history

Frederick the Great’s Cunning Plan to Introduce the Potato

Frederick the Great’s Cunning Plan to Introduce the Potato

On 24, March, 1756, Prussian king Frederick the Great passed the circular order that should ensure the cultivation and deployment of potatoes in his country. Actually, citizens received this only rather refusing, because this subterranean vegetable seemed rather suspicious to them. But there is the saying that the king used a clever trick to convince his subjects… “I appreciate the potato only as a protection against famine, except for that, I know…
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Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

On February 18, 1943, Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans brought a suitcase full of leaflets to the University of Munich, calling for passive resistance against the Nazis, and were arrested. Four days later, Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans and their friend Christoph Probst were found guilty of treason and condemned to death. “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They…
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Sir Francis Galton – Polymath

Sir Francis Galton – Polymath

On February 16, 1822, the cousin of Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Galton was born. Galton the polymath, was known for his fundamental contributions to anthropology, geographics, genetics, psychology, statistics, and eugenics. He also was the first to apply statistical methods to the study of human differences and inheritance of intelligence, and introduced the use of questionnaires and surveys for collecting data on human communities, which he needed for genealogical and biographical works and for…
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Anna Komnena – Byzantine Historian of the First Crusade

Anna Komnena – Byzantine Historian of the First Crusade

Anna Komnena was a Byzantinian Princess in the 11th century. She is considered one of the world’s first female historian and a major source of information about the reign of her father, Alexius I. in the times of the crusades. Of course this is rather unusual for the time being, that a princess writes about the life of her father, The Alexiad, and even more that this piece of writing should become…
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The Discovery of the Neanderthal Man

The Discovery of the Neanderthal Man

On February 4, 1857, German anatomist Hermann Schaaffhausen publicly announced the discovery of the remains of an extincted prehistoric species of human, the Neanderthal man, whose remains were discovered by amateur naturalist Johann Karl Fuhlrott in the German Neander Valley. From Belgium over Gibraltar to Düsseldorf Actually, the remains found in the Neander Valley were not the first known pieces of the Neanderthal man. Around 1829, Neanderthal skulls were discovered in what…
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Umberto Eco and The Name of the Rose

Umberto Eco and The Name of the Rose

On January 5, 1932, Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic, and successful novelist Umberto Eco was born. He is best known for his groundbreaking historical mystery novel Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose), an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. I have read ‘The Name of the Rose‘, when I was just 20 years of age, and ever since I am a…
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The Assassination of Thomas Becket

The Assassination of Thomas Becket

On December 29, 1170 AD, Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who engaged in conflict with Henry II of England over the rights and privileges of the Church, was assassinated by followers of the King in Canterbury Cathedral. The very last hours of Thomas Becket’s life are the reason why we remember him at all. If the four knights sent for his assassination had not completed their bloody work as he defied their…
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Charlemagne and the Birth of the European Idea

Charlemagne and the Birth of the European Idea

On December 25, 800 AD, Charlemagne also known as Karl the Great was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III in Rome. Thereby, he was the very first emperor of western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. Prelude Back in the 6th century, the West Germanic Franks had been christianized and Francia, ruled by the Merovingian dynasty, was the most powerful of the kingdoms that succeeded the…
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Leopold von Ranke – The Father of the Objective Writing of History

Leopold von Ranke – The Father of the Objective Writing of History

On December 21, 1795, German historian Leopold von Ranke, one of the founding fathers of modern source-based history science was born. Building on the methods of the Göttingen School of History, Ranke set the standards for much of later historical writing, introducing such ideas as reliance on primary sources (empiricism), an emphasis on narrative history and especially international politics. “We do not have to judge error and truth par excellence. He rises up…
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Melvil Dewey and the Dewey Decimal System

Melvil Dewey and the Dewey Decimal System

On December 10, 1851, Melvil Dewey, librarian and inventor of the Dewey Decimal classification system for libraries, the DDC, was born. Early Years Melvil Dewey was born as Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey into a rather poor family in the upper New York state. After a school-fire, he was told to live only for one more year and became obsessed with efficiency, wherefore he gained his interest in simplified spelling early. Dewey left…
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