Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2007 December 3

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December 3[edit]

findings map that shows northern european tribes reach into england and ireland[edit]


looking for map that details by language, years etc, how european tribes went into england/ireland/iceland.

not so much war maps.

all help appreciated —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:18, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Don't forget Scotland! Here are a few links to maps relating to the British Isles: MIGRATION & Early Inhabitants of the British Isles, Image:Karte völkerwanderung.jpg, Image:Folkevandringene.jpg. None of these shows the earliest mesolithic and neolithic settlements, of which little is known, nor the Celtic invasion (see Brythons), and the 9th century Viking expansion (see Danelaw). If the Romans may be considered a tribe (although not Northern European): they also invaded Great Britain, and there is of course the Norman conquest. For Iceland you just need another arrow from Danmark + Norway for the Vikings who colonized the island. The years and languages you can find (if not given on the maps) in our articles by following the links given here and further links in the articles.  --Lambiam 13:00, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
So far as pre-history goes, the current wisdom in the UK and Ireland is rather anti-migrationist. Not so in other countries. While you might find something like Image:Folkevandringene.jpg in a German book on the Völkerwanderung, you wouldn't find anything like it in a serious British book on the Anglo-Saxons. Catherine Hills' Origins of the English discusses the reactions of archaeologists to a study by Heinrich Härke which proposed to identify "British" and "Germanic" skeletons in a sub-Roman graveyard: the Germans were amazed that anyone would suggest "British" people had survived in the area to be buried; their English counterparts were puzzled that Härke would seriously suggest that there were any actual "Germans" there (p. 61). Angus McLellan (Talk) 16:11, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Mad monarchs[edit]

We must all be aware of the madness of King George. I was wondering if there were any other mad monarchs living around the same time, or are monarchs all mad? Anyway, if any were mad did they show the same symptoms as poor old George? Kaiser Will 06:52, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Not quite a contemporary of George III (1738–1820), but Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845–1886) is, according to our article, perhaps best known today as the "Mad King".  --Lambiam 08:17, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) By the medical standards of his day, George was considered "mad", but if he were on the throne today, he would almost certainly have been diagnosed with porphyria and treated accordingly. King Ludwig II of Bavaria was a nutcase, though. -- JackofOz 08:18, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
I was under the impression that Mad King Ludwig was just a bit eccentric, and that the courtiers and members of his family plotted against him for largely political reasons. King George III was a man of very strong opinions even when not affected by porphyria. Sam Blacketer 11:20, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Queen Mary of England had several false pregnancies which some scholars attribute to mental illness. Probably not the same thing as George, though. Wrad 16:23, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Maria I, Queen of Portugal from 1777 to 1816, was the one contemporary of George who also suffered from a form of mental collapse. Her grandfather, Philip V of Spain, and her granduncle, Ferdinand VI, had also experienced increasingly severe bouts of insanity. I note that the Wikipedia article on Maria says that she may have been afflicted by porphyria, which seems to be turning into a convenient 'one size fits all' explanation for royal lunacy. Her symptoms seem to have been nothing like those of George, and far more like those of her grandfather, who was quite simply mad! Amongst other things he convinced himself that he was unable to walk because his feet were different sizes. Maria descended into her own madness in January 1792. Always prone to religious mania, she convinced herself that she was in hell, telling her doctors that they might cure madness but they could not reverse the decrees of fate. The Portuguese government sent for Francis Willis, the same doctor who had treated George, but he found that Maria's condition did not respond to his 'scientific method.' It would appear that the Portuguese queen was suffering from some extreme form of bi-polar disorder, in which she switched rapidly from one extreme mood to another. Maria, unlike George, had no respite from her condition, which continued until her death in 1816. Clio the Muse 00:22, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

I would suggest that the Roman Emperor Caligula might be a good candidate for this list of mad monarchs. Almost all contempory accounts we have of him describe him as being insane. Saukkomies 15:38, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Don't forget Juana la Loca! Corvus cornixtalk 00:45, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

