My Magna Carta talk at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto

I will giving a talk about my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights at Fort York as part of the International Festival of Authors in Toronto on October 22 at 8pm. My lecture will discuss the impact of Magna Carta on the Modern World including the English Civil Wars, the Glorious Revolution, the American Revolution, the French Revolution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Click here for more information about the festival and tickets

Click here to purchase the book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Friday Royal Read: The Tudor Kitchen: What the Tudors Ate & Drank by Terry Breverton

The Tudor court was a place of lavish feasts. In a single year, the royal cooks prepared 8,200 sheep, 2,330 deer, 53 wild boar and thousands of birds and fish. King Henry VIII’s waistline expanded from thirty-two inches at age 30 to fifty-four inches at age 55.  In The Tudor Kitchen: What the Tudors Ate & Drank, Terry Breverton, author of numerous works of Tudor and Welsh history including Jasper Tudor: Dynasty Maker, Owain Glyndwr: The Story of the Last Prince of Wales and The Welsh: The Biography, explains Tudor farming and feasting then provides hundreds of annotated and modernized recipes for anyone interested in cooking Tudor dishes in their own kitchens.

Breverton takes a wide approach to the Tudor period, discussing dishes from England’s first cookbook, The Forme of Cury, a Roll of Ancient English Cookery: Compiled, about AD 1390, by the Master-Cooks of King Richard II to the English Civil Wars of the 1640s. This period saw an expansion in the range of available dishes as England expanded its trade relationships throughout Europe and across the Atlantic. The popular image of Tudor cooking is enormous roast meats turning on spits but Breverton includes recipes that demonstrate that the Tudor elite enjoyed a wider range of foods than English people of the mid twentieth century, including macaroni and cheese and chickpeas with garlic. Breverton also challenges the myth that people in Tudor times ate few vegetables. Surviving account books emphasize meat purchases because vegetables were grown at home. New vegetables from the Americas were incorporated into Tudor cooking over the course of the sixteenth century with beans and sweet potatoes favored over potatoes and tomatoes.

The recipe section provides a sense of how dishes evolved over time and new foods were incorporated into the Tudor diet. For example, The Forme of Cury included an early recipe for macaroni and cheese including instructions on rolling the dough for fresh pasta then “cast hym on boiling water and seeþ it wele. Take chese and grate it, and butter imelte.”  A book from 1595 reminded the reader that both Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins enjoyed “A cheap, fresh and lasting victual, called by the name of Macaroni amongst the Italians, and not unlike (save only in form) to the Cus-cus (couscous) in Barbary.” By 1769, there were a variety of pasta recipes in cookbooks including “To Dress Macaroni with Permasent [Parmesan] Cheese.”

Breverton also includes the favourite recipes of key figures at the Tudor court: Henry VIII enjoyed globe artichokes while his third wife Jane Seymour had a weakness for Cornish pasties. The workings of the Hampton Court Palace kitchens, which are open to the public today, receive less attention in Breverton’s book as there is already a detailed study of the preparation of food and drink at Hampton Court, All the King’s Cooks: The Tudor Kitchens of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace by Peter Brears.

Of course, not everyone in Tudor times was feasting like Henry VIII and his courtiers at Hampton Court Palace. The sixteenth century was time of growing income inequality as the landed gentry grew wealthier by enclosing land to graze sheep, evicting farm labourers from their cottages. The dissolution of the monasteries removed a source of food and shelter for the poor. In the opening chapters on Tudor farming, Breverton explains how agricultural practices changed over the sixteenth century and farm labourers often struggled to find steady work and put food on the table. The recipe section includes instructions on how to make the vegetable pottages and coarse breads that were the daily diet of most people in Tudor times.

The Tudor Kitchen: What the Tudors Ate & Drank is an entertaining and educational introduction to sixteenth century English cuisine. The book will appeal to anyone interested in daily life in the sixteenth century England, especially those interested in recreating the meals and beverages of King Henry VIII’s court.

Next Week: The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America by F. H. Buckley

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

My latest article in the Canadian Encyclopedia: Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee – 2012

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in Canada in 2010

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in Canada in 2010

This year, Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British and modern Canadian history, surpassing the record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria (1837-1901) My most recent article in the Canadian Encyclopedia discusses Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the second to be celebrated after that of Queen  Victoria in 1897. I discuss the preparations for the celebrations, the Diamond Jubilee Medals in Canada, the Thames Diamond Jubilee river pageant and Commonwealth tours by members of the royal family including the Canadian tour by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in 2012.

