The History Thread Page 2

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  • Bremenacht 11 Jan 2013 14:17:04 19,663 posts
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    Bound to be loads of EG types who'll get this:

    Kind Baldwin IV. AKA?
  • RelaxedMikki 11 Jan 2013 14:18:07 941 posts
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    This is a really nice thread. I can't join in with answering anything because I am rubbish at history, but it's really interesting.

    I do have a question though:

    Is history the story of conflicts and conquerors?

    I ask because I bought a book of 'historical what-ifs' a few years ago and I wad really dissapointed that all the counter-factuals were military (I should have had an inkling from the picture of Hitler, a centurion and a tank on the cover, but there you go!). I was hoping for some questions like "How close were the Romans to inventing the steam engine?"...
  • Bremenacht 11 Jan 2013 14:21:14 19,663 posts
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    @andytheadequate Hmm. Hitler was convinced that the Soviets would attack. He attacked them when he did because he believed them to be at their weakest because of the events you describe. You're right though - that doesn't mean the Soviets would have succeeded, or would have even built the war machine that eventually made it's way into Germany.
  • andytheadequate 11 Jan 2013 14:22:51 8,365 posts
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    RyanDS wrote:


    Truman probably saved millions with the bombs. The nukes are actually petty firecrackers compared to what went on with the Dresden bombings etc. (Read about the firestorms etc.)


    No, didn't it lead to the great reform act? At least a step in the right direction?


    Would it change your mind if you knew that Japan had offered to surrender before the atomic bombings, albeit with conditions (the allies wanted unconditional surrender)? Is killing women and children a reasonable way to win a war? If Hitler had killed 100,000 + women and children in Birmingham (for example) to finish the war, would that not be classed a war crime (after all, there would have been far more lives lost if he'd invaded).


    The great reform act was before the Chartist movement. 5 out of the 6 points were eventually passed as laws, only yearly elections weren't. But they were initially all rejected, they were only gradually introduced over the next 70 or so years


    @redsparrows - that book sounds fascinating. I've never heard of the man before though

    Edited by andytheadequate at 14:23:50 11-01-2013
  • andytheadequate 11 Jan 2013 14:24:59 8,365 posts
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    @RelaxedMikki - A lot of popular history is military, but if you study it at University only a very small percentage is. It really does depend on your tastes, there's a type of history on whatever subject you like
  • andytheadequate 11 Jan 2013 14:28:06 8,365 posts
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    Bremenacht wrote:
    @andytheadequate Hmm. Hitler was convinced that the Soviets would attack. He attacked them when he did because he believed them to be at their weakest because of the events you describe. You're right though - that doesn't mean the Soviets would have succeeded, or would have even built the war machine that eventually made it's way into Germany.
    Indeed. The same can be said in the Cold War. The Soviets had no interest whatsoever in attacking Western Europe, but the West was (understandably) utterly paranoid, as were the Soviets of the Americans. Fear of the others' intentions was probably the cause of the cold war rather than any ideological differences

    Edited by andytheadequate at 14:28:27 11-01-2013
  • RelaxedMikki 11 Jan 2013 14:35:56 941 posts
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    Is there a historical precedent for dominant nations crippling themselves with the cost of maintaining military spend? (I am thinking of Eisenhower's 'military industrial complex' speech and wether the Roman or some other empire (British?) has crumbled in part because it could no longer pay for it's military?)
  • RedSparrows 11 Jan 2013 14:38:18 24,254 posts
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    RelaxedMikki wrote:

    Is history the story of conflicts and conquerors?

    I ask because I bought a book of 'historical what-ifs' a few years ago and I wad really dissapointed that all the counter-factuals were military (I should have had an inkling from the picture of Hitler, a centurion and a tank on the cover, but there you go!). I was hoping for some questions like "How close were the Romans to inventing the steam engine?"...
    No, it's not.

    Unfortunately (not to deride AA's questions, as they lead to historical discussion) a lot of popular history (by no means all, obviously) tends to the counterfactual side, as it's fun to experiment with.

    Ditto conflicts and conquerors. That's an enormous part of history, but military history is a subset of a far great whole. It's a shame how often history goes back to it, ditto Kings and Queens. Nothing wrong with either, but there's much more out there that's hidden away - and popular history has represented social (domestic, for example) history a lot recently.