My nomination is King Lear. Xn4 01:31, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
My goodness: I had no idea that George III was so long lived! Clio the Muse (talk) 02:18, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Ouch! I seem to have missed the "living around the same time". Ah, well, George no doubt saw Lear on stage. Xn4 02:40, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
He acted the part, if you remember this Clio the Muse (talk) 03:29, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Slightly off tune, I can't help adding the famous comment of King George II in the late 1750s when someone told him General James Wolfe was mad - "Mad, is he? Then I wish he would bite some others of my generals." Xn4 06:12, 5 December 2007 (UTC)


Please explain the roots of the Kosovo problem217.43.9.32 10:07, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Have you read our article Kosovo War, in particular the section "Background"? For further background reading, see the Kosovo article with its section "History", and also the article on the Battle of Kosovo, which was used by Milošević to create a legend of historical betrayal of Christians by Muslims. Note that Serbs are predominantly Serbian Orthodox Christian, while Islam is dominant among the Albanian majority in Kosovo. If, after reading this, you have questions remaining, please come back here.  --Lambiam 12:27, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
The references that Lambiam provided do indeed thoroughly address this question. However, after looking at them myself, I thought that perhaps they might be a bit lengthy and involved for someone who is wanting a "brief" explanation for the Kosovo problem. So, not to dismiss Lambiam's excellent post and research, I thought I'd give a thumbnail outline of the background leading up to it. Kosovo, which the important part of it is a very large valley tucked into the Balkan Mountains of southern Serbia/Yugoslavia, was historically very significant to the Serbians - in the 1200s when the Serbs were gaining independence from the Byzantine Empire and asserting themselves as a nation for the first time, their main center was in Kosovo, which is viewed by Serbs as the heartland of their people. This would be similar to how some North American Indian Tribes have sacred areas where they feel a deep ancestral connection (such as Bear Butte is to the Lakota, and the Four Sacred Mountains of the Navaho). The Serbs, therefore, feel that Kosovo belongs to them.
When the Ottoman Empire conquered much of the Balkans in the 1300s, they also took over Kosovo. From that point until World War I Kosovo was occupied primarily by the Islamic Ottomans, which led to a gradual de-Christianization of the region, along with an exodus of Serbs. After the war was over, the Serbs attempted to recolonize Kosovo, but because it is so isolated and has few natural resources it was not a very attractive place for people to try to make a living, so this effort was not entirely successful.
Enter the Albanians. During World War II the Italians and Germans established a puppet state in the region, and began to exterminate the Serbians (who were against the Nazis), and settled Islamic Albanians in Kosovo. After the war Kosovo became part of Yugoslavia under General Tito. Neighboring Albania had a series of internal political problems, and many Albanians fled their home country over the mountains to settle in Kosovo. Albanians have the highest birth rate of any ethnic group in Europe, and it did not take long before the Albanians greatly outnumbered the Serbians in Kosovo.
When Tito died and Yugoslavia split up in the late 1980s, the Serbs claimed Kosovo as part of Serbia. This set the stage for the events that led to the conflict between the Serbs and the Albanians in Kosovo. Saukkomies 15:30, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
With all due respect, I can't agree with "Enter the Albanians. During World War II the Italians and Germans established a puppet state in the region, and began to exterminate the Serbians (who were against the Nazis), and settled Islamic Albanians in Kosovo." There have been Albanians in Kosovo for much longer than that. The Ottomans settled Albanians there, and it's also very likely that the Albanians are directly descended from the Illyrians, the population longest established in the region. The Albanian language is known to be derived either from Illyrian or from Thracian. The second century geographer Ptolemy refers to the Albanoi of what is now Albania, while the Serbs are believed to have come south from White Serbia (now in Poland) in the late sixth century. So both Serbs and Albanians (not to mention others, such as Bulgarians and Vlachs) have been there for a very long time indeed. Sadly, when it comes to the history of Kosovo, many of the wars which have washed over it (including the recent Kosovo War of the late 1990s) have resulted in the deliberate destruction of many original sources, so that the truth about much of the history of Kosovo (as with other parts of the Balkans) can be obscure. Xn4 02:33, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the comment, Xn4. I agree with you that Albanians have been in Kosovo for a long long time. Some times in the past there were more Albanians in Kosovo than Serbs, and at other times there were more Serbs than Albanians. It seems to go back and forth quite a lot - especially in the past 100 years or so. This is all treated much more thoroughly than my very brief cursory explanation has done in the wiki article about Kosovo. The part I was highlighting about the events that took place in World War II was meant to give an explanation as to why this problem sort of sprung up so dramatically right after Tito's regeime ended. I really didn't intend to mean that the resettlements during WWII were the only times that there were shifts in the Albanian and Serbian populations in Kosovo, even though I see that one could interpret it that way. At any rate, thanks again for clarifying this. Saukkomies 18:30, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Rabbi Kook and the Shemittah year[edit]

