Pony Queen Jace

History Thread!

365 posts in this topic

4 hours ago, Yukle said:

Stilicho was definitely a competent leader, but he wasn't perfect. It's a pity that he faced emerging racism from Roman elites who began to shield away their fighting-age men and didn't help his cause. There are even times when Stilicho had to pay the toll to pass through key Italian passageways through the Alps - which as a Roman citizen leading a Roman army, he was meant to be exempt from.

Romans had always been fighting with multi-ethnic armies. Stilicho didn't change that, he just continued what was already happening. BUT, and this is a big BUT (lulz), the Gothic and Germanic migrants were not required to fight under Roman command, nor told to adhere to Roman laws, nor broken into smaller parties and spread across established Roman colonies. He did the best with what he had: a not entirely loyal army of kind-of mercenaries.

But he was also too focused on taking back control of the Eastern Empire. His claims that he should control Illyricum (the Balkans) was fair enough as Italy was invaded twice under his watch and that was the region controlling access to the Alps from the east. But his decision to divert attention to the east as the Rhine began to crumble led to a flood of Frankish warriors that Rome literally never turned back.

When all is said and done, though, the rot had set in before Stilicho ever took power. He extended the West, but it was only ever a life support for a failing institution. Competent, surely, and he would have done better had he not faced racism from Roman elites for being a Vandal, but it's hard to see how anyone could have corrected a few decades of bad policy. Rome was lucky to survive the Crisis of the Third Century, but in the West it probably never truly recovered.

What do you think?

I'll flex my scholastic muscle to suggest that had Basileous Leo I not given command of the strongest military force in living memory to his brother in law who utterly failed to live up to the kickass name of Basiliscus when he got 400,000 Romans slaughtered in a disastrous invasion of Africa that saw half the force drown in sight of land and the rest routed on the shores by forces less than a tenth their size, then maybe the added influx of revenue from Carthage could have bought the West time to catch its breath.

The last gasp of the sons of the Republic in the West ended on an idiot's errand. If ever there was a defined transition to the Middle ages it was Leo's appointment of that fucking fool to the, frankly, religious task of offering relief to the West's ghost.

Basiliscus never has a job in the Republic.

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3 hours ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

I'll flex my scholastic muscle to suggest that had Basileous Leo I not given command of the strongest military force in living memory to his brother in law who utterly failed to live up to the kickass name of Basiliscus when he got 400,000 Romans slaughtered in a disastrous invasion of Africa that saw half the force drown in sight of land and the rest routed on the shores by forces less than a tenth their size, then maybe the added influx of revenue from Carthage could have bought the West time to catch its breath.

There's definitely an element of bad personnel choices and sheer bad luck in the demise of the western Empire. If even one of the expeditions manages to retake Carthage and North Africa from the Vandals, maybe the western Empire gets much of its tax revenues back and survives. If the Vandals got caught in Gaul instead of slipping through in Iberia (a real possibility), then maybe the western Empire survives because it never loses Carthage. Hell, if it had been someone who was merely ordinarily corrupt handling the entrance of the Goths into the Empire in exchange for military service instead of fucking Lupicinus and Maximus, the western Empire would have had a ton more Gothic regular recruits into its Army and be in a much better position to deal with the other entrants crossing without permission (particularly the Vandals). 

I mean, during the Crisis of the Third Century, the Roman Empire basically did lose everything except Greece, Italy, and North Africa. Gaul, Britain, and Iberia rebelled and formed a rival empire. Same for Egypt, the Levant, and a huge chunk of Anatolia. But with just that, Aurelian was able to pull it back together. 

