Tuesday, December 23, 2014

History: The Year is 1491

I've uploaded year 1491 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

America's Pristine Past: Fact or Fiction? -- Some historians suggest that the American continent was pure wilderness that was corrupted by human intervention. This assumes that Indians were not imposing their own structure on the environment but the evidence is thin either way.

The Bread and Cheese Revolt -- taxes, a turn in the economy and a military garrison are enough to cause the people of Flanders to rise up and kill the tax collectors. I also talk about the famous quote about "bread and circuses".

America's Pristine Past: Fact or Fiction?

Let's take a deep breath and review the state of the world before everything changes.
The Old World: The Portuguese have found a route to India rounding the continent of Africa. Christopher Columbus is convinced that crossing the Atlantic is a short-cut to China. The Spanish Inquisition is uncovering heretics under every rock. Scientists think that disease comes from an imbalance of the bodily fluids or from bad air. (Malaria, means "bad air".) Lay people think disease is caused by magic or the wrath of God. China is pulling back from the world. The American and Australian continents are not even on the map yet.
The New World: Very little reliable data is available. Younger modern historians believe that the American continent is pure at this time without significant human corruption. Philosophically, the Indians take the role of Rousseau's "Natural Human" or "Noble Savage." This means a few scattered Indians living in harmony and balance with their environment. Older modern historians look at the same data and see a complex society that varies in population and that acts on their environment by building large berms and swales, farming and hunting to a significant degree. The Aztecs, Mayans and Incas have build up significant civilizations. This radical disagreement illustrates how sparse data can be manipulated to "prove" whatever one wishes. Use caution when "experts" tell you that they KNOW how the Americas were before Europeans showed up. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged

"It's really easy to kid yourself." -- Dean R. Snow, anthropologist, Pennsylvania State University. What do we really know about the New World prior to the European arrival? We see large earthwork projects that may or may not be natural formations built upon through artificial means. The Aztecs are sacrificing tens of thousands in their ceremonies. If we accept those numbers, that means a lot of people are NOT being sacrificed because a small population could not sustain that large a number of deaths without society breaking down.[4] President Teddy Roosevelt's nationalization of state lands for his National Park system was based on the assumption of a pristine America before the Europeans arrived. The U.S. Wilderness Act of 1964 also assumed this. It is almost a statement of faith, but if we pass laws based on facts rather than hopes and dreams, the burden of proof of a pristine America rests on the environmentalists. [5] [6]

The Bread and Cheese Revolt

As we have seen before, Flanders has been resisting the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian the 1st, who is the father and regent of the young Count of Flanders. After Maximilian's troops put down an earlier rebellion, yet another revolt breaks out in old Kennemerland which is the southern-most region of modern day Kennemerland in the Netherlands. The fishermen and peasants have risen up and killed many of the tax collectors. The name of this revolt comes from the icons and banners used by the peasants of this revolt. By next year troops will kill 200 of the peasants and put down the revolt. [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
This revolt is due to increasing taxes added to an economic downturn along with the continuing resentment against Maximilian's troops keeping the peace... which means keeping the people of Flanders under their thumb. Under such a burden and due to these slights and abuses, the fishermen and farmers rebelled. Maximilian himself did not put down the rebellion. He had the Duke of Saxony do it. The Duchy of Saxony covers a large part of present-day northern Germany. I include this segment because the label "Bread and Cheese Revolt" reminded me of that old Robert Heinlein quote:
'Bread and Circuses' is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader—the barbarians enter Rome. [10]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1491, Wikipedia.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

History: The Year is 1490

I've uploaded year 1490to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Marriage by Proxy -- Duchess Anne marries Emperor Maximilian the 1st by proxy... meaning the Emperor wasn't there. They will make up for that later but this is the only way she can get married. I also talk about marriage by proxy in Texas.

Rooster or Hen? The Pope's Special Chair -- The legend of Pope Joan lives on as the Pope's chair is used to check if the Pope has testicles or not! I also talk about the Bible using a similar ritual to make a binding oath.

The Human Machine: Vitruvian Man -- This is a classic icon in the modern age. I don't have that much to say about it but I'd feel guilty if I didn't mention it.

Marriage by Proxy

After the Mad War had ended, Brittany was required to make concessions to the King of France. One of those concessions was that the Duke's daughters would not marry without permission of the King. Shortly thereafter the Duke dies leaving his daughter, Anne, as Duchess. Brittany is still in reasonable shape even after losing the Mad War so Anne is looking for ways to reinforce her Duchy. She realizes she will never be able to marry legally in Brittany so she gets married by proxy to Maximilian the 1st of Austria who is currently the Holy Roman Emperor. (This also means no marriage night but they'll make up for that in the years to come.) This marriage makes Anne the Empress of the Roman Empire. Although she is trying to build up her duchy, France considers her marriage a breech of the agreement her father made to end the Mad War. Keep in mind that the King of France is still a child so she is really fighting with the other nobles. She will eventually marry the King of France in 1492. He will be almost ten years old by that time. She will take two beds with her. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Marriage by proxy is the idea that one can get married without one or both of a couple being physically together at the ceremony. In Texas the proxy marriage law was recently limited to disallow proxy marriages to people in prison. It does allow proxy marriage if one member of the couple is enlisted in the military and stationed outside of the USA. Proxy marriages are allowed only in a few states of the United States and they seem to be limited to the military as one member of the couple and the other must be present in the state in which it is allowed. The Supreme Court did rule that prisoners are allowed to marry but the state has the right to decide if marriages can take place within their prisons.[3] [4] [5]

