With the end of Trinity Term fast approaching, readers are advised that vacation borrowing for the summer will commence on Wednesday 26th June. Please note, this is 9th week, due to the History of the British Isles assessment for 2nd year History undergraduates. From this date onwards, HFL borrowing limits will increase to 30 items (short loans inclusive), with a due date of Monday 14th October. Wishing you all the best of luck in the coming weeks!
A grave affair of state;
It is a place
Of life and death,
To survival and extinction,
To be pondered carefully.
Thus Sun Tzu in his Art of War (p. 6), the probably earliest philosophical treatise on a phenomenon of human interaction which more than any other has been credited with shaping and changing the course of history. From the Thermopylae (480 BC) and Marathon (490 BC) to Stamford Bridge and Hastings (1066); from Agincourt (1415) and the Siege of Orléans (1428-29) to Trafalgar (1805) and Waterloo (1815); from Saratoga (1777) and Gettysburg (1863) to the “Battle of Britain” (1940) and Stalingrad (1942-43) – the outcome of battles has determined the outcome of wars, and the outcome of wars has determined the fate of the nations who fought them.
No wonder then, that battles, war, warfare, and military history are topics to be found frequently in the new history books at the Bodleian every week – the nine volumes I’d like to present here are only some of the books on war in history that are newly arrived this month.
War and Culture
In his recent study War in Human Civilisation, Azar Gat collects some of the fundamental questions on war and its relationship to human civilisation:
Why do people engage in the deadly and destructive activity of fighting?…Have people always engaged in fighting or did they start to do so only with the advent of agriculture, the state, and civilization? How were these, and later, major developments in human history affected by war and, in turn, how did they affect war? (p. ix)
Three of the books on war new this month tackle such questions of its impact on or relationship to humans and their culture and cultural ideas.
Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), Prussian General and military theorist, and veteran of the Napoleonic wars, argues in his treatise Vom Kriege (On War) that the violence of war “arms itself with the inventions of Art and Science” – that is, with ideas (i.e. tactics and strategy), and with technology (i.e. weaponry). Two of the new studies argue that it is in fact not technology, but the human mind which is the most powerful weapon of all. Both studies take a macrohistoric approach to the topic – in Carnage and Culture Victor Davis Hanson discusses nine landmark battles from the victory of the Greeks against Xerxes at Salamis to the Tet offensive, arguing that it is positive Western culture and values which produce superior arms and soldiers. Similarly, John A. Lynn in Battle: A History of Combat and Culture looks at examples from several millennia and from around the globe to explore the way ideas, far more than bullets or bombs, shape the conduct of warfare. Human ideas and ideologies as the causes of wars, rather than as the weapons used in the waging of them, are discussed in Arnaud Blin in his study on War and Religion. Moving from the emergence of the great monotheistic faiths in the Mediterranean through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance into the modern era, he shows how religion not only fuelled a great number of conflicts but also defined the manner in which these wars were conducted and fought.
In yet another famous treatise on war, Dell’arte della guerra (1521), Niccolò Machiavelli discusses four mainstays of war and their relative importance:
Men, steel, money, and bread, are the sinews of war; but of these four, the first two are more necessary, for men and steel find money and bread, but money and bread do not find men and steel. (Book 7)
The history of weaponry and weapons technology is of course closely linked to the history or war in general, and Machiavelli’s synecdochal use of “steel” comprises the entire phenomenon of the arms race, whether in the form of artillery, aircraft, firearms, missiles, or, in the 20th and 21st century, weapons of mass destruction. No less interesting are the humans who wield those weapons. Two of the new Bodleian books discuss these two closely linked aspects for the same series of medieval wars, the crusades. In Artillery in the Era of the Crusades Michael S. Fulton draws on both literary and archaeological evidence to examine the use of mechanical artillery, particularly the trebuchet, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the Levant, while Steven Tibble’s The Crusader Armies draws on a wide range of Muslim as well as Western texts and archaeological evidence to discuss strategies of attack and defence, adaptation, evolution, and cultural diversity of the two opposing armies.
