Saturday, September 24, 2005

Podcast Test and Final Location for New Historium

This is my first attempt at a podcast.

If you haven't seen it already, my new place for Historium is

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Complete Site Relocation

Since posting to two sites is getting hard, I have decided to completely put all my posting on Historium2. I urge all people with links here to change them. Just don't forget this blog's URL, I'm planning to keep it as an emergency site.

Just remember there are two URL's:
or the shorter:

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Discussion: Marco Polo

Introduction: Marco Polo was the most important European of the Middle Ages who opened up Asia for the rest of the world. He spent almost two decades working for Kublai Khan of China and traveled to almost all the places under the Khan’s rule. Further, he also traveled both the overland and the water route between the Middle East and Orient. Throughout all these travels Polo made detailed observations of the lands that he saw. His gave information on the culture, people, and for that most importantly, the economy. Future European explorers who wanted to travel to the East, including Columbus, read his work widely.

Setting the scene: Marco Polo himself was too active of a person to sit down and start writing of his own choosing. In fact, after his travels Polo joined in the Venetian wars against their great foe and rival, the Genoese. During a naval battle Polo was captured and put in jail. It was in the confines of prison that Polo met the writer Rusticiano. It was to him that the traveler related his accounts of distant worlds in extraordinary detail and with much of the medieval European prejudice reduced.

Questions: What would have happened if Marco Polo managed not to get captured? What if he simply decided not to relate his experiences? What if he was killed in the battle? Anybody who reads this post is encouraged to give a response. It does not matter how much you know about the subject, just take what you already know and give the best prediction you can. Once again, this question will stay up for the week.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Famous Last Words

gotten from:

John Adams: Thomas Jefferson still survives. One of the founding fathers of America, also second president of the United States. He had a letter correspondence with Jefferson. Adams died on the Fourth of July, 1826, in reality Jefferson had died only few hours before Adams.

John Brown: I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood! Fanatical abolitionist who fought fervently for the cause. Tried to steal some weapons from the armory at Harpers' Ferry to arm a slave revolt, failed and tried for treason. His words are prophetic of the more than 500,000 Americans who died in a war just a few years later.

Genghis Khan: Let not my end disarm you, and on no account weep or keen for me, let the enemy be warned of my death. The Mongol ruler who conquered half the known world and united almost all of Northern Asia. His acts would revolutionize the world and his descendants would continue to expand the empire.

John Henry (Doc) Holiday: This is funny. Famous western gunfighter who fought with Wyatt Earp. Died of Tubercolosis in bed.

Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson: Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks. . . . Let us cross over the river and sit under the shade of the trees. Confederate General during the Civil War, one of Lee's best soldiers. Was accidentally shot by his own troops who mistook him for Union cavalry. Eventually died from pneumonia, his last hours were spent in delerium.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A Message to all Grammar Freaks (and food for thought for others)

This message is particularly directed for all grammar freaks, but anyone can read it just for entertainment or as something to spark thought on the subject. Why, o why do so many people spasm, convulse, and become insane whenever someone says “me too”, instead “I also”? Why do they insist that you follow the rules some board or committee picked? What gives a few people the right to establish rules for a language that has roots going back thousands of years, to its earliest ancestral tongues?
Language is a means of communication, that said, if somebody can understand you, it is enough.

Anybody can understand me if I make some grammar mistake, the point is whether I can get the message across. Yet the freaks insist you get everything right. Why do we insist on regulating a language that has always and always will change? I have a teacher who is a zealot in maintaining strict use of correct grammar, even in spoken language. This is the idea of language: when someone listens to another, they don’t think of the exact definition of each word heard and then try to put it together; they get a feeling for the tone and subject matter, and then apply a general meaning to the words that makes sense. Whether you say “me too” or “I also” won’t make a difference. Others will still understand what you are saying in general.

Just keep in mind, every change ever in language started out as a difference from the norm. If you say something that is very difficult or impossible to understand, then someone should correct you. But if someone corrects you even when most people would understand you, then that’s their problem.

Monday, August 22, 2005

What if: Battle of New York City

Throughout history there have been countless close calls where things could have easily gone the other way. In this weekly series I will post on a particular moment in time and ask readers to give their thoughts and opinions on what would have happened if things went differently.

This week's what if will be during the Battle of New York. The setting: it is September of 1776, in New York City. The fledgling new American nation has recently declared independence but is far from winning a victory over the British. The army has almost no experience and training. Recently the British have just routed and pushed back many of the Americans to their fortifications at Brooklyn Heights, in Long Island. All the British have to do is bring together all their troops and artillery and make one final assault. Given their superior training, equipment, and morale, they probably would have succeeded. Yet their general, Howe, has decided to enjoy the day's victory and pull back his troops to camp.

Later at night, there is a second close call. The wind is coming from a northerly direction, which prevents the British ships from sailing up and blocking any hope of Washington's troops escaping across the river. This allows the Americans to silently slip into their boats and withdraw to Manhattan.

My questions are these: what would have happened if the British army had continued their assault and stormed Brooklyn Heights, if the wind was different and the British ships could sailed up, thus completely surrounding the Americans. I am not just talking about the American army or Washington, but also of the United States' situation, and maybe even the world too. Tell me whatever you think, any feedback related to this would be good. This question will be open until next Monday, when I will post another what if.

Note: don't forget to visit the other historium at

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Breaking Site News: New Historium!

I have the DSL now and also have set up the new Historium. I urge everyone to go and have a look at it, and tell me what you think. Since there is no commenting on it, you can either comment in blogger or e-mail me ( I am not planning yet on deleting this blog, but am waiting for what you think. Tell me soon!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

More Delays, New Plans

The Verizon DSL I was supposed to get during the middle of the month has been postponed for the 25th of August, hopefully I can start blogging then, though school is starting. From what I've read in the packet Verizon offers web hosting, where you can add videos and music. I will definitely look into it and probably switch, maybe I could finally make a If you're wondering, this guy hasn't blogged regularly for months and now he's thinking of moving the whole site? i don't blame you. Still, with the new Internet it would be much easier to post daily, and it would be really interesting if I could make videos to help clarify the posts, some quiet background music would be nice too.

For subject matter, I'm planning to abandon the chronological study of the Crusades, it is more than a series of battles, it is an era. There are countless interesting strories that happened in that time. I'm also going to read Marco Polo's Travels, a book that I believe had a substantial impact on history. Further topics will include more studies of historical patterns, linguistics, influence, and maybe some short biographies. Reader suggestions for other topics are most welcome. Finally, I am considering a weekly "what if series". There are many close calls in history and it would be interesting to wonder what would have happened if history went the other way. What-if's can never be accurately created since there are too many variables that we may not know about. Still, any kind of debate that is backed up with evidence can lead to more knowledge.

Either way, keep visiting now and then and leave a few suggestions or comments. Thank you for still reading and see you soon.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Gone for a few days

Since I'm getting a new Internet service and going on vacation for a few days, I won't be back until probably August 17 or 18, please check up around that time, but don't stop reading! See you until then.


Sunday, July 31, 2005

Putting all that Study of History Stuff to Work: How America Rose

When the United States of America finally ensured its independence by ending the Revolutionary war in 1783, the country was anything but a power. True it held huge tracts of land and countless rivers and possible mineral deposits, but for the most part the country was just starting to gear up. It was mostly made up of farms, and industrial and commercial activities were concentrated in a few coastal cities. The national government it had chosen was barely able to do anything. Each state considered itself an autonomous unit, banding together with the other states for protection. Still disputes flared between states and people. Barely able to manage foreign policy, the United States had little if any influence on the rest of the world. Yet in the decades to come the upstart, politically radical nation would prove itself to be able to create an effective government (Constitutional Convention of 1787), deploy its military in foreign lands (wars with the Barbary pirates of North Africa), defend it’s rights against foreign powers (War of 1812), adapt to changing economies (1st Industrial Revolution), expand it’s borders and become an emerging power of the Western Hemisphere (Louisiana Purchase and Mexican-American War), and overcome the toughest of crises (American Civil War), and the list goes on.

So how did it do it? well certainly it had gifted men and a spirit to move forward, but more of an answer could be found by looking farther in the past.

As far back as circa 500 B.C., in the Italian peninsula. According to legend, it was about this time that the city of Rome gained complete autonomy from the Etruscans and establish the Republic. Yet about 600 years later the Roman nation would be the power of the Mediterranean. Again, how did it do it? The answer is that it went through an almost perpetual series of war, uprisings, economic slump, and political revolutions, and for the first half-millennia, usually came out stronger. The Romans chose to adapt, or make the situation adapt to them. Instead of just swallowing every setback and continue they sought for ways to prevent the setback from happening again.

