Sunday, January 31, 2016

Where, in Ancient Egypt, did people live?

History Extra

Detail of a relief depicting two male figures carrying bricks. (Photo by Prisma/UIG/Getty Images)

Where, in Ancient Egypt, did people live?

The thick mud deposited by the River Nile made an excellent building material. Mud-brick buildings are well suited to hot, dry climates, being cool in summer and warm in winter, so it is not surprising that the Egyptians built their homes and palaces from mud. They saved stone for the temples and the tombs they built in the desert.
Mud bricks were cheap and easily available, so they allowed Egypt's architects to experiment with large-scale structures that could be raised with surprising speed. Several kings founded cities which grew from nothing to fully functional in just seven or eight years. These cities included spacious elite villas with gardens, and more humble terraced housing for workers.
Throughout the Dynastic age the population was concentrated in the area around Thebes (modern Luxor: southern Egypt) and in the area around Memphis (today just to the south of modern Cairo). Today the settlements have almost all vanished – either dissolved into mud or crumbled to dust.
Dr Joyce Tyldesley is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester, where she writes and teaches a number of Egyptology courses. You can follow her on Twitter @JoyceTyldesley.

History Trivia - Pope Silvester I succeeds Pope Miltiades

January 31

314 Silvester I began his reign as Pope of the Catholic Church, succeeding Pope Miltiades. During his pontificate, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, St. Peter's Basilica, and several cemeterial churches over the graves of martyrs were founded.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Scribbler Tales Presents - cover reveal

Coming soon to all online retailers

Escape from Berlin

Mark Dresdner’s cover is blown, forcing him to flee East Germany, yet he refuses to leave the woman he loves.  Finding the border crossing blocked, and the enemy closing in, will he evade capture or be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice?


Aelia gives herself completely to the man she loves, revealing a life-threatening secret, trusting her husband unconditionally, but is he deserving of her trust?

Deadly Secrets
Lysandra seeks a new life in America, hoping to forget her past, but an accidental meeting with a man who knows her true identity endangers her happiness.

Murder in the First
As judge, jury, and executioner, Bethel decides the fate of the man responsible for her plight, but things go terribly wrong and the predator becomes the prey.

The Ritual
Devona’s initiation into a modern-day pagan sect on All Hallows’ Eve sends the terrified young woman fleeing for her life amidst a raging storm. Escaping the sacrificial altar, will she survive the tempest?

Exclusive Bonus Material
The Briton and the Dane
The Briton and the Dane: Birthright
The Briton and the Dane: Legacy
The Briton and the Dane: Concordia
The Briton and the Dane: Timeline

When did Ancient Egypt start and end?

History Extra

When did Ancient Egypt start and end?

When we think about ‘ancient Egypt’ we are usually imaginging the dynastic period; the time when Egypt was a united land ruled by a king, or pharaoh. This was the age of the pyramids, mummification and hieroglyphic writing.
The dynastic period started with the reign of Egypt’s first king, Narmer, in approximately 3100 BCE, and ended with the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BCE. During this long period there were times of strong centalised rule, and periods of much weaker, divided rule, but basically Egypt remained one, independent land.
However, the dynastic period should be seen as part of a much longer, continuous history. Before Narmer united his kingdom, the land that was to become Egypt consisted of a series of sophisticated Neolithic city-states, supported by agricultural communities and linked together by trade. After Cleopatra’s death, Egypt was absorbed by Rome, but many of the old traditions continued.
Dr Joyce Tyldesley is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester, where she writes and teaches a number of Egyptology courses.

History Trivia - Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, ritually executed

January 30

1661 Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England was ritually executed two years after his death, on the anniversary of the execution of the monarch he himself deposed.

Friday, January 29, 2016

More Evidence that Ancient Romans May Have Made It to Oak Island, Canada

Ancient Origins

What appears to be an ancient Roman sword has been found off the East Coast of Canada, but it is just one of several indications that Romans may have been there around the 2nd century or earlier. That’s at least 800 years before the Vikings landed, which is currently believed to be the first contact between the Old World and the New World.
The sword was discovered off the coast of Oak Island, Nova Scotia, during investigations into local lore of treasure buried on the island, conducted as part of the immensely popular History Channel show, “The Curse of Oak Island.”
A map showing Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada.
A map showing Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. (Norman Einstein/CC BY-SA)
J. Hutton Pulitzer worked as a consultant on the show for two seasons and he appeared in the show’s second season. His team began investigations on the island eight years before the History Channel arrived in 2013.
Pulitzer has given Epoch Times exclusive information about new discoveries on the island that, along with the sword, support his theory of a Roman presence.
Pulitzer is a well-known entrepreneur and prolific inventor. Many remember him as the host of the “NetTalkLive” TV show, an early Internet IPO titan, and the inventor of the CueCat (an idea that attracted major investors; it involved a device people could use to scan codes, similar to today’s QR-codes). His company famously went down in flames during the dot-com bubble burst, but Pulitzer’s patents live on today in 11.9 billion mobile devices.
A little over a decade ago, he turned his sights to his passion for lost history and, as an independent researcher and author, he has been working with experts in many fields, to investigate the mysteries of Oak Island.
His theory about an ancient Roman presence on the island has already met with some resistance, as it defies the currently accepted theory that the Vikings were the first Old World explorers to make it to the New World. He asks, however, that historians and archaeologists approach the evidence objectively, without a preconceived idea that the Romans did not make it to the New World.
J. Hutton Pulitzer.

J. Hutton Pulitzer. (Courtesy of J. Hutton Pulitzer/
The Oak Island sword’s authenticity has been verified by the best available tests, according to Pulitzer (Epoch Times was given access to the testing data).
The sword alone isn’t evidence however that the Romans were on Oak Island themselves. It is possible that someone only a few hundred years ago was sailing near the island and had in his possession this Roman antique. It may have been later explorers who left it there, not the Romans.
But other artifacts also found on-site provide a context that is difficult to dismiss, Pulitzer said.
Other artifacts his team has studied include a stone with an ancient language connected to the Roman Empire, burial mounds in the ancient Roman style, crossbow bolts reportedly confirmed by U.S. government labs to have come from ancient Iberia (encompassed by the Roman Empire), coins connected to the Roman Empire, and more.