Can any user please let me know whether during the Shemittah year (and the aftermath) Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook himself ate produce which had been grown utilising the Heter Mechirah? Please also let me know the source for the answer. Thank you. Simonschaim —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:37, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Ireland from a historical point of view[edit]

How does Seamus Heaney present Ireland from a historical point of view in his poems? Weasly 13:27, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Which of the two do you mean: (1) "What is the historical point of view Seamus Heaney uses in his poems to present Ireland?", or (2) "From a historical point of view, how should we evaluate the way Seamus Heaney presents Ireland in his poems?"? If you mean (1), then we should first consider the question (0): "Does Seamus Heaney present Ireland in his poems from a historical point of view?". Perhaps he doesn't, but takes things from an individual point of view as they happen, without any attempt to frame them in some historical perspective.  --Lambiam 15:02, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
er, thats no help. What I mean is in his poems, how does he present Irelands history and how its history is relevant to it today. thanks. Weasly 14:52, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
He oft used Ireland's history to give commentary and draw parallels on The Troubles. Think outside the box 15:09, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
This sounds like a homework question to me (particularly as we studied Seamus Heaney at school). We're not supposed to answer your homework for you as you don't learn anything if somebody else does it and at the end of the day, it's only yourself you are cheating. I would suggest looking at our Seamus Heaney question as a starting point and come back here if you have any more specific queries. 17:30, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

John Maynard Keynes quote on tedium of stock-trading[edit]

I seem to recall a quote by John Maynard Keynes that stock-trading is tedious and only people with a certain kind of disposition can tolerate it. Could someone find the exact reference please? Cheers. – Kaihsu 15:59, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Incase you haven't tried here, here is a link to the wiki-quote for Keynes ( I have to say i'm not really a Keynesian so don't know much of his quotes, but here's some quotes and one with Keynes in ( Unfortunately I think none of them are quite what you were looking for. ny156uk 17:28, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Swiss wars[edit]

When was the last time Switzerland declared war? From it's article, it looks like in 1847 there was a minor civil war in which about 100 were killed, and then nothing. Is this really their last war? Wrad 16:42, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

