Thursday, October 30, 2014

History: The Year is 1457

I've uploaded year 1457 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

A Shave, a Haircut and the Death of George Washington -- The first bloodletting calendar is printed so I write about barbers, why the pole has a red stripe and how George Washington died when they drained half his blood out of him.

Tudors: The Birth of Henry the 7th -- A 12 year-old girl gives birth to the first Tudor King, but it's going to take a while before the boy takes the throne of England.

A Shave, a Haircut and the Death of George Washington

Ever wonder why barbers display a pole? It's the law! Around 1308 the guild of the Worshipful Company of Barbers of London was formed and the law required surgeon-barbers to display a pole with red and white stripes while the barbers who only cut hair should display a white pole. Aside from pulling teeth, these early surgeons did bloodletting. They believed that illness came for an imbalance of the fluids of the body and the release of blood brought that healthy balance back. People would visit their barber and get their blood drained at the proper time depending on their horoscope. That meant they needed a good calendar to guide them. This year in Mainz, Germany, the first printed medical document is produced. It is called the "Calendar for Bloodletting." It comes with a diagram of the body called an Aderlassmann [AH-dair-loss-mahn] (bloodletting man) which shows the sites for lancing the body. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the modern day US barbers display a red, white and BLUE pole that reflects the colors of the US flag. Bloodletting was practiced until the 19th century and may have been the death of George Washington. On a cold December in 1799 the former President of the United States went out into the snow to continue the maintenance of his plantation. Upon his return he developed a sore throat that turned bad. He believed in regular bloodletting so he had someone drain half a pint. Then three physicians were called, each draining some blood until nearly half of his body's supply was gone in the span of a few hours. His last words were "Tis well." [7]

Tudors: The Birth of Henry the 7th

Edmund Tudor, the half-brother of King Henry the 6th of England, has a second-hand wife: Lady Margaret who was recently unloaded by a young noble old whose father needed some leverage with King Henry. In such marriages, girls are passed around like trading cards, more for political purposes than for sex. However, in this case, Lady Margaret is 12 years old and gives birth to a baby boy before the year is out. Their son will grow up to become King Henry the 7th, the 1st Tudor King. [8] [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Edmund Tudor's mother, Catherine, was the daughter of Mad King Charles of France. In 1422, her mad father sold her off to King Henry the 5th of England along with the Crown of France. Catherine was as French as French got. When her husband, Henry, died she secretly married Owen Tudor, a Welshman. Thus, Edmund was born creating a line of inheritance that will figure into the later years of the War of the Roses.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1457, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1456

I've uploaded year 1456 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Halley's Comet -- A comet is often considered a sign of bad things to come. Assigning prophesy to natural events has happened recently with Pastor Hagee's book "Four Blood Moons".

Age of Discovery and Exile: the Cape Verde Islands -- I relate the discovery of the Cape Verde Islands to the exile of the Jews from Portugal later this century. Many Jews will end up here.

Halley's Comet

Edmond Halley has not been born yet, but the comet that will one day bear his name shows up this year anyway. This is the first of four sightings that Halley will use to prove in 1705 that these are all the same comet looping around every 75 to 76 years. There is a rumor that Pope Calixtus the 3rd has issued a Bull regarding the comet, calling for extra prayers but there is no supporting evidence that he did any such a thing. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Comets are seen by some people as a sign of something terrible to come. Here in Texas, Pastor John Hagee has written a book entitled: "Four Blood Moons," which I read. It attempts to prove that the appearance of 4 lunar eclipses are a sign of a major change... the end times. The Pastor seems like a nice guy. Really, but I read the supporting texts and I'm not buying his logic. He makes the point that he is not trying to convince people like me. Fair enough. Respectfully, I'm not convinced. [8]

Age of Discovery and Exile: the Cape Verde Islands

Portuguese explorers have discovered the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa that they also called Cape Verde which is modern day Senegal. Though they find the islands uninhabited, it is likely they have been visited by others over the centuries since so many other uninhabited islands they have visited have some evidence of prior occupation. [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In 1496 King Manuel the 1st of Portugal will expel the Jews from Portugal. This is following the Jews being expelled from Spain in 1492. So many will be scattered to places like the Cape Verde Islands that for a time the label "Portuguese" will be synonymous with "Jewish". Some Jews will also be scattered to the waters since some of those voyages from Portugal will be one-way trips to Davey's Locker as some unscrupulous sailors take advantage of their helpless passengers. When you are trapped on a peninsula the only way out is across the water. When Spain expelled the Jews, many went to Portugal and when Portugal expelled the Jews their were few option left. Can you really trust slave runners? I don't think so. (FYI: I'm not condemning all Portuguese but if some sailors have no trouble with kidnapping Africans because they aren't Christians, the Jews amongst them are wide open to such abuses.)[11] [12]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1456, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

History: The Year is 1455

I've uploaded year 1455 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

War of the Roses: York vs Lancaster -- Negotiations break down and the King gets an arrow in the neck. Richard of York will become regent again as the King slips back into madness.

