Tuesday, September 30, 2014

History: The Year is 1438

I've uploaded year 1438 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

The Pope, the King of France and Washington, D.C. -- Since Rome can't implement Church Reform, the King of France will do so in France. I also write about sending tax money to Washington DC and the knife-wielding Whitehouse intruder recently tackled by an off-duty Secret Service Agent.

The Inca Empire Begins -- After being attacked by a neighboring tribe, the Incas rise from their sleepy valley and establish an Empire.

The Pope, the King of France and Washington, D.C.

The Papal Schism (or Great Schism) was a split within the Church by factions seeking reform. The Church has been reunited by Counsel of Constance, but the issues that caused the split in the first place continue to boil under the surface. For example: King Charles the 7th of France has formed a special French synod to push through various reforms in the French Church that he knows will never be implemented in Rome. Mainly the King wants control over the tax money collected by the Church and he wants a say over who the Church appoints as a bishop. Frankly, no French King would take kindly to the Pope appointing an Englishman as a bishop to France. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Putting the best face on the King's actions... King Charles probably didn't want Church taxes to be thrown down the rat hole called "Rome" any more. (Even the Pope can't maintain control over Rome.) This is similar to what many States like Texas think when they send their tax money to Washington, D.C. and get very little in return except more demands and no prospect of any reform in the future.  
A note on violent crime: Rome in the Middle Ages is like Washington, D.C. is today. Recently (Sept 2014) a knife-wielding intruder, Omar Gonzalez, entered the Whitehouse and made it all the way to the East Room before being tackled by a Secret Service Agent who happened to be walking by. (Not checking an alert. Not on patrol, but clocking out and heading for home.) If the Whitehouse is not safe then there is NO SAFE PLACE no matter what the statistics say. Statistics jump to near 100 percent when a guy with a knife walks through your front door and all you are holding in your hand is your... five fingers.[5] [6] [7] [8]

The Inca Empire Begins

In the early 1200s, a warlord conquered the tribes in the valley of Cuzco (a valley in present day Peru) and became the first Inca ruler. They have remained in the valley until now. Now the Incas are in a panic as 40,000 Chankas have come to destroy them but Prince Pacacuti has not panicked. He manages to beat back the attack and kill over 22,000 of the Chanka. The Incas have discovered that they are strong. They will move out of the valley and become an empire in an amazingly short period of time. By 1450, construction of mountain retreat of Machu Picchu will begin. [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The stories about the Incas seem more like legends. For example, the first Inca ruler was supposedly the son of the "sun god." Nevertheless, the expansion of the Incan Empire was unexpectedly swift once they emerged from that valley. They developed a knowledge of irrigation and that may have put them in a superior position compared to other tribes but given how vicious and strong the Chanka tribe was, there must have been a more substantial reason for the Inca victories.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1438, Wikipedia.

Monday, September 29, 2014

History: The Year is 1437

I've uploaded year 1437 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

A Drastic Jump in Wheat Prices -- A couple of wet seasons has caused a 700% rise in wheat prices in places.

The "Prince of Music" Does the Classics --What we know of as "classical music" is called counterpoint and that innovation was introduced this year... and it's all good.

The Transylvanian Peasant Revolt --Most people don't like balloon payments. If you don't want the peasants to revolt, don't stop the taxes and then demand three years of taxes in one lump sum.

A Drastic Jump in Wheat Prices

After two wet seasons, there is a scarcity of wheat in England. Prices have jumped 700% and will remain high through next year. Eventually prices will drop but they will jump again as the vagaries of weather and bad crop decisions continue to torment the peasantry. Since the lord of the manor often has first call on the harvest most of the nobles will be fine but the lords that have been economically stressed are facing financial collapse. Many of these nobles will find their lands transferred to distant, richer relatives and their names struck from the rolls of the nobility. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It hasn't been mentioned for awhile but famine is part of life in every country. This sudden jump in wheat prices will no doubt cause the poor to seek out other foods... including eating bugs. Luckily, farming methods have been changing so other crops are available IN SOME AREAS but farming is in transition. If you live in an area using old farming methods, your life is going to be a real struggle, that is, if you manage to live through this crisis at all. Additional Comment: In modern times this problem is mitigated by transporting harvests from one area to another, but transportation costs in the Middle Ages are very high so the price of non-local food would be out of reach of the poor.

The "Prince of Music" Does the Classics

John Dunstable has changed the face of music. He introduces what is called today: counterpoint. To put it simply... what we call "classical music" is really several musical themes played simultaneously that support each other but are not necessarily harmonious. Much of John's life is a mystery. He is known by the composers who were influenced by his innovation. He will produce many works, mostly with religious themes. When he dies his grave marker will be inscribed, "The Prince of Music." [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
You can get a better feel for what John Dunstable has done by listening to one of his works. Click on the link below for an example on YouTube.[6] You will say to yourself, "Yeah... I've heard this stuff a million times," but the folks this year are hearing it for the first time and they are loving it.

