Monday, February 28, 2005

History Bloggers' Guild Organization and Duties

Right now, I am only looking for Leaders, I need 3 more. Once I announce that there are 5 Leaders, each one can start recruiting by themselves. Otherwise, I need to personally accept a new Leader.

At the top are five leaders, these will be you, me, and three others who have yet to join. Once those three have been accepted, the Leaders can start working. Each Leader will either hand-pick or accept 5 new recruits. These recruits will form a Chapter. Basically each Leader has to form a Chapter. Now, once a Leader has finished with his/her Chapter, the members of that new Chapter will start recruitment while the leaders stop recruiting. So the Chapters members recruited by the leader must each start a new Chapter. The Chapters created by the Leaders will be known as the Primary Chapters, when a Primary blogger has created a full 5-blogger chapter, he/she stops recruiting and that job falls to the newest Chapter members.
If you have any questions please tell me.

The everyday regular duties of a non-Leader are as follows. Each blogger should blogroll to all Leaders, the blogger who founded his/her chapter, and the bloggers he/she recruited. Your top priority would be the chapter your are a part of. Not the one made up of the bloggers you recruited. You should regularly visit their sites and give suggestions, commentary, and useful hints. If you found a new blog service or idea, you should tell about it to the other chapter members. The purpose of the Guild is to help other members out. It is not some exclusive, elite club that influences every single history blog out there. The Guild usually deals with its own members, however, if someone fits the qualifications, they can join with anyone looking for recruits.

Current Leaders
History Teacher

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sunday Review

From now on, I will post up my reviews on Sundays. These will be about historical movies, novels, non-fiction, etc. The judging will be on how enjoyable or entertaining something is, and how historically accurate or close to the original source it is.

Today's will be about the novel, Rise to Rebellion, by Jeff Shaara. Both him and his father are two of my favorite authors. This book will be interesting for someone who appreciates colonial politics and the major events leading up to the American Revolution. Also, unlike your average history textbooks or non-fictions, you actually get to view figures such as Washington, Franklin and John Adams on a closer, more personal level. You read about their thoughts and their feelings. There personal lives become very real. If you are looking for some violent, bloody, action and suspense packed thriller, this might not be so much for you. Most of the book deals with politics and Colonial lives. Still, all those events that you only read about in a distant, analytical way, suddenly become very real. Thanks to the superb writing style.
Accuracy-wise, the book is very close to real history. It is also more balanced than you would expect, large sections of the novel are from the British perspective. It is obviously backed up with research as many fine details. You study the Revolution as if you were actually seeing the real events occurring.
On a scale of 1 through 5, I give it a 4.5.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Constitutional Notes Part II

Sect.2 In the entire section about the Legislative Branch, I didn't read anything about how many votes a Representative in the House of Representatives has. The Constitution makes it clear that each Senator has one vote. However, it does not say something like that about the Representatives. Oh and by the way, I am not doing this while I am reading the Constitution, I have written my notes down.

Sect. 4.1 When it comes down to how elections are held, the state legislatures decide. While Congress can regulate this to some extent, they have no control over where elections for Senators occur.

Sect. 5.3 Congress has to keep a journal of its daily proceedings, the Constitution says that certain parts may be omitted for secrecy. Who decides wether it should be omitted or not, or whether it should be kept secret?

Back Part 3, History of Globalisation Part 1

I am really short on time here, but I am starting a series on the history of the Globalisation. This is what I call the Era of Discover, the first time of Globalisation.

This Discovery took place mainly during the Crusades, the European armies were almost overwhelmed with all the things they saw in the Middle East. They saw new clothes, foods,spices, raw materials, silks and other exotic goods. Many of the Crusaders returned home with samples of these goods and tales of great riches in the East. Ambitious men seeking wealth and new power decided to see how these goods could benefit them. Many of these people were in Italy. From there traders traveled west to Palestine. There they saw for themselves all the riches the East had to offer. In short, the Era of Discovery opened up a whole new political and economic world to the West. Before the Crusades, most people only new much about their local villages and towns. Everything else they got from religion. The returning Crusaders told great stories of what they saw. Once ignorant and simple people realised that there was much more in the Asian Continent then what they were told by their Kings, nobles, and religious leaders. The next wave of people going East were not soldiers, but entrepreneurs, traders, merchants, diplomats, and people whose curiosity was sparked. These people would eventually help start the next Era of Globalisation, the Era of Trade.

