Friday, December 24, 2010

Vincent Van Gogh

Today in History:

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was born in Zundert, The Netherlands and is considered one of the greatest painters of all time. As a young man, van Gogh was very interested in religion and helping the poor, and though he started studying theology in 1877, he dropped out a year later. After dropping out, van Gogh became a layman preacher in a mining region of Belgium. After 6 months, he was dismissed, though he went on without pay. It was in this region that he started producing charcoal sketches. 1n 1880, van Gogh took lessons from Anton Mauve at the Hague, due to the suggestion of his brother, Theo. Although these lessons helped van Gogh in his loose brush strokes and use of lighting, van Gogh favored dark-toned colors, unlike Mauve. Van Gogh's failed marriage proposal to his cousin and dismissal from the art academy of Antwerp drove van Gogh into depression. To try to help, Theo allowed van Gogh to move in with him, in Paris. In Paris, Vincent met painters such as Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. In Paris, van Gogh learned the technique known as pointillism, or use of small, colored dots that merge in the eyes of the beholder into a full picture. In 1888, van Gogh left Paris and moved to Arles, where he hoped to found an art colony. Paul Gauguin came to work with van Gogh for two months, where they painted much, but as time went on, there friendship deteriorated, and on Christmas Eve of 1888, van Gogh attacked Gauguin with a razor, and after failing to wound Gauguin, Van Gogh ran off, cut off his left earlobe and sent it to a prostitute friend of his. The next year, at his own request, van Gogh was admitted into a psychiatric center. He left the clinic a year later, and after a fit of painting activity, van Gogh shot himself in the Chest, dying two days later, at the age of 37. His work started to become famous at a large exhibition in Paris in 1901. His paintings, such as The Starry Night, his Self Portrait, and Dr. Paul Gachet, have become some of the most famous paintings of all time.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Jose Rizal

Person of the Day:

Jose Rizal (1861-1896) is known by many as the national hero of the Philippines. Rizal was born in Calamba, Laguna as Jose Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda and was the seventh of 11 children. Rizal attended Ateneo Municipal de Manila, and graduated at the age of 16 with honors, taking a post-graduate course in land surveying. In 1878, Rizal enrolled in the University of Santo Tomas as a medical student, but quit the school because of discrimination against Filipino students by Dominican professors. In 1882, without informing his parents, Rizal left on a ship for Spain and enrolled at the Universidad Central de Madrid.In 1884, Rizal received his medical degree and graduated from the Philosophy and Letters department the next year. Inspired by the increasing blindness of his mother, Rizal went to the University of Paris and later to the University of Heidelberg to study ophthalmology. While on his travels of Europe and Asia, Rizal learned 22 different languages including Arabic, Chinese, Sanskrit, Latin, French, and English. Rizal hoped to secure political and social reforms for the Philippines, published works with nationalistic and revolutionary tendencies. In March of 1887, Rizal published Noli Me Tangere, a satirical novel on the arrogance and despotism of the Spanish clergy. In 1891, El Filibusterismo, the sequel to Noli Me Tangere, was published. These works and others provoked the Spanish officials in the Philippines into imprisoning Rizal in Fort Santiago in Manila. Rizal was exiled to Dapitain, on the island of Mindanao, for four years. During those four years, Rizal taught school and encouraged agricultural reform While on Dapiatn, Rizal met and fell in love with Josephine Braken, who brought her father to him for a cataract operation. When the two applied for a marriage
license, the Church denied the application due to Rizal's excommunication. The Philippine Revolution broke out in 1896. Rizal denounced the violence and received permission to travel to Cuba to tend to yellow fever victims. On the way, the Spanish arrested him, then took Rizal to Barcelona then Manila for trial. Tried by court martial, Rizal was charged with conspiracy, sedition, and rebellion. Although there was a lack of evidence, Rizal was given the death sentence. Rizal was allowed to marry Josephine two hours before his execution by a firing squad on December 30, 1896. He was 35 years old. Rizal's last literary work was a poem entitled Mi Ultimo Adios ("My Last Goodbye"). Spurred on by the death of Rizal, the Revolution continued until 1898, and with the help of the United States, the Philippines defeated the Spanish and declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898, creating the first democratic republic in Asia.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Antonio Stradivari

Note: The picture has nothing to do with the article.
Today in History:

Amazing things have happened on this day. Most importantly, today is the first day of Christmas vacation for my two sisters and I. That's right. I will use bad grammar in celebration. Along with being the first day of Christmas break, today, or December 18th, was the day that Antonio Stradivari died 273 years ago. Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) was an Italian violin maker during the Baroque Period. Although Stradivari is virtually unknown among non-violin players, he is widely considered as the best violin maker of all times. Stradivari was born in Cremona, Italy and is believed to have been mentored by Nicolo Amati, who came from a famous family of violin makers. As a violin maker, Stradivari would experiment on how to make the perfect instrument by experimenting with factors including wood type, varnish, shape, size, and wood thickness. Most instruments made by Stradivari are signed, "Antonius Stradivarius Cremonesis Faciebat Anno [insert year here]", or , in English, "Antonio Stradivari of Cremona, made in the year [insert year here]". This inscription is a Latin phrase, and it is because if this inscription that his violins are referred to as 'Stradivarius violins'. Stradivari's best instruments are said to have been made between 1700 and 1725, and these violins are preferred by world-class musicians over any other type of violin and tend to have a better tone than other violins. In 1737, on this day, Stradivari died at age 93. Over his lifetime, he made over 1100 instruments, including harps, guitars, violas, cellos, lutes, and mandolins in addition to his violins. Of these many instruments, only about 650 survive to this day.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