The Sword

An X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer confirmed the metal composition of the sword matches that of Roman votive swords. XRF testing uses radiation to excite the atoms in the metal to see how the atoms vibrate. Researchers can thus detect which metals are present. Among the materials detected in the sword are zinc, copper, lead, tin, arsenic, gold, silver, and platinum.
These findings are consistent with ancient Roman metallurgy. Modern bronze uses silicon as the primary alloying element, but silicon is absent in the sword, Pulitzer said.
J. Hutton Pulitzer holding an XRF machine.
J. Hutton Pulitzer holding an XRF machine. (Courtesy of J. Hutton Pulitzer/
A few similar swords have been found in Europe. This model of sword has a depiction of Hercules on the hilt and it is believed to be a ceremonial sword given by Emperor Commodus to outstanding gladiators and warriors. The Museum of Naples made replicas of one of these swords in its collection, leading some to wonder whether the Oak Island weapon is a replica.
Though the replicas match the Oak Island sword in appearance, Pulitzer said the tests on its composition have 100 percent confirmed it is not a cast-iron replica. The sword also contains a lode stone that is oriented due north and could thus aid navigation, which is absent in the replicas.
History Channel producers obtained the sword from a local resident, which had been passed down in his family since the 1940s. It was originally found while illegally scalloping and it was pulled up in their rake. The family never told anybody about the discovery until the recent flurry of interest in Oak Island because, in addition to facing penalties for breaking the law, illegal scalloping is frowned upon and considered taboo in the small community.
By Tara MacIsaac , Epoch Times

History Trivia - Edward III of England crowned

January 29

1327  Edward III was crowned  By laying claim to the French throne, he started the Hundred Years' War.   He also created Britain's highest knightly order, the Order of the Garter because of his fondness for chivalry. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Beer Before Wine: Research Shows that Spain was a Beer Country First

Ancient Origins

A Colorado State University professor says he wants to write a book on caelia—an ancient Spanish beer that was replaced by wine after the Roman Empire invaded Iberia. He also may collaborate with a brewery or the university’s prominent fermentation program to produce a batch of the old brew, which he calls “beer juice.”
But if you’re curious and you’re visiting Spain, some Spanish breweries have already resurrected the beverage, the origins of which date back at least 5,000 years.
Jonathan Carlyon, professor of languages and culture, has been studying the prehistoric Spanish beverage. His specialty at the university is early Hispanic literary culture. He knows a lot about Spanish history and its people’s reliance on caelia and beer until the Romans began making incursions in Hispania beginning around 218 BC and introduced wine, says a press release from Colorado State.
Some Spanish brewers already make caelia, but Professor Carlyon is considering asking a Fort Smith, Colorado, brewery or the university’s fermentation program to brew up a batch too. Apart from writing a paper or a book about the beverage, he expressed his interest in perhaps providing a class on the drink for the university’s fermentation students.
“Now beer is worthy of serious academic scholarship,” he is quoted in the press release. “We’re always trying to recruit students to take our courses and get our minor. The Languages, Literatures and Cultures lens can be used in almost any field.”
Colorado State University Professor Jonathan Carlyon with a bottle of caelia from a Spanish microbrewery
Colorado State University Professor Jonathan Carlyon with a bottle of caelia from a Spanish microbrewery (CSU photo)
“The name Caelia, derived from the Latin verb for heating, ‘calefacere,’ was inspired by the heat used in the brewing process,” the release stated. “Carlyon has tracked the consumption of Caelia back about 5,000 years, to a time in Spain when women brewed the lightly carbonated drink as part of their daily routine, using a fermentation process similar to the one they used to make bread. ‘It was like a beer juice, compared to the beer made today,’ he says.”
The Roman Empire’s military was unable to conquer the ancient Spanish city of Numancia, between Madrid and Barcelona. Carlyon says before every battle the soldiers of Numancia got drunk on caelia
“contributing to the Romans’ view of them as fierce, wild fighters who successfully held off the invaders until the Romans wearied of the losses and reverted to building a wall around the fortified city in a siege. Finally, the Romans stopped fighting, closed them in and starved them, but it took two years.”
A pitcher from ancient Numancia.
A pitcher from ancient Numancia. ( Ecelan/CC BY SA 4.0 )
The Romans replaced the native beer culture with viniculture, but what goes around comes around. In 1550, when the Spanish began their incursions into the Americas they listed grapevines as a valuable commodity, not hops or barley, CSU says.
“The fact that they chose that reflected the culture of the time. In 1550, it had been more than 1,000 years since beer had been prevalent,” Carlyon said.
Proto-cuneiform recording the allocation of beer, probably from southern Iraq, Late Prehistoric period, about 3100-3000 BC
Proto-cuneiform recording the allocation of beer, probably from southern Iraq, Late Prehistoric period, about 3100-3000 BC ( Takomabibelot/ CC BY 2.0 )
Other academics have been resurrecting ancient libations.
An archaeologist working with a brewery is recreating ancient beers from around the world, including Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Denmark, Honduras and China, Ancient Origins reported in 2015. Alcohol archaeologist Patrick McGovern thinks he may even be able to recreate a drink from Egypt that is 16,000 years old.
Professor McGovern, of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, has been working with Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware. The professor is using modern technology to detect traces of ingredients. In addition, Dogfish Head Brewery has produced beer using African, South American, and Finnish recipes from centuries ago. For a list of the brews, see
It’s not just beer that archaeologists are trying to recreate. reported in 2013 that Italian archaeologists planted a vineyard near Catania in Sicily with the aim of making wine using techniques from classical Rome described in ancient texts. The team expected its first vintage within four years.
These attempts at drinking the spirits of ancestors go back quite a few years. There is a reference at about a 1996 attempt by Newcastle Breweries in Melbourne to brew an ancient Egyptian beer too.

