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the work of history

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  • 07/11/13--17:30: how old are you?
  • 17.

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    You are the master of the sky.

    Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot to Eugene Boudin

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    July 12, 1191: The Siege of Acre ends.

    The siege of the city of Acre by Crusader forces lasted two years and was one of the early major conflicts of the Third Crusade - whose goal was to reconquer the portions of the Levant from Saladin, the Ayyubid sultan and celebrated Muslim military leader who had captured Jerusalem in 1187. The Crusaders failed to retake Jerusalem, the lodestar of the entire operation, leading to the initiation of the Fourth Crusade, but Acre, along with Jaffa and other portions of the Levantine coast, were successfully conquered in a series of bloody confrontations. Initially, the Crusader army was composed of soldiers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem under Guy of Lusignan, the King of Jerusalem who launched the siege. Saladin’s army was an amalgam of troops from various territories under Ayyubid control.

    In late 1189, reinforcements from Europe arrived to blockade the city by sea and land, and to augment the strength of the Crusader infantry. Over 15,000 men (some estimates have put the size of his army at 100,000) followed Frederick I Barbarossa into battle, though he himself drowned in a river under the weight of his own armor as his massive army approached Acre. Philip II Augustus of France arrived in the Holy Land in April of 1191, and Richard I “the Lionheart" of England soon after, although the latter alienated the other European noble and royal leaders, who just as quickly returned home as they had arrived once the city fell, leaving the Cœur de Lion to negotiate terms of surrender himself. After a long standstill between the attackers and defenders, repeated attempts to breach the city’s fortifications finally paid off when the Crusaders broke the siege on June 11 and entered the city on June 12. The bloodshed was not yet over, however; on August 20, the English king perpetrated the Massacre at Ayyadieh in response to Saladin’s delaying tactics during their surrender negotiations - over 3,000 people (men, women, and children) were slaughtered in a theatrical, threatening gesture of violence to the Muslim leaders. 

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    July 13, 1863: The New York City draft riots begin.

    The United States employed a national conscription system for the first time during the American Civil War via the Enrollment Act of 1863, which established a quota of troops from each congressional district. Commutation was possible - if a draftee could afford to pay $300. Already relations between the diverse groups populating New York City at the time were tense because of job competition, but particularly between poor white laborers and black workers. Now there was the fact that the affluent could pay their way out of the army, and the fact that many fresh, friendless immigrants had been wrangled by political machines into becoming citizens and voting without realizing that this made them eligible to be drafted (whereas black non-citizens were not). Anger over the draft and problems surrounding it and the war as a whole erupted in a four-day riot that ended with over a hundred dead.

    Many of the rioters were Irish workers who competed with black workers for the same low wage jobs and, with the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation in early 1863, feared further competition as freed slaves headed north, searching for work. Because of these deep-rooted concerns, anger initially directed at the government and conscription soon found a new target/scapegoat: the city’s free black population. On the first day of rioting, the Colored Orphan Asylum was looted and then burned to the ground; black homes and businesses were destroyed, along with buildings affiliated with Republicans and abolitionists. Interracial couples were also attacked, and over a hundred people were killed by furious mobs - one black man was attacked by several hundred people at once, then strung up high and set on fire. At this time, few soldiers were stationed in New York, having been sent south to repel invading Confederate forces. State militias were eventually called in to quell the violence, and it was quelled, but property damage reached several million dollars, and African-Americans subsequently fled the city or relocated out of their mixed race neighborhoods. 

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    July 14, 1789: A Paris mob storms the Bastille.

    The storming of the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris, was one of the key events and iconic moments of the early years of the French Revolution. When King Louis XVI ascended the throne of France in 1774, the government was deeply in debt as a result of colonial wars, and this debt worsened as France threw its support - and money - behind the American rebels in their war against the British crown. Famine was widespread, as was a general malaise, leading to the summoning of the Estates General to discuss the status of the nation. Disgruntled members of the Third Estate formed the National Assembly in June of 1789 and signed the Tennis Court Oath on June 20. When Jacques Necker, the king’s finance minister with some desire to appease the commoners with reform, was dismissed, mobs in Paris began to riot, believing that the king and royal forces meant to shut down the newly-formed National Constituent Assembly. 

    They soon directed their anger at the relatively lightly guarded medieval fortress of Bastille, both a symbol of monarchical despotism and power in addition to a storage place for tens of thousands of pounds of gunpowder, which the revolutionaries intended to seize. By the early hours of July 14, a large armed mob had gathered outside the prison and prepared to storm the building. By the early afternoon, the Bastille’s military governor had surrendered the building, arms, and ammunition; he, along with other defenders of the prison, were beaten and killed by the mob, their heads raised above the crowd and paraded through the streets. 