#15- John F. Kennedy

Lee Harvey Oswald never knew his father. His father had died before Oswald was born in New Orleans. Because of having no father or steady income, Oswald had to move houses and schools frequently, attending 12 different schools during his childhood. Oswald became withdrawn and temperamental, and is known to have hit his mother and threaten his brother-in-law's wife with a knife. After being ordered to go into psychiatric observation, doctors diagnosed personality pattern disturbance with schizoid features and passive-aggressive tendencies. Although never finishing high school, Oswald became a Marxist and joined the U.S. Marines. In the Marines, Oswald was court-martialled twice and not accepted for being a Soviet sympathizer. In the end, Oswald left by saying that he had to care for his injured mother. In the October of 1959, Oswald emigrated to the Soviet Union, and announced that he wanted to renounce his US citizenship, but his application for Soviet residency was rejected. After this, Oswald attempted to cut his wrists, and this led to the KGB to recommend his deportation, but Oswald found a job in an Electronics factory in Minsk. It was here were Oswald met Marina Prusakova, whom he married in 1961. After fourteen months, Oswald brought his wife and child back to the United States. After settling in Dallas, Oswald attempted to assassinate the right-wing former general Edwin Walker, for which he was never apprehended. After the brinkmanship of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Oswald moved back to New Orleans, where he became involved in pro-Castro demonstrations and activities. Oswald also visited Cuba, with the intentions of going to the Soviet Union, but instead, went back to Dallas. On November 16th of 1963, a Dallas newspaper said that President Kennedy would be coming through the city, near the Texas School Book Depository, where Oswald was working. Oswald was last seen there by a co-worker, alone on the sixth floor about 35 minutes before the assassination. At about 12:30pm on November 22nd 1963, President Kennedy was being driven around Dallas, and as he turned left directly in front of the Depository where Oswald was inside. After one shot was fired, Texas Governor John Connally relized that it was not a firecracker, like the crowd had assumed, but a high-powered rifle. When he turned to warn the president, it was too late, for a bullet had already entered Kennedy's back and entered through his throat. After being hit, Kennedy leaned forward and to his left, where his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, cradled him in her arms. Connally was also hit by a bullet and is reported to have said, "My God, they are going to kill us all!" A third shot was fired, which took a part off of the right side of Kennedy's head. Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson was riding two cars behind the President, and took the oath of office on Air Force One at 2:38pm as it departed from Dallas. He became the 36th president of the United States. Police officers and spectators ran towards the Triple Underpass, but found no sniper, but Howard Brennan, who was sitting across the street from the depository, notified the police that he had seen a man with a rifle shoot from the corner window on the sixth floor. Oswald exited the building right before the police sealed it off, and took a bus home. As he walked, a police patrolman named J.D. Tippit. Oswald shot Tippit four times with his revolver before running into a shoe store, whose owner alerted the police of Oswald's whereabouts. Oswald then ran into a Texas theater without paying, and was soon tracked down by the police, who arrested him eighty minutes after the assassination occurred. Oswald was charged with the murders of J.D. Tippit and of President Kennedy. At first, Oswald denied all knowledge of the crimes, but later claimed he was a front for others. While being moved from police headquarters to the county jail, Oswald was shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. Oswald was was rushed to Parkland Hospital, the same hospital where Kennedy went to, but was pronounced dead while there. Although killed before his time, Kennedy accomplished much during his lifetime. He was the youngest elected president of the United States and the first Roman-Catholic president. He was a war hero and the creator of the Peace Corps. Kennedy led the country through the Cuban Missile Crisis and signed the first disarmament agreement of the nuclear age, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. After being killed, Kennedy's body was brought back to the White House, where his flag-draped, closed casket was moved to the Capitol for public viewing. Thousands went to see the coffin, and representatives from 90 countries, including the Soviet Union, attended the funeral on November 25th. President John F. Kennedy was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Monday, June 14, 2010

#16- Henry IV of France

Henry IV of France (1553-1610) is said to be one of the most gifted monarchs of France. Henry was a cruel man, flogging his own children even, but was also athlete, and loved hunting and playing tennis. Henry was also very brave, leading his troops into battle personally, but was also a politically clever, and was able to lead France into an impressive recovery after 30 years of religious wars. Henry was baptized as a Catholic when he was a child, but he was raised as a Protestant by his mother. His mother, Jeanne d'Albert, had already declared Calvinism as the religion of Navarre, a small kingdom in the Pyrenees mountains. When he was only a teenager, Henry left the capitol of Navarre, known as Pau, and joined the Huguenot forces in the French Wars of Religion, and fought with the Prince of Conde and Admiral Coligny. It was in 1572 that Henry became King Henry III of Navarre, when his mother died. In an attempt to end the religious fighting, Henry married the sister of Charles IX of France, but Catherine de' Medici and her Catholic supporters, led by the Duke of Guise, also named Henry, had no intention of letting the marriage last. Six days after the wedding, on St. Bartholomew's Day, the royal family authorized a huge burst of violence against the Protestant community, which led to the massacring of thousands of French Huguenots. Henry of Navarre only escaped by pretending to convert to Roman Catholicism, but after escaping prison in January of 1576, Henry renounced his conversion and rejoined the Protestant armies. In 1584, Francis, Duke of Anjou and Alençon, heir and brother of Henry III, current king of France, died, leaving Henry of Navarre as the legal heir to the French throne. Because Salic Law disinherited any who claimed the throne by the female line, Henry of Navarre was the closest heir, being that he was directly descended on the male line from King Louis IX, who died in 1270. Because of this, Henry of Navarre took the thrown when Henry III was assassinated in 1589, and was the first Bourbon king of France. When he became king, Henry IV renounced his Protestant faith in view of Catholicism. He was crowned as king the next month. In 1595, Henry declared war on Spain, and a year later, allied with the English and the Dutch against the Spanish. When the Spanish treasury ran out of money, negations began. On the 30th of April in 1598, Henry issued the Edict of Nantes, which guaranteed limited toleration to the French Protestant communities. Two days later, peace was made and all Spanish troops were withdrawn from French and Dutch territories. Henry's recovery program for France was bold and imaginative, but it worked. When Henry IV died in 1610, France was in a great condition. Swampland was drained to make room for agricultural areas and tree-lined roads, bridges, and canals were built, and the Louvre was extended. Henry wisely tried to subsidize land rather than wage war, but found himself at the brink of war with the Holy Roman Empire. While riding to meet his armies on May 14th of 1610, François Ravaillac, a fanatical anti-Huguenot, rejected by the Jesuits, stabbed Henry to death. When he was tortured, Ravaillac said that he worked alone to stop Henry from declaring war on the Pope, but no one will know if he really worked alone or not. If Henry had lived longer, war would have been made, but France might have gone into a golden age as well.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