The Gutenberg Revolution -- The Gutenberg Bible will spark a revolution in thought not because of the Bible itself but because people will recognize the potential of the printing press.

When Is a Man Like a Cow? --When he is a prisoner. I discuss the idea of bailment and Dog the Bounty Hunter.

War of the Roses: York vs Lancaster

After recovering from his madness, King Henry the 6th of England has dismissed his regent, Richard of York. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding but shortly thereafter, Richard assembles an army. King Henry rides out with his own army to St Albans and finds himself outnumbered. The King hunkers down at St Albans and sends a representative to Richard's encampment to negotiate. The King's men break for dinner in town but negotiations break down quickly after the King threatens Richard. Richard's forces are ready for battle and set upon the makeshift defenses at St Albans. The King's men rush back to join the battle. It's a slaughter... mostly of the nobles. King Henry takes an arrow to the neck, and is taken into protective custody, so to speak. Within months King Henry will slip back into madness and Richard of York will become regent once more. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
King Henry had every right to demand that Richard disperse his army. Richard claimed self-defense, but it was a weak argument. Nevertheless, Richard had broadsheets printed that explained what happened in the best terms possible. Everyone understood that something very dangerous had occurred so both sides worked very hard to tamp down their tempers. The truce held for a time. Further Information: The terms "War of the Roses" and "The Cousins War" will be coined later to describe this power struggle over the throne between the houses of York and Lancaster. Shakespeare will popularize a legend that the nobles chose sides by selecting a red rose for Lancaster or a white rose for York. This is total bunk but it sounds romantic so the legend persists. This is a complex subject so I've provided background information in the notes below. [6]

The Gutenberg Revolution

Up to this point the Gutenberg printing press has been making money printing various religious documents. Apparently this was big business, but now they've taken on the Bible. This Bible is the first major book printed using the new movable type printing press. The Bible is the Vulgate Latin translation by St. Jerome. 180 copies are ready to go in this first printing. Planning began 5 years ago and it has taken 3 years to produce. 48 copies of the original Gutenberg Bible will survive into the modern day. It is a thing of beauty. [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Most historians agree: the revolution starts now. The revolution is not so much the printing of the Bible because most people don't know Latin except for clergy and the aristocracy. The revolution is in the printing press itself. Many people will see the potential of the printing press because of this Bible. In 30 years hundreds if not thousands of Gutenberg printing presses with be in cities throughout Europe. Had the printing press existed during the time of John Wycliffe, 60 years earlier, his English translation of the Bible would have had a massive influence on civilization. As it is, the world will change in ways these people can't imagine right now.

When Is a Man Like a Cow?

The answer is.... when he is a prisoner. The jailer takes custody of a prisoner and is therefore responsible and liable for his value as he would be if his neighbor left his cow in custody. If a cow is lost while in custody of another, the custodian is responsible with the exception of theft or robbery by others. Thus if the prisoner's buddies came by, beat up the jailer and helped the prisoner escape, the jailer would not be monetarily responsible but if the jailer was negligent, the jailer must pay. This legal position will remain the law of the land for the next few hundred of years. [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The legal term for taking custody of property on behalf of another is "bailment". For example: when you leave your car AND THE KEYS with your mechanic you have created a condition of bailment. The mechanic is now responsible for your car should it be stolen or damaged unless your car is hit by a comet. Bailment usually applies to property, but a bail bondsman will put up money and guarantee that a defendant will show up for his trial on a date certain. The bail bondsman doesn't actually take custody of the defendant unless the defendant doesn't show up. Then Dog the Bounty Hunter will come looking for the defendant and take custody the hard way or the easy way. It's their choice. [9] [10]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1455, Wikipedia.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

History: The Year is 1454

I've uploaded year 1454 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Mad King Henry and Woodrow Wilson -- The King is catatonic after he lost France, leaving his wife with a newborn son to rule England all by herself in secret. President Woodrow Wilson's wife, Edith, did something similar when he fell to a stroke.

The Aztec Flower Wars --The Aztecs need more people for human sacrifices so they start a war so that they can take prisoners rather than sacrificing their own people.

The Birth of Amerigo --Ever wonder how America got it's name? I make a bit of a joke out of it here. I'll be more specific when it actually happens.

