Searching for: "Daniel Houle"

  • Charles River Editors

    Plague and pestilence have both fascinated and terrified humanity from the very beginning. Societies and individuals have struggled to make sense of them, and more importantly they’ve often struggled to avoid them. Before the scientific age, people had no knowledge of the microbiological agents – unseen bacteria and viruses – which afflicted them, and thus the maladies were often ascribed to wrathful supernatural forces. Even when advances in knowledge posited natural causes for epidemics and pandemics, medicine struggled to deal with them, and for hundreds of years religion continued to work hand-in-hand with medicine. Inevitably, that meant physicians tried a variety of...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    The Punic Wars spanned more than a century, brought the loss of approximately 400,000 lives, and eventually led to the utter defeat and destruction of Carthage, but it was no easy victory for Rome, and on several occasions the young Roman Republic was close to annihilation. Given what happened in the wake of the Punic Wars, historians have long been left to ponder what might have happened had the Carthaginians won, especially given how close Hannibal came to accomplishing such a victory against Rome during the Second Punic War. What if Carthage Won the Punic Wars? An Alternative History of the Conflict Between Rome and Carthage profiles the conflict and examines how events may have gone...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Hinduism as a religion spans more than 3,000 years, and now it includes nearly 1 billion people. At the same time, it is not a specific term, since there are clear sectarian boundaries, the same way there are differences between Protestantism and Catholicism, and even differences between the various Protestant sects and the various Catholic sects, Hinduism may be broken down into many major sub-groupings that may or may not have much in common at all. Additionally, in the same way Christianity contains many smaller, spirituality heterodox groups like Gnostic Christianity (which are sometimes called cults), Hinduism also contains many groups that have beliefs that do not fit easily within...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    The study of paleoanthropology is the branch of anthropology that examines the development of humans and pre-humans, often called collectively hominins, through history. Although paleoanthropology is directly concerned with human history, it diverges from traditional historical studies in that historians use historical records as their primary sources to reconstruct history, while paleoanthropologists work with bones and other artifacts hominins left as their records. Historians deal with the last 5,000 years of human history, while paleoanthropologists go back more than four million years to when the first proto-humans walked the Earth. Although the subject of paleoanthropology covers a...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Hispaniola entered the European record in 1492 when Christopher Columbus made landfall on its southern shore during his first trans-Atlantic voyage, and he named his discovery in honor of the Spanish Crown that had funded and sponsored the voyage. Leaving the crew of the wrecked Santa Maria on the island, he returned to Europe, leaving his men to establish the foundations of the settlement of La Navidad and the first beachhead of the European seizure of the Caribbean and the New World. Columbus would revisit the island three times, leading a vanguard of pioneer colonists to commence the exploitation of the New World. The indigenous people of Hispaniola, the Tainos and Arawak, initially...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    “Scotch-Irish” is an American term that became popular in the latter 1800s, referring to the largely Protestant immigrants to the United States originating in the northern Irish province of Ulster. The majority of Scotch-Irish were people intentionally settled in Ulster as a counter to the native Catholic Irish, who immigrated to Ulster from the lowlands of Scotland and the borderlands between England and Scotland. The Ulster settlers were a solution to depopulation caused by the wars in Ireland, and it was hoped that the Protestant settlers would counterbalance the habitually rebellious Catholic Irish. The regions they came from had a history of violence and poverty. The heritage of...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, when Western Europe was governed by a Germanic warrior-caste, the theory of a just and virtuous war took root. The Roman Church enhanced its authority by sanctifying oaths taken for just military purposes, and Bishop Anselm of Lucca (d. 1086) was the first to suggest that military action for the cause of religion could remit sin. At the Council of Clermont in July 1095, Pope Urban II canonized religious war by urging Western Europe's nobility to take up arms in defense of the Byzantine Empire against the Muslims, thus launching the Crusades. Religious military orders such as the Knights of Saint John, the Templars, and the...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    The split between the two forms of Islam was already in the process of forming upon the death of the Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad had constructed around himself not only a potent new religious movement but also a powerful young state called the Ummah (the 'Community' for lack of a better translation). Belonging to the Islamic faith also meant belonging to the Ummah, which was governed by its own laws and had many of its own institutions. In his own lifetime, Muhammad had ruled the Ummah through what sociologists call 'charismatic authority,' a term coined by Max Weber that is defined as 'resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person,...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Today the Space Race is widely viewed poignantly and fondly as a race to the Moon that culminated with Apollo 11 “winning” the Race for the United States. In fact, it encompassed a much broader range of competition between the Soviet Union and the United States that affected everything from military technology to successfully launching satellites that could land on Mars or orbit other planets in the Solar System. Moreover, the notion that America “won” the Space Race at the end of the 1960s overlooks just how competitive the Space Race actually was in launching people into orbit, as well as the major contributions the Space Race influenced in leading to today’s International Space...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    On his deathbed, some historians claim that when he was pressed to name a successor, Alexander muttered that his empire should go “to the strongest”. Other sources claim that he passed his signet ring to his general Perdiccas, thereby naming him successor, but whatever his choices were or may have been, they were ignored. Alexander’s generals, all of them with the loyalty of their own corps at their backs, would tear each other apart in a vicious internal struggle that lasted almost half a century before four factions emerged victorious: Macedonia, the Seleucid Empire in the east, the Kingdom of Pergamon in Asia Minor, and the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. During the course of these...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Mankind's obsession with felines is an enigma in and of itself. Unlike dogs, famously known as man's most excitable, trustworthy, and loyal friend, cats are oftentimes indifferent, guarded, and yet finicky little furry creatures who only yearn for attention and affection when one is neck-deep in work or otherwise preoccupied. And still, people adore them all the same. In a recent poll that surveyed 600 American college students, 60% of the participants identified themselves as “dog lovers,” whereas only 11% pledged their love for cats. The remaining 29% regarded themselves as fans of both critters or fans of neither. Be that as it may, there is said to be anywhere between a...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    The ancient Gutians are probably not one of the groups that come to most people’s minds when they think of barbarian hordes, but they were among the most important in the Bronze Age Near East. Little is known about the Gutians before they entered the historical record around 2200 BCE. in Mesopotamia, and even after that point, the contemporary records are open to interpretation because they are obviously biased against the outsiders. Since the Gutians had no written language, most of what modern scholars know about them has come from the works written by various groups in Mesopotamia, but they viewed the Gutians as uncivilized invaders, and with a healthy amount of fear and revulsion....read more

