English Language and History

The brief stories below are taken from history, myth or fiction. Each one is accompanied by games and exercises in essential grammar and free composition, based on old school textbooks.

A to Z Index

Ode to (English) Joy
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was commissioned by a fiercely independent Britain, and Beethoven was excited to oblige.

ON June 9th, 1817, a letter arrived at Ludwig van Beethoven’s residence in Baden informing him that friends at the Philharmonic Society in London, anxious for his well-being and finances, could offer him 300 guineas for two new symphonies by January 1818, to be conducted by Beethoven himself in the capital.

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The Battle of Trafalgar
Music: George Frideric Handel
At the cost of his own life, Lord Nelson showed Napoleon that he could rule neither Britain nor the waves.

IN 1805, the French fleet was not at its height. Many able officers had been executed in the Revolution, and memories were still raw of Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798.

Napoleon therefore planned to ally with the Spanish fleet at Cadíz, before daring to confront the Royal Navy in the English Channel.

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The Sneeze of History
Music: Alexei Fyodorovich Lvov
It was the opinion of Leo Tolstoy that even Napoleon was never master of his own destiny.
By Leo Tolstoy
(1828-1910)

MANY historians say that the French did not win the battle of Borodino because Napoleon had a cold, and that if he had not had a cold the orders he gave before and during the battle would have been still more full of genius and Russia would have been lost and the face of the world have been changed.

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The Battle of Waterloo
Music: Franz Joseph Haydn
Napoleon’s idea of government was so oppressive that Wellington’s victory is one of the most important events in European history.

IN 1814, following a disastrous assault on Moscow and defeat in the Peninsular Wars at the hands of Arthur Wellesley, Napoleon was forced into exile as governor of Elba.

But after a few months, Napoleon simply collected a few hundred loyal men, and marched back to a hero’s welcome in Paris.

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The Peninsular War
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven
Napoleon’s six-year-long campaign to bring Spain and Portugal into his united Europe was frustrated by Arthur Wellesley.

SPAIN rose up angrily on 2nd May 1808, after Napoleon occupied Madrid and put his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne.

Nelson had already inflicted a stinging defeat on Joseph off Cape Trafalgar near Cadíz in 1805, but this time Napoleon sent French troops with orders to teach the Spanish an unforgettable lesson.

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‘Really, I do not see the signal!’
Music: Franz Joseph Haydn
Sometimes it is right to ‘turn a blind eye’.

IN King George III’s day, Britain’s maritime trading Empire, stretching from North America to India, provoked envy across Europe.

Napoleon Bonaparte carefully fanned the flames of resentment until, on 2nd April 1801, a fleet of ships gathered at Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark-Norway, eager to force Britain to share her supposedly ill-gotten wealth.

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Captain Moorsom’s ‘Revenge’
Music: Muzio Clementi
The Whitby man held his nerve to keep five enemy ships busy at Trafalgar, and subsequently led Nelson’s funeral procession.

AS soon as battle was joined at Trafalgar, Robert Moorsom, captain of HMS Revenge, alarmed his crew by sailing directly towards five enemy ships.

He had few forward-firing cannon, and the broadsides of the enemy tore through Revenge’s rigging and across her deck without reply, while Moorsom strolled among the flying splinters ‘as though walking to church’.

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All Posts
Tagged Napoleonic Wars (1804-1815) (7 posts)
page 1
1 Ode to (English) Joy
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was commissioned by a fiercely independent Britain, and Beethoven was excited to oblige.
2 The Sneeze of History
By Leo Tolstoy
(1828-1910)
It was the opinion of Leo Tolstoy that even Napoleon was never master of his own destiny.
3 ‘Really, I do not see the signal!’
Sometimes it is right to ‘turn a blind eye’.
4 The Battle of Trafalgar
At the cost of his own life, Lord Nelson showed Napoleon that he could rule neither Britain nor the waves.
5 The Peninsular War
Napoleon’s six-year-long campaign to bring Spain and Portugal into his united Europe was frustrated by Arthur Wellesley.
6 The Battle of Waterloo
Napoleon’s idea of government was so oppressive that Wellington’s victory is one of the most important events in European history.
page 2
7 Captain Moorsom’s ‘Revenge’
The Whitby man held his nerve to keep five enemy ships busy at Trafalgar, and subsequently led Nelson’s funeral procession.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Active or Passive?

Use each of the verbs below in either the active or the passive form. Can you use both forms?

Settle. Well. Think.

The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone explains that a truly ‘exceptional nation’ respects the equality and rights of all nations.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Ocelot’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Do you know ‘pull along’ (3 letters), and ‘examine someone’s background and credentials’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘snare’ (6 letters), and ‘better’ (3 letters)?
Try writing complete sentences using these verbs in either the active or the passive voice.
Do you know ‘well-worn route or habit’ (3 letters), and ‘naval officer’ (7 letters)?
Do you know ‘a town like Bath’ (3 letters), and ‘deteriorate’ (6 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (375)
Fiction (80)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

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numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps Mental arithmetic