Nelson’s famous signal at Trafalgar

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I’ve always believed this to be the case also.

At that time, England was used to reference the whole of Britain too so wasn’t seen as a slight or an exclusion to the other home countries.

It was simply changed to England for brevity as it required less flags to display. I see no issue with this phrasing and say this as a Scot myself.


Yes, Nelson’s original message was to be:

“Nelson confides that every man will do his duty.”

But “Nelson” and “confides” were not in the signal book, which meant they would have had to be spelled out letter-by-letter… So the signal officer suggested changing it to “England expects.”

(“Nelson confides” would have gone over better, given the prestige of Nelson in the fleet–vs. an abstraction like “England”–and the harsher demand of “expect”, which is less trusting…)

As far as “Britain” (vs. “England”) goes, Linda Colley (*Britons*) has argued that the constant warfare between Britain and France in this period was one of three factors that helped to create a “British” (vs. “English”) national identity…

but I think she’s ahead-of-the-game here. While the act of Union with Scotland was a 100 years old by Trafalgar (1707), the act of Union with Ireland was just a few years before (1801), and was a bit of political disaster for everyone.

I don’t think a lot of Englishmen and Scotsmen were thinking of themselves as “Britons” in the early 19th century… I think that comes later after a half-century of British (not English) empire-building…


Wasn’t the signal actually “England knows Lady Hamilton is a virgin. Poke my eye out and cut off my arm if I’m wrong.”?


Can anyone provide a brief explanation of the significance of the signal? I know very little about the battle or it’s historical significance.


It was formerly routine to use “England” in place of Britain or United Kingdom, just like saying “Holland” for the Netherlands or “Turkey” for the Ottoman Empire. For example, even HH Asquith’s tombstone describes him as “Prime Minister of England”


What interest did Scotland have in CENTRAL America in the late 17th century?

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You don’t need a canal. Ships would go from Asia to Panama, unload on smaller ships along the rivers and worst case roads to new Edinburgh on the east coats. The Scotland company would either buy on the west coast and sell in the east, taking their profit on the way, or buy in the west, load on company ships in the east and then sell in Europe.
Still better than sailing through the Magellan straight.


They wanted to be like the other European powers and get in on the wealth America had to offer.

The Scots saw an opportunity in creating an overland trade route that can run goods from the Atlantic to the Pacific. A sort of less efficient pre-cursor to the Panama Canal.

They also had the wealth to do it after a quick wealth consolidation move, so why not?

They were not to know that their destination would be completely inhospitable, their trade good of choice (trinkets and wool) was worthless to the natives and passing merchants, the climate was unbearable to a native Scot, the land was unusable, the accidents, threat of Spanish attack, and the wealth gathered to make the trip was… shadily put together lets say…

There was no risk assessments back then, they took a shot and it missed.

To my knowledge, the ONLY wealth gathered from this absolute disaster was in a small bit of turtle hunting. The meat and shells would have sold for a good price. But the death rate of up to 10 colonists per day in a newly established colony meant this was aggressively unsustainable.

There were two expeditions, and of the 3.5k+ colonists that went, only a few hundred returned to Scotland.

An interesting footnote to this absolute failure is that this was likely a driving factor to Scotland unifying with England. The Scottish elite saw this colony as a path to European power, but when it failed the only other option available to them was to unify England to form Great Britain. The Scottish aristocracy had lost a fuck tonne of money, and in unifying with England, the lions share of their debts were written off. So this is something that we’ve never seen before, rich people were good at staying rich, even back then.


A canal through Panama has been conceptualised for almost as long as Europeans have known about the Americas. Even today, not everything passes through the canal. There is a Panama Canal Railway (which predates the canal) and road trucking which carry goods across Panama. Ports on both the Atlantic and Pacific load and unload goods moving between the two. In the 17th century it would have likely been horse or ox-carts which would have moved goods between the two oceans over land until the canal was completed.


