History

Look back on key events, trends & people to shed new light on the world we live in today

Did invasion & migration create the English Language?

Dr John Gallagher

Travel, mobility, and migration were instrumental in making Early modern England a multilingual landscape. But when did the English start speaking English and, how confident were those early speakers in the scope of this fast-evolving language?

Tue, 26 Jul 2022 6:30 pm UTC

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Is capitalism Disney’s best untold story?

Jennifer Begakis

Disney is inseparable from American culture and Hollywood entertainment, and it has become synonymous with global consumer capitalism. But what can we learn about the history of capitalism from Disney?

What do flowers mean to us?

Prof. Kasia Boddy

From the meaning of carnations in Sex and the City to the use of sunflowers in the cleanup of Chernobyl and Henry VIII’s ban on saffron dye, flowers are deeply woven into our culture and our history. How have they inspired us and what do they mean?

Why are we so fascinated by the devil?

Dr. Mikki Brock

The devil is one of the most recognisable figures in the western world, making frequent appearances on screen, in art and literature, and even in political rhetoric. Why, in our comparatively secular age, does the demonic continue to captivate us?

Where did the Easter story come from?

Dr. James Corke-Webster

The Easter story of the death and resurrection of Jesus is central to the religion of millions of Christians around the world, and its key events are recognisable to many millions more. Did Early Christians really believe in a literal resurrection?

What turns a leader into a dictator?

Prof. Fathali M. Moghaddam

The 20th and 21st centuries are said to be the age of dictatorship, and this month's invasion of Ukraine is the latest frontline. With our world's leaders in the spotlight, what traits do they share, and when and why do they cross society's boundaries?

Why can't Putin accept Ukraine's independence?

Prof. Nathaniel Knight

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia took the world by surprise. But tension between these two nations has been bubbling for many years. Why is Ukraine so important to Putin? And how did we get from Ukrainian independence to invasion?

Why was the Black Death the deadliest event in history?

Prof. Mark Bailey

There have been nearly 6m victims of Covid-19, but even this enormous death toll represents just a fraction of those lost to the Bubonic Plague in the Middle Ages. What do you need to know about the most fatal event in human history?

Why did WW1 inspire so many utopian experiments?

Dr. Anna Neima

A century ago, the world was reeling in the wake of the First World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic. How did these catastrophic global events motivate people to live in new ways?

What conditions create witch hunts?

Dr. Mikki Brock

Witch hunting is, by and large, a thing of the past, yet we remain captivated by the concept. What drives this fascination, and why are we still talking about witch hunts today?

Is happiness a modern invention?

Prof. Darrin McMahon

Today, we tend to think about happiness as a right: a natural goal all humans strive towards. How could it be possible that this idea came into being just two hundred years ago?

Did the Roman Empire really wage a war against Christians and their God?

Dr. James Corke-Webster

History remembers the persecution of early Christians as a clash between the Roman state and its traditional gods, and the new Christian cult and its upstart God. But is that really all there is to the story?

What happened after the first Christmas?

Dr. James Corke-Webster

Many people know the famous story of the birth of Jesus. But what do we know about where it comes from and what happened next?

What can the recipes of the past tell us about the society they came from?

Prof. Rebecca Earle

Old cookery books can tell us a lot more than just how to cook a meal. What do they reveal about topics as diverse as access to technology and the concept of truth?

Intro to Catherine de Medici: Why do we love to hate a woman in power?

Dr. Leah Redmond Chang

History's leading ladies often come with a bad reputation. What can the Black Queen teach us about the misunderstood women of the past?

How did oceans shape human history?

Prof. David Abulafia

Territory, food, commerce and conquest: what role have the seas played in the development of the nations we see today?

Did Jesus answer fan mail?

Dr. James Corke-Webster

The Abgar Legend tells the story of the King of Osroene, who (it's said) got into a correspondence with Jesus. Are these letters real?