Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Time of Book Burning - Nazi's Burning of Souls

"Where books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too." 
 Heinrich Heine

An event unseen since the Middle Ages occurs as German students from universities formerly regarded as among the finest in the world, gather in Berlin and other German cities to burn books with "unGerman" ideas. Books by Freud, Einstein, Thomas Mann, Jack London, H.G. Wells and many others go up in flames as they give the Nazi salute.

In Berlin, Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels gave a speech to the students, stating...

"...The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end. The breakthrough of the German revolution has again cleared the way on the German path...The future German man will not just be a man of books, but a man of character. It is to this end that we want to educate you. As a young person, to already have the courage to face the pitiless glare, to overcome the fear of death, and to regain respect for death - this is the task of this young generation. And thus you do well in this midnight hour to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past. This is a strong, great and symbolic deed - a deed which should document the following for the world to know - Here the intellectual foundation of the November (Democratic) Republic is sinking to the ground, but from this wreckage the phoenix of a new spirit will triumphantly rise..."

The speech and book burning were accompanied by the singing of Nazi songs and anthems.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The History of Poland in 10 minutes

This is an interesting short video about Polish history from Middle Ages to Modern Time. Well, personally I think it needs more than 10 minutes to get a bits of a country's history, but if you are looking for a starting point - you may enjoy!!

Here are some book recommendations:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Olaudah Equiano - The African

Recent scholarship has raised doubts about whether or not abolitionist Olaudah Equiano, who was known in  his own lifetime as Gustavus Vassa, was born in Africa. While baptismal and naval documents indicate that he was born in South Carolina, it is argued here that his autobiographical account is nonetheless accurate, although allowing for reflection and information that was learned later in life. Information on facial markings (ichi) and other cultural features that are recounted in Vassa’s account indicate that he had first hand experience of his Igbo homeland and that he was about the age he thought he was at the time of his forced departure from the Bight of Biafra on a slave ship in 1754.
My life and fortune have been extremely chequered, and my adventures various. Even
those I have related are considerably abridged. If any incident in this little work should
appear uninteresting and trifling to most readers, I can only say, as my excuse for mentioning it, that almost every event of my life made an impression on my mind, and
influenced my conduct. I early accustomed myself to look at the hand of God in
the minutest occurrence, and to learn from it a lesson of morality and religion; and
in this light every circumstance I have related was to me of importance.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Slavic Nations in Medieval Time

Europe's population during the Middle Ages consisted, in one way or another, largely of Slavs. They were the largest single ethnic group in Europe. At first, they were located primarily in eastern and southeastern Europe. The South Slavs comprised what are now the Serbs and Croats; the West Slavs were the ancestors of the Poles and Czechs; and East Slavs - who became Eastern Orthodox - were the forerunners of the Russians and Ukranians.

Early polish Swiatovit, a four sided statues depicting a Slavic supreme deity

This schism would help define the differences between eastern and Western Slavs. Eastern Slavs were controlled by the violent Byzantine Empire, while Western Slavs were influenced by more progressive elements. Some historians believe that the iron-tight control imposed on Eastern Slavic countries in the Middle Ages led inevitably to modern socialism.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How Vikings honoured their dead

Elite Viking funerals were like giant theatrical performances, according to new researches. Piecing together evidence from Viking art, mythology and archeology and from non-Viking historical texts, Aberdeen University professor, Neil Price, has concluded that drama formed a key element in Norse funerary ritual from at least the eight to the tenth century.

