In 1938, on this day at the Munich Conference a settlement was signed permitting Nazi Germany's annexation of Czechoslovakia's areas along the country's borders mainly inhabited by German speakers, for which a new territorial designation "Sudetenland" was coined.
The Fall of Comrade Stalin Part 1: Heartland vs. Rimland Power Blocs formThe settlement (including a large number secret protocols) was officially signed in the early hours of the next day by high representatives of the British, French and Czech Governments. Absent (in matter of fact, actually excluded) from the Conference was representatives of the Soviet Union. Because Comrade Stalin was fully aware that the Western victor powers had willingly formed a comprehensive military alliance with the Nazis.
Under other circumstances, Anglo-French public opinion would have been firmly against such a deal. However the belligerent acts of Communist Russia and Imperial Japan had convinced the Governments in London and Paris that the greater threat was on their periphery, and they desperately needed Herr Hitler to maintain a semblance of global hegemony. And the Eastern European countries that had been formed out of Versailles, they had been forced to choose sides by the relentlessness of Bolshevik expansionism. Some had already opted to join the Russians and Japanese in an unlikely, anti-colonial alliance of the so-called "Heartland Powers". Others had joined Britain and France in the so-called "Rimland Powers". And so the World was gripped in this undeclared "Cold War" with a major conflict between the allied nations of the Heartland and Rimland Powers appearing to be just around the corner.. This is a crossover teaser for Chris Oakley's Comrade Hitler thread.
In 1938, on his return from the conference in Munich to Heston Aerodrome, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain waves the paper signed by the so-called "Rimland Powers" of Great Britain, Italy, France and Germany.
The Fall of Comrade Stalin Part 3: Comrade Stalin isolated at MunichThe document contains details of a territory re-alignment that reverses German losses in the Versailles Agreement. But it also contains secret protocol in which the Western victor powers willingly form a comprehensive military alliance with the Nazis.
In Western opinion, Chamberlain's address is chiefly remembered for the confident assertion "Peace in our Time", widely recognized as a clear signal of intent to work together to check Bolshevik expansionism. In Eastern Europe, anger is displaced by cynicism bourne out of the Russian occupation of Lithuania which forced the newly created states to choose sides.
Although all European Politicians agreed that Comrade Stalin was the aggressor, the nations formed by the Versailles Agreement understood the realities much better than Chamberlain; he is quite wrong in his false assertion, because a global war is less than a year away. Rushed forward by the "Munich Betrayal", Comrade Stalin presses ahead with his embryonic military alliance with Japan combining the considerable military capabilities of the so-called Heartland Powers. But for different reasons, it soon becomes clear that through expedience rather than choice, each side has turned away from its natural partner(s) simply to protect itself from invasion. This is a crossover teaser for Chris Oakley's Comrade Hitler thread.
In 1758, on this day the future British Prime Minister was born in a rectory in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, England, the sixth of eleven children of the Reverend Edmund Nelson and his wife Catherine.
This post is an article from the Midshipman George Washington thread.
Midshipman George Washington #6bAfter an indifferent career as a sailor Horatio Nelson cut his losses, declaring his intention to resign his Royal Navy commission and stand for Parliament in a letter dated 12th July, 1783 and addressed to his former commanding officer and mentor Captain William Locker.
As the Captain of the Frigate HMS Albemarle, he had led a largely unsuccessful mission to the Caribbean which left him and his crew deeply out of pocket. Nevertheless, he had escaped any form of direct criticism and because his reputation was intact he was able to enter the court entourage of Admiral Samuel Hood. Influenced by the factional politics of the time, he contemplated standing for Parliament as a supporter of William Pitt, and after a few months of frustration, was fortunate to find a safe seat.
Within six months, Pitt the Younger was invited by the King to serve as the First Minister. Although he departed just two years later, he would return and serve continously for seventeen years. This period neatly overlapped two crises of vital strategic interest to the British Government. He would call upon Nelson as an able Minister to meet head-on the dual challenges from North America and France.
In the United Provinces, General Bendict Arnold had refused to relinquish supreme authority. And the Continental Army was refusing to disband until unpaid wages were settled in full by the Continental Congress. The outcome of this standoff was that Arnold not only seized power and ruled as a tyrant, but he turned his troops on the Congress and emulated Cromwell's control of the Long Parliament.
The emergence of this militaristic dictatorship was a shocking development to the intelligentsia in France. Certainly the rising force of Republicanism was sharply checked. And as the future of the Bourbon Family tottered in the balance, the British Government had to make a difficult choice. Ironically, the decision was taken by another charismatic military leader, a young officer by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte; his order to give the Parisian mob a "whiff of grapeshot" settled the matter.
In 331 B.C., 250,000 Persian troops fought 40,000 Greeks under Alexander. Darius III had 40,000 horsemen in his cavalry alone. Through strategic positioning, Alexander went straight for Darius and forced him to flee with his troops following him now leaderless. The odds of victory were slim and yet it happened.
Darius wins the Battle of GaugamelaThe two-hundred year old Persian powerhouse does not fall and come to an end but would continue for many more years. Babylon wouldn't be pillaged over the next hundred years and perhaps the country is maintained through one ruthless leader after another up until the time of the Romans. Alexander, Son of Phillip, never becomes "Great" and his Macedonian empire crumbles under the existing weight of his father's debts.
Although many will say that Alexander's life was all for naught anyways due to an early death, it is hard to ignore the accomplishments of his life. Persia was the worlds superpower which had a larger army than any other county and outnumbered Alexander's army five to one.
A new story by Brian PeotterThe effect of Alexander's reign on the ancient world was a hurricane mixed with a tornado mixed with a wildfire. His legacy was studied by Hannibal, Scipipo Africanas, and countless other famous generals all the way to today's West Point graduates. Generals used the battle of Gaugamela as well as others to encourage their men(and themselves) in battles with overwhelming odds against them. The knowledge of this victory might very well have had an effect on other battles through the judgment of other generals.
This is not to mention the fact that the political geography of Greece would have changed the day after news of Gaugamela reached Greece. Athens and Sparta would become the new sources of influence in most of the country as Macedonia fell apart. Perhaps Rome has more trouble conquering Greece in the next century as there would have been more of a gap of time to redevelop a government and army within Greece. Persia too has a different outlook; instead of becoming a land of many kings and city states it might be the Persian empire standing up to the invading Roman army and perhaps Rome could fail to conquer the eastern Mediterranean.
In 1865, on this day Andrew Johnson (pictured) was charged with treason by the special Congressional Assassination Committee specifically formed to investigate him.
Deconstruction, Part 1: The "miserable inebriate Johnson"Born in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1808, Johnson served as first the governor, and then the Senator of Tennessee. That he was the only Southern Senator who refused to join the Confederacy made him uniquely suitable as the 1864 Veep candidate. So much so, that he had convinced Lincoln to exclude the State of Tennessee from the Emancipation Proclaimation. Better qualified, alternative candidates such as Hannibal Hamlin and General Benjamin Butler were casually discarded. Of course Lincoln, had he known his fate, would have preferred a radical Republicans to be a "heartbeat away from the Presidency".
But far from demonstrating that the southern states were still part of the Union, Johnson managed to alienate the whole of the US Government. Because on Inauguration Day, an intoxicated Johnson delivered a slurred speech to Congress. Clearly in a state of high drunkeness, the Veep made a large number of inappropriate comments causing the First Lady to label him the "miserable inebriate Johnson".
