Tag Archives: England/Britain

The Separation of Britain and Europe

Signposts bearing flags of UK and EU

Even before Brexit, there were debates as to whether the UK should be described as a European country. On one hand, the UK is certainly culturally closer to European countries than, say, Asian ones. On the other hand, there are significant differences between UK and the rest of Europe.

Empty London: Sheltering from the Blitz

Bus in Crater, London Blitz

In the early 19th century, this grand city became the first in the modern world* to reach a population of one million, and over the next 100 years, that number multiplied six times over.  By the mid-20th century, London was home to over 8 million people. Not that you’d think it looking at London at the height of the Blitz in 1940.  Buildings lay in crumbling ruins.  Millions of people are missing, either serving in the armed forces or having

Richard III Funeral: Burial of an English King

Richard III Burial

More than two years after his remains were identified and 530 years after his death, King Richard III of England will be laid to rest (again) on March 26. Historical Significance of Richard III’s Burial This is quite likely the last burial of an English king, as modern monarchs are kings (and queens) of the United Kingdom.  There are a handful of other missing English monarchs, but the chances of finding and identifying their bodies is highly unlikely, other than

Looking Like a Thug as Capital Crime

historical image of a hanging

Oklahoma is considering  legally preventing people from concealing themselves “in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise,” via a proposed law the media is nicknaming the “hoodie ban.”  This, of course, in the wake of the Treyvon Martin shooting, in which his wearing of a hoodie potentially intimidated his shooter. In Michigan, a black man was questioned by police for having his hands in his pockets on a cold December day, because that somehow made

The Not-so-United Kingdom

Scotland's Facebook post

Yesterday, Scotland voted 55/45 to remain within the United Kingdom rather than separating off into an independent state that hasn’t existed since 1707. Friction on the matter has existed pretty much forever.  The Scottish see themselves as having a different culture than the English, although as someone living in the melting pot of America I have a hard time seeing it. More importantly, the rhetoric has long been in terms of being under foreign rule, much like Ireland, which eventually

Today in History: the Assassination of an Archduke

Austrians shooting Serbian POWs.

100 years ago today, Austria declared war of Serbia, sparking the First World War, which would be the deadliest war to that point and arguably the most deadly in history.  (It depends how you count the war dead for WWII.) The first time I taught WWI, I asked how many knew how WWI started, because my own education of it was painfully lacking until well into college.  More than half raised their hands.  I was shocked.  Then I realized I

The War of Increasingly Distant Cousins

Kings of the War of the Roses

The term War of the Roses wasn’t used until the 18th century and not popularized until the 19th, while the war itself was fought in the 15th.  Like many wars, it had no official name at the time of conflict, but it could be described as a series of civil wars fought between the houses of Lancaster and York.  Those houses were represented by a red rose and white rose, thus encouraging the eventual romantic name. Recently, fiction author Philippa

Today in History: Birth of Queen Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II, queen of the United Kingdom and head of the Commonwealth turns 88 today, April 21.  She is already the oldest British or English monarch. The second and third oldest monarchs (Victoria and George III) were both 81 when they died. As an Aside: Great Britain is the union of Scotland and England, which formally happened in 1707.  Previous to that, they were independent nations. To call Elizabeth “Queen of England” is technically incorrect. In September, 2015, she will

Today in History: The Martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket, 1170

On December 29, 1170, Henry II of England accidentally murdered his former best friend, Thomas Becket. The Anarchy As always, to understand a historical tale, you need to understand some of the context. Henry’s entire childhood developed in the context of a 18-year civil war known as the Anarchy, and that fight deserves its own mention. Henry I, son of William the Conqueror, produced a small army of illegitimate kids. (Wikipedia lists 24).  However, he only produced one legitimate son,