Dawn of Empire

Burghley House, built by Elizabeth's chief minister, William Cecil.

The roots of modern Britain Somehow, Elizabethan England has a very different atmosphere to any previous period in British history. Queen Elizabeth I succeeded to the throne on the death of her elder Catholic half-sister ‘Bloody’ Mary in 1558.  She was twenty-five.  Her 45 year rule is popularly seen as heralding a new age for …

Dawn of Empire Read More »

Losing our religion – how Henry VIII changed the world and his wife

Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire

The fate of a nation decided on a king’s whim – or his desire for a male heir No challenge blighted Henry VIII’s accession to the English throne.  The country was at peace and it seemed to be a golden age.  In contrast to the ailing, bloated, tyrant he was to become, the youthful king …

Losing our religion – how Henry VIII changed the world and his wife Read More »

When death walked the land

Plague - a cart with the dead - lithograph by Louis Duveau

The only defence was to run away – if you could The ‘Black Death’ or ‘Great Pestilence’ swept through Europe between around 1346–1353, where it eventually killed between 30-60% of the population – maybe 25 million people, though some historians estimate twice that figure.  The disease originated ‘somewhere in the east’ and arrived in southern …

When death walked the land Read More »

Brits invent parliamentary democracy

Parliament, Westminster, London

The medieval roots of modern British government Most people know that the ancient Greeks invented democracy (demos – ‘the people’ and kratia – ‘power’).  But we Brits like to imagine it was us – Westminster is “the mother of parliaments”, and all that.  In fact, Iceland’s Althing and Sweden’s Jamtamot date back to the 10th …

Brits invent parliamentary democracy Read More »

Scroll to Top