As is often the case with (in)famous remarks attributed to prominent personages, there is some doubt about whether Winston Churchill ever did describe the traditions of the Royal Navy as comprising ‘nothing but rum, sodomy, prayers and the lash.’ Churchill himself reputedly denied that he had, confiding to his private secretary that ‘I never said it. I wish I had’ (p. 1).
Lindy Grant’s long awaited and magisterial (although here one particularly laments the lack of a gender-appropriate adjective) book offers us a biography of Blanche of Castile, the Iberian princess famously chosen by her grandmother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, to marry the son of Philip II of France, Lord Louis, the future Louis VIII.
In one memorable incident related in Keith Thomas’s In Pursuit of Civility: Manners and Civilization in Early Modern England, an unfortunate diner fell victim to poor table manners.
The fate of prisoners of war (POWs) is now established within the mainstream of historical enquiry. As well as a growing literature on the subject, modules dedicated to studying the history of POWs are now a common feature on university history courses. The two books under review focus on British servicemen captured during the Second World War.