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BBC History MagazineBBC History Magazine

BBC History Magazine February 2019

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 1972 the Ugandan leader Idi Amin expelled the country’s Asian population. Given just three months to leave, and allowed to take only a small amount of money, almost 30,000 Ugandan Asians made their way to Britain to begin a new life. The immigrants encountered hostility and racism, but at the same time many Britons flocked to their aid, providing food and shelter and even lessons in how to take tea. On page 50 of this month’s issue, Becky Taylor revisits the events of almost half a century ago and reveals how the Ugandan Asians went on to become one of Britain’s immigration ‘success stories’. New arrivals of a far less peaceable kind are the subject of this month’s cover feature, which takes us back to the turn of the second…

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this issue’s contributors

Suzannah Lipscomb I read over 10,000 pages of often illegible French manuscripts to discover more than 1,200 moral cases that give new insight into the lives of ordinary women living in the 16th century. • Suzannah looks into the lives of the female residents of Reformation France on page 36 Becky Taylor I’ve spent the last few years exploring Britain’s ‘tradition of welcome’ of refugees, looking at exactly how German Jews, Poles, Hungarians, Ugandan Asians and Vietnamese were received when they sought refuge here. • Becky tells the story of the Ugandan Asians who fled to Britain in the early 1970s on page 50 Richard Sugg I was researching the phrase ‘The Great Unwashed’ for my new book, Talking Dirty: The History of Disgust, when I stumbled upon the letters written from Britain by the extraordinary American…

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selkirk is rescued from desert island isolation

The first decade of the 1700s was not a barrel of laughs for Alexander Selkirk. The unruly son of a Scottish tanner, he ran away to sea and became a privateer. Putting in for repairs on a deserted Pacific island in September 1704, he became seriously worried about the state of his ship and told the captain he would rather be left behind than continue on board. The captain promptly set off without him, leaving Selkirk on Más a Tierra, some 420 miles off the coast of Chile. And for the next four and a half years, there he stayed. Selkirk’s life was far from luxurious. He dined on goats, turnips and cabbage leaves, and had to sleep near some feral cats to keep the rats away. He dressed in goatskins,…

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dior unveils the ‘new look’

The date was 12 February 1947, the place the headquarters of the Christian Dior fashion house at 30 Avenue Montaigne, Paris. Having just launched his own house, the eponymous Dior was desperate to make a splash. After years of wartime austerity, he thought, fashion badly needed a dash of glamour, turning its back on the privations of the last decade. Instead of the boxy silhouettes so popular in the early 1940s, Dior’s outfits were voluptuous and curvaceous, with boned, busty bodices, tiny waists and long, wide, sweeping skirts. Given the pinched feel of the last few years, the effect could hardly have been more spectacular. Dior himself boasted that he had “designed flower women”, and the collection was entitled Corolle, meaning a circlet of flower petals. When Dior’s models walked out, some…

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columbus announces his ‘discovery’ of the americas

When Christopher Columbus put pen to paper on 15 February 1493, even he could scarcely have imagined that he was writing one of the most important letters in history. The previous August, the Genoese seaman had set sail from Spain, hoping to find a route to the Indies across the Atlantic. Now, returning home with empty ships, he was keen to mollify his financial backers with news of his extraordinary discoveries. According to Columbus, he had reached the Indies, “all of which I took possession for our Highnesses, with proclaiming heralds and flying royal standards, and no one objecting”. The natives, he reported, were cowardly and half-dressed, “like beasts”, and ripe for conquest. Indeed, he was at pains to portray the islands as a paradise of natural resources, “very suitable for…

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the roman empire embraces christianity

Towards the end of the fourth century, the Roman empire was a place of tremendous religious ferment. After a long expansion in the empire’s cities, Christianity had received an enormous boost from Constantine the Great, who legalised it in AD 313 and raised it to the first rank of imperial religions. But Christianity itself was seized with bitter dissension, with rival Nicene and Arian bishops arguing about whether Jesus was of the same substance as God, had been created by him, or was merely a man. So on 27 February 380, the emperors Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius I, joint rulers of the vastly overstretched Roman world, decided to impose some clarity. “It is our desire,” began their Edict of Thessalonica, “that all the various nations which are subject to our…