Gale Ambassador Scheme

Fancy paid business experience with a global publisher? Become a Gale Ambassador and help raise awareness of the digital resources available at Oxford!

Gale is a global publisher of digital archives and other library resources such as eBooks.

The Gale Ambassador Scheme might be of interest to graduates using Cengage / Gale resources (Times Digital Archive, ECCO, State Paper Online, etc) and who are in Oxford 2020-21. It offers paid business experience with a global publisher.

Gale Ambassadors are paid £250 for a 6 month period of set activities, plus the role is also great for your CV…

  • Business experience – work directly with staff at a global publisher
  • Get published on our company blog – creating great, shareable evidence of your work
  • Run your own marketing activities – refine copy and post placement to make successful use of social media
  • Speak at subject society events and lectures – public speaking experience is always great for a CV
  • Discover more primary sources for your own essays – potentially improving your grades
  • Opportunities for in-house work experience with a global publisher

The deadline for applications is Sunday 6th December 2020.

Applications are made online at the Gale Ambassadors site. Full training will be provided in January 2021 for successful applicants ahead of the participating in the scheme.

Example blog posts from previous Gale Ambassadors are at:

NEW: Browse and Borrow service (and other updates…)

Browse and Borrow – 30 minute session 

From Monday 12th October, the History Faculty Library will be offering bookable “Browse and Borrow” sessions:

  • You can remain in the library for up to 30 minutes
  • You are free to browse the shelves in all reading rooms
  • You can use the PCAS machines to copy or scan material
  • Books can be issued using the self-issue machine or at the staff desk
  • You may not sit at any desks to study during a Browse & Borrow slots as seating capacity cannot be increased to accommodate this.

For further information see: https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/using/browse-and-borrow

To book a session go to the booking page for the Radcliffe Camera https://tickets.ox.ac.uk/webstore/shop/viewItems.aspx?cg=BODBL&c=RRHFLBL

Click and Collect – withdrawn for History Faculty Library 

This service was introduced in early July to facilitate access to the collections when libraries were still closed to readers. It will no longer be possible to place a request via SOLO for this service for History Faculty Library items, as we are not able to offer this service on a wider scale to cope with term-time lending demand. As we have increased the number of slots to access the collections, this will offer more opportunity to our readers to have non-mediated access to collections.

We will continue to offer Click and Collect via email where appropriate (e.g. proxy collection for self-isolating or vulnerable readers).

Seating in reading rooms – more slots available!

We are increasing the number of slots available, as we extended our opening hours and introduce additional seating in the Gladstone Link and Duke Humfrey’s Library. Please be mindful that seating capacity is reduced, so we encourage you to only book the number of slots you need to access print collections or electronic Legal Deposit material. Please also let us know as soon as possible if you need to cancel slot – we are working on improving the process for cancelling a slot.

We appreciate that the Lower Camera is very popular but this reading room has the fewest number of seats available. If you can’t get a seat in the Lower Camera then do consider booking a seat in one of the other reading rooms – from Monday 12th October access via the Gladstone Link tunnel will be reinstated so you can fetch material from any reading room on site and return to your desk.

Returning books on loan 

  • You do NOT need to book a slot to return books.
  • Avoid arriving at the following times at the Radcliffe Camera as there are more likely to be queues of readers with seat booking.
    Monday to Friday = 9:30 / 13:30 / 17:00
    Saturday = 10:00 / 13:00
    Sunday = 12:00 / 15:00
  • We have temporarily increased renewals for standard loan items so that you don’t have to return books on Monday 12th October
  • There is currently a grace period in operation for fines, so if you can’t return or renew then don’t panic and get in touch with us.
  • We are still offering FREE postal return including international courier service. Email borrow@bodleian.ox.ac.uk for more information

Services for self-isolating students

Do get in touch to discuss your individual needs and with library contacts. All of our services are dependent on staffing levels but we will do our best to help you where possible.​

Tips

  • Take advantage of access to online resources via SOLO
  • Be organised and book a visit to the library in advance
  • Book a Browse and Borrow slot of you only need to access something quickly
  • Don’t book multiple slots unless you need extended access to print/eLD collections
  • Cancel a slot if you don’t need it via reader.services@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Due to government guidelines, we are required to strictly manage access to our libraries to ensure that we are operating according to social distancing guidelines including NHS Test and Trace. We have introduced new services and adapted existing services in response to unprecedented circumstances and have planned our Michaelmas Term services, as best as we can but there will be inevitable teething issues. We fully anticipated that term time will be challenging and we will be closely monitoring the demand on our services and making changes where required.

