Saturday, October 08, 2005

Cedarland

Cedarland - A look at the ancient and modern history of Lebanon. Features geography, economy, government, Phoenicians, Maronites, the Lebanese Civil War, and resources.

This site is currently being updated and appears to be anti-Syrian. I do not normally include politically active sites but as the historical information is good and covers a lot, I thought I would include it.

From the site:

History knew Lebanon from the earliest of times and never forgot it. No other country can match it in volume of historical events and in their relevance to world progress. Small in size, Lebanon has been massive in influence and its people can rightfully claim to be true benefactors of many ages. A few miles north of Beirut, where the Mount Lebanon touches the sea, the face of the rock of the Dog River gorge bears nineteen inscriptions in almost as many languages. Beginning in ancient Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian, continuing in Greek and Latin, and ending in French, English, and Arabic. The inscriptions record at this narrow pass where native mountaineers took their decisive stand, the military feats of foreign invaders. The first to leave such a mark was Ramses II some 1300 years before the birth of Christ; followed by many other notables such as Esarhaddon, Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Caracalla, Saladin, Baldwin I, Napoleon III, General Allenby, and General Gourand. Through these records we can gain a tiny glimpse of the awesome past of Lebanon.

The ancients seem to have regarded Lebanon as a place where the abnormal happened, a land of prodigies, of rare coincidences and curious events. They had good reason for doing so. The rapid growth of early religious frenzy and strange natural phenomena observed in the mountains had given the country a strange and provoking reputation. Even today Lebanon has not lost its strangeness. The pleasure which one derives from its striking natural beauty or the sheer scale of its ancient monuments is repeatedly sharpened by a sense of the curious and the unusual. The Adonis River still runs blood red to the sea, and the modern scene offers spectacles as bizarre as anything the Romans wondered at. Lebanon is a land where the imagination can run wild, standing in the surf at Tyre in the very spot where Richard the Lion Heart disembarked, one can picture Alexander inspecting his most difficult conquest. Sitting under a cedar tree on Mount Sannine watching the night sea mist roll in across the bay where St. George killed his dragon it is easy to understand why the Crusaders where inspired into not only making him their patron but also the patron of their distant lands.

Friday, October 07, 2005

History of Slovenia

History of Slovenia. This is a short history of the European nation of Slovenia. It is a bit unsatisfying as it focuses almsot entirely on the events that have occured after the breakup of Yugoslavia. I have a strong hunch that there is more to Slovenia history than that.

Wikipedia notes, "The Republic of Slovenia (Slovenian: Republika Slovenija) is a coastal sub-Alpine country in southern Central Europe bordering Italy to the west, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest, Croatia to the south and east, Hungary to the northeast, and Austria to the north."

From the site:

From as early as the 9th century, Slovenia had fallen under foreign rulers, including partial control by Bavarian dukes and the Republic of Venice. With the exception of Napoleon's 4-year tutelage of parts of Slovenia and Croatia--the "Illyrian Provinces"--Slovenia was part of the Habsburg Empire from the 14th century until 1918. Nevertheless, Slovenia resisted Germanizing influences and retained its unique Slavic language and culture.

In 1918, Slovenia joined with other southern Slav states in forming the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes as part of the peace plan at the end of World War I. Renamed in 1929 under a Serbian monarch, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia fell to the Axis powers during World War II. Following communist partisan resistance to German, Hungarian, and Italian occupation and elimination of rival resistance groups, socialist Yugoslavia was born under the helm of Josip Broz Tito. During the communist era, Slovenia became Yugoslavia's most prosperous republic, at the forefront of Yugoslavia's unique version of communism. Within a few years of Tito's death in 1980, Belgrade initiated plans to further concentrate political and economic power in its hands. Defying the politicians in Belgrade, Slovenia underwent a flowering of democracy and an opening of its society in cultural, civic, and economic realms to a degree almost unprecedented in the communist world. In September 1989, the General Assembly of the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia adopted an amendment to its constitution asserting Slovenia's right to secede from Yugoslavia. On December 23, 1990, 88% of Slovenia's population voted for independence in a referendum, and on June 25, 1990, the Republic of Slovenia declared its independence. A nearly bloodless 10-day war with Yugoslavia followed. Yugoslav forces withdrew after Slovenia demonstrated stiff resistance to Belgrade.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Spanish "Tercios" 1525 - 1704

The Spanish "Tercios" 1525 - 1704 - Describes the organization, tactics and battles of the Spanish army in its golden age. The text is available English (default), Spanish, and French.

The Spanish Golden Age army had been forged from almost seven centuries of fighting with Muslim forces in what was called the Reconquista. This long term conflict resulted in the reunification of Spain under Christian rule and the end of the Moors in Spain.

From the site:

The military history of the XVI and XVII centuries has his importance with the "military revolution" from the middle age small armies to the huge Napoleonic army of the XVIII century. Technical progress of the portable firearms and tactical knowledge had reduced the importance of the heavy medieval cavalry, introduced the importance of the artillery in the battlefield and positioned the infantry as the main corps in the army.

The Spanish Tercios were the new infantry unit of the Kings of Spain which combined the firepower of the harquebus (later the musket) with the pikes. The Tercios would form the elite forces of the Spanish monarchy during 200 years. Contrary to others troops they fought only for one master, the King of Spain.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Memories of the Russian Court

Memories of the Russian Court - This online book was written by Anna Vyrubova and is the most famous first-hand account of the tragic lives of the last Imperial family of Russia. Anna was a close friend of the Empress Alexandra and this book gives many details on Rasputin and his influence on events associated with the Russian Revolution.

