Earnest Pleas in Early Muslim Poetry

Khalifa ibn Khayyat was an Arab historian and religious scholar active in the 800s A.D. His history of the Umayyad and early Abbasid caliphates is one of the oldest to have survived. It records a lot more poetry than you see in Western histories. Most of these poems are put in the mouths of people […]

Madame Chouteau’s Clever Frontier Inheritance

Marie-Thérèse Chouteau was one of the founders of the city of St. Louis, Missouri. She was a powerful and unusual woman, existing both inside the Franco-Spanish colonial system and outside it, depending on what suited her needs. The way she obtained her inheritance from her not-husband screams to be turned into an adventure, and she […]

High Society NPCs from Aubrey’s Lives

Last month we looked at eleven bizarre scholarly NPCs from 1600s Britain, taken from a wonderful historical source: Aubrey’s Brief Lives. This week we return to the Lives for fourteen high-society NPCs, and – as before – we’re less interested in the real biographies of these people than in the gossip Aubrey reports about them. One […]

The Great Onion Scheme

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The Capitalist Cannibal Butthole Bird

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Theobald Meyrick, Urban Villain

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Shen Fu’s Complicated Family

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More NPC Foibles from Suetonius

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The Scheming Landlord of Magomero

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Tall Tales of the West African Gold Trade

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The Wreck of the Ma’adin Ijafen

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The Missouri Leviathan

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The Catiline Conspiracy

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Wrangling Reform in the Roman Republic

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The Mystery Coins of Marchinbar

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