The king in a car park: Digging up Richard III

by Daniel Ross on January 26, 2015

By Daniel Ross

“Bloody thou art; bloody will be thy end.” Duchess of York, Act IV, Scene IV, Richard III

Not such a bad guy after all? Olivier as Richard III, 1955.

Not such a bad guy after all? Olivier as Richard III, 1955.

Shakespeare’s Richard III is one of fiction’s classic villains, a schemer who knocks off one family member after another on his way to the crown. Even his mother the Duchess would rather he was dead, and she gets her wish by the end of the play. King of England for just two years, Richard died at the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, making him one of the last victims of the War of the Roses.

Opinions differ as to how nasty the historical Richard was, but it’s safe to say that, until recently, he hasn’t had a very positive cultural legacy (although he did make 82 of 100 in a 2002 poll of greatest Britons). That might be changing. In 2013 archaeologists digging under a parking lot in the English Midlands made international news when they claimed to have found the king’s remains. In this post, I take a look at Richard III´s extraordinary return to the public eye over the past two years: it’s a story about much more than archaeology and historical inquiry, as it turns out. [click to continue…]


By Phil Gold 

For Estonians, the twentieth century was a tug-of-war between political independence and social freedoms and repressive subjugation under the Soviet boot. Lynda Mannik’s book, Photography, Memory and Refugee Identity: The Voyage of The SS Walnut, 1948 provides a fascinating snapshot of one moment in that tumultuous history: the journey of the 347 Estonian refugees from Communism who sailed from Goteborg, Sweden to Pier 21 in Halifax and a new life in Canada. The book is a clear and well-written historical monograph that uses the narrative power of photographs to immerse readers. The author also reminds the reader that Estonian refugees have a significant place in Canadian history. As Canada’s first “boat people,” their story is part of a permanent exhibit at Pier 21 that highlights the immigrant experience and arrival in Canada. For Mannik, narrating the Walnut’s voyage also provides an opportunity to explore a period of transformation in Canadian immigration policy. [click to continue…]


Five Things You Might Not Have Known About Canadian Environmental History

January 22, 2015

By  Sean Kheraj Canadian environmental history is a burgeoning sub-field of Canadian history, but it is not very well known outside of academia. This is my own research speciality. On many occasions, I have had to answer the question: what is environmental history? Periodically, this is a question that environmental historians ask themselves. There have […]

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Spoils of the War of 1812: Part I: The Importance of Michilimackinac

January 21, 2015

By Alan Corbiere This post is part of a series of essays – posted once a month – by Alan Corbiere focusing on Anishinaabeg participation in the War of 1812.  The Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe, Odawa, Potowatomi) have always revered the island of Michilimackinac. So much so that at the conclusion of the War of 1812, the Odawa […]

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Charlie Hebdo in Historical Context

January 20, 2015

By Geoff Read One of the courses I teach at Huron University College is called “Current Crises in Historical Context,” wherein we use the tools of historical analysis to try to shed light on the origins of some of the crises confronting the world. This year we are looking at topics such as the Russian […]

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Who/What Really Is Charlie?

January 19, 2015

By Alban Bargain-Villéger In the wake of the January 7-9 attacks in France, millions of tweets, millions of demonstrators, thousands of heads of state, intellectuals, and celebrities of all kinds not only condemned the murders of seventeen people (including four as a result of an anti-Semitic hostage taking linked to the other shootings), but also […]

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Podcast: The Future of the Past: Transmitting History to Future Generations

January 16, 2015

Podcast: Play in new window | Download On Friday April 25, 2014 as part of the annual Pierre Savard Conference at the University of Ottawa, there was a roundtable discussing the future of history. Entitled ‘The Future of the Past: Transmitting History to Future Generations” the roundtable was chaired by Adria Midea and featured Jennifer […]

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“We Are the People:” Nativism in Germany?

January 15, 2015

By Aitana Guia On Mondays for the past 13 weeks, thousands of Germans have marched on Dresden declaring “Wir sind das Volk,” we are the people. Were it 1989 on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, these same protestors might have been those who delivered the message to the Communist government of […]

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History Slam Episode Fifty-Seven: Unlikely Diplomats: The Canadian Brigade in Germany 1951-1964

January 14, 2015

Podcast: Play in new window | Download By Sean Graham On December 4, 2014, the Canadian War Museum and UBC Press book launch as part of their joint Canadian Military Series. The series features a wide range of military historians and their examinations of this country’s military history. The books launched on this night discussed […]

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Let’s talk about something other than Ebola

January 13, 2015

Or, the perils of teaching the history of disease amid global health crises Casey Hurrell This semester, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching a senior undergrad seminar, focusing on the history of disease from the time of Hippocrates to the present. Every week, in front of twenty-two energetic and curious undergrads, I wholeheartedly attempt to steer […]

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