Saturday, 5 April 2014

'That Martin Luther guy's pretty funky'

          Hello dear readers, it is I, back again for your regular dose of extremely odd and nonsensical ramblings with just a dashing of actual Historical information. Now, please do excuse me, because it's almost half ten in the evening and, unlike actual 'normal' teenagers, I tend to stop functioning all together after around 8pm. Before 12 am doesn't look good either. But nonetheless, here I am, ready to impart the very little knowledge that I have on to you, who probably knows it anyway and is only reading this blog for a good laugh at somebody who attempts to seem knowledgeable.
   Anyway. On to the History bit. You see, the title of this article is, I believe, a brilliant representation of my mental state at the moment. It is, however, my poor, failing brains first response to reading a few articles on line about Luther and Lutherism (I wonder where they got the name from?).
    Now, Luther isn't really 'my type'. Although not a Catholic, he was a bit of a religious fanatic and didn't, in fact, really want to start a revolution at all, it seems. He targeted academics, it seems, at the 95 theses (a document in which he basically ripped the Catholic Church to shreds) was written in Latin, and was so inaccessible for the lay person. He said that it was impossible for all men to become equal and was, in general, concerned with keeping the status quo in all aspects of life apart from religion.
   In fact, from a Lutherist point of view, the Catholic Church could be seen as the revolutionary party, as it had moved drastically away from the teachings of Christ, and Luther could have been seen as a reactionary, trying to 'turn the clock back', and focus on Christians having a personal faith, rather than one controlled entirely by the Church. Luthers main problem with the Catholic Church was that it seemed to lie to the people, telling them that they could effectively 'buy' their way into heaven, as well as placing a lot less store by personal repentance and faith, and instead focusing on the power of the Church itself.
    No, the reason that I like him is that he wasn't afraid to stick up for what he thought was right. He nailed his 95 Theses onto the door of Wittenburg cathedral, and refused to stand down for what he believed, even when facing the prospect of execution at his trial in the city of Worms. That bravery and courage - to fight for what he believed, is something that I think should be admired.
     He has also won a place as one of my favorite History Boys because he did not agree with the idea that it was only through the Catholic Church that you could find freedom and redemption. He thought that a lot of faith should be a personal thing, and although I have my own views on religion, I thoroughly agree with the idea that people should be able to discover it themselves. Because if your ticket to heaven lies in the hands of one body of people, then that body has a supreme control over your every move. And one thing I can't stand is anybody having supreme control over anybody else.
   I think that's why I fell in  love with his story. One document, nailed to the door of a cathedral, sparked a revolution that gave people just a little bit more freedom.
   Anyway, sleep really does call me, so I think I'll have to love you and leave you!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

GCSE Hitler's Germany
I was trying to find a way to relax, but still convince myself I was revising when I came across this gem. Most of it is within 'How did Hitler change Germany from a democracy to a Nazi dictatorship, 1933-34?' part of the syllabus and the programme really captures how scarily well the Nazis managed to indoctrinate so many young Germans- enjoy!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Yet another reason for me to get on my moral high horse...

         Alright guys. I'm back. Tired, snotty, and with ears that feel as if they're clogged up with enough wax to supply a candle-making factory, but back all the same. And haven't you missed me. Now, as much as I'd love to give you the idea that I came back because my emotion towards you all was simply too strong, that is not quite the truth. You see, my friends get a little bit annoyed when I go on and on about politics, and you are a captive audience. I hope. I mean, you could technically stop reading this article but you don't want my broken heart on your conscience, do you? I thought not.
  So anyways, what is it this time that has annoyed me? Well, to be honest, I think I’m justified this time. Because, as some of you may know, Uganda has just passed a bill that angers me when i even think about it. You see, anyone who LGBT could face a lengthy stay in prison, and homosexual sex and same-sex marriage can now mean that the couple live the rest of their lives in prison. It also means that those who help members of the LGBT community can face up to 7 years in prison.
  Now, I don't think I even have to spell out for you why this is a problem. LGBT rights, quite simply, are Human rights, and any violation of these, to me, is just ridiculous. It is simply nonsensical to put people in prison for simply being themselves, and I see absolutely no excuse for making love illegal. Because, quite simply, that's what it is - Love. And whether its between two men, a man and a woman, or two women, it should be accepted.
Anyway, only a short one today I’m afraid but I am extremely tired!
P.S: Here is a petition against the bill

