CVHF Highlights So Far
Monday 20th June
Power & Privilege: A Recent History
Simon Kuper (author of Chums) & Richard Beard (Sad Little Men) discussed the corrosive impact of public schools and Oxford University on recent British political life. Their discussion was convincing, and depressing when one contrasts recent Etonian PMs with their predecessors Harold MacMillan (also Eton) and Harrovian Winston Churchill, both of whom served in the trenches during the Great War. The two authors looked to continental elites favourably, however when one thinks of Nicolas Sarkozy and Gerhard Schröder, perhaps the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Special Mention: The Tudors in Love: The Courtly Code behind the Last Medieval Dynasty
Sarah Gristwood’s entertaining talk on the method employed by the Tudors during their courtship provided a unique take on Tudor history.
Tuesday 21st June
The Shortest History of Greece
James Heneage (Co-Founder of the festival and author of The Shortest History of Greece) gave an entertaining whistlestop tour of Greece’s history in only 45minutes. Racing through the Mythic, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods at breakneck speed, before ending with the War of Independence, Balkan Wars and most recently the financial crisis. This was a remarkable feat in itself.
Special Mention: Napoleonic Re-Enactors. Veterans of Waterloo (95th Rifles and Line Infantryman) using a slain Cuirassier’s breastplate as frying pan in recycling both armour and horseflesh.* A wonderful paean to both Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe and contemporary accounts of the post-battle maelstrom.
Wednesday 22nd June
The Growth of British Naval Power
Sam Willis (author of the Hearts of Oak trilogy) described the rise of the Royal Navy, with a heavy emphasis on the genius Horatio Nelson. Irreverant (Nelson was ‘a bit of a dick’), Willis clearly adores his subject, and his love of naval encounters is matched by the animal kingdom. Willis included photos of flocks of birds enthusiastically re-enacting clashes such as Trafalgar through mimicking lines of battle.
Special Mention: Martyn Rady (author of The Habsburgs) Q&A. We learned Rady is not an devotee of gender studies, instead loving the hard yards of archival and legal research to understand both bottom up and top down history. Enjoyed by all including a chap who looked rather like Ralph Fiennes.
Friday 24th June
15.45 (Smith & Williamson Tent) Waterloo & The Treaty of Vienna
Adam Zamoyski, author of 1812, discusses the battle and Congress of Vienna culminating in a treaty intended to end war in Europe, but which led to many more conflicts during the 19th century.
Saturday 25th June
19.30 (Smith & Williamson Tent) The Flame of Resistance: Josephine Baker
Damien Lewis, biographer of Josephine, tells her remarkable story from her beginnings in poverty in St. Louis, to her stardom in Europe before embarking on a new career as French secret agent during the Second World War.
Sunday 26th June
10.30 (Smith & Williamson Tent) The Siege of Loyalty House: A Civil War Story
Jessie Childs’ latest book encapsulates the brutal conflict as Parliament forces besieged Basing House during the First English Civil War.
Tickets remain available for CVHF 2022.
*No horses were harmed in the cooking of their supper.
**May well not have been Ralph Fiennes.
Aspects of History Issue 10 is out now featuring many authors at CVHF 2022.