Who

BBC History Magazine - - Welcome - Rob At­tar Ed­i­tor

do you see when you think of Wal­ter Ralegh? Is it the chival­rous courtier who soaked his cloak for the queen? Or is it the in­trepid ex­plorer whose Amer­i­can ad­ven­tures gave us chips and cig­a­rettes? These are the pop­u­lar views of the poly­math who died 500 years ago, but they may not rep­re­sent his most im­por­tant legacy. In this month’s cover fea­ture, be­gin­ning on page 38, Anna Beer ar­gues that Ralegh should be best known for the rad­i­cal writ­ings he pro­duced dur­ing his long in­car­cer­a­tion. Ralegh’s in­cen­di­ary words out­raged King James VI & I and later in­spired those who would take up arms against his suc­ces­sor in the Civil War.

An­other leg­end of Britain’s past un­der the spot­light this month is King Arthur, the Bri­tish warlord who is rarely away from our screens and book­shops. His­to­ri­ans have long de­bated the ve­rac­ity of the Arthur leg­end and, on page 33, Nick Higham joins the fray. His re­search into the orig­i­nal sources of the story have led him to con­clude that Arthur is purely myth­i­cal, with no ground­ing in fact. His ar­ti­cle is sure to pro­voke de­bate so please do let us know what you think.

In a few days’ time, one of the au­tumn’s ma­jor his­tor­i­cal re­leases will be ar­riv­ing in cin­e­mas. Di­rected by Mike Leigh, Peter­loo tells the story of the events of 1819 when cav­alry charged into a vast crowd of peace­ful demon­stra­tors in Manch­ester, leav­ing dead and in­jured in their wake. On page 50, Stephen Bates has writ­ten an ac­count of the mas­sacre, which would be­come a ral­ly­ing cry for work­ing- class rights and demo­cratic re­form.

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