The Revolutionary War Animated Map | American Battlefield Trust

See the Revolutionary War unfold, from Lexington to Yorktown and beyond, on our animated map, produced by Wide Awake Films in partnership with the Revolutionary War Trust (formerly Campaign 1776), a division of the American Battlefield Trust.

Source: The Revolutionary War Animated Map | American Battlefield Trust

The entire Revolutionary War (American War of Independence) in 19 minutes!

If you’re not quite familiar with the overall sweep of events during this crucial period of American history, it’s a terrific introduction! If you’re like me, and have a pretty good general grasp of events, but a few of the details of how it all fits together have gotten hazy over the years, it’s a great refresher.

It’s more than just an “animated map,” making use of video clips of reenactments along with historical maps and artwork, but it certainly does make use of animated maps to show how the various forces maneuvered, in attack, defense, advance, and withdrawal. Excellent overview!

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City of Vienna Refuses To Remember Jan III Sobieski | Defend Europa

A memorial statue for Polish king Jan III Sobieski was supposed to be unveiled on 12 September in Vienna. A surprising turn of events has caused confusion.

Source: City of Vienna Refuses To Remember Jan III Sobieski – Defend Europa

Unfortunately, not everyone understands and appreciates the significance of King Jan III Sobieski’s epic accomplishment in the Battle of Vienna:

“Plans to raise a monument for Jan III Sobieski, the Polish king who helped save Europe in the Battle of Vienna, have come to a surprise halt. The City of Vienna and its Social Democratic mayor Michael Ludwig, who has been elected in May, now refuse to finish the construction.

“The memorial for the Polish king was planned in 2013 and supposed to be unveiled to the public on September 12 2018, the 335th anniversary of the liberation of Vienna. As polskiradio reports, it is now ready to be delivered to the former Imperial Capital. There was no official statement from the city, however, ‘there were signals from, among others, the city council’ that the monument could be seen as an offence to Turkish residents.”

In other news, there are reports that the City Council of Minas Tirith has expressed its disapproval of plans to erect a statue of King Theoden of Rohan in the City, over concerns that it might be seen as offensive to Orcish residents…

The charge of the Winged Hussars: the lifting of the Siege of Vienna

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Some further details on the lifting of the Siege of Vienna:

On this day in history, September 12, 1683, the combined forces of the Holy Roman (German) Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (the Holy League), under the overall command of King Jan III Sobieski of Poland, moved into position to engage the Ottoman Turkish besiegers outside the walls of Vienna. Fierce clashes followed. Imperial / Holy League forces made headway against the Ottoman invaders, but were unable to conclusively defeat them.

At around 3:00 in the afternoon, King Jan began to move his cavalry into position. As they came out of the woods and began to form up, they were greeted with enthusiastic cheers by the allied troops. An hour later, about four o’clock, the Polish Winged Hussars launched an attack which battered the Turkish lines, causing great consternation and forcing the Turkish general to retreat to a more favorable position. Infantry forces continued the fight against the Ottomans.

At six o’clock came the final blow. In the largest cavalry charge in history, King Jan Sobieski launched 18,000 cavalry, led by his 3,000 Winged Hussars, against the Ottoman lines. They clove through the Turks like the proverbial “hot knife through butter,” breaking and scattering them completely and driving them from the field. As the attack crested, the Austrian defenders of Vienna sallied from their city to join in, adding the crowning blow.

The siege of Vienna had been broken, and the decades to follow would see the Muslim Turks driven almost completely out of Christian Europe. After the battle, King Jan III Sobieski (who would receive the title Defensor Fidei – “Defender of the Faith” – from Pope Innocent XI) reportedly announced, in an intentional modification of Julius Caesar’s famous phrase, “Veni, vidi, Deus vicit” — “I came, I saw, God conquered.”

Footnote: the Lithuanians have not been mentioned. That’s because King Jan left his kingdom almost completely undefended, bringing his entire army to the relief of Vienna! As a result, the Hungarians decided to take advantage of the situation and try to take Polish territory. The Lithuanians, also marching toward Vienna, turned aside to counter-attack the Hungarians. They were successful in driving them back, but it meant that the Lithuanian army did not arrive at Vienna until several days after the siege had been broken.

Sabaton – Winged Hussars (Lyrics English & Deutsch) – YouTube

The Winged Hussars, led – as was the entire relief force sent by the Holy League to lift the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Turks – by King Jan III Sobieski of Poland, was a relatively small force: 3,000 out of the 18,000 cavalry that swept down the Kahlenburg and through the Turkish lines, shattering and scattering them (they were an even smaller portion of the overall army of the Holy League, which consisted of some 70-80,000 troops, vs approximately 150,000 Ottomans). But they were the point of the spear, the elite heavy cavalry of all Europe at the time.

This historic cavalry charge, the largest in history, served as the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Ride of the Rohirrim,” as the Siege of Vienna served as the inspiration for the Siege of Minas Tirith. More importantly, it also marked the end of Ottoman domination of southeastern Europe, and of the Muslim Turkish attempt to invade the European heartland. Had the battle not ended as it did, the history of Europe, and of the world, might be very different than what we know today. Enjoy this awesome musical tribute to the Winged Hussars, by Sabaton!