The Transylvanian Peasant Revolt

With government debt high after several years of war with the Ottomans and the Hussites, King Sigismund, the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary reduced the amount of silver in his currency. The bishop in northern Transylvania decided not to collect taxes for a few years, probably because he didn't trust the currency but now that the King has issued new gold coins, the bishop has decided to collect the past-due taxes in a lump sum in gold. The peasants are now in revolt led by a man named Budi. They will be joined by a number of minor nobles but the revolt will be put down before the year is out after King Sigismund dies. Then negotiations will consist of executing the leaders of the revolt and enslaving anyone who objects. [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The peasants were separated from the minor nobles when the nobles were granted amnesty which left the peasants hanging in the wind. King Sigismund dies at age 69 without a male heir. He is the last of the Luxembourgs. He is succeeded by his son-in-law, Albert the 5th.

 This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1437, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1436

I've uploaded year 1436 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Hussite Wars: All Things in Moderation -- The moderate Ultraquist Hussites have negotiated peace with the King of Bohemia and the Church. Their demands will seem rather tame to modern Christians.

The All Saints' Day Flood and the "Beverly Hills" of Germany -- A flood surge will cause the inhabitants of a coastal town to pick up and move 2 km inland and establish Westerland which is a hot spot for the jet set in the modern day. It has also become a "coastal town" over the years.

The Florence Cathedral -- As discussed in earlier years, the Florence Cathedral is a large domed cathedral. It is consecrated by the Pope who is hiding out in Florence since Rome is such a mess.

Hussite Wars: All Things in Moderation

The Hussites have ended their civil war between their various factions and the moderate Utraquists negotiate a treaty with King Sigismund and the Catholic Church. The major demand is to allow the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to be given to the people as both bread AND wine. They ask for a few other things that, at the time, looked like radical change but to modern Christians will seem logical and obvious. The Catholic Church will not recognize John of Rokycan as the archbishop of Prague but he will remain a crucial part of Church development in Bohemia before the Protestant Reformation. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
This may be one of the few times when the moderates win a battle. Perhaps that is a modern view looking backward at the Utraquist Hussites. In years to come the Hussites will be considered Protestants because they will accept Martin Luther's far reaching reforms. Frankly, the current Hussite demands don't go as far as Rev. Martin Luther will during the Reformation, but they won a lot.

The All Saints' Day Flood and the "Beverly Hills" of Germany

The German Bay of the North Sea (The German Bight) extends from the mouth of the River Elbe to the Jutland peninsula which is mostly Denmark. A massive storm surge on November 1st (All Saints Day) has wiped out several coastal towns. 180 people have drowned in Tetenbüll and the town of Eidum on the island of Sylt is inundated. Eidum has been rebuilt over and over again but the townspeople have had it. They've picked up and moved 2 kilometers inland, establishing the town of Westerland. The few buildings that remain in Eidum will sink below the waves by the 1800s. [6] [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
So much of the island coastline of Sylt has been lost to storm surges that Westerland is now a coastal town. It is also a resort for the "jet set". That is why it is called the "Beverly Hills" of Germany. It's economy is based on tourism and it can only be reached by ferry or over a bridge by passenger train. Oddly, for such a ritzy resort setting, camping is allowed on the island. [10]

The Florence Cathedral

The largest masonry domed cathedral in the world is in Florence, Italy. The date of completion is sometimes given as 1434. It was consecrated this year by Pope Eugene the 4th. The reason he is in Florence is because if he was in Rome he'd be killed by rioters. Rome is a dangerous place and has been for a very long time. The Pope will reside in Florence for the next few years. [11] [12]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Pope's attempts at Church reform have made some very influential families very angry. While one cannot attribute the riots in Rome to those powerful families, those families did maintain order in the streets, such as it was. Frankly, "order" is a relative term. At that time, Rome looked like Detroit on a bad day. It will take a long while to fix.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1436, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

History: The Year is 1435

I've uploaded year 1435 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Gutenberg Is Sued for Printing -- The Gutenberg printing press is not out yet, but apparently he's been experimenting and it didn't turn out well. Gutenberg is sued. (I also mention Korean efforts at movable type printing.)

China: The Great Wall Withdrawal --China is pulling back and building up it's defenses. The first part of The Great Wall has been completed. I also mention the French Maginot Line and ISIS.

Parliament: It's a Swedish Thing --It's their first parliament and in Old Norse the word "thing" means "assembly".

100 Years' War: Burgundy Packs It In --The Duke of Burgundy makes a deal with the King of France and switches sides! (He knows which side of the buttered bread hits the floor first.)

