Archive for August, 2011

The French Revolution For Dummies

Eugene Delacroix: La liberte guidant le peuple

The wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn’t believe what I’d become

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

ColdPlay:Viva La Vida

I bring you basically a dummies guide to the French Revolution, we could go into much more detail. This would of course go against one of the core aims of the History Guys Project to provide history for the general public to pick up and read. The Reasoning for the ColdPlay song is pretty clear, as in a way it is a micro history of the storming of the Bastille and also the be heading of King Louis XVI. The Birth of a Republic, grown from the lower classes, not like the American Revolution started by a bunch of wealthy middle class slave and business owners. In a sense both can be called a Republic that was just my personal view of course. There is a lot to cover so  pointing out the main facts.

The Basics :

1789: With the economic fall out of the American War of Independence , King Louis XVI needed to in a sense pay back loans and maintain Frances powerful fleet, and funds which helped the American war effort. (American history in their schools never give the Prussians and the French enough credit). This meant that he had to go to the Nobility for the funds, which the clergy had certain tax breaks from in a sense. The Third Estate had to carry most of the burden.( for Estate system see below).

The Estate system:

First: Clergy

Second: Nobility

Third: Common People

The Calls for the Third Estate to get greater political power, was frowned upon by the Second and First. This mounted pressure on the King to stop any threat of uprising.  27th June 1789 The National Assembly created. Followed Quickly by Georges Lefebure, Declaration of the Rights of man, the circulation of this paper was astronomic. The first edition can still be seen under lock and guard in the Paris Archives today, but with special privileges.

The Assembly was run by Mirabeau, in some of the Kings inner circle he was seen as a radical of some sorts. Mary Antoinette’s wanted him replaced as she feared her husband’s power was being eroded. Baron de Bretenil replaced Mirabeau. This caused political problems especially in Paris. At the time the country was in a way starving, the Price of wheat and Grain was high and people could not even afford bread. Problems where brewing.

Antoinette’s statement of “Let them Eat cake” is not true .

Storming of the Bastille 

The 14th July 1789, a group of people started to march towards the Bastille the power and symbol of Bourbon rule in France. The interesting fact is that no one knows why this group started to march towards the Bastille on that day it just sort of happened.  The rest as you know is History. “Housing only seven old men annoyed by all the disturbance: four forgers, two “lunatics” and one “deviant” aristocrat”


1791: New French constitution adopted which included some form of the Rights of man. France became in a sense a Constitutional Monarchy.

1791: Alliance between Austria (King Leopold II) and Prussia ( Friedrich William II) wanted to move against France but not without British help.

1792: The Revolutionary Wars begin. King Louis arrested as he tries to flee.

                          22nd September: proclamation of the Republic

 21st January 1793: King Louis and Mary Antoinette executed.

Cool Facts:

La Marseillaise (French National Anthem) Came from the aftermath of the Revolution

The whole of Paris during the Great terror smelt of blood and guts

Set the Basis for the Human Rights laws, through the declaration of the Rights of man

The metric System became adopted in France and Europe during the following wars…thank you France

Below is the Death of King Louis XVI ( what is not shown is that by this time the square was soaked in blood, people even put bits of clothing into the kings blood, as a keep sake)


The Female is always Deadlier than the Male

“This will be updated over the week ”

I have noticed something, in history. If you annoy a women you will suffer the wrath of a women.

Here are two very scary female Leaders from history.

Oh god run for cover its Maggie . Incoming handbag. No matter what your view this women could handle as she called the wets in her Government.

Ah, Margaret Thatcher, “she has the eyes of Caligula but the mouth of Marilyn Monroe.” (French President Metorond)

I dont want to get into what she did wrong and what she did good as that will just degenerate into a mess. I think what we can all agree on if you love her or hate her ( hmm a Marmite thing) she is probably one of the few politicians in British history that stop by her guns and how many can you say that about these days. Miss Clinton hell no, Angela Merkel of god no.   She sandbagged her way into the history books, on a side note the famous handbag sold for over a few thousand pound.

