History

The hidden past – in which Christina Courtenay follows in the steps of the Vikings

Lately, my reading has included several books set in the 9th to 11th century, a period of time that comes to us as vague echoes through the mists of time. One of my recent reads is Hidden in the Mists, Christina Courtenay’s excellent dual time line book (more of that below) Her book made me …

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When the light at the end of the tunnel winks out – a somewhat sad story

Some weeks ago, I was at Marstrand. Most of you have never heard of this little Swedish gem, but should you ever make it to Sweden, I would recommend a visit. An hour or so north of Gothenburg, Marstrand was once a heaving, bustling place, an important harbour city that thrived due to the herring. …

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Adding a dash or two of ice to history

I have spent the last few days thinking about ice. Partly, this is because it’s been very, very hot—so hot, I wouldn’t have minded a pile of crushed ice to roll around in. And then, of course, there are all the news reports about the disappearing ice—in the Artic, in the Himalayas, in Antarctica. Everywhere, …

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An expensive folly – of an impressive castle and its somewhat less impressive master

Today, I am taking you on a guided tour through the past of one of Sweden’s most imposing surviving baroque castles, Läckö. I’ve had this castle on my bucket list for yonks—being a 17th century enthusiast sort of makes a visit mandatory—and some days ago, I finally made it there, standing for a silent moment …

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The three brothers – the story of a Portuguese princess and how she was blamed for the sins of her sons

In 1214, Berengaria of Portugal married Valdemar II, king of Denmark. How on earth would a medieval Portuguese princess and a Danish king meet, you might ask, but there was an indirect connection as Valdemar’s sister, Ingeborg, was unfortunate enough to marry Berengaria’s French cousin, Philippe Augustus. This is why Berengaria was in Paris, and …

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Serving their kings – meet the de Warenne earls!

The first time I came into contact with Sharon Bennett Connolly was when I discovered her excellent blog, History—the interesting bits. Turns out Ms Bennett Connolly and I tend to agree on what is interesting, so I became a regular visitor. Since then, Ms Bennett Connolly has gone on to publish several books about—primarily—medieval women …

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Entitled, haughty and determined- of a Prussian Iron Lady in the Swedish Court

In 1720, Fredrick William I of Prussia and his wife welcomed a baby girl to the world. She was the tenth (but not the last) child of their union, and as she was a girl, rather than the much desired male spare, I dare  say Fredrick William did not exactly do cartwheels of joy. Still: …

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Not all treasure glimmers – of copper coins and rebel farmers

Hubby has a thing about The Curse of Oak Island. For those of you who don’t know what Oak Island is, it’s a TV series that has run for multiple seasons while two brothers dig their way across this little island in search of Templar treasure—treasure they believe the Templars carried off in secret after …

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“Allons enfants…” – in which M.K. Tod tells us of the bloody destruction of Paris

Think Paris. Think violent revolutions, streets running with blood, radicals screaming for a new order while holding red banners aloft, and many of you will go, “oh, yes: Les Miserables.” Which, of course, is correct. As is “That’s right, the French Revolution.” But for Paris there was not just one bloody upheaval—not even two. Paris …

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Queen for a day – of brides and princesses

Hands up all of those who, as kids, wanted to play the princess. *stands up and scans the room* Huh: not that many hands. Hands up those who, as kids, wanted to play the dashing hero. *repeats scan* Wow: many, many more, and quite a few are ladies… The above is supposed to symbolise the …

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