Throughout human historiography and literary production wars have been reported, described, narrated in fiction, romanticised, and sparked a plethora of both poetry and prose in an effort to understand it or process the experience – from the Chanson de Roland to Shakespeare’s Henry V, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Wilfred Owen’s poetry, Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Heller’s Catch-22.
Attempting an overview of such memory and memorializing of one particular war, The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the Crusades surveys the multilingual literary output on the theme of the crusades over the space of an entire millennium, from the earliest reports to the modern era, presenting the enduring legacy of the crusaders’ imagery from the chansons de geste to Walter Scott and from Charlemagne to Orlando Bloom. Memories of war with a rather shorter afterlife, and rather less romanticised and more credible, are collected by Frances Houghton in The Veterans’ Tale, accounts of how British veterans of the Second World War remembered, understood, and recounted their experiences of battle throughout the post-war period, and the contrasts with official, scholarly, and cultural representations of the Second World War in Britain.
Clausewitz advocates a theory of two types of war, or more specifically, of two different ways to end a war: either by completely destroying the enemy, or by prescribing peace terms to him. The latter type has thankfully been rather more prevalent in recent times, and has resulted in peace treaties which are as famous and as history-defining as the wars they ended, and three of the new books look back at the conclusion of three major wars of the 20th century. A new addition to the Very Short Introduction series discusses The Treaty of Versailles on the centenary of the end of World War I, analysing the many subtle factors that influenced the treaty, and looking back at how the many conflicting objectives (such as a desire for peace after five years of disastrous war, demands for vengeance against Germany, the uncertain future of colonialism, or the emerging threat of Bolshevism) evolved throughout the remainder of the twentieth century – and also looks at its role in bringing about the conditions which ultimately led to World War II. The 70th anniversary of the conclusion of WWII, the 1945 Potsdam Agreement, is occasion for Das Potsdamer Abkommen 1945-2015, a collection of essays which discusses the conflicting objectives of the three main global powers, the Soviet Union, the USA and Great Britain, in the aftermath of the victory over Nazi Germany. Already at the time of the Potsdam Agreement, however, the battle lines were being drawn for the Cold War. The ending of this longest (if not most violent or bloodiest) war of the 20th century is discussed by Michael Cotey Morgan in The Final Act: the Helsinki Accords, if they did not actually end the Cold War, certainly served as a blueprint to do so. This account of the diplomatic saga that produced this historic agreement draws on research in eight countries and multiple languages, and argues that despite being initiated by the Soviets, the final agreement embraced liberal democratic ideals more than communist ones, and instead of restoring the legitimacy of the Soviet bloc, established principles that undermined it.
The Bodleian Libraries have committed substantial external funding to a one-off set of purchases of electronic research resources deemed to be important to researchers in the University. This follows a project to identify desiderata across all subjects and to list suggestions from readers. The list includes items costing up to £125,000 which cannot easily be covered by recurrent budgets. The first tranche of purchases includes a number of important primary sources from Gale Cengage, including Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Trans-Jordan: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1836-1944, together with their new Gale Digital Scholar Lab, which will allow digital research methods to be applied across all the primary sources published by them and acquired by the Bodleian Libraries.
This collection covers U.S. perspectives on Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Trans-Jordan, from Ottoman rule to the era of British and French mandates following the First World War. The archive is sourced from the Central Files of the General Records of the Department of State. The records are under the jurisdiction of the Legislative and Diplomatic Branch of the Civil Archives, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
SUR is one of the most important and influential literary magazines published in Latin America in the twentieth century. This collection includes images of the complete magazine, including covers, photographs and advertisements, more than 50,000 pages; a comprehensive electronic index of 6,300 entries, correcting mistakes and inconsistencies found in the index published in the magazine; and a set of images of manuscripts from the first issue as well as an unpublished set of letters by Victoria Ocampo.