Next is Cleopatra

This woman was different. I refer to Mark Anthony and her love affair. She was so powerful to split the mighty Roman Empire into a civil war, all through the use of her looks and charm.( There is much more to it but our resident ancient Historian is away on Holiday at the moment) it is quite interesting. How women use their looks to gain influence and can easily bring down and empire or create one. You women make the best Assassins as well, also spies during the second world war. Have provided many  stories in some cases sleeping with the enemy to gain information.

In the words of Electra King “I always had a certain power over men”


Coming soon

Boudicca and Female Tribal Warriors (it is gruesome what they did to Roman solders)

Queen Elizabeth


Big Question, everyone after having a bit of a clear out of the History guys top-secret base.  I have stumbled across old text books from the many years I spent at school. Since all of the History Guys team went through the same god dam system and was taught the same topics year on year; It bored us all to tears and put a lot of people of History because of it.

So we want to open a debate on what should be taught in British Schools at GCSE or A level.

You need to pick Ten topics that you would like the education system to cover and why. Dont say for example Just the Tudors or Romans that would be to large and area to cover, try to pin it down.

Below are my Ten areas that should be included, in the teaching of History at schools. Big Word here is included i not saying replace the rise of Hitler , World War one etc and that just extra topics to mix it up.

1. The Norman Conquest: simple really you only cover this in slight detail or not at all. I would spread it out to the period before the conquest to include the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex etc. then carry on to the period after

2. English Civil Wars: Could easily be done much better than just spreading two weeks on the subject. Also a not so slanted view towards Oliver Cromwell being the god guy and Charles Stuart being the bad guy . That Really annoys me.

3. The Crusades: explains the obvious frictions between different religions and of course highlights many of the Issues that happen today.

4. Life in the French Revolution and the Rise of Napoleon: Oh god a major period which shaped modern Europe, in its political context and set the paving work for many of todays modern states. Hell it has a lot of blood guts and gore for the kids to really get their teeth into. Plus crazy clothes, and bad teeth.

5. European Age of Exploration and Colonisation: The expansion of Empires via the use of Trade, independent Companies, dare i say the East India Company , or the Hudson bay company as an example. I admit that is a big topic but has lots of different areas to cover.

6. The End of the Cold War: It is amazing why this hasn’t been done, please notify me if a school does do it. Kids need to know why Europe is not divided between east and west and be asked if it was Reagan or Gorbachev. ( They do the start of the Cold War but not the end how odd)

7. The Spanish Civil War: Okay I put this in here because I enjoy the topic. It is really a major point in 20th Century history. You also have the Chance to show the children animal Farm and the homage to Catalonia and why certain parts of Spain don’t like each other. Barcelona Vs Real Madrid isn’t just a football match 😉

8. Protestant and Catholic England in the Tudor period: I don’t really need to explain that simple enough to understand

9.  The Fall of the Roman Empire: Okay that does sound very big but it would explain why Europe would fall into a dark age and how most nations have influences from said people.

10. Spying and Espionage During World War One and Two: Explaining how both sides used espionage and agents during the conflict. Also excuse to show and read early James bong books and films, if you know Mr Flemings History that is.


Well that’s my ten topics it covers a bit of everything. Leave your comments and your own top ten

After a very interesting talk with Mr Aslanian over a cold pint of beer, we came to talking about how technology went backwards; what would become know as the dark ages. Europe would not really rise from this period until some can be argued the Renaissance, or even the feudal period.


(Map of Anglo-Saxon Invasion)


Lets Take Britannia as an example, with the Anglo-Saxon landing’s in what would became known as Kent, and the melting pot that would become, of celtic and Scandinavian language. Would lead to the creation of England, it paved the way for the basic conception of said nation (even though England as we know it was split into Mercia, Wessex etc). What most people and some schools forget to mention is that the nation hood of the British Isles was already there. The Celtic people’s of Britain after the Romans left banded together under what would become known as the Romano British. It was a melting of British and Roman culture.

