Saturday, January 13, 2018

Why History? Victor Davis Hanson

Excellent words by Victor Davis Hanson.

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 68 - The Crusades

The Crusades were a series of religious wars largely directed by the Roman Catholic Church against orthodoxies or movements that challenged that challenged Church hegemony.  Motivations for specific Crusades are mixed and extend beyond the conventional wisdom that they were directed solely against the spread of Islam. The following timeline illustrates some of the key events in Crusader history which was very much a feature of the European political landscape from the 11th to the 15th century.

Crusader Timeline

753 - Crusade ordered by Pope Stephen II against the Lombards.

1054 - East-West Christian Schism

1071 - Expansion of Seljuk Turk Empire after victory at Battle of Manzikert (against Byzantines).

1072 - Holy Land seized from Fatimids by Seljuk Turks.

1073 - Pope Gregory introduces concept of 'right order in the world'. Supports the idea of Christian princes recovering land from the Muslims in Spain. Church authority grows emboldened by the Investiture Controversy. Extension of the concept of the Just War.

1095 - Council of Cleremont called in response to the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Kmnenos calling for aid to fight the Seljuk Turks. Pope Urban II orders a Crusade to win back the lost territory and potentially re-unite both sides of the Christian church.

1096 - People's crusade led by Peter the Hermit. Ends in failure. Pogroms against the Jews carried out by Peasant groups in the Rhineland.

1095-1099 - First Crusade led by French Knights (consisting of Four Armies). Siege of Antioch key turning point. Principle players include: Godfrey of Bouillon, Baldwin of Boulogne, Raymond IV of Toulouse, Stephen of Blois, Robert Curthose of Normandy,Hugh of Vermandois, Bohemond of Taranto. 

1099 - Fall of Jerusalem to Crusader forces. 20,000 people massacred. Captured regions divided into four principalities. Godfrey of Bouillon becomes ruler of Jerusalem.

1113 - 1129 Founding of two Crusading Military orders - Knight's Templars and Knight's Hospitallers. Combine knighthood with monasticism. Main focus to protect pilgrams on the road to the Holy Land.

1147-1148 - Failed Second Crusade falls short of capturing Edessa. Crusade was led by King Louis VII of France and King Conrad of Germany. Edessa had fallen to Muslim forces in 1144.

1147 - Crusade against Wendish Pagans.

1157-1158 - Crusades launched against Muslims in Spain.

1169 - Saladin rules Egypt as a vassal of Turkish ruler Nur-al -Din.

1187 - Saladin defeats the King of Jerusalem Guy of Lusignan at the Battle of Hattin. Cature of True Cross. Tyre and Jerusalem fall to Saladin. Call for Third Crusade. Answered by the German Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, French King Philip Augustus and English King Richard the Lionheart.

​1189-1192 - Third Crusade. Frederick drowns in Cilicia. Philip returns after Acre is captured in 1191 and Richard campaigns until 1192. Richard had financed his crusade by extorting money from the Jews (Massacre of Jews occurred at York in 1190). Richard takes coast cities from Acre to Jaffa. His troops massacred 2,700 Muslim captives prior to his march to Jaffa. Richard will return home to deal with a domestic rebellion before taking Jerusalem. Although he did negotiate a three year deal with Saladin that would allow Christian's access to the Holy City while it remained under Muslim control. On his way home Richard was captured and held captive by Leopald V, Duke of Austria. He was released in 1194 after a ransom of 100,000 pounds of silver was paid.

1193 - Teutonic Order of Knights wages Crusade against Baltic Pagans.

1203 -1204 - Fourth Crusade called by Innocent III. Venetians pay for Crusade and ships are instead diverted to Constaninople. The Byzantine city is sacked and a Latin Kingdom is established in its place. The Byzantines will soon gain re-control over the city.

1209-1229 - Albigensian Crusade against Cathar heretics. in Southern France.

1212 - Crusade against Almohads in Spain.

1212 - Two Children's Crusades. Both end in failure

1218-1221 - Fifth Crusade. Trapped in Egypt. Ends in failure.

1228-1229 - Sixth Crusade. Not an official Crusade against Islam as its leader Emperor Frederick II had been excommunicated by the Pope for ignoring the Papal demand for an earlier Crusade. Crusade does however capture Jerusalem which is held by Christian forces until 1244.

1244 - Muslims recapture Jerusalem.

1248-1254 - Seventh Crusade. Well funded Crusade of  French king Louis IX is captured in Egypt. Fails to take Jerusalem and is returned home after ransom is paid.

