Cathedral about 400 years after its creation.

1728 Huguenots ransack the cathedral during the religious conflict that dominated 16th-century France. The tapestry survives while other items are destroyed.

Scholar and monk Bernard de Montfaucon, inspired by the drawings made by Nicholas-Joseph Foucault of the tapestry, rediscovers it and brings it to mainstream attention.

Bluffer’s Guide The Bayeux Tapestry What was it? At 70 metres long and 50 centimetres high, the Bayeux tapestry is an astonishing work of art that has continued to attract attention for over 900 years. It depicts the story of the Norman conquest of England in 1066 in exquisite detail, starting with Harold Godwinson’s journey to Normandy in 1064 and concluding with the famous Battle of Hastings. The tapestry is made from plain linen embroidered with woollen yarn in shades of red, yellow, green, blue and grey across nine panels. Along it runs a Latin inscription, which identifies some of the key figures shown — for example, Edward the Confessor and William the Conqueror are both name-dropped. The central panel also boasts an upper and lower border decorated with iconography. Ships, horses and weaponry also feature in the wallhanging’s design and provide facts about Medieval life that contemporary sources have failed to provide. Unfortunately, the tapestry remains incomplete as the last part — likely depicting William’s triumphant coronation — was lost.

Why did it happen? The tapestry is generally considered as a work of Norman propaganda to legitimise William’s invasion of England. To that end, it tells the story from the Norman perspective, depicting Harold as an usurper and William as the rightful heir to the English throne. However, the question over actually created the Bayeux Tapestry is still subject to debate. According to French legend it was William’s wife, Queen Matilda, who made it. Along with her handmaidens, Matilda supposedly created the tapestry to celebrate the success of her husband in conquering England. As a result, it is often referred to as ‘Queen Matilda’s Tapestry’ in France. Another theory that has received more credence is that William’s half-brother, Bishop Odo, commissioned the tapestry as it was discovered in Bayeux Cathedral, which Odo had built. If so, then it was most likely designed in England, as Odo would have been the Earl of Kent by this point and Anglo-Saxon needlework was noted for its precision and detail.

Who was involved? William the Conqueror

c.1028-87 The tapestry portrays the events leading to William’s invasion of England and his victory at the Battle of Hastings.

Odo of Bayeux 1944 After surviving the French Revolution, the tapestry goes on permanent display in the Place du Château in a glass case to protect it from trophy hunters.

Heinrich Himmler ordered the tapestry’s removal to prevent the Allies from seizing it back as they progressed towards Paris. However, his command was too late.

Harold Godwinson

c.1022-66 The last Anglo-Saxon king of England, Harold was killed at the Battle of Hastings, which can be seen in the tapestry.

© Getty Images


c.1030s-97 Since the 20th century, Odo has been credited with commissioning the tapestry and is even portrayed in a scene.


Greatest Battles

Legionaries on board

Foreign mercenaries

Carthaginian citizens did not serve in their city’s army except as officers. The bulk of Carthage’s soldiers were foreign mercenaries, recruited from across the Mediterranean. Usually these men were very capable, and proved loyal — as long as they were paid.

Republican Rome lacked specialised marines so the soldiers who fought at sea were drawn from the legions. Ordinarily, there were 40 such legionaries onboard, but when battle was expected, this number would swell to 120.

Pirate tactics

As well as favouring boarding actions, the Romans preferred prow-to-prow ramming as this placed fewer demands on their rowers, who were not as skilled and experienced as those of their Punic enemies. Once a Roman ship had rammed a Carthaginian vessel and dropped its corvus, it would not let go until the enemy ship had been captured.


Boarding bridge

This 11-metre-long gangplank could be raised and lowered by means of a rope that was attached to the front via a pulley at the top of the pole. On each side was a knee-high railing. The corvus was wide enough to allow two men to cross abreast at the same time.

Workhorse warship

Both Roman and Carthaginian fleets used quinqueremes, a large war galley measuring about 44 metres in length. The ships were very similar because Rome reverse-engineered their design from a captured Carthaginian example. Each galley would have had 300 rowers aboard, with the men seated at three levels to either side.

Battle of Ecnomus Cape Ecnomus, Sicily, 256 BCE Written by Marc DeSantis


n 275 BCE, the Roman Republic was the master of mainland Italy. But just across the Strait of Messina lay Sicily, a fertile island heavily settled by the Greeks. It was also home to a substantial number of Carthaginians. With an aptitude for trade and a vast commercial empire across the western Mediterranean, when the Romans looked out over the Strait, they saw the looming threat from the Carthaginians, or Punics. Meanwhile, the Mamertines, a group of Italian mercenaries, had seized power in the Sicilian city of Messana (modern-day Messina) in the 280s. They soon fell foul of King Hiero of Syracuse, who crushed them in battle in 264 BCE. They made appeals to Rome and Carthage for help and Carthage acted first, installing a small garrison in the citadel. Rome, fearing that Sicily would become the base for future Carthaginian attacks on Italy, also sent an army to the island. The Carthaginians were quickly ejected. In this, the First Punic War, Hiero sided with the Romans, who quickly captured many Sicilian cities. At sea it was another matter entirely. The Carthaginian navy was bigger and better than Rome’s and it would often appear offshore, scaring Sicilian cities into an alliance with them. There was nothing Rome could do to stop this — until they realised they needed their own powerful navy. Using a captured Carthaginian quinquereme as a model, the industrious Romans constructed 100 copies, along with 20 smaller triremes, in just 60 days in 260 BCE. The Romans knew that they were still no match for the Carthaginians in rowing. To better their odds, they installed an 11-metre boarding bridge, known as a corvus, on each ship’s bow. Under the

gangplank was a large, downward-pointing spike that embedded itself in the deck of enemy galleys. Once the ship was held fast, legionaries would rush across and capture it, turning a sea battle into a land one. Knowing that they were better in hand-to-hand combat, they packed their ships with 120 legionaries each so that they would have the edge. In the Battle of Mylae, the first major naval battle the Romans ever fought, they clobbered a Carthaginian fleet that had challenged them with their new contraption. From then on, Rome kept winning, but the land war dragged on. To break the stalemate, the Romans decided to strike Carthage itself and built a fleet of 330 ships in 256 BCE. The Carthaginians responded by preparing 350 vessels. They intercepted the Romans off Cape Ecnomus on the southern coast of Sicily. Each quinquereme had some 300 rowers aboard. The Roman fleet boasted 138,600 rowers and legionaries all told, and the Carthaginians had 150,000 on their galleys. In terms of the number of men involved, Ecnomus may be the largest naval battle of all time. The Roman fleet defeated Carthage’s and an invasion army landed in Africa but the Romans fumbled their chance to end the war, so the conflict would grind on for another 16 years until the last Carthaginian fleet was destroyed. From then on, Rome ruled the waves. But their triumph would not guarantee lasting peace, however. Many in Carthage were deeply embittered by the harsh Roman peace terms. In time their unhappiness would manifest itself in the daring invasion of Italy by Carthage’s most famous son, Hannibal Barca, who would smash several of proud Rome’s armies during the Second Punic War.


Greatest Battles


Troops 138,600 Ships 330

01 Invasion fleet The Romans approach from the east, heading west. The Roman First Squadron, under consul Lucius Manlius Vulso, forms the right of the Roman arrowhead. The Roman Second Squadron, led by co-consul Marcus Atilius Regulus, is on the left. Behind them is the Third Squadron, with the cavalry transports. Taking up the rear is the Fourth Squadron, also known as the Triarii.


Roman co-consuls



Command of the Roman fleet at Ecnomus was shared between the two annually elected co-consuls of 256 BCE, Marcus Atilius Regulus (pictured) and Lucius Manlius Vulso. Strengths Vulso was a courageous and shrewd commander. Weakness Marcus Atilius Regulus was not especially wise.



Roman Marines key unit

Rome’s marines came straight from the legions and were employed aboard ship in large numbers. Strengths Tough, aggressive and deadly close up. Weakness They were principally trained for land warfare.




