Friday, March 17, 2006

The Legends of Saint Patrick

The Legends of Saint Patrick - This is a copy of this classic public domain book by Aubrey De Vere from Project Gutenberg. Many of us remember Project Gutenberg as the place to get public domain text before Google Books came along. The book is available as text, html, zip, and zipped html. There are also links to four alternate download sites.

The book itself recounts ancient stories, and the saint's own "Confession," rendered as English verse. There is also a biographical introduction by the editor.

The author (Aubrey De Vere) lived from 1814 to 1902. He was renowned for his literary works. He published The Legends of Saint Patrick in 1874. The Catholic Encyclopedia noted, "He was undoubtedly one of the most profoundly intellectual poets of his time."

From the site:

The birth of St. Patrick, Apostle and Saint of Ireland, has been generally placed in the latter half of the fourth century; and he is said to have died at the age of a hundred and twenty. As he died in the year 493--and we may admit that he was then a very old man--ifwe may say that he reached the age of eighty-eight, we place his birth in the year 405. We may reasonably believe, therefore, that he was born in the early part of the fifth century. His birthplace, now known as Kilpatrick, was at the junction of the Levin with the Clyde, in what is now the county of Dumbarton. His baptismal name was Succath. His father was Calphurnius, a deacon, son of Potitus, who was a priest. His mother's name was Conchessa, whose family may have belonged to Gaul, and who may thus have been, as it is said she was, of the kindred of St. Martin of Tours; for there is a tradition that she was with Calphurnius as a slave before he married her. Since Eusebius spoke of three bishops from Britain at the Council ofArles, Succath, known afterwards in missionary life by his name in religion, Patricius (pater civium), might very reasonably be a deacon's son.

In his early years Succath was at home by the Clyde, and he speaks of himself as not having been obedient to the teaching of the clergy. When he was sixteen years old he, with two of his sisters and other of his countrymen, was seized by a band of Irish pirates that made descent on the shore of the Clyde and carried him off to slavery. His sisters were taken to another part of the island, and he was sold to Milcho MacCuboin in the north, whom he served for six or seven years, so learning to speak the language of the country, while keeping his master's sheep by the Mountain of Slieve Miss. Thoughts of home and of its Christian life made the youth feel the heathenism that was about him; his exile seemed to him a punishment for boyish indifference; and during the years when young enthusiasm looks out upon life with new sense of a man's power--growing forman's work that is to do--Succath became filled with religious zeal.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Human History of the Galapagos


Human History of the Galapagos. This site has an essay which chronicles the history of humans on the islands. It begins with speculation of an Incan visit in the 1400's although it concludes that there is no evidence for such a visit.

Much to my surprise, Darwin is barely mentioned at all. I guess I had ignorantly thought the visit by Charles Darwin was one of the most significant events in the history of the islands. At least that event is mentioned on the part about the Galapagos National Park being founded in 1959.

One interesting tidbit I picked up is that the Galapagos were administered during World War Two by the USA. There was fear that the Japanese would take the island and threaten the Panama Canal Zone. After the war, Ecuador regained control over the islands.

Other good sites on this topic are History of Galapagos Islands, Natural History of the Galapagos Islands, and A Brief History of the Galapagos Islands.

From the site:

Fray Tomas de Berlanga, the Bishop of Panama documented the officially first visit to the islands in 1535. Delegated to investigate the accounts of the barbaric actions of the conquistadors in what is now Peru, his ship, caught in a dead calm, drifted westward in the ocean currents. With water sources depleted, the Bishop and crew searched the new islands for fresh water, almost entirely in vain. Frustrated, and suffering, the men resorted to crewing the native cactus for water. Disenchanted, they left the islands, but not without sending word to King Carlos V of Spain, telling of the strange and foolishly tame wildlife and the numerous galapagos (giant tortoises), and the name stuck. The islands appeared on the map late in the 16th century as the "Insulae de los Galopegos."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Two Great History Carnivals

There are two interesting history carnivals up. This includes History Carnival #27 and the Carnival of Bad History #5. There are a variety of good (and a few bad) history blog posts highlighted.

I was caught by this writing at the Carnival of Bad History post, "Yes, I'm complaining: the number of independent submissions from the historical blogosphere was pitiful, in spite of the publicity I got from some of the best-read bloggers in the 'sphere. Given the educational potential, political abuses and cultural damage of bad history, I would have thought that they'd be lining up to host and flooding the inbox with submissions. Nope."

This is an interesting question. With all the fuss over Holocaust revisionists this month, one would think that there would be many posts from established history bloggers on bad history. I did one on Holocaust denial but I did not nominate myself.

It could also be that some bloggers would rather not provoke some of the historical revisionists. Taking on Holocaust deniers is OK for most of us but annoying revisionisist who base their arguments on nationalistic or religious grounds can be quite unpleasant to deal with if you provoke them. As such, I think history bloggers have a tendency to avoid some topics which deal with bad history. (I will note that I received several threatening comments from Texas separatists based on my post Wacky American Separatists last year. I refused to publish the comments. I would post this again given the choice but I probably would not use such a provoking word as wacky.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Who was who in Roman times

Who was who in Roman times. This site has an index to persons, events, peoples and other subjects in Roman times largely based on sources from that time. It also has links to images of historic persons.

