The Long Occupation of Estonia

Since 1219, Estonia was ruled at various times by Danish, Swedish, German, and Russian governments. It declared independence after World War I, but that only lasted until 1940 when it was occupied by the Soviet Union. Estonia has only been an independent nation since 1991. That means that since 1219, Estonia has been independent for exactly 50 years out of 800!

Terracotta head from the city of Ife, potentially depicting a king. The man is wearing an Ife crown. And the subject matter of most Ife art is centered around royal figures and their attendants. So king is a good guess. Made by the Yoruba of today's Nigeria, between 1100 and 1300 CE.

The Territory Ever Controlled By Istanbul, by Length of Control

Note that in this map, the Aceh Sultanate is considered a vassal of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans did send a fleet and other military aid to help the Acehnese in wars with the Malay kingdoms and the Portuguese, and the Acehnese did acknowledge the Ottoman sultan as caliph. It's still a stretch to say that the Ottomans in Istanbul "controlled" the Aceh territory on Sumatra.

This is why Black Sea shipwrecks are such a unique find

Remote-controlled cameras are giving humanity our first glimpse of dozens of wrecks entombed in the icy depths off the coast of Bulgaria. These cameras were originally sent down for an entirely different purpose: studying how changing sea levels affected prehistoric humanity. But once the underwater cameras were sent down, the research team was stunned at the number -- and highly preserved state -- of shipwrecks spanning from the 800s to the 1800.

TLDR: an article on why you keep hearing about Black Sea shipwrecks.

This Ear Ornament Looks Lovely -- And Very Painful

It is made of pure gold, so its not just large but heavy too. Also I am not quite sure how it would stay on. Made in Tulungagung during Java's Late Classic Period, 1000s to 1300s CE.

How A Poetic Franciscan Helped Europe Learn Latin

Until the end of the 1100s, everyone who was educated in Europe had to know Latin. Unfortunately for them, Latin was taught by reading and memorizing long Latin texts over a period of years. It would be like learning to speak English by making people memorize the bible. In other words, it took a very long time, and few people could really learn Latin. Which helped keep the educated to a few, clerical elites in the church.

Alexander of Villedieu, a French Franciscan grammarian and teacher who was private tutor to the nephews of a bishop in northern France, thought this system sucked. He devised a fast-track method to teach Latin, using simple rules and written in verse so that his pupils could memorize the language more easily. The bishop was quite impressed by Alexander's students' progress. So impressed that he encouraged Alexander to write a whole grammar book so that others could learn using his new method. Doctrinale puerorum, a versified grammar book, was written around 1200 and immediately became a classic.

Doctrinale's influence and use spread throughout Europe. Because it made learning Latin much easier and faster (and cheaper), a great movement of mass literacy began. His way of teaching using the rules of the language, not rote memorization, better suited the needs and aspirations of non-churchmen. It was a big step forward for mass education. And when the printing press was invented, Doctrinale became even more accessible, with versions printed in Germany, Italy, and his native France.

An interesting summary of the linguistic history of the Iberian Peninsula! Although this is not entirely accurate -- Mozarabic speakers would say they spoke “Ladino,” for instance, and there were no linguistic census in 1000 CE to check exactly where the borders between languages and dialects were.

Black Death May Have Crossed The Sahara

Some researchers are claiming that they have evidence that the Black Death reached sub-Saharan Africa. Traditionally, it has been believed that the plague didn't make it across the Sahara Desert, as the desert is inhospitable to the fleas on rodents which carry the bacteria. Further, the written records in the region do not mention plague and there are no plague pits, so characteristic of the Black Death in Europe. But archaeological evidence shows there was a huge shift in populations in Ghana and Burkina Faso at the right time in the 1200s. And plague is now endemic in many parts of Africa, yet no one has really studied how it got there. You can read about their evidence, and come to your own conclusions.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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