Founded in 1931 by Argentine intellectual Victoria Ocampo (1890-1979), SUR is well known throughout Latin America and Europe. Over its long and distinguished history, SUR featured the writings of the leading figures in literature, philosophy, history and the plastic arts not only from Latin America, but also from North America and Western Europe. Contributors included LeCorbusier, Lacan, Sarte, and Woolf; and Argentine authors include Borges, Cortázar, Silvinia Ocampo, and Bioy Casares. Through Ocampo’s social commentary and choice of contributors, she advanced an Argentine version of Liberalism at a time when most Latin Americans confronted reactionary regimes, military rule, economic chaos and demagogues.
This important literary title featuring the century’s principal authors and intellectuals is vital for historical research.
While you are here:
The Bodleian Libraries have committed substantial external funding to a one-off set of purchases of electronic research resources deemed to be important to researchers in the University. This follows a project to identify desiderata across all subjects and to list suggestions from readers. The list includes items costing up to £125,000 which cannot easily be covered by recurrent budgets. The first tranche of purchases includes a number of important primary sources from Gale Cengage, including Political Extremism and Radicalism in the Twentieth Century, together with their new Gale Digital Scholar Lab, which will allow digital research methods to be applied across all the primary sources published by them and acquired by the Bodleian Libraries.
This resource provides access to “a compilation of rare and unique archival collections covering a wide range of fringe political movements. It has been sourced from distinguished libraries and archives across the world but also premiers some previously hidden treasure troves.
With an extensive scope of content focused on political extremism and radical thought, this archive is one of the first digital archives covering such a broad assortment of both far-right and left political groups. It offers a diverse mixture of materials, including periodicals, campaign propaganda, government records, oral histories, and various ephemera, which allow researchers to explore unorthodox social and political movements in new and innovative ways and to understand what impact they have had on today’s society.
The collections cover a period of just over a century (1900s to 2010s) when the world saw the formation of several civil rights movements for the rights of minorities, women’s rights, and gay rights. It also encompasses the rise and fall of a number of peripheral groups deemed ‘extreme’ or ‘radical’ by contemporaries, such as anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-war, communist or socialist, creationist, environmentalist, hate, holocaust denial, new left, survivalist, white supremacist, and white nationalist. Global in scope, although the archive presents materials largely from the US and Britain, it also showcases important factions from Europe and Australia, such as the Norwegian Nazi Party and the Australian National Socialist Party. By spanning multiple geographic regions, the resource shows both the cultural impact of radical groups at a national level as well as the international networking and cross-border exchanges of extreme political movements.
Following are some highlights from the archive:
The Hall-Hoag Collection of Dissenting and Extremist Printed Propaganda from the John Hay Library at Brown University, features extremist literature ranging from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s – the most heated days of the civil rights movement. Publications in this collection represent a cross-section of extremist opinion towards integration and civil rights activism, but it also contains materials on American anti-Semitism, Christian Identity theology, neo-Nazi groups, and white supremacy movements.
The American Radicalism Collection from Michigan State University is a collection of ephemera on radical political groups across a range of extremist and radical movements, including those involved in religion, race, gender, the environment, and equal rights. The materials represent a large variety of viewpoints, from the far-right to the far-left, on political, social, cultural, sexual, and economic issues in the United States from 1970 to the present.
The Searchlight Archive, held at the University of Northampton in the UK, consists of documents from Searchlight Associates, an information service founded in 1962 that aimed to investigate racist and fascist groups in Britain and abroad and publicise their activities by publishing exposes in their Searchlight magazine. The collections consist of various ephemera accumulated as part of their investigations as well as the complete run of Searchlight magazine (1965-present). Most distinctively, the archive also includes the Searchlight Oral Histories Collection, which consists of interviews (available to researchers as both audio files and transcripts) with anti-fascist activists active from 1940s-1990s.