#17- Benigno Aquino

Benigno Aquino (1932-1983) was a Filipino who came from the family with a grandfather who had been a general in the Filipino revolutionary army that fought against Spain, and a father prominent official in the government assembled after the fall of Japanese forces in 1941. Nicknamed 'Ninoy', Aquino became a journalist, and used his family name and media contacts to enter politics in the Philippines. When he was only 21 years old, he became a close adviser to Defense Secretary Ramon Magsaysay, and by 1955, he had become the mayor of Concepción. Six years later, Aquino was appointed as the governor of the province of Tarlac. When he was 34, in 1967, Aquino became the youngest elected senator in the country's history. As he rose through the ranks, Aquino became an opponent of Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Philippines. Aquino opposed Marcos's movement towards dictatorship, and also angered the president by attacking the extravagant and ambitious First Lady, Imelda Marcos. In 1971, when leaders of Aquino's Liberal Part were speaking, government agents bombed the public platform, yet none of the bombers were tried. On September 21nd of the next year, Marcos declared martial law, and had Aquino and other opposing politicians arrested. Aquino was sentenced to death by firing squad, but the sentence was never carried out. During his time in prison, where he suffered two heart attacks. On May 8th, 1980, Imelda Marcos went to Aquino's cell and offered him immediate evacuation to the United States if Aquino agreed not to attack the Marcos regime while abroad. Aquino quickly agreed, and went to the United States with his whole family. After making his way to the United States, Aquino underwent a heart operation and soon recovered. After recovering, Aquino renounced his pact with the Marcoses and he criticized the Marcos regime from his home in Boston. While he did this, the Filipino government tried to frame Aquino for a series of bombings in 1981. In early 1983, Aquino learned of the deteriorating political situation and the declining health of Marcos, and decided to return to the Philippines. Filipino consular officials in the United States were ordered not to issue any passports to the Aquino family, and Marcos's government warned all international airlines that they would be denied landing rights if they tried to fly the Aquinos to the Philippines. To keep his return secret, Aquino flew from Boston to Los Angeles, to Singapore, to Hong Kong, to Taipei, then to the Philippines, but his plan had already been discovered, and an assassin was already on his plane to Manila. Unfortunately, Aquino was unable to step back on his homeland one last time, for Aquino was shot in the back of the head as he descended the steps of the plane. Although investigators claimed that Rolando Galman, a man shot dead by airport security, had shot Aquino, one passenger claimed a man in uniform shot the man, but no one knows for certain. Many assumed that the assassination was engineered by Imelda Marcos, because Ferdinand Marcos was reportedly gravely ill, but whoever shot Aquino, his legacy lives on. Aquino's wife, Cory Aquino, later became president of the Philippines, and Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino Jr. has recently been elected as the next president of the Philippines.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

#18- Reinhard Heydrich

Out of all the Nazis, Reinhard Heydrich (1904-1942) was at the top of the Nazi heap. Along with being a senior SS officer and being considered as a possible successor of Hitler, Heydrich was the head of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RHSA), the Reich Security Head Office, but Heydrich was most important for attending the Wannsee Conference of 1942, where Nazis agreed plans for the extermination of the European Jews. Heydrich started out in a good childhood, being able to play violin and many sports, but his prospects went down when he was dismissed from the German Navy in 1931 for unknown reasons. Many believe that Heydrich was dismissed for spying on naval personnel for the Nazis. This idea was strengthened by the fact that soon after the event, SS Leader Heinrich Himmler appointed Heydrich to expand the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) soon afterwards. After 1932, Heydrich started hopping up the Nazi hierarchy. Having done well in recruiting people to the SD, he was given control of the Gestapo, or the Geheime Staatspoliziei, in 1934. The Gestapo was the civil secret police. Two years later, the Gestapo was merged with the criminal-investigation police into the SiPo (Sicherheitspolizei, or Security Police) under Heydrich. After becoming the head of the RHSA in 1939, he ran both the SD and the SiPo. Heydrich was cruel, competitive, and aggresive, which led to Himmler giving him the nichname 'Genghis Khan'. It was Heydrich who planned the ruse if a Polish attack on German forces at Gleiwitz that later led to the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. In November of 1938, Heydrich was made the head of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration, which he used to assert SS dominance over Jewish Policy, which culminated at the Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942, where the 'Final Solution' of the Jewish people was sealed. In September of 1941, Heydrich became the Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia. This post was important to the Nazi war effort, because many of Germany's guns and tanks came from that area of Europe. Heydrich understood this, and held strict rules for those who did not reach their daily quota and those who took part in any resistance. Heydrich's success led Hitler to consider promoting Heydrich to the position of governor of Paris. This news led British inteligence to protect the French Resistance network from Heydrich's ruthless ministrations. In December of 1941, the British sent Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik, two Czechs who had fled their country in 1941, to Czechoslovakia to assassinate Heydrich. Heydrich was known for his display of riding in an open car. On May 27, 1942, Kubis and Gabcik used this habit to their advantage. When Heydrich's car was turning a bend in the suburbs of Prague, Gabcik pulled out a Sten 9mm submachine-gun, but the magazine jammed, and would not work, so Kubis threw an anti-tank grenade at the car in desperation, which exploded on the car's boot, but also in Kubis's face. Heydrich, at the time, appeared to be only lightly hurt, for he was able to jump out of the car and chase after the two assassins, but his gun, also, was not loaded. After a while, the shock of the wounds set in and Heydrich had to send his driver after the assassins instead of himself. Although Himmler sent Heydrich his best doctors, Heydrich's horsehair upholstery had allowed bacteria and toxins to give Heydrich septicaemia, and he died on June 4th of 1942. Two weeks later, Gabcik and Kubis were cornered by German troops in the church of St. Cyril and St. Methodius in Prague. After the two realized that the Germans would overrun the church, the two went into the crypt and committed suicide. Heydrich might have been governor of Paris had he lived a few years longer, and he might have uncovered the French Resistance while there, but he did not survive, helping the allies along with their fight.

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By Steven Parissien

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

#19- Conrad of Montferrat

Conrad of Montferrat (1145-1192) was a very well-known man during his time. He was the cousin to Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I, King Louis VII of France, and Duke Leopold V of Austria. He was known across Europe for his courage and commanding skills, being able to defeat Emperor Fredrick at Camerino in 1179, but was also trained as a diplomat. In 1187, he had one of the best positions in all of Europe when he went to join his father, Duke William V of Montferrat, in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, founded in 1099 by the crusaders. While Conrad was on his way to Jerusalem, the kingdom was under attack by the Seljuk Turks, led by Saladin. When Conrad arrived, both his father and Guy if Lusignan, king of Jerusalem, were prisoners of Saladin, captured in the Battle of Hattin. Because both Jerusalem and Acre had been captured, Conrad sailed to the port of Tyre, which was undergoing a siege, in hopes of rescuing it. Supposedly, Saladin offered to give up Conrad's father if Conrad gave up Tyre, but Conrad is said to have told Saladin that Conrad's father had lived a long life, and pointed his own crossbow at his father. Whatever happened, though, Conrad got his father back, and in December of 1187, Conrad launched a counter-attack and drove away Saladin's troops for the moment. Saladin later released Guy of Lusignan, who demanded that Conrad hand over the keys to the city, but Conrad said that Guy had lost the throne and would not let Guy and his wife to enter for quite some time. Conrad tried to reinforce his claim on the throne by marrying Isabella of Jerusalem, who, unfortunately, was already married, but Isabella's mother had the old marriage annulled, and the couple married on the 24th of November in 1190. In the mean time, Guy of Lusignan travelled to Europe, to the new King of England, Richard the Lionheart, and won Richard over to help in the Crusades and win Guy's throne back, but Conrad had already won back the fortress of Acre, so a compromise was made, with Guy as King and Conrad as the sole heir of the kingdom as well as the governor of Tyre, Beirut, and Sidon. As the Kingdom of Jerusalem fell, tension increased between Richard and Conrad, two of the greatest military commanders of the time, until 1191, when a dispute over ownership of Seljuk hostages led to Richard killing all the hostages and Conrad fleeing to Tyre. Saladin no longer needed to fight, with the strife between Richard and Conrad doing the job for Saladin. After Saladin had approached Richard, to make an alliance, Conrad approached Saladin to make an alliance, but in April 1192, Richard and Conrad held a vote to see who should be king, and Conrad was elected. Richard gave Guy of Lusignan Cyprus as a consolation prize, which he ruled until his death in 1194. Conrad's win was short lived, being attacked by two members of a sect of Shia Islam, known as 'hashhashins' (where we get the word 'assassin' from) on April 28, 1192. Although one of the assassins was killed, the other, under torture, said that Richard had sent them, which is very likely, because Saladin had also been attacked by the hashhashins, but no one knows for sure. Richard was a marked man when he reentered Europe. When one of Conrad's nephews recognized Richard, captured and imprisoned Richard, and in February of 1194, after being tossed from noble to noble, Richard was released. Although the hashhashins thrived for another 80 years, their power was lost with the invasion by the mongols.
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By Steven Parissien

