Improving the Nation

In his new book, The Invention of Improvement, Paul Slack sets out to do two things: first, to trace the ‘notion of improvement’ in seventeenth-century ‘public discourse’ (vii) in England; and secondly to show how ‘the quest for improvement distinguished England from other countries.’ (1) Slack has not set himself an easy task as he… Continue reading Improving the Nation

Being a refugee

It’s weird to be writing a book about English republican exiles in the seventeenth century while thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Africa make their way to Europe every day. I’ve been wondering a lot what it might feel like to be a refugee and if there are experiences that might link these… Continue reading Being a refugee

EU referendum raises questions about voting rights and citizenship

The news that foreigners would not be allowed to vote in the planned EU referendum came as a bit of a shock earlier this week, if not as a major surprise. The rules are based on those for the General Elections. Besides, it seems the Tories are keen to exclude anyone from voting who might not… Continue reading EU referendum raises questions about voting rights and citizenship

The English Revolution and its Patriotic Exiles

Despite the plethora of literature that has been published on the English Revolution and Restoration over the years, the topic of exile during this most exciting period of British history remains an understudied area. There is still much unseen primary source material to be uncovered in European and North American archives and plenty of gaps… Continue reading The English Revolution and its Patriotic Exiles

Wolfenbüttel – where Jägermeister and scholarship meet

The little northern German town of Wolfenbüttel is known for two things: Jägermeister and the Herzog August Bibliothek or HAB. While the popular digestif is made with a large variety of herbs and spices, the HAB research library is the meeting place of a large variety of scholars from all around the world, who gather… Continue reading Wolfenbüttel – where Jägermeister and scholarship meet

Lies, secrets and death on the eve of the Glorious Revolution

The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander is a historical novel set in the murky world of London’s coffee houses on the eve of the Glorious Revolution. The son of an English dissenter and a French Huguenot, its young redhead hero Calumny Spinks lives under the shadow of his father’s dark secret dating back to Oliver… Continue reading Lies, secrets and death on the eve of the Glorious Revolution

Tracking down the regicides

I don’t read much popular history, and that is probably a mistake. By ignoring countless works written for a mass audience I miss what attracts most people to my subject area: a good story that is actually true, or at least could be true, reconstructed from sources scattered all over the archives and joined by… Continue reading Tracking down the regicides

Grumpy George and his family: The First Georgians at the Queen’s Gallery

The first Georgians must have been a grumpy lot. At least this is the impression visitors of the exhibition The First Georgians: Art & Monarchy 1714-1760 get. For all the publicity materials show a smiling David Garrick with his Wife Eva-Maria Veigel painted by William Hogarth, while none of the pictures of George I (1660-1727) currently… Continue reading Grumpy George and his family: The First Georgians at the Queen’s Gallery

English republicans on film in New Worlds

I never thought I would see Algernon Sidney on TV. Now I have – on the recent Channel 4 drama New Worlds, which looks at English radicalism during the Exclusion Crisis. He is cast as the grand old man of republicanism (Donald Sumpter, made to look much older than Sidney’s 60 years) who has survived Civil… Continue reading English republicans on film in New Worlds

CfP: Urban Ritual and Ceremony in Pre-Modern Europe, c.1300-c.1700

A one-day conference to take place at Northumbria University on 29 May 2014. Recent years have witnessed a proliferation in the study of ritual and ceremony in pre-modern European towns. Once considered a topic of only marginal interest, the study of late medieval and early modern ritual and ceremonial practices now lies at the forefront… Continue reading CfP: Urban Ritual and Ceremony in Pre-Modern Europe, c.1300-c.1700