In fact, Johnson had needed fortification in order to go through with the whole chirade, perhaps even hoping that at this advanced stage, the conspiracy to kill Lincoln and replace him with a sympathetico might be aborted. And that plan seemed to be working quite well when Johnson was dismissed that very evening. Yet Lincoln had his own reasons for being short-tempered, once elected, he had decided to go "Cold Turkey" on the anti-depressants he had been using for many years. Prior to the Inauguration, the President had in fact been ingesting more than nine thousand times the recommended daily dose of mercury.
But the special Committee did not know Lincoln was a recovering drug addict, simply that they had examined a volume of evidence that placed the drunken Johnson at the head of a conspiratorial plot to kill the President. To be continued..
In 1967, on this day Johnny Cash & June Carter sung "Jackson" at the Ralph Emery Show on WSM radio.
An installment from the Happy Endings thread
Happy Endings Part 26:
Knight in Rusty Armour 2For various reasons their unforgettable duet performance was no accident. The screenplay of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" had inspired lyric writers Billy Edd Wheeler and Jerry Leiber and their song first appeared on The Kingston Trio album "Sunny Side!" released in 1963. But their re-interpretation of Edward Albee's depiction of the breakdown of the marriage of a middle-aged couple was given a sharp new resonance by the Cashes. Beneath the surface was a terrible sadness. Because June had already been married twice, and John once. But unlike the song, the fire hadn't gone out of their marriage, quite the opposite. There was no shortage of passion in their self-described "ring of fire" but June had refused to marry him for a number of reasons. Stung by the social mores of the time relating to children conceived by multiple fathers, and aware of his addiction problems, she repeatedly refused to his offer of marriage. But of course the addition problem disguised deeper issues, he was unloved, and suffering from self-worth. He was in fact trying to kill himself, had written his own death penalty and was dressed for the funeral. His music was an expression of his tormented anguish.
And for John, June's rejection was crushing, it was a terrible sadness that he explored in "If I was a Carpenter". Because after the tragic death of his elder brother in a table saw accident, his father had told him the wrong brother had died (in fact John and his mother had premonitions and had begged Jack not to go to work). He spent much of his adult life wearing black as if attending a funeral, becoming increasingly addicted to drugs. He was repeatedly busted, and developed a deep sympathy for prisoners. But of course Jesus meets everyone at the point of their need, and so it was with the Cashes. Because they were both seeking redemption, and in each other, they found it, marrying on the 1st March 1968. They lived together for thirty-five years, dying months apart. And John fought off his drug addition. In the 1970, they had a child, John Carter Cash. That was their happy ever-after love story, and it would have profound consequences for justice, redemption and humiliation, aspects of the human experience that the Cashes knew all too well. Because if he could be saved, then perhaps he could help others to have a second chance as well.
They toured together at American prisons raising the issue of mistreatment. And then two breakthroughs came. Firstly, the election of Jimmy Carter, a relative of June. This allowed John to progress discussions on prison reform that had begun in 1970 with Richard Nixon (pictured). And his home in Hendersonville, twenty-five minutes north of Nashville was in the Congressional District of Al Gore, Jr. (Gore Snr. was also connected to June from her earlier performances with her legendary family on WSM radio). Three years before their respective deaths, Al Gore, Jr. was elected President, committing himself to a state-by-state program of repeal of the death penalty. Despite the resistance of many, he succeeded. It was the triumph of humanity that he had fought for his whole life, made possible by June who had helped him "Walk the Line". Because as the great man once said, something had been missing in this harsh world, but finally, it had been fulfilled.
In 480 BC, on this day twelve hundred triremes (pictured) of the Achaemenid Navy crushed a naval force a third of the size assembled in the Saronic Gulf near Athens by an Alliance of city-states desperate to defend Greece from a second Persian invasion.
Famous Persian Victory at the Battle of SalamisBut the resulting military conquest was a strategic disaster for the Empire because Greek rebelliousness stymied Persian overlordship. Even before the Battle of Salamis, this outcome was suspected by the struggling adminstrators of the Greek Colonies. Because Persepolis was too far from Greece, and the Persian governance system too loose to exerce effective control over such a distant and hostile geography.
Yet Ionion culture would survive, and eventually re-emerge from the mass revolts of the City States that had been foolishly provoked by the destruction of Athens. But in one sense, Salamis change everything. Supremely overconfident in victory, the Persians set themselves an even loftier ambition: the conquest of India.
In 1453, on this day Pope Nicholas II issued a decree calling for a crusade to recover Constantinople from the Ottoman Turks.
God Wills IT!The fall of the great city (pictured) had forced the Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos to declare with great reluctance "Better the Cardinal's hat turban than the Sultan's turban!" . Following in the foot steps of his equally pragmatic predecessor Michael VIII Palaiologos, he had escaped, and fled to Morea where he temporarily re-seated the Byzantine Empire in the desperate hope of a change of fortunes.
And of course relief could only come one source. Ironically, matters had now turned full circle, because the original flight to Morea had actually been caused by crusader steel when armed Venetians had burned a large part of the city to the ground. It was this event, the Fourth Crusade that had established a Latin Empire, and turned the Byzantines against their fellow Europeans. But even as they fled their city, they created the mini-states in Morea, Nicaea, Trebizond, and Epirus that would ensure Byzantine rule might continue albeit briefly, after the fall of Constantinople.
And so Pope Nicholas II siezed a unique opportunity to heal the great schism in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church that had been widened by the Fourth Crusade. Accordingly, he signed the decree "God Wills IT!" and set about gathering support from Spain, France, and the Italian States . However his greatest ally was Frederick III, King of Germany, whom he crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, on the condition that he aid in the pope's new crusade.
By 1916, Yuan Shikai was the chief architect of the New Army that was created in the terminal phase of the Qing Dynasty. Although considered to be a friend of the reformers who sought to establish a constitutional monarchy, he supported the Dowager Empress in her last, unhappily successful effort to stifle reform in the final years of the dynasty.
A New Chinese Dynasty in 1916monarchy, he supported the Dowager Empress in her last, unhappily successful effort to stifle reform in the final years of the dynasty. He was involuntarily retired at the time of her death in 1908. At the time of the Revolution of 1911, however, he was recalled to Peking to save the dynasty. To the surprise of the last Qing officials, however, he supported the insurgents.
The end of the imperial system in 1911 seemed at first to have been accomplished without any major national calamity. At any rate, there were no peasant uprisings or civil war.
A new story by John ReillyThe revolution was sparked by the revolt of a major army garrison; others soon followed suit. The provinces, led by local assemblies, essentially seceded from the central government. The leader of China's modernizing forces, Dr. Sun Yatsen, was briefly made provisional president by a national parliament. However, when the last emperor finally abdicated in 1912 under pressure by Yuan Shikai, Sun deferred to Yuan. Yuan, after all, did have greater governmental experience. He also had the army, at least in North China.
On becoming provisional president, Yuan quickly suppressed the national parliament and the assemblies. The government of the country at the local level was returned to the magistrates. During 1915, he took steps toward establishing a new dynasty. His bid for the throne was mildly favored by the British, but strongly opposed by the Japanese. The attempt to secure Japanese acquiescence was at least one factor in his agreement to most of Japan's very harsh "21 Demands," which severely impinged on Chinese sovereignty. In any case, there were other reasons for staying on the good side of the Japanese at that time. The British were wholly preoccupied by the First World War, so their Japanese allies at least temporarily had a free hand in East Asia. (Besides their Chinese initiatives, the Japanese used the opportunity to pick up Germany's colonial possessions in the region.)
