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CHRISTMAS 2017

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Though it took place more than 600 years ago, the Peasants’ Revolt is an event that speaks to every age. At times like today, when society and democracy seem to be under strain, there may well be lessons to learn from exploring the conditions that drove our medieval forebears to violent rebellion. And that is exactly what this month’s cover feature seeks to do, as historian Laura Ashe considers the motives of the ‘peasants’ who brought bloodshed to the streets of England in the 14th century. Turn to page 20 to read her account.

One of the stories that we like to tell ourselves about Britain is that we are an island fortress, resolutely free from invasion since those impudent Normans in 1066. Yet, as the new BBC Four series Invasion! reveals, we have been confronted with the threat – and the reality – of foreign invasions for vast swathes of our history. For this month’s essay, the series’ presenter, Sam Willis, and director, David Coward, have co-written a piece that highlights some of the many incidents when Britons glanced nervously across the Channel. You will nd their piece on page 33.

Finally, this is our Christmas issue and, as usual, includes our annual books and TV of the year round-ups, as well as our bumper festive quiz and special prize crossword. I hope that you all have an enjoyable Christmas break and look forward to sharing more history with you in 2018.

Rob Attar Editor BSME Editor of the Year 2015, Special Interest Brand

THIS ISSUE’S CONTRIBUTORS

Tim Cook In 1917, Canadians were used to mass death – almost 40,000 of their compatriots had already lost their lives in the First World War – but no one was prepared for the disaster that was about to strike Halifax. P Tim tells the story of the blast that wrecked a bustling Canadian port a century ago on page 50

Tom Cutterham In a context of trade, war and international treaties, nations are never as independent as they think. Negotiation has been just as important as war in the making of the modern world. P Tom examines how US diplomats extricated their new nation from the British empire on page 27

Helen Carr While researching my upcoming book, I came across the strange dance epidemics of the 14th and 16th centuries. I then began to explore how modern medicine could help to determine the cause of this phenomenon. P Helen tells the story of the dancing mania that swept Europe in the Middle Ages on page 46

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