Archive for the ‘General History’ Category

Dear Friends: Silvio Canto Jr. and I are delighted to have Deadliest Blogger Barry Jacobsen, our show’s military history expert extraordinaire, on the show this week to cover a wide array of news touching on previous shows, the military, and international developments. (Click HERE on Thursday, Jan. 30th at 7 pm PST/9 pm CT/10 pm EST or for an archived podcast).

Barry Jacobsen, Deadliest Blogger

We will be talking about a wide array of subject, including a little history involving the Sikhs related to this news development.

Pentagon clarifies rules on beards, turbans for Muslim and Sikh service members

The Defense Department released regulations Wednesday ensuring the rights of religious-minority service members to display their beliefs outwardly — such as wearing a turban, scarf or beard — as long as the practices do not interfere with military discipline, order or readiness.

According to the Pentagon, requests for such religious accommodation will still be decided on an individual basis but will generally be denied only if the item impairs the safe use of military equipment; poses a health or safety hazard; interferes with wearing a uniform, a helmet or other military gear; or “impairs the accomplishment of the military mission.”

If time permits, we will explore Sikh history a bit and discuss the Ways Sikhism Differs From Islam…including:

Marriage and Status of Females:

  • Sikhism code of conduct outlines marriage as a monogamous relationship teaching that bride and groom are fused by the Anand Karaj ceremony with the divine sharing one light in two bodies. Dowry is discouraged.
  • Sikh women have equal status to men in every aspect of life and worship. Sikh women are encouraged to be educated, become community leaders and are welcome to take part in every ceremony.
  • Islamic scripture of the Quran allows a man to take up to four wives. Ilsamic law requires Muslim couples to sign a Nikah contract stipulating bride gift, and is followed by Walima, a public ceremony.
  • Islam does not allow women to enter the mosque where men worship. In many parts of the world Muslim women are segregated, secluded and heavily veiled.

And in news related India, an area I follow closely, we will be discussing this: Russian rubbish? India reportedly disappointed with stealth fighters from Moscow

Despite initial high expectations, the Indian Air Force appears to be souring on a joint development deal with Russia for a new fifth-generation fighter jet, according to the Business Standard, a major Indian business publication. The Russian prototype is “unreliable, its radar inadequate, its stealth features badly engineered,” said Indian Air Force Deputy Air Marshall S Sukumar at a Jan. 15 meeting, according to minutes obtained by the Business Standard.

A while back, Barry and I reviewed the Dinesh D’Souza film, 2016 – Obama’s America, for Canto Talk. In a classic Obama Administration move, if a piece does not meet with the approval of its propaganda department, the movie maker must be targeted for special treatment.

Obama critic indicted for campaign-finance fraud, obstruction

Author and conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who produced the documentary 2016: Obama’s America that went after Barack Obama in the middle of the last election cycle, has been indicted for allegedly pushing $20,000 in straw-man contributions into a Senate race in New York that was hopeless from the start….

Campaign contribution limits are counterproductive and ultimately the cause of more corruption than they prevent. They should be eliminated, and replaced with full transparency on contributions that aggregate higher than $200 (the same limit as exists now) on campaign websites that will allow voters to see clearly who funds these campaigns. Until those laws change, though, we are bound to follow them. If D’Souza violated the law, then he’ll have to be held accountable … but it will be interesting to see in court how the feds “routinely” decided to look into his activities after producing 2016…..

[The] DoJ only charged a John Edwards donor with a misdemeanor for the same crime. That indictment came from the Bush administration in 2007, though, regarding the 2004 election.

Also, we will be sharing our views on the State of the Union, which I was happily drunk-tweeting with Aleister and Lonely Conservative.

ToM #01

My tweet-of-the-night:

We should have a blast!