Despite the unfavorable diplomatic situation, Yuan declared himself emperor at the beginning of 1916. It did not work. He could not get foreign support, military or financial, though investors had hitherto regarded him as a good credit risk. He was opposed by his own generals for a variety of reasons, and he had forfeited the support of the nation's reformers. He abandoned the monarchical experiment in March. He died in June, reportedly of natural causes.
Yuan was probably not the man to found a new dynasty in any case. His career had been made in the crepuscular world of the late Qing. One of the benefits of dynastic change is that it allows for a fresh start in policies and personnel; Yuan offered neither. Let us assume, however, that a more attractive personality had attempted a similar enterprise. Is there any plausible set of historical circumstances under which the New Dynasty could have been established in 1916?
Yuan's most pressing handicap was probably that the advent of the First World War left him to face the Japanese alone. While there is a good argument to be made that a war like the First World War was almost inevitable, there is no particular reason why the war had to start at the time and in the way it did. Worse marksmanship in Sarajevo in 1914 could easily have delayed the start of the World War by a year or more. Even had it started in 1914, a cease-fire might have been declared when the armies deadlocked in the West. For that matter, the war would have been over by 1915 had the Schlieffen Plan worked. A quick defeat for Britain, before it had invested heavily in men and emotions, would not have done the British Empire any immediate harm. Rather the opposite, in fact. One suspects that, like the Russians after their string of defeats in the Balkans and the Far East in the early years of the century, the British would have determined not to lose further ground anywhere in the world. This would have predisposed the British to oppose Japanese policy in China simply for the sake of opposing.
In any case, this was the direction in which British policy had long been evolving. By 1914, British were already dubious about their alliance with Japan and they scrapped it as soon as they decently could after the War. A unified China that needed the protection of the Royal Navy against Japan would not have endangered British interests at Hong Kong and Shanghai, but it would have been a formidable barrier to further Japanese expansion.
Rectifying the international situation, however, solves only the proximate problem. The deeper difficulty that a new dynasty would have faced would have been a crisis of legitimacy. Chinese dynasties made perfect sense in terms of Confucian ideology; they had been the only imaginable form of national government for upwards of two millennia. The Qing had indeed been overthrown in part because they were Manchurian foreigners. However, the movement against them had been informed, not simply by Han nationalism, but by a critique of the Confucian heritage itself.
Throughout Chinese history, successful brigands and ambitious generals had become acceptable as the founders of dynasties by signaling their intention to follow traditional precedents of government and morality. There was almost an established drill to go through, down to the wording of key proclamations. After a period of interdynastic chaos, even a personally horrible candidate who honored the forms could nevertheless get the support of the local gentry and magistrates. They did not have to like a would-be dynastic founder; they simply needed to be assured that government would again become predictable and comprehensible.
It was precisely this cultural consensus that reformers in China had spent the prior 50 years destroying. Though no democrat, Yuan Shikai still falls into this class. His modernized national army, and his use of it as the primary instrument of government, was as un-Confucian as the democratic assemblies favored by Sun Yatsen. There were plenty of tradition-minded people in China still in 1916, even among the literate elites. However, they were not for the most part the people who managed new enterprises or who understood modern administrative techniques. Yuan could not have created a dynasty on the traditional model without bringing the country back to 1800.
On the other hand, even if a traditional monarchy was not possible, it does not follow that no monarchy would have been possible. The 20th century has not lacked for monarchies that justified themselves by simultaneous appeals to tradition and the project of modernization. There was a gaggle of them in the Balkans between the First and Second World Wars, kings of shaky new states who make themselves dictators when parliamentary government stopped working. In practice, these regimes were not much different from the party dictatorships elsewhere in Europe.
The most successful example was not in Europe, but in the Middle East. There, the new Pahlavi Dynasty of Persia (which it taught the world to call "Iran") attempted a program of national modernization comparable to, but milder than, the reconstruction of Turkey undertaken by Kemal Ataturk and his successors. To be a Pahlavi Shah was not quite the same thing as being a Shah in prior Persian history had been. The Pahlavi Shahs had new bases of social support and a novel relationship with the outside world. Still, some of the ancient terminology of government lent a bit of credibility to the letterheads of the new regime. We should remember that it actually lasted quite a long time for a government of ruthless modernizers, until the late 1970s. It is conceivable that a competent candidate could have established an analogous government in China, and so might have become "emperor" in a similarly qualified sense.
So how would a new dynasty have affected Chinese history for the first half of the 20th century? Such speculation may require less imagination than might at first appear. The reality of the New Dynasty would be that, while in some respects traditional in form, the government would actually have been a moderately conservative military dictatorship. We don't have to speculate about what such a regime would have looked like: the Nationalist government provides the model. There would have been two major differences, however.
First, the New Dynasty would have had a far greater measure of legitimacy than the Nationalists ever achieved, even during the brief period before the Japanese invasion when they governed almost the whole country. Legitimacy and hypocrisy are often inversely related. The Nationalist government pretended to be running a republic; it delivered less than it promised. The New Dynasty, on the other hand, would have been pretending to be a Confucian monarchy. All it would have needed to do is govern the country better than did the Qing in the 19th century. This would not have been a tall order.
The biggest advantage, however, would be that a dynasty established around 1916 might have succeeded in preventing the warlord era entirely. This does not require a great leap of faith. After all, before 1916, even Yuan Shikai had shown some ability to put uppity provincial commanders in their place.
There are a few things that we might reasonably assume about our hypothetical New Dynasty. As we have seen, it would probably have had British support. Partly for that reason, it would have had more credibility with international investors than did the Republic. If it also had just enough features of a parliamentary democracy to garner some support among the business class and intellectuals, then it seems likely that a formal monarchy would have been better able to control potential warlords than was the Republic. Deleting the warlord era would not only have spared the country the damage and disorder of that period, it would also have probably spared China Communism.
Chinese Communism as an insurgent movement was able to gain a foothold only because of the breakdown of national authority in the 1920s. It was because the central government was in eclipse that the Communists were able to establish bases in south-central China, and then to escape to Yennan when those bases were attacked. There would still, of course, have been a Communist Party in some form, but the New Dynasty government would not have needed to make common cause with it, as the Nationalists did early in this period. (For a while, foreign observers tended to think of the Nationalist Party as a Communist front.)
If China had not fallen into disunity, one suspects that the Communist Party would have been more urban and less rural than in fact it was. After all, in this scenario the countryside would have been better policed. In all likelihood, its history would have paralleled that of the Japanese Communist Party; frequently suppressed, never destroyed, important primarily as an aggravating factor during episodes of civil unrest.
Would the New Dynasty have performed much better against the Japanese in the `30s and `40s than the Nationalists did? One of the axioms of world history is that military dictatorships have incompetent militaries. They use their armies as police, and cops are not soldiers. Still, it is hard to imagine that the New Dynasty army could have done worse than the Nationalists did. In any case, assuming that a revived Chinese Empire would have been a long-term client of Britain, the Japanese would have had to think twice before making provocative actions south of Manchuria.
The effect of a more coherent China, on the other hand, might have been to sharpen Japan's strategy toward it. The Japanese war against China was a meandering series of campaigns, often without discernible strategic purpose. A Chinese government that actually governed the country would have made a far more valuable target. Japan might have confined their Chinese operations to a single blitzkrieg campaign to compel China to neutrality for the great offensive of 1941, and it might have worked.