The Herald-Sun reported that 'Tutankhamon Ale' will be based on sediment from jars found in a brewery housed in the Sun Temple of Nefertiti, and the team involved has gathered enough of the correct raw materials to produce just 1000 bottles of the ale,” Caroline Seawright wrote at That beer was 5 to 6 percent alcohol and was sold at Harrods for £50 (about $100) a bottle. The profit was to go toward further research into Egyptian beer making.
Featured image: A glass of beer atop old barrels ( public domain ).
By Mark Miller

History Trivia - Cesare Borgia given as hostage to Charles VIII

January 28

1495 Pope Alexander VI gave his son Cesare Borgia as a hostage to Charles VIII of France to ensure the Pope's good behavior as Charles left Rome to conquer Naples.  However, Cesare did escape and returned to Rome.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A brief history of camouflage

History Extra

Commandos take part in basic training exercises in an unspecified spot in England, 1940. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Camouflage is a pattern of paradox. Camouflage’s history encompasses both hiding but also being seen: confusing the eye, subverting reality and signalling both individuality and group affinities…

1) Camouflage in nature    

Any history of camouflage must properly start with ‘mother nature’. From wood ants to pufferfish and octopi to birds, a wide array of animals conceal themselves – sometimes amazingly, like this camouflaged octopus – from predators with camouflage.
Two British zoologists and an American painter played key roles in translating camouflage in nature into techniques humans could put to military use. One of those zoologists, Sir Edward Poulton, wrote the first book on camouflage in 1890 (The Colours of Animals). An early adherent of Darwinism, Poulton believed that animal mimicry (imitation) for concealment was proof of natural selection.
The American painter Abbott Thayer popularised two particular concepts of camouflage: countershading explains the lighter underbellies common to many animals – this cancels out shadowing from the overhead sun, giving the animal a flat, two-dimensional appearance. Disruptive coloration, meanwhile, refers to ‘splotchiness’ in an animal’s colouring; this visual effect helps to obscure the contours of its body.
Thayer suffered from bipolar disorder and panic attacks – conditions not helped by public criticism of his controversial theories, which gained prominence in the lead-up to the First World War. Thayer defended those theories stoutly until his death in 1921.
In 1940, zoologist Hugh Cott built on Poulton’s more scientific concepts with ideas of his own, including contour obliteration – basically, making it difficult to perceive a continuous form by blurring its defining edges - and shadow elimination – as the name suggests, reducing the appearance of telltale shadows.


2) Military khaki

Prior to the invention of the modern rifle in the mid-1800s (the earliest rifles were in use during the 15th century), militaries the world over clad their soldiers in bright shades of colour – consider, for example, British troops in their iconic madder red uniforms (red coats).

Soldiers of the 30th East Lancashire foot regiment in bright red jackets, c1850. Rischgitz Collection. (Photo by Rischgitz/Getty Images)
But marksmen began wearing more inconspicuous garb to conceal themselves while picking off targets. Austrian Jägers (meaning ‘hunters’) wore light grey, while the British 95th Rifle Regiment wore dun green.
Military khaki (the term derives from the Urdu and Persian words for ‘dust’) arose in the mid-19th century, as soldiers in the British Indian Army began dyeing their white uniforms with tea and curry. Not only did khaki end the hopeless struggle to keep one’s uniform spanking white, it also reduced soldiers’ visibility from a distance.
Despite this, brighter military garb tended to dominate until the early 20th century. Why were militaries so reluctant to adopt darker uniforms? The answer lay in the evolving nature of warfare: in addition to practical considerations like durability and visibility, uniforms performed a psychological function of making soldiers feel battle-ready. Orderly lines of brightly clad soldiers marching in formation – a key feature of musket-driven warfare – gave way to guerrilla warfare. To fight and win in this new era, stealth was a core advantage.

3) The First World War

A new threat darkened the horizon in the run-up to the First World War: enemy aerial reconnaissance. (Aerial attack became possible somewhat later.) As such, militaries first used camouflage patterning and tactics to hide, not people, but locations and equipment.
The French organised the first units of camoufleurs – specialists in camouflage – in around 1914. Initial tactics were confined to painting vehicles and weaponry in disruptive patterns to blend into the surrounding landscape. Camoufleurs were both practitioners and teachers of their peculiar art. They taught other military units how to disguise their equipment with paint, to toss netting interwoven with fake leaves over a shed stocked with materiél (military equipment) and to erase any telltale truck tracks and cannon blast marks.

French soldiers at a wooden building with military camouflage, Western Front, Soissons, Aisne, France, 1917. Colour photo (Autochrome Lumière) by Fernand Cuville (1887–1927). (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images)
The term ‘camouflage’ itself dates to a practical joke from 16th-century France. The prankster would fashion a camouflet – a hollow paper cone, lit to smoulder at one end – and stick it under an unfortunate sleeper’s nose. The sleeper would jolt rudely awake at the first lungful of smoke.
Camouflet later referred to a lethal powder charge that could entrap a tunnelling enemy troop underground – a more deadly trick. To complete this layered etymology, the French verb camoufler means, appropriately, ‘to make oneself up for the stage’.

4) Camouflage goes Baroque

Camouflage techniques grew increasingly detailed as the First World War progressed, and fascination with camouflage – in popular as well as military circles – grew. Factories cranked out pâpier-maché heads by the thousands; mounted on sticks – soldiers might poke these decoys above the trench line, tempting the enemy out of his safe foxhole to fire. False trees were equally popular: regiments would sneak onto the battlefield unseen at night, fell an actual tree, then replace it with a hollowed-out replica with a soldier hidden inside.
Camouflage spread to the seas, too. In 1917, British lieutenant Norman Wilkinson introduced the concept of ‘dazzle’-painting warships to curb losses: mostly black-and-white-zigzagged ‘dazzle’ paint was supposed to throw off the enemy’s calculations of a ship’s size, speed and distance, making an accurate hit more difficult. German U-boats sank 23 British ships weekly that year, 55 in one week of April 1917 alone. ‘Dazzle-mania’ subsequently spread among Allied navies, although its actual effectiveness was never proven.

A Royal Navy cruiser painted in dazzle camouflage in the Dardanelles, 1915. Original publication: The Illustrated War News, 26 May 1915. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

5) The Second World War

As mentioned above, evidence that camouflage actually worked was patchy. However, as the world marched towards the Second World War, the fresh threat of aerial attack prompted militaries on both sides to use camouflage more widely. With the exception of dazzle, all First World War-era camouflage tactics were revived and expanded. Military literature of the period is awash with camouflage training manuals aimed at every soldier, from callow privates to top brass.
Two Allied wins during the Second World War owed their success largely to camouflage: El Alamein in 1942, and D-Day in 1944. During the second battle of El Alamein, the Allies blocked the Germans from seizing the Suez Canal with a mind-bogglingly detailed camouflage-plan involving inflatable tanks, fake artillery blasts and – extraordinarily – hiding the entire Suez Canal from aerial view. This was the masterwork of British camoufleur and stage magician Jasper Maskelyne.