Basically misinformation, specifically that it would be easy to build a land route across the Panama isthmus. IIRC there was a sailor who swore that it could be done and people took him at his word.
The plan was some ‘light’ colonialism and to make a lot of money charging tolls to use their road.
Of course this was a ridiculous fantasy that was an utter failure which bankrupted many individuals (this venture was largely bankrolled by the general public) and the fallout played a large part in signing of the Treaty of Union.


I’m in no way an expert on the subject, but the Panama canal is about 50 miles wide. Sailing around South America at the time took about 2 months on average from NY to SF (based on rough Google search) while the canal cuts that trip from about 13k mile to about 5k miles. So let’s say it takes about 1 month to do the 5k miles. With a primitive road and horses, you can easily push 10-20 miles in a day of travel by road, so you can cut over 3 weeks off your journey by using 2 boats and transporting cargo overland between the 2 (minus loading/unloading time). Then with trains, that gets even quicker to move even more cargo. Not to mention there is much less risk crossing land for several hours/days than sailing around cape horn, which is known to be extremely dangerous sailing territory, for a month.

In theory, the route through Panama could almost double your trade volume/time period while being less risk than sailing


When did sacking of cities go out of style?

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The Hague Convention of 1899 basically ended looting. If you invade nation A and take all its valuables, Nation A and it’s subjects are able (in principle) to demand them back and/or compensation.

Of course how the Allies got around that at Potsdam was to declare Germany had ceased to exist as a nation and therefore the territories under their occupation were not covered by The Hague Convention.

And that was how the Americans and the Brits helped themselves to many many MANY patents…

But yeah 1899 was when it technically went out.


It never stopped, but looting stopped being an expected form of payment with the formation of professsional armies, which formed in the 17th century.

That said, every war with draftees has featured looting: Americans and British openly pilfered pretty much everything of value in WW2, and the officers mostly turned a blind eye to it. The Russians went much farther, going so far as to take entire German factories back to Russia.

If looting is less common now, it’s because there’s simply less to steal: paper money is mostly worthless, and some ancient AK isn’t worth taking.


Once you start actually paying your soldiers, the impulse to make money on the siege might go down a good bit.

I’d imagine that tighter troop control, a dedicated officer corps, and complete contact with troops in the field helps as well.


Sherman’s march to the sea sacked many cities, towns, farms and rail heads.


It sort of stopped being common practice around the Renaissance, but even after then there have been plenty of noteworthy times when looting has returned, never fully going away till around the end of WW2. Despite its continuation till just after WW2 it became unfashionable around the 19th century.


Sunken Japanese Fleet Carrier Kaga Discovered

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I was not aware so many of the World War II ships had been found. I suppose we are in a Golden Age for underwater archaeology. In any case, she will be left unmolested as a war grave.


Most Japanese ships that were sunk haven’t been found due to lack of proper documentation of their sinking locations.


Suspiciously close to the movie release date… but very cool!


A question for /r/history… Suppose the American code breakers do not break the code, or so too late to keep Japan from winning a major battle. Say the US loses 2 carriers instead of 1 and Japan captures the chain of islands, maybe not losing any of the big carriers.

My understanding is that there was no way for Japan to actually win the war. They just didn’t have enough resources and the US could massively outproduce them. What does this scenario do for the war? Does it cause the US to divert enough resources West, that not enough support can be provided to Britain and the USSR? The US can still defeat Japan, but can Germany now defeat Russia and trigger a stalemate in Europe?


How many sailors actually died in the ship? Wouldn’t most of them get out while it was sinking?


Silly Questions Saturday, October 19, 2019

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I attempted to post this question once before, but it was deleted by a mod who said I was trying to get others to do my homework. Seeing as how that homework would be extremely late now, let’s try again. I’ve researched this and have come up with nothing, but I’m a casual fan of history and most definitely could have missed something. Do we have any examples from history where either an individual or group of people invented a technology, but then destroyed that technology out of fear for what it could do/who it could be used by? I suppose it doesn’t necessarily have to be a weapon, but you get where I’m going.