And as for the second half of the century? We will assume that the Japanese still lost the war. Despite the havoc the war caused on the Asian mainland, it was always a naval war, and there is no way Japan could have won it without forcing the United States to a negotiated peace in the first few months. Would China then have proceeded more or less directly to full modernization, on the model of Japan? Conceivably, but my own suspicion is that the second fifty years would have been surprisingly like the history of the People's Republic.
The New Dynasty would no doubt have been greatly energized by being among the victors in the war. This would be particularly the case if, as this scenario suggests, the country had been less damaged by the conflict. Doubtless there would have been a decade or so of very rapid growth, and the beginning of real prosperity in some regions. The problem is that a regime of this type does not, in the long run, benefit from improving conditions. As the history of the Pahlavi regime in Iran illustrates, the effect of modernization in an authoritarian context can often be to manufacture an opposition that would not otherwise have existed. At the beginning of such regimes, people are often grateful for the establishment of basic civil order. Later, when economic conditions improve, they are content to look after their private lives. Finally, there will be a self-assured middle class that asks the regime, "What have you done for us lately?" By that point, the chief benefit that the regime could bestow would be to abolish itself. Such situations lead to trouble.
The chronology could have been similar to that which happened in the real world: great disorder in the 1960s, the restoration of social peace in the 1970s, followed by relaxation in the 1980s. The jettisoning of the New Dynasty would probably have been the price of the restoration of order. As happened after the overthrow of the last Shah of Iran, the successor regime would probably have been more "conservative" in some ways. The conservatism, however, would have been of the "social conservative" type. Confucian tradition would have been quite as capable as Shia Islam of generating a critique of modernity. This sort of consideration never troubled the People's Republic much, but then the Communist regime is explicitly dedicated to uprooting Confucianism. The New Dynasty, in contrast, would have been based in part on a show of respect for tradition. In other words, the regime would have had to preserve the standards by which it would eventually be judged and found wanting.
There would, no doubt, have been vast differences from the China of today had an imperial regime of some sort been reestablished after the Qing. Still, the upshot could have been that, after about 1975, China would again have been a republic of sorts. Like India, it would have been a vast country with greatly varying levels of development. Because of a lack of local tradition, it would probably not have been a very democratic republic. Still, it would no doubt have been friendly to private economic initiative, carried out in the context of overall government planning.
There is a fashion in certain history departments to encourage speculation about alternative histories as a way of demonstrating the contingency and unpredictability of history. Fair enough, but I myself have doubts about how much contingency and predictability history actually manifests. No doubt it is true, as the chaos theorists tell us, that the flapping of a butterfly's wings at Peking can cause tornadoes in Kansas a month later. From this, many students of alternative history surmise that similarly tiny changes in the events of the past could create a whole different world farther down the line. The reality is that, while a butterfly may cause tornadoes, it cannot cause an ice age, or prevent winter from turning into spring. There are principles of conservation in history, whereby many different routes can lead to a similar destination. One of the uses of alternative history is to discern what was really inevitable.
In 522 B.C., In the wake of the fall of Babylon, the Persians and Medes rose up in a great empire under Cyrus. His mighty rule stretched from the Indus to the mountainous reaches of central Asia through Babylonia and Arabia to Judea, where it met with the border of the Egyptian kingdom. Cyrus's son Cambyses II decided to add Egypt to the menagerie of the empire.
Bardiya Executes Treasonous Lords His brother Bardiya had been named satrap of provinces in the far east, but Cambyses knew better than to leave a popular heir to the throne while he, the proper emperor, was gone to war. He had Bardiya secretly killed and then set toward Egypt with a powerful army. Even after his brother's death, Cambyses was haunted by dreams of Bardiya on the royal throne and being able to pull back the bow of the Ethiopians while Cambyses could not.
A new story by Jeff ProvineDespite his dreams, Cambyses conquered Egypt thoroughly in 525 BC. He made efforts to invade Kush to the south, but harsh deserts forced his armies to retreat. Later, he launched a failed expedition to punish the Oracle of Amin at the Siwa Oasis in which 50,000 men were buried in a freak sandstorm. His next military advance was planned against Carthage, but his Phoenician allies refused to fight against their brothers.
In 522 BC, word came to Cambyses that Bardiya had returned to Susa. The emperor formed up his army to destroy the usurper, but, according to his spear-carrier Darius, Cambyses was afraid. Victory seemed impossible against a man he had already killed, a crime he finally publicly confessed, though no one seemed to believe him. Cambyses stabbed himself in the thigh with his own sword, making to look like an accident, and died over a week later from gangrene. Darius gathered the army and returned to Susa himself.
Upon arrival in the capital, Darius met with the years-dead Bardiya. It seemed to be him, so much so that even his own wives in his harem said that it was he. The people loved him thanks to the negligent absence of Cambyses in Egypt and Bardiya's three-year celebration of tax remissions. However, as Bardiya had transferred the capital Media, the story began to unravel: Bardiya was actually Gaumata, a Medean magician from the east who had made himself to look like the dead prince. The Persian lord Otanes discovered the truth and gathered a group of his fellows, including Darius, to carry out an assassination.
They planned to catch the impostor by surprise in his castle, but Bardiya was tipped off by his network of spies. His guards caught the assassins, and they were hanged within hours. Bardiya went on to rule for decades more, turning eastward to expand the empire of the Medes deeper into the rich lands of India. In coming decades, there would be squabbles with the Greeks inhabiting Asia Minor, but the Bardiyan line would pacify the locals with shows of military strength, construction projects, and wealth through trade. Many suspected a Persian invasion across the Dardanelles, but the imperial attention went continually east.
In the fourth century BC, the Macedonians would descend upon Achean and conquer their fellow Greeks under Philip II. His son Alexander continued the unification of Greece by turning against the Persians. His invasion would cross like lightning through Asia Minor and into Judea, but the imperial counter-attack at the Siege of Babylon would kill the young conqueror with an army hardened by years of warfare conquering Indian kingdoms. With attention turned westward again, the Persians would reconquer Egypt and bring back their old allies in Phoenicia for a successful invasion of Greece. After putting the Greeks under control, they pressed westward in the Mediterranean, taking the defeated Carthage as a protectorate and conquering the upstart Latins in their village called Rome.
Eventually the Persian Empire would spread from what the Greeks called the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar) to the nestled southeastern edge of the Himalayas. Over the centuries, the empire would grow ungainly and weak, falling in the west to German barbarians and disintegrating into nation-states in a vast revolution. While the empire is a shadow of itself as Persia today, its foundations can be seen as Zoroastrianism stands as the principle philosophy of the world. That which is good works for the good in Ahura Mazda, and evil is evil, and to ask "What is good?" or "What is evil?" is a silly game attributed to Greeks.
On this day in 1971, Pope Paul VI and his senior aides evacuated the Vatican in an attempt to preserve the Holy See against the chaos sweeping Italy after China virus outbreaks in Rome and Milan.
On this day in 1954, Giants outfielder Willie Mays made what may have been the greatest catch of his career, grabbing a fly ball over his shoulder to rob Cleveland Indians slugger Vic Wertz of what otherwise would have been a sure home run in the first game of the 1954 World Series.
That catch paved the way for a four-game New York sweep of Cleveland and cemented the reputation of Giants third base coach and former Knights outfielder Roy Hobbs as an outstanding finder of and mentor to up-and-coming talent.
