Thursday, 19 December 2013

History of Naples, Italy

I wrote a brief history of Naples, Italy. It is an ancient city, founded by the Greeks and it has a rich history. 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

South Pole

On this day in 1911 Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole. The first women to reach the South Pole went there in 1969 but they flew in a plane rather than travel over the ice. 

Monday, 25 November 2013

Mary Shelley

I wrote a brief bio of Mary Shelley. She is famous for her horror novel Frankenstein. 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Caroline Herschel

I wrote about Caroline Herschel. Her brother William is famous for discovering the planet Uranus but Caroline was famous in her own right as an astronomer.  Its a pity she is not better remembered. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Bra is patented

On 13 November 1914 Mary Phelps Jacob patented the bra. She had the idea in 1913 when she sewed two handkerchiefs together with ribbons. Bra is short for brassiere, which was the French word for a soldier's breastplate. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

William Blake

I wrote a brief biography of William Blake. He was the great poet who wrote The Tyger and Jerusalem. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Monday, 4 November 2013


Antoine de Cadillac began a trading post on 24 July 1701. It became the city of Detroit. 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Dolls Houses

The first dolls house was made in Germany in 1558. It was made for Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria. Dolls houses were popular with the wealthy in the 17th century and 18th century. However at that time dolls houses were not toys. Instead they were for display. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Sydney is Founded

Sydney was named after Thomas Townshend - Lord Sydney (1733-1800). He became British Secretary of State in 1783 and recommended the British establish a colony in Australia.

Saturday, 26 October 2013


In the distant past people often slaughtered their enemies but sometimes they were taken prisoner and used as slaves. In the ancient world slavery was common. The great civilisations of the Middle East, the Sumerians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians and Israelites all kept slaves. Slavery was also common in ancient India and China. The Celts who lived in Western Europe also kept slaves. The main source of slaves was prisoners of war. However slavery was usually hereditary. A slave's children were also slaves. Some people sold themselves or their children into slavery to avoid starvation.

As society became more advanced slavery became a huge business and buying and selling slaves became a thriving industry. (In the old Testament around 1800 BC Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and was taken to Egypt).

The Greeks and the Romans too kept huge numbers of slaves. Some slaves were household slaves who worked in their master's homes. Others worked on farms and some were skilled craftsmen. Slaves who lived in mines probably had the harshest and most unpleasant lives. (Their lives were often short too). 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Roman Clothes

Roman men wore tunics. Roman citizens wore a semi-circular piece of cloth called a toga. It was folded over one shoulder. Men wore white togas made of wool or linen. Senators wore a toga with a purple stripe as a mark of their rank. Women wore long dresses called a stola, dyed different colours. Often they wore a long shawl called a palla.

Ordinary Romans wore clothes of wool or linen but the rich could afford cotton and silk. Roman clothes were held with pins and brooches. Both men and women wore wigs and false teeth. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


In the late 5th century a Germanic people called the Franks carved out an empire in what is now France. (They gave the country its name). In 496 Clovis, the leader of the Franks became a Christian and his people followed.

In 771 Charlemagne became king of the Franks. In 772 he attacked the Saxons. After a battle in 782 more than 4,000 Saxon captives were beheaded. The survivors were 'converted' to Christianity by force. Charlemagne also annexed Bavaria. In 800 he was crowned emperor.

However Charlemagne's empire did not long survive his death. In 843 it was divided into three kingdoms, west, middle and east.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Married Women's Property

Until the late 19th century in Britain everything a married woman had was, legally her husbands property. However the 1870 Married Women's Property act stated that a married woman's earnings belonged to her. Further Married Woman's Property Acts were passed in 1882 and 1893. They allowed married women to own, buy and sell property the same as a single woman. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

17th Century Society

At the top of English society were the nobility. Below them were the gentry. Gentlemen were not quite rich but they were certainly well off. Below them were yeomen, farmers who owned their own land. Yeomen were comfortably off but they often worked alongside their men. Gentlemen did not do manual work! Below them came the mass of the population, craftsmen, tenant farmers and labourers.

