Confession, circa 1460/1470. Artist unknown.
Photo by Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images
Churches’ struggles to respond to the plague and constant warfare in the 14th and 15th centuries helped shape the kinds of Christianity in the world today.
A Ukrainian service member takes a photograph of a damaged church after shelling in a residential district in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 10, 2022.
AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka
Religion plays an important role in expansive views of Russian nationhood. But faith has played a role in Ukrainian nationalism, too.
St Andrew’s Church, Kyiv, Ukraine.
Straight from our experts, here are five books to help you understand what’s happening right now in Ukraine and Russia, from a must-read history of Ukraine to a literary classic with insights into the Russian soul.
Ukraine’s fight for independence can be traced to the 19th century when it was under the control of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. Ukrainians, then as now, believe they have an identity separate from Russia.
(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Ukrainians believe they have an identity separate from Russia. Russia, on the other hand, believes that Ukraine and Russia share the same history.
A group of schoolgirls in Czyzew, Poland, before the Holocaust.
Czyżew Yizkor Book by Shimon Kanc/New York Public Library
Yom HaShoah is a day to commemorate the murder of 6 million Jews – but also their lives. Yizker bikher books lovingly document Jewish communities across Europe.
Family or just friends: a monument to the friendship of Russia and Ukraine in Kyiv, Ukraine.
SAGAPHOTO.COM/Alamy Stock Photo
The two countries have a lot of shared history, but Ukraine has a distinct and independent past.
The ‘Malleus Maleficarum,’ a medieval handbook, was used to try and execute supposed witches. Its influence lasted for centuries – including at the Salem Witch Trials.
Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Witch trials relied on a medieval text called the “Malleus Maleficarum” – a book this reference librarian can hold in her hands.
Modern vampires like Dracula may be dashing, but they certainly weren’t in the original vampire myths.
Archive Photos/ Moviepix via Getty Images
The past century’s vampires have often been a bit dashing, even romantic. That’s not how the myth started out.
A wolf in the Białowieża Forest, Poland.
Historians and scientists discovered how colonisation in eastern Europe changed ecosystems – and the societies embedded in them.
The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) has been regarded as a classic of European literature since soon after its publication in 1958. It recounts the decline and fall of Sicily’s aristocracy.
The squares of medieval European cities bore witness to the reopening of economies after plagues.
The cities of Europe have experienced disease outbreaks for centuries, but they were able to bounce back using quarantine, economic stimulus and patience. Not all were successful.
French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump meet the press at the 2019 NATO summit in London.
AP Photo/ Evan Vucci
As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization celebrates its 70th anniversary with a leaders’ meeting in London, five US scholars shed light on NATO’s history and its potential future.
The coast of Greenland is not for sale.
The USA has a long colonial history – as does Denmark. The USA has even tried to buy Greenland before. But this time, Greenland isn’t Denmark’s to sell.
European stereotypes: a Dutch satirical cartoon of Europe from 1870.
Humoristische Kaart van Europa via Wikimedia Commons
The battle between nationalism and a wider European identity in the 19th century has influenced philosophy to this day.
US marines walk through the rebuilt palace of King Nebuchadnezzar, in the ancient town of Babylon, in April 2003. The ruins suffered serious damage when American troops set up a military base amid the ruins during the Iraq War.
A scholar analyzed data about UNESCO World Heritage sites to explain why European cultural relics like Notre Dame are so beloved, while splendid monuments elsewhere remain relatively unknown.
‘American Progress’ by John Gast.
Progress, in historical terms, has so often meant clearing places of their native inhabitants – both human and non-human.
Kaiser Wilhelm II and one of his generals in 1914.
A toxic mix of wishful thinking, brinksmanship, finger-pointing, and fatalism in July 1914 bear similarities to Brexit.
This undated score, written by Joseph Mohr and titled ‘Weynachts Lied’ (‘Christmas Carol’), is the earliest known surviving copy of ‘Silent Night.’
Over 200 years ago, an Austrian priest teamed up with a schoolteacher to perform the first rendition of ‘Silent Night.’ Little did they know that it would one day be sung in over 300 languages.
Magnus Hirschfeld, on the right, sits with his partner, Tao Li, at the fourth conference of the World League for Sexual Reform in 1932.
Physician Magnus Hirschfeld advocated for those he called ‘sexual intermediaries.’ His activism began before World War I – and ended only when the Nazis came to power.
Jean-Baptiste Belley, Deputy of Saint-Domingue and French National Convention member (1793-97) with a bust of Abbé Raynal.
Some today declare that “Western civilisation” is something we should all be simply “for”. But the enlightenment, central to this civilisation, shows how things are rarely so simple.