Mad King Henry and Woodrow Wilson

King Henry the 6th (a Lancaster) of England went catatonic after losing the 100 Year's War to the French. If his rival, Richard of York, finds out that the king is incapacitated there will be a fight for the throne. Queen Consort Margaret has no legal right to the throne yet she has been effectively ruling England for months. And ... she is pregnant! When she delivers her baby, a son, the English people really get behind her, but there is a technical problem. The King is catatonic so he can't acknowledge his child as his own. Rumors are flying that the child is not the king's son and some say that his real son died at birth and this is a switch! Queen Margaret is resolute and bold. She presents articles to the Parliament demanding that she be made regent... BUT SHE IS FRENCH! The Parliament doesn't fully trust her so they appoint Richard of York as regent. King Henry will recover by the end of the year and dismiss Richard as regent. Rumors that Queen Margaret hates Richard of York with a hot, hot hate seem reasonable. This fight is not over yet. [1] [2][3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In 1919 the First Lady of the United States, Edith Wilson, the wife of President Woodrow Wilson became "The First Man" (as one senator put it) after the President had a stroke that left him mentally incapacitated. Rather than give up the office to the Vice President, his wife, Edith, signed bills in her husband's name and tried to run the country. She had no formal education whatsoever. That didn't make her an idiot. It meant she was unprepared for the job. She later wrote of her role: "I studied every paper sent from the different Secretaries or Senators and tried to digest and present in tabloid form the things that, despite my vigilance, had to go to the President. I, myself, never made a single decision regarding the disposition of public affairs."
Most people think that is a load of hooey. Because the Constitution was vague concerning the mental incapacity of a President, the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1967 that spells out exactly what is to happen in that case.
For a good situational comedies on the same subject, see the movie "Dave" (1993) starring Kevin Kline and "King Ralph" (1991) starring John Goodman.[4] [5] [6] [7]

The Aztec Flower Wars

As a multi-year famine draws to an end, the Aztecs begin a ritual called "The Flower Wars." These are stylized engagements that are less war and more intimidation. The object of this ritual is to fight enough of a war so that prisoners are captured and offered to the gods as human sacrifices. The Aztecs believe that regular human sacrifices will keep the gods properly nourished and in exchange the gods will keep the Aztecs nourished and keep the famine away. Estimates on the number of human sacrifices vary wildly but 20,000 a year is plausible. [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Like cannibals who eat their enemies, the Aztecs wanted to sacrifice their neighbors rather than themselves. That meant that they needed a war but if the engagements became too aggressive, a lot of people from both sides would die. That's why they kept the war to a minimum. (This makes sense in a twisted way... I think.) In 1487, over a four day ritual celebration the Aztecs will sacrifice 14 human beings a minute for a total of over 80,000 human beings. Military historian Victor David Hanson wonders why his fellow historians don't often compare the Aztecs to the Nazis in these atrocities. I wonder the same thing. FYI... I'm Hispanic and Jewish. [10]

The Birth of Amerigo

If you ever tried to guess where the name "America" came from you are getting warm now. Amerigo Vespucci [ves-POO-chee] was born this year in Florence, Italy. He will grow up to become an explorer, navigator and cartographer. He will prove that Columbus was not exploring the east coast of India but rather an entirely new continent. [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Amerigo will not be the one to call the continent "America" though. That will be someone else who will remember Amerigo... but not Vespucci [ves-POO-chee], thank God!

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1454, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

History: The Year is 1453

I've uploaded year 1453 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

100 Years' War: The Last Battle -- No one knows it yet, but the 100 Years' War has come to and end. England has lost France forever.

The Fall of Constantinople -- The Ottoman Sultan decides he can't trust Christians and he can't afford to have Christians at his back so he takes Constantinople and turns it into Istanbul.

100 Years' War: The Last Battle

Since the death of King Henry the 5th of England and France, and the crowning of King Henry the 6th, the 100 Years' War has been prosecuted by the Duke of Bedford, an able commander, but with the death of Bedford, the English fight has faltered. King Charles the 7th of France has overcome his chronic depression (thanks to the office of The Royal Mistress) and has led his standing army of 20 companies of hand-picked mercenaries supported directly by the government rather than by plunder... the beginnings of a professional military. With the inspiration of Joan of Arc, the French troops have been so successful that all they have to do is to roll up with their cannons and a city will surrender without a shot fired. The final battle of this war is fought at Castillon. John Talbot advances his troops into the French firing line when he mistakes flying dust as the retreat of the French. The English have lost it all except for a toehold at the city of Calais on the French coast. They also maintain a presence on the Channel Island of Guernsey but France holds Jersey Island. No one knows it yet but this war is over. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
When one side wants peace at any price they pay a heavy price. England has lost France forever. An economic slump has produced general rebellion throughout Europe, and especially in England and Flanders. King Henry will take the blame for it all mostly because the nobles who owned lands in France are now disowned. This will have the unexpected effect of strengthening the English Parliament since it is the last bastion of stability against a passive and mentally ill king. The seeds of the "War of the Roses" have been sown. The nobles of York want a new king... someone who is not a Lancaster. [6]

