400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s Death

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is eminent for being one of the most influential writers in Western literature but remains a figure of many mysteries. We know for example that he was born and baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon, northwest of London, but the exact date of his birth is still very much an unknown. For a man who was so…

The First Modern Olympic Games

As we prepare to be dazzled by the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in a few months, it is an opportune moment to recall the first modern Olympic games of 1896. The first official modern Olympic games, held in Athens, greatly contrast the multi-billion dollar sporting celebration that the Olympics has become. It…

Galileo Galilei Summoned to the Roman Inquisition

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) has rightly been considered to be one of the greatest scientists in history. Best known for his revolutionary seventeenth-century theories of celestial motion, holding the view that planets were not fixed in space in which all other planetary bodies revolved around it  but, in fact, planets revolved around the sun (a theory…

70 Years After Hiroshima and Nagasaki

This past week marked an ominous, momentous and transformational event of the twentieth century that few would deny has narrated and punctuated the past 70 years of warfare in the modern age. Few events during the Second World War (and since) capture our collective imagination, fear and horror as much as the atomic bombing of…

Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo

The sheer number of historical anniversaries and commemorations in 2015 has certainly kept me busy. Today marks the bicentenary (200 years) since the world-changing Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, which pitted the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte against the Duke of Wellington and allied forces. In terms of significance, the Battle of Waterloo decisively…

Magna Carta 800th Anniversary

Most have heard of the Magna Carta and its dominant role in placing the English king under the law, but also outlining a number of fundamental rights and liberties that still resonate 800 years after is signing by King John on June 15, 1215 in a meadow at Runnymede. The Magna Carta was a crucial…

Remembering Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” Speech

On June 12, 1987 President Ronald Reagan, standing before the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with the Berlin Wall looming behind him, issued his famous challenge to the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” President Reagan’s words that day have been credited with placing considerable pressure on the Soviet…

Jacques Cartier and the discovery of the St. Lawrence River

Great cities, and great landscapes, are often defined by mighty rivers. These rivers can serve as borders, linkages between people and cultures, and as a timeline of a nation’s history thereby marking its transition and development. Few rivers yield more of an influence to the story of Canada than the St. Lawrence River, and its…

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Reach the Summit of Everest 62 years ago today

Human history is very much about documenting challenges to the limits of the human body, mind and spirit. Few adventures are more grueling and gripping to the imagination that scaling Mount Everest, our planets highest peak. On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary and a Nepalese Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, reached the summit of the 29,028-foot (8,848-metre) Mount…

10 Great Tips from the Middle Ages

Hello Again Everyone, Here is an entertaining re-post from Medievalists.net on advice from those living in the Middle Ages on a range of topics from the new book ‘Ask the Past: Pertinent and Impertinent Advice from Yesteryear‘ by Elizabeth P. Archibald. “Want to know how to garden with lobsters? How to sober up? Grow a…

The Battle (and rape) of Berlin 1945

This year we will mark 70 years since the end of World War II. It is difficult ethically to weigh loses in one battle over loses in another in a means to declare which conflict was more brutal and severe. However, symbolically the battle for Berlin, which ended on May 2, 1945, was the zenith…

Assyria and the Great Library of Ashurbanipal

BBC News ran a wonderful article earlier this week entitled “The men who uncovered Assyria“. The wanton destruction and barbaric inhumanity that Islamic State (IS) has demonstrated in Iraq, Syria and beyond has brought attention to not only the many innocent lives that have been lost, but indeed monuments, historic sites and invaluable treasures of…

Keep your historical mind in shape…

Happy Spring to You All! I have put together several links that may be of interest to those who want to keep their keen historical minds in shape. There are some wonderful seminars, workshops and travel opportunities for those who want to hone their skills and contribute to some amazing historical projects or learn from…

Canadian War Museum WWI International Speakers Series 2015

The Canadian War Museum is hosting its annual International Speakers Series on Feb. 26, 2015 featuring academic events to mark the centenary of the First World War. The events, presented in a variety of formats, will provide an opportunity to hear and witness leading academics and experts in the field of WWI history, and learn about…

Russia: Forever a Time of Troubles

Westerners often consider Russia through the prism of the Soviet Union and the Second World War. But we must look further back if we wish to understand the modern nation’s fears, aims and motivations. Russia almost didn’t survive the beginning of the 17th century. Convulsed by civil wars, peasant uprisings, foreign invasions, mass famine and…

Maps that shaped the world

Bursting with information and often incredibly beautiful – maps do more than just showing you where you are, or where you might be going. The recently published Times History of the World in Maps features documents from ancient civilizations, through the medieval period, to some of the key events of the 20th Century.  Click here for…

Michelangelo’s bronze panther-riders revealed after ‘Renaissance whodunnit’

Two handsome, virile naked men riding triumphantly on ferocious panthers will be unveiled as, probably, the only surviving bronze sculptures by the Renaissance giant Michelangelo. In art history terms, the attribution is sensational. Academics in Cambridge will suggest that a pair of mysterious metre-high sculptures known as the Rothschild Bronzes are by the master himself,…

Seventieth Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

Today marks an important and symbolic anniversary in European and global history: 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet army. Death, war and destruction have been a constant of human history; but the attempt to exterminate an entire people systematically demonstrated new levels of human-orchestrated horrors in the 20th century. The message…