Saturday, May 14, 2005

Were There Blog Enough and Time

Were There Blog Enough and Time. This is an informative article by Ralph E. Luker. In it, he gives a long list of historians who are currently keeping history blogs with links to the actual blogs. I highly encourage readers of this blog to go exploring and see which of these might be to their liking.

From the site:

As the 20th century faded into the 21st, the Internet gave birth to a new form of communication, the weblog or "blog." A blog is a commonplace journal maintained on the Internet, where it is accessible to other readers. At the beginning of 1999, there were about two-dozen blogs known to exist. This was an intimate world, in which every blogger could be known to all other bloggers, but during that year the first free create-your-own-weblog tools became available and the numbers of bloggers grew into the hundreds.

Blogs take a variety of forms, from daily personal journals to occasional essays. Some blogs are exclusively individual efforts; others are collective ventures or group blogs. Some are done anonymously or pseudonymously; other people blog in their own names. Some enable readers' comments in response to what they've read; others do not. Blogs by academics are a very small part of the blog world—or "blogosphere"—which by now according to various estimates includes over 5 million blogs, though the numbers change constantly and no one really knows for sure because the attrition rate is also high. By now, however, academic blogs include some high profile public intellectuals, such as Penn State's Michael Berube (http://www.michaelberube.com/) and Chicago's Richard Posner (http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/).

Friday, May 13, 2005

History of Guatemala

History of Guatemala. Provides an excellent summary overview to the history of this Central American nation.

From the site:

The Mayan civilization flourished throughout much of Guatemala and the surrounding region long before the Spanish arrived, but it was already in decline when the Mayans were defeated by Pedro de Alvarado in 1523-24. During Spanish colonial rule, most of Central America came under the control of the Captaincy General of Guatemala.

The first colonial capital, Ciudad Vieja, was ruined by floods and an earthquake in 1542. Survivors founded Antigua, the second capital, in 1543. In the 17th century, Antigua became one of the richest capitals in the New World. Always vulnerable to volcanic eruptions, floods, and earthquakes, Antigua was destroyed by two earthquakes in 1773, but the remnants of its Spanish colonial architecture have been preserved as a national monument. The third capital, Guatemala City, was founded in 1776, after Antigua was abandoned.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Einsatzgruppen Case - Military Tribunal II Case 9

The Einsatzgruppen Case - Military Tribunal II Case 9 - Documents from the trial of individuals involved in Nazi death squads that executed Jews en masse in occupied sections of the Soviet Union.

From the site:

The "Einsatzgruppen Case" was officially designated United States of America vs. Otto Ohlendorf, et al. (Case No. 9). This trial has become known as the "Einsatzgruppen Case" because all of the defendants were charged with criminal conduct arising out of their functions as members of the Einsatzgruppen. The German term "Einsatzgruppen" may be roughly translated "Special Task Forces". Four such special units were formed in May 1941 just before the German attack on Russia, at the direction of Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, the Reich Leader SS, and Chief of the German Police.

The units were organized by Reinhardt Heydrich, Chief of the Security Police and SD (Sicherheitsdienst or Security Service) and operated under the direct control on the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). The personnel of the Einsatzgruppen came from the SS, the SD, the Gestapo (Secret State Police), and other police units. The prosecution alleged that the primary purpose of the Einsatzgruppen was to accompany the German Army into the occupied East and to exterminate Jews, gypsies, Soviet officials, and other elements of the civilian population regarded as "racially" inferior or "Politically undesirable". It was charged that approximately one million human beings were victims of this program.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Northern Crusades Against the Last Pagans of Europe

Northern Crusades Against the Last Pagans of Europe - Background information on the 13th century crusades against the Baltic Pagans. Part of a site promoting novels set in the period.

From the site:

By the beginning of the XIII-th century the pagan past of Europe belonged already to legends. Everywhere Christianity had triumphed and become not only the prevailing religion, but also a mainstay of feudalism . Everywhere, except along the eastern coast of the Baltic sea. There the Baltic peoples continued to adhere to the ancient way of life. Christian Europe had been busy with the Crusades to the Holly Land, but there the tide had turned. The remnants of the crusading armies were besieged in a few coastal enclaves and it was evident that their time was running out. Supply and reinforcement across a distant sea harassed by Muslim fleets had proven untenable. By this time Christian Europe was hardened by religion driven wars which had lasted a century. Society had changed in response to the demands of war, and the hierarchy of the Church had not escaped its corroding influence . Thus now there were even monastic orders whose purpose of existence was not to pray or perform good deeds, but to wield the sword in the name of Christ. No matter that the Prince of Peace had said that those who - "Raise the sword shall perish by it!". Mans capacity for self justification and sophistry is boundless. The sword was unsheathed, justifications were added as an afterthought, and the newly unemployed knights looked for other heathen lands to conquer. It was then that the stubborn Baltic tribes were remembered and the Northern Crusades began.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Vestal Virgins: Sexual Status

The Vestal Virgins: Sexual Status and Sacred Status. This article is by Sylvia Yuen. It appeared in the BROWN CLASSICAL JOURNAL, Volume 2, 1985.