Rooster or Hen? The Pope's Special Chair

Back in the 9th century an error was made when electing the Pope. It was discovered that the "man" they had elected as Pope was a woman. Pope Joan is a legend and somewhat of an embarrassment to the Church so how can one know if Pope Joan is real or not? Note that in the late 1400s when the Pope is elected, he must be seated in a chair with a hole in the seat and then lay back. It is then the duty of the youngest cardinal to reach up under the seat and... well... make sure the Pope is a man. The cardinal then shouts, "He has testicles!" A book outlining these traditions is published sometime between now and 1493. It seems incredible but this procedure is corroborated by other accounts. The seat still exists in the modern day in a corner of the Vatican Museum. It is unlabelled and if you ask what it was for, you will be told that the Popes once sat there in a laid back position as if giving birth, thus representing Mother Church. Your mileage may vary. [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The grabbing of the testicles as a ritual is an ancient practice when making a binding oath. The practice is mentioned in the Bible when Abraham makes a pact with his servant to find a wife for his son, Issac. The Bible uses the euphemistic phrase, "put thy hand under my thigh," but it amounts to the same thing. In the modern day, we make a joke out this practice by saying that a fellow keeps his testicles in his wife's purse. While it is somewhat insulting, it suggests that he has entrusted critical decisions to his wife rather than making those decisions for himself. If you are Italian you have a full range of gestures available to you... not all of them insulting and many of them obviously references to the testicles.[8] [9]

The Human Machine: Vitruvian Man

Every time they talk about man as a machine they show this picture drawn by Leonardo Da Vinci called "Vitruvian Man" (also called "Proportions of Man"). It shows a naked man with his arms and legs extended with a circle and square surrounding him. He has several pairs of legs and arms ghosting his real limbs as if he is making snow angels. It's a classic icon and the moment you see it, you'll recognize it. Leonardo created this drawing to illustrate the proper proportions an artist must use when illustrating people. He also seemed to praise the natural proportions, noting that to "measure the distance from the soles of the feet to the top of the head, and then apply that measure to the outstretched arms, the breadth will be found to be the same as the height, as in the case of plane surfaces which are perfectly square." [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The first time I saw Vitruvian Man was in grade school. I don't recall the exact circumstances but it had to do with the beauty and proportions found in nature, art and architecture. Although I don't have that much to say about this drawing, it is seen so often in the modern day that I would feel guilty not mentioning it.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1490, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1489

I've uploaded year 1489 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

First Definitive Description of Typhus --Typhus kills more troops in the field than actual battle. I also talk about the travesty of making DDT illegal.

Plus and Minus Sign: Math Made Simple and Complex -- The plus and minus sign are introduced in print. I also talk about how complexity and special lingo is used more to shut people out than to simplify.

First Definitive Description of Typhus

The label "typhus" describes several bacterial diseases (but not typhoid) characterized by a high fever of 104 degrees or more, joint pain and a dull red rash around the middle of the body. It is passed by lice, rodent fleas, ticks and mites. The various kingdoms of Spain, have joined to kick the Muslims of Granada off of the peninsula. The Muslims are maintaining a losing defensive position as they have been cut off from the sea and their supply lines. An epidemic of typhus hits the Spaniards as they maintain the Siege. The Spanish forces have lost 3,000 soldiers in action and 17,000 to disease. Typhus has been in Europe for hundreds of years but the description of the disease during the Siege of Granada allows a definitive identification by medical historians. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Along with the Black Death and dysentery, typhus will kill more troops in the field than actual battle until World War 2. Typhus goes by many names including ship fever, and jail fever. It shows up in crowded and unsanitary conditions. Many diseases of the Middle Ages have disappeared due to an improvement in sanitation standards and better insect carrier control. DDT pesticide helped control lice and fleas. Soldiers of World War 2 were sprayed directly with DDT and in the southern states of the USA DDT trucks would spray neighborhoods. Children ran into the street to be sprayed. DDT was eventually outlawed after the book "Silent Spring" was published that panicked people over DDT and the concerns (whether valid or not) seem trivial in comparison to the human death and suffering since that time due to malaria and other insect-borne illnesses that could have been solved with this cheap and easy-to-use pesticide.[7] [8] [9]

Plus and Minus Sign: Math Made Simple and Complex

The plus and minus signs have been used in many applications before this time. For example: barrels that are empty are painted with a minus sign and are changed to a plus sign when they are full. However, the plus and minus signs are first used in print this year. Johannes Widmann publishes a textbook for understanding mercantile accounting using the minus and plus to refer to a deficit or surplus. The plus and minus will not be used for addition and subtraction until 1518 and they won't be introduced to England until 1557 along with the equal sign. [10] [11] [12]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It seems fantastic that these basic symbols were not used in mathematics until the late 1400s and 1500s. How did they ever get along without them? They either spelled out the words or used "P" for plus or "M" for minus. Nowadays when you see a chalkboard filled with incomprehensible symbols what you are seeing is a simplification. Once you understand the notation it opens up a whole new world. Of course complex symbols and insider lingo can be used to shut people out and make outsiders feel like idiots. Keeping things unnecessarily complex began when scribes would use the cuneiform [kyoon-ih-form] writing system forcing you to hire a scribe to write the message and another scribe to read it to you. I sometimes wonder what people would do if the entire phone system was destroyed. Could you build your own iPhone from discreet parts? Could you even build your own pencil?

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1489, Wikipedia.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

History: The Year is 1488

I've uploaded year 1488 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

The Discovery of the New World -- The Portuguese round the continent of Africa and find the very thing they expected... more ocean and the New World.

The Royal Netherlands Navy and Military Surplus -- The Royal Netherlands Navy is legally established. I talk about why that is important in modern days and how difficult it is to tell the difference between the military and civilians.

