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Pony Queen Jace

History Thread!

138 posts in this topic

On 11/9/2017 at 10:43 PM, maarsen said:

I liked your comments on Julius  Caesar. Now I have a lot more reading to do. 

That's kind of you to say. :) Thanks.

On 11/9/2017 at 10:47 PM, SeanF said:

It's very hard to say "Would X have beaten Y" when they lived in different times.  Alexander would probably have lost to either Hannibal or Caesar had he used the strategies and tactics that were successful in his lifetime, but had he lived in a different era, he would probably have used different strategies and tactics.

That makes sense. It sounds weird, but you'd need to see what would have happened had he lived long enough to lose. Maybe he would've been like Scipio Africanus, who lived into his fifties but never got around to losing a battle he commanded. Which is great. Or, like Hannibal and Caesar, he might lose but retreat in good order with supplies intact - nearly impossible in ancient times. Alexander was probably capable of either of those outcomes.

On 11/9/2017 at 11:42 PM, SeanF said:

...

There seems very little evidence that Genghis Khan was deliberately sadistic (he expressly forebade torture for example).  It's just that for him, mass murder and mass rape were extremely effective methods of breaking resistance.

He did once say this: “The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.”

That aside, history often glosses over what "foraging" means. It's a euphemism. In ancient and middle ages "foraging" meant "holding civilians at sword point for their food." It's something that aSoIaF explores well in aFFC. Many civilisations, including those seen as "enlightened" like Renaissance Italy, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and Revolutionary France were prone to wiping out cities of people who resisted them.

On the other hand, the Mongols were brutal in a way that was unprecedented at the time. The infamous flinging of plague-ridden bodies into the city of Caffa while under siege was abhorrent and, as far as we know, without equal for centuries past or following.

Genghis Khan's reputation is probably a combination of his undoubted brutality combined with a Euro-centric worldview that often idolises what is considered barbaric in Asian cultures. Khan was a famous example of how the West perceived "the Orient" and so he became a stand-in for assumptions about Asian cultures (including the ridiculous idea that they're all essentially the same).

My favourite way this has been summarised was on the YouTube channel Crash Course, which pointed out that powerful nobles controlling private armies paid for with exhaustive taxes extracted from "serfs" who were slaves in all but name have existed throughout history. In Europe they're called landlords, but in Asia they're called warlords. ;) 

P.S. I think Genghis Khan was a monster. But he is hardly unique for that.

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19 minutes ago, Yukle said:

He did once say this: “The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.”

That aside, history often glosses over what "foraging" means. It's a euphemism. In ancient and middle ages "foraging" meant "holding civilians at sword point for their food." It's something that aSoIaF explores well in aFFC. Many civilisations, including those seen as "enlightened" like Renaissance Italy, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and Revolutionary France were prone to wiping out cities of people who resisted them.

On the other hand, the Mongols were brutal in a way that was unprecedented at the time. The infamous flinging of plague-ridden bodies into the city of Caffa while under siege was abhorrent and, as far as we know, without equal for centuries past or following.

Genghis Khan's reputation is probably a combination of his undoubted brutality combined with a Euro-centric worldview that often idolises what is considered barbaric in Asian cultures. Khan was a famous example of how the West perceived "the Orient" and so he became a stand-in for assumptions about Asian cultures (including the ridiculous idea that they're all essentially the same).

My favourite way this has been summarised was on the YouTube channel Crash Course, which pointed out that powerful nobles controlling private armies paid for with exhaustive taxes extracted from "serfs" who were slaves in all but name have existed throughout history. In Europe they're called landlords, but in Asia they're called warlords. ;) 

P.S. I think Genghis Khan was a monster. But he is hardly unique for that.

I mean that's true, but it's usually done because otherwise armies would starve. I mean you will probably cause some cilvilians to starve to death, so it's still pretty awful behaviour, but it's sometimes portrayed as if soldiers do it for kicks, or greed. Which I'm sure they have done many times, but not most of the time.

