Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Battle of the Boyne Ends

Featuring Tobias G. Smollett

Previously on Siege of Londonderry and the Battle of the Boyne. And now Tobias G. Smollett.

Time: 1690
Place: Londonderry, Ireland and the River Boyne, Ireland

cc. Wikipedia
Then the Duke of Schomberg passed the river in person, put himself at the head of the French Protestants, and pointing to the enemy, "Gentlemen," said he, "those are your persecutors." With these words he advanced to the attack, where he himself sustained a violent onset from a party of the Irish horse, which had broken through one of the regiments and were now on their return. They were mistaken for English, and allowed to gallop up to the Duke, who received two severe wounds in the head; but the French troops, now sensible of their mistake, rashly threw in their fire on the Irish while they were engaged with the Duke, and, instead of saving, shot him dead on the spot.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Teaching Women's History

A symposium in England is reported on in the FWSA Blog.  I am still waiting for the results of the men's symposium but I digress.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving, 2014


From History News Network here is an old 2001 post by Rick Shenkman exploding some commonly held myths.  Like any article of this kind, remember that just because some author declares something to be a myth does not mean that it actually is.

Hence my picture, not that I believe that the pilgrims dressed in black but to make the point.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Battle of the Boyne Begins

Featuring Tobias G. Smollett

Previously on Siege of Londonderry and the Battle of the Boyne. And now Tobias G. Smollett.

Time: 1690
Place: Londonderry, Ireland and the River Boyne, Ireland

cc. Wikipedia
King James trusted so much to the disputes in the English Parliament that he did not believe his son-in-law would be able to quit that kingdom, and William had been six days in Ireland before he received intimation of his arrival. This was no sooner known than he left Dublin under the guard of the militia, commanded by Luttrel, and, with a reinforcement of six thousand infantry which he had lately received from France, joined the rest of his forces, which now almost equalled William's army in number, exclusive of about fifteen thousand men who remained in different garrisons. He occupied a very advantageous post on the bank of the Boyne, and, contrary to the advice of his general officers, resolved to stand battle. They proposed to strengthen their garrisons, and retire to the Shannon, to wait the effect of the operations at sea.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Darius Thrusts His Dagger into the Emperor

Previously in Herodotus

74. Now while these were thus taking counsel together, it was coming to pass by coincidence as follows:—The Magians taking counsel together had resolved to join Prexaspes with themselves as a friend, both because he had suffered grievous wrong from Cambyses, who had killed his son by shooting him, and because he alone knew for a certainty of the death of Smerdis the son of Cyrus, having killed him with his own hands, and finally because Prexaspes was in very great repute among the Persians. For these reasons they summoned him and endeavoured to win him to be their friend, engaging him by pledge and with oaths, that he would assuredly keep to himself and not reveal to any man the deception which had been practised by them upon the Persians, and promising to give him things innumerable 64 in return. After Prexaspes had promised to do this, the Magians, having persuaded him so far, proposed to him a second thing, and said that they would call together all the Persians to come up to the wall of the palace, and bade him go up upon a tower and address them, saying that they were living under the rule of Smerdis the son of Cyrus and no other. This they so enjoined because they supposed 65 that he had the greatest credit among the Persians, and because he had frequently declared the opinion that Smerdis the son of Cyrus was still alive, and had denied that he had slain him.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Siege of Londonderry Ends

Featuring Tobias G. Smollett

Previously on Siege of Londonderry and the Battle of the Boyne. And now Tobias G. Smollett.