He believes that Vikings acted out scenes from Norse mythology - and from the dead person's life. Indeed, he has concluded that there is a distinct possibility that some Viking mythology actually derives from dramatic representations of the lives and exploits of deceased heroes, performed at their funerals.
Some of the evidence comes from the Swedish Baltic island of Gotland where carved stones, erected to commemorate the dead, depict mythological stories.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

England as papal fiefdom and agreement of paying tribute to the pope

King John's surrender of his realm in 1213 was symbolised by his agreement to pay an annual tribute to the pope of 1,000 marks (666 pounds). This tribute was paid, albeit irregularly, into the 1290s. However, king Edward I and Edward II, John's grandson and great-grandson, found themselves increasingly at odds with the papacy, partly over their rights to collect their own taxes from the English church and also over the pope's partisan support for the king's of France. As a result, no tribute was paid in the 30 years before 1330. The last payment ever recorded was a token 1,000 pounds from Edward III in 1333, in expectation of papal favours.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hereford Mappa Mundi on show again

The Mappa Mundi was drawn on a sheet of vellum 64 x 54 inches, supported by an oak frame, with the actual map contained within a circle 52 inches in diameter. Most of the writing was with black ink, with red and gold leaf used for emphasis, and blue or green for rivers and seas . The Red Sea however, was depicted in red. Mountain ranges were indicated by scalloped designs and towns by walls and towers.

The Mappa Mundi from Hereford Cathedral, Herefordshire
Maps like the Mappa Mundi were produced in considerable numbers throughout the medieval period in "studios" dedicated to that purpose. A number of monks would have worked under a master such as Richard of Haldingham, making numerous copies of this and other manuscripts used by the Church for tuition.
The map bears the name of its author 'Richard of Haldingham or Lafford' (Holdingham and Sleaford in Lincolnshire). Recent research suggests a date of about 1300 for the creation of the map.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Legal Looting in Medieval England

In 1547, Thomas Michell murdered Eleanor and John Sydnam and then killed himself. Knowing Michell to be "a man of great possessions", the local undersheriff, Nicholas Sarger, rushed to the murderer's home to seize his belongings. When Sarger arrived, he found Michell's neighbours already in the house, busily removing everything they could carry. And they weren't the only ones taking an interest in the dead man's effects for, soon after, Nicholas Heath, the king's chief almoner, launched suits against Sarger and the others, claiming that the goods belonged to him.

This almighty scramble for loot in the wake of three violent deaths may appear more than a little unseemly. Yet, it was a common occurrence in 16th and 17th century fact, by the time Thomas Michell took his own life, the practice of appropriating criminal's possessions had been deeply embedded in English common law for centuries. The concept of felony forfeiture, as the practice is known, was first introduced under the Anglo-Saxons. By the 12th century, it was following a well-established formula, with criminals forfeiting their goods to the king and their lands to their lord - after the king taken the profit of those lands for a year and a day.

A house is pillaged in the 14th century

Friday, June 3, 2011

Post-war society: Social life in 1950's

What are you thinking when you see a pictures of your parents or grandparents back in 50's? Old black and white photos, people in simple clothing, sitting on the sofas with strange (looks almost shabby!!) upholstery, but, somehow, they seems happy. Life in the early 1950’s was still very strict and simple. Women were still obligated to the status of housewife and men were the main breadwinners in the family. Children, including teenagers, were to be seen and not heard but by the mid-1950’s, that was becoming more difficult because of newfound freedoms, rock and roll music, and other outlets teenagers had available to them. 

Family gathered around the radio
In USA, segregation and racism was still part of life and although there were some major changes to erase both like in 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation in public schools were unconstitutional, there were still problems forcing blacks to take drastic measures for equality and inclusion like in 1955, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus. 

Rosa Parks arrested in 1955

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Age of Enlightenment - The new way of thinking in the 18th century

Scientific Discoveries

The spectacular theoretical achievements capped by Newton in the seventeenth century were not repeated in the eighteenth. However, much of importance was done in the realm of theoretical refinement and in the laboratory.


Physics  In physics Pierre Laplace (1749-1827) refined the New­tonian mechanics to demonstrate that the solar system was a self-regulating mechanism. Joseph Lagrange (1736-1813) developed applications for differential calculus and was instrumental in the formulation and adoption of the metric system. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) advanced the study of electricity with his demonstration that lightning is an electrical discharge. In Italy Luigi Galvani (1737­-1798) studied the effect of electrical shock on muscles and Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) developed the voltaic cell or battery. 

Luigi Galvani's experiment
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