In Britain we do talk about "warlords" make in Anglo-Saxon times. A landlord seems to be a "civilised" (isn't that a lovely loaded term) warlord.

I was told at school by one great teacher that the British Empire invented slavery. The more I read, the more it seems like slavery has existed in some form in pretty much every cilvilisation ever. By our current definition, serfdom is literally slavery.

I liked your post about Rome in the Weinstein thread. One thing I found interesting was that when the Romans came to Britain, one thing they were disgusted at was how masculine British women were, and how much power we let them have- a certain sign of barbarity, although there is a bit of admiration for how tough these women were as well. These days, it seems like wealthier, more advanced societies treat women better, but historically women often seem to have more power in tribal societies. Do you have any more examples of historical societies that were particularly strong or weak on women's rights?

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2 hours ago, mankytoes said:

I mean that's true, but it's usually done because otherwise armies would starve. I mean you will probably cause some cilvilians to starve to death, so it's still pretty awful behaviour, but it's sometimes portrayed as if soldiers do it for kicks, or greed. Which I'm sure they have done many times, but not most of the time.

In Britain we do talk about "warlords" make in Anglo-Saxon times. A landlord seems to be a "civilised" (isn't that a lovely loaded term) warlord.

I was told at school by one great teacher that the British Empire invented slavery. The more I read, the more it seems like slavery has existed in some form in pretty much every cilvilisation ever. By our current definition, serfdom is literally slavery.

I liked your post about Rome in the Weinstein thread. One thing I found interesting was that when the Romans came to Britain, one thing they were disgusted at was how masculine British women were, and how much power we let them have- a certain sign of barbarity, although there is a bit of admiration for how tough these women were as well. These days, it seems like wealthier, more advanced societies treat women better, but historically women often seem to have more power in tribal societies. Do you have any more examples of historical societies that were particularly strong or weak on women's rights?

Armies could carry supplies or purchase food, even in medieval times (Henry V's army did so, during the Agincourt campaign).  But, seizing food, and burning what you could not carry off, was a horribly effective tactic.  It damaged your opponent's economic base, as well as undermining his prestige.

 

In societies where the men were more or less full time warriors, women performed a lot of high status tasks that would be done by men in more peaceful places.  Sparta for example, was unique among Greek States in allowing women to inherit, and buy and sell land, and in educating them at public expense (of course, a lot of the menial work in Sparta was performed by Helots).  In some Polynesian societies, both land and titles passed through the female line, because the rate of violent deaths among the men was so high.

Even in modern societies, it seems that WWI and WWII had a very big impact in improving womens' opportunities. 

Edited by SeanF

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2 hours ago, Yukle said:

That's kind of you to say. :) Thanks.

That makes sense. It sounds weird, but you'd need to see what would have happened had he lived long enough to lose. Maybe he would've been like Scipio Africanus, who lived into his fifties but never got around to losing a battle he commanded. Which is great. Or, like Hannibal and Caesar, he might lose but retreat in good order with supplies intact - nearly impossible in ancient times. Alexander was probably capable of either of those outcomes.

He did once say this: “The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.”

That aside, history often glosses over what "foraging" means. It's a euphemism. In ancient and middle ages "foraging" meant "holding civilians at sword point for their food." It's something that aSoIaF explores well in aFFC. Many civilisations, including those seen as "enlightened" like Renaissance Italy, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and Revolutionary France were prone to wiping out cities of people who resisted them.

On the other hand, the Mongols were brutal in a way that was unprecedented at the time. The infamous flinging of plague-ridden bodies into the city of Caffa while under siege was abhorrent and, as far as we know, without equal for centuries past or following.

Genghis Khan's reputation is probably a combination of his undoubted brutality combined with a Euro-centric worldview that often idolises what is considered barbaric in Asian cultures. Khan was a famous example of how the West perceived "the Orient" and so he became a stand-in for assumptions about Asian cultures (including the ridiculous idea that they're all essentially the same).