The Fall of Constantinople

The Ottoman Sultan no longer trusts the Christians in his midst so he resolves to destroy the City of Constantinople and scatter the people of the Morea in Greece. A German engineer constructs a massive cannon for the Sultan's use but the boat used to transport it sinks under the weight so the Sultan orders a second cannon, twice as large. He fortifies the roads and bridges, moves the cannon to Constantinople and fires into the walls of the city. Sultan's navy does poorly in the assault. They twice ram the massive chain that hangs across the Golden Horn waterway without success. This enrages the Sultan. Within days, the city walls fall and with them, the last remnants of the Eastern Roman Empire are blotted out. Byzantium [bih-ZAN-tee-um] is no more. The city of Constantinople becomes the city of Istanbul. [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The eastern Christians scattered, looking for refuge in the western Christian world. They carried stories of terror that were mostly accurate. An advisor said that Emperor Constantine the 11th refused to run when escape was possible. Instead he said that he would rather die than run, threw off his royal robes, grabbed a sword and marched to the walls to defend the city. He found his death almost immediately. The Sultan had the Emperor's head cut off, impaled on a pike and paraded around the city. The Emperor was buried in an anonymous grave along with his men. There are rumors that his body was entombed in the south-east pier of the church of St Theodosia which is now a mosque. There is a coffin located there, but it is most likely someone else.[10] Additional observation: The fall of Constantinople effectively cuts off the markets to the east making it more important than ever for Europe to find a path around Africa to China and India.

 This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1453, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1452

I've uploaded year 1452 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Great Slump, the Lousy Password -- The shortage of wool has caused more than a slump in the economy... in this economy... WOOL IS MONEY! The weavers have declared a strike and a war ensues. A few warriors escape using the password. It's a bad, bad password.

China: Praying for the Grand Canal -- The Yangtze River floods, destroying the Grand Canal. The Emperor's solution is to build two new temples and pray. I also talk about Hurricane Katrina and government corruption.

The Great Slump, the Lousy Password

The Great Depression of the Middle Ages is called "The Great Slump." It began with a series of crop failures and livestock disease that led to a shortage of wool. This caused the cloth trade to drop off 35% to as much as 90% in some areas. This led to riots in England where the best wool comes from and a revolt in Ghent, Flanders where the best weavers work. The weavers guild declared a general strike last year and Duke Phillip the Good of Burgundy has declared war on the weavers. They will hold him off using "Mad Meg"[1], a sister of "Mons Meg," the monster cannon. Phillip the Good will hang every enemy combatant he captures except for a small company who guesses the password and makes it's way past the Burgundy troops. What is the password? "Burgundy." [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Why does the Duke of Burgundy care what happens in Flanders? Many of the aristocracy hold several titles based on marriages and inheritances. Phillip the Good is also the Count of Flanders. Part of the reason for this revolt is a shortage of silver in the economy. Transactions use either coin or barter and when there is a coin shortage they use WOOL as the main barter item. With the current shortage of wool you begin to see the problem. Wool is not just the material used for the workers to turn into cloth. WOOL IS MONEY TOO! How does one pay the workers, and buy supplies? Where is the money for financing the farm plots that the yeomen need? When money can't circulate, the economy breaks down into its most primitive forms. When even barter isn't working... riots ensue.

China: Praying for the Grand Canal

The Yangtze River or "Yellow River" has flooded yet again, knocking out the Great Canal that links the northern Chinese Capital of Beijing with coastal merchant traffic. After the flood of 1448 , several expensive improvements to the dykes were made to control flooding. Those improvements have washed away along with most of the usefulness of the Grand Canal. It is filled with silt. The Emperor has decided to build two temples in order to pray to the river gods to be good... Good luck with that one. [7] [8] [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Maintenance of the dykes along the Yangtze River will be an ongoing and very large expense, leading to opportunities for embezzlement of those funds. The idea that government officials might enrich themselves at the expense of vital and lifesaving facilities such as dykes to hold back the floods reminds me of when Hurricane Katrina (a force 3 hurricane) knocked out the dykes at New Orleans and Congressman William Jefferson (DEMOCRAT) was caught with $90,000 in his freezer. I don't know if he had much to do with the dykes but it was his district and he was convicted of accepting $500,000 in bribes. He began serving his 13-year sentence in 2012 in Beaumont, Texas. [11] [12] [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1452, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1451

I've uploaded year 1451 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

A Man with Vision  -- Nicholas of Cusa invents glasses for the nearsighted. He also posits that there are other worlds with beings such as ourselves.

The Afghan Empire  -- The Lodi dynasty is established in northern India. It is the first and last time an Afghan family will rule over the area but they will make an impression.

Christopher Columbus is Born... Jewish? -- No one really knows where or when Columbus was born. Many theories exist: each with some support... including one that claims he was born Jewish.