Home Guards smear on green paint and attach camouflage to each other during a camouflage training course at Fieldcraft School in South-Eastern Command, January 1942. (Photo by Harry Todd/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Prior to D-Day, the Allies staged a false build-up of troops in Scotland and Kent, while hiding their true efforts to amass troops to storm Normandy. The ruse continued once they landed in France with the ‘Ghost Army’ – a sham-army standing in for the actual US battalion rushing the Normandy beaches.

6) Post-Second World War

The Second World War saw the rise of mechanical printed patterns onto fabric, bringing the distinctive variations of pattern into sharper focus. Each nation had not one, but several unique camouflage patterns, with different versions matched to the battle landscape (snow, desert, jungle, forest). Who wore which camouflage pattern revealed colonial relationships, shifting alliances and other practical considerations (like how disastrously similar your army’s camouflage was to your latest enemy’s).
Camouflage infiltrated popular culture during both world wars – from ladies’ ‘slimming’ dress wear to the clever war paint of makeup. Consider these lyrics from the 1917 song ‘Camouflage Nut Song No. 2’ by L Wolfe Gilbert and Anatol Friedland:
Camouflage, Camouflage, that's the latest dodge,
Camouflage, Camouflage, it's not a cheese or lodge,
You buy a Ford that's second-hand,
You paint it red, it looks so grand.
And near a "Stutz" you let it stand –
that's Camouflage.

7) Modern camouflage

Camouflage today permeates civilian culture: it features in designs for women’s clothing from the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, Prabal Gurung and Patrik Ervell (among many others), and musicians wearing camouflage can signal their commitment to some form of political activism – from black power (Public Enemy) to African rights (U2).
Visual artists have taken to camouflage with zeal, too. Andy Warhol’s Camouflage Self-Portrait (1986) hit the art scene at the height of the Cold War, a time of near-constant warfare that, confusingly, rarely officially declared itself as such.

A woman walks past the painting 'Camouflage Self-Portrait' by US artist Andy Warhol during a preview of Sotheby's autumn sales of contemporary art in New York, 2 November 2007. (Photo by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)
Like all technology, camouflage evolves. High-tech camouflage can now conceal body heat from enemy sensors or harness fibre-optics to match a fabric dynamically to its surroundings. Technologists are progressing towards a camouflage that bends light waves to render objects – or even people – invisible, just like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.
Jude Stewart is the author of two books, Patternalia: An Unconventional History of Polka Dots, Stripes, Plaid, Camouflage, & Other Graphic Patterns (Bloomsbury USA, 2015) and ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color (Bloomsbury USA, 2013).
Jude writes about design and culture for Slate, Fast Company, and The Believer, among others, and blogs about design for Print. You can follow her on Twitter @joodstew.

History Trivia - Guy Fawkes trial begins

January 27

1606 Gunpowder Plot: The trial of Guy Fawkes and other conspirators began, ending with their execution on January 31.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How did knights in armour go to the toilet?

History Extra

Suits of armour were vital for the battlefield but vexing in the latrine. (Photo by CrackerClips / iStockphoto)

When William the Conqueror invaded in 1066, he wore just a long mail shirt, so answering nature’s call was relatively simple.
It was a very different prospect, however, when Italian and German craftsmen developed full plate armour in the 1400s – which was vital for the battlefield but vexing for a knight in the latrine.
Suits of armour still didn’t have a metal plate covering the knight’s crotch or buttocks as this made riding a horse difficult, but those areas were protected by strong metal skirts flowing out around the front hips (faulds) and buttocks (culet).
Under this dangled a short chainmail shirt to prevent an enemy jabbing anything sharp upwards between the legs. And beneath that, a knight also wore quilted cotton leggings so his limbs wouldn’t chafe. But to stop the steel leg plates sliding down painfully onto the ankles, they had to be held up by a waist belt, or by being attached to the torso plate.
While wearing all that, a knight desperate for the toilet would have most likely needed the assistance of his squire to lift or remove the rear culet, so that he could squat down.
The fact, however, that the leg armour was often suspended tightly from the waist belt, worn over the leggings, might have required it to be detached first before a chivalric chap could comfortably drop his trousers.
This would have been a particular nuisance if the knight was suffering from dysentery, so it was likely that he may have simply chosen to soil himself.
Answered by one of our Q&A experts, Greg Jenner. For more fascinating questions by Greg, and the rest of our panel, pick up a copy of History Revealed! Available in print and for digital devices

History Trivia - Council of Trent issues the Tridentinum

January 26

1564 The Council of Trent issued its conclusions in the Tridentinum, which established a distinction between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.

Monday, January 25, 2016

10 things you (probably) didn’t know about the Anglo-Saxons

History Extra

Edward The Confessor, Anglo-Saxon king of England. From the Bayeux Tapestry, which tells the story of the events leading to the 1066 battle of Hastings. (Photo by Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images)

1) The Anglo-Saxons were immigrants

The people we call Anglo-Saxons were actually immigrants from northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. Bede, a monk from Northumbria writing some centuries later, says that they were from some of the most powerful and warlike tribes in Germany.
Bede names three of these tribes: the Angles, Saxons and Jutes. There were probably many other peoples who set out for Britain in the early fifth century, however. Batavians, Franks and Frisians are known to have made the sea crossing to the stricken province of ‘Britannia’.
The collapse of the Roman empire was one of the greatest catastrophes in history. Britain, or ‘Britannia’, had never been entirely subdued by the Romans. In the far north – what they called Caledonia (modern Scotland) – there were tribes who defied the Romans, especially the Picts. The Romans built a great barrier, Hadrian’s Wall, to keep them out of the civilised and prosperous part of Britain.
As soon as Roman power began to wane, these defences were degraded, and in AD 367 the Picts smashed through them. Gildas, a British historian, says that Saxon war-bands were hired to defend Britain when the Roman army had left. So the Anglo-Saxons were invited immigrants, according to this theory, a bit like the immigrants from the former colonies of the British empire in the period after 1945.


2) The Anglo-Saxons murdered their hosts at a conference

Britain was under sustained attack from the Picts in the north and the Irish in the west. The British appointed a ‘head man’, Vortigern, whose name may actually be a title meaning just that – to act as a kind of national dictator.
It is possible that Vortigern was the son-in-law of Magnus Maximus, a usurper emperor who had operated from Britain before the Romans left. Vortigern’s recruitment of the Saxons ended in disaster for Britain. At a conference between the nobles of the Britons and Anglo-Saxons, [likely in AD 472, although some sources say AD 463] the latter suddenly produced concealed knives and stabbed their opposite numbers from Britain in the back.

