Mapping Part of the Wall of China Gives Insights into Its Purpose

The Northern Line of the Great Wall of China has recently been mapped using drones and high-resolution satellite images. The 460-mile-long Northern Line mostly winds through Mongolia, and was constructed of pounded earth between the 1000s and 1200s CE. The Northern Line was previously thought to have been constructed to prevent incursions by nomadic tribes such as those eventually united under Genghis Khan. But the team found that much of this section of the more than 13,000-mile-long Great Wall is low in height and placed near paths. In other words, it does not match what you would expect for a wall intended to prevent enemy invasion. It looks more like a wall intended to monitor the movement of livestock and people -- and potentially tax it.

The English word “bank” comes from the Italian word “banco.” In late medieval Italy banks were family businesses consisting of a single large room with a counter, or “banco,” in the middle to separate customers from clerks and bookkeepers.

Who Were The Children In The Children's Crusade?

You may have previously heard of the Children's Crusade, which happened in 1212. And was a total failure. When the Vatican sought recruits to fight Muslim Spain and the Cathars in spring 1212, an unexpected group of volunteers came forward, who were neither mercenaries nor local warriors. The chroniclers at the time called them “pueri.”

In 1977, the Dutch historian Peter Raedts argued that the Latin word "pueri" did not specifically mean children, but anyone who was socially "small." So "pueri" could be peasants who belonged to the lowest tiers of society. Several sources specifically mention that adult men and women, as well as elderly people, were active in the events of 1212.

Another potential re-definition of the term "pueri" was that it may have generally referred to male adolescents under 15 years old, which at the time was the earliest legal age they could marry. If this was the definition, teenagers were therefore counted as part of the children's crusade. But the word "infantes" -- which specifically means children -- also appeared in the sources describing the actual participants of the Children's Crusade. Which suggests the more limited pueri definition is right.

The Kayi Tribe is considered to be one of the twenty-four Oghuz Turkic Tribes that descend from the legendary and almost mythical figure Oghuz Khan/Oghuz Khagan. It was a leader of this tribe, Osman, who founded the Ottoman Empire. The Seljuk Turks were also an Oghuz Turks, for those who are curious, though not counted as one of the twenty-four main tribes.

Arab inventor al-Jazari (1136–1206) invented an automaton named the "elephant clock." Water propelled the clock, which caused a humanoid automaton to strike his cymbal and a mechanical bird to chirp, every half an hour. His instructions for the elephant clock are precise enough that multiple reproductions have been made!

Although the Mamluks were famously slave-soldiers who took over Egypt, you might not know they actually remained "slaves" even after seizing power. Slaves were taken, then raised in state barracks and trained according to their aptitude (soldiers, bureaucrats, administrators). Those positions were not available to the general public, as the state-raised slaves were seen as having no loyalty to their families, only the state. They were legally emancipated upon reaching the age of majority.

What The Ell?

"Ell" is a unit of measurement based on the Old English word for "arm." The unit was the length of a forearm, usually 45 inches or 1.143 m. It has fallen out of use, as have many other units of measurement based on arms:

  • digit (1/60 ell)
  • finger (7/360 ell)
  • palm (1/15 ell)
  • hand (4/45 ell)
  • shaftment (2/15 ell)
  • span (1/5 ell)
  • cubit (2/5 ell)

The Catholic Church Never Liked Paying Taxes

In 1265, the Anziani [government] of Padua wanted to force the Bishop to pay, for his churches, a part of the taxes intended to straighten up the streets and to fludify traffic in the city; the Bishop refused to comply with these demands, which he considered unbearable, and in 1277 the municipal authorities ended up forbidding all clergymen to use the public roads and bridges ; in 1289 the Church declared the excommunication of the municipality.

Quote from "La Ville au Moyen Age en Occident" by Jacques Heers

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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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