Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The idea that a government employee should be qualified for the position that they held was in direct contrast to the traditional ideas of nepotism and favoritism where family and friends were given choice positions because of their "connections' rather than their ability to do the job. Simply put, Civil Service personnel have passed a test that shows they are qualified to complete the tasks of the government job they hold.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Thursday, November 15, 2012
For thousands of years China has been ruled by a vast amout of dynasties. While some ruled for centuries and others for decades, all have had an impact upon the histopry and culture of this ancient society. Below are listed the major dynasties, there were others and all have detailed histories that exceed the limited nature of this posting.
Great Wall, repression of knowledge/philosophy, creates imperial plan of rule; although
the shortest dynasty, so firm is Qin’s legacy of imperial control that China is forever named for
the 1st Emperor: Qin Shi Huang-di.
mechanical clock (1088), compass (1100), medical encyclopedia (1111), Windmill
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
The Mandate of Heaven is the divine (God ('s) given) right to rule the Middle Kingdom given to the Emperor, it is given based on four principles:
- The right to rule is granted by Heaven (realm of the Jade Emperor).
- There is only one Heaven therefore there can be only one ruler.
- The right to rule is based on the high virtue (Confucian principles of quality of his leadership) of the ruler.
- The right to rule can be passed down to family members of the dynasty but is not limited to one dynasty. (poor quality rulers/dynasties can lose the Mandate of Heaven and be replaced. The mere fact that a leader has been overthrown is itself proof that he has lost the Mandate of Heaven.)
Monday, November 12, 2012
From 218-209 BCE, Hannibal's brilliant tactics out maneuvered the Romans and brought the Republic nearly to its knees. His passage through the Alps and massive defeats of the famed Roman Legions at the battles of Trebia, Lake Trasimene and Cannea (where the Roman Army of over 85,000 was virtually annihilated) are still studied by historians and military experts today. Yet with all his victories the Romans continued to thwart Hannibal's goal of total victory. New armies were raised, improved tactic were installed (including the "Fabian Strategy" where attrition not pitched battles wore the forces of the enemy down), better generals were chosen and the war was taken to the shores of Africa by the Romans.
In his last great battle, at Zama in 202 BCE, Hannibal was finally defeated by a Roman General, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. Forced to abandon the Carthage he loved, Hannibal fled to the perceived safety of the Eastern Kingdoms, but the long arm of Rome followed him and circa 183 BCE, one of the greatest military leaders in history died by his own hands rather than be taken prisoner by his hated enemies the Romans. He had failed to save Carthage (which would be totally destroyed by Rome in 146 BCE), but through his greatness he earned immortality for himself and the memory of his once great nation.
The greatest secret weapon of Eastern Roman Empire was Greek Fire, a ship born terror weapon that ignited on contact and burned on water. Fired from a brass tube, the flaming liquid was as devastating to morale as it was to the wooden ships of the era. It is thought to have been invented by a Jewish Syrian Engineer named Callinicus (Kallinikos) in the mid 7th century. To keep it from enemy hands, the secret formula was known to a very small number of people (around three) . This is also the reason the formula is unknown today for by the mid 13th century, some tragic event killed all those with the knowledge before it could be passed on.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Helvetii- Confederation Helvetica (Switzerland)
Lombards- Lombardy (Italy)
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
In the 1st Punic War (Punic came from Punicus, the Latin word for Phoenicians as the Carthaginians were called by the Romans.) was a victory for Rome who won her first overseas province, Sicily, the beginning of the Roman Empire. In the 2nd Punic War, Rome overcame several massive defeats at the hands of the Great Carthaginian General Hannibal and again defeated the Carthaginians.
During the uneasy peace after the 2nd Punic War many Romans felt the only lasting solution to the the dangers of Carthage was the total destruction of the city. The great Roman senator, Cato the Elder, expressed this deep hatred through his famous comment "Carthago delenda est," ("Carthage must be Destroyed") that he added to the end of every speech he made in the Senate. The death of Carthage came in the 3rd Punic War, where 80% of her population died, the rest were sold into slavery, the city was burned to the ground, the soil plowed with salt and the land cursed (the Romans really hated Carthage). With her greatest rival destroyed, Rome was now the sole major power in the West and well on the road to becoming one of the greatest Empires in World History.
