The Jamaica of Henry Morgan or Bob Marley?

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jamaica-6

Both these men made Jamaica famous. You won’t find anyone who has not heard about this island, and if you ask what is associated with it, the answers will be “pirates” or “reggae.” However, some may say Jamaican rum.

In my view, the Caribbean Sea today brings to mind thoughts of pirates, just as would have in the 17th century. Because of that piracy connection, a young man named Henry decided to leave England and his rich parents, to go to the Caribbean Sea to seek adventure, romance, and treasure. He had not even enough money for passage on a ship, so he sold himself into slavery. That was a very common practice in those times. If you could not buy a ticket to the West Indies, you pledged to work on the sugar plantations for several years. The price of a one-way ticket for Henry Morgan was ten years.

However, Henry turned out to be a very capable guy; he got his freedom in only seven years, joined a gang and started to steal. Two years later, he had stolen enough money to buy a ship. He continued to rob, kill, and rape. He was lucky to get away with it, as piracy was forbidden by the United Kingdom. The Royal Court could hang you from the yardarm for it, but only if you had no license.

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How Spanish Toledo Revived European Civilization

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Toledo, Spain.

Toledo, Spain.

From 712 to 1085 the Spanish city Toledo–now one of the most visited tourist cities of Spain–belonged to the Moors, who called it Tulaytula. By that time, Europe had slowly forgotten all the achievements of the Greeks and Romans, having deteriorated into some muddy backwater of overall illiteracy and grubbiness, but the Arab world kept rapidly developing. Nowadays it’s hard to imagine that back then science prospered in Bagdad, Cairo, Cordoba, and Toledo, rather than in Rome, London, or Paris.

In 1055, the Russian knyazhna Anna, married to the French king, wrote in horror to her father, Yaroslav the Wise, the Grand Prince of Kiev, “Dear Father, they wash themselves only once a year here!… The dwellings are gloomy, the churches are ugly, and the mores are terrible… No king here is able to read… Where did you send my sinful soul? To this stinking hole, to France, to this damned city of Paris!…”

By the way, Anna Yaroslavna knew three other languages apart from Russian: Greek, Latin, and French.

Meanwhile the work of translating all writings of the Greek scientists that could be found during trips to Asia Minor was in full swing in the Arab Muslim Caliphate. All the bright minds of the empire assembled in Bagdad. They were well paid only for a single purpose–to keep developing science and art. Moreover, nobody ever demanded proof that the research would result in practical use.

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Ines de Castro: Coronation of the Dead Queen

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The Abbey of Santa Maria of Alcobaca. Portugal.

Abbey of Santa Maria of Alcobaca

He took the body of his beloved woman out of the grave, dressed her in queen’s clothing, sat her on the throne, knelt in front of her, kissed her dead dried hand, and ordered all his vassals to do the same. “She is my queen eight years already. Now she is your queen too.” No one dared to object to King Pedro I of Portugal, and Ines de Castro became the Queen of Portugal ten years after her brutal murder. She died at age 30.

But before this, a bloody love affair took place. Today, every schoolchild in Portugal knows the story.

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