Joseph Karo and Modern Judaism -- Rabbi Karo is born. Before he dies he authors a digest of Jewish law that will become the standard for Jewish observance.

The Discovery of the New World

The New World is discovered at last! The Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias [bar-TOLLO-mew DEE-ahz], has rounded "Cape of the Needles" at the southern-most tip of Africa. For orientation: Cape of the Needles is a little over 100 statute miles southeast of the Cape of Good Hope. As Dias rounds the cape it is clear sailing to the New World... India... but his crew wants to go home so they travel northeast to Bushman's River Mouth where it becomes clear that they have rounded the southern-most part of Africa. With that feat accomplished, they erect a monument which remains to this day. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Even though the Portuguese have reasonable maps of the areas around Yemen and India, they think of the rounding of the cape as a journey to the New World. By "new" they mean "new to them" and it's not even totally new since they have been to India over land, but rather, it is a new view or new way to get there. "Discovery" means more than uncovering something totally unknown. More often it is a different way of looking at something already familiar. For example: by tradition we say that Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity... yet if gravity hadn't been there the whole time, most of us would have floated off the Earth before we had a chance to grab something and hang on. What Newton really "discovered" was a different way of understanding gravity... a new way to look at it that opened up a whole new way of thinking about our universe. By rounding the cape, what the Portuguese discovered was that the voyage was possible. They PROVED that it could be done and that was something new.

The Royal Netherlands Navy and Military Surplus

This shouldn't go unnoticed. The Royal Netherlands Navy marks its beginnings from this year. Maximilian the 1st establishes the official navy after putting down the First Flemish Revolt. The Low Countries include Flanders with the Netherlands. Before this time, the navy was a group of armed merchants and hired warships. With the authorization from Maximilian, they are legally established as a regular navy. They will grow into a major naval force but in the modern day the Royal Netherlands Navy will be composed primarily of frigates and submarines. [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Having the military being "legally established" is a modern idea... one that draws a line between the military and civilians. In the late 1400s these ideas are still being worked out. By the time of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, many of the familiar military limits will be established and that will make this "legal establishment" of the Royal Netherlands Navy more important. In the modern day the line between the military and civilians has become fuzzy. Terrorists by definition are not regular troops so if a soldier shoots someone it often becomes a question of whether he is committing wanton murder or taking out a terrorist. Unless a suspected terrorist actually takes a shot at you, how can you tell? It's a tough call. Recently a number of military Humvees were sold at auction to the public. I'm OK with that but they are not exactly military surplus trucks and they are not street legal so what will they be used for? Off-road dune-buggies? When military-grade surplus is sold to the public or even to the police it becomes difficult to tell who is part of the military and who is not.[8] [9] [10]

Joseph Karo and Modern Judaism

Joseph Karo [KAH-row] is born in Toledo, Spain before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. He and his parents will escape to Portugal in 1492 and then to Turkey when Portugal expells the Jews in 1497. He will grow to become one of the greatest Jewish scholars of the modern era. In fact, he will be known simply as "the Author" because modern Jewish observance will be based largely on the digest of Jewish Law that he will write with additions from the Rema [REH-mah]. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Rabbi Joseph Karo's influence on Modern Jewish observance cannot be over-stated. Even modern spin-offs of Judaism, no matter how crazy, will take their leap from the platform that Rabbi Karo built. It's the same thing that happens with a rebellious son and his father. Father says, "Let's go to the movies" and his son says "I want to stay home." Father says, "Susan seems like a nice girl." His son replies, "I like Joan better." You know that if Dad liked Joan, his son would have like Susan best. The son is not making a decision for himself. He's making his decisions based on the opposite of what his father does. That is what I mean when I say that modern forms of Judaism define themselves in relation to Rabbi Karo... even when they reject his opinion.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1488, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

History: The Year is 1487

I've uploaded year 1487 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Witch-hunters' Manual and the Patriot Act -- The Pope has written a letter of authorization to the Inquisition and with this book, what more does a witch-hunter need? I make a comparison to the Patriot Act.

Seizing the Silver Mines of Venice -- The Duke of Austria invaded northern Italy and takes some silver mines, yet he needs a loan and uses the mines as collateral. He needs liquidity.

Witch-hunters' Manual and the Patriot Act

A book for witch-hunters comes out this year. "Der Hexenhammer" or "Hammer of the Witches" is published in Speyer, Germany. Heinrich Kramer has been having trouble convincing his fellows that witches and magic exist so he has written down his thoughts in a book and how best to detect witches and their evil spells. It helps that Pope Innocent the 8th has issued a papal bull giving the Inquisition wide ranging authority to seek out heretics. Although the Pope is not endorsing the book, he did call Heinrich Kramer a "dear son". With the book and the papal letter in hand, what more does your local witch-hunter need? Witch hunting in Germany will reach a peak in 1562 when a severe hailstorm will cause so much damage that several women are put on trial for sorcery. Eventually 67 women will be convicted and put to the flames. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
If you read the papal bull it becomes clear that it is a blank check almost as bad as the US Patriot Act. Agents of the Inquisition are given permission to write their own warrants. At least when a king wrote out a bill of attainder he STILL had to put a name on the document and have it approved by Parliament, but apparently the Pope's authority is more wide-ranging. [4] [5] [6] Here is a quote from Pope Innocent's letter granting authority to the Inquisition...
Moreover, for greater surety We extend these letters deputing this authority to cover all the aforesaid provinces, townships, dioceses, districts, territories, persons, and crimes newly rehearsed, and We grant permission to the aforesaid Inquisitors, [...] to proceed, according to the regulations of the Inquisition, against any persons of whatsoever rank and high estate, correcting, mulcting [that is... fining and confiscating], imprisoning, punishing, as their crimes merit, those whom they have found guilty, the penalty being adapted to the offence.

