Category Archives: History

Ashgate authors Iain J. M. Robertson and Richard A. Marsden shortlisted for the Saltire Society Literary Awards

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

Ashgate authors Iain J. M. Robertson and Richard A. Marsden were among those honoured at Scotland’s prestigious Saltire Society Literary Awards on Tuesday, 11th November 2014. Robertson and Marsden were shortlisted for the Research Book of the Year Award and History Book of the Year Award respectively, in the company of acclaimed academics and famed fiction writers, all of whom reside in Scotland, are of Scottish descent, or take a Scottish figure, historical event, or issue as their subject.

In a true celebration of Scottish literary talent, the Awards ceremony took place at Dynamic Earth, an iconic visitor attraction set at the heart of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site, and was supported by the British Council Scotland, Waterstones, the Scottish Historical Review and the National Library of Scotland, amongst others.

Cosmo Innes and the defence of Scotlands pastBoth authors enrich our understandings of crucial moments in Scotland’s history. Marsden considers the work of the influential antiquarian Cosmo Innes (1798-1874) to answer the question of how Victorian Scots reconciled an independent history with a unionist present. Innes, a prolific editor of medieval and early modern documents relating to Scotland’s parliament, universities and church, operated within an elite network, had access to the leading intellectuals and politicians of the day, and had significant influence on a contemporary understanding of Scottish history. Marsden’s ‘masterly scholarly monograph’ (Stefan Berger, Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum, Germany) therefore provides a window onto the ways in which the Scots viewed their own ‘national past.’ You can read more about Cosmo Innes, and its relationship with Scotland’s contested identity in the 21st century, here.

Lanscapes of Protest in the Scottish HighlandsRobertson’s ‘critical landmark in protest history’ (Carl Griffin, University of Sussex, UK) draws on oral testimony and individual case studies to provide a lens through which to explore the fluid and contingent nature of protest performances. He turns to the Scottish Highlands in November 1918. Agrarian change threatened a wave of unemployment and eviction for the land-working population, and those who had served during the First World War found themselves returning to social and economic conditions that should have been left behind. Widespread social protest rapidly followed. Robertson navigates these events in order to illustrate how a range of forms of protest demanded attention (unlike the earlier Land Wars period, these protests were successful) and illustrate the formative role of landscape in people’s lifespaces.

We’d like to extend our congratulations to Richard, Iain, and all the other winners and shortlisted authors honoured at the awards.

Richard A. Marsden works for Cardiff University where he teaches History and coordinates a foundation pathway enabling adults without formal qualifications to progress onto degrees in the historical disciplines. More information about Cosmo Innes and the Defence of Scotland’s Past c. 1825-1875

Iain J. M. Robertson is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Gloucestershire. More information about Landscapes of Protest in the Scottish Highlands after 1914: The Later Highland Land Wars

Honorable Mention for Cruz and Stampino’s ‘Early Modern Habsburg Women’ at the SSEMW Book Awards

Posted by Beth Whalley, Marketing Executive

Early Modern Habsburg WomenWe’re delighted to announce that the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women has awarded an honourable mention to Early Modern Habsburg Women: Transnational Contexts, Cultural Conflicts, Dynastic Continuities (2013) in the category of Best Collaborative Project in their 2013 Book Awards. The society awards this prize to the best edited collection or multi-authored volume on women and gender in the early modern period.

The committee declared that they were particularly impressed by:

“how the collection gathers together in one place essays on six remarkable women of the Spanish and Austrian Habsburg dynasties. The transnational, comparative, and interdisciplinary scope of the essays illuminate the complex negotiations performed by these powerful women who crossed borders defined by gender, geography, language, culture, and politics. The volume exemplifies the richness of women’s history that travels across and between political, disciplinary, and methodological boundaries.”