It is possible that the same happened in this country. The country is not the same as it was 100, 50, 25, or even 10 years ago. It has gone through perpetual change, to meet the perpetual challenges. It has grown in every direction it has been attacked on. Everything at every level, from multi-national alliances to the individual goes through a constant barrage of difficulties, hurdles, crises, and disasters, big and small. That is the source of change.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Another of those History Repeats

The ancient Greek philosophers accomplished major advances in, well, philosophy, and political theory. They provided a base of scientific knowledge that would be, together with the Romans, the main source of learning until the Rennaissance and Enlightenment scientists and philosophers. There are, however, two very similar sets of events both in classical Greece and later in Rennaissance Europe. In Greece Socrates was one of the early great philosophers. Eventually the Athenian Republic grew suspicious of him and charged him with accusations such as spreading heresy. One of Socrates' students, Plato, grew disillusioned of this and soon broke away from Athens. In part because of his anger Plato wrote a series of works, many or all of which had Socrates in them as a character. Some of these works were also written in dialogue form.

Around 2000 years later Copernicus pushed the idea of a sun-centered solar system. He died shortly after his works were published and therefore did not see much of the hurricane that followed. The Church, firmly entrenched in the Ptolemaic model of the Universe, led a campaign to batter down the Copernican model. Still the new model attracted followers among the new wave of scientists adhering to the scientific method. One of these was Galileo. His Dialogue sparked intense anger in the Pope and caused the inquisition of the astronomer shortly afterwards.

Both Plato and Galileo then each had their own "patrons", each published works that were based partly on these patrons' ideas. Ironically, the Copernican model goes against the Greek originated Ptolemaic model.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Posting Centennial

This post is the 100th post of this blog. So, now I'm stuck thinking about what this one will be about. Since it's a marker for my blog, should it be about my blog? Or maybe I should knock off my own Outline of History. Maybe I should make it like a sitcom and give links as a blog version of flashbacks. In some ways blogs really are like TV shows. Well, this is milestone in the number of posts so it could be related to that.

When it comes to the actual recording of happenings there are simply no accurate ways to do it. All we have to start with is physical evidence and oral/written records. Evidence no matter how solid and objective it is, has to be interpreted to fit it in the big puzzle. Oral records go through person after person and generation after generation of adaptation and erosion. Written records are but an interpretation of something by people, it is impossible to observe everything that's happening during a siege, or funeral, or voyage. What you don't see you have to get from someone else. And even then all the events can't be put on paper. Things have to be left out, and they are.

It'd be nice if we had some big movie studio or TV where we could just punch in the date and location of a place on Earth and see everything that happened, then again, maybe it wouldn't be so great. History is nothing more than educated (or dumb) guesses fitted with the latest interpretation of evidence and the most recent theory. No human can know everything everywhere at any moment, much less in all moments. It is therefore practically impossible to predict a future. But for every moment in the present there probably has been a similar moment in the past.

This then, is one of the major goals and purposes of the study of history: to break through all the technological, scientific, and all other change that has happened and to find common rythms and patterns that have always happened. Change, as the saying goes, is a neccessary evil, so it follows that at some level of thought and study of the past it's effect is gone. The emotions and instincts people had millenia ago are still the exact same ones we have today. Everything has it's role. The idea of a chain of events is then probably somewhat innacurate, a stack of world "snapshots" is more fitting.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Why I'm so Obsessed with Early Human History...and some philosophy

Some of you are probably wondering why I'm posting so much about how things were like in early societies. Basically, it's cause I'm spending my summer not at the beach, or at some other vacation spot, but by pondering the meaning of life, society, and a bunch of other stuff.

The answers to life and society are connected, here's what I have come up with for the purposes of life:

-To live (it seems simple and obvious, but it is connected into everything alive.)
-Increase frequency of your DNA into gene pool (have kids, or anything alive that has your DNA in it)

Society was at the least an attempt to help in both. Humans, by themselves, are not really the greatest physical machines. They have intelligence, the ability to use natural objects and change them to suit their needs, and the ability to create some level of an artificial environment, (a bit off-topic, but sounds like the character traits from a video game). By combining the different talents of different people, society was able to get an edge in the struggle for survival. Large groups allow people to specialise in different jobs needed for the whole to survive and progress. Specialisation can lead to expertise and skill in a job. To pass on this knowledge, their were people who specialised in teaching, and perhaps general care for children while their parents where busy).

Speculating on early events in society is a way to understand the foundations of today's civilizations. It can explain some of the things happening now, and maybe we could then make better decisions.

Blog Update: Scroll down to the bottom if you want to see my blog advisor.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Origins of Law

I've finally ended several weeks of constantly not posting. Lack of topics and simple laziness are both reasons. Hopefully I'll be able to continue the daily posting I used to have. For now I will start with laws, tomorrow or maybe later today I'll finish the First Sack of Rome posting, later I'll continue with linguistics, Mesopotamia, Crusades, and other topics. Also, I'll welcome any other topics proposed by readers, some basic info and/or Internet resources about the topic would also be nice. Last, if you have anything to say about a post, please tell it in a comment. Laws, in some way or other, are vital for efficient, long-lasting, and functioning societies. In the earliest nomadic tribes there probably were some sort of basic understood rules that all member abided by. They may have been obvious things like, don't murder other tribe members, or don't steal food. To break these rules would result in communal backlash. Also, there is evidence that these people had some ideas of an afterlife. Fear of not having a good time after you die would have been a great force too. As a tribe grew more complex the laws had to expand too. There may have been laws governing different occupations or situations. Laws helped clear up and establish procedures and customs. While they complexified life, they also took away many worries. They would have helped keep things in order and direct people in different situations as cultures grew more sophisticated. Of course, as the number of these laws increased, it would have been impossible for an ordinary person to remember every one of them, in times before writing and alphabets, the responsibility would have had to be passed on to a group of people. These could be any number of different types, priests, elders, wisemen, council members, or shamans. But of course, a growing society placed other demands on these people, and more people meant that you could have people who solely spend their lives memorizing legal rules. Whoever ruled the tribe could then draw on these as advisors in daily and long-term issues. As the number and complexity of the laws continued to grow, the specialists would have divided them up into common subjects, such as civil or criminal law. At this time society was probably already urbanized, and far from the nomadic life before. This new highly complexified and sophisticated culture was strongly influenced by three principal forces: laws, government, and religion. Laws served the function of protecting people’s rights or making sure that the economic or political systems functioned smoothly. Government had two jobs, apply its power to tackle everyday issues and situations, and plan and safeguard future growth and welfare. Religion served as an explanation of phenomena, and an important aspect in shaping culture.

Even small combinations of these three forces could produce very different civilizations, a comparison of that could be made in the differences of Egyptian and Mesopotamian lands. Ancient Egypt, during the times it was united, put together all three forces in the pharaoh. He was lawgiver, absolute ruler, and a descendant of the gods all in one. It is important to note that in Egypt all property was considered to belong to the Pharaoh, while the people were mere holders of it. Mesopotamia went an entirely different course, splitting up the three forces to a great degree. Rulers considered themselves only agents who carry out their god’s/gods’ commands. Government and religion have always been closely tied to each other.

But the important thing is that government and law were separated. Ever since writing laws could be set down on tablets, always able to be referred to later. This was completely solidified by Hammurabi’s Code of Laws (about 1800 B.C.), although earlier codes are known to exist. The significance of this was that a ruler could no longer change a law to suit his/her particular needs. This greatly protected the people’s rights. Also, private property was recognized and the rules of its exchange, along with many other commercial exchanges, were laid out in laws.

Of course laws would still have to be changed to fit changing ways. But changing often very old rules would not be easy, and public unrest or even revolt might happen if some king just did it by himself. The process of changing these laws would be a great facet of government in the future.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

First Sack of Rome Part II

Here's Part I

The Celts continued to destroy large parts of Rome. The Roman defenders inside the Citadel were forced to look on as section after section was laid to waste. For some reason or another the Celts did not destroy the entire city, but left parts of it intact, though still looted. Eventually they tired of doing nothing but ransacking and burning empty buildings. Arraying themselves in a line, they proceeded to take the Citadel by assault.

The Romans noticed that and prepared myself. First guarding all the ways to the Citadel, they positioned their best men to face the incoming Celts. The Citadel was located on a rather steep hill so that a simple charge by the outnumbered Romans managed to send the entire Celtic army reeling back. Realizing that another attack would be too costly, the invaders prepared a siege. Also realizing that there was no food inside our directly outside the city walls part of the army was sent out to find food. This party then laid siege to a town named Ardea. The defenders of the town, led by Camillus, sallied outside and surprised the sleeping Celts in their camp, killing almost all.

The remnants of the Roman army which had been defeated before on the Tiber river still had a part to play. In their retreating march they stumbled upon, surprised, and drove away some Italic raiders taking advantage of the situation. In the process they managed to capture a large number of supplies and armaments, which they used to equip the citizens of Veii. One of the men then took it upon himself to sneak through the Celtic lines to give the news to the defenders. By swimming along a river he reached a cliff that had been forsaken by the Celts as too hard to climb. After some great difficulty the messenger reached the Romans and told them about the new army that was prepared to attack the invaders. After this the messenger managed to return to Veii.

The Celts spotted the tracks and decided they would be able to climb the cliff too. During the middle of the night some of them started to go up. The guards were not too watchful as they thought they were secure. However, some sacred geese at a temple noticed these climbers and started a fuss. The guards soon found and managed to stop the attackers and drive them off the cliff.

