Fellow heathen historians.

Welcome to the new heathen history site. This news feed will host all the general A Level history news, and materials. We hope that this will build up to be a collection of enriching materials that will reflect the broad and diasporait nature of the discpline. Below is a good example of this.

In November 2012 BBC Radio 3 ran a series of fifteen minute lectures from young academics in the humanities and the arts. Here Jonathan Healey gives a talk questioning the value of learning lessons from history. He argues ”that lessons drawn from the past and applied to our own world are meaningless, despite what we are told by best-selling historians and television documentaries. It is precisely because the past is so foreign that we are able to understand what is so unique about today.” Have a listen and see what you think.

Mr Kydd.

Please find here the department’s 5Rs document (Research, Reflect, Review, Read around, and Respond to feedback). It sets out what A Levels students should expect from us, and what we expect from you. The diagrams below shows the skills that we want you to develop and some of the reasons why historians disagree…



The essay planning sheet master can be found here

The LVS netvibes page can be found here

A* students share their revision secrets here

Writing advice from the University of Reading can be found here


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Enrichment – places to go – the Tate Modern – Red Star over Russia

If you click  you here you will get to the front page for Tate Modern’s Red Star over Russia exhibition. It opens tomorrow and is explained as follows…

“Rebellion brought hope, chaos, heroism and tragedy as the Russian Empire became the Soviet Union, endured revolutions, civil war, famine, dictatorship and Nazi invasion. A new visual culture arose and transformed the fabric of everyday life.

The core of this exhibition comes from the extraordinary collection of photographer and graphic designer David King (1943–2016). He started his collection of over 250,000 items relating to this period while working for The Sunday Times Magazine in the 1970s. The collection was acquired by Tate in 2016.

This show is an opportunity to see the rare propaganda posters, prints and photographs collected by King – some bearing traces of state censorship. Including work by El Lissitzky, Gustav Klutsis, Dmitri Moor, Aleksandr Deineka, Nina Vatolina and Yevgeny Khaldei, it is a thrilling journey through a momentous period in world history.”

It would make an excellent afternoon out during the Christmas holidays. The Independent’s review can be found by following the link.

Mr Kydd.

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Is the Russian Revolution something celebrate or regret?

1509890406693A couple of nice enrichment articles from the BBC to mark the centenary of the October Revolution.

  • If you click here you get a small video asking the question – is the Russian Revolution something celebrate or regret?
  • If you click here you will get to ten propaganda posters from 1917.
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History in the news – JFK files: What do the newly released records tell us about Kennedy’s assassination?

leeharveyoswald2610b If you click here you will get to the Evening Standard’s summary of the recent release of the 2,800 new Kennedy documents. If you click here you will get the BBC’s analysis. Of course, they do not settle the conspiracy debate either way (see the two videos below) – but perhaps they are most useful to us as they reflect paranoia and fear of the post-Cuban Missile Crisis Cold War. Both sides seemed to fear that the assassination was a precursor to a nuclear attack from the other side.

Have a read / watch and see what you think.

Mr Kydd.

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Enrichment – something to watch – Elizabeth’s secret agents

The first of the four part series aired tonight. You can watch them here. Please do – it is excellent enrichment for our course. The trailer below gives you a taste.

The full program can be found below.

If you want more from the BBC’s Tudor season David Starkey’s contribution be found below.

Mr Kydd.

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Enrichment – History in the news – Ursula Haverbeck: 88-year-old Holocaust denier historian given six-month prison sentence.

Ursula HaverbeckOne for History Society.

If you click here you will get to The Independent’s account of the jailing of Ursula Haverbeck for Holocaust denial. This is a criminal offence in Germany, carrying a sentence of up to five years in jail.

“Ursula Haverbeck, who has been branded the “Nazi grandma” by German press, was sentenced by a Berlin court on Monday for denying the holocast at an event in Berlin back in January 2016.

She claimed the Holocaust did not take place and there were no gas chambers at the Auschwitz Nazi death camp. Auschwitz is the largest mass murder site in human history and an estimated 1.1 million people died there.

Ms Haverbeck, who once declared the Holocaust was “the biggest and most sustainable lie in history” in a TV interview, has never spent time in prison before despite having several previous convictions for holocaust denial.”

It does of course raise the classic debating question of free speech Vs the well being of the state. Whilst we historians think of this in terms of the collapse of Weimar Germany,  the rise of the far right AfD in Germany’s recent elections perhaps make this a more modern political issue.

Have a read and see what you think.

Mr Kydd.