This hooked boarding bridge was an outstanding success and allowed the inexperienced Romans to overcome the superior seamanship of their Carthaginian foes. Strengths Played to the Romans’ preference for close combat. Weakness Only works if enemy targets are within range.


Carthaginian line 02 The of battle

The Carthaginian fleet, under the overall command of Hamilcar, approaches from the west, heading east. The Carthaginian right wing, comprising about one-quarter of the Punic ships, is under the direct command of Hanno, and is positioned slightly ahead and at an angle to the rest of the fleet.

03 Feigned flight

Hamilcar, in the centre of the Carthaginian line, begins a feigned flight, seeking to draw the leading Roman ships of the First and Second Squadrons away. The Romans plunge ahead, following after the retreating Punic vessels. Once the Romans have done so, Hamilcar orders his ships to turn about and counterattack them.

Battle of Ecnomus

The Carthaginians

Troops 150,000 Ships 350

07 Roman victory


The battle is a clear-cut victory for the Romans as they sink 30 Carthaginian galleys while losing 24. They also capture 64 enemy warships all told, while none of their own are taken.


Hamilcar LEADER

Hamilcar’s plan to lure the Roman fleet away from the rear divisions was a good one, even though it ended up failing. Strengths Bold and cunning with strong grasp of tactics. Weakness Was unprepared for Rome’s new corvus gangplank.

Carthaginian Mercenaries key unit

Wealthy Carthage relied on hired soldiers to fight its battles. These men were drawn mainly from Africa, Spain and Gaul. Strengths Professional and talented soldiers. Weakness They weren’t as highly motivated as the Romans.

06Trapped by the shore


Hanno strikes

With the Roman First and Second Squadrons chasing after Hamilcar’s ships, a large gap opens between them and the Third Squadron and Fourth Squadrons following behind. Seizing the opportunity, Hanno’s right wing surges through the gap and attacks the Triarii of the Fourth Squadron. Meanwhile, the Carthaginian left wing attacks the Roman Third Squadron and its horse transports.


Hamilcar flees

Despite the success of his ploy, Hamilcar’s ships are no match for the Romans and their boarding bridges. The battered Carthaginians in the centre flee the scene. Vulso sweeps up the captured galleys while Regulus turns around and goes to help the hard-pressed Third and Fourth Squadrons. Hanno’s squadron is stuck between the Roman Fourth Squadron and Regulus’ oncoming ships and chooses also to flee by rowing out to sea.

Carthaginian Quinquereme KEY WEAPON

The Carthaginian war galley was a sleek and well-constructed craft, similar to that used by the Romans, but of better quality. Strengths Fast and agile. Carthaginian rowers were better than their Roman counterparts. Weakness Had trouble in defending against Roman boarding attacks.

© Nicholas Forder

The Roman Third Squadron is trapped against the Sicilian shoreline by the Carthaginian left wing. Only fear of the boarding bridges saves them from being immediately overwhelmed, as the Carthaginians are reluctant to come within range and become stuck fast by them. This delay gives the Roman ships under Vulso and Regulus to come to the rescue. The Carthaginians have nowhere to run and no fewer than 50 Punic vessels care captured here.


Bringing Up

Bloody Mary Written by Melita Thomas


Melita Thomas, is the author of The Created in Elizabeth’s reign, Mary is pushed to the back in this painting, much like she was throughout their childhoods

King’s Pearl, a new biography of Henry VIII and Mary I. It’s available now for £20 from Amberley Publishing.

Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon split Christianity and doomed Britain to years of sectarian violence, but its first victim was their daughter


n the 21st century, while emotions still run hot, we have developed social norms for dealing with family breakdown. For instance, the second spouse is not supposed to criticise the first, the children learn to live with the step-parent and everyone behaves in a civilised fashion. In the 1530s, things were very different. The most high-profile divorce in English history lasted nearly ten years and changed the face of the country forever, as well as leaving deep psychological scars on the protagonists. At the heart of the storm was Mary, the only surviving child of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. From her birth in 1516, Mary was Henry’s cherished daughter — he showed her off to ambassadors, spoke admiringly of her accomplishments and spent as much time with her as was consistent with royal duties. In Henry’s eyes, Mary had only one flaw, but it was insurmountable. Despite her charm and intelligence, she was not fit to be a monarch because she was female. Until 1524, the king’s vision of the future involved Mary making a splendid match to a foreign prince — preferably her mother’s nephew, Emperor Charles V, or perhaps the heir to the

French crown — while he and Catherine would have a son to rule England. When it became apparent that Catherine could have no more children, the king was in a quandary. Should he accept Mary as his heir or consider his illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy, as an alternative? Henry hedged his bets. Mary, although not officially created Princess of Wales, was called by that title and given a grand household, becoming the figurehead of the Council for Wales and the Marches as previous Princes of Wales had been. FitzRoy was ennobled with the royal titles of Duke of Richmond and Somerset. By early 1527, Henry began envisaging a different solution. While he had not always been a faithful husband, the royal couple had been happy together, sharing a political vision of England allied to Spain and reconquering France. But their personal relationship had deteriorated, the death blow being struck when Emperor Charles jilted Mary in 1525. Henry began pondering whether his marriage to Catherine was, in fact, valid at all. Looking back retroactively, we may think that Henry was cynical in his sudden interest in the biblical text forbidding marriage to a brother’s widow — after all, it was hardly a new taboo.


The Tudors

Catherine refused to go down without a fight

Catherine was originally married to Henry’s older brother

Princess Mary in 1544

“Henry needed Mary to agree that she was not his heir”

Pope Julius II had given a dispensation for the marriage in 1503 but in a time of radical religious upheaval, with attacks on the authority of the pontiff rife, Henry was probably struck anew by its relevance. His infatuation with Anne Boleyn was, initially, a separate matter. Henry, convinced that his marriage was illegal, requested Pope Clement VII to annul it. The annulment of royal marriages was not uncommon but Henry encountered problems. First, desperate to defend papal authority, Clement would not rule that Julius had erred in granting the dispensation. Moreover, Charles V was outraged at the insult to his relative. Perhaps most worrisome was the fact that Catherine herself was determined to fight it. Simultaneously, the ambitious Anne Boleyn saw the opportunity to be a queen rather than a mistress and pressed for marriage.


It was widely held that if parents had married in good faith, their children were legitimate, even if the union was later annulled. Following this reasoning, in an early attempt to persuade Catherine to accept an annulment, Henry offered to uphold Mary’s position as his daughter, outranked only by a legitimate son. Catherine indignantly refused — Mary was his only legitimate child and Catherine would not countenance her demotion. Mary was 11 when the long-running case was hidden and most of the detail were kept from her — we do not even know who broke the news of it. Since both Henry and Catherine maintained that Henry was motivated only by his conscience, Mary probably believed them — at least until she was old enough to see that while her father might protest his love for Catherine and that he would be delighted if the marriage proved valid,

the reality was that he had fallen so deeply in love with Anne Boleyn that there could be no turning back. As Catherine dug her heels in, Henry became frustrated and then furious. In the autumn of 1531, he banished Catherine from her place as queen and took the momentous decision of forbidding her from seeing Mary. He himself continued to visit his daughter but less frequently as Anne, realising that Henry’s affection for his daughter was a far greater threat to her position than any love he had once had for Catherine, tried to keep them apart. Mary was still addressed as Princess of Wales and surrounded by an extensive retinue, although she was deeply upset when Henry forbade her from writing to her mother. Her pleas for a special messenger, just to exchange messages about their health, were rejected. This point was later relaxed, though, and Mary and her mother did correspond. In May 1533, Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury, pronounced Henry and Catherine’s marriage unlawful and affirmed the ceremony that Henry had gone through with Anne Boleyn as a legally binding union. Mary was not mentioned — Henry, convinced that the pregnant Anne would have a son, did not need or want her to be pronounced illegitimate. A son would be recognised as a preferable heir and Mary could then continue to fulfil a useful role as a legitimate wife for a foreign prince. But the clouds were darkening. An order came to Mary’s household to relinquish her jewels and plate, together with a petty demand for any “nursery stuff” she might be retaining, so that it could be given to Anne’s child. Mary’s governess refused to send anything without a warrant from

Bringing Up Bloody Mary

A future queen of France A princess’ duty was to marry to create alliances between nations — and Mary was no exception

All his life, Henry dreamed of emulating his great

the dauphin of France. If he were, she announced,

forebear Henry V and reconquering France. But less

she wanted to kiss him. At the celebratory feast,

single-minded than the warrior king, Henry also

over 3,000 loaves of bread, 2,500 eggs and 16 and a

considered peaceful relations.

half gallons of cream were consumed. Mary and the

In 1518, when Queen Claude of France bore a son,

pregnant Catherine retired, leaving Henry and his sister,

it was suggested that this little boy, Dauphin Francis,

another Mary Tudor, once queen of France herself, to

should be betrothed to Mary. The French insisted that

watch the pageant and lead the dancing.