Gutenberg Is Sued for Printing

The Gutenberg printing press is going to change everything but it's exact beginnings are murky. The first official mention of Johannes Gutenberg and any kind of printing is in a lawsuit he is currently involved in. Whatever he did, he was apparently experimenting with printing before now. He won't introduce a printing press with movable type until around 1439... just a few more years. When he does, he is going to put more than a few copyists out of work. They will manage to hang on for a time. The artwork they create in books is valued just for the beautiful lettering, but in the long run, copying books by hand will become a rare event. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I once attended the completion of a handwritten Torah scroll. The scribe allowed me to draw a letter into the scroll so that I could claim to have participated in its creation. It was a moving event. The Koreans came up with movable type a few years ago but it won't do the Koreans as much good as it will for the Europeans. Koreans are still using traditional Chinese symbols called Hanzi. Each Hanzi symbol represents an idea or word. In the Korean printing house, these symbols are sitting on racks, sorted by sound. The European alphabet is sorted by convention and there are only a few characters to sort in any case. Even if one makes a mistake with a letter or two, the meaning still comes through. This is not often true with Chinese Hanzi or Japanese Kanji. The Koreans will switch to a block-based system but the Hangul alphabet won't be accepted officially in Korea until 1894. [3] [4]

China: The Great Wall Withdrawal

With the death of the Yongol Emperor, China has begun a policy of withdrawal. In previous years they had pushed into what is present day Vietnam and north into Mongolia, but they have met heavy resistance. The "Great Viet" dynasty (Dai Viet), kicked the Chinese out in 1428 and the Mongols have been pushing back hard. This has led to a Chinese embargo of goods to Mongolia. China has also completed a series of defensive walls to the north of Beijing. Most people today call it "The Great Wall of China" but the Ming Dynasty calls it the Border Barriers. It is not the first such wall to be constructed but the Ming dynasty will discover that when men abandon the defensive walls, a wall is no defense at all. [5] [6] [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Oddly enough, the embargo of critical goods that China imposes actually spurs Mongol cross-border raids to get the things that they need. The Chinese abandoned the last frontier garrison at Xanadu in 1430 for economic reasons but these forward bases had a purpose and the Chinese are going to find that it is more expensive NOT to have such bases. The Ming Dynasty will become dependent on their defensive wall, and like the French Maginot Line at the beginning of World War 2, once the line is breached, there is very little of substance behind it. Secondary defenses will wither away. Second Take regarding ISIS/ISIL (optional, as always): There is a temptation to draw a comparison between the Ming abandonment of Xanadu and the ISIS invasion of Iraq which caught the USA flat-footed with no garrisoned troops in forward positions but that comparison only works if the USA was willing to use forward-based troops in a aggressive manner. It is not the equipment, the men nor the money that is the issue, but the leadership's willingness to do what is necessary or to live with the consequences. The USA was not willing in Iraq so now everyone is living (and some are dying) with the consequences. No whining.

Parliament: It's a Swedish Thing

If you recall, in 1280, King Magnus the 3rd of Sweden offered to make anyone a noble (and given them tax-free status) if they would pay a lump sum or commit an able-bodied son to the king's army as a knight. This year Sweden has a meeting of the nobles in Arboga for their first parliament or "Riksdag of the Estates". It is an informal gathering of the nobles with their own interests in mind. No peasants are represented. The word "Riksdag" comes from the old Norse word "thing" which means "assembly". [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The peasantry is considered one of the three "Estates" (the other two being the Church and the Nobility) that hold the medieval world together, but to suggest that the peasants needed representation would have sounded ridiculous to the nobility of the day. In modern times, the term "Estate" usually refers to the Media (The Fourth Estate) or Wikileaks (The Fifth Estate as it was called in the movie of the same name). For further information, see "Estates of the realm"... a medieval turn of phrase if ever there was one.[12] [13]

100 Years' War: Burgundy Packs It In

After Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, it was thought that a rather troublesome problem had been resolved, but Joan's inspiration, even after death, has quietly infused the French troops with the will to win. It is obvious now which way this war is going and the Duke of Burgundy is on the wrong side. Time to switch. Phillip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, signs a treaty with King Charles the 7th of France and joins the King in his war against the English. In exchange, King Charles promises to punish those who murdered Phillip's father, John the Fearless, who died unexpectedly... with an axe through his head. [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Together, King Charles and Duke Phillip will do what Joan of Arc could not, even though she tried. They will liberate Paris and give the English the boot. 13 years of peace will follow.


This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1435, Wikipedia.

Monday, September 22, 2014

History: The Year is 1434

I've uploaded year 1434 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

A Revolt in Rome  -- The Pope has made some enemies as he has been trying to reform the Church. Now he must flee Rome. I compare this to Benjamin Netanyahu attempting to reform the Israeli government many years ago and got the boot as well.

Hussite vs Hussite: The Hussites Win -- Religious disagreements that seem silly to us today had not yet been decided in these days. It's going to take the Protestant Reformation to force people to make hard decisions on what is correct or not.