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Enrichment – Places to visit (soon) – The Greenwich Maritime Museum to see the Armada Portrait

If you click here you will get to the Greenwich Maritime Museum page on the famous Armada Portrait. Recently saved for the nation, this iconic portrait of Elizabeth I commemorates the most famous conflict of her reign – the failed invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in summer 1588. The Armada Portrait is currently off display for essential conservation work, to preserve its fragile painted surfaces which are over 400 years old. The work is expected to take until the autumn.

The follow three minute clips explains the restoration work.

The Armada Portrait is an outstanding historical document, summarizing the hopes and aspirations of the state as an imperial power, at a watershed moment in history. But the Armada Portrait transcends this specific moment in time. Scholars have described it as a definitive representation of the English Renaissance, encapsulating the creativity, ideals and ambitions of the Elizabethan ‘Golden Age’.

Why not go an visit when it is back on display.

Mr Kydd.

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Obituary – Denis Mack Smith

MAck SmithIf you click here you will get to a lovely obituary for the great Denis Mack Smith in the Oxford Mail by Stuart Rust .

“He challenged some of the myths that had built up around the Risorgimento, in part due to fellow historian George Macaulay Trevelyan. Mr Trevelyan celebrated the Risorgimento as an example of liberal idealism and patriotism coming together. Prof Mack Smith, however, viewed the Risorgimento in a very different light, claiming it was the result of strong political and personal rivalries in the nation. Other notable works Mr Mack Smith published during his lifetime include Italy: A Modern History, first penned in 1958, revised in 1986, and finally completely revised and reprinted as Modern Italy: A Political History in 1997.”

It is well worth a read.

In truth, I am a little disappointed that the passing of the great man (albeit at a very respectable 97!) has received so little press. He was an original thinker, and he wrote with a beautiful and lucid style. Any A level historian could do a lot worse than read Mack Smith if they want to learn how to structure an argument with clarity and without pretension.

Perhaps Mack Smith’s most important work was Cavour and Garibaldi As Jonathan Steinbeck commented he “told many Italians what they did not want to hear, but told them at a special point in their history when they had no choice but to listen. Denis Mack Smith became and has remained one of the most important historians of Italy. His confrontations with Renzo De Felice over their respective interpretations of Mussolini have taken place before huge audiences of Italian television watchers and his books are widely available everywhere in Italy”.

Mr Kydd

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Enrichment – things to discuss – How valid are the parallels between the Trump administration and 1930s Germany ?

Trump KongIf you click here you will get to an Independent write up of historian Timothy Snyder’s article for  The Guardian (it can be found here  but is not the easiest of reads). Snyder is a leading Yale historian, who suggests that Republicans today “risk  remembered like the conservatives of 1930s Germany, who were overcome by the radical right in Adolf Hitler’s ascension to power”.

  • How valid are his arguments ?
  • Is this good history / helpful ?

We will discuss this in a History Society session in September. For now, have a read and see what you think.

Mr Kydd.

“Writing in The Guardian, Timothy Snyder, Housum professor of history at Yale University, claims the “mendacity-industrial complex of the Trump administration makes conservatism impossible, and opens the floodgates to the sort of drastic change that conservatives opposed”. 

He examines the language of the President’s campaign and of his staff, from Chief Strategist Steve Bannon to the administration’s acknowledgement of Holocaust Remembrance Day, and its relation to the far-right in 1930s Germany and America.

Mr Snyder claims Mr Bannon wants to undo the legacies of 1940s America, which saw a fight against fascism and the results of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, which provided jobs and financial support for millions of Americans affected by the Great Depression…”

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Enrichment – things to watch – treasures of the Anglo-Saxons

A little summer treat for you all from the BBC (in four 15 minute sections). A bit of art history and archaeology combine to explore Sutton Hoo. If you want to see the artifacts, they are on display in the British Museum.

Mr Kydd.

Dr Nina Ramirez reveals the codes and messages hidden in Anglo-Saxon art. From the beautiful jewellery that adorned the first violent pagan invaders through to the stunning Christian manuscripts they would become famous for, she explores the beliefs and ideas that shaped Anglo-Saxon art. Examining many of the greatest Anglo Saxon treasures – such as the Sutton Hoo Treasures, the Staffordshire Hoard, the Franks Casket and the Lindisfarne Gospels – Dr Ramirez charts 600 years of artistic development which was stopped dead in its tracks by the Norman Conquest“.

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If you are still undecided…

840x4501Year Thirteen,

If you want access to some of those How should I vote ? quizzes, then please click on the links below…


Now go and do some revision.

Mr Kydd.

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