“We remember, in September, when the Winged Hussars arrived!”

Buzz Aldrin Slams ‘First Man’ Movie Censoring American Flag on Moon | YouTube

Many – or most, perhaps all – of my readers may know of the controversy surrounding the new movie, “First Man,” which documents the human story behind Neil Armstrong’s journey to and historic first steps on the Moon, but omits the iconic scene of him planting the American flag on the lunar surface.

Director Damian Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling have insisted that this was not a political statement, and even Neil Armstrong’s sons have “defended the film by saying they didn’t see it as ‘anti-American in the slightest.’” Perhaps not, but Chazelle and company must have had some inkling of how the omission of such a vital and iconic moment would look to observers. It was, at the very least, “bad optics.”

Be that as it may, that is not why I am sharing this video by Dr. Steve Turley: the reason for that is to highlight something else which is never shown and rarely known about this historic first lunar landing: the fact that one of the first actions performed on the Moon’s surface by Armstrong was to receive the Holy Communion! Indeed, the first food eaten and the first liquid drunk on the Moon was the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper.

Give a listen – it’s a great story, and appears about halfway through the video.

“We DIDN’T win the war! Peter Hitchens writes a provocative book challenging all we think about WW2” | Daily Mail Online

Celebration: British troops cheer the news on May 8, 1945, that war in Europe is over

Peter Hitchens reveals eight myths about the Second World War which we grew up on. He details in a section of his new book why we didn’t win the war.

Source: We DIDN’T win the war! PETER HITCHENS writes a provocative book challenging all we think about WW2 | Daily Mail Online

As The Anglophilic Anglican, and a Blighty Boy to boot, I have a huge amount of respect, appreciation, and admiration for all things British, and that includes the valor and determination of the British and Crown (Commonwealth / Empire) Armed Forces during World War Two. But as an historian, I am also interested in not only the conduct of that war, but its origin, causes, and the implications of its outcome for today’s world.

Peter Hitchens is an English journalist and author, and an Anglican Christian. He has published eight books, writes for The Daily Mail (UK), and is a former foreign correspondent in both Moscow and Washington. Like me, his father fought bravely in World War Two, a decorated combat veteran; like mine, his veteran father came to question certain aspects of that war. This background gives a certain poignancy to Hitchens’ take on the war, and its origins.

Hitchens notes that “the Second World War, like all events that have become myths, has become a dangerous subject. As a nation, we are enthralled by the belief that it was an unequivocally ‘Good War’, a belief that has grown with extraordinary speed. Yet I did not have to look far to see a rather different picture…

“The uncomfortable truth is that from the very beginning, it was Britain which sought a conflict with Germany, not Germany with Britain. Hitler’s real targets lay elsewhere, in Ukraine and Russia, and he was much less interested in us than we like to think…

“Poland was a pretext for that war, not a reason – as was demonstrated by the fact that we did nothing to help Poland when Hitler invaded. It was an excuse for an essentially irrational, idealistic, nostalgic impulse, built largely on a need to assert Britain’s standing as a Great Power.”

This is not the first time I have heard or read that it was actually Britain that sought to provoke a war with Germany, not the other way ’round. But it is interesting – and lends further credence to the idea – to hear it from a British author. The accounts I have heard tend to blame Churchill and his antipathy, bordering on hatred, for the Germans. While it seems likely that this played some significant part, the argument that it was also done in an attempt to shore up a flagging Empire’s Great Power status opens a new perspective on the situation.

“Nor did we go to war, as many like to believe, to save or even help the endangered Jews of Europe… Britain simply did not declare war in 1939 to save Europe’s Jews – indeed, our government was indifferent to their plight and blocked one of their main escape routes, to what was then British-ruled Palestine. We also did nothing to help Poland, for whose sake we supposedly declared war.”

Once again, I am familiar with the idea that Poland was a convenient excuse. Britain, if Hitchens and others are correct, was looking for a reason to go to war with Germany; France had a centuries-old rivalry with the Germans, which in its more modern incarnation went back at least to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and even further, to the Napoleonic era, when Blücher’s cavalry had helped to seal Bonaparte’s doom.

For both Britain and France, the invasion of Poland provided the perfect pretext to declare war on Germany – and it is interesting that neither declared war on Stalin’s Soviet Union, which was busily invading Poland from the East while Germany did so from the West. If protecting Poland was the real reason for war, should they not have held both invaders equally responsible? But they did not.

And of course, it doesn’t seem as if anybody particularly cared about the Jews, at least until after the war, when the victorious Allies (at least in the West) were overcome with a belated sense of collective guilt (the misapplication of which in the present era is contributing to the Islamification of Europe… but I digress). Prior to the war, they were mostly ignored, much as Middle Eastern Christians are today. But again, I digress!

