The History Portal
History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.
History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them. Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.
Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends, because they do not show the "disinterested investigation" required of the discipline of history. Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is considered within the Western tradition to be the "father of history", and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts survived.
Ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematical elements of historical investigation. Often history is taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.
The Gunpowder Plot
of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot
or the Jesuit Treason
, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland
by a group of provincial English Catholics
led by Robert Catesby
The plan was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of England's Parliament on 5 November 1605, as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands during which James's nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state. Catesby may have embarked on the scheme after hopes of securing greater religious tolerance under King James had faded, leaving many English Catholics disappointed. His fellow plotters were John Wright, Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Robert Keyes, Thomas Bates, Robert Wintour, Christopher Wright, John Grant, Sir Ambrose Rookwood, Sir Everard Digby and Francis Tresham. Fawkes, who had 10 years of military experience fighting in the Spanish Netherlands in suppression of the Dutch Revolt, was given charge of the explosives.
The plot was revealed to the authorities in an anonymous letter sent to 4th Baron Monteagle, on 26 October 1605. During a search of the House of Lords at about midnight on 4 November 1605, Fawkes was discovered guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder—enough to reduce the House of Lords to rubble—and arrested. Most of the conspirators fled from London as they learnt of the plot's discovery, trying to enlist support along the way. Several made a stand against the pursuing Sheriff of Worcester and his men at Holbeche House; in the ensuing battle Catesby was one of those shot and killed. At their trial on 27 January 1606, eight of the survivors, including Fawkes, were convicted and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
/; May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), born Malcolm Little
and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
: الحاجّ مالك الشباز
), was an African American
Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. Detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy
, and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.
Malcolm X's father died—killed by white supremacists, it was rumored—when he was young, and at least one of his uncles was lynched. When he was thirteen, his mother was placed in a mental hospital, and he was placed in a series of foster homes. In 1946, at age 20, he went to prison for breaking and entering.
In prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam and after his parole in 1952 he quickly rose to become one of its leaders. For a dozen years Malcolm X was the public face of the controversial group, but disillusionment with Nation of Islam head Elijah Muhammad led him to leave the Nation in March 1964. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East he returned to the United States, where he founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. In February 1965, less than a year after leaving the Nation of Islam, he was assassinated by three members of the group.
Did you know...
- ... that the Japanese aircraft carrier Amagi (wreck pictured) capsized on 29 July 1945 as a result of cumulative damage inflicted by American airstrikes on 24 and 28 July?
- ... that Scandinavian influence in Scotland, still evident today, was probably at its height during the time of Thorfinn the Mighty?
- ... that, after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bassetki statue, which is more than 4,200 years old, was found in a cesspool?
- ... that in medieval art, angels were often depicted wearing feather tights?
- ... that 49% of German military losses happened in the last 10 months of the Second World War in Europe?
- ... that Joshua L. Goldberg, the first rabbi to serve as a World War II U.S. navy chaplain, was a Russian army deserter?
- ... that Richard Nixon chose the Wilson desk as his Oval Office desk because he believed it was used by Woodrow Wilson, but it was actually used by Henry Wilson, Vice President under Ulysses S. Grant?
- ... that some of the nominally silver Roman coins from the Bredon Hill Hoard only have a 1% silver content?
A photo of the Great Sphinx of Giza, partially excavated, from the late 19th century. The sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a man and the body of a lion. Constructed in the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt during the reign of Khafra, it is the largest monolith statue and monumental sculpture in the world. Despite its prominence, very little is known about the statue; it is not even known what it was originally called, as no references survive in known Egyptian sources, sphinx being the name of a similar classical Greek creature.
On this day
Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.
"Russia—a state which contains all type of soil, from the warmest to the coldest, from the burning environs of Erivan to icy Lapland; which abounds in all the products required for the needs, comforts, and pleasures of life, in accordance with its present state of development—a whole world, self-sufficient, independent, absolute."
— Mikhail Pogodin
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