Category Archives: A Trip Through Time

A Trip Through Time #3

a trip through time

The meme, A Trip Through Time, hosted by The Absent Historian is posted biweekly on a Friday. On the meme I will be taking a look at everything history related.

This week I am going to be taking a Andrew Marr’s The Making of Modern Britain: From Queen Victoria to VE Day which is a history book I am currently reading and share a few of my favourite quotes and facts from the book. Andrew Marr also did an accompanying TV series for the BBC which is meant to be really informative and interesting, if you’re not a fan of reading history books but like a documentary, I’d check it out!

andrew marr

METAPHOR.

The war drew a kind of snarling bulldog mask across the face that the British people presented to the outside world. Behind that mask, however, many thousands were having second thoughts. – pg. 190

This was a kind of Liberal Stalinism, except that profits continued to be made and it was rather more effective than its successor. – pg. 165

Andrew Marr is quite a fan of his metaphorical style writing, particularly when it comes to talks of war! It makes for a certainly interesting read and a much easier reading style than some history books (which almost certainly make you sometimes want to bash your head against a wall and crawl under your desk in defeat!).

Both these quotes are talking about the first world war, and at first how the British presented themselves, and secondly the method in which they took to in terms of changing the very foundations of industry to increase output for the war. This obviously (as many of you are probably aware) involved bringing women into the work place, and bringing almost 3 million workers under government control so they could more precisely control the war effort. Under Lloyd George the munitions industry became much more efficient in his rule as practical dictator.

Feminism.

Despite the end of the the Edwardian era being a time when women were not very powerful and did not yet have the vote (1917: 8.4 million women aged 30+ would be eligible to vote) there are some very important changes and women in this era. There were quite the eccentric individuals, women who chose to speak out and there were both both Suffragettes (WSPU) and Suffragists (NUWSS) unions which were important. Women ventured into the work place, started changing their fashion to accommodate working, so wearing trousers, shorter skirts, bras which were less constrictive than corsets. Contraceptive usage became more common and babies born out of wedlock were known as ‘war babies’ and the mothers were seen as ‘war heroes’ because so many men left to fight rather than being able to marry.

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Emmeline Pankhurst (leader of the Suffragettes arrest).

Besides the obvious leaders and the Pankhurst family (the very popular militant women), there were other individuals who were equally strong women that I read about. My personal favourite for her mere audacity and outrageousness has to be:

Lilian Lenton, who was a suffragette that nearly died when being force fed because the tube was accidentally pushed into her windpipe and it caused her to nearly die from septic pneumonia because of the food in her lung. However, my favourite part about her was that she was a devoted arsonist and had a programme whereby she would burn two buildings a week. Quite the radical activist!

Conclusion

Overall, The Making of Modern Britain has lots of different elements that came together to make a really informative, interesting read. I definitely recommend it if you are curious about the end of the Victorian era through to WWII in terms of British history and lots of little anecdotes, quotes from politicians/literary/public figures that give you a greater insight to the period.

I’ll leave you guys with a quote from Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary during WWI which is a rather poignant, thought-provoking notion in regards to the consequences of WWI and how it left Europe.

The lamps are going out all over Europe and I doubt we shall see them lit again in our lifetime. –pg. 111.

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A Trip Through Time #2

a trip through time

The meme, A Trip Through Time, hosted by The Absent Historian is posted biweekly on a Friday. On the meme I will be taking a look at everything history related.

Today I am taking a look at the Channel 4 documentary that was on recently, Richard III: The New Evidence. As a massive geek when it comes to medieval history around the 14th-16th century, I was super excited to watch the documentary unveil more about Richard III; following the discovery of his bones last year. It is safe to say the documentary did not disappoint!

Here I have composed a little fact file for those of you who do not know much about Richard III. 

richard-iii-take-2Fact file: Richard III (October 1452 – August 1485)

  • * Younger brother to Edward VI and George, Duke of Clarence
  • * From House of Lancaster
  • * Reigned for 2 Years, 2 months and 2 days
  • * Last English king to die in battle
  • * Died at the Battle of Bosworth, 1485 (End of the War of the Roses)
  • * Usurped by Henry (Tudor)VII (father to Henry VIII)
  • * Supposedly killed his two nephews the princes in the tower to succeed to the throne after his brother, Edward VI
  • * Married Anne Neville (Warwick, the kingmaker’s daughter) and had one son, who died when he was young
  • * Depicted as a crooked, evil villain by Shakespeare

This picture is the one held in the National Portrait Gallery in London which I have visited and was painted by an unknown artists in the late 15th century, so the accuracy is debateable, but it is seen that Richard would have looked something like this at least, and not quite the hunch back that Shakespeare depicted.

