Lincoln in the age of the Black Death

Did the Black Death, civic corruption, political decay and economic crisis lead to Lincoln’s precipitate economic decline in the fourteenth century?  Nottingham Ph.D Alan Kissane’s new book Civic Community in Late Medieval Lincoln:  Economy and Society in the Age of the Black Death, 1289-1409 challenges that view. Medievalists have usually seen Lincoln as declining from its …

How America got Fed Up with Experts

During last summer’s EU referendum campaign, far-right fellow traveller and failed politician Michael Gove famously said the British public had “had enough of experts.” Although Gove meant to discredit only those “experts” who disagreed with him, the expression of similar sentiments, especially on the right of the political spectrum, is not a recent phenomenon, but, …

How Nottingham Celebrated the Battle of Waterloo, or Didn’t, 1815

On hearing news of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo on 18th June 1815 (commemorated in Wilkie’s famous picture of the Chelsea Pensioners reading the Waterloo dispatch, right) locals in the Lake District lit a bonfire on top of Skiddaw and gathered there to celebrate, feasting on patriotic fare such as roast beef and plum pudding.  The …

Siberian Exile: A Prison Without Walls

A Prison Without Walls? presents a snapshot of daily life for exiles and their dependents in eastern Siberia during the very last years of the Tsarist regime, from the 1905 revolution to the collapse of the Tsarist regime in 1917, writes Sarah Badcock. This was an extraordinary period in Siberia’s history as a place of punishment. …

The Medieval Credit Crunch

In medieval England, credit and debt united all classes, from husbandman John Bygge of Stortford, Hertfordshire, who had bought £6 of goods from London haberdashers and fishmongers, to the greatest magnates in England such as the Earl of Shrewsbury, who owed money to a London mercer.  Even peasants like the shepherd John Rede of Soham, …

Livery and Loyalty in Medieval England

The livery collar had a pervasive presence in late-medieval England and Wales. Worn about the neck to denote service to a lord, references to the collar abound in government records, contemporary chronicles and correspondence, writes Matt Ward, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Nottingham. Many depictions of the collar can be found in …

King Hugh of Italy (c.885-948): Success and Failure

In his Antapodosis (‘Book of Revenge’, c. 960) the Italian bishop Liutprand of Cremona (d. c. 972) discussed the career of Hugh of Arles who had been the king of Italy between c.885 and 948 (pictured, left, in the twelfth-century chronicle of Johannes Berardi).  It was his particular concern to cast a negative light on …

The ‘Unlawful’ Status of Homosexuality in Britain After Decriminalization

Even though male homosexuality was decriminalised in Britain in 1967, it still occupied a legal grey area in which it could be classified as ‘unlawful’ and contrary to the public good. As I explain in a new article for Social History (see link below) this was because of the revival of a common law offence …

Turkey: A State of Exception?

In 2013 peaceful protests against the development of Gezi park, one of the few remaining public green spaces in Istanbul, were brutally dispersed by police and security forces, generating worldwide headlines.  The actions of the police were sanctioned by laws dating to the state of emergency established following the military coup of September 1980 and …

Drama and Politics in the House of Commons

On 2 May 1997, after suffering a heavy election defeat at the hands of Tony Blair, the outgoing British prime minister John Major told the assembled media on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street that ‘when the curtain falls, it is time to get off the stage’, Richard Gaunt writes. There could hardly have been …