Click here to read Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee – 2012 in the Canadian Encyclopedia

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

My Magna Carta lecture series at Fort York this October

While Magna Carta is on display at Fort York in Toronto, I will be delivering a series of lectures based on my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights, at the historic Blue Barracks, which will be transformed into the Runnymede pub for the duration of the Magna Carta: Law, Liberty and Legacy exhibition. Here is the lecture schedule:

October 7 and 8: King John and the Making of Magna Carta

Wednesday, October 7, 2 – 3 p.m.
Thursday, October 8, 8 – 9 p.m. (Pub open 6 – 10 pm)

When King John’s rebel barons presented him with terms of Magna Carta, they did not see themselves as revolutionaries but as guarantors of traditional English rights and customs. King John’s predecessors issued Coronation Charters promising to uphold traditional English customs and the rights of the barons and clergy. When King John refused to uphold these traditions and his barons rebelled, he was presented with Magna Carta, the first example of a king accepting limits on his power imposed by his subjects. Tickets are available here.

October 14 and 15: King Edward I “Longshanks” and Magna Carta in 1300

Wednesday, October 14, 2 – 3 p.m.
Thursday, October 15, 8 – 9 p.m (Pub open 6 – 10 pm)
Today, Edward I – known as Longshanks for his great height – is best known as the villain of Mel Gibson’s 1995 film Braveheart but in his own lifetime, he earned the respect of his English subjects through his military victories in Scotland and Wales. The King’s wars required the financial and military support of his people. In exchange for taxes and troops, Edward I’s subjects expected him to accept the terms of Magna Carta and Edward I reissued the document numerous times during his reign. Clauses from the Edward I’s Magna Carta remain on the Statute Books in the UK. Tickets are available here.

October 21 and 22: Magna Carta and the Making of the Modern World

Wednesday, October 21, 2 – 3 p.m.
Thursday, October 22, 8 – 9 p.m. (Pub open 6 – 10 pm)
In Tudor times, Magna Carta fell into obscurity and became an obscure legal document. A strong monarch seemed necessary to protect England for external threats and Shakespeare’s play, King John, does not even mention the Great Charter. Magna Carta emerged from obscurity because of the legal writing of Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634) who argued that document was the foundation of all English liberties. Coke’s interpretation of Magna Carta informed the American and French Revolutions and the development of modern Canada, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Tickets are available here.

Click here to purchase my book Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights


facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Friday Royal Read: The Crown and Parliament, edited by Michel Bédard and Philippe Lagassé

Crown and Parliament cover In 2011, the Queen and the Commonwealth Heads of Government met in Perth, Australia for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference. All sixteen Commonwealth realms agreed in principle to succession reform that would introduce absolute primogeniture. The monarch’s eldest child, male or female, would succeed to the throne. The succession reforms also addressed the 1701 Act of Settlement, which did not allow those married to Roman Catholics to retain their succession rights and the 1772 Royal Marriage Act. which required the descendants of King George II to receive the monarch’s permission to contract a valid marriage. The introduction of gender of equality in the British and Commonwealth monarchies followed the trend established by the other European monarchies but succession reform proved to be far more complicated for the House of Windsor.

While the sixteen commonwealth realms agreed on the importance of gender equality, reopening the question of the royal succession demonstrated the difficulties of sixteen commonwealth realms with different relationships with the monarchy passing similar legislation. In the United Kingdom, succession reform was criticized for not taking into account the land holdings that have traditionally passed to the heir to the throne through male preference primogeniture. In Australia, succession reform demonstrated the independence of the states in a federal system as Western Australia became the last region of the commonwealth to pass a royal succession bill before the changes came into force. In Canada, the government’s decision to assent to the British succession legislation rather than formulate its own reform legislation was controversial and is currently facing a court challenge.

La Couronne et le Parlement/The Crown and Parliament, which emerged from the May 2014 conference by the Canadian Study of Parliament Group is an essential resource for the debate concerning succession reform in Canada. The four chapters in the book concerning succession reform address all sides of the debate. Anne Twomey’s chapter, “The Succession to the Crown of Canada” is particularly fascinating as it compares Canada’s approach to succession reform to the changes enacted in other Commonwealth realms and compares modern succession reform to the Dominion response to the Abdication crisis of 1936. In the chapter on “The Crown and Constitutional Amendment” in Canada, Philippe Lagassé and Patrick Baud examine Section 41a of the Constitution Act of 1982, which concerns changes to the office of the queen, looking at the implications of the various interpretations of this passage for succession reform and the broader role of the Crown in Canada. In contrast, Mark D. Walters and The Honorable Serge Joyal discuss the Canadian assent to British succession reform legislation in successive chapters, discussing crown identification and the development of the constitutional monarchy in Canada.

