Thursday, May 28, 2015

Columbus and America

When he sailed from Spain in 1492 on his historic voyage, he believed the world was round like an egg.  He was wrong.  It is scrambled.

When he came to America, there were no taxes, no debts, the women did all of the work, and the men hunted and fished all day.  How did Columbus expect to improve on a system like that?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Titanic, Iceberg Collides

Previously in The Sinking of the Titanic. And now William Inglis.

Time: April 15, 1912
Place: Atlantic Ocean, 41.46 N., 50.14 W

The Voyage of the Titanic
GNU image from Wikipedia.
Not only were the bergs invisible to the keenest eyes, but the sudden drop in the temperature of the ocean which ordinarily is the warning of the nearness of a berg was now of no avail; for there were so many of the bergs and so widely scattered that the temperature of the sea was uniformly cold. Moreover, the submarine bell, which gives warning to navigators of the neighborhood of shoal water, does not signify the approach of icebergs. The newest ocean giant was in deadly peril, though probably few of her passengers guessed it, so reassuring are the huge bulk, the skilful construction, the watertight compartments, the able captain and crew, to the mind of the landsman. Dinner was long past, and many of the passengers doubtless turned to thoughts of supper after hours of talk or music or cards; for there were not many promenading the cold, foggy decks of the onrushing steamship.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Lands from Arabia to North Africa

Previously in Herodotus

39. This then is one of the peninsulas, and the other beginning from the land of the Persians stretches along to the Erythraian Sea, including Persia and next after it Assyria, and Arabia after Assyria: and this ends, or rather is commonly supposed to end, at the Arabian gulf, into which Darius conducted a channel from the Nile. Now in the line stretching to Phenicia from the land of the Persians the land is broad and the space abundant, but after Phoenicia this peninsula goes by the shore of our Sea along Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, where it ends; and in it there are three nations only.

40. These are the parts of Asia which tend towards the West from the Persian land; but as to those which lie beyond the Persians and Medes and Saspeirians and Colchians towards the East and the sun rising, on one side the Erythraian Sea runs along by them, and on the North both the Caspian Sea and the river Araxes, which flows towards the rising sun: and Asia is inhabited as far as the Indian land; but from this onwards towards the East it becomes desert, nor can any one say what manner of land it is.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day, 2015

by Jack Le Moine

Time: January 31, 1968
Place: Vietnam

A US "tunnel rat" soldier prepares to enter a Viet Cong tunnel.
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
This Memorial Day we remember the Tet Offensive. The Communist forces launched 85,000 men at selected targets throughout the country. These included the major cities such as Hue and even the U.S. embassy in Saigon. Counter-attacks destroyed most of these forces. At the end, Across South Vietnam, 4,100 Americans and other allied troops, 4,900 ARVN, 14,000 civilians, and 20,000 NVA and Viet Cong lay dead.

Last year we remembered Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Further information: The Tet Offensive.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Titanic Sets Sail

Introduction to our series The Sinking of the Titanic:
While there greater nautical tragedies before and since, the sinking of the Titanic is special in humanity's shared memory. The voyage of the Titanic was one of hubris. It was thought to be unsinkable. Therefore the builders did not provide for enough lifeboats. Therefore the captain steamed on at top speeds heedless of dangers. Therefore the passengers carried on as normal even after the iceberg collided. The sinking of the Titanic reminded civilization of the imperfections of even the most modern technologies.

An early author of this event was William Inglis. This is from his story.

Time: April 15, 1912
Place: Atlantic Ocean, 41.46 N., 50.14 W

The Voyage of the Titanic
GNU image from Wikipedia.
No other disaster at sea has ever resulted in such loss of human life as did the sinking of the Titanic on the night of April 15, 1912. Moreover, no other disaster has ever included among its victims so many people of high position and repute and real value to the world. The Titanic was on her first voyage, and this voyage had served to draw together many notables. She was advertised as the largest steamer in the world and as the safest; she was called "unsinkable." The ocean thus struck its blow at no mean victim, but at the ship supposedly the queen of all ships.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

About The Society For Creative Anachronism

by Jack Le Moine
Modern reenactment of a Viking battle.
CC BY-SA 3.0 image by Tone from Wikipedia.

From the latest happenings in things historical. This article Recreating the Middle Ages as They Should Have Been was published 35 days ago in Slate. The article’s author is Jordan G. Teicher.

