Kingship, court and society at the dawn of the modern age: the chamber books of Henry VII and Henry VIII, 1485–1521

Much has been written on Henry VIII, though less on Henry VII, and the former is an established presence in the National Curriculum, on TV, film, and in novels. Many students are inspired to take up the study of history because of interest in the Tudor dynasty. Yet some of the key information about the early Tudor state, its first two kings, their style of kingship, their daily lives and their magnificent court, is little used, available only in fragile manuscripts which are accessible only under certain conditions onsite at the National Archives and the British Library in London. 

Linking functional and epigenetic plasticity at the single-neuron level

Your everyday experiences, such as reading the paper, enjoying a meal or even catching a cold, change your brain to allow learning and adaptation in a constantly-changing world. These changes are collectively known as ‘plasticity’, and occur via a huge array of mechanisms ranging from alterations in the structure of individual molecules through to changes in the strength of connections between entire brain regions.

Elucidating the ‘shared brain’

To date, everything we know about how a person’s social identity is formed has been based on conscious processes of measurement and self-assessment (for example, post-hoc questionnaires or verbal reports). However, it is highly likely that the formation of a conscious social identity begins in, and is heavily influenced by, processes within the unconscious; such influences between unconscious and conscious processes have been demonstrated time and again over the last half-century of psychological research.

Urban gardening in early medieval Italy: cultivating the city

In early medieval Italy, the real marker of political power was control of food resources. More than military force, legislative authority, or religious ceremony, the ability to secure food supplies meant wealth, social status, and legitimacy. Kings gave gifts of farms, vineyards and orchards to loyal retainers, and laymen and laywomen secured their families’ continued use of agricultural plots by promising them to churches.

New life for lost plays

Greek tragedy is considered the wellspring of the Western theatrical tradition, but the plays that survive represent a tiny proportion of what once existed. Of the 1200 tragedies or so we know were performed during the fifth century BCE, less than 3% made it through to the modern day. It is tempting to believe that these plays represent the ‘best’ of what was ever written, but the road to survival was plagued by vagaries.

The birth of Greek culture

From the invention of prose to innovations in epic and lyric poetry, from the beginnings of philosophical exposition to the origins of historical enquiry, many of the characteristic features of ancient Greek culture had their origins in one particular place and time. The place was Ionia, a region on the western coast of modern-day Turkey, and the time was the archaic period between c.750–550 BCE. 

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