When Hobbs finally retired from his coaching position at the end of the 1965 baseball season, Mays organized the farewell party for "The Natural"; Mays also gave the induction speech at Hobbs' posthumous admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.
In 1829, the 'Scotland Yard' headquarters of the new London Metropolitan Police Force opens for business following passage of the Metropolitan Police act as a result of strong lobbying by Home Secretary Robert Peel.
'The Yard' will open offices in Britain's American colonies over the next several years, gradually assuming many of the functions of the hated Order Police as well as conduction ordinary law enforcement.
In 1991, Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey announces he will seek the Democratic nomination for president in 1992.
In his announcement, he praises the President for his victory in the Gulf, but expresses the view that Kemp's economic program is a 'well-intentioned disaster in the making.'
In 1969, scientist Erika Eleniak was born in Glendale, California. The child of a Ukrainian immigrant who had moved to Hollywood to be an actor, Eleniak was saved from a life of drug abuse in high school by a teacher who showed her that science could give her a better high than any drug. After getting degrees in astronomy and physics, she became well-known as a popularizer of science with her television series, How Do They Do That?.
In 1916, capitalist counter-revolutionary John Rockefeller used his vast, ill-gotten wealth to leave the then-United States of America for the United Kingdom. 'A businessman can no longer thrive in the communist environment of the United States,' Rockefeller said in the press conference announcing his defection. Socialist President Woodrow Wilson denounced Rockefeller's reactionary statement and froze all of Rockefeller's assets still in the U.S.
In 1907, Orvon Autry was born in the small town of Tioga, Texas. He moved to New Jersey as an adult and, since he had been a cowboy in Texas, performed in many of Dynamic Pictures' westerns. He was the comic foil in Plainsgirl opposite Carla Lambert.
In 1829, Scotland Yard is formed, paradoxically, in London. An investigative wing of His Majesty's police force, the Yard is instrumental in solving many crimes during the middle of the century. After its failure to solve the infamous Jack the Ripper cases, though, it is reorganized as the Royal Ministry of Investigation under Lord Reginald Townshend.
in the Central African city of Malabo mourned the passing of President Francisco Macias Nguema
who died of natural causes aged eighty on September 28th.
Equatorial Guinea was one of Spain's few colonies in Africa, and Generalissimo Franco (bowing to international pressure) agreed to give it independence. The oil hadn't been discovered yet, but Franco seems to have planned on a beautiful friendship like Britain had with the emirates: a nice loyal autocratic client-state. The Spanish pulled strings to promote Francisco Macias Nguema, a civil servant who had failed his exams several times and packed the government with his relatives. He'd be the perfect patsy.
Aside from a brief period of mental illness, Nguema was a thug, a nepotist, and an autocrat, but he ruled carefully. For twenty long years, EQ was a desperately poor Spanish client-state until Oil was discovered in 1993. Foreign investors rushed to plant claims in EQ, and Nguema mades the most of it. The oil began to flow, and everybody from the Fang tribe got to live well on it.
In 1938, Hitler blinks at Munich as British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden pulled off a dramatic coup. Privately, the Fuhrer believed events might have been very different if Italian Prime Minister Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini had not been assassinated by the anarchist Gino Lucetti in 1926. As it was, he faced the combined Stresa front of Britain, France and Italy and was forced to climb down over the Sudeten Germans. Robbed of a regional partner, and forced to wait until 1942, when Nazi Germany was on a full war footing, Hitler no longer had anything to fear and struck the allies with Blitzkrieg across both the Brenner Pass and the Belgium border. By the time America entered the war, Hitler had the bomb, and the rest is history. Following the death of Chamberlain, Eden had entered Downing Street, and he often wondered, if things might not have been better to have forced the issue at Munich. It was an issue that kept him awake for many, many nights at Governor's residence at Rideau Hall, Ottawa where he and the British Government in Exile then resided.
In 1938, Britain, France, Nazi Germany and Italy signed the Munich Agreement, allowing Germany to occupy the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. Nobody wanted a second great war. In the words of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain 'My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.' After all, Czechoslovakia really was 'a far off place of which we knew little'. When news of the holocaust started to reach Britain in 1942, we started to know a great deal more about Czechoslovakia, and Hitler and Heydrich's plans for the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia. The Carthaginian peace signed by Chamberlain, who was already dead, was re-examined. It was realised that Chamberlain had been holding a death warranty for ten million Jews in his hands that day. To paraphrase Charles Dickens it was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.
Annapolis, JUST IMPORTED, In the Ship LORD LIGONIER, Capt. George Wallace, from the River GAMBIA, in AFRICA, and to be sold by the Subscribers, in ANNAPOLIS, for Cash, or good Bills of Exchange, on Wednesday the 7th of October next,
A CARGO of CHOICE HEALTHY SLAVES
. The said Ship will take TOBACCO to LONDON, on Liberty, at 61, Sterling per Ton. Signed CURTIS LEMAY, Lieutenant OF said SHIP. N.B. Any Person that contract for a Quantity of Lumber, may meet with Encouragement, by applying to said Lieutenant.
In 1917, Tel-Aviv, in 1917 a fledgling town founded just a few years before, suffered greatly from the Ottoman authorities suspecting its inhabitants of pro-British tendencies (not entirely without reason) and evicting them en masse prior to the arrival of Allenby's troops. Some were forced to trudge as far as Damascus. Following the British victory they were able to return to their town and regarded General Allenby as literally their saviour, naming for him what was Tel-Aviv's main street and the focus of economic and political life until the late 1940s.
In the 1950s the city center moved northwards, but Allenby Street is still the center of downtown Tel-Aviv - though only few of the younger Tel-Avivians know for whom it was named.
And only only British General Edmund Alleny could understand in fully the dedication to 'DA' in Lt-Co T.E. Lawrence Seven Pillars of Wisdom. D.A. = demon Azazel, who was possessing Allenby as of the now. The fun in the Middle was really only just beginning.
the mandinkan Kunta Kinte landed as a slave at City Dock in Annapolis, Maryland. He was later sold for $850 to John Waller, a plantation owner in Spotsylvania County, Virginia near the present-day rural community of Partlow
During the 1978 plagiarism case, it was alleged by Harold Courland that Alex Hayley had invented the character to promote his book roots, indicating that (he) Courland had earned $1400 from the sales of 'The African', whilst Haley had earned $2.6 million.Not so
. From the village of Juffure in the Gambia, the Griot
summoned his Mandinka tribesman from across the sea of time. Not only did Kunta Kinte bear witness to Alex Haley in court, he spoke of the one hundred forty Africans who suffered the middle passage and more generally for the diaspora around the world.
In 1322, forces of the Duchy of Austria under the command of their Habsburg antiking "Frederick the Handsome" triumphed at the Battle of Mühldorf am Inn.
Glorious Habsburg Victory at Mühldorf am InnAlthough the prince-electors were anxious not to allow one noble family to install a hereditary monarchy, the powerful dynasties of Habsburg, Luxembourg and Wittelsbach had been rivaling for the rule over the Holy Roman Empire. After the death of Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg in 1313 the electoral college denied the succession of his son John of Bohemia and instead accorded its favour to Louis of Wittelsbach and Frederick of Habsburg, however split over the question who to choose.
The victory at Battle of Mühldorf am Inn settled the matter in favour of the Austrians, in no small part because Louis in addition had to settle the domestic dispute with his brother Count Palatine Rudolf I (who had voted against him). Fortunately for Frederick, his relief forces arrived in time  to prevent his army being outnumbered by an Bavarian alliance with John of Bohemia and Burggrave Frederick IV of Nuremberg.
