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Since we don't have a history forum I figured I'd start a thread. What is your favorite part of history and why? I find the pivot moments th most fascinating. The Alexander conquest, the Sea Peoples destruction of the known world @1200 BC, or the battle of Teutoburg Forest. Imagine what kind of a world we would have now if the Romans had conquered the Germans that day.

 

I'm constantly fascinated by the cause and effect dynamic of human history, while at the same time baffled by people's general indifference towards it. Every movie you see, every book you read, it's all based on history. For me, it's much more entertaining than fiction.

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1753-1815

 

The American Revolution and early republic and the French Revolution and all that surrounded it.

 

So many larger than life characters of shifting circumstances and alliances as values and politics pull them together and apart. Big bold revolutionary issues being tackled. The contrast between America providing the only example I can think of where a violent revolution didn't descend into tyranny or chaos, and the French providing a stark example of what that violence could look like (thank-you Washington). The Seven Years' War -> American Revolution -> The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars -> the War of 1812 and eventually the Age of Jackson all indirectly, but also related to each other.

 

Toss in the British of the era and it makes for a wonderfully complex yet oddly basic narrative.

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I know only the broad strokes of the French Revolution, so feel free to enlighten me, but when I look at both the American and French Revolutions I see both being a result of English arrogance. In a very Roman kind of way they expanded too much, got used to victory, and really loved the smell of they're own farts.

 

I find American history boring. Sounds to me like they ran away till the Brits left because they had bigger problems. I think one of the best examples of a people learning from history was the English backing away from colonization and focusing on themselves. If they hadn't done so they could've collapsed like the Romans did.

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World War 2. My grandfather was in the 101st Airborne (F Company, 1st of the 506th) and he was my hero as a child. An honest to god war hero with the DSC, 2 silver stars, 1 bronze star, and 3 of what he called "citations for stupidity" (purple hearts). He committed suicide when I was 8 though, that sucked a lot of the air out of that hero worship. Didn't change my fascination with the war though.

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but when I look at both the American and French Revolutions I see both being a result of English arrogance.

 

Not really. The British involvement in the French Revolution is pretty minimal beyond the mountains of debts the French incurred fighting the Seven Years' War, building their navy up to counteract the Brits, and later bankrolling the American Revolution to stick it to the British.

 

 

 

Sounds to me like they ran away till the Brits left because they had bigger problems. I think one of the best examples of a people learning from history was the English backing away from colonization and focusing on themselves. If they hadn't done so they could've collapsed like the Romans did.

 

Umm... that didn't happen for awhile. The British Empire would only continue to expand through the early 20th century. Losing the American colonies was only a speed bump. Once Napoleon was defeated and the French no longer the threat they once were, Britain spent a century as the world's dominant imperial superpower both in terms of new colonies and dominating trade in many nations they did not directly control.

 

Even after that dominance ended and WWII ushered in an era of decolonization, it still took a good chunk of the rest of the 20th century to unspool the British Empire.

 

 

 

World War 2. My grandfather was in the 101st Airborne (F Company, 1st of the 501st) and he was my hero as a child. An honest to god war hero with the DSC, 2 silver stars, 1 bronze star, and 3 of what he called "citations for stupidity" (purple hearts).

 

That's pretty cool.

 

Problem with WWII for me is how depressing it is. Just rampant insanity leading to great tragedy. I don't enjoy reading about it much as there isn't much redeeming value beyond rallying around the American flag.

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When I went to Kennesaw State College as a history major most of the kids were studying the Civil War. Being close to Atlanta you can actually immerse yourself in a lot of Southern history of that war. There are trenches you can lie in and old cannon balls you can still find and my fellow students would just talk for hours about it. It bored me to death. I think now I am reactionary concerning any Civil War stuff. They'd talk about what the war was really fought over and how it was industrialization over old agricultural society.

 

I really liked Russian history and the rise of the Catholic papacy from the middle ages to current state. For US history my favorites were Texas history (DUH), Thomas Jefferson and the settling of the American West.