Treaty of Hengist and Horsa with Vortigern. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Vortigern was deliberately spared in this ‘treachery of the long-knives’, but was forced to cede large parts of south-eastern Britain to them. Vortigern was now a powerless puppet of the Saxons.

3) The Britons rallied under a mysterious leader

The Angles, Saxons, Jutes and other incomers burst out of their enclave in the south-east in the mid-fifth century and set all southern Britain ablaze. Gildas, our closest witness, says that in this emergency a new British leader emerged, called Ambrosius Aurelianus in the late 440s and early 450s.
It has been postulated that Ambrosius was from the rich villa economy around Gloucestershire, but we simply do not know for sure. Amesbury in Wiltshire is named after him and may have been his campaign headquarters.
A great battle took place, supposedly sometime around AD 500, at a place called Mons Badonicus or Mount Badon, probably somewhere in the south-west of modern England. The Saxons were resoundingly defeated by the Britons, but frustratingly we don’t know much more than that. A later Welsh source says that the victor was ‘Arthur’ but it was written down hundreds of years after the event, when it may have become contaminated by later folk-myths of such a person.
Gildas does not mention Arthur, and this seems strange, but there are many theories about this seeming anomaly. One is that Gildas did refer to him in a sort of acrostic code, which reveals him to be a chieftain from Gwent called Cuneglas. Gildas called Cuneglas ‘the bear’, and Arthur means ‘bear’. Nevertheless, for the time being the Anglo-Saxon advance had been checked by someone, possibly Arthur.


4) Seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms emerged

‘England’ as a country did not come into existence for hundreds of years after the Anglo-Saxons arrived. Instead, seven major kingdoms were carved out of the conquered areas: Northumbria, East Anglia, Essex, Sussex, Kent, Wessex and Mercia. All these nations were fiercely independent, and although they shared similar languages, pagan religions, and socio-economic and cultural ties, they were absolutely loyal to their own kings and very competitive, especially in their favourite pastime – war.

Shield of Mercia, from the Heptarchy; a collective name applied to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of south, east, and central England during late antiquity and the early Middle Ages. Detail from an antique map of Britain by the Dutch cartographer Willem Blaeu in Atlas Novus (Amsterdam, 1635). (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
At first they were pre-occupied fighting the Britons (or ‘Welsh’, as they called them), but as soon as they had consolidated their power-centres they immediately commenced armed conflict with each other.
Woden, one of their chief gods, was especially associated with war, and this military fanaticism was the chief diversion of the kings and nobles. Indeed, tales of the deeds of warriors, or their boasts of what heroics they would perform in battle, was the main form of entertainment, and obsessed the entire community – much like football today.


5) A fearsome warrior plundered his neighbours

The ‘heptarchy’, or seven kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxons, all aspired to dominate the others. One reason for this was that the dominant king could exact tribute (a sort of tax, but paid in gold and silver bullion), gemstones, cattle, horses or elite weapons. A money economy did not yet exist.
Eventually a leader from Mercia in the English Midlands became the most feared of all these warrior-kings: Penda, who ruled from AD 626 until 655. He personally killed many of his rivals in battle, and as one of the last pagan Anglo-Saxon kings he offered up the body of one of them, King Oswald of Northumbria, to Woden. Penda ransacked many of the other Anglo-Saxon realms, amassing vast and exquisite treasures as tribute and the discarded war-gear of fallen warriors on the battlefields.
This is just the sort of elite military kit that comprises the Staffordshire Hoard, discovered in 2009. Although a definite connection is elusive, the hoard typifies the warlike atmosphere of the mid-seventh century, and the unique importance in Anglo-Saxon society of male warrior elites.

6) An African refugee helped reform the English church

The Britons were Christians, but were now cut off from Rome, but the Anglo-Saxons remained pagan. In AD 597 St Augustine had been sent to Kent by Pope Gregory the Great to convert the Anglo-Saxons. It was a tall order for his tiny mission, but gradually the seven kingdoms did convert, and became exemplary Christians – so much so that they converted their old tribal homelands in Germany.

St Augustine of Canterbury, who was sent by Pope Gregory to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. St Augustine is seen here preaching before Ethelbert, Anglo-Saxon King of Kent. Augustine was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. (Photo by Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images)
One reason why they converted was because the church said that the Christian God would deliver them victory in battles. When this failed to materialise, some Anglo-Saxon kings became apostate, and a different approach was required. The man chosen for the task was an elderly Greek named Theodore of Tarsus, but he was not the pope’s first choice. Instead he had offered the job to a younger man, Hadrian ‘the African’, a Berber refugee from north Africa, but Hadrian objected that he was too young.
The truth was that people in the civilised south of Europe dreaded the idea of going to England, which was considered barbaric and had a terrible reputation. The pope decided to send both men, to keep each other company on the long journey. After more than a year (and many adventures) they arrived, and set to work to reform the English church.
Theodore lived to be 88, a grand old age for those days, and Hadrian, the young man who had fled from his home in north Africa, outlived him, and continued to devote himself to his task until his death in AD 710.


7) Alfred the Great had a crippling disability

When we look up at the statue of King Alfred of Wessex in Winchester, we are confronted by an image of our national ‘superhero’: the valiant defender of a Christian realm against the heathen Viking marauders. There is no doubt that Alfred fully deserves this accolade as ‘England’s darling’, but there was another side to him that is less well known.
Alfred never expected to be king – he had three older brothers – but when he was four years old on a visit to Rome the pope seemed to have granted him special favour when his father presented him to the pontiff. As he grew up, Alfred was constantly troubled by illness, including irritating and painful piles – a real problem in an age where a prince was constantly in the saddle. Asser, the Welshman who became his biographer, relates that Alfred suffered from another painful, draining malady that is not specified. Some people believe it was Crohn’s Disease, others that it may have been a sexually transmitted disease, or even severe depression.
The truth is we don’t know exactly what Alfred’s mystery ailment was. Whatever it was, it is incredible to think that Alfred’s extraordinary achievements were accomplished in the face of a daily struggle with debilitating and chronic illness.