Mary be recognised as the heir to the English throne if

This betrothal lasted until Anglo-French relations

Henry had no sons. Henry hesitated, but once it was

deteriorated in 1521 and Mary was chosen for an even

confirmed that Queen Catherine was pregnant, he

more glorious match with Emperor Charles V.

agreed that the match should go forward, confident that God would reward him for his faithful service with a male heir. The betrothal ceremony at Greenwich in October 1518 was two-and-a-half-year-old Mary’s first formal public appearance, dressed in cloth-of-gold with Henry blamed a lot of his mistreatment of Mary on Anne

the king and, when that was forthcoming, made as many difficulties as possible, using delaying tactics that Mary later copied. In September 1533, Anne’s child was born — a daughter. From Henry and Anne’s perspective, this was a disaster. In the event of Henry’s death, the baby Elizabeth would have few supporters to her claims over those of 17-year-old Mary, especially as no move had been made to deny Mary’s legitimacy. That had to change. From that moment on, Henry and Anne’s policy was to demote Mary. This was done first by statute — the Act of Succession 1534 named Elizabeth as Henry’s heir and was followed by a proclamation that to refer to Catherine as queen or Mary as princess was a crime. But enacting laws was not enough and Henry needed Mary to agree that she was not his heir. While she maintained her claims, it was open to European princes to cloak an invasion with the respectability of restoring Mary’s position. They could marry her and effectively, or so Henry feared, take control of England. For three years, a campaign of intimidation was waged against the princess. Her household was dismissed and her retinue of over 160 was reduced to just two chamber-women, and even they were eventually sent away, suspected of encouraging her resistance. With no household of her own, she was sent to live with her halfsister, Elizabeth, and be humiliatingly treated as her inferior. The king was angry and exasperated — surely his own daughter owed him obedience? Meanwhile, Anne was becoming increasingly distressed as time passed and she bore no sons, and so she continuously encouraged Henry to impose his authority on her stepdaughter.

a black-velvet, jewel-trimmed cap. The ceremony began with the Master of the Rolls reading a long sermon praising marriage. Not surprisingly, Mary tired and was “taken in arms”. Cardinal Wolsey asked Henry and Catherine if they agreed to their daughter’s betrothal and both solemnly affirmed their consent. With a flourish, Wolsey placed a giant diamond ring on Mary’s tiny finger. Admiral Bonnivet of France, acting as proxy for the dauphin, pushed it over her knuckle. The company then heard Mass in the palace chapel, which had been hung with gold cloth. Mary

Dauphin Francis, as painted by Corneille de Lyon

delighted everyone by asking Bonnivet if he were

Henry and Catherine’s divorce was dragged out for ten years


The Tudors

Henry VIII with his three legitimate children

Henry’s succession crisis was solved when Jane Seymour gave birth to Edward

Mary went on to rule England before her half-sister

A musical family Playing musical instruments was an essential

In May 1527, father and daughter took part in a masque to entertain the French ambassadors

numerous instruments as well as composing some

at court so that they would agree to the marriage

20 songs and 13 instrumental pieces, and Mary

treaty between Mary and Francis I of France. The

inherited his talent. She mastered several varieties

masque, the ‘Pageant of the Father of Heaven’,

of keyboard like the virginal, spinet, harpsichord

represented the Olympian gods arguing the

and regal, as well as the lute and the rebec. She

respective merits of love and wealth. Mary led seven other ladies, all dressed in cloth

paying 7s a month for virginal lessons and 5s per

of tissue and red tinsel with hanging sleeves. Her

month for lute lessons in the early 1540s from the

hair was caught up in a jewelled net with a velvet

well-known Flemish lutenist Philp van Wylder.

cap. After the ladies had completed a figure dance,

While Henry had a melodious tenor singing

they were joined by eight men swathed in black

voice, no compliments were paid to Mary’s singing

velvet. Among these was Henry. He had injured

so we can perhaps infer that it was not one of her

his foot and could not wear a shoe, so all the men

skills. However, the first records of her dancing

glided in black velvet slippers.

are from 1522 when she danced for the Imperial


Mary inherited her musical talents from her father

element of court education. Henry played

continued to take lessons throughout Henry’s reign,

Anne took a direct role in spurring her aunt, Lady Shelton, Mary’s new governess, to treat the girl insolently and taunt her. In January 1534, Henry planned to talk to Mary when visiting Elizabeth at Hatfield, but Anne, afraid that her husband would weaken in Mary’s presence, intervened by telling him to avoid the princess. Mary, desperate for a glimpse of the father she still loved, went up to the roof to watch his departure. Catching sight of her, he doffed his feathered cap and bowed — but he did not weaken. Bullying was alternated with cajolery — Anne sent messages to Mary that, if she would only accept Anne and Elizabeth, she would be treated well, brought back to court and need not even carry Anne’s train. Mary flatly refused. Meanwhile, Henry’s emotions were all over the place. While he stormed against his daughter’s obstinacy, he spoke of her with tears in his eyes, flared up at anyone who criticised her and still sent her occasional gifts of money or clothes. The strain began to tell on Mary’s health and Catherine begged to be allowed to nurse her sick daughter but Henry refused. While admitting it would be the best thing for Mary, he could not allow it as it would only increase their obstinacy. In January 1536, Catherine died. Henry was sufficiently compassionate to want the news kept from Mary until someone suitable could be found to tell her — he did not do it himself, perhaps not wanting to upset the pregnant Anne. However, before he could send a sympathetic messenger, Lady Shelton had told her. Mary, kept from her mother for over four years, was grief-stricken. Henry gave permission for Catherine’s doctor to visit her and tell her about her mother’s end but he was not so kind

Henry danced with his daughter, then snatched

ambassador aged six. He was enchanted, writing

the headdress from her in a moment of pride,

to his master that “she twirled so prettily that no

allowing her long sliver-blonde tresses to tumble

woman in the world could do it better.”

around her, to the admiration of onlookers.

Both father and daughter were musically gifted

Bringing Up Bloody Mary as to allow Mary to inherit Catherine’s furs, or the gold collar she had been bequeathed. With Catherine gone, Mary became certain that Henry and Anne would redouble their efforts to persuade her to accept the Act of Succession — but the couple had other problems. Not long after a miscarriage, in a shocking volteface, Anne was accused of terrible crimes and executed. Henry quickly laid some of the blame for the poor treatment of Mary on Anne, telling Henry FitzRoy that he and his half-sister were lucky to have escaped being poisoned by her. Nevertheless, Henry was determined that Mary would conform to his laws and by June, she had been made to understand that failure to accept her own illegitimacy could result in death. Faced with the knowledge that Henry had condemned Anne, whom he had once loved to distraction, Mary finally gave in. Mary and Henry’s relationship was profoundly changed by the annulment. After she had surrendered, he was delighted and he showered her with gifts and money while bringing her back to court where she established warm relationships with his later wives, particularly Jane Seymour and Catherine Parr. But the old trust and hero-worship was gone. While Mary, like everyone else, remained susceptible to Henry’s charm, she was often wary of his intentions and was always careful to be strictly obedient on the surface even if, deep in her heart, she continued to believe in her own legitimacy and right to the throne.