In addition to explaining all sides of the Canadian debate on succession reform, the essays in La Couronne et le Parlement/The Crown and Parliament provide important historical and political context for the modern relationship between the Crown and Parliament, beginning with an overview of the history two institutions by André Émond. Political innovations that reflected the circumstances of individual reigns set established precedents in the relationship between Crown and Parliament. For example, prior to the reign of Henry VIII, royal assent was granted by the monarch in person at a ceremony where the entire text of a bill was read aloud. That changed in 1541 when Henry VIII expressed reluctance to give personal royal assent to the Bill of Attainder that condemned his 5th wife, Catherine Howard to death. The result was a new process of granting royal assent to legislation, royal assent by commission.

As David Smith, author of The Invisible Crown: The First Principle of Canadian Government observes in his chapter about Parliament and the Crown, there is a divide between public perceptions of the Governor General’s position and the constitutional role of the Crown. La Couronne et le Parlement/The Crown and Parliament bridges this divide by bringing together a broad range on scholarship on Canada’s political institutions. The book is essential reading for any Canadian who wants to learn more about the crucial relationship between the Crown and Parliament.

Next Week:  The Tudor Kitchen: What the Tudors Ate & Drank by Terry Breverton

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

My article about Prince Rupert on the cover of Canada’s History Magazine

Prince Rupert Canada's history My article on Prince Rupert of the Rhine, the cousin of King Charles II who became the first Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, is the cover story for the October-November issue of Canada’s History Magazine. In the article, I discuss Rupert’s adventure filled life including his escape from Prague during the 30 Years War as a child, his victories and defeats as a cavalier general during the English Civil Wars, his time as privateer in the royalist navy and his meeting with explorers Pierre-Esprit Radisson  and Médard Chouart, Sieur des Groseilliers that led to the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Pick up a copy of the October-November issue of Canada’s History Magazine to read my article on Canada’s Warrior Prince.

My interview with Canada’s History Magazine about Prince Rupert is available on the Canada’s History website

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Interview with the University of Regina and 10 Things You Didn’t Know about Magna Carta

I will be speaking at the University of Regina on September 29 about Magna Carta and the Making of the Modern World at 7pm. My interview with the University of Regina discusses history, the enduring impact of Magna Carta and my great-granduncle Robert Leith “Dinny” Hanbidge, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan from 1963 to 1970.

Click here to read my interview with the University of Regina

On November 26, I will be giving lectures on Magna Carta in Edmonton, the last stop for the Magna Carta Canada touring exhibition in 2015. The Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta has compiled a list of “10 Things You Didn’t Know about Magna Carta” from my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights

Click here to read 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Magna Carta

Click here to purchase my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Magna Carta Book Signings and Lectures in Saskatoon and Regina

Here is my schedule of Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights book signings and lectures in Saskatchewan September 28 and 29, 2015. All are welcome:

September 28: Saskatoon

12pm: “Magna Carta and The Making of the Modern World” lecture at the University of Saskatchewan, Room 150, MLT Lecture Theatre, College of Law

3-5pm: Book Signing at Indigo Centre, Saskatoon, 3322 8th St East

September 29: Regina

12-2pm, Book Signing at Chapters Regina, 2625 Gordon Road

7pm “Magna Carta and the Making of the World” lecture at the University of Regina, Dr. John Archer Library

Click here to purchase Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights


facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Toronto Public Library Talk on September 24: Peter the Great and the Building of St. Petersburg

Peter the Great in 1698

Peter the Great in 1698

I will be giving a lecture at Deer Park Library in Toronto (40 St. Clair Avenue East) about Peter the Great of Russia and the Building of St Petersburg on September 24 at 2pm. 

Czar Peter the Great (r. 1682-1725) wanted to open up Russia to the rest of Europe. In 1703, he ordered the building of a new capital on the Baltic Sea that was unlike any other Russian city. St. Petersburg would be Peter the Great’s window to the west and the setting for some of the most dramatic moments in Russian history. The lecture will include images of Imperial Russian art and architecture as well as photographs from my 2013 visit to St. Petersburg.

Tickets may be reserved by phone or in person on Sept 23. Click here for more information.


facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada Reviewed in Canadian Materials Magazine

My book Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights has been reviewed in Canadian Materials Magazine, which recommends resources for teachers and librarians across Canada.

“Secondary school and public libraries across Canada should add Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada to their collections. Librarians and booksellers will want to recommend this volume to history buffs and civics teachers alike. Highly Recommended.

Click here to read the full review in Canadian Materials Magazine

Click here to purchase Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather