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Pony Queen Jace

History Thread!

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I like History, other people do too. I started Dan Carlin's Gengis Khan focused series of the Hardcore History podcast and if course it's Calin so it's great. The dude is a storyteller, not a historian, as he says. But he's great at what he does and sources his material well. 

Anyways, he's talking about the early 13th century when Khan is rising to power and starting to go after China. I was listening and obviously my favorite historical entity has a part in this story later. It's an Empire, an old Empire. An Empire that has stood at this point in the story for around 800 years unequivocally, and in fact is a direct continuation of something even older. 

The Eastern Roman Empire, renamed Byzantium by rennassaince scholars in a poor attempt to usurp the heritage of that eternal city.

The 13th century would not be kind to the Romans in Constantinople, already they are fated to do battle with the steppe tribes while hemorrhaging territories to the Turks. But in 1204, right as this unstoppable horde is gaining it's footing, scheming Venetians delivered an army of peasants and bankrupted knights into the harbour of that great city. 

The 4th Crusade would spell doom for the once proud state that had rebuffed Islamic expansion into Europe for over half a millennium. The rampaging Catholic crusaders ran amok for days, and collected so much loot that they were physically incapable of carrying much of it home.

Constantinople was ruined, with much of the wealth of Rome and Europe carried off to the solars of selfish lords and petty kings. The bulwark that had maintained proud and fearless upon the Hellespont would never again have the strength to determine its world impact.

 

What do you like in history? What are you reading or listening to? Discuss.

@Manhole Eunuchsbane

Edited by Pony Queen Jace

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Most of the books I read are either history or fantasy.  The great thing about history is that learning history means learning everything.  Any good history will teach you something.  The last two history books I read were Endurance about Shakelton's ill fated 1914 expedition and Chernobyl 01:23:40 about the Chernobyl meltdown.  I learned a lot about maritime survival and nuclear safety, respectively, when I would never read a (non-history) book about either of those topics.

The other thing I love about history is that it is simply richer than fiction.  History is the tapestry of thousands or millions of people and the decisions they make.  One author, no matter how clever, cannot match the ingenuity and sheer strangeness of the masses.

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I enjoy history as much as you do  it seems. I tend to go on binges rather than era to era. The period you just discussed is coincidentally my latest.  I have been reading up on Ghengis Khan and his times for the last little while and thoroughly  enjoyed it. Byzantium is one historical subject that that I have neglected but I intend to remedy that soon.

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25 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

Most of the books I read are either history or fantasy.  The great thing about history is that learning history means learning everything.  Any good history will teach you something.  The last two history books I read were Endurance about Shakelton's ill fated 1914 expedition and Chernobyl 01:23:40 about the Chernobyl meltdown.  I learned a lot about maritime survival and nuclear safety, respectively, when I would never read a (non-history) book about either of those topics.

The other thing I love about history is that it is simply richer than fiction.  History is the tapestry of thousands or millions of people and the decisions they make.  One author, no matter how clever, cannot match the ingenuity and sheer strangeness of the masses.

Agreed in both counts. Any historian worth listening to has some wrinkle of knowledge as to why things played out a certain way that can just be so fascinating.

And you're right about the richness of history. One of the reasons I like earlier periods is because you can literally pick out individuals who make or made MASSIVE impacts on the world, most of the time inadvertently.

22 minutes ago, maarsen said:

I enjoy history as much as you do  it seems. I tend to go on binges rather than era to era. The period you just discussed is coincidentally my latest.  I have been reading up on Ghengis Khan and his times for the last little while and thoroughly  enjoyed it. Byzantium is one historical subject that that I have neglected but I intend to remedy that soon.

My Greek Romans are a fascinating study of an old people left friendless among the new nation state entities of their time. And despite religious differences basically everywhere, they are THE player of the middle ages. People just ignore them. 

The 'Byzantine' Empire gets treated like the Chinese dynasties in medieval History, barely mentioned if at all. Despite the fact that they ARE IN EUROPE! Everyone knows about the crusades, which is the vehicle by which they know about the Arabic nations. 

But the crusades were started literally by the Romans, when the Emperor wrote the Pope in (lol) Rome asking for mutual Christian assistance to reclaim African and Palestinian territories. The first crusaders, before ports were captured following the fall of Jerusalem, went through Greece. And the Western barbarians were literally confused by the wealth of Constantinople. They couldn't comprehend the power of a thousand years worth of highpoint civilization.

Look into it. ;)

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I think I've read only historical fiction or history for probably the last 6 years or so with Rome and post-Roman western Europe (say 400's to 1000's) as my favorite areas to read about in general, though I do jump around to other areas from time to time.  And of course, as the OP points out Dan Carlin is a damn national treasure and I'll listen to any of his history podcasts no matter what subject he's tackling.  

Recently, I was reading a chapter in a book about ancient Sumeria and how some of the earliest known writings (or pictographs maybe?) from Mesopotamia show a civilization at war.  Men with spears and axes, broken walls/gates, possibly early siege weapons, that sort of thing.  This is somewhere in the vicinity of 3000 BC... freakin' 5,000 years ago. 

I guess I'm kinda moving into pre-history here and getting more into the realm of archaeology, but for me it is incredibly fascinating to think that in a time before we have any kind of surviving record there were communities organized enough to have things like city walls and armies.  What in the hell was going on back then?  How long had it been like that?  I don't think that archaeology alone can give us the full picture of what that was like.  It can give us great insight into what we do find, and help us paint a general picture of how and when civilization came about, but who knows how much is lost forever.

I saw Dan Carlin (I think this was in an interview and not one of his podcasts) point out what should be obvious but sometimes doesn't feel like it -that if you pulled someone out of ancient times as an infant and raised them in modern times, or took an infant from modern times and sent them to live in ancient times that the person would be perfectly adapted in whichever culture because we are the same species, more or less unchanged.  And I think sometimes it's easy to look at the distant past almost as if it's a different species or something because of the vast gulf in culture and technology, but in reality they are us and we are them.  So thinking about people living, for however long, in an ancient pre-historic civilization piques my curiosity.  They were obviously more complex than I had realized as far back as the record goes, so that time before the record becomes really interesting. 

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I love Roman history, and went to Constantinople with my uncle last June for 10 days.  Hagia Sophia and the walls will blow you away. 

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Like you Pony Queen I lurves me some Military History, and Carlin is undoubtedly one of the best at bringing these stories to life. At this point I really have to ween myself off of his stuff, as I end up listening to many of his pieces over and over. The Khan series and the WWI series in particular. 

 Really enjoying Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast as well. The Saigon 1965 entry in particular was very good.

If you haven't checked out the Vietnam War documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, do so. It is freaking amazing. I believe PBS is still airing the episodes, so set your DVR if you have to, it's well worth the trouble. I think individual episodes are appearing erratically on You Tube as well, so you might catch some of them there prior to them being pulled down of course. 

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1 hour ago, S John said:

So thinking about people living, for however long, in an ancient pre-historic civilization piques my curiosity. They were obviously more complex than I had realized as far back as the record goes, so that time before the record becomes really interesting.

Thats exactly what piques my interest as well. The archaeological record, the true picture of pre-history, the centuries before the period usually deemed "the rise of civilization". I want to know more about that, because I also believe people were far more advanced, far earlier, than was previously believed. 

Gobekli Tepe is one of many examples that upends the conventional view, this is from Smithsonian Magazine-

 
Predating Stonehenge by 6000 years, Turkey's stunning Gobekli Tepe upends the conventional view of the rise of civilization.
 
More from the article:

What was so important to these early people that they gathered to build (and bury) the stone rings? The gulf that separates us from Gobekli Tepe’s builders is almost unimaginable. Indeed, though I stood among the looming megaliths eager to take in their meaning, they didn’t speak to me. They were utterly foreign, placed there by people who saw the world in a way I will never comprehend. There are no sources to explain what the symbols might mean. Schmidt agrees. “We’re 6,000 years before the invention of writing here,” he says.

“There’s more time between Gobekli Tepe and the Sumerian clay tablets [etched in 3300 B.C.] than from Sumer to today,” says Gary Rollefson, an archaeologist at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington,.......

 

The site is only 50 miles from Syria, I find that frightening, when we witness the carnage and pre meditated effort by the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL) to literally erase history, to go into ancient areas like Palmyra and raze everything to the ground. To destroy and erase all evidence of the precious record of antiquity. These sites are irreplaceable records of the Worlds civilization, and they face peril from religious fanatics.

Edited by DireWolfSpirit

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History is tricky stuff. As in what was the mass of human experience like in a particular time and place, when most records and artifacts come from elites? What story is a modern historian trying to tell, what story is a primary source from the time trying to tell, and how does that distort what facts are selected and what meanings are derived? How do we read that while being conscious of what our own bias will do to shape what we learn? How does what we learn change us and our biases?

And yet, history exists. The human race and all its works didn't just pop into existence in the present moment. So yes we should all be reading history. Just be careful what books you read. Maybe we should just look at statues instead...