Mary is perhaps best known for her treatment of Protestants

After Henry VIII died in 1547, Mary bided her time while her sickly half-brother, the teenage Edward VI, ruled for 16 years. When he died and his regent, the duke of Northumberland, tried to place his own daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, on the throne, Mary could stand no more. With widespread popular support, she made a triumphal return to London and deposed Jane. Mary’s executions of Jane and the duke of Northumberland for high treason arguably set the tone for how she would be remembered.

“The strain began to tell on Mary’s health and Catherine begged to be allowed to nurse her sick daughter”

As queen, she was determined to restore Catholicism and marry Philip II of Spain, Charles V’s son and her first cousin once removed on her mother’s side. Neither move was popular, forcing her to crush Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554 and over the next three years she ordered hundreds of Protestants to be burned at the stake. The nickname ‘Bloody Mary’ only tells half the story. During her reign, she also restored the navy, established new hospitals and increased the authority of local government, all while bolstering crown revenues. The motives for her actions were also complex, driven by the need to secure her position and her devout faith. But it’s hard not to see her more destructive actions as those of a child of divorce — indeed, the first ever child of divorce — acting out angrily, never properly counselled and unable to process the breakdown of her family and loss of her mother.

Reginald Pole, the last Catholic archbishop of Canterbury

Mary was welcomed into London when she deposed Lady Jane Grey

© Alamy, Getty Images

Despite the failed French betrothal, Mary later married Philip II of Spain


What if

What if…

France had joined Britain?

Rather than seeking Brexit, a creative solution to the Suez Crisis might have turned Britain into the EU’s biggest advocate Written by Jonathan O’Callaghan


n 1956, French Prime Minister Guy Mollet travelled to London with an unusual proposition for his British counterpart, Anthony Eden — would he consider a union between the two countries? France was facing economic difficulties and both nations needed to halt the Suez Crisis. Secret documents unearthed in 2007 reveal how Mollet believed the French people would accept Elizabeth II as their head of state in exchange for common citizenship. “It’s easy sitting in [the 21st century] for historians to say ‘Oh, the French would have never stood for this’,” Dr Timothy Baycroft from the University of Sheffield told us. “Well, in the 1950s, yes, they would have. They were still desperately thankful to Britain and the US.” Rebuffed by Eden, the French formed a close friendship with West Germany, ultimately creating the European Union (EU) — but Britain could well

have played a role, too. While France and Germany form the backbone of Europe today, things might have been very different had the union occurred. “Maybe the main axis of European integration would’ve formed around a Franco-British alliance,” said Dr Baycroft. “Maybe having a more dominant role in Europe, and having the leading model being a British one, the level of anti-European feeling wouldn’t have developed as significantly.” It was ultimately the Treaty of Rome that began the European Economic Community (EEC) and later the EU. This resulted partially from FrancoGerman cooperation, but perhaps even with more direct involvement, France would have tried to strike deals. “I think the French would have tried to keep making negotiations with as many people as possible,” said Dr Baycroft. “There was a belief in France that Germany had to be built back up, and punishing them like in 1919 wasn’t the solution.”

How would it be different? Real timeline

l Council of Europe The Treaty of London creates a new international organisation in Europe that includes France, Britain and eight other countries. 5 May 1949

Elsewhere, Britain could have convinced France to undergo a more peaceful process of decolonisation. In the 1950s, France had already been engaged in a war in Indochina, which would evolve into the Vietnam War. Later it was a part of conflict in Algeria that led to Algerian independence. A tighter union with Britain might have meant that the loss of colonies would have been less important to France. Perhaps most different, though, would have been Britain’s place in the world. The Suez Crisis in 1956 essentially saw Britain and France ousted as global leaders as Egyptians seized their canal. “It was interpreted as the decline of France and Britain as world powers,” said Dr Baycroft. “The world powers were the Soviet Union and the US from then on.” But had Britain and France joined together, perhaps they could have held their own with the two new superpowers of the day.

l No union Mollet quietly drops any mention of a union between France and Britain, and France decides to look for different allies to maintain peace. October 1956

l Suez Crisis Britain and France are humiliated in Egypt, losing Western control of the vital Suez Canal under intense political pressure. November 1956

Real timeline

1945 l Victory in Europe Germany surrenders and WWII comes to an end in Europe. Japan follows a few months later in August. 8 May 1945


Alternate timeline

l France and Britain unite France and Britain announce their intentions to form a union,with Elizabeth II as head of state and a common citizenship. October 1955

What if… France had joined Britain? Dr Timothy Baycroft

Dr Timothy Baycroft is a senior lecturer in modern history at the University of Sheffield. He specialises in 19th- and 20thcentury France, modern French history and French nationalism. He is also an executive member of the Society for the Study of French History.

l Algerian independence Algeria finally wins its freedom from France but only after a devastating, bloody war that leaves at least 300,000 people dead. March 1962

l Treaty of Rome Rather than partnering with West Germany, France persuades Britain to join with other countries to form the European Economic Community. 1957

l Suez victory A resolved Franco-British Union regain Western control of the prized Suez Canal, managing to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation. November 1956

l France says “Non!” French President Charles de Gaulle denies Britain entry into the EEC, fearing they will lessen France’s voice. They eventually join in 1973. 1963

l EEC says “Welcome!” A stronger Franco-British Union doesn’t view West Germany, Denmark and Ireland as threats, so accepts them as EEC members. 1963

l Algeria liberated Britain convinces France to leave Algeria by peaceful means, giving the country its longed-for independence without any bloodshed. 1962

l The Maastricht Treaty The EU is born. A single European currency, the euro, follows in 1999 for all member states except Britain and Denmark. 7 February 1992

l Cultural shift Thirty years after unification and booming prosperity, a new generation of Franco-Brits are all bilingual and enjoy their shared culture. 1985

l Three superpowers The Franco-British Union cement themselves as a third superpower in the global theatre along with the US and the USSR. 1980

l EU created The EU is established in Maastricht, with Franco-British officials taking the lead in the negotiations. 1992

l Brexit In an extraordinarily close vote, the British public decides to leave the EU in a landmark referendum that stuns the international community. 23 June 2016

l Single currency The euro is widely adopted by members of the EU. London, not Frankfurt, becomes the home of the European Central Bank. 1999

l Deeper EU integration The Franco-British Union calls for the establishment of a single budget, parliament and army for all eurozone members. 2016

©Daniel Sinoca

l Treaty of Rome France, West Germany and four other European countries sign the Treaty of Rome, which creates the EEC. It comes into effect on 1 January 1958. 25 March 1957


Hero iV llain? Or

“His tyrannical nature has helped perpetuate the narrative of the Lone Star Republic’s Revolution of Independence”

Santa Anna

The victor of the Alamo is often painted as a tretcherous dictator, but a closer look at the Mexican soldierstatesman may show he’s been treated unfairly Written by Will Fowler


ntonio López de Santa Anna is arguably Mexico’s worst villain. He is popularly blamed for having lost the MexicanAmerican War of 1846-48 on purpose for a handsome sum of money. He is also remembered as an opportunist who changed sides to rise to power, and as the cruel, whimsical dictator — the ‘Attila of Mexican Civilisation’ — who donned the ridiculous title of His Serene Highness. According to Texan folklore, he is the mighty Napoleon of the West who crushed the valiant and outnumbered Texans that had fortified themselves in the Alamo on 6 March 1836. Contradictorily, he is also presented as the laughable buffoon who had a siesta just when Samuel Houston’s enemy forces were only a mile away, losing the Battle of San Jacinto of 21 April 1836 as a result. In Mexico, he has come to serve as the simple explanation as to why independence from Spain in 1821 did not bring progress and prosperity, but instead a period of marked instability. The so-called ‘age of chaos’, or ‘of Santa Anna’, resulted in the loss of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada and Utah, as well as parts of Colorado and Wyoming. As one critic put it, “He was the exclusive cause of all of Mexico’s misfortunes.” In Texas, his tyrannical nature has helped perpetuate the narrative of the Lone Star Republic’s Revolution of Independence from 1835-36 as a


struggle between freedom-loving frontiersmen and Santa Anna’s Saddam Hussein-like dictatorship. That the Texan Revolution was partly sparked by the slave-owning US-born settlers’ reaction to the implementation of the Mexican abolition of slavery is conveniently downplayed. The Texans’ decision to secede from Mexico in 1835 was no different to their choice to do so from the US to join the Confederacy in 1861: to keep their slaves. So much of Santa Anna’s black legend is thus based on half-truths and lies. He did not sell half of Mexico — the territory went to the US in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which brought the 1846-48 Mexican-US War to an end. It was signed by the moderate liberal government led by Manuel de la Peña y Peña, who had taken over following the fall of Mexico City on 15 September 1847 — and while Santa Anna was, in fact, still trying to keep the war effort going in Puebla. However, Santa Anna did sell La Mesilla Valley (nearly 78,000km2 in present-day Arizona) for $10 million in the Gadsden Purchase of 30 December 1853 as the US was threatening to wage another war and he was unable to garner support from the European powers to reject the US government’s offer. Mexicans went on to conflate this with the loss of half of the country’s territory five years earlier and it was this that resulted in the claim that he “sold half of the country”.

