Thursday, March 8, 2018

Middle Ages Arms Race

From simple tube bombards like the stubby piece at the top to the adjacent primitive banded breach loader, wars since the Middle Ages have often led to advances in weapons.  When such advances are pushed at a speedy pace in an effort to gain a tactical advantage on the battlefield an "Arms Race" can ensue. In the case European artillery it only took a few wars to develop the above pieces into a new commonly accepted standard as illustrated below with the gun and wheeled carriage design. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

A well trained knight was a skilled killing machine adept at the strengths and proper usage of the most common weapons of the time.  In the Middle Ages these could include weapons for bashing and smashing such as the mace, flail, morning-star; for cutting, and slicing the hand axe, battle-axe and halberd were preferred; when cutting and stabbing were called for the dagger, one handed sword, hand and a half bastard sword and the massive two handed sword were the most commonly used.  All knights were trained in the use of the lance for mounted combat and most could shoot the crossbow or bow.  All these weapons took years of practice to master and most knights practiced as if their lives depended upon it, as it would in real combat.

When it came to armor, a knight could always be counted on to purchase the best they could afford.  The poorest knights might be forced to use quilted, Brigantine or at worst hardened leather.  Those with more means would wear scalemail, chainmail or chain and plate while the wealthiest would have the best protection by using full plate.

Friday, December 2, 2016

You Can't tell a Nippon Clan with out a Mon

In Medieval Nippon, Mon were specific
designs, or family crests, that
were use to identify Lord Clans.
They would be used on clothing
as well as flags.
This hand fan design represented the Satake Clan

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Basic Roman Republic Government Offices


Senate and the People of Rome

For centuries, the Roman Republic's power was shared (but not evenly) between the Patricians who were the Social Upper Class of Rome and the Plebeians who were the Common People.  In a simplified form, here are the main offices of the Republic:

Consul (x2) –were the Chief Magistrates who were similar to a president or prime minister.

             Dictator (1) -was a temporary position with total power appointed for six month in time of crisis.

Pontifex Maximus (1)  –Chief Priest of the state religion, this was both a religious and political post (as Pontifex Maximus, Julius Caesar created the Julian calendar which is the basis of the current Gregorian calendar).

Censor (x2) –were in charge of the census (list of citizens) and  public morality.
Aedile (x4) –were in charge of public works.
Praetor (x8) –were law officers like judges similar the Supreme Court.
Tribunes (x10) –had the power to veto laws of the senate, Tribunes were elected plebeians.
             Veto -”I say no,” the power to cancel a law.
Quaestor (x20) –were treasury officers/tax collectors.
Senate –was the main law making body of Rome of three hundred Patricians.
Plebian Assemblies –were open to the common citizens (Plebeians) they were not as powerful as the Senate but did have an effect on daily life. These are the various assemblies:

Comitia Curiatia  -dealt with Roman life and religion as a forum for discussions.
Comitia Centuriata -military assembly that dealt with elections, war and was the highest court of appeal.
Concilium Plebuis -plebeian assembly that elected the Tribunes.
Comitia Tributa -tribal assembly that elected lower government officials.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Peter the Great-the Tsar that Europeanized Russia

Tsar Peter I, the Great (1672-1725, Emperor/Tsar 1682-1725) truly deserved the title "Great" as he was both a powerful ruler that brought Russia into the modern World and was, at 6 feet 8 inches tall, also a giant for the time period.  He was a man of immense energy, ruthless when need be, cruel when crossed and a lover of power and war. His vision to make Russia a World power led to a cultural change that was not popular with many Russian nobles and commoners alike.  After visiting Western European countries as a young man he decided to modernize his military, his government and even build a new capital, appropriately named after himself-St. Petersburg.  It was a small matter that the land for his new capital belonged to Sweden at the time, war would settle that problem.  Dealing with his own people was a challenge in its self, he passed laws enforcing a variety of Western European ideas such as clothing, building a modern navy, reorganization the army and the like.  He even made a law that encouraged shaving by taxing beards. 

Through war Peter enlarged the Russian Empire, through politics he reorganized and streamlined the government, forced the Orthodox Church hierarchy to obey him and increased his already near total power over the state.  To further Russia's claims in Siberia and the Pacific Coast, he sent both settlers and explorers to the East.  The most famous of the latter was Captain Vitus Bering whose explorations gave Russia a claim the to lands bordering the sea that bears his name. 

By the end of his reign with his death in 1725, Tsar Peter I had forever changed the face of Russia and the political power system of European Nations.  Russia was now one of the major powers, although her importance would often be enhanced or diminished by the quality of the Tsars and Tsarinas who held the autocratic power.  Yet Peter had set the nation on the path to greatness, after him there would be no going back to the old ways.  Other powerful Russian leaders would build upon his foundations,  Russia was now a major player on the World stage.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Death to the Middle Ages Knights

This early style handgun was the beginning of the end for the heavily armored knights.  It was fairly simple to use, somewhat inexpensive to produce and deadly at close range.  A hit would punch through most armor, giving common infantry a deadly way to deal with expensive knights. Cheap and fast to learn (hand gunners could be trained in weeks vs the five or more years it took to train a longbowman) were added bonuses.  Soon  armies would begin to rely on improved matchlocks that would take control of the battlefield. 

This heavier "hand cannon" gave the Middle Ages infantry brutal killing power, at close range.  The dawning of the age of gunpowder was at hand.  Warfare would never be the same.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Deadly Poem

Ring-a-Ring o'Rosies
A Pocket full of Posies
"A-tishoo! A-tishoo!"
We all fall Down!

A simple children's nursery rhyme with a much more sinister (although some sources point to other interpretations) meaning-the massive deaths from the Bubonic Plagues of the 14th to 17 centuries. 

Ring-a-Ring o'Rosies: represented the blotches and sores of the disease. 
A Pocket full of Posies: was the attempt to ward off the disease by smelling fresh herbs and fragrant flowers to counter the "poisonous vapours." *
"A-tishoo! A-tishoo!": the sneezing that took hold of the victim's in the final stage of the disease.
We all fall Down!: the sick drop dead.

(or is it-Modern revisionists doubt the story while many Old English historians believe it)

Results of the "Black Death" in the 14th century Europe are estimated to be in excess of 25 million in less than five years (1347-1352).  Thus the plague killed a third of the European population in general and more than fifty percent of the people of many communities such as the City of Venice.  So many died that the entire economy and social systems of Europe were radically changed.  The individual was now more valuable as their was often a great shortage of labor. The plague would continue to revisit Europe for the next three hundred years. At its height in the  outbreak of 1666, the pandemic was killing more than 5000 people a day just in London. The plague's last great Asian outbreak at the start of the 20th century killed over 10 million alone just in British Colonial India.  The disease is still found throughout the World today, but luckily for all it is treatable with modern medicine.

*The belief that sight and smells could carry and spread the disease led to another saying "Seeing the World through rose colored glasses."  Doctors and others would wear a mask that had rose colored glass eyepieces that they believed would  prevent them from getting the disease.  As an added protection the nose of the mask would be filled with herbs and sweet flowers to defeat the deadly vapours.  The concept that deadly diseases such as Yellow Fever, Cholera, Malaria and the like were transmitted by "Deadly Vapours" lasted into the early 20th century.