My favourite way this has been summarised was on the YouTube channel Crash Course, which pointed out that powerful nobles controlling private armies paid for with exhaustive taxes extracted from "serfs" who were slaves in all but name have existed throughout history. In Europe they're called landlords, but in Asia they're called warlords. ;) 

P.S. I think Genghis Khan was a monster. But he is hardly unique for that.

Probably more civilians died as a result of foraging than were deliberately killed by invading armies.

For a peasant family, losing one's livestock would be a catastrophe.

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26 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Armies could carry supplies or purchase food, even in medieval times (Henry V's army did so, during the Agincourt campaign).  But, seizing food, and burning what you could not carry off, was a horribly effective tactic.  It damaged your opponent's economic base, as well as undermining his prestige.

In societies where the men were more or less full time warriors, women performed a lot of high status tasks that would be done by men in more peaceful places.  Sparta for example, was unique among Greek States in allowing women to inherit, and buy and sell land, and in educating them at public expense (of course, a lot of the menial work in Sparta was performed by Helots).  In some Polynesian societies, both land and titles passed through the female line, because the rate of violent deaths among the men was so high.

Even in modern societies, it seems that WWI and WWII had a very big impact in improving womens' opportunities. 

It all depends on the circumstances. Bad planning or attacks by the enemy on supplies can make foraging necessary for survival. Waging war is incredibly expensive without buying food- and I wouldn't expect the enemy to tolerate people selling it to you.

Oh yeah, I think I read women owned a third of the land in Sparta? And there's an interesting contrast to Athens, which I know had more conservative attitudes towards women.

Yeah, I think modern "total war" meant women were forced into traditionally masculine professions, and it proved that a lot of the ideas about gender at the time were a result of nurture, not nature. It's very hard to close these doors once they open.

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3 hours ago, mankytoes said:

I was told at school by one great teacher that the British Empire invented slavery. The more I read, the more it seems like slavery has existed in some form in pretty much every cilvilisation ever. By our current definition, serfdom is literally slavery.

...

I liked your post about Rome in the Weinstein thread. One thing I found interesting was that when the Romans came to Britain, one thing they were disgusted at was how masculine British women were, and how much power we let them have- a certain sign of barbarity, although there is a bit of admiration for how tough these women were as well. These days, it seems like wealthier, more advanced societies treat women better, but historically women often seem to have more power in tribal societies. Do you have any more examples of historical societies that were particularly strong or weak on women's rights?

On the first point, you're correct. Evidence for slavery goes back to ancient sources and it almost certainly has existed almost as long as large social groups have. It is possible that it predates Homo Sapiens as a species, but that's not hugely likely given the lack of evidence that Homo Erectus had the necessary brain structure or size for language or political groups larger than extended families.

On the second point, Queen Boudicca is a strong example of this attitude. She was hated anyway for resisting Roman conquest (and being as brutal in return to them as they were to her people) but Romans did tend to have defined social roles and a woman in military power was culturally offensive to them.

However, it's important to also remember that most people living in Rome were unlike those living in the major cities. They were ethnically diverse and most didn't speak Latin or Greek. It wasn't the higher-powers of Rome commanding sexist laws; they lacked anywhere near that level of authority on such a wide scale. This was a time period when horse was the fastest means of communication. Rather, Rome's cultural sexism and misogyny is a reflection of the fact that most Mediterranean cultures developed sexism independently.

From the historical eras and cultures I know of most powerful women were exceptions to ingrained sexism, like Empress Wu, the only woman to be Emperor of China. :) 

On the other hand, there were a handful of cultures that were more egalitarian. Some Indigenous Australian, Torres Strait and Papuan societies are known to be vest their authority in the oldest living person in their country, man or woman, and have done for as long as history can be recorded. Most such cultures have clearly defined gender roles (but, it's important to note, they do not always have only two genders. Some have three or four as part of their regular cultural mindset), though, where each is regarded as separate but equal.

