Thursday, August 12, 2010

Roundup: Historians

Neal Ascherson, "Liquidator," London Review of Books, August 19, 2010.

Seven years after his death, Hugh Trevor-Roper’s reputation is still a cauldron of discord. He would have enjoyed that. Steaming in the mix are the resentments of those he expertly wounded, the awe of colleagues at the breadth and depth of his learning, dismay at his serial failures to complete a full-length work of history, delight in the Gibbonian wit and elegance of his writing and – still a major ingredient – Schadenfreude over his awful humiliation in the matter of the Hitler diaries. >>>

"Cambridge University connects communities with Domesday,", August 10, 2010.

When William the Conqueror wanted to consolidate his power over his new English subjects he created the Domesday Book.

It was a comprehensive list of who owned all property and livestock.

Now Cambridge University historians have digitised the information in an interactive website.

"It's possible for anyone to do in a few seconds what it has taken scholars weeks to achieve," said Dr Stephen Baxter, a co-director of the project.

PASE Domesday was launched on 10 August 2010 and is the result of collaboration between scholars from Cambridge University and King's College, London.

Tax collection?

The Domesday Book was collated between 1085 and 1086.

Most historians believe it is some sort of tax book for raising revenue.

Dr Baxter, a medieval historian from King's College, London, has a different theory.

He argues its real purpose was to confer revolutionary new powers on King William.

"The inquest generated some pretty useful tax schedules," he explained. "But the book gave him something altogether more powerful." >>>

Daniel Hernandez, "Mayas protest monument to Spanish conquistadors," La Plaza, LA Times blogs, August 11, 2010.

The city of Merida on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula is reviewing a petition to remove a recently built public monument to the city's colonial founder, a figure whom some indigenous Mayas regard as a violent conquistador. The municipal government accepted the petition from a coalition of Mayan organizations to reconsider the monument and statues depicting Francisco de Montejo, known as "El Adelantado," and his son, also named Francisco and known as "El Mozo." The younger Montejo established Merida in 1542, on the site of the former Maya city of T'ho. >>>

"Tony Judt, Historian And Author, Dies At 62," NPR, August 8, 2010.

Much to his presumed irritation, historian Tony Judt, who died on Friday, might be remembered for one word: anachronism.

That's what he called the idea of a Jewish state in Israel in a widely read essay in the New York Review of Books. But Tony Judt was, first and foremost, an intellectual historian.

His book Postwar, about the history of Europe after 1945, became an instant classic. And he made it his mission to try to unpack the nuances of 20th-century history. >>>

Faye Fiore, "Guardians of the nation's attic," Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2010.

When Paul Brachfeld took over as inspector general of the National Archives, guardian of the country's most beloved treasures, he discovered the American people were being stolen blind.

The Wright Brothers 1903 Flying Machine patent application? Gone.

A copy of the Dec. 8, 1941 "Day of Infamy" speech autographed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and tied with a purple ribbon? Gone. >>>

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