Thank you for your patience and please get in touch if you have questions or feedback: library.history@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Black History Month Book Display

October is Black History Month in the UK and we have put together a display of books from the History Faculty Library’s collections which explore Black British history. You’ll find the display in the Upper Gladstone Link.

The university is hosting various online talks and events to mark Black History Month 2020. Margaret Casely-Hayford, CBE, will deliver the university’s Black History Month lecture. For information about this, and other virtual events taking place throughout October, follow this link.

Below are E-books on Black British history which are available to Oxford University members- simply click on the book cover to access the SOLO record. This is just a handful of what’s available. To find more, you could run a search for the subject ‘Blacks — Great Britain’ and filter the results to ‘online resources.’

Further, we would like to highlight the LibGuide for BME Studies which is part of the Bodleian’s ‘Changing the Narrative’ project championing diversity in collection development.

Welcome to the HFL!

Welcome, new History students! We’re here to help you get started with finding your way around our libraries and finding the books and online resources on your reading list.

Make a start with this online video introduction to the Bodleian Libraries, and visit our welcome page for new students.

Next, check out our handy online guide to the History Faculty Library, which is the main lending library for history collections in the Bodleian. We’re based in the Radcliffe Camera, so we’re easy to find! Although sadly we can’t show you around the library in person this year, on this induction LibGuide you can take a video tour of the HFL, filmed and guided by our friendly library staff. The guide also contains information on how to book a desk slot, borrowing books, and printing.

You can also find useful information and answers to frequently asked questions on the Library Assistant app for Oxford freshers.

With Covid-19, there are some changes to the libraries, services and resources for the upcoming term. You will still be able to access the material you need and you can also access a wide range of ebooks and electronic resources online from the comfort of your own room.

For the most up-to-date information, please check out the Bodleian’s website.

If you get need any help or have any questions then please get in touch with us via email: library.history@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Bodleian New History eBooks – August 2020: Personal History

Bodleian New History eBooks – August 2020: Personal History

The cult of the personality is central to all recorded history, and the names of individuals figure prominently in history from its earliest records, such as in regnal eras from Ptolemaic Egypt to Augustan Rome, the Meiji era of Japan, Victorian Britain, or Napoleonic France; but also in ideological movements, whether scientific, political or religious – from the Copernican model of the universe or Darwinism to Marxism and Leninism or Thatcherism, and to Confucianism, Buddhism, Calvinism and Christianity.

The importance of the individual in history is a much debated issue, especially among Victorian historians and political theorists – in his famous 1841 On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History Thomas Carlyle proposes his Great Men theory which assigns credit (or responsibility, or even blame, as the case may be) for major developments of history to remarkable individuals of their times (Lecture 1, “The Hero as Divinity”, p. 21):

Universal History, the history of what man has accomplished in this world, is at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked here. They were the leaders of men, these great ones; the modellers, patterns, and in a wide sense creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain; all things that we see standing accomplished in the world are properly the outer material result, the practical realization and embodiment, of Thoughts that dwelt in the Great Men sent into the world: the soul of the whole world’s history, it may justly be considered, were the history of these.

One of the most influential publications which takes a completely opposite view is Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov’s 1898 The Role of the Individual in History, representative of a view of history proposed by a movement which is somewhat ironically named after what Carlyle would certainly have termed one of the Great Men of History – “Marxism”. Plekhanov claims (p.55):

Individual causes cannot bring about fundamental changes in the operation of general and particular causes which, moreover, determine the trend and limits of the influence of individual causes.

