• Humanities & Social Sciences
      November 2017

      Anne Boleyn

      Adultery, Heresy, Desire

      by Amy Licence

      Anne Boleyn’s unconventional beauty inspired poets ‒ and she so entranced Henry VIII with her wit, allure and style that he was prepared to set aside his wife of over twenty years and risk his immortal soul. Her sister had already been the king’s mistress, but the other Boleyn girl followed a different path. For years the lovers waited; did they really remain chaste? Did Anne love Henry, or was she a calculating femme fatale? Eventually replacing the long-suffering Catherine of Aragon, Anne enjoyed a magnificent coronation and gave birth to the future Queen Elizabeth, but her triumph was short-lived. Why did she go from beloved consort to adulteress and traitor within a matter of weeks? What role did Thomas Cromwell and Jane Seymour of Wolf Hall play in Anne’s demise? Was her fall one of the biggest sex scandals of her era, or the result of a political coup? With her usual eye for the telling detail, Amy Licence explores the nuances of this explosive and ultimately deadly relationship to answer an often neglected question: what choice did Anne really have? When she writes to Henry during their protracted courtship, is she addressing a suitor, or her divinely ordained king? This book follows Anne from cradle to grave and beyond. Anne is vividly brought to life amid the colour, drama and unforgiving politics of the Tudor court.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      July 2017

      The Beatles' Landmarks in Liverpool

      by Daniel K. Longman, Bill Harry

      The appeal of the Beatles is everlasting. Millions of fans from all over the world continue to revel in the band’s eternal hits and their music stands out as one of Britain’s greatest cultural successes. This book takes the reader on a journey to the Fab Four’s home town of Liverpool and explores the significant sites and locations associated with the band’s unparalleled rise to stardom. We delve into the archives and uncover nostalgic images of Mathew Street, Strawberry Field and Penny Lane, as well as many other familiar landmarks and witness the changes that have taken place in the city through time. This book will appeal to any true Beatles fan who wishes to discover that little bit extra about the world’s most famous boy band.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      November 2017

      Edward II the Man

      A Doomed Inheritance

      by Stephen Spinks

      Edward II is one of the most controversial kings of English history. On numerous occasions he brought England to the brink of civil war. Author Stephen Spinks argues that Edward and the later murdered Piers Gaveston were lovers, not merely ‘brothers-in-arms’. Influenced by successive royal favourites and with a desire for personal vengeance, his rule became highly polarised and unstable. His own wife took a lover and invaded his kingdom resulting in his forced abdication; the first in British history. Edward’s prevailing legacy remains the warning that all kings can fall from power. And yet … war, debt and baronial oppression before 1307 ensured that Edward II inherited a toxic legacy that any successor would have found almost impossible to wrestle with. Stephen Spinks explores that legacy using contemporary and later sources. By focusing on Edward’s early years as much as on his reign, and exploring the conflicting influences of those around him, Stephen shows the human side of this tale against a backdrop of political intrigues and betrayals. He peels back the layers to reveal the man who wore the crown. Edward’s belief in his unchallengable right to rule, increasingly at odds with those at his court, and his undeniable thirst for revenge, creates a fourteenth-century tragedy on a grand scale.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      September 2017

      Heroines of the Medieval World

      by Sharon Bennett Connolly

      These are the stories of women, famous, infamous and unknown, who shaped the course of medieval history. The lives and actions of medieval women were restricted by the men who ruled the homes, countries and world they lived in. It was men who fought wars, made laws and dictated religious doctrine. It was men who were taught to read, trained to rule and expected to fight. Today, it is easy to think that all women from this era were downtrodden, retiring and obedient housewives, whose sole purpose was to give birth to children (preferably boys) and serve their husbands. Heroines of the Medieval World looks at the lives of the women who broke the mould: those who defied social norms and made their own future, consequently changing lives, society and even the course of history. Some of the women are famous, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was not only a duchess in her own right but also Queen Consort of France through her first marriage and Queen Consort of England through her second, in addition to being a crusader and a rebel. Then there are the more obscure but no less remarkable figures such as Nicholaa de la Haye, who defended Lincoln Castle in the name of King John, and Maud de Braose, who spoke out against the same king’s excesses and whose death (or murder) was the inspiration for a clause in Magna Carta. Women had to walk a fine line in the Middle Ages, but many learned to survive – even flourish – in this male-dominated world. Some led armies, while others made their influence felt in more subtle ways, but all made a contribution to their era and should be remembered for daring to defy and lead in a world that demanded they obey and follow.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      August 2017

