Friday, December 13, 2013

Song Dynasty-Two Lands-One Golden Age

In 960 CE the dysfunctional Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period of Imperial history was replaced by the creation of another Golden Age through leadership of the Song Dynasty. The Song were known for their many technological advances such as the bicycle chain, mechanical clock, compass, windmill and movable type that allowed the mass production of  books including the worlds first medical encyclopedia. Advances in the development of improved rice strains provided food surpluses that allowed further city and population growth throughout the empire.  Even the style government was revamped with the full establishment of the "Scholar-Official" Class of administrators.
Zhao Kuangyi-Emperor Taizu (960-976 CE) founder of the Song Dynasty.
Some of the China' greatest classical poets, artists and writers appeared during the 300 plus years of Song rule.  Scholars such as Mi Fu, Zhuxi, Ouyang Xiu, Su Shi, Sima Guang and Shen Kuo created works that are still studied and admired to this very day.
Yet the Song had many enemies, first the Jin took Northern China in 1127 CE restricting the Song to the Southern part of the country.  Here they were able to hold out for another two centuries till the 13th century when they finally fell to the overwhelming might of the Mongols in 1279.  Another Gold Age was laid waste as China was ruled by the foreign Yuan Dynasty for almost a century.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The First Tsar

First "Tsar of All the Russias"-Ivan IV Vasilyevich (Tsar-1547-1584), also known as "Ivan the Terrible."  Formally titled the Grand Prince of Moscow (Prince-1537-1547), Ivan created a new Imperial title "Caesar" or Tsar in Russian. His foreign policy lead to the annexation of substantial lands to the East and Southeast as well as the importation of West European goods technologies (including the first printing press in Russia). The first Russian exploration and expansion into the vast lands of Siberia occurred during his reign.

His domestic policies revamped the government, created the Zemsky Sobor (a Feudal style parliament) and strengthened the hold of the lords over the Serfs.  He was responsible for the first "Modern " (for the 16th century that is) government in Russia.

He is often called "Ivan the Terrible" for his brutal actions against those that he believed were his enemies, both real and imagined.  He is blamed for countless massacres (the cities of Novgorod and Kazan experienced especially brutal treatment), enslavements, banishments and murders including killing his own son during a fit of temper. 

Ivan IV was a complex man, dangerous, often unpredictable, ruthless and always a ruler who understood power and how to use it to his best advantage.  By the time of his death Medieval Russia had also died and the foundation for the Russian Empire had been formed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Constantine the Great

Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus, Emperor of Rome 306-337 CE. died of natural causes at the age of 65. Last of the great "Roman Emperors." He is famous for shoring up much of the strength of the Empire, accepting Christianity as the leading religion of the Empire and moving the capital further East to what he called "New Rome" (Constantinople). The acceptance of the growth and power of the Christian Religion was to have enormous Social ramifications for the history of Europe and the rest of the World. While the choice of his new capital, closer to the Eastern threats to the Empire as well as its greatest wealth, would lay the foundations for the survival (through the as yet unborn Eastern Roman Empire) of Roman technology and knowledge well into the 15th century.
The city of Constantine, Constantinople (Modern Day Istanbul), ancient Greek city of Byzantium, rebuilt (circa 330 CE) with a new name and destiny as the new capital of the Roman Empire. Protected on three sides by the sea and on land by the greatest city walls ever constructed, Constantinople would rule first the Roman World and then the Eastern Roman Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire) for more than a thousand years, until its fall to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 CE.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Same Year by any Name

2013 A.D. or 2013 C.E. is there any difference in the date due to the abbreviation? No, the former, A.D., is an abbreviation for the Latin words Anno Domini, which means “in the year of God” (not after death as many mistakenly believe) and refers to the time after the birth of Christ. This designation was chosen in the Middle Ages when they guessed at the date of the birth of Christ and arbitrarily chose a date for the year 1 AD. Today C.E., meaning Common Era, has become widely used to identify the European system of calendar dating. In a similar vein, the older B.C., “Before Christ,” has been replaced with B.C.E., meaning “Before Common Era” in many texts today. So be it 44 B.C.E. or 44 B.C., the date is the same. Side note: when using approximate dates the term “circa” (about or around this time) is often used. An example might be: “The Roman Republic was created circa 500 B.C.E.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Selected Biblography by Time Period