I know that the Battle of New Orleans famously occurred after a peace agreement had already been reached, but I’m curious about other events in history that we can generally say is the consequence of news taking a much longer time to travel than it does today. Does anybody know of any examples?


When King Louis was holding his assemblies before the French Revolution, his finance minister gave him a complete plan that would alleviate the country’s economic problems. It included removing monopoly, redistributing the tax burden, and reducing government spending. I understand that the aristocracy would obviously not want this, but how could they refuse considering how terrible of a position France was in? It seems incredibly selfish and short-sighted.


Since people are always trying to recreate the next big trend, when powder wigs were all the rage are there any recorded accounts of knock-offs?


What role did alcohol play in fueling revolutions throughout history? Has its influence waxed and waned?


Is this just my feeling, or are the crusades generally perceived as something bad, wheras Richard Lionheart, a central figure, is pretty romanticized?

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The First Crusade is usually viewed pretty negatively because of all the crap that happened, especially the cannibalism and all.
Richard and Saladin were around in the Third Crusade which was around a century after. They are more fondly remembered because both acted chivalrously with one another and it was seen as being much more ‘honorably’ fought.


Depends, I’ve heard plenty of stuff criticizing Richard “Only spent 10 months in England” Lionheart. He romanticized a bit because he’s most prominent in popular culture through Robin Hood where he’s the Big good who saves Robin at the end (in some versions).

Plus he was in 1 crusade and there were several. And while he and Saladin had a grudging respect for eachother the other crudades didn’t have such a famous chivalric rivalry. They were just bloody, destructive, awful and mostly failures.


I think Richard’s public perception has fallen a lot in the past 50 years.

The cost of his ransom.

His sort of pointless death leading to the excesses of King John.

Failure of the Crusade to stabilize the Crusader kingdoms territorially.

Combined with the general decline of the perception of the Crusades.


I’d say a good deal of that simply comes from Robin Hood being vastly more well-known than any history lesson about the crusades, and Robin stories usually portray him as a great guy to contrast him more with John being a greedy dick.

And, as silly as it is, his name might have a lot to do with it. Like, god damn, “Richard I the Lionheart” is really high in the cool king name rankings.


I think it’s wrong to think of the Crusades as bad, it’s a sign of historical ignorance. One can’t judge history with the lenses of the present.


In 1920, what’s the furthest you could be from a British colony?

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Could be Hawaii. Already the most geographically isolated. Depends on if any of the archipelago was British in 1920.


I’d suggest Heard Island. About 4,000 km from Perth, Western Australia and over 3,000 km to the South Pole, the closest part of the British Antarctic territory.

It didn’t become an Australian territory until 1947, so it wasn’t part of the empire.


After looking at a basic map of British territories/colonies in 1920, I’d say somewhere in central northern Siberia


MACS0647-JD, about 13.3 billion light years away; the farthest known galaxy from earth in the observable universe


Ooh. This would make a good pub quiz question. My answer would be something like Easter Island. It is already pretty remote, and the other British possession I can think of would be the Falklands.

I’m sure I’m overlooking one of the Pacific island territories though, like Tuvalu or Kiribati.

In which case your best answer would be somewhere in Siberia, like you said!


What would a Grenada Moor (14th-16th century) wear under and to secure his pants?

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Typo in the title, I obviously meant the emirate of Granada, not the modern island of Grenada


Hey OP, I think The Moors: The Islamic West 7th-15th centuries ad by David Nicolle may help you. I haven’t read this one on particular but I have quite a few books of the men at arms series and they have pictures and explanations of what soldiers would have worn and logistics and things of that sort to kind of dive in on a ‘personal’ level on the every day life of a soldier.


I have noticed I’m not reading as many books on history as I usually do; what are things that you are reading currently? I have been wanting more Russian history books especially around the Tzar period with Romanov and Rurik dynasty.