A Revolt in Rome

The construction of the Cathedral in Florence has been completed but it will not be consecrated until 1436. In the meantime, Rome has fallen into open rebellion. The new Pope Eugene the 4th was the handpicked successor of the previous Pope, but the previous Pope was a little too generous to his friends and family in handing out choice papal land and positions. When Pope Eugene took office he aggressively eliminated this sort of corruption. Unfortunately the people he has been pursuing are also the people who have been maintaining order in Rome and its all coming apart. Pope Eugene flees to Florence and remains there for the next 10 years. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Pope Eugene the 4th was a mixed bag as all leaders are. He is finding that reform can be quite difficult even when the corruption is rather obvious and simple to fix. If one begins with wide-spread reform, it causes competing factions to join together to resist the change. In principle one would think it is best to simply change everything that needs to be changed but despite what critics say... the Pope is no longer an absolute ruler. Whatever his decisions (good or bad) they must be carried out by others. Simply making demands is not enough. He must convince others to go along. FYI, I am reminded of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel many years ago when he tried to push through government reform. He did too much too fast and in the end he got nothing but a boot in the backside on his way out the door. Netanyahu has returned as Prime Minister but he has done nothing. Perhaps government can only be reformed in the forge of fire. (I hope that wasn't too dark. I welcome contrary views.)

Hussite vs Hussite: The Hussites Win

As has been happening all along, when the Emperor's forces would attack the Hussites, the Hussites would set aside their differences and fight against the common enemy. They have won their battles against the Crusaders. Now they must win their own civil war using a new tactic. Two groups set up their war wagons into a lager formation but the two groups are too far away from each other to do much damage. Then, suddenly, one of the groups leaves the field. The other group, thinking they have them on the run, open up their war wagons and pursue. It's a trap. Infantry hit them from the side and the retreating war wagons slow and fire their cannons. It's a slaughter. When the dust clears, the Ultraquists and the Bohemian League win. The Emperor commented that ... "the Bohemians could be overcome only by Bohemians." [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
What was the big fight over? The Ultraquists believed that the bread AND the wine should be offered at the communion service. What next? Dogs and cats living together? Shudder! Well... it was a controversy at the time. Remember that many of the things that are considered settled religious law and perfectly normal have not been settled yet. It's going to take the Protestant Reformation to force everyone (including the Catholics) to decide what is really important to them.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1434, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1433

I've uploaded year 1433 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

China: Starfleet's Last Voyage --Political infighting has called a halt to Chinese exploration. I relate this to the USA abandonment of the Space Program.

Double Eagles for an Emperor -- King Sigismund is finally crowned Holy Roman Emperor though that has been his defacto role for some time now. A new double-eagle will become the symbol for all Holy Roman Emperors from now on.

Donatello's "David" -- I'm no art critic but this sure isn't a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

China: Starfleet's Last Voyage

China's Starfleet are returning from their 7th and final voyage of exploration. They have been as far as the Strait of Hormuz in today's Persian Gulf, and there is evidence that they have been as far as the Red Sea and East Africa. Admiral Cheng Ho has done a magnificent job but his usefulness to China is coming to a close. Inside bureaucratic fighting and fears over the growing power of the eunuchs who want the voyages expanded, puts paid to future voyages. Admiral Cheng Ho died either during this last voyage or shortly after he returned to China. Merchant ships will continue to sail lucrative routes but China's Age of Discovery, ends here. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
This reminds me of the Apollo Moon shots taken on by the USA in the 1960's and 70s. While it was an exciting venture at the time, the project bogged down when public and political attention turned toward the problems of the poor and the Vietnam War. People would say, "We can send a man to the Moon so why can't we solve... fill-in-the-blank?" Generally, that problem was poverty. Yet, after spending trillions of dollars in the War on Poverty we have more poor than ever before... AND we are not on the Moon, either. For an excellent study of USA poverty policy from 1950 to 1980, read, "Losing Ground" by Charles Murray. It was required reading during the Reagan Administration. [4]

Double Eagles for an Emperor

King Sigismund has been defacto Holy Roman Emperor for some time now. He is also King of Bohemia, Hungary and Germany, He organized the resolution of the Great Schism by pushing for the Council of Constance. The Council came to an agreement with the numerous Popes and elected Pope Martin the 5th to unifiy the Church once more. Pope Martin has passed so Pope Eugene the 4th will finally crown King Sigismund as the Holy Roman Emperor.... in Rome. The symbol of the Holy Roman Emperor will become the double eagles.[5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is amazing that the coronation took place in Rome. Rome is still in bad shape and getting worse. The city will break into open rebellion next year forcing the Pope to flee to Florence next year.

