Thursday, June 4, 2015

History: The Year is 1588

I've uploaded year 1588 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Sudden Death Overtime: England vs. the Spanish Armada -- We have heard that the puny fleet of England was saved from the mighty Spanish armada by a chance storm, but the English had won that battle long before the storm came along.

The First Potatoes Reach Vienna -- It is only a novelty plant for now but it will become the salvation of Europe and China from the ravages of famine.

Sudden Death Overtime: England vs. the Spanish Armada

A few months before launching an attack on England, the commander of the Spanish Armada drops dead, and is replaced by a man with no naval experience. Most of their pilots are Castillian who have no experience sailing the Atlantic. The Spaniards usually hire the Portuguese for ocean sailing, but they are busy in the Philippines. The plan is to establish a beachhead in southern England and wait for a follow-on force to continue the invasion. (FYI, it never arrives. The Dutch have them blockaded.) The English ships spot the Armada and tack upwind to take the weather gauge position. For sailing, this is like taking the high ground before a battle. After two days of fighting, the English set fire to several of their own ships and float them in among the Spanish at anchor. Most of the Armada cut their anchor cables and scatter. The swifter English ships get in close and fire. Five Spanish ships go to the bottom. The Armada escapes north but as the Armada rounds Scotland they turn south too soon, bringing them too close to shore as a storm hits. 5,000 Spaniards lose their lives as their ships sink or are driven ashore in Ireland because they have no anchors to stabilize their ships. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Spanish Armada missed the turn south for two reasons: they had no reliable way to figure longitude and there was a strong opposing current that subtly pushed them back as they seemed to move forward. Something similar happens with airplanes as they fly into headwinds. Their engines are working just as hard as ever, but they don't advance as far because the headwind keeps pushing the plane back. In 1947, a few minutes before coming in for a landing at the Santiago airport in Chili, an airplane suddenly stopped its radio transmission to the tower. The plane never landed and the missing plane remained a mystery for 50 years until some wreckage was found on the other side of the Andes mountain range. The plane had been flying against the jet stream but didn't realize it, so the pilot thought he had already passed the Andes. He flew right into a mountain. [4]

The First Potatoes Reach Vienna

A novelty from the New World comes to Vienna. A few varieties of potatoes are brought to the Old World from the Andes after the conquering of the Incas. (By "a few varieties," I mean these are NOT a full cross section of what is available in Peru.) Over the years the government will realize that this plant could save them from famine. In fact the potato will be responsible for 1/4th of the growth in the European population in the next 100 years and the sweet potato will save the Chinese people. The potato and the sweet potato (which is not a real potato) will build nations... and virtually destroy them when the potato blight comes through, but that is in the future. For now it is just a novel plant with pretty flowers. [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The serious drop in temperature from the 1580 to 1600 was due to the Little Ice Age. This increased storm activity and the cold wiped out crops across Europe. Millions died of starvation in Russia during those decades. Coupled with inflation due to the silver glut, the poor could no longer afford food. To have a cold-weather crop like the potato come along at this time must have seemed like a God-send. Unfortunately part of the reason that the potato fell prey to the potato blight was the attempt to apply mono-crop methods to potato production and a lack of variety in potato species cultivated in Europe.

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