      The House of Beaufort

      The Bastard Line that Captured the Crown

      by Nathen Amin

      The Wars of the Roses saw family fight family over the greatest prize – the throne of England. But what gave the eventual victor of these brutal and complex wars, Henry Tudor, the right to claim the crown? How exactly did an illegitimate line come to challenge the English monarchy? While the Houses of York and Lancaster fought brutally for the crown, other noble families of the kingdom also played integral roles in the wars; grand and prestigious names like the Howards, Mowbrays, Nevilles and Percys were intimately involved in the conflict, but none symbolised the volatile nature of the period quite like the House of Beaufort. Their rise, fall, and rise again is the story of England during the fifteenth century, a dramatic century of war, intrigue and scandal, both at home and abroad. This book uncovers the rise of the Beauforts from bastard stock of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, to esteemed companions of their cousin Henry V, celebrated victor of Agincourt, and tracks their chastening fall with the House of Lancaster during the 1460s and 1470s. The hopes and fortunes of the family gradually came to rest upon the shoulders of a teenage widow named Margaret Beaufort and her young son Henry. From Margaret would rise the House of Tudor, the most famous of all England’s royal houses and a dynasty that owed its crown to the blood of its forebears, the House of Beaufort. From bastards to princes, the Beauforts are medieval England’s most captivating family.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      February 2018

      'I Was Transformed' Frederick Douglass

      An American Slave in Victorian Britain

      by Laurence Fenton

      In the summer of 1845, Frederick Douglass, the young runaway slave catapulted to fame by his incendiary autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, arrived in Liverpool for the start of a near-two-year tour of Britain and Ireland he always called one of the most transformative periods of his life. Laurence Fenton draws on a wide array of sources from both sides of the Atlantic and combines a unique insight into the early years of one of the great figures of the nineteenth-century world with rich profiles of the enormous personalities at the heart of the transatlantic anti-slavery movement. This vivid portrait of life in Victorian Britain is the first to fully explore the ‘liberating sojourn’ that ended with Douglass gaining his freedom – paid for by British supporters – before returning to America as a celebrity and icon of international standing. It also follows his later life, through the American Civil War and afterwards. Douglass has been described as ‘the most influential African American of the nineteenth century’. He spoke and wrote on behalf of a variety of reform causes: women’s rights, temperance, peace, land reform, free public education and the abolition of capital punishment. But he devoted most of his time, immense talent and boundless energy to ending slavery. On April 14, 1876, Douglass would deliver the keynote speech at the unveiling of the Emancipation Memorial in Washington’s Lincoln Park.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      July 2012

      In Bed with the Tudors

      The Sex Lives of a Dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I

      by Amy Licence

      Learn what went on behind closed doors in the Tudor court. Illegitimate children, adulterous queens, impotent kings, and a whole dynasty resting on their shoulders. Sex and childbirth were quite literally a matter of life or death for the Tudors - Elizabeth of York died in childbirth, two of Henry VIII's queens were beheaded for infidelity, and Elizabeth I's elective virginity signalled the demise of a dynasty. Amy Licence guides the reader through the births of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York's two sons, Arthur and Henry, Catherine of Aragon's subsequent marriages to both of these men, Henry VIII's other five wives and his mistresses, and the sex lives of his daughters. This book details the experiences of all these women, from fertility, conception and pregnancy through to the delivery chamber, on to maternal and infant mortality. Each woman's story is a blend of specific personal circumstances, set against their historical moment: for some the joys were brief, for others it was a question that ultimately determined their fates.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      October 2017

      Joan of Arc and 'The Great Pity of the Land of France'

      by Moya Longstaffe

      Joan of Arc’s life and death mark a turning point in the destiny both of France and England and the history of their monarchies. ‘It is a great shame,’ wrote Étienne Pasquier in the late sixteenth century, ‘for no one ever came to the help of France so opportunely and with such success as that girl, and never was the memory of a woman so torn to shreds.’ Biographers have crossed swords furiously about her inspiration, each according to the personal conviction of the writer. As Moya Longstaffe points out: ‘She has been claimed as an icon by zealous combatants of every shade of opinion, clericals, anticlericals, nationalists, republicans, socialists, conspiracy theorists, feminists, yesterday’s communists, today’s Front National, everyone with a need for a figurehead. As George Bernard Shaw said, in the prologue to his play, “The question raised by Joan’s burning is a burning question still.”’ By returning to the original sources and employing her expertise in languages, the author brings La Pucelle alive and does not duck the most difficult question: was she deluded, unbalanced, fraudulent ‒ or indeed a great visionary, to be compared to Catherine of Siena or Francis of Assisi?

