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The British did not take to water like ducks, for centuries doing little but cling to coastal waters. The Romans and Vikings knocked spots of us as seamen, and the English upper classes saw seafaring as mercantile and beneath them. Britain's success at sea began with Elizabeth I and the defeat of the Armada, thanks to superior gunnery and seamanship. Elizabeth employed practical seamen like Hawkins and Drake - and they repaid her trust. Howarth reconstructs the expansion of trade routes and the great 18th - century days of the line of battle ships. With Napoleon's fall, the British were free to expand, and their prestige rose so high that sea warfare almost ceased as British ships patrolled the oceans. In the 20th century, the British navy was twice as big as any other. Full of anecdote, erudition and humour, this is a classic account.
Why did the medieval Church bless William of Normandy's invasion of Christian England in 1066 and authorise cultural genocide in Provence? How could a Christian army sack Christian Constantinople in 1204? Why did thousands of ordinary men and women, led by knights and ladies, kings and queens, embark on campaigns of fanatical conquest in the world of Islam? The word 'Crusade' came later, but the concept of a 'war for the faith' is an ancient one. Geoffrey Hindley instructively unravels the story of the Christian military expeditions that have perturbed European history, troubled Christian consciences and embittered Muslim attitudes towards the West. He offers a lively record of the Crusades, from the Middle East to the pagan Baltic, and fascinating portraits of the major personalities, from Godfrey of Bouillon, the first Latin ruler of Jerusalem, to Etienne, the visionary French peasant boy who inspired the tragic Children's Crusade. Addressing questions rarely considered, Hindley sheds new light on pressing issues surrounding religious division and shows how the Crusades have helped to shape the modern world and relations between Christian and Muslim countries to this day.
Much has been written about the Knights Templar in recent years. A leading specialist in the history of this legendary medieval order now writes a full account of the Knights of the Order of the Temple of Solomon, to give them their full title, bringing the latest findings to a general audience. Putting many of the myths finally to rest, Nicholson recounts a new history of these storm troopers of the papacy, founded during the crusades but who got so rich and influential that they challenged the power of kings.
Charles Darwin has become one of the most important men in history. The quiet, unsure polymath who avoided confrontation, ensconced in his family home at Down House in Kent, was also a revolutionary who developed his idea of Natural Selection in isolation. Cyril Aydon's short biography is considered one of the best introductions to the life and ideas of Darwin. With Darwin's legacy still in contention and the forthcoming anniversary of the publication of The Origins Species, Aydon's book is a perfect guide to the ideas as well as the man who was recently voted one of the greatest Britons of all time, and certainly one of the most influential thinkers ever.
The book leads the reader through these vibrant stories, from the origins of the gods through to the homecomings of the Trojan heroes. All the familiar narratives are here, along with some less familiar characters and motifs. In addition to the tales, the book explains key issues arising from the narratives, and discusses the myths and their wider relevance. This long-overdue book crystallises three key areas of interest: the nature of the tales; the stories themselves; and how they have and might be interpreted. For the first time, it brings together aspects of Greek mythology only usually available in disparate forms - namely children's books and academic works. There will be much here that is interesting, surprising, and strange as well as familiar. Experts and non-experts, adults, students and schoolchildren alike will gain entertainment and insight from this fascinating and important volume.
This book demonstrates the importance of the presence of the Royal Navy in South America. Historically there have been no treaty obligations and few strategic considerations in the region, yet it is frequently referred to as forming part of Britain's 'unofficial empire'. The role of the Navy in supporting foreign relations and promoting commerce is examined during a period of the twentieth century which is often associated with the decline of the British Empire. The Role of the Royal Navy in South America, 1920-1970 shows how the Royal Navy reacted to changing circumstances during the post-war decades by adopting a more pro-active attitude towards the imperative of supporting naval exports. It provides a scholarly investigation of this important peacetime role for the service and offers the first book-length study of the Navy's involvement in the region during this period.
With the recent success of 'Rome' on BBC2, no one will look at the private lives of the Roman Emperors again in the same light. Anthony Blond's scandalous expose of the life of the Caesars is a must-read for all interested in what really went on in ancient Rome. Julius Caesar is usually presented as a glorious general when in fact he was an arrogant charmer and a swank; Augustus was so conscious of his height that he put lifts in his sandals. But they were nothing compared to Caligula, Claudius and Nero. This book is fascinating reading, eye-opening in its revelations and effortlessly entertaining.

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