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Articles on European history

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Photograph of Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth in Ostend, summer 1936, likely taken by Zweig’s secretary, Lotte Altmann. Wikimedia Commons

Stefan Zweig’s European utopia

Zweig’s optimistic vision of a Europe without borders has stood the test of time, and still has much to teach us today.
Andrea Mantegna, Minerva (Athena) expelling Vices from the Garden of Virtue, from the Studiolo of Isabella d'Este, Palazzo Ducale, Mantua (c. 1499–1502). Louvre Museum/Wikimedia Commons

Influence, authority and power: how elite women played a crucial role in the Italian Wars of the 16th century

Women’s participation in warfare is not a recent phenomenon. Women played many roles in the Italian Wars, which engulfed Europe between 1494 and 1559.
One of the earliest depictions of flying witches is in a 15th-century text entitled “Le champion des dames,” or “The Defender of Ladies.” Martin Le Franc/W. Schild. Die Maleficia der Hexenleut' via Wikimedia Commons

Can witches fly? A historian unpacks the medieval invention − and skepticism − of the witch on a broomstick

The iconic image of a witch on a broomstick has apocryphal origins. But whether they could actually fly didn’t stop Christian society from persecuting them.
Women’s wills and last testaments provide a more nuanced picture of life in the Middle Ages than medieval stereotypes allow, such as that depicted in “Death and the Prostitute” by Master of Philippe of Guelders. Gallica/Bibliothèque nationale de France/Feminae

Gifts that live on, from best bodices to money for bridge repairs: Women’s wills in medieval France give a glimpse into their surprising independence

European women’s rights expanded in early medieval cities, though they were still limited. Last wills and testaments were some of the few documents women could dictate themselves.
Franz Roselbach, a Roma survivor of the Holocaust who was sent to Auschwitz when he was 15, attends a ceremony at the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 2006. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Nazi genocides of Jews and Roma were entangled from the start – and so are their efforts at Holocaust remembrance today

Many young people today know little about the murder of European Jews during the Holocaust, and even less about the murder of Romani communities.
Joaquin Phoenix in Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon.’ Napoleon was a prolific legislator who sponsored the Civil Code, later known as the Napoleonic Code. (Apple TV+)

Napoleon the lawmaker: What Ridley Scott’s film leaves out

Ridley Scott’s focus on Napoleon’s tactical triumphs, reckless miscalculations and sexual entanglements neglects his paradoxical legacy as a lawmaker.
A family photo of Andrea Yates, her husband and four of their five children. Yates killed all five by drowning them in a bathtub in 2001. Photo Courtesy of Yates Family/Getty Images

What’s behind our enduring fascination with wives and mothers who kill?

The framing of these stories of murder and mayhem have remained remarkably consistent since the invention of the printing press – and may reveal our own hidden fears and desires.

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