Friday, September 21, 2012
Friday, September 14, 2012
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Friday, August 31, 2012
Pasta-circa 2000 BCE
Crossbow- 5th Century BCE, Zhou Dynasty
Sun Tzu's The Art of War-circa 5th Century BCE, Warring States Period
Wheelbarrow-3rd Century BCE, Qin Dynasty
Horse Collar- 2nd Century BCE, Han Dynasty
Writing Paper- 1st Century CE, Han Dynasty
Blast Furnace- 1st Century CE, Han Dynasty
Cast Iron- 2nd Century CE, Han Dynasty
Seismograph- 2nd Century CE, Han Dynasty
Cast Iron Plow- 2nd Century CE, Han Dynasty
Fishing Reel- 2nd Century CE, Han Dynasty
Ships Rudder-3rd Century CE, Period of Disunity
Matches-6th Century CE, Period of Disunity
Porcelain- 6th Century CE, Sui Dynasty
Toilet Paper- 6th Century CE, Sui Dynasty
Gunpowder-7th Century CE, T'ang Dynasty
Fireworks-7th Century CE, T'ang Dynasty
Brandy-7th Century CE, T'ang Dynasty
Woodblock Printing- 8th Century CE, T'ang Dynasty
Paper Money-8th Century CE, T'ang Dynasty
Bicycle Chain-10th Century CE, Song Dynasty
Movable Type-11th Century CE, Song Dynasty
Mechanical Clock-11th Century CE, Song Dynasty
Compass-12th Century CE, Song Dynasty
Medical Encyclopedia-12th Century CE, Song Dynasty
Windmill-12th Century CE, Song Dynasty
Guns-13th Century CE, Yuan Dynasty
Monday, June 4, 2012
Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu et de Fronsac (1584-1642), Chief Minister of France -1624-1642. An expert at Machiavellian Politics and intrigue... " I have made the King (Louis XIII) the most powerful monarch in Europe...while I am the most powerful man in France" Chooses Nationalism over religion during the Thirty Years War when he supported the Protestant factions over the Catholic Hapsburg Alliance. Thus were the major ideological wars of religion replaced by wars for the national interest. The Age of Enlightenment was at hand.
Louis XIII (1601-1643), King of France 1610-1643. A weak king under the constant influence of others, first his mother, Marie de Medici and later the powerful Cardinal- Richelieu.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Yet, no matter how many searched or the lives lost, none have come back with the treasure of El Dorado. The lure remains, the search continues the explorer travels on and on until
"...as his strength "Over the Mountains
Failed him at length, Of the Moon,
He met a pilgrim shadow- Down the Valley of the Shadow,
"Shadow," said he, Ride, boldly ride,"
"Where can it be-- The shade replied--
This land of Eldorado?" "If you seek for Eldorado!"
From Eldorado by Edgar Allen Poe 1849
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Armed with the latest weapons and armor yet developed in Europe and battle tested in both the Old and New Worlds, the conquistadors were a potent force in the capture of new colonies and destruction of numerous native cultures.
Across three continents, the conquistadors helped to spread the Roman Catholic faith as their armies always contained missionaries as well as warriors. (Note the image of the Virgin and Child on the flag and the soldiers in prayer in the background.)
By the end of the 17th century the Spanish and Portuguese Empires were on every known inhabited continent. Most of the New World was in the control of these two imperial titans, as was the vast natural wealth of these land. Other European countries were quick to follow the example of the conquistadors, and soon most of the New World was claimed as colonies by the powers of the Old World. The wealth they took would flow for centuries into the coffers of the Europeans further enriching their nations and encouraging yet more colonial expansion.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Doric Column is the simplest design with little or no embellishment on the capital. The colums were also wider at the bottom and most often is without a elaborate base, resting directly on the support floor.
Ionic Columns have the distinct scroll design, or volute as the Greek would call it, at the capital.
The Corinthian Column is the most elaborate of the three. Classic Corinthian columns are slender, usually fluted (vertically grooved), decorated with a capital of leaves (most often the acanthus) and scrolls.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Privateers achieved their authority through the "Letter of Marque." The letter of Marque was a government commission and permission to a private citizen to build their own warships. The use these warships was to gain "prizes" (captured enemy ships and their cargo) that would be sold in friendly ports. The government received up to twenty-five percent of the profit gained by the privateer from these auctions. This greatly added to the number of ships available to wage war upon an enemy for virtually no cost to the government.
The most famous privateer was Sir Francis Drake, sailing the Golden Hind, he became the first Englishman to sail around the globe (1577-79). In his attacks upon Spanish shipping on that voyage he brought home a treasure reported to be worth more than the entire yearly expenditures of the English Government (the capture of the Nuestra Señora de la Concepción alone netted more than 15 million dollars in today's money in gold, silver and jewels). His backers earned a 4700% return on the money they invested in his ships and crew for this epic voyage. He so angered the Spanish through his successful raids that they offered a 20,000 ducat reward for his capture (over 7 million dollars). It was never collected.
