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On 11 October 1537, Henry VIII finally received the son for which he had been waiting for decades. The day before the future Edward VI was born, friars, priests, livery companies, and the mayor and aldermen of London all processed through the city streets, praying for the Queen’s safe delivery. With his birth te deums were sung in London’s churches…
 
On May 11th, 1745, the British Army went into battle against the army of France near the village of Fontenoy, in what is now Belgium. 15,000 British soldiers marched forward bearing not only their muskets, but the reputation that they had gained in the continental campaigns of John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough. But Marlborough had by th…
 
Welcome to Episode 300 of Historically Thinking! Design theorists popularized the idea of “tame problems” and “wicked problems.” “Tame problems” are answers to questions like how to get to Chicago, or how to increase the battery life of a cell phone. As in mathematics and chess have clarity in their aims and their solutions. “Wicked problems” have …
 
What lover of American literature doesn’t remember these haunting lines: “Tell about the Midwest. What's it like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all.”Of course that was, as some of you quickly recognized, a deliberate mangling of a famous passage from William Faulkner’s Absalom Absalom. It’s more than a lit…
 
The Victorians didn’t actually travel to the moon. But they were the first people, observes my guest Iwan Morus, to think that travel to the Moon was not only possible, but that “their science already possessed – or would soon possess – the means of getting there.” This confidence was based on the cascades of “new technologies, new ways of making k…
 
If the Parthian Empire is known at all, it’s by students of Roman history who see it pop up from time to time, before disappearing once again. Marcus Licinius Crassus, a member of the first triumvirate– consisting of himself, Pompey, and Julius Caesar– died in battle against the Parthians. At the moment of his assasination, Caesar was preparing for…
 
I can't introduce Cathal Nolan's book Mercy: Humanity in War any better than he does himself, with these words:This is not a book about war. It is about mercy and humanity… Mercy happens in a microsecond, wrapped inside a surprise moment of mortal danger; it restrains baser instinct and reminds us about higher things. This book shows that mercy lim…
 
When the Massachusetts Historical Society was founded in 1791, its august members probably did not anticipate that one day its archives would contain not only family papers, but family dresses–as well as waistcoats, wigs, and at least two scarlet cloaks worn by fashionable men in the late eighteenth century.Kimberley Alexander (who is Director of M…
 
On April 11, 1865, Abraham Lincoln addressed a crowd gathered outside the White House. He spoke not of recent victories, or those to come, but to the shape of the peace that would follow. Now that the Thirteenth Amendment had been passed by Congress, he urged that it be ratified. Moreover, it seemed to him, Lincoln said, that it was necessary for “…
 
At the end of the 19th century, Amsterdam was home to nearly seventy diamond factories, in which were 7,500 steam-powered polishing mills. The workers who cut and polished the diamonds, brought there from the mines of South Africa, were not all Jewish–but many of them were. Indeed, in the late 1890s Jews were about 10% of the population of Amsterda…
 
It is perhaps the greatest scandal and sea-story of the first half of 19th Century America that nearly everyone has forgotten. It led to a court martial, endless headlines, a fistfight in a meeting of the President’s cabinet, and quite possibly to the foundation of the United States Naval Academy. And given that nearly everyone who went to see in t…
 
In late November, 1864, David R. Snelling visited his uncle, who then lived in Baldwin County near Milledgeville, Georgia. As a boy, he had worked in his uncle’s fields alongside those his uncle enslaved. Now Snelling returned home as a Lieutenant in the Army of the United States, commanding Company I of the First Alabama Cavalry–though detached on…
 
My guest today is Dr. Ben Jones, Director of the South Dakota State Historical Society and the South Dakota State Historian. Ben Jones served for 23 years in the United States Air Force, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. During his service he taught at the Air Force Academy. Subsequently he was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at So…
 
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