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*The Romanovs 1613-1918* by Simon Sebag Montefiore is about the entire Romanov dynasty from beginning to end.

Personally I’m reading *Armageddon: The Battle For Germany 1944-45* by Max Hastings which is pretty good so far.


I’m currently reading “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond, i know there are some problems with his hypothesis but it’s still a very interesting attempt at an holistic explanation of the developement of human societies, real good read.

Edit: one really could teach that bot to tell a critical mention apart from an attempt to cite GG&S as gospel


I’m reading about ancient Celts, need inspiration and material for a fictional civilization based on them I’m creating for my world.


A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes! It’s a huge book and Figes is a tad bit controversial in Russian historiography because he is a very narrative focused historian. But I think it just makes history come alive!
It’s about the events surrounding the fall of the Romanov dynasty, the Russian Revolution, and causes/effects/lots of details regarding that period of history. Would highly recommend!
Because it’s so big, I think it’s a great primer on a lot of modern Russian history.


Another tack may be to read some Russian literature. Not Tolstoy or Dostoevsky or other heavies. Read some Pushkin or Lermontov. Gives you a sense of what life what like for the elites during the Romanov dynasty. Lots of young military officers wasting their lives on card games, booze, and chasing women.


British Raj’s torture “experiments” on Indian freedom fighters

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There’s a looooot of problematic comments here, so a gentle reminder about **Rule 12: No Atrocity Olympics**:

> No Atrocity Olympics. Atrocities aren’t an Olympic event, to be compared and scored according to how ‘bad’ they were. All mass killings, crimes against humanity, aggression, and repression are terrible, and while it is important to be able to contextualize the scope of a given event, boiling that scope down to a number to argue on a top-ten list or ‘worst of’ thread both denies the humanity of what happened and cheapens the severity of the crimes. We invite and indeed encourage discussion of atrocities. It is vital that we transparently analyze and keep such tragedies in living memory, so that they are understood and never repeated. But that needs to be done in their own context.


An interesting but harrowing read of the conditions in Andaman and Nicobar Island prisons where Indian freedom fighters were imprisoned and tortured. The article is more than 18 years old but the extensive interviews cover the heartbreaking conditions the prisoners were subjected to.

Below extract from the article clearly shows extensive record keeping but also apathy showed towards the prisoners.

>*And tucked between the pages are government approvals for secret pharmaceutical trials: “From the Secretary to the Government of India, Simla, June 24th 1880, despatch 197, to Dr J Reid, Senior Medical Officer, Port Blair: Regarding a new drug, cinchona alkaloid, the experimental use is very desirable… and should be confined to 1,000 convicts.”*
>*Dr Reid’s sample group was force-fed “three grains a day” until they started to sicken. “Convict 25276. Observed on 22 March 1881. In a weak state. Bloodless. Tongue large, pale and flabby. Diarrhoea. Dead in two days.”*
>*Cinchona was a tree imported to Asia from Peru whose bark would later be distilled to make quinine, an effective and natural anti-malarial. But the rough preparation and dosage experimented with by the prison doctors caused acute side effects: nausea and diarrhoea. It was also a depressant. In monthly reports for the period of the test, the chief commissioner, Lieutenant-Colonel T Cadell, observed “a remarkable increase in suicides”. Convicts “weary of life” were literally hacking each other to pieces, hoping to secure the death penalty. But Cadell had a solution: “Flogging and a reduced diet.” Everyone under the age of 22 was now required to sleep in “a sort of trellis-work cage”.*


I’ve been to Cellular Jail as a visitor. It still chills the bones when you walk the long corridor and go to the last cell where Vir Savarkar was kept. I think they used to allow you to go in the cell and try it out. 11 year old me didn’t dare. ‘Kalapani’ (Black water) was a terrible thing.


It wasn’t even that long ago. Can western nations really complain when other nations don’t trust them? It’s not like we’re talking about medieval history here.


Well… that was the stuff of nightmares