In the last century the best development in the field of history has been the addition to the activities that are available to the historians. Researching, reading, writing, lecturing history was all there was to it since Herodotus' time. Then came archeology. Now people are doing history. Re-enactors are not just writing or talking but are doing history. Civil War re-enactments, Renaissance Fairs, and Medieval evens are just a few of the activities that now happen. This came from the grassroots not the professionals.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

How Long Shall Public Men Boast of Conduct Which Would Disgrace a Private Individual?

Palmerston Addresses the House of Commons 1863
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
I see those pretended politicians who place all in their subtlety, and who think they serve their country best, in circumventing those with whom they treat, interpreting the conditions of a treaty in such a manner, that all the advantage results to their own country. Far from blushing at conduct so contrary to equity, to right, and to national honesty, they boast of their dexterity, and pretend that they deserve the name of great negotiators. How long shall public men boast of conduct which would disgrace a private individual?

- Lord Henry J.T. Palmerston, address to Parliament, July 16, 1832

More on Lord Henry J.T. Palmerston.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Greek Commerce Ruined

Featuring an excerpt from A History of Greece from the Roman Conquest to the Present Time by George Finlay published in 1877.

Previously in Roger Ravages the Byzantine Empire. And now George Finlay

Time: 1146
Place: Constantinople

The city of Constantinople during this time.
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
The Sicilian admiral, after landing the Norman garrison at Corfu, sailed to Monembasia, then one of the principal commercial cities in the East, hoping to gain possession of it without difficulty; but the maritime population of this impregnable fortress gave him a warm reception and easily repulsed his attack. After plundering the coasts of Euboea and Attica, the Sicilian fleet returned to the West, and laid waste Acarnania and Etolia; it then entered the Gulf of Corinth, and debarked a body of troops at Crissa. This force marched through the country to Thebes, plundering every town and village on the way. Thebes offered no resistance and was plundered in the most deliberate and barbarous manner. The inhabitants were numerous and wealthy. The soil of Boeotia is extremely productive, and numerous manufactures established in the city of Thebes gave additional value to the abundant produce of agricultural industry.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

First Scandinavia, Then Turkey

Previously in Herodotus

32. About a Hyperborean people the Scythians report nothing, nor do any of those who dwell in this region, unless it be the Issedonians: but in my opinion neither do these report anything; for if they did the Scythians also would report it, as they do about the one-eyed people. Hesiod however has spoken of Hyperboreans, and so also has Homer in the poem of the Epigonoi, at least if Homer was really the composer of that Epic.

33. But much more about them is reported by the people of Delos than by any others. For these say that sacred offerings bound up in wheat straw are carried from the land of the Hyperboreans and come to the Scythians, and then from the Scythians the neighboring nations in succession receive them and convey them Westwards, finally as far as the Adriatic: thence they are sent forward towards the South, and the people of Dodona receive them first of all the Hellenes, and from these they come down to the Malian Gulf and are passed over to Euboea, where city sends them on to city till they come to Carystos. After this Andros is left out, for the Carystians are those who bring them to Tenos, and the Tenians to Delos. Thus they say that these sacred offerings come to Delos; but at first, they say, the Hyperboreans sent two maidens bearing the sacred offerings, whose names, say the Delians, were Hyperoche and Laodike, and with them for their protection the Hyperboreans sent five men of their nation to attend them, those namely who are now called Perphereës and have great honors paid to them in Delos. Since however the Hyperboreans found that those who were sent away did not return back, they were troubled to think that it would always befall them to send out and not to receive back; and so they bore the offerings to the borders of their land bound up in wheat straw, and laid a charge upon their neighbors, bidding them send these forward from themselves to another nation. These things then, they say, come to Delos being thus sent forward; and I know of my own knowledge that a thing is done which has resemblance to these offerings, namely that the women of Thrace and Paionia, when they sacrifice to Artemis the Queen, do not make their offerings without wheat straw.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Emperor Manuel's Military Policy

Featuring an excerpt from A History of Greece from the Roman Conquest to the Present Time by George Finlay published in 1877.