    Edited by RedSparrows at 14:41:32 11-01-2013
  • Deleted user 11 January 2013 14:38:39
    RelaxedMikki wrote:

    Is history the story of conflicts and conquerors?

    I would say a lot of history is the product of the ruling / wealthy classes. Not much written by the common man who didnt have a voice and also couldnt read / write even if he did.

    My degree was history - my dissertation was on 'Demonic possesions in 16th century french convents'. Any questions on that Im your man. Actually maybe not, it was a long time ago....
  • RedSparrows 11 Jan 2013 14:40:17 24,254 posts
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    The Soviets were also very able to attack once they had the industry up. Things like the 'Russian army being useless' aren't that helpful when you have 1943-45 coming right after it :)
  • RedSparrows 11 Jan 2013 14:42:31 24,254 posts
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    Alipan wrote:
    RelaxedMikki wrote:

    Is history the story of conflicts and conquerors?

    I would say a lot of history is the product of the ruling / wealthy classes. Not much written by the common man who didnt have a voice and also couldnt read / write even if he did.

    My degree was history - my dissertation was on 'Demonic possesions in 16th century french convents'. Any questions on that Im your man. Actually maybe not, it was a long time ago....
    And here you have the first step that leads to Berlin, Popper and theories of history (pluralities of time et al) - History (the past) and 'History' (the texts) are two different things. Away we go!
  • Deleted user 11 January 2013 14:42:33
    Did the Russians not beat the German advance by basically retreating and letting the Russian winter win in for them.

    German kit was inadequate for the cold weather and they had based there tactics on a quick win.
  • RelaxedMikki 11 Jan 2013 14:43:59 941 posts
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    Demonic possession should take over from zombies as our internet culture's go-to baddy.

    Demons are scary. You can tell who is a zombie. But how do you know who's got the demon? That's proper paranoia...!

    Edited by RelaxedMikki at 14:46:15 11-01-2013
  • glaeken 11 Jan 2013 14:44:02 11,266 posts
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    RelaxedMikki wrote:
    "How close were the Romans to inventing the steam engine?"...
    The Greeks had already done it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heron%27s_engine

    Only no-one saw any practical applications for it. There are probably limits to how far they could have gone with it given the metallurgy of the time but it still represents a missed opportunity of sorts. When you look at early steam engines of Thomas Newcomen it seems conceivable the Romans or the Greeks might have been able to make one of those with their level of tech. Of course that would still be a bit of a jump from Heronís concept.

    If you look at pictures of some of Heron others inventions though it really does look like he almost had all the idea's to make a Newcomen style engine. Take elements from each of those designs and you are virtually there. In particular if he had thought of steam power combined with his fire-engine design he might have been onto something big.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero_of_Alexandria

    Edited by glaeken at 14:58:07 11-01-2013
  • RedSparrows 11 Jan 2013 14:58:26 24,254 posts
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    Alipan wrote:
    Did the Russians not beat the German advance by basically retreating and letting the Russian winter win in for them.

    German kit was inadequate for the cold weather and they had based there tactics on a quick win.
    Essentially, yes. But it was also in combination with other factors: a revived sense of patriotism, an extremely efficient (relatviely, in the circumstances) relocation of industry, and colossal losses. It wasn't a matter of sit back and wait: if, hypothetically, they had simply run from the Germans with no fight, the outcome would have been very different. I am sure that's not what you meant, but clarity is king.
  • Deleted user 11 January 2013 15:04:44
    @RedSparrows

    Yes thats what I meant....ahem..

    I do remember reading about German soldiers getting demoralised just over the huge scale of the country they were trying invade. Day after day of marching through seemingly never ending terrain - nothing ever changing. The winter must have been the final nail in the coffin.
  • RyanDS 11 Jan 2013 15:06:49 9,857 posts
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    RedSparrows wrote:
    Alipan wrote:
    Did the Russians not beat the German advance by basically retreating and letting the Russian winter win in for them.