In 1197, on this day in Messina, his loyal German soldiers discovered a dastardly plot to poison their king, the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry VI.
Henry VI survives poisoning to command the Fourth CrusadeThe conspirators had hoped to prevent his Crusading Army from sailing to Palestine, but instead he was more determined than ever to efface the humiliation caused by the disintegration of his father's army. Leading a large number of German knights and nobles, including two Archbishops, nine bishops, five dukes, he quickly captured Siddon and Beirut before setting his sites on the ultimate prize, Jerusalem. But for this occupation, he needed massive reinforcement.
Fortunately Pope Innocent III succeeded to the papacy, and the prosecution of the crusade became the primary goal of his pontificate, expounded in his bull Post miserabile. Consequently, he helped Henry by raising further forces particularly from areas within France, and to exercise control over the recalcitrant Crusaders he formalized an agreement to sail en masse from Venice with a solemn ban on attacks on Christian states. This deft move avoided Latin entanglement with the Byzantines who having unwisely chosen to outsource their navy to Venice might otherwise have found themselves on the wrong end of Crusader Steel.
In September 1918, Eleanor Roosevelt discovers the love letters that her husband Franklin (pictured) is writing to her secretary, Lucy Mercer.
Franklin and Lucy
written by Jackie RoseEleanor demands a divorce, and her husband is glad to agree. However, his mother Sara warns him that a divorce will ruin his political career. Ignoring her warning, he listens to his heart and marries his mistress.
He has no way of knowing that, in giving up his ambitions, he has also saved himself from a lifetime spent in a wheelchair, due to infantile paralysis. He would probably have been infected during a trip to a Boy Scout camp .. but having abandoned his political ambitions, he has no reason to go there. Instead, he spends his time in law courts, keeping socially connected criminals out of jail.
His son Elliot, however, soon starts following in his father's political footsteps. At his mother's urging, he successfully runs for Governor of New York in 1929. When the Depression strikes, he followed her advice again by launching the state's social welfare programs. As a result, he wins the presidency in 1932 and his national version of the programs he ran in New York become the New Deal.
She guides him in both peace and war, with projects including the Lend Lease act. It allows Britain to fight Hitler, until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brings America into the war. His father Franklin does contribute some memorable phrases to Elliot's famous speeches, such as "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" and "Yesterday, Dec. 7, a day that will live in infamy ... " But the president's proud father carefully remains in the background.
Eleanor cannot, however, save President Elliot Roosevelt from scandal, when he divorces his second wife to marry Faye Emerson, a glamorous TV star. His mother must have reflected bitterly that this was a very clear case of "like father, like son".
In 1912, on this day a group of intellectuals were startled by the mysterious contents of a medieval manuscript showcased at a London bookshop.
Click to watch "Solving the Voynich Manuscript by Prof. Gordon Rugg" on Youtube
Book Collectors of the World, Unite! By Ed and Jackie SpeelThe Soho Square Group was a turn of the century group of emigré writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists who held informal discussions at the eponymous Wilfrid Voynich's bookshop on Soho Square No. 1 in London. But their first meeting had occurred quite by chance at a gathering of the Society of Friends for a Free Russia.
Under the nom de guerre of Wilfryd, Voynich had engaged in subversive activity until his arrest by Tsarist Police. He escaped from a prison in Tunka, Siberia fleeing to London where he formed the Society with a comrade by the name of Stepniak. But after Stepniak's death in a railway crossing accident, his revolutionary activity had more or less ceased.
The chance encounter was with a Satanic looking chap called Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, who had intermittently operated under the nom de guerre of Lenin. But the world seemed little changed by his own efforts in nurturing an international revolution. The conversation soon turned away from the depressing state of Russia to the more exhilerating topic of bibliophilism. An initial interest was sparked, soon growing into an unexpectedly exciting new passion for Ulyanov - antique book collecting.
Both Ulyanov and Voynich had travelled to to the Villa Mondragone in Italy on a mission to a Jesuit Library to acquire manuscripts from the cash-strapped Collegio Romano who was very discreetly selling some of its holdings. On the long journey back to London, Ulyanov had a strange dream that he was trapped in a sealed train heading to Russia only to be shot dead at the Finland Station. He awoke with a startling revelation; they must take the manuscript to Ambrogio Ratti, an Italian librarian with a genius for unravelling medieval ciphertext. Then the carriage door was opened, and they made the acquantance of the "wonderful" Moura Budberg..
In 1928, having just returned from a holiday, Scottish Professor of Bacteriology Alexander Fleming came back to his lab in St. Mary's Hospital, London, where he had been studying Staphylococcus. One of his stacked petri dishes had been left open, and blue-green mold had begun to grow inside.
Alexander Fleming Washes His Petri Dish Around the mold, the bacteria had been diminished, as if growth had not only been inhibited, but the bacteria destroyed.
"That's funny," Fleming said, but went about his business washing the contaminant and turning back to the research at hand.
Life in the world would go on, and Fleming would become somewhat famous for his work against antisceptics in deep-tissue surgery. Surgeries and doctor's offices continued to be places of potential hazard. Lessons learned from the Second World War taught that sterilization and natural immunity were the best methods for defense, but infection was nearly a death certificate itself. Pneumonia, scarlet fever, and diptheria ran through populations periodically, minor plagues that even advanced societies had to suffer through.
A new story by Jeff ProvineIn 2000, as something of a miraculous discovery, doctors at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in San Jose ,Costa Rica, published the papers of Dr. Clodomiro Picado Twight. Dr. Picado was internationally known for his research with snake venom and cures, but it seemed that he had discovered a practical antibiotic as early as 1927. He had observed the fungus Penicillium inhibiting the growth of streptococci and staphylococci (which Fleming had seen, but not noticed). He had submitted a paper to the Paris Academy of Sciences, but it had not made an impression.
As the papers were published anew, commentary was written on the use of the fungus in folk medicine since the Middle Ages. Several European researchers had noticed its effects, even Tyndall in 1875 and Lister in 1871, but neither embraced the potential. Modern advancements in biochemistry had looked into the possibilities of antibiotics, finding a few such as the sulfomides and the quinolones that each severe side effects, but this natural product seemed like a place for renewed research. As early tests began to show great promise, pharmaceutical companies raced to patent a Wonder Drug.
The drug Penicillin would be branded in 2010 after isolation, synthesis, and FDA approval. While immunity among bacteria has been detected from under-use, the chemical structure for Penicillin enables easy modification for renewed effectiveness. Mass production began quickly, opening up huge markets for antibiotics in every hospital, office, and home in the world. First and third world death rates are expected to plummet alike.
Conversely, of course, if birth rates do not decrease like death rates, it can be expected that world population may reach as much as three and a half billion by 2025. With the Earth supporting such a surge of new life, pollution and social ills are expected to grow exponentially.
In 1692, Mary Spencer Hull was hanged at Gallows Hill on this day. For many God-fearing residents of the Colony, the execution of the wife of Massachusetts governor Williams Phips was an unmistakeable indication that the Salem Witch Trials had gone insanely out of control. And yet John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin, the two magistrates sent from the General Court had received sufficiently credible reports of talking animals, dark shapes, red cats and a "Tall Man" (undoubtedly the devil) to form the conviction that Middlesex Counties were in the grip of Satanism.
