The Actual Writing of a Thesis-Part 4

I was getting to the actual writing of a description of the fighting part of my thesis today when something hit me.  I was looking at casualty figures for the various actions and they are decidedly lopsided.   Most historians blame that on the Prussian possession of the Needle-Gun but I just don’t buy that, it’s too pat an explanation.   As I was thinking about it, it hit me that the Prussians and Austrians fought in completely different ways.

More after the Jump…The Actual Writing of a Thesis-Part 4

Medieval Weaponry

While weapon archetypes used during the feudal period were the same as that used throughout most of recorded history there were changes and developments in the different weapons and armor.  Â The spear and all its variants were the most widely used weapon of medieval armies.   The spear was the primary weapon used by the barbarian armies’ that conquered the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century.   As the lance, the spear continued to be used the most even after cavalry became the decisive military arm in Europe.

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The “Vitriol in Public Speech” Debate-My 2¢

Ok, I have been reading quite a bit of news and opinion pieces about the uproar over “vitriolic and threatening” speech since the Tucson shootings last Saturday.  What is killing me about this supposed debate is that it is not so much a debate as it is columnists on both sides throwing barbs at each other.  It seems to me that the left is trying to play pin the blame on the conservative and conservatives are answering by saying it is not just us the liberals do it too.  (both sides just end up appearing childish to me) Wouldn’t it be much better for the conservatives to flat out deny … More after the Jump…

The Actual Writing of a Thesis-Part 3

     At this point, I am well into writing my thesis.   I completed chapter one last night and got started on writing chapter two.   So far, with the introduction and first chapter I have written twenty-six pages out of what should end up being about an eighty pages or so project.      So far that actual writing part has been easier than I thought it would be.   I have never written a paper that is as long as this one is and that had me worried at first.   What I am finding is that the initial getting started writing each day can be difficult but once … More after the Jump…

Battle Analysis: The Ludendorff Offensives of 1918

In the spring of 1918 the German army attempted a series of what they hoped would be war-winning offensives on the Western Front that ultimately were to fail and their failure led directly to the German signing of an armistice in November of 1918. The failure of the Ludendorff Offensives as they were known was strategic and operational in nature. The German army had devised a new tactical system and doctrine that broke the stalemate of the Western front. What they could not do was follow through once the front had been broken. The Germans had developed the tactical system known as infiltration in response to the stalemate of trench … More after the Jump…

The Spanish Reconquista: The Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa

            The capture of Salvatierra by the Almohad’s in 1210 provided the impetus for Pope Innocent III (p.1198-1216) to issue a general call for crusade in Spain and grant the remission of sins for those who would go to Spain and fight for Christendom.[1]  For several reasons including hostility between the Christian monarchs of Spain, a council was not convened until the spring of 1212 in Toledo; even so, the kings of Portugal and Navarre did not attend.   When the council met a plan of campaign was discussed and agreed on as well as timing for the campaign to begin.

            The main nobles that met at Toledo were Alfonso VIII of Castile (r.1158-1214), Pedro II of Aragon (r.1196-1213), Archbishops Amaury of Narbonne and Guillaume of Bordeaux, some minor nobility from southern France, and the masters of the Spanish military orders with representatives from the Temple and Hospital as well.   Alfonso VIII agreed to bankroll the Aragonese contingent because of the king’s debt, and he also provided mounts and money to some of the French contingents due to their poverty.[2]

More after the Jump…The Spanish Reconquista: The Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa

Book Review: The Campaign of Germany in 1866

       This work is the Official History of the 1866 Seven Weeks’ War prepared by the Prussian General Staff after the war. I got this book for use in my thesis and it probably would not be of interest to anybody except for hard-core history fans or specialists. That being said, it is one of the better official histories I have ever read.        It is readable and concise and includes a wealth of information. Perhaps the best part of this work from a historian’s perspective is that it is based on primary source documents that are no longer available because they were destroyed in the closing days of World … More after the Jump…

The First Crusade

            The First Crusade was arguably the most successful of the various numbered Crusades; however, they were not particularly well equipped for a campaign in Asia Minor.   It is no surprise that they were not, as the climate in Anatolia is completely different from Europe.   What is amazing is the way in which the Crusaders persevered in spite of the hardships they had to endure throughout the march across Asia Minor.  

            The main Crusader army seems to have had an appreciation for the difficulties involved in a march across Anatolia; no doubt; the counsel of the Byzantine emperor, Alexius I Comnenus (1081–1118) was helpful in their choice of march route.   Prior to leaving the region of Nicaea to continue the Crusade, the leaders held a council at Pelekanum where the Frankish leaders and the Alexius discussed further plans for the Crusade.[1]  It was decided that the Crusader army would move as a series rather than together so that there would be more flexibility in deployment, and to simplify logistics.