A Man with Vision

Nicholas of Cusa is an author, cardinal, mathematician, administrator and scientist who will one day be named "the first modern thinker." He is one of the first to be called a "Renaissance man" meaning that his learning is varied and deep. He has yet another skill. He grinds his own lenses. The first eyeglasses were invented in 1286 and were designed for reading things up close. Nicholas has invented a concave lens that will allow people with myopic vision to see things that are far away. Myopia is the condition where one can only see things near by ... thus it is often called "nearsightedness." [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa was such a versatile man. I did a quick search and came up with his quote about the Universe and Other Worlds: "Rather than think that so many stars and parts of the heavens are uninhabited and that this earth of ours alone is peopled - and that with beings perhaps of an inferior type - we will suppose that in every region there are inhabitants, differing in nature by rank and all owing their origin to God, who is the center and circumference of all stellar regions." He believed that the Earth was not the center of the Universe, and that the Earth was like any other heavenly body. If only Copernicus had known of such views, he might have published his work sooner and thus dragged science into the modern era.... but Copernicus won't be born until 1473. By the time he grows up it will be a different world. [5] [6]

The Afghan Empire

The Afghan emir, Bahlul Khan Lodi, has risen to take the throne of the Delhi Sultanate after the previous ruler abdicated. The Sultanate is part of what is now northern India and eastern Pakistan. If you will recall, Tamerlane forced the Delhi Sultanate to murder over a million Hindus simply because they refused to convert to Islam. Since that time the Delhi Sultante has been severely reduced but under the Lodi Dynasty the Sultanate will expand to become the Afghan Empire until it is overcome by the Persian Mongols in 1526 and be incorporated into the Mughal Empire. [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Nowadays the Lodi name is associated with the Lodi Gardens which are a series of tombs dedicated to the Lodi rulers. The tombs are quite beautiful but if you look closely you can see where some have been defaced with graffiti. Check out this YouTube video for a tour of the gardens.[10] [11]

Christopher Columbus is Born... Jewish?

Christopher Columbus will discover America in 1492 but he won't be the first to step foot on the North American continent. That honor will go to Leif Erikson in 999 and later John Cabot in 1497. Instead, Columbus will be inspired by the Travels of Marco Polo and guided by a totally scientific but utterly inaccurate map of the world from the Canary Islands to the Bahamas, Cuba and Hispaniola. Columbus will finally step foot on the South American continent in 1498. [12] [13][14]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The exact date and place of birth of Christopher Columbus are still up in the air. There is even evidence that he may have been Jewish. Doubt of his nationality comes from references he makes to himself in the medieval Spanish of the time and his own will seems to favor Jews and Jewish causes. Also... he doesn't speak Italian. While the name "Christopher" is clearly a Christian name, many Jews who were forced to convert would change their names to something obviously Christian. Nothing is proven but given that the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, there was a strong motivation for Columbus to keep his Jewish origins secret. [15] [16] [17] [18]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1451, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

History: The Year is 1450

I've uploaded year 1450 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Little Ice Age and the Wolves of Paris -- A harsh winter has pushed the wolves into Paris. 40 are killed. I also talk about Mission: Wolf in Colorado.

The Great Vowel Shift Revisited -- WTF! :-) I talk about how language changes so much it often becomes incomprehensible a few generations later. This explains the Talmud but I don't talk about that at all.

Headline History News -- How did "Mocha" come to mean "Coffee?" And the First Royal Mistress is actually a formal position at the Royal court.

The Little Ice Age and the Wolves of Paris

Through this harsh winter 30 children and 10 adults have been killed as a pack of wolves roam the streets of Paris. The wolves have a pack leader that the Paris citizens have named Courtaud [COOR-too] which means "stumpy" or "bobtail". Breaches in the city walls have made it easy for the wolf pack to moved in and out of populated areas. In the end, the wolf pack is lured to the Notre Dame Cathedral where the citizens spear and stone the wolves to death in front of the Church. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The most common reason for wolf attacks is rabies but that doesn't seem to be the case here. During the beginnings of Little Ice Age the winter cold intensified from 1430 to 1455. In difficult winters, wolves are forced into populated areas looking for food. Obviously when wolves live close to humans, attacks on humans will increase. In the coming years more and more wolf attacks will be reported. [4]In the modern day, there is a temptation to treat wolves like dogs but there is something primitive and unpredictable about wolves. I don't want to scare anyone, but this isn't "Lassie" we are talking about here. Kent Weber of Mission: Wolf in Colorado rescues wolf-dog crossbreeds and "pet" wolves that can't survive in the wild. He is educating the public that wolves are good for nature but not good for humans so don't make them "pets". Good advice.
[5] [6]

The Great Vowel Shift Revisited

At the beginning of the century people started speaking English by pronouncing their vowels more up the throat. No one knows what prompted this change. Scholars are mystified. English replaced Latin in court proceedings when it was ruled that the defendant should be able to understand what was said in court as he was being tried. King Henry the 5th started using English in his normal communications probably to gain popular support amongst the people. The bottom line is that the language has changed so radically and so quickly that a man who was a child in 1400 can barely be understood by his own grandchildren today. [7] [8]
Here is a modern example. Try to guess how your grandfather might react to the following:
OMG! Dad had a mobile moment when he forgot how to tie his bow tie, but luckily YouTube came through for him. :-) #WTF. [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
English was the language of the peasantry, but after the Black Death, there was a labor shortage and the aristocracy had to learn some English in order to talk to their English-speaking servants. Then the author, George Chaucer, wrote popular works in English. The majority of peasants didn't read, so who was reading his work? Lady Berkeley opened a grammar school for learning English. Do you think Lady Berkeley gave a hoot about teaching the peasants how to speak English? They already knew how. She was teaching the aristocracy and I think (without proof) that the aristocracy found the down-the-throat pronunciation difficult and softened the way it was spoken.