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6 hours ago, Fall Bass said:

There's definitely an element of bad personnel choices and sheer bad luck in the demise of the western Empire. If even one of the expeditions manages to retake Carthage and North Africa from the Vandals, maybe the western Empire gets much of its tax revenues back and survives. If the Vandals got caught in Gaul instead of slipping through in Iberia (a real possibility), then maybe the western Empire survives because it never loses Carthage. Hell, if it had been someone who was merely ordinarily corrupt handling the entrance of the Goths into the Empire in exchange for military service instead of fucking Lupicinus and Maximus, the western Empire would have had a ton more Gothic regular recruits into its Army and be in a much better position to deal with the other entrants crossing without permission (particularly the Vandals). 

I mean, during the Crisis of the Third Century, the Roman Empire basically did lose everything except Greece, Italy, and North Africa. Gaul, Britain, and Iberia rebelled and formed a rival empire. Same for Egypt, the Levant, and a huge chunk of Anatolia. But with just that, Aurelian was able to pull it back together. 

Yes, I think the failure of the Carthage expedition in 468 AD was the point of no return.  The reconquest of North Africa would have given the Empire huge tax revenues, and control of the Western Mediterranean.

What's depressing about the 5th century is that being competent earned you a death sentence.  Stilicho, Aetius, Majorian, and Avitus were all murdered by jealous underlings, or jealous superiors.  Given time and loyalty, any one of them could have turned the situation around.

 

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18 hours ago, Fall Bass said:

There's definitely an element of bad personnel choices and sheer bad luck in the demise of the western Empire. If even one of the expeditions manages to retake Carthage and North Africa from the Vandals, maybe the western Empire gets much of its tax revenues back and survives. If the Vandals got caught in Gaul instead of slipping through in Iberia (a real possibility), then maybe the western Empire survives because it never loses Carthage. Hell, if it had been someone who was merely ordinarily corrupt handling the entrance of the Goths into the Empire in exchange for military service instead of fucking Lupicinus and Maximus, the western Empire would have had a ton more Gothic regular recruits into its Army and be in a much better position to deal with the other entrants crossing without permission (particularly the Vandals). 

I mean, during the Crisis of the Third Century, the Roman Empire basically did lose everything except Greece, Italy, and North Africa. Gaul, Britain, and Iberia rebelled and formed a rival empire. Same for Egypt, the Levant, and a huge chunk of Anatolia. But with just that, Aurelian was able to pull it back together. 

I note the point of no return between despotism and mere corruption as when absolute morons are allowed into power via family.

Obviously its not a hard and fast rule, and depends a lot on context.

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On 13/02/2018 at 1:02 PM, Pony Queen Jace said:

I'll flex my scholastic muscle to suggest that had Basileous Leo I not given command of the strongest military force in living memory to his brother in law who utterly failed to live up to the kickass name of Basiliscus when he got 400,000 Romans slaughtered in a disastrous invasion of Africa that saw half the force drown in sight of land and the rest routed on the shores by forces less than a tenth their size, then maybe the added influx of revenue from Carthage could have bought the West time to catch its breath.

 

21 hours ago, SeanF said:

Yes, I think the failure of the Carthage expedition in 468 AD was the point of no return.  The reconquest of North Africa would have given the Empire huge tax revenues, and control of the Western Mediterranean.

What's depressing about the 5th century is that being competent earned you a death sentence.  Stilicho, Aetius, Majorian, and Avitus were all murdered by jealous underlings, or jealous superiors.  Given time and loyalty, any one of them could have turned the situation around.

This is only speculation, but my guess is that Rome wouldn't have succeeded under any leadership. It's not that they weren't still a fighting force to be reckoned with (they clearly were) but none of the issues would have been resolved. Principally, the west had disseminated into what was essentially large feudal estates who were self-sufficient and therefore avoiding trade to avoid taxation.

Justinian discovered after his reconquest of Italy and North Africa that it largely wasn't worth the cost of investment. The East's government and bureaucracy was ticking over efficiently and nicely, and therefore taxes were regular, consistent and as corruption-free as the late antiquity could manage. Italy's wine and olive oil exports were about the only valuable commodity secured for all of the effort, and this was offset by the accidental side-effect of the expanded trade networks coinciding with an outbreak of bubonic plague.