1269-1270 - Eighth Crusade. Second Crusade of Louis IX ends when he dies of dysentery in Tunis.

1271 - Future English king Edward I leads in the East.

1291 - Last Crusader Kingdom in Levant located at Acre falls to the Muslim Mamluk forces.\

1306 - Knight's Hospitallers win control of Rhodes.

1307-1312 - Suppression of the Knight's Templars by King Philip V.

1314-1348 - Various Crusades (largely politically motivated) against groups opposed to Papacy in Hungary, Italy, Poland, Bohemia, Germany and Finland.

Map of the Crusades

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 67 - The Rise of the Monastic Orders

By the 11th century the Roman Catholic Church had virtually a monopolistic hold of all Christian belief in Western Europe. The Eastern Orthodox Churches enjoyed sway in the East since the East-West Schism of 1054. Monastic orders dedicated to a cloistered ascetic life had been a dominant feature of the Christian landscape since the founding of Christian monasticism by Saint Anthony the Great. Monastic traditions were not unique to Christianity (indeed one could argue that the Essenes associated with Judaism were Monastic in spirit) and existed in the Celtic world going back to the Roman Empire.
Irish Christianity is very much associated with a Monastic core as is the Christianity of Wales, Scotland and Cornwall.
However it is the great Monastic orders of the continent that were particularly influential in not only spearheading the Missionary drive but acting as repositories for medical development, text writing, musical innovation (eg. Gregorian chants) and the refinement of Alcohol (oh..those Trappist Monks).
Some key orders that developed were:

  • Benedictine – Founded in 529 at Monte Cassino. Known for their self-sufficiency.
  • Carthusians – Order open to both sexes. Founded by St. Bruno of Cologne.
  • Cistercians – Order of St. Bernard. Set up by Robert Molesme in 1098.
  • Clunicians – Very influential order during the Crusader time period.
  • Hieronymites – Order of Saint Jerome. Founded in Spain in the 14th century. Favoured Hermitic based life.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 66 - Gothic Architecture

If ever you wish to reflect on the Brilliance of Western Civilization look no further than the great cathedrals that define Gothic Architecture. Majestic, tall and inspiring these incredible buildings revolutionized our collective heritage with a unique fusion of science, design, artistic flair and constructive brilliance. Gothic Architecture continued the tradition of representing a celestial paradise on Earth.

Gothic Architecture (a term coined during the Renaissance) emerged in and around 1140 and included such features as the pointed arch, ribbed vaults and the flying buttress. While most Gothic Architecture is often associated with Cathedrals and Abbeys there were many castles, palaces and town halls that were built in the Gothic style.

An early forerunner of Gothic Architecture was Romanesque with excellent examples seen in the Maria Laach Abbey, Turn Collegiate Church and Lessay Abbey.
Variations in Gothic style are shown in the pictures of the following buildings: Amiens, Canterbury, Chartres, Cologne, Lincoln, Reims, Saint-Chapelle, Sante Croce, Toledo Tours and Ulm.

Source: Westminster Cathedral

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Life Form Types in a Speculative Universe

From my Book - History of the Future

(I used Hebrew Letters to name various regions of the galaxy).

Alumitoids: Aluminum-based organisms that are rigid in shape and have robotic features. Alumitoid bodies also have a high cellular magnesium and copper content. They are found mainly in the Dalet Region.
Casgains: Slime-like organisms composed of high fat and cholesterol superstructures, they originated in the Forbasch and Plamtoes zones of the Galaxy’s Hey region.
Diamanoids: A very dense carbon-based crystalline life form. Most diamanoids can metamorphose into graphite if necessary.
Fiticites: These iridium-based life forms often have pointed or jagged shapes.
Glymoids: These creatures have a crystalline structure that can take on a tetrahedral or icosahedrons form.
Hosgramins: Hydrogen-helium organisms, their sub-atomic interactions lead to alpha decay that provides energy for their metabolism.
Javolites: Sulfur-based organisms that use iodine and astatine to form cellular networks.
Mesomorphoids: These “super elastic organisms” are composed chiefly of bringbew, an inorganic, stretchable compound.
Nugoids: Organisms composed of a radioactive matrix, Nugoids are rich in elements from the lanthanide and actinide series of the periodic table.
Oragamin: Life forms based on a germanium version of DNA known as oragat. Oragamins are found largely in the Crstam zone of the Kuph region.
Organoid: A group of organic-based life forms, including Humanoids. Organoids are found throughout the Galaxy.
Percotoids: Living entities containing the rare compound percitonic acid. Percotonic acid acts as an agent for metabolism, forming molecular complexes that react selectively with various biochemicals to sustain life.
Pyres: Fire-like organisms that continuously ignite an external chemical source, usually on the skin, to yield energy. Pyres are often surrounded by an oscillating flame that resembles an energy halo.
Rigmoid: These organisms have an intricate three dimensional structure and a complex indefinable shape. The chemical rigmoinix, present in large amounts in the Zayen Region, acts as the linking agent holding their body structure together.
Rltoes: These organisms have a high degree of life specialization in both the structure and functioning of individual body parts. This feature is maintained through the manipulation of gyman particles.
Safamin: Specialized life forms that use the noble gases (neon, argon and radon) for biochemical functioning.
Trygoes: Silicon-cellulose organisms that use plasto-electric charges for mobility. They reproduce through a complicated diffusion-regulated technique of ion exchange.
Urltoids: Giant organisms (often thirty metres in height) composed of ultra-light trachyan fibres (silver oxides with garmium molecules). Most urltoids live in suspension approximately fifty metres above their specific planetary surfaces.
Zytins: Energy-matter life forms, Zytins can convert from one an energy to a matter life form and back again depending on their environmental constraints.