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Dear Readers: As I prepare for my last Canto Talk podcast of 2013, I would like to invite you to join Silvio Canto Jr. and our military history expert,Deadliest Blogger’s Barry Jacobsen, for a discussion of “Wartime Christmas History” stories. (Click here for archived podcast or live show Thursday, Dec. 19th at 7 pm PST/9 pm CT/10 pm EST)

At least two wartime history stories will be featured:


I’d wager that if you asked the average person to name one important event during the First World War, many people wouldn’t plump for a military action. It’d be an interesting experiment to find out how many people in Britain today know the name of any major battle, beside the Somme. There’d be takers for Verdun, perhaps, Passchendaele and probably Ypres (although just like many of the men who were stationed there, hardly anyone, including me, would quite know how to pronounce Ypres– the British soldiers stationed there called it ‘Wipers’).

No, the event that has lived longest in the popular memory– that has provided fodder for songs and pop videos, and has become a myth all of its own– is the Christmas truce of 1914.

On Christmas day, 1914, despite orders to the contrary made by British commanders, an informal ceasefire took place between German and British soldiers on the Western Front. For just over a day soldiers on either side in Flanders held off attempting to kill each other: a peaceable act that has become a kind of popular shorthand for the good faith the common man has for his fellows, even in the worst of circumstances.

What are the facts? You’ll find them nicely laid out at The Long, Long Trail website. Only five months into the war, neither trench lines nor mental lines were drawn as absolutely between the combatants as they would become later. Fraternisation with the enemy, especially at Christmas, was recognised as a risk to discipline: General Smith-Dorren ruled early in December that “unofficial armistices, however tempting and amusing they may be, are absolutely prohibited”.

Yet as Christmas neared, local truces occurred. These meant that wounded men could be retrieved from no-man’s land, and that the dead could be buried.

In addition, the close proximity of the two sides to one another meant that one side could hear the other singing carols– even see the other erect Christmas trees above the trenches. Christmas, and the feelings stirred by the season, seemed to encourage the “‘live and let live’ theory of life” that Smith-Dorren feared would destroy “the offensive spirit in all ranks”.

On Christmas Eve, the miserable wet weather of the season relented a little, with a hard frost that made life easier for all on the front. Fighting continued, but meetings were held between the sides to collect and bury bodies. This fraternisation continued into Christmas day, tolerated but not approved of by the British army authorities: it is the Germans who generally initiate contact. Some men share cigarettes and cigars; elsewhere beer and plum pudding; letters are passed on; often the erstwhile combatants simply talk. You can read some of the fascinating first-hand accounts at the well-sourced Hellfire Corner. There’s something genuinely humbling about the tales the soldiers tell: and a wonderful sense of perplexity and delight amongst those taking part that such a thing could occur.


In December 1944, in an all-out gamble to compel the Allies to sue for peace, Adolf Hitler ordered the only major German counteroffensive of the war in northwest Europe. Its objective was to split the Allied armies by means of a surprise blitzkrieg thrust through the Ardennes to Antwerp, marking a repeat of what the Germans had done three times previously–in September 1870, August 1914, and May 1940. Despite Germany’s historical penchant for mounting counteroffensives when things looked darkest, the Allies’ leadership miscalculated and left the Ardennes lightly defended by only two inexperienced and two battered American divisions.

On December 16, three German armies (more than a quarter-million troops) launched the deadliest and most desperate battle of the war in the west in the poorly roaded, rugged, heavily forested Ardennes. The once-quiet region became bedlam as American units were caught flat-footed and fought desperate battles to stem the German advance at St.-Vith, Elsenborn Ridge, Houffalize and, later, Bastogne, which was defended by the 101st Airborne Division. The inexperienced U.S. 106th Division was nearly annihilated, but even in defeat helped buy time for Brigadier General Bruce C. Clarke’s brilliant defense of St.-Vith. As the German armies drove deeper into the Ardennes in an attempt to secure vital bridgeheads west of the River Meuse quickly, the line defining the Allied front took on the appearance of a large protrusion or bulge, the name by which the battle would forever be known.

A crucial German shortage of fuel and the gallantry of American troops fighting in the frozen forests of the Ardennes proved fatal to Hitler’s ambition to snatch, if not victory, at least a draw with the Allies in the west. Lieutenant General George S. Patton’s remarkable feat of turning the Third Army ninety degrees from Lorraine to relieve the besieged town of Bastogne was the key to thwarting the German counteroffensive. The Battle of the Bulge was the costliest action ever fought by the U.S. Army, which suffered over 100,000 casualties.

Barry Jacobsen offers a detailed analysis on his Military History Page.

Some veterans of the battle recount their experiences.

The Bulge has its own truce story, too: Three American soldiers and four German soldiers who shared Christmas Eve 1944 with a German woman during the Battle of the Bulge. All soldiers were lost and looking for a place to stay and warm up. The woman insisted that all soldiers disarm and that “this was Christmas and there would be no killing on this night.”

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Dear Friends: This week on Canto Talk, I thought I might combine three of my favorite things….Halloween, chatting with Silvio Canto Jr., and discussing history with friend and Deadliest Blogger Barry Jacobsen!

Click HERE for the podcast on Tuesday, Oct. 29th (live show at 7 pm PST/9 pm CT/10 pm EST…and podcast after).

Canto Talk #02

The topic, appropriate enough for the season, is History’s Deadliest Battle Disasters…so lots of blood and chaos, appropriate to October 31. Barry has polled the Facebook Military History Page, and debate and dialog has been going on for the better portion of a week.

Here is a glimpse of great military disasters that made the cut…so to speak:

Death in the snow, death in the mud, death in the forest: The Greatest Military Disasters in History, as agreed by contributors at Military History Page’s! Failure of leadership, hubris, and contempt for their enemies caused disaster and massive loss of life in every case; a lesson important to remember today.

So, tune in and find out more about these devastating upsets that changed the course of history.

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Dear Readers: In another special Tuesday Canto Talk show we will be blending Catholicism and Military History into a fascinating recounting of the Battle of Lepanto and the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Host Silvio Canto Jr. will be joining Barry Jacobsen (our military history guru) and me (the perky Catholic). Please click HERE Tuesday Oct. 8th at 7 pm for the show or after for the archived podcast.

Here is a video synopsis:

And a description from CATHOLIC RADIO DRAMAS:

In 1571 Turkish Muslims amassed a huge naval fleet of galley ships in the Bay of Lepanto off the coast of Cyprus in an attempt to control the Mediterranean Sea, destroy the Christian fleet and invade the whole of Europe. Don Juan of Austria, the exiled illegitimate son of the king of Spain found himself selected as commander-in-chief of the outnumbered Christian fleet in what history would record as the bloodiest deck-to-deck sea battle in naval history.

Pope St. Pius V, a former Dominican monk, strove to unite the naval forces of Venice, Spain and the Holy See to meet the Muslim threat and entrusted the Christian fleet to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The pope sent his blessing to the fleet commander, Don John of Austria, recommending him to leave behind all soldiers of evil life, and promising him the victory if he did so. Realizing the importance of the impending battle, the pope ordered public prayers, and increased his own supplications to heaven and led the people of Rome in vigils and processions from dawn to dusk as they prayed the rosary to Our Lady of Victory.

The rosary became the spiritual weapon of the Christians as thousands joined together in prayer on the day of the Battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571. That night while meeting with the cardinals, he suddenly stopped and opened the window and looking at the sky, he cried out, “A truce to business; our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which he has just given the Christian army”. He burst into tears over the victory which dealt the Muslim power a blow from which it never fully recovered. The decisive victory in the Bay of Lepanto destroyed all but a third of the enemy fleet and drove-off those that survived the conflict.

Pope Pius V established October 7 as a feast day of Our Lady of Victory in honor of the Blessed Virgin’s assistance in securing the victory, freeing some twelve thousand Christian galley slaves and securing the safety of Europe. In memory of this triumph he instituted the first Sunday of October the feast of the Rosary and added to the Litany of Loreto the supplication “Help of Christians”. He was hoping to put an end to the power of Islam by forming a general alliance between the Italian cities and those of Poland, France, and all of Christian Europe.
Two years later Pope Gregory XIII changed the name of the feast day to Our Lady of the Rosary because it was through the praying of the Rosary that the battle had been won. October became the month of the Most Holy Rosary in the Church’s calendar. Pope Leo XIII added the invocation “Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us” to the Litany of Loreto. Below, from various historical sources is the account of the battle.