Pre 500 CE/AD
Aldred, Cyril. Egypt to the End of the Old Kingdom, McGraw-Hill. 1965.
Boardman, John. Greek Art, Oxford University Press. 1978.
Cooper, J.C. Symbolic & Mythological Animals,Aquarian/Thorsons. 1992.
Cotterel, Arthur. World Mythology, Parragon Publishing. 2005,
Cotterel, Arthur and Storm, Rachel. The Ultimate Encylopedia of Mythology, the myths and legends of the Ancient Worlds from Greece, Rome and Ancient Egypt to the Norseand Celtic lands, through Persia, and India to China and the Far East, Hermes House. 1999.
Desroches-Noblecourt, Christine. Tutankhamen, Life and Death of a Pharaoh, New York Graphic Society. 1963.
Grant, Michael. A Social History of Greece and Rome, Cahrles Scribner's Sons. 1992.
Hadas, Moses. Imperial Rome, Time Inc. 1965.
Hamilton, Edith. Mythology-Timeless Tales of Gods and Heros, Mentor Books. 1942.
Hanscom, James H. and Hayes, Carlton J.H. Ancient Civilizations, Prehistory to the Fall of Rome, Macmillan. 1968.
Hoffman, Ross J.S. Man and His History, World History and Western Civilization, Doubleday & Company. 1961.
Kerrigan, Michael. A Dark History of the Roman Emperors, from Julius Caesar to the Fall of Rome, Metro Books. 2008.
Leick, Gwendolyn. The Babylonians, Routeledge.2003.
Herzberg, Max J. Myths and their Meaning, Allyn and Bacon, Inc. 1984.
Hodge, Jessica. Who's Who in Classical Mythology, Brompton Books Corp. 1995.
Kramer, Samuel N. Mythologies of the Ancient World, Archer Books. 1961.
Littman, Robert J. The Greek Experiment, Imperialism and Social Conflict 800-400 BC, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1974.
MacKenzie, Finlay. Chinese Art Spring Books, 1961.
Mavromataki, Maria. Greek Mythology and Religion, Haitalis. 1997.
McKay, Liz and Santon, Kate, Editors. Atlas of World History, from the Origins of Mankind to the Present Day, Parragon Publishing, 2005.
Mellaart, James. Earliest Civilizations of the Near East, McGraw Hill. 1965.
Rice, Ros. Battles of the Ancient World, 1285 BC - AD 451 from Kadesh to Catalaunian Field Metro Books. 2007.
Rodgers, Nigel. Roman Empire, Metro Books. 2008.
Sansom, G.B. Japan A Short Cultural History, Stanford University Press. 1978.
Stewart, Robert; Twist, Chris and Horton, Edward. Mysteries of History, National Geographic. 2003.
Stillman, Gordan. Roman Rulers and Rebels, Independent School Press. 1972
Strauss, Barry S. and Ober, Josiah. The Anatomy of Error, Ancient Military Disasters and their Lessons for Modern Strategists, St. Martins Press. 1990.
Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
Tacitus, The Annal of Imperial Rome.
Tarradell, M. Roman Art in Spain, Tudor Publishing. 1969.
Weber, Eugen. The Western Tradition, from the Ancient World to Louis XIV, D.C. Heath and CO. 1972.
Wells, H.G. A Short History of the World, Cassell and Co. Ltd. Publishing. 1922.
Wenli, Zhang. The Qin Terracotta Army, Treasures of the Lingtong, Scalla Books and Cultural Relics Publishing House, 1996.
Wright, Chris. Korea, its History and Culture, Korean Overseas Information Service, 1996.
Wright, G. Ernest, Great People of the Bible and How They Lived, Readers Digest Association, Inc. 1974.

