I thought this pair of articles deserved their own post, because it's two ways to look at the coal industry during the industrial revolution. On the one hand, you've got how coal production expanded and its economic role here, but on the other there's the human side, and we have a piece on living and working conditions in the mines.
Developments in iron production were at the heart of the industrial revolution, with technological advances causing greater production and the industry to physically move to new places; here's more. However, it's steam that the most famous development, so we have a look at how it slots in.
This month we expand our industrial revolution content with a look at causes and preconditions, and the often overlooked issue of banking and finance. We also have snapshots of two key figures: Richard Arkwright and Abraham Darby I.
Some of the press surrounding the recent acquisition of Crimea by Russia included the statement that they were changing borders established in the aftermath of World War 2. However, Crimea was transferred to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic by the Russian Soviet Federation in 1954. The reason why is indistinct, and Mark Kramer, Director of the Cold War Studies Program at Harvard University, has posted his deduction via the Wilson Center website. If you want the shorthand, Khrushchev used sending Crimea to Ukraine to gather support in his battle for power after Stalin's death.
Richard J Evans, a historian I greatly admire, has written a book on 'counterfactual' history, a subject I find good fun (examples of counterfactual include what would have happened if Britain had stayed out of WW1). It looks an interesting read, but this review from the Times Higher Education Supplement concludes fans of alternate history will be disappointed as Evans finishes, well, not exactly a fan. Indeed, in a small interview with Evans at the end of the review he gives a definite statement on another subject: "so I gave up historical fiction; it's not really for grown-ups." Controversial, and not something I personally agree with even though I rarely read any.
Two experts, Michael Hicks of the University of Winchester, and Professor Martin Biddle, Director of the Winchester Research Unit, have spoken to BBC History Magazine about their great concerns regarding the identification of a skeleton found under a car park as Richard III. Both are worried by delays in releasing details on the evidence, and in what the holders of the skeleton claim. They want a coroner's style inquest into the issue, which seems fair enough.
As with the last time I spoke about the effect of the weather on heritage, I feel a little bad talking about historical sites when so many people have suffered in the storms. But after a winter of harsh weather, English Heritage have identified twenty five of its sites of particular historic interest as being at major risk from coastal erosion or flooding. There's more in this Guardian article, but what I wanted to stress was that this listing of twenty five could be vastly expanded because there are masses of interesting historical sites near the coast - Britain is an island nation after all - which are being damaged by what feels like extremes of weather. (Well, extreme for Britain.)
History Extra have an interview with Saul David about a mass escape of British officers from a German prisoner of war camp in the last year of World War One. They tie it into 'The Great Escape' of World War Two, and make a claim that it should be better known.
With a vote coming for Scottish independence, we examine how England and Scotland came to be united in the first place. We also look at what would happen if you'd been unlucky enough to catch the Black Death, and we tease next month with quick looks at canal pioneer Francis Egerton, and steam pump helper / hinderer Thomas Savery.
I don't suppose anyone is going to the 300 sequel to see history, but the BBC have a nice article from Professor Paul Cartledge outlining five major problems with the film, from the grossly overplayed role of Artemisia, the same problem with the Spartans and other issues.