    German kit was inadequate for the cold weather and they had based there tactics on a quick win.
    Essentially, yes. But it was also in combination with other factors: a revived sense of patriotism, an extremely efficient (relatviely, in the circumstances) relocation of industry, and colossal losses. It wasn't a matter of sit back and wait: if, hypothetically, they had simply run from the Germans with no fight, the outcome would have been very different. I am sure that's not what you meant, but clarity is king.
    Germany also fucked up the invasion royally. In loads of places they were cheered when they entered the area... and then they shot everyone. So instead of playing the liberation army and gaining the support of the countryside which would have been hugely in their favour they managed to make enemies of everyone they met.
  • Bremenacht 11 Jan 2013 15:09:42 19,663 posts
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    It was the first nail in the coffin too. The previous winter went on too long, I think, delaying the operation start by a month.

    I'm trying hard to resist looking for those John Keegan and Antony Beevor books now.
  • RedSparrows 11 Jan 2013 15:13:56 24,254 posts
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    Indeed, Ryan - but the problem, and the real horror of the thing, was that it wasn't an invasion of conquest for appropriation of labour. It was a conquest for the appropriation of land - the *total* appropriation, i.e. the obliteration of the unworthy was necessary.

    It was entirely counter-productive: both for maintaining the necessary effort to continue the war, but also in the (luckily hypothetical) long-run.

    After the war there was an effective civil war in Western Ukraine, a long-term thorn for Moscow - Galicia, Volhynia etc. A place the Germans might well have found support - and they did, to an extent. Local populations were complicit in massacres, at points, in Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia itself, and so on.

    As I read very recently, the Nazi state didn't monopolise violence, so much as mobilise it. It made gaining land, and keeping it, that much harder. But realpolitik and ideology, psychology and, who knows, mass psychosis, clashed. In a sense, thankfully for us, but not for the poor bastards in the 'Bloodlands', as Snyder calls them.

    Edited by RedSparrows at 15:15:10 11-01-2013

    Edited by RedSparrows at 15:16:04 11-01-2013
  • RelaxedMikki 11 Jan 2013 15:20:30 941 posts
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    @glaeken - cheers - I had no idea about Heron. That was really interesting.
  • andytheadequate 11 Jan 2013 15:20:43 8,365 posts
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    RedSparrows wrote:
    The Soviets were also very able to attack once they had the industry up. Things like the 'Russian army being useless' aren't that helpful when you have 1943-45 coming right after it :)
    They wouldn't have had the drive to improve their industry if it wasn't for the invasion though. The Soviet Union pre 1942 were in disarray, politically, economicaly, socially and militarily.
  • andytheadequate 11 Jan 2013 15:23:51 8,365 posts
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    RelaxedMikki wrote:
    Is there a historical precedent for dominant nations crippling themselves with the cost of maintaining military spend? (I am thinking of Eisenhower's 'military industrial complex' speech and wether the Roman or some other empire (British?) has crumbled in part because it could no longer pay for it's military?)

    The French pre revolution springs to mind. They had spent the best part of a few decades as the dominant European power but they were crippled with debts in the 18th century, as were a lot of European countries.

    Generally an empire doesn't collapse because of economic pressure, but stagnates and eventually civil unrest and and more powerful opponents overthrow them.
  • RedSparrows 11 Jan 2013 15:26:19 24,254 posts
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    Of course they wouldn't have had quite the same drive, but then, outside of counterfactuals, that's not that helpful. ;)

    The USSR pre-1942 was indeed a mess in many respects. But, compared to the state of play in 1917, it was infinitely more developed. It had come at enormous cost (far too great), and was nowhere near finished, but it's very easy to underestimate the latent strength available to the USSR - and, importantly, where that lay, both geographically and mentally.

    It's a very strange mix of actual and social engineering combining to create a state at odds with itself, and winning the war on the back of that which had been dismissed/downplayed (e.g. nationalism, of a sort) and that which had been encouraged (e.g. mass industrial development).

    Edited by RedSparrows at 15:27:00 11-01-2013
  • andytheadequate 11 Jan 2013 15:27:02 8,365 posts
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    RedSparrows wrote:
    Alipan wrote:
    Did the Russians not beat the German advance by basically retreating and letting the Russian winter win in for them.