Post 500 CE/AD
Anderson, M.S. The Ascendancy of Europe, 1815-1914, Longman. 1972.
Arnstein, Walter L. Britain Yesterday and Today, 1830to the Present, Houghton Mifflin. 2001.
Barthorp, Michael. The Zulu War, a Pictorial History, Brantford.1981.
Briggs, Asa and Clavin, Patricia. Modern Europe 1789-1989, Longman. 1997.
Brinton, Crane. A Decade of Revolution, 1789-1799, Harper Torchbooks.1963.
Brody, David. Essays on the Age of Enterprise: 1870-1900, Dryden Press. 1974.
Buricchi, Susanna and Bucci, Cristina. Renaissance Art, Masterpieces in Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, Barnes and Noble. 2007.
Cadbury, Deborah. Dreams of Iron and Steel, Seven Wonders of the Nineteenth Century, from the Building of the London Sewers to the Panama Canal, Fourth Estate. 2004.
Cahill, Thomas. Heretics and Heros, How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World, Doubleday. 2013.
Cairns, Trevor. The Twentieh Century, Cambridge University Press. 1983.
Clark, Fredrick and Hayes, Carlton. Medieval and Early Modern Times, the Age of Justinian to the Eighteenth Century, Macmillan. 1966.
Clark, Sir George. The Seventeenth Century, Oxford University Press. 1970.
Capra, Fritjof. Learning from Leonardo, Decoding the Notebooks of a Genius, Berrett-Koehler Pub. Inc. 2013.
Cleary, Thomas. Code of the Samurai, A Modern Translation of the Bushido Shoshinshu of Tara Shiesuke, Tuttle Martial Arts. 1999.
Connelly, Owen. The Epoch of Napoleon, Holt Rinehart and Winston Inc. 1972.
Cortazzi, Hugh. The Japanese Achievment, St. Martin's Press. 1990.
Cosman, Madeleine P. Fabulous Feasts, Medieval Cookery and Ceremony, George Braziller Inc. 1976.
Cox, George W. The Crusades Charles Scribner's Sons. 1893.*
Danziger, Danny and Gillingham, John. 1215, The Year of the Magna Carta, Simon and Schuster. 2003.
DiCaprio, Lisa and Wiesner, Merry E. Lives and Voices, Sources in European Women's History, Houghton Mifflin Co. 2001.
Elliot, T.H. Europe Divided, 1559-1598, Harper and Row. 1968.
Esposito, Vincent. The West Point Atlas of American Wars, Vol. One, 1689-1900, Dept. of Military Art and Engineering, U.S. Military Academy. 1959.
Esposito, Vincent. The West Point Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars, Dept. of Military Art and Engineering, U.S. Military Academy. 1964.
Fagan, Brian. The Adventure of Archeology, National Geographic. 1985.
Fage, J.D. An Atlas of African History, Africana Publishing. 1978.
Fairbanks, John K. The Great Chinese Revolution, 1800-1985, Harper Perennial. 1987.
Farwell, Byron. Armies of the Raj, from the Great Indian Mutiny to Independence: 1858-1947, W.W. Norton & Co. 1989.
Farwell, Bryon. Queen Victoria's Little Wars, Harper and Row. 1972.
Featherstone, Donald. Victoria's Enemies, an A-Z of British Colonial Warfare, Brantford. 1898.
Gartner, Peter J. Art and Architecture Musee D'Orsay, Konemann Verlagagesellschaft. 2001.
Gibson, Charles. Spain in America, Harper Colophon Books. 1966.
Gilbert, Martin. Atlas of Russina History, Dorset Press. 1972.
Gollwitzer, Heinz. Europe in the Age of Imperialism 1880-1914, 1969.
Gordan, Irving. World History, Amsco School Publishing Inc.1996.
Gravett, Christopher. Castles and Fortifications from around the World, Thalamus Publishing. 2001.
Greenhalgh, Paul. Art Nouveau, 1890-1914, Harry N. Adams. 2000.
Hale, Oron. The grand Illusion, 1900-1914, Harper Torchbooks. 1971.
Hayes, Carlton. A Generation of Materialism, 1871-1900, Harper Tourchbooks. 1963.