  • Charles River Editors

    By the dawn of the 17th century, Portuguese influence in Africa fell into decline, and the occasions of European contact with Ethiopia became very few and far between. It would be another three centuries before another European would venture into the holy precincts of Lalibela as part of a British military expedition mounted in 1867. Thus, the “rediscovery” of the remarkable churches and the story of Christianity in Ethiopia would only be recently written. It is also true that the Catholic spiritual hierarchy reflected the structure of African spiritual life. The first line of African worship is composed of the spirits of passed ancestors whose relationship with the living remains...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Saber-toothed tigers were arguably the most fabled of all the Ice Age creatures. The fearsome beast has earned itself quite the reputation, and it has been referenced to, appeared in, and inspired unique characters in endless books, films, comics, and other pop culture mediums. For example, Marvel's Victor Creed, otherwise known as “Sabretooth,” is most known as Wolverine's nemesis, and he’s depicted as a hulking, vigorously robust menace in a red and orange-gold jumpsuit with a hunched back, a shock of wild blond hair, tiger-like claws, and frightening fangs. As that indicates, the prehistoric creature is often portrayed as impossibly cunning, unfeeling villains. Even in films geared...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    There is extensive empirical literature about memorialization, but very little theory despite the fact people have been commemorating events for millennia. The term is generally understood to mean the practices and behaviors used to commemorate those who died in a traumatic event such as a war, and these practices may involve statues, graveyards, museums, the naming of streets and buildings, awards of medals or colors, anniversaries, literature, art, music, and dress codes. This list is not exhaustive, and not all these methods will necessarily be used to memorialize any given event. Practices and behaviors are sometimes culturally specific and have evolved over time but are nearly always...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    While Nat Turner’s rebellion remains famous today, a far larger uprising took place a generation earlier. In January 1811, hundreds of slaves in Louisiana attempted to make a new beginning for themselves or die trying. Armed with muskets, cane knives, and axes, and wearing stolen United States militia uniforms, they set out to conquer the city of New Orleans. The goal was to establish a free republic where slavery was outlawed and blacks had control over their own lives. Understandably discontented with their status and no longer willing to accept it, they were ready to engage in extreme violence to win their freedom, fully aware that death would be the only alternative. Between the...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    In 1291, three cantons around Lake Lucerne—Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden—formed the so-called “Everlasting League” to counter outside aggression. This became the nucleus of what would develop into the Swiss Confederacy, and eventually the nation of Switzerland. Gradually, more and more cantons would join, ending their constant, low-level infighting and making the land more secure for trade. By the beginning of the 16th century, the Swiss Confederacy was comprised of 13 cantons, and this voluntary unification, without threats or conquest, was remarkable for the time. It was helped by the fact that the Swiss had a roughly similar culture, and that the region, with its ring of...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Shortly after Emperor Hadrian came to power in the early 2nd century CE, he decided to seal off Scotland from Roman Britain with an ambitious wall stretching from sea to sea. To accomplish this, the wall had to be built from the mouth of the River Tyne – where Newcastle stands today – 80 Roman miles (76 miles or 122 kilometers) west to Bowness-on-Solway. The sheer scale of the job still impresses people today, and Hadrian’s Wall has the advantage of being systematically studied and partially restored. Of course, the masterful architecture of the wall belied the fact that it was built for defense, because Scotland (known as Caledonia to the Romans) was never fully conquered or...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    In the wake of taking Constantinople, the Ottoman Empire would spend the next few centuries expanding its size, power, and influence, bumping up against Eastern Europe and becoming one of the world’s most important geopolitical players. It was a rise that would not truly start to wane until the 19th century, and in the centuries before the decline of the “sick man of Europe,” the Ottomans frequently tried to push further into Europe. Some of those forays were memorably countered by Western Europeans and the Holy League, but the Ottomans’ most frequent foe was the Russian Empire, which opposed them for both geopolitical and religious reasons. From negotiations to battles, the...read more

  • Charles River Editors

    Most Americans know that slavery is a central part of the nation’s history, but the common perception of that history is selective because the general understanding is that slavery was characteristic of the states that seceded from the Union to form the Confederacy, and that slavery ended with the North’s victory in the Civil War. People with a more thorough knowledge of the history of slavery are aware of the Emancipation Proclamation, the amendments that made slaves citizens and gave them the right to vote, the complex history of Reconstruction and its ultimate failure, the long history of Jim Crow and white supremacy, and the Civil Rights Movement. However, slavery was not...read more