Ian Mortimer


What's New?

Now that I am no longer updating twitter, I will update this page of my website more regularly. It makes sense to use an outlet I can control. If you wish to comment on any points, I have left my twitter account set so that direct messages will reach me, until I can set up an alternative.

22 January 2023
New book arrived

Today is Lord Byron's birthday, which I always celebrate as he was a boyhood hero of mine. He would be 235 today. But another reason for celebration is that I've just received an advance copy of my new book, Medieval Horizons, which will appear in bookshops in the UK on 23 February. In some ways it is my most personal history book to date; the last paragraph in particular could be taken as a summation of my philosophy of history and the driving force of my career. And, for me, it's a relatively short book. Especially considering it is an introduction to five hundred years of social change. I have to admit, I'm very pleased with it. It does what very few other historians are trying to do - to impart a feeling of what it is to understand one's place in time.

4 January 2023
Happy New Year

I started my 'What's new?' page last year with the hope that it would just turn out to be a happy New Year. And look what happened. A Russian invasion on a neighbouring state - which would have been able to defend itself with nuclear weapons had we in the UK and USA not encouraged them to give them up in 1991, guaranteeing the country's safety in the unlikely event of an attack. Who would have believed the events of 2022 in this respect? They led on to so much misery. And they deepen and deepen, 'like a coastal shelf'. The recent attack on reservists called up to fight and kill in Ukraine has resulted in calls for 'revenge' from Russian citizens - for what? This attack was part of Ukraine's revenge for what it has suffered since 24 February 2022. I don't see any end to this conflict now. Except that a cataclysm might bring people to their senses. And that is not a cheery prospect. Last night I read some frightening words by an economist talking about the outlook for Russians in an article in The Moscow Times: '“The economy is unlikely to be the main source of news in 2023... It’s difficult to imagine the war could last another 10 months and not bring about a cataclysm.”

And that's not starting on the personal tragedies and reversals of fortune that 2022 held.

I am not a believer in the power of prayer, so I find myself marshalling what resources I have at my disposal. Work is the main one; music and the landscape the other two. So I find myself at my desk a lot, with the turntable keeping me and the cats company, with occasional long walks over the hills here in Dartmoor. I haven't been able to run since October due to yet another stress fracture (fifth one in six years) but will have to start soon as I have two half marathons booked in for February. But I do feel very optimistic about the next two years' programme of work, which I believe will see me deliver the best I have to offer in the fields of historical methodology, applied history, the lessons we can learn from history and history-as-entertainment.

In the short term, however, the next major landmark for me is 23 Febraury, when my next book Medieval Horizons: Why the Middle Ages Matter will be published in the UK. No doubt it will be overshadowed by the anniversary of the start of the Ukraine War. But those who do happen to notice it will find it original and rewarding. Although the chapter about our shift from the eleventh-century 'normality' of war to the sixteenth-century 'nomality' of peace makes it seem Putin and his patriotic Russians are trying to turn the clock back to the early Middle Ages, before the pontifcate of Gregory VII, when nothing mattered so much as physical force. A happier thought is that there is a whole extended chapter on advances in speed between 1200 and 1600, and another the development of individualism - two subjects far closer to my heart.

What was new in other years