At the end of the 17th century a writer estimated that half the population could afford to eat meat every day. In other words about 50% of the people were wealthy of at least reasonably well off. Below them about 30% of the population could afford to eat meat between 2 and 6 times a week. They were 'poor'. The bottom 20% could only eat meat once a week. They were very poor. At least part of the time they had to rely on poor relief.

By an act of 1601 overseers of the poor were appointed by each parish. They had power to force people to pay a local tax to help the poor. Those who could not work such as the old and the disabled would be provided for. The overseers were meant to provide work for the able-bodied poor. Anyone who refused to work was whipped and, after 1610, they could be placed in a house of correction. Pauper's children were sent to local employers to be apprentices. 

Monday, 30 September 2013

History of Chocolate

People in Central America drank chocolate as early as 1,500 BC. Much later the Mayans and the Aztecs drank chocolate. The Aztecs called it xocolatl from which are word chocolate is derived. After the Spanish conquered Central America they bought cocoa beans back to Europe. The beans were roasted and ground and used to make a drink with hot water. The Spanish added sugar to make it taste sweeter and they stirred it with a wooden stick to make it foamy. 

At first chocolate was drunk only in Spain but in the 17th century chocolate spread from Spain to the rest of Europe. In London a chocolate house where you could buy a drink of chocolate opened in 1657. In the late 17th century people began to mix chocolate drink with milk to make it taste better. 

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Peasants in the Middle Ages

The poorest people lived in one-room huts. Slightly better off peasants lived in huts with one or two rooms. There were no panes of glass in the windows only wooden shutters, which were closed at night. The floors were of hard earth sometimes covered in straw for warmth.

In the middle of a peasant's hut was a fire used for cooking and heating. There was no chimney. Any furniture was very basic. Chairs were very expensive and no peasant could afford one. Instead they sat on benches or stools. They would have a simple wooden table and chests for storing clothes and other valuables. Tools and pottery vessels were hung on hooks. The peasants slept on straw and they did not have pillows. Instead they rested their heads on wooden logs.

The peasant's wife cooked on a cauldron suspended over the fire and the family ate from wooden bowls. Candles were expensive so peasants usually used rush lights (rushes dipped in animal fat).

At night in summer and all day in winter the peasants shared their huts with their animals. Parts of it were screened off for the livestock. Their body heat helped to keep the hut warm.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Roman Toilets

The Romans also built sewers to collect rainwater and sewage. (They even had a goddess of sewers called Cloacina!). Wealthy people had their own toilets but the Romans also built public lavatories. In them there was no privacy just stone seats next to one another without partitions of any kind. Despite the public lavatories many people still went in the street. After using the toilet people wiped their behinds with a sponge on a stick. 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Viking Women

In Norse (Viking) society women had a good deal of freedom. It was considered very shameful for a man to hurt a woman. 

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Who Invented the Ironing Board?

In 1875 a portable ironing board was invented by John B. Porter. Sarah Boone patented an modified device in 1892. Meanwhile Henry Seeley invented the electric iron in 1882. 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Who Invented Alphabet Blocks?

In 1693 the English philosopher John Locke said that 'dice and playthings' with letters on them would help children to learn the alphabet. In 1882 Adeline Whitney patented alphabet blocks. 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Who invented the circular saw?

In 1777 a man named Samuel Miller was granted a patent for a device which included a circular saw. However its not certain if Miller invented the circular saw or if it existed before then. At any rate circular saws were certainly known in England in the late 18th century. In 1804 Marc Brunel built machines for making pulley blocks. They included circular saws. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Who Invented the Hair Brush?