The six Habsburg women examined in the volume – queens, duchesses, vicereines, and even a nun – had a lasting impact on the diplomatic map of early modern Europe. Through an investigation of archival documents, pictorial and historical accounts, literature, and correspondence, as well as cultural artifacts such as paintings, jewellery and clothing, contributors bring to light the real power of early modern Habsburg women as they moved from court to court and transferred their cultural, religious and diplomatic traditions.

The volume, edited by Anne J. Cruz and Maria Galli Stampino, boasts a variety of contributors from across the globe, and we would like to congratulate each of them for this latest achievement. This isn’t the first time that an Ashgate book co-edited by Anne J. Cruz has been honoured by the SSEMW; Women’s Literacy in Early Modern Spain and the New World (2011) won the prize for Best Collaborative Project in 2011.

About the Editors: Anne J. Cruz is Professor of Spanish and Cooper Fellow at the University of Miami. Maria Galli Stampino is Professor of Italian and French also at the University of Miami.

Contributors: Anne J. Cruz; Joseph F. Patrouch; Maria Galli Stampino; Blythe Alice Raviola; Magdalena S. Sánchez; Vanessa de Cruz Medina; Félix Labrador Arroyo; María Cruz de Carlos Varona; Silvia Z. Mitchell; Mercedes Llorente; Laura Oliván Santaliestra; Cordula van Wyhe.

More information about Early Modern Habsburg Women: Transnational Contexts, Cultural Conflicts, Dynastic Continuities

New series: Image, Text and Culture in Classical Antiquity – Call for proposals

We are currently seeking book proposals for a new series Image, Text and Culture in Classical Antiquity edited by Michael Squire, King’s College, London

Since the Renaissance – and arguably much earlier – European culture has looked to the Classical world for inspiration and enlightenment, and measured its own achievements by the standards of the classical world.

In order to better comprehend this culture, both on its own terms and in light of subsequent generations, this new series provides an innovative and interdisciplinary forum for original research into the arts, literature and cultural history of the Classical World. Attuned to the ways in which different cultural forms mediate different understandings of the Classical past, the series explores both the problems and opportunities of reconstructing classical culture from its surviving archaeological and literary traces. By crossing traditional disciplinary and subdisciplinary boundaries within and beyond the field of Classics, and drawing on approaches developed outside its historicist parameters, the series engages a broad readership from a range of academic perspectives.

As the series title suggests, one defining interest is the intersection (no less than divergence) between Classical visual and verbal media. In what ways do images and texts construct different records of the past, and how did ancient artists and writers themselves theorise the relations between the readable and the visible? Drawing on recent comparative literary and visual cultural studies, the series explores how interdisciplinary approaches can illuminate different aspects of ancient cultural and intellectual history, whilst also showing how Classical materials can in turn nuance more modern theories of visual and verbal mediation.

The Classical world offers a unique opportunity for such study, not only due to its influence on subsequent western literary and artistic traditions, but also because its art is matched only by the sophistication of contemporary written and inscribed texts (and vice versa). The simultaneously collaborating and competing relationships between different media raise broader questions about both historical method and the history of western reading and seeing.

Publishing monographs concerned with all periods of Classical and Graeco-Roman history, from Archaic Greece all the way through to late antiquity, the series is particularly interested in projects structured according to theme, medium or methodological problem rather than chronological timeframe. By studying relations between different media, it offers new historical perspectives on the cultural contexts that gave rise to them; probing, interrogating and provoking scholarship across a wide range of academic disciplines.

For more information on how to submit a book proposal to the series, please contact Tom Gray, at tgray@ashgatepublishing.com.