Monday, May 24, 2010

#20 Rasputin

Like with the explorers, I have made a list of the most influential assassinations in history on a worldwide scale.

20 Rasputin

Grigory Yefimovich Novykh (c.1865-1916) was better known as Rasputin, meaning 'dissolute'. Although we do not know when Rasputin was born, we do know that he was first heard of in the Russian court around 1903. He was said to be a monk from Siberia who could heal the sick and accurately predict drought. In December of 1903, he appeared in the religious academy in St. Petersburg. Rasputin was known by some royal members already, including the Grand Duke Nicholas, whose dog Rasputin was said to have healed, and Grand Duchess Militsa, who introduced Rasputin to the royal palace to see if he could cure the tsar's son, Alexis, a chronic hemophiliac. Although the royal doctors were very suspicious, Rasputin seemed to have a healing affect every time the son had internal or external bleeding. Rasputin later admitted to a friend that the cure he used was a combination of hypnosis, Siberian drugs, and willpower. Rasputin used his position in the royal household to gain influence over the Tsar Nicholas II and the Tsarina Alexandra. He referred to the royal couple as fellow peasants, which Nicholas II was fine with, but the rest of the Russian nobles saw as an outrage. When government ministers tried to complain about Rasputin's behavior. Even the Metropolitan of Russia, the country's leading churchman, complained, but was told that the imperial family's affairs were none of his business. Rasputin was being kept safe by the tsarina's adoration for him. When WW1 broke out, Rasputin deeply opposed the war, but his drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, and willingness to accept bribes kept his reputation from getting any better. By 1915, almost all new ministers needed Rasputin's approval and Rasputin was known to yell at the prime minister. Rasputin, at one point in the war, wanted to go and bless the troops before they fought, but Grand Duke Nicholas, the commander-in-chief (who was once a supporter of Rasputin) threatened to hang Rasputin if he showed up. This threat caused Rasputin to tell the tsar that the army would fail unless the tsar personally led the army. Tsar Nicholas II decided to go to battle, and while he was away, Rasputin convinced Tsarina Alexandra to fill all government and military offices with Rasputin's handpicked candidates. On the battle field in 1916, all Russian troops were retreating except for the army of General Brusilov, and Russia's economy was in ruins. It was as Russia retreated that the Russian ministers finally stood up against Rasputin. Led by Prince Felix Yusupov, a noble who attended Oxford and was to marry the tsar's niece, a group of ministers and nobles plotted against Rasputin. The prince invited Rasputin to his house to meet his wife, who was not there. While Rasputin was at the house, the prince fed him poisoned cakes and wine in the cellar while the rest of the conspirators waited upstairs. After seeing that the poison had no effect on Rasputin, Yusupov gathered the other conspirators and the group went back to the cellar and shot Rasputin in the chest at point blank range. After pronouncing the body dead, some of the conspirators went home, while the rest discussed what they should do next from the main room of the house. When the prince went down to check on Rasputin, Rasputin opened his eyes, grabbed the princes throught and ripped of Yusupov's shoulder piece before the prince ran back up the stairs. The conspirators heard Rasputin climb up the stairs, and as he came through the door, shot him two more times. As he was lying on the floor, the assassins found that Rasputin had not died, but was still breathing with one eye open. The prince then grabbed a metal press and beat it against Rasputin's head until the assassins took Rasputin down to the river and threw it in, but Rasputin didn't drown. When his body was found three days later, an autopsy showed that Rasputin had died of hypothermia. After being buried by the tsar on January 3rd of 1917, but was dug up again a month later during a revolution, and his body was burned in a bonfire. Yusupov was never arrested or tried, and later wrote an account of the plot while in exile. Rasputin's death was not very important, other than the fact that it freed the royal family from his power, but this death is very entertaining and drawn out.

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By Steven PArissien

Friday, May 21, 2010

Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart

Today in History:

Today (May 21) was the day that both Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart crossed the Atlantic. It was in 1927, at 7:52am on May 20th that Charles Lindbergh went down Roosevelt Field in The Spirit of St. Louis, a monoplane only 28 feet long. After leaving Long Island, Lindbergh went north to Cape Cod and Nova Scotia, crossing the Atlantic over the night. After sighting a small fishing boat, he knew he was reaching Europe, and soon flew over England, Ireland, and soon afterward, on May 21st, landed at the Le Bourget Airport, surrounded by 10,000 onlookers, who mobbed his airplane. Lindbergh had flown 3,610 miles in 34 hours.The next day, in front of the American Embassy in Paris, President Gaston Doumerque of France gave Lindbergh the Legion of Honour. After coming back to the U.S. (by boat) President Calvin Coolidge of the United States presented him with the Distinguished Flying Cross. When Lindbergh arrived in New York, the financial market closed for 'Lindbergh Day', and a parade with 10,000 soldiers and sailors went through the city. On May 21st in 1932, exactly 5 years after Lindbergh arrived in Paris, the American, Amelia Earhart, landed in a field near Londonderry, Northern Ireland after flying 15 hours. She became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Earhart recieved the National Geographic Society gold medal from President Herbert Hoover of the United States and the Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress, and soon became an early feminist icon. Both Lindbergh and Earhart changed history by what they did on May 21st.

