Category Archives: Sunday Spotlight

Sunday Spotlight: The Duel for Europe 1800-1830

‘The Duel for Europe 1800-1830’ is an exhibition created by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Although there is a physical exhibit, which contains artifacts such as an 1811 pistol, made by a leading London gunmaker, and the Treaties of Vienna and Paris, it is also, much to the delight of this history enthusiast who lives in Canada, an online exhibition.

‘The Duel for Europe 1800-1830’ “highlights one of the most important periods in the history of the Foreign Office, when it helped to end the devastation of war and begin one of Europe’s longest periods of peace.” The exhibition, made up of images and explanatory text, begins with the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars that consumed Britain, and the need for a new system to bring peace. Further pages summarize the 1809 duel between the Foreign Secretary, George Canning, and the Secretary for War, Lord Castlereagh, which I have previously discussed on this blog, and their different approaches to foreign policy.

Discussing the idea behind the exhibit, Chief Historian Patrick Salmon explains, “we thought of it as a literal duel, obviously, but also as a metaphorical duel; a duel between Britain and Napoleon for the future of Europe, and a duel between two alternative views of foreign policy”, referring to Canning and Castlereagh. Both men served as Foreign Secretary, but while Castlereagh worked through persuasion in one-on-one meetings and favoured a policy of international agreement, Canning preferred to use public oratory and was viewed as an isolationist.

I was surprised to learn that the Foreign Office regularly employs historians, such as Chief Historian Patrick Salmon. Aside from providing briefing support on historical issues, the historians’ roles include publishing the Official Record of British Foreign Policy since World War II, with an emphasis on documents from the last thirty years that have not yet gone to the National Archives.

‘The Duel for Europe 1800-1830’ is the first exhibition by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, but Salmon hopes that this will be the beginning of several exhibits. I hope so too.


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Filed under British History, Sunday Spotlight, The Regency

Sunday Spotlight: Enchanted by Josephine

I hadn’t planned on doing a Sunday Spotlight post this week, but when I found out Enchanted by Josephine was holding a Victoria Day Weekend event I couldn’t resist! I’ve been reading Lucy’s blog for awhile now and was even been tempted to join her French Historicals Reading Challenge this year, although I ultimately decided to keep my number of challenges small.

As you might have guessed, her blog is named for Josephine, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, and her interests lie in French and Italian history. Enchanted by Josephine features historical posts, author guest posts, book reviews of historical fiction and non-fiction, and an interesting feature called ‘Historical Flavour of the Month’ where she features brief but fascinating biographies of women in history. Specific pages collect her posts on Venice and Josephine, two of her favourite subjects. Lucy is also a member of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table, which writes about new historical fiction releases and is a must-read for anyone with an interest in the genre.

As a fellow Canadian blogger, Lucy is celebrating the long weekend with a Queen Victoria event. Enchanted by Josephine has already reviewed a biography on the Queen by Grace Greenwood and is planning more Victoria-themed content including a giveaway. Anyone who posts on Queen Victoria is invited to share their links on Enchanted by Josephine as part of the ‘Queen Victoria Long Weekend Binge’ here.

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Sunday Spotlight: Crime Thru Time

I’ve been falling behind on ‘Mystery March’, but if you’d like to sneak in a last mystery before the end of the month I suggest a visit to Crime Thru Time. Established as a discussion list in 1999, this independent historical mystery novel website has since grown to include “information about upcoming releases, series/author book lists, timelines, and links of interest.” This fabulous resource for the mystery reader even includes a subsection for young adult historical mysteries.

Of course the definition of ‘historical mystery’ depends on who you ask, so Crime Thru Time has a Definitions page to explain what is and is not a historical mystery. Even if you understand the distinction, the Definitions page is worth a read for the interesting discussion it raises on period as character.

Like the wonderful, which I mentioned in a previous Sunday Spotlight, Crime Thru Time provides a listing of historical novels by era beginning with the ancient world and continuing into the 20th century. Entries are alphabetical by the last name of the author and also note the protagonist if the author has written a series of mysteries featuring one character, such as George Herman’s Leonardo Da Vinci mysteries. Clicking on an author name brings you to a description of the historical or fictional protagonist, the geographical location and time period in which the novel is set, and a list of published mysteries with their respective dates of publication.

With more than 700 members, Crime Thru Time has clearly not abandoned its discussion list origins. The list can be subscribed to by e-mail and a voluntary group read is held each month. The description reads:

“On our discussion list we talk about history, culture, authors and mysteries. We often share information found on the net about the historical periods written in the novels. We are an ever growing list made up of both authors and readers. We welcome historical readers and writers of all kinds.”