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      October 2016

      King Cnut and the Viking Conquest of England 1016

      by W. B. Bartlett

      The Viking Conquest of England in 1016 – a far tougher and more brutal campaign than the Norman Conquest exactly half a century later – saw two great warriors, the Danish prince Cnut and his equally ruthless English opponent King Edmund Ironside, fight an epic campaign. Cnut sailed in two hundred longboats, landing first in September 1015 on the Wessex coast with 10,000 soldiers. The two forces fought each other to the point of exhaustion for the next fourteen months. It was a war of terrifying violence that scarred much of England, from the Humber to Cornwall. It saw an epic siege of the great walls of London and bruising set-piece battles at Penselwood, Otford, and the conclusive Danish victory at Assandun on 18 October 1016. Edmund’s death soon afterwards finally resolved a brutal, bloody conflict and ended with Cnut becoming the undisputed king of England. This book tells the extraordinary story of Cnut the Great’s life. Cnut was far removed from the archetypal pagan Viking, being a staunch protector of the Christian Church and a man who would also become Emperor of the North as king of Denmark and Norway. His wife, Emma of Normandy, was a remarkable woman who would outlive the two kings of England that she married. Their son Harthacnut would be the second and last Danish king of England, but the greatness of his dynasty did not long survive his death. This saga also features the incompetent Æthelred the Unready, the ferocious Sweyn Forkbeard and the treacherous Eadric Streona, recreating one of the great stories of Dark Age England.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      September 2017

      The King's Pearl

      Henry VIII and His Daughter Mary

      by Melita Thomas

      Mary Tudor has always been known as ‘Bloody Mary’, the name given to her by later Protestant chroniclers who vilified her for attempting to re-impose Roman Catholicism in England. Although a more nuanced picture of the first queen regnant has since emerged, she is still stereotyped, depicted as a tragic and lonely figure, personally and politically isolated after the annulment of her parents’ marriage and rescued from obscurity only through the good offices of Katherine Parr. Although Henry doted on Mary as a child and called her his ‘pearl of the world’, her determination to side with her mother over the annulment both hurt him as a father and damaged perceptions of him as a monarch commanding unhesitating obedience. However, once Mary had finally been pressured into compliance, Henry reverted to being a loving father and Mary played an important role in court life. As Melita Thomas points out, Mary was a gambler – and not just with cards. Later, she would risk all, including her life, to gain the throne. As a young girl of just seventeen she made the first throw of the dice, defiantly maintaining her claim to be Henry’s legitimate daughter against the determined attempts of Anne Boleyn and the king to break her spirit. Following the 500th anniversary of Mary's birth, The King’s Pearl re-examines Mary’s life during the reign of Henry VIII and her complex, dramatic relationship with her father.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      June 2015

      The Middle Ages Unlocked

      A Guide to Life in Medieval England, 1050–1300

      by Gillian Polack, Katrin Kania, Elizabeth Chadwick

      To our modern minds, the Middle Ages seem to mix the well-known and familiar with wildly alien concepts and circumstances. The Middle Ages Unlocked provides an invaluable introduction to this complex and dynamic period in England. Exploring a wide range of topics from law, religion and education to landscape, art and magic, between the eleventh and early fourteenth centuries, the structures, institutions and circumstances that formed the basis for daily life and society are revealed. Drawing on their expertise in history and archaeology, Dr Gillian Polack and Dr Katrin Kania look at the tangible aspects of daily life – ranging from the raw materials used for crafts, clothing and jewellery to housing and food – in order to bring the Middle Ages to life. The Middle Ages Unlocked dispels modern assumptions about this period to uncover the complex tapestry of medieval England and the people who lived there.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      January 2018