8) An Anglo-Saxon king was finally buried in 1984

In July 975 the eldest son of King Edgar, Edward, was crowned king. Edgar had been England’s most powerful king yet (by now the country was unified), and had enjoyed a comparatively peaceful reign. Edward, however, was only 15 and was hot-tempered and ungovernable. He had powerful rivals, including his half-brother Aethelred’s mother, Elfrida (or ‘Aelfthryth’). She wanted her own son to be king – at any cost.

c975 AD, Edward the Martyr, Anglo-Saxon king of England and the elder son of King Edgar. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
One day in 978, Edward decided to pay Elfrida and Aethelred a visit in their residence at Corfe in Dorset. It was too good an opportunity to miss: Elfrida allegedly awaited him at the threshold to the hall with grooms to tend the horses, and proffered him a goblet of mulled wine (or ‘mead’), as was traditional. As Edward stooped to accept this, the grooms grabbed his bridle and stabbed him repeatedly in the stomach.
Edward managed to ride away but bled to death, and was hastily buried by the conspirators. It was foul regicide, the gravest of crimes, and Aethelred, even though he may not have been involved in the plot, was implicated in the minds of the common people, who attributed his subsequent disastrous reign to this, in their eyes, monstrous deed.
Edward’s body was exhumed and reburied at Shaftesbury Abbey in AD 979. During the dissolution of the monasteries the grave was lost, but in 1931 it was rediscovered. Edward’s bones were kept in a bank vault until 1984, when at last he was laid to rest.


9) England was ‘ethnically cleansed’

One of the most notorious of Aethelred’s misdeeds was a shameful act of mass-murder. Aethelred is known as ‘the Unready’, but this is actually a pun on his forename. Aethelred means ‘noble counsel’, but people started to call him ‘unraed’ which means ‘no counsel’. He was constantly vacillating, frequently cowardly, and always seemed to pick the worst men possible to advise him.
One of these men, Eadric ‘Streona’ (‘the Aquisitor’), became a notorious English traitor who was to seal England’s downfall. It is a recurring theme in history that powerful men in trouble look for others to take the blame. Aethelred was convinced that the woes of the English kingdom were all the fault of the Danes, who had settled in the country for many generations and who were by now respectable Christian citizens.
On 13 November 1002, secret orders went out from the king to slaughter all Danes, and massacres occurred all over southern England. The north of England was so heavily settled by the Danes that it is probable that it escaped the brutal plot.
One of the Danes killed in this wicked pogrom was the sister of Sweyn Forkbeard, the mighty king of Denmark. From that time on the Danish armies were resolved to conquer England and eliminate Ethelred. Eadric Streona defected to the Danes and fought alongside them in the war of succession that followed Ethelred’s death. This was the beginning of the end for Anglo-Saxon England.

10) Neither William of Normandy or Harold Godwinson were rightful English kings

We all know something about the 1066 battle of Hastings, but the man who probably should have been king is almost forgotten to history.
Edward ‘the Confessor’, the saintly English king, had died childless in 1066, leaving the English ruling council of leading nobles and spiritual leaders (the Witan) with a big problem. They knew that Edward’s cousin Duke William of Normandy had a powerful claim to the throne, which he would certainly back with armed force.
William was a ruthless and skilled soldier, but the young man who had the best claim to the English throne, Edgar the ‘Aetheling’ (meaning ‘of noble or royal’ status), was only 14 and had no experience of fighting or commanding an army. Edgar was the grandson of Edmund Ironside, a famous English hero, but this would not be enough in these dangerous times.
So Edgar was passed over, and Harold Godwinson, the most famous English soldier of the day, was chosen instead, even though he was not, strictly speaking, ‘royal’. He had gained essential military experience fighting in Wales, however. At first, it seemed as if the Witan had made a sound choice: Harold raised a powerful army and fleet and stood guard in the south all summer long, but then a new threat came in the north.
A huge Viking army landed and destroyed an English army outside York. Harold skilfully marched his army all the way from the south to Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire in a mere five days. He annihilated the Vikings, but a few days later William’s Normans landed in the south. Harold lost no time in marching his army all the way back to meet them in battle, at a ridge of high ground just outside… Hastings.

Martin Wall is the author of The Anglo-Saxon Age: The Birth of England (Amberley Publishing, 2015). In his new book, Martin challenges our notions of the Anglo-Saxon period as barbaric and backward, to reveal a civilisation he argues is as complex, sophisticated and diverse as our own. To find out more, click here.

History Trivia - Henry VIII marries Anne Boleyn

January 25

1533 Henry VIII of England secretly married his second wife Anne Boleyn.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Medieval kebabs and pasties: 5 foods you (probably) didn’t know were being eaten in the Middle Ages

History Extra

Here, freelance writer George Dobbs reveals five examples of commonplace courtly dishes that wouldn't look too out of place on your dinner table today.

Sweet and sour

Sweet and sour rabbit is one of the more curious dishes included in Maggie Black's The Medieval Cookbook. Found in a collection of 14th-century manuscripts called the Curye on Inglish, it includes sugar, red wine vinegar, currants, onions, ginger and cinnamon (along with plenty of “powdour of peper”) to produce a sticky sauce with more than a hint of the modern Chinese takeaway.
The recipe probably dates as far back as the Norman Conquest, when the most surprising ingredient for Saxons would have been rabbit, only recently introduced to England from continental Europe.



In the same manuscript we find instructions for pasta production, with fine flour used to “make therof thynne foyles as paper with a roller, drye it hard and seeth it in broth”. This was known as 'losyns', and a typical dish involved layering the pasta with cheese sauce to make another English favourite: lasagne.
Sadly the lack of tomatoes meant there was no rich bolognese to go along with the béchamel, but it was still a much-loved dish, and was served at the end of meals to help soak up the large amount of alcohol you were expected to imbibe – much as an oily kebab might today.
In Thomas Austin's edition of Two Fifteenth Century Cookery Books, you can find several other pasta recipes, including ravioli and Lesenge Fries – a sugar and saffron doughnut, similar to the modern Italian feast day treats such as frappe or castagnole. The full edition, including hundreds of medieval recipes, can be found online through the University of Michigan database.

Rice dishes

Rice was grown in Europe as early as the 8th century by Spanish Moors. By the 15th century it was produced across Spain and Italy, and exported to all corners of Europe in vast quantities. The brilliant recipe resource shows the wide variety of ways in which rice was used, including three separate medieval references to a dish called blancmager.
Rather than the pudding you might expect, blancmager was actually a soft rice dish, combining chicken or fish with sugar and spices. Due to its bland nature, it was possibly served to invalids as a restorative.
There were also sweet rice dishes, including rice drinks and a dish called prymerose, which combined honey, almonds, primroses and rice flour to make a thick rice pudding.