Don John of Austria met his fleet off Messina and saw that he had 300 ships, great and small, under his command. The Pope himself had outfitted twelve galleys and the depth of his war chest had paid for many more. Don John’s eye must have gazed with pride on the 80 galleys and 22 other ships that had been provided by his half-brother Philip II of Spain. Each of these Spanish galleys held a hundred soldiers on top of the rowers who propelled the ship through the water and no less than 30,000 men in the service of Spain would fight at Lepanto. The next largest contingent was that of Venice. No longer the dominating power of yesteryear, the Venetians could still assemble a fleet of more than a hundred vessels beneath the winged Lion of St. Mark standard. The Venetian ships were poorly manned and the necessity of stationing Spanish soldiers on Venetian ships led to friction and in some cases blows.

It was the Venetians, however, who provided the technological cutting edge that was to win the battle. In the Venetian fleet were six galleasses. Broader in the beam than regular galleys and with a deeper draught they were so difficult to maneuver that they had to be towed into battle by speedier vessels. Despite their lethargy of movement, they were the most powerful ships in the Mediterranean. Their broad beam and deeper draught gave them a stability as a gun platform hitherto unknown. On their prow was constructed a kind of walled platform mounted with swivel guns that presaged the armored turrets of later battleships by almost 300 years. The sides and the stern of the galleass were also heavily armed and a wooden deck protected the rowers. On its bow there was a long point that could effectively crush any smaller vessel that was unfortunate enough to be in the galleass’ way. A total of 80,000 men manned the ships of the Holy League. Of these 50,000 toiled at the oars and the remaining 30,000 were soldiers on the decks.

On September 17th 1571, Don John moved his fleet eastwards and at Corfu they heard that the Muslims had recently landed and terrorized the Christian population. They then moved on and as they lay anchored off the coast of Cephalonia, terrible news reached them. Famagusta, the last Christian stronghold on Cyprus had fallen to the Muslim invaders. All the defenders who had survived the assault were tortured and then executed. The news enraged the men of Don John’s fleet and stiffened the resolve of the commanders to engage the Moslems as quickly as possible. There was one other piece of disturbing news: the Moslem fleet under the command of Ali Pasha had been reinforced by a Calabrian fisherman turned Moslem and corsair. His name was Uluch Ali and he was now the Bey of Algiers, that notorious nest of the Moslem corsairs feared by all Christian ships plying their trade in the Mediterranean. Don John moved his force towards the anchorage of Lepanto where he knew the Turk mercenaries would be waiting and during the night of October 6th, with a favorable wind behind him, Ali Pasha moved his fleet westward toward the mouth of the Gulf of Patras and the approaching ships of the Holy League.

The action that was to follow was the biggest naval engagement anywhere on the globe since the Battle of Actium in 30 B.C. and the tactics had changed little since then. Both commanders hoped to rapidly come to grips with their enemy, board them and let the soldiers fight it out to the end. The only major difference was that in 1571 the ships carried guns and those on the galleasses in particular would have a crucial effect. When the Turkish fleet was sighted, Don John split his force into three sections. On the right of the Christian line he placed the Venetians under Barbarrigo, on the left Andrea Doria leading the Genoese and papal galleys. The centre he took for himself. In reserve was Santa Cruz with a force of 35 Spanish and Venetian ships. Before the action began Don John ordered his men not to fire until they were close enough to be splashed by Moslem blood. He also ordered the iron rams to be removed from his ships as he knew that gunfire and close quarter fighting would be of more use than attempts to ram. Two galleasses were towed into position in in front of each Christian division.

