Monday, August 29, 2011

Public transport under Tudors and Stuarts

The public transport at the beginning of 17th century was almost non-existent. If you wanted to risk your life, you could take a ferry across or along the Thames in London, but the watermen were notoriously rude, the river was effectively an open sewer, and the boats occasionally sank. Rich people had horses to ride and carriages to be carried in, but everyone else had to walk. All that was to change in 1643, when a Captain Baily, who had once sailed in the fleet of Sir Walter Ralegh, launched a fleet of his own.

Mughal India and the growth of British power

The Foundation and the Rise
Founded in the early 16th century, the Mughal empire was at its height from 1550s to the 1650s, preceding over a golden age of religious cooperation and cultural synthesis. But in the 18th century it rapidly disintegrated, with the British emerging as the victors over the French and the Maratha Hindus in the struggle for the succession.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Last Druids

In the summer of AD 60, a vast Roman army commanded by the Governor of Britain, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, descended on the coast of north Wales. This well disciplined fighting force was directed at eradicating all resistance on the island of Anglesey (Mona Insulis), which lay just off the coast.

There were several motives behind Rome's assault against Anglesey. For Tacitus, the reasons for Paulinus choosing to attack the island were twofold: "Mona Insulis contained a large population, while it also acted as a haven for refugees." Paulinus therefore appears to have been intending to remove this independent refuge to which opponents of Roman rule had been fleeing.

The large population of Anglesey also offered the prospect of vast financial rewards for the Romans; with military victory, many of the island's inhabitants would be enslaved, generating considerable profits when sold on the slave markets.Evidence of the trade in humanity practiced in Celtic as well as Roman society came to light in 1943 when slave chains were discovered in Llyn Cerrig Bach in south-west Anglesey.

Anglesey was also agriculturally rich, often referred to as the breadbasket of north Wales, and the island also possessed desirable mineral deposits, especially copper. However, there is a little doubting that the principal reason for Roman attack was that the island was the focal point of Druidism in Britain.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Brief History of Prosthetic Medicine

The Egyptians were the early pioneers of prosthetic technology. Their rudimentary, prosthetic limbs were made of fiber and it is believed that they were worn more for a sense of “wholeness” than function. However, scientists recently discovered what is said to be the world's first prosthetic toe from an Egyptian mummy and it appears to have been functional.
424 B.C. to 1 B.C.

An artificial leg dating to about 300 B.C. was unearthed at Capua, Italy, in 1858. It was made of bronze and iron, with a wooden core, apparently for a below-knee amputee. In 424 B.C., Herodotus wrote of a Persian seer who was condemned to death but escaped by amputating his own foot and making a wooden filler to walk 30 miles to the next town.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

On this day: First block in Berlin Wall was set up

In the afternoon of August 12 at 4 p.m. Walter Ulbricht, the East German leader, signed the commands to close the border. Next Sunday at midnight the army, police and the "Kampfgruppen" began to bolt the city. The wall is built and separates the city into two parts for more than 28 years.
Streets, the railway and the S-Bahn (city railway) are broken, stations of the U-Bahn (underground railway) are closed, even cemeteries are not spared. Nothing is forgotten and the East Germans will not be allowed to free travel to the West until 1989.

Building the wall

Friday, August 12, 2011

On this day: King Phillip's War was ended

King Philip's War of 1675-1676 was a predictable Indian rebellion against continuing Puritan incursions into Native American lands. Though Indian attacks were vicious, they were no more so than those the Puritans had waged with less provocation.

In May of 1637, several hundred recent Connecticut Valley settlers led by English Captain John Mason, formerly of Boston's Dorchester settlement, surprised and torched a Pequot village while its warriors were absent. The Puritans surrounded the village and shot hundreds of women, old men and children attempting to escape the flames. An eyewitness account of that horror reads "It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the flames, and horrible was the stink and scent thereof; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the praise thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them." John Mason wrote back to Dorchester that God had "laughed at his enemies and the enemies of his people,...making them as a fiery oven."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

On this day: Ronald Reagan's "Slip of the Tongue"

On August 11, 1984, as he prepared for his weekly address on National Public Radio, then-US President Ronald Reagan made his legendary voice check, when, instead of uttering the usual “testing,” declared: "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes."