Wrapping food in pastry was commonplace in medieval times. It meant that meat could be baked in stone ovens without being burnt or tarnished by soot, while also forming a rich, thick gravy.
Pie crusts were elaborately decorated to show off the status of the host, and diners would often discard it to get to the filling. However, there were also pastry dishes intended to be eaten as a whole. In The Goodman of Paris, translated into English by Eileen Power, we find a recipe for cheese and mushroom pasties, and we're even given instruction on how to pick our ingredients, with “mushrooms of one night... small, red inside and closed at the top” being the most suitable.


Subtleties are a famous medieval culinary feature. The term actually encompasses the notion of entertainment with food as well as elaborate savoury dishes, but it's most often used to refer to lavish constructions of almond and sugar that were served at the end of the meal.
These weren't the only way to indulge a sweet tooth, however. Maggie Black describes a recipe in the Curye on Inglish that combines pine nuts with sugar, honey and breadcrumbs to give a chewy candy. And long before it was a health food, almond milk was a commonplace drink at medieval tables. 
So what have we learned? From just a few examples it's easy to see that, despite technological restrictions, cookery of this period wasn't necessarily unskilled or unpalatable. It's true that a cursory glance over recipe collections reveals odd dishes such as gruel and compost, which look about as appetising as their names suggest. But for every grim oddity there were many more meals that still sound mouthwatering today. In fact, many of our modern favourites may have roots in medieval kitchens.

George Dobbs is a freelance writer who specialises in literature and history.

History Trivia - Caligula murdered

January 24

41 Caligula was murdered along with his wife and infant child by a Praetorian tribune while attending the Palatine games. Claudius succeeded his nephew. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

11 things you (probably) didn’t know about Sherlock Holmes

History Extra

Actor William Gillette playing the detective Sherlock Holmes, 1899. (Photo by Gillette/London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images)

In A Holmes & Hudson Mystery: Mrs Hudson and the Spirits’ Curse, Martin Davies reimagines the activities of Baker Street’s best-known residents to bring a fresh twist to the classic Victorian mystery.
Here, writing for History Extra, Davies shares 11 things you (probably) didn’t know about Sherlock Holmes…
Since Sherlock Holmes’ creation, dozens of actors have attempted to portray the great detective – on stage, on radio, in films and on television. But their efforts to breathe new life into this enigmatic character might well have been greeted with bemusement by Holmes’ creator, who wrote in a letter in 1892: “Holmes is as inhuman as Babbage’s Calculating Machine.” Did you know…

1) The first actor to take on the role of Sherlock Holmes in any official capacity was the American William Gillette, whose 1899 stage play was adapted from a script by Conan Doyle himself. Opening six years after the author had attempted to kill off his creation at the Reichenbach Falls, the play was a huge success on both sides of the Atlantic: between 1899 and 1932, Gillette performed the role more than 1,000 times.
Gillette is also credited with introducing the curved briar pipe that was to become synonymous with the great detective – possibly because a straight pipe obscured the actor’s face when he delivered his lines. On first meeting Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Gillette is said to have appeared in character, complete with deerstalker, and after examining Conan Doyle most minutely, to have opined: “Unquestionably an author!”

2) Gillette was also one of the first to annoy the purists by introducing a love interest for Holmes. When he telegraphed Conan Doyle with the question “May I marry him?” the author is said to have replied: “You may marry him, or murder or do what you like with him!” It’s impossible to count the number of writers who, since then, have taken Doyle at his word.

3) Holmes, having survived the Reichenbach Falls, refused to die with his creator. By the time of Conan Doyle’s death [7 July 1930], Holmes was already a star of stage and screen. His film debut, Sherlock Holmes Baffled, came as early as 1900. Just a few seconds long, the film used stop-motion camerawork to show Holmes attempting to grapple with a burglar who repeatedly disappears, then reappears in a different part of the room.

4) One of the oldest surviving film adaptations of Conan Doyle’s work dates to 1916 (William Gillette again), but it was the English duo of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in the 1940s who for many years became identified in the public imagination as the Holmes and Watson.

British actors Nigel Bruce (left) as Dr Watson and Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in 'Pursuit to Algiers', 1945. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Rathbone and Bruce made 14 Sherlock Holmes films between 1939 and 1946 (and starred in more than 200 dramatisations for American radio), yet only the first two films were set in the Victorian period. The others had a contemporary setting, allowing Sherlock Holmes to pursue Nazi spies and to urge the purchase of war bonds. Bruce’s dim, bumbling Watson tends to infuriate Holmes purists.

5) The Adventures of ChubbLock Homes, an early comic strip, appeared in Comic Cuts magazine as early as 1893, and the urge to parody the great detective has never gone away. In 1901, while William Gillette’s official Holmes play was running in London, audiences at Terry’s Theatre were enjoying performances of the rather more frivolous Sheerluck Jones. The comic strip Sherlocko & Watso was hugely popular in the USA in the early 20th century, and silent film parodies abounded. Later in the century, Peter Cook and John Cleese both played comedy Sherlocks on film (Cleese's character was Arthur Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock’s grandson).
Less well remembered, perhaps, is the 1976 TV film The Return of the World’s Greatest Detective, in which a youthful Larry Hagman (before his JR Ewing days) played a deluded motorcycle cop, Sherman Holmes.

6) Even in his early days, Sherlock Holmes was helping manufacturers to sell their products. In the 1890s, the makers of Beecham’s Pills ran advertisements suggesting that the great detective was a devoted user. And as a smoker, Holmes was popular with the tobacco companies. Early cigarette advertisements using Holmes’ image included brands such as Lambert and Butler’s ‘Varsity’ mixture, Chesterfield, Ogden’s, Gallaher’s and Players. Since then, products as diverse as furniture cream, mouthwash, breakfast cereal and photocopiers have all benefited from association with the great man.

"Holmes, it's Marvelous" Pippins Cigar print advert featuring Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. From a series of booklets distributed with The Boston Sunday Post in 1911. Sherlock is drawn to resemble actor William Gillette. (© Contraband Collection/Alamy Stock Photo)

7) With the growth of television after the Second World War, the Baker Street detective was quick to adapt to the new medium. Alan Wheatley was the first actor to portray Holmes on British television – his 1951 series was broadcast live. But it seems Wheatley was not a fan of Holmes. When asked about Holmes’ character, he is said to have replied: “In my opinion he just seemed to be an insufferable prig”.