Hanson, Neil. The Confident Hope of a Miracle, the True History of the Spanish Armada, Vintage Books. 2003.
Hardin, Terri. Forts and Castles, Masterpieces of Architecture, Smithmark. 1997.
Hartog, Leo de. Genghis Khan, Conqueror of the World, Barnes & Noble Press. 1989.
Headrick, Daniel R. The Tools of Empire, Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century, Oxford University Press. 1981.
Hershey, John. Hiroshima, Alfred A. Knopf Inc. 1946.
Kirchner, Walter. A History of Russia, Harper & Row, Publishers. 1976.
Kure, Mitsuo. Samurai, Chartwell Books.2007. McKay, Liz and Santon, Kate, Editors. Atlas of World History, from the Origins of Mankind to the Present Day, Parragon Publishing, 2005.
LaFeber, Walter. America Russia, and the Cold War 1945-1975, John Wiley and Sons, 1976.
Lao Tzu. The Way of Life, Signet Classic. 2001.
Lunenfeld, Marvin. 1492 Discovery Invasion Encounter, D.C. Heath and Company. 1991.
Menzies, Gavin. 1434, the Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance, Harper Collins Publisher, 2008.
McCullough, David. 1776, Simon and Schuster. 2005.
Morgan, Edmund S. The Puritan Dilemma, the Story of John Winthrop, Little Brown and Co. 1958.
Moss, Norman. Nineteen Weeks, America, Britain and the Fateful Summer of 1940, Endeavor Press. 2014.
Oman, Charles W.C. Castles, An illustrated guide through 80 castles of England and Wales, Beekman House. 1928.
Panofsky, Erwin. The Life and Art of Albrecht Durer, Princeton University Press. 1971.
Peretz,Don. The Middle East, Houghton Mifflin. 1990.
Peiser, Andrew.and Serber, Michael. Our World, A Global Studies Text, Amsco School Publishing Inc. 1996.
Porter, Bernard.  The Lion's Share, a Short History of British Imperialism, 1850-1995, Logman. 1996.
Prescott, William. The Conquest of Mexico, J.B. Lippincott Co. 1883.*
Ribera, Feliciano. Mexican Americans / American Mexicans, From Conquistadors to Chicanos, Hill and Wang. 1993.
Ruby, Jennifer. Costumes in Context-Medieval Times, B.T.Batsford Ltd. 1994.
Sansom, G.B. Japan A Short Cultural History, Stanford University Press. 1978.
Snellgrove, L.E. The Modern World since 1870, Longman Group Ltd. 1985.
Sumerset Fry, Plantagent (yes that is his name). The Kings & Queens of England & Scotland, Grove Press, 1990.
Tuchman, Barbara. A Distant Mirror, the Calamitous 14th Century, Ballantine Books. 1978.
Tuchman, Barbara. The Guns of August, Balantine Books. 1962.
Tuchman, Barbara. The March of Folly, from Troy to Vietman, Balantine Books. 1984.
Tuchman, Barbara. The Proud Tower: Portrait of the World before the War, 1890-1914, Balantine Books. 1966.
Turnbull, S.R. Samurai Warriors, Blandford. 1991.
Turnbull, S.R. The Samurai, a Military Tradition, Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc. 1977.
Wagner, Eduard. European Weapons and Warfare 1618-1648, Octopus Books Limited. 1979.
Wagner, Tony. The Global Achievement Gap, Basic Books. 2010.
Warnes, David. Russia: a Modern History, Unwin Hyman Ltd., 1990.
Weber, Eugen. The Western Tradition, from the Ancient World to Louis XIV, D.C. Heath and CO. 1972.
Wells, H.G. A Short History of the World, Cassell and Co. Ltd. Publishing. 1922.
Williams, Hywell. A History of the Middle Ages, Power and Pageantry 950-1450, Metro Books. 2011.
Williams, Neville. Henry VIII and His Court, Macmillan Co. 1971.
Winters, Janet & Savoy, Caroline. Elizabethan Costuming for the years 1550-1580,Other Times Publications. 1987.