Headline History News

  • In a Word: Mocha: Coffee becomes a major export through the port city of Mocha in Yemen. [10] [11] [12]
  • The First Royal Mistress: France's First Mistress, Agn├Ęs Sorel, has died. She was the first to hold this formal position.[13] [14]
  • The Jack Cade Rebellion: The English peasants revolt over royal abuse of power, corruption and excessive war debt. [15]
  • Vatican Library: Pope Nicholas the 5th begins collecting books for the new Vatican Library.[16] [17]
  • John Cabot is Born: He will the first to step foot on the North American continent. [18]
  • The Incans: The construction of the hidden city of Machu Picchu begins. [19] [20] [21] [22]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1450, Wikipedia.

Monday, October 20, 2014

History: The Year is 1449

I've uploaded year 1449 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

China's Great Wall and the Lost Emperor -- After a successful battle with the Mongols the Chinese Emperor is captured on his way home by a force of 5,000 Mongols. How does a force of 5,000 beat a force of 500,000? Carefully.

Say Hello to My Little Friend: Mons(ter) Meg -- Mons Meg is a bombard cannon that throw a quarter ton projectile. It is a gift by the Duke of Burgundy to King James the 2nd of Scotland.

The English Get Spanked By the French... Again -- King Henry the 6th of England is losing battles and land. He is going to lose France entirely and this will set up the conditions for the War of the Roses.

China's Great Wall and the Lost Emperor

The previous Chinese Emperor has spent a lot of treasure and manpower in building up the Border Wall (what we know as the Great Wall of China). Unfortunately any wall is a waste of bricks if it isn't part of a more comprehensive defense plan. The Mongols have mounted a three-prong attack and Emperor Zhengtong is leading his army to defend the wall. Before he leaves he appoints his brother as regent and sets out with his troops, following the border and risking his flank. He arrives in time to repel the attack, but on the way back, the Emperor repeats his risky move and comes too close to the border rather than lead his army over his own lands. (Armies can be destructive as they tramp through your garden.) A small army of 5,000 Mongols wipes out the Emperor's forces of 500,000 and takes him captive. His brother (the regent) ransoms him and holds him under house arrest for several years. Zhengtong will be given the title of "grand emperor" that will be quite grand but not really emperor. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
How can 5,000 Mongols destroy an army of 500,000 Chinese led by their Emperor? The most direct problem is that the Emperor is 22 years old with very little military experience. He strings out his forces parallel to the border allowing the Mongols to strike at any point and be devastating locally. Next, the position of commander-in-chief was abolished because it was a threat to the Emperor. Wars are run directly by the Emperor or troop movements are decided by committee from the Capital. (I am reminded of the Vietnam War when President Johnson was picking bombing targets from Washington, D.C..[5]) Finally, armies are supplied by local communities which means the army is often poorly supplied if not starving. The Chinese will be throwing up another line of walls. It will almost be the death of them... almost.[6]


Say Hello to My Little Friend: Mons(ter) Meg

When is launching a quarter ton of stone through the air the most fun? Just about any time. What can make it more fun? Gun powder and Mons(ter) Meg. Phillip the Good, the Duke of Burgundy has this monster cannon (called a bombard) made for King James the 2nd of Scotland. It will fire a stone projectile of 550 pounds and will be used to break down defensive walls during a siege. It is so difficult to move that it will eventually lose it usefulness. Mons Meg will be used only for ceremonies until it bursts apart. In the modern day will be restored and returned to Edinburgh Castle. [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Gun powder is still very weak. The formula is not optimal and they aren't even corning the powder which is a very dangerous procedure but would increase the burn rate of the powder by several magnitudes. And the metal in these iron weapons are still poorly made and unreliable. These weapons are extremely heavy so moving them to where you need them becomes exceedingly difficult and expensive. That is why they became obsolete.

The English Get Spanked By the French... Again

Every since Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, the French army has been kicking the backside of the English. The City of Rouen surrendered to King Henry the 5th of England in 1419. It is also the place where Joan of Arc was judged and eventually burned at the stake in 1431. Now the city has been retaken by the French. King Henry the 6th has been a poor military leader when compared to his father or just about anyone else. He is going to lose France to the French forever. [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
King Henry's wife, Margaret of Anjou, is the niece of the King Charles the 7th of France, her husband's main rival. As King Henry loses more and more battles (and land) the nobles of England will become restless and blame Margaret as sort of a fifth column or spy. She will become one of the main characters in the upcoming War of the Roses, a war over the Throne of England between the Lancasters and the Yorks. [11] [12] [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1449, Wikipedia.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

History: The Year is 1448

I've uploaded year 1448 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers  -- The Haberdashers become a London guild and exist today as a charitable organization.