More after the Jump…The First Crusade

The Rise of the Crusading Ethos, Politics and Religion in the Eleventh-century

Europe in the tenth and eleventh centuries was a continent in transition.   The states of Europe were still in flux and the kings of Europe had limited authority outside their own personal demesne.   Although individual French kings did wield considerable power, they waged a constant struggle to have their authority recognized by the great magnates in France, especially after the fall of the Carolingian dynasty in the ninth century.[1] The rest of Europe was no exception, in England the king was engaged in a great struggle with his leading barons and the Pope that would not be settled until the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.[2]

More after the Jump…The Rise of the Crusading Ethos, Politics and Religion in the Eleventh-century

Some Thoughts on Otto von Bismarck

Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) was probably the most accomplished politician that Germany has ever produced.   He was almost single-handedly responsible for the emergence of the nation of Germany during the nineteenth century.   He was appointed Prime Minister of Germany in 1862 by the Prussian King Wilhelm I (1797-1888) in the middle of a constitutional crisis in Prussia in which the Reichstag refused to authorize a state budget.   Bismarck handled this crisis with ease by using the machinery of state to collect taxes without the Reichstag thus making them irrelevant.   He continued to collect taxes and finance the state for four years until finally the Reichstag was … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain

Porter’s book is in many ways an eye-opener.   It was a surprise to discover that Britain’s empire was not a topic of national discussion until the latter portion of the imperial period.   If porter’s thesis is correct and the people of Britain were by and large ignorant of the empire and willfully so as he makes clear in his introduction then that makes a hash out of most of the post-colonialist arguments he is criticizing.[1] It is Porter’s position that Britain was not “steeped” in imperialism even for the segment of society from which most imperial administrators were drawn until comparatively late in the imperial period itself.The Absent-Minded Imperialists has much to tell us about the way in the British Empire was perceived in Britain itself during the imperial period.   Porter makes an excellent argument that while the empire materially affected the lives of many Englishmen through such things as raw materials, some culinary habits, and trade; these things did not necessarily mean that the average Englishman was consciously aware of the extent of Britain’s empire on a day to day basis.   He also demonstrates why this could be so.   Once he really delves into the ways in which the British Empire affected the British home culture he proves his point quite well.

More after the Jump…Book Review: Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain

Communist Manifesto and the Present

This is a piece that talks about Marx, The Communist Manifesto, and how or even if, Marxism is still relevant in the contemporary world.

            The verdict of history regarding Marxism would seem to be on the side of those who claim that the Marxist program has been a colossal failure.   None of the predictions made by Marx in his manifesto have come true, certainly not his central theme in which the masses reap the benefits of an equalization of status in society.   It is certain that everywhere Marxism has been tried it has failed China, Russia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Cuba among others.   Marxism has failed and failed spectacularly.   However, it continues to exert an attraction for those who felt that society should provide for all or that are disenchanted with the capitalist system and fell that there must be some better way of running the world.

David Horowitz made this point extremely well when he pointed out that: “since the ‘Manifesto’ was written… 100 million people have been killed in its name.   Between 10 and 20 times that number have been condemned to lives of unnecessary misery and human squalor, deprived of the life chances afforded the most humble citizens of the industrial democracies that Marxists set out to destroy.”[1]  Apparently people are not willing to give up their economic autonomy as easily as Marx thought they would be and so they must be forced into doing what Marxists perceive as being in their best interests.

More after the Jump…Communist Manifesto and the Present

Old versus “New” Historiography

Below is a piece I wrote for a class I took in World History for my BA in which I had to analyze the differences between Rankean history and the influence of the Annales school and what has come after.   If I remember right, I got an A on this assignment even though the professor thought I was a little too disparaging of the postmodernists.   I am disparaging of postmodernism in general, that is probably one reason I have chosen not to pursue a career in Academia as I had once aspired to do.

The main difference in the debate, if it is a debate, between old and new historiography seems to be politics and its place in academic or scholarly work as well as the usefulness of other disciplines to historical scholarship.   The Rankean or scientific historians of the old historiography would like to see historians as group distance themselves from politics contemporary or otherwise and focus on trying to make their histories be as fact based as possible while only presenting opinions in their interpretation of events.   The new historiography, represented by the historians of the Annales School or sometimes claimed by the postmodernists and deconstructionists of the Foucault or Derrida schools seems to want to insert politics into history at every opportunity.   Indeed, the postmodernists take is almost that politics is inescapable and if that is so then why not wallow in it and abandon any hope of objectivity or neutrality?  The Annales School however is more rigorous in its application of logical thought to history and instead seeks to develop a synthesis of history and other disciplines and does not focus as much on politics as the postmodernists do.

More after the Jump…Old versus “New” Historiography

The Military Revolution?

I saw this piece (Warfare of the Future) on RCP today and it got me to thinking about the Nature of Revolutions in Military Affairs (RMAs) in general. I dont think there are a whole lot of people out there that are not in the military in into to military history that are very conversant with the idea of a RMA. The idea was first proposed by historian Michael Roberts in a series of lectures in England in 1955. It has gained currency among the current crop of thinkers in the worldwide defense community, especially think-tanks and weapon makers. The RMA is the current killer-app of defense thinking.

More after the Jump…The Military Revolution?

The Actual Writing of a Thesis-Part 2

I rediscovered the importance of an outline over the past few days of working on my thesis. Idiot me did not do an outline as I have one for all my papers in the past both undergrad and Graduate level. I have no idea why I thought i could tackle a project as large as Master’s Thesis with only a Table of Contents to use as a guide. I say rediscovered because I started writing and after about 20 pages I realized I have essentially been wasting my time because I tend to ramble when I do not have something to keep me focused.
After I realized I was rambling I stopped and took a brief break to figure out what I was doing wrong and how I could fix it. That is when it struck me that I don’t have an outline. It was definitely a V-8/face palm moment. I then settled down and decided to write an outline.

More after the Jump…The Actual Writing of a Thesis-Part 2