*These two books are quite dated works, with a lot of outdated concepts, but they are very interesting to read to get a feel of the ideas of the Victorian Era Historians.

Selected Sources:
Library of Congress:
Musee d'Orsay, Paris:
Musee de l'Armee, les Invalides Paris:
National Geographic Magazine and Web site:
Rome, Rise and Fall of an Empire, Gardner Films Inc. for History Channel.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Conquistador's Warriors for Gold, God and Glory

Conquistador's, the Spanish warriors of the three "G's"  "Gold, God and Glory."  Armed with the latest weapons and modern tactics (for the 16th century that is) infused with the task of both spreading the power of Spain and God's word, the Conquistadors were a true force to be reckoned with.  Sublimely confident in their strength and righteousness; they time and time again challenged enemies many times their own numbers while carving out the Spanish Empire in the New World and the far away Philippines. 

The three "G's" guaranteed ultimate success for true Conquistadors.  Their victories brought them fame and "Glory" throughout the European World (as well as envy); the conquered saw them quite differently.  In a time of religious intolerance, they were extremely intolerant of "false beliefs" as in name of "God"  they brought the words of the Catholic Faith to all they conquered (all that survived the conquest that is).  Those Conquistador's that died believed they would be welcomed in Heaven for doing God's work (much like the Crusader and Jihadist of early centuries).  Victories over cultures rich in material wealth (especially gold and silver) and land brought them untold wealth.  "Gold" was their preferred form of payment but silver, jewels, land and slaves all enriched victorious Conquistador's.  Many a Conquistador gained wealth worth millions of dollars in Modern value,  and just as fast wasted in a wild lavish life style.

For the better part of the 1500's the Conquistador's carved out the World's most wide ranging Empire on five continents (Europe, Africa, South America, North America and Asia) parts of which last until the 20th century.  Untold hundreds of billions of dollars worth of wealth flowed into the coffers of the Spanish Empire and the economy of Europe for centuries from these conquests. Whole cultures were destroyed and the political as well as religious face of the planet changed for ever by the Conquistador's, all in the name of "Gold, God and Glory."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

New World-Old World Style Cities

With the discovery of the "New World," Europeans embarked on a path of exploration, conquest, settlement and exploitation of these new lands.  One of the major changes they brought to the New World was the European design of cities.  These designs were in direct conflict with the cities of the advanced  cultures of the Inca and those of what would become Mexico (the Aztecs and their enemies).  It was only natural, for the time period, for the conquerors to assume that their's being the "superior culture" their style of cities would therefore also be superior.  This ethnocentrism coupled with the deadly diseases brought from the Old World doomed the advanced native city cultures so much that by the end of the 16th century virtually all the cities in the New World were mirrors of the European but with a local flavor.
El Morro, the massive Spanish fortification protecting the harbor and town of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Oldest European fortifications in the territory of the USA.

Here are some of the more important of the early European cities of the New World:
San Juan, Puerto Rico, founded by the Spanish in 1509 to assist commerce and project military power into the Southeastern Caribbean.  Originally the island was called San Juan and the town was called Puerto Rico (Rich Port).
Havana de Cuba, founded by the Spanish in 1514.  The major seaport of the Spanish colonies in the New World, from 1566 to 1790, the annual Treasure Fleets set off for Spain from here.
Gold the life blood of the annual Treasure Fleets from Havana to Spain.  Along with silver, jewels, jewelry, and the other vast resources of the New World Spanish Empire made the seaport so critical to Spain.