After this (and after a payment of gold) the Celts agreed to withdraw from the city. On their way back home they besieged another Roman city, this time the inhabitants attacked the Celts and recaptured most of the spoils.

Now the Romans had a nearly empty city and the job to rebuild it. To speed things up they allowed people to build wherever they wanted, thus resulting in the maze of twisting narrow roads and infamous dark alleys of old Rome. Also, if you read the first post, the people had refused to let the Senate give back the ambassador who had killed a Celt in a battle, even though there was no war between the two at the time. This was just the beginning of the deep split between the Senate and the People of Rome.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

First Sack of Rome

Around 390 B.C., Rome was still a young city that was beginning to extend its power. However, it was still just a city-state with a strong controll over the nearest lands, few would have thought that it would later conquer the Mediterranean world. At about this time Celtic warriors had invaded Italy from the north and were settling into the land. One particular tribe, the Sennones, was engaged in a war with the Tyrhenians, one of the many Italic peoples living on the peninsula. The Romans sent ambassadors to gather information on these Celts, who had come very close to the city. These ambassadors then decided to fight in a battle between that was taking place between the Celts and Tyrhenians. One of them managed to kill an important noble of these people and this angered them. The Celts demanded the Roman Senate to give this ambassador up, this the Senate voted on and decided to do. Unfortunately, the father of the wanted man was a tribune of Rome, winning the support of the people, he managed to save his son from the Celts. This caused further anger.

When Brennus, the Celtic leader, was given the news he ordered a march on Rome at once. When Rome heard of this it armed everyone who was of the age at which he could fight and sent them to meet the barbarians. The following battle took place on the bank of the river Tiber that was farther from the city of Rome. Somehow, the weakest flank of the Roman line ended up facing the strongest Celtic troops. Soon these Romans were routed causing a domino effect that led to the entire Roman army to collapse. Those who survived this tried to swim across the river. Many more were drowned by the current or the hail of arrows and javelins that the Celts were firing. It was said that the river ran red. Those few that survived this then fled to the town of Veii, which the Romans had not long ago captured.

The news of the defeat sent a wave of fear through Rome. The Senate conferred on what to do, they decided that those of them who were able to fight should fortify the Capitoline Hill and one of their more important religious sites. All else, including the walls and the rest of the city, should be abandoned and all supplies should be sent to the strongholds. Most of the people then left the city, although many of the relatives of those defending the strongholds decided to join those. The elder Senators, in an act of remarkable courage, decided that since they were too weak to fight and that their time was already up, they should stay at their homes. Thus almost all the city was abandoned and the gates were left open for the imminent arrival of the Celts.

After some days the Celts lead by Brennus arrived at the city. Fearing some kind of trap when observing the unguarded walls and open gate, they camped outside the city for some time. When they finally decided that there would be no harm they entered the city. As they realised that there were only two places in the city where there was any resistance, the Celts soon began to loot the homes and buildings. After a little of this they returned to a forum where they all gathered. There they encountered the elderly nobles who were calmly seated in front of their homes. One of the Celts went close to these men, and was struck on the head. This put the Celts in a fury and they killed all the old nobles, then proceeded to completely pillage and then destroy the city.

To be continued

Monday, June 27, 2005

Language Tree

All languages spoken by humans can be mixed, you can try to immitate or copy a word or sound of another language or dialect, maybe you won't get it exactly right, but you can try. Extensive mixing or isolation of languages can create a new language or dialect. But why is this. For now I can think of two reasons:

1. All languages originated from one ancient mother tongue or a group or very closely related tongues that eventually spread across the world. Therefore, they all must have some kind of very basic grammatical or phonetic foundation, that allows languages to mix.

2. Since all humans are one species, it may be genetic or physical characteristics that allow languages, no matter how long separated by time and distance, to still be able to blend.

Probably for this post I will work on studying these. First, let us look at some laws we can all aggree on. Note: All my linguistic posts will be about natural languages, unless I say so.

1. Languages change, no matter how slightly, over a period of time the spoken language will change.

2. Practically all modern languages were once dialects of a larger, more general language. English and Frisian from West Germanic, Indian and Bengali from Sanskrit, etc.

3. All languages can mix, I already explained this.

4. Any kind of event that influences people, politic, economic, or military, can also have an impact on the language(s) of those people.

5. Spoken language precedes written language, therefore, we can assume that most changes happen first in speech, then in writing.

That's if for now.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Pre-urban life

Again, I know my posting is irregular. I hope you still just drop by a day to check up.

When humans built started living in more or less settled and packed shelters and, usually, picked up agriculure, society was changed radically. Their needs, responsibilites, and priorities were altered as they turned to a different form of living.

Nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes were mainly concentrated about sustaining and keeping order among the members. There were numerous bands largely scattered across the Earth doing mainly this. Even in seemingly abundant places people would have to move around constantly. Their technological advances had already given them the ability to meet, and maybe go above their food needs. This significantly shifted things in nature as it meant even a small group needed a large and constant supply of food. Moving around all the time was a good way to limit their impact on an environment.

A nomadic life still meant hardships. And people devised means of dealing with them. Perhaps part of culture started off as different peoples used different ways to deal with their surroundings. This in itself represented a major break from nature, since now one environment could create people with very different forms of life. In a nomadic life it became increasingly important to have some form of leadership which would that could make a decision for a tribe. Human populations were getting larger and it was becoming less possible for everybody to decide. As a result, leaders emerged.

To call them rulers wouldn't be right, but the pieces of society were forming. Leaders may have been chosen based on several different ways. They may have had a record of good decisions and actions in the past and thus generally picked, without an actual election. Or there may have been contests or a trial period in which leaders were singled out. Remember, by now humans were well separated from other animals, and had to devise entirely new means of living and staying together.

I am kinda tired now, and it seems the more I write the more questions I come up on. I'll be back later soon.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Roman Republic, was it really a good one?

I have seen several books and essys that describe the beginning of Julius Ceasar's dictatorship as the time freedom and liberty in Rome fell. Some put this date earlier to the beginning of the war between Ceasar and the Senate (headed by Pompey). I feel some things need to be made clear.

The choice Ceasar was given was an impossible one. He could either become an enemy of Rome, or he could set aside his governorship of the territories he conquered and come back to Rome with virtually no military power. Here, let me explain to you how "democratic" the Roman Senate was.

The Senate was corrupt, period. Many of the Senators thought themselves above the ordinary commoners or plebians. Sometimes they even became afraid of the unpredictable plebs, the same ones who were voting for them. There was the threat of mass riots against a senator if he did something to anger the plebs. But truly, things were happening in Rome that the commoners barely knew of. Threats, blackmail, power, force and money were more important. A man who became immensely famous through conquests, battles, and good governorship often became feared by the Senate.

The Senate had ordered it Ceasar to give up his territories to another Roman and return as a regular politician. This was driven at least greatly by fear of the man. It was considered a way to disarm a threat to the Senators' power and wealth. The people liked Ceasar, but those who represented them were afraid of him. Sound familar?

And here's another thing, only Italians could vote for Senators. Yet Rome controlled lands all around the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, not too long ago it was only the people of the city of Rome itself who had suffrage. It was Ceasar's uncle, Gaius Marius, who fundamentally changed the entire military structure of Rome, and gave the vote to all Italians. This finally satisfied the rebellious Italic tribes. However, these changes were so great they were a part of the reason for the civil war that happened in Rome between Marius and Sulla, who were once co-consuls.

Marius's reforms would deeply affect the history of Imperial Rome. It gave much of the responsibility of managing and paying the costs of legions in the hands of the generals. Thus to the troops their general often became their heroes, and they were ready to follow him anywhere.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The American Civil War

The American Civil War combines some of the most crucial questions of politics and war. Does a state have the right to secede? Does everybody have the right to nullify national laws? Is war an excuse for the government to cancel basic rights? How far can the military go when waging war on the enemy? Are there rules of war countries must abide by?

This war touched everybody, and brought to the surface the deepest recesses of politics. It showed the truth of things.

Here's some irony, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address talked of the deeds of the founding fathers "four score and seven years ago". Strangely, those founding fathers were fighting for a government that would prevent exactly the same kind of war Lincoln was fighting.

Who failed?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Beginning of the Crusades

From now on, the majority of the posting will be of the Crusades. Probably one of the most influential series of events in all of history. It involves a lot of things. The people, places, and actions together make up a truly epic period. It really did affect all of Europe, the Islamic world, the Byzantine Empire, and more. The events it set off were magnified and now affect nearly everything. Perhaps it is interesting to note that the crusaders' cross worn by the first of the soldier-pilgrims was the same cross on the sails of the ships of Columbus.

For other things that I will post on: Look at Mesoptamian culture, centering on their laws, rise of the cities and urbanisation, and how grew and faded, and grew again in power.
Continuation of linguistic studies, focusing on how languages develop, and patterns in this development.
The Italian republics of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa. They were the real European political powers until crushed by the Ottomans and the Spaniards from two different sides.
Great sieges of major cities in history, some are pretty interesting.

