Sunday, January 15, 2017

When Did the French Revolution Begin to Go Wrong?

Lots of revolutions in the news last year and more to come in 2017.  I predict Venezuela.  But so many of them go bad.  The template for revolution going bad is the French Revolution of the 1790's.  Here's a story about the execution of Louis XVI.  Then there's the murder of Murat.  Then the French Civil War began.

Up to this point the killings could have been taken as the necessary actions to change an entrenched despotism.  But now it went to execution.  Then came the Reign of Terror.  What would have happened had the French Revolutionaries kept to the high road?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mongols Invade Japan

In 1267, Kublai Khan's emissaries returned with the news that Japan refused to accept inclusion in his empire.  Diplomacy having failed, military conquest would follow.  The struggle would be like the Battle of Britain with the invincible empire against the tiny island nation but without the airplanes and friends overseas to help.

This is the first in a new series on Kublai Khan's attempted conquest of Japan

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Ivan the Great Establishes Russia

It is hard today to think of Russia as a minor power, much less as an oppressed tributary of another power but as our story begins that is the state of things in the territory around the city of Moscow. The story of how Russia went from there to the Russia of today is one of the most consequential of history.

At the birth of Ivan III (1440) Russia was all but stifled between the great Lithuanian empire of the Poles and the vast possessions of the Mongols. In vain had a succession of Muscovite princes endeavored to give unity to the little Russian state. Between the grand princes of Moscow and those of Lithuania stood Novgorod and Pskof, the two chief Russian republics, hesitating to declare their allegiance.

By the creation of new appanages the Russian princes continually destroyed the very unity for which they labored. Moreover, at a time when the great nations of the West were organizing, Muscovy or Russia had no settled relations with their civilization. The opening of the Renaissance, the progress of discovery, the invention of printing -- by these the best spirits in Russia were stirred to fresh aspirations for national organization and participation in the great European movement.

This is how the selection begins.  It continues here.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fall of Troy

While we know that this event happened the stories about it belong to the common cultural foundation of Greek civilization.  They were myths and legends but important to the national heritage of ancient Greece.  The distinguished authority on ancient Greece George Grote summarizes the mythos of the Fall of Troy in the series which begins here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Having Trouble With Your New Year Resolution to Read a History Book?

A journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step.  Start with a single 5 minute story.  Then read the entire selection.  Then read the book. 1, 2, 3.

Search.  Lots of history sites to choose.  Look for those sites that have authoritative passages from established historians.  Or, if you get frustrated with that, try History Moments.

Yes, I know.  Still more frustration.  How to pick something from that lengthy list?  That's the trouble with having more choices -- more choices to choose from.  Alright, I'll choose somethng for you.  Suggested pic for today:  The exciting story of the first expedition to reach the South Pole.

As for all of those books, choose a book from The Basic History Library (free): ------------->

Yes, this is a little self-serving because I refer to my own collections but I do not know of anyone else who is doing what I am doing.  Also, it is free.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Take Your History Blog to the Next Level in 1017

Among my production goals at History Moments is to publicize the work of the great historians from the past.  My New Year essay summarizes the steps I use to enhance these blog posts.  This is just the list; I expand on it in my essay here.

Writing your own is hard work; serializing another's is hard, too. Here's what's involved.

I. Selection: an important event or topic; an important historian who wrote about that; what part of that historian's book to use
II. Getting text ready for use.
III. Footnotes: putting them at the bottom of the page or at the end of the book is so last 20th. century.
IV. Assigning Categories, Tags (for Wordpress), or Labels (for Blogger).
V. Scheduling
VI. Extra information gathered.
VII. Graphic images.
VIII. More information offered for the reader who wants to pursue the topic in greater depth.
IX. The template.
X. 5 minute stories.
XI. Output Files.
XII. Inserting into the blog.
XIII. Post-production navigation issues.
XIV. Promotion.

Serializing works from the great historians of the past may seem easy. Judge for yourself. The importance is to increase public awareness of our great heritage from history's best.


If you have a New Year Resolution to read more history, try downloading The Basic History Library (free)  ------------->

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Immigration Top Story 2016

In the United States it drove the election of the otherwise unlikely Donald Trump and the Republican domination of government. In Europe, it drove Brexit and the destabilization of the rest of the European Union. It’s related opposite Emigration drove the societies of Latin America and the Middle East.

Was terrorism a related topic? While hotly debated, would Muslim terrorists had so many opportunities had not wide-scale immigrants been available to hide among? Terrorists struck not just in the cities of Europe and America but in the skies as airliners crashed. After such wide-scale Muslim migrations, is Radical-Muslim terrorism going to be the new norm for the future? Just asking.

