Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kingdom of Nri

Fig.1: If you squint, the Kingdom of Nri looks...just as puny.
Normally when we talk about old kingdoms, we laud about how powerful they were and how easily they took over their neighbors and helped themselves to their cookie tin. I mean, would we really care that much about the Romans, the Vikings, the Mongols, and the British if they kept to themselves and decided to live in peace and harmony? How boring is that crap?! Well my therapist told me I needed to take it easy with the whole "violence" thing, so maybe I'll write about a kingdom that is known for never using military force against others or themselves. I'm talking about Nri, a medieval African kingdom situated in the southeast of present-day Nigeria. Comprised of people of the Igbo culture and language, Nri remained within its borders for the majority of its nearly-one-thousand-year-long history, emphasizing its political and spiritual welfare over the conquest of land or resources. As boring as that may sound, I suppose that actually should be a good thing. So let's give some time to the Nri before we feel the need to satisfy ourselves with the blood and gore of greater civilizations (is it too soon to do another Roman history?).

Sunday, February 15, 2015

John Adams

Happy Presidents' Day weekend! I will be continuing my coverage of every United States chief executive that I began last year with George Washington and will end in 2059 with the eternal-presidency of Taylor Swift. God help us.

Fig.1: Who is this guy again?
It's tough being a second fiddle, especially when one fiddle is annoying enough. In American history, the quintessential second banana also happened to be the second President: John Adams (fig.1). While he was undoubtedly one of the most influential figures during the American Revolution and in the early political development of the United States, Adams has been overshadowed, both then and now, by his more recognizable contemporaries. This certainly did not help his normally sour mood, as Adams was a master at quick wit and insults even before the days of "Yo Mama" jokes. It will now be my goal to lift John Adams out of his constant role as an understudy and make him the leading man on the marquee. At least until next year when I get to write about Thomas Jefferson (oh good, somebody important).

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Battle of Carrhae

Fig.1: "After this defeat, no one will be able to stop us!"
The Romans were a very successful civilization back in the day, and part of their success can be attributed to all the battles they won. However, one of the biggest battles that directly led to the development of their expansive empire that blanketed three continents and turned the Mediterranean into a Roman nude beach was one in which they absolutely got their butts kicked. That's what happened in 53 BC near the ancient town of Carrhae in present-day Turkey. Rome had been squabbling for control of the region with the Parthian Empire, who already ruled Persia and Mesopotamia and was looking to expand their influence and carpeting business into Anatolia. Though the Romans lost the battle, as well as their richest man during the fighting, it set into motion a sequence of events that allowed Julius Caesar to take over the city and the eventual creation of the Empire that grabbed everything they saw. Yeah, maybe the Parthians should have just thrown that battle.