Sunday, 2 March 2014

The Musketeers

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a while and I’ve finally gotten round to it! You lucky, lucky people. 

Now, for the past few weeks, I’ve been watching The Musketeers (which is excellent and on at 9pm tonight on BBC 1) and I have decided to let you all know who they are because I’ve been watching this for ages and I barely know myself. 

I’m back from google-ing.

The Musketeers come from the French historical novel ‘The Three Musketeers’ by Alexandre Dumas in 1844. It is set in the 1600s where D’Artagnan (my favourite from the TV series) meets the three musketeers: Athos, Porthos and Aramis (who I always get confused, but who cares when D’Artagnan’s there). But, anyway even if you didn’t know their names (like me up until five minutes ago), I think everyone knows their motto “all for one and one for all” which was first put forward by D’Artagnan.

And don’t think that Dumas just made these people up, oh no, Dumas did very good research because these ‘musketeers’ were real. They were an “early modern type of infantry soldier equipped with a musket” as stated in my favourite, oh-so-reliable source; Wikipedia. However, there are some differences between what the TV show depicts and what actually happened. For example, in episode four, it shows them acting as body guards/ welcoming the Duke of Savoy, when really the musketeers were one of the lower units of the Royal Guard and would therefore have had little to do with the royal family. On the other hand, they did actually have those blue capes that you see occasionally in some of the episodes, but they had to wear them all the time as part of their uniform which they are obviously lacking in the photo above. 

Overall, even though I am glad I now know all of their names, the only thing I have really achieved is 310 words and an hour of procrastination and counting... So I’m afraid that I’m going to have to leave all of you Musketeer fans here while I go and ‘do homework’ (i.e. even more procrastination).


Sunday, 23 February 2014

UN Security Council Website

Okay so it's after midnight, my laptop has 7% battery and I really should be sleeping, but I just made the most amazing discovery. After flicking through my 'The Week' magazine (which I would definitely recommend by the way) I decided to find out more about the UN's report on North Korea. Quite honestly, I did not except to find any sort of report or anything- I would have thought the UN would be relatively secretive about most of their documents etc and understandably so. But no! If you go on their website you can find letters, reports, minutes from their meetings- it's amazing!
There's just so much there and it's definitely worth looking through for information etc. Wow. Just wow. Whether or not they ever intervene in North Korea, there's at least one thing that the UN have done right. ED

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Edward Tudor

Instead of going out with friends or doing my homework, today I decided to be very productive and stay in my onesie all day watching the 1977 adaptation of ‘The Prince and The Pauper’ from the historical novel by Mark Twain. It was actually pretty good and educational (wink, wink). I mean, apart from the fact Edward Tudor was nineteen years old instead of nine. But, as I am not a qualified historian, that didn’t bother me... well not too much anyway.

And I bet you can all guess what this blog is going to be about! Yes, Edward Tudor. 

So now you lucky people are going to get five (hopefully interesting) facts about him:

  1. He was made King of England when he was nine (considering that I can barely make up my mind about what I want to eat and I’m six years older than him, I find that prospect very frightening, even if he did have advisors).
  2. He died when he was 15 (there’s not really any way to sugar coat this one, it’s sad but true).
  3. Despite the fact that his sisters were disowned for a short period, they were still quite close to him- Elizabeth gave Edward a “shirt of her own working” and I thought that was quite cute. 
  4. He liked his step-mother, Catherine Parr, whom he referred to as his “most dear mother” (see, not all step-mothers are evil like in Cinderella).
  5. He could play the lute (for all of the musically inept like me, this is a string instrument that looks like either a small guitar or a big violin. You can see it below).