Defining moment

Remember the Alamo

During the Texan Revolution of 1835-36, Santa Anna won the famous battle of the Alamo in which Davy Crockett lost his life. He also cruelly had 445 prisoners executed by firing squad in Goliad 21 days later; wounded survivors were clubbed and stabbed to death. Santa Anna justified his actions by saying he was following the government’s orders.

6 March 1836

Hero or Villain? SANTA ANNA

Defining moment

Hero of Tampico

Santa Anna made his mark on the early Mexican Republic by leading forces against a Spanish attempt to reconquer the country at the Battle of Tampico in 1829. Santa Anna’s troops were far smaller than Spain’s 2,600-man expedition but the enemy was weak from yellow fever. His victory consolidated Mexico’s independence, leading him to be celebrated as the Hero of Tampico.

© Robert Venables

11 September 1829


Hero or Villain? John Dee SANTA ANNA The Battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican-American War. The Mexicans, in green, fought under Santa Anna

Santa Anna (centre) surrenders to Texan revolutionary leader Sam Houston in an American satirist’s illustration

Santa Anna photographed in 1870, aged 76. He died six years later

Santa Anna has also been accused of being that if Santa Anna was allowed back into the a traitor for having agreed in captivity to the country in August 1846, he would settle for peace independence of Texas in the Treaty of Velasco and negotiate the secession of the territory Polk of 14 May 1836. However, all he agreed to was was after without further bloodshed. But Santa allowing a Texan commission to go to Anna fooled Polk. He pocketed the money, Mexico City to make their case for returned to Mexico and led the independence to the government. defence of his country. He did not lose the 1846-48 Following the defeat, it was Defining war on purpose, either — a easier to blame Santa moment close look at his campaigns Anna for having lost the Loss of his leg makes this accusation war on purpose than Santa Anna came out of retirement to nonsensical. For engage with the counter a French attempt at capturing someone who had risked traumatic reasons the important port of Veracruz during the his life on numerous why Mexico was so Pastry War of 1838-39. He was victorious but unfortunately lost his left leg while fighting in occasions fighting for painfully defeated, battle. Thinking he was on his deathbed, he his country, successfully especially once news wrote a letter to the nation asking them not repulsing a Spanish of Polk’s bribe became to deny him the title of “Good Mexican”. His leg was buried with full attempt at reconquest in public knowledge. military honours. 1829, a French attack on It is true that Santa Anna 5 December 1838 Veracruz in 1838, losing his underwent a number of left leg in combat and who was political transformations during characteristically keen to lead his his career as his ideas evolved in troops into the fray throughout his response to the successive failure of career, it is difficult to believe. Mexico’s different constitutional experiments. However, he did allow himself to be bribed by His changes, however, rather than those of a President James K Polk while he was in exile in cynical, unscrupulous opportunist, mirrored those Havana in 1845-46, leading the president to believe of many men of his generation, who, like him,


went from defending generous liberal principles in the 1820s to arguing that the Mexican population was not ready for democracy by the 1850s, when one constitution after another failed to give a stable political system. In 1821, he went from royalist officer to liberator of the province of Veracruz in response to the consensual Plan of Iguala, whereby almost the entire military opted to back independence. He proved himself a republican when he rebelled against Emperor Agustín I, a federalist, in 1822, and when he called for the establishment of a federal republic in 1823. He only started to warm towards centralism in the 1830s, after the 1824 Federal Constitution was blamed for much of the turmoil that took hold of the country after 1828. A half-hearted centralist, Santa Anna regained his federalist credentials in 1846, although he was more concerned with returning to Mexico to combat the Americans than with politics. By 1853, he had become a staunch centralist and a brutal dictator. However, he was not always that way. Worthy of note are the two previous occasions where Santa Anna had the opportunity of becoming a dictator — in 1834, following the closure of the radical 1833-34 Congress, and in 1841, on the back of the Triangular Revolt, he opted instead to back the creation of an

Hero or Villain? SANTA ANNA

Defining moment

Selling the fatherland

During Santa Anna’s exile in Havana in 184546, he was visited by United States emissaries who offered to allow him back into Mexico past the American naval blockade and pay him two million dollars, if he supported a peace treaty that ceded Mexican territory to the US. According to Santa Anna’s black legend he pocketed the money and went on to lose the war on purpose.


Santa Anna made his name defeating the Spanish at Tampico in 1829, as depicted in this contemporary Mexican painting

by counting 11 times, could claim that Díaz’s Pax Porfiriana had been preceded by a disastrous age of chaos. Moreover, the title of His Serene Highness, given to him by the junta that summoned him back from exile in 1853, was first donned by Father of Independence Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and was resurrected for being considered an original Mexican title. It was not an example of Santa Anna’s taste for bombast or vanity, even though he could be bombastic and vain. Last but not least, there is the cruelty with which he slaughtered the defenders of the Alamo and had Goliad’s prisoners executed. He claimed he was obeying orders, applying the government’s decree of 30 December 1835, which stated that the rebellious foreign “speculators and adventurers” would “be treated and punished like pirates” and sentenced to death. As he wrote to his second in command, José Urrea, on the eve of the Goliad executions, “Who gives me powers to override […] the National Government?” Santa Anna was unquestionably corrupt. Although most of his contemporaries abused their power to enrich themselves, it could be argued that Santa Anna was in a league of his own. By 1842, when he bought the Hacienda of El Encero, he was a multimillionaire owning 1,954km2 in Veracruz.

Albeit brave, he was not the best strategist as some of his military defeats attest. However, he was not a traitor, he was not a turncoat, and he was not always a tyrant. Neither a hero nor a villain, he was a leader and product of his times.

Hero or villain? Heroism


Santa Anna was a valiant soldier who risked his life on numerous occasions fighting for his country against the Spanish, French and American armies.



He was bribed by US president James K Polk in 1846 and then, according to the Ramón Gamboa’s accusation, lost the Mexican-American War on purpose.



In present-day Mexico, it is common to compare certain politicians to Santa Anna to imply they are corrupt, deceitful, authoritarian and treacherous. Was Santa Anna a hero or a villain? Get in touch and let us know what you think





© Getty Images

elected constituent congress that could provide the nation with a new representative political system. That he appeared to support the French Intervention of 1862-67, which resulted in Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian on the Mexican throne, in 1864 was more about him trying to find a way back from exile and exploit the context to forge a national government than him being a monarchist. The Mexican imperialistas and French expeditionary army, suspecting as much, had him leave the country almost immediately after he returned from his exile. It was enough for him to rediscover his former republicanism, but too late for Benito Juárez’s liberal republican forces to accept his offer to fight for them against Maximilian. He was president on six different occasions, having been democratically elected in 1833, 1843 and 1846, invited to serve as acting president by the incumbent one in 1839, risen to power on the back of a barracks revolt in 1841, and another in 1853. Those who count 11 times purport that every occasion he returned to Mexico City during his term in office from either allegedly convalescing in his hacienda or leading a military campaign was a different stint in power. Historians under General Porfirio Díaz’s comparatively stable government in 1876-1911,


Historic Photographer of the Year T

Discover jaw-dropping heritage pictures by the shortlisted photographers and overall winners

he Historic Photographer of the Year Awards has revealed the winner of its competition, which showcases the very best historic places and cultural sites from around the world. In its inaugural year, the contest has attracted a swathe of astonishing entries from amateurs and professionals alike, who have climbed, hiked and trekked their way to snap iconic landmarks and far-flung forgotten ruins from every corner of the globe.