Two major centers of the Romano British

Londinivm Avgvsta (London: Major Trading centre)

Colonia Clavdia Victricensis Camvlodvnensivm (Colchester: Old Roman Provincial Capital)

With this the Romano British needed a important battle to in effect, halt the Saxon expansion into Britannia. Enter the Start of the King Arthur Legend and the battle of Bardon Hill (Mons Badonicus). That story is for another time. After a period of time the Britons would flee to settle in Wales and Brittany.


What is very good to note is that the Saxons would use the existing infrastructure in place to help control their new land. Below is a map of Britannia around 540.

Below is a translation of a first hand account of the Saxon Invasion

Liber querulus de excidio Britanniae. By Gilda





National Service, was the term used by David Cameron this morning on the News. I was thinking yes great kids getting out in the army but not being sent to war to learn discipline and values. Oh wait no it will be using community service, kinda defeats the object really.  It can be considered a relic of World War Two, but historically it was continued due to the cuts to Britain’s armed force after the war. Much to the threat posed by the Soviet Block. My grandfather was in the Suez emergency which was a black day and many reservists tore up there call up cards. In a way it was the TA of its day; it provided a much needed exit for some for some young people in society, and taught them many skills. They proved there worth in battle, Korea the battle of the Imjin river the Gloster light infantry regiment, held out against Chinese attacks and stopped the whole united Nations line from falling.


For example Michail Cain  Served in Korea



Below is a list of Criteria for the National service from 1948 onwards.

  • British subjects from outside Britain and the Isle of Man who had lived in the country for less than two years
  • Students
  • Persons employed by the government of any country of the British Empire except the United Kingdom
  • Clergy of any denomination
  • Those who were blind or had mental disorders
  • Married women
  • Women who had one or more children 14 years old or younger living with them.
National Service Memoirs
I will post some stories of national service members in another category when I get a chance.

Carrying on from this weeks rioting theme.

“Disclaimer due to the large complex nature of the Troubles there will not be too much detail due to being aimed at the casual reader”

Today is 42 years since theBattleof the Bogside. For those people who wanted the army on the streets ofEnglandandWalesthis week this is the place where the British Army learned its crowd control tactics.  A brief overview of the battle of the Bogside is just really the culmination of years of rivalry between the Catholic and Protestant communities inNorthern Ireland.  These conflicts are deep rooted and have many different causes and effects through history, for example the Irish Civil War and the Black and tans; even as far back as Protestant land reforms in Ireland itself.

The Rioting started due the proposed Apprentice boys march though London Derry, past a predominantly Catholic area, caused Friction and barricades were set up. I understand there are more complicated reasons as well but I would be talking about this for three to fours pages more on that aspect in itself.

“All Volunteers must look upon the British Army as an occupying force” (IRA Green Book)

The Royal Ulster Constabulary where way overstretched and very much not liked in the Catholic community much, the same can be said about the B specials. For those few days the country was pulling itself apart, Prime Minister Harold Wilson decided it was time to send in the troops to back up; the failing law and order situation forced the Prime Ministers hand. The Ironic situation was this “They’re going to be there for seven years at least”. How right wasWilson. The Army was seen positively by the Catholic community at first, cups of tea and sandwiches were brought out to the soldier’s. It would take a spark to really set of the Troubles and bring terrorism to theUnited Kingdombut this is a story for another time. Operation Banner had begun.


