The Country of a Million Rice Fields

King Mangrai ruled a kingdom in today's northern Thailand in the late 1200s. Called Lan Na, or "the country of a million rice fields," it is mainly known today for its capital city of Chiang Mai. Founded in 1296 by King Mangrai, the city had a number of auspicious attributes. Presiding over the city was the scared mountain of Doi Suthep, to the west, and the Ping River flowed through the city before joining the Nan River to the south. After its founding by King Mangrai, the city attracted traders and the prosperity that follows. It became known as the 'city of 12 languages.' A moniker that conveys wealth and a cosmopolitan flair. Lan Na was the local hub for the rich surrounding countryside and hill villages, and goods produced there were sent south along the Ping River to be sold in the great city of Ayutthaya and beyond.

Prosperity brings its own problems, though. Burmese king Bayinnaung marched into Chiang Mai as a conqueror in 1558, and that was the end of Lan Na. But its beautiful remains continue to attract tourists.

Whiro, Lord of Darkness

In Maori mythology, Whiro is the embodiment of darkness and evil. He is the son of the sky father and earth mother, and brother and enemy of Tāne, god of the forests and birds. After a long and bitter war between the brothers, Tāne was victorious. Whiro and his followers were forced to go to the underworld where he reigns.

But Whiro is not quietly retired. He is viewed as a relentlessly active god, always trying to harm humans as they are the descendants of Tāne, especially through his Maike brethren, the personified forms of sickness and disease. Many offerings were made to Whiro, unsurprisingly.

Did You Know Jews Thrived In Ming China?

During the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) a population of Jews immigrated into the heart of China and lived as just another obscure, minor religion. There is poor documentation, but there what records exist show Jews worked as army officers, mandarin bureaucrats, tax inspectors, and school inspectors.

That is rare considering during this same period Jews were often persecuted as an unwanted group elsewhere: to name a few examples, Jews were expelled from France twice (1306 and 1394), forced to convert to Catholicism or leave Spain (1492), and heavily taxed and punished for inciting unrest in Egypt (1324).

This beautiful art piece depicts a shaman's raptorial bird spirit, by combining flat painting and clay modeling. Click through the image gallery to see all of its sides. The bird's head, including the raptor's deadly pointed beak, and the tips of its wings and tail protrude from the vessel. Around them, the artist painted the spirit's wings and tail feathers, as well as human forms on either side. Each of the two figures grasps a staff topped by a human skull. Nicaragua, circa 1000 - 1350 CE.

Need To Remember All The British Royal Houses?

Here's a fun mnemonic: "No Point Letting Your Trousers Slip Halfway!" Which stands for the main British royal families: Normans, Plantagenets, Lancasters, Yorks, Tudors, Stuarts, Hanovers, and Windsors. And in chronological order, too!

When You Visit the Great Wall of China, You're Really Visiting the Great Ming Wall

The best-preserved sections of the Great Wall of China existing today were built during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). That's very new: the oldest sections date to the 600s BCE. The Ming version stretched from northern Korea to Tibet, with the middle section near Beijing splitting into an inner- and outer-wall. Double the wall, double the protection.

God Created the World, But the Dutch Created the Netherlands

The famous Dutch saying is not very wrong. Since the 1200s, the Dutch have been slowly creating land from the sea. A large part of the Netherlands is below sea level. Without the existing dikes, about 65% of the country would be underwater. There's a reason the Netherlands are famous for their windmills: this revolutionary medieval technology was instrumental in allowing them to drain land. The windmills at the lower level will pump out the water to higher level, which is be pumped out again to a higher level. The windmill chain continues until the water is drained to a nearby river, where it can flow to the sea.

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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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