The Scourge of God: The (in)Visibility of Mongols in Russian History and Memory

Abstract: Despite having a long and fascinating national history, there is a two-hundred year period that is regarded by the Russian people as a horrendous and humiliating black mark upon their nation’s past. This was consequently titled (by Russians) as the Mongol Yoke. Why is it that Russians continue to carry an eight-hundred year old grudge, rather than accept that the Mongol conquest directly contributed to the rise of the powerful Russian Empire? It is this question that this paper will attempt to answer.

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The Legend of King Arthur Through the Ages

The legend of King Arthur is one that has captured the attention of the public throughout centuries. Each interpretation and reimaging of the legend reflects the time the author lived in. By tracing the Arthurian myth throughout centuries, the myths that emerge from the different time periods are not just about King Arthur but also the time in which they were created. As much as I would love to go into detail about each reinterpretation, I am using broad strokes and just touching on the major changes with a little bit about each one to give big picture view.

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The Beaufort Legitimacy

You would think that as the author of a book called ‘The House of Beaufort; the Bastard Line that Captured the Crown’, my answer to the question, ‘were the Beauforts illegitimate’, would be a resounding yes. The clue is in the title. But there is a strong caveat to any answer that must be given to such a question, and that is, when exactly are we discussing? Before 1396, then the answer is undoubtedly yes. Thereafter, however, and the situation is altogether different.

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Marco Polo: Facts, Biography & Travels

 Marco Polo: Facts, Biography & Travels
Marco Polo traveling. Miniature from the book “The Travels of Marco Polo” (“Il Milione”).

Credit: Public domain

Marco Polo was one of the first and most famous Europeans to travel to Asia during the Middle Ages. He traveled farther than any of his predecessors during his 24-year journey along the Silk Road, reaching China and Mongolia, where he became a confidant of Kublai Khan.

The story of his journey is told in “Il Milione” (“The Million”), commonly called “The Travels of Marco Polo.” Polo’s adventures influenced European mapmakers and inspired Christopher Columbus.

In Polo’s day and even today, there has been some doubt about whether Polo really went to China. However, most experts agree that he did indeed make the journey.

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Why do historians disagree? A comparison of biographies of Henry V

There can be little doubt that Henry V is one of England’s most celebrated monarchs. Shakespeare’s dramatization of the events surrounding the Battle of Agincourt has secured Henry’s place in history, with many believing him to be one of England’s most successful kings. Not even historians are immune to the charismatic charm of Shakespeare’s heroic king, with some authors, including Michael Jones, often seeing Shakespeare’s version of events as gospel. Indeed, his iconic status has led to historians such as Ian Mortimer labelling him as a `hero in his own lifetime`, whilst K.B. McFarlane has named him `the greatest man that ever ruled England`[1]. However, whilst many are full of praise for the hero of Agincourt, there are plenty of historians who are quick to point out his many flaws. Whilst it can be hard to deny that Henry V was responsible for many military successes during his short reign which lasted less than ten years, there are those who label these successes as being overrated. Those who champion this view often cite the enormous financial burden that his war placed on the Kingdom of England long after his premature death. Others also criticize his approach to the Treaty of Troyes, pointing out that this dragged England in to the Armagnac-Burgundian civil war as opposed to allowing the English crown to take advantage of it. Furthermore, historians have remained critical of some of Henry’s more controversial decisions, including his battlefield execution of French prisoners at Agincourt, claiming that actions such as these far outweigh his successes. With such polarised opinion, one has to ask why historians disagree so vehemently about whether Henry V was a successful monarch or not.

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A little touch of Branagh: Henry V

 

henry-v

Abstract: Taking as a starting point the illuminating similarity between the critical reception of Kenneth Branagh’s film of Henry V (1989) and the liberal humanist reading of the Shakespearean play-text, this article highlights a series of significant stress-points in the play-text and looks at the way they are dealt with in the Branagh film. It is claimed that the film is riven by one central contradiction: namely, that between a political (critical, detached) and a personal (emotional) representation of the action. Ultimately, it is argued that the film’s promotion of the spectator’s identification with the psychology of power makes of Branagh’s Henry a leader for our politically muddled times.

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Faction and Politics at the Outbreak of the Wars of the Roses

Part 4: Cat Among the Pigeons!

In the fourth, and final, post on this subject I shall have a look at how Richard, Duke of York’s apparently impregnable position deteriorated after the battle of St Albans and brought about civil war.

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