trial by combat

Trial by Combat? Trial by Cake!

The medieval tradition of deciding legal cases by appointing champions to fight to the death endured through 1817, unlike its tastier cousin.
Ploughman painting

The Toadmen, Masters of Equine Magic

A strange initiation ritual involving a toad was required for members of a secret caste of nineteenth-century horse mystics.
Jane Austen Sanditon

What Exactly Is Jane Austen’s Sanditon?

An unfinished, fragmentary Austen novel is being adapted for television. Can we ever know what Austen meant for this book to eventually become?
Vernon Lee 1881 by John Singer Sargent 1856-1925

The Forgotten Master of the Ghost Story

Vernon Lee was a widely-read writer of 19th-century ghost stories, called the "cleverest woman in Europe." Her life story was pretty fascinating, too.
Bread Turkey roasted baked

Baking Vs. Roasting

We cook bread, meat, and vegetables much the same way: in our ovens. So why do we say we "bake" bread, but we "roast" meat and veggies?
Elizabeth Bennett

How Lizzie Bennet Got Her Books

In Regency England, a novel cost about $100. Subscription-based circulating libraries became a way for women of modest means to gain knowledge.
David Hockney

Why David Hockney Makes Both Paintings and Photographs

In a 1991 interview with singer Graham Nash, David Hockney explained how he applied his drawing skills to photography via the computer.
John Snow

John Snow and the Birth of Epidemiology

Even though this physician pre-dated germ theory, he was able to track a London outbreak of cholera to one particular water pump.
King Arthur Harry Potter

Harry Potter, the Arthurian Romance

Perhaps the Harry Potter stories are so potent because they rework the iconic hero stories of medieval French Arthurian romances.
Charles I royal touch

The Divine Power of Kings to Heal by Touch

Healing ceremonies showed that monarchs ruled by God’s will, as divine power worked through anointed hands.