This is to the blogger of the blog, History Teacher, if it seems I am not blogrolling to you soon, it is because I really don't have much time.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Constitutional Notes

I have actually done it, I have read the entire U.S. Constitution, well, not the amendments yet. I have noticed many, interesting, surprising, astounding, and just plain scary things in it. I have written down all these notes. Over the next few weeks I plan to publish the notes. As a taste, here are some. They will come in order of what part of the Constitution they are in.

The state governments hold the power to choose the qualifications for a voter when voting for someone to be in Congress. It is possible that you don't have to be a citizen!

I believe that today, it is the majority party that chooses the Speaker of the House, there is no mention of any political parties, at all in the original Constitution. It says, "The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other officers;" now does this refer to the whole House or just a part of it?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Death of Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan died on August 25, 1227, in China during a campaign to put the kingdom of Hsi-Hsia, which was rebelling, back under control. This was a major loss for the Mongols. When they buried him they wanted to make sure he would never be disturbed in his final resting place. The guard of soldiers that protected his body killed anyone who came across them. No one was allowed to know the grave site. After the burial each of the guards had to be killed by another person. Then those people were killed. This was the final measure to keep this site a secret. The legacies of Genghis Khan have grown and influenced leaders all around the world. He turned the Mongolians from a small backwater tribe, into the major political power of Asia. Being illiterate himself, he wanted his people to have an alphabet. He found one with the Uighur tribe. Now the deeds and records of the Mongolian people could be written down and preserved by themselves. Even now, allmost all Mongolians are literate. Genghis Khan also set up the Yasa, the first complete written set of laws for his people. These laws were brought to faraway places thanks to his conquests. The Mongolian Empire was kept united during the reign of Genghis's son, Ogodai. He launched successful operations against Hungary and the Balkans. After Ogodai's death the empire was splite into four Khanates. Yet it was still obvious that this once poor boy who was barely able to survive had completely reshaped the lands, people, cultures, and governments of the places he conquered. Whole populations were killed, cities were burnt down but quickly rebuilt, old decaying and weakening kingdoms and empires were wiped off the face of the Earth and replaced with new, active, and virulent governments. Kubilai Khan, Genghis's great-grandson, created a golden age in the Yuan, or Mongol, dynasty in China. He was the ruling empire during Marco Polo's visit. In Central Asia, which I define as the lands between the Caspian Sea and Tian Shan mountains of China, was devastated when it was attacked, it became the Chagatai Khanate. Many descendants of Genghis Khan settled there. One of them would be Tamerlane, who 200 years after Genghis's death spawned a new period of Turco-Mongol conquests. The Khanate which governed Persia was called the Il-Khan. Amazed by the splendor of Persian civilization the Mongol rulers quickly adapted to it. They integrated their culture into Persia's. One could say that Genghis Khan severely damaged the Islamic religion, since many of its greatest cities were ruined by him. What is not widely known is that Genghis immediatly rebuilt the cities and reestablished government. In fact, all three of non-Chinese Khanates made Islam their major religion. Perhaps Genghis Khan's most important accomplishment was starting the first Era of Globalisation, the Age of Exploration. Due to him, large numbers of both Europeans and East Asians became more aware of each other. This sparked curiosity in what they had to offer each other. This curiosity sparked trade, which led to the search for better trade routs, which eventually led to the embarkation of Columbus and his "bumping into" the Americas.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

History Bloggers' Guild

Today I have decided to start an organization for blogs that deal with history. It will be called the History Bloggers' Guild (HBG). The purpose for this guild is to bring together bloggers who write about history or archaeology. The requirements are other than dealing with the past:
-must be balanced, unbiased, and present mostly straightforward information.
-should post regularly, at least 3 or 4 times a week.
-must be in English.
-must have a positive outlook on history, know why it is important.
Currently I am looking for 4 other Leader blogs. I will be searching the web for them, if you have a blog that fits the above requirements and and are interested, say so on a comment on this post. If you know another blogger that fits the above requirements please inform him/her.

If I decide that your blog fits the requirements and is suitable, then I will post a comment on your blog to tell you. On that comment I will explain the organization and specific purposes of the Guild. I will also answer andy questions you have. Remember, I can only choose 4 right now, more members can join, but only once I have set up everything with the other 4.

