The Bishop/King/Patriarch Who Ruled In England

In the late 1200s and early 1300s, English people joked that there were two kings in England. One was in London and wore a crown, and one was in Durham and wore a miter. The second man was Antony Bek, bishop of Durham. He was bishop of Durham from 1284 until his death in 1311.

As bishop of Durham, Bek was the head of the independent "palatinate of Durham." This was a quasi-state with large landholdings recognized by the English crown. The palatinate could mint coins, raise armies, administer justice, and collect taxes. In return for these rights, the palatinate had to protect its territory from the enduring threat of Scottish invasion into far northeastern England. It was a sort of especially independent marcher holding that was headed, not by a hereditary marquess, but by a bishop. This made Bek a military, diplomatic, and religious leader. And not just in England too -- while on crusade with King Edward I he was named patriarch of Jerusalem, a title that made him the most senior churchman in England.

Madagascar Does Not Come From Where You Think

In multiple ways. First, it is a break off from the Indian sub-continent, not African, even though it is very very close to Africa. Second, the first settlers on Madagascar between 350 and 550 CE were of Malayo-Indonesian descent. Specifically, from Indonesia, Sumatra, and Java. Yes, that is on the other side of the Indian Ocean, rather than across the short Mozambique Channel to Africa. These were joined around the 800s CE by Bantu migrants crossing the Mozambique Channel and intermarrying with the Malagasy. A big clue about Madagascar's unusual migration history is that most common language of Madagascar, also called Malagasy, can be identified as part of the Austronesian language family.

Bronze Ram on Wheels, from Indonesia's Majapahit Empire

Proving that if it is at all possible, children everywhere want animals on wheels. Circa 1300s - 1400s.

The Sea-Unicorn

In 1577, the English explorer Martin Frobisher presented a narwhal tusk to Queen Elizabeth I. It became known as the "Horn of Windsor" and was valued as a unicorn's horn. It remains unclear whether Frobisher knew what it really was. His journal records him finding it on the body of a dead narwhal which he called a "sea-unicorn." Make of that what you will.

Traces of a square-shaped building have been detected under the Main Plaza at Monte Albán with the use of ground-penetrating radar, electrical resistance, and gradiometery. Each side of the newly detected structure measures about 60 feet long, and more than three feet thick. A Zapotec site in Mexico’s southern state of Oaxaca, Monte Albán was established around 500 BCE and collapsed around 850 CE. It is estimated that the plaza was in use for about 1,000 years before the collapse. Which makes the existence of a building under the plaza rather interesting...

Famous Crusade Battlesite Pinpointed

Researchers have at long last pinpointed the location of the Battle of Arsuf. What is that, you ask? Arsuf was a key battle in the famous Third Crusade (1189–1192). Researchers utilized historical documents, environmental analysis, and material evidence to determine the spot on the Sharon Plain, north of modern-day Tel Aviv, where Christian troops led by Richard the Lionheart defeated the Muslim army of the sultan Saladin. This was the first battle that demonstrated Saladin could be defeated. It also gave the Crusaders control of the central Palestinian coast and the major port of Jaffa.

But the Third Crusade is most famous for what it could not do: retake Jerusalem. After fortifying Jaffa and getting a three-year truce from Saladin, the Third Crusade returned home in 1192.

The Idiocy of Colonial Geography in One Map

This was how Spain planned to divide up South America, prior to their creation of the Viceroyalty of Peru. No respect or caring for the actual facts of who lived there, what natural boundaries there were, or even climate zones.

Mis-Named In Mexico

The word 'Olmec' comes from the Nahuatl (or Aztec) word for people living in the Gulf Coast region at the time the Aztecs ruled. Olmecatl means "rubber people," probably due to the area's natural rubber trees and the sap it produced. Of course the Olmecs we think of first appears around 1600 BCE, and the Aztec came to central Mexico around the early 1300s CE. No one knows what the people we call the Olmec once called themselves.

Lets Talk About Aztec Child Sacrifices!

Aztec god of rain, Tlaloc, was believed to need children's tears to perform his duties. Priests of Tlaloc would induce child sacrifices to cry before they were killed. Children would be sacrificed starting in a certain month each year, and continue to be sacrificed until "the rains began in abundance."

Archaeological evidence has added nuance to this tale. First, there is evidence of multiple pre-death injuries to the children which would have caused significant pain. The Tlaloc priests were not shy in inducing those tears.

Another interesting archaeological find: child sacrifice remains have been found outside of Aztec and other Mesoamerican cities, whereas many adult sacrifice remains have been found inside cities. It seems the people could stomach child sacrifice, but only so long as they did not have to watch.

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    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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