The First Battle of St Albans

Fighting in the Market Place –

the First Battle of St Albans

Today marks the 560th anniversary of the first battle of St Albans (22 May 1455), which is generally taken to be the first battle in what later became known as the Wars of the Roses. A lot has been written about the battle itself and its effects on national politics. However, knowing St Albans well, I was more interested in its perspective from the side of the town. Continue reading

Girl in a Green Gown

Book Review: Girl in a Green Gown

Carola Hicks, Girl in a Green Gown: The History and Mystery of the Arnolfini Portrait. Vintage, London, 2012 (Pbk)

The title of the book, Girl in a Green Gown, refers to the female figure in the famous Arnolfini portrait of a man and a woman. In this book, Carola Hicks investigates a wide variety of aspects relating to the portrait. It was painted by Jan van Eyck in 1434, as this is stated in an inscription on the picture: “Johannes van Eyck fuit hic” and the year. Van Eyck was court painter of Philip ‘the Good’, Duke of Burgundy. It is remarkable that the history of this painting can be traced through the centuries and its various owners from when it was painted until it ended up in London’s National Gallery in 1842. Continue reading

Magna Carta Symposium in Sydney

History’s Most Important Document –

Magna Carta Symposium in Sydney

On 12 June 1215, the English king John agreed – not completely voluntarily – to the wishes of the barons and sealed the Charter of Liberties, which later became known as the Magna Carta. The 800th anniversary this year is marked by a wide variety of events in the UK and around the world, at least in those countries influenced by English law.[1]

Here in Sydney, a Magna Carta Symposium was held on 7 May at the State Library under the title ‘History’s Most Important Document’, organised by the History Council of NSW, the Magna Carta Committee of the Rule of Law Institute of Australia and the State Library of NSW. Five eminent speakers talked about the Magna Carta and its importance for Australia. The provision of morning tea and a buffet lunch was unexpected in a free event and greatly appreciated. Continue reading