I was initially not impressed with this site. When I clicked on Tiberius it noted, "Stepson of Augustus, had to marry his daughter Julia, and became his successor (14-37 AD) Was very suspicious." Well, that is not very useful. However, when I clicked on details I was presented with a large number of ancient sources dealing with Tiberius with links to the full-text of the source available at the same site. With that, my opinion went from this being a marginal resource to actually considering this to be a decent ready reference site with the potential to also be useful to scholars doing primary research.

This site also has information on geography, religion, mythology, and events. There is also a decent links paged organized by topic.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Writing the Civil War: The Why and How It Was Fought

Writing the Civil War: The Why and How It Was Fought. This article is Phil Bryant. It examines the American Civil War to help writers attempt to write fiction based during this time period.

I think this article is worthy in that it clearly explains the motivations of most who fought in the war. For example, most northerners were not fighting to free slaves anymore than most southerners (many who owned no slaves) were fighting for the institution of slavery.

There is also good coverage on the organizations of armies in both the north and the south. This includes how armies were raised and how they were divided by regiment and corp.

From the site:

America has always approached its conflicts as if extending the thought of the uniquely American way of life, that is to say as if to leave each man to his own devices and choices free to make or break his own way into life as he has been endowed by his creator. National defense, up until the advent of the Second World War was something for a small national army to attend to. The American Civil War was fought not by professional armies but by armies filled with patriots who answered the call of their respective side and put aside all personal want or gain for the larger call of defending their nation. As a historian and writer, I've collected some of my knowledge and research into this article to aid fellow writers in their desires to write short stories and novels set in the Civil War.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

History of Polygamy in Utah

History of Polygamy in Utah. This article is from the Utah History Encyclopedia. It was written by Jessie L. Embry.

This post is inspired by the debut of the TV show Big Love on HBO in the United States. It is expected that this show will bring about renewed conversations on polygamy and more stereotyping of Mormons.

I think it is important to remember that polygamy is not a Mormon invention. It is an ancient practice endorsed by many historical societies. Further, it is still common in the world today with Islam allowing men four wives. Hence, the historical study or current debate about polygamy should not focus exclusively on ex-communicated Mormon groups or on Utah.

Studying the historical basis of polygamy also should not get caught up in the message of anti-polygamy or pro-polygamy groups that exist in the modern time. Polygamy is not about child abuse or marrying underage girls even if these abuses have occured anymore than monogamy is about child abuse even though some monogamists have abused children. I think anyone trying to study polygamy from a scholarly perspective is going to have a tough time getting through modern rhetoric.

From the site:

When establishing the LDS Church, Joseph Smith recorded numerous revelations he claimed to receive, often in answer to questions about the Bible, which are now included in the Doctrine and Covenants, part of the LDS canon. In answer to his question as to why many of the Old Testament leaders had more than one wife, Smith received what is now known as Section 132. Although the revelation was not recorded until 1843, Smith may have received it in the 1830s and married his first plural wife, Fanny Alger, in 1835. Polygamy was not openly practiced in the Mormon Church until 1852 when Orson Pratt, an apostle, made a public speech defending it as a tenet of the church. From 1852 until 1890, Mormon Church leaders preached and encouraged members, especially those in leadership positions, to marry additional wives.

A majority of the Latter-day Saints never lived the principle. The number of families involved varied by community; for example, 30 percent in St. George in 1870 and 40 percent in 1880 practiced polygamy, while only 5 percent in South Weber practiced the principle in 1880. Rather than the harems often suggested in non-Mormon sources, most Mormon husbands married only two wives. The wives usually lived in separate homes and had direct responsibility for their children. Where the wives lived near each other, the husbands usually visited each wife on a daily or weekly basis. While there were the expected troubles between wives and families, polygamy was usually not the only cause, although it certainly could cause greater tension. Since polygamy was openly practiced for only a short time by Mormons, there were no established rules about how family members should relate to each other. Instead, each family adapted to their particular circumstances.

Reactions from outside the church to statements about polygamy were immediate and negative. In 1854 the Republican party termed polygamy and slavery the "twin relics of barbarism." In 1862 the United States Congress passed the Morrill Act, which prohibited plural marriage in the territories, disincorporated the Mormon Church, and restricted the church's ownership of property. The nation was in the midst of the Civil War, however, and the law was not enforced. In 1867 the Utah Territorial Legislature asked Congress to repeal the Morrill Act. Instead of doing that, the House Judiciary Committee asked why the law was not being enforced, and the Cullom Bill, an attempt to strengthen the Morrill Act, was introduced. Although it did not pass, most of its provisions later became law. Out of a number of other bills introduced during the 1870s against polygamy, only the Poland Act passed, in 1874. It gave district courts all civil and criminal jurisdiction and limited the probate courts to matters of estate settlement, guardianship, and divorce.