Monday, December 29, 2014

Ramesses the Great (video)

This is Canned History #5, where I add to my inventory of greatness with one of the most ancient greats out there: Ramesses the Great. As a pharaoh of the New Kingdom of Egypt, Ramesses did many great things like make war on his enemies, make structural works for the public to enjoy, and make dinner for his 200 wives every Thursday night. Plus, thanks to his greatness, there are statues of himself all over Egypt to remind us how great a guy who died over three thousand years ago could be. I think I like my chances!

Canned Histories: Ramesses the Great

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mongol Conquest of India

*Just in time for Christmas, here is Part 3 of my "Mongol Conquest of..." series, where the red and green of the holidays symbolize the countless blood and guts spilt by Genghis Khan and friends during their many invasions. Check out my previous chapters on China and Central Asia, just to get your blood flowing (hopefully while it's still inside your body).*

Fig.1: The Mongols thought this map needed just a little more tan in the south...
When it comes to the Mongols, they were usually able to show up, take what they want, and kill whomever gets in their way before you could say "Ulaanbaatar." A notable exception to this strategy were the lands to the east of the Indus River in present-day India and Pakistan. There, the Mongols took their sweet time making their presence felt, preferring to savor the spices instead of wolfing it all down at once. Part of this might have been because they had a difficult time getting their normally-overpowering army deep into enemy territory, something that even Alexander the Great struggled with in the same exact area about 1,500 years prior (but don't tell the Mongols that, or else they might get mad and shove a sword deep into your kidneys' territory). It took several generations, but the Mongols finally did take control of India, and actually ruled it the longest out of all of their other possessions. Sounds like someone just wanted to play hard-to-get!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Argentine Civil Wars

Fig.1: If only all civil wars were fought with such ecstasy!
One of the classic conflicts that has occurred throughout history is between urban and rural: the city-slicker vs. the country bumpkin. Unfortunately this conflict has sometimes gone beyond merely making fun of the guy who gets his salsa from New York City (New York City?!). In the South American nation of Argentina, disagreements between the major city of Buenos Aires and the more rural provinces to the north and west often erupted into civil war. The issues of government power, federalism, the economy, and not knowing the difference between a hoedown and a hootenanny plunged the nation into constant fighting between the urban-dominated Unitarian Party and the rural-centered Federal Party. These conflicts uprooted Argentina's early history in the 19th century, stunting the growth of the young nation. But all that extra passion the civil wars generated was then put into the tango (fig.1), so maybe it wasn't all bad.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Great Trek

Fig.1: "Wait, so we're not trying to get to Fort Laramie?"
Mid-19th century. Pioneering families. Covered wagons. Attacks from the Natives. Death from disease and hunger. Sounds like someone's firing up a good old-fashioned game of Oregon Trail! In fact, I just described events that took place a whole ocean and a hemisphere away from the American West: the Great Trek of South Africa. In the 1830s and 1840s, a group of European settlers called Boers moved north after the British staked their claim to the region. Looking to reestablish their independence, the Boers journeyed inland and established their own settlements, government, and all-important comic book shops. Of course, the Africans that lived there didn't take too kindly to these pasty people moving in and using all of their stuff, and conflict between these groups slowed the Boers down more than an old lady writing a check at the dollar store. While the Great Trek is seen as the definitive moment for Afrikaners (the descendants of the Boers) and a strong source of their identity, many view it as the start of the poor race relations that persisted in South Africa well into the 20th century.

On second thought, maybe Oregon Trail is a lot more fun...