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Great Stories from History for every day of the year
By W.B. Marsh and Bruce Carrick

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Washington Monument

Of all the monuments in America, few are as famous as the Washington monument. In the early 19th century, the country decided to pay tribute to the man who led the fight for independence against the British. After leading the Continental Army, Washington was elected as the president of the United States in 1789. In 1833, Congress formed the Washington National Monument Society. After three years of raising money, the Society had accumulated $28,000 dollars, which they used to hold a competition for the design. In the end, Robert Mills won. With an estimated cost of $ 1 million, the tower would stand 555 feet and 5.5 inches tall and would be 55 feet and 1.5 inches wide. The construction of the obelisk started on July 4, 1848, but stopped in 1854, when the monument was only 152 feet tall. This halt was partly due to the slowing of contributions and partly because of the beginning of the American Civil War, but in 1876, when the country celebrated 100 years of being independent, Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill for the government to fund the completion of the monument. The dedication ceremony took places the day before Washington's birthday in 1885, but the public was not allowed in until 1888. The Washington Monument now stands over the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Lincoln Memorial, showing the greatness and glory of the nation's first president.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The U.S. Supreme Court Building

In the year, 1932, construction on the U.S. Supreme Court Building started. Designed by Cass Gilbert, construction was finished in 1935. Although the first session of Supreme Court was held in 1790, the official building was not built much later on. At first, Supreme Court was held in the Royal Exchange Building of New York, but was moved to Independence Hall, and later to Philadelphia's City Hall. When the capitol was moved to Washington D.C., the supreme court was given space in the Capitol Building. From 1860 to 1935, when the new Supreme Court Building was finished, the Old Supreme Court Chamber was used to hold court sessions, but in 1929, President William Taft, who was once a Supreme Court Justice, persuaded Congress to give the Supreme Court a permanent home. The building was built on a scale to give the Judicial Branch of government the same look of dignity as the other two branches of government. Above the 16 columns on the west entrance, are the words, "Equal Justice Under Law", and the west entrance doors are cast in bronze. The east entrance of the building has the words "Justice the Guardian of Liberty" above it. On May 4th [Today] in 1987, the Supreme Court building was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Henry VIII's 6 Wives

Today in History:

Today [May 2nd] was the day that in 1536, Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, was imprisoned on the charges of adultery, incest, treason, and witchcraft. Anne Boleyn was one of the 6 wives that Henry VIII (1491-1547) of England had during his lifetime.After his accession to the throne, Henry married Catherine of Aragon on June 11, 1509. Henry was desperate for a male heir for the throne, so he had many children through Catherine, but all the boys she gave birth to died soon after they were born. Cathrine of Aragon did, however, produce Mary, who would later become the Queen of England. After having many attempts to have a male heir through Catherine, Henry VIII decided he needed a wife who would have a son, but when he tried to declare his marriage to Catherine invalid, Pope Clement refused to grant the annulment. Henry, after six years, finally pulled England away from the Catholic Church and formed the Church of England, and married Anne Boleyn on January 24, 1533. His previous marriage to Cathrine of Aragon was declared invalid by Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Anne Boleyn was crowned queen on the first of June of that year. Anne went on to give birth to Elizabeth, who, like Mary, would become the queen of England. Three years later, on May 2, 1536, after Anne Boleyn is unable to have a son, Henry accused her of adultery, incest, treason, and witchcraft, and had her thrown into the Tower of London, where she was beheaded on May 19, 1536. The day right after Anne was beheaded, Henry VII proposed to Jane Seymour, Anee Boleyn's lady-in-waiting, and they were married ten days later. To Jane Seymour, Henry had his only legitimate, male heir, Prince Edward, who would become king after Henry, on October 12, 1537. Twelve days after Edward was born, Seymour died of post-natal fever. Three years after Jane Seymour died, Henry got a new wife, named Anne of Cleves, who was the sister of William, the Duke of Cleves in Germany. The wedding, held on January 6, 1540, cemented the alliance between the Protestant German princes and England against Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire. Henry called Anne of Cleves the 'Flanders Mare' because he said that in person, she looked like a mare. In the summer of 1540, the marriage was ended with another divorce, and Henry married Cathrine Howard on July 28, 1540, less than three weeks after his divorce. After discovering of Cathrine's premarital affairs, he had her beheaded at London Tower on February 13, 1542. Henry's last wife, Cathrine Parr, came on July 12, 1543, who helped Henry in his last years. She took good care of Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward and oversaw their education. Before Henry died, he asked to be buried beside Jane Seymour. Cathrine Parr outlived the king, and married a fourth husband, Lord Thomas Seymour.

Information From...
Kings & Queens of Britain
Charles Phillips

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Philippine Peso

Today in History:

In 1852, today (May 1st), the Philippine Peso was first put into circulation. During the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines, silver and copper coinage was the type of currency, based on a peso of 8 reales, with subdivisions of quarto and octavo real. This all changed in 1852 when the currency was reformed around a peso consisting of 100 centimos, which had the head of a monarch on one side and the crowned arms on the other. Under American rule in 1898, the currency changes to a peso of 100 centavos. The peso of 100 centavos had the picture of Liberty on one side and an eagle with a shield on the other. In 1935, when the Commonwealth of the Philippines was proclaimed, the eagle and the shield were taken off the currency. After being occupied by Japan in 1941 and being liberated in 1944-1945, the Philippines became a republic in July of 1946. After having picture changes on the coins in 1947 and 1958, a series of coin was released in 1967 portraying national heroes. The names of the peso and the centavos were also changed to the piso and the sentimo in 1967. The current coins that are seen today were introduced in 1995. The United States Dollar is currently worth about 44 Philippine Pesos, and in itself, shown much of the history of the Philippines.

Information From...
The Complete Illustrated Guide to Coins & Coin Collecting
By Dr. James Mackay

Friday, April 30, 2010

Louisiana Purchase

Today in History:

On April 30, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was sold to the United States by France. Although France had ceded the territory to Spain in 1762, the Treaty of San Ildefonso, signed in 1800, regained the Louisiana Territory. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821), or Napoleon I of France, was set on creating an French Empire in America along with a French Empire in Europe. This American Empire was going to be centered around the island of Hispaniola. Unfortunately, Haitian slaves under Toussaint L'ouverture (1743-1803) had revolted and taken over the city of Santo Domingo on Hispaniola. Although Napoleon had sent an army to put down the rebellion, many soldiers died in battle and of yellow fever. This destroyed Napoleon's American Empire dream, so he decided to sell the land to help fund his military in France. Although President Thomas Jefferson of the United States had already sent James Monroe and Robert R. Livingston to negotiate the purchase of a portion of the land, he was delighted when Napoleon offered the whole territory to him. The purchase was sold on this day for 60 million francs or about $15 million. The land was 2 million sq. kilometers (800,00 sq. miles) stretching from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. This doubled the size of the United States and lead it to expansion across North America. It is strange to think what might have happened if Napoleon had stopped the slave revolt and started the American Empire of France. The United States would be limited to the East Coast of North America and France would have a very large influence on the culture of all of the Americas.

