Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Napoleonic Revolution

The Napoleonic Revolution - This lecture describes the Revolution instituted by Napoleon. Dr. Rempel of New England College provides this information at his web site on the Western Civilization.

I always like it when professors put their lectures online. It is such a great counter to much of the nonsense which passes as history online. It is true that some profs have axes to grind and their sites are nonsense as well but most are good.

From the site:

A key to his entire policy is contained in the proclamation of the three consuls on December 15, 1799, slightly more than a month after they had taken office: "Citizens, the Revolution is stabilized on the principles which began it." With the exception of fathering the Civil Code, Napoleon perhaps gloried more in his reputation as consolidator of the Revolution than in any other one title. Undoubtedly he realized his debt to the Revolution. As one historian has said, the Consulate and Empire accepted without benefit of inventory the main results of the Revolution, and in this spirit established the foundations of a new order. Even while Napoleon reconciled the ideas of the Revolution with some from the Bourbon monarchy, he consolidated the work of the Revolution in putting an end to the complex of institutions which constituted the ancien regime.

This task of consolidation made Napoleon a conservative in France, desirous of keeping the gains of the Revolution, but a revolutionary in ancien-regime areas abroad. In France it meant that he retained the semblance of universal suffrage and of a constitution. Although he had an enlightened despot's mentality with respect to economic activities, he maintained a facade of economic liberalism: keeping the Le Chapelier law in force, he did not permit the formation of associations, and he did not permit the re-establishment of internal customs. The educational system he established fulfilled the idea of the Revolutionaries for a national system-while also serving Napoleon's purpose of indoctrination. He consolidated the gains of the Revolution in equality (at least initially), in legal and administrative unity, and in having careers open to talent.

Napoleon's revolution had several phases. Napoleon carried on these differing aspects in varying degrees. But in one respect in which they were consistent, he strayed from the norm: The Revolutionaries of every phase from National Assembly to Directory believed in and advocated representative institutions; although Napoleon retained such organs of government, he never allowed them much latitude, and from time to time he restricted their role. He could not reconcile Revolutionary thought with the re-establishment of an autocracy.

Friday, October 14, 2005

History of Niue

History of Niue. Have you ever heard of Niue? I sure had not. It is a small Oceania island which is a territory of New Zealand. And like all places on Earth, it has a history.

Wikipedia notes, "Niue is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. It is commonly known as "Rock of Polynesia". Although it is self-governing, it is in free association with New Zealand. This means that the sovereign in right of New Zealand is also the head of state of Niue, and most diplomatic relations are conducted by New Zealand on Niue's behalf. Niue is located 2,400 kilometres north-east of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands."

From the site:

European involvement in Niue began in 1774 with Captain James Cook's sighting (landing was refused) of what he named "Savage Island".

The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica wrote, "The. natives are keen traders, and though uncouth in manners when compared with their nearest neighbours, the Tongans and Samoans, are friendly to Europeans. Their hostility to Captain Cook in 1774, which earned from him the name of Savage for the island, was due to their fear of foreign disease, a fear that has since been justified. The population (4079 in 1901) is slightly decreasing. The natives are all Christians, and the majority have learned to read and write, and to speak a little English, under the tuition of the London Missionary Society. They wear European clothes. The island became a British protectorate on the 20th of April 1900, and was made a dependency of New Zealand in October 1900, the native government, of an elected " king " and a council of headmen, being maintained. In 1900 there were thirteen Europeans on the island. The exports are copra, fungus and straw hats, which the women plait very cleverly."

Briefly a protectorate, the UK's involvement was passed on in 1901 when New Zealand annexed the island. Independence in the form of self-government was granted by the New Zealand parliament in the 1974 constitution. Niue is fully responsible for internal affairs. New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs and defense; however, these responsibilities confer no rights of control and are only exercised at the request of the Government of Niue.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Discovery of New Guinea

The Discovery of New Guinea - Illustrations, facsimile maps and text taken from George Collingridge's book, The First Discovery of Australia and New Guinea. Please note that the book itself is not here. This is merely a collection of some of the maps and pictures and a little text.

The site ends with a note of caution, "There are a number of controversies surrounding the European discovery of Australia and New Guinea. However argued or skilful its blend of art with history, Collingridge's book should not be considered the only (or most authoritative) account of these events. For other perspectives on this history, readers are advised to consider more recent texts as well as others from the period that are already online such as A Short History of Australia by Ernst Scott (available through the Nalanda Library at the National Institute of Technology Calicut, Kerala State, India). " I think this is sound advice.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mud Mosques of Mali

Mud Mosques of Mali - A photographic survey of 515 mosques of the Niger Inner Delta, an area which played a significant role in the early expansion of Islam into West Africa.

The photographs are in alphabetical order by location and include thumbnails available for quick viewing.

From the site:

As a photography student, traveling by bicycle for several months in 1996 and 1997 through the inlands of Mali, I was working on a series of portraits. On my way, the beauty of small adobe mosques in remote villages astonished me as they revealed themselves as the living tissue of an age-old architecture.

Back in Europe, I found that this vernacular architecture is largely un-documented. Although the highlights of this 'Sudanese' style are cherished by cultural actors such as UNESCO as well as by international book editors and documentary makers, no one seems to bother about unnamed village mosques. Not even tourists, who simply step over them en route to 'discovering' Djenné and Timbuktu.

So I decided to make an extensive photographic survey of the mosques of the Niger Inner Delta. This area harbors a multitude of village mosques -- there are close to 2300 villages -- in a wide variety of styles.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Wacky American Separatists

The world is full of regions and ethnic groups clamoring for independence. Some have valid causes, most do not. Just because you have your own administrative region or history as a people going back thousands of years does not mean you get your own nation state...

