Friday, July 21, 2006

History of Monaco

History of Monaco. This is a brief history of the European microstate known as Monaco. It is more than just casinos. Can you believe this tiny plot has been around since the 13th century?

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "Officially the Principality of Monaco , French Principauté de Monaco sovereign principality located along the Mediterranean Sea in the midst of the resort area of the Côte d'Azur (French Riviera). The city of Nice lies 9 miles (15 km) to the west, the Italian border 5 miles (8 km) to the east. Monaco's tiny territory occupies a set of densely clustered hills and a headland that looks southward over the Mediterranean. Many unusual features, however, have made Monaco among the most luxurious tourist resorts in the world and have given it a fame far exceeding its size."

From the site:

Founded in 1215 as a colony of Genoa, Monaco has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi since 1297, except when under French control from 1789 to 1814. Designated as a protectorate of Sardinia from 1815 until 1860 by the Treaty of Vienna, Monaco's sovereignty was recognized by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861. The Prince of Monaco was an absolute ruler until a constitution was promulgated in 1911.

The 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia wrote, "From ancient times until the nineteenth century the port of Monaco was among the most important of the French Mediterranean coast, but now it has lost all commercial significance. Among the notable constructions of the principality are the ancient fortifications, the old ducal palace which contains beautiful frescoes by Annibale Carracci, Orazio Ferrari, and Carlone, the cathedral, built (1884-87) in the Byzantine style, by Prince Albert III, the Casino of Monte Carlo, and the monumental fountain of the public square. Monaco dates from the time of the Phoenicians, who, on the promontory upon which the old town is built, erected a temple to the god Melkarth, called Monoicos, solitary, that is, not connected with the cult of Ashtoreth; whence the town derived its name, which is Moneque, in Provencal. In the early Middle Ages the neighbouring lords often contended with each other for the possession of this important port, which later was occupied by the Saracens; it was taken from them in the tenth century by Count Grimaldi, in whose family the principality remains to this day. Formerly, it comprised Mentone and Roquebrune. The Grimaldis often had to defend themselves against Spanish or Genoese fleets; the most famous blockade of the town was that of 1506, which failed. In 1619 Prince Honoratus II, with the assistance of the French, drove the Spaniards from Monaco, and since that time the principality has been under the protection of France. During the Revolution, Monaco was annexed to France, but the principality was re-established in 1814. A revolution broke out in 1848 against the misgovernment of Prince Honoratus V, who lost Mentone and Roquebrune, these cities declaring themselves free republics, and (1860) voting for their annexation to France."

In July 1918, a treaty was signed providing for limited French protection over Monaco. The treaty, formally noted in the Treaty of Versailles, established that Monegasque policy would be aligned with French political, military, and economic interests.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Drunkus Maximus: The Power and Purpose of Alcohol in Ancient Rome.

Drunkus Maximus: The Power and Purpose of Alcohol in Ancient Rome. I found this article at the new issue of Modern Drunkard Magazine online. The author is someone writing under the name Rich English which I think is a pseudonym. While not perfect, and clearly glorifying drinking, I found the article a fun read and mostly accurate.

That mostly accurate part comes from my identification of several errors. For example, the author wrote, "While there is no doubt that some revolting shit took place in Rome and among Romans, it happened quite sporadically and was largely confined to a period of a hundred or so years, beginning right after the death of Caesar (44 B.C.) and lasting roughly until the ascension of Trajan (98 A.D.). During this short span of time lived the Emperors whose cruelty, indulgence and insanity became the stuff of legend and besmirched all things Roman for a thousand years - Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero."

Well, most historians including me do not include Claudius on the list of depraved emperors. He actually did a good job and looks like a saint compared to Nero, Tiberius, and Caligula. Hello, has the author never read or seen I, Claudius by Robert Graves? Also, there was a lot of "revolting shit" which occurred after the first dynasty of Roman Emperors ended. Some of which also makes Claudius look like an enlightened fellow...