Time: 1690
Place: Londonderry, Ireland and the River Boyne, Ireland

cc. Wikipedia
At length a reinforcement arrived in the Lough, under the command of General Kirke, who had deserted his master, and been employed in the service of King William. He found means to convey intelligence to Walker that he had troops and provisions on board for their relief, but found it impracticable to sail up the river. He promised, however, that he would land a body of forces at the Inch, and endeavor to make a diversion in their favor, when joined by the troops at Inniskillen, which amounted to five thousand men, including two thousand cavalry. He said he expected six thousand men from England, where they were embarked before he set sail; he exhorted them to persevere in their courage and loyalty, and assured them that he would come to their relief at all hazards. The assurances enabled them to bear their miseries a little longer, though their numbers daily diminished. Major Baker dying, his place was filled by Colonel Michelburn, who now acted as colleague to Mr. Walker.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Siege of Londonderry Begins

Featuring Tobias G. Smollett

Introduction to our series Siege of Londonderry and the Battle of the Boyne:
King James II lost the throne of England in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. James had the support of the Catholic Irish. His opponent; King William had the support of the Protestant English. Hoping to use Ireland as a base in the war to regain his throne, James counter-attacked in Ireland. His first objective was the town of Londonderry, inhabited by English Protestants. Rumors reached the town that James intended to kill all the inhabitants.

Tobias Smollett (1721-1771) in his Complete History of England gives one of the best accounts of this campaign. And now, Tobias G. Smollett.



Time: 1690
Place: Londonderry, Ireland and the River Boyne, Ireland

cc. Wikipedia
On the first alarm of an intended massacre, the Protestants of Londonderry had shut their gates against the regiment commanded by the Earl of Antrim, and resolved to defend themselves against the Lord Deputy; they transmitted this resolution to the Government of England, together with an account of the danger they incurred by such a vigorous measure, and implored immediate assistance; they were accordingly supplied with some arms and ammunition, but did not receive any considerable reënforcement till the middle of April, when two regiments arrived at Loughfoyl under the command of Cunningham and Richards.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Top Ten Most Evil Dictators of All Time

I mostly agree with this list.  Most people killed is the measure used to determine the order.  Problem with this method is that some dictators operated in smaller areas and eras with smaller populations.  In addition, some dictators were in power longer than others and hence could do more killing.

A percentage method would have been better.

Kudos to Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza of PopTen.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Choose Their Own Leader

Princeton 1935
"The led must not be compelled. They must be able to choose their own leader

- Albert Einstein

More on Albert Einstein.

Picture public domain from Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Secret of Cervantes’ Success

Featuring Henry Edward Watts

Previously on Cervantes' "Don Quixote" Reforms Literature. And now Henry Edward Watts

Time: 1605
Place: Spain



The adventure was one reserved for his single arm; and it was achieved with a completeness of success such as must have astonished our hero himself, as we know by many signs that it disgusted and irritated many of his literary rivals. The true nature of the service performed, as well as Cervantes' motive in undertaking it, has been greatly misrepresented. Nothing can be more certain than that his aim in Don Quixote was, primarily, to correct the prevailing false taste in literature. What moral and social results followed were the necessary consequences of the employment of his rare wit and humor on such a work. There is no reason to believe that Cervantes, at first, had any more serious intention than that which he avowed, namely, to give "a pastime to melancholy souls"[19] in destroying "the authority and influence which the books of chivalries have in the world and over the vulgar." That he was not impelled to this work by any antipathy to knightly romances as such--still less by any ambition to repress the spirit of chivalry, or to purge the commonwealth of social and political abuses--is abundantly proved by the whole tenor of his book, if not by the evidence of his life. His own tastes strongly inclined him to books of romance. Perhaps no one in that age had read more of those books, or was so deeply imbued with their spirit.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Darius and His Six Conspirators

Previously in Herodotus

70. Then Otanes took to him Aspathines and Gobryas, who were leading men among the Persians and also his own most trusted friends, and related to them the whole matter: and they, as it then appeared, had suspicions also themselves that it was so; and when Otanes reported this to them, they readily accepted his proposals. Then it was resolved by them that each one should associate with himself that man of the Persians whom he trusted most; so Otanes brought in Intaphrenes, Gobryas brought in Megabyzos, and Aspathines brought in Hydarnes. When they had thus become six, Darius the son of Hystaspes arrived at Susa, having come from the land of Persia, for of this his father was governor. Accordingly when he came, the six men of the Persians resolved to associate Darius also with themselves.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Comparing the Book “Don Quixote” to Other Books of the Period