La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz (Rich Village of the True Cross), founded by the Spanish in 1519
Established by Cortez at the start of his conquest of Mexico, first city on the continent to have a city council.
Mexico City (former Tenochititlan), founded by the Spanish in 1521.  After leveling one of the most beautiful cities in the World, Cortez and the Spanish built their new city in the image of those of the Old World. Was the most populous city in Pre-Columbian America and is now, with 19.6 million people, one the most populous urban areas in the World .
Mexico City in the 17th Century.

San (Saint today) Augustine, Florida, founded by the Spanish in 1565.  Built to solidify Spanish claims to the Southeast of North America and to protect the sea route of the yearly Treasure Fleet. Many bitter battle and raids by both the French and English lead to the construction of Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest stone fort in North America.
Replica of the Susan Constant which with the Discovery and Godspeed brought the first settlers to Jamestown in 1607.

Jamestown, Virginia, founded by the English in 1607.  The first successful English settlement in the USA, establishes an English presence that will grow into the thirteen colonies. "The colony built on smoke," they came looking for gold and silver but became rich on tobacco.
Map of Quebec circa 1640

Quebec City, Canada, founded by the French in 1608.  Established for the fur trade, quickly transformed into the center of French culture in Canada.  The key to "New France," for two centuries the country that ruled Quebec owned Canada.
Flag of New France incorporating the Royal Coat of Arms of the Bourbon family.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, founded by the Spanish in 1608.  Oldest territorial capital in the USA and only capital ever captured by the American Indians (1680-1692).
The Church of San Miguel, Santa Fe built circa 1610 and holds a claim to be the oldest church in the USA.

Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts, founded by the English 1620.  Settled by the Pilgrims searching for religious freedom that after economic became a major cause for future colonial settlements. The settlement, through mistake or design, was built outside the area of Virginia territory of their contract. This allowed the colonist to make a new covenant-the Mayflower Compact creating a government in the New World based on equal rights to all signers. A strong precedent for future generations of Americans.  The signing of the Mayflower Compact is the root establishment of the rights of self government in the New World.
Bas-relief of the signing of the Mayflower Compact.

New Amsterdam (New York 1664), New Netherlands (New York 1664), founded by the Dutch with a City Charter granted 1624.  An attempt by the Dutch to tap into the natural resources of North America, its conquest by the English changed the economic entire face of the British colonies. The English conquest lead to renaming the city in honor of the kings brother, James the Duke of York (future King James II).
Early map of New Amsterdam.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Eleanor of Aquitaine-Wife of Kings Mother of Kings most Powerful Woman of the Middle Ages

Duchess of Aquitaine (1137-1204), Queen Consort of Louis VII of France  (1137-1152),  Queen Consort of Henry II of England and Duke of Normandy (1154-1189).  Born circa 1122 died 1204.
Unusual for her day, Eleanor was actively involved in politics from her youth to her death.  Be it ruling the largest Duchy in France, advising her royal husbands, arranging advantageous noble weddings, influencing her royal children or organising military revolts against her second husband King Henry II, Eleanor was no man's tool.  Actually she was very adept at making otherwise powerful men into her tools to forward her political agenda.  She was a unique women of her age, politically astute, strong willed and immensely intelligent.
Mother of three kings of England: Henry the Young King (1170-1183), Richard I-Coeur de Lion(1189-1199) and John-Lackland (1199-1216)
Mother of two queens:  Eleanor Queen of Castile (1177-1214) , and Joan Queen of Sicily (1177-1189)
For more details on her remarkable life check:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bleeding-Medieval Medicine at its Worst

Bleeding (or bloodletting) was the most common medical treatment of the Middle Ages, it was also 100% worthless! The basic idea of the day was that by removing blood from an ill person the body would produce new blood that was "untainted" by illness and the victim-patient would soon be cured. Needless to say the procedure did little more than to make the person weaker and faint.  Bleeding was so ingrained into medical thinking, it was still being praticed by doctors in the 1860's. 

