Use our images
Download images for
personal or educational
use for £2.99/US$5 each
All of these articles and images are available for licensing: click on an image to see further details and licensing options; contact us about licensing textual content.
Posted in Historical articles, History, Invasions on Wednesday, 12 June 2013
This edited article about Napoleon originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 289 published on 29 July 1967.
Aimee Ladoinski's screams brought a Polish officer to her aid by Pat Nicolle
Moscow was in flames! Napoleon’s Grand Army, having fought its way across Russia, losing a sixth of its 600,000 men, finally marched into the great city on 14th September, 1812, to find it empty. The entire population had fled, except for a few French residents who joyfully greeted their fellow countrymen. That very night Russian saboteurs set fire to the city rather than let it fall intact into French hands, and the battle-weary, foot-sore troops were forced to leave it, although they had only just entered it.
With the troops went Aimee Ladoinski and her small son. They had been reunited that day with Aimee’s husband, a captain in the Polish Lancers, who had left his family in Moscow to join Napoleon.
Like many Poles, Captain Ladoinski hoped the French Emperor might save Poland from the hated rule of Russia. But Aimee, though she was French, mistrusted Napoleon. She told her husband that Poland’s freedom meant nothing to the Emperor.
Now as the flames drove them from Moscow, survival was all that mattered.
After the fire died down, Napoleon returned to the gutted city. Retreat was inevitable, but he delayed a full month, and the deadly Russian winter was approaching.
On 18th October, 1812, the French left Moscow, laden down with loot and dressed in uniforms which were to prove useless against the icy cold.
Aimee and her son travelled in a baggage-wagon. Right from the start, ferocious Cossack horsemen swept down on the army, harassing, killing and then retreating into the forests.
On 6th November, the first snow began to fall.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in Discoveries, Historical articles, History, Invasions on Wednesday, 12 June 2013
This edited article about the Conquest of Mexico originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 289 published on 29 July 1967.
When Cortes landed at Tabasco in March 1519, the natives were awed by the strange men and the horses, which they had never seen before, by Severino Baraldi
How 400 Spaniards under Hernando Cortes overthrew the Aztec Empire and its ruler Montezuma is one of the most amazing stories of history.
Columbus discovered the New World in 1492, and parts of the West Indies were colonised. In 1517, the Yucatan area of Mexico was reached and the Spaniards found, not savages, but a people – the Mayas – who had built elaborate cities. They also found gold.
Another expedition followed, which brought back news of the fabulous land of Mexico, and in 1519 the Spanish Governor of Cuba sent Cortes (1485-1547) to conquer it. The most daring men volunteered for the expedition, excited by the prospect of gold and adventure, but there were only 550 of them at the outset, plus some horses and cannon – both unknown in America and therefore having great shock value.
The Aztecs ruled millions from their impregnable capital, built on the lake over which modern Mexico City now stands. There were more than 300,000 of them, well governed, expert in astronomy and engineering, and fanatically religious – but their religion was bloodthirsty. To appease wrathful gods and ensure the continued rising of the sun, endless human sacrifices were offered up.
The Aztecs believed that, centuries before, a gentler god, Quetzalcoatl, had gone East, and that one day he would return. Only in certain years, astrologers predicted, could this occur, and the god would be white-skinned, black-bearded and dressed in black. The year 1519 was such a year and when Cortes landed on the very day Quetzalcoatl was expected, the Aztecs were thrown into consternation.
Cortes knew nothing of this, though he gradually realised his luck. Montezuma could have destroyed him, but he hesitated, and the Spaniards started the 250-mile march to Mexico.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in Historical articles, History, Invasions, Law, Politics on Monday, 10 June 2013
This edited article about the Isle of Man originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 286 published on 8 July 1967.
The open-air ‘Parliament’ held every year on 5th July at Tynwald Hill, St. John’s in the Isle of Man, has its origins in the days of Viking conquest of the island.
To Manxmen, the ceremony is a link with the past and a reminder that the Isle of Man is an ancient kingdom, enjoying its own government which makes its own laws and levies its own taxes.
In the 8th century, Norsemen were leaving their homes in Scandinavia and sailing south in their war galleys to conquer new lands. By the end of the century they had colonised the Orkneys and Shetlands, and their raiding parties were moving south in an orgy of plundering, burning and slaying.
They were followed by others of their countrymen, who came to settle and marry the daughters of the very men they had deprived of land. They brought with them not only their skills in metalworking, shipbuilding and seamanship, but also their capacity for making laws and creating government.
Some of the settlers in Man helped to colonise Iceland; and it is known that in A.D. 930 they established there a national assembly, the ‘Althing’, which was held on a site known as the ‘Thing-vollr’, or Parliament Field. The latter name was the original form of the word ‘Tynwald’.
