Friday, April 07, 2006

Aboriginal Resistance

Aboriginal Resistance - This site is a decent timeline of incidents of Aboriginal resistance to European settlement in Australia. It covers 1790-1997. The history begins with accounts of violence and thievery and ends with details of Australian court cases. This shows how the method of resistance shifted over time.

The site notes, "This list has been compiled from quotations in just three published sources, listed at the bottom of this page. There were, and are, many many more instances of resistance, but when this many are seen in such a long list they help to explode the myth that Europeans walked in here and took over without any real resistance. There is strong evidence that there was a long and protracted guerilla war here in Australia using many tactics including destruction of food sources, distruption of lines of supply and communication, spying, negotiating, killing the enemy, stealing of food, not just to deprive their enemy of it, but to provide for their own people in times when energy was used for meetings and fighting instead of hunting and gathering, stealing and learning to use our weapons, humiliating and demoralising the enemy, not cooperating with Europeans, and being generally disruptive. "

The design of the page is bad in my opinion. Putting yellow text on a brown background is not aesthetically pleasing and it hurts my eyes! If you can get past this though there is some good information to find.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Naval Officers of the Civil War

Naval Officers of the Civil War - This site has galleries of pictures of nearly 400 officers who served in the sea services of the Union and Confederacy during the American Civil War. In addition to sorting alphabetically by name, there are several galleries of men without names or with indeterminate ranks or allegiances.

Featured on the left is Alexander Morely Pennock, Captain, USN. Unfortunately, there is no biographical information on Captain Pennock or any other of the men pictured. The emphasis of the site is strictly on pictures which in and of itself is useful.

If you are looking for Civil War era pictures, this would be a good site to start at as all the pictures are in the public domain. The site creator noted, "All of the pictures in the galleries were adapted from pictures in the public domain, and I don't claim copyright on anything on the site. Feel free to use whatever you want." Of course, all Civil War era pictures are in the public domain but some sites try to claim copyright based on scanning and photo "enhancements." This site has no such bogus copyright confusion included.

From the site:

Welcome to the Naval Officers of the Civil War site. This site presents pictures of officers who served in the sea services of the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War. For information about the contents of the various sections, the sources of the pictures, and tons of other marginally interesting stuff, please check the Never Asked Questions page.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

History of Cocos (Keeling) Islands

History of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Have you ever heard of the Cocos Islands? I have to admit I had not until recently. They are an atoll of 27 coral islands in the Indian Ocean with a population of only 600+ people. It is currently a territory of Australia.

But, for such an obscure place, these islands have a great deal of historical signifiance. For starters, Darwin visited the islands in 1836 and his observations here were incorporated in the Origins of Species. One of the first naval battles of World War I (Battle of Cocos) was fought here resulting in an Australian naval victory. During World War II, the Cocos Islands Mutiny resulted in the only executions of British Commonwealth soldiers for mutiny during the conflict.

It may be hard to visit the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, but I bet it would be a worthwhile trip. I hope I have the chance to explore these islands someday.

From the site:

There are 27 coral islands in the group. Captain William Keeling discovered the islands in 1609, but they remained uninhabited until the 19th century. In 1805, the British hydrographer, James Horsburgh, called them the Cocos-Keeling Islands in his sailing directory and named one of the islands after himself.

In 1825, Captain John Clunies-Ross, a Scottish trader, sailing the Borneo for the Trading House of Hare made a brief landing on the islands on his homeward voyage from the East Indies. He had orders to investigate Christmas Island on Alexander Hare's behalf as a possible site for a settlement. Bad weather prevented these plans and he surveyed the Cocos-Keeling Islands instead.

In 1823 Alexander Hare, an English adventurer, settled on the southernmost island with a number of slaves. Some two or three years after, J.Clunies-Ross, who had commanded a brig during the English occupation of Java, settled with his family (who continued in the ownership) on Direction Island, and his little colony was soon strengthened by Hares runaway slaves. Charles Darwin visited the islands in 1836.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Employees of Durham Priory, 1494-1519

The Employees of Durham Priory, 1494-1519 - This is a research project by Durham University on conditions of employment in the late Middle Ages, derived from an exceptionally rich monastic archive.