While such a huge story, why was important parts of it barely reported on at all?

1) What of the root causes of these migrations? Have they changed over the last few years? If Radical Islam is not such a problem then why is ISIS been so very hard to defeat?

2) Why should destinations be limited to the United States, Australia, and Western Europe? There are lots of other destinations. For example, South America, Central Asia, and Siberia. Granted such migrations may take on more aspects like the pioneers of the American Old West but that is still a viable alternative and in many cases, a preferable one.

Apart from terrorism, what impact will migrations, particularly Muslim migrations have on Western societies? During 2016 Muslim immigrants voted with leftwing parties based on those parties’ greater acceptance of immigration. As things settle down in the future, will devout Muslims continue to support (via party support) abortion, homosexuality, and indeed, the whole LGBQT agenda?

Here's History Moments New Year Eve Round-ups in years past.  How I miss Jibb-Jab!


Download The Basic History Library (free). ------------->

Friday, December 30, 2016

Will Dumbing Down Make History Degrees More Popular?

Will more college students enroll in history courses if they are easier to pass and on topics of current interest?  -- History of Football, for instance?

Sports history, and suchlike are fine with me but when they are Instead Of core history courses, then that's a problem.  Making history easier for the students by eliminating core requirements actually make the History Departments less popular -- by devaluing the discipline and the degree.

Here is an article, titled, "University of Washington Drops U.S. History Requirement -- For History Majors!" that also refers to the disturbing trend in other colleges.

Quote: "One of the major reasons the humanities in general are in decline is the widespread (and entirely incorrect) assumption that history, literature, and classical disciplines teach nothing valuable and are a joke. By no longer requiring history majors to study the past of their own country, schools like GW seem determined to double down on making the humanities seem pointless, and therefore even more unpopular."

If "nothing valuable" means nothing that will advance a career path, then this may be how it is perceived.  The answer is to explain relevancy not to dumb down the discipline and hence, this major for a college degree  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sweden Liberated

Today we begin our selection from History of the Swedes down to Charles X by Eric Gustave Geijer published in 1845. The selection is serialized in five installments for daily reading.

Denmark conquered Sweden in 1520. After taking Stockholm the king of Denmark massacred the Swedish nobility. A very young Gustavas Vasa (also known as “Gustavas Erickson”), a noble descended from the Vasa royal line of Sweden had been a hostage in Denmark. He had escaped and was at large in the Swedish countryside. When the massacre took place, outrage filled the land, and Gustavus made his move.

Eric Gustave Geijer, the famous Swedish historian, writer, composer, and advocate of Swedish culture takes up the story from here.

Many more stories here:

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas, 1620

From   "Every Day Life in the Colonies" by G.L. Stone and M.G. Fickett.

It was a warm and pleasant Saturday — that twenty-third of December, 1620. The winter wind had blown itself away in the storm of the day before, and the air was clear and balmy. The people on board the Mayflower were glad of the pleasant day. It was three long months since they had started from Plymouth, in England, to seek a home across the ocean. Now they had come into a harbor that they named New Plymouth, in the country of New England.

Other people called these voyagers Pilgrims, which means wanderers. A long while before, the Pilgrims had lived in England; later they made their home with the Dutch in Holland; finally they had said goodbye to their friends in Holland and in England, and had sailed away to America.

There were only one hundred and two of the Pilgrims on the Mayflower, but they were brave and strong and full of hope. Now the Mayflower was the only home they had; yet if this weather lasted they might soon have warm log-cabins to live in. This very afternoon the men had gone ashore to cut down the large trees.

The women of the Mayflower were busy, too. Some were spinning, some knitting, some sewing. It was so bright and pleasant that Mistress Rose Standish had taken out her knitting and had gone to sit a little while on deck. She was too weak to face rough weather, and she wanted to enjoy the warm sunshine and the clear salt air. By her side was Mistress Brewster, the minister's wife. Everybody loved Mistress Standish and Mistress Brewster, for neither of them ever spoke unkindly.

The air on deck would have been warm even on a colder day, for in one corner a bright fire was burning. It would seem strange now, would it not, to see a fire on the deck of a vessel? But in those days, when the weather was pleasant, people on shipboard did their cooking on deck.

More of this story here:

Many more stories here:

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Why Climb the Mountain?

View of Mont Ventoux from Mirabel-aux-Baronnies
Public domain image from Wikipedia.