Overall, I feel that this shortish entry on Edward Tudor can be interpreted as something productive, so now I can just watch another film and eat Ben & Jerry’s Ice-cream instead of starting half term homework. All of Edward’s responsibilities have been stressing me out too much. 


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Belgium Trip Information

 The History Department's trip to the First World War battlefields of Belgium will soon be taking place again, and we are particularly looking forward to it this year as it is the 100th Anniversary of the outbreak of the conflict.

Here is a link to the powerpoint used at the information evening last night which contains details on what to bring and what will take place on the trip. If you have any further queries do please get in touch with the History Department.

Keep an eye on the blog for further posts related to the trip and the centenary commemorations.

PS: Please note that the issues regarding ParentPay should now have been resolved. We apologise for any inconvenience that was caused.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Why I am boycotting the Winter Olympics....

                 Now, I know it comes as a devastating shock to most of you, but I am not the sportiest of people. And I don't mind saying that the previous statement is almost as big of an understatement as 'Hitler wasn't among the greatest of leaders'. I hate sport with a passion, probably because I have only really tried the girly sports, and I’m not exactly the most feminine of girls... So it may seem odd that I’m choosing to write an article on a sporting event, or even that an event that involves movement has evoked some passion in me. After all, my best memory of the Olympics was being in a 5,000 strong crowd at Hyde Park, repeatedly chanting 'Boris! Boris!'.
  So why am I feeling so strongly about the Winter Olympics? I can tell you now, that it’s not excitement I feel towards events in Sochi. It's a very British annoyance (if I was to get 'angry', there’s a possibility of some tea-spillage. The thought gives me goose bumps.). Because, to be honest with you, I’m not a big fan of the Russian political environment right now. So here's a (not-so-short) list of the main reasons the 2014 Winter Olympics are annoying me like a wasp buzzing around your picnic on the only sunny day of the year.

 1) Human Rights Issues
      Basically, Putin has put in a series of laws that seem to undermine  the right to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association in the run up to the Olympics - which are three of the Human Rights laws I hold most dear.

2) Economy 
    In short, property prices around Sochi have skyrocketed, not to mention the fact that these Olympics seem to be costing a lot of money that seems to go less into the Olympics, and more into the pockets of high-up Russian Officials

3) LGBT Rights Issues 
   Okay. So right or wrong, this is the issue that gets the most up my nose. The stance of the Russian Government on homosexuals, is that they are allowed to be gay (which is a right, not a privilege), as long as they don’t 'advertise their lifestyle'. You know, in case people suddenly get 'converted' to being gay, and then what would society do?! I also watched a really interesting programme on the Winter Olympics, in which the mayor of Sochi insisted that 'there were no gays in Sochi', before being informed of several Gay Clubs in the capital of Sochi.

What I find the most interesting about the Winter Olympics is that the corruption and blatant Human Rights abuses are as 'out there' as Louis Spence at a Gay Pride convention. Yet nobody seems to really be doing anything. So although one less television tuned into events in Sochi won't really make any difference, maybe it will inspire others to do the same. Because we have to do something...


Friday, 31 January 2014

'Guns don't kill people, people kill people' But they tend to find it a bit easier with a gun in their hand...