The United States of America is no different. There are numerous separatist causes. They have little popular support nationally or in their localities and have no chance of success in the foreseeable future. However, they are wacky. And this is because of their strange (and wrong) readings of international law and history.

Do you believe that the American Congress has no legal right to annex territory via a Joint Resolution of Congress? The international community does not accept this but some claim that Texas and Hawaii are not legally American as they were added to the nation in this fashion.

A history of Texas notes, "Some claim to this day that Texas was never legally acquired by the United States as Congress does not have the power to acquire territory via a joint resolution. However, Texas is not a unique case of the use of a joint resolution of Congress to annex foreign land. Hawaii was also annexed legally in this manner in 1898. International law fully recognizes American ownership of Texas and arguments to the contrary are false, are not supported by any nation or international governing body such as the United Nations or the World Court, or by the vast majority of the citizens of Texas. "

And that is the end of that bogus argument. And if any disagree, please take this case to the World Court. I am sure that the judges would give this argument the swift decision it deserves.

Do you believe that American territories can not become states unless an option for independence is on the ballot during the statehood vote? If so, Alaska and Hawaii (again) are not American states. This ballot requirement is a rule made by the United Nations. However, it does not always choose to enforce it. In fact, the UN removed both Hawaii and Alaska from the list of non self-governing territories after the citizens of these territories voted overwhelmingly (over 90% in Hawaii) in favor of statehood. And there was no option for independence on the ballot for either state.

Do you believe that any illegal action impacting the sovereignty of a prior government invalidates forever any actions taken by successive governments? If so, then the USA has no legal right to exist as all American land was previously owned by sovereign nations which occupied North America and Hawaii. And as these nations never willingly gave up their land, they must still be the legal owners right? As the Chippewa tribe never legally ceded Michigan, that state must still legally be a part of the Chippewa nation. As the Republic of Texas was illegal under Mexican law, Texas must still be Mexican territory. As the Republic of Hawaii was illegal under the laws of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the Kingdom must still exist. Of course, that is not the way that international law works...

My favorite argument used by the various Texas and Hawaiian groups is that their "nations" are undergoing a prolonged military occupation by the United States. This of course turns the meaning of the word occupation on its head and threatens to make the concept meaningless. If they are under occupation, how is it that their websites stay up, their leaders remain free, and they are allowed to participate fully in the political process by voting, running for office, and conducting protests? Heck, if Texas is not American then George W. Bush is not legally President of the USA. How can a citizen of the occupied nation also be the leader of the occupying nation? Get real...

But I will admire the Hawaiian, Texan, and Alaskan separatists on one point. They are non-violent and are content to allow this topic to be an academic debate. Thankfully, there are no Alaskan suicide bombers. America is a free enough country to allow for wacky groups to freely express their "unique" views and the perspective they add to debates reminds many of the freedom they have as Americans.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Feminae Romanae: The Women of Ancient Rome

Feminae Romanae: The Women of Ancient Rome - A history of women in ancient Rome from the Graeco-Etruscan period to the fall of the Empire. Sections cover multiple periods, graphics and biographies of famous Roman women.

The link titled "Republican Women" of course has nothing to do with American politics. But it does lead to a good essay on the role of women in the Roman Republic.

From the site:

For nearly eight centuries the city of Rome was imperial, ruling at its height more than 50 million people from Britain to northern Africa and the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East towards Asia. The indelible traces of Rome’s long sway confront us in every aspect of modern western life. The surviving voices of Rome - Caesar, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Livy and others - define all we now know and understand of a vast, complex society and its beliefs. Yet for nearly a millennium, half of all people living and dying under the Caesars were women and their voices come to us solely through men. Their own words are mere whispers: a source here, a poem fragment there, and a reference in a politician’s biography, tomb epitaphs. Yet the women of the Roman Empire were equally its founders and mainstay and their voices are only now, after 16 centuries, beginning to be heard.

This site attempts to give a sense of context to the position of Roman women vis-à-vis other Mediterranean cultures of the time and to follow their transition towards increasing freedom and power as the Empire itself grew. Historical Context contrasts the older cultures of Greece and the Etruscans, who influenced the early Romans. Heroines of Rome tells the legendary stories of Roman women that influenced later generations as to what a woman was supposed to be. Republican Women covers roughly the third through first centuries BC; Imperial Women documents the changes accruing after the failure of the Republic and the rise of Augustus. Forgotten Women attempts to sketch working women of Rome, of whom so little has been written in their own time. The World Within deals with the private world of the Roman women, both in terms of her female household, her love affairs, or her spirituality insofar as we may trace them. Women of Influence provides biographies of notable Roman women including Cornelia, Livia, Clodia, Agrippina the Elder, Julia Domna, and Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantinople.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Chronology On The History Of Slavery

Chronology On The History Of Slavery, 1619-1789 - This site contains a timeline of slavery in America from 1619 until "the end", reportedly in 1865 when the 13th amendment to the Constitution offered universal manumission and abolished slavery. The chronology has been thoroughly researched, with references at the end of each entry, some pointing to other Web resources.

Of course, involuntary servitude did not end with the passage of the 13th Amendment. However, slavery was at least illegal from then on.

From the site:

Compiled from Archive, library and Internet source documentation, this timeline on Slavery and in part the History of Racism, has been used to guide the direction of independent research into the history of enslaved Americans of African descent at historic sites located at the National Zoo, in Washington, DC. Hopefully, this compilation of American history will help others who undertake similar tasks.

This project has been conducted totally independently from research conducted by the Office of Architectural History and Preservation at the Smithsonian and the National Zoo.