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My personal favorite is the Indo European thing. Today half the world speaks their language yet most of what we know about them comes from linguistic studies because unlike the Mesopotamians or Egyptians they never wrote anything down.

 

As for the Civil War I find it funny that people look at it as a war over slavery. The roots of the conflict are much deeper than that. They go back to the Revolution, when an agreement was made that each state could govern themselves. The North welched on that by forming a centralized government and the South rebelled.

 

Slavery was a part of it, for sure, but it wasn't the sole reason for the war.

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Slavery was a part of it, for sure, but it wasn't the sole reason for the war.

 

Slavery the sole reason for the Civil War? No. Slavery the primary reason? Most certainly.

 

The economic and social causes of the Civil War were real, but they were not nearly enough to cause secession, much less give cause for both sides to start shooting at each other. All the central points of mistrust, weary truces, and outright violence centered around slavery itself (John Brown, the caning of Sumner, Bleeding Kansas, Uncle Tom's Cabin, the Fugitive Slave Act, Dredd Scott, etc.). After a decade of this, the north and south were beyond rationality and effectively speaking past each other as resentment and real violence boiled and the differences became irreconcilable.

 

 

 

The North welched on that by forming a centralized government and the South rebelled.

 

The south could have rejected the Constitution if they'd chosen. Ratification, per Article VII required nine states.

 

As it turned out, the northern states were actually more skeptical as a whole of the new charter. Four of the five states that ratified the Constitution with fewer than 2/3 of the convention delegates approving were northern. Rhode Island in particular was the most aggressively anti-federalist state, more or less ruining any chance of the Articles of Confederation government ever functioning by refusing to allow them to be amended to address the government's deficiencies, refusing to send anyone to Philadelphia Convention which was necessary in the first place due to their intransigence, nearly descending into armed conflict because some in Providence wanted to celebrate New Hampshire becoming the 9th state to ratify, and only ratifying the Constitution over a year after Washington was sworn in and after 11 failed ratifying conventions.

 

Instead, the Constitution is the brainchild of a Virginian (Madison), was given widespread credibility by the endorsement of another Virginian (Washington), the executive would be dominated by Virginians for 32 of its first 36 years and South would hold sway over the dominant political party in the nation for most of the first 70 years, and their interests were carefully measured to keep the peace.

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Yes, but wouldn't you agree that the south walked into a trap on this? In order to protect their way of life they agreed to certain terms that ultimately doomed them out of sheer myopia/ incompent deal making,

 

I find it intersting that the same people who left an oppressive government ( scots Irish) to find a new life wound up oppressed by a new one. The irony is that they thrived on slave labor, when they themselves were basically slaves in their home land.

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Im not an expert by any means but I've always been fascinated with Dark Ages/ early medieval British/european history from Roman Empire to the invasions of the Saxons, then Vikings, and Normans etc.. Britain is such a melting pot of invading cultures and the evidence is still here to see this day. From modern places still having their Viking names, to the walls of Chester in parts still being the original Roman masonry. Its really cool.

 

I have passing fascination with WW2, since both my grandfathers fought in it. One as a soldier on Skis in the Norwegian infantry (he was always very quiet about what he did and wouldn't talk much. But some family members seem to think he was a Commando of some sort but I dunno.) And my grandmother was a civilian in occupied holland, in a town called Vught (i think thats how you spell it) that had a massive concentration camp near it. She was around 8 - 13 in the war years. She remembers seeing the US soldiers parachuting in during operation Market Garden, and the sense of hope, only to be dashed by their defeat. Such was life. She used to have to cross a square to get bread each day and dodge bullets as the went over head. And she used to tell me stories about the sound of the german V2 flying bombs that would whir overhead. If the engines were at their loudest just before the sound cut off that meant the bomb was going to fall close to your position. They all would hide in the cellar during these bombing runs. But she also remembers funny things like the day her father found her brothers collection of live ammunition in the attic, that he had been hoarding as an inquisitive boy, and how at school there was an SS officers son whom all the kids used to call Mamas boy (in dutch obvs). They had no rubber tires on their pushbikes cause the germans took everything, so they rode their bikes on their wheel rims. Then Oma (that means grandma) rode her bike into a tree whilst reading a book simultaneously.. so normal funny **** happened too. But when she used to tell me war stories her eyes would go quite distant and she would blink a lot.. remembering all these things that you want to forget. But she always humored me and told me the stories that wouldn't give me nightmares when I was young, and told me some gnarly ones when I was older. I have the utmost respect for her as woman and a human. To survive a war in an occupied nation as a civilian.. no easy task. Civilians are always the ones who get F-cked no matter the conflict. Its always the same.