Dolbadarn Castle by Paul Templing Paul Templing decided to make the most of Dolbadarn Castle’s location in Snowdonia National Park, Wales. An International Dark Sky Preserve, artificial lighting is intentionally restricted so that you can better see the stars. “The clouds parted just long enough to catch the Milky Way as it sank into the horizon on this late summer’s night,” said Paul.


The overall winning image of an abandoned former military hospital was shot by Matt Emmett from Reading. Taken at RAF Nocton Hall, Matt’s picture won him £2,500. The winning public vote photograph was a shot of Jedburgh Abbey taken on a school trip and was won by Manchester’s Jenna Johnston, who walks away with £250. The Historic Photographer of the Year Awards is a joint venture between Trip Historic, the leading online travel guide to the world’s historic sites,

and History Hit, which brings unique content and insight from some of the UK’s best known historians and academics. A panel of experts, including broadcaster and historian Dan Snow, All About History’s Group Editor in Chief, James Hoare, and David Gilbert, Chair of Creative United, selected the overall winning image. Read onto discover some of the shortlisted shots, the winning pictures, what inspired the photographers and why the judges chose them.


Train Cemetery, Bolivia by Pamela Jones Professional photographer Pamela Jones explains her shot: “Just outside Uyuni, Bolivia, trains were abandoned decades ago and left to rot at 11,995ft.” She added, “Built by the British, the railway transported minerals to the Pacific Coast until the mining industry collapsed in the 1940s.”

WWII Air Raid Shelter By Daniel Sands Daniel Sands went to great lengths to get the most out of his shortlisted entry. After being given access to a secretly restored World War II bunker, the photographer rigged lighting and haze in order to achieve this final image.

Wells Cathedral by Richard Nash Richard Nash’s entry focuses on a monument to Medieval bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury at Wells Cathedral, Somerset. Finely carved from alabaster, this statue was originally pride of place in the middle of the choir. However, it was relegated to the north aisles in the 18th century and heavily defaced. “Perhaps this shows how history changes our views on individuals,” said Richard.


Historic Photographer of the Year

MAng LAng Church, Vietnam BY Tran Hung Dao If it wasn’t for the cyclist wearing the conical hat in the bottom-right, you might never have guessed that the Mang Lang Church is in Vietnam. The Roman Catholic church, built in the Gothic architectural style, was created by French missionary Father Joseph Lacassagne in 1892. It is as much a reminder of the country’s colonial past as it is a shrine to Blessed Andrew of Phu Yen, the protomartyr of Vietnam.

Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya thailand By Mathew Browne Travel photographer Mathew Browne explains his shortlisted shot: “Wat Mahathat is a 14th-century temple reduced to ruins in 1767 when the Burmese army invaded Ayutthaya. Over time, a tree has grown around one of the remaining stone Buddha heads, such that it is now completely enclosed by its roots with only the face peeking out.”


Historic Photographer of the Year

Edinburgh castle by daryn castle This shortlisted image offers a unique view over Scotland’s capital city from a gun turret of Edinburgh’s historic castle. “I found the view overlooking the city over the old cannon to be incredibly cinematic and it transported me back in time,” said Daryn from Banbury.

Bagan Archaeological Zone by Ana Caroline de Lima

© Alamy, Getty Images

Photojournalist Ana Caroline de Lima captured this stunning shot of Bagan, the capital city of the lost kingdom of Pagan, in modern-day Myanmar. Previously home to 10,000 Buddhist temples, 2,200 remain in varying states of repair. “There remains so much of what is original still to see that none of this stops the temples of Bagan being a unique wonder to behold,” said Ana.


Historic Photographer of the Year

Gate to the Holy Lake by Felipe de Castro Horta Hoffmann Martins Felipe de Castro Horta Hoffmann Martins captured this picture from the walls of the Jaisalmer Fort, one of the largest fully preserved fortified cities in the world. Despite overlooking a holy lake, this heritage site is actually in the heart of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, India.


Historic Photographer of the Year

Jedburgh Abbey by Jenna Johnston Heritage consultant Jenna Johnston from Manchester, who provides advice on building conservation projects, won the public vote with this shot of Jedburgh Abbey in the Scottish Borders. “This photo of the 12th-century Augustinian abbey, Jedburgh, was taken on a class trip in 2011. That class, and that trip, sparked my enduring love for Medieval architecture,” said Jenna. Judge Dan Korn, VP Programming and Head of TV channel History, said, “Such was the quality on display, it was difficult to select a clear winner. All deserve hearty congratulations for their talents and creativity.”

Public Vote Winner

Overall Winner

The overall winning image by Matt Emmett is of an abandoned military hospital in Lincolnshire that was loaned to American forces during the Gulf War. Intended to treat injured soldiers flown back from Iraq, it only ever had 35 patients. Judge James Hoare explains why he thought Matt’s image should win: “Conserve-as-found is increasingly a part of the heritage landscape and Matt captures not some frozen image of calcified past, but an image of an ongoing history. This is a history that’s very much alive and shifting like dappled sunlight through the vines, reminding us not just of the changing value of what we have, but the changing value of our role in remembering it.”

© Alamy, Getty Images

RAF Nocton Hall and US Military Hospital By Matt Emmett


T IME T O S T EP OFF T HAT T RE ADMILL With so many demands from work, home and family, there never seem to be enough hours in the day for you. Why not press pause once in a while, curl up with your favourite magazine and put a little oasis of ‘you’ in your day.

To find out more about Press Pause, visit;

On the Menu

Viking Haggis

Oversized stag sausage Scotland, 9th century – Present


aggis is associated the world over with Scotland. However, an award-winning butcher has traced the national dish back to Viking invaders. Scotsman Joe Callaghan, of Callaghans of Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute and a Golden Haggis Awards finalist, spent three years researching the savoury pudding. He claims it was not invented by Scots, but actually left behind by Norse raiders in the 9th century. Haggis is commonly known as a sausage made from a sheep’s stomach stuffed with diced sheep’s liver, lungs and heart, oatmeal, onion and seasoning. But Callaghan disputes this as well, insisting it would traditionally have been made with venison offal. Varying claims about the origins of haggis have been offered over the years with some even dating it back to Ancient Greece. The dish became synonymous with Scotland after Robert Burns eulogised it in the 1786 poem ‘To a Haggis’. It is now eaten every 25 January as part of a Burns Night banquet, in which the national bard of Scotland is celebrated.

Did you know?

The name ‘haggis’ may came from the Old Norse ‘haggw’, meaning ‘hack into pieces,’ according to the Victorian philologist Walter William Skeat.

Ingredients l l l l l l l l l l

1 x deer stomach 1 x deer heart, lungs, kidney and liver (the ‘pluck’) 450g beef or lamb trimmings 2 onions, finely chopped 225g oatmeal 1 tbsp salt 1 tsp ground black pepper 1 tsp nutmeg Stock from lungs and trimmings Water, enough to cook the haggis

Method 01 The stomach should be thoroughly cleaned, scalded, turned inside out and soaked overnight in cold, salted water. Once this is done, rinse it inside and out with clean water and pat it dry. 02 Wash the lungs, heart and liver. Place in large pan of cold water with the meat trimmings and bring to the boil. Cook for about two hours. 03 When the offal is cooked, strain off the stock and set it aside. Mince the pluck and trimmings in a bowl, then add the finely chopped onions, oatmeal and seasonings. 04 Mix the ingredients in the bowl well and add enough of the stock to moisten it all. When you’re finished, the haggis should be soft and crumbly.

Did you make it? Let us know!

