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A very British catastrophe: Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s final journey

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Captain Robert Falcon Scott dressed in full military regalia

Captain Robert Scott’s legacy will forever be an irreconcilable contradiction. At times, he has been venerated as an icon of Edwardian masculinity: a stoical, humble pioneer whose Antarctic expeditions discovered the Polar Plateau and made many significant contributions to scientific …

South America and the power of steam

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The independence of South America bought an influx of opportunities for commerce and investment from Europe and North America. Everyone wanted a piece of the newly opened continent. Merchants, industrialists, and entrepreneurs arrived to make their fortunes.
Why could South America not follow European and North American railway expansion to modernise the infrastructure and open access to the remote country?

History’s Unparalleled Alliance: the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of Windsor, 9th May 1386

Two red seals are attached to the Treaty of Windsor by strips of parchment

Winston Churchill in a speech in the House of Commons in October 1943 famously described the unique and ancient friendship between England and Portugal as an alliance “without parallel in world history”.[1] It is 630 years since a treaty of …

What’s the Context? 9 May 1956: Eden orders an enquiry into the disappearance of Commander ‘Buster’ Crabb

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It would not be in the public interest to disclose the circumstances in which Commander Crabb is presumed to have met his death. Mystery of the missing frogman Sixty years ago today, on 9 May 1956 the Prime Minister, Sir …

British diplomacy and the independence of South America

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The independence of many South American countries from Spanish and Portuguese rule followed uprisings and wars from 1806 to the mid-1820s. British diplomacy in the independence of South America was, generally, about trade. Britain was an ally with Portugal and …

What’s the context? 1 December 1925: signing the Locarno Treaties

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1 December 2015 marks the 90th anniversary of the formal signing of the Locarno Treaties at the Foreign Office in London. Named after the town in Switzerland where the treaties had been negotiated a few months earlier, their aim was …