Series Advisory Board:

Professor Jas’ Elsner, University of Oxford / University of Chicago

Professor Jonas Grethlein, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg

Professor François Lissarrague, l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris

Professor Katharina Lorenz, University of Nottingham

Professor Clemente Marconi, New York University

Professor Susanne Muth, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Professor Richard Neer, University of Chicago

Professor Verity Platt, Cornell University

Dr Jeremy Tanner, University College London

Professor Jennifer Trimble, Stanford

Professor Tim Whitmarsh, University of Oxford

Professor Froma Zeitlin, University of Princeton

The Long Shadows of War: The Aftermath and Legacies of Conflicts in Europe – a guest post from Tim Haughton

Tim HaughtonThis is a guest post by Tim Haughton, Reader (Associate Professor) in European Politics at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, at the University of Birmingham.

This year is full of poignant anniversaries; none more so than the outbreak of the First World War. Whilst the century of the outbreak of ‘the war to end all wars’ has focused attention on the causes of the conflict, as the contributions to the forthcoming edited volume, Aftermath: Legacies and Memories of War in Europe, 1918-1945-1989 highlight, the sight of poppies in the first half of November should also give us pause to reflect on the long shadows cast by that war.

The First World War was the defining conflict of modern European history. Empires were swept away, new states created, social relations were transformed, and old orders were defeated or weakened, bringing in some cases new forces to power, galvanized and legitimized by radical ideological agendas.

Although a century has passed since the guns fell silent and we have lost the last living connections to those battlefields, the aftermath of the First World War, particularly the redrawing of the borders through the Peace Treaties of 1919–1923, continues to matter. Versailles, St. Germain and Trianon bequeathed demographic legacies which shape domestic politics and colour relations between countries, such as Hungary and Slovakia, long after the last casualty fell on the battlefield.

The shadows of war, however, not only matter for countries. We should not underestimate the impact of war and its immediate aftermath on ordinary citizens. Young men were forced to fight in the dirty, noisy and cramped trenches of the First World War, periodically putting their heads above the parapet and advancing into volleys of machine gun fire when asked to go over the top for the sake of a few metres of muddy Flanders fields. For them the war was a profoundly formative experience. The sense of loss and sacrifice felt by the returning soldiers marked them out and isolated them from others in their societies, and this inevitably created divisions.

Indeed, wars create multiple divisions: not just between different countries and empires, and not just between different ethnic groups and regions within a country, but also, as one of the contributors to the volume Mary Fulbrook argues, between generations. War is a transformative experience, which affects generations in different ways. Different generations draw different conclusions and find it difficult to relate to other generations whom they see as obsessive or fundamentally detached from the conflict.

Stress on the individual underlines that there are both private and public aftermaths of war which may sometimes stand in stark contrast. The reified historical narratives of the public may grate and be at odds with the painful personal aftermaths of soldiers and civilians.

Nonetheless, the dark clouds of war can have their silver linings. As Stephen Forcer’s chapter in the volume highlights, such tensions between the personal and the public can provoke – or at least contribute to ‒ innovative cultural trends like the emergence of Dada and Surrealism both of which emerged in part as a reaction to officials and national narratives about the First World War. Indeed, it seems appropriate that from the most absurd of modern conflicts emerged schools of thinking which reify the absurd.

***

Tim Haughton is Reader (Associate Professor) in European Politics at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, at the University of Birmingham. He is author of ‘Constraints and Opportunities of Leadership in Post-Communist Europe’ (Aldershot & Burlington, 2005) and editor of ‘Party Politics in Central and Eastern Europe: Does EU Membership Matter?’ (London, 2010); and ‘The JCMS Annual Review of the European Union’ (Oxford, 2009-present). He was Director of the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies from 2012 to 2014.Aftermath

Aftermath: Legacies of War in Europe – 1918, 1945, 1989, edited by Nicholas Martin, Tim Haughton and Pierre Pursiegle is published by Ashgate in December 2014.