Donatello's "David"

Donatello is a sculptor...not a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. He has completed his bronze "David". It stands 5 feet tall or so and nude. Compared to Michelangelo's David, it will seem puny in comparison, but it has a beauty all it's own and remember that Michelangelo was designing his statue for the proportions of a cathedral. [11] [12] [13] [14]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I admit that I find the statue unappealing. Clearly the artistry is fantastic but the way David is portrayed seems ridiculous to me. Times and tastes in art change. I am not an art critic but ultimately art is sold to people who want to buy it and thus the statue of David reflects what the people of the time thought of as proper, manly beauty.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1433, Wikipedia.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

History: The Year is 1432

I've uploaded year 1432 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Monument Men and the Mystic Lamb -- The movie took some liberties with history but there was a special group during WWII that sought out the great works of art to protect and preserve them and one of those works was the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.

The Baccalaureate Service -- The University of Oxford now requires it's bachelor graduates to give a sermon in Latin.  Although Latin is no longer required, many educational institutions will favor a few students with the opportunity to give a speech before or after graduation.

Monument Men and the Mystic Lamb

Using the new technique of "perspective", Jan van Eyck has created a series of paintings that are installed as an altarpiece for the Saint Bavo Cathedral. Commissioned by the mayor of the town, the Ghent Altarpiece or Adoration of the Mystic Lamb is framed on doors with hinges. The hinged doors have paintings on both sides so that they can be displayed in various combinations depending on the religious holiday. Jan's work is astonishing and is considered his best, though even his mundane work is amazing. In these days, artists are considered craftsmen and when the nobility want to know whether a long-distance bride will make a good match, they send artists such as Jan to paint the potential bride's portrait so that the family can make an informed decision. His realistic paintings draw the line between the flat-portraits of the past and real renaissance art. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Over the years, various frames of the Ghent Altarpiece were legitimately sold or held as spoils of war. After World War 1, the war reparations treaty forced Germany to return the frames it had collected to Ghent in Flemish Belgium. The Germans deeply resented this so as World War 2 was getting started, the frames began a journey to Rome for safe-keeping. Along the way, Italy joined the war on the side of Germany, so the frames were diverted and then captured by Hitler who hid them in a salt mine along with other works of art. As the Allied powers pushed the Nazis back the Allied forces formed a special group made up of art experts called "The Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program" of simply "Monuments Men" to recover and preserve these priceless pieces. Recently a book and a major motion picture was produced where they follow the recovery of the Ghent Altarpiece. I cannot vouch for all the facts but "The Monuments Men" works well as a movie.[5] [6]

The Baccalaureate Service

College graduates are presumed to be clergy though it is unlikely that the priesthood will be their ultimate vocation. The University of Oxford has instituted the baccalaureate service. Graduates of the university must deliver a sermon in Latin at church. The sermons are sometimes as long as 4 hours so it is not clear how much worship is going on. The medieval scholastic method consists of absorbing various points of view on a subject and resolving differences through a series of logical points. Such a sermon might turn on a small detail that leads to a larger, more profound point. Although the subject is often a religious one, the method used is the same as any secular logical exercise. The skills needed for both are largely the same. [7] [8] [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Baccalaureate services continue into the modern day. A quick Google search reveals many here in Texas.... mostly at religious institutions. YouTube has a video selection of such speeches. In a secular setting there is no religious sermon but speeches of encouragement are reasonable. In any case, there is no longer a Latin requirement. The collective student body breathes a sigh of relief.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1432, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1431

I've uploaded year 1431 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Joan of Arc On Trial -- Her clearly articulated statements of faith make it difficult to convict her so they set out to trick her into heresy and force her into immoral acts. (That means rape.)

The Cambodian Flag and Largest Temple in the World --The Khemer Empire falls but the largest religious temple in the world remains at its capital and will become part of the flag of Cambodia.

The Second King of France --Modern British subjects still remember that the English King once ruled France as well... for a time.


Joan of Arc On Trial

Joan of Arc has been the savior of France in it's war against the English. Her visions have implied that God is on the side of France (or at least that He doesn't like the English interference). The English cannot let that stand so after she is captured she is prosecuted for heresy. She is a simple woman but not a stupid woman. Her clearly articulated statements of faith make it difficult to convict her so they set out to trick her into heresy and force her into immoral acts. (That means rape.). One of the charges is that she wears men's clothing, a clear violation of the biblical code. (The code exists but if it applied to her one would think her visions would have mentioned it to her.) They set out men's clothes for her so that she either wears them or goes naked. She is convicted of heresy and defying the court by wearing men's clothing. She is burned at the stake. While it is not obvious now, she has set fire to the souls of the French. [1] [2] [3]
Children say that people are hanged sometimes for speaking the truth. -- Joan of Arc at her trial.[4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
At the trial, Joan signed a simple statement and she agreed not to wear men's clothing again. Yet the English set out men's clothing for her. They switched the short document she signed with a much longer document that made it appear that she admitted to heresy and they tried to rape her. It is difficult to sort out now, but she probably realized that the English would eventually trip her up so she decided to take fate into her own hands and put on the men's clothing. In a few more years the Church will reconsider and find her innocent in 1456. In 1920 she will be sainted. [5] [6] [7]