The Will to Win: The Second Battle of Kosovo -- The Hungarians have lost the will to win, and the Serbian king tries to remain neutral... for a time.

Headline History News -- China and the silver miners; Dracula take power; the last emperor of Constantinople; and the oldest orchestra.

The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers

The term "haberdasher" refers to a person who sells ribbons, buttons and other small items for dress. A group of haberdashers who attend the same church have joined together to improve the quality of their wares. The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers have established a coat of arms and this year they have been granted a charter as a London guild. Additionally they will maintain standards on the cloth used for making uniforms that are part of a nobleman's livery. The term "livery" concerns more than uniforms. It includes food, transportation (such as the Worshipful Company of Car Men) and accessories such as hand fans. In the modern day these livery guilds have converted themselves to modern purposes. For example: the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers has become an air conditioning guild. The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers still exists today and has turned to raising money for the poor and military families. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
These guilds served another purpose at the time. They placed a limit on commercialism. It was considered something of a sin to sell goods for money beyond the amount needed to maintain one's family. Even at that limit, it was considered a distasteful necessity. While the guilds were improving the quality of the goods that were sold, they were also controlling the profit they made while squeezing out their competition. However, as London expanded, they lost control of the outlying areas to rampant free trade... which may explain the expansion of the city.

The Will to Win: The Second Battle of Kosovo

The Kingdom of Hungary has been on the Ottoman's hit list ever since they took Kosovo from the Serbian Prince Lazar in 1389. The Hungarian Crusaders, led by John Hunyadi, pushed the Ottoman Turks back but the Serbian King George Branković has remained neutral so that his kingdom is not swallowed up by either side. John Hunyadi sees anyone who is not on his side as automatically for the OTHER side so John has attacked King George. King George informs the Ottomans of Johns movements and thus begins the Second Battle of Kosovo. The Hungarian and Albanian forces are outflanked and overrun by the Ottomans. John Hunyadi is captured and ransomed back to the Hungarians for 100,000 florins (about 13.9 million dollars). John's failure has doomed Hungary to future Ottoman control by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1526, but for now King George has saved the peace. In less than 10 years King George will die of old age and his son will POISON HIS OWN MOTHER in a fight for the throne. In the chaos the Turks will annex his kingdom. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The basic failure is a lack of the will to win. John Hunyadi broke a cease fire treaty with the Ottomans. Even though he had the permission of the Pope to attack the Ottomans and even enslave them, there is an underlying moral problem with breaking one's word that cuts against the grain... even at this time when many a nobleman's oath is for sale. Technically speaking, the Pope can abrogate a treaty like this, but it seems wrong at heart... and it seems foolish. King George was right. The Ottomans were too strong. The Christians couldn't leave well enough alone, and take time to build up their forces. This defeat has broken the will of the Christians to win later.

Headline History News

  • The Chinese Clamp Down on Silver Miners: With the flood of the Yangtze River, and the closing of the local sea port, the economy has taken a nosedive. People are mining silver and its making paper money worthless. The Ming Dynasty will soon move in troops.[11] [12]
  • Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) Rules: After his father is assassinated, Vlad the Impaler fights for his rightful place as Prince of Walachia which is south of Transylvania. He rules for two months before he is deposed but he will be back.
[13] [14]
  • The Last Emperor: Constantine the 11th becomes the last Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire. In a few years he will die in hand-to-hand combat defending the city walls of Constantinople.
[15] [16] [17] [18]
  • The Oldest Orchestra: The Royal Danish Orchestra has its beginnings as the Trumpet Corps of King Christian the 1st's royal court of Denmark established this year.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1448, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

History: The Year is 1447

I've uploaded year 1447 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Buying a Fort on the Installment Plan -- The hero of Albania is beating up on the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks. By next year the Venetians will be paying him off to leave them alone.

The Well-Born Pope Is Dead! -- The Pope who justified slavery with a papal bull dies this year. I go over the good and the bad.

Buying a Fort on the Installment Plan

Skanderbeg is a man who served the Ottoman Turks for years but he has broken away from the Ottomans and set himself up in Albania. The Venetians have been using Albania as a buffer zone between themselves and the Ottomans but after a dispute over a the ownership of a particular fort, the Venetians send in a force to protect their interests and thus begins the Albanian-Venetian War. Later the Ottomans will join in against the Albanians. Skanderbeg is a brilliant tactician and knows the Ottomans too well for their liking. By next year Skanderbeg will work out a settlement with the Venetians which will look for all the world like the Venetians are buying the fort from Skanderbeg on the installment plan. It will be an uneasy truce for a while yet. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Skanderbeg is the model hero of the Albanian war of independence which began in 1870 with the Albanian National Awakening and ended after Albania's independence in 1912. Although I've framed this segment as "buying a fort on the installment plan," paying Skanderbeg an annual pension of 1,400 ducats and a tax cut looks more like a bribe by the Venetians to please let them alone. Apparently Skanderbeg was doing really well despite not having a unified force behind him. His mobile tactics allowed him to split up his enemies and attack them in detail.[5]

The Well-Born Pope Is Dead!