General Sir Henry Horne and the renaissance in British military thought during the First World War – a guest post from Simon Robbins

Simon RobbinsThis is a guest post from Simon Robbins, Senior Archivist at the Imperial War Museum and the author of British Generalship During the Great War: The Military Career of Sir Henry Horne (1861-1929) (2010)

This year, 2014, has seen the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, which offers an opportunity to re-examine the performance on the Western Front of the armies led by Douglas Haig, which remains one of the most controversial eras in the history of the British Army. The public still regards the German Army as the model of military excellence during the First World War while disdaining the British Army as the exemplar of military incompetence and inefficiency.  In reality, the British Army had undergone a profound, often painful, change between 1914 and 1918, becoming remarkably efficient by 1918.  It had progressed from being a small professional force organised for colonial policing to a mass army of volunteers and conscripts which fought a large-scale, high-intensity continental war against a first-class enemy.

The British performance on the battlefield improved considerably between 1915 and 1918. The Last Hundred Days campaign between August and November 1918 was one of the most brilliant offensives of the First World War.  For far too long, the historiography of the British Army during the Great War has focused on the personality of Douglas Haig, who has been a lightning rod for discontent about the performance of the British High Command and given an undue significance.  Insufficient attention has been paid to other senior military figures, notably the army and corps commanders, who led the troops on the battlefield.

The career of Henry Horne who commanded XV Corps and then First Army between 1916 and 1918 provides insights into the learning process on the Western Front and hard evidence of how effective the British Army was. Horne was a highly professional artillery officer and his career contradicts many of the commonly held assumptions about the British High Command.  He was not a chateau general but regularly visited his troops, supervised their training, looked after their comforts and minimized their casualties.  Horne was an outstanding example of the group of senior officers who rose to high command during the final two years of the war.

A renaissance in British military thought in 1916-18, which has been overshadowed by the horrific casualties of the Somme and Ypres, provided not only the basis for the achievement of a British victory in 1918 but also for military development for the rest of the century. In 1917-18 Horne was at the forefront of these developments and his assaults on the Scarpe, the Drocourt – Quéant Line and the Canal du Nord in August and September 1918 were models of combined operations, which broke through the German defences on key sections of their front, inflicting heavy casualties on the Germans and forcing them to retreat.  As an Army Commander Horne would employ the vast fire-power which was available to British commanders as a result of tactical development and innovation during 1916-17.  Along with Birdwood (Fifth Army), Byng (Third Army), Plumer (Second Army) and Rawlinson (Fourth Army), Horne deserves to be remembered as one of the major architects of victory in 1918.

***

British generalship during the great warSimon Robbins is Senior Archivist at the Imperial War Museum and is the author of British Generalship During the Great War: The Military Career of Sir Henry Horne (1861-1929) (2010). Robbins’ book follows the career of Sir Henry Horne to challenge long-held assumptions that the First World War was a senseless bloodbath conducted by unimaginative and incompetent generals. He presents a new model in which men like Horne developed new tactics and techniques to deal with the problem of trench warfare, and in so doing seeks to re-establish the image of the British general.

Military Historian David French on British Generalship During the Great War in The Journal of Modern History:

‘Anyone picking up this book might be forgiven for asking whether we really need another study of the British army during the First World War, and, if we do, whether a biography of a general known to very few besides specialist military historians is the right way to approach the subject. The answer to both questions is an emphatic yes… [Robbins] has now written a study of Sir Henry Horne that not only helps to rescue his career for posterity but also sheds a good deal of light on how the army went about its business between 1914 and 1918.’

 

How did Victorian Scots reconcile an independent history with a unionist present? A guest post from Richard Marsden

richard marsdenThis is a guest post from Richard Marsden, author of Cosmo Innes and the Defence of Scotland’s Past c.1825-1875

With the independence referendum looming, Scotland’s history has become a battleground. Those against separation point to three hundred years of supposed shared culture and values. Those for it point to what they see as a proud independent history stretching back far longer.