The National Archives at Kew in the UK, is the source archive for digitised secret service and home office documents relating to inter- and post-war British fascist and communist movements. This includes the Security Service: Personal (PF Series) Files series containing selected files from the First and Second World War periods and the inter-war years on suspected spies, renegades, communist sympathisers, right-wing extremists, and other groups in which the British Security Service took an interest, including pacifist and anti-conscription groups. It also contains Home Office papers pertaining to the detention of Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, during the Second World War as well as a number of other suspected Nazi sympathisers who were members of far-right groups, such as the Imperial Fascist League, the Nordic League, and the Right Club.”
The Bodleian Libraries have committed substantial external funding to a one-off set of purchases of electronic research resources deemed to be important to researchers in the University. This follows a project to identify desiderata across all subjects and to list suggestions from readers. The list includes items costing up to £125k which cannot easily be covered by recurrent budgets. The first tranche of purchases includes a number of important primary sources from Gale Cengage, including NCCO: Women: Transnational Networks, together with their new Gale Digital Scholar Lab, which will allow digital research methods to be applied across all the primary sources published by them and acquired by the Bodleian Libraries.
- NCCO: Women: Transnational Networks
- NCCO: British Theatre, Music, and Literature
Issues of gender and class ignited nineteenth-century debate in the context of suffrage movements, culture, immigration, health and many other concerns. Using a wide array of primary source documents (serials, books, manuscripts, diaries, reports, and visuals) this resource focuses on issues at the intersection of gender and class from the late-eighteenth century to the era of suffrage in the early-twentieth century, all through a transnational perspective. The collection contains deep information on European and North American movements, but also expands its scope to include collections from other regions.
Researchers and scholars will find rare content related to:
- Social reform movements and groups
- High and popular culture
- Literature and the arts
- Daily life
Source libraries include the Library of Congress, the London School of Economics and Political Science Library, and the Library of the Society of Friends.
This resource features a wide range of primary sources related to the arts in the Victorian era, from playbills and scripts to operas and complete scores. These rare documents, many of them never before available, were sourced from the British Library and other renowned institutions, and curated by experts in British arts history. Covering more than a century, British Theatre, Music, and Literature is without equal as a resource for 19th century scholars. These rare documents, many of them never before available, were sourced from the British Library and other renowned institutions, and curated by experts in British arts history.
It provides a detailed look at the state of the British art world with, for example, not only manuscripts and compositions, but also documents such as personal letters, annotated programs, meeting minutes, and financial records, offering scholars an unmatched glimpse into the inner workings of the arts world and life in Victorian Britain.
While you are here:
I am delighted to announce that Oxford researchers now have access to two online newspaper resources which have long been on our desiderata: The Telegraph Historical Archive 1855-2000 and British Library Newspapers Part III-IV. These are now accessible via SOLO or Databases A-Z > Newspapers.
The Bodleian Libraries have committed substantial external funding to a one-off set of purchases of electronic research resources deemed to be important to researchers in the University. This follows a project to identify desiderata across all subjects and to list suggestions from readers. The list includes items costing up to £125,000 which cannot easily be covered by recurrent budgets. The first tranche of purchases includes a number of important primary sources from Gale Cengage, including British Library newspapers parts III and IV and The Telegraph Historical Archive 1855-2000.
This is a searchable digital archive of what was once the world’s largest selling newspaper. Researchers and students can full text search across 1 million pages of the newspapers’ backfile from its first issue to the end of 2000, including issues of the Sunday Telegraph from 1961.
The newspaper was directed at a wealthy, educated readership and is commonly associated with traditional Toryism, despite its more ‘liberal’ beginnings especially in regard to foreign policy. Under the editorship of poet and Orientalist Edwin Arnold (from 1873 to 1899), the paper published widely on foreign affairs and foreign cultures. This led to The Telegraph’s coverage of Henry Morton Stanley’s expedition to Africa in search of David Livingstone, which it co-sponsored with the New York Herald.