He argues that history should be seen neither as the consequence of the actions of individuals “from above” (nor of movements “from below”), but concedes that “there is no doubt that history would have had different features had the individual causes which had influenced it been replaced by other causes of the same order” since “the personal qualities of leading people determine the individual features of historical events” (pp. 55-56).

And similarly, Lenin (Collected Works vol. 1, p. 159) declares in his comments on “What the ‘Friends of the People’ Are”:

“…the idea of historical necessity does not in the least undermine the role of the individual in history: all history is made up of the actions of individuals, who are undoubtedly active figures.”

The eBooks I would like to highlight in this blog are concerned with individuals in history, though not necessarily in the sense of Carlyle’s  “Great Men” (and presumably “Great Women”?) of history, or even Plekhanov’s “individual causes”, but more with Lenin’s understanding that all history is made up of the actions of individuals, This does not mean that these books are therefore necessarily biographies of individuals or microhistories of a group of individuals (though some of them are), but simply that they are very personal to the individual in some way or other, encompassing personal narratives or experiences as well as the study of particular individuals in history – or even works with a very personal focus that the writer intended for or addressed to very specific individuals, such as the first two books presented here.

Personal Writings

The poems of Venantius Fortunatus (c. 535-600) have long been mined as a historical source for Merovingian society, but are remarkable not only for their literary quality, but for the very personal dimension of a number of the surviving examples which chart emotions and relationships – from poems accompanying personal gifts to an aristocratic lady, clever banter addressed to a bishop, expressions of longing for and wishes of safety to travelling friends, poems as thanks for gifts received, apologies for being unable to visit and wishes for reunions, pleas for protection to powerful figures like Gregory of Tours, consolations for widowed queens, and many which are simply an affectionate “hello” from the poet to his distant friends. Under the title of Poems to Friends a number of these personal writings are now newly available as an eBook in the 2010 translation into free verse by Joseph Pucci, with introductory material on late antique Gaul, Fortunatus’ biography, interpretations of the poems, prosopographical introductions, maps, and a bibliography which offer a wider context for these often very touching poems. A piece of historiography which is very much written for one particular person, as well as deeply connected to the author’s personal history, are Machiavelli’s Florentine Histories, commissioned in 1520 by Giulio Cardinal de Medici, and used by Machiavelli as a way to work his way back into his good graces. Presented to Giulio (now Pope Clement VII) in May 1526, it was first printed in 1532, 5 years after Machiavelli’s death. Clearly not a work born of personal inspiration, this is received history, reworked from earlier chronicles, covering, as the author phrases it, “the things done at home and abroad by the Florentine people” from the decline of the Roman Empire up to the death of Lorenzo de’ Medici in 1492, with four of their eight books dedicated to the fight for power and the Medicean lordship. Nevertheless, the work bears ample witness to the author’s literary style, and contains numerous entertaining episodes of high drama and glimpses of humour, resulting in a at times gripping and at times tedious work which is redeemed by the insights of one of the greatest political thinkers of all time.

Biographies and Autobiographies

Three remarkable individuals from the Middle Ages and the are the subject of this next batch of personal histories now available as eBooks, one clearly classifiable as a hagiography, one an obvious autobiography, and the third rather indistinctly wavering between hagiography, biography, and autobiography. Thomas of Monmouth’s hagiographical Life and Passion of William of Norwich, available now as an eBook in Miri Rubin’s 2014 translation, holds a unique and terrible place in the history of Anti-Semitism, while also giving a remarkable insight into daily life in a medieval cathedral city: it documents the martyrdom and posthumous miracles at the shrine of William, a young boy believed to have been murdered by the Jews of Norwich. The Book of Margery Kempe, in Anthony Bale’s 2015 translation, also contains touches of hagiography – it is the extraordinary account of a medieval wife, mother, and mystic, dictated by the illiterate Margery to an amanuensis as the earliest autobiography written in the English language. Confusingly, however, it presents more as a biography than an autobiography, since it is written in the third rather than the first person, with the amanuensis referring to Margery as “the creature” throughout. Ranging from her home in King’s Lynn to Rome and Jerusalem, her book describes her transformation from businesswoman, wife and mother to chaste visionary and pilgrim, with vivid accounts of her prayers and visions, the temptations of her daily life, and her ponderings on God and the world. The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave is another extraordinary autobiographical account by an illiterate woman dictated to a scribe, and has the distinction of being the first ever account by a black woman to be published in Britain (in 1831). The book describes Prince’s sufferings as a slave in Bermuda, Turks Island and Antigua, and her eventual arrival in London in 1828, where she escaped from her owner and sought assistance from the Anti-Slavery Society. Drawing attention to the continuation of slavery in the Caribbean despite an 1807 Act of Parliament officially ending the slave trade, the publication inspired two libel actions and ran into three editions in the year of its publication alone. As a powerful rallying cry for emancipation it remains an extraordinary testament to Prince’s ill-treatment, suffering and survival.

