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 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The Armada Portrait is an outstanding historical document, summarizing the hopes and aspirations of the state as an imperial power, at a watershed moment in history.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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Enrichment – something to listen to and something to read…

Something to listen to / download. The excellent Wild East Radio 4 series – Martin Sixsmith

tlottsAnd something to read. Click here to read The Guardian’s review of Robert Service’s Last of the Tsars

“Service takes pains over his tsar, presenting a fastidious Nicholas, a nervous man of simple tastes who liked to dine on beetroot soup, not stuffed peacocks and caviar. He constantly put duty first, but lacked the flexibility of mind to steer his country in a crisis, let alone the first world war. “His actions,” Service concludes, “were those of a ruler who always thought he was right.” That stubbornness would blind him to his people’s suffering and growing rage. Even as he signed his abdication papers he dreamed that his future might resemble an extended Crimean holiday, complete with family and faithful staff…”

I have a copy if anyone wants to borrow it.

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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Year Nine holocaust prep


Following on from today’s lesson, for prep I would like you to do the following.

  •  Explore the three BBC web pages below.

This account of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz II-Birkenau (here).

The audio slideshow from the Auschwitz Museum explaining the problems of preserving the ageing and crumbling 191-hectare site, with limited funds (here).

Two experts on Auschwitz arguing for and against the idea that the former Nazi death camp should be allowed to crumble away (here)

  • Then post which view you agree with more (and why) below. One paragraph please.

Please note, for your post to appear, I will need to approve it – so don’t worry it is does not show up straight away.

You can of course discuss this with people at home.

Mr Kydd.

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Enrichment – ‘Incredibly rare’ William Caxton print discovered at the University of Reading

_95969287_caxton3If you click here you will get to a BBC report on a find in the University of Reading’s special finds department – two pages of previously unknown print by Claxton.

“Erika Delbecque, special collections librarian at the university, described the find as “incredibly rare”. The two pages, with religious texts in medieval Latin, were produced by Caxton at his pioneering printing works in Westminster – and are now going on public display for the first time since they were sold from his print shop in the 15th Century. They are believed to be from the earliest years of Caxton’s printing press, either 1476 or 1477, and are being hailed as a remarkable discovery.”

You might like follow the links on the page to find out more about Claxton.

Mr Kydd.

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Ten Top Tips for History Exam Revision


As promised, please click  on the link below for those top ten tips.

Mr Kydd.

Ten Top Tips for History Exam Revision

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Places to go (soon) – The British Library – Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths

russian_revolution (1)If you click here you will get to the link for the upcoming Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths exhibition at the British Library (Fri 28 Apr – Tue 29 Aug 2017). Obviously  it is to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, and looks great.

From the fall of Russia’s last Tsar to the rise of the first communist state, this definitive exhibition takes a fresh look at the Russian Revolution 100 years on.

With rarely seen items from both sides of the conflict – from a first edition of the Communist Manifesto to anti-Bolshevik propaganda – this is a unique chance to understand the lesser-known personal stories behind the events that changed the world.

Also on display for the first time, from the British Library’s own archive: Lenin’s handwritten application for a Reader Pass.

Uniting the political and the personal, explore the Russian Revolution’s central characters, most notably Lenin and Trotsky, alongside the tales of ordinary people living through extraordinary times. Did events in Russia in 1917 transform the international landscape forever? Did they shape the world we live in today?

Bringing to life the hope, tragedy and myths of this seismic revolution, discover Russia 1917 – the biggest flame in a world on fire.

Mr Kydd.


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