Even supposing a successful invasion of North Africa, there may not have been much incentive to continue to hold it as a frontier.

We can overstate the importance of leaders and ignore the underlying issues, and I doubt even Scipio Africanus could have secured Rome's lost western holdings long-term after more than a century of serious social and structural issues.

Edited by Yukle
Corrected a name - Justinian, not Julian. They all have similar names.

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Is there any internet wormhole stronger than the history sections of Wikipedia? Last Friday, I started just trying to get some information on a haunted house in New Orleans (The LaLaurie Mansion). This led to me reading about Delphine LaLaurie, a socialite who tortured and killed several of her slaves and was run out of the city and had to flee to Europe. This somehow led to me reading about Maria Luisa of Parma, a Spanish Queen who was the eldest daughter of King Louis XV of France. Naturally I then had to spend 90-120 minutes reading about King Louis XIV, XV and XVI, which then of course led me to read about the French Revolution and Marie Antonia getting her noggin lopped off. 

My biggest take away though: The Dauphin Dynasty, which ruled France for a total of 447 years, had a dolphin on their coat of arms.

:lmao: 

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I've been trying to work my way through the "history" subsection of Wikipedia's Featured Articles (these are supposed to be the absolute best wikipedia has to offer,). 

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On ‎2‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 5:34 PM, Tywin et al. said:

Is there any internet wormhole stronger than the history sections of Wikipedia? Last Friday, I started just trying to get some information on a haunted house in New Orleans (The LaLaurie Mansion). This led to me reading about Delphine LaLaurie, a socialite who tortured and killed several of her slaves and was run out of the city and had to flee to Europe. This somehow led to me reading about Maria Luisa of Parma, a Spanish Queen who was the eldest daughter of King Louis XV of France. Naturally I then had to spend 90-120 minutes reading about King Louis XIV, XV and XVI, which then of course led me to read about the French Revolution and Marie Antonia getting her noggin lopped off. 

My biggest take away though: The Dauphin Dynasty, which ruled France for a total of 447 years, had a dolphin on their coat of arms.

:lmao: 

That was the Bourbon dynasty starting in 1589 with Henri IV until 1848 with Louis-Philippe, broken up by the French Revolution and Napoleon's reign. Dauphin was the title of the heir to the French throne which pre-dated the Bourbons. The title's history is interesting. The Count of Albon, a territory in SE France around Grenoble, had a dolphin on his coat of arms and was nicknamed the Dauphin. His descendants eventually changed their title from Count to Dauphin and the territory became known as the Dauphine. In the mid 14th C., the territory was sold to the King of France with one condition being that the heir to the French throne adopt the title dauphin. These heirs to the throne also adopted the dolphin on their individual coat of arms.

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9 minutes ago, Astromech said:

That was the Bourbon dynasty starting in 1589 with Henri IV until 1848 with Louis-Philippe, broken up by the French Revolution and Napoleon's reign. Dauphin was the title of the heir to the French throne which pre-dated the Bourbons. The title's history is interesting. The Count of Albon, a territory in SE France around Grenoble, had a dolphin on his coat of arms and was nicknamed the Dauphin. His descendants eventually changed their title from Count to Dauphin and the territory became known as the Dauphine. In the mid 14th C., the territory was sold to the King of France with one condition being that the heir to the French throne adopt the title dauphin. These heirs to the throne also adopted the dolphin on their individual coat of arms.

All I heard was a lot of 'blah blah French'

More like 'Merica was gettin' its 'Merica going on and stretching its sea legs in the Caribbean.

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On 2/20/2018 at 6:33 PM, Fall Bass said:

I've been trying to work my way through the "history" subsection of Wikipedia's Featured Articles (these are supposed to be the absolute best wikipedia has to offer,). 

They are generally pretty good.

History is really hard to get using Wikipedia. Firstly - a huge caution - it's a tertiary source per its own policies, specifically excluding itself from being able to be used as a research tool.

