“Every infraction of this order will be punished as treason”: the fallout from newspaper coverage of the ‘Christmas Truce’
Over Christmas in 1914, one of the most extraordinary and civilised moments of the combat on the Western Front happened: the press dubbed it ‘the Christmas Truce’, an event to modern eyes so inexplicable and contradictory to our perceptions of war that it seems it almost cannot be true.
The British press – one of the noisiest, most opinionated and longest-running media institutions in the world – is known for its history of wide-ranging debate and reporting. Encompassing so many digital newspaper archives, the Gale Primary Sources programme offers a comprehensive view of the landscape of opinions and commentary which have featured in the British press at any one time. This makes it a great resource for those studying contemporary opinions about a particularly issue or controversy, or how attitudes have evolved over time. This is the first of two posts looking at how persuasion, debate and clashes of opinion have coloured the British press at particular historical moments; in this case, during the First World War. Next week I’ll be posting about the altercations that arose around the rise of Fascism. As well as some of the most well-known arguments, these posts will bring to the fore views which have now been side-lined, discredited or simply eclipsed by modern interpretations. Continue reading →
When reading through some documents contained within the State Papers’ SP94 (Spain) series recently, I was struck by some parallels between early-eighteenth century diplomatic relations and those of our current post-‘Brexit’ times. There is palpable tension in Anglo-Spanish relations from the letters exchanged between British Ambassador to Spain Paul Methuen and James Stanhope, Secretary of State for the Southern Department.
More broadly, this was a time of flux for European relations, with 1713 marking the end of what has been termed the first ‘global’ war: the War of Spanish Succession. Lasting for thirteen years, the war placed greater strain on European ties. Developing from a dispute over the succession of the Spanish throne when King Carlos II died childless in 1700 (leaving the Bourbon, Philippe Duc d’Anjou as his heir), England, Austria, and the Dutch Republic could not countenance a Franco-Spanish alliance dominating Europe. They therefore rejected the proposed succession by declaring war. After a thirteen-year campaign, the 1713 treaty concluding the war confirmed the succession of Philippe as Felipe V of Spain. As those letters show though, this succession prompted a re-evaluation of Anglo-Spanish trade arrangement. Continue reading →
Mahatma Ghandi, Winston Churchill, Benazir Bhutto. Three iconic political figures who each touched the lives of scores of people around the world during their illustrious lives. What is perhaps lesser known is that all three feature in Chatham House Online Archive, having contributed in one form or another to the world-renowned UK think tank. Ranked the second most influential think tank globally in 2015, Chatham House has offered the perfect platform for leading thinkers in their fields to voice their thoughts on the international affairs of the day.
As the EU Referendum in the UK draws ever nearer, and the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns gather pace, I took the opportunity to delve into Chatham House Online Archive; its comprehensive coverage of over 80 years of international affairs includes the last UK referendum in 1975, which saw a two-thirds majority in favour of continued European Economic Community (EEC – the precursor to the EU) membership. Looking at five pieces of content from a range of contributors reveals some intriguing insights, and continuities, which have characterised Britain’s relationship with Europe over the past forty-four years.
By: Dr. Dallas Liddle, Associate Professor and Chair of English, Augsburg College
Marshall McLuhan is supposed to have said that “the content of a new medium is always an old medium.” He intended the observation as wry cultural criticism, but as a literary historian I am grateful every day that so many new research media are now brimming with the contents of great past media: newsstands, theatres, libraries, music halls, stereopticons, and magic lantern shows. Lately I have started to hope that the benefits of these research tools may go far beyond the convenience of having so many original texts, images, and artifacts instantly available. New methods of “data-mining” using database archives, if we do them creatively and well, may help researchers better understand how the old media forms themselves worked and developed.
The hope grows from recent experience. I started “data mining” the Gale Times Digital Archive not long ago, after struggling for nearly twenty years with questions about Victorian newspapers that traditional archival research had been unable to answer. Continue reading →
With Australian Heritage Week nearly upon us (16 – 24 April), the following is a post concerning a particular perspective of Australian colonial history, being a perspective that can be researched in detail with Gale Primary Sources collections. It concerns Australia’s paradoxical relationship with England since 1788, as reflected within the pages of London’s Punch magazine and its Australian editions – most of which can be seen in Gale Primary Sources collections, Punch Historical Archive, 1841 – 1992 and 19th Century UK Periodicals. Continue reading →
It is widely regarded as the battle of the First World War; an enormous clash of attrition which epitomised the bloody stalemate of the war. The ten-month Battle of Verdun began 100 years ago, with German Chief of Staff General von Falkenhayn seeking to ‘bleed France white’ by launching an all-out attack on the narrow stretch of land at Verdun. Over a thousand German artillery guns fired upon the vastly inferior number of French troops – they had just 30,000 men, against 140,000 Germans – along a six-mile stretch of the French front. The battle which followed was to last for over 300 days. By looking at personal sources from Nineteenth Century Collections Online, the sheer scale of this part of the conflict is clear to see. Continue reading →