Seizing the Silver Mines of Venice

The Archduke of Austria can always use silver. Despite that, it probably wasn't the best idea to attack the Republic of Venice in order to take their silver mines in northern Italy. Yet... the valley where the silver mines are located are close to Austria so he moves his Tyrolean forces into the area. The Duke will also waylay Venice merchants traveling through the area and take all their goods. Naturally Venice will fight back and the war will bump along until 1490 when the Duke will give up his holdings to Maximilian the 1st, the Holy Roman Emperor. It is not clear why he made the transfer but they still speak German in isolated regions of northern Italy until this day. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Duke of Austria also took out a loan for 23,000 florins (a little over 6 million dollars) backed by those silver mines he stole from the Venetians. Who put up the money? The Fuggers! If you recall, in 1396 Hans Fugger made a good living as a German weaver. His children married well and invested their money in precious metals. Now they make super loans to the aristocracy. This is their first loan to the Hapsburgs and it's just the start. They will make an even larger loan to him next year. I'm not sure why the Duke needed a loan but remember that it takes time for a silver mine to produce income as the metal is dug out and processed. Troops need to eat right now. That means cash on the barrel head. [12]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1487, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

History: The Year is 1486

I've uploaded year 1486 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

One Prince of Wales Born and Two Princes Murdered -- A poet writes a verse that called the dearly departed King Richard the 3rd a vile, evil murderer of the two Princes of Wales.... in dedication to the new Prince of Wales, Arthur, born this year. I also talk about biased media coverage.

Standing Tall in Florence... the Medici Giraffe -- Lorenzo the Magnificent receives a giraffe as a gift. It is seen as comparing Lorenzo to Julius Caesar.

The Mad War Returns -- It's a war between the nobles and the king of France's desire for strong central control. The King of France is 3 years old so you know it's a power struggle between the nobles.

One Prince of Wales Born and Two Princes Murdered

King Henry the 7th of England's new son, Arthur, is born. The heir apparent is always named the Prince of Wales and Arthur is no exception. The old "Prince of Wales" has been gone for several years now. There were actually two... locked in the Tower of London: The first was the son of King Edward the 4th who died 86 days after Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, became his regent. The other was Richard's own son who was said to be frail and might have died of natural causes. Since a mystery surrounds the death of the Two Princes, King Henry appreciates a poet's new verse that accuses the dead King Richard the 3rd of murdering the Two Princes. King Henry is so impressed, he pays the poet a pension and makes him a permanent staff member of the king's court. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Many accounts of this period were written by King Richard's detractors. On the other hand, Richard was a bad boy. He likely murdered King Henry the 6th. Richard never defended his brother, the Duke of Clarence, who was drowned in a butt of malmsey wine (a little over 125 gallons) for the crime of treason. King Henry the 7th was scarey so it was sensible to write only good things about him and bad things about his predecessor, King Richard... kind of like how the modern day press writes generally good things about President Obama and generally bad things about President Bush. I'm not a fan of President Bush but he wasn't Satan's spawn either, so when I see water-boarding being compared to the Bataan Death March, it is difficult to judge just how bad some of the bad things really were. 500 years from now, how will historians judge these times if all they have in their hands are newspaper accounts and nightly news broadcasts?[5] [6] [7]

Standing Tall in Florence... the Medici Giraffe

Florence gets a giraffe! The Mamluke Sultan of Egypt has been looking for support from Lorenzo the Magnificent of Florence so he sends him a giraffe for his zoo. It causes a sensation and a local painter named Domenico Ghirlandaio [doe-MIN-ih-co GEAR-lahn-DYE-yo] includes the giraffe as part of the background in his painting of Florence life along with the Egyptians who delivered the animal. Domenico ran a painter's workshop. His most famous apprentice will be Michelangelo, sculptor and painter of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. [8] [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The significance of this gift is that the only other time a giraffe appeared in Italy was in the year 46 BCE when Julius Caesar returned from Africa after a successful campaign and brought home a giraffe. It was a representation of triumph. The implied comparison between Lorenzo the Magnificent and Julius Caesar was not lost on the crowd in Florence and it will be remembered 64 years after his death. The giraffe will appear opposite Lorenzo in a painting by Giorgio Vasari [JORGE-oh vah-ZAR-ee]. The composition balances Lorenzo and the "beast of triumph" so to speak. The artist certainly was implying this as part of the message.

The Mad War Returns

The War of the Public Weal (or the Mad War) was organized by the nobles against central control by the king of France. Currently the King of France is Charles the 8th... who is 3 years old. Whenever a king is this young the nobles get restless. It's a power struggle where the nobles are trying to be mini-kings... or perhaps be king of France themselves. This is the Mad War. They called for a truce last year and it's been holding but now Maximilian the 1st has invaded the north of France and chaos ensues. The exact details are not enlightening. Suffice it to say that some people escape. Others are chased. Arrows. Guns shots. Boom. This Mad War will continue until 1488 when the Breton forces will be subdued and the Duke of Orléans is captured. [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Maximilian the 1st is the same guy who was named Holy Roman Emperor. He was also trying to gain control of Flanders through his son who was the rightful Count of Flanders and very young. His father, Maximilian, tried to rule Flanders as his son's regent, but the people of Flanders didn't like the arrangement and wanted a local committee to act as regent. Maximilian eventually sent troops in to make them comply, but as you'll find throughout history even into the present day... the people of Flanders are difficult to push around... really, really difficult.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1486, Wikipedia.

Monday, December 15, 2014

History: The Year is 1485

I've uploaded year 1485 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

The First Tudor and the Lost Battle of Bosworth Field -- King Richard the 3rd dies in battle but his grave is lost until 2012 when his skeleton is found under a parking lot. King Henry the 7th was was crowned the first Tudor king and hired people to write up what happened in the battle. You get what you pay for. Eh?