No one knows the exact date when Norse political customs were introduced into the Isle of Man, although prosperous Viking settlers were certainly in possession of land there in the 9th century.
The first official reference is to a Tynwald gathering in 1228. The Icelandic ceremonies were discontinued about 150 years ago, and Tynwald St. John is now the only remaining link with a forgotten Viking civilisation.
The site of the ceremony is a natural plateau formed during the Ice Age and surmounted by a man-made mound of four circular platforms. The mound itself has a base diameter of 76 feet, is 12 feet high with each platform 3 feet higher than the one below.
The Processional Way from Hill to Chapel is 360 feet long, and on Midsummer Day is strewn with rushes to recall the old Celtic custom of offering bundles of green bent-grass at the altar of the sea god Manannan.
The remains of a 3,000-year-old Bronze Age tumulus can be seen near the site, while the hill itself is thought to have been the burial place of a Bronze Age chieftain and subsequently a tribal meeting place where chiefs and their heirs were elected. The heir-apparent was known as the Tanist, and in those far-off days, when death often came suddenly to a chieftain, it was essential that a new ruler should succeed at once.
A temple in honour of the Viking’s favourite god, Thor, was usually erected on or near the Parliament Field and his images were worshipped and used in oath-swearing ceremonies. In those days the political system depended for its survival on people keeping their word. To break a solemn oath was a crime punishable by death.
In olden days the king came in state and, following religious rites involving sacrifices, he and his chieftains would hold court. They would then walk in procession to the Hill, where the king sat on the highest platform, facing east. His symbol of power, his state sword, was held before him, point upwards, and below him sat his barons and chief officers.
The next tier was occupied by the Keys, 24 of the worthiest men in the kingdom, and below them again were the Coroners, armed with battle-axe and sword to keep the peace whilst the ceremony was in progress.
The Keys were really legal advisers. There were no law books so they memorised the laws of the land. This was known as Breast Law, because the laws were kept in the hearts of men and not in books. When a legal problem arose, the Keys were consulted and, after conferring, they would pronounce judgment.
The Lawman passed sentence on law-breakers waiting on the north, or ‘sinister’, side of the hill. The old laws were recited, and any new ones submitted for approval by the assembled free men.
At Tynwald, law-breakers were rolled down the steep slope of the northern face of the hill in a spiked barrel.
At the end of the proceedings, the king and his chiefs would return to the temple to feast. In time the old pagan rituals were abolished and a Christian church established on the site.
This week the Lieutenant-Governor of the island will arrive, not with 100. horsemen, but in a motor-car with a police escort.
Precedence in seating will still be observed, although the representatives are now more legal than military in character. The religious service, the procession and the 13th-century sword of state, however, will be powerful reminders of an ancient tradition.
New laws enacted during the year will be summarised, cheers will be given to the Queen, and a formal business meeting of the Tynwald Court will be held in the Chapel chancel.
Posted in Ancient History, Historical articles, History, Invasions on Thursday, 6 June 2013
This edited article about Julius Caesar originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 282 published on 10 June 1967.
Julius Caesar's invasion of Britain in 54 BC by Ron Embleton
During a series of campaigns under the generalship of Julius Caesar, the power of Rome was extended across Gaul (France). When Rome could claim that her empire reached the boundary of Gaul – the Channel – she began to wonder about the misty land called Britain which lay beyond.
Caesar talked with merchants and travellers who had crossed to this mysterious land. He sent one of his men to take a look: to see if this could be an untapped field of glory.
Fresh conquests were essential: Rome was not kind to those who failed. She had no time for stalemates: she wanted to hear of new victories.
If Caesar lacked substantial information about the people of Britain, he did know that they had sent help to the tribes he was trying to keep down in Gaul. That was enough.
Late in the year 55 B.C., Caesar ordered his ships to assemble for a short excursion across the water.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in America, Historical articles, History, Invasions, Sea, Ships on Tuesday, 28 May 2013
This edited article about the Vikings originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 269 published on 11 March 1967.
Along the coasts of Norway, men had to learn to take to the sea. The coasts are largely rocky, high, rough, swept by a tempestuous rush of swirling waters. Backing the coast are mountains, rugged and almost impenetrable. Early Norwegians had to take to boats even to get round their own small farms, and to catch fish to eat.
Much of their country was beyond the Arctic Circle. A touch of the Atlantic’s Gulf Stream Drift brought warmth enough to make the place habitable, but the sea-going craft developed in such an environment had to be good. It was a tough, rough land, where weaklings died.