Arab political situation at time of First Crusade: by this time, the unity of the Muslims had been fractured. Different sects, dynasties, and cultures had broken up the old unity. In the North Muslim Anatolia was controlled by the Rum Seljuks, an offshoot of the old Seljuk Empire, it was ruled by Kilij Arslan I. To the south Aleppo was under Radwan, and Damascus under Duqaq. To the East Kerbogha was atabeg of Mosul, in present-day Iraq. Further to the south were the Fatimids in Egypt, they had just recently recaptured Jerusalem from the Turks. There was no solid friendship at all among these countries. Each of the indiviudal rulers were more interested in expanding his own territory.

Chronicle: In early 1095 Emperor Alexius I of the Byzantine Empire sent a request to Pope Urban II of Rome to help drive off the Turks. In November of 1095, Urban gathered the religious leaders, lords, and nobility of all France together in the Council of Clermont. Here he gave the speech that would change the course of history. Urban told the people that instead of the constant infighting of the Christians, they should unite and war against their common enemy, the non-Christians. The Holy Land was a rich place where people could rise from the bleakness of Europe and enjoy prosperity. All who took part would be able to get cleansed of their sins. At the end of the speech, cries of "God wills it" rang throughout the council.

The pope himself and the clergy under him spread the call to arms throughout Europe. An unofficial response was begun with the People's Crusade. Most of the 100,000 partakers were not real soldiers, just peasants who were captivated by the Pope's message. There even were women and children. It's first battles were with Christians in Europe. After fighting its way to Constantinople, Emperor Alexius took them over the Strait of Bosporus, into Anatolia. There they were eventually cut to pieces by the Turks.

The First Crusade set off in August, after a long and treacherous march it finally reached the Holy Land. The story of that will be in the next Crusade post.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bloggers' Block

I either can't find a good new topic to blog about, or can't remember any. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Patterns of Language

In many ways, languages develop in similar patterns as discussed in the biological evolutionary theory. Isolation causes them to become different, hybridization can mix to languages into something that is both similar and different to their "parents". On the other hand, languages develop in far more different ways. How does a language change, how do the changes come in the first place, how is language related to the people who speak them? These are just some of the question of the study of historical linguistics, and linguistics in general.

Each and every person pronounces each and every word in a slightly different way, this pronunciation is based on genetic and environmental characteristics. In a way, these differences are passed down. The genetics part from parent to child. The environment part is determined by whoever the person is around. So now we know how individual differences in pronunciation and speaking occurr, but this doesn't explain why we have such major changes in language.

Lingual change can involve particular ways of saying something somehow become more different than the original and spreading quickly. This could occurr through some time of mass media, the famous doing it, or something else. According to my Linguistic Punctuated Equilibrium (LPE), these things would have to occur in quick strong bursts. However,the probability that a major and rapid change happens due to this is small. In old times mass media was not as influential, and it was not until the Crusades ended that the feudal powers really started losing control, shifting power more from rural to urban areas.

The other cause is simply external influence. This type of influence is more compatible with LPE as it can increase and decrease in its amount. At the same time, we can see astonishing proof. Old English would have started with the enormous mix of the Germanic languages, together with Celtic and Latin influences, and later even the Vikings. All of this mixing would have created a tremendous explosion in the richness of the culture, and the language. Middle English started at about 1100. Two major events at that time had an impact on England, the direct one was the Norman invasion. The Norman rulers, with their different language, definitely had an impact on the English language. The more long-term but far greater impact was the beginning of the Crusades. Now the doors to the East were opened, and pretty soon came a tsunami of goods, ideas, and words. Finally, we come upon the 15th century with the rise of Modern English. The reason for this change were the gradual shifting of power from eastern Europe to the west, the rise of a stable series of empires over the East-West routes, and the world exploration that was slowly starting.

Now we'll discuss how foreign influence can lead to actual lingual change. For the first stage, the invasions of the Germanics into England. The Latin and Germanic and Celtic cultures were very different from each other. With such close contact and overlapping, the three created a new culture that took things from all three and blended them. To cooperate in day-to-day activities and to administer the people properly, they would have to know each others' languages. But how would this lead to a new language? The answer can be found thousands of miles away in Hawaii.

During the early 20th century the population of Hawaii became increasingly diverse. Immigrants from Asia, Europe, and the Americas migrated to this island group, often to work as farm laborers. These mixed with the native Hawaiians and the settled Whites. Obviously, this would have created a complex patchwork of different peoples. What happened next, linguistically, happened among the children of Hawaii. Since these different people were more or less evenly spread out, their children often played together. In this constant interaction, these children actually created a whole new language that was a mix of the original ones. Linguists who studied this language labeled it Hawaiian Creole. They were astounded by how quickly a whole new language could emerge in just one generation, only a few years.

This quick rise of a language not only backs up my LPE theory, it also explains how the English language originated. It is possible that what happened in Hawaii happened in England in the mid 1st milenium AD, only on a much larger scale and perhaps taking a few more generations. Children, who can learn languages must faster, and do not distinguish as much between words of one language and another, can really act as a blender of words. The same can happen anywhere where there is about an equal number of differnt cultures spread about in one area.

Since I already have taken so much space, I will look at the reasons for the rise of Middle and Modern English later. And of course, there is the question of how grammar changes.

Back Again

I am very sorry for posting so irregularly, I keep finding distrations that keep me from actually posting. For those of you who have continued to check up, thank you.

Long long ago I posted a theory on linguistics, I called it Linguistic Punctuated Equilibrium. Perhaps it is already known, but it is worthwile to know that many languages seem to make great and sudden shifts between periods of relatively little change. If you have time, please read it.

It is known that language changes in recognizable patterns, but how? One example of the change is that in predominantly Germanic languages the p in latin is often turned into an f or v. As in the Latin pater turned into the father in English and vader in Dutch. But why did the p change into these words. A possibility is that the new Latin words were mixed up with the existing Germanic words. Perhaps in the original Germanic language the word for father started with something that sounded like an f or v.

Another possibility is that people might have just started changing the sound itself, a lot of time did pass, and we cannot be sure that the Germanics learned Latin perfectly in the first place. But even then this change would have to be specific to Germanics. Romance languages have preserved the p, as in the French pere for father. In my opinion, it doesn't seem reasonable that this change of sound could come arbitrarily in all and just the Germanic languages. I am not sure of how much we know about the ancestral language of the West German language group, even less certain about the main ancestor of all Germanic languages.

The Germanics themselves did not extensively colonize the lands they conquered. As they moved in warbands of 80,000, they could not make large-scale settlements. Therefore, the languages of Italy, Spain, France, and Romania are more or less direct descendants of Latin. The Germanics however are different. First of all, it is obvious that there has been an extremely heavy influence of Latin on these languages. A major challenge is sorting out when each word entered the languages. The first great mixing of Latin into ancestral English would have been as the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes started settiling into the British Isles. Their direct contact with the Latinized people there and mixing with them would have caused a great Latin impact. One Latin impact that probably affected all the Germanics was political. Germanic rulers saw the value of learning Latin, and maybe even considered it a possible diplomatic tongue. They encouraged a literati of those who learned the language. Now how they learned it and how well may not be clear, probably through natives. Either way, as the literati learned the language, it may have eventually spread to commoners, where it could have mixed.

On my next post, hopefully today too, I will look into language "family trees".

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Pet peeve

All too much great stories or novels get degraded by time to lowly places. Take Gulliver's Travels for example, what really is a major political satire has somehow been degraded to a children't story about some guy meeting weird people. Ask people what places Gulliver traveled to, and they can only think of the lands of the midgets and the lands of the giants. Why? So many people are simply too stupid to notice any symbolism in a work. They can only understand the superficial layer of what the author is directly saying. What the heck are our schools teaching? Maybe we should tell kids stories that are not just about bunies and squirrels where everything ends happily. People just aren't thinking about what they see, read, or hear. They just believe what is directly being told them.

Friday, June 10, 2005

European Military in Pre-Crusades

The feudal structure created a military system centered around independent knights who had sworn allegiance to a lord. The lord would pay for the equipment and supplies, in return the knights had to follow the orders of the lord. Younger sons of a noble did not get much of a share in inheritances, with little money they used their rank to get a lord to recruit them. Basically, these soldiers were not really part of a al army. A king would tell his nobles to gather their troops, these soldiers would then follow their lords and together form a motley mix of troops. They were supported by some squires, non-knight horsemen, foot soldiers called sergeants. and archers. Still though, the knights were considered to be the cream of the crop.
The Arab armies were what would be called professional armies. The Mamluks were slave warriors who had been bought by the monarchs when they were children. These were then brought up to be warriors of Islam, and they were good ones at that. The Mamluks were personally owned by the monarch. Even though they were still considered slaves, they had high social statuses. The Mamluks were the standing army of the Muslims, always ready to fight.

These two armies would meet in the crusades, they were almost completely different, in how they fought, how they were structured, and what they fought for. They had completely different ideas of the world, and these would meet in the Holy Land.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Feudal Beginnings

In the years before the Crusades, much of Europe was encased in the yolk of feudalism. Basically defined, it puts power in the hands of the land-owning nobility who swear loyalty to a monarch and assist during wars, but who is allowed to have much control over his estate. The noble allowed others to use the estate, usually for farming; in return they had to give a portion of their crop or something else. These people also would have to make up the majority of the foot soldiers in an army. The monarch had little power, much depended on the consent of the landowners.

