English Language and History .com is a collection of two-minute tales drawn from history, myth and fiction. Each tale is accompanied by word games testing grammar and expression, based on textbooks used in British schools from the 1920s to the 1960s.

St Ahmed
two-part story
Music: Alexei Fyodorovich Lvov; Maxim Berezovsky
A Turkish official was itching to know the secret behind a Russian slave girl’s personal charm.

AHMED was a curator of the library in seventeenth-century Constantinople. He had two Russian slave women, one a beautiful young girl whom he kept at home, and the other an older lady he allowed to go to church.

When she returned, Ahmed noticed, the two women would be closeted together for a time, and afterwards a delightful fragrance would hang around the younger one.

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Five Posts
The Spy
two-part story
Music: Edward Elgar
In 1910, Constantine Zervakos, a young monk from the Greek island of Paros, found himself charged with espionage.

ON his way home to Paros after a long-anticipated visit to Mount Athos, a young monk named Constantine Zervakos decided he had enough time before his ship left Thessalonica to nip into the Turkish-controlled city and visit the church of St Demetrius.

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The Crimean War
Music: Sir William Sterndale Bennett
It was the first war to be covered by embedded correspondents, and the public did not like what they read.

ON 31st May, 1853, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia dispatched troops to Moldavia and Wallachia, long a matter of dispute with the Ottoman Empire, ostensibly to bolster Orthodox Christians there.

After the Russians sank Turkish ships at Sinope on the Black Sea, Britain, Austria and France, fearing Russian expansion into the West, declared war on 28th March, 1854.

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The Fall of Constantinople
two-part story
Music: William Herschel; George Frideric Handel
Hospitality and sympathy, but no help - the Byzantine Emperor learns a bitter lesson about western diplomacy.

FROM 1399 to 1403, the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II toured Europe, drumming up support for the defence of Constantinople from the growing threat of the Turks. He even visited London, where Henry IV treated him to a Christmas joust.

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Florence Nightingale
two-part story
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
Florence used her logical mind and society connections to save thousands of lives in the Crimean War.

AFTER reading distressing newspaper accounts of servicemen wounded in the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale, who at that time ran a women’s clinic in London, confided her frustrations to Sidney Herbert at the War Office.

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The Sacred Snakes of Kefalonia
Once a year, regular as clockwork, the little snakes slither into the convent for a Feast of the Virgin Mary.

ONE day in 1705, the nuns of a convent on Kefalonia heard that pirates were toiling up the hill, intent on rape and plunder. So they hurried to their chapel, where they kept a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary.

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AZ Index

See a complete A-Z List of all the stories on this website.

Featured Topic
page 1
1 Taste and See
Wonder spread through a Tyneside monastery after Bishop Cuthbert asked for a drink of water.
2 The Battle of Nechtansmere
King Ecgfrith of Northumbria dismissed repeated warnings about his imperial ambitions.
3 Crayke Abbey
The long-lost monastery at Crayke in North Yorkshire was home to two saints with different but equally valuable gifts.
4 St Cuthbert and the Phantom Fire
The Northumbrian saint warned of an enemy who would stop at nothing to silence the good news.
5 Cuthbert, the Bridle and the Book
One of England’s most precious artefacts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, was nearly lost at sea.
6 Cuthbert and the Mystery Guest
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
A young monk was rewarded for taking his duties as guest-master seriously.
page 2
7 Cuthbert and the Dun Cow
The magnificent cathedral at Durham owes its existence to a missing cow.
8 Cvthbertvs
Henry VIII’s experts declared that saints were nothing special, but St Cuthbert had a surprise for them.
9 Bread from Heaven
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Cuthbert trusted that keeping his promised fast would not do him any harm.
10 Cuthbert and the Expert Witness
Based on the account by Reginald of Durham
(12th century)
A hungry monk thought he had got away with the tastiest of crimes, but St Cuthbert kept his promise to his beloved birds.
11 St Cuthbert and the Otters
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
An inquisitive monk spied on a guest’s night-time walks.
12 King Alfred and the Beggar
Based on the ‘Historia de Sancto Cuthberto’
(11th century)
An everyday act of charity triggered off a series of extraordinary events.
page 3
13 Cuthbert and the Miracle of the Wind
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The young monk taught some hard-hearted pagans a lesson they’d never forget.
New Stories
The only truly global conflict in history began when German troops crossed into Poland in September 1939.
By Richard Cobden
(1804-1865)
Richard Cobden questioned both the wisdom and the motives of politicians who intervene on foreign soil.
To the poor of England, the Worcestershire man gave affordable pots and pans, and to all the world he gave the industrial revolution.
After Louis XIV’s grandson Philip inherited the throne of Spain, the ‘Sun King’ began to entertain dreams of Europe-wide dominion.
New Puzzles
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.
Try writing complete sentences using these nouns as either the subject or the object of a verb.
Try writing complete sentences using these verbs in either the active or the passive voice.
Polyword ‘Mouse’
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 London (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.

More Puzzles
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with PIG and finish with STY.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with SEED and finish with GROW.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Do you know ‘rim’ (4 letters), and ‘the Roman name for Chester’ (4 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (359)
Fiction (77)

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