One hundred years ago, Europe was on the road to war. By the end of July, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, starting a series of declarations between the Great Powers that ended on August 4 when Britain declared war on Germany for its invasion of neutral Belgium. A month before on June 28 1914, the heir to the Habsburg crown, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated by the young Serbian nationalist, Gavrillo Princip. None foresaw that Princip's actions would become one of the most monumental acts of the 20th century, though in July of 1914 few cared to notice. For most Europeans (and Canadians!) they were more interested in the “trial of the century” taking place in Paris. French socialite Madame Henriette Caillaux was found not guilty on July 28, the same day Austria declared war on Serbia.Read More
The Easter Rising of Ireland in April 1916 was the second last attempt of the Irish to throw off the yoke of their British masters. Just recently we passed its 98th anniversary and Ireland is preparing for its centenary with the novel idea of inviting historians to advise their government on its commemorations. It's almost like we're especially skilled to discuss history's role in society and government. It's always worthwhile to refresh ourselves about the facts of the Easter Rising, one of the most significant events in Irish history.Read More
For many, the evolving situation in Ukraine harkens back to European history of the 1930s. Whether it is the German-Austrian Anschluss or the German claim to Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland, many across the world (and within Russia itself) have made the comparison between Russia's recent aggressive stance in the Crimea and the actions of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. Such comparisons can be useful as they place the situation in Ukraine in a comprehensible (if perhaps simplified) framework. Most informed observers of contemporary affairs are broadly familiar with the events leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, and can easily understand a conception of Russia's action within such a comparison. Given the number of sources that have made the comparison in the last week, we thought it would be fruitful to remind our readers of those events in more detail.Read More
In early December 2013, we wrote about the controversy surrounding Ukraine’s decision to sidle alongside Putin’s Russia rather than sign agreements with the European Union that would allegedly bring the country closer to European integration. Over the last few months, the controversy has evolved considerably from a string of peaceful protests to violent unrest. The official response has escalated in turn, leading to violent clashes in the streets and hundreds of casualties since mid-January of this year. The most recent developments, however, have raised the stakes significantly as both Russia and Ukraine mobilize their militaries for war and a weary diplomatic community scrambles to ease the tensions.Read More
It seems that every November the same question about political correctness arises: is it okay to say “Merry Christmas” as opposed to the more inclusive “Happy Holidays”? While some businesses opt for the all-encompassing holiday wishes, others vehemently oppose getting rid of their Christmas wishes.Read More
Last week we explored some issues involving EU integration and Kiev’s decision not to sign the historic EU Association Agreement, which some argue would have put the Ukraine firmly on the road to prosperity. In light of the recent riots in the Ukraine’s capital—and the harsh government reaction to them—this post looks at some of the difficulties North Americans have when conceptualizing EU’s endless objective of expansion.Read More
Earlier this year, the European Union (EU) welcomed Croatia as the 28th member state, a decision which caused some degree of controversy. While some commentators claimed that the EU had already overstretched its boundaries, many politicians in the European community remain convinced that expanding the EU and signing European economic agreements is the optimal choice for the continent’s prosperity.Read More
In this post, we look at "the other path" taken by some in times of war. In exploring how men from across Europe participated in the Spanish Civil War in 1936, we draw some parallels with the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), where men from various background living in European countries have traveled to and participated in uprisings against regimes.Read More
According to most contemporaries in the summer of 1914, a European war couldn't have been further from the imagination. After all, they were living through Europe's longest, general peace since the Napoleonic Wars and many had never witnessed war. The small crises which riddled global news bulletins were not at all tied to the survival of their own countries. Yet, when the Balkans erupted for a third time in just a decade, European peace was broken and the Great War engulfed nations from around the globe. In this post, we raise questions about similarities between the situation in Syria and how states have reacted to US and British plans to attack Assad's regime.
Conversation is an unavoidably personal way to educate others about history. That connection leads to serious questions about how we relay the facts about the past. Outside of the lengthy space of articles and books, we are forced to condense our thoughts and sometimes deal with complicated issues in simple ways. The most problematic are the historical events that reflect on the terrible nature of humankind – the wars, atrocities, the cruelty of one human being towards another. How do we discuss these issues in conversation? Or, how do we as historians deal with morality, let alone convey it to others? Is it our place to judge the past?
Perhaps no other news item generates as much controversy as debates over
whether gay marriage should be legalized. And perhaps no other issue is
as poorly understood or historically myopic either. This post delves into the historical evolution of church attitudes towards marriage.
In this post, we suggest that given such severe financial crises, the EU should place a moratorium on the accession process. Croatia, which became the twenty-eighth member of the EU last month, brings with it a series of new challenges whilst other EU countries try to remedy their own. The post raises an important question: has the EU overstretched its boundaries?
This is the second and final part of our discussion on the history of humanitarian intervention. The previous post looked at long-term ideas as they relate to perceptions of suffering. As we move through the past, notions of who is suffering and from what have changed drastically. This can often dictate why and in what capacity states or organizations intervene in certain situations and not in others.Read More
This week on Clio's Current we want to examine the history of humanitarianism in order to ask questions about pressing issues in the Arab world, notably in Syria. Before we do so, however, we think it's worthwhile to offer a short overview of the history of international humanitarianism, which stretches into the past much further than most might think.Read More
The British government has recently unveiled its plans for the upcoming Great War centenary, which has sparked some controversy over what exactly the conflict accomplished and how people should remember it. Plans for official Canadian centenary events have yet to be made public, but we can expect similar discussions to take place between historians, journalists, and political commentators. In this post, we raise a number of important questions historians and the public at large might consider as we hear more and more about the First World War in the media.