Personal Histories

The final four books I would like to highlight in this blog, while not outright biographies, still flirt with the genre in that they are dedicated to the study of particular individuals or groups of individuals in history, presenting close-up views and insights into some very personal experiences and thoughts. The lives of several more remarkable women are the subject of the eleven chapters of Forgotten Queens in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, which examine issues of political agency, myth-making, and patronage by queens dowager and queens consort who have disappeared from history or have been misunderstood in modern historical treatment. Covering queenship from 1016 to 1800, and with a broad coverage in geography and disciplines from religious history, art history, and literature, the contributions demonstrate the influence of queens in different aspects of monarchy over eight centuries, and further our knowledge of the roles and challenges that they faced. A group of women who have a number of things in common are also the subject of Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting, though here the geographical and chronological scope is rather more narrow: Mecklenburgh Square, on the radical fringes of interwar Bloomsbury, and home at various times to the modernist poet H. D., detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers, classicist Jane Harrison, economic historian Eileen Power, and the writer and publisher Virginia Woolf. From H.D.’s residence there during the First World War via Dorothy L. Sayers, who wrote in the same room in 1921, to Virginia Woolf’s move into the square in 1939, Wade draws an engaging picture of five in some ways very different but in others quite similar women in search of a space where they could live, love and, above all, work independently.

Susan L. Tananbaum’s book on Jewish Immigrants in London covers a similar time and space, but works on a rather wider scope with respect to the individuals it focuses on in its discussion: the quarter of a million European Jews who settled in England between 1880 and 1939. Despite this vast number, Tananbaum still manages to look at personal histories and the fates of individuals, exploring the differing ways in which the existing Anglo-Jewish communities, local government and education and welfare organizations sought to socialize these new arrivals, focusing on the experiences of working-class women and children. Beginning in the year where she leaves off, War Through Children’s Eyes then offers a collection of 120 short personal accounts written by Polish children who were among the one million people deported to various provinces of the Soviet Union after the Soviet occupation of Poland in the winter of 1939-40. It is the perception of these witnesses that makes these documents unique, offering a child’s eye view of events no adult would consider worth mentioning. In simple language, filled with misspellings and grammatical errors, the children recorded their experiences, and sometimes their surprisingly mature understanding, of the invasion and the Soviet occupation, the deportations eastward, life in the work camps and kolkhozes, and vivid memories of privation, hunger, disease, and death.

You can browse all our new eBooks on LibraryThing here.

Returning to our Reading Rooms: A Guide

From Monday 17th August, the Rad Cam will open its gates to readers once again for pre-booked reading room slots! If you haven’t done so already, you can reserve a slot up to 2 weeks in advance on our booking page. As well as desks in Upper and Lower Camera, we have a height-adjustable desk and Reader PCs available to book.

As you might expect, we have some new procedures and adjustments to help
keep you safe in the library, so here’s a guide to what to expect on your visit:

1. Please remember to bring your seat booking confirmation email, and most importantly your University/Reader card with you. As the Admissions office is currently not issuing Day Passes, we won’t be able to let you in without your card.

