MAY 2015



Every month

On page 51 we examine elections through the ages. Who did we vote for, and why?

22 Unsung war heroes On the 70th anniversary of VE Day, Steve Humphries reveals what was special about the generation that served in the war

26 Why Churchill’s reputation is still on the line The 50th anniversary of his death is an opportunity to reassess the statesman’s place in history, says David Cannadine

28 The many lives of India Sunil Khilnani talks to Rob Attar about some of India’s historical heavyweights

33 Civil War misconceptions Experts explode 10 myths surrounding the seismic 17th-century con ict

42 Did Britain doom the liner Lusitania in 1915? Should this country share the blame for the torpedoing of the ship by a U-boat 100 years ago, asks Saul David

51 How to win an election Dominic Sandbrook reveals how the last 25 general elections were won and lost

56 A nation of slave owners Many Britons pro ted from the slave trade and fought against the idea of abolition, reveals David Olusoga

6 ANNIVERSARIES 11 HISTORY NOW 1 1 The latest history news

1 4 Backgrounder: global oil prices 1 7 Past notes

18 LETTERS 21 MICHAEL WOOD’S VIEW 48 OUR FIRST WORLD WAR 63 BOOKS Experts review the latest releases,

plus David Starkey discusses his new book on Magna Carta

77 TV & RADIO The pick of this month’s history programmes

80 OUT &ABOUT 80 History explorer: taking a look at medieval universities 84 Ten things to do in May 86 My favourite place: Great Wall of China

93 MISCELLANY 93 Q&A and quiz 95 Samantha’s recipe corner 96 Prize crossword

98 MY HISTORY HERO AlanTitchmarshchoosesJaneAusten

42 How Britain may have been partly to blame when the Lusitania was sunk

26 Churchill and his reputation

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Slavery in Britain of

A nation slave owners

Thousands of ‘ordinary’ Britons pro ted from the slave trade – and, says David Olusoga, they weren’t about to accept abolition without a ght

Accompanies the BBC Two series Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners

Listen to David Olusoga ONTHE PODCAST



Tucked away under the trees in a shady corner of Clapham Common, southwest London, stands Holy Trinity church. Inside, above the ornate mosaic floor and the neat rows of pews, are three stained-glass windows. They depict the lives of saints – not biblical saints, but the ‘saints’ of the abolition movement.

From the late 18th century, Holy Trinity Clapham was the parish church of the Clapham Sect – the ‘Clapham Saints’, as they are sometimes called. This loose affiliation of friends and like-minded men committed their considerable energies to bringing to an end first the British slave trade then slavery itself. On the southern wall of Holy Trinity is a grey marble plaque, set into the red Georgian brickwork. It proudly lists the names of Clapham’s abolitionist heroes – men who, we are told, “laboured… until the curse of slavery was swept away from all parts of the British Dominions”. The last name in that alphabetical list is that of the man who became the moral lodestar around which the Clapham Sect orbited: William Wilberforce.

The Clapham Sect was famous in its day, and its legend has not dimmed. The homes of its most celebrated members – Wilberforce, Zachary Macaulay and Thomas Fowell Buxton – are all stamped with approving blue plaques. The crusade they led, against what late Georgians felt comfortable calling ‘negro slavery’, has been the subject of innumerable books and is part

“What has been forgotten is that there were two sides in the political battle fought over slavery. Thousands of British men and women opposed abolition – because they owned slaves”



BBC History Magazine

BBC History Magazine

George Morland’s 1791 painting Slave Trade. Though abolitionists have dominated histories of the British slave trade, their opponents ran a sophisticated campaign that was often in the ascendancy



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Meet some of India’s most colourful historical characters


BBC History Magazine