The Turks, initially arrayed in a giant crescent-shaped formation, quickly separated into three sections also. The center, under Ali Pasha, pushed forward and the action opened when the cannon of Don John’s two centre galleasses began to do great execution among Ali Pasha’s advancing ships. Seven or more Turkish galleys went down almost immediately. The Turks were not lacking in courage, however, and they pressed on in the face of intense fire from the galleasses, the galleys’ guns and arquebus and crossbowmen on the Christian decks. Ali Pasha tried to come alongside the Christian ships in the hope of boarding and here the legendary steadfastness under fire of the 16th and 17th century Spanish infantryman came to the fore and attack after attack was beaten off by killing shots from their arquebuses. Then Don John gave the order to board Ali Pasha’s flagship. In a wild melee of attack, retreat and counterattack played out on decks awash with the blood of the slain, the air rent by the screams of the wounded and dying. The Spaniards forced their way onto the Turkish galley three times. Twice they were beaten back but finally they stormed the Turkish poop and a wounded Ali Pasha was beheaded on the spot. His head was spitted on a pike and held aloft for all to see and the Ottoman battle flag, never before lost in battle, was pulled down from the mainmast. The Moslem center broke and retired as best it could, their courage forgotten by the elated Spaniards.

On the flanks things had not gone so well. Mohammed Sirocco, commanding the Turkish right, sailed in close to the rocks and shoals of the northern shore of the gulf to outflank Barbarrigo’s Venetian galleys. On the left of the Turkish line Ulach Ali did the same, swinging as close as he could to the southern shore in an attempt to surround Andrea Doria’s ships. Sirocco knew well the waters of the Gulf Of Patras and he succeeded in his maneuver. Barbarrigo was surrounded by eight enemy galleys and fell dead from a Turkish arrow. His flagship was taken and retaken twice and when aid finally came and Sirocco’s galley was sunk, the Turkish admiral was ignominiously pulled from the water and, like Ali Pasha, immediately beheaded. Mercy was a quality not much in vogue in the wars between the crescent and the cross. On the Christian right, Ulach Ali, perhaps lacking the knowledge of local waters that had given Sirocco his initial success, was unable to turn the Genoese flank. He did, however, spot a gap in the line and skillfully brought some of his galleys through and took part of Don John’s center in the rear. The Capitana flagship of the Knights of St. John, its commander skewered by five arrows, was boarded, seized and towed off as a prize of battle. In the Christian reserve, Santa Cruz saw this happening and made haste to recover the captured ship. Uluch Ali, realizing that discretion is often the better part of valor, pulled back leaving the Capitana in Christian hands. Doria’s division had been roughly handled by Uluch Ali’s remaining ships and it was only after Don John had secured the Christian center and came to Doria’s aid that the last of the Algerine ships were beaten back.

The engagement lasted for more than four hours and when the smoke finally cleared it became apparent that this was a major victory for the Holy League and a bitter defeat for the Turks. Almost 8,000 of the men who had sailed with Don John were dead and another 16,000 wounded. On the brighter side 12,000 Christian galley slaves had been released from their servitude to the Ottomans. The Turks and Uluch Ali’s Algerines had suffered much more grievously: at least 25,000 of them had been killed.

The day belongs to Don John, the Holy League and Christendom. When the news of the victory broke, church bells were rung all over in Europe in a spontaneous outburst of joy and thanksgiving.

And if you are like me, and enjoy doing a rosaries with others instead of solo, then click on over to THE ANCHORESS NOW!!! On the bottom, right menu, Elizabeth Scalia has the complete set of them as individual podcasts!!!

And, check out her latest post on the new Pope! Francis Focuses on Family Formation Over Family Illiteracy

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Dear Readers: In honor of October and the Halloween season, as well as giving my usual homage to capitalism, I have some very fun guests for a special session of Canto Talk on Tuesday, Oct. 1 (click here for podcast)!

The first guest will be Scott Ferrel, who is the owner of Chivalry Today, a small business he opened specifically to “create an understanding of, and respect for the principles of a universal standard of ethical and honorable behavior by exploring the history, development, and meaning of the Code Of Chivalry; examining its value, evolution, and applicability in all aspects and eras of society from the Middle Ages to the 21st century; and challenging students, educators, and leaders at all levels to pursue the Knightly Virtues in all of their endeavors.”

