Who Ran Korea During The Choson Period?

Scholar-Officials (sadaebu or sonbi) represent the highly educated ruling class that emerged during the Choson dynasty (1392-1910 CE) of Korea. The founder of the Choson dynasty, Yi Songgye adopted Neo-Confucianism - the modified teachings of the early Chinese philosopher Confucius to establish new principles for Korean governance. Implementing a competitive Confucian examination system to select civil servants, early Choson kings created a class of government officials who were familiar with Chinese and Korean historical and literary classics. Their new system was modeled on the older Chinese one. The new class of scholar-officials challenged aristocratic families that had monopolized power during the previous Koryo period (935 - 1392 CE).

The Weird Family History of Iceland

Iceland has a population of 332,529 that for hundreds of years has been largely isolated from the rest of the world. Inbreeding is a constant concern due to the country’s small size, and the migration of most of the population into the capital city. Luckily, the country has been literate since its founding, and because of its small population and isolation, we have marriage and birth records pretty much since the founding of the island. Everyone's family tree is known. It is pretty neat -- every Icelander today can trace their heritage back to which founding settlers they come from.

And to help prevent inbreeding today, an app was developed: Islendiga-App (English: App of Icelanders). The whole giant Icelandic family tree is on the app, and people can check to see if they are related. Its slogan is “Bump the app before you bump in bed.”

In the 1600s, Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo bought rival poet Luis de Góngoras' house, just so de Quevedo could evict him. De Quevedo also wrote several sonnets insulting de Góngoras' large nose. Here is a portrait of Góngoras so you can check his nose for yourself -- it is definitely not short!     De Quevedo and de Góngoras are widely considered the most prominent Spanish poets of their era.

Have you ever seen a stranger-looking bird? Or a one-horned sheep? “Several local animal species, including a dodo” from 1624, drawn in Mauritius by Adriaen Matham.

An intensive, two-week study is being done on the Girl with the Pearl Earring, one of Vermeer's most famous paintings. Using a host of exploratory new technology, the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery hopes to answer many questions about the painting's creation. For instance, they are investigating what minerals went into the painting’s pigments.

It has been more than 20 years since the painting was scientifically examined. As you can imagine, science has progressed a lot since 1994, and the tools that are being used today are much less invasive.

Coffee Was Once Banned In England?

King Charles the II was a paranoid man. Healthily paranoid. After all, his father had died due to a popular revolution which executed the king, made the country a "republic," and proceeded to attempt to make England the most virulent strain of Protestantism. It didn't work, Charles got restored, but he always had a healthy fear that it would happen again.

Convinced that coffee shops were hotbeds for sedition and plots, King Charles II decided to close them down in December of 1675. Anyone could sit and talk in the coffee shops of the day, sharing the same tables, pipes, and newspapers. And if people talked to each other, they could plot rebellion, right? So the coffee shops had to go, King Charles II declared. But public outcry was immediate. To save face, the king allowed coffee shops to stay open for just six more months -- if their owners paid a hefty fee (read "bribe") and swore an oath of allegiance to the crown. He said things would be renegotiated after six months. But the king's conditions were widely ignored, and he never attempted to close the coffee shops again.

What Is An Ice Age?

When you read that, an image probably came to mind: giant glaciers, people huddling for warmth, maybe a giant woolly mammoth or two. The problem with that definition of "Ice Age" is it defines what life is like now on Earth as "normal" and giant glaciers over the north and south pole as "abnormal." But is that true? Are we, in fact, living in a period of relative coolness? Is right now an "abnormal" Earth?

A better description of an ice age would be that it’s a long stretch of time in which both the atmosphere and the planet’s surface have a low temperature, resulting in the presence of polar ice sheets and mountainous glaciers. An Ice Age can last for several million years. Within the Ice Age period, the Earth isn't uniformly covered in snow. There are periods of glaciation, characterized by ice sheet and glacier expansion over the face of the planet, and interglacial periods, where we would have an interval of several thousand years of warmer temperatures and receding ice. Turns out just the presence of ice caps on the north and south pole is abnormal! What we currently live in is an "interglacial period" in the middle of an Ice Age!

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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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