The Cambodian Flag and Largest Temple in the World

The capital city of the Khemer Empire is Angor located north of Tonlé Sap (meaning Great Lake) in present day Cambodia. In 1283 they were forced to pay tribute to the Mongols and they have been in slow decline with the final blow being the invasion of the Siamese from present day Thailand. The city is sacked and some of population moves west to the capital of Siam. The rest move south to Phnom Penh leaving behind only monks to populate Angkor Wat, the largest religious temple in the world. A simplified image of that temple appears on the Cambodian flag today.[8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It has been a long run for the Khemer Empire. They bought some time when they paid off the Mongols. That was a good move, but after infighting between various princes and local wars, it's strength was sapped. The Siamese are actually people who were once under control of the Khemer but broke away and moved south to escape the Plague and eventually grew into the major power. It is best known as the Kingdom of Siam.

The Second King of France

King Henry the 6th of England is crowned King of France at the age of 10. That makes... two kings of France. King Charles the 7th was crowned king of France after being pushed by Joan of Arc to do so.[14]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the modern day most people don't realize that the king of England was once king of both England and France. I recently spoke to a previous British subject (now a naturalized American citizen) about this and it would seem that THE BRITISH STILL REMEMBER! Oh yeah.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1431, Wikipedia.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

History: The Year is 1430

I've uploaded year 1430 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Joan of Arc, Abandoned -- Her visions tell her she will be taken captive and that is exactly what happens. The French throw her under the bus and the English railroad her. She will take it like a man, though... so to speak. I also talk about the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti.

Say Hello to My Little Friend: Mad Marjorie -- What caliber is 2 feet? They made super-cannons in the 1400s and gave them names. They were made to knock down walls.

Joan of Arc, Abandoned

Last year after a fabulous campaign against the English, Joan of Arc reluctantly lays her sword upon the alter at Saint-Denis Abbey. King Charles the 7th of France has negotiated a truce but the English use the time to regroup and resupply. Joan is a restless soul and her amazing success grates on the nobles at court. Her visions are pushing her to relaunch the campaign so she sets out as soon as the truce lapses. Her visions say that she will be captured before midsummer and as she is leading a sortie to defend the city of Compiègne [compee-EN-guh], her small force is caught outside when the city commander drops the gate in a panic. She is taken prisoner by the forces of Burgundy and sold to the English for what amounts to a few hundred thousand dollars. What happens next is utterly disgraceful. She will go on trial next year for heresy, and if trains and buses existed in 1430, one could say that Joan of Arc will be thrown under the bus by the French nobility and railroaded by the English. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
When reading an account of Joan of Arc keep in mind that people who are writing things down do not share the same motivations as those of modern readers. It is clear that Joan of Arc was interviewed upon capture but no one thought it was important enough to write down what was said. (They are not fools so one wonders why the omission.) At her trial for heresy many things will be written down, but the prosecution is playing games with the evidence. It makes the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1921 seem like justice and mercy at its best. Joan of Arc is going to burn and despite what anyone might say, she's going to take it like a man... better... actually. FYI: If you can't remember who Sacco and Vanzetti were, just remember the slogan the crowds shouted as these two Italian anarchists were put to death for a murder they did not commit... "We will not forget!"... Yeah... Right. [5] [6] [7]

Say Hello to My Little Friend: Mad Marjorie

100 years ago cannons were more probably more dangerous to the man who lit the fuse than the troops standing in front of the cannon. Cast iron allows smaller cannons to be used as field artillery, but the main use of cannons are still as siege weapons. Tremendous caliber weapons fling stone boulders at fortifications with the idea of knocking the walls down. These huge cannons have names. "Mad Marjorie" has a bore of a little over 2 feet and fires a stone ball weighing 750 pounds (340 kg). The cannon itself is made of wrought iron bars welded in place with large metal rings and weighing more than 16 tons. [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It took about 4 days for one of these superguns to lay waste to a fortification like a castle wall. However, it's obvious advantage in battle was outweighed, literally, by its size. As useful as they could be once they were assembled, such cannons ended up being too expensive to move and maintain to be worth the trouble. [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1430, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

History: The Year is 1429

I've uploaded year 1429 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Joan of Arc, the Maiden of Orleans -- Joan of Arc is going to take down the Siege of
Orléans and nothing is going to stop her. This victory will change the course of the war.

Joan of Arc, A Vision for You -- Joan of Arc has been having visions since she was 13. I offer some sensible advice for those experiencing such visions in the modern day.