From the site:

It is with a prayerful heart and memories deep and reverent that I begin to write the story of my long and intimate friendship with Alexandra Feodorovna, wife of Nicholas II, Empress of Russia, and of the tragedy of the Revolution, which brought on her and hers such undeserved misery, and on our unhappy country such a black night of oblivion.

But first I feel that I should explain briefly who I am, for though my name has appeared rather prominently in most of the published accounts of the Revolution, few of the writers have taken the trouble to sift facts from fiction even in the comparatively unimportant matter of my genealogy. I have seen it stated that I was born in Germany, and that my marriage to a Russian officer was arranged to conceal my nationality. I have also read that I was a peasant woman brought from my native Siberia to further the ambitions of Rasputin. The truth is that I am unable to produce an ancestor who was not born Russian. My father, Alexander Sergievich Taneyev, during most of his life, was a functionary of the Russian Court, Secretary of State, and Director of the Private Chancellerie of the Emperor, an office held before him by his father and his grandfather. My mother was a daughter of General Tolstoy, aide de camp of Alexander II. One of my immediate ancestors was Field Marshal Kutusov, famous in the Napoleonic Wars. Another, on my mother's side, was Count Kontaisov, an intimate friend of the eccentric Tsar Paul, son of the great Catherine.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

History of Tajikistan


History of Tajikistan. This is a brief essay which covers the history of the Soviet successor state of Tajikstan located in Asia.

Wikipedia notes, "The Republic of Tajikistan (Тоҷикистон), formerly known as the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic, is a country in Central Asia. It has borders with Afghanistan, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Tajikistan means the 'Land of the Tajiks'."

From the site:

The current Tajik Republic hearkens back to the Samanid Empire (A.D. 875-999), which ruled what is now Tajikistan as well as territory to the south and west, as their role model and name for their currency. During their reign, the Samanids supported the revival of the written Persian language in the wake of the Arab Islamic conquest in the early 8th century and played an important role in preserving the culture of the pre-Islamic Persian-speaking world. They were the last Persian-speaking empire to rule Central Asia.

After a series of attacks beginning in the 1860s during the "Great Game" between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia, the Tajik people came under Russian rule. This rule waned briefly after the Russian Revolution of 1917 as the Bolsheviks consolidated their power and were embroiled in a civil war in other regions of the former Russian Empire. As the Bolsheviks attempted to regain Central Asia in the 1920s, an indigenous Central Asian resistance movement based in the Ferghana Valley, the "Basmachi movement," attempted to resist but was eventually defeated in 1925. Tajikistan became fully established under Soviet control with the creation of Tajikistan as an autonomous Soviet socialist republic within Uzbekistan in 1924, and as one of the independent Soviet socialist republics in 1929.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Glory of Byzantium

The Glory of Byzantium - An exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrating the second golden age of Byzantine art. Includes Byzantine art themes, the history of Byzantium, and a visual timeline.

The exhibit is long gone (it ended in 1997) but the musuem has left up a lot of neat stuff. This includes a neat collection of tips and lesson plans for teachers and a glossary.

From the site:

The Byzantine Empire, founded when the capital of the Roman Empire was transferred from Rome to Constantinople in 324, existed in the eastern Mediterranean area until the fifteenth century. The arts and culture of this "New Rome" continued the pan-Mediterranean traditions of the late antique Greco-Roman world, setting the standard of cultural excellence for the Latin West and the Islamic East. The results of the cultural development of the Byzantine Empire during these centuries has had a lasting impact on such modern nations as Albania, Armenia, Belorus', Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Georgia, Greece, Rumania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Syria, Ukraine, and Turkey.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

History of Kitchi-Gumee Anishinabeg (the People of Great Lakes)

History of Kitchi-Gumee Anishinabeg (the People of Great Lakes) - An article about the "Anishinabeg" (the first or original people) of Michigan from pre-historic times to the present. This is from the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians located in Sault Ste. Marie, MI.

The opening begins with folk lore but the rest of the article has a good presentation of Anishinabeg history.

From the site:

The origin of the Anishinabeg begins in this way: "The Great Spirit once made a bird, and he sent it from the skies to make it's abobe on Earth. The bird came, and when it reached halfway down, among the clouds, it sent forth a loud and far-sounding cry, which was heard by all who resided on the Earth, and even by the spirits who made their abode within its bosom. When the bird reached within sight of the Earth, it circled slowly above the Great Fresh Water Lakes, (Kitchi-Gumee) and again it uttered its echoing cry. Nearer and nearer it circled, looking for a resting place, pleased with the numerous whitefish that glanced and swam in the clear waters and sparkling foam of the rapids. Satisfied with its chosen seat, again the bird sent forth its loud but solitary cry, and the Bear clan, Catfish clan, Loon clan, and Marten clan gathered at his call. A large town was soon congregated and the Crane, whom the Great Spirit sent, presided over all."

The Kitchi-Gumee Anishinabeg (the People of Great Lakes) are the end product of perhaps 50,000 generations on a continuum of pre-historic and historic period evolution and change. They are of the Algonquian speaking language stock, which today is separated by international borders, state or provincial jurisdictions, and tribal ethnocentricities. Never the less, they are "Anishinabeg" (the first or original people), they are one despite themselves and contempory western thinking. The diversity represented today among these people reflect many social, economic and political challenges to the concept on one people.