Robert Stewart

Emma Hamilton, who had become very fat, is caricatured by George Cruickshank as ‘Dido in Despair’ (1801): Ah where and ah where is my gallant sailor gone? He’s gone to fight the Frenchman, for George upon the throne. He’s gone to fight the Frenchman, to lose t’other arm and eye, And left me with the old Antique to lay me down and cry’

Eager for the fight

Horatio Nelson is England’s most loved military hero. Marlborough is remote from our view, and the aristocratic Wellington was perhaps…


Patriot or traitor?

The mighty convulsion that was the French Revolution has stirred the blood of historians from Thomas Carlyle to Simon Schama…

Poetic licentiousness

Reprobates were, in the Calvinist lexicon, those unfortunates not included among God’s elect and therefore sentenced to eternal damnation.


Ride on in majesty

Governments in early modern England, having no standing army nor a civil service to speak of, required the consent of the governed.


What’s in a date?

Felipe Fernández-Armesto has a grand idea.

Karl Marx got it right

Whether the refusal to allow the Confederate states the right to self-determination, flying as it did in the face of the Declaration of Independence, was the first overt act of American imperialism is a question that goes largely undiscussed.

Rebels with a cause

Summer of Blood, by Dan Jones

A country of ruins

Robert Stewart reviews Robert Gildea's history of France

Might is always right

John Laughland on a new book on political trials

Last but not least

Robert Stewart reviews Susan James' new book

Power to the people

Robert Stewart on Michael Braddick's account of the English Civil War


Peanuts and popcorn and crackerjack

Baseball Haiku: The Best Haiku Ever Written About The Game
edited by Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura

Shakespeare got it wrong

The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England’s Self-Made King
by Ian Mortimer

The unkindest cut

From the day in 1513 that Balboa stared at the Pacific from a peak in Darien men dreamed of cutting…

When tobacco worked wonders

The British empire in North America was not founded in a fit of absence of mind, though it might be…

All too minor to matter

Monarchy, monarchy, monarchy. Are we so addicted to it that we want to read the life of a boy who…

Heads that wore the crown

David Starkey’s latest book has a Gibbonesque moment. Charles I was undone by ‘his unbending adherence to principle’; ‘in contrast…

A shortage of wine and olives

War and religion are the enduring themes of history and they, or at least war and the Church (for theology…

The minimum of turbulence

Glorious, bloodless, last, perhaps all of those things, but the revolution of 1688 was hardly a revolution at all. It…

Elusive brothers in arms

History and fiction have their differences. The most obvious and the most important is that scrupulous historians hesitate to say…

The painful, birth of the nation-state

‘Happiness is a new idea in Europe,’ the austere, implacable revolutionary Louis de Saint-Just wrote in 1791, as events in…

Pinning down the king

While well-heeled, self-preserving lawyers of eminence and rank fled to London to avoid a perilous undertaking, John Cooke, a low-born…

Protecting the infant republic

Ever since Edmund Burke deserted the liberalism that had distinguished him as a champion of American independence and Irish home…

Murder made easy

What is one to make of this little book? There is much that is good in it, about new handguns,…

How much of a saint?

Most biographies are written against a sketchy background of historical events drawn with just enough broad strokes of the brush…