12 October 2015
On Tuesday 6th October, the popular historian and broadcaster Dan Snow gave a lecture to girls in the Sixth Form, their parents and members of the wider public on history’s importance today using historical events from the Napoleonic Wars to the Falkland’s War in order to highlight the relevance of past events, today.
Dan encouraged the audience to look beyond the myths so common in history and instead to discover the discoverable truth. The self-confessed BBC’s ‘anniversary guy’ took the audience on a whirlwind lecture highlighting this year’s notable anniversaries – 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, 800th Anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, 750th Anniversary of the First Parliament – and explored the current ramifications of these events on a national and global scale.
The focus was not solely on our ‘extraordinary country’, however, but also on synoptic links between present and past contentious events. Dan linked the use of poisoned gas in Syrian warfare with the 100th Anniversary of the first use of poisoned gas in WWI – demonstrating that despite our perceived social and technological advances warfare can be just as deadly one-hundred years on. He also tackled the recent Volkswagen emissions scandal by referring to Henry Ford’s purely economic decision during the 1920s to implement the diesel engine in place of electric. In this way he implied the cause and effect nature of history that transcends both time and causation – Ford would not have imagined the detriment his pragmatic decision has caused long-term.
With the invention of ‘apps, medicinal drugs and the availability of history’ Dan claimed that ‘now is a better time than any’ to be alive. His sentiment that history forms the past, makes the present and sets up for the future truly instilled the continual nature of history in the audience who left enthused about history and thoroughly clued up on historical anniversaries.