Information from...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ontario's CN Tower

The Communications Network Tower (The CN Tower) is a tower standing high over the city of Toronto, Canada. This great tower was created by a private company called CN Tower Ltd, an affiliate of Canadian National Railways. A revolving restaurant sits near the top, at 1,148 ft (350m), just above this, there is an observation deck at 1,509 ft (460m) high, but what makes this building great is that its spire is at 1,816 ft (553m) high, making it the third tallest tower in the world (not including guyed masts and drilling platforms). The tower is only behind TV & Sightseeing Tower and the Burj Khalifa. The construction of the CN Tower began in February 1973 and finished in
June of 1976. The tower stands on a foundation plate 17 ft ( 5.5m) thick with a diameter of 229 ft (70m).
The floor of the bottom observation deck is made of glass, fully of glass, but because of the height, some people refused to get out of the elevator when they saw the ground, the floor was carpeted except for one small area of the floor, where people still look down at the ground in amazement. The CN Tower now is the regarded as the most artistically significant telecommunications tower and as the symbol of Toronto.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

England's Palace of Westminster

In 1834, the old House of Parliament in London burned down. A year later, a design competition was announced, stating that the building had to be of Gothic or Tudor design, which was bad for all the leading architects, who all built classical buildings. The winner of this competition was Charles Barry, who also made buildings of classical design, but was able to create a Gothic design as requested. The building included new chambers for the Commons and the Lords, along with smoking rooms, kitchens, and libraries. The building ended up being 914ft (289m) long with two main towers, the Victoria Tower to the south and the Clock Tower (holding Big Ben) to the north. Big Ben, the bell in the clock tower, is probably the most famous part of the Palace, but took much time to get working. At first, the casting broke, and the bell was not raised until
1858, and then drowned out the parliamentary speakers, and soon before it was planned to be taken out, an adjustment of the hammer fixed the problem. Charles Barry had another man,
Augustus Welby Pugin, worked on the interior of the Palace. After many years of problems and having to garrison the building to withstand a siege, the Lords and Commons were both finally installed in their chambers in 1852. The whole building was finally finished in 1867, and now stands as one of the greatest sights in London, with the Clock Tower standing high over much of the city.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Elephant Seal

This blog is called the History Dropoff because it is where I drop off facts on mainly history, but I use this blog to keep my family from having to listento me, so I also dropoff other information, like this post.

The Elephant Seal is a species of seal that comes in two types of species. The Northern Elephant Seal is known as Mirougna angustirostris and lives on the coast of California and Mexico, while the Southern Elephant seal, Mirougna leonina, lives only in the southern hemisphere, in places such as New Zealand, South Georgia, Antartica, etc. Elephant seals are marine mammals that come together only to breed. The Northern variety breed in January and February, but the Southern species mates from September to October. Although Elephant Seals are clumsy on land, they can swim with great power deriving from the alternating hind flippers, which they can use to catch fish and squid. The most unique feature of an elephant seal is its large nasal cavity, which only appears on males and takes 8 years it to fully develop. During mating season, the cavity fills with blood and is able to amplify aggressive roars. Along with having an odd nose, male elephant seals also have many other traits that females do not, which the bulls use during battles for dominance. Males can weigh up to 2300kg more than a female, weighing in at about 3200kg (7055lb). Males are also longer than females and can be 4.9m (16ft) long. Other outstanding battle traits used by bull Elephant Seals are tough neck skin acquired as a youth and enlarged canines. Elephant seals can have cubs when the male is 4 to 6 years old and the female is 2 to 3 years old, and after 11 months, the seal gives birth to a youth, which will hopefully live for another 20 years. Although Hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) also have traits like those of an Elephant Seal, they're not as large as Elephant seals, and their nasal cavities are no match to those of an Elephant Seals, the Elephant of the Sea.

Infromation from...
The Encyclopedia of Animals
Consultant Editor: Dr. Per Christiansen

Friday, April 9, 2010

France's Louvre Museum

The Palais du Louvre is a complex of buildings added on to the first structure, which was started in 1546 by architect Pierre Lescot under King Francois I. Other parts of the Louvre were built by rulers such as Henri IV, who built the Grand Galerie, and Catherine de Medici, who built the Tuileries. The Louvre was the royal headquarters in Paris until Louis XIV built Versailles in 1682. Although he disliked the Louvre, Louis XIV's chief minister, Jean Baptiste Colbert, advised the King to build public buildings, so Louis created the Place du Carrousel. Louis also asked Le Vau, the architect who would later create Versailles, to design new buildings for the Cour Carree part of the Louvre. For the eastern facade, Le Vau, the Italian architect, Bernini, and the King's architect, Jules Hardouin Mansart all submitted designs, but were rejected. In the end, an unknown designer, Claude Perrault, was chosen. Although Perrault was only an amateur architect, his design impressed Colbert, and the eastern facade was completed in 1670. After the French Revolution, the Louvre was turned into the national gallery of France, and was added onto by both Napoleon I and Napoleon III.During the Paris Commune of 1871, the part of the Louvre built by Catherine de Medici, the Tuileries, was destroyd. In the 1980's, the French President Francois Mitterand asked Ieoh Ming Pei to reinvent the Louvre to accommodate the many visitors of the great building, so Pei added some pyramids in the middle of the complex, the main pyramid used as an entrance, the centerpiece of an underground entrance complex, and giving natural light to the underground levels. The Louvre now is one of the most famous and visited museums in the world. The Louvre now contains the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, a coffee shop, and 4+ gift shops.