2. You will be asked to wear a face covering in the library, including at your desk, and unless exempt (see below*) staff will ask you to come back with a face covering if you arrive without one. We are following University guidance that wearing a face covering can aid alongside hand hygiene and social distancing in helping to keep us all safe in university buildings.

*Some readers will be exempt from wearing a face covering under government regulations, and this need for exemption may not be obvious.
Please be mindful of this if you see someone without a face covering in the library.
If this exemption applies to you, we can provide a sign to show at your desk if you would like to indicate that you’re exempt in this way, although this is completely optional.

3. You may need to queue on the path outside when you arrive at the library. Keep a distance of 2 metres between you and other readers when queuing, and for the duration of your visit.

4. When you arrive, show your booking confirmation to the member of staff at Reception, and they will give you your assigned desk number and directions to your seat. To help with distancing, most seats will not be in use; these will be indicated by a sign with a red cross. Staff will also be wearing face coverings subject to the procedure above, and we have installed protective screens at staff desks.

5. As well as hand sanitiser at the library entrance, we also have convenient sanitiser stations throughout the library. Please make regular use of these during your visit!

6. Want to find some books? As some spaces in our building are quite snug, please be cautious and considerate of other readers when browsing the shelves, ensuring a 2 metre distance. In Lower and Upper Camera, enter each bay on the right-hand side to reach the shelves, as there will be no reader desks in use on this side.

7. Want to borrow a HFL book? Due to the Bodleian’s membership of the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service, which allows for access to selected ebooks during this period, we currently have license restrictions on the books we are allowed to loan. Please bring any books you wish to borrow to the issue desk, and staff will check whether they are loanable. Alternatively, you can use our Click & Collect service to order books from home; please note that this process can take 2-3 working days before books are ready for collection.

8. And finally, welcome back! If you have any questions in advance of your visit, you can email us at library.history@bodleian.ox.ac.uk, and if you’re unsure of anything in the library just ask a member of staff and we’ll be happy to help.

(Photos credit: George Kiddy & Gareth Evans)

 

 

New Postal Returns Service

If you’re not in Oxford and are unable to return your loans to our Returns hubs, you can now send your books back to us via the Bodleian’s new free Postal Returns service!

1. Click on this link for the Royal Mail’s Tracked Service.

2. Follow the instructions to either print off a package label at home, or to use a QR code, sent to you by email, to print the label at a Post Office.

3. Package the books following Royal Mail’s guidance as best you can. Take the package with label or QR code to your nearest Post Office. As this is a prepaid service, you won’t be asked to pay any postage on your parcel.

If you have books from multiple Bodleian Libraries, you can send them all back in the same package and once they reach Oxford they will be distributed to their owning libraries. Please don’t be concerned if you see that posted items remain on your SOLO account over the summer, as it will take staff some time to process them all. You will not be charged any fines while books are awaiting check-in; only fines accrued before the library’s closure in March will be payable.

If you are currently outside the UK, if you are unable to get to a Post Office to drop off your books, or if you have a large number of books on loan, you can get in touch with the Bodleian’s Returns team at borrow@bodleian.ox.ac.uk and they will find another option for you.

NB. Please note that the free postal service is for those readers who are unable to return books in person. If you are currently in Oxford, or planning to visit over the summer, and you are able to bring your books back in person, we would be grateful if you could do so via our Returns hubs (details here: https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/using/loanreturns).

A Guide to Click and Collect at the HFL

You may have heard the news that we have started to welcome readers to our Click & Collect service at the HFL! Click & Collect is an emergency interim service at selected Bodleian Libraries (currently us, the Social Science Library and the Sackler Library), which allows university members to borrow books which would usually be loanable, via pre-booked collection slots.

Not sure what to expect when using the service? Here’s a step-by-step guide!

 

1. Request your book(s). Once logged into SOLO, look out for the green Click & Collect button next to eligible HFL books. Your request will then be sent to the library for staff to pick and process.