Yet the independence movement in Scotland is of relatively recent origin. Up until the 1930s the goal of most Scottish nationalists was home-rule (itself a form of devolution) rather than the abolition of the 1707 union. Indeed in the nineteenth century, union with England went unquestioned by most educated Scots. Such a seemingly uncritical endorsement of union seems puzzling to twenty-first century eyes. It certainly raises questions about how the Scots in this period saw themselves and their place in the United Kingdom.

One of the best ways of answering these questions is to look at how Victorian Scots reconciled an independent history with a unionist present. After all, depictions of the past can often reveal as much about the times in which they were written as they do about the times to which they refer.

Cosmo Innes and the defence of Scotlands pastThis precept is the starting point for my new book: Cosmo Innes and the Defence of Scotland’s Past c.1825-1875. This study uses the work of the influential antiquary Cosmo Innes (1798-1874) to open a window onto Scottish attitudes towards the ‘national past’ in the nineteenth century. What it reveals is not a straight-forward contest between union and independence, but rather a series of debates about Scotland’s relationship with and position within the union.

Interpretations of the past were central to those discussions. Scottish identity in this period rested on legal, educational and religious institutions that were distinct from those of England, as well as less tangible considerations such as landscape, architecture, descent, and national character. As a result, historical scholarship was framed by questions about the extent to which the development of these elements in the past had contributed to Scotland’s happy state in what was, for Innes and his compatriots, the present.

Innes saw much of value in Scotland’s pre-1707 history. In his view, Scottish institutions were singularly suited to Scottish national character because both had been forged through the same shared historical experience. For Innes, like many of his countrymen, past independence and present-day union were not at odds. Instead, it was that very history which enabled the country to stand in equal partnership with England in a way that Wales and Ireland could not.

Such attitudes are particularly telling given that the intellectuals of the Enlightenment had bequeathed to their nineteenth-century successors a profoundly negative view of the Scottish past. To them, it was union with England rather than any internal processes of historical progress that had dragged Scotland into the modern civilised age. A sizable proportion of Innes’s peers shared that view. They were consequently unconvinced by his attempts to reinvigorate Scotland’s sense of its own historically-based identity.

Innes’s views were thus a radical departure from those of the previous generation. Yet he also remained utterly committed to union, believing that Scotland’s well-being rested upon a close association with England as well as on the nation’s own unique history prior to 1707. Indeed like many of his fellows he believed that the lowland Scots were of the same Saxon stock as the English, and had little in common with the Celts of the Highlands. Innes’s work on Scottish history was therefore imbued with a desire to restore the union rather than break it; to return to the alliance of equals which, he believed, it had originally been.

So how does all this relate to the referendum debate today?

On the one hand we might argue that the roots of Scottish nationalism can be traced deep into the nineteenth century, despite the fact that this period was characterised by a near universal commitment to union. On occasion, Innes certainly employed stirring language that would not look out of place in a present-day political pamphlet. Yet on the other, we could point out that Scottish national identity does not always go hand in hand with aspirations to statehood. In a cultural sense it was alive and well at a time when political separatism would have been the perceived as purview of cranks and extremists.

Whichever way we look at it, the fact remains that Scotland’s past continues to be contested territory in arguments about the nation’s future. That is as true in the twenty-first century as it was in the nineteenth.

How the First World War has been symbolized over the past century – a guest post from Stephen Heathorn

StephenHeathornThis is a guest post from Stephen Heathorn, author of Haig and Kitchener in Twentieth-Century Britain: Remembrance, Representation and Appropriation

One of the long-lasting images of the British experience of the First World War has been that the British fielded armies were filled with brave soldiers (‘lions’) led by incompetent, reckless and callous generals (‘donkeys’), the latter sitting safe miles behind the murderous frontlines.  This ‘lions led by donkeys’ image became very popular after the Second World War because it implicitly contains a then popular critique of British society: the British high command had been led by aristocrats and gentry who, because of their class position, were largely contemptuous of the middle- and working-class men they sent into battle.