8) Peter Cushing appeared as Holmes on the BBC in the 1960s. He had already played the detective in the 1959 Hammer film The Hound of the Baskervilles, alongside Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville. Lee was to play Holmes himself in a 1962 film; then, nearly 30 years later, he took up the pipe again, playing an ageing Sherlock in two TV films known together as Sherlock Holmes the Golden Years. Throw in an appearance as Mycroft Holmes in Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, and Sir Christopher almost bagged the complete set. Alas, he never appeared on screen as Doctor Watson.

English actor Peter Cushing as fictional detective Sherlock Holmes with Andre Morell as Dr Watson in a scene from 'The Hound of the Baskervilles', 1959. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)

9) For many people, the definitive portrayal of Sherlock Holmes was by Jeremy Brett, for Granada Television, in the 1980s and 1990s. Brett appeared in 41 episodes, including five feature-length productions. However, even that impressive achievement doesn’t make Brett the most prolific Holmes. That title must go to the British actor Clive Merrison, who played the detective on BBC Radio between 1989 and 1998, and who completed the full canon – dramatisations of all 60 of Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories and novels.

10) And so to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, in which Andrew Scott rose to prominence playing Moriarty. Scott has since appeared in the new James Bond film, Spectre, joining an illustrious club of actors who have performed alongside Britain’s most famous spy and Britain’s most famous detective.
But only Sir Roger Moore has played both leading roles on film. Sadly his one appearance as Holmes – in the 1976 TV-film Sherlock Holmes in New York – is not, perhaps, his most memorable work. Sean Connery never played Holmes, but he did play the ultra-astute friar William of Baskerville in The Name of the Rose, so you might say that he came close.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock (season 1). © Photos 12/Alamy Stock Photo

11) The actor playing Dr Watson to Roger Moore’s Holmes was Patrick Macnee, most famous as John Steed in The Avengers. Macnee played Watson again, 15 years later, alongside Christopher Lee’s Holmes. Then, in 1993, he donned the deerstalker himself in The Hound of London, thus becoming that very rare thing – an actor who has starred in films as both Holmes and Watson.
Martin Davies’ Mrs Hudson and the Spirits’ Curse is published by Canelo. To find out more, click here.

History Trivia - Octavian founds Roman Empire

January 23

7 BC, Augustus Caesar (Octavian) founded the Roman Empire that would last until A.D. 476.  Octavian was granted the title 'Augustus', meaning lofty or serene, by the Roman senate.

Friday, January 22, 2016

List of Medieval Killers found Inscribed on Cathedral Wall may help solve Murder Mystery

Ancient Origins

A group of restorers working inside the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Pereslavl-Zalessky, Russia, have discovered an ancient inscription on one of the walls which details the names of twenty Medieval murderers and conspirators involved in the assassination of the Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal in 1174 AD. The finding helps shed light on one of the great murder mysteries of 12 th century Russia.
Discovery News reports that the inscription was found on the east wall of the cathedral during restoration work. The text refers to a well-known event in history in which Andrey Bogolyubsky, the Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal and one of the most powerful princes of the time, was murdered. 
The inscription is in two columns. The right column reads: “On the month of June 29 Prince Andrey had been killed by his servants. Memory eternal to him and eternal torture to them [lost text].” The left column contains a list of twenty individuals involved in Bogoyubsky’s murder. Three of the people listed are already known to have been involved from historical records. However, the other names were unknown, providing new information about this ancient murder mystery.
The inscription briefly describes the events leading to Bogoybusky’s murder and concludes: “These are murderers of Great Prince Andrey. Let them be cursed.”
Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Pereslavl-Zalessky, Russia, where the ancient inscription referring to a well-known murder were found
Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Pereslavl-Zalessky, Russia, where the ancient inscription referring to a well-known murder were found ( public domain ).

Andrey Bogolyubsky, Powerful Prince of Vladimir

Andrey Bogolyubsky (“Andrew the God-Loving”) was Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal, a major principality that succeeded Kieven Rus, from 1157 until his death in 1174.  Bogolyubsky was largely responsible for the rise of Vladimir as the new capital city of Rus and the decline of Kiev’s rule over northeastern Russian lands.
“Seeing their power strongly reduced, the boyars, or upper nobility, plotted against the autocratic prince,” reports Discovery News.
Grand Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky, by Viktor Vasnetsov
Grand Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky, by Viktor Vasnetsov ( public domain )

The Murder of a Prince

On the night of June 28, 1174, twenty of Bogolyubsky’s disgruntled retainers burst into his bedchamber and stabbed the prince to death.
According to Russiapedia, one of the killers was his wife’s brother, Yakim Kichka, who wanted revenge for the execution of his brother. Indeed, Yakim’s name is listed on the newly discovered inscription.  The other two known murderers were Petr Fralovich and Ambal, also on the list, however, the other conspirators were never known until now.
“The plotters robbed Andrey Bogolyubsky’s possessions, and Andrey’s body was brought to the church, but fearing the anger of the plotters, the clergy didn’t carry out a requiem mass for Andrey,” reports Russiapedia. “Only on the third day was his body put into a coffin. The city of Vladimir suffered from riots and priest Mikulitsa, who had helped Andrey move the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God to the city, walked around the city with the icon and a miracle happened – the riots stopped. Six days after Andrey’s death, his body and the body of his son Gleb, who was only twenty when he died, were moved to Vladimir from Bogolyubovo. People saw that the bodies of Andrey and his son remained incorruptible. After some time Andrey and his son were consecrated saints and their incorruptible relics are said to cure many people.”
Andrey Bogolyubsky (Murder) by Sergei Kirillov
Andrey Bogolyubsky (Murder) by Sergei Kirillov (

Inscription Sheds New Light on Murder

“The murder of the prince is one of the most dramatic and mysterious events of the second half of the 12th century,” Nikolai Makarov, director of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in a statement [via Discovery News].
Now some of this mystery has been resolved with the full list of killers, the number of which corresponds to historical records, now available. 
Historians believe the inscription may have been a type of official announcement about the murder of Prince Andrey, possibly sent by the Vladimir authorities to the main cities of the northeastern Russian lands to be inscribed on the walls of churches. If this is the case, there may have been other inscriptions made on cathedral walls.
Featured image: Main: Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Pereslavl-Zalessky ( public domain ). Inset: Detail of the left column of an inscription found in a Russian cathedral that names men who murdered a prince. Credit: Discovery News .
By April Holloway