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 65 - Viking Power

The Vikings were a population of traders, raiders and settlers of Scandinavian origin (includes the Norse and the Danes) who played an important role in European history from the 8th to the 11th century. A pagan population with a distinct mythology, language system and writing the Vikings established many colonies throughout Europe and systematically influenced the geo-political development of the continent. The Viking heritage is scene throughout Europe in the place names, wood carvings, musical instrument development, coinage and literature. Norse mythology is pervasive in European culture. A Timeline of Key Events in Viking history is outlined below.

A Timeline of Viking History

789 – Vikings begin attacks on England
840 – City of Dublin, Ireland founded by the Vikings
862 -  Russian colony in Novgorod established by Viking Rus Ulrich.
866 – Vikings set up colony in York, England
871 – Alfred the Great halts Viking advance in England
879 – Kiev set up a centre of Viking domain (Kievan Rus)
900 – Vikings raid Mediterranean Sea
911 – Viking colony in Normandy established
981 – Erik the Red discovers Greenland
986 – Vikings reach Newfoundland waters.
995 – Norway becomes a Christian country. Christianity will spread to both Iceland and Greenland.
1002 – Irish under Brian Boru defeat Vikings
c. 1010 – Viking settlement in North America established. Leif Ericsson, the son of Eric the Red, is the founder. Territory is known as Vinland – colony located at L’Anse aux Meadows (Canada). Lief had already converted to Christianity by this date.
1013 – Danes conquer England
1028 – Knut (or Canute) rules as king of England, Norway and Denmark. Zenith of Viking power.
1050 – Founding of the City of Oslo in Norway.
1066 – Viking power deteriorates after the defeat of Harald Hadrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Source: Vikings with zest

The Western World in 300 Events: Event 64 - The Rise of the Normans

The Normans were a Scandinavian population group (of possible Danish, Icelandic and Norwegian extraction) who settled the region of France known as Normandy. Their name refers to their Norse origin and they are believed to have descended from pirates and raiders who settled the region under the leader Rollo.

It was Rollo, who swore an oath of fealty to a French crown as represented by Charles III of West Francia and over generations the Norse population mixed with the local Franco-Romans to produce the distinct Norman culture.

The Norman rulers were strict feudalists who raided as far south as Sicily and Cyprus, Eastward into the Levant, north into England and West to the Canary Islands. Famous Norman political figures included Richard I (who along with his brother took Sicily from the Muslims), Bohemond I and William the Conqueror. Their culture is most associated with Romanesque Architecture, a lively musical tradition and visual artwork that included illuminated manuscripts and tapestries.

English history was profoundly impacted by the Normans following the successful Invasion of the Home Country by troops loyal to Duke of Normandy, William, in 1066.   William defeated his Saxon rival Harold Godwinson (aka Haold II) at the Battle of Hastings, following Harold’s speedy advance southwards after he himself had defeated the Norwegian king Harald Hadrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

William (also known as William the Bastard) would later be known as William the Conqueror. He would consolidate power in England and rule as the First Norman King until 1087. His reign is associated with the compilation of the famed Domesday Book (A manuscript/survey/census of much of England/Wales at the time), a growth in Norman based feudalism, the revolt of the Earls and fighting with his oldest son Robert. He was responsible though for the building of the White Tower (the old keep) which forms part of the Tower of London.

William the Conqueror