JULY 2018

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TA P E S T R Y

Barely a fortnight apart in the summer of 1948, two events occurred that would have a profound e ect on modern Britain. On 22 June, the MV Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury docks, carrying hundreds of people from the Caribbean and symbolising the birth of a multiracial nation. Then, on 5 July, the NHS was created, transforming the provision of healthcare for people of all classes across the country.

Over subsequent decades these two moments have become heavily mythologised. Now, on their 70th anniversary, we are revisiting the events of 1948 to understand how they were viewed at the time. Turn to page 20 for David Olusoga’s fresh take on the Windrush story, and read Mathew Thomson’s diagnosis of the birth pains of the National Health Service on page 37. Look out, too, for a major BBC season of TV and radio programmes produced to mark the NHS anniversary. We’ve got more details on page 75. Meanwhile, this month’s cover feature takes us much further back in time, to the ninth century and the adventures of Viking warrior Ragnar Lothbrok. One of the great gures of Norse legend – and a hero of the recent Vikings TV drama – Lothbrok may have been a mythical gure but the stories surrounding him o er a fascinating window into the real events and personalities of the time. And, as Eleanor Parker explains in her piece beginning on page 28, the Lothbrok legend was instrumental in creating our modern understanding of the fearsome Viking warrior.

Rob Attar Editor

THIS ISSUE’S CONTRIBUTORS

Shirley Ann Brown Historical monuments and cultural icons are o en appropriated for nationalistic purposes long a er their creation – witness the Nazis’ interest in the Bayeux Tapestry, which involved the use of archaeology in the service of ideology. P Shirley Ann explores Nazi efforts to appropriate and research the historic embroidery on page 46

Keith Thomas In the early modern era, ideas about civility were central to English people’s lives. Books about manners were very popular, and schools gave an enormous amount of attention to teaching polite behaviour. P Keith delves into English ideas of what it meant to be civilised on page 63

Eleanor Parker Medieval writers were just as interested as we are today in tales of fearsome Viking warriors. The stories about Ragnar Lothbrok are a great example of how Viking history could be transformed into legend. P Eleanor reveals how a mythical figure became entwined with history on page 28

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