Battle of Balaclava

Today there was an interesting show on the History Channel in the Battlefield Detectives series. It was about the Battle of Balaclava, during the Crimean War which happened in the mid 1850s. In this war the Russian Empire had attacked the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey). The nations of Britain and France took this as a sign that Russia was trying to penetrate into Europe. In a rare show of cooperation, the two got together to help the Ottomans defeat the Russians. Balaclava was a port in Crimea, a peninsula in present-day Ukraine. The British, who had recently landed there, were using the town to receive supplies. The Russians were intent on ousting the British from that land and decided to attack.
The British defense consisted of several redoubts north of the port. Redoubts are fortified hills or positions, usually a part of the main battle line. The eastern-most redoubt was called Redoubt #1. It was the key to the entire defense, if it fell the Russians could easily take on the rest of the strongholds. Yet, the British general only positioned a few hundred Turkish soldiers there. The troops lived in poor conditions, with a ration of two biscuits every week or two. They had to scavenge the rest.
The Russians knew that Redoubt #1 was important. Because of this they started their attack there. They began with a destructive bombardment with 30 massed cannons. When the artillery was not firing the Turks were assaulted by waves of Russian infantry. After three hours standing their ground they retreated. Harassed by Russian cavalry. Due to this the Russians were able to take Redoubts number 2, 3, and 4.
Some of you may have heard of Lord Tennyson’s poem, Charge of the Light Brigade. This was about the disastrous charge of a few hundred cavalrymen against the wrong target. When the Russians captured the redoubts they took the British artillery on those hills and proceeded to take them back behind the lines. This was considered an offense back then and the British general in charge wanted the pieces back. He sent an officer to the Light Brigade to order them to take the artillery. The order that was given was vague, only referring to “the cannons”, when the Light Brigade commander asked the messenger where the artillery was he pointed in the general direction of the captured Redoubts. So the Brigade proceeded down one of the main valleys there. After a few minutes they were under fire by the Russian artillery. When the horsemen were supposed to turn right but did not, the messenger tried to correct the path. He rode out in front and started riding in the right direction. The Brigade’s commander took this as some arrogant show and ignored it. Next, an artillery shell landed lethally close to the messenger and shell fragments killed him instantly.
The Light Brigade was now headed towards a completely prepared unit of Russian artillery. As the Brigade entered the valley they came under fire from cannons to their left. Eventually they passed out of those guns’ range. Soon they were under fire from two directions. Cannon to the right and eight guns directly ahead of them. At about this point they charged. The Russian guns were obscured by smoke and the ones to the right stopped when the British were nearing the guns they were actually charging at. Those guns could barely see the cavalry but they could feel the thundering hooves. All of a sudden the horses smashed into the artillery line. A brutal fight ensued were many on both sides were killed. Finally, the exhausted Light Brigade started to retreat. All though six out of every seven men survived, those who died did for little reason.
The whole battle may have been one of the worst military blunders of the 19th century. The British would have almost been completely defeated if it were not for the final stand of the remaining defenders from the Redoubts and a group of Scottish Highlanders, later known as the thin red line. In the events following this battle the public demanded an explanation for this disaster. The British, desperate to preserve their pride, blamed the defeat on the Ottoman Turks. They twisted the story so that the Turks only held for a few minutes before simply breaking and running. At the same time the British glorified the actions of their soldiers. This myth was believed, since then the Ottoman Turks were stripped of combat duties and used to carry supplies and equipment.

Site News

This is just some miscellaneous information. First of all, Geobandy has informed me of several errors in the last post. Voting was not an actual right; whether someone could vote was actually controlled by the state. For more detailed information you can see the comment by Geobandy on the last post. To Geobandy, thank you.
Second, I have thought up a name for the theory on linguistics I gave about a week ago. The name is Linguistic Punctuated Equilibrium. The linguistic part means the theory involves the study of languages. Punctuated Equilibrium is an idea in the Evolutionary theory. According to Equilibrium, evolution does not take place gradually, but in short period of rapid evolution (punctuated), followed by long periods of little change (equilibrium). This is almost exactly like the progression of the English language I described.
Now about my knowledge on American history, I will reevaluate much of what I learned about it. If I have to read the entire United Sates of America Constitution, then by jolly (don’t ask) I will do so. However, if I start contacting psychics and mystics to get in touch with our dead founding fathers, then you are welcome to track me down and beat me back to my senses. For know, I will concentrate on wars and battles when it comes to modern times.
Last, I encourage all readers to give opinions on my posts and give corrections when they see errors.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Back (again) from Somewhere