It's possible that some Indigenous Australian and Indigenous Central American countries were matriarchal, with power often coming from the woman who had either survived the most pregnancies or who was most experienced at gathering food (or both). But it's kind of sad to note that this is speculation; in both cases a combination of institutional racism and exposure to smallpox utterly devastated the people of such cultures and we know very little about their traditions. :( 

Finally, there were peculiar instances of women holding disproportionate power but only if they were part of the upper class. This was the case in the city-state Sparta's peak and during feudal Japan.

@mankytoes is correct; In Sparta, all citizens were part of the army. This meant that, in practice, a group of super-wealthy women emerged who kept inheriting their husband's estates when they died in battle. Such women were prized as wives, so warriors would marry them again, leading to more power and wealth in their hands. They became so wealthy that they could bribe or pay-off the political processes with ease.

In feudal Japan, the very strict cultural mindset in society's upper echelons barred wives from criticising their husbands or embarrassing him. This led to a swathe of elite men who were so bored in marriage that they hired geishas. These women weren't prostitutes, they were highly educated women (usually at the expense of the men) who were well informed on most matters so that the men could have a conversation with being bored to death. They couldn't even necessarily speak with other men, since men of inferior status were also barred from breaking certain taboos. Geishas, as women they weren't married to, didn't have to conform to these ideas. As well as them, a new social class began to emerge: educated women who did the "womanly" tasks of art, recording history and writing informative pieces. They had to be fairly good at sums and whatnot to do this and since their tasks were shunned by men, they had great influence in political affairs.

However... they would have been, at best, a few thousand women in the entire of Japan. The overwhelming majority of women were, socially speaking, on par with animals. :( 

Edited by Yukle

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54 minutes ago, Yukle said:

However, it's important to also remember that most people living in Rome were unlike those living in the major cities. They were ethnically diverse and most didn't speak Latin or Greek. It wasn't the higher-powers of Rome commanding sexist laws; they lacked anywhere near that level of authority on such a wide scale. This was a time period when horse was the fastest means of communication. Rather, Rome's cultural sexism and misogyny is a reflection of the fact that most Mediterranean cultures developed sexism independently.

From the historical eras and cultures I know of most powerful women were exceptions to ingrained sexism, like Empress Wu, the only woman to be Emperor of China. :) 

On the other hand, there were a handful of cultures that were more egalitarian. Some Indigenous Australian, Torres Strait and Papuan societies are known to be vest their authority in the oldest living person in their country, man or woman, and have done for as long as history can be recorded. Most such cultures have clearly defined gender roles (but, it's important to note, they do not always have only two genders. Some have three or four as part of their regular cultural mindset), though, where each is regarded as separate but equal.

Finally, there were peculiar instances of women holding disproportionate power but only if they were part of the upper class. This was the case in the city-state Sparta's peak and during feudal Japan.

In feudal Japan, the very strict cultural mindset in society's upper echelons barred wives from criticising their husbands or embarrassing him. This led to a swathe of elite men who were so bored in marriage that they hired geishas. These women weren't prostitutes, they were highly educated women (usually at the expense of the men) who were well informed on most matters so that the men could have a conversation with being bored to death. They couldn't even necessarily speak with other men, since men of inferior status were also barred from breaking certain taboos. Geishas, as women they weren't married to, didn't have to conform to these ideas. As well as them, a new social class began to emerge: educated women who did the "womanly" tasks of art, recording history and writing informative pieces. They had to be fairly good at sums and whatnot to do this and since their tasks were shunned by men, they had great influence in political affairs.

However... they would have been, at best, a few thousand women in the entire of Japan. The overwhelming majority of women were, socially speaking, on par with animals. :( 

Yeah, I learned that recently, Rome was generally far more interested in military submission than spreading their culture. Again, a bit like the mongols I guess.

I read Jung Chang's book on Empress Dowager Cixi recently, who effectively ruled China for a long time until the collapse of the dynastic system. She's traditionally viewed as a despot, but there's clearly at least some sexism in that interpretation- she was certainly brutal, but not exceptionally brutal.