Daily Telegraph notable highlights include:
The Kaiser Wilhelm affair: On 28 October 1908, the Daily Telegraph published an infamous interview with Kaiser Wilhelm, the German chancellor who alienated the British public with such uncensored comments as ‘you English are mad, mad, mad as march hares.’
The cryptic crossword puzzle: the crossword was circulated to recruit Allied codebreakers during the Second World War and was published in The Telegraph on January 13, 1942.
In addition to Parts I and II, researchers now also have access to parts III and IV of the British Library Newspapers which has more English, Welsh and Scottish regional and local newspaper content online into the first half of the 20th century. Interesting titles include:
- Aberdeen Journal (1901-1939)
- Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette (1749-1950)
- Cambridge Independent Press (1839-1920)
- The Cornishman (1878-1950)
- Derby Daily Telegraph (1879-1950)
- The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette (1827-1950)
- Essex Newsman (1870-1950)
- Hereford Journal (1781-1867)
- Leeds Times (1833-1901)
- The Norfolk Chronicle (1776-1867)
- The Nottingham Evening Post (1878-1950)
- The Salisbury and Winchester Journal (1775-1867)
- The Salisbury and Winchester Journal (1827-1950)
- The Western Times (1827-1950)
Researchers may be more familiar with the British Newspaper Archive (BNA) which provides access to digitised regional and local British newspapers. While searching in teh BNA is free, and, indeed, useful to locate a citation, it requires an individual subscription to see the content. If that is the case, please check the Library purchased British Library Newspapers. Please note we still don’t have Part V of British Library Newspapers and that BNA has content which is not available in any parts of British Library Newspapers. Confusing, or what? Join the club!
While you are here:
- Bodleian iSkills: Newspapers and other online news sources from the 17th-21st centuries – 15 May 2019 2-4pm. Book your place now!
- If you would like to know more about our newspaper collections and how to locate and use them, see our guide Newspapers and other online news sources from the 17th – 21st centuries.
- More HFL news on newspaper resources
Medievalists will be pleased to learn that you have access to the very newly published Journal of Medieval Worlds (ISSN 2574-3988), joining two other global medieval journals already available in Oxford (The Medieval Globe, Medieval Worlds). The subscription is funded thanks to the Madeline Barber Bequest. It can be accessed via SOLO.
Journal of Medieval Worlds is a new peer-reviewed academic journal, published quarterly by University of California Press. It aims to disseminate multi-disciplinary research on the global medieval world, primarily covering the period 750-1600. Its purpose is to “explore interconnections across regions and build meaningful comparisons across cultures”.
The geographical coverage includes Japan, China, Central Asia, South Asia, East and West Africa, North Africa, Oceans and Seas, the Americas, Middle East and Levant, and Europe, including Northern and Eastern Europe.
The strong multidisciplinary approach is evident: “Fields and topics addressed in the journal include, but are not limited to, Archaeology, Cultural Geography (including Cartography), Economics, Gender and Sexuality, History (including Cultural History), History of the Arts (including Architecture, Art, and Music), Law, Literature and Rhetoric, Material Culture (including Codicology, Epigraphy, Numismatics, and Papyrology), Historical Demography, Philology, Philosophy, Religion, Science (including Medicine and Technology), and Theology.”
As well as research articles, the journal will also publish reviews of books, textbooks, and relevant exhibitions, as well as essays and features on pedagogy.
In the inaugural issue, the Editor’s Remarks by Edward D. English and Oxford’s very own Peter Frankopan‘s “Why we need to think about the Global Middle Ages” set out the intellectual aims of the journal in more detail.
You can set up RSS feeds or eToC alerts if you want to be kept informed of new articles, reviews, etc.