Yes I know I have not posted for two days. I havn't really gotten around to it. If any of you have been dissapointed, I am truefully sorry. Anyway, back to history. Since right now in class we finished studying the Progressive Era of the United States I want to post up something on U.S. history. As many of you probably know, perfect democracy didn't just magically appear when the Constitution was written. Proof, just look at all the amendments and Supreme Court cases. Each one deals with changing or clarifying the U.S. constitution. The road to today was long, painstaking, and sometimes stopped. Even today our democracy is far from perfect, you'd know that if you watched the news. In the beginning the only people allowed to vote were white, male, citizens who owned substantial property. This would be like farms and businesses. During the 1820's all white males could vote. Next, after the Civil War, African American men were supposedly allowed to vote, in the late tens of the 20th century women were finally given suffrage, and only a few decades ago any citizen 18 or older could vote. But if you think our only job with the government is voting, you're wrong. That's where our Progressive buddies helped us out. Remember the big California recall thing? That is only possible because of the efforts to give the average person a bigger say in government. The referendum and initiative also came from the Progressive Era.
I am running out of time right now, I'll be back tomorrow morning.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Days to Remember

From now on I will post up important events that happened on the day I post it. I should have done this a long time ago but here goes. My source is the History Channel Site.

February 13, 1945, one of the most controversial Allied bombing attacks on Germany occurrs. Hundreds of British and American bombers practically destroy the German city of Dresden and its infrastructure with high-explosive and incendiary bombs. Current estimates of how many people were killed range 35,000 to 135,000. It is reported that Dresden's role in Hitler's war machine was minimal. Many mourned the complete obliteration of one of the most beautiful cities in Germany.

February 13, 1861, the earliest military action to be recognised by a Medal of Honor was performed by Colonel Bernard J.D. Irwin, an assistant army surgeon, during the U.S.-Apache wars. He volunteered along with 14 other men to go free a group of 60 soldiers surrounded by an Appache war band. The relief group started the 100-mile trek on mules. After numerous encounters with Apaches and capturing enough horses for themselves, they played a vital part in helping to free the trapped U.S. soldiers. The award itself was actually created next year and it was not until January 21, 1894, that Irwin was given the Medal.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Theory I: The Shift of the English Language

This will be the first theory of mine that I am posting. Theories of history involve recognizing and studying patterns in the past. This one is about linguistics.

The study of languages has often intrigued me. The way they develop, grow, spread, and interact with other languages. This is not just about what we speak, but also what we read and write. The ability to communicate using details and elaborating something was crucial to the founding of civilization. You can’t tell someone to construct a whole temple by growls, grunts, and snorts. Languages have helped us to survive, spread across the world, and for many of us prosper.
This particular theory is about an interesting characteristic of the English language. If one studies the English language during the 1300s and 1400s one will find it is extremely difficult to understand. If one reads literature from about 300 years later, such as the original works of Shakespeare or Newton, one will be surprised at how easy it is to understand them. Clearly, English made a major shift from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance. Now if this was a gradual change that was constantly occurring, then one would expect today’s English, another 300 years after Newton and Shakespeare, to be very different than the one used by those two people. Yet, it is not. But why? The only trouble in the words used by those two is that their font and some of their letters are slightly different than today’s. From this evidence I have come to a conclusion that the English language undergoes great and rapid change every few centuries. I suspect it is about every 500 years. If that is true then right now we are currently undergoing one of those great and rapid changes in the English language.
The evidence for that is clear in today’s informal grammar. Being a high-school student, I know many a strict English teacher who persevere in correcting us students. One example of this change in grammar is in the use of the word “me”. Indeed me seems to be changing its role from a direct object to a subject in itself. I predict that if one were to take a time machine and travel 100 years into the future, the English he/she would hear would be quite different from today’s English.
As you can see, grammar is changing by itself. At the same many other languages are having a substantial influence on English, namely Spanish on American English. As more and more Mexican immigrants settle here, they will undoubtedly mix Mexican words and phrases into English. After all, the United States is a melting pot. As Mexican immigration increases so will the Spanish effect on English. The same can be said for all the languages of immigrants entering the U.S.
I want to spread this idea around, so please send this post to people you believe might be interested. Also, make sure you whoever you send this post to knows it is coming from Historium. I want some feedback on what others think of this. Good scholarly debate is always interesting.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The bigger the city, the more the loot.