Feudalism is generally believed to have started in northern France and then spreading out. In my opinion, it really became dominant in a time when the previous Germano-Latin political and social structure was turning into a more modern European one. The constant expansion of the kingdoms was slowing down as people were rushing to get some political stability. However, the practice of rewarding long-term service continued. Since there were no new conquests, the monarchs had to give out existing land. Since towns were of diminished and agriculture was key, land was power. This practice was common in the Frankish kingdom, the main power in Europe after Rome fell. It was spread into England by Norman conquests. What really pushed it further were the Viking raids. Because they were so numerous and local, and seemed to be happening all over the place, the monarchs could not move fast enough to meet them. Thus they decided to leave it in the hands of local lords to take care of. In return for this the nobility gained even more power.

The monarchy could see this growing strength and tried to curb it. Charlemagne of France attempted to make Nobility a rotating position instead of permanent. But the efforts were not enough. Incursions by the Vikings to the north, Magyars to the east, and Saracens to the south increased political instability during a time when Europe was still recovering. In this time semi-independent local feudal governments seemed to be best off. Gradually the land-ownership positions turned from lifetime to inherited. A permanent aristocracy had developed.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A little break for now

Since I have to study and all, my blogging will probably be absent for this week-end. I hope to come back next thursday maybe, 'till then I will try to spend the time studying. I could still visit your blogs though.

Some Announcements

Sorry I haven't been posting lately. Finals are now at school and the schedules are changed. I think I'll be back later today but I'm not sure. Thanks if you are still checking up.

P.S. HBG site is now

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

For now

Okay, the link to HBG should be correct here, look around, should be interesting.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Some Early Germanic

What I say here may differ from previous posts on early Germanic history. So tell me your thoughts.

The main set-off for the first great wave of Germanic migrations was started by the sudden advance of the Hunnic armies into Europe. Driving out many once-settled people these Germanics moved in warbands of about 80,000 each into the Roman empire. However, they did not establish permanent colonies. The ethnic make-up was still very much the same. Most new Germanic settlers were still close to their homelands. The warbands did change the political face, dividing the Roman Empire into several kingdoms with Germano-Roman governments. In these courts there was a great mix and the rulers tried to copy Roman ways, still they were not ready for complete stability. Eventhally the Frankish kingdom rose to dominance. It helped set up some stability. But centralized royal governments could not be kept. Kings rewarded nobles and generals with existing land, thus propelling the feudal advance.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Crusades: 1.2-2.0

Remember HBG? I really urge you to check it out sometime. I have some ideas about a good blog organization that can be efficient and lead to real results, while saving the bloggers' independence.

I am still continuing to post about the Crusades, and will for a while. Const. Notes, Globalisation, and early civilization posts and other history will continue while I am researching for this. Why am I so obsessed about this period of history? Because it's one of those epic times, both when it comes to what happened and what it caused. There are just so many different types of people and different events and ideas. It is a true clash of civilizations, religions, ideas, and most importantly, people.

In the Middle East: The daily lives in Arabia are more urban-oriented. Cities and trade are a dominant part of the economy. People either live in massive metropolises near oasis, in river valleys, or on the coast, but always there is a trade route nearby. Agriculture is also important wherever there is good enough soil. The Arabs had studied and mastered Roman engineering, especially those pertaining to water. Aqueducts and extensive irrigation are quite common. The markets, or bazaars and souks as they are called, exist in every major city. They bring together wealth from lands near and far. Many gather here every day, gossiping, discussing theology, or considering the most recent political events.
The rulers have become somewhat less-warlike now, more interested in science and philophy and poetry. Exept for the newly-converted Turks, their previous lives were tough ones and combat was common. As I have said, Mamluks dominate the politics in many regions, influencing the weaker sultans and mastering the art of string-pulling.
Until now, it must be remembered that tolerance of Christians and Jews is more widespread. While certainly they are not treated equally, they have better treatment than pagan religions. Many early sects of Christianity, such as the Nestorians and the Coptics, flourish in Persia and Egypt. From there missionaries are sent to many other places. The main centers of conflict between the two peoples are in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and Spain. But even the hostility there seems like friendship compared to the long-term bitter resentment and hate that is on the horizon.

Then, in about 1070, the Sejuk Turks took Jerusalem from the tolerant Fatimids of Egypt. They were much more reluctant to let Christian pilgrims come into the Holy City. Things got worse, and other reasons, explained in the next post, attributed strongly to what happens in 1095. In this year, Pope Urban II called for Christendom to gather its forces and march for the Holy Land.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Crusades 1.2

Back to setting the scene for the Crusades. Read the previous post please for the rest.

In Europe: Urban II is now the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Wielding great power as at this time religion is a key force. Still though, he knows his power is not safe. As long as most of the recruiting, taxation, and other powers are in the hands of hundreds of lords spread out over the continent, he is safe. But if a few kings start accumulating that power, they would have the strength to defy him. Urban II also has an enemy in the Orthodox Church centered in Constaninople, present-day Istanbul. A permanent schism has formed between these two factions in Christianity. Also, this city is an economic powerhouse, stradling two enormous trade routes, from Russia to Mediterrranean, from Europe to Middle East. As the Italian trading cities such as Genoa and Venice rise, they will attempt to topple the strength of this city. Thus we see feudal Europe, well on its way in economic and political recovery, ready to truly make a leap.

In the Middle East: The once united and contantly expanding Islamic empire led by the Baghdad Caliphate has now broken up into multiple dynasties that obey different caliphs in Cordoba, Spain; Cairo, Egypt; and Baghdad. Also, North Africa is somewhat divided. The Shi'i and Sunnis have been divided now for hundreds of years. Thus we see the Arab empire broken up. However, the unity of religion is still powerful among these kingdoms, all that is needed for them to unite is a leader, and a cause.
The military power has been lessened as the once miltaristic Arabs now fill up the ruling, merchant, legal, and scientific niches. But just as it seems Islam's military might is over, we witness the onrush of countless Turks from Central Asia. Those in the Middle East are quickly converted, and they become the military arm of the Muslims, practically unmatched in religious zeal and fervor. Many fight as Mamluks, slave warriors, but some places as in Egypt these Mamluks hold the real power.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Crusades I

Some time ago I said I would start a series about the Crusades, what actually happened during them, why, when, and the immediate and longterm impacts of the time. This period in history really is a very important time. The whole series of events was epic, with many different characters and places in them. To start, I will set the setting of the time right before the Crusades happened.

The time is late 11th century A.D. Europe is now recovering well from the collapse of the Roman Empire and the foundations needed for greater advancement are ready, only the ingredients have to be found somewhere. It currently exists in a more or less feudal society, a relic from the days when kings gave local lords better powers in return for local defense against invaders. The monarchy themselves do not have as much power as they well some time later. For now, the main recruiting power lies in the ability of the lords to train or hire knights and mercenaries. The knightship itself is considered one of the best types of soldiers, trained from a very early age to learn battle skills and the culture of the upper class. Their roots may have been from elite warriors of the tribal Germanic households, sworn to defend their lord and king. The lord keeps them in service, but much of their expenses are paid from their own pockets. To be continued.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Mesoptamian History

The river valley that lies between the Tigris and Euprhates is one of the most interesting and dynamic and oldest regions on Earth. It was one of the first two places (along with the Nile) to develop civilizations based on complex urban societies, a system of reading and writing, trade, advanced agriculture, and established government along with organised religion. Unlike the Nile valley, which mostly stayed under Egyptian rule for long stretches of time, Mesoptamia's ethinic and political boundaries were constantly changing. When the cities rose up and their people's lives improved, nearby nomads often wanted the riches. Pretty soon, there was constant war between the urban-dwellers and their mostly Semitic nomadic neighbors. There were several waves of Semites that often overthrew old kingdoms and set up their own. The ethnic make-up was constantly changing. After a while, most of the people became Semites, but politics were still changing. There were the Sumerians, the Babylonians, Assyrians, and still more. Outside influences were common. Soon, a new wave of Indo-European invaders came in. They set up the Medes and Persian empires in modern Iran. Eventually the Persian empire managed to conquer the area and hold it until Alexander the Great took it. This region is really one of the most interesting places to study.

Friday, May 20, 2005

G-mail Account

I just created my new, blogger-only account at g-mail. If you have anything that you only want to tell me, you can contact me at (Now where did I get that name?) By the way, anybody notice the new poll on the sidebar, it's been up for a while now, it's about how you found this site. Please vote.

Development of Alphabets

Yeah, I know I have been writing a lot about this early stuff, but it's interesting anyway. Now about early writing. First of all, what would be considered the difference between writing and drawing pictures. You can create stories with both of them. Aren't all letters really nothing but scribbles without the interpretation of humans? Each letter and word has a meaning, if you are literate enough it often causes an instant recognition in the mind, so you know what it means. Pictures can act in the same way, so what is the difference between an alphabet and pictures? Much of this is theoretical, so I'll warn you, much of it is also my own theories.