Other global medieval journals available in Oxford:
While you are here you might like to know about…
We live in the age of “post-truth”, of “alternative facts” and the “war on science”, in which all manner of scientific knowledge is questioned, experts are doubted, and denialism is rife. Online platforms provide sources of information which fuel the beliefs of climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers and flat-earthers, and fill the proponents of pseudosciences such as astrology or alternative medicines with distrust in established institutions, authority and experts.
Faced with a present like this, it can be rather reassuring to take a look back at the long history of science and the development of science and scientific thought from its beginnings through to today, if only to see for yourself the uncontrovertible evidence of how science and scientific innovations and inventions have shaped the course of human history and influenced human society as it is today – whether you believe with Karl Popper that scientific knowledge is progressive and cumulative, or with Thomas Kuhn that scientific knowledge moves through paradigm shifts.
Science itself (if we define it as “the knowledge of natural regularities that is subjected to some degree of sceptical rigour and explained by rational causes”) is rather older than the invention of writing, so the long history of science begins with non-verbal evidence of “scientific” thought – neolithic structures showing astronomical alignments such as Stonehenge are an obvious example of this, or archaeological evidence for the extraction of copper and tin and later iron from metal ore which led to the Bronze and Iron Ages. But although modern “science” as such really only dates back to the scientific revolution of 16th- and 17th-century Europe, the astronomers, alchemists and natural philosophers of the Ancient world, Antiquity and the Middle Ages usually receive their well-deserved credit from historians of science for playing their important part in the accumulation of human knowledge of the natural world.
The recently arrived new Bodleian books in the subject area of history of science thus not only span an impressive number of centuries, they also illustrate the diversity of smaller fields which fall under the greater umbrella term of “history of science”: there are volumes that chart the history of a particular branch or discipline, studies with a more social focus that document the influence of scientific discoveries or technological inventions on human society, and also biographies that celebrate the lives of individual influential scientists.
Histories of Science
Three of the volumes I would like to highlight in this month’s blog are traditional “histories” of scientific disciplines. Danilo Capecchi’s The Problem of the Motion of Bodies offers a history of mechanics which presents both a synchronic analysis of individual historic periods from Antiquity through the Middle Ages and Renaissance to Modernity, as well as a diachronic discussion which makes comparisons between different periods, looking at the what inspired humans to attempt to gain insight into the mechanisms of motion. Also charting the developments of a single discipline is Edouard Mehl’s Le temps des astronomes, his discussion of astronomy in the early modern world as a method of calculating celestial movements of the future and the past, as well as its modern understanding in which this definition quickly became insufficient, inadequate, and finally obsolete. Finally, Jost Weyer’s first volume of a projected two-volume series on the history of chemistry covers first early forms of chemistry from the Greco-Roman world to the Latin Middle Ages via Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Arab world, China and India, and then moves to a description of its development into an actual science during the early modern age from the 16th to the 18th century. In its aim to show not only how chemistry changed over the course of world history, but also how chemistry itself changed world history, it would also rather neatly fit into this following second batch of books.
Science and the World
In Un trésor scientifique redécouvert Dominique Bernard introduces a collection of over a thousand scientific instruments from the mid-19th to the turn of the 20th century preserved at the University of Rennes in Brittany. Many of these were invented by or belonged such great names among scientists as Leon Foucault of the famous pendulum, the nobel prize laureates Pierre and Marie Curie, or Pierre Weiss and his electromagnets, and the volume emphasises both the historical and educational interest in these, looking at the sometimes very “modern” concepts that influenced their design. Audra J. Wolfe’s Freedom’s laboratory also focuses on the role of science and scientists in a particular historic era, namely the Cold War, where US propaganda promoted a vision of American science with an emphasis on “scientific freedom” and a “US ideology” conceived as opposed to Communist science. The continued hold of Cold War thinking on ideas about science and politics in the United States is demonstrated in following this thought through to the present day with a discussion of the recent March for Science and the prospects for science and science diplomacy in the Trump era. How specifically scientific inventions rather than scientific thought influenced the 20th and 21st century world we live in is the subject of David Segal’s aptly named One hundred patents that shaped the modern world, charting the huge impacts, many unexpected, of new inventions on multiple spheres of our lives, and placing inventions into historical perspective – from everyday items such as tarmac, aspirin, liquid crystals, ring-pulls of soft drink cans and barbed wire to history-changing ones such as Morse code, television, transistors, diodes, and gene editing.
