History

Sleeping your way to the top…

… is not a recommended approach to career building. But it has proven itself quite effective through history, and in societies where talented and intelligent women were restricted by their gender from pursuing a career under their own steam, what was a young girl to do? After all, if you can’t be the power on […]

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In Pursuit of a Dream

In the 1930’s, several hundreds of Swedish people left their homes in the far north of their country and set off for the Promised Land. Not, as one could think, some sort of belated Zionist movement making for Palestine. No, these people were making for Karelia – in the Soviet Union. In retrospect, it is

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One strong Mama – of a queen and her children

Some weeks ago, I wrote a post about Gustav II Adolf, our Swedish hero king. Today I thought we’d spend some time with his mother, a most capable lady – so capable she was as a matter of course included in the council when important matters were to be discussed. Whatever other faults her husband,

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The bloodied shirts of a dead king

They found him in the aftermath of the Battle of Lützen, 382 years ago today. His looted body was naked except for the three knee length linen shirts he had worn as protection against the cold. What little hair he had left was stuck to his skull, covered in blood and gore. There, in the

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Say What? Lots of Languages in Charlemagne’s Realm.

I have a thing about languages. So much, in fact, that I would warn you from ever initiating a conversation about the subject, as chances are you’ll be quite bleary-eyed by the time I finish my little lecture about the Indo european languages. Turns out, I am not alone in my fascination for languages, and

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When they Begin the Beguine – of radical religion in the 13th century

In 1310, a little old lady was tied into place at the stake and the faggots at her feet were lit. Did she pray? Lock her eyes on the infinite blue of the June sky above? Whatever the case, Marguerite Porete went up in flames, as silent and obdurate in her moment of death as

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Panta Rhei – everything changes

Things change. They always have, they always will. Take, for example, the written word. If we were to travel 5 000 years back in time, there was not much written word around. Yes, we had the hieroglyphs in Egypt, the cuneiform writing in Mesopotamia, but in general, the vast majority of the human race had

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Going with the flow – or the spark of life

Electricity has always been around. Lightning is a form of electricity – but our ancestors called it magic, and cowered in fear in their recently decorated caves as the skies burst apart with bolts of light. Or they blamed it on God. “Let there be light,” He thundered, and the sky lit up from within.

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Eating yourself to death

Back in the good old times, the possibility of eating so much you would actually die was restricted to the upper classes. The common folk never got the chance of overindulging in anything much, and as a consequence obesity was often a sign of wealth. In some cultures, to this day obesity is used as

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Chasing God out of the brickwork

The other day, we visited a nearby castle. Bäckaskog sits on a narrow isthmus bordered by two lakes, and once upon a time there was a merry little brook leaping from one lake to the other – deep enough that fish could move back and forth. These days, the water levels have been lowered, and

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