The recording of the joke, though not broadcast over the air as was the common misconception, was still smuggled to the outside world, provoking a general embarrassment worldwide.

The moment the president's flippant remark was released, it immediately caused a stir both in the United States and abroad. Most international media responded with outrage, fearing that the joke about "outlawing" the Soviet Union had once again put the two superpowers on the verge of a third world war.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Victoria Kaʻiulani, Princess of The Lost Empire

Princess Ka'iulani  (1875 - 1899)
Victoria Kaʻiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawēkiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn (1875–1899) was heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and held the title of crown princess. Kaʻiulani became known throughout the world for her intelligence, beauty and determination. Her royal status, talent and double-ancestry (Hawaiian-Scottish) kept her frequently in the press of the day, and newspaper accounts of her comings and goings throughout her life are extensive, often parallel or interconnected with those of Queen Liliʻuokalani.
She never wanted her people to be able to say that she, as next in line to the throne, made no effort on their behalf. The most notable (and well-known) instance of this took the form of an unofficial visit with the then U.S. President Grover Cleveland and his wife. While there was no direct political discussion (and no meal shared, as depicted in a recent film) during this short White House meeting, without doubt the Princess' grace and dignity impressed the Clevelands greatly, increasing the President's already existing sympathy for the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi's independence. Her role as representative of her people's rights and wishes was understood.

Anglo-Saxon Gold Rewrites History

An enormous hoard of gold, unearthed in a field near the village of Hammerwich, near Lichfield, in Staffordshire, UK, on 5th July 2009, is proving to be one of the most astonishing European archeological discoveries for decades.

The one of newly photographed artefact
The find, discovered by an amateur metal-detecting enthusiast Terry Herbert - comprises more than 1,500 items, amounting to more than five kilogrammes of gold and including remains of 84 sword pommels, three crosses and several helmets. This compares with the 1.5 kilogrammes of gold in Sutton Hoo in Suffolk - previously the largest Anglo-Saxon treasure trove ever discovered.

Jesse Owens: The Hero of the Games

James Cleveland Owens was born in Oakville, Alabama, on September 12, 1913, the son of a sharecropper, a farmer who rents land. He was a sickly child, often too frail to help his father and brothers in the fields. The family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1921, for better work opportunities. There was little improvement in their life, but the move did enable young Owens to enter public school, where a teacher accidentally wrote down his name as "Jesse" instead of J. C. He carried the name with him for the rest of his life.

Jesse Owens in the peak of his career

When Owens was in the fifth grade, the athletic supervisor asked him to join the track team. From a skinny boy he developed into a strong runner, and in junior high school he set a record for the 100-yard dash. In high school in 1933 he won the 100-yard dash, the 200-yard dash, and the broad jump in the National Interscholastic Championships. Owens was such a complete athlete, a coach said he seemed to float over the ground when he ran.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What is the right way to teach history in British schools?

Everyone has an opinion about history in schools. Andrew Marr and Terry Deary certainly do. But it doesn’t follow that, because they have opposing views, one of them must be right. Both have interesting things to say, particularly about the importance or otherwise of subject knowledge.

In any case, what are we to make of Terry Deary’s assumption that it doesn’t matter whether pupils know the names of dead prime ministers? Is it because they’re dead? History would be a rather thin discipline if we excluded people from study because they’re no longer living. Or does he just dislike prime ministers?
Whatever the reason, it seems a bizarre approach to studying the past, as well as a rather selfish one. I bet Terry Deary knows about Gladstone and Disraeli. It’s because he knows about them that he can so confidently assert that they don’t matter. I think our pupils have quite as much right to know about them as he does – more, indeed, if they’re studying 19th-century British history, since they’d actually find this knowledge quite useful.

Prime Minister Gladstone - Should we know about him?
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