Featuring Henry Edward Watts

Previously on Cervantes' "Don Quixote" Reforms Literature. And now Henry Edward Watts

Time: 1605
Place: Spain



To estimate the worth of the service performed by Cervantes--not in abolishing romance, as has been absurdly said, still less in discrediting chivalry, as with even a more perverse misconception of his purpose has been suggested, but in purging books of fiction of their grossness and their extravagance, and restoring romance to truth and to nature--we have to consider the enormous influence exercised by this pernicious literature over the minds of the people of Spain in the sixteenth century.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Book “Don Quixote’s” Theme

Featuring Henry Edward Watts

Previously on Cervantes' "Don Quixote" Reforms Literature. And now Henry Edward Watts

Time: 1605
Place: Spain



Taking the object of Don Quixote to be, what Cervantes declared it--"the causing of the false and silly books of chivalries to be abhorred by mankind"--no book was ever so successful. The doughtiest knight of romance never achieved an adventure so stupendous as that which Miguel de Cervantes undertook and accomplished. With his pen, keener than the lance of Esplandian or Felixmarte, he slew the whole herd of puissant cavaliers, of very valiant and accomplished lovers. Before him went down the Florisandros and Florisels, the Lisuartes and Lepolemos, the Primaleons and the Polindos, and the whole brood of the invincible. Scarcely a single romance was printed, and not one was written, after the date of the publication of Don Quixote.[14] Such a revolution in taste was never accomplished by any single writer, in any age or country.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sherman Begins March to the Sea Across Georgia

November 12 was the 150th. anniversary of the burning of Atlanta and total war on the south.  This Real Clear History article describes the march.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Assault Is Not Leadership

Official Portrait Photo, 1959
"You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That's assault, not leadership."

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

More on Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Picture public domain from Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Critical and Public Reception of the Book “Don Quixote”

Featuring Henry Edward Watts

Previously on Cervantes' "Don Quixote" Reforms Literature. And now Henry Edward Watts

Time: 1605
Place: Spain



The reception which Don Quixote met with on its first appearance was cordial beyond all precedent, and such as must have convinced the author, who was evidently doubtful of his new experiment, that here at last his genius had found its true field of exercise. The persons of culture, indeed, received the book coldly. The half-learned sneered at the title as absurd and at the style as vulgar. Who was this ingenio lego--this lay, unlearned wit--"a poor Latin-less author," which is what they said of Shakespeare--outside of the cultos proper, of no university education--who had dared to parody the tastes of the higher circles? The envy and malice of all his rivals--especially of those who found themselves included in the satire--even the great Lope himself, the phoenix of his age, then at the height of his glory--spoke out, with open mouth, against the author. The chorus of dispraise was swelled by all those, persons chiefly of high station, whose fashion of reading had been ridiculed. A book, professing to be of entertainment, in which knights and knightly exercises were made a jest of--in which peasants, innkeepers, muleteers, and other vulgar people spoke their own language and behaved after their own fashion--was a daring innovation, all the more offensive because the laugh was directed at what was felt to be a national infirmity. Who was the bold man who, being neither courtier nor ecclesiastic, made sport for the world out of the weaknesses of caballeros? An old soldier of Lepanto, indeed! Lepanto was a name outworn. Spain was now in a new world. Crusades against the unbeliever, even those more popular ones which combined the saving of souls with the getting of gold, were long out of fashion. Lastly, the entire ecclesiastical body--the formidable phalanx of the endowed, with their patrons dependents, and dupes--though they were too dull to perceive and too dense to feel the shafts aimed at obscurantism and superstition, had something more than a suspicion that this book called Don Quixote was a book to be discouraged.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day, 2014


There are two holidays honoring our armed forces: Memorial Day for those who died and Veterans Day for the rest.  I worry that we have too many holidays and therefore the significance of each individual one gets lost on the average American.  Most people do not seem to take this day off work.