In the same article you can read that "in 1815 the Congress of Vienna fully re-established Swiss independence and the European powers agreed to permanently recognise Swiss neutrality. The treaty marked the last time that Switzerland fought in an international conflict." — Kpalion(talk) 18:39, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, Switzerland has not had any external armed conflicts after the Napoleonic Wars, in which it took part as the Helvetic Republic, although more as a battleground than as an active combatant. See Switzerland in the Napoleonic era. The Swiss did, though, shoot down 11 intruding German aircraft in World War II and interned several Allied aircraft; see Switzerland during the World Wars#World War II. Sandstein 23:15, 3 December 2007 (UTC) — PS: See also Me 109#Combat service with Switzerland. Sandstein 23:27, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Sandstein, I'm intrigued. Given the history and decentralised political structure of the country-independent cantons and city republics-has Switzerland ever declared war as Switzerland? I confess I'm not even sure if the war of 1847 was a civil war as such or a war between sovereign political entities, each with their own army! Clio the Muse 00:40, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Is one reason other countries have avoided provoking Switzerland into a declaration of war (at least since 1891) the fear of their knives? Edison 03:27, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
That, and of course our gnomes can be quite nasty too! Clio makes a good point: In the self-consciousness of many Swiss, "we" fought a couple of wars and battles since the early 14th century. (Though another "we" fought in far more other conflicts, of course) The Old Swiss Confederacy had a political body, the Tagsatzung, where military ventures could be discussed and decided. But the more or less autonomous cantons/states sometimes also acted on their own, even against each other's interests at times, and to call this formation "Switzerland" is historically probably incorrect, or misleading at best. I suspect Sandstein can give a more succinct answer, and I hope he will. I'm curious, by the way, when was the earliest usage of the English word "Switzerland" as a political entity? And when was the first mentioning of the word "Switzerland" in English at all? ---Sluzzelin talk 12:38, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
While Switzerland has long been neutral, Swiss mercenaries have absorbed the more warlike of the land's manhood. SaundersW 14:54, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
To the extent the Old Swiss Confederacy can be referred to as a common body politic, or "Switzerland", at all, it is only because of its joint defence agreements, which were the very raison d'être of the Confederacy from its inception. Still, as far as I know, the Confederacy as a whole never formally declared war on anyone. I suspect this is because aggressive campaigns were generally waged by individual cantons or by groups of cantons, or by mercenaries fighting (at least nominally) on behalf of a foreign power. At any rate, the cantons went completely on the defensive after the defeat of Marignano in 1515, i.e., at a time before before formal declarations of war became very common in northern Europe. After that, the Confederacy having won its de facto independence in the Swabian War, the Swiss ceased to have any substantial foreign military conflicts of any kind up until the Napoleonic invasion of 1798. After Swiss de jure independence and perennial neutrality was recognised in the Peace of Westphalia, there was certainly no need for declarations of war in any case. I suppose such a declaration, if necessary, would have been issued by the Tagsatzung, which also oversaw the War Council, a staff of officers that jointly exercised federal high command. The Restauration-era Federal Treaty of 1815, at any rate, attributed all powers related to foreign policy to the Tagsatzung. (Sources: HDS, specifically [1], [2], [3], [4])
The reason that the Sonderbund war is most often called a civil war rather than a war between states is, I suppose, mostly due to its limited scope, and to the fact that history is written by the victors. In my opinion, how one labels the war is just a matter of semantics. Certainly, the Confederacy of 1815 and 1845 was not (yet) a full territorial state in the modern sense - but neither were most of its individual cantons. Both the cantons and their union had attributes of statehood. (Actually, there is still mostly consensus among Swiss constitutional scholars that both the Confederation and the modern-day cantons are states in every sense of the word, the full sovereignty of the latter being theoretically only limited by the Federal Constitution.) The most apt historical analogy of the Sonderbund War is, I think, the U.S. Civil War, because it was fought in part over very similar issues of union or confederation. A partial modern analogy of the 1815 Confederacy is today's European Union, which is also characterised by a rather fuzzy distribution of sovereignty between union and member states (albeit in very different areas of competence). Sandstein 18:59, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Thank you, Sandstein, for such a full and informative response. Clio the Muse (talk) 02:16, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

Taifa and Almoravids[edit]

I have been reading your articles on Muslim Spain with some interest. I have a particular curiosity over the taifa statelets and the invasion of the Almoravids from North Africa. There is some information here why the taifa were considered heterodox but I would like a fuller account, if possible, of the ways in which they were in breach of Shari'ah and at variance with the wider Muslim world. My thanks. Shabib ibn Yazid 19:12, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

