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400 years ago representative democracy was born in America with the first meeting of the House of Burgesses in Virginia. It is the oldest democratically elected body in the Western Hemisphere and part of a series of reforms enacted that form important pillars in American political philosophy.

Wow. I had never heard of this. It makes you wonder what else happened in the USSR that remains a secret. This is hat they are willing to reveal.

On June 16, 1219, the Danes were in big trouble. They had gone crusading in pagan Estonia and found the pagans more than a match. As the Danish line was about to collapse, a bishop cast his arms skyward pleading for salvation. The clouds parted and out of the light fluttered a red banner emblazoned with a white cross. The Danish King Valdemar II seized the banner and held it aloft for his men to see. God was with the Danes! They roared and pitched into the Estonians with new found strength turning the tables and winning a dramatic victory. Denmark won the battle and gained a new national flag. At least that's the story.

The real story though is still pretty interesting providing a window into Medieval culture and demonstrating how symbols, ideas and legends influence future generations even down to today.

historyarch  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: D-Day and Stalin

Roosevelt wasn't that Machiavellian, Stalin's view was always fueled by paranoia. FDR misunderstood Stalin, calling him "Uncle Joe." FDR thought he could work with Stalin. Churchill understood what was happening in the East, his call for invading the Balkans and Norway instead of Normandy was to get western Allied troops as far east as possible to prevent the Soviets from getting into Eastern Europe. Churchill was listening to people like the Poles who were already complaining in 1944 that Soviet occupation was little better for them than the Nazis.

Intriguing point about the Soviets accepting a separate peace if the Normandy invasion failed. I'm not so sure the Russians would have given up though. They suffered too much. It's all speculation of course, but I believe the biggest implication of a failed Normandy invasion likely would have meant much of Western Europe would have ended up under Soviet domination.

In any event, the war in Europe ends in August of 1945 when the US is capable of deploying the atomic bomb. If Normandy fails, could the Soviets have taken Berlin by May 1945? If the Germans can shift divisions from west to east maybe they are still in Russia when the atomic bombs drop. One wonders how that would have affected the outcome of the war. Hitler would never surrender but if Berlin were nuked and Hitler were dead, maybe Germans like Donitz form a new government, make a separate peace and the Reich continues in some form. Maybe things return to 1939 borders. Maybe the Soviets can't get as much of Eastern Europe. Europe/the world would have been a much different place with an independent German power, the Soviet Union and a US and Britain that had not beaten the Germans on the battlefield. Once again, it's all pure speculation but there's no right or wrong answer since it's all hypothetical.

1st Lieutenant Jimmie Monteith was killed early on during the invasion of Normandy, but his actions and sacrifice helped make the bloody landing at Omaha Beach a success. Monteith was personally endorsed for the Congressional Medal of Honor by Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley which he received posthumously the following year.

Recently a deep water survey team discovered a Greek merchant vessel that sank in 400 BC. The anaerobic waters have preserved the ship as it was when it sank, even the wooden hull. This shipwreck is the first intact Greek vessel ever discovered from an important era in Ancient History when the Greeks were expanding across the Mediterranean.

Thanks for checking out my site and for your kind words. One of the reasons I posted that article was to bring attention to Otzi in the hopes of bringing him to the attention of other teachers. I think he's a really unique discovery like Pompeii and Tutankhamun's tomb-- something that offers insights into a culture one cannot find any other way. All three are very well preserved snapshots that preserve the past as it was for those who lived in those times.

I originally wrote the Otzi article in 2017 and less than a year later, there was more to report because the Italians have established and maintained a well funded group of researchers who are still learning and discovering new details. I periodically google Otzi just to see if anything new has surfaced. Since you enjoyed the article, I suggest you do the same.

How Egyptians built the Great Pyramid at Giza remains a mystery 4,500 years after its construction. One of the most debated issues is what sort of ramp or ramps builders may have employed. The discovery of a previously unknown system for removing stone at a contemporaneous quarry may provide some clues.

Otzi is an endlessly fascinating subject. I have used him in my classroom before and wrote a post about it last year. Researchers never cease looking for new discoveries and in just the past few months issued new findings based on studies of Otzi's stomach contents right down to what they learned from examining the pollen recovered on the surface of the food. It is impressive that even 27 years later, there are new things to be learned. Because the studies of Otzi are well funded and well managed these new techniques will likely be useful for other mummified remains across the world. I updated the post today and though it is focused on teaching, there is a lot of information that should be of general interest.

historyarch  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: The Fall of Constantinople

I enjoyed reading Gibbon, or I should say skimming a lot of Gibbon. Much of what he wrote is outdated but I wouldn't say irrelevant. I enjoyed one commentator who as I paraphrase disagreed with the conclusion that Christianity caused the downfall of Rome by responding that the very religious Byzantines would be surprised to hear that and would take issue.

I forget the name of the historian who said it, but his observation was basically "history is a conversation because no one can fully describe every event or know its precise impact." (another paraphrase). Gibbon did get the conversation started and his flawed conclusions led to more research and differing conclusions. I think about the disadvantages historians of the past had in not having access to primary sources, the difficulties in gathering materials, etc. It's much easier today of course.

I like your remark about the ancient world going "poof." The Byzantines thought of themselves as Roman even though they were quite different but as I tried to emphasize in the article, those changes occurred very gradually over centuries. One thing I have learned in writing about Charlemagne, the Franks and now the Eastern Empire is how hard multiple parties tried to restore Rome after it fell. Several like Theodoric and Justinian had some limited success. Even a millennium later, the urge to restore the glory of Rome and all its achievements contributed to the emergence of the Renaissance and has echoed throughout history ever since.

Actually, that would make for a pretty good post.

Thanks for taking the time to read my article and post your comment.

Following the Kardashians and other dreck that passes for American culture also probably lowers one's IQ.

historyarch  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: The Fall of Constantinople

The Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 ended the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) that had lasted over 1,500 years by doing something 22 other besiegers could not do (not including German Crusaders), get past the historic city Walls of Theodosius. The Ottomans used cannon, but not just any cannon. The largest was 27 feet long, able to hurl stone balls weighing over half a ton. The fall of Constantinople cut one f the last links to the Ancient World and symbolically represented the beginning of the Age of Gunpowder and a new form of warfare.

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