Dead in a Day! Sweating Sickness Becomes an Epidemic --  King Henry the 7th brings to England a deadly virus that kills in a day... often within hours. It may have been an early version of the Hanta Virus.

The First Tudor and the Lost Battle of Bosworth Field

For one of the most significant battles in English history, there are no good sources that tell of exactly what happened at the Battle of Bosworth Field. King Richard the 3rd of England will die in a last, mad charge after his knights abandon him. Henry the 7th will be crowned as king under an oak tree shortly thereafter as the first Tudor king. If this sounds a little too romantic... or like a load of hooey... well... King Henry hired several chroniclers to record what happened and you get what you pay for. With so little reliable information, the battle is described in rich detail in fiction. Shakespeare's play, named King Richard the 3rd, remains popular (to say the least) and includes that famous phrase shouted by the king, "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" King Richard's body will finally be discovered under a parking lot in 2012. The back of his skull doesn't look too good indicating he probably died from an axe to the head. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
King Henry the 7th was fighting on the side of the Lancasters in the War of the Roses. While technically a Lancaster through his grandmother Queen Catherine (a Lancaster by marriage) King Henry should be considered mostly Welsh due to his father, Edmund Tudor. With the death of King Richard, the Plantagenet dynasty's hold on the English throne ends. The House of Tudor will hold the throne until 1603 under Elizabeth the 1st.[7] [8] [9]

Dead in a Day! Sweating Sickness Becomes an Epidemic

If the reports are to be believed, a deadly disease has hit England a few days after the future king of England, Henry the 7th, lands on shore to take back the English throne in the War of the Roses. The obvious conclusion is that King Henry brought it along with him from France where his ships had been days before. This deadly sickness takes hold and rapidly kills thousands. A person can feel fine in the morning and be dead before lunch. Symptoms will vary depending on the year that it hits but generally one gets a high fever, shortness of breathe and extreme sweating. If you can somehow survive 24 hours, you will survive. This disease will be called the "English Sweating Sickness" but it won't limit itself to England. In particular it will hit Germany and they will complain mightily that England gave them no notice nor advice for a cure. (There is no cure.) Oddly enough, it mostly hits the aristocracy and the rich. It will appear 4 times over the years and finally disappear in 1551. Medical historians suspect that it may have been an early version of the Hanta virus which is passed by breathing in the smell of feces and urine of infected rodents. [10] [11] [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Hanta virus is rare in the USA with one case in New York being reported by a man who had been bitten by a rat while camping in a lean-to in 2012. (He survived.) Viruses mutate and often become less deadly as they are passed along. Sometimes they become MORE deadly. If the sweating sickness was the Hanta virus it was not passed from person-to-person. You get it by breathing in the leavings of infected rodents such as feces, urine or food that rodents have accessed. The Center for Disease Control advises that when camping one should not sleep directly on the ground and that food containers should be rodent-proof. Given how rare it is in the United States, though, it's probably not worth worrying about at the time of this writing, that is...2014).[14]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1485, Wikipedia.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

History: The Year is 1484

I've uploaded year 1484 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Pope Innocent is a Little Too Innocent -- The Rodrigo Borgia cannot be Pope so he supports an easily manipulable man as Pope. This Pope will preside over the rounding up of witches, heretics and the Jews. He is also considered the Pope of the New World, yet he died a few days before Columbus left on his voyage.

The People of the Reformation and the 'Pious Ones' -- Several people of the Reformation are born this year, but mostly I talk about religious training of the time called the Trivium and compare it to rote Jewish learning practices of the time and today.

Pope Innocent is a Little Too Innocent

Pope Sixtus the 4th dies at the age of 70. Rodrigo Borgia wants to be Pope but his rival, Giuliano della Rovere, controls enough votes to block him. They decide to pool their votes to elect a non-entity who takes the name of Pope Innocent the 8th. The Pope is a Genoan, so he meets the main qualification... he is not a Venetian. (The Venetians were in bad odor at the time.) As the new Pope starts handing out the benefits of his office, Rodrigo does well, but Giuliano has more influence and will goad the Pope into joining a minor war to support the barons of Naples. It may not seem like much, but that little war will be the first small stone ahead of an avalanche. That avalanche won't hit Italy until the 1500s. In the meantime, Pope Innocent has work to do. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Please note that Pope Innocent the 8th is not much different than his predecessor but he will preside over some fairly hideous things... like rounding up witches, heretics, and expelling the Jews. He will confirm Torquemada as the infamous Grand Inquisitor of Spain. (shudder!) Stuff like that. He is also the Pope who presides over the discovery of the New World but it is not clear which "New World" they are talking about. The Pope will die a few days BEFORE Columbus sets out on his voyage. Yet, on his tomb will be written, "During his Pontificate, the glory of the discovery of a new world." This inscription has spawned some speculation that Columbus made an earlier voyage, but I'd need some hard evidence to believe that. In the long run, the exact date that Columbus discovered the New World does not change what happened thereafter.