First, we need to figure out the needs to create an organized alphabet. Well let's define an alphabet first. An alphebet is a group of characters that each imply a vocal sound and/or actual object or idea. Now back to the needs. I have often used scenarios so I will use another one here. A hunter , let's call him Bob, has just returned to a village after a very good expedition, maybe he was chased by a pack of wolves, swam across a lake, climbed up a tree to escape a bear, fell down, beat the bear with a branch that had broken off in the fall, and then manage to drag it all the way back to the village. If that happened to you, you'd probably want some recognition for that. We can assume that there is an oral tradition already that allows for the passing down of information, stories, and things like that. But what impels Bob to record things in a non-spoken way?

Oral traditions are faulty, and we can assume Bob knew that, he didn't want anybody messing around with his story. Also, memories are not always the best and there may be disturbances in the population. In the early time of Bob, people are still highly vulnerable to predators, famine, disease, warfare, natural disasters, etc. Lifespans in general were not exactly long and the next generation had to be brought up fast. Therefore, a story would die if a person died. Let's assume Bob discovered that a certain type of bear can climb trees. Knowing this is important, he wants to tell other people. But the problems I described before are great, a surefire way of passing the story on unchanged over generations needs to be found.

By now, making paintings on walls and such is pretty common, so Bob makes a kind of primitive cartoon strip on a wall, or maybe he scrathes it onto a piece of stone together with dye. Perhaps about this time, Bob realised that painting has its limits. You can't tell ideas or dialogues very well. You can try to draw a picture of it, but you never know how the other person will interpret this. However, you can pass on exactly what you mean by saying it. So here is one push towards a practical alphabet, a need to write down exactly what you mean, and making sure other people will interpret it the same way as you. But most modern alphabets are not made of pictures of animals and objects, they are made of characters that one has to learn their meanings.

The story of Bob becomes famous, and other people want copies of it (beginning of written entertainment? Great, we have comic book fans already). They also want personal copies of it that they can refer to at any time, one tablet obviously won't do, so it gets copied. Here we get something new, it's laborious to copy entire pictures of animals and people so the copyers will look for shortcuts. Each person can also draw different things in different ways, maybe a different mouth shape of a bear (early handwriting?). To make the understanding of the tablets easier a kind of universal characterization would be needed. So now we have more character-like pictures that come in universal forms, people are taught what each picture means. In other words, copying creates a drive towards simplification and universalization.

Slowly, a primitive pictographic proto-alhabet forms. The simplification and characterization is continued, and quickened when people beyond Bob's village want to know the story. More people means a need for an effective character that can be taught and understood by people. Of course as the characters start to slowly less resemble their original representations, they become harder for illiterate people to understand. This may have increased the need for teaching, and later the rise of the literati class.

So far, I have mainly used the examples of stories, but there is also direct communication among people to be considered. Bob has made many other good hunts and even perhaps some expeditions against enemies, he rises to more and more important postitions, until perhaps he becomes the ruler of his village. Seeking a better life for his people, he starts a period of economic and political expansionism. A nearby village has discovered iron, a very useful metal, in return they are willing to exchange salt for it, something Bob has. Our new ruler senses a good chance for his village to progress, he quickly creates a complex trade treaty to be offered to the neigbor. Because he doesn't want his messanger to mess the details up, he does his best to write the details down on a tablet, and tells the messenger those things that will fill up the hole. All the messenger now has to do is go to the village and read the treaty. This becomes successful and trade quickly grows.

Now Bob is a wise guy, he sees that the alphabet system works, it has many advantages that can really improve things. He realizes that he can write down laws, court cases, religious customs, festival proceedings, other customs, government procedures, treaties, etc. The benefits of writing these down would be tremendous. A person's mind would no longer be the main storage of all the important documents. This meant that these things could be elaborated and detailed and added to without any danger of being lost because someone forgot. With official things this would also be a great thing, especially with laws. A solid visible record of a law would no wipe out the haziness the judges could have about them. Basically, when something was written down, it became something that was clear, hard to question, and able to be passed on mostly unchanged and intact. Any changes would more likely be intentional ones, instead of mistakes from trying to recall from memory.

With all these advantages staring at him in the face Bob acted quickly. He and some assistants and others who were literate gathered all the known and established characters, they then put them in logical orders on one place. Now that they had a beginning, they worked on any gaps they could find. After that they got together everybody who knew the details of the documents and ritals, and wrote everything down. As they did so they found more gaps, which they filled in. It would have taken years to put together the characters in a kind of alphabet, gotten together all the information they needed to write, and compiled it into written records.

The work paid off, government, culture, and trade became much more organized and efficient. Passing down knowledge, one of the vital aspects of survival, now simply required writing it down. That writing would dispense its info to everyone who read it. The social structure itself changed, with the increased roles of the government and with the additions of scribes and other government officials. This may have been the first Information Revolution. Knowledge needs to be found, recorded, and passed on. Reading and writing at least changed how recording and passing were done.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A few Topics

Here are some topics I am considering, tell me any elso you would be interested in:
Rise of organised nations
Beginning of towns/trade/specialist jobs
Early religion
Early philophy
Requirements for civilizations
Early writing
Most recent archeaological finds
Early fortification tech.
mideast cities
Chinese civilizations
post-roman german governments
formation of european kingdoms
ottoman empire
econmies of ancient mideast
city of rome
siege tech
weapon and armor in middle ages
mediterranean trade
confucius and other chinese philosophers
chinese 3-kingdoms era
1st japanese industrial revolution
samurai culture
early mining
advent of currencies
anatolian cultures and civilizations
urban revolution

Influence of Mathematics

Math has been around ever since somebody started to count little bunies jumping around playfully, right before they impaled them with razor sharp arrows and ripped their skin off which they made their hats out of. The philosophers of Ancient Greece really pushed forward pure mathematics, especially people like Pythagoras. But a real boost of math came when algebra was perfected by the Arabs. The presence of variable had enormous possibilities in many parts of the real world. It really helped people figure things out. I know my last few posts have been really short, I will try to give more time to posting in the weekend.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Crusades Intro: Jerusalem

About a few days ago I said I would make a new series of posts on the Crusades. I am still working on it and the real thing will start in a week or so. In the meantime I have been wondering about how the city of Jerusalem actually came about. I have been surfing the Internet and unfortunately have not come up with much. If anybody knows anything, please tell me. In the meantime, please go to my poll, I will stop yapping until someone has voted. This area has a long history, it was of great economic importance since many eastern goods set off from here to the Mediterranean ports. Tell me anything you know, thanks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Random thought

Okay, this is not even related to history, but I really have to say this. I hate it when people say something is in another dimension. Do guys even know what dimension is? A dimension is something from with the location of an event can be measured from. Before you go and write some science fiction story about another dimension, think about this. There are only sets of dimensions. This whole universe is one set of dimensions. Each point in it can be measured from those dimensions. If you are thinking 3-D, a dimension is an edge, but don't get me started. The Universe is weird.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Siege History I

Announcements: Again, look for the poll in the left sidebar and vote, if you are at this site it is relevant to you.

Conflict has been around for a long time; people have been fighting each other over all kinds of things. To win, you have to eliminate the enemy or incapacitate them from getting in your way again and make them accept your terms. When people started to gather together and build towns, it was easy for enemies to locate them. For nomadic enemies you have to find a track or get some info, hunt down the enemy and find them and attack them. This took a lot of time and effort, since the enemy could be anywhere. But now the location of you rival is in a place where he will probably stay for a while. This meant much more time to plan your attacks; so basically, the settling down of life started one of the first military revolutions, and a major one. It was no longer search and destroy, it was search, observe, prepare, then attack and destroy. For now we will not look at field battles, but sieges.

Pretty soon the settled people realized their danger, to keep their place protected they had to guard it. At first they may have used some watchfires and posted lookouts on the highest structures available. Some kind of alarm system would then be used to warn the town. As technology improved and settlements could afford more materials, they may have used specialized buildings that combined the watchfires, lookouts, and alarms into one place, a watchtower, these would be particularly higher than the other buildings for a better field of view. Still, they could be caught off guard and if the attacker rode horses there would be very little time to prepare. By now some rudiment of walls would have been used to pen up livestock in the night, to keep them in and others out. They must have realized that the same thing applied to people. Therefore, some guy decided to put some pieces of wood in a circle around the most important buildings in the village, in the space inside the people and valuables could be hoarded into quickly. The attacker realized this and thought of ways to fight it.

What followed was a military arms race that lasted thousands of years, right up until World War II when the advent of the blitzkrieg and heavy accurate artillery made any kind of walled fortification completely useless. This race lasted thousands of years.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Some philosophy

Announcements: I am hoping to get a series of posts that detail what actually happened in the crusades, I am not sure when it will start, maybe in a week or two. Also, please do the poll in the sidebar.