The monastic order provided employement for a large number of people in Durham, England. One of the findings of the study is that while the priory provided steady work for a few, it was only an occasional job for must who worked here. It noted, "The employment offered by Durham priory was irregular and piecemeal for all but a handful of leading employees, most of whom were involved in the repair and maintenance of buildings. Rates of pay were structured, and working arrangements too to some extent, in accordance with different types of work, but individual careers were much more unpredictable, and it is difficult to find regularity of work and pay even amongst the Priory's most favoured employees. "

The priory itself has been studied in detail. In his book Durham Priory 1400–1450, R.B. Dobson wrote about the universal aspirations and pre-occupations of medieval monasticism. He reconstructed life in Durham in the century before its final dissolution and concluded that it was an example of "comparatively successful conservatism" during a period in English history characterized by institutional resistance to social and intellectual change.

From the site:

The research employed the accounting and rental material of Durham Priory to survey the characteristics of the priory's employment structure during the priorate of Thomas Castell (1491-1519). The bursar's accounts, from which the greatest quantity of information is derived, are available for 22 out of these 25 years (all except 1502-3, 1516-17 and 1517-18). The bulk of the evidence is found in expenditure noted under the headings Expense Necessarie and Reparaciones. Complementary evidence survives in the accounts of several other obedientiaries, namely the almoner (available for 14 years in this period), the hostillar (5 years) and the commoner (4 years), though these accounts are shorter and record significantly fewer employees (Table 1). The identification in the accounts of a considerable number of employees by name creates a rare opportunity to plot the employment record of individuals from year to year. Altogether 2,484 separate job entries have been identified across the accounts analysed, of which 2,048 provide details of named employees. The majority of these jobs, 1,650 in all, are in the accounts of the bursar. Since many jobs involved more than one person, the number of references to individuals is much greater than the number of jobs. The names and occupational status of 560 individuals were identified. Background information concerning some of these individuals (almost all men) was recovered from priory rentals of the period.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Who Were the Hittites?

Who Were the Hittites? This is an essay on the origins and history of the Hittite people with an emphasis on their conflicts with the ancient Egyptians. It was written by Tracy Fox.

The World Book Encyclopedia notes, "Hittites, were the earliest inhabitants of what is now Turkey to be recorded in history. They began to control the area about 1900 B.C. During the next several hundred years, they conquered parts of Mesopotamia and Syria. By 1500 B.C., the Hittites had become a leading power in the Middle East. Hittite culture and language were Indo-European, but scholars do not know whether the Hittites came from Europe or from central Asia."

The essay also has a short bibliography of books for doing research on the Hittites although I question why only books dealing with Egyptian history are included. There are several good books on the Hittites published prior to 1999 when this essay was apparently written. These include both The Hittites: And Their Contemporaries in Asia Minor by J. G. MacQueen and The Hittites by O. R. Gurney.

From the site:

The Hittites were a people who once lived in what is modern Turkey and northern Syria. Most of what we know about them today comes from ancient texts that have been recovered. It would seem that the first indication of their existence occurred in about 1900 BC, in the region that was to become Hatti. There, they established the town of Nesa. Over the next three hundred years, their influence grew until in about 1680 BC, a true empire was born.

This original kingdom was founded by a leader known as Labarna, and the kingdom was expanded by later rulers all across Anatolia and down to the Mediterranean Sea. So strong was this kingdom that in 1595 BC, they were able to raid Babylon. However, this initial serge of the Hittite empire was staggered due to the lack of a clear custom for the succession of Kings. Hence, the kingdom was only as strong as the current ruler, and within about 120 years, it began to crumble.

In Egypt, when their empire became weak as it did during three intermediate periods, usually due to a decentralization of government, the Nubians to the south, Egypt's only true neighbors, most often prospered. They frequently took back land gained by the Egyptians when Egypt was strong, only to lose it once more when Egypt recovered.