The History Portal


History by Frederick Dielman

History by Frederick Dielman

History is the discovery, collection, organization, analysis, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean a continuous, typically chronological record of important or public events or of a particular trend or institution. Scholars who write about history are called historians. It is a field of knowledge which uses a narrative to examine and analyse the sequence of events, and it sometimes attempts to objectively investigate the patterns of cause and effect that determine events. Historians debate the nature of history and its usefulness. This includes discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present. The stories common to a particular culture but not supported by external sources (such as the legends surrounding King Arthur) are usually classified as cultural heritage rather than as the "disinterested investigation" needed by the discipline of history. Events of the past prior to written record are considered prehistory.

Amongst scholars, fifth century BC Greek historian Herodotus is considered to be the "father of history"; the methods of Herodotus along with his contemporary Thucydides form the foundations for the modern study of history. Their influence (along with other historical traditions in other parts of their world) has spawned many different interpretations of the nature of history which has developed over the centuries and are continuing to change. The modern study of history has many different fields, including those that focus on certain regions and those that focus on certain topical or thematic 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.

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The German Empire of 1871–1918
The formal unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German Empire after the French capitulation in the Franco-Prussian War. Unofficially, the transition of most of the German-speaking populations into a federated organization of states occurred over nearly a century of experimentation. Unification exposed several glaring religious, linguistic, social, and cultural differences between and among the inhabitants of the new nation, suggesting that 1871 only represents one moment in a continuum of the larger unification processes.

The model of diplomatic spheres of influence resulting from the Congress of Vienna in 1814–15 after the Napoleonic Wars endorsed Austrian dominance in Central Europe. However, the negotiators at Vienna took no account of Prussia's growing strength within and among the German states, failing to foresee that Prussia would challenge Austria for leadership within the German states. This German dualism presented two solutions to the problem of unification: Kleindeutsche Lösung, the small Germany solution (Germany without Austria), or Großdeutsche Lösung, greater Germany solution (Germany with Austria). Reaction to Danish and French nationalism provided foci for expressions of German unity. Military successes—especially Prussian ones—in three regional wars generated enthusiasm and pride that politicians could harness to promote unification. This experience echoed the memory of mutual accomplishment in the Napoleonic Wars, particularly in the War of Liberation of 1813–14. By establishing a Germany without Austria, the political and administrative unification in 1871 at least temporarily solved the problem of dualism.

Selected biography

Portrait circa 1809
Major-General Sir Isaac Brock KB (6 October 1769 – 13 October 1812) was a British Army officer and administrator. Brock was assigned to Canada in 1802. Despite facing desertions and near-mutinies, he commanded his regiment in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) successfully for many years. He was promoted to major general, and became responsible for defending Upper Canada against the United States. While many in Canada and Britain believed war could be averted, Brock began to ready the army and militia for what was to come. When the War of 1812 broke out, the populace was prepared, and quick victories at Fort Mackinac and Detroit crippled American invasion efforts.

Brock's actions, particularly his success at Detroit, earned him a knighthood, membership in the Order of the Bath, accolades and the sobriquet "The Hero of Upper Canada". His name is often linked with that of the Native American leader Tecumseh, although the two men collaborated in person only for a few days. Brock died at the Battle of Queenston Heights, which was nevertheless a British victory.

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Trinity Test Fireball 16ms.jpg

The Trinity nuclear test was the first nuclear detonation in the world. Conducted by the United States Army on July 16, 1945, the successful test would set the stage for the coming Atomic Age. This image, captured by Berlyn Brixner, shows the fireball that developed 0.016 seconds after ignition; the explosive had a yield of 20 kilotons of dynamite.

On this day

December 17

Fire in the Winter Palace
Fire in the Winter Palace

Rumi (d. 1273)  · Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (d. 1917) · Agnes Mary Mansour (d. 2004)

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Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.

—  Thomas Edison, scientist and inventor

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British Empire 1897.jpg
British Empire

"In recent times, European nations, with the use of gunpowder and other technical improvements in warfare, controlled practically the whole world. One, the British Empire, brought under one government a quarter of the earth and its inhabitants."
John Boyd Orr

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