2. Once your book has been processed (usually the next working day after you request), you will receive an email inviting you to book a collection timeslot from the next working day onwards; our collection hours are 11am-3pm Monday-Friday. You will only need to book a slot for one requested item, and other books you order will then also be available to collect in this timeslot. At this stage you can also add a named person to collect books on your behalf (please ask them to bring some photo ID!).
N.B. As mentioned above, it takes a few working days for the Click & Collect process to complete, so please order your books ahead of time. Please also note that only pre-booked items will be available and you won’t be able to request additional items at the desk when you arrive.

3. On arrival, hold your Reader Card to the pad to unlock the door. If you have any problems with your card, use the intercom to talk to a member of staff. If you notice that there is another reader already inside, please wait on the path at a distance of at least 2 metres from any other readers.

4. Show the member of staff at Reception your card. There is a protective screen at the desk, and a hand sanitiser dispenser available, for the safety of staff and readers.

5. The staff member will fetch a bag containing your pre-issued books and may ask you to stand back while they place them onto the shelf beside the desk. Socially distanced handover pictured below! If you need to drop off HFL returns when you collect, there is a box next to the staff desk to put them in.

6. Enjoy your books! If you have any questions about the Click & Collect process, please get in touch by email at library.history@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

 

 

Click and Collect at HFL

We’re very pleased to announce that your favourite History Faculty Library loan books are now available to borrow through the Bodleian’s Click & Collect Service!

Click & Collect is an emergency interim service designed to enable borrowing from selected Bodleian Libraries. The service will initially be offered by us, the Sackler Library, and the Social Science Library, and other libraries will introduce the service on a phased basis.

University members will be able to place requests on SOLO for items which would usually be available to borrow. Once logged in to SOLO, just look for the green button next to eligible books. Library staff will fetch the requests and once the items are ready for collection, borrowers will be emailed to invite them to select a date and time to collect the items. The safety of staff and readers is paramount in the design of the service; limitations will apply on which libraries are able to participate and when.

For full details see https://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/using/clickandcollect

If you have any problems when placing a request, or any queries about the collection process, please give us an email at library.history@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Bodleian New History eBooks – June 2020: Revolution in History

Bodleian New History eBooks – June 2020: Revolution in History

What is “revolution”?

In Book V of his Politics, Aristotle speaks at length of the major vehicle for constitutional change, the phenomenon of στάσις (stasis), a term variously translated as “civil war”, “sedition”, “faction” – or “revolution”. Aristotle uses it to denote a number of variations of political conflict from sedition and civil war to smaller instances of feuding and struggle for prestige, and applies it both to the conflict people engage in, and also to the group of people who engage in the conflict. Hatzistavrou in his chapter on “Factions” in The  Cambridge Companion to Aristotle’s Politics divides these states of conflict (or groups engaging in conflict) into two distinct categories according to their causes – injustice-induced, and greed-induced, and it is of course the first that is usually acknowledged as the main cause of social revolutions throughout world history. Aristotle himself also mentions inequality as one in a longer list of possible causes of stasis that include avarice, superiority, honour, fear, difference of race and disproportionate growth, but is keen to stress that the importance (or non-importance) of the impetus that initiates any particular conflict is not necessarily the same as the importance of the cause for which this conflict is then in the end conducted (Book V, Chapter 4, p. 7):

Factions arise … not concerning small things, but from small things; men form factions concerning great things.

In English, the umbrella term “revolution” covers a great variety of different types of political conflicts – some are peaceful, nonviolent protests, but others produce bloody civil wars; some have produced democracies and greater liberty, but others have produced brutal dictatorships. Taking all this into consideration, Jack A. Goldstone in Revolutions: A Very Short Introduction (p. 4) offers a minimalist yet comprehensive definition which includes the physical, ideological and political aspects of the phenomenon:

Revolution is the forcible overthrow of a government through mass mobilization (whether military or civilian or both) in the name of social justice, to create new political institutions.