    Ninety-nine people died during the attack itself. The King, meanwhile, had been away at hunt; when he exclaimed that there had been a revolt upon learning of the fall of the Bastille, he was met with a reply from one member of the Estates-General and a social reformer: "Non, sire, c’est une révolution”. On August 26, 1789, the National Constituent Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

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    July 14, 1862: Gustav Klimt is born.

    I can paint and draw. I believe this myself and a few other people say that they believe this too. But I’m not certain of whether it’s true. 

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    July 16, 1945: The U.S. conducts the first successful atomic bomb test.

    J. Robert Oppenheimer later remarked that, as he witnessed the detonation of “the Gadget" in the Jornada del Muerto desert of New Mexico during the Trinity nuclear test, he was reminded of a quote from the Bhagavad Gita:“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

    Oppenheimer, a professor and physicist, was a key figure of the Manhattan Project, which ran from 1941 to 1946 and sought to place in American hands the power of fission before Nazi Germany could develop the technology in a usable form. The Project combined American and British resources, industrial power, money, and information, with the top scientific minds from both nations and exiled scientists from Germany and Austria. The Trinity test was the first successful detonation of a nuclear device, and it was a product of Project Manhattan. Conducted by the U.S. Army under Lieutenant General Leslie Groves, it was designed to resemble a drop from an airplane (as to accurately measure the effects of such an attack), in this test simulated by a 100-foot-tall steel tower, from which the plutonium-core device was raised. The detonation occurred at approximately 5:29 AM; onlookers - mostly scientists and military officials - observed from stations ten to twenty miles away from ground zero. 

    The successful Trinity test marked the beginning of a new age: an Atomic Age. This less refined version of the era’s new superweapon exploded with an energy of approximately 20 kilotons. It created a mushroom cloud 12 kilometers high; it left behind a crater 1,000 feet wide; it generated heat described as 10,000 times hotter than the surface of the sun; and it was only the beginning. One member of Leslie Groves’ staff described the effects of the detonation as "unprecedented, magnificent, beautiful, stupendous and terrifying," writing that “no man-made phenomenon of such tremendous power had ever occurred before."

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    It seemed as if all of them guessed their fate, but not one of them uttered a single sound.

    July 17, 1918: The Romanovs are killed.

    After a turbulent and much-hated twenty-three year-long reign, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated the throne and passed the title of tsar to his brother, who acknowledged the authority of the Provisional Government. This too was overthrown in the 1917 October Revolution by Bolsheviks who installed their own government, bringing to an end the Russia of old and the 300-year-old Romanov dynasty. Meanwhile, the former tsar and his family - including his wife Alexandra, four daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia, and son Alexei - were relocated to Tobolsk, and then to Yekaterinburg, located in the Ural Mountains.

    The remnants of the imperial family were held in the Ipatiev House - “the House of Special Purpose" - as both civil war and world war raged around them. By the summer of 1918, White Army forces were on the move and, to the dismay of the Bolsheviks, approaching Yekaterinburg, Though they were unaware of the family’s imprisonment there, losing the Romanovs to anti-Bolshevik forces who could potentially use the deposed tsar as a rallying point posed too great a risk, and so the decision to execute them was quickly made under the authority of Vladimir Lenin himself, and transmitted by telegraph, to be carried out by Yakov Yurovsky and a force of ten soldiers and local Bolsheviks.

    There is no universally agreed upon account of the exact manner of their execution, but, according to the chief executioner’s version of the events, the family was awakened at 2:00 AM and brought to the basement of the Ipatiev House, supposedly for their own safety. Yurovsky read aloud to the family their execution orders, to their confusion, and then commenced the shooting. Those who did not die in the initial onslaught of bullets were stabbed to death with bayonets or shot in the head. Those killed alongside the Romanovs included a court physician, a maid, footman, and cook. DNA analysis has since confirmed the deaths of all the Romanovs, but rumors surrounding the possible survival of Grand Duchess Anastasia, the youngest Romanov daughter, persisted into the late 20th century. 

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    July 18, 1918: Nelson Mandela is born.

    I had no epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities and a thousand unremembered moments produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people. There was no particular day on which I said, Henceforth I will devote myself to the liberation of my people; instead, I simply found myself doing so, and could not do otherwise.

    - Long Walk to Freedom

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  • 07/18/13--15:37: Are you a boy or girl?
  • I’m a girl/woman. 

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  • 07/18/13--21:03: Do you like chicken ?
  • Yeah, definitely.