05 Spoon the mixture into the sheep’s stomach until it’s just over half full. Sterilise a needle with boiling water, then sew the stomach back together. Also prick the haggis a couple of times so it doesn’t explode while cooking. 06 Put in the haggis in a pan of boiling water (enough to cover it) and cook for three hours. Keep adding more water to keep it covered. 07 To serve, cut open the haggis and spoon out the filling. Traditionally, a haggis is served with ‘neeps’ (mashed swede or turnip) and ‘tatties’ (mashed potatoes). Oatcakes can be an optional extra.




REVIEWS The books, TV shows and films causing a stir in the history world this month

Becoming Hitler

When did Adolf Hitler change from moody loner into messianic Führer? Author Thomas Weber Publisher Oxford University Press Price £20 Released Out now


hile you might ask, ‘what is there left to say about Hitler?’, award-winning historian Thomas Weber has worked diligently to stop such doubts in their tracks. Weber has unearthed a wealth of previously hidden (in some cases overlooked) information that obliterated the received wisdom

that Adolf Hitler was a fervent Nazi by the end of World War I. From there, he pieces together how the Third Reich ruler was actually radicalised. Since Hitler’s origins were first examined after historians have written of a man entrenched in his right-wing, anti-Semitic beliefs by the time he took the train to Munich in November 1918 to be demobilised. Weber, however, argues that the future Führer’s political beliefs were still taking root at this time. They could have even diverged in an entirely different direction, as evidenced by his admiration for a Marxist rally he witnessed in Berlin prior to his journey to Munich. Describing the display as “an ocean of red flags, red scarves and red flowers”, Hitler privately admitted that he could understand its appeal. For a man who later claimed that the idea of a socialist revolution in the wake of Germany’s military defeat was an event so terrible as to have rendered him blind (a reference to the fact that he been recovering from exposure to mustard gas after the war), Weber argues that it seems strange that Hitler would then seek out a demonstration of this dreaded revolution.

Another inconvenient truth Weber addresses is that, when faced with the prospect of wandering the streets in search of work, Hitler made the very rational, yet in the eyes of future propagandists very un-Nazi, choice of shunning demobilisation and remaining in an army that would feed, clothe and pay him. These material advantages, when coupled with the idea of reuniting with his comrades from the war, proved to be such an irresistible option that Hitler signed up without hesitation. But by signing up he was agreeing to defend a fledgling socialist revolution that was led by a Jew who had pledged his government’s allegiance to Moscow. So how did Hitler transform into the man who would one day unleash a genocidal war on both? A key turning point seems to have occurred when he attended a propaganda course. It was during these studies that Hitler began to ‘learn’ about the evils of capitalism and its ability to break down society. In the future dictator’s eyes, Jews were inextricably linked to capitalism due to the large number of successful Jewish businessman. For Hitler the answer was clear: in order for Germany to rise again, the ‘Jewish spirit’ had to be exorcised. While other key moments, such as the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, also played a massive part in Hitler’s evolution, the key thread of this superb book is that had he not found himself among the chaotic confines of Munich following Germany’s defeat in World War I, the odds are that his path would have been very different. Embracing national socialism was never an inevitable outcome for Hitler. Like any prominent figure, he was completely a product of his environment. Weber forces us to rethink what we know Vital about Hitler and charts his Revolutionary metamorphosis into Groundbreaking CG a hated demagogue.

“[Thomas Weber] pieces together how the Third Reich ruler was actually radicalised”








History of London Bring the fascinating history of an incredible city to life with this comprehensive guide. Through in-depth features, stunning images and illustrative maps, you can explore the city’s most iconic landmarks, meet its most influential figures and discover the extraordinary events that have shaped this cosmopolitan capital. This includes the royal palaces and what really happened in the Tower of London during Henry VIII’s reign; how the city recovered from the Great Fire of 1666; and its cultural traditions, from the River Thames frost fairs to the 18th-century gin craze.

Out now!

Reviews by Catherine Curzon, Erlingur Einarsson, Charlie Ginger and James Hoare

The Ghost

A larger-than-life spy thriller — and it’s all real

Buy History of London online at Price: £12.99

Author Jefferson Morley Publisher Scribe Price £20 Released Out now

S “Mixing passion, drive, ideological fervour and extreme paranoia”

ome life stories seem almost made for thriller fiction or cinema from the first page. Others become thrillers in their own right. And some stories are frankly so absurdly ludicrous that if they were ever written as fiction, they’d be derided for their outlandishness. Somehow, The Ghost manages to be all three. Immensely ripe for a big screen adaptation, Jefferson Morley tackles the elusive but deeply fascinating character of James Angleton, the long-time head of the CIA. Though its unlikely you have ever heard of him, this senior spook was one of the most powerful men in America during the 20th century. Mixing passion, drive, ideological fervour and extreme paranoia, Angleton played a part in the Cold War, the response to the Kennedy assassination, and the advent of mass surveillance. Morley’s eye-opening account charts all of this, from Angleton’s meteoric rise, to his unorthodox, often morally questionable methods, but even more often highly successful reign at the heart of Washington’s intelligence network.

But The Ghost is far from a whitewashed hero poem. Morley doesn’t shy away from Angleton’s many problematic traits and decisions, detailing how the man who helped shape the CIA almost brought it down with his paranoia and reckless tactics. He does so through researching, interviewing Angleton’s colleagues and contemporaries, and he provides a thoroughly gripping and often unbelievable insight into a part of geopolitics the world is only getting a real sniff of recently — the dark web of elaborate spy programmes, intelligence and counter-intelligence. Transcending mere thriller comparisons, this gripping read is filled with descriptions of events that sometimes beggar belief and open the reader’s eyes to a world that often has much greater influence on world politics than we might realise. The Ghost is compulsory reading for anyone interested in contemporary history, American politics and the Gripping Insightful mysteries of the 20th-century Investigative secret intelligence community.


Bethlehem The history of this ancient hot spot Author Nicholas Blincoe Publisher Constable Price £15 Released Out now


he name ‘Bethlehem’ famously occupies a special place in the world of Christianity as the birthplace of Jesus. But there is so much more to know about this intriguing town situated in the hotly contested West Bank south of Jerusalem. As someone who divides his time between Bethlehem and the UK, author Nicholas Blincoe is perfectly equipped to take us on a tour of its winding back streets and its even more complicated history — and what a fascinating journey it is. Bethlehem is a place that has survived many rulers, having been conquered by the Crusaders in 1099, then returned to Muslim rule in the form of the Mamluks and the Ottomans. It was a British possession following World War I and under Jordanian rule from 1948. Israel then seized the city in 1967 during the Six Days’ War. Blincoe unravels a story blighted by human conflict

but also blessed with many rich characters and beautifully crafted buildings, while his familiarity with the city offers nuggets of local knowledge that might otherwise be missed. Indeed, it seems that Bethlehem is almost doomed to forever endure upheaval — a fact clearly outlined by its prominent role in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Blincoe concludes this excellent book by examining how Bethlehem stands as a bastion of hope for peace, yet one that, if lost, will take with it all hope of a final settlement between two states that have been at war since. What a crucial role you have to play, o little town of Bethlehem. Broad It’s an intimate portrait of a city Engaging Optimistic that explores its often politically CG loaded past from all angles.



Out now!

Glenn Miller Declassified Author Dennis M Spragg Price £28 Publisher Casemate UK The big-band frontman Glen Miller, a star of the swing era, decided to join the war effort in 1942. He set up an Army Air Force Band to entertain the troops but on a flight across the English Channel to do just that in 1944, his plane mysteriously vanished. In Glen Miller Declassified, Dennis M Spragg, a senior consultant at the Glen Miller Archive, quashes the conspiracies that have surrounded Miller’s disappearance and outlines what he thinks really happened. This history book will appeal to lovers of musical and military history alike.


A haunting portrait of PTSD, privilege and prejudice Director Dee Rees Cast Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Mary J Blige Distributor Netflix Release date Out now


etflix’s Oscarcontender Mudbound, based on the 2008 novel of the same name, is not an easy watch. Following two families sharing the same sodden Mississippi farmland across the decade of World War II and its aftermath, their shared experience is divided by race. Black tank commander Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell) and white bomber pilot Jamie AcAllan (Garrett Hedlund) return from the Big One with big problems. Jamie is a lush, found drunk at the wheel trying to outrun his demons, while Ronsel is all barely suppressed rage and impatience, pining for status. They strike up an unlikely friendship but while their shared trauma unites them, some taboos cannot be broken without consequence.