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Yes, but wouldn't you agree that the south walked into a trap on this? In order to protect their way of life they agreed to certain terms that ultimately doomed them out of sheer myopia/ incompent deal making,

 

While slavery was certainly a concern during the drafting of the Constitution, it wasn't nearly the burning issue it would eventually become. Abolition was still new in the north (New York and New Jersey were still slave states themselves) and most states were only gradually freeing the children of slaves and not slaves themselves.

 

Even in the upper slave states, rules were loosening up, making it easier to free slaves. Add to this that crops that required slave labor weren't all that profitable even in the south and it seemed that the institution was withering on the vine. So there was a mixture of opinion back then in most states. South Carolina and Georgia were rather dedicated to slavery, but it was not the stark black and white issue that it would become. Surely by the 1850s a politician such as Thomas Jefferson could never gain a foothold in Virginia after expressing opposition to the expansion of slavery.

 

So I wouldn't call it myopic for the southern founders not to see the Constitution as a trap. How were they supposed to know that Eli Whitney would invent the cotton gin and completely alter the southern economy and slavery's centrality within it? How were they supposed to see that the price of slaves would skyrocket and represent a huge proportion of the southern wealth? How were they supposed to foresee the effect of rebellions like Nat Turner's that frightened white southerners into reversing many of the laws liberalizing the treatment of slaves at the time?

 

We look back and shake our heads at the Founders kicking the slavery can down the road, but at the time it made a whole lot more sense. Circumstances just changed in unexpected ways.

 

 

 

They had no rubber tires on their pushbikes cause the germans took everything, so they rode their bikes on their wheel rims. Then Oma (that means grandma) rode her bike into a tree whilst reading a book simultaneously.. so normal funny **** happened too.

 

Heh, as fun as it is to blame the Nazis for everything, I don't think that one was on them.

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Im not an expert by any means but I've always been fascinated with Dark Ages/ early medieval British/european history from Roman Empire to the invasions of the Saxons, then Vikings, and Normans etc.. Britain is such a melting pot of invading cultures and the evidence is still here to see this day. From modern places still having their Viking names, to the walls of Chester in parts still being the original Roman masonry. Its really cool.

 

I often wonder what would've happened to England without the Norman conquest. Prior to that England was a backwater island that was not really that big of a deal, but after the Norman thing eventually rose to become world power. I doubt that would have happened if those crazy French Vikings hadn't have taken it for their own.

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I'm fascinated by the era of explorers. It takes a lot of moxie to venture off into unknown seas and lands beyond. It takes even more to find those lands, meet all the people living in them and say, this is now ours.

I think it says a lot about human nature and the desire for fame and wealth. These are people who wanted to boldly go into the unknown at the risk of their own lives. Definitely ballsy.

 

It's cool to study the age of exploration and see how the Spanish lost their foothold on the Atlantic to the English. Also worth noting is that the English were more successful at colonization because they brought women. The Spanish only brought men, thus producing hybrid colonies, whereas the English colonies ultimately produced a country that dominates the world even to this day.

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Im not an expert by any means but I've always been fascinated with Dark Ages/ early medieval British/european history from Roman Empire to the invasions of the Saxons, then Vikings, and Normans etc.. Britain is such a melting pot of invading cultures and the evidence is still here to see this day. From modern places still having their Viking names, to the walls of Chester in parts still being the original Roman masonry. Its really cool.

