How the Taliban Began – Afghanistan 1994-97 – John Simpson’s Journal (and how different are they now, really?)

The Road to Kabul: Recent developments in Afghanistan, particularly over the past fortnight, together with this week’s (18th August) emergency debate in the House of Commons, have prompted me to write further on the question of Afghanistan, taking an even longer view of the key issues of the past quarter century. In my last postContinue reading “How the Taliban Began – Afghanistan 1994-97 – John Simpson’s Journal (and how different are they now, really?)”

The End of Saxon England? Revisiting the Norman Conquest, 1035-1135: Chapter II – Castles, Abbeys, Cathedrals & Churches.

Knights, Barons & Castles: The knights who served William ‘the Conqueror’ were armed in many respects as their English opponents, wearing mail hauberks and conical helmets, and carrying kite-shaped shields, lances, swords and maces. If battlefield tactics were dominated by the mounted knight, the strategies of war were increasingly subject to the powerful influence ofContinue reading “The End of Saxon England? Revisiting the Norman Conquest, 1035-1135: Chapter II – Castles, Abbeys, Cathedrals & Churches.”

The End of Saxon England? Revisiting the Norman Conquest: Chapter I – The Confessor, the Conqueror & the House of Wessex, 1035-1135

The Tragedy of Harold Godwinson: The story of the Norman ‘takeover’ of England has been told very often, most vividly in one of the earliest accounts in the form of Queen Matilda’s tapestry, still kept in Bayeux, which gives it the name it is better known by. French legend maintained the tapestry was commissioned andContinue reading “The End of Saxon England? Revisiting the Norman Conquest: Chapter I – The Confessor, the Conqueror & the House of Wessex, 1035-1135”

The Coming of the Northmen: from Coastal Raids to Inland Battles in Britain & Ireland, 789-871.

Pirates or Merchant Adventurers? Out of the North, they came, more warriors from the fringes of the Baltic. Norsemen, Vikings, Danes, many names, but one overriding characteristic – they came first to raid and plunder in tall-prowed sailing ships that had carried these sea-rovers to the Mediterranean and the coasts of a new world acrossContinue reading “The Coming of the Northmen: from Coastal Raids to Inland Battles in Britain & Ireland, 789-871.”

The Three Kingdoms & The Third Civil War: Campaigns in Ireland; Drogheda & Wexford to Tipperary, 1649-1652.

The Stuart Court at the Hague, 1649-51: The Trial and Execution of Charles I may have shocked the whole of Europe at first, but Edward Hyde, First Earl of Clarendon, wrote after the execution that… The kings and princes of Christendom had their eyes fixed upon this woeful bloody spectacle; how they looked upon thatContinue reading “The Three Kingdoms & The Third Civil War: Campaigns in Ireland; Drogheda & Wexford to Tipperary, 1649-1652.”

375 Years Ago – The End of the First Civil War, October 1645 – March 1647: Sieges, Plagues & the Aftermath.

The War in the West of England – Winchester to Exeter: After bombarding and taking Winchester at the beginning of October 1645 Cromwell’s troops moved on to lay siege to Basing House, a royalist stronghold and garrison in the north of Hampshire, a centre of heroic resistance. It had already proved a major obstacle toContinue reading “375 Years Ago – The End of the First Civil War, October 1645 – March 1647: Sieges, Plagues & the Aftermath.”