Previously in Roger Ravages the Byzantine Empire. And now George Finlay

Time: 1146
Place: Constantinople

The city of Constantinople during this time.
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
In other districts, where the divisions were exposed to be called into action, or were more directly under central inspection, the effective force was kept up at its full complement, but the people were compelled to submit to every kind of extortion and tyranny. The tendency of absolute power being always to weaken the power of the law, and to increase the authority of the executive agents of the sovereign, soon manifested its effects in the rapid progress of administrative corruption. The Byzantine garrisons in a few years became prototypes of the shopkeeping janizaries of the Ottoman empire, and bore no resemblance to the feudal militia of Western Europe, which Manuel had proposed as the model of his reform. This change produced a rapid decline in the military strength of the Byzantine army and accelerated the fall of the empire.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Byzantine Empire Circa 1100

Featuring an excerpt from A History of Greece from the Roman Conquest to the Present Time by George Finlay published in 1877.

Introduction to our series Roger Ravages the Byzantine Empire:
George Finlay (1799 – 1875) was from Scotland. His book was re-issued in 1877 with the more descriptive title A History of Greece from the Roman Conquest to the Present Time (146 BC to 1864). This blog post is the first in a series of excerpts from passage from this book. Finlay’s premise is that Roger’s invasion was a major milestone in the decline and fall of the Byzantine Empire.

And now, George Finlay

Time: 1146
Place: Constantinople

The city of Constantinople during this time.
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
The century and a half before Roger's invasion had been a period of tranquility for the distinctively Greek people of the empire, who had increased rapidly in numbers and wealth, and were in possession of an extensive commerce and many manufactures. Therefore they were perhaps the greatest sufferers from the adverse events which befell the State.)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bring Back the Serialized Novel

by Jack Le Moine

From the latest happenings in things historical. This article Bring Back the Serialized Novel was published 15 days ago in The Washington Post. The article’s author is Hillary Kelly.

The purpose is to boost book sales and general literacy. This is how the great books of the past such as the one illustrated above were promoted. Interesting way of reaching back into the past for innovative ideas for the present.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hollywood Holiday

They have a new holiday over there:  Unwed Mother's Day.  One lady is on a star's diet:  she's down to three men a day.

Celebrate the new holiday.  Stroll down the strip and observe all of the women who no longer wear bras and all of the men who do.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Caesar's Final Victory in Gaul

Featuring an excerpt from History of Julius Caesar by Napoleon III published in 1865.

Previously in Caesar Conquers Gaul. And now Napoleon III

Time: September 52 BC
Place: Alesia, Gaul (France)

Vercingetorix's surrender to Caesar after the
Siege of Alesia in 52 BC.
Public Domain from Wikipedia.
The mountain was surrounded almost on every side by very low ground, but on one side there existed a valley through which a river (the Tourmente) ran. As it flowed at the foot of two precipitous mountains the disposition of the localities did not admit of turning it aside and conducting it into lower channels. It was difficult for the besieged to come down to it, and the Romans rendered the approaches to it still more dangerous. They placed posts of archers and slingers, and brought engines which commanded all the slopes which gave access to the river. The besieged had thenceforth no other means of procuring water but by carrying it from an abundant spring which arose at the foot of the wall three hundred feet from the channel of the Tourmente. Cæsar resolved to drain this spring, and for this purpose he did not hesitate to attempt a laborious undertaking. Opposite the point where it rose he ordered covered galleries to be pushed forward against the mountain, and under protection of these a terrace to be raised--labors which were carried on in the midst of continual fighting and weariness.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

From Russia to Siberia

Previously in Herodotus

24. Now as far as these bald-headed men there is abundantly clear information about the land and about the nations on this side of them; for not only do certain of the Scythians go to them, from whom it is not difficult to get information, but also some of the Hellenes who are at the trading-station of the Borysthenes and the other trading-places of the Pontic coast: and those of the Scythians who go to them transact their business through seven interpreters and in seven different languages.

25. So far as these, I say, the land is known; but concerning the region to the North of the bald-headed men no one can speak with certainty, for lofty and impassable mountains divide it off, and no one passes over them. However these bald-headed men say (though I do not believe it) that the mountains are inhabited by men with goats' feet; and that after one has passed beyond these, others are found who sleep through six months of the year. This I do not admit at all as true. However, the country to the East of the bald-headed men is known with certainty, being inhabited by the Issedonians, but that which lies beyond both the bald-headed men and the Issedonians towards the North Wind is unknown, except so far as we know it from the accounts given by these nations which have just been mentioned.