Merchant ships were large, slow targets for the smaller and faster privateers who preferred to capture rather than destroy these valuable targets. The lure of easy pickings brought many a privateer to sea during major conflicts (more than 1200 Letters of Marque were issued by the Americans during the Revolution alone).
Privateers tried to avoid battle with warships as the latter were usually better armed and carried little cargo of value. But occasionally the warships caught up with the privateers as in this action between the American Chasseur vs HMS St. Lawrence in the War of 1812. The American won, an unusual occurrence for privateers.
Privateers came in all sizes, brigs and sloops were the most common but they could be small as this Confederate privateer during the American Civil War demonstrates. The American Civil War was the last major action by privateers, the Industrial Revolution, improvement's in Naval technology and communications reduced the need and increased the risk to the point that privateering was no longer profitable. Future wars would see more deadly ships and subsurface vessels whose goal would be to destroy, not capture enemy commerce. The age of legal piracy was over.
Friday, May 11, 2012
This Jaguar Warrior clearly illustrates the two pieces of equipment most commonly used by Aztec warriors, the small shield and the stone edged wooden Maquahuitl sword.
Commanders with standards from the Codex Mendoza. Note the elaborate costumes, use of feathers and the razor sharp stone tipped tepoztopilli spears (usually five and an half feet long) of the officers.
Ranks awarded for captured prisoners and imperial officers, Codex Mendoza.
The capture of prisoners was one of the main goals of Central American Pre-Colombian wars. Those who were most successful quickly rose in rank and privileges within the army and society. Here in the codex are listed the stages of honors given to a warrior for the increasing numbers of prisoners captured. Note the sixth honor is entry into the elite Jaguar Warrior Class. The Lower eight figures are officers of the empire. The rank is delineated by the ever more elaborate feathers and costume design of the officers.
Warriors armed with the Maquahuitl (obsidian sword) and shield, note the eagle warrior in the lead, from the Florentine Codex.
Ranged weapons were varied and included :
The atlatl,a spear thrower that allowed longer range than a basic hand thrown spear.
The tlahuitolli, bow, ranged from light weight with short range weapons to some heavy weight that reportedly had a range of several hundred yards. All bows fired the mitl-stone tipped arrow.
The tematlatl was a sling made from maguey fiber. This was the ranged weapon most feared by the Spanish as it was often aimed at the unprotected face with deadly accuracy.
In addition to the maquahuitl and tepoztopilli, Aztec soldiers had access to a variety of additional wood and stone hand weapons.
The huitzauhqui was a club/mace sometimes with obsidian blades. These were about the size of a modern baseball bat but could be up to twice this size when yielded by a very strong warrior.
The tecpatl was a double bladed dagger with a nine inch length, excellent for close in fighting.
A weakness of all Aztec weapons was their stone and wood construction. The former dulled or chipped readily and the latter was no match against steel blades.
Protective gear/armor of the Aztecs was very minimal. It was designed to be light and give a limited protection against the stone tipped weapons of the Aztecs traditional Central American enemies. This equipment was basically made of two items the Chimalli and the Ichcahuipilli.
The Chimalli were small round shields made of wood or woven cane stalks often covered with cloth or feathers. The could be elaborately decorated for warriors of importance.
The Ichcahuipilli was a form of quilted cotton armor and inch or two thick. This padding was normally worn over the chest and back with the arms and legs unprotected. This gave such good protection against Indian stone tipped arrows that many Spanish soldiers would adopt this armor and continue to wear this style of protection when facing Indians well into the 18th century.
Eagle and Jaguar Warriors from the Codex Mendoza.
The tlahuiztli were the distinctive costume suits worn by the elite warrior classes. These usually covered the entire body including the head which often was covered in a form of helmet. These suits give a limited additional armor covering-especially if the costume included leather animal skins.
While adequate against their traditional enemies, the protective gear of the Aztec warriors was virtually useless against the steel weapons, iron tipped crossbow bolts, musket and cannon balls of the Spanish.
Aztec weapons could and did maim and kill their enemies who were similarly armed and protected. But in most conflicts capture of enemies was much preferred over killing them-dead men could not be sacrificed to the gods. So it is not surprising that the majority of Aztec weapons could be readily used to stun an opponent to ease in his capture. This tactical choice and the limited strength of Aztec weapons and armor, would prove a great hindrance to their army when they met the modern armed forces of the Spanish.