H. R. Trevor-Roper (1914–2003) was a British historian and the author of The Last Days of Hitler. He taught at Oxford, where he was the Regius Professor Modern History.

Triumphs of Mantegna

In 1786, on his famous Italian journey, Goethe came to Padua and visited the church of the Eremitani, the Hermit Friars. There he saw the frescoes by Mantegna, of the lives of Saint James and Saint Christopher, in the funerary chapel of Antonio degli Ovetari. He stood before them “astounded” …

Was Giordano Bruno a Mole?

One of the most delightful experiences, for a scholar, occurs when, afterlong search, or perhaps by chance, he discovers a small key which is found to open a long-locked door and reveal, beyond it, a totally unexpected new vista. John Bossy, known as a historian of post-Reformation English Catholicism, has …

The Uses of Fakery

There are many varieties of forgery in intellectual history, and they are not easy to separate. There is the physical manufacture of false documents, which is forgery in the strict sense; there is the false attribution of real documents, which then become “pseudepigrapha”; and there is the invocation and exploitation …

Reunion in Budapest

The year 1989–1990 has been one of the most dramatic in remembered history: a general revolution in Europe, unparalleled in time of peace, at least since “the year of revolutions,” 1848. Indeed, it has many similarities with that year: the crumbling of an imposed international order; the rediscovery, by the …

The Prophet

Thirty-five years ago Arnold Toynbee’s Study of History was a world best seller. It was described as “the greatest work of history ever written.” It conquered first America, then the Muslim East, then Japan. Its author, hailed as “the most renowned scholar in the world,” “a universal sage,” circled the …

The Lost Moments of History

The lost moments of history—I owe that phrase to the most stimulating and original historian of ideas, the late Dame Frances Yates. It comes in her book on the Valois tapestries, the great series of tapestries, now in Florence, which were woven about 1580 for Catherine de Médicis, queen mother …

His Brilliant Career

It sometimes happens, when we are engaged in some grave research, that some marginal figure coming in from outside, irrelevant to our purpose, so commands our attention that we are obliged to suspend our serious studies in order to exorcise him. This happened to me some years ago when the …

The Moral Minority

Maurice Cowling, a fellow of Peterhouse, is well known in Cambridge, England, as a modern historian and an advocate of what he calls “intellectual Toryism”—which is very different from the Toryism of practical politics. He has, by now, followers who somewhat pretentiously describe themselves as “the Peterhouse school of history.” …

A Jesuit Adventure

In 1583 two Italian Jesuits established themselves in Chao-ch’ing near Canton. They had come thither from Macao on the unexpected invitation of the governor of Canton and the viceroy of the province, who offered them land on which to build a church, a promise of protection, and freedom to travel.

Holding Up the Empire

The empire of Spain in Europe, unlike that in America which lasted so much longer, was not a rational construction, the effect of gradual expansion or conscious policy. Even more than most empires, it was built up by accident. It had no natural or institutional cohesion; but then Spain itself, …

Acts of the Apostles

To Europeans, the 1930s are an unforgettable decade. Those who were young then were marked by it for life, and still, in their old age, live under its shadow: not till they are dead will it sink into its historical context and become objectively comparable with other periods. For those …

Born Again

Since the end of antiquity two great religions have competed for the soul of the world: Christianity and Islam. Both have their origins in Judaism. But whereas Judaism, though of irreducible strength, has been a defensive, non-proselytizing religion, Christianity and Islam have been aggressive, missionary, imperialist. Other religions have invariably …

Some Views of Mrs. Thatcher’s Victory

Kingsley Amis Before trying to interpret this election we might notice what happened at it. Mrs. Thatcher’s victory was unusually decisive in two senses. She won by a bigger margin than any other Opposition leader since the Second World War, and she overcame the general tendency of the British electorate …

All in the Family

Did Adolf Hitler, at the age of twenty-two, spend six months in Liverpool, England? According to Mr. Robert Payne, who in 1973 published a book, The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, he did. The fact, said Mr. Payne, was attested by a “completely convincing” witness, no less than Hitler’s …

The Papal Papers

The professional historiography of modern times begins in the nineteenth century, for it was only then that the central archives of European governments were opened to historians. Before 1800 modern historians had occasionally made licensed raids into national archives, but usually they had to be content with private or corporate …

Hitler’s Impresario

Joseph Goebbels has been described as “the only really interesting man in the Third Reich beside Hitler.” The other Paladins of Nazism who, like him, were with the Führer from beginning to end—Göring, Himmler, Bormann, Ley—were made by Hitler’s power. In themselves they were, at best, commonplace men. Without them, …

The Good & Great Works of Richard Hooker

At first sight, it seems odd that Richard Hooker should be celebrated, and his works published, in America. Hooker is a very English figure, the Doctor Angelicus of the Church of England—that established Church which, from the first publication, in 1593, of his great work, The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, …

The Customs of the Country

In a recent review of Dr. Lo Hui-min’s excellent edition of The Correspondence of G.E. Morrison,[^*] I wrote about the aggressive philosophy which Morrison, as Peking correspondent of the London Times, brought to China in the 1890s and preached with relish throughout the next twenty years. Now Dr. Lo’s edition …

An Imperialist’s Progress

The half century after 1895 was the catastrophic period of Chinese history. In those years the last imperial dynasty foundered through internal rottenness and external pressure; the country was dismembered and no means was found to stay the process of dissolution. It was the peculiar misfortune of China that this …

Superagent

Sir William Stephenson is a man with a very distinguished past. A Canadian of great courage and resourcefulness, he fought gallantly in the First World War. Then he went into business and soon became a millionaire by his own exertions. But he never lost his taste for adventure, or his …

The Ultra Ultra Secret

Mr. Cave Brown is a very courageous man. He undertook the difficult task of writing a history of Allied deception during the Second World War at a time when the two essential sources for such a study were officially concealed. These two sources were, first, all material directly relating to …