Huh, I've never actually heard of that. I guess it makes more sense the harsher life is- if you can reach old age, you've done something right.

That's cool about Japan. Like most nerdy people I love Japanese culture, I will try and read up on that period.

There are always littlle unusual inconsistancies in partriachies. Like in Anglo-Saxon England, a man who stole livestock and took them back to his house could be put to death. However, his wife would not be punished as long as she swore on the bible that she had nothing to do with the actual theft. That is because she had sworn to obey him, so couldn't be punished for doing so. Even better, I thought, was the ancient Welsh law where if you cheated on your wife she had a three day legal free pass to get revenge on you, the mistress, and the mistresses family(!).

Edited by mankytoes

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4 hours ago, mankytoes said:

Do you have any more examples of historical societies that were particularly strong or weak on women's rights?

You might also want to look into the legal situation of women in Ancient Egypt. Sure enough, the country has a long and ever-changing history, but during most of the Kingdoms women were legally equal to men. Even when it came to job opportunities and I'm not talking about peasantry (where all hands were needed in every age anyway), but when it came to scribes and high royal officials as well, those could be of either gender. I am also always astonished how influencal the women in court were when reading the history. For example when I was looking up the court of Ramesses II (even though in the New Kingdom things got more restrictive in court, I suppose due to the influencal priesthood gobbling up positions), it is common knowledge that his first wive Nefertari was always portrayed as an equal in arts, but I was even more surprised to find his mother Queen Tuya being the main ambassador to the Hittite Empire and therefore in large part responsible for the first (still existing) peace treaty of mankind.

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1 hour ago, mankytoes said:

Yeah, I learned that recently, Rome was generally far more interested in military submission than spreading their culture. Again, a bit like the mongols I guess.

I read Jung Chang's book on Empress Dowager Cixi recently, who effectively ruled China for a long time until the collapse of the dynastic system. She's traditionally viewed as a despot, but there's clearly at least some sexism in that interpretation- she was certainly brutal, but not exceptionally brutal.

Huh, I've never actually heard of that. I guess it makes more sense the harsher life is- if you can reach old age, you've done something right.

That's cool about Japan. Like most nerdy people I love Japanese culture, I will try and read up on that period.

There are always littlle unusual inconsistancies in partriachies. Like in Anglo-Saxon England, a man who stole livestock and took them back to his house could be put to death. However, his wife would not be punished as long as she swore on the bible that she had nothing to do with the actual theft. That is because she had sworn to obey him, so couldn't be punished for doing so. Even better, I thought, was the ancient Welsh law where if you cheated on your wife she had a three day legal free pass to get revenge on you, the mistress, and the mistresses family(!).

Marital coercion was a defence to crimes other than murder or treason right up until 2014, in England and Wales.  Prior to 1925, if a woman could prove that she had committed an offence on her husband's orders, the offence was attributed to the husband and she was acquitted.

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30 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Marital coercion was a defence to crimes other than murder or treason right up until 2014, in England and Wales.  Prior to 1925, if a woman could prove that she had committed an offence on her husband's orders, the offence was attributed to the husband and she was acquitted.

DAMN! I would have knocked over so many banks...

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59 minutes ago, Pony Queen Jace said:

DAMN! I would have knocked over so many banks...

PQJ – now comes with trench coat and tommy gun accessories.

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10 hours ago, mankytoes said:

There are always littlle unusual inconsistancies in partriachies. Like in Anglo-Saxon England, a man who stole livestock and took them back to his house could be put to death. However, his wife would not be punished as long as she swore on the bible that she had nothing to do with the actual theft. That is because she had sworn to obey him, so couldn't be punished for doing so. Even better, I thought, was the ancient Welsh law where if you cheated on your wife she had a three day legal free pass to get revenge on you, the mistress, and the mistresses family(!).

Oh wow! Wales was super harsh!