Information from...
The World's Greatest Buildings
Consultant Editor: Trevor Howells and...
The Greatest Buildings of the World
Editor: Kelly Knauer

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Belize's Xunantunich

Xunantunich is a Mayan temple and the second tallest building in Belize. Xunantunich means “Lady of the Rock” in ancient Mayan. Unlike most Mayan temples, Xunantunich does not have stairs running all the way to the top of the pyramid. Instead, the stairs go only part way up. A ramp, which starts where the stairs finish, leads to a hill on the side of the pyramid where a small room is. The ramp continues out the back door of this room and back onto the backside pyramid, when the ramp is two levels lower than the top level, the ramp stops and a new flight of stairs continues up to the top of the pyramid. Archaeologists suspect that one of the Mayan rulers of this city was loosing the support of the city’s people so he built the pyramid with these unique features. He would climb up the first short flight of stairs and go up the ramp into the small room, where servants were waiting to dress him in fancier clothing. He would then go up the ramp and climb the next flight of stairs to the top where he would reappear in front of his people. This made it seem like he had left, a human, and came back as a god. This might have help gain the people’s trust.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

#01- Marco Polo

01 Marco Polo

In 1260, two Venetian merchants, Maffeo and Nicolo Polo, made their way East, to the palace of Kublai Khan, the Emperor of the Mongols. When they made it to the capital of the Mongol Empire, Kublai Khan was most hospitable and when he sent them away, he also sent a letter to Pope Clement IV, asking for 100 learned men to teach on Christianity. Although the Pope did not send the men, he sent a letter and precious gifts back to Asia in 1271 with Nicolo, Maffeo, and Marco Polo (1254-1324), Nicolo's son. Marco Polo soon became a favorite of the Great Khan's and went on several special missions to China, Burma, and India during his 17 years in the Khan's court. After coming back to Venice in 1294, Polo served in a war against the city of Genoa, and was captured. During his year in prison, Marco dictated an account of his time in Asia to Rustichello of Pisa, a writer of romances. The book was published and is now known as The Description of the World or The Travels of Marco Polo. Although Polo's book was accused of being full of lies, which it probably was, the book was read all over Europe. After he was set free, Polo was still left with some precious items from Asia. These items and Polo's book inspired and basically started the Age of Exploration. Marco Polo is the Number 1 explorer because his book and items from Asia almost fully started the Age of Exploration in Europe and inspired some of the other great explorers, such as the well-known Christopher Colombus.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Gunpowder Plot

The Gunpowder Plot was a plot created by Catholics to get rid of the Protestant King James I and bring England back to Catholicism. The Catholics were doing this because James had pushed them to the breaking point. He had passed laws against Catholics who refused to attend worship services preformed by the Church of England. The plot's basic idea was to blow up the Parliament building while James was there. On November 5, 1605, the Catholic radicals were about to set the fuse, when Guy Fawkes, who was supposed to detonate the gunpowder, was caught in the act. The guards were able to catch Fawkes because a member of the Catholic group, Francis Tresham, warned his brother-in-law, Lord Monteagle, a Parliament member, about the plot. Monteagle passed the word on and saved Parliament, the King, and England from Catholic rebellion. The day Guy Fawkes was caught is now celebrated in England as Guy Fawkes Day.

Information from...
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Kings and Queens of England
By Charles Phillips

Thursday, April 1, 2010

#02- Ferdinand Magellan

02 Ferdinand Magellan
Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) was a Portuguese navigator who worked for the Spanish king, Charles I. Magellan claimed that he knew where the passage through the New World to Asia was, so in September of 1519, with five ships (the Trinidad, the San Antonio, the Concepcion, the Victoria, and the Santiago) Magellan set out west with 270 men. After almost a year of sailing and two unsuccessful mutiny attempts, Magellan found a passage to the Pacific, which he named the Strait of All Saints. This strait was later renamed the 'Strait of Magellan'. During the Voyage through the Strait of All Saints, the captain of the ship, the San Antonio, turned around and went back towards Spain. Because the San Antonio was a supply ship, the men had to lower their rations for the trip through the Pacific. Soon, men were surviving on sawdust, leather strips of sails, and rats, and scurvy ran rampant through the crew. The crew finally got fresh fruit again in March of 1521, when the ships reached Guam. Later in that month, they made it to the Philippines, where Magellan befriended a local king. Unfortunately, this made him enemies with another local king, Lapulapu. On April 27, 1521, Magellan was killed in a battle. The remaining ship was led to Spain by Sebastian del Cano. Although only 18 men survived the whole trip, the spices and goods collected during the voyage cost more than all the 5 ships put together. The only ship to return, the Victoria, was the first ship to circumnavigate the world. Although Magellan didn't finish the trip, he was the designated leader, fought starvation, local wars, and mutiny, and was rewarded by getting 18 men around the world.
Information from...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

France's Arc de Triomphe

Although one of France's greatest arches is known as L'Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, it is normally known as just the Arc de Triomphe. In 1806, Napolean I of France commissioned Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin to build an arc to commemorate the battles of defense fought by the French Republic. When Napoleon I was exiled to Saint Helena in 1815, the construction of the arc was stopped, but when the July Revolution of 1830 brought Louis-Philippe into power, construction was resumed. The Arc now records the names of battles and generals of the French Republic and houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where an eternal flame commemorates those who died at war. The Arc is also in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, a round-about that merges six roads of Paris, including the Champs Élysées, one of the largest roads in Paris. When Napoleon's ashes were brought back to France in 1840, they were carried through the Arc de Triomphe in a procession. You can now go to the top of the arc to get a view of the city, but there are now elevators and the spiral staircases are longer than one would expect.

Information From...
The World's Greatest Buildings
Consultant Editor: Trevor Howells

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

California's Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is a mansion built in 1919-30 by the newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951). After his mother died, Hearst inherited the 250,000 acres of land where his family had lived. Hearst took this land and created one of the largest private mansions in America. With the help of architect, Julia Morgan (1872-1957), Hearst began his dream home. Hearst wanted his home to have a Mediterranean feel to it. Hearst would send men to auctions around the world to get historical artifacts for his new house. Hearst also bought medieval ceilings for his many rooms, and owned the largest collection of medieval ceilings in the world. He also kept the largest private zoo around his palace. He had bears, zebras, sheep, horses, and many other animals. Hearst Castle was always a work in progress, and was added on to whenever Hearst had a new idea for a room. Apart from his main house, the castle also included 3 guest houses, an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, and a tennis court. Though it is magnificent, Hearst Castle was never finished. There are some outside walls of the castle that haven't been completely done. When Hearst died, he asked that his house not be changed in any way, so it remains unfinished to this day.
Information From...
The World's Greatest Buildings
Consultant Editor: Trevor Howells

Friday, March 12, 2010

#03- Christopher Colombus

03 Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was an Italian navigator working for Spain, but Columbus, unlike other explorers of the time, wanted to find a way to reach Asia by going West, through the Atlantic. Because Queen Isabella of Spain had finally disposed of the last Muslims in Spain, she decided to pay for Columbus' voyage. With the Pinta, the Niña, and the Santa Maria, Columbus sailed from Spain in the August of 1492. Although Columbus had greatly misjudged the distance from Europe to Asia, luck was on his side. Instead of finding Asia, Columbus landed in America. When Columbus landed on one of the Bahaman Islands, he believed that he had made his way to Asia and named the natives 'Indians'. After leaving the Bahamas, Columbus sighted Cuba and crashed one of his ships onto Hispaniola before heading home. When he returned to Spain, he was celebrated for finding a new sea route to Asia. Columbus made two more trips to America in later years, never knowing that he wasn't actually going to Asia. Although some may say that Columbus should be the greatest explorer ever for discovering the New World, Columbus was pushed back because he discovered the New World on accident and he wasn't even the first European to land in the New World (Leif Erikson landed in Canada around 1000 A.D.), but because he brought back the first news of land in the West, Columbus is the third greatest explorer of all time.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