Bibliography of Recommended Texts

Hennessey ,Thomas., A History of Northern Ireland 1920-1996 (Palgrave 1997)

Hennessey, Thomas.,  The Origins of the Troubles ( Gill & Macmillan 2005)

Kennedy-Pipe, Caroline., The Origins of the Present Troubles in Northern Ireland (Longman 1997)

Marr, Andrew.,  A History of Modern Britain ( Macmillan 2007)

Taylor, Peter.,  Provos The IRA & Sinn Fein (Bloomsbury 1998)

Taylor, Peter., Brits The War Against The IRA (Bloomsbury 2002)

Taylor, Peter., Loyalists ( Bloomsbury 2000)

Background Information onNorthern IrelandSociety

– Security and Defence,

Annual Deaths in Northern Ireland, by ‘Status’ of Person Killed, August 1969 to December 1995,

Report on the Committee of Inquiry into Police Interrogation Procedures inNorthern Ireland,

House of Commons Statement [Northern Ireland(Security) (situation inArmagh)]

Army paper says IRA not defeated






Well as we know the last few days in London; across England to that fact have been well manic. The outburst of looting and damages to shops and local communities, have been catastrophic. To be honest we have ourselves to blame in my opinion for not letting the Police in the past to just get on with the job. Example some one who I knew said the police were heavy-handed at the March for the Alternative, protest earlier in the year has completely gone back on his argument and even called for the army to be brought in. Now in that respect we can understand that the police were over stretched not due to budget cuts, which have not come into force yet, but only for back room staff. I can’t put my finger on though why this situation came to the surface. What caused this outburst ?

Well you have all seen the news, but I don’t want to make this a political post I want to bring you some other,  historical inputs which show pointless outbreaks of violence in London, like we have seen the last few days. Of Course most of you know about the battle of Cable Street, the Jarrow March and the battle of Bow Street between servicemen in at least 3 different respective countries. Not counting the incidents in the 1980’s, the Brixton race riots as an example.

These all had a cause but just look at the two below which I think you will find interesting and just pointless, and does not show london in a good light. I though I would post you the link to the detailed historical information. I put my hands up and say I don’t know that much about them. From what I can gather though it was just mindless violence, maybe it is in London’s blood I hope not.

1391 riots break out in Salisbury Place over a baker’s loaf

1221 riots occur after London defeats Westminster in an annual wrestling contest; ring-leaders hanged or mutilated in punishment.

Link to John Strype’s Survey of London and Westminster

Stumbled across this amazing site, for any one interested in the Photographic side of history. Amazing graphic images of world war two. Which have never been seen before.

“World War II is the story of the 20th Century. The war officially lasted from 1939 until 1945, but the causes of the conflict and its horrible aftermath reverberated for decades in either direction. While feats of bravery and technological breakthroughs still inspire awe today, the majority of the war was dominated by unimaginable misery and destruction. In the late 1930s, the world’s population was approximately 2 billion. In less than a decade, the war between the nations of the Axis Powers and the Allies resulted in some 80 million deaths — killing off about 4 percent of the whole world.
This series of entries will last from June 19 until October 30, 2011, running every Sunday morning for 20 weeks. In these photo essays, I hope to explore the events of the war, the people involved at the front and back home, and the effects the war had on everyday lives. The entries will follow a roughly chronological sequence, with some broader themes (such as “The Home Front”) interspersed throughout. These images will give us glimpses into the real-life experiences of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, moments that shaped the world as it is today. I hope to be able to do justice to this important story in this large-photo narrative format and invite you to join me for the next 20 Sundays. ”

Richard Holmes: RedCoat

Book Review 

Title: Redcoat The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket

Written by: Richard Holmes

Price : £9.99


“Wonderful….Not just a work of history but of enthusiasm and unparalleled knowledge” (Bernard Cornwall)


Probably one of my favourite historians, that i have ever seen on television or had the honour to read one of his books. sadly Richard Holmes died a few months ago, which is a sad day for us pupils of History.  Holmes always had a passion for the British army for which he served with distinction, before turning to the study of history. Most notable is his work on the Duke of Wellington, which is by far his best work.


Redcoat is highly recommended by myself and the history guys team , if you want to understand life in the British army through this period. It uses first hand account s which are easily referenced from the National Archive , or other public offices . So it is very easy to follow this work up. To quickly sum up the Premise of the book, you will be taken on a journey from the Seven years war till the hight of the British Empire till the Crimean War. He portrays the Redcoat in a human and historically correct way, not as Richard Holmes, puts so eloquently as the role of the German army after World War two; in Hollywood’s eyes that is.