His website is devoted exploring the concept of chivalry and how it applies to the modern world. Scott offers a wide array of historical weapons courses, including special programs he puts together for schools and other groups. One of his most recent articles explores this aspect of his business:

School’s back in session – and soon students will be studying the history of the Middle Ages and Renaissance once more. Reading tales of King Arthur and his knights; learning about the politics and culture of medieval Europe; and imagining what life would have been like for a knight or a lady in the 13th or 14th century.
That’s exactly the sort of learning opportunity that Chivalry Today can help with. Many schools put on some sort of Renaissance Festival or History Faire as part of their social studies curriculum, but it can be difficult to make such an event both memorable, and historically accurate (after all, you don’t want to bring in some fantasy role-playing group to muddle up your history lesson). For many Southern California-area schools, the answer to this dilemma is to bring in Chivalry Today’s “Festival of Chivalry” – full-scale team of historical interpreters that come right to your campus or classroom, to give students an up-close look at life in the Middle Ages.
This month, as students get back into the classroom, Chivalry Today is honored to be the focus of the “Salute To Education,” a monthly television segment produced by Cox Communications. You can catch the video on-air throughout the month of September (if you live in San Diego); or check out the segment in the video below.
Chivalry Today would like to thank the Cox production team for their interest in our program, and for putting together a really fine video feature! (We’d also like to thank our team of interpreters for doing their [normal] outstanding job in front of the video cameras.)
If you, or an educator you know, would like to learn more about bringing Chivalry Today’s Festival of Chivalry to your school, please contact us quickly. After this segment hit the airwaves, our school calendar is filling up quickly!


And we will also be talking to another California entrepreneur who specializes in historical costuming. It is Kirsti Ovidia Scott of Ovidia 550 AD’s Historically Inspired Garb. She is the personal designer for the Goddess of Capitalism. Here is a look at the red dress she is designing for me, based on Elizabeth Taylor’s outfit in 1963’s “Cleopatra”.

Cleopatra Red Dress

She is so gifted! Here is some more of her work, which features one of Canto Talk’s frequent guests, Barry Jacobsen, on the right!

Her contact information is as follows:

Ovidia 550 AD Facebook Page (click HERE).
Ovidia 550 AD main website (click HERE)
Email: ovidia550ad@rocketmail.com

AND: www.etsy.com/shop/OvidiasGarb

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Dear Readers: As always, check Legal Insurrection for my political punditry:

On Canto Talk, we will be taking with military history expert extraordinaire Barry Jacobsen about England’s real “Game of Thrones”, the War of the Roses.  The show will be Thursday, March. 21st at 7 pm PST/9pm CT/10 pm EST – click HERE FOR PODCAST LINK.

There is a fun video that discusses the “War of the Roses”

The basis for this interest is the recent identification of King Richard III’s remains, which were located under a parking lot.

Rigorous scientific investigations confirmed the strong circumstantial evidence that the skeleton found at the site of the Grey Friars church in Leicester was indeed that of King Richard III.

University of Leicester researchers have revealed a wealth of evidence — including DNA analysis, radiocarbon dating and skeletal examination — proving the identity of the skeleton.

University of Leicester archaeologists co-director Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on the Search for Richard III, said: “It is the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that the individual exhumed at Grey Friars in August 2012 is indeed King Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England.

“It has been an honour and privilege for all of us to be at the centre of an academic project that has had such phenomenal global interest and mass public appeal. Rarely have the conclusions of academic research been so eagerly awaited.”

University of Leicester geneticist Dr Turi King confirmed that DNA from the skeleton matches that of two of Richard III’s family descendants — Canadian-born furniture maker Michael Ibsen and a second person who wishes to remain anonymous.

Dr King, of the University’s Department of Genetics, said: “The DNA sequence obtained from the Grey Friars skeletal remains was compared with the two maternal line relatives of Richard III. We were very excited to find that there is a DNA match between the maternal DNA from the family of Richard the Third and the skeletal remains we found at the Grey Friars dig.”

