Why History and why Illustration?
In 1661, King Charles II’s marriage to the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza granted England access to Tangier, a small coastal city in North Africa which controlled access to the Mediterranean and was a key commercial hub. Its defence was organised by the Earl of Peterborough, who raised the ‘Tangier Regiment’ at Putney Heath. UponContinue reading “The Tangier Regiment, late 17th century”
On 18th June 1815, Emperor Napoleon I of France engaged forces of the British-led Seventh Coalition under Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, near Waterloo in modern-day Belgium. Having returned from exile in Elba, Napoleon had reinstated himself as emperor and reinvigorated France after its humiliating invasion of Russia in 1812. Despite strong actions throughoutContinue reading “Battle of Waterloo, 1815”
In the early 19th century, Britain and China experienced a massive trade imbalance; demand for Chinese exports such as tea, silk and porcelain was increasing, but the ruling Qing dynasty saw no need for European imports, requesting only silver in return. Foreign traders were confined to the city of Canton and were not treated onContinue reading “The Assault on Amoy, 26th August 1841”
The famous Greco-Persian Wars of the 5th century BC began with a revolt by Ionian Greeks in Persian-occupied Anatolia. Once this was suppressed, King Darius I turned his attention to mainland Greece, from which support had been sent to support the Ionian revolt. Greece at this time was a collection of city-states, which depended onContinue reading “Engaging the Persian defence, early 5th century BC”
For many young men, life in the Soviet Union was one of extreme militarisation. Once a youth turned 18, he would be conscripted into the armed forces for at least two years; aside from the violent process of dedovshchina (‘initiation’) that saw NCOs bully and harass their men, the average Soviet conscript was given basicContinue reading “Soviet Motor Rifles, 1970s-80s”
Italy, united as one nation relatively recently in 1861, hoped to arouse genuine feelings of patriotism and national identity, and saw acquiring colonies along the Red Sea in East Africa as the best way of doing so. In 1883 the government purchased land from an Italian firm, eventually expanding out to form colonies in modern-dayContinue reading “Italian colonial forces, 1890s”
By 1940, The Second World War threatened to overwhelm the whole of Western Europe; after the quick victory achieved against Poland in September 1939, the Germans focused their attentions on France and the Low Countries; despite a brave and hard-fought defence, French troops were ultimately unprepared for the blitzkrieg tactics that came to define GermanContinue reading “The Fall of France, May-June 1940”
From left to right: Persian Immortal, 5th century BC The Immortals were among the finest warriors in the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire during its invasions of Greece. This elite corps numbered around 10,000 men; if a soldier was put out of action, he would quickly be replaced to keep the number of men the same. ThisContinue reading “Elite guardsmen, 5th century BC – present day”
In 1592, Japan was united and ready to expand after years of continuous internal conflict. Under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the neighbouring Chinese tributary state of Joseon (Korea) was the perfect target for Japanese expansion towards China. On land, the battle-hardened samurai made several swift advances, but at sea they suffered enormously. With their naval supply linesContinue reading “Naval battle of the Imjin War, Korea, 1592-98”
The First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42) saw forces of the British Army and East India Company support former ruler Shah Shuja Durrani, in the hopes of curbing Russian expansion towards India. Whilst they had successfully completed their objectives and reached Kabul by 1840, constant rebellions forced them and their camp followers to retreat from Kabul toContinue reading “Last stand at Gandamak, 13th January 1842”
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