We don't know who invented the hairbrush. However the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used hairbrushes. The brush boring machine was invented by Mason Pearson in 1885. That made hairbrushes cheaper. Pearson also invented a rubber cushion hairbrush in 1885. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

Famous Women in the Middle Ages

I wrote an article about famous women in the Middle Ages. There were many of them, writers, artists and warriors.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

History of Shopping

I wrote a history of shopping. Barcodes were first used in 1974. The first product scanned was chewing gum.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Who Invented the Clothes Wringer?

Wet clothes were wrung through a device called a wringer or a mangle to dry them. The wringer or mangle was invented by Robert Tasker in 1850. Meanwhile a simple hand operated washing machine was invented in the late 18th century. An American named James King invented the modern washing machine in 1851 but it was still operated by hand. The electric washing machine was invented in 1908. 

Friday, 9 August 2013

Washington DC

After the War of Independence (1775-83) the federal government decided to create a capital. The constitution, which was ratified in 1788 allowed for a federal territory to be created not more than 10 square miles in size. The site of Washington was chosen in 1790 after some wrangling. The Northern states wanted the Federal government to take over debts they had incurred during the war. The Southern states agreed on condition the new capital was located in the South. 

Monday, 5 August 2013

History of Measurement

I wrote a history of measurement. It was, of course a vital part of human life through the centuries. 

Friday, 2 August 2013

Who Invented the Bra?

I wrote a brief history of bras. In Ancient Greece and Rome women wore a band of cloth over their breasts but in the Middle Ages and Renaissance women did not usually wear anything. The modern bra was invented in 1913 by Mary Phelps Jacob. 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Darwin, Australia

I wrote a brief history of Darwin, Australia. It suffered badly in a cyclone in 1974 but it is now thriving and growing rapidly. 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Ancient Clocks

The earliest method of telling the time of day was the sundial. It is not known when the sundial was invented but they were certainly used in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Iraq. They are also mentioned in the Old Testament. Other ancient civilisations such as the Greeks and the Romans also used sundials. Over time sun dials gradually became more accurate and they remained a common way of telling the time until the early 19th century.

About 1400 BC the Egyptians invented the water clock. It consisted of two containers of water, one of which was higher than the other. Water flowed along a tube from the higher container to the lower at a steady rate. Rings were marked on the inside of the lower container and when the water level reached one it meant another hour had passed.

The Saxons used a candle clock. A candle was divided into segments and it took an hour for each segment to burn. 

Friday, 26 July 2013

Poznan, Poland

I wrote a little history of the city of Poznan in Poland. It suffered under Communism but it is now flourishing again. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


I wrote a history of Cuba. Its still a Communist dictatorship but one day it will be free. 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Inca Food

The Incas lived in the highlands and lowlands of what is now Peru. In the lowlands the staple food was maize. In the highlands the main food was potatoes. Incas also ate peppers, tomatoes and avocadoes. They also ate peanuts and a grain called quinoa.

Llamas and alpacas were kept for wool and for carrying loads but they sometimes provided meat. Incas also ate guinea pigs. They also fished and ate birds. However for most Incas meat was a luxury.

Incas drank a fermented drink called chicha. Ordinary Incas drank from bowls carved from gourds. Rich Incas drank from pottery vessels or even ones made from gold or silver.

Poor people ate food off dishes placed on the ground. Inca nobles ate off a cloth on the ground. There were no tables. 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


In 1903 a speed limit of 20 MPH was introduced in Britain. It was abolished in 1930. However in 1934 a speed limit of 30 MPH in built-up areas was introduced. Meanwhile electric traffic lights were invented in the USA. In Britain the first electric traffic lights were installed in London in 1926. Insurance for motorists was made compulsory in 1931. A driving test was introduced in 1934. Also in 1934 Percy Shaw invented the cat's eye Meanwhile the AA was formed in 1905.

The parking meter was invented by Carlton Magee. The first one was installed in the USA in 1935. A Swede named Nils Bohlin developed the three-point seat belt in 1959. In 1983 wearing a seat belt was made compulsory. Wheel clamps were introduced to Britain in 1983 and speed cameras in 1992.

