Articles

History Guild publishes articles that provide interesting insights into history. We cover all aspects of history, from around the world and across time.

Shipwrecks of the Manila Galleons

Shipwrecks of the Manila Galleons

Reading time: 8 minutes
Huge ships filled with canons, gold, porcelain, silk, and other riches from Asia, the Manila Galleons were the key vessels in transporting rare goods from Asia across the Pacific Ocean to Spanish holdings in Mexico. From there, the cargo could easily be sailed across the Atlantic to Spain and Europe.

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History’s Greatest Nicknames

History’s Greatest Nicknames

Reading time: 7 minutes
A browse through any military history book will no doubt bring up titles of famous officers, often bearing unusual, surprising, or sometimes downright hilarious nicknames. In many cases, it’s clear where the sobriquet originated, while other examples hold a less-obvious significance.

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COURAGE AND COMPASSION: A STRETCHER-BEARER’S JOURNEY FROM NO-MAN’S LAND AND BEYOND – BOOK REVIEW

COURAGE AND COMPASSION: A STRETCHER-BEARER’S JOURNEY FROM NO-MAN’S LAND AND BEYOND – BOOK REVIEW

His is the true story of a young Australian soldier whose life of opportunity was challenged by trauma and salvaged by strength.

Nelson Ferguson, from Ballarat, was a stretcher-bearer on the Western Front in France in World War I. He survived the dangers of stretcher-bearing in some of Australia’s most horrific battles: the Somme, Bullecourt, Ypres and Villers-Bretonneux. In April 1918, at Villers-Bretonneux, he was severely gassed. His eyes were traumatised, his lungs damaged. Upon his return home, he met and married Madeline, the love of his life, started a family, and resumed his career teaching art. But eventually the effects of the mustard gas claimed his eyesight, ending his career. Courageously enduring this consequence of war, he continued contributing to society by assisting his son and son-in-law in their stained-glass window business. Advances in medicine finally restored his sight in 1968, allowing him to yet again appreciate the beauty around him, before his death in 1976.

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“Homosexuals Are Not Cowards”: The Legacy of Willem Arondeus

“Homosexuals Are Not Cowards”: The Legacy of Willem Arondeus

Reading time: 6 minutes
Dutch artist and author Willem Arondeus’ life had always been fraught with insecurity. Despite the modest success of his artwork, he lived in poverty, and friend Frieda Belinfante remembered him first for his timidity. ‘He was very shy,’ she said, ‘and kind of an inferiority complex. He didn’t think he was good enough for this or that.’

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Why Did Britain Change its Stance on Slavery?

Why Did Britain Change its Stance on Slavery?

Reading time: 7 minutes
By the 1730s, Britain was the largest slave-trading Empire in the world. It is estimated that between 1640 and 1800, private British citizens across the Empire transported 3.1 million Africans as slaves.
Yet less than seven years later, the British parliament officially abolished slavery. And they didn’t stop there. The British government then proceeded to pressure allies and other European nations such as Portugal, Spain and France to also abolish slavery, and devoted significant Royal Navy resources to intercept and arrest slaving ships off the coast of Africa.

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Swedish Viking hoard: how the discovery of single Norman coin expands our knowledge of French history

Swedish Viking hoard: how the discovery of single Norman coin expands our knowledge of French history

Reading time: 5 minutes
In the autumn of 2020, I was contacted by the field archaeology unit of the Swedish National Historical Museums, who are also known as the Archaeologists. They were excavating at a Viking-age settlement at Viggbyholm just north of Stockholm. During routine metal detecting of the site, they had located a very exciting find: eight silver necklaces and other silver jewellery along with 12 coins, everything delicately wrapped up in a cloth and deposited in a pot. In other words, a genuine Viking silver hoard.

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How They Fought: Indigenous Tactics and Weaponry of Australia’s Frontier Wars – Book Review

How They Fought: Indigenous Tactics and Weaponry of Australia’s Frontier Wars – Book Review

Reading time: 3 minutes
This is an excellent and much needed book. It examines the military aspects of the Australian Frontier Wars from an Aboriginal perspective, detailing the tactics, strategy, logistics and weapons Aboriginal people employed to resist European encroachment on their land. Covering several campaigns across different areas and time periods, it details both successes and failures of the Aboriginal military forces. Some of its most interesting conclusions reflect the extent to which Aboriginal resistance slowed and impeded the encroachment of European settlement across Australia.

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From Chaucer to chocolates: how Valentine’s Day gifts have changed over the centuries

From Chaucer to chocolates: how Valentine’s Day gifts have changed over the centuries

Reading time: 5 minutes
We should first turn to Geoffrey Chaucer, the 14th-century poet, civil servant and keen European traveller. Chaucer’s poem from the 1380s, The Parliament of Fowls, is held to be the first reference to February 14 as a day about love.

This day was already a feast day of several mysterious early Roman martyred Saint Valentines, but Chaucer described it as a day for people to choose their lovers. He knew that was easier said than done.

