Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Aztec Empire

Fig.1: Egyptians often show up just to laugh at 
the Aztec pyramids.
Among all pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations located in the Central Valley of present-day Mexico, none come more first alphabetically than the Aztecs. Okay, I guess I'll give them more credit than that. The Aztec peoples created one of the most complex and fascinating cultures in North America, and established many customs prevalent within Mexico today. Its so-called "Empire," actually an alliance of three prominent city-states along with their groupies, successfully ruled and expanded throughout the region. They increased their wealth through natural resources and tribute, as well as their side-business through a technological advertising firm ("Let Adztech work for you!"). The main city of Tenochtitlan is estimated to have been the largest city in the world by the beginning of the 16th century, thoroughly embarrassing those feces-encrusted towns of London and Paris. But like pretty much everything, the Spanish had to arrive and screw it all up, conquering their land in the 1520s. Maybe if the Aztec engaged in a little more human sacrifice, their sun deity would have shone more favorably on them (which I would also argue is what currently ails the world economy).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saint Patrick

Fig.1: Like most Irishmen, 
Saint Patrick never left the 
house without a shamrock.
Quick, name a saint and his/her official Catholic feast day! Unless you're a priest, nun, or biggest St. Bede fan on the planet (May 25; patron saint of historians, y'all!), chances are your first and only thought was Saint Patrick and March 17. That's because the spread and popularity of the Irish and their culture has allowed the holiday to take on a life of its own! Or because it's only feast day that it is acceptable to celebrate with a gratuitous amount of alcohol (although wouldn't be funny on September 28 to hear intoxicated people try to wish you a "Happy Saint Wenceslaus Day!"). Either way, not many people know too much about the man himself, who lived at some point during the 5th century Anno Doughnutty. Normally I would go on a rant about how kids these days are so unedumacated, but I will temporarily excuse them since not even the greatest of historical scholars possess that much information on Saint Patrick (c'mon, St. Bede, help us out!). So put down your drink(s) and let's delve into the life and legend of the man that give the Irish people more pride than anyone not named Arthur Guinness.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Battle of Thermopylae (video)

Here it is, folks! The first ever Canned History in direct-to-video format! Hooray for the interweb! I'm hoping to roll these out once a month, just to give your reading eyes a rest every now and then. You can watch it from here, or click the link below to check it out on YouTube. Also, feel free to give me some feedback so I can make future video histories even more awesome (as if that's even possible). Happy watching!

Canned Histories: Battle of Thermoplyae

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mongol Conquest of Central Asia

*Welcome to the second installment of my "Mongol Conquest of..." series, where I present in gruesome detail the many campaigns, subjugations, and atrocities committed by the Mongol peoples in the 13th and 14th centuries. Make sure to read up on my history of the conquest of China, just to whet your appetite for all the violence and bloodshed that the Mongols do so well.*

Fig.1: Before and After pics of the Khwarazmid Empire in regards to their "Mongol diet." 
Before Genghis Khan and his crew got too involved with the Chinese, he looked at Central Asia as the ideal place to increase their wealth, expand their landmass, and get some good horse meat and pilaf. With part of the Silk Road already conquered after the fall of dumb stupid Xi Xia in 1209, the Mongols took a roadtrip west, slashing necks and taking scenic routes as they went along. The biggest obstacle in their way was the Khwarazmian dynasty, notable for their humble beginnings as Turkic slaves, and for being the only word in most encyclopedias' "Khw" section. The Khwarazmians were what smart people call a "Persianate" society, where they ruled over Persia (present-day Iran), displayed many characteristics of Persian culture and customs, emanated that typical Persian odor, but weren't actually Persian (although the Turkic smell isn't any less pungent). After throwing off the rule of the Seljuq Empire in 1194, Khwarazmian ruler Ala ad-Din Muhammad II used his magic genie and flying carpet to expand his territory from his capital of Urgench into most of Central Asia and Persia (fig.1 left), effectively becoming the next Persian shah (their fancy word for "king"). As to be expected, the Khwarazmid Empire got pretty full of themselves with this new-found power, and that's exactly the type of attitude the Mongols loved to exploit.