Joan of Arc, the Maiden of Orleans

In 1428 the English laid siege to Orléans and Joan of Arc, now 18 years old, has managed to talk a local lord into providing an armed escort to take her to the provisional King Charles the 7th. After careful examination of her claims by a board of clergy she is judged sane and pious. She insists that she must lead an army to Orléans to break the siege and in fact, this is exactly what she does. Dressed in a man's armor "the Maiden of Orléans" leads her troops to victory and brings about a turn in the 100 Year's War between France and England. She will be known as "the Maiden" and she is in a big hurry. Her visions tell her that she has only a year to accomplish her goals. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Joan of Arc's main value was to rally the troops and she did that well. It is not clear if she ever drew a sword in battle though she was an aggressive leader and she did take an arrow in the chest. Her visions were mostly voices urging her on. I don't think she was insane. To the mind of the Late Middles Ages and Early Renaissance, the saints were familiar, reassuring, normal things. It was common to collect "relics" of saints and kings such as clothing or preserved pieces of their bodies. Mistaken or not, the people who hold to the power of the saints are not insane.[7] [8] [9]

Joan of Arc, A Vision for You

Around the year 1424 Jeanne d'Arc (known to us as Joan of Arc) had a vision of Saint Michael and she was not afraid. Since then she has been visited by various saints, each insisting that she lift the Siege of Orléans... the problem for her being that she was a 13 year-old girl in Medieval France and THERE WAS NO SUCH SIEGE going on (though it was easy enough to guess. Orléans was a well-known strategic location). Once the siege began last year it became obvious to Joan, now 18 years old, as to what she must do. She must lead France in battle against the English.
My Take by Alex Shrugged
As I have related in the TSP forums, I have experienced "visions". They are a result of practicing deep meditation. Such visions can be misleading so one should use care. If you believe yourself to be sane, and a vision goes beyond telling you to "read your Bible," or "be good to your fellows," then seek a professional religious opinion. If a voice tells you to call Ray Liotta on the phone or to build a baseball field, call your local mental health professional instead. OK? No fooling around.[10] [11]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1429, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

History: The Year is 1428

 I've uploaded year 1428 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Crop Failure, Crop Success and Food Storage -- Those who failed to implement new methods of farming often failed. I also talk about food storage in the modern day.

Microsoft and the Siege of Orléans -- The 100 Years' War will turn on who wins this battle. Only God can save France now. I also mention the Microsoft video game Age of Empires.

Crop Failure, Crop Success and Food Storage

The impact of the Black Death on labor shortages was delayed for a generation because, frankly, when you have fewer people to feed, you need fewer farmers but now the manor system of farming is running right on the knife's edge. Those farms willing to innovate stand a better chance at survival. Farms clinging to the old farming methods are rolling the dice. With shorter growing seasons and the Little Ice Age upon them, it is change or die for farmers. By using fertilization, radical crop rotations, a change in crops (like planting peas, for example), using horses that are less susceptible to disease to plow the fields, farms stand a better chance at survival. And for everyone, food preservation is becoming a vital part of that survival. That is why the Venetians are getting rich on salt... the major food preservative of the day. People need it badly and they are willing to pay. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The old methods of farming are producing low yields. When there is not enough extra grain in the granary to tide you over, a farm can fall prey to any disaster such as flood, bad weather or Welsh terrorists setting fire to your fields. Stuff happens. This is why, in the modern day, learning food storage methods is so important. Even if you have someone to blame like "Welsh terrorists" or an unfair boss who fires you on Christmas Eve, your family still has to eat. Having food on hand gives you a cushion so that you can make sensible choices rather than panic moves. Thinking of "going postal" is a lie you tell yourself because you just weren't prepared. You never know what's coming but you can guess about a few of the obvious things. You can start with food storage. [5]

Microsoft and the Siege of Orléans

Orléans sits at a strategic point blocking the incursion of the English into Central France. Taking it out is the next logical step given the terrain. Apparently the siege is not absolute since supply wagons can get in and out but with a civil war going on at the same time, its getting tough to rally the troops. John, the Bastard of Orleans, is doing his best to hold the line. He even manages to kill the English commander but it's not going to be enough. Only God can save them now. [6] [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
God will drop the dime on Joan of Arc next year.[10] John, the Bastard of Orléans, is a popular figure in literature and at Microsoft. He is the illegitimate son of Duke Louis the 1st of Orléans. The Duke was murdered with an axe through the head on the streets of Paris. It was his murder by John the Fearless that sparked the French civil war. In years to come the Bastard of Orléans will become a semi-fictional character in literature, plays and as a gunner for Joan of Arc in the Microsoft video game, "Age of Empires."

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1428, Wikipedia.

Monday, September 15, 2014

History: The year is 1427

I've uploaded year 1427 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

The Age of Exploration: The Azores -- The Portuguese sail almost half way to North America but they don't know it yet.

The Hussites Spank the Crusaders -- John Ziska named a successor to the Hussite army and this guy is EVEN BETTER. It's a rout.