Skeletal analysis carried out by University of Leicester osteoarchaeologist Dr Jo Appleby showed that the individual was male and in his late 20s to late 30s. Richard III was 32 when he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

The individual had a slender physique and severe scoliosis — a curvature of the spine — possibly with one shoulder visibly higher than the other. This is consistent with descriptions of Richard III’s appearance from the time.

Trauma to the skeleton indicates the individual died after one of two significant wounds to the back of the skull — possibly caused by a sword and a halberd.

This is consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard being killed after receiving a blow to the back of his head.

The skeleton also showed a number of non-fatal injuries to the head, rib and pelvis — believed to have been caused by a wound through the right buttock — which may have been caused by ‘humiliation injuries’ after death.

Dr Appleby’s analysis is backed up by radiological evidence carried out by University of Leicester forensic pathologists and forensic engineering experts.

Dr Appleby, of the University’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History, said: “The skeleton has a number of unusual features: its slender build, the scoliosis and the battle-related trauma. All of these are highly consistent with the information that we have about Richard III in life and about the circumstances of his death. Taken as a whole, the skeletal evidence provides a highly convincing case for identification as Richard III.”

The War of the Roses was fairly brutal:

The Wars of the Roses refers to a long, repetitive, and destructive civil war, based on a struggle for the English crown by the members of two distinct factions in the English royal family (called the Plantaganets, who had ruled for over two hundred years). Strictly speaking, the Wars of the Roses applies only to the latter half of this conflict, but it is commonly used to describe the entire internecine fight.

The war had its origins in a quarrel between Richard II and his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, as a result of which Richard II was murdered and Henry became Henry IV. Richard’s murder brought about civil war, which continued until Henry IV’s son ascended the throne as Henry V and restored a short interval of glorious military victory in France and peace at home.

Upon Henry V’s early death, the wars of succession resumed. Henry’s son, Henry VI, who led the branch of the family called the Lancastrians (the party of the Red Rose) was challenged by the Yorkist branch of the family (the party of the White Rose). Success in the war alternated for a number of years, until the Yorkists prevailed, and Edward IV came to the throne. Upon the death of Edward, his brother Richard became King Richard III.

The Lancastrian cause meanwhile was taken up by a distant relative of the royal family, Henry Tudor (whose claim was based upon the marriage of his grandfather, Owen Tudor, to Henry V’s widow). He invaded England and defeated the Yorkist forces at the Battle of Bosworth Field (in 1485), thus ending the dynasty of the Plantaganets and initiating the Tudor royal family (as Henry VII). Henry VII was the father of Henry VIII and therefore the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth.

Although the procedure may be seriously misleading, the Battle of Bosworth Field is often used as a convenient date to mark the start of the Renaissance in England, inasmuch as it initiates the first distinctly Renaissance royal family in England, the Tudors, who take over from the famous medieval royal family, the Plantaganets.

The dynamics will be familiar to those who love the TV series, though it lacks the ghouls and the dragons.

Lannister Always Pays their Debts 2

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Dear Readers: Canto Talk will be filled with lots of interesting news and view, so be sure to tune in today (Thursday, March 14 at 7 pm PST/9 pm CT/10 pm EST) for a two guest show!!!

To start with, noted Catholic author and a good friend of the Shrine, John Zmirak will join us to discuss the new pope, the “Bishop of Rome”. More on this big event is detailed at Legal Insurrection: Argentina’s Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio becomes Pope Francis – Updated

Pope Francis 2

And there is even more Roman goodness: Fellow SLOB and military historian extraordinaire Barry Jacobsen will be on the second half of the show to discuss the assassination of Julius Caesar on the “Ides of March”, which is tomorrow.

In January of 49 BC, Julius Caesar led his army across the Rubicon River in Northern Italy (see Caesar Crosses the Rubicon, 49 BC) and plunged the Roman Republic into civil war. Caesar’s rival, Pompey, fled to Greece. Within three months Caesar controlled the entire Italian peninsula and in Spain had defeated the legions loyal to Pompey.