The Tall Man Walks in MassachusettsWhen the magistrates ordered the arrest of the pious and saintly seventy-one year old Rebecca Nurse, townsfolk realized that insanity was the order of the day. In response, forty neighbours of the Nurse Homestead in Danvers signed a petition in support of the accused. But when the jury dismissed the charges of witchcraft, the judge had ordered them to reconsider (pictured) and she was hanged on July 19th.
Hundreds of new accusations of witchcraft were now raised. The Colonial Governor had done absolutely nothing to stop the witchcraft mania. And so his outraged response1 to the charges against his wife were set aside by the Special Commission he had appointed. And when he forbade further executions for witchcraft in Salem, he was arrested, joining the one hundred and fifty men and women still chained to prison walls and awaiting trial. During his short incarceration, Phips would hear tales that had not reached the Governor's residence in Boston. And too late he discovered that the flame of witch-madness ignited by Tituba2 was real, shockingly real indeed.
In 2001, the United Nations Security Council passes a resolution tightening existing sanctions against the Taliban government in Afghanistan, which date from the Clinton years, and demanding that Kabul move to arrest and detain "known terrorists operating from bases within the territory under its authority" as a price for the new restrictions' removal.
The Taliban response is defiant. Afghanistan's delegates walk out of the General Assembly, loudly protesting that the UN has become a forum for "American bullying".
In 1960, on this day Idlewild Airport reopened.
| Idlewild Airport|
On this day in 1944, the last pockets of German resistance in Amsterdam surrendered to the Allies.
"The danger to our country is grave and it is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons, is rebuilding the facilities to make more and, according to the British government, could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given... This regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year". ~ US President George Bush speaking on 22nd September 2002.
He was wrong. The regime were three months ahead of schedule.
In 1978, Cardinal Albino Luciani of Belluno uncovered a plot by the Comte de Saint-Germaine to acquire ancient relics of the Church in order to further some strange occult ends of his own. Before he could communicate this information to anyone, he died of a heart attack in his mansion.
In 1964, concert harpist Adolph Marx, a genius that some considered the finest classical musician in the Soviet States of America, died in Los Angeles, California. Marx single-handedly made harp music popular in the Soviet States during the 30's and 40's, and continued to fill concert halls up to his death.
In 1938, rhythm & blues singer Ben Nelson was born in Henderson, North Carolina. After he moved to Harlem, Nelson became a member of a street corner doo-wop group called The Four B's. The young men became a great success, but their greatest hit was Nelson's solo Stand By Me on their album There Goes My Baby.
In 4608, the Japanese sailing vessel Kiche Maru, with over 1000 people on board, is saved by the Chinese Imperial Fleet after they begin to take on water. While several Fleet ships took the passengers off, Captain Hong of his majesty's ship Chen Wei manages to tow the vessel to a safe landing. For his act of heroism, Hong is decorated by the Emperor himself.
In 1909, Alfred Caplin was born in New Haven, Connecticut. Caplin was the artist who created the syndicated comic strip Colonel Gilfeather at 19, making him the youngest professional cartoonist in the country. In spite of Caplin's boredom with the strip, it became financially impossible for him to move on to other projects, and he spent the rest of his life drawing a cartoon he didn't enjoy himself.
In 11-16-2-16-11, explorer Itzapoca sails into the harbor of Gibraltar, the first landing of a Oueztecan on European shores. While Itzapoca claims to the natives that he is a god, they are able to drive him off with ease. This makes Europe safe from the Oueztecans for many decades.
In 1867, the Prussian Government took control of Pihemanu one hundred and forty nautical miles east of the International Date Line. Known to America as Midway, as its name suggests, the Island lies nearly halfway between North America and Asia. It also lies almost halfway around the earth from Greenwich, England. In September 1940, Hitler loaned the base to Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto at the signature of the Tripartite Pact by the Axis powers of Japan, Germany and Italy. This move had been widely anticipated, and indeed had prevented President Roosevelt from ordering the Pacific Fleet to sail from San Francisco to Pearl Harbour where it would of course be too vulnerable to stealth attacks.
In 1940, on this day Winston Churchill delivered a famous calls to arms. The address was made to the remnants of the British Royal Navy in Port Stanley, Falklands Islands. 'The Battle for Britain' was over', said Churchill ' but the Battle of the Atlantic was just beginning'.
In 1918, only British General Edmund Alleny could understand in fully the dedication to 'DA' in Lt-Co T.E. Lawrence Seven Pillars of Wisdom. D.A. = demon Azazel, who was possessing Allenby as of the now. The fun in the Middle was really only just beginning.
In 1529, on this day the army of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent arrived at the gates of Vienna.
Ottomans Besiege ViennaThree years before, Suleiman had smashed the army of King Louis II of Hungary, conquering much of the land. Following the momentum, he raised an enlarged army and pressed toward Vienna and the Austrians. They set out in May, first reestablishing conquest in Hungary by seizing fortresses lost in the interim to Archduke Ferdinand I of Austria, who had been named king of Hungary after Louis's death under the might of Suleiman.
Most effective were Suleiman's large-caliber cannons, which he brought over miles of mountain roads. The rains were light, making for easy travel and minimal loss of men and camels from illness in soggy conditions. Buda, which had been softened by attack in 1526, was taken, and the army mopped up various defenders before turning to the Austrian border. It was a difficult march, but the soldiers looked forward to the great wealth to be plundered from the Habsburgs. The siege was laid, and the artillery gradually wore down the walls. Suleiman made attempts at mining and tunnels to break in sooner, but the defenders were ever-vigilant for the sound of rhythmic digging through the soil. Article continues Ottomans Storm Vienna
In 1605, the invading army of Charles IX of Sweden (supported by German, Scottish and Dutch mercenaries) won a decisive victory over Polish-Lithuanian forces at the Battle of Kircholm.
Swedish Victory at KircholmBecause the Polish Crown had refused to fund the defence, the indigenous forces had been mobilized by Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, Grand Hetman of Lithuania. He had mobilized a smaller force (approximately a 1:3 disadvantage) comprising the superbly trained Winged Hussars (pictured, heavy cavalry armed with lances) plus a small number of Tatars and Polish-Lithuanian Cossack horse.
Fortunately, for the Swedes, Charles realized that a devastating attack by Commonwealth cavalry was the only option available to Chodkiewicz, and he anticipate the threat, managing to organize a disciplined defence that enabled his superiority in numbers to overcome that onslaught. The hard-fought victory was a turning point in the Polish-Swedish War, quickly leading to the fall of Riga and the establishment of Swedish hegemony over northern Latvia and Estonia.
In 1963, on this day an American plot to assassinate Fidel Castro was foiled by Senor Eusebio Azcue the Cuban consul in Mexico City.
Saving Fidel CastroA short, blond impostor claiming to be former US Marine Lee Harvey Oswald visited both Cuban and Soviet embassies.
But a suspicious consulate employee Sylvia Duran had raised concerns with Azcue because of the unusual nature of an application for an "in-transit" visa to travel through Cuba to the Soviet Union. Under US Regulations, Cuba was not permitted as a final destination and moreover Oswald had only recently returned from the Soviet Union after defecting in 1959.
The CIA's Mexico City Station sent cables to headquarters in early October, reporting the visit. Investigators soon discovered that the visitor was an underworld hitman who on April 10th had assassinated U.S. Major General Edwin Walker, an outspoken anti-communist, segregationist, and member of the John Birch Society. But the trail continued, leading eventually all the way up to President Nixon who was still smarting over the Bay of Pigs Fiasco, the bungled CIA operation that would eventually lead to his impeachment.