Having developed stout sea-going craft, the Vikings were soon making use of them to dart from behind their northern mists and pillage, loot, and sometimes seize, better lands, and settle.
East Anglia, Yorkshire, Scotland, the Outer Isles, Ireland, all dreaded them. They stormed into the rivers of northern France, pillaging and destroying. They swept up the Shannon, in Ireland, and took over much of that land; though the Irish, hating them with cause, flayed alive any that they caught.
Though they never had more than large, open boats, low in the waist and single-masted, the Vikings swept in time to the Mediterranean, too. They overran parts of Sicily, swept into the Black Sea, penetrated Russia, reached the Gulf of Genoa. They stormed up the Elbe and sacked the early Hamburg. They took over Normandy – land of the northmen, the Normans. And from there, beginning seriously in 1066, they in time took over England as well.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in Historical articles, History, Invasions, World War 2 on Friday, 24 May 2013
This edited article about Adolf Hitler originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 267 published on 25 February 1967.
Who said “My patience is exhausted!”?
The answer is Adolf Hitler on 26th September, 1938, in Berlin.
The quotation comes from a speech of Hitler’s which also contained the statement, “This is the last territorial claim I have to make in Europe.” Yet within two years this “bloodthirsty guttersnipe”, as Sir Winston Churchill once called him, had conquered nearly all Europe – but not Great Britain.
By 1938, it was plain to statesmen like Churchill, but not to the vast majority of people, that Germany was bent on conquest. In March, Hitler annexed Austria, then he turned his eyes towards Czechoslovakia. Unlike the Austrians, the Czechs were bitterly hostile to Germany, and Hitler, not yet wishing to start his war, organised disturbances in the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia, where there was a large German population.
With riots raging, Hitler threatened invasion. France was pledged to aid the Czechs, but Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, unwilling to believe what a menace Hitler was to peace, desperately tried to find a solution to the problem.
More trouble occurred along the frontier. Hitler announced at Nuremburg (as he was to again in Berlin) that his patience was exhausted. Chamberlain flew to see him, begging him not to invade. Hitler demanded the Sudetenland, and Chamberlain got the French, who were in a weaker state than anyone realised, to agree. He returned to Germany and was savagely abused by Hitler – despite the fact that the Czechs, deserted by their allies, had given in. Hitler wanted more, and war seemed near. He made the Berlin speech of the quotation, ranting and raving in his usual manner and brutally attacking the Czechs.
Once again Chamberlain flew to Germany – to Munich – and Hitler rejoiced that a British Prime Minister was coming to beg favours. A new agreement was reached and the Czechs were forced to cede more territory. Chamberlain returned home, bringing what he called “Peace with Honour”. The following March, Hitler seized the rest of Czechoslovakia, but by now Britain realised the truth about him and was preparing for war.
Posted in Africa, Historical articles, History, Invasions, Oddities, Politics on Monday, 20 May 2013
This edited article about Jacques LeBaudy originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 260 published on 7 January 1967.
Berbers on horseback around the time LeBaudy established his empire
From the age of six, Jacques LeBaudy knew exactly what he wanted. He put it into words when his father asked him what he would like for Christmas.
“A throne!” replied the little boy. And to have an empire of his very own was an obsession which remained with him for the rest of his life.
Jacques’s father became a millionaire in the sugar business, and at the age of 24, Jacques inherited his vast fortune. Now that he was one of the richest men in France, he secretly planned to achieve his childhood ambition.
He boarded his yacht Fransquita with 200 men whom he had secretly hired in Paris. Most of them were ex-soldiers, but there was also a sprinkling of men from the underworld. The senior man was an ex-American bank-robber.
As well as being overloaded with passengers, the luxury yacht had a strange cargo; it included 16 cannon, a printing press, a guillotine – and a throne.
The voyage ended at the West African coast. As land came in sight, LeBaudy assembled his men.
“We have come to set up the Saharan Empire of LeBaudy,” he announced.
He went on to explain how he had employed geographical experts to find him a part of the world which did not belong to an existing Power. These experts had discovered that there was a huge ‘no-man’s-land’ in the Sahara, stretching 150 miles from Cape Juby to Cape Bojador. Inland it covered hundreds of square miles, being situated between the frontiers of Morocco and the Spanish colony of Rio de Oro. This vast piece of desert was to be the new ‘Empire’.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in Famous battles, Historical articles, History, Invasions, Royalty on Thursday, 9 May 2013
This edited article about the Norman Conquest originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 248 published on 15 October 1966.
October 14th, 1066, the day on which Duke William of Normandy defeated King Harold of England at the battle of Hastings, is the most famous date in English history. The story of William’s victory is well known.