I often wonder what would've happened to England without the Norman conquest. Prior to that England was a backwater island that was not really that big of a deal, but after the Norman thing eventually rose to become world power. I doubt that would have happened if those crazy French Vikings hadn't have taken it for their own.

 

Romans! Hadrian's wall is pretty cool. Wales has like it's own dialect which is kind of interesting for a language historical factor.

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They say the Welsh are the oldest British people still thriving today. It's really amazing that they've remained distinct from the other peoples who have invaded England over history, be it the Anglo Saxons, the Romans, the Normans, or other Celtic tribes.

 

What many people are surprised by is how little Anglo Saxon DNA exists in England. Prior to those studies the prevailing theory was that the Saxons supplanted the existing population when they invaded @ 500 AD. In reality they only make up @ 20% of English DNA. The Romans and Normans have even less penetration. The bulk of English DNA consists of the people who were there prior to the various invasions.

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Poe,

 

yes I'm sure the rubber that was taken for resources went to other places too. Not just the Nazis. Im sure the resistance needed plenty of rubber too. The point I was making was that war takes the littlest things from civilians that we take for granted (like having tires on a bike). You don't need to be all smug and contrary for the sake of it, you know.

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Im not an expert by any means but I've always been fascinated with Dark Ages/ early medieval British/european history from Roman Empire to the invasions of the Saxons, then Vikings, and Normans etc.. Britain is such a melting pot of invading cultures and the evidence is still here to see this day. From modern places still having their Viking names, to the walls of Chester in parts still being the original Roman masonry. Its really cool.

I lived in Chester for about 18 months, went to uni there before I dropped out (actually around the time I first joined Nightly was when I lived there), and I loved it, still my favourite city to visit. There's a section of the city walls where you can still see the scars from the cannonballs fired at it during the Civil War (if I remember correctly, it was a Royalist stronghold that held for a long time and was one of the last to surrender). Have you ever been there?

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Well that was needlessly confrontational of you.

 

I just found it funny that she hit the tree while reading a book, something that had nothing to do with the war. Insert texting while driving joke here.

 

Sheesh.

Im sorry I totally misunderstood! I thought you were shutting me down for the call about Germans taking rubber resources not that you were meaning me blaming them for her crashing into the tree. My bad, dude. Sorry. I get you now. I didn't realise you were joking...

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Im not an expert by any means but I've always been fascinated with Dark Ages/ early medieval British/european history from Roman Empire to the invasions of the Saxons, then Vikings, and Normans etc.. Britain is such a melting pot of invading cultures and the evidence is still here to see this day. From modern places still having their Viking names, to the walls of Chester in parts still being the original Roman masonry. Its really cool.

I lived in Chester for about 18 months, went to uni there before I dropped out (actually around the time I first joined Nightly was when I lived there), and I loved it, still my favourite city to visit. There's a section of the city walls where you can still see the scars from the cannonballs fired at it during the Civil War (if I remember correctly, it was a Royalist stronghold that held for a long time and was one of the last to surrender). Have you ever been there?

 

Yeah my parents live not far from Chester, and my step sister lives in Chester. I've been a handful of times, and walked the wall and looked at the old roman foundations/ruins they have there. Definitely one of my favorite towns in the north. The old Roman fort in the Hard Nock Pass in the Lake District is also pretty amazing (as is the drive).. to think they managed to get all the way up that high in that miserable inhospitable landscape amazes me.

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It's cool to study the age of exploration and see how the Spanish lost their foothold on the Atlantic to the English. Also worth noting is that the English were more successful at colonization because they brought women. The Spanish only brought men, thus producing hybrid colonies, whereas the English colonies ultimately produced a country that dominates the world even to this day.

This is another fascinating part of this period. When you look back and see how much the Spanish were dominating the New World during that time and compare it to how things turned out. As children we are taught about the Mayflower and the struggles the Pilgrims went through to survive in the New World. Nice little underdog story, but it was happening at the same time the Spanish were thriving from Mexico up to what is now a huge chunk of the US.
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