Unlike the taifa principalities, the Almoravids were fundamentalists. This may depend on you viewpont, but it is perhaps not so much that the taifa were in some way in clear breach of the Shari'ah, but that the Almoravids had an extreme interpretation of the obligations and restrictions entailed by it. But, I think the main point of the Almoravid ruler Yusuf ibn Tashfin, in obtaining a fatwa against the taifa states denouncing them as in breach of the Shari'ah, was not a religious but a political one: it was needed to legitimize his subsequent attack and annexation of these states. Without the fatwa, the attack on his Muslim brethren would have been a grave sin. We have no impartial accounts of the events from these days, so such interpretations of the events are necessarily tentative.  --Lambiam 20:25, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Lambiam that there was a political purpose in Yusuf's actions, though with his form of Islamic fundamentalism there is no clear separation between religion and politics. For one thing the rulers of al-Andalus had long since ceased to acknowledge the authority of the caliph in Baghdad. Yusuf, as we know from the inscriptions on his coinage, considered himself to be the caliph's deputy. Any action in Spain was thus legitimate punishment of rebels against the central Islamic authority. The taifa rulers were also in the practice of paying parias, tributes to the Christain rulers to the north, which could be conceived as contrary to Shari'ah, which does not allow Muslims to be subject to non-Muslims. Similarly the taifa princes' tax regime was not authorised by canon law. There were also taifa states, notably Granada, where Jews had authority over Muslims as counsellors of the prince, a practice which caused considerable resentment and a murderous pogrom in 1066. In addition to these there were also many minor breaches that would have gone against the puritanism of the Almoravids, not least of which was the general hedonism of court life among the taifas. "Their minds were occupied by wine and song", so one contemporary account went, and not in a mood of celebration. Clio the Muse 01:07, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

I don't think the Almoravids ever alleged the taifa kings to be "heterodox"; they simply accused them of being lax in their conformity to the Shari'a in practice, and more importantly, putting their personal interests ahead of what they believed were the interests of Muslims as a whole. The allegations of hedonism simply lent support to the allegation that no proper defense of Islam could be expected from such rulers and that they therefore had to be removed. -- Slacker (talk) 11:59, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Medical/Cosmetic Tourism Lawsuits[edit]

Has there ever been a case where an American patient has sued a foreign plastic surgeon for malpractice? Was the suit lodged in American courts or in the country where the surgery was performed.

Thanks, 21:40, 3 December 2007 (UTC) Noah Barron Graduate Student, University of Southern California

Reading comprehension - Harry Potter[edit]

I'm a U.S.-educated expat (b. 1953), and find myself with a text to translate from Hebrew and pitch to native speakers of English, ages 10-12. The only English-language books whose language level I know well is the Harry Potter series. (UK/US is not an issue here.) What grade level's average reading comprehension would they represent? -- Thanks, Deborahjay 23:49, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

From my (Australian) perspective, the first couple of books are at a level about that of an upper primary school student (aged 10-12). As the series continues, the reading level, with the content, gets higher. The last two books are at a level more like middle high school (14-16). There are some ways to gauge the level of a text through the length of sentences, the vocabulary, etc. but they vary by different theories. Steewi 00:02, 4 December 2007 (UTC) lists each book's reading level. I'm not sure I agree with them. -Arch dude 01:11, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
In the U.S. textbook-publishing industry, texts for that age range should largely avoid words of more than two syllables, except the most common ones (e.g. "probably"). Uncommon words of few syllables should be avoided. When using a somewhat uncommon word, such as "balcony" or "triumph", you might offer a parenthetical paraphrase (which could be set off by commas or em-dashes rather than parentheses), unless you have a picture to illustrate the word. Sentences should generally have no more than one clause, though very simple two-clause sentences are okay. Sentences should in any case be kept under 15 words where possible and under 20 words with very few exceptions. Marco polo (talk) 21:22, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure I can add much to that, and don't know if you're still reading, but kids younger than 10 (even 6year olds) seem to have found Harry Potter fairly easy going. Remember that the overall style must be a part of this - not only are the sentences short and basic, but there is absolutely no ambiguity about character or motive, apart from a few quirky characters like Snape, and the fact that the bad guys are inevitably concealed until the end. (talk) 12:51, 8 December 2007 (UTC)