From the site:

The Vestal Virgins led rigorous but privileged lives of religious service and personal purity. As long as they performed their religious and civic duties and maintained their vows of chastity, they had a special, influential, status unlike that of any other Roman women. But those who were found to have broken their vow of virginity were punished most severely. Why was it necessary that the Vestals remain virgins and that those who broke their vow suffer such a drastic punishment as death? More importantly, how was the sexual status of the Vestal Virgins, in terms of the roles and stages in a woman’s life (such as virginity and motherhood), related to their privileged and sacred status? We shall see that the apparently contradictory position of the Vestal Virgin as both mother and daughter was a crucial element in her sacredness.

The duties of the Vestal Virgins were both religious and civic in nature. Their primary religious duty was to “guard the eternal fire on the public hearth of the city” (Cicero, Laws, II.8). The extinction of the fire was a token of the downfall of Rome; the Vestal in charge could receive a severe flogging from the Pontifex Maximus if this happened. The fire could go out only at the end of the religious year on the last day of February, to be rekindled on the following day. The offering of mola salsa, a sacrificial cake of barley and salt, to Vesta and the Penates, regular daily prayers for the state and the people, special prayers and sacrifices, and attendance at religious festivals throughout the year, were the regular religious duties of the Vestals. In addition to these duties, the Vestals were often entrusted with will, treaties, and other important documents.

The deep respect that the Romans felt for the Vestals is indicated by their privileges. Whenever a Vestal was in public, for example, she was accompanied by a lictor who bore the fasces and cleared the way before her. She also had the privilege of driving through the city in a two-wheeled wagon, the carpentum. The opinions and recommendations of Vestal Virgins were held in high regard, and testimony could be given by them without the oath. Finally, Servius mentions that “they alone of all the priests and priestesses have a right to burial inside the city” (Servius’ commentary on the Aeneid, XI.206).

Monday, May 09, 2005

History of Germany

History of Germany. This is a general overview to the history of Germany.

From the site:

From their first appearance in the history of the world the Germans represented the principle of unchecked individualism, as opposed to the Roman principle of an all-embracing authority. German history in the Middle Ages was strongly influenced by two opposing principles: universalism and individualism. After Arminius had fought for German freedom in the Teutoburg Forest the idea that the race was entitled to be independent gradually became a powerful factor in its historical development. This conception first took form when the Germanic states grew out of the Roman Empire. Even Theodoric the Great thought of uniting the discordant barbarian countries with the aid of the leges gentium into a great confederation of the Mediterranean. Although in these Mediterranean countries the Roman principle finally prevailed, being that of a more advanced civilization, still the individualistic forces which contributed to found these states were not wasted. By them the world-embracing empire of Rome was overthrown and the way prepared for the national principle. It was not until after the fall of the Western Empire that a great Frankish kingdom became possible and the Franks, no longer held in check by the Roman Empire, were able to draw together the tribes of the old Teutonic stock and to lay the foundation of a German empire. Before this the Germanic tribes had been continually at variance; no tie bound them together; even the common language failed to produce unity. On the other hand, the so-called Lautverschiebung, or shifting of the consonants, in German, separated the North and South Germans. Nor was German mythology a source of union, for the tribal centres of worship rather increased the already existing particularism. The Germans had not even a common name. Since the eighth century most probably the designations Franks and Frankish extended beyond the boundaries of the Frankish tribe. It was not, however, until the ninth century that the expression theodisk (later German Deutsch), signifying "popular," or "belonging to people" made its appearance and a great stretch of time divided this beginning from the use of the word as a name of the nation.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Nennius, British Historian

Nennius, British Historian - Short biography of the 9th-century Celtic historian describing his works and comparing him to an Anglo-Saxon counterpart, the Venerable Bede.

From the site:

In the ninth century AD a celtic monk, fearful that the history of his people would be lost forever, gathered together into one book such scraps of history as he could find. The result has perplexed, frustrated, and tantalized the historians that followed him – even to the present day.

At the beginning of the ninth century, Celtic Britain lay in ruins. Pushed to the fringes of their lands by the barbaric Anglo-Saxon and Scottish invaders, the Christian Celts clung to their strongholds in the west and dreamt of the day when they could throw off the Anglo-Saxon yoke.

It was in this atmosphere that a celtic monk by the name of Nennius compiled a history of his defeated people. Nennius, a 'disciple of St. Elbotus' (presumably Elfod, who was the bishop of Bangor in modern-day North Wales), based his work, the Historia Britonnum, mostly upon an older history that is now lost, which he embellished

...partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans, and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons.

To this literary melting pot he liberally added any scraps of oral tradition that he chanced upon...