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  • Review: Postwar November 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Postwar

    Tony Judt is often touted as one of the great historians of the later twentieth century. Yet really his writings are, with one exception, not the stuff that world reputations are made on The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century or Socialism in Provence 1871–1914: A Study in the Origins […]

    Napoleon in Wales November 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Napoleon in Wales

    Beach recently offered up the gem of a story that Göring, of all people, had hidden out in a British bomb shelter in the second world war. At that moment he alluded to the fact that in a previous period the British had been convinced that Napoleon himself had visited Britain on the eve of his […]

    Napoleon III Survives Death November 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Napoleon III Survives Death

    Beach was so moved to discover that Marshal Ney  had not really been killed in 1815 that he went out looking for other unlikely survivors. This is one he dredged up from, of all places, Leeds Times (19 Apr 1873), 8. Napoleon III it will be remembered had come to Britain in 1871 after being […]

    Marshal Ney Survives Death November 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Marshal Ney Survives Death

    Marshal Ney was Napoleon’s greatest general and even those who, like Beachcombing, loathe old Boney, feel some regret when they read of how Ney was executed 7 Dec 1815. The great man stood in front of the firing squad and himself gave the order to fire after telling his soldiers: ‘I have fought a hundred battles […]

    Dumb Duels #2: Whip Duel October 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dumb Duels #2: Whip Duel

    Beach has neglected for some time the honourable pursuit of dumb duelling: duels where either the weapon or the motive or preferably both were absurd. Here is one from 1853 from France. It is reported in a contemporary English newspaper so it may even, say it quietly, be true. Enter the whip duel A singular duel […]

    Death by Plane October 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Death by Plane

    Death by plane, the latest in the unusual execution series. Imagine, you are bundled, for a terrible crime, into a bomber bay and tied to a bomb. The bomb is, then, dropped, after a terrifying wait, from 10,000 feet on the enemy. Will you die by explosion or by falling? Some stories are so terrible that […]

    Napoleon and Hitler Coincidences October 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Napoleon and Hitler Coincidences

    Personally Beach has always found the ‘coincidences register’ the most irritating of all genres. Typically, an historically illiterate conspiracy freak, notices some interesting parallels between two different events or more usually individuals. He or she, then, sends out a communication pointing out the ‘striking’ parallels. Then, other readers note other parallels (occasionally making them up) […]

    Floating Islands (and the Loch Ness Monster) September 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Floating Islands (and the Loch Ness Monster)

    Let’s talk floating islands. A few years ago Beach had a very gentle battle with a courteous Nessie writer Roland Watson. As a sceptic with folklore interests Beach was intrigued by many parts of Ronald’s argument, but one piece of new evidence that stood out was the claim that there was a floating island on Loch […]

    Maria Screams September 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Maria Screams

    A WIBT moment from early nineteenth-century Portugal. Thousands of well dressed but harassed men and women are milling and pushing in Lisbon harbor before a score of great British and Portuguese ships. The tense silence is suddenly broken as a piercing scream begins from behind. The woman’s voice, from a royal carriage is continual. Maria […]

    Prostitutes Past September 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Prostitutes Past

    Beach has recently been reading around medieval and early modern prostitutes. Of course, contemporary sources are not particularly vivid in this respect. Between canon law and town legislation, we either get an hysterical appeal to the coldest parts of the Gospels, or pounds, pennies and halfpence. In fact, if you want to relive the medieval […]

    Immortals: Napoleonic Warrior in Russia August 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortals: Napoleonic Warrior in Russia

    Beach has previously enjoyed ‘immortals’ fictional and factional characters who have lived through an improbable number of generations. Here is a likely sounding tale from 30 Jun 1894 (Dundee Eve Tele). A man, who was born 1768, and preserves unimpaired memory, and who was, moreover, in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, has a good […]

    A Nineteenth-Century Hydrogen Bomb? August 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Nineteenth-Century Hydrogen Bomb?

    Was the first hydrogen bomb designed in the late nineteenth century in France? One contemporary newspaper suggests as much.

    Foch and the Twenty Year Armistice: A Myth? July 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Foch and the Twenty Year Armistice: A Myth?

    It is one of the most famous sentences of the twentieth century. Marshal Foch on being told of the final conditions of the Paris Peace Conference stated: ‘This is not a peace treaty, it is an armistice for twenty years’ (Ce n’est pas une paix, c’est un armistice de vingt ans). The Oxford Dictionary of […]

    Snowball Atrocities #2: Snowball Deaths June 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Snowball Atrocities #2: Snowball Deaths

    You can’t go far in snowballing history without dealing with the deaths. European and American newspapers (Beach’s source for most of what follows) are full of snowball fatalities in the nineteenth and twentieth century. For those of us who have perhaps played with snow and lovingly lobbed loose white balls in the direction of family […]

    French Witch Burning, 1886 June 15, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    French Witch Burning, 1886

    Many moons ago, Beach began the long search to find the last witch killing in history. He quickly narrowed down to Western witch killing, because of course, there are many killings in Africa and Asia to this day. Every so often he thinks he has come close, but then another inconvenient and later murder falls […]

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