The Mongols had to conquer vast areas of urban empires. Hundreds of towns and cities were in their way. In many of these cities were large amounts of gold and precious trade goods. When they had no siege engines the Mongols had to find other ways. One was to use prisoners. When one city was captured all the strong unskilled men were brought together. At the next city they would be driven forward in front of the main army to the gates. The defenders would sympathize with the prisoners and often opened the gates. Next thing they knew, masses of horses trampled them down. If a city resisted then many of the inhabitants would be slaughtered or turned into prisoners. Artisans and craftsmen would be sent back to Monolia to work there, more or less as slaves. There are many interesting stories related to these times. They involve frightened kings, valiant princes, and a shah who was running for his life. I'll tell them all later. Stay tuned.

Milestone I

This is the first major milestone for my site. One of the sites that commented here just put up a link tome on their site. Their is an interesting article on the population of Europe. Check it out, it's called Geoband.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Comment on this Post

This is just to check how many people are actually reading my site. If you see this then just post a comment, anything at all. It can be just a letter long. The minimum besides that that you have to do is give a name, just make up any name. If you have your own site it would be nice if you add its URL too. This way I can see how many people are actually reading this blog. What do you have to loose. Besides, if I see a lot of people are coming I probably will devote more time to Historium.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Genghis Part III: Whirlwind of the Steppes

The Mongol soldiers were some of the most successful soldiers on Earth. Under Genghis Khan they were only defeated once, and that was simply because they deemed it wise to retreat after a battle in Mongolia. They would use tactics and strategies that their foes would not dare to use. Riding mostly on horses, they swept through farms, villages, towns, cities, citadels, plains, and forests. Their secret was that the tactics they used were the same they had been using for generations while hunting. Flanking, speed, false retreat, deception, espionage, all of these vital parts of the Mongols' way of war were mostly learned during the hunting expeditions. Genghis Khan did not originate these, he pushed them to their maximum potential against his human enemies. Most of the soldiers under Genghis Khan were ethnically one of the Turks. Only a minority belonged to one of the Mongol tribes. Practically all of these troops were cavalry archers, able to accurately fire arrows at their enemies and still gallop away. Their equipment consisted of two recurved composite bows, a quiver with about 40 arrows, a lance, lariat, rope, axe, and numerous other neccesities of a mounted warrior. One of their favourite tactics when facing stronger and more numerous oponents was to fire their arrows while constantly riding away. Often the opponents were heavily armoured knights. While they tried to pursue the Mongols their horses eventually started to tire out. Also, they would be under a constant hail of arrows. Finally, as the knights seemed to be weakened enough the Mongols would turn and charge right at their unsuspecting enemy. This was a favourite in field battles. On the other hand these troops often had to lay siege to massive cities. When they first attacked China they tried to starve out the first few cities. Unfortunately, the Mongols relied on fast blitzkrieg tactics and this method was too slow. Therefore they begant to be sneaky. For one city under siege they just collected what they really needed and abandoned camp. The Cinese soldiers within the walls took this as a sign that the Mongols had surrendered. Once the horsemen had moved far enough the Chinese quickly started plundering the abandoned enemy camp. Completely distracted, they were horrified when they saw the Mongol soldiers returning at full gallop, cutting through the unprepared Chinese and into the open gates. The city quickly fell. This post is long enough so I will continue it later.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Genghis Part II

Since the moment China started trading with the rest of the world with silk there has been a silk route. The silk route was a series of long trails over steppes, fields, deserts, mountains, and the like, connecting east with west. Most often it started somewhere in the western edge of China and the eastern edge of the Muslim lands, around Yarkand. From there it connected to various other cities, whether directly on the route or aside from it. Finally it ended in the western parts of the Middle East. During most of history pieces of this route were controlled by multiple kingdoms, often at war with each other. With so much time spent at war they could not really help the traders who came along. When Genghis Khan conquered his empire he included the entire silk route. Once done the road became one of the safest and most efficient way of travel. Guards kept watch constantly and important caravans had their own escorts. Also, the Mongol Empire used a communication system much like the pony express of the Old West in America, only better. Message carriers would go to the nearest station on a road, get a horse, and then ride as fast as possible for several miles, at the next station they would get a new horse while the old one rested. A few more stations later they transferred what they carried to another rider. This system was so good a message could cross the entire empire, from the Caspian Sea to Mongolia, within a few weeks or even days. Trade and communication were greatly improved by safety and speed. This was a major reason for how Marco Polo could cross the entire empire without ever being attacked by thieves or robbers. Next post about the Mongols will be about their military.