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BBC History MagazineBBC History Magazine

BBC History Magazine November 2018

BBC History Magazine aims to shed new light on the past to help you make more sense of the world today. Fascinating stories from contributors are the leading experts in their fields, so whether they're exploring Ancient Egypt, Tudor England or the Second World War, you'll be reading the latest, most thought-provoking historical research. BBC History Magazine brings history to life with informative, lively and entertaining features written by the world's leading historians and journalists and is a captivating read for anyone who's interested in the past.

United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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In the early hours of the morning on 11 November 1918, an agreement was signed that would bring to an end four and a half years of bloodshed across the globe. The First World War was over, but the battle for its legacy was only just beginning. We have now reached the centenary of the armistice, and in this month’s issue we are marking the occasion with a supplement exploring many facets of the conflict. Our cover feature is a debate between Professors Gary Sheffield and Richard J Evans over whether the outcome of the war justified the tremendous cost in lives. Elsewhere, a panel of experts assess the longer-term impact of the conflict, from the psychological scars to the environmental devastation. But the end of the war brought joy as…

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this issue’s contributors

Kwasi Kwarteng As an MP, I see a number of fine Victorian buildings in my Spelthorne constituency. Local architecture and the story of the British empire appeal to my interest in history and politics. • Kwasi reveals how Britain’s empire shaped its great cities on page 58 Lucy Worsley I travelled all over America in the hot summer just past, investigating how the country’s history gets used and abused by politicians and people alike in the process of building a nation. • Lucy considers the American Civil War’s contested legacy on page 22 Michael Palin The mid-19th century was a great time for polar exploration. These weren’t military or commercial expeditions, they were simply intended to gather as much information as possible about parts of the world as yet unknown. • Michael discusses his new book on the…

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a french feminist loses her head

The French playwright Olympe de Gouges was, by any standards, one of the most extraordinary women of her day. Born in 1748, she established her own theatre company, campaigned against slavery and even published a pamphlet, Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen, which begins with the words: “Women are born free and remain equal to men in rights.” But as the French Revolution slid into sectarian bloodshed, Gouges’ outspokenness made her dangerous. By 1793, horrified by the extremism of Robespierre and the Jacobins, she had produced a subversive poster demanding a national referendum that would let people choose between a republic, a loose federation or a restored monarchy. That was too much for the regime. Shortly after her friends in the moderate Girondin faction had been…

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william of orange invades england

At the beginning of November 1688, one of the greatest invasion fleets in English history was sailing towards the Devon coast. With 40,000 men aboard 463 ships, William of Orange was in deadly earnest. To his admirers, the Dutch prince’s slogan, “For Liberty and the Protestant Religion”, captured the tone. Here was a Protestant prince who would topple the hated James II and VII, secure the Anglican faith and save England from Catholic absolutism. Although William himself was suffering from acute seasickness, his fleet made a splendid sight; his men lined up with bands playing as they sailed past Dover. The next day, the 4th, was William’s birthday. But the 5th, celebrated by Protestants as the anniversary of the gunpowder plot, started badly. The sky was hazy and visibility poor, and…

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america mourns its president

T the American people were still in shock, three days after John F Kennedy’s murder in Dallas. Brought back to Washington almost immediately after his death, the late president’s body was taken to the Capitol on Sunday 24th, a quarter of a million people queuing for hours to pay their respects. In the meantime, foreign dignitaries, among them Britain’s prime minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, were flying to Washington for the next day’s funeral. The funeral itself was the largest gathering of world leaders since that of Edward VII in 1910. Amid massive security, the procession wound its way from the Capitol to the National Cathedral, with satellite coverage beamed across the globe. Most eyes were on the veiled widow Jackie, a study in grief, as well as her two young children,…

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the gunpowder plot goes up in smoke

The gunpowder plot was a long time in the making. The first meeting of the conspirators, who planned to blow up the House of Lords, kill James VI and I and replace him with his nine-year-old daughter Elizabeth under Catholic guidance, took place as early as May 1604. By the following summer, the plotters had rented an undercroft beneath the Houses of Parliament and had filled it with several dozen barrels of gunpowder. But then there was a hitch. Because of the plague, the opening of parliament was delayed until 5 November. That would be the moment of decision. On the day before parliament opened, the most infamous of the plotters, the Yorkshireman Guy Fawkes, was in place in the undercroft when there was the first sign of trouble. Alarmed by a…