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13 hours ago, Yukle said:

On the first point, you're correct. Evidence for slavery goes back to ancient sources and it almost certainly has existed almost as long as large social groups have. It is possible that it predates Homo Sapiens as a species, but that's not hugely likely given the lack of evidence that Homo Erectus had the necessary brain structure or size for language or political groups larger than extended families.

On the second point, Queen Boudicca is a strong example of this attitude. She was hated anyway for resisting Roman conquest (and being as brutal in return to them as they were to her people) but Romans did tend to have defined social roles and a woman in military power was culturally offensive to them.

However, it's important to also remember that most people living in Rome were unlike those living in the major cities. They were ethnically diverse and most didn't speak Latin or Greek. It wasn't the higher-powers of Rome commanding sexist laws; they lacked anywhere near that level of authority on such a wide scale. This was a time period when horse was the fastest means of communication. Rather, Rome's cultural sexism and misogyny is a reflection of the fact that most Mediterranean cultures developed sexism independently.

From the historical eras and cultures I know of most powerful women were exceptions to ingrained sexism, like Empress Wu, the only woman to be Emperor of China. :) 

On the other hand, there were a handful of cultures that were more egalitarian. Some Indigenous Australian, Torres Strait and Papuan societies are known to be vest their authority in the oldest living person in their country, man or woman, and have done for as long as history can be recorded. Most such cultures have clearly defined gender roles (but, it's important to note, they do not always have only two genders. Some have three or four as part of their regular cultural mindset), though, where each is regarded as separate but equal.

It's possible that some Indigenous Australian and Indigenous Central American countries were matriarchal, with power often coming from the woman who had either survived the most pregnancies or who was most experienced at gathering food (or both). But it's kind of sad to note that this is speculation; in both cases a combination of institutional racism and exposure to smallpox utterly devastated the people of such cultures and we know very little about their traditions. :( 

Finally, there were peculiar instances of women holding disproportionate power but only if they were part of the upper class. This was the case in the city-state Sparta's peak and during feudal Japan.

@mankytoes is correct; In Sparta, all citizens were part of the army. This meant that, in practice, a group of super-wealthy women emerged who kept inheriting their husband's estates when they died in battle. Such women were prized as wives, so warriors would marry them again, leading to more power and wealth in their hands. They became so wealthy that they could bribe or pay-off the political processes with ease.

In feudal Japan, the very strict cultural mindset in society's upper echelons barred wives from criticising their husbands or embarrassing him. This led to a swathe of elite men who were so bored in marriage that they hired geishas. These women weren't prostitutes, they were highly educated women (usually at the expense of the men) who were well informed on most matters so that the men could have a conversation with being bored to death. They couldn't even necessarily speak with other men, since men of inferior status were also barred from breaking certain taboos. Geishas, as women they weren't married to, didn't have to conform to these ideas. As well as them, a new social class began to emerge: educated women who did the "womanly" tasks of art, recording history and writing informative pieces. They had to be fairly good at sums and whatnot to do this and since their tasks were shunned by men, they had great influence in political affairs.

However... they would have been, at best, a few thousand women in the entire of Japan. The overwhelming majority of women were, socially speaking, on par with animals. :( 

In North America, the Iroquois or 6 Nations Confederacy had a matrilineal  society and the ultimate power resided in the female clan leaders. They could depose the male chiefs if they were not acting in the best interests of the village or tribe.

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14 hours ago, mankytoes said:

I read Jung Chang's book on Empress Dowager Cixi recently, who effectively ruled China for a long time until the collapse of the dynastic system. She's traditionally viewed as a despot, but there's clearly at least some sexism in that interpretation- she was certainly brutal, but not exceptionally brutal.

It's hard to say. In some ways, she must have been brutal the vast bulk of China's emperors were to some extent, but on the other hand there was a tradition of viewing anybody whose dynasty collapsed as having lost the Mandate of Heaven. The stories of cannibalism, baby killing, orgies and the like are always against emperors whose dynasties lost power after their demises.

Empress Wu was the first, last and only person in her dynasty, so most of the stories are probably exaggerated. Probably. :P

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17 hours ago, SeanF said:

Even in modern societies, it seems that WWI and WWII had a very big impact in improving womens' opportunities. 