Monday, November 10, 2014

How Don Quixote Got Published

Featuring Henry Edward Watts

Previously on Cervantes' "Don Quixote" Reforms Literature. And now Henry Edward Watts

Time: 1605
Place: Spain



In 1601 Philip III, at the instance of the Duke of Lerma, removed the court to the old capital of Castile, Valladolid--by nature far better situated for a metropolis than Madrid, which had been the choice of his grandfather, Charles V. Thither Cervantes repaired, in 1603, doubtless with some hope of gleaning some crumbs of the royal favor. He was no more fortunate with the new King than he had been with the old. Despairing of place or patronage, he turned, with his brave spirit unquenched as by the record sufficiently appears, to completing this new thing among books.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cervantes’ Severe Ordeal

Featuring Henry Edward Watts

Introduction to our series Cervantes' "Don Quixote" Reforms Literature:
The fame of the most celebrated Spanish author rests upon a far more solid basis than merely that of having written the most readable and tender of humorous romances. He reformed literature. He tilted at windmills as truly as ever his hero did. And now, Henry Edward Watts

Time: 1605
Place: Spain



The accession of the new King, which had been hailed as "the light after darkness," had little effect on Cervantes' fortunes. Philip III, though he had some taste for letters, and was not without sprouts of kindliness in his heart, had been by education and by an over-strict regimen in youth debased, so that he was even more completely a slave to the priestly influence than his father had been, without any of his father's ability or force of character. The Duke of Lerma was "the Atlas who bore the burden of the monarchy."[1] He was a man, according to Quevedo, "alluring and dexterous rather than intelligent; ruled by the interested cunning of his own creatures but imperious with all others; magnificent, ostentatious; choosing his men only by considerations of his own special policy or from personal friendship." Under such a man, who ruled the King at his will, it was not likely that any portion of the royal benevolence should light on Miguel de Cervantes. Moreover, the crowd of suppliants at court was very great, their appetite stimulated doubtless by the flattering reports of the new King's liberal disposition.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Patton on Leadership

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."

- General George S. Patton

More on General George S. Patton.

Picture public domain from Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Last Voyage of Charles V

Featuring William Robertson

Previously on The Peace of Augsburg and the Abdication of Charles V. And now William Robertson.

Time: 1555
Place: Augsburg, Germany

Charles V by Titian and his
colleague Lambert Sustris.
cc Wikipedia
Nothing now remained to detain Charles from that retreat for which he languished. The preparations for his voyage having been made for some time, he set out for Zuitburg, in Zealand, where the fleet which was to convoy him had orders to assemble. In his way thither he passed through Ghent, and after stopping there a few days, to indulge that tender and pleasing melancholy which arises in the mind of every man in the decline of life on visiting the place of his nativity, and viewing the scenes and objects familiar to him in his early youth, he pursued his journey, accompanied by his son Philip, his daughter the archduchess, his sisters the dowager Queens of France and Hungary, Maximilian his son-in-law, and a numerous retinue of the French nobility. Before he went on board he dismissed them with marks of his attention or regard, and, taking leave of Philip with all the tenderness of a father who embraced his son for the last time, he set sail on September 17th, under the convoy of a large fleet of Spanish, Flemish, and English ships. He declined a pressing invitation from the Queen of England to land in some part of her dominions, in order to refresh himself, and that she might have the comfort of seeing him once more. "It cannot, surely," said he, "be agreeable to a queen to receive a visit from a father-in-law who is now nothing more than a private gentleman."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Magian Becomes King

Previously in Herodotus

66. And the Persians, when they saw that the king had begun to bewail himself, both rent the garments which they wore and made lamentation without stint. After this, when the bone had become diseased and the thigh had mortified, Cambyses the son of Cyrus was carried off by the wound, having reigned in all seven years and five months, and being absolutely childless both of male and female offspring. The Persians meanwhile who were present there were very little disposed to believe that the power was in the hands of the Magians: on the contrary, they were surely convinced that Cambyses had said that which he said about the death of Smerdis to deceive them, in order that all the Persians might be moved to war against him. These then were surely convinced that Smerdis the son of Cyrus was established to be king; for Prexaspes also very strongly denied that he had slain Smerdis, since it was not safe, now that Cambyses was dead, for him to say that he had destroyed with his own hand the son of Cyrus.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Charles V’s Final Actions

Featuring William Robertson

Previously on The Peace of Augsburg and the Abdication of Charles V. And now William Robertson.

