The History Portal
History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning 'inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation') is the study of the past. Events occurring before the invention of writing systems are considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who focus on history are called historians. The historian's role is to place the past in context, using sources from moments and events, and filling in the gaps to the best of their ability. Written documents are not the only sources historians use to develop their understanding of the past. They also use material objects, oral accounts, ecological markers, art, and artifacts as historical sources.
History also includes the academic discipline which uses narrative to describe, examine, question, and analyze a sequence of past events, investigate the patterns of cause and effect that are related to them. Historians seek to understand and represent the past through narratives. They often debate which narrative best explains an event, as well as the significance of different causes and effects. Historians also debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.
Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends. History differs from myth in that it is supported by evidence. However, ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematic elements of historical investigation. History is often taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.
Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is often considered (within the Western tradition) to be the "father of history," or, by some, the "father of lies." Along with his contemporary Thucydides, he helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals, was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts have survived.
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A 19th-century interpretation showing the arrest of Governor Andros during Boston's brief revolt
The 1689 Boston revolt was a popular uprising on April 18, 1689 against the rule of Sir Edmund Andros, the governor of the Dominion of New England. A well-organized "mob" of provincial militia and citizens formed in the town of Boston, the capital of the dominion, and arrested dominion officials. Members of the Church of England were also taken into custody if they were believed to sympathize with the administration of the dominion. Neither faction sustained casualties during the revolt. Leaders of the former Massachusetts Bay Colony then reclaimed control of the government. In other colonies, members of governments displaced by the dominion were returned to power.
Andros was commissioned governor of New England in 1686. He had earned the enmity of the local populace by enforcing the restrictive Navigation Acts
, denying the validity of existing land titles, restricting town meetings, and appointing unpopular regular officers to lead colonial militia, among other actions. Furthermore, he had infuriated Puritans in Boston by promoting the Church of England, which was rejected by many nonconformist New England colonists. Read more...
The Trinity nuclear test was the first nuclear detonation in the world. Conducted by the United States Army on July 16, 1945, the successful test would set the stage for the coming Atomic Age. This image, captured by Berlyn Brixner, shows the fireball that developed 0.016 seconds after ignition; the explosive had a yield of 20 kilotons of dynamite.
Did you know...
- ... that the Japanese aircraft carrier Amagi (wreck pictured) capsized on 29 July 1945 as a result of cumulative damage inflicted by American airstrikes on 24 and 28 July?
- ... that Scandinavian influence in Scotland, still evident today, was probably at its height during the time of Thorfinn the Mighty?
- ... that, after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bassetki statue, which is more than 4,200 years old, was found in a cesspool?
- ... that in medieval art, angels were often depicted wearing feather tights?
- ... that 49% of German military losses happened in the last 10 months of the Second World War in Europe?
- ... that Joshua L. Goldberg, the first rabbi to serve as a World War II U.S. navy chaplain, was a Russian army deserter?
- ... that Richard Nixon chose the Wilson desk as his Oval Office desk because he believed it was used by Woodrow Wilson, but it was actually used by Henry Wilson, Vice President under Ulysses S. Grant?
- ... that some of the nominally silver Roman coins from the Bredon Hill Hoard only have a 1% silver content?
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Blackbeard (c. 1736
engraving used to illustrate Johnson's General History
Edward Teach (alternatively spelled Edward Thatch, c. 1680 – 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was an English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of Britain's North American colonies. Little is known about his early life, but he may have been a sailor on privateer ships during Queen Anne's War before settling on the Bahamian island of New Providence, a base for Captain Benjamin Hornigold, whose crew Teach joined around 1716. Hornigold placed him in command of a sloop that he had captured, and the two engaged in numerous acts of piracy. Their numbers were boosted by the addition to their fleet of two more ships, one of which was commanded by Stede Bonnet; but Hornigold retired from piracy towards the end of 1717, taking two vessels with him.