      Ordinary Heroes

      The Story of Civilian Volunteers in the First World War

      by Sally White

      Ordinary Heroes is the first book to focus on the staggering achievements of hundreds of thousands of civilian volunteers and charity workers, the majority of them women, during the First World War, both at home and abroad. It shows what a mass of untried and frequently untrained women and men from all backgrounds achieved through their innovation, adaptability, bravery and dogged commitment. As Lloyd George said, the war could not have been won without them. As the country was swept by patriotic fervour and a belief that it would all be over by Christmas, many women were as keen as the men to get involved. Organisations were all but overwhelmed by the initial tide of volunteers. They rushed to register for overseas service without knowing the devastating reality that would confront them. Others devoted their time to fundraising, collecting salvage, caring for refugees, working in canteens or helping in any other way they could. Conditions, particularly in the Balkans and Russia, were often appalling and yet the volunteers coped with and even relished the challenges. They came under fire, advanced or retreated with their respective armies, evacuated their patients through baking heat, mud or bitter cold, battled epidemics, performed operations by the light of a single candle, worked through the Russian Revolution and joined the Serbian Army on its Great Retreat. Several groups were taken prisoner. Wherever they worked, they were met with respect and gratitude −and sometimes incredulity that British people, especially gentlewomen, would help foreigners.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      February 2017

      Pirates

      Truth and Tales

      by Helen Hollick

      The historian R. H. Tawney famously wrote, ‘The sixteenth century lives in terror of the tramp.’ The eighteenth century lived in terror of the tramps of the seas – pirates. Pirates have fascinated people ever since. It was a harsh life for those who went ‘on the account’, constantly overshadowed by the threat of death – through violence, illness, shipwreck, or the hangman’s noose. The lure of gold, the excitement of the chase and the freedom that life aboard a pirate ship offered were judged by some to be worth the risk. Helen Hollick explores both the fiction and fact of the Golden Age of piracy, and there are some surprises in store for those who think they know their Barbary Corsair from their boucanier. Everyone has heard of Captain Morgan, but who recognises the name of the aristocratic Frenchman Daniel Montbars? He killed so many Spaniards he was known as ‘The Exterminator’. The fictional world of pirates, represented in novels and movies, is different from reality. What draws readers and viewers to these notorious hyenas of the high seas? What are the facts behind the fantasy?

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      March 2018

      Richard the Lionheart

      The Crusader King of England

      by W. B. Bartlett

      Whilst Richard I is one of medieval England’s most famous kings he is also the most controversial. He has variously been considered a great warrior but a poor king, a man driven by the quest for fame and glory but also lacking in self-discipline and prone to throwing away the short-term advantages that his military successes brought him. In this reassessment W. B. Bartlett looks at his deeds and achievements in a new light. The result is a compelling new portrait of ‘the Lionheart’ which shows that the king is every bit as remarkable as his medieval contemporaries found him to be. This includes his Muslim enemies, who spoke of him as their most dangerous and gallant opponent. It shows him to be a man badly let down by some of those around him, especially his brother John and the duplicitous French king Philip. The foibles of his character are also exposed to the full, including his complicated relationships with the key women in his life, especially the imposing contemporary figure of his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and his wife, Berengaria, with whom he failed to produce an heir, leading to later suggestions of homosexuality. This is a new Richard, one for the twenty-first century, and a re-evaluation of the life story of one of the greatest personalities of medieval Europe.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      November 2014

      The Roman Army

      A History 753BC-AD476

      by Patricia Southern

      The Roman Army reigned supreme for over 1,000 years. From Britain to Syria, and from the Rhine and Danube to North Africa, there is abundant evidence of the activities of its legionaries and auxiliary soldiers. After the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra in 30 BC Augustus turned the troops of the Republic into the world’s first major standing army, recruiting soldiers from all over the Roman world. Around a third of a million men policed and protected the Empire, eventually guarding frontiers like Hadrian’s Wall. This book covers the complete history of the Roman Army from 753 BC to AD 476, including its successes and failures against Rome’s enemies such as Gauls, Carthaginians, Goths and Persians. Life in the Roman Army was not all about fighting battles. Soldiers, centurions and commanding officers left behind a variety of documents, many of which are used in this book to reconstruct their daily lives and their combat experience.

    • The Arts
      September 2010

      Roman Clothing and Fashion

      by Alexandra Croom

      There is plenty of information about military dress in Roman Britain and the rest of the Roman Empire, but the evidence for civilian dress has not been comprehensively looked at since the 1930s. In this richly illustrated survey, Alexandra Croom describes the range and style of clothing worn throughout the Western Empire and shows how fashions changed between the first and the sixth centuries. After a short introduction to the evidence (from archaeology, art and literature), and to the manufacture of clothing and its use in status display, she systematically treats male and female dress, looking at the tunic, toga (for men), mantle (for women) and cloaks; underwear, footwear and specialist wear; hats, hairstyles and jewellery. The book concentrates on the clothing work in the Mediterranean region, but includes a section on provincial fashions. A fine and varied corpus of illustrations (including colour plates) helps to bring the everyday world of the Roman Empire to life.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      July 2015