    German kit was inadequate for the cold weather and they had based there tactics on a quick win.
    Essentially, yes. But it was also in combination with other factors: a revived sense of patriotism, an extremely efficient (relatviely, in the circumstances) relocation of industry, and colossal losses. It wasn't a matter of sit back and wait: if, hypothetically, they had simply run from the Germans with no fight, the outcome would have been very different. I am sure that's not what you meant, but clarity is king.
    The Soviets didn't simply let them invade, they kept trying to fight and lost millions of casualties and prisoners as the Germans encircled them whilst they tried to hold the front line. Napoleon was defeated by letting him invade, fighting one indecisive battle (Borodino) then letting the winter do the rest.

    The winter and the vast size of the country certainly helped, but the Soviets also caused an awful lot of German casualties, even in 1941. Lions led by donkeys, etc

    Edited by andytheadequate at 15:30:28 11-01-2013
  • andytheadequate 11 Jan 2013 15:28:14 8,365 posts
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    RyanDS wrote:
    RedSparrows wrote:
    Alipan wrote:
    Did the Russians not beat the German advance by basically retreating and letting the Russian winter win in for them.

    German kit was inadequate for the cold weather and they had based there tactics on a quick win.
    Essentially, yes. But it was also in combination with other factors: a revived sense of patriotism, an extremely efficient (relatviely, in the circumstances) relocation of industry, and colossal losses. It wasn't a matter of sit back and wait: if, hypothetically, they had simply run from the Germans with no fight, the outcome would have been very different. I am sure that's not what you meant, but clarity is king.
    Germany also fucked up the invasion royally. In loads of places they were cheered when they entered the area... and then they shot everyone. So instead of playing the liberation army and gaining the support of the countryside which would have been hugely in their favour they managed to make enemies of everyone they met.
    This happened in the Ukraine. If it wasn't for Hitler's racially motivated hatred of slavs he would have had a willing ally, instead he got a fierce resistance movement
  • andytheadequate 11 Jan 2013 15:32:30 8,365 posts
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    OK, for those who aren't as keen on military or What If history, the Roman empire only lasted so long because it successfully made its conquered subject believe they were Romans...

    Discuss!

    I should work as an examiner
  • RedSparrows 11 Jan 2013 15:39:30 24,254 posts
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    It's interesting, when thinking of the Romans and the Roman identity, what that means at a time when the collective identities of other groups around them were... what? I have no idea.

    We're taught the nation state appeared in Europe somewhere around 1400 to god-knows, depending on who you read. So what were the identities around the Roman empire, that could compete (in *any* way)? Religious? Tribal? Geographical? Material - literally, this is mine, bugger off?

    I'd love to hear.

    Edited by RedSparrows at 15:40:12 11-01-2013
  • Alastair 11 Jan 2013 15:40:23 16,407 posts
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    I haven't studied history in any depth, but my impression of the Romans was that they were successful because they were militarily better organised, and then they improved the lives of the vanquished - technological advances and more trade routes.
    Feel free to shoot this idea down in flames... :)
  • Bremenacht 11 Jan 2013 15:40:29 19,663 posts
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    I'd say it the leaders of the conquered states feel like Romans, but not the populace. The Herods seemed happy with the Romans. The Ptolemies, probably not. Gauls, definitely not.
  • whatfruit 11 Jan 2013 15:42:56 1,689 posts
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    It did make them romans. This is the key differnce between Greek and roman citizenship. Greek were exclusive while Romans were inclusive their aim was to assimilate co0nquered peoples into their empire caring not for their religious or social custom as long as it was not adverse to the empire's economic interests. The roman didn't conquer peoples they exacted extremely efficent regime changes.

    Someone above mentioned that the upper classes were probably happy with romans but the lower orders were not. I would say the opposite was true, the upper orders were stripped of their powers and much of their wealth(so that they could not forment rebellions),while those who were not made into slaves could probably expect life to carry on as normal if not improve due to infrastruture programmes (roads, sewers, fora) and a large garrison bringing regular inflxues of roman coin. Of course every situation was different depending on the conquered peoples previous relationship to Rome. The Gauls got it so bad because early in rome's existence i think 280-250B.C (not entirely sure) the Gauls came into italty and sacked rome. The brutality that the romans admistered against them was effectively 200 years of simmering payback.

    The Roman empire failed because the system of goverment that adminstered the empire did not change or was inflexible to the political changes needed to sustain it into what it had become.

    Edited by whatfruit at 15:50:52 11-01-2013

    bobomb wrote:
    so it's not really on her terms, it's on his terms, because she isn't real.

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