The People of the Reformation and the 'Pious Ones'

Several key people of the Protestant Reformation and the resistance to that Reformation are born this year.
1. Jón Arason will grow up to become the Roman Catholic bishop for Iceland. He will be executed for his efforts to oppose the Reformation.
2. George Spalatin will become an ordained priest and an important advisor to Reverend Martin Luther.
3. Ulrich Zwingli will become a pastor in Zurich preaching reform of the Catholic Church and criticizing the system of Swiss Mercenaries which not only hired themselves out to various nations but also dedicated themselves to the defense of the Pope's physical person... which the Swiss Guard continue to do into the modern day. [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
George Spalatin was also a Renaissance humanist which is not the same as modern humanist. It is a Christian humanism that adds limited outside sources to the strict medieval system of Trivium then in use. The Trivium was every bit as pedantic as it sounds. Judaism was using a similar system of religious study at the time and frankly, still does in the modern day in many circles (including a modified version of it in my own circles). A break from that Jewish system by the "Pious Ones" won't occur until the mid-1700s. Like the low-grade resentment that remains between Protestants and Catholics, the resentment between the "Pious Ones" and the "Opponents" remain to this day. [8] [9] [10] FYI... the "Pious Ones" are the reformers and the "Opponents" are opposed to the change. I'm translating the names into English. If you asked a Jew who the "Pious Ones" are they will have no idea who you are talking about but if you say "Hasidim" [ha-SEE-dim] then they will understand. I am glad to pray with the Hasidim and enjoy their company but I can never be one of them. I have a few technical religious disagreements with them.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1484, Wikipedia.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

History: The Year is 1483

I've uploaded year 1483 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

The King of Car Parks -- Richard the 3rd becomes King of England for 2 short years. His burial place will be found in 2012 in a parking lot. (I also talk about the movie "The Good-bye Girl" in which Richard the 3rd plays a large role.)

The First Flemish Revolt -- The Flemish support Philip the Fair but reject his father Archduke Maximilian who has been attempting to act as regent for his son. I also talk about local factionalism and violence as a means of control without police.

The King of Car Parks

King Edward the 4th of England has been dying since Easter so he names a regent for his young son, the Prince of Wales, until he comes of age. That regent is Richard, the Duke of Gloucester. He is a man with a deformity... a bent spine due to scoliosis. Although the deformity is severe, he can hide it well enough with clothing. The king finally dies, but before the Prince can be crowned, King Edward's marriage is ruled as illegitimate so that his son is no longer eligible to be king. Richard is named king in his stead but his kingship will be short. He will be killed in battle two years later. Shakespeare will write a play entitled Richard the 3rd and will place in the king's mouth those famous last words, "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" In fact, what the king will get is an axe to the back of the head. His burial place will remain unknown until 2012 when ground penetrating radar will reveal a skeleton under a parking lot in Leicester. DNA evidence will prove that it's him. As of 2014 people are still fighting over where his final resting place will be. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I am reminded of the movie "The Good-Bye Girl" (1977) starring Richard Dreyfus who plays a poor, unknown actor preparing for the lead role in a production of Richard the 3rd. He finds that the apartment he recently rented is still occupied by an out-of-work dancer played by Marsha Mason. It's a romantic comedy and still very good. [8]

The First Flemish Revolt

Last year the Duchess Mary of Burgundy fell off of her horse and died of her injuries, leaving her young son, Philip the Fair, to rule over Flanders. Since he is so young, Philips's father, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, has tried to rule as regent from afar but he has met with strong resistance. Many of the Flemish (though certainly not all) prefer a local regency since Phillip the Fair is actually living in Flanders. As happens during these times, the debate has spun out of control. It's become personal: brother against brother, husband against wife. Ghent has issued it's own coins in the name of Philip the Fair and the Flemish cities unilaterally form their own regency. Thus begins the First Flemish Revolt. Maximilian attempts to negotiate but he is busy with troubles elsewhere. He won't send an army into Flanders until 1485. Meanwhile, the Flemish will continue insult, annoy and completely fail to cooperate with the Archduke. [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is important to understand how power and factionalism worked in an age without the strong central control of a modern government. For one thing... there were courts but there were no police. Local order was maintained by local people who had the muscle, personal charisma, or money to coerce others into compliance. This resulted in factionalism, meaning that people sometimes fought with each other for local control... physically fought. It wasn't all the time but factions sometimes flew out of control and in the end, violence was the result. This was preferred by the locals over intermittent central control by a distant army. The point to remember is that factionalism means something different than what we mean today. Today modern political factions usually don't call for violence in the streets. When they do, they are calling back to a method of local control that is ages old. When they join factions from other cities or towns in violence, they are "in league" with other factions. It's back to the 1400s.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1483, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

History: The Year is 1482

I've uploaded year 1482 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

St. George of the Mine and the Price of Milk -- The Portuguese build a combination castle and trading post near a gold mine in what is now Ghana. It will also be a trading post for slaves. I then talk about the economics of slavery, oil prices and the reason milk farmers might want to pour their product on the ground occasionally.

The Tower and the Search for the Northwest Passage -- A tower is built as part of a wall along the port in Amsterdam. It will one day become the launch point for Henry Hudson as he searches for the Northwest passage to the Pacific Ocean.

Euclid's Elements in Print -- It is probably the second most important book ever to be set to print. It will remain required reading until the 20th century. I also talk a little bit about non-Euclidean geometry but not too much.

St. George of the Mine and the Price of Milk

Elmina Castle or St. George of the Mine is built this year in what is now called Ghana. Ghana is still remembered as the Gold Coast for a good reason. The Portuguese landed there in 1471 and returned with gold dust. The locals worked several mines nearby. The castle is built this year, first as a trading post for gold and ivory and later for trading slaves. A fort will be built to defend the Castle more easily from raids. The Dutch will take over the Castle and the slave trade in 1637. By the 1700s about 30,000 slaves will pass through Elmina Castle each year. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Age of Discovery is a very pretty name for the good and the bad... some of it very bad. Henry the Navigator sought a route around Africa to Asia after the collapse of the Silk Road. In that process they enslaved people for cheap labor. The Black Death had caused labor costs to skyrocket and brought slavery (which is high maintenance cost) within economic reach. High prices often cause strange (and sometimes illegal) alternatives to become economically viable. High oil prices make alternative-fuels (and the modifications required to use them) economically reasonable. As oil prices drop, the use of alternative fuels will drop. The same is true of food prices such as the price of milk. A few years ago milk prices dropped so low that European milk farmers threw away their milk because they couldn't sell the milk for enough money to cover the costs of bringing the milk to market. [7] [8]