Some famous factions (or revolutions) in the course of global history include the Set rebellion of c. 2730 BC which divided Egypt into Upper and Lower Egypt; the establishment of the Roman Republic in 510–509 BC; the 3rd Servile War in 73–71 BC (better known as the Gladiator War or the War of Spartacus); the Germanic Revolt of Arminius in the Teutoburg Forest in 9-13 AD; the Peasants’ Revolt, or Great Rising in England in 1381; or the 1525 German Peasants’ War. The 1688 “Glorious Revolution” in England establishes the term “revolution” for a number of the more significant and influential staseis of the modern era, such as the Haitian and the French Revolutions at the turn of the 19th century. Still, other terms persist – the mid-19th century modernization revolution in Japan is known as the Meiji Restoration, and the anti-imperialist, anti-foreign, and anti-Christian uprising in China at the turn of the 20th century as the Boxer Rebellion. In Europe we find the Irish 1916 Easter Rising and the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, and for the widespread anti-government movements in the Arab world in the 2010s an entirely new phrase was coined: the Arab Spring.

What Aristotle calls stasis thus has many names in English historiography, which uses a number of both native terms and loanwords to distinguish nuances of a wide variety of political conflicts, from “putsch”, “coup d’état”, “Machtergreifung” and “résistance” to “restoration”, “insurrection”, “mutiny”, “riot”, “rising”, “rebellion”, “revolt”, and, finally, “revolution”. What term historiographers assign to any particular stasis does seem to depend not only on the success of any given faction to changing constitutions, or political or social situations, but also in great part on which faction (the winning or the losing side of the conflict) is in the end responsible for, or influences, the historiography after the fact. Similarly, any judgement passed on, or assessment given of such conflict as to its righteousness, virtue, moral rightness (or lack of it)  found in contemporary or later historiography depends much on whether it is penned by the new establishment, as in, the former rebels of a successful revolt, or the old establishment after the successful suppression of an uprising, or an independent party. Depending on the side the historiographer finds themselves on, revolutions can be presented as a case of downtrodden masses raised up by leaders who guide them in overthrowing unjust rulers (later given modern form as a theory of the inevitable triumph of the poor over the rich by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, and their followers), or judged as eruptions of popular anger that produce only chaos (as per the critics of Marx, Lenin, Mao et al.).

In this blog I would like to highlight some of the ebooks newly arrived at the Bodleian which focus on such ideology-driven, political conflicts arising from inequality, under any of their many names, from the Middle Ages though to the 20th century, presented here in roughly chronological order.

1066-1284

The first book concerns stasis not in the modern sense of “revolution”, but in the second Aristotelian sense of a smaller-scale struggle for supremacy or domination by different members of an oligarchy. David Carpenter’s 2004 The Struggle for Mastery examines the momentous two-and-a-half centuries after 1066, when the Anglo-Saxon ruling class was destroyed and Anglo-Saxons became a subject race, dominated by a Norman-French dynasty and aristocracy. Arguing that the English domination of the kingdom was by no means a foregone conclusion, Carpenter looks at a drawn-out competition for domination between England, Scotland and Wales which shaped the history of the British Middle Ages.

1660-1680

The aftermath of the English Civil War is one of those cases where the label attached by historiographers clearly reflects the spin put on the conflict by the prevailing party – in his 2006 Restoration: Charles II and His Kingdoms Tim Harris examines the late 17th century as a period of extraordinary turbulence and political violence in Britain, tracing the fate of the monarchy from Charles II’s triumphant accession in 1660 to the growing discontent of the 1680s. Looking beyond the popular image of Restoration England revelling in its freedom from the austerity of Puritan rule under a merry monarch, Harris surveys some of the shadier sides of a desperately insecure regime after two decades of civil war.