Mudbound is harrowing in places but its most unsettling scenes come through the mundane. The earliest in the film is the tension that descends when Jamie’s brother, Henry (Jason Clarke), first moves his family in. He knocks on the door of his black tenant, Ronsel’s father, Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan), and asks has him abandon his dinner to help unpack. Hap isn’t a slave, but in the post-war south Henry holds the economic and social whip. A similar scene waits at the film’s close. After all that happens — all the violence and hate — Henry asks Hap to help him. Stiffly and inevitably, Hap does. It’s Henry’s tone-deaf privilege in spite of their common bonds that lingers beyond the more visceral demonstrations of the era’s racial inequality. Dramatic Jim Crow may be long Exciting Informative gone but that ignorance JH still remains.

Dark Days of Georgian Britain The Regency wasn’t all about Darcy!

Author James Hobson Publisher Pen & Sword Price £19.99 Released Out now


ith most people’s idea of the Regency being lingering glances across candlelit ballrooms, dashing gentlemen diving into lakes and glittering royal occasions, Dark Days of Georgian Britain throws a bucket of cold water over the romanticised glamour. James Hobson’s new release doesn’t concern itself with the surface trappings of fashion, but instead peels back the lace and silk to delves into what went on behind the scenes of those who lived through the Regency, regardless of social class. In an era of tumultuous change and upheaval at every level, Hobson strips off the surface glitter and exposes a world in flux, when political and social change redrew the landscape of the nation. Dark Days of Georgian Britain is more concerned with the lives of the masses than the nobility, and it is here that its strength lies. Using a rich selection of sources, Hobson


looks at how life played out for those stuck at the lower end of the spectrum. From riots to bodysnatching, famine to the gallows, this is an immersive, accessible history of the everyman in the street. Hobson ably steers the reader through a complex time and frequently draws parallels between the Regency and modern society, bringing the similarities of two centuries ago vividly to life. For those seeking a new angle on a wellrepresented era, this is a must-read. There is much here to enjoy for enthusiasts of the time but the book also serves as an ideal introduction to the issues that shaped the nation as it slipped from the Georgian period into the Regency and beyond. Hobson draws an irresistible picture of a country in the midst of enormous change and the reader cannot help but be carried along for the ride. It is lively, sometimes shocking but, above all, always entertaining.

Fun Smart Must-read CC

5 steps to 19th-century etiquette

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to navigate the 19th century’s complex code of good manners? How would you have got a partner in a ballroom? What would you have done with a letter of introduction? And where would you have sat in a carriage? Elegant Etiquette in the Nineteenth Century is a guide to the social dilemmas of our well-heeled forebears. Elegant Etiquette is a lively, occasionally tongue-in-cheek take on manners and conduct. Author Mallory James reveals five tips to get you started.

The Vietnam War

Introductions were important, although made with caution. When an introduction was made, the person of lower rank was introduced to the person of higher rank. However, a gentleman was always introduced to a lady.

Certificate N/A Creator Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Distributor PBS Narrator Peter Coyote Released Out now

It was generally thought best not to surprise people with introductions, but to ascertain in advance whether or not they were desired.

Harrowing insight into the United States’ worst tactical mistake


he Vietnam War has been covered perhaps more extensively than any other conflict in history, bar the two world wars, be it through literature, cinema, news cycle upon news cycle or documentaries. From an almost comical take on the war, such as Forrest Gump, to much darker perspectives, like Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, narrative cinema has coloured our perception of the infamous conflict, which started almost as a knee-jerk reaction to anxiety over increasing communist influence over Asia, and lasted well over a decade, with repercussions that are still being felt in the region today. However, none of those fictional accounts can really come close to the staggering, brutal and exhaustively intricate account of The Vietnam War, a ten-part, 18-hour documentary. Burns and Novick’s meticulously researched epic covers everything from the centurylong French occupation of Vietnam, through its first steps into independence, its ever-escalating tensions between US and communist agendas, the devastating war that took an enormous toll on everyone involved, and through to the eventual end of the conflict and its evolving legacy. Written by Geoffrey C Ward, the documentary mixes historical overview composed of thousands of photographs and reams of archive footage — all expertly narrated by the authoritative voice of Peter Coyote — and interviews with members of all sides of the war. We get absolutely gut-wrenching, harrowing and often openly graphic accounts of atrocities committed

from first-hand eyewitnesses, their accounts made even more disturbing by the emotional restraint shown, both by the interviewees and the filmmakers. The directors never resort to cheap emotional tactics to influence the viewer’s perspective, instead letting the facts speak for themselves, often straight from the horse’s mouth. And those facts are astounding. Through the exhaustive — sometimes exhausting — 18 hours, it becomes abundantly clear how utterly tragic and avoidable the whole conflict was. A procession of miscalculations and prejudices led the US into a literal and metaphorical bog of war, one whose purpose, tactics or ideology were never fully thought out beyond mere reactionarism. It’s not a one-way street in The Vietnam War, though. Burns and Novick dedicate a generous amount of time to all sides, to ensure the account is as authoritative and unbiased as possible, giving us a fascinating character portrait of key Vietnamese players, including the elusive figure of Ho Chi Minh. And despite the numerous travesties and atrocities retold in the documentary, it never disrespects the humanity of those who fought on both sides, even while it questions the very purpose of war. Accompanied by a subdued but evocative score composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Vietnam War is essential viewing in its entirety. It’s sobering, unflinching, harrowing and exhaustive by equal measures, which is precisely why it will become the new definitive reference for anyone wanting to learn about the Vietnam War in the future. Burns and Novick’s Vietnam War is methodically researched, almost imperceptibly relentless, and has Harrowing a lasting emotional effect on the Methodical viewer. The new gold standard for Unmissable EE Vietnam documentaries.



Overfamiliarity was to be avoided. Thus, first names would not have been used between individuals who were, for example, merely acquainted.


Hats could be overly familiar as well. Consequently, a gentleman would have kept his hat with him when paying a call (a visit). Leaving it in the hall would have suggested he was making himself too much at home.


Punctuality was paramount. When invited to dine, it did not do to be late — it was most discourteous to keep the rest of the company waiting.


Elegant Etiquette in the Nineteenth Century is available now for £10.39 from Pen & Sword. Use the discount code ELEGANT25 at to get 25% off and free postage in the UK.



Avai from allable newsag l good superments and arkets







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PLUS: 100 years of women’s suffrage, Monongahela: Washington’s greatest defeat, How to survive in Pompeii, President John Wayne, Dior’s New Look revolution


d o o w y ll o H y r to HFais ct versus fiction on the silver screen vs


Director: J Blakeson Starring: Kit Harrington, Peter Mullan, Mark Gatiss, Liv Tyler Country: United Kingdom Released: 2017

A real blast, the BBC series Gunpowder brings to life one of history’s most famous assassination attempts



The torture in the show may be gory but it is accurate. Gruesome methods were used to persecute Catholics during James’ reign, contributing to the plotters’ decision to take drastic action. Victims would be hung, drawn and quartered, or even crushed to death.


Throughout the series, it is implied that King James had homosexual relationships. It was suspected throughout the his life that his male favourites at court were also his lovers because of their close relationship, but this is still hotly debated by historians.


Father Gerard was tortured at the Tower of London as depicted in the show but it was during Elizabeth I’s reign, not James’, and had nothing to do with the Gunpowder Plot. He did eventually escape, but not with help from Catesby or the other plotters.


It may seem like dramatic irony but the schemers were injured by their own gunpowder as they were holed up, waiting for the king’s forces. The blast didn’t occur during the stand-off as seen the show, though — it was much earlier, after a fire spark hit the powder.

© BBC/ Kudos

Anne Vaux, played by Liv Tyler, existed in real life. However, she was not related to Robert Catesby as portrayed in the show. Anne was actually a relative of another plotter, Francis Tresham, who is played in the show by Martin Lindley.

Verdict A bloody and accurate portrayal of the gunpowder plot with minor changes for added drama





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