For sure.  Also a major subplot in Downton Abbey. 

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21 hours ago, Yukle said:

However... they would have been, at best, a few thousand women in the entire of Japan. The overwhelming majority of women were, socially speaking, on par with animals. :( 

The Japanese used to sell their women on the marketplace and kill them to eat them? That's news to me...

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35 minutes ago, Jo498 said:

The Japanese used to sell their women on the marketplace and kill them to eat them? That's news to me...

That's disingenuous, in that animals have different purposes and values to humans. If you were trading a chicken for cow, that's a good deal for you but not for the buyer, as a crude analogy.

There was a strict hierarchy in feudal Japan that was enforced at the time. While slavery was not really seen as part of their society, you could sell wives, daughters and sisters as you would your other valuable property like animals.

The best way to think of it is that until recently, children weren't really considered "people" by most societies. Infanticide for deformed or disabled children was relatively commonplace, as babies weren't seen as human. It's not that dissimilar to disputes about the sanctity of a ten-year-old versus a one-year-old versus an eight-month old in the womb.

Women were in that grey area: a not-really-person, whose function was to beget useful boys or, failing that, fetch a good price.

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1 hour ago, Jo498 said:

The Japanese used to sell their women on the marketplace and kill them to eat them? That's news to me...

I think that women could be used as collateral for loans in Japan.

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On 11/13/2017 at 3:57 AM, Yukle said:

That's kind of you to say. :) Thanks.

That makes sense. It sounds weird, but you'd need to see what would have happened had he lived long enough to lose. Maybe he would've been like Scipio Africanus, who lived into his fifties but never got around to losing a battle he commanded. Which is great. Or, like Hannibal and Caesar, he might lose but retreat in good order with supplies intact - nearly impossible in ancient times. Alexander was probably capable of either of those outcomes.

He did once say this: “The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters.”

That aside, history often glosses over what "foraging" means. It's a euphemism. In ancient and middle ages "foraging" meant "holding civilians at sword point for their food." It's something that aSoIaF explores well in aFFC. Many civilisations, including those seen as "enlightened" like Renaissance Italy, Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and Revolutionary France were prone to wiping out cities of people who resisted them.

On the other hand, the Mongols were brutal in a way that was unprecedented at the time. The infamous flinging of plague-ridden bodies into the city of Caffa while under siege was abhorrent and, as far as we know, without equal for centuries past or following.

Genghis Khan's reputation is probably a combination of his undoubted brutality combined with a Euro-centric worldview that often idolises what is considered barbaric in Asian cultures. Khan was a famous example of how the West perceived "the Orient" and so he became a stand-in for assumptions about Asian cultures (including the ridiculous idea that they're all essentially the same).

My favourite way this has been summarised was on the YouTube channel Crash Course, which pointed out that powerful nobles controlling private armies paid for with exhaustive taxes extracted from "serfs" who were slaves in all but name have existed throughout history. In Europe they're called landlords, but in Asia they're called warlords. ;) 

P.S. I think Genghis Khan was a monster. But he is hardly unique for that.

Yukle I took up your advice and for the past few weeks have been reading up on Byzantium. I have to say that the history is absolutely fascinating and thanks for the advice. 

I have just read that the marching bands that the US are so fond of during football halftime shows are an imitation of the Jannisaries music and parades. Muslim culture at the heart of America.

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10 hours ago, maarsen said:

Yukle I took up your advice and for the past few weeks have been reading up on Byzantium. I have to say that the history is absolutely fascinating and thanks for the advice. 

I have just read that the marching bands that the US are so fond of during football halftime shows are an imitation of the Jannisaries music and parades. Muslim culture at the heart of America.

I don't know much about the Byzantines, but I highly recommend this Youtube miniseries-

All their videos are great for any history geeks. The First Crusade, Admiral Yi and Sengoku Jidai (Japanese Warring States period) series' are especially recommended.

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