The Nobel Peace Prize

Yasser Arafat, one of the winners of this award / the

Yasser Arafat, one of the winners of this award / the

In the case of a suitable candidate being found, this is an international prize, awarded annually, to a person or an institution considered by a Swedish/Norwegian committee, to have made outstanding contributions to peace. A trust fund to finance the award was established in the will of Swedish industrialist and chemist Alfred Nobel (1833 – 1896). (more…)

By | 2014-12-10T10:04:20+00:00 December 10th, 2014|Scandinavian history, Today, World History|0 Comments

A reminder from Dean Swift

Very soon now all THREE volumes

of General History

will have been published

and available for a sale at a very cheap price


These three volumes contain

almost all the posts published on

during the last four or five years.

Just go to or (America) or (España)

go to Books and key

general history Dean Swift

in order to buy your copies

and have them sent directly to your home address.

General History Volume 3

should be on Amazon with the other two just before or just after Christmas 2014.

By | 2014-11-08T11:19:50+00:00 November 8th, 2014|Today, World History|0 Comments

The Freemasons

Masons hard at work /

Masons hard at work /

Even today, in predominantly Roman Catholic countries the word Mason, or Francmason or Masonería is taboo in polite society. Spanish people assure you that Masons are only one step better than the Devil, that they have been behind every evil conspiracy, that their presence among politicians spells disaster etc. But in protestant countries Masonry is as acceptable as Methodism, and in England, for example, the Masons finance and manage charitable organisations of the best kind, such as the Royal Masonic Hospitals, schools and universities.

   The origins of Freemasonry are mysterious; some kind of continuity exists between guilds of stonemasons, responsible for the building of most of the vast cathedrals to be found everywhere in Europe, and the Masonic lodges of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The process, and the order, continues to the present day, though not so openly in Catholic countries. (more…)

By | 2014-10-02T08:56:52+00:00 October 1st, 2014|Church history, German History, Philosophy, Today, US History|1 Comment

Four illustrious Cecils

William Cecil /

William Cecil /

William Cecil was the first illustrious Cecil, men from an ordinary background who managed, by determination, hard work, guile, ambition and not a little luck to reach very near the top in English history. William worked as a young lawyer with the Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland. He was born in 1520 and was made Secretary of State at thirty. He cleverly avoided the fates of both his bosses (executed for some reason or other) and when Henry VIII’s daughter by Catherine of Aragon – Mary – became Queen he rapidly became a fair imitation of a devout Roman Catholic by conversion.

   Mary Tudor died (rather fortunate for England, for she had been Bloody) and Elizabeth her half sister, born of Anne Boleyn, became Queen. She made him her Chief Secretary of State, and for the following forty years he was her chief advisor, counsel, and loyal subject. He was also the architect of her successful reign as he kept an iron grip on the Administration, influenced the Queen’s pro-Protestant foreign policies, and got rid of the troublesome Mary Queen of Scots by getting Elizabeth to sign the essential death warrant. The Queen, as always, sat on various fences at once by using special Tudor skills of her own, and bitterly complained after the execution that William had ‘tricked her into signing’. This was the nearest that he sailed into the wind, and indeed he was banned from the Court for a while, but Elizabeth soon needed him again. Working closely with the cunning Francis Walsingham (q.v.), who ran the 16th century forerunner of the SIS, he knew all about King Philip of Spain’s intention to invade Britain, and made more than adequate preparations for the country’s defence against the Gran Armada. (more…)

By | 2014-09-22T16:12:46+00:00 September 22nd, 2014|British History, English History, Today, World History|0 Comments

The Two Koreas

Distracting the traffic in Pyongyang /

Distracting the traffic in Pyongyang /

The Korean Peninsula is divided into two, the northern part is officially called The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, while the southern part is simply The Republic of Korea. Unofficially, the world knows these two respectively as North and South Korea.

   North Korea is a ‘socialist’ state, with borders to the north with China, to the north-east with Russia; to the west is Korea Bay and the Yellow Sea; to the east is the Sea of Japan. Very asiatic. Separation from South Korea is provided by a demilitarized zone of 1,262 kilometres. (more…)

By | 2014-08-12T16:50:06+00:00 August 12th, 2014|Asian History, Today, US History, World History|0 Comments

Charles, the 2nd Earl Grey



The second earl was born in 1764, was elected county Member of Parliament for the whole of Northumberland when he was but twenty-two years of age, representing the Whig party dominated by Charles James Fox. A devout reformist, he presented Bills for parliamentary reform in 1793 and 1797, with the intention of demolishing the so-called ‘rotten’ boroughs: both bills were defeated. (more…)

By | 2014-07-14T09:17:35+00:00 July 14th, 2014|British History, English History, Today, World History|0 Comments

Some notes on the 2000 Scarlet Pimpernel series

Some notes on the 2000 TV series ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’

I have in my possession a box set of this production, the material contained in four DVD discs. The series was adapted from the books by the Baroness Orczy by Richard Carpenter, and on the whole he has not done a bad job. Where the series fails, collapses in fact, is in the casting, with one exception – Ronan Vibert.  Richard E. Grant plays Percy Blakeney, a difficult task because Blakeney must be an effeminate fop, pandering to the Prince of Wales (future George IV) in some scenes – and a highly dangerous, athletic, intelligent kind of 18th century ‘Bourne’ in others, rescuing aristos from the clutches of the French revolutionaries. Leslie Howard managed this tolerably well in a film made in the Thirties. David Niven failed completely in 1950. Grant’s problem is simply one of class. Good actor that he is, he hasn’t the right sound, looks or disdain to play an aristocrat. There are plenty of other actors who possess these essential traits – Sam West and Toby Stephens come to mind. (more…)

Who were the ‘Sans-Culottes’?

The fashion for both men and women to wear trousers ending at the knee, or just below it, has been with us for five years or more. Some shops even name this article of clothing in memory of the French Revolution, though that upheaval took place at the end of the eighteenth century. The workers in 1789 preferred the wearing of these well-ventilated trousers because they hated the knee-breeches worn by the upper classes, whom they had been inspired to hate by the republicans. (more…)

By | 2014-04-01T13:27:55+00:00 January 29th, 2014|French History, Today, World History|0 Comments

The importance of Burgos and the Spanish Democracy

Burgos is one of the principal cities in Spain, it has a large population, a famous cathedral, biting arctic winds that freeze one to the marrow and, at the moment anyway, a town hall where the mayor and his councillors govern with an absolute majority awarded them by the voters of Burgos. Spain has been a democratic country since the death of Franco and the subsequent modelling of the Constitution. It is not a one-party state, nor is it a dictatorship. A democracy requires local or national government given a majority, absolute or minute to keep the peace, obey laws even if they hurt, because the assumption must be that if the people vote overwhelmingly for a party to govern them, they shouldn’t grumble. (more…)

By | 2014-04-01T13:28:03+00:00 January 19th, 2014|Philosophy, Spanish History, Today|0 Comments

Union general William T Sherman

This successful but invariably severe soldier with a Native American middle name – Tecumseh – was born in 1820, went into the Army in his teens, and rose so fast he was commanding a division at Shiloh in the American Civil War. The latter was a real blood-letting affair fought among family and friends between 1861 and 1865. The most important issue is thought to be the rights and wrongs of slavery, but many significant leaders in the North of the US rightly believed that most Southern States were determined on secession before and during the conflagration. This, in a new and blooming, hugely land-rich nation would have meant disaster. (more…)

By | 2014-04-01T13:28:16+00:00 January 13th, 2014|A History of North America, Today, US History, World History|0 Comments
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