In 1722, on this day statesman, political philosopher and Founding Father Samuel Adams was born in Boston in the British colony of Massachusetts.
Ah, le fameux Adams?A graduate of Harvard College he was an unsuccessful businessman and tax collector before concentrating on politics. As an influential official of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Boston Town Meeting in the 1760s, Adams was a part of a movement opposed to the British Parliament's efforts to tax the British American colonies without their consent. His 1768 circular letter calling for colonial cooperation prompted the occupation of Boston by British soldiers, eventually resulting in the Boston Massacre of 1770.
To help coordinate resistance to what he saw as the British government's attempts to violate the British Constitution at the expense of the colonies, in 1772 Adams and his colleagues devised a committee of correspondence system, which linked like-minded Patriots throughout the Thirteen Colonies. Continued resistance to British policy resulted in the 1773 Boston Tea Party and the coming of the American Revolution.
After Parliament passed the Coercive Acts in 1774, Adams attended the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, which was convened to coordinate a colonial response. He helped guide Congress towards issuing the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and helped draft the Articles of Confederation and the Massachusetts Constitution. Adams returned to Massachusetts after the American Revolution, where he served in the state senate and was eventually elected President after the collapse of the Confederation. In this executive capacity, and alongside Benjamin Franklin, he played a key mediation role in bringing to a close the War of the States.
His lesser well known second cousin John also played a role in the American Revolution. Arriving in France to support the American Ministery he was mistaken in the Bourbon Court as "Le fameux Adams!". A man of great humility, Samuel dismissed his own contribution as "small beer".
In 2000, having been forced to revive the National Progressive (Bull Moose) Party by a smear campaign from establishment Republicans who had hand-picked Dubya, John McCain announced his candidacy for president in Nashua, New Hampshire, saying he was staging "a fight to take our government back from the power brokers and special interests, and return it to the people and the noble cause of freedom it was created to serve".
Bull Moose ReduxThe following is the beginning of Teddy Roosevelt's Address at the Convention of the National Progressive Party in 1912.
A new post by Dom"To you, men and women who have come here to this great city of this great State formally to launch a new party, a party of the people of the whole Union, the National Progressive Party, I extend my hearty greeting. You are taking a bold and a greatly needed step for the service of our beloved country. The old parties are husks, with no real soul within either, divided on artificial lines, boss-ridden and privilege-controlled, each a jumble of incongruous elements, and neither daring to speak out wisely and fearlessly what should be said on the vital issues of the day.
This new movement is a movement of truth, sincerity, and wisdom, a movement which proposes to put at the service of all our people the collective power of the people, through their Governmental agencies, alike in the Nation and in the several States. We propose boldly to face the real and great questions of the day, and not skillfully to evade them as do the old parties. We propose to raise aloft a standard to which all honest men can repair, and under which all can fight, no matter what their past political differences, if they are content to face the future and no longer to dwell among the dead issues of the past.
We propose to put forth a platform which shall not be a platform of the ordinary and insincere kind, but shall be a contract with the people; and, if the people accept this contract by putting us in power, we shall hold ourselves under honorable obligation to fulfill every promise it contains as loyally as if it were actually enforceable under the penalties of the law".
By 1331, the Teutonic Order stood at a threshold of a new golden age as Europe changed around them from the High Middle Ages. The monastic knights had been formed in 1190 to protect pilgrims and fought valiantly through the Crusades.
Prince Casimir Felled at Battle of Plowce Upon the request of Duke Konrad I of Masovia in northeastern Poland, the knights went to war with the pagan Old Prussians in 1226. Rather than simply killing enough of the pagans to end the threat, the knights set forth conquest and Christianization of the land. Novgorod and Lithuania followed, establishing something of a monastic empire on the Baltic controlled by the knights. In 1306, they acted again, working to solve the disputed succession of the Duchy of Pomerelia, which led to war with Poland. Tying with the Holy Roman Empire through Teutonic Pomerania, the supply lines led to a powerful flow of crusaders at ready.
A new story by Jeff ProvinePoland, however, made for strong defense. While the knights were able to fight their way to the conquest of Danzig in 1308, the Polish grew up a generation of defenders. Diplomatic ministers also began to work against the Teutons, leading to legal disruptions and an investigation by the Pope of war crimes. Lithuania began uprisings, spreading the knights thinly through their lands. Even with so many proverbial fires, the knights were able to reorganize themselves, moving their headquarters from secular influence in Venice to Marienburg where they would be free to rule and fight with only God to judge them.
On a renewed campaign in 1331, the knights invaded Poland and were counterattacked at Plowce by an army commanded by Prince Casimir III (pictured). The prince led a frontal charge, reinforced by attacks from the flank by Poles hiding in the forest. Shortly after beginning the battle, a messenger was sent to recall the prince, but the fierce fighting killed him before the order could go through. Minutes later, the prince was slain on a lance. Though the battle was heading toward a Polish tactical victory, the morale of the Poles collapsed as news of the prince's death spread. German reinforcements broke the Poles, and the rout would continue to the gates of Brzell Kujawski. The rest of the campaign would be impressive victories for the knights as Poland descended into civil war over succession. Finally, in 1343, the Treaty of Kalisz would end the war with Poland as a protectorate of growing Teutonic power.
In 1337, Holy Roman Emperor granted the Order the privilege of conquest of Lithuania and Russia. Campaigns throughout the next century would push the knights ever eastward in addition to military contributions to friendly nations, such as the conquest of the pirate haven Gotland at the request of King Albert of Sweden. As Mongol influence fell from the Rus, the Teutons took its place, creating a massive new land swearing loyalty to the Pope. Russian peasantry was slow to change their ways from orthodoxy, and the Teutonic Inquisition spent decades persuading the populous to the unquestionable right. The Russian-born Teuton Ivan the Beholden led further expeditions to the central Asian steppes in the mid-sixteenth century.
By 1618, the Teutons had slowed expansion in the business of ruling their empire and maintaining uprisings among the Poles, Lithuanians, and Rus. When the Bavarian Revolt began against the wishes of the chosen successor of the Holy Roman Emperor, the Teutons were quick to give aid to their long ally. Swedish armies joined the growing Protestant influence, which the Teutons abhorred, and war between the two great powers broke out. France, Denmark, and much of southeastern Europe joined against the Knights and their allies, who soon gained Spain, though much of Italy remained neutral and divided. The war, which was to become known as the Fifty Years' War, spread throughout Europe until it finally ended with Catholic victory.
Because of their great effort, the Knights were granted the crown of the Holy Roman Empire, solving the issue that had begun the war. Their influence expanded geometrically across Europe, establishing a fierce, disciplined, Christian union of nations. Inquisitions routinely cleared illegal beliefs like those of Calvin or Locke while expeditions of conquest began in North America as well as against Christendom's eternal enemy, the Ottomans.
Eventually, the Teutonic Empire would find itself ungainly. Revolutions began at the fringes with demands of freedom of religion from conquered Turks, Scandinavians, French, and, especially, settlers across the Atlantic. These demands would expand to independence, and the end of the eighteenth century would see the shattering of the empire into dozens of new republics and kingdoms. The Second Renaissance would cause a new age of learning, bringing up old ideas of heliocentric solar systems and rights of the individual that had long been suppressed.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.