However, having watched this documentary, and upon the bones being found in the Leicester car park, Richard III it is revealed did have a twisted spine, because he suffered from scoliosis which is a curvature of the spine.

bodyc

If you take a look at the spine curvature here, you can see it moved to one side, which would have meant Richard’s ribs were curved around, and following experiments on a guy with a similar deformity, it was revealed this would hinder his capability when it came to lung capacity and stamina.

The programme had a central focus on uncovering whether with such a deformity Richard would ever have been capable of riding into battle in full armour and participate in hand to hand combat. In addition to this, the scientists at University of Leicester were able to analyse his bones to discover the type of diet he would have had from his time before kingship and right up until death. It was utterly fascinating to see them dissect all the elements of Richard III; him riding to battle, his fitness and capabilities; using a man who was suffering with the same condition.

Honestly, I learnt a lot from the programme and I was amazed to hear that the medieval armour and horse saddle were actually much more beneficial to supporting Richard in his condition than any new saddle would be. His range of movement was incredibly able for a man with a curved spine, however it was his stamina where he would fail. It can probably be seen that once he was dragged from his horse, he would not last long which was why he was able to be beaten quite badly and suffered severe head injuries and bodily damage, which ultimately led to his death.

In terms of his diet, the man was enjoying 2-3 litres of wine, every day! It certainly appears these medieval royals were having a jolly time, and once he became king, his intake of food such as pig, fish, peasant and all those delicacies increased and his diet became much richer. It appears that becoming king would certainly reduce his level of fitness, so when it came to riding into the Battle of Bosworth he was not at his prime.

Overall, it was really fascinating take on Richard III and revealed things that I did not know and continues to make me question about events of the time and the man that is Richard III.

For those of you interested in historical documentaries, finding out a little bit more about Richard III, or curious about the whole scientific process, I definitely recommend checking out the documentary that was broadcast on Channel 4!

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Richard III’s double, Dominic Smee posing in his armour.

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A Trip Through Time

a trip through time

A new meme I will be hosting, will be A Trip Through Time where I will be sharing interesting snippets of facts from the current History book I am reading, analysing a historical fiction book, looking a historical film/documentary or  occasionally talking about a trip to a museum/historical sight. A Trip Through Time will be a meme I post biweekly on a Friday.

Heimaey

This week I am kicking off with a little flashback to my time in Iceland, when I visited a little island off the south coast of Iceland, which is part of Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands). The only island actually inhabited is Heimaey. The island actually has a volcano which unfortunately erupted in 1973 and devastated the town by destroying many of the buildings and forcing the population to flee to mainland Iceland. Whilst I was there, I visited the little museum that has been built around one of the excavated houses that was covered in ash and lava rock, that told us all about the events of the eruption. We got a little headset and phone that you could walk around all the different areas and be informed of all the different events. photo 4

Luckily all the islanders were able to escape from the port in small fishing boats, but at this time, the closest harbour was Reykjavik which was a four hour boat journey up the coast in stormy weather. It sounded rather frightful for these people who had to abandon all their goods! In addition to this, all their cattle was brought down to the harbour to protect them, but because they did not have any food to feed them, they all had to be put down. A very unfortunate set of events!

The volcanic eruption at the time, was entirely unexpected and in the January of 1973 when it erupted, in the middle of the night, people were at first unaware that it was going off. A young boy of one family who lived up near the volcano was said to describe it as being like New Years Eve again, thinking it was fireworks going off.

In some respects, the volcanic eruption was good for the island because it enlarged the island with the flurry of lava rock and ash creating more land, and the excitement of the volcano has also helped to draw in a lot more tourists to the island to increase its revenue. However, it is clear that it has not entirely recovered from the events in 1973 because only 1/3 of the population of 5,400 returned to the island after, and currently the population is now around 4,200 on the island.

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Having said that, it is a beautiful little island, and it has definitely managed to rebuild itself with many of the individuals buying their own land and building their own houses which is seen in the mismatch of building styles and structures. It also is home to a large population of puffins who breed in the summer and live up in the cliffs, unfortunately I did not get to see any puffins because we did not want to venture round to clambering cliffs!

The history of the island going even earlier back, is riddled with invasions, such as when the Turkish Ottomans raided the island and took many locals as slaves who were taken to a slave market in Algeria. There was also a little fort down near the harbour which had a wooden church given to the people of the Island by Sweden. So there was definitely a mix of culture and heritage in such a small island that I found so utterly fascinating!

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I am not sure about you guys, but I do not think I could imagine living on an island with an active volcano, it seems a little too like living on the edge! Still, it was a lovely little island, and whilst the museum was fairly small, it was interesting. I do like visiting museums and hearing all the history of a place, how about you guys?

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