Men and Women of Science
Marc Raboy’s biography of Guglielmo Marconi could, again, just as easily be listed with the above two volumes – it charts the life and doings of the man whose invention and patent of radio waves and establishment of stations and transmitters around the world made global communications wireless, and whose impact on modern society and life can hardly be overstated. Generally rather better known that Marconi, though not in his profession as a scientist, is the subject of a second biographical study: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the Lewis Carroll of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland fame, was a lecturer in Mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford, and Amirouche Moktefi’s book on his “mathematical world” for the first time collects the materials on his mathematical achievements, including personal letters and drawings, in a single volume which describes his writings in geometry, algebra, logic, the theory of voting, and recreational mathematics, and discusses his mathematical legacy.
You can find all our new books tagged with “History of Science” on LibraryThing here.
Researchers and students working on early modern history will usually, at some point or other, come across the need to use State Papers Online (SPO) which is accessible via SOLO and Databases A-Z. SPO a wonderfully rich source database but not easy to use and the extent of the content is not always fully understood. Oxford researchers now have access to a webcast of a 1h12m long training session with Cengage’s trainer Caroline Beckford and a few historians, 3 May 2018, 1.30-3pm, Lecture Theatre, History Faculty.
The training session goes into some detail explaining the content of the materials that have been digitised (letters, treaties, maps, plans, etc.) and how to find them. If you want to learn more about SPO and have an hour to spare, then I highly recommend watching the webcast from the comfort of your armchair and a cup of tea by your side.
What is State Papers Online?
SPO contains the Tudor and Stuart governments “domestic” and “foreign” papers – the equivalent of today’s documents from the Home and Foreign Offices and the Royal Archives. These everyday working papers of the British royal government reveal Tudor and Stuart society and government, religion and politics in all its drama allowing scholars to trace the remarkable – and frequently violent – transformations of the 16th & 17th centuries.
This major resource re-unites the Domestic, Foreign, Borders, Scotland, and Ireland State Papers of Britain with the Registers of the Privy Council and other State Papers now housed in the Cotton, Harley and Lansdowne collections in the British Library. The papers are digitised images and are accompanied by the Calendars. The Calendars State Papers are fully searchable, and each Calendar entry has been linked directly to its related State Paper.Among the Calendars included are the HMC Calendars and the Haynes/Murdin transcriptions of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House.
SPO is relevant to those studying Early Modern British and European history: diplomatic, political, social, cultural, local, legal, religious, kingship and queenship, exploration, travel and trade and early empire; Early Modern literature; Renaissance and Reformation Studies; Tudor & Stuart history.
Also of interest
In honour of St Patrick’s Day celebrated not two weeks ago, I would like to use this March edition of the New Bodleian History Books blog to showcase a number of studies on Ireland and Irish history newly arrived at the library this month.
The history of the island of Ireland is a long one, from the first evidence of human habitation 12,500 years ago through the Christianisation period and St Patrick’s work on the island in the 5th century; the Viking presence from the raids in the 8th century to the Battle of Clontarf in 1014; the Norman invasion in 1169; the conquests, rebellions and religious conflicts in the early modern period; the Battle of the Boyne in 1690; the union with Great Britain in 1801; the great Famine in the mid-19th century; the Home Rule, Easter Rising and Irish War of Independence in the early 20th century; the Troubles in the late 1960s and Bloody Sunday; the Good Friday Agreement; all the way to the threat of a hard border in Ireland and the role of the DUP in Britain’s Brexit negotiations today.