Teach captured a French slave ship known as La Concorde
, renamed her Queen Anne's Revenge
, equipped her with 40 guns, and finished her off with a crew of 300+ men. He became a renowned pirate, his nickname derived from his thick black beard and fearsome appearance; he was reported to have tied lit fuses (slow matches
) under his hat to frighten his enemies. He formed an alliance of pirates and blockaded the port of Charles Town, South Carolina
, ransoming the port's inhabitants. He then ran Queen Anne's Revenge
aground on a sandbar near Beaufort, North Carolina
. He parted company with Bonnet and settled in Bath, North Carolina
, also known as Bath Town where he accepted a royal pardon. But he was soon back at sea, where he attracted the attention of Alexander Spotswood
, the Governor of Virginia
. Spotswood arranged for a party of soldiers and sailors to capture the pirate, which they did on 22 November 1718 following a ferocious battle. Teach and several of his crew were killed by a small force of sailors led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard
. Read more...
On this day
"Strike an enemy once and for all. Let him cease to exist as a tribe or he will live to fly in your throat again".
— Shaka, 19th century Zulu king
The following are images from various History-related articles on Wikipedia.
Cossacks became the backbone of the early Russian Army.
Nok sculpture of a sitted person
A possible representation of a "yogi" or "proto-Shiva", 2600–1900 BCE
World Colonization of 1492 (Early Modern World), 1550, 1660, 1754 (Age of Enlightenment), 1822 (Industrial revolution), 1885 (European Hegemony), 1914 (World War I era), 1938 (World War II era), 1959 (Cold War era) and 1974, 2008 (Recent history).
Map of the approximate political boundaries in Europe around 450 AD
Gold stag with eagle's head, and ten further heads in the antlers. From a Xiongnu tomb. 4th–3rd century BC
Gutenberg reviewing a press proof (a colored engraving created probably in the 19th century)
Map showing growth of Frankish power from 481 to 814
Cishou Temple Pagoda, built in 1576: the Chinese believed that building pagodas on certain sites according to geomantic principles brought about auspicious events; merchant-funding for such projects was needed by the late Ming period.
The Chinese Han Dynasty dominated the East Asia region at the beginning of the first millennium AD
"If there is something you know, communicate it. If there is something you don't know, search for it." An engraving from the 1772 edition of the Encyclopédie; Truth (center) is surrounded by light and unveiled by the figures to the right, Philosophy and Reason
Execution of some of the ringleaders of the jacquerie, from a 14th-century manuscript of the Chroniques de France ou de St Denis
The early Muslim conquests
Expansion under Muhammad, 622–632
Expansion during the Patriarchal Caliphate, 632–661
Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661–750
The Ezana Stone records negus Ezana's conversion to Christianity and conquests of his neighbors.
Europe and the Mediterranean Sea in 1190
Model for the Three Superior Planets and Venus from Georg von Peuerbach, Theoricae novae planetarum.
Roman cast terracotta of ram-horned Jupiter Ammon, a form of Zeus 1st century AD. Gods, could sometimes be transferred or adopted by many civilizations, and then adjusted for local conditions.
Roman Empire 117 AD. The Senatorial provinces were acquired first under the Roman Republic and were under the Roman Senate's control; the Imperial provinces were controlled directly by the Roman emperor.
Technical drawing of Roman Ballista mechanism.
Reconstruction of an early medieval peasant village in Bavaria
10th-century Ottonian ivory plaque depicting Christ receiving a church from Otto I
Egyptian soldiers from Hatshepsut's expedition to the Land of Punt as depicted from her temple at Deir el-Bahri.
A medieval scholar making precise measurements in a 14th-century manuscript illustration
Painting of Murong Xianbei archer, in Late Antiquity, nomads across Eurasia, began to use the stirrup. Horse riding warriors could be devastating in combat.
The Iron Age kingdom of Israel (blue) and kingdom of Judah (yellow)
Engraved world map (including magnetic declination lines) by Leonhard Euler from his school atlas "Geographischer Atlas bestehend in 44 Land-Charten" first published 1753 in Berlin
Battle of Vienna, 12 September 1683
A political map of the Mauryan Empire, including notable cities, such as the capital Pataliputra, and site of the Buddha's enlightenment.
A painting depecting the Qing Chinese celebrating a victory over the Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan. This work was a collaboration between Chinese and European painters.
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