Meanwhile in 1936 Belisha Beacons were introduced to make road crossing safer. The first zebra crossing was introduced in 1951. The modern pelican crossing dates from 1969 and lollipop men and women were first introduced in 1969.

In 1931 an American called Rolla N. Harger invented the first breathalyser. It was first used in Indianapolis USA in 1939. In Britain double yellow lines at the sides of the roads meaning no parking were introduced in 1958 and wheel clamps were introduced in 1983. Speed cameras were introduced in 1992. 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

19th Century Women

In 1874 the first successful typewriter went on sale (It was invented in the USA by Christopher Sholes) and the telephone was invented in 1876. These two new inventions meant more job opportunities for women.

In the late 19th century contraception became easier. In 1877 Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh published a book on the subject called Fruits of Philosophy. They were both prosecuted by their sentences were quashed on appeal.

Life became more comfortable for most women in the 19th century. James Simpson (1811-1870), who was Professor of Midwifery at Edinburgh University, began using chloroform for operations in 1847. 

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Ruth Ellis

On 13 July 1955 Ruth Ellis was hanged. She was the last women in Britain to be hanged.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Kings in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages the king ruled by divine right. In other words people believed that God had chosen him to be king and rebellion against him was a sin. However that did not stop rebellions! Kings had limited power in the Middle Ages and rebellion was easy. A great deal depended on the personality of the king. If he was a strong character he could control the barons. If he were weak or indecisive the barons would often rebel. Warrior kings who fought successful wars were the most powerful as they were popular with the nobility. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Tudor Transport

In Tudor times transport was still slow and uncomfortable. Roads were still just dirt tracks. Men were supposed, by law, to spend a number of days repairing the local roads but it is unlikely they did much good! People travelled by horse. You could either ride your own or you could hire a horse.

In Tudor times you would be lucky if you could travel 50 or 60 kilometres a day. It normally took a week to travel from London to Plymouth. However rich people deliberately travelled slowly. They felt it was undignified to hurry and they took their time.

Goods were sometimes transported by pack horse (horses with bags on their sides). Also carriers with covered wagons carried goods and sometimes passengers. However when possible people preferred to transport goods by water. All around England there was a 'coastal trade'. Goods from one part of the country, such as coal, were taken by sea to other parts. 

Friday, 5 July 2013

History of Coffee

Coffee reached Europe in the late 16th century through trade. Coffee was introduced into Italy first. (Today coffee is still a very popular drink among the Italians). Coffee really became popular in Europe in the 17th century. In the 1600s coffee houses opened across Europe. The first coffee house in England opened in Oxford in 1651 and by the late 17th century there were many coffeehouses in English towns where merchants and professional men met to drink cups of coffee, read newspapers and chat.

The first coffee house in London opened in 1652 and by the end of the 17th century there were hundreds of them. Merchants met to do business in specialist exchanges and gentlemen's clubs took over as the places where well to do men met to socialise and chat.

Meanwhile the first coffee houses in America opened in 1689. Merchants Coffee House opened in 1737 and it became an important meeting place. In America drinking coffee rather than tea became patriotic after the Boston Tea Party of 1773 (a protest against a British tax on tea). 

Friday, 28 June 2013


I wrote a history of Ethiopia. Its a very old culture. Ethiopians suffered greatly in the late 20th century due to a Communist government but its recovering now. 

Sunday, 23 June 2013


I wrote a little history of Mongolia. Its only a small country today but once it dominated Asia and Europe. 

Saturday, 22 June 2013


I wrote a history of Detroit. It was founded by the French and has an interesting history. Unfortunately it has fallen on hard times recently.  

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

History of Seattle

I wrote a history of the great city of Seattle. Its only a short history, of course but its an interesting one. 

Saturday, 15 June 2013

George Fox

I wrote about George Fox the founder of the Quakers. He was a brave man, a man of principle. 

