Linguistics locates the beginnings of the Austronesian expansion – with Indigenous seafaring people in eastern Taiwan

Reading time: 5 minutes
The study of Indigenous languages spoken in maritime South-East Asia today has shed new light on the beginnings of the Austronesian expansion. This was the last major migration of people spreading out across the Pacific Ocean and, ultimately, settling Aotearoa. Scientists all agree that people speaking Austronesian languages started out from Taiwan and settled the Philippines around 4,000 years ago. They used sails as early as 2,000 years ago. Together with other maritime technologies, this allowed them to disperse to the islands of the Indo-Pacific ocean.

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First World War ambulance trains

Reading time: 6 minutes
The railways, and the men and women who worked on them, made a significant and varied contribution during the First World War. Some railwaymen joined up to fight, and others helped to run the railways in France and Belgium, delivering men and supplies to the front line. One requirement considered early on in 1914 was the necessity of having to treat sick and wounded servicemen urgently, and the task of moving them away from the Front to hospitals and other places of recuperation.

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Ukraine war: how Gorbachev’s 1987 INF missile treaty has limited the arsenal available to Putin

Reading time: 4 minutes
Thanks to the final Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who has died aged 91, a disarmament treaty has denied Vladimir Putin thousands more missiles which he could have ordered to be used against Ukraine. Russian forces attacking Ukraine have not been able to use land-based missiles with ranges of between 500km and 5,500km because this entire category of weapons was scrapped under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which the former Soviet leader was instrumental in establishing.

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How the Gunpowder Treason was discovered

Reading time: 9 minutes
On the night of 4 November 1605, a man calling himself John Johnson was found in the vaults beneath the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder. Under questioning, Johnson – whose real name was Guy Fawkes – admitted that he and his co-conspirators planned to use the gunpowder to blow up the House during the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November. If successful, this plot – which became known as the Gunpowder Treason, or Gunpowder Plot – would have killed not only King James I (and VI) but members of his family, his chief ministers, and the Members of Parliament in attendance at the state opening. This was treason on an unprecedented scale – an attempt to destroy both the king and his government.

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Military History

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Maths swayed the Battle of Jutland – and helped Britain keep control of the seas

Reading time: 5 minutes If you’re about to fight a battle, would you rather have a larger fleet, or a smaller but more advanced one? One hundred years ago, on May 31 1916, the British Royal Navy was about to find out if its choice of a larger fleet was the correct one. At the Battle of Jutland – as the major naval battle of World War I is known in English – these choices were unusually influenced by mathematics.

Political and Economic History

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The End of History: Francis Fukuyama’s controversial idea explained

Reading time: 8 minutes In 1989, a policy wonk in the US State Department wrote a paper for the right-leaning international relations magazine The National Interest entitled “The End of History?”. His name was Francis Fukuyama, and the paper stirred such interest – and caused such controversy – that he was soon contracted to expand his 18-page article into a book. He did so in 1992: The End of History and the Last Man. The rest, they say, is (the end of) history.

Social and Cultural History

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Vikings were never the pure-bred master race white supremacists like to portray

Reading time: 6 minutes In contemporary culture, the word Viking is generally synonymous with Scandinavians from the ninth to the 11th centuries. We often hear terms such as “Viking blood”, “Viking DNA” and “Viking ancestors” – but the medieval term meant something quite different to modern usage. Instead it defined an activity: “Going a-Viking”. Akin to the modern word pirate, Vikings were defined by their mobility and this did not include the bulk of the Scandinavian population who stayed at home.

History Audiobooks

A Voyage Towards the South Pole and Round the World – Audiobook

On his first journey Cook mapped the east coast of Australia, on his second the British Admiralty sent him into the vast Southern Ocean. Equipped with one of the first accurate chronometers, Cook pushed his small vessel not merely into the Roaring Forties or the Furious Fifties but become the first explorer to penetrate the Antarctic Circle, reaching an incredible Latitude 71 degrees South, just failing to discover Antarctica.

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History Guild would like to acknowledge the Boonwurrung people, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are based, and pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.