Archive for the ‘History’ Category


A review of a 2001 biography of Winston Churchill by Roy Jenkins

June 9th, 2020 by Roger Darlington

In a public poll organised by the BBC in 2002, which generated more than one and a half million votes, Sir Winston Chuchill (1874-1965) was voted the greatest Briton ever. Certainly he was a remarkable man with some outstanding accomplishments, but he was a complex and controversial character. The son of a British Lord and […]

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Most people have never heard of the Treaty Of Trianon – but Hungarians have never forgotten it

June 4th, 2020 by Roger Darlington

The Treaty of Trianon was signed on 4 June 1920 – 100 years ago today – at the Trianon Palace at Versailles in France. It was part of the settlement of the First World War and it was signed by representatives of Hungary on one side and the Allied Powers on the other. Why did […]

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Al Capone was finally brought down because of his tax affairs. Could the same thing happen to Donald Trump?

May 14th, 2020 by Roger Darlington

This is an extract from the Wikipedia page on American gangster Al Capone: “The federal authorities became intent on jailing Capone, and prosecuted him in 1931 for tax evasion. During a highly publicized case, the judge admitted as evidence Capone’s admissions of his income and unpaid taxes, made during prior (and ultimately abortive) negotiations to pay […]

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How often are British general elections?

May 5th, 2020 by Roger Darlington

In theory, they are held every five years but, in practice, they tend to be held after about four years. The longest interval was occasioned by the Second World War: 1935-1945. Sometimes, however, general elections have been held with surprising frequency. I was reminded of this from my current lockdown reading of the 900 page […]

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Who were King Henry VIII’s six wives and what happened to them?

April 29th, 2020 by Roger Darlington

During this lockdown when children cannot be at school. I’ve been doing online history lessons for two youngsters aged nine years old – one is granddaughter no 1 and the other the son of a good friend. We started with Victorian Britain and I did four sessions on this period. To keep things fresh, we’ve […]

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Happy St George’s Day – but he was not the character you might have thought

April 23rd, 2020 by Roger Darlington

There is nothing more English than St George, right? And today we celebrate him and all things English. St George might be hailed as a national hero, but he was actually born – in the 3rd century AD – more than 2,000 miles away in Cappadocia (modern day Turkey). He is thought to have died […]

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Political reform in Victorian Britain – and why democracy is always a work in progress

April 9th, 2020 by Roger Darlington

I have now delivered three online lessons on Victorian history for two nine year old that I know as their parents endeavour to keep the kids occupied while schools are closed. This week, we covered the challenging issue of political reform. After all, there were key development in the Victorian era and it’s never too […]

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Ever heard of the Pilgrimage of Grace?

April 8th, 2020 by Roger Darlington

Neither had I – until I read about it in “The Mirror And The Light”, the 900-page novel by Hilary Mantel which is sustaining me during the period of lockdown as a result of the coronaviris crisis. The so-called Pilgrimage was a northern rebellion against Henry VIII’s government in i536-1537, originally led by Robert Aske […]

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What were the five worst times and places to be alive in human history?

April 6th, 2020 by Roger Darlington

Life is tough now. Everywhere in the world is threatened by the coronavirus. I don’t want in any way to understate the challenges we all face, but maybe we now have the time and motivation to recall that, in the course of human history, things have often been worse, much much worse. This video suggests […]

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The importance of rivers to the earliest civilisations

April 3rd, 2020 by Roger Darlington

During the lockdown period of this coronavirus crisis, I’m running online lessons in Victorian history for a couple of nine year olds. This week, we covered developments in transportation and industrialisation. For the transportation section, I suggested that the history of transport could be seen as having five stages: rivers & seas, roads, canals, railways […]

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