An interesting side fact is that in the Middle Ages the village barber was also the main man to go to to be bled as the barber had the sharpest knives needed to cut the veins. The now traditional red and white poles outside of barber shops are said to have come from the way the barbers would place their blood stained towels outside to dry after a successful bleeding.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Castles can be really Big

The Ludlow castle town side main gate, as the town was protected by its own walls, this castle entry was smaller than those of many other castles.
Barracks across the bailey.

One of the great halls.

the other side of the bailey with an outer wall tower.
The moat, a daunting defense for attackers to cross.

The view of the main gate from the moat...
its a long way up.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Art from the Lost Roman World

Mosaic of the lady of the house.
Latest 1st century noble hair style.
Aristocrats of the Empire.
Greek goddess Artemis, a popular fertility symbol thoughout the Empire.
Even dogs can be immortalized in marble.
Wonders of a Lost World being enjoyed again as they were meant to be when they were created almost 20 centuries past.
Photos courtesy of Jacob Rudner.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Feudalism-Military Government on the Cheap

Feudalism was the dominant Social/Political system in Europe during the Middle Ages (circa 9th to 16 centuries but still in use in many countries well into the 19th century). In Feudalism the Lords of a kingdom were given property called fiefs (fiefs could be anything from a farm, village, forest etc. to whole towns) from the “King.” In exchange the fiefs the Lords would become vassals to the king and give him military service (eventually cash rents), honor and loyalty. The Lords would in turn divided their properties into smaller fiefs and give them to vassals (tenants) of their own. The process would be continued down to the lowest class of Lords, the knights, who were given enough property to afford their life as the warrior class of the kingdom. The common peasants (villeins or serfs) were required to live on their lord's land and give him homage, labor, and a share of the produce, nominally in exchange for military protection from the "lord." Without the expense of a single coin, through Feudalism the "King" had a ready made army of knights and men-at-arms that would give him military service in return for land.

A Lord by Every Name

Nobles and Lords often have multiple titles. Some signify territories or fiefs as in Duke of York or the Earl of Warwick. Others are earned titles such as a Knight of the Realm. While some may be simple honorary titles. Regardless, all are important to the recipient. Below is a rather extreme case of multiple titles, these belong to Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom:
His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich, Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Grand Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Member of the Order of Merit, Companion of the Order of Australia, Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand, Extra Companion of the Queen's Service Order, Royal Chief of the Order of Logohu, Canadian Forces Decoration, Lord of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Privy Councillor of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Guardians of the Han Dynasty

Unlike their full size cousins of the Qin Dynasty, the warrior guardians of the tombs of the rulers of the Han Dynasty are less than 1/8 life size.

Warriors of Shi Huang di

During the reign of the First Emperor of China, Shi Huang di, circa 220 BCE, an army of life size warriors were created to protect the Emperors fantastic tomb.

Since their didiscovery in the 1970's, the Terra Cota Warriors of the Qin (Ch'in) Dynasty have ignited the imagination of historians and layman alike throughout the World.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ancient God in the New World

After more than 3000 years of Egyptian deserts, the goddess Sekhmet has come to rest in the cooler climes of the California Central Coast.

In the early 20th century, she traveled West to make her home at the estate of Hearst Castle in San Luis Obispo County, California.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Napoleon's Queen of the Battlefield

Batteries (normally six cannon and two howitzers plus caissons and crews) of Light (a relative term as this piece weighs just under 2000 lbs) field pieces like this 12 pdr Foot Artillery cannon were the Queens of the battlefield to a master of artillery like Napoleon.

Firing a 12 pd ball or the deadly grapeshot (a mass of smaller iron balls that in action made the cannon a giant shotgun), field artillery was used to deadly effect throughout the 17th to 19th centuries. 

Howitzers such as this 5.7 inch (muzzle diameter) example were used to lob shells in a high arc over intervening terrain, fortifications and friendly troops.  Howitzers were used in smaller numbers than field cannons but were no less deadly when place under the command of an expert such at Napoleon.

A Knights Warhorse Needed Armor Too!

From full plate protection...
to scale-mail... A Knight with an armored warhorse was a powerful opponent on any pre-modern firearms battlefield.