Because it is there.  The people from the Ancient and Medieval periods of history would have been astonished at such an answer.  Petrarch (1304 - 1374) may not have been the first naturalist in history but his poetry added an appreciation of nature and a love of scenic beauty to human culture more significantly than ever before.  In a way, he was to appreciation of nature as Columbus (a century later) was to America.  Neither man was the first but both men made their discoveries matter. Jacob Burkhardt, that great progenitor of cultural history wrote of the journey that became the subject of the poet's major work:

"The ascent of a mountain for its own sake was unheard of, and there could be no thought of the companionship of friends or acquaintances. Petrarch took with him only his younger brother and two country people from the last place where he halted. At the foot of the mountain an old herdsman besought him to turn back, saying that he himself had attempted to climb it fifty years before, and had brought home nothing but repentance, broken bones, and torn clothes, and that neither before nor after had anyone ventured to do the same. Nevertheless, they struggled forward and upward, till the clouds lay beneath their feet, and at last they reached the top. A description of the view from the summit would be looked for in vain, not because the poet was insensible to it, but, on the contrary, because the impression was too overwhelming. His whole past life, with all its follies, rose before his mind; he remembered that ten years ago that day he had quitted Bologna a young man, and turned a longing gaze toward his native country; he opened a book which then was his constant companion, the Confessions of St. Augustine, and his eye fell on the passage in the tenth chapter, “and men go forth, and admire lofty mountains and broad seas and roaring torrents and the ocean and the course of the stars, and forget their own selves while doing so.” His brother, to whom he read these words, could not understand why he closed the book and said no more."

More of Burkhardt' piece on Petrarch here.

and don't forget The Basic History Library (free): ------------->

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Founders of Rome

It was perhaps the most important of ancient cities.  It's legacy is vital to our world today.  Yet it's beginnings are murky.  But can we get any idea at all of how it all began, really?  Barthold Georg Niebuhr wrote,

"According to an important statement of Cato preserved in Dionysius, the ancient towns of the Aborigines were small places scattered over the mountains. One town of this kind was situated on the Palatine hill, and bore the name of Roma, which is most certainly Greek."

So what really happened?  Niebuhr and others have laboriously fished history out of the murk.  But no critic can ever destroy the beauty and charm of the old Latin chronicles or diminish the glory of the day that saw the first walls rise about the seven hills of the most important of ancient European cities.

More information here.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Oliver Cromwell: Tyrant or Something Else?

It seems to me that he was created the template of the modern revolutionary/tyrant.  The late Fidel Castro comes to mind.  The thing for me is that the people of his own time demonstrated their dislike for his rule.

The English Civil War’s aftermath resulted in the death of the King, Charles I and the rule of Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell’s regime was unable to survive long after his death. The English substituted the son of Charles for the son of Cromwell. This was “The Restoration”.
I got a series on this in History Moments.
The series shows three different points of view of Cromwell’s record and of the Restoration — very different points of view. Carlyle shows us in Cromwell one of his most admired heroes; Green gives us the modern historian’s dispassionate conclusions; while the contemporary narrative of the old diarist, Pepys, preserves the personal observations of a participator in the scenes which he describes. Charles II had spent years in exile on the Continent. He was finally proclaimed King of England at Westminster, May 8, 1660. Pepys describes his convoy from Holland to Dover, and his reception by the people who had invited him to return to his country and his throne.
The first installment of my series: Of Cromwell’s Rule In England and the Restoration begins here:

Many more stories here:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Revolution in China

In 1911 and 1912 the Imperial Government was overthrown and China was proclaimed a republic.  Western people interpreted the Revolution through the perspective of the European and American experience.  The Emperor's advisor wrote:

"It can not be denied, however, that the social system under which the Chinese people have lived for untold ages has in some ways made them more fit for self-government than any other people in the world. It would be well if Europeans — and especially Englishmen — would try to rid themselves of the obsolete notion that every Oriental race, as such, is only fit for a despotic form of government. Perhaps only those who have lived in the interior of China and know something of the organization of family and village, township and clan, are able to realize to how great an extent the Chinese have already learned the arts of self-government. It was not without reason that a Western authority (writing before the outbreak of the revolution) described China as “the greatest republic the world has ever seen.”

While China's present government would have the world believe that the thousands of years of experience and thought have no further relevance for today's behavior, I suggest this may not be so.  China's history may be more relevant to the unfolding decades of the 21st. century than most people think.

This series on the Revolution comes from three different authors with three different perspectives.


The Civilization of China by Herbert A. Giles is in The Basic History Library (free). ------------->