Although I’m not a member of Crime Thru Time, I do appreciate the time and effort that has gone into compiling such a wonderful list of historical mysteries. ‘Mystery March’ has opened my eyes to this growing subgenre of fiction and I look forward to finding future reads using Crime Thru Time.

Crime Thru Time can be visited here.

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Sunday Spotlight: One Lovely Blog Award

Last week I received the One Lovely Blog award from Carrie over at Books and Movies. The instructions are to accept the award and post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link. Then pass the award to 5 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.

Although I’m normally not one to pass things along, this is my very first blogging award and to show my appreciation I’m dedicating this Sunday Spotlight to five other blogs that I’ve recently come across.

-1- Amanda at Books, self-centered musings, and chocolatinis! – the blog of a historical romance writer and “all-around history geek” including the wonderful feature ‘Heroine of the Weekend’.

-2- Michelle at History Buff – a blog containing interesting news stories about archaeology.

-3- Marg at Reading Adventures – a blog with an impressive number and variety of reading challenges and some great book reviews.

-4- Marian at Flights of Fantasy – an insightful but fun writer’s blog about the world of fantasy. It includes some interesting lists and suggestions, such as the clever characters entry.

-5- Faye at Historical Fashion – this is a tumblr blog so it consists of pictures of historical fashions and sometimes commentary. It spans many different eras and is a great resource to scroll through if you’re interested in fashion through the ages.

Many thanks to Carrie for this award and for the fun chance to spotlight a few of my own ‘new discoveries’ this week.

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Sunday Spotlight:

Whether you’re looking for possible entries in one of the many historical reading challenges now under way or simply searching for a new book, should be your first stop. This historical fiction reader’s dream boasts “over 5000 historical novels organized by time and place”, but also includes a blog with author interviews, book reviews, and news on the latest historical novels to be nominated for and win awards.

A note from the site creator sums up the reasons why so many of us are captivated by historical fiction. She writes:

“It is often said that those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it. By blending history and fiction, a good historical novel lets us do more than simply read history: it lets us participate in the hopes, fears, passions, mistakes and triumphs of the people who lived it. It gives us an emotional as well as an intellectual understanding of the past.”

Although there are many wonderful book blogs out there, is set apart by its listing of historical novels categorized by time period and geographical region. Many with a love of history are interested in a diverse group of eras and places but I believe that most of us are especially drawn to one period. Whether your interest lies in Napoleonic France or Roman Britain the detailed listing allows you to find novels set in that favourite era. This comes in handy for anyone working towards a reading challenge goal.

Each broader category is further divided. For example, The Renaissance heading has sub-categories for Young Adults, The British Isles, Mysteries, and The Continent. Novel listings include the author, book title, year of publication, and a brief summary of the work.

For younger readers there is even a special section dedicated to Young Adult historical fiction. In my experience it is harder to find historical novels geared at a younger audience so this is a wonderful feature. Like the rest of the site, Young Adult fiction is broken down by time period into Ancient History, Medieval, and Renaissance.

Blogger Margaret Donsbach writes on the home page that her “goal is to enrich your appreciation of historical fiction by helping you find books that thrill you, move you, disturb you – but above all, awaken your mind and imagination.”

Certainly in my case she has succeeded. can be visited here.


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Sunday Spotlight: The Monarchs We Never Had

I’ve read this series of articles on more than once since I originally stumbled across it, and I continue to find it fascinating. The site examines those British royal heirs who died before they could inherit the throne and theorizes about what might have occurred if they had lived. The introduction to these articles reads as follows:

The death of the heir to the throne has had important consequences throughout British history – sometimes immediately, sometimes obvious only in retrospect. It has twice contributed to the outbreak of civil war, led to England’s break with Rome, caused dynastic change and more than once opened the way for monarchs who were ill suited and badly trained for the role. This website examines the heirs to Henry I, Henry VII, James I, Anne, George IV and Edward VII, how they died and the consequences of these untimely deaths.

What captivates me most about this site is that despite the far-reaching consequences that the death of each heir had for England at the time, I’d wager that many of us never even knew they existed! The most well-known of the group is undoubtedly Prince Arthur Tudor (pictured above), the eldest son of Henry VII. His death, at age 15, made his brother Henry the heir to the throne and he was soon married to Arthur’s widow, Catherine of Aragon. Whether or not their marriage was consummated provided the legal and theological basis for Henry’s divorce and his later split from the Catholic Church.

Interesting accounts of how history could have been changed are found in each of these articles and the site covers a broad span of history from the 1100’s to the late 1800’s. Articles mention such events as the sinking of the White Ship, which resulted in the drowning of Prince William (son of Henry I), to the death of Prince Henry (son of James I) after a November dip in the Thames.

I hope you enjoy speculating as much as I do about what might have been had an heir to the throne survived.

The Monarchs We Never Had can be visited here.


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