1660-1680

Looking at the same aftermath of the English Civil War through the eyes of the Puritans is Fear, Exclusion and Revolution, a collection of essays on the ‘Entring Book’ of Puritan minister Roger Morrice, his detailed record of public affairs in Britain between 1677 and 1691 which charts the rise of British party politics, and the transformation of Puritanism into ‘Whiggery’ and Dissent. The essays collected in this volume address some of Morrice’s key concerns in his book, including the atmosphere of fear and foreboding, the profound effect of events on the continent on the English, or the anxieties and opportunities caused by a socially diffuse culture of news and information, and sheds light on a social, political and religious situation which ultimately led to the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

1788-1887

Moving into the 18th and 19th centuries, Blackburn’s The American Crucible is a vivid and authoritative history of the rise and, more importantly, the fall of slavery in the Americas. It looks at Europe’s conquest and colonisation of the Americas with its system of slavery, and the promotion of the rise of capitalism in the Atlantic world through the slave labour which helped establish empires, fostered new cultures of consumption and financed the breakthrough to an industrial order. Blackburn interprets the New World as a “crucible” for a succession of experiments in colonization, silver mining, plantation agriculture, racial enslavement, colonial rebellion, and slave resistance, and charts the great movements of emancipation in Haiti in 1804, Britain in 1833-8, the United States in the 1860s, and Cuba and Brazil in the 1880s, with a view to how they influenced many of the ideals we live by today.

1800-1815

The turn of the 19th century saw what is usually regarded as the revolution par excellence, but in his Napoleon Bonaparte and the Legacy of the French Revolution Martin Lyons looks not at the French Revolution itself, nor at Napoleon in one of his many other roles from Jacobin to Republican to Emperor, but focuses on developments in French society and economy as a background to a view of Napoleon specifically as an heir and executor of the French Revolution, preserving its social gains, and consolidating the triumph of the bourgeoisie.

1916

In a century that offers plenty of examples of violent revolts, the 1916 Easter Rising still stands out, and still invites new interpretations and insights over a century later. In his Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion Charles Townshend looks at both the rising itself and the violent British response to it, which made an entire nation turn away in revulsion. Townshend’s account of the stasis which launched Ireland into a new era asks and answers questions on what the rebels actually hoped to achieve, what the thinking behind the British response might have been, and how the events were regarded by ordinary people across Ireland.

1936

Bloodless and peaceful but nevertheless superbly effective socialist, pacifist, and feminist protests, campaigns and movements characterise the life of Ellen Wilkinson, whose 2016 biography Red Ellen by Laura Beers is now available online. Best remembered as the leader of the 1936 “Jarrow Crusade”, the 300-mile march of two hundred unemployed shipwrights and steelworkers to petition the British government for assistance, Wilkinson’s fight for social justice extended to involvement in a range of campaigns, from the quest for official recognition of the Spanish Republican government to the fight for Indian independence or  the effort to smuggle Jewish refugees out of Germany. Beers paints a portrait of a remarkable woman whose achievements include the founding of Britain’s Communist Party, a seat in Parliament, a post as one of the first female delegates to the United Nations, a central role in Britain’s post-war Labour government as Minister of Education, and in general successful activism as an advocate for the poor and dispossessed.

1940-45

The memoirs of another remarkable women whose life was defined by the involvement in opposition against the established powers are edited and translated in Résistance: Memoirs of Occupied France, the diaries of Agnès Humbert, founder of one of the first organised groups of the French Resistance in 1940s Paris. Betrayed to the Gestapo in 1941, Humbert was imprisoned but escaped execution, spending the years until the end of the war in a German forced labour camp. First published immediately after her liberation in 1946, and now available as an ebook in its first English translation of 2008, the memoirs, written with a deft touch and sardonic wit, offer a very personal and candid perspective of this dark period.

1968

With the understanding of the year 1968 as a marker of an emerging will for social change around the turn of that decade, rather than as a particular calendar year, the essay collection Women, Global Protest Movements, and Political Agency explores women’s historical involvement in “1968” in different parts of the world and the different ways in which women’s experience as victims and perpetrators of violence are remembered and understood.  The topics touched on in the various contributions include for example transnational memories of Northern Ireland’s ’68, West German documentary drama, female terrorists and women in the jihad, women fighters during the Lebanese civil war, and violence against women in Yugoslavia.

You can find more books on the topic on our LibraryThing shelf tagged with “revolutions”  and “political violence”, and browse all our new ebooks on LibraryThing here.