For the business that I just launched (, I spend a lot of time looking at titles and abstracts for scholarly journal articles about history.

Not all of them interest me, and the stuff that interests me may not interest others. As with music and movies, we don’t all like the same stuff.

In scouring thousands of articles, I’ve noticed several topics that are my catnip. I will always stop to check these out.

Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great (849-ish – 899) was the King of Wessex and then King of the Anglo-Saxons. He was a well-traveled scholarly warrior and I had a huge crush on him when I was young. We know more about Alfred than other

rulers of his time because he had his own personal biographer, Asser, a Welsh monk.

I previously wrote about Alfred here.

Sea Stuff

Smuggling and fighting and shipwrecks, oh my. Also, I am always amazed by the courage required for early sailors to take off and sail away into the unknown.

I wrote about the nineteenth-century HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror here, with a Breaking News update here. There have been several articles recently about how people back in England were affected by those lost ships and their efforts to find the missing sailors.

Medieval Languedoc and the Cathars

This is a bit of a classic underdog story, with the Catholic Church trying to stamp out people they viewed as heretics. I wrote about the information gained from that attempt here.


Now that we have a better understanding of the medical and scientific reasons for people being institutionalized in the past, I see asylums as a measure of how we treat each other as humans. That is not always a pretty picture. That lack of medical and scientific knowledge, along with human nature, led to abuses of the systems that were in place throughout history.

Here’s the story of one “lunatic” who was very productive.


This fascinates me not just because it was such a barbaric process, but because it is so recent. This is twentieth century horror. And like asylums, I’m saddened by the idea that people who don’t/can’t act the way that others believe they should act need to be “fixed”.

Here is a story about a lobotomy.

So that’s the stuff I can’t pass up. How about you? What are the historical topics that draw you in and make you happy?