On Sunday, Greeks will go to the polls to vote in a crucial referendum. The politics are fraught, the media is frenzied and accusations and recriminations are already flying. The ballot paper has attracted plenty of attention, both inside and outside of Greece. The question is detailed and, to eyes […]

Framing the question – history’s lessons for winning and losing referenda


Sovereign debt default was a lot more common when it was literally sovereigns defaulting. Kings liked money. They didn’t like paying it back. So, quite often, they didn’t. In the richest economies, default has become rare. One of the reasons the Greek financial crisis is dominating headlines and moving markets […]

Which European country tops the sovereign default league table?


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On 12 May 1937, Westminster Abbey rang with shouts acclaiming the new King-Emperor. In 1936, Britain had prepared for the coronation. Much of this effort was wasted when Edward VIII abdicated on 10 December 1936. Everyone had been getting ready for the coronation that never was.  The Coronation of a new King-Emperor […]

The coronation that never was



Adolf Hitler Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-13774 / Unknown Heinrich Hoffmann / CC-BY-SA [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
By 1935, the Nazi Party had consolidated its grip on the Third Reich. The Enabling Act and November 1933’s election made Hitler the supreme power in Germany. The Night of the Long Knives saw the party bear its murderous teeth to opposition but the regime’s brutality had been established from […]

Fuck off, mein Führer!


The Cenotaph on Whitehall in London is designated as the United Kingdom’s primary war memorial. It commemorates the end of World War One.
In 1919, London hosted a Victory Parade that marked a unique moment of national rejoicing, mourning and catharsis. The Parade, also known as the London Peace Parade, saw returning troops march through packed streets in the capital. The city’s iconic monuments were momentarily joined by a series of temporary structures […]

How shall we remember them?


Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria Carl Pietzner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
As the world tumbled into the chasm of conflict in the early years of the twentieth century, one European country carried a light for tolerance, federalism, peace and prosperity. The United States of Greater Austria had been forged from an amalgam of nationalities, linguistic and ethnic groups. Nationalistic conflict, partisan […]

The United States of Greater Austria



Russia’s Tsars typically surrounded themselves with the opulence they felt befitted their status as the autocratic rulers of the world’s largest country. Their palaces were sumptuous and vast, ornate gilded statements of power and wealth. But not every occupant of the throne was as enamoured with what had developed as […]

A thoroughly middle-class emperor


The Paris Peace Conference was tasked with setting the peace terms for the Central Powers after their defeat in the First World War. The Treaty of Versailles dealt with the principal belligerent, Germany. It was, however, accompanied by four less well known treaties dealing with the other countries. The Treaty […]

A slice of Turkey


The Second Battle of Ypres (1915) is the conventional starting point for the terrible chemical warfare that would characterize the middle years of conflict on the Western Front. It was indeed the first battle in which poisonous gas attacks played a part in the western theatre. But it was not the first time […]

Unleashing the suffocating cloud