      Alright.  I know, I know, that you were probably being lulled into a false sense of security- there have been two articles in a row which is probably some sort of record. But alas, the short-lived golden age is over. Because I’m back, crazier than ever. Basically, I decided that I could either sit around being tired and basically drowning in a sea of teenage hormones, or I could pick myself up, stop feeling sorry for myself, and inconvenience you lovely people. Lucky, lucky you.
 Anyways, amigos (noted that 'amigos' makes it sound like we're in a badly made Mexican film) it may come as a surprise but I have a gripe. I am using the word 'gripe' because I feel that it makes my unreasonable anger towards something that doesn't concern me seem slightly more trivial and slightly less... psychotic. In fact, if I call myself 'passionate', it doesn't sound quite as bad... does it?
 Now, I speak as a Briton so I don't really have a grasp on culture across the ponds, although I have, of course, watched more than my fair share of badly made American sitcoms - if it hasn’t got Sandra Bullock in it, I’m not watching it. So maybe I’m being a bit dense (it wouldn't be the first time). And I understand that with the government, it's not as cut and dry as we'd all like it to be. But for god's sake, how many children have to die before something is done?
  The brightest of you may have realised that I’m speaking about America’s gun laws. It is taking an incredible amount of self control to not just facesmash the keyboard in anger, so you should count yourself lucky that I'm actually going to the effort to form some sort of coherent sentence - it's more than I do in most lessons. But I’m going to level with you - Columbine, Virgina Tech, Dendermonde Nursery - all of these done by young people with relatively easy access to guns, and all of these causing unbelievable trauma and upset to everyone involved. These events are horrendous, and that is the only work for it. Reading about them makes me feel sick to the stomach, because the idea of a teenager getting to the point where they are prepared to kill innocent people... it just doesn’t quite sit right with me.
 And I understand that the government can’t change the number of mentally ill teenagers - god knows the U.K probably has roughly the same amount of teens who would be willing to commit atrocities. But the U.K, thank goodness, doesn't have high-school/university shootings in the same way that America does. And I hate to be that girl who states the obvious, but the only startling different between the two countries is the gun laws.
 Again, maybe I’m being simple, because I always tend to be - but surely it's a lot harder to shoot somebody if you don’t have a gun? I don’t know, maybe I’m being traditional. But if you tighten your regulations, then maybe the number of shootings will decrease. Maybe the simple act of receiving education won't have danger attached to it any more.
 So yes, the gun itself doesn’t kill people. The person holding the trigger kills people. But maybe if you take the trigger away, it will be harder to kill people.
 Okay you lovely lot, the growling in my stomach has got to such a volume that I can't even hear the odd few thoughts flutter through my brain, and so I must leave you. 


Monday, 20 January 2014

The History of Harrods and Selfridges

As many of my friends and family know, I love shopping, and with the return of ‘Mr Selfridge’ on ITV, I have decided to write about the history of my two favourite department stores- Harrods and Selfridges (not that I can actually afford anything inside *makes mental note to get a part time job*).
Anyway, one of the main differences between the two stores is that Harrods was set up by the Englishman Charles Henry Harrod in 1824 while Selfridges was set up in 1856 by the American, Harry Gordon Selfridge. Despite their grand department stores, both had humble beginnings, while Harrod started off by selling groceries in London, Selfridge was an errand boy in Chicago.
Now’s time for my favourite moments in their histories. First, Harrods:
Picture this. 16th November, 1898, on a Wednesday, the first escalator was used in England. Although it might not have looked much to the average person from this era, to a Victorian this contraption made of woven leather and a mahogany and ‘silver plate-glass’ balustrade was the in-thing, super exciting stuff. In fact, it was so exciting that customers had to have a glass of brandy after using it to ‘calm their nerves’. So at the moment, I really want to put some Victorians on a roller-coaster and see how their nerves fair then. They would probably need a whole gallon of brandy after I’ve finished taking them around Thorpe Park.
However, my favourite moment from the history of Selfridges is somewhat more educational and therefore more sophisticated. You see, Mr Selfridge liked education and science and as a result had many educational and scientific displays to attract customers. An example of this is when Louis Blériot’s monoplane was exhibited there during 1909 where it attracted 12,000 people. 
Overall, it’s nice to know that there is an interesting history behind Harrods and Selfridges so that my pointless window shopping can actually be passed off as something educational *wink wink*. Please don’t tell my mum.