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I had been watching Prof. Paul Freedman's The Early Middle Ages 284 -1000 on the youtube YaleCourses page https://www.youtube.com/user/YaleCourses/playlists?disable_polymer=1 One of the assigned books is Chris Wickham's The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages  400-1000. I watched a few of the lectures but wanted to read Wickham's book in tandem with viewing the lectures.

I watched another lecture series with Joanne Freeman on the American Revolution and John Merriman on France since 1871. Both very good.

I usually am interested in reading way more history books than I have time for. I am interested in too many areas. The next book up for me is more of a local history Firestorm at Peshtigo: a town, it's people and the deadliest fire in American history, by Denise Gess and William Lutz. I have been looking for a good book on the 1848 Revolutions in addition to a number of other topics.

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Don't you fools go turning my history thread into a pre-history thread!!! :angry2:

I've always been kinda obliquely interested in pre-recorded history. Like how Iberians ended up on their penninsula and a lot of Celtic nations I know had what is essentially functional democracy manifesting itself in tribal councils and even political parties that (much like currently) could divide families.

The opening statement was a joke, obviously.

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1 minute ago, Astromech said:

I had been watching Prof. Paul Freedman's The Early Middle Ages 284 -1000 on the youtube YaleCourses page https://www.youtube.com/user/YaleCourses/playlists?disable_polymer=1 One of the assigned books is Chris Wickham's The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the Dark Ages  400-1000. I watched a few of the lectures but wanted to read Wickham's book in tandem with viewing the lectures.

 

Jace is guessing that Constantinople receives barely a mention in a book about societies trying to 'Inherit' the legacy they're still carrying?

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1 minute ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

Jace is guessing that Constantinople receives barely a mention in a book about societies trying to 'Inherit' the legacy they're still carrying?

I haven't read the book yet, but Prof Freedman has discussed the Roman and Byzantine empires as one and the same, just a geographic shift from West to East and lingual shift from Latin to Greek. One of the lectures was solely on Constantine. The handful of lectures I watched were very interesting still dealing with the Roman Empire barbarians, religion, politics, infrastructure, etc.

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Astro we must be nearly neighbors if your calling the Peshtigo fire local history?

I have noticed the book you are referencing in the neighborhood bookstore, I should probably give it a read eventually, theres a pretty good fire museum in Peshtigo as well my workmates tell me.

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1 hour ago, DireWolfSpirit said:

“There’s more time between Gobekli Tepe and the Sumerian clay tablets [etched in 3300 B.C.] than from Sumer to today,” says Gary Rollefson, an archaeologist at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington,.......

That little fact is banana's.  Will be interesting to find out more about the Gobekli Tepe site as excavations continue over the next decades.  Also makes you wonder how many more sites like this are out there.  There's a group in Alabama that combs over satellite imagery looking for sites of archaeological significance and that's where there's a bit of an intersection between my job and history/archaeology.  Wish there was more funding in that area.

18 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

Don't you fools go turning my history thread into a pre-history thread!!! :angry2:

I've always been kinda obliquely interested in pre-recorded history. Like how Iberians ended up on their penninsula and a lot of Celtic nations I know had what is essentially functional democracy manifesting itself in tribal councils and even political parties that (much like currently) could divide families.

The opening statement was a joke, obviously.

Ha, sorry.  I'm currently probably 100 pages into reading a book that is a fairly broad overview of ancient history and that tidbit about some of the earliest known writings featuring scenes of organized war in a way that we can understand it as such in modern times is the thing that has stuck out to me so far.  Just because, obviously, organized war and cities and writing didn't all spring up in the same week, so the former things must have been happening for quite some time before writing and that idea is very mysterious and cool.  

As far as functioning tribal democracies and political parties within ancient Celtic culture, I recently heard or read something similar and, IIRC, the Germanic tribes had something like that as well.  

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I spend a few weekends per year on the other side of Green Bay in Door County which was also affected by the Peshtigo fire, but am from SE Wisconsin. Family history in the Suamico area, but that's over a century ago before most of them left for better economic opportunities.

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I'm doing my Masters degree in Celtic History at the moment.  

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2 minutes ago, Theda Baratheon said:

I'm doing my Masters degree in Celtic History at the moment.  

That's awesome! I've always regretted taking a different road, you live the dream for me eh?

Spoiler alert, on account of us just becoming best friends, when this guy named Caesar shows up your range of Celtic peoples to study is going to shrink pretty drastically.

:P

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