Pope Eugene the 4th has passed away two weeks after receiving a unifying vote of confidence from Europe against the Antipope Felix the 5th. This agreement puts to rest the threat of a second schism in the Church. Pope Eugene had been holding court in Florence for years because Rome was utterly ungovernable. With his return to Rome in 1443 he funded a Crusade to push back the Ottoman Turks but instead of conquering the Turks, the Crusaders negotiated a 10-year truce. The Pope released the Crusaders from the treaty and sent them out again. Utterly unprepared for a second war, the Crusaders were destroyed, leaving Europe vulnerable to the Ottomans. Pope Eugene also struck a blow for slavery... designating the enslavement of Africans as a Crusade to bring the Africans to Christendom. Pope Eugene was an unhappy Pope, remarking on his deathbed that he wished he had never left his monastery. He is succeeded by Pope Nicholas the 5th who will bring the city of Rome back into order. [6] [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Most leaders are a mixed bag of good and bad. Pope Eugene was kind to the poor. He managed to stop a second schism in the Church, brought back to the fold various groups that had broken away during the previous schism. He even brought the Greek Church back to the Latin Church. Unfortunately this last unification was more theoretical than real. The agreement with the Greek Church was entirely one-sided in favor of the Latin Church and was probably negotiated that way because the Emperor of the Eastern Empire was desperate for a Crusade to be mounted against the Ottomans. That Crusade ended in disaster so the Latin and Greek Churches split once more. It probably wouldn't have worked in the long run anyway.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1447, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1446

I've uploaded year 1446 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Texas Tech and the Blarney Stone -- I talk about how the word Blarney was coined and how a few Texas tech engineering students found a chip off of the old Blarney Stone. It's still there, mounted in front of the engineering building. I'm not kidding.

Morea: You Shall Not Pass! -- The Morea is located on the Greek peninsula and is guarded by the Hexamillion Wall. The Sultan of the Ottoman Turks decides to knock down that wall and teach these Greeks a lesson.

Texas Tech and the Blarney Stone

This year the Blarney Stone is raised up 13 stories and set into the battlements of Blarney Castle in Ireland just outside of Cork. It is the castle of King Cormac MacCarthy of Munster. A tradition is that if you can lean out backwards over the battlements, across the void and kiss the stone you will be granted the gift of gab. Unfortunately a few people will plunge to their deaths in the attempt so kissing the Blarney Stone will be a rare event until handholds and a metal grating are installed.
Several legends surround the stone, most of which sound like the worst like of Blarney! The word "Blarney" is a good example. Legend has it that letters from Blarney Castle to Queen Elizabeth the 1st contained so many excuses and pretty words saying nothing that the Queen shouted "What Blarney!" thus coining the word. Is this true? No idea, but it sounds good. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
One of my sons went to Texas Tech University but he never mentioned that a piece of the Blarney Stone sits on a pedestal in front of the Electrical Engineering building today. The story goes that petroleum engineering students found the stone during a field trip and determined that it was a piece of the famous Blarney Stone missing since 1659. The credulous engineering staff had it mounted on a pedestal and unveiled their little monument on St. Patrick's Day, 1939 where it remains to this day. Engineering students will kiss the stone in order to grant themselves elegant speech. I have never met an engineer who has kissed the stone.[4] [5]

Morea: You Shall Not Pass!

The peninsula of the Morea is linked to the mainland of Greece by a narrow land bridge called the Isthmus of Corinth.[6] The isthmus is spanned by the Hexamilion Wall which blocks access to the Ottoman Turks. People have been moving to the relative safety of Morea from the city of Constantinople which has been under threat by the Ottoman Turks but there is no safe place in Morea now. The Ottoman Turks have decided to teach these Greeks a lesson. The Ottomans are using bombards... those large cannons that hurl stone projectiles of two feet in diameter. Most defensive walls will fall within days. The Hexamilion Wall falls in five. The Ottomans breach the wall and then the Sultan calls a halt to the invasion. He has made his point. The Greeks can run but they cannot hide. The wall will be repaired and the Ottomans will breech it again a few years later. The ruins of the Hexamillion Wall remain to this day. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Sultan, Murad the 2nd, is angry because the Christians have broken their word to him. He had signed a ten year truce with several European countries, including Hungary, but they broke that agreement after the Pope gave them permission. That was a mistake on several levels... tactical as well as moral. The Sultan retaliated and pinned the broken treaty to his banner as he led a massive army against the Christians. The Turks outnumbered the Christians 3 to 1. This last Crusade was destroyed and took what fight their was left out of the Christians. Sadly, hitting the Hexamillion Wall was an afterthought, frankly. [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1446, Wikipedia.