Time: 1555
Place: Augsburg, Germany

Charles V by Titian and his
colleague Lambert Sustris.
cc Wikipedia
Then, turning toward Philip, who fell on his knees and kissed his father's hand--"If," said he, "I had left you by my death this rich inheritance, to which I have made such large additions, some regard would have been justly due to my memory on that account; but now, when I voluntarily resign to you what I might have still retained, I may well expect the warmest expression of thanks on your part. With these, however, I dispense, and shall consider your concern for the welfare of your subjects, and your love of them, as the best and most acceptable testimony of your gratitude to me. It is in your power, by a wise and virtuous administration, to justify the extraordinary proof which I this day give of my paternal affection, and to demonstrate that you are worthy of the confidence which I repose in you. Preserve an inviolable regard for religion; maintain the Catholic faith in its purity; let the laws of your country be sacred in your eyes; encroach not on the rights and privileges of your people; and if the time should ever come when you shall wish to enjoy the tranquillity of private life, may you have a son endowed with such qualities that you can resign your sceptre to him with as much satisfaction as I give up mine to you."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Charles V Formally Abdicates

Featuring William Robertson

Previously on The Peace of Augsburg and the Abdication of Charles V. And now William Robertson.

Time: 1555
Place: Augsburg, Germany

Charles V by Titian and his
colleague Lambert Sustris.
cc Wikipedia
But though Charles had revolved this scheme in his mind for several years, and had communicated it to his sisters the dowager queens of France and Hungary, who not only approved of his intention, but offered to accompany him to whatever place of retreat he should choose, several things had hitherto prevented his carrying it into execution. He could not think of loading his son with the government of so many kingdoms until he should attain such maturity of age and of abilities as would enable him to sustain that weighty burden. But as Philip had now reached his twenty-eighth year, and had been early accustomed to business, for which he discovered both inclination and capacity, it can hardly be imputed to the partiality of paternal affection that his scruples with regard to this point were entirely removed; and that he thought he might place his son, without further hesitation or delay, on the throne which he himself was about to abandon. His mother's situation had been another obstruction in his way. For although she had continued almost fifty years in confinement, and under the same disorder of mind which concern for her husband's death had brought upon her, yet the government of Spain was still vested in her jointly with the Emperor; her name was inserted, together with his, in all the public instruments issued in that kingdom; and such was the fond attachment of the Spaniards to her, that they would probably have scrupled to recognize Philip as their sovereign, unless she had consented to assume him as her partner on the throne. Her utter incapacity for business rendered it impossible to obtain her consent. But her death, which happened this year, removed this difficulty; and as Charles, upon that event, became sole monarch of Spain, it left the succession open to his son. The war with France had likewise been a reason for retaining the administration of affairs in his own hands, as he was extremely solicitous to have terminated it, that he might have given up his kingdoms to his son at peace with all the world. But as Henry had discovered no disposition to close with any of his overtures, and had even rejected proposals of peace which were equal and moderate, in a tone that seemed to indicate a fixed purpose of continuing hostilities, he saw that it was vain to wait longer in expectation of an event which, however desirable, was altogether uncertain.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

All Saints Day, 2014


The article I link to uses the unfortunate word "cult" which I suppose reflects the general unfashionabiltiy of religion among the academics.  Are fans of today's celebrities "cultists"?

Except for that caveat, I suggest you read this article from Jonathan Jarrett's A Corner of Tenth Century Europe blog for All Saints Day.