Pauli Kettunen, Gale Ambassador at the University of Helsinki I am a second-year student in a programme ambitiously titled ‘Society and Change’ – there is not enough space to describe it here, if you had started wondering! At the university, my main interests are in Political History, in addition to all the other things concerning the history of civil society. In my free time I like cooking, reading, exercising, complaining about politics, and gaming. My latest addiction is reading science fiction by Alastair Reynolds.
Primary sources are essential to the study and research of history, but most of the time students only read textbooks, journal articles, and other academic material. It is, of course, important to study what has been researched, but with such sources the history has already been written out. To my fortune, I took a course in which an essay had to be based on physical archival sources, so I have been to the National Archives of Finland, to inspect material for it. Browsing propaganda leaflets from the 1940s was fascinating, and I decided I wanted to be able to formulate my own interpretations again, and not only rely on texts written by others.
“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.
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.
It is a familiar time for football fans across Europe. Flags decorate bedroom windows, cars, and the faces of millions of hopeful fans, believing that this may be their year. It can only mean the beginning of another football tournament: UEFA Euro 2016. Continue reading →