      Strange Tales of Ale

      by Martyn Cornell

      Winner of Beer Book of the Year at the 2016 British Guild of Beer Writers Awards The history of ale and beer is pitted with strange tales. Take the way the RAF made sure British troops received supplies of beer after the D-Day landings in 1944, for example: they filled up the fuel drop-tanks slung below Spitfire fighters with mild and bitter and flew seventy-five gallons at a time over to the makeshift landing strips in Normandy. Then there’s the Great London Beer Flood of 1814, when a giant vat at Meux’s brewery in Tottenham Court Road broke and 570 tons of beer smashed down the brewery’s back wall and flooded out into the streets, killing eight people. The link between ale and bridal gowns, the odd story of pea beer, the most notorious brewer in history, the true story of the yard of ale and brewing beer from Christmas trees – these and many other tales have been collected by Martyn Cornell, an award-winning writer and beer historian, and will amuse, entertain and educate beer fans everywhere.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      January 2018

      The Sultans

      The Rise and Fall of the Ottoman Rulers and Their World: A 600-Year History

      by Jem Duducu

      A history spanning 600 years - an epic story of a dynasty that started as a small group of cavalry mercenaries to become the absolute rulers of the greatest and longest-lasting Islamic empire. Focusing on the lives and achievements of the Sultans themselves, this history mixes court intrigue, wars and plotting against a backdrop of growing power and wealth. Jem Duducu charts the rise and fall of the dynasty, from the forgotten Sultan Murad IV who led soldiers into battle, captured Baghdad and banned alcohol but died young from drink, to the most famous rulers such as Suleiman the Magnificent. The account includes worldchanging events such as the fall of Constantinople. It describes the strong trade alliances the empire had with Elizabeth I, and demystifies the Sultan’s harem. In modern times it traces the outbreak of war in 1914 as the Ottoman hold on power fractured, and describes the bloody fighting with Allied troops at Gallipoli. The Sultansexplains how the Republic of Turkey is not the same thing as the Ottoman Empire, but remains in its historical shadow, as part of an Islamic world torn by religious conflict and power struggles.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      September 2017

      Vintage Signs of America

      by Debra Jane Seltzer

      Debra Jane Seltzer’s beautiful collection of images features some of the most stunning signs that remain on public display in the United States. The focus is on neon signs from the 1940s and 1950s. There are also examples of increasingly rare opal glass letter and bulb signs from the 1920s and 1930s. In addition, you will find stylish and underappreciated plastic signs from the 1960s and 1970s. Represented within are Sputnik-shaped signs, mechanical signs, as well as signs with representations of pizza chefs, diving women, animals, doughnuts and more. There is also a discussion of the vulnerability of these signs due to their deterioration, changes in sign laws, and the popular transition from neon to LED lighting and electronic displays. Maintaining these signs has become too expensive for most business owners. In recent years, countless wonderful signs have been hauled to the scrapyard. A much smaller percentage have been saved, restored, and/or relocated through community action and online fundraising efforts. Other signs have found new life at museums or have safely vanished into private collections. This book offers suggestions as to what you can do to save these signs. Vintage signs are unique works of art and craftsmanship. They are personal connections to the past and community landmarks. They have also become tourist attractions. However, the signs which appear in this book could disappear at any time. So, see them and shoot them while you can.

    • Humanities & Social Sciences
      May 2017

      The Warrior Queen

      The Life and Legend of Aethelflaed, Daughter of Alfred the Great

      by Joanna Arman

      Æthelflæd, eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, has gone down in history as an enigmatic and almost legendary figure. To the popular imagination, she is the archetypal warrior queen, a Medieval Boudicca, renowned for her heroic struggle against the Danes and her independent rule of the Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. In fiction, however, she has also been cast as the mistreated wife who seeks a Viking lover, and struggles to be accepted as a female ruler in a patriarchal society. The sources from her own time, and later, reveal a more complex, nuanced and fascinating image of the ‘Lady of the Mercians’. A skilled diplomat who forged alliances with neighbouring territories, she was a shrewd and even ruthless leader willing to resort to deception and force to maintain her power. Yet she was also a patron of learning, who used poetic tradition and written history to shape her reputation as a Christian maiden engaged in an epic struggle against the heathen foe. The real Æthelflæd emerges as a remarkable political and military leader, admired in her own time, and a model of female leadership for writers of later generations.

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