Rather than attempting to provide anything like a comprehensive overview of any of these eventful eras, most of the books on Irish history that have arrived in the Bodleian this month can be seen as presenting a variety of interesting snapshots of Ireland’s long history, and its societies and cultures.
The Great Famine
This year marks the sesquicentenary of the end of the Great Irish Famine (1845-49), and two of the volumes deal with this watershed event in the history of Ireland: The Great Irish Famine and Social Class looks at the impact of the catastrophe on Ireland’s economy (including its relations with Britain) and investigates topics such as the suffering of the rural classes, landlord-tenant and class relations, Poor Laws, and relief operations during the food crisis. A rather different approach is taken by Niamh Ann Kelly in Imaging the Great Irish Famine, which examines commemorative visual culture – memorial images, objects and locations – from that period to the early twenty-first century, linking these artefacts of historical trauma and enforced migration to the ongoing dispossession of people across the world who are driven out of their homes and countries on a wave of conflict, poverty and famine.
Voluntary rather than enforced emigration and travel by Irish nationals is thematised in two other new studies. In Medieval Irish Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela Bernadette Cunningham traces the long connection between Ireland and the shrine of St James in Galicia, and tells the stories of some of the men and women who undertook the hazardous journey by land and sea between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, drawing on sources from official documents, historical chronicles, literary texts and saints’ Lives to archaeological finds to look at the varied influences on and motivations of these pilgrims. The story of a group of 1,300 young Irish men who travelled across Europe several centuries later to defend Pope Pius IX’s Papal States on the Italian Peninsula is told by Donal P. Corcoran in The Irish Brigade in the Pope’s army 1860. The volume looks at the battles in which the Irish fought and died for the pope at Perugia, Spoleto, Castelfidardo and Ancona, as well as their imprisonment at Genoa after the defeat of the pope’s forces, and their heroes’ welcome when they were finally allowed to journey home to Ireland.
Charting the history of the diocese of Derry is Ciarán Devlin’s The Making of Medieval Derry; originally published in 2013 it is out in a new paperback edition made greatly accessible through a number of new indices. Devlin’s history of Derry is a tale of saints and sinners, of churchmen and warlords, of scholars and craftsmen, of Derry itself as sacred city, as frontier citadel, as royal capital and episcopal see. Also looking back at local history is John O’Callaghan in his volume on the role of Limerick as a key social, political and military battleground during the Irish revolution, Limerick: The Irish revolution, 1912-23. This is only one of so far eight similar volumes on these eventful years published by Four Courts Press which draw on a wide array of contemporary sources to try and draw a realistic picture of the lives of local people in Mayo, Louth, Derry, Monaghan. Waterford, Tyrone and Sligo as well as in Limerick during this time.
The long and varied relationship between religion and landscape in Ireland during the dawn of Christianity, the Middle Ages and the post-medieval era is discussed in Church and Settlement in Ireland, with twelve individual essays on how, over the centuries, the church formed a core component of settlement and played a significant role in the creation of distinct cultural landscapes in Ireland. For the 20th century, Emer Crooke takes a look the same topic of residence and buildings on the island with his book White Elephants, which discusses the country house and the state in post-independence Ireland from 1922 to 1973. Not regarded as an integral part of the national heritage, but rather symbols of British oppression, hundreds of former landlords’ residences were sold on, demolished or simply abandoned to ruin in these decades, with politicians torn between conserving them, or burying them and the past they represented.
Finally, historians and journalists celebrate the character, role, culture and history of the Irish Sunday newspaper over the course of the last century in The Sunday papers: a history of Ireland’s weekly press, with chapters, with individual chapters each examining a particular paper, from long-running, prestigious publications like the Sunday Independent or the Sunday Times to papers such as the Sunday Freeman which only ran in the years 1913–16. The chapters examine the Ireland in which these papers first appeared, their origins, proprietors, editors, journalists and contributors, their major stories and controversies, business dynamic, circulation and readership, and assess their overall contribution to Irish journalism, society and culture.
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