How accurate is this article? The author claims, "The Author is indebted to the works of Edward Gibbon, Edith Hamilton, John T. Cullen, Cyril E. Robinson, Andrew Dalby, F.R. Crowell, Henry Thompson Rowell, Jerome Carcopino and Tom Holland." And reading the article, I believe it. Despite the tone, I recognize a lot of good information coupled with a "drunkard" spin.

Why am I covering this? There are two reasons. First, I think this article could be used as a good teaching tool. Have the students look at this article as well as some primary sources, and then have them present and/or write papers on alcohol in ancient Rome. What do they think is correct or in error in the article? This is a memorable lesson and one that will result in some real lifelong learning I think.

Second, this article is online at a popular site and will be read by millions. Any historian writing for a peer-reviewed publication which only appears in paper with no free Web version available online is going to have a few thousand readers. Hence, this article at Modern Drunkard will most likely be the main source that most people in the world use to get facts on this topic. Good or not, this article is and will become more important as time passes.

I will end with this fractured attempt at Latin from the article, "Bibamus moriendum est. Death is Inevitable; Let's Get Drunk."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

World History Blog Banned in India!

It is true. This blog has been banned by the Indian government and Internet Service Providers have been ordered to block this url.

Am I really that subversive? Do I help to spread dissent or bad karma? Unfortunately, I am not alone. Millions of blogs have been banned.

ABC News Online reports, "India has banned access to 17 websites and blogs it says preach messages of religious hatred, an official said. But in scrambling to obey the order some of India's Internet service providers have simply blocked users from looking at entire domains such as - and the thousands of blogs, or online web journals, hosted there. "

I first became aware of this problem a few days back. Sumir Sharma, a lecturer in Punjab and a regular commenter at this blog, sent me this note, "I never thought I have to disturb you like this because we bloggers in India are facing a problem. All the blogs of blogspot and typepad are blocked in India. There is not authentic information why it has been done. But it is difficult now to access ones own blog through ISPs in India. I just wanted to share this problem with you. However, there is a solution by which I have reached it. We are now using proxy servers to reach you people. No doubt, we can make are posts but we can not see our own blog or blogs of other writers. "

This is indeed unfortunate. I hope this is fixed soon. I hate to see the Indian blogging community handicapped in this way. India is a country which is generally free of censorship. Why are they blocking out the blogging world? I wish my fellow bloggers in India (history or otherwise) the best in getting this resolved.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Humbled by the Storm

Yesterday was not a good weather day. A massive storm hit my town yesterday shortly after 6PM. I was getting ready to sit down and write a history post when I noticed the weather outside.

Dark low hanging clouds came out of nowhere. The temperature dropped from 90 to 75 in less than an hour. The power went out before the winds and rain hit. For the next 6 hours, high winds and constant rain (and some hail) came down. With the power out, my subpump failed to operate and for the first time since I have owned the house, my basement flooded. (Thankfully, my books are on shelves and were spared.)

The storm warning sirens went off several times. As the sky looked dangerous (and green!), I have no doubt that funnel clouds were spotted. Fortunately, no twisters touched down.

The power is still out. Fortunately, the university has power so I can go online in my office. I guess a night using flashlights and candles is pretty tame but I did find it a good reminder of how much I take computers, the Internet, cable TV, microwaves, and refrigerators for granted. Most of the people I write about in this blog did not have access to any of this stuff and they got along just fine.

Maybe if the power stays down today I should sleep in my office tonight? The heat is back but the air conditioners are not working at home. Probably not but it is a thought.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

History Carnival XXXV

History Carnival XXXV. The latest History Carnival is up at Air Pollution. My thanks to Andrew Israel Ross for such a great carnival. I shall be reading history posts for days now...

The next edition of the History Carnival will be at CLEWS: The Historic True Crime Blog on August 1st. Submit those posts here.