#04- Hernan Cortes

04 Hernan Cortes

After the New World was discovered, European settelers started to move west. The perfect place for the Spanish to move to was Cuba, a large Spanish colony. With all these new settelers moving to Cuba, Cuban governor Diego Velásquez, need to find more land and slave labor. To accomplish this, Velásquez sent out trips in 1516 and 1518 to explore the mainland of America. These trips, although unsuccessful, indicated a wealthy civilization just beyond the reach of the Spanish. Velásquez chose Hernan Cortes (1485-1547) to lead the trip. Leaving Cuba on February 18, 1519, Cortes went to the New World with 16 horsemen and 400 soldiers. On his way to explore, Cortes renounced Velásquez's authority and created his own city, Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz. After telling Charles V of Spain his plan of conquering the ungodly people of America, Cortes set out with two translators towards the greatest American nation, the Aztecs, convincing natives along the way to fight with him against their Aztec overlords. When Cortes reached the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, the Aztec emperor, Montezuma welcomed Cortes as Quetzalcoatlin, an Aztec god from prophesy. After Cortes and his men took Montezuma prisoner for a ransom of gold, a confusing mash of battles with Velásquez's men occured, Cortes' men massacred Aztec citizens during a sacred Aztec ceromony, Montezuma accidentally was killed, small pox spread throughout the Aztec nation, and Cortes finally gained control of Tenochtitlan. After Cortes claimed the empire for Spain, Velásquez got jealous and undermined Cortes' reputaion until King Charles V didn't even recognize Cortes. Although he wasn't credited with his great task, Cortes makes the great list of explorers for being the first explorer to find the Aztec Empire and took the first empire for a European country, leaving his mark on the world forever.
Information From...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

#05- Vasco da Gama

05 Vasco da Gama

Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) was a Portuguese explorer commissioned by King Manuel I of Portugal to find a sea route to Asia. In July of 1497, Vasco da Gama left Lisbon and went south to past Africa. Using Bartholomeu Dias's charts, Da Gama successfully made his way to India. The Indians welcomed Da Gama and his men, but some Arabian traders undermined their reputation, and Da Gama was attacked. After fighting his way out of the town, Vasco Da Gama returned home. In 1502, Da Gama returned to India with 20 ships and captured the cities of Calicut and Goa for Portugal, bringing many treasures back upon his return. After becoming a count in 1519, Da Gama was appointed as the Viceroy of India in 1524, and traveled to Goa once more. Vasco da Gama is celebrated as the explorer to find an ocean route to Asia from Europe and for capturing Calicut and Goa for Portugal. Soon after he returned to India, Da Gama fell ill and died on December 24, 1524.

Information From...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

#06- Amerigo Vespucci

06 Amerigo Vespucci

Amerigo Vespucci (1451-1512) came from a prominent family in Florence, Italy. In 1492, Vespucci was sent to Spain for business reasons. While in Spain, Vespucci started working on ships and became the navigator of an expedition in 1499. During this trip, Vespucci reached the mouth of the Amazon and the northern coast of South America. Vespucci went on a second trip to America in 1501, but this time, Vespucci travelled south, exploring the coast of South America, coming within 400 miles of Tierra del Fuego. During this trip, Vespucci wrote letters to a friend, and Vespucci's descriptions of his travels were the first to identify the Americas as a separate continent from Asia. Along with this information, Vespucci also described the culture of the natives of America. In 1508, Vespucci was named Pilot Major of Spain, promoting his fame. Martin Waldseemuller was a German scholar read of Vespucci's travels. He also thought that the New World was separate from Asia, so when Waldseemuller made a wood block map of the world known as the Carta Mariana, he used Vespucci's first name, which is America in German, as the name of the New World. The map sold around 1000 copies, and the name stayed. Vespucci earns many points for identifying the Americas as a separate land mass from Asia and for having two continents named after him. Vespucci died of Malaria in 1512 after a third trip to America.

Information from...

Monday, February 15, 2010

#07- Abu Abdullah Ibn Battuta

07 Abu Abdullah Ibn Battuta
Abu Abdullah Ibn Battuta (1304-1365) was a Muslim from Morocco who began his travels at age 21, when he decided to go on a Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city of the Islamic religion. Though his main destination on this trip was Mecca, the trip turned into a 30 year expedition. Ibn Battuta made his way acroos nothern Africa to the Arabian Penninsula, where Mecca is located. He moved on from Mecca to eastern Africa. Ibn Battuta also made his way through Palestine and Syria to Asia Minor. He saw the great city of Constantinople, which would later be renamed to Istanbul. After reaching Constantinople, Ibn Battuta traveled to Delhi, India. On this same travel, Ibn Battuta went farther into Asia, making his way to Peking and Hang Chow, China and Cambodia. After returning, Ibn Battuta traveled around his homeland to Muslim Spain and the Niger. Although Ibn Battuta not actually an explorer, his travels were one of the greatest accomplishments of the day, because his journey stretch across three continents and three decades. He also wrote about many places that he went, including the Great Lighthouse of Alexandria. Although Ibn Battuta only planned on going to Mecca once, he travled through the city seven times during his journeies.
Information From...

Friday, February 12, 2010

#08- Zheng He

08 Zheng He

Zheng He (1371-1433), or Cheng Ho, was a Chinese navigator during the reign of the Ming Dynasty. Born Ma He, he came from an Arabian family that had come to China. When the Ming Dynasty conquered Zheng He's province, he was taken to the palace and became a court eunuch. HE gained a government position by helping Zhu Yuanzhang defeat the Yuan Dynasty. After the Ming Dynasty was given the throne, Zheng He was given command of the Chinese Navy. In 1402, Emperor Cheng Zu dispatched Zheng He to lead a large fleet to the Western Sea (Southeast Asia). From 1405 to 1433, Zheng He led his fleet of fifty to sixty ship and his crew of 27,000 people to explore the west in 7 different expeditions. In these trips, Zheng He made his way to India, the Middle East, and even Africa, and wherever he went, the sheer size of his ships and his fleet amazed the cultures he passed. During these trips, Zheng He found materials, fuels, and exotic animals to bring back to China. Zheng He accomplished much on the voyages he led, including giving China contact with western cultures, supplying China with many luxuries, and leading one of China's largest and greatest sea expeditions ever.

Information From...