Movies are a primary source of entertainment for those who have access to them and can afford them. Generally, movies have one fundamental difference from real life, they often exaggerate the good vs. evil idea. To simplify things, there is often a really good guy and a really bad guy that tries to stop the good guy. Unfortunately this has often been applies to movies based on historical events. A director who is too simple-minded will try to make the story fit to his/her good guy/bad guy theme. Often he will portray one nation or people as wicked, while another nation or people as inherently good. This does not really happen in history nor in the present world. Why? Because it’s the individual who is separated by goodness and badness, it all depends on which is dominant. A creative and knowledgeable director will know this, and therefore not warp history too much. But still, it is one of the great fantasies of a world with a superhero who gloriously defeats the menacing villain. In real life, there are no people who are simply “bad”, there are ideas, motives, desires, emotions, beliefs, messages, dreams, events, and environments and a host of other variables that have impacts upon an individual, who him/herself also consists of numerous variables, the end result is an enormous number of personalities and traits. This complexity is further complexified when you put in the variables that occur when interactions between these individuals take place.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

"Dark Age" Eurpean History

Announcements: There is a new poll on the sidebar, please take part in it. You can also tell me exactly how you found this site in a comment. During the Pax Romana, or peace of Rome, the tribes in Germania were more or less in control. Unfortunuately this was suddenly ended when there was a huge population boom in Germany, a Crisis for Rome followed. The empire just barely survived that but already it was cracking severely. In a few hundred years, the ever-growing and moving peoples of Germania took over almost all of the Western Roman Empire. Visigoths settled in Spain. Franks in Gaul, or present-day France. And soon the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons would begin the invasion of modern Great Britain. In Italy itself the Ostrogoths and Lombards were staking their claim. While in Carthage, the Vandals had taken over many of the Roman African possessions. In the East meanwhile, the other main ethnic group, Slavs, were also spreading quickly. They soon settled in large parts of the Balkans and other areas east of Germania. All these movements resulted in permanent and far-reaching ethnic restructurements. Most of the native Northern Europeans are descended from these people. An interesting thing though is to look at how their languages changed. Since practically all of the new areas conquered by the Germanics were formerly Roman, they took up a lot of Roman culture, including parts of the Latin language. The Franks and Visigoths based almost their whole languages on Latin. French an Spanish are descendants of the dialects these people spoke while they were learning the languages. Those tribes that settled closer to the original Germania still spoke the Germanic languages, although Latin definitely did affect them. Those that settled in modern Britain also spoke Germanic languages. These however were strongly influenced by first Celtic, then Norse, and finally from its many contacts with the French. The two main sources of Latin introduction in English are probably from those that spoke the original language in the Britain, and later on from the French version. German itself may have had one of the least Latin impacts, since there was not much of a Latin base in it to start with, any influences were probably from later rulers who believed it was a good language to learn and encouraged its use. The Dark Ages is what many call the period between the fall of Rome and about the year 1000. During this time the centuries-old Roman political system was gone and had to be replaced. Most of the natives had relied on the welfare system of Rome to thrive in their cities or farms. But now this was gone. The new Germanics of course knew little about the Roman ways, except for those that had studied them. But most of the ordinary Germanics were simple farmers who knew little besides what had been passed down from generation to generation. These people were also the new majority, and this caused problems. The old economic, political, and social systems were changing radically. A kind of Great Confusion followed, people had little idea of what was going to happen.

The main way this could have been stopped is if the Roman technology was continued. But that was definitely a problem. Many Roman cities had been destroyed or abandoned, the educated classes had been fleeing from the Germanic onslaught and were scattered. As I said before, few new how to read the Latin texts, or what engineering the Romans used. During the Great Confusion Europe suffered from a major breakdown of communication, political, and economic systems. Also the literati class was rare, those that existed were involved in religion or politics. Except for some exceptions, those in religions were concerned mainly with religious matters. And politics is politics, most lords were concerned about how to effectively plunder the next enemy village, get the most money, or kill the new neighbor. Most, not all, were like this, and for the present the other technological achievements were not used. So the three systems and the literati class are 4 of the basics needed for a complex civilization, without these, Europe slid back into a less complex rural society.

The Great Confusion ended when people knew what to do, they chose the simplest and quickest method to stability, make a village and start farming. The once great cities and large estates of Roman life were quickly replaced by a hard village life. Each particular tribe or clan would have several closely connected villages, the head of them would swear fealty to a kind of king that would hold some tribes or clans together, in case of some great need for unity like a great new war. This was not exactly feudalism, more like tribal warlords, the villages are most important and they are all loosely held together.

Eventually though, civilization started to come back. The literati and stability was growing steadily. There was now a sense of order provided by the new life, a kind of purpose of knowing what to do, what's going on, and what may happen. The literati provided the ability to improve things. Now that things were getting closer to normal, some of the kings and rulers would be interested in the more complex technologies and philosophies of the classicals. While not a complete Renaissance, it was definitely a step forward. It was during this time that the foundations of modern Europe were being established.

This period was marked by the rise of Charlemagne, a French ruler who tried to revive the Roman order. He respected learning and encouraged it too. His empire included France, parts of Germany, and northern Italy. It was broken up after his death among the sons. The progress made was soon gone but it was definitely a sign things were ready to leap forward. Charlemagne may have come to early, Europe was still in a relative isolation, the knew little of the more advanced civilizations of the East.

This order and stability came in just in time, the new wave of invasions was starting, that of the Vikings. These soldiers were almost invincible. They were amazingly skilled and aggressive troops by themselves, and they often surprised the locals. They did much damage and took quite a lot of lands. The kings at the top were unable to deal with all these harassing attacks that happened everywhere seemingly, they therefore shifted the responsibility of resisting them to the local lords. In return this lords were given much power and wealth. Feudalism had arrived. Now the life of an average peasant revolved around the manor. Much of the land was divided in manors, which the lords controlled. They allowed peasants to live on their land if they worked it and gave a large portion of it to the lords. For now, the isolation was too prevalent to allow large-scale trade and mercantilism, trade involved simple barter of goods between people. Since the economy was mainly agricultural, the only products in demand were mainly produce and farm tools. Since the population was widely spread, the suppliers of these demands had to stay local and meet local needs. A craftsman would only have the resources to supply the needs of maybe 10 sq. miles. Because of the manor system, there would not be many people in that area. This would change quite soon though.

The Vikings themselves caused an enormous impact; they created more permanent ethnic changes and were the first to explore large areas. Thanks to their master seamanship, they were able to travel to all sorts of places. Many actually entered the Mediterranean. Some of these expeditions lead to permanent colonies. They brought with them their culture and technology. One of the most notable of these colonies was Normandy, where a mix of Viking and Celtic peoples lived. Still, the kings of the Viking homelands in Scandinavia were not able to keep these colonies under one roof. The settlements were eventually absorbed into whatever European places they were in. Because of this lack of unity, a major economic revolution still had not come.

The one thing that changed all of this and finally pulled Europe out of its economic downtrend was something that did not even happen in Europe itself. It happened in a little-known place, mainly important because of its religious aspects, the Holy Land. The event, the Crusades. This period is now often noted for its religious, military, and political sides. Many acts of heroism, legends, and tragedies happened to both the Crusaders and the Muslims. But what I will most stress in here is the economic impact, which was as great or greater than any other event in the Middle Ages.

While some of the Crusaders believed they went to fight for God, they realized that there were things they could only have imagined. All most knew about the city of Jerusalem and it surrounding areas was that it was were some of the most important people and events in Christianity came from or happened. But when they came they knew it was much more than that. For centuries Muslims in the Middle East had continued trade with Africa, India, and the Orient. Goods from all over the world came together in the markets of Baghdad, Damascus, and Jerusalem. There were spices, silks, salt, textiles, exotic foods, perfumes, and countless other goods the Crusaders had never seen before.
Some of the Crusaders came home with samples of these goods and tales of the great riches. A few shrewd merchants and politicians were quick to take advantage. Pooling together all their resources, they invested in some exploratory and possible trade expeditions. Many of these were from Italy, where some of the best Mediterranean ports were located. When the trade parties came home, the course of history changed forever.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Back to the Middle Ages

Announcements: HBG. Is still now looking for two more Leaders, tell me if you are interested and have a blog. The first post on the site is about HBG, the second is where you can post a comment if you are interested. Please look into it.

The first posts that I had on this site were about what is called the Middle Ages. The name itself only applies to Western Civilization, the period between the end of the Classical Age and the beginning of the Rennaissance.

Many people think that this period was a backward time and that only the Rennaissance saved the people. That little progress was made. These people think of stone castles, brave knights, evil lords, fair ladies, and fiery dragons when thinking about this age. To be blunt, this is stupid.

Worldwide, this time period was one of intense change. Kindoms fell, Empires rose, boundaries shifted, and trade became more and more an international thing. While the advance of knowledge was slowed down somewhat in Europe, it moved forward fast in places like the Middle East and China. Old political and religious ideas were being replaced by new ones. Contrary to the idea of a bleak and desolate period, this was one the most exciting times in history. People think our ideas and beliefs originated in the Rennaissance, when these things changed. But the foundations of the way the modern world works was started here. The first universities were created, allowing the pool of educated resources to grow. Modern economies also started during this time, as trade spread globally. Only in the first 500 years after Rome's fall was Europe in a worse state. But even in the later years of that time it was quikly jumping back. The once "barbarian" Germanic tribes that had spread all over western Europe had now set up formidable monarchies. In the east the Slavs were doing the same. The Crusades brought even more progress. Ancient Greek and Roman texts were passed from the Arabs to the Italians. I'll be back later today.