Feature articles are nonetheless pretty sound from when I've read them (and contributed to them, because of course I have!). That said, for the overwhelming majority of history articles on Wikipedia there are concerted efforts to remove key sections. For instance, the page on the Stolen Generations in Australia includes a section disputing their existence - and this is for something the federal and state governments of Australia have explicitly admitted they did and have since apologised for.

Recent research into history tends to focus on the effects of climate and disease, which were factors not really considered as much by earlier historians as means of bringing about change on a large scale. They still recorded it, especially in cases of drought and famine, or during pandemics, but not with the same empirical tools we now have. Yet it's really hard to put such information in Wikipedia.

I added a section into Australian history explaining the climate change that probably led to significantly shifting diets and culture in south-eastern Australia, especially modern day Tasmania. It was deleted initially because one user said it, "gives too much focus on the aborigines, their bit is already at the top of the page," and another user, "why does everything have to be about climate change these days?"

I also added a section to the Silk Road exploring the role it played in spreading smallpox and some anti-vaxxer deleted it as part of their agenda to prove that this was false evidence used to justify poisoning babies to combat made-up diseases.

The most annoying part of this is the fact that historians have already been noting these matters anyway, just in a more haphazard rather than co-ordinated way. There's nothing new in recognising the role of climate in human history, for instance, nor in noticing changing climate patterns. It's so easy to find medieval writing lamenting the consistently poorer climate for growing food in once fertile areas, or the increasingly unpredictable floods of the usually regular Nile delta.

Therefore whenever you are on Wikipedia, be sure that there's a little bronze star in the top right of a history page before reading it. If it's not there, you're perhaps reading rubbish.

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Also @Astromech, I just noticed your signature. Is it meant to say, "uva uvam videndo varia fit"?

Since it's a history thread, that's a line from Juvenal. Since it's your signature, you'd know, but for everyone else it pretty much means, "A grape ripens [changes colour] when it sees another [grape]."

Your signature says vivendo instead, and I can't find that in my dictionary - which is not comprehensive, I'll admit. It might mean "live with" but I'm not sure about the grammar. I tried Google translate and in Portuguese vivendo means "live with," and since that's a Romance language it may work.

Is it "a grape ripens when it lives with another grape"... ? That could be a play on words of the original line.

Edited by Yukle

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23 minutes ago, Yukle said:

Also @Astromech, I just noticed your signature. Is it meant to say, "uva uvam videndo varia fit"?

Since it's a history thread, that's a line from Juvenal. Since it's your signature, you'd know, but for everyone else it pretty much means, "A grape ripens [changes colour] when it sees another grape."

Your signature says vivendo instead, and I can't find that in my dictionary - which is not comprehensive, I'll admit. It might mean "live with" but I'm not sure about the grammar. I tried Google translate and in Portuguese vivendo means "live with," and since that's a Romance language it may work.

Is it "a grape ripens when it lives with another grape"... ? That could be a play on words of the original line.

Haha. I forgot that sig was still there?

It's actually a quote from one of my favorite novels, Lonesome Dove, taken from Augustus McRae and Woodrow F. Call's business sign for the Hat Creek Cattle Company. Gus liked the sound of the phrase and added it for distinction without knowing what it meant and misquoting it. There is an early scene in the novel where a visitor happens by who knows Latin and mentions it. Gus takes an instant disliking to the visitor.

There are some interesting interpretations of this phrase as it pertains to the novel, more of a theme for characters in the novel and the influence others have on them. Amazing novel. I highly recommend it if haven't read it, or haven't read it multiple times.

 

Edited by Astromech

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2 hours ago, Astromech said:

Haha. I forgot that sig was still there?

It's actually a quote from one of my favorite novels, Lonesome Dove, taken from Augustus McRae and Woodrow F. Call's business sign for the Hat Creek Cattle Company. Gus liked the sound of the phrase and added it for distinction without knowing what it meant and misquoting it. There is an early scene in the novel where a visitor happens by who knows Latin and mentions it. Gus takes an instant disliking to the visitor.