The Tower and the Search for the Northwest Passage

The Schreierstoren [SHRYER-stor-en] is a tower built as part of a defensive wall in Amsterdam. It's name comes from an old Dutch word that refers to the sharp angle of the tower and connecting walls. In the early 1600s, Henry Hudson will set sail from this spot in search of a northwest passage to the Pacific Ocean. While he will make several journeys, eventually his crew will mutiny and he will be cast adrift in a boat, never to be found again. Of course, the Hudson River and Hudson Bay are named after Henry Hudson. [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The tower is also called the Weeper's Tower which may refer to a myth concerning wives who would come to the tower to watch their husbands leave port, perhaps never to return. A plaque was found that commemorates one woman who became so distraught that she went insane. The tower still exists in Amsterdam and is now a café.

Euclid's Elements in Print

Yet again, an important book is set in print due to the Gutenberg Press with moveable type. This book concerns Euclidean Geometry translated into Latin. One major historian believes this book is one of the most important texts to be set to print, second only to the Bible. This math book will be required reading for college students until the 20th century. [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
For most practical purposes Euclidean geometry is all the geometry you need. It is only at the extremes when it cannot describe reality but unless you are a wormhole physicist or attempting to perform deep space navigation, you are probably OK studying only Euclidean geometry. It is interesting to note, conceptually, that a straight line, in reality, is not the shortest distance between two points, but it's so close it really doesn't matter on Earth.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1482, Wikipedia.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

History: The Year is 1481

I've uploaded year 1481 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Buying a New Sultan -- Two brothers fight over the throne of the Ottoman Empire so one brother tries to buy the other off. After the other brother is captured by the Christians, the new Sultan pays the Pope to keep his brother prisoner. It was a lot of money. A whole lot. I also talk about how things get more expensive for those with less money.

Columbus: A Fortunate Mistake -- Christopher Columbus receives a letter including a map of the world that is WRONG but it spurs him on to organize a voyage west to Asia. I also talk about the Moon launch in the 1960s and the reasons why we try things and not just think about doing things.

Buying a New Sultan

Before Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror of the Ottoman Empire dies, he tells his Grand Vizir that he wants his younger son, Cem, to rule instead of his older son, Bayezid. When the Sultan dies, the Grand Vizir moves the Sultan's body to Constantinople to give the younger son the opportunity to get there first to claim the throne but Bayezid shows up and is crowned king. The fighting begins. Bayezid offers to buy the throne from his half-brother to the tune of $436,000 in modern currency. Cem turns the deal down. After a fierce battle, Cem is captured by Christians and turned over to the Pope who threatens to release Cem if the Ottomans should attack the Christians. Bayezid pays the Pope 120,000 crowns (equivalent to the Pope's entire revenues in a year), the Spear of Longinus (that was used to pierce the side of Jesus as he hung from the cross) 100 slaves and an annual payment of 45,000 ducats which is around $6 million dollars (as of November 2014). Problem solved. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is obvious that the Ottoman Turks have a lot of money on hand. A lack of good financing was the chronic problem of the Eastern Roman Empire. The old Greek Emperor began under-capitalized and could never pay his bills. He would debase his currency which spurred the creation of the Venetian Ducat and the Florin as a standard of payment. (It's like demanding that international transactions be paid in dollars which can be difficult to come by if your local currency is being debased on a weekly basis.) When the word gets out that you don't pay your bills, things get MORE expensive... not less. That is because there is a real possibility that one might not get paid, so the risk gets built into the price. Even though the Ottoman Turks are covering the same basic region that the Eastern Roman Empire once did, their costs are a lot less and they are on the upswing. People are willing to back a winner and they will offer a discount to reap those rewards.

Columbus: A Fortunate Mistake

There is no "flat earth society" amongst the educated at this time. Most people believe that the Earth is a sphere but they disagree as to how big a sphere it is. Christopher Columbus believes that the Earth is 18,000 miles in circumference. (It is actually, around 24,900 miles measured along the equator.) The scientist and mapmaker, Paolo Toscanelli, is firmly in the camp that believes that Asia is just a hop, skip and a jump away, so he writes a letter to the Portuguese who have been looking for a route around Africa and a second letter to Christopher Columbus including a map that shows Cathay (that is, China) just 3,000 miles west of Europe. Columbus is convinced that the voyage is worth trying. The Portuguese will disagree and turn down Columbus's proposal but they will pass him on to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain. [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
This is where science gets it really, really WRONG but it turns out better than one could expect. It's sort of like going to the Moon in a redesigned ICBM missile guided by a computer that is less powerful than a kid's pocket calculator. What kind of knucklehead would do that? Well... the United States did that in the 1960s because it was competing with the Soviet Union over which political system was best for mankind. The science of the the 60s was not advanced, but the attempt to reach the Moon spurred research that has changed our lives today. In 2014, going to the Moon should be a cake walk. President Obama has set a goal for Mars, but so far, the USA can't even send people into near orbit any more. Despite all we can do as a survival community one thing is certain... this ball of dirt has an expiration date. Setting aside a belief in man-made global warming or a religious end-of-days scenario, the end is not near. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not in our lifetimes. Not even in our great, great grandchildren's lifetimes but SOME time. We explore the unknown because ultimately, TRYING TO DO SOMETHING is substantially different from THINKING about doing something. [10] [11] [12] [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1481, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1480

I've uploaded year 1480 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

The Fortifications of Rhodes and the Martyrs of Otranto -- The Ottomans shoot a guy in the head and he comes back the next week for more. And... the Ottomans behead 813 Christians in Naples. They are sainted by Pope Francis in 2013.