This view of the war was emotionally satisfying for some as it identifies clear villains and victims of the conflict, which was especially important after the interwar years demonstrated that the war had not brought about a necessarily better Britain and the second calamity of the Second World War solidified existing doubts on the motivations for going to war in 1914 in the first place.  But the very idea of ‘lions led by donkeys’ is a myth.  It is a way of understanding the past that contains elements of the actual story, but arranged in a way that overly simplifies what had happened and apportions responsibility for tragedy too neatly and without full context.  It is also not the way in which most people in Britain understood the First World War prior to the 1950s.

A number of historians have tried to debunk the ‘lions led by donkeys’ myth, showing that as a group the British generals (of which there were hundreds who saw service, and some 78 were killed in action) learned the necessary lessons of trench warfare better and quicker than did their opponents, which is why Britain and its allies were able to defeat the Germans.  Others have argued that the generals did not learn very quickly, but that ultimately they were never in complete control of their armies’ efforts anyway, and indeed, because of the limitations of technology at the time, often could not even communicate effectively with their subordinates while battle raged.  Technological, logistical, demographic and geographical factors impinged on what the leaders of the armies could do – regardless of their imaginative frame of mind or tactical abilities.

But the generals at the top – Field Marshals Douglas Haig and Herbert Horatio Kitchener in particular – have since the war continued to be the focus of popular fascination, regardless of whether they have been depicted (as they have at various times) as heroes, villains, unfairly scapegoated, or really quite irrelevant.  Indeed, at different times over the course of the 20th century these two men have become symbols of how the war itself was popularly understood and argued about.  Haig, for instance, was given a hero’s funeral attended by more than a million people in 1928, when the mass of the population still believed (or wanted to believe) that the war had resulted in a meaningful, if costly, victory.  The proposed statue in Whitehall (actually erected in the late 1930s) to commemorate him was controversial from the start not because Haig was reviled, but because numerous constituencies wanted it to reflect their values and sacrifices: the monument to Haig was popularly perceived as standing for more than just the man, Haig stood as a contested symbol of how the British war effort ought to be understood.  Similarly, in the 1990s when a newspaper campaign was launched to have the Haig statue removed, it was because a far more negative view of the war (more in line with the ‘lions led by donkeys’ image) had become popularly entrenched.

Haig’s example points to one of the paradoxes of how the First World War has been remembered and popularly understood.  For while it was a conflict that involved millions and operated according to a depersonalized, alienating logic, subsequent attempts to understand the war have almost invariably tried to do so through the experience and understanding of individual participants.  The experience of a few individuals in the trenches immortalized by the young officer-writers like Owen, Graves and Sassoon, subsequently came to represent for many who did not experience it first hand, what the war was like for the ‘everyman’ in the trenches.  These writers and their perceptions shaped our culture’s understanding of what the war (and indeed for some, all modern war) was like.  The changing representations (and their subsequent use, politically, commercially and academically) of the military leadership, on the other hand, points to the continuing need to have heroes/villains who might be held accountable for the events that occurred – even if such an accounting overly simplifies/amplifies these men’s actual role.  Both representations – of the everyman soldier and of the general – have telescoped a huge variety of experience and context into simple, mutually re-enforcing symbols that have changed considerably over the course of the century since the war began.  Understanding how these symbols have evolved provides us insight into how the war itself has been understood, and why those understandings have changed.

Stephen Heathorn is Professor of British History and Director of Graduate Studies of the Department of History at McMaster University, Canada  He is the author of the research monographs, ‘Earl Kitchener and Earl Haig in Twentieth Century Britain: Remembrance, Representation and Appropriation’ (Ashgate, 2013), and ‘For Home, Country and Race: Constructing Gender, Class and Englishness in the Elementary School Classroom, 1880-1914′ (University of Toronto Press, 2000), and more than two dozen peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters.

Haig and KitchenerMore about Haig and Kitchener in Twentieth-Century Britain: Remembrance, Representation and Appropriation