The History Girls: On The Trail of Cleopatra: Part 2 by Lucy Coats

Creative Commons: Edwardwexler

In my last post for The History Girls, I talked about the importance of research. For the second of my two Cleopatra novels, CHOSEN, it was even more vital for me to get it as right as I could – and in some ways even harder to do so. The research I had to do for the first book took me to the depths of ancient Alexandria (almost literally), and to Philäe. This time my Cleo had a longer journey, to Crocodilopolis in the Fayum, across the White Desert and back and then on to Rome. The challenges of portraying such a wide-ranging panorama of settings in an authentic way without…

Source: The History Girls: On The Trail of Cleopatra: Part 2 by Lucy Coats

‘Bloody Mary’ or just Mary I? | W.U Hstry


The brutal personality of Mary I of England (1553-1558) has countlessly been regurgitated in historiography on the Tudor period. “Bloody Mary” is a name we know a lot more than Mary I, and the associations we link with this cause us to have one limited perspective on her personality as a monarch and the nature of her rule as a whole.

Admittedly, her actions in her own religious and political legislation show her hatred of what she saw…

Source: ‘Bloody Mary’ or just Mary I? | W.U Hstry

The real story behind the assassination of Julius Caesar | New York Post

“The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination” by Barry Strauss (Simon & Schuster)

On Feb. 15, in the year 44 BC, Julius Caesar, the all-powerful ruler of Rome, visited a soothsayer named Spurinna, who “predicted the future by examining the internal organs of sacrificial animals,” among other omens.

As per the ritual, Caesar “sacrificed a bull,” and Spurinna “made the chilling announcement that the beast had no heart.”

Brave Caesar was “unmoved,” but Spurinna said that he feared Caesar’s life “might come to a bad end,” and warned the dictator that “his life would be in danger for the next 30 days.”

He did not say anything about the “Ides of March,” just one difference of many between the version of Caesar’s assassination presented by William Shakespeare and the likely truth, according to Cornell University history professor Barry Strauss’ new book, “The Death of Caesar.” Strauss pored through ancient texts to determine…

Source: The real story behind the assassination of Julius Caesar | New York Post

Santa’s Helper and the Queen’s Christmas Gift (Christmas History 16) | Windows into History

Lady Harriet Julia Jephson was an artist and writer, who wrote about her travel experiences in Notes of a Nomad, published in 1918.  The Great War hung heavy over her narrative, and she reflected upon her many acquaintances who had been lost in the war.  One in particular, caused her to remember a Christmas anecdote:

This cruel war, alas! has robbed each of a gifted son. Keith Anthony Stewart, a singularly brilliant scholar and athlete, a most lovable character and gallant soul, fell leading his platoon at Aubers Ridge on the 9th May, 1915. His noble, dauntless spirit showed itself even as a small child. At one time he had a great idea of the Navy as a future career, which Lord Galloway discouraged. One day Keith was out in a boat in Galloway Bay with his father, and the sea being very rough, poor Keith was desperately sea-sick.

“Aha, my boy,” said his father unsympathetically, “what about the Navy now?”

A small, very white face raised itself from the bottom of the boat, and…

Source: Santa’s Helper and the Queen’s Christmas Gift (Christmas History 16) | Windows into History

Marius and the Volunteer Army


At Cannae, in Southern Italy, the Army of the Roman Republic faced Hannibal in the 2nd Punic War.

At the time a Roman citizen could not “join” the Army; it was an honor reserved for those of property and standing.  It was expected of those with property and standing.  It was not expected of the poor.  It would be another hundred years before Gaius Marius allowed “ordinary” citizens to enlist.

At the time of Cannae  the standard requirements to become a Roman soldier were very…

Source: Marius and the Volunteer Army

Why did the western half of the Roman empire collapse?


I know this is not modern European history but I thought this essay I wrote a  few weeks ago would make a fun post!

Diocletian and Constantine succeeded only in postponing the collapse of the Roman empire, not in preventing it. After the death of Constantine in 337 A.D, the signs of decay increased. Nonetheless, the fall was inevitable and in 476 A.D the western half of the Roman empire fell in the hands of the Germanic Kingdoms.

St Augustine in his book, ‘City of God’ explained that Rome fell not because of the abandonment of the pagan gods to Christianity but because it was the general plan of the universe. In contrast to Augustine’s explanation, Edward Gibbon explains that the fall of the Roman empire was a tragedy which he sums up the sentence,,’’I have described triumph of Barbarism and religion’’. Marcellinus, the last great Roman historian described the fall as…

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Ancient Rome and Modern Pittsburgh | Theory Of Irony

Originally posted on Theory Of Irony.

Proud Rome rose mightily from its humble origins. The so-called “Eternal City,” once a sad and swampy little clump of huts, had been founded according to tradition way back around 753 BC. It was established, depending upon whom you believe, by either the Greeks, the Trojans, the Etruscans or by two sociopathic orphan boys – named Romulus and Remus – and a wolf (please don’t ask). Whatever the true origin, this hamlet by all accounts grew over time into a powerful City-State and then it evolved into a sprawling Empire. So by the third century AD, mother Rome had given birth to a large brood of colonial, garrison towns speckled across Europe, places looking much like its own former self. Of course, the Empire eventually fell and these garrison towns – like abandoned children in a way – matured into Cities with familiar names like London, Paris and Bonn. And they themselves became capitals of great colonial Empires like France, Britain and Germany.

Nearly two millennia went by when a couple of these Roman orphans – Britain playing Romulus to France’s Remus – came to blows. It seems Britain had colonized places on the American coast, like Philadelphia, and an affronted France had settled further inland at sites…

via Ancient Rome and Modern Pittsburgh | Theory Of Irony.

Council of Nicaea | Theory Of Irony

The stage was set, in 312 AD, for one of the most surreal, maybe miraculous events in history. The Western Caesar Constantine started marching his army of perhaps forty thousand over the Alps and into Italy, the home turf of his nemesis, a Roman Usurper named Maxentius.  It may have seemed suicidal to Constantine’s men who were outnumbered perhaps four-to-one, since conventional wisdom holds that an attacking force itself needs a three-to-one advantage.  But, they did absolutely everything right and what happened next depends upon whom you believe.  Constantine, some say, saw a heavenly vision – a cross of light superimposed over the sun.  Or, he saw some rare, natural phenomena like a sun devil which he earnestly perceived as a heavenly cross of light superimposed over the sun.  Or, the impending battle caused Constantine to hallucinate a heavenly cross of light superimposed over the sun.  Or, Constantine sensed the now undeniable momentum of the Christians and so, came to convince himself that a heavenly cross of light had been superimposed over the sun.  Or, he lied and made the whole thing up.

Maxentius, by contrast, did absolutely everything wrong.  He lost a series of preliminary battles.  Then, fearing the same paranoid subterfuge inside Rome which brought him to power, he abandoned the City’s walls, which he had only recently strengthened, to confront his adversary outside.  In doing so, Maxentius quizzically abandoned a strategy that had twice saved him.  Only now, he followed his generals instead of leading them and lost the opening skirmish at nearby Via Flamina.  The Usurper, and his remaining troops, fled with all the decorum of ostriches running into the wind to a place called Milvian Bridge.  There, everyone from the doe-eyed believer to the squint-eyed cynic agree the stars altered in their courses.  In the following minutes the once undefeatable Maxentius stampeded with…

Read more: Council of Nicaea | Theory Of Irony.