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Ireland and the Battle of The Somme

Ireland and the Battle of The Somme

Reading time: 8 minutes
The Somme was the first great action by a British Army on a continental scale. It was the longest, bloodiest battle of World War One, a campaign lasting four and a half months, and fought over a twenty-mile front near the Somme. In February 1916 Allied commanders had decided to launch an infantry offensive there,

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Feeling guilty about drinking? Well, ask the saints

Feeling guilty about drinking? Well, ask the saints

Reading time: 6 minutes
Religious orders such as the Benedictines and Jesuits became expert winemakers. They stopped only because their lands were confiscated in the 18th and 19th centuries by anti-Catholic governments such as the French Revolution’s Constituent Assembly and Germany’s Second Reich.

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The Mabo decision and native title

The Mabo decision and native title

Reading time: 4 minutes
On June 3 1992, the High Court of Australia handed down its decision in the long-running case of Eddie Koiki Mabo and his compatriots from the Torres Strait island of Mer. Together they challenged the authority of the Queensland government to claim not just sovereignty but also ownership of the land comprising their ancestral home.

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How Has Our Perception of Vikings Changed due to Recent Discoveries?

How Has Our Perception of Vikings Changed due to Recent Discoveries?

Reading time: 6 minutes
The image of “The Viking” has always been a colourful one in the minds of society, with fear-inducing images conjured of blonde-haired, blue-eyed barbarians, and pillaging and plundering their way through Europe on a history-changing quest to conquer. This almost mythical collective interpretation of horned helmets and terrifying ships is certainly a popular one. However, recent explorations have brought to light new insights to shift these perceptions, altering the history books and allowing us to look with better clarity at the era between 750 CE and 1050 CE.

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Fear Was Not in My Dictionary: The Revolutionary Work of Sara Fortis

Fear Was Not in My Dictionary: The Revolutionary Work of Sara Fortis

Reading time: 6 minutes
When the small Greek town of Kuturla burned in 1943, teenage Sara Fortis had been on the run from German occupying forces for two years already. From the raw age of fourteen, she had hidden her Jewish status and worked for underground resistance movements as a nurse and teacher. But when her sanctuary burned, when she was separated from her mother, Fortis was no longer willing to hide. She was no longer willing to limit her resistance to ‘women’s work.’

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Forgotten: Britain’s civilian mass prison camps from World War I

Forgotten: Britain’s civilian mass prison camps from World War I

Reading time: 6 minutes

In 1914, Britain stood at the forefront of organising one of the first civilian mass internment operations of the 20th century. 30,000 civilian German, Austrian and Turkish men who had been living or travelling in Britain in the summer of that year found themselves behind barbed wire, in many cases for the whole duration of World War I.

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Fook Shing, colonial Victoria’s Chinese Australian detective

Fook Shing, colonial Victoria’s Chinese Australian detective

Reading time: 8 minutes
On July 25 1882, Inspector Frederick Secretan, the head of Victoria Police’s Detective Branch, shifted uncomfortably in his seat. In the wake of the Kelly Gang fiasco, during which Ned’s infamous band of outlaws had managed to elude the police until the bloody shootout at Glenrowan, a royal commission had been called to inquire into Victoria’s police force. Secretan’s detectives had been singled out for particular criticism. Now, as he fronted the commissioners, the inspector sought to explain the methods he deployed for detecting crime in Melbourne and across Victoria.

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General History Quiz 204

1. Who is known as the father of English history?
Try the full 10 question quiz.

The discovery of the lost city of ‘the Dazzling Aten’ will offer vital clues about domestic and urban life in Ancient Egypt

Reading time: 5 minutes
Built by Amenhotep III and then used by his grandson Tutankhamen, the ruins of the city were an accidental discovery. In September last year, Hawass and his team were searching for a mortuary temple of Tutankhamen.

General History Quiz 203

1. How long was the Inca Empire in existence?
Try the full 10 question quiz.

General History Quiz 202

1. Writing in the 1380s, who was the first to refer to Valentines Day on the 14th of February?
Try the full 10 question quiz.

Swedish Viking hoard: how the discovery of single Norman coin expands our knowledge of French history

Reading time: 5 minutes
In the autumn of 2020, I was contacted by the field archaeology unit of the Swedish National Historical Museums, who are also known as the Archaeologists. They were excavating at a Viking-age settlement at Viggbyholm just north of Stockholm. During routine metal detecting of the site, they had located a very exciting find: eight silver necklaces and other silver jewellery along with 12 coins, everything delicately wrapped up in a cloth and deposited in a pot. In other words, a genuine Viking silver hoard.

General History Quiz 201

1. The Battle of the Monitor and Merrimack was part of which conflict?
Try the full 10 question quiz.

In a first discovery of its kind, researchers have uncovered an ancient Aboriginal archaeological site preserved on the seabed

Reading time: 6 minutes
For most of the human history of Australia, sea levels were much lower than they are today, and there was extra dry land where people lived. When people first arrived in Australia as early as 65,000 years ago, sea levels were around 80m lower than today.

General History Quiz 200

1. Which conflict did Theodore Roosevelt fight in before becoming President?
Try the full 10 question quiz.

General History Quiz 199

1. Which Empire ruled Yemen until 1918?
Try the full 10 question quiz.

General History Quiz 198

1. What was the codename given to the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation?
Try the full 10 question quiz.