Overall, this book is a must have if you are looking at the down to earth view of the Redcoats themselves, maybe the Yankee doodles will put down their dogmatic view of the Redcoat, if they actually picked the book up, we can only dream. The book deserves a decent 8 out of 10. Thats a Historyguys fact

The Island Blockade

The Continental System

On 6 August 1914, two days after Britain had declared war on Germany, began the First battle of the Atlantic with nine German Kregismarine U-Boats. Britain was nearly brought to its knees, much due to the stupidity of the admiralty staff. This would change with the introduction of the convoy system, we all know the story at a basic level, we were all taught at school. Today I want to give you guys what in my view was the first attempt at an economic means of bringing Great Britain to its knees.

Its Time to talk about the Continental System, it does sound very scary. In  a way it was an early form of trade blockade, controlled by a group of French allied or Client States. Frances chances of actually invading Britain dashed in the Battle of Trafalgar, which sadley enough is not celebrated in Britain, even though if you read any decent calander it is noted. The Image below shows the nations involved in the Continental System. It was a sound idea, Napoleon realised that Great Britain needed to trade to compile its income and food needs, realistically it sounds plauseable.  Great Britain’s debt at the time was £500 million pounds, and it was hoped that this off set of income would bring Britain to the table.

In retrospect it damaged the European states economies, it had the reverse effect. Portugal would keep trading with Great Britain, this would lead to Napoleon the Spanish Ulcer which would give Britain a chance to fight back on land. Also it would upset Russia in 1812, which was losing money because of the embargo. America would be dragged into a war against Great Britain, which would become known as the war of 1812, mainly due to French Trade with America.( I don’t buy into that reason for the war of 1812, i believe it was an american land grab) . The System would cause so many issues for Napoleon rather than results.

The Berlin Decree November 21st 1806

We have consequently decreed and do decree that which follows:

The British Isles are declared to be in a state of blockade.

All commerce and all correspondence with the British Isles are forbidden. Consequently letters or packages directed to England or to an Englishman or written in the English language shall not pass through the mails and shall be seized.

Every individual who is an English subject, of whatever state or condition he may be, who shall be discovered in any country occupied by our troops or by those of our allies, shall be made a prisoner of war.

All warehouses, merchandise or property of whatever kind belonging to a subject of England shall be regarded as a lawful prize.

Trade in English goods is prohibited, and all goods belonging to England or coming from her factories or her colonies are declared lawful prize.

Half of the product resulting from the confiscation of the goods and possessions declared a lawful prize by the preceding articles shall be applied to indemnify the merchants for the losses they have experienced by the capture of merchant vessels taken by English cruisers.

No vessel coming directly from England or from the English colonies or which shall have visited these since the publication of the present decree shall be received in any port.

Any vessel contravening the above provision by a false declaration shall be seized, and the vessel and cargo shall be confiscated as if it were English property.

Our Court of Prizes at Paris shall pronounce final judgment in all cases arising in our Empire or in the countries occupied by the French Army relating to the execution of the present decree. Our Court of Prizes at Milan shall pronounce final judgment in the said cases which may arise within our Kingdom of Italy.

The present decree shall be communicated by our minister of foreign affairs to the King of Spain, of Naples, of Holland and of Etruria, and to our other allies whose subjects, like ours, are the victims of the unjust and barbarous maritime legislation of England.

Our ministers of foreign affairs, of war, of the navy, of finance and of the police and our Directors-General of the port are charged with the execution of the present decree so far as it effects them.

[Signed] NAPOLEON.


The System did not do what it was designed for, with no way France could Challenge Britain’s Naval strength, Trade with what was at the time a fledgling empire, and still growing kept Britain alive. The irony is if you look at this period, it screams of  a mirror image of World War Two. Britain alone for a few years, using allies,  and a distarous invasion of Russia, a dictator meets his Waterloo.