The Age of Exploration: The Azores

The Portuguese continue to explore in every direction. The Atlantic islands of the Azores are about half the way to North America, but no one realizes it. The Azores are uninhabited so the Portuguese colonize it. Like the Madeira Islands, it will remain part of Portugal into the modern day. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Given how hit-and-miss navigation still is, it takes real nerve to set out on such exploration at sea but this is not done to satisfy their curiosity. They are perfecting their navigational skills. Portugal is at the end of a long, overland shipping route so they are looking for ways to navigate around the cape of Africa without crashing into the shore at night. They believe that they can get cheaper goods for themselves from India and China over a sea route. They can also sell those same goods to the Europeans for a profit. The Silk Road is no longer reliable since Tamerlane discontinued the patrols that kept the route safe from bandits. [3]

The Hussites Spank the Crusaders

Pope Martin the 5th is the right man at the right time. He is sternly rebuilding Rome, a city of 25,000 starving people, abandoned buildings and wolves wandering the streets. He is also making sense of the Church finances and maintaining control over the College of Cardinals. After 40 years of separation he is reuniting the Church, but the Hussites of Bohemia will not comply. General John Ziska has died of the Plague so the Pope thinks that the Hussites are now easy pickings. But what he doesn't realize is that before John Ziska died, he named a successor: not a second-stringer and not the equal of John Ziska. This man is EVEN BETTER! Prokop the Great will offer quarter to the 70,000 invaders but the Crusaders, who think they will need no quarter will offer none in return. So be it. The Battle of Assig is an absolute rout. The Crusaders will receive more casualties in retreat than in the battle itself. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The villagers are picking off the fleeing Crusaders who had swaggered through those same villages months before no doubt looking for food and loot. As the saying goes... be nice to the people on your way up because you will be meeting those same people on the way down.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1427, Wikipedia.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

History: The Year is 1426

I've uploaded year 1426 to the TSP Wiki... 
Here are a few one-liners...

The Chinese Secret Police -- Eunuchs have wormed their way into every aspect of the Chinese government... including the secret police. They control the information the Emperor gets and what gets from the Emperor out to the rest of China... just like the "flappers" in Gulliver's Travels.

A Sterling Example of Quality Control Out of Control -- The Hanseatic League has just about worn out their welcome. They are going to war with the Nordic nations.

Holland Sings! -- I don't believe it.

The Chinese Secret Police

At the beginning of the Ming dynasty, eunuchs were treated with caution. Now eunuchs make up the majority of the residents in the Forbidden City (the Palace complex at the center of Beijing). They have insinuated themselves in every aspect of the palace bureaucracy and manage the palace guards. In 1382 a secret police force called the chin-i-wei [chin-ee-way] was established to oversee the bureaucracy and enforce strict central control. They will come to regret this decision. The eunuchs are so close to the Emperor that they hear every secret and the Emperor accepts what they say without much investigation. Using blackmail and insinuation, they are working their way into the secret police. In years to come they will wield an enormous amount of power and while some of these eunuchs will remain true to their ideals, the majority will become corrupt and a real problem for China. [1]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
One of the major lessons when reading Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift is that very smart people can become very stupid when they don't have the information they need... especially when they are dependent on others to bring the correct information to them at the proper time. The Laputian intellectuals were deep thinkers but they were dependent on their servants called "flappers". The King did not hear unless his servants flapped his ears and he did not speak unless his servants flapped his lips. Thus if a subject needed the king's help a subject first had to convince the King's "flappers" that the king needed to hear it. This gave the "flappers" an enormous amount of power and a potential for corruption. Thus when the President of the United States says "I first learned about it when I read it in the newspapers," this may be an indication that he is too dependent on his "flappers," or he has darker reasons for saying such a foolish thing.

A Sterling Example of Quality Control Out of Control

The Hanseatic [han-see-AH-tic] League (or Fellowship League) began as a means of protecting German shipping through the Baltic Sea and establishing good commerce laws. As their power has grown they've been able to impose quality control standards over the preservation of fish for shipping. One Englishman even suggested that the word "sterling" as in "pound sterling" was a contraction of "Easterling" which was the name given to these Baltic merchants but it seems unlikely. The "Fellowship" fleet has grown so powerful that they are now threatening the Nordic countries. A war is just getting started. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The "Fellowship League" is looking a lot like pirates. They've just about worn out their welcome. They came up with standards that people needed to do business and they enforced those standards but they couldn't leave it at that. Venice is making the same mistake right now. They are acting more like mobsters than merchants as they corner the salt trade in the Mediterranean but they are going to tangle with the Ottomans and its going to hurt them.

Holland Sings!

Holland has become the musical capital of the world! [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I have seen this declaration on several timelines but whether it is actually true is unclear. It would take a trip to the library to hunt this down, but one would think Holland would be crowing about it. Yet, aside from a vague declaration in music history timelines, I find nothing. I'm calling BS until proven otherwise.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1426, Wikipedia.