Edward the Confessor spent his formative years in Normandy and, having no direct heir, he is supposed to have promised the crown of England to William. As Edward lay dying, however, he nominated Earl Harold Godwin, his brother-in-law, as heir, for Harold was the most important man in the kingdom.
Harold, who immediately took the throne on 6th January, 1066, ruled for nine months. It was a stormy time for him, because William of Normandy was not the only contender for the English crown: Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, was preparing to invade from the north. On 25th September, 1066, the Norwegian king was defeated and killed at Stamford Bridge. Two days later, William of Normandy embarked ship and set sail for England, disembarking at Pevensey on 28th September without opposition.
Read the rest of this article »
Posted in Famous battles, Historical articles, History, Invasions, Religion, Royalty on Wednesday, 1 May 2013
This edited article about the Spanish Armada originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 237 published on 30 July 1966.
The year 1588 was one of high tension in England, and the victory won by her navy on July 29, 1588, against the armada from Spain, was one for which she had been bracing herself for nearly ten years.
Elizabeth I succeeded to the throne of her half-sister Mary Tudor in 1558. She took over a country under the influence of Spain, and its Catholic monarch Philip II, who had been Mary’s husband.
Once her own position as queen was firmly established, Elizabeth could afford to break loose from Spain and return the country to a Protestant faith, as she had always intended.
Not only did the queen and her government openly give armed support to a revolt against Philip II in the Spanish Netherlands, but English sea-lords roamed the seas, capturing rich treasure ships returning from Spain’s colonies in the New World.
So provoked was the King of Spain that he resolved to build a great fleet, destroy Elizabeth and bring England back to allegiance to the Church of Rome.
The scheme Philip put into action saw a monster Spanish fleet sail slowly up the Channel, cast anchor off Calais and try to make contact with a land force congregating in the Spanish Netherlands, which it was to escort across the Channel to England.
The waiting English navy dispatched fireships to disperse the enemy fleet, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Defeated in battle, the great armada made its escape round Scotland and back to Spain. Bad weather caused the loss of many of the fugitive ships, and completed the work the English fleet had begun.
Posted in Historical articles, History, Invasions, Literature on Monday, 29 April 2013
This edited article about the Norman invasion originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 233 published on 2 July 1966.
Normans began to plunder and destroy the Anglo-Saxon villages by Michael Godfrey
Eldred was awake early to find that the wind had changed and blew now from the south-west, bringing with it a fine drizzling rain. Horga was sheltering beneath an outcrop of rock a little way distant, and appeared to be asleep. Eldred got up from where he had been lying, and walked over to the other man.
As Eldred was standing over him, Horga stirred. After a hurried breakfast they were ready to start walking towards the forest.
They walked quickly through the rain all morning, and towards the middle of the afternoon they reached the scrubland immediately before the forest. They picked their way between the small bushes, and as these became more numerous and more trees grew from the stony ground, Eldred could see the forest clearly for the first time.
When they reached the edge of the forest itself, Horga, after looking from left to right as though searching for a remembered sign, walked quickly along the edge of the forest until he came to a shallow trench which had been scraped in the earth, and which ran out at a right angle from the trees. Kneeling down, Horga crawled along the trench, and then slid through the undergrowth and out of sight. Eldred followed him, and found himself inside the forest. He turned round but could see no sign of their place of entry.
Horga set out resolutely down a pathway immediately ahead of them. Eldred followed him quickly, unwilling to be left alone.
They walked for some time, occasionally stooping to pass beneath the low branches of the trees. Around them, the undergrowth seemed to grow more thickly, and the dampness in the air weighed upon them heavily. To Eldred, the forest became more evil the further they walked, and he looked from side to side fearfully, alert for any danger.
Shortly after they had scrambled over a fallen tree which lay across their way, the air was suddenly shattered by the howling of wolves. The cries seemed to come from near by. Horga, on hearing the first howls, had forced his way through the bushes, and was already climbing a tree. He signalled Eldred to follow him and, when they were safely hidden, he took a pouch from his cloth bundle and sprinkled some powder from it on to the ground beneath them. Concealing themselves with branches and dead leaves, they waited.
Soon, they could hear the sniffing and yelping of the wolves close by, and, within a few minutes, the first of the beasts appeared. It was soon joined by three others, who snapped and snarled at one another. The first one was evidently the pack leader for they did not go near him.
The leader sniffed around the base of the tree, and drew back snarling. Eldred clung tightly to his branch, and looked fearfully at the animal, afraid to breathe in case the wolf should hear him.
But the beast obviously did not like what he could smell on the ground, and he circled away, leading the others down the path along which Eldred and Horga had come. The two in the tree waited some time before they descended.
Read the rest of this article »