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    The Destruction of Tyre

    Sodom and Gomorrah


    John Martin (July 19, 1789 – February 17, 1854)

    Vastness is his sphere, yet he has not lost or circumfused his genius in its space; he has chained and wielded and measured it at his will… He has penetrated the remote caverns of the past and gazed on the primeval shapes of the gone world.

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    That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.

    July 21, 1969

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    Landscapes after Ancient Masters (1674 - 1677) - Wang Hui and Wang Shimin

    Metropolitan Museum of Art

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    Would you believe that I’ve never once visited reddit in my life… But I just visited the page, and it looks extremely interesting…

    "If I ran a 17th century tavern in England and I had guests come in late at night, what canned or preserved or leftover food would I be able to offer them?"

     If I ever have like six free hours one afternoon, I’ll probably spend it there, haha. Thanks for the suggestion!


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    July 23, 1942: Treblinka extermination camp opens.

    Treblinka was one of six Nazi extermination camps constructed in Poland during World War II, and the last to open. Unlike the numerous concentration camps built throughout German-occupied territories during this time, extermination camps, as their name suggests, were not built for holding but to carry out the systematic mass murder of millions of people. Essentially a killing factory (disguised as an operational railway station), Treblinka held no prisoners and put no laborers to work. The camps at Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor were specifically created to implement the countrywide plan codenamed Operation Reinhard (conducted between October 1941 and November 1943), the first deadly step of the Third Reich’s “Final Solution to the Jewish Question". This phase targeted primarily Jews living within the borders of the General Government. 

    On June 22, 1942, the mass deportation of Jews out of the Warsaw Ghetto under the direction of the Schutzstaffel began, continuing until Yom Kippur of that year nearly a month later; in all, between 250,000 and 300,000 people were shipped to Treblinka - thousands per day, stuffed into railway trains - and gassed to death with carbon monoxide exhaust fumes (as opposed to Zyklon B cyanide, which was used in Auschwitz and elsewhere). By the time the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out in armed resistance to continued deportations, approximately 50,000 people still lived there. After the uprising, the majority of these people were either killed or sent to Treblinka, the remainder of their neighborhoods razed. By the time of the camp’s dissolution in 1944, between 800,000 and 1 million people had entered its gates. 

    Franz Stangl, SS commandant of Sobibor and later Treblinka, was quoted as saying (on the nature of his work):

    To tell the truth, one did become used to it… they were cargo. I think it started the day I first saw the Totenlager in Treblinka. I remember Wirth standing there, next to the pits full of black-blue corpses. It had nothing to do with humanity — it could not have. It was a mass. A mass of rotting flesh. Wirth said ‘What shall we do with this garbage?’ I think unconsciously that started me thinking of them as cargo…. I rarely saw them as individuals. It was always a huge mass. 

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    I did and used to give the URL out, until recently - actually, this message is pretty timely: I had to deactivate/delete my personal blog because it’s entirely too distracting to think about running an active (more fandom-centric) blog while college is just around the corner. 

    Short answer: not anymore, sorry!

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    Utagawa Kuniyoshi (January 1, 1797 - April 14, 1861)

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    July 24, 1802: Alexandre Dumas is born.

    This prolific French author of, most famously, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, was born in Villers-Cotterêts in Aisne, France, to Marie Louise Labouret and General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, France’s first black general. On his father’s side, Dumas was of both white French and black/Afro-Caribbean ancestry - his grandmother was a slave from Santo Domingo. 

    Dumas began his career after the Bourbon Restoration, whereupon he moved to Paris and secured a job under Louis Philippe, future and final king of France. During this time, he published his first plays - Henry III and His Courts (1829) and Christine, both sweeping pieces of Romantic drama; both were also commercial successes and together, allowed him to take up a career as a full-time writer and spend extravagantly. Much of his work falls into the realm of Romanticism and historical fiction (such as his most famous novels), but Dumas was endlessly productive and worked in many different genres throughout his career; of all French authors Dumas is considered one of the most widely-read, having written dozens of novels, several dramas, and non-fiction works ranging from history books to journal articles to culinary encyclopedias.

    Despite his success as an author and aristocratic background, Dumas was not immune to racial discrimination. He rarely wrote on the subject, but his 1843 novel Georges, set on the island of Mauritius, centered on racial conflict and featured a light-skinned mixed-race protagonist. To one man who targeted his African ancestry as a personal attack, Dumas made the famous retort:

    My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro, and my great-grandfather a monkey. You see, Sir, my family starts where yours ends.

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    Alphonse Mucha (July 24, 1860 - July 14, 1939)

    The purpose of my work was never to destroy but always to create, to construct bridges, because we must live in the hope that humankind will draw together and that the better we understand each other the easier this will become.

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