The Great Stand on the Ugra River -- The Russians make the final break from the Mongols and begin their expansion out of the Volga river region.

Faust is Born but Will He Die? -- Faust is best known as a fictional character who sold his soul to the devil for knowledge and worldly pleasures, but he actually existed in real life.

The Fortifications of Rhodes and the Martyrs of Otranto

The island of Rhodes is the site of many a famous battle. Currently it is being defended by the Knights Hospitaller, a Christian order established to minister to the poor and sick. Now they fight to defend Christian lands from the Ottoman Turks. Gabriele de Martinengo is one such Knight. He has a talent for designing fortifications and while he is fighting against the Turks, he take a bullet to the head... right in the eye. The bullet passes through and by next week he is ready to fight the Ottomans again. A few months later, the Ottomans move on Naples where 813 Christians are beheaded after the city of Otranto falls and the Christians there refuse to convert to Islam. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Ottoman attack on Naples is sometimes called the Invasion of Italy. I included it here because it was a significant historical event with some relevance today. Those 813 Christians were made into saints by Pope Francis in 2013. I included the story of the fortifications of Rhodes because of the cool story about a guy getting a bullet in the head and he keeps on going. I suspect his eye got hit at an angle so that it exited out the side of his head rather than through the brain although I have no details proving it one way or the other. [4]

The Great Stand on the Ugra River

Ivan the Young has been named Grand Prince of Moscow by his father, Ivan the 3rd, the Grand Prince of Rus. His father believes in giving his son real responsibilities so that the people can get comfortable with him as a ruler. As the Mongol Golden Horde comes looking for tribute from Moscow, Ivan the Young goes out to meet them with several regiments. The Mongols refuse to engage so it becomes a standoff at the Ulgra River. Meanwhile, Ivan the 3rd pressures the other princes to send reinforcements. As the army builds, the Mongols back off. This marks the final break from Mongol domination and begins Russia's expansion from the Volga / Oka River region westward. By next year the Mongol Golden Horde will break apart after the death of their leader, Ahmed Khan. [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Ivan the Young will die young. His father, Ivan the 3rd, will become one of the longest living of the Russian rulers. He was aggressive, dominating his brothers and eventually gathering all their lands under the rule of "the Tzar" as he styled himself. The break-up of the Golden Horde will free Russia eventually to dominate Crimea and take land away from Lithuania which, at this time, covers a very large region.

Faust is Born but Will He Die?

Nothing is signed in blood but the birth of Johann Faust [FAUWST] occurs around this time. There are a few facts about his life that can be separated from the fictional character of Faust who sells his soul to the devil. He will grow up to be a magician who eventually turns to alchemy, astrology and the medical arts. He will be dismissed from a teaching position because he is sodomizing his students. He will also be listed as a resident of Münster during the Anabaptist Rebellion. It is not clear if he was pro-Calvinist or Anti-Calvinist. He is definitely weird which is why historians initially did not believe he was a real person, but he is real enough. His life will become the subject of two major plays and his character comes up again and again as part of various stories into the modern day. [8] [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The fictional character, Faust, sold his soul to the devil for knowledge and worldly pleasure, but apparently not wisdom. He will be saved due to a technicality. Several elements in the plays will be familiar to everyone such as the signing a contract with the devil in blood, the hubris of a man who thinks he can trick the devil, a good angel and a bad angel each encouraging Faust in their own way. The ending of one play had a very dark ending, but the audience disliked it so much that the author changed it to a happier ending. Too much tragedy is bad for business. [11] [12]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1480, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1479

I've uploaded year 1479 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Isabella and Ferdinand Rule Spain -- I mostly talk about the war of succession over the throne of Castile. Then I talk about Mexican nationals demanding that the old Castile lands of California, Texas, etc be returned... to who? Not Mexico, certainly. Mexico stole it from Spain... and France... and the Aztecs!

Isabella and Ferdinand Rule Spain

The War of Castillian Succession comes to an end when Princess Joanna's supporters finally submit to Isabella's rule of Castile. How did the war start? Princess Joanna's father, the King of Castile, named her as the heir apparent in 1462. However, it was rumored that she was the child of her mother's adulterous affair. The nobility forced the king to name a new heir. He finally names his half-sister, Isabella, but when the king dies, there is a fight for the throne. Isabella has lots of support so Princess Joanna marries the King of Portugal who happens to be her uncle... yuk! He also has an army. After 4 years of fighting, Queen Isabella has won the throne. And she has done this while giving birth to a child this year. This child will eventually succeed her to the Castillian throne. She will be known as: Joanna the Mad. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Crown of Castile will eventually include large portions of modern day Texas, California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Mexico. When Mexican nationals make a claim to the lands of the USA once owned by Mexico, they are suggesting, in the case of Texas, that a war of independence is not a legitimate way for a nation to possess land. Thus the old Republic of Texas should return its lands to Mexico. But if that is true, Mexico should return its lands to the King of Spain since Mexico won their independence from Spain. Mexico also won their independence from France on Cinco de Mayo in 1862. Perhaps they should return their lands to France... or the Aztecs for that matter. Of course, if Mexico wants Texas back, perhaps they should "Come and Take It!" [6] [7] [8] Lest anyone think there is some racism involved here, I am an Hispanic (Alex Shrugged is)... a real one from the barrios of East LA. My aunt once told me we have a lot of Indian blood in us, but I'd say we are mostly Castillian.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1479, Wikipedia.