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Find out if James I fell victim to a plot orchestrated by his best friend, on page 41

22 Henry VIII’s last days Suzannah Lipscomb examines claims that a shadowy court faction hijacked the Tudor king’s will a er his death

30 The six ages of China Michael Wood explores the compelling history of the world’s most populous nation

36 La débâcle! France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War had grave rami cations for 20th-century Europe, says Misha Glenny

41 Was James I murdered? Could rumours that the king was poisoned be true? Alastair Bellany and Thomas Cogswell investigate

50 The Loch Ness monster Gareth Williams explains why so many leading scientists put their reputations on the line in the hunt for Nessie

54 Richard III’s unlucky reign Richard wasn’t the master of his own destiny but a hostage to fortune, argues David Horspool

60 Britain’s tearoom fascists Paul Willetts reveals how MI5 in ltrated a far right cell in wartime London

6 ANNIVERSARIES 11 HISTORY NOW 1 1 The latest history news

1 4 Backgrounder: nuclear weapons 1 6 Past notes: snacks

18 LETTERS 21 MICHAEL WOOD’S VIEW 48 OUR FIRST WORLD WAR 65 BOOKS The latest releases, plus Mary Beard discussestheRomans

77 TV & RADIO The pick of new history programmes

80 OUT &ABOUT 80 History Explorer:

British coal mining 85 Five things to do in December 86 My favourite place: Venice

93 MISCELLANY 93 Q&A and quiz 94 Samantha’s recipe corner 95 Prize crossword

98 MY HISTORY HERO Richard Madeley selects American presidentJohnFKennedy

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USPS Identification Statement BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE (ISSN 1469-8552) (USPS 024-177) December 2015 is published 13 times a year under licence from BBC Worldwide by Immediate Media Company Bristol Ltd, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol BS1 3BN, UK. Distributed in the US by Circulation Specialists, Inc., 2 Corporate Drive, Suite 945, Shelton CT 06484-6238. Periodicals postage paid at Shelton, CT and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE, PO Box 37495, Boone, IA 50037-0495.

30 China’s utterly remarkable 5,000-year history

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