“Forget, too, the ‘special relationship’ with the US: America was a jealous and resentful rival to whom we ceded our global status and naval supremacy. And Washington’s grudging backing came at a huge price – we were made to hand over the life savings of the Empire to stave off bankruptcy and surrender.”

I have posted previously about the heavy cost to Britain of American aid during the Second World War – shamefully heavy, for a nation which is our mother country, and with which we have long claimed to have a special relationship.

On the other hand, setting aside the personal affinity between Churchill and FDR, we had even less reason to go to war with Germany than Britain did. If Hitler had not decided to support his Axis ally and declare war on us following Pearl Harbor, we might have ended up devoting our full efforts to Japan, leaving Britain (and Stalin, a despicable and bloodthirsty dictator whose alliance of convenience with Britain and the U.S. is one of the more repugnant elements of the whole war) to deal with Germany.

This is just from the introduction! Hitchens’ eight “myths” (I’m not fond of that use of the word myth; I prefer “fallacies,” since I interpret “myth” in the scholarly sense of “a narrative which may not be factually or historically true, but which expresses a deeper truth about the nature of reality”) are yet to follow. But I will not comment on them further. I strongly encourage you to read the whole article; it is thought-provoking and, if you have not yet encountered these ideas, may be enlightening.

As Hitchens points out,

“What began as a phoney war led in the end to a phoney victory, in which the real winners were Washington and Moscow, not [Britain] – and an unsatisfactory, uncomfortable and unhappy peace. It led to a permanent decline in our status, and a much accelerated, violent and badly managed collapse of our Empire…

“Beyond doubt there were many acts of noble courage by our people, civilians and servicemen and women during that war. It is absolutely not my purpose to diminish these acts, or to show disrespect to those who fought and endured.

“But the sad truth is that [Great Britain] deliberately sought a war in the vain hope of preserving a Great Power status our rulers knew in their hearts it had already lost. The resulting war turned us into a second-rate power.”

That is a sad truth, indeed!

The Medieval Garden | Dave’s Garden

Tofts&Crofts – Medieval Garden

Today we purchase most of our food from a supermarket; our pharmaceuticals and cleansers are largely synthetic. Many of us tend purely ornamental flower borders. We are far removed from medieval times when gardens were essential for survival, and plants grown for food, medicine and enjoyment were often one and the same.

Source: The Medieval Garden | Dave’s Garden

Two of my greatest loves are the Middle Ages and gardening – herbal and vegetable gardening, in particular. Indeed, one of the reasons I love herbalism so much is that it combines my love of nature and the outdoors with my love of history!

Humans have had gardens for at least as long as we have been a largely settled people; that is to say, probably pretty much since the neolithic period. But a remarkable number of our gardening and agricultural practices – I am speaking of traditional ones, mind you, not industrial agriculture! – may be traced back to the medieval period, and particularly to monastic farms and gardens.

These include double-digging and marling, crop rotation (e.g., letting fields lie fallow for a time), and the use of “manure” (as used in earlier ages, a mixture of animal dung with other types of what we would now call compostable materials).

Many of us may be familiar with Ellis Peters’ superb “Chronicles of Brother Cadfael” serious of medieval crime fiction, in which the lead character, Brother Cadfael himself, was Benedictine monk-herbalist (and former Crusader) in 12th century Shrewsbury. His primary occupation in the monastery was growing herbs and keeping an herbal apothecary, from which he assisted both brothers of the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul and also local townsfolk with their various ills and injuries, but in the usual manner of literary detectives, crimes and mysteries in need of solutions kept finding him!

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The Brother Cadfael chronicles are works of fiction, of course; but Edith Pargeter (whose pen name was Ellis Peters) was an academically-trained medievalist, and her research was solid. Medieval monks really were avid gardeners and farmers; they had to be, to support their foundations.

The Rule of St. Benedict required that monks support themselves by their own labours – ora et labora (prayer and work) was a major axiom of the Benedictine Rule. And of course, in an agrarian society like the Middle Ages, that largely meant farming, although of course monks also did many other things, in addition (manuscript-making, running hospitals and guest-houses, bread-baking, and beer-brewing, to name just a few). Notably, all of these (including manuscript-making, as medieval manuscripts were scriven on vellum or parchment, made from specially-prepared animal skins) were also closely linked with gardening and/or farming.

At any rate, for a variety of reasons – whether a love of history, especially medieval history, a desire to recapture and practice traditional arts and crafts, or as a hedge against a possible crisis which would require greater self-sufficiency, among others – some of us might want to consider recreating a medieval garden, or elements thereof, as our circumstances allow.

The above-linked article by Gwen Bruno provides an excellent general history of the medieval garden, and thus inspiration for the endeavor. For additional inspiration, as well as helpful hints and suggestions on how to do it, and a variety of useful resources and instructions on historical gardening in general, I recommend Designing a Medieval Garden, on the Wyrtig blog. If your goal is primarily medicinal, you might also want to consult English Heritage‘s “What to Grow in a Medieval Garden,” which lists nine of the most commonly-grown medieval medicinal herbs.