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History Group

Group Leader

David Cheshire (01202 820823)

At : The Hub


Tuesday 10.00 - 11.30


Please ensure you contact the Group Leader as places are limited.


 Topic for 2017-2018: European History


In Rome’s afterglow: twelve stories about Europe

Rather than look at the various periods of European history as separate units, we will take a joined-up approach, from the Roman Empire to the Treaty of Rome, which I hope will uncover some unfamiliar and surprising insights. This is ambitious, but please be assured that no previous or particular knowledge is required or assumed. To help us find our way, in each session we will focus on a particular individual (see below) and discuss their significance to the whole. It is a story of blind alleys, heroic failures and astonishing transformations. Our twelve people will guide us through the maze!

  1. Myth - the abduction of Europa – what is Europe? Mythology, geography and history
  2. Glow - the transformations of Octavius - the Roman who re-invented himself, and invented the Empire
  3. Two swords - the city of St Augustine - the theologian who first defined Christendom, but whose legacy divided it
  4. Afterglow - the coronation of Charlemagne - the Father of Europe and of European learning, who never learned to read
  5. Barbarians - the mantle of Roger - the Norsemen who created a “virtual archipelago” extending to all corners of Europe
  6. Humanists - the Lives of Vasari - the biographer of the “most excellent painters, sculptors and architects” who defined the Renaissance
  7. Discovery - the ignorance of Vespucci - how an explorer and map-maker helped find the secret of modern science
  8. Afterlife - the high tide of Charles V - the Holy Roman Empire reaches the height of its power, but its triumph is short-lived
  9. Balance -  the diplomacy of Richelieu - the Treaty of Westphalia moved Europe into a new system of competing sovereign states
  10. Core - the restraint of Bismarck - the untypical Prussian who transformed the European balance of power
  11. Periphery - the journeying of Alfred - the sometimes overlooked European dimension to British history.
  12. Epilogue: Omphalos: the uncertainty of Heisenberg - how strangeness became normal


see session notes here


Complete summary notes of previous topics can be found here:

2016 - 2017 Russian History notes see here

2016 - 2017 China Notes see here

American History see the full set of notes


Fatal Harvest: how Britain messed up in Ireland see here


Magna Carta


The Balkans

“A History of Everything” - Big History

History of the British Empire (2012-13)

History of the English Language (2013-14)

Spanish Civil War documentation


David's good reads

21.2.2013 Article on the legacy of the Empire:


23.2.2013 A website dedicated to the British Empire


David has compiled a list of the group's personal "Empire" links



 I joined U3A Verwood when I moved here in 2009 as a way of meeting people and keeping my brain active. I joined the Family History, Photoshop and Book Groups and was immediately hooked. I used to be a history teacher, so somewhat nervously volunteered to restart the History Group. I was amazed at the appetite for history. Numbers were high before I arrived and kept growing.

Although U3A is about learning, were also here to have a good time. This is not difficult given the sheer enthusiasm of the History Group. Their commitment to filling the gaps in their knowledge has inspired me to research areas of history Im not that familiar with (Im sure the challenge is good for me). Even more their willingness to participate and indulge my liking for activities make every session somewhat unpredictable. I look forward immensely to our fortnightly sessions, and Im sure I have more fun and learn more than they do.