Friday, 14 June 2013

History of Chicago

I wrote a history of Chicago. Obviously its a modern city with a short history but it is interesting nevertheless. 

Monday, 10 June 2013

Las Vegas

I wrote a history of Las Vegas. Obviously its a modern city but it does have an interesting history 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Washington DC

I wrote a history of the city of Washington DC. Obviously its a short history but its an interesting one nevertheless 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

San Diego

I wrote a short history of the great city of San Diego in California 

Egyptian Food

For most people in ancient Egypt food was plain and dull. The staple food of the Egyptians was bread and beer. Bread was baked outside and because of the desert sand was often blown into dough. In time eating bread with grains of sand in it wore down peoples teeth.
In ancient Egypt as in all early civilisations meat was a luxury and only the rich could afford to eat it frequently. Nevertheless the Egyptians ate sheep, pigs, cows and goats but meat often came from ducks and geese. However fish were plentiful in Egypt.
Egyptian food included many vegetables, such as marrows, beans, onions, lentils, leeks, radishes, garlic and lettuces. They also ate fruit like melons, dates and figs. Pomegranates were quite expensive and were eaten mainly by the rich. The Egyptians grew herbs and spices and they made cooking oil.
Beer was made from crumbled barley bread and barley with water so it was lumpy. It was strained before it was drunk. Even so it was still lumpy so it had to be drunk through a wooden straw with a filter. Better off Egyptians drank wine. 

Sunday, 5 May 2013


On 5 May 1760 the first hanging took place at Tyburn

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Monday, 29 April 2013


In 2003 the people of Sweden voted in a referendum not to join the euro. I bet they are glad they did! 

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Mussolini is shot

The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was shot on 28 April 1945. His mistress Claretta Petacci was also shot. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Sunday, 21 April 2013


I wrote a history of Detroit. It declined in the late 20th century but recently Detroit has begun to revive. 

Saturday, 20 April 2013


I wrote a biography of Rasputin. He is sometimes called the Mad Monk. Whether or not he was made Rasputin was not a monk. He once stayed in a monastery for about 3 months but he never took holy orders and never became a monk. 

Friday, 19 April 2013

San Diego

I wrote a little history of San Diego, a prosperous and growing city in California 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

New Orleans

I wrote a history of New Orleans. It was recently devastated by a hurricane but it is recovering fast 

Friday, 12 April 2013

World Empires

I wrote a timeline of World Empires. There have been many of course, but all fall in the end. 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Las Vegas

I wrote a history of Las Vegas. It was only founded in 1905 but it has boomed and is flourishing on tourism, gaming and weddings.  

Friday, 5 April 2013


I wrote a little history of Antarctica. The first person to cross the Antarctic Circle was Captain Cook. Cook is famous for exploring Australia and New Zealand but not for crossing the Circle.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


I wrote a history of Zakopane in Poland. While its not a large town it is famous for winter sports and its called the winter capital of Poland. 

Friday, 29 March 2013


I wrote a history of angels. For thousands of years people have believed in angels, the messengers of God and they play a role in art and literature. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


On 13 March 1781 the astronomer William Herschel announced the discovery of a new planet. Since ancient times only 5 other planets were known, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Herschel wanted to name the new planet Georgium Sidus after the British king George III. Not surprisingly his proposal did not get much support in other countries! The new planet was named Uranus after an ancient Greek god of the sky.  

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Monday, 18 February 2013

Friday, 15 February 2013


I wrote a little history of Oman. In just 40 years it has been transformed from a poor country to a prosperous and developed nation. 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Adam Smith

I wrote a little biography of Adam Smith the great Scottish economist of the 18th century. Smith was one of the great figures of the 18th century Enlightenment. His ideas about economics have stood the test of time. 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

William Tyndale

I wrote a brief biography of William Tyndale the great religious reformer and martyr. He translated the bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into English. He was killed in 1536.