Constitutional Notes

I after some weeks of blogging about economics, I'm don't really know what I'm going to blog about. Well let's start with a little Constitutional Notes, for the amendments.

1st Amendment- possibly the amendment that has had the longest controversy. It was being challenged Only a few years after the U.S. became independent. A possible reason may be that it's vague.

If you have any ideas what I should talk about, please say so. I'll be back in an hour or so.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Last Economic History

One of today's biggest questions is how much should the government intervene in a nation's economy. Some prefer that it should do all it can, other say it should keep its hands off. History though seems to have used the former one more often. Why? Because interconnected economies probably aided the rise of politics. Since then, the two have often been intertwined.
This will be the last of the Early Economic History Posts so read on!
We return to our village in a time of great change. It has just come into contact with another village and there has been an exchange of goods. Even this small amount of goods greatly changes the economy, the comodities are rare, and highly prized. Some in the village start to see a possible source of wealth. The other village had seemed to be eager to get their goods. If they could get enough of an exchange, they would be very rich. Therefore, some of these people load up a large amount of native goods, and start travelling to the new village. Only a few actually find their way there. But these soon strike a fortune, they get great amounts of the items that are higly prized at home for a price that seems very reasonable to them. When these return, things really change.

Money brings influence, and influence is politics. The new goods make these first merchants so rich their position in the village skyrockets. They can now buy huge amounts of land and still have enough money to farm it, and enough to buy a new house. These merchants soon become an enormous boon to the village, and they start realizing it. Pretty soon more villages are discovered and a trading system emerges. Merchants could go to several cities in the same trip. As their wealth increases their power does too. They have the wealth needed to make large improvements to their village. They earn respect, and this respect grows. Soon the wealthy merchants form a primitive ruling class, and the modern world is under way.
After this things really begin to become complex. Cultures advance and eventually some become civilizations. A new era in human history starts.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Economic Overview

Today, as it has always been, the current economy of the country is a major issue. New solutions always come up, only to be of little value. Politics often keep people from doing the best course of actions. But no matter what we are doing, the economy of the U.S. is still sliding downhill. Here are three main reasons:

The "paper" industries- Manufacturing and agriculture are just barely getting by. They are dying off in the U.S. Instead, people are constantly looking to get rich quick in the rising "paper" industries: stock trading, banking, legal, and insurance. These are just finance businesses, they handle money, in the simplest terms. They together are worth countless sums of money. Unfortunately, you can't export accounts, you can't transport insurance plans, you can't sell lawyers to other countries. The products of these industries are just characters on paper. Industrial powerhouses such as Japan and Germany are not full of brokers, accountants, stock traders, and lawyers. No offence to anybody but, these people are not always the best. It can't be good when just some advise can cost thousands of dollars. After all, they are just words, they dissapear. Service industries only involve a 1-way flow of resources. Let's say you go to a lawyer for counseling. He tells you some stuff and you have to pay money for it. That counseling is not a product, it does not enter an economy. The money you have to pay does enter the economy. Basically, this is the problem with service industries, a huge part of the economy is in the hands of the service people, while the rest get less and less of it. More and more resources just move to one direction.

Dependent Industries- The biggest industry in the U.S. today is everything involved with the medical industry, a huge part of it is again service. It is big because of two reasons, it is inflated by the "paper" industries, and by government support. This brings together legal aspects and politics into the medical field. Insurance corporations, politicians, and lawyers are practically as important as a doctor here. When the government comes in, it infects the field with its own instability and bureaucracy. Paper industries add inefficient complexities. All of this makes resources move through the medical industry at a snail's pace. In a typical capitalist economy, money and other resources are constantly moving rapidly throught the economy, this improves the chance people will have money when they need it. They can then spend it and the cycle continues. But here we have $2 billion dollars of the United State's economy in one of the most slowly moving sections of the economy. It is also growing rapidly. In the best scenario, about as many resources flow in as they flow out. In here, tons flow in, thanks to the paper industries and bureacracy, but very little flows out.

Small businesses- In today's global economies, small businesses are not good. Foreign markets are becoming as important, if not more, as domestic markets. Small business do not have the resources to expand themselves into the international market. It is not true that they encourage competition, small businesses only have enough resources to stay local. There will only be a few of them for a particular industry where you live. Although there are tons of them, those that are too distant don't have the resources to reach your neighborhood. Wonder why we export more than we import? The large corporations of foreign nations have the strenght and resources to expand their markets into the U.S. and then compete successfuly. I don't think a small business could do that. Small businesses are like subsistence businesses, they do enough to provide their goods or services to their local areas, but they can't go beyond. There aren't many surplus goods to be exported and there aren't many businesses that have the resources to successfuly do that.

These are three major problems, there are countless other ones. Rising gas prices will continue as worldwide demand rises more and more, while the profits stay in the Middle East. The trade deficit means we have tons of foreign goods here because we buy so much, but little capital because we sell so little. We are trillions of dollars in debt, and debt always hurts. It leads to higher interest rates and inflationary money. Interest is rarely good, as it calls for more money than is available. The computer industry is being beaten by foreign competition. Tons of regulations on practically everything, slow inefficient bureaucracies, and ever-increasing paperwork for everything is slowing the economic flow down severely. Our GDP is more and more backed by services, which do not produce solid, well-supported products with value, that can continue to flow in the economy.
Our efforts to turn all this around have been incompetent and simple-minded. A toddler could understand tax cuts. And tax cuts mean little. Money will always find other ways to penetrate the bureaucracy of government. There it will always be slowed down to a near-stop, pretty much taking money away from the real economy. Subsidies and other measures to protect certain industries can badly hurt others.
What we really need to do is study the current economic situation, really understand it. Find out all the patterns, systems, and relationships. Then we have to go over several sollution, find out what their possible effects are. We should reduce the bureaucracy, end unneccessary regulations that just put more paperwork and cause delays, reduce politico-legal influences on medicine and free the money trapped in there. We should help corporations that can effectively compete globally and benefit people here. The regulations should now be placed on the "paper" industries, reducing their size in the economy. Instead, industries that truly promote the capitalist cycle should be the priority. There are probably many more solutions but these are some according to my opinions. I probably have not been accurate in everything so please tell me your thoughts about this.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Site News

I know my posts have not been too good recently. It's hard to maintain a blog daily, which is what I am trying to do. Either way, I will continue Globalisation, Book of Blogs, Sunday Review, and Economic History series this Saturday or Sunday. I will also restart Constitutional Notes with a look at the Amendments.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

HBG is Back!

The History Bloggers' Guild is back, now in its own blog! For those of you who are a bit confused right now, it is in short an organisation I created for bloggers who have at least a few regular posts about history.

As of now I am looking for 2 more Leaders, info. on them can be found on the HBG blog. If you want to join, you can tell me either here or at the HBG site. Once you post up a few history posts or show how some existing posts are related to history, you may join.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Economic Dialogue

For about a week now Tom of HamsterMotor and I have been having a conversation about several different economic subjects. It's pretty interesting, here are the links to them, it's really worth a look:

Part I

Part II
Tom and this

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Influnce: Finale

One of my "mini-series" of posts was about comparing the influence of George Washington and Genghis Khan. I am not talking about how "good" they are, but how much they affected people's lives. This is the last post of it, it will talk abou how difficult the tasks that each faced was.

The task that Washington did of which we will examine the difficulty of will only be his military role in the Revolutionary War. Although he was highly important politically, that only came later.

Washington surely did something few people would expect, manage to defeat the strongest army in the world of the time. He was able to keep his troops away from a crushing defeat and forge it into a force that could fight well. Still though, it can be argued that he did not have many distractions. He surely must have kept an eye on the Conintinental politics but it did not affect him too much.

Genghis Khan on the other hand did something that would make most people cower. 1. He survived the tribal blood feuds on the steppes of Mongolia. 2. He by his force of personality brought together the dozens of bitter rival clans into one nation. 3. He set up an entire government and set of laws almost from scratch to govern the new Mongol nation. 4. He continued to handle administration while doing everything neccessary to conquer half the known world.

To say this was unexpected is a major understatement. Nowhere ever in history had this been done before. No singe one man had ever before united all of Mongolia and conquer the largest empire every and govern it well enough to hold it together during his entire life and after.

Most say he was a madman, he was not. Yes he did massacre millions, but not because he was bloodthirsty. It was because this was the norm in the steppes. The last thing you would want, if you were just barely getting enough food for your tribe in the middle of several day long blizzards would be to have to worry about putting down another rebellion. The Mongol army never numbered more than 200,000, there was no possible way to keep garrisons in every single village, town, city, fortress. The massacres were not come giant cruel genocide, it was just one of the most icy military acts ever. There was one city that was spared at first by one of the Khan's generals, in a few months, that city was rebelling.