OMG! That is hilarious! I am just like the annoying visitor in the novel! :o:lol: 

I have never heard of the novel, I will have to read it! What’s it about?

That’s a bit embarrassing for me. I might fallen for what the novel’s use of the quote is.

Juvenal has a lot of well known phrases, “panem et circenses” or “bread and circuses” being the best known. They are all part of larger satires and meant to be in a certain context but always so poignant even on their own. I do like the one you have.

In real life, with Latin, it was meant to be written in a really strict and formal style that no one really spoke. It was considered poor form to write colloquially or to rhyme in poetry and all sorts of things. So I thought maybe the quote in your signature was a deliberate irony of kind of slightly changing the Latin to deviate away from “classical” and into “vulgar” of a real person.

I will always remember I class I took on extant examples of common Latin. Translators flocked to Pompeii, excited about all of the exposed graffiti and what it could pertain.

Almost all of the messages were - I kid you not - things like, “I did a poo here and also here,” “I slept with a barmaid,” “So-and-so is a cry baby,” “Visit so-and-so’s house for a sexy night.”

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2 minutes ago, Yukle said:

Almost all of the messages were - I kid you not - things like, “I did a poo here and also here,” “I slept with a barmaid,” “So-and-so is a cry baby,” “Visit so-and-so’s house for a sexy night.”

Just goes to show you all the bitching about younger people is bollocks. Also that despite all the technological advancement we really haven't changed much in the past 2000 years.

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2 hours ago, TrueMetis said:

Just goes to show you all the bitching about younger people is bollocks. Also that despite all the technological advancement we really haven't changed much in the past 2000 years.

The same brains who invented machines that fit billions of transistors in phones connected to satellites that can deliver data within microseconds are the same brains that needed to use rammed earth to build basic structures thousands of years ago.

You're right - we've developed technologically, but we're still the same people. Just as clever - and as silly - as we've always been.

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1 hour ago, Yukle said:

The same brains who invented machines that fit billions of transistors in phones connected to satellites that can deliver data within microseconds are the same brains that needed to use rammed earth to build basic structures thousands of years ago.

You're right - we've developed technologically, but we're still the same people. Just as clever - and as silly - as we've always been.

The Romans are both very familiar and very strange, and at times horrifying.  One can laugh at their jokes, and life in Pompeii isn't much different from life in any prosperous Western town in say, the mid 20th century.  On the other hand, they thought that crucifixion or rape by animals were entirely suitable punishments for rebellious members of the lower classes.

When you think about it, some ancient societies had extremely impressive technology.  Skara Brae had running water and sewerage.  Stonehenge was built with materials transported from South Wales.  People built underground cities in Cappadocia, with excellent sanitation;  the Romans invented concrete, and mined and smelted on a huge scale. I've often thought that the Industrial Revolution could just as easily have happened two thousand years ago, rather than two hundred years ago.

Edited by SeanF

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18 hours ago, Yukle said:

I will look out for that! :) 

There was also aTV miniseries based on the book  in the mid nineties. It was quite well made and as enjoyable as the book.

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There was a long-standing debate over whether cultural changes in the ancient world were from population shifts or cultural exchange. Now it's starting to look like (at least in Europe, but also elsewhere) that there was some (relatively) massive population turnover in the Early Bronze Age. 

Case in point, this BBC article about how native Britons are almost entirely descended from the "Bell Beaker" people who swept over the UK roughly around 2500 BC, displacing the Early European Farmers who had displaced folks like "Cheddar Man" and built Stonehenge. At least 90% of their ancestry is from Beaker folk (who were part of the overall massive Indo-European migrations, although IIRC they don't think they came out of India anymore - they came out of the Eurasian steppe). 

Edited by Fall Bass

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