Caesar now pursued Pompey to Greece. Although outnumbered, Caesar crushed the forces of his enemy but not before Pompey escaped to Egypt. Following Pompey to Egypt, Caesar was presented with his rival’s severed head as a token of friendship. Before leaving the

The Assassination of Caesar

region, Caesar established Cleopatra as his surrogate ruler of Egypt. Caesar defeated his remaining rivals in North Africa in 47 BC and returned to Rome with his authority firmly established.

Caesar continued to consolidate his power and in February 44 BC, he declared himself dictator for life. This act, along with his continual effort to adorn himself with the trappings of power, turned many in the Senate against him. Sixty members of the Senate concluded that the only resolution to the problem was to assassinate Caesar.

Death of a Dictator

Nicolaus of Damascus wrote his account of the murder of Caesar a few years after the event. He was not actually present when the assassination occurred but had the opportunity to speak with those who were. He was a friend of Herod the Great and gathered his information during a visit to Rome. His account is thought to be reliable.

The Plan:

“The conspirators never met openly, but they assembled a few at a time in each others’ homes. There were many discussions and proposals, as might be expected, while they investigated how and where to execute their design. Some suggested that they should make the attempt as he was going along the Sacred Way, which was one of his favorite walks. Another idea was for it to be done at the elections during which he bad to cross a bridge to appoint the magistrates in the Campus Martius; they should draw lots for some to push him from the bridge and for others to run up and kill him. A third plan was to wait for a coming gladiatorial show. The advantage of that would be that, because of the show, no suspicion would be aroused if arms were seen prepared for the attempt. But the majority opinion favored killing him while he sat in the Senate, where he would be by himself since non-Senators would not be admitted, and where the many conspirators could hide their daggers beneath their togas. This plan won the day.”

Brutus Persuades Caesar to Ignore his Apprehensions:

“…his friends were alarmed at certain rumors and tried to stop him going to the Senate-house, as did his doctors, for he was suffering from one of his occasional dizzy spells. His wife, Calpurnia, especially, who was frightened by some visions in her dreams, clung to him and said that she would not let him go out that day. But Brutus, one of the conspirators who was then thought of as a firm friend, came up and said, ‘What is this, Caesar? Are you a man to pay attention to a woman’s dreams and the idle gossip of stupid men, and to insult the Senate by not going out, although it has honored you and has been specially summoned by you? But listen to me, cast aside the forebodings of all these people, and come. The Senate has been in session waiting for you since early this morning.’ This swayed Caesar and he left.”

Bad Omens:

“Before he entered the chamber, the priests brought up the victims for him to make what was to be his last sacrifice. The omens were clearly unfavorable. After this unsuccessful sacrifice, the priests made repeated other ones, to see if anything more propitious might appear than what had already been revealed to them. In the end they said that they could not clearly see the divine intent, for there was some transparent, malignant spirit hidden in the victims. Caesar was annoyed and abandoned divination till sunset, though the priests continued all the more with their efforts.

Those of the murderers present were delighted at all this, though Caesar’s friends asked him to put off the meeting of the Senate for that day because of what the priests had said, and he agreed to do this. But some attendants came up, calling him and saying that the Senate was full. He glanced at his friends, but Brutus approached him again and said, ‘Come, good sir, pay no attention to the babblings of these men, and do not postpone what Caesar and his mighty power has seen fit to arrange. Make your own courage your favorable omen.’ He convinced Caesar with these words, took him by the right hand, and led him to the Senate which was quite near. Caesar followed in silence.”

The Attack:

“The Senate rose in respect for his position when they saw him entering. Those who were to have part in the plot stood near him. Right next to him went Tillius Cimber, whose brother had been exiled by Caesar. Under pretext of a humble request on behalf of this brother, Cimber approached and grasped the mantle of his toga, seeming to want to make a more positive move with his hands upon Caesar. Caesar wanted to get up and use his hands, but was prevented by Cimber and became exceedingly annoyed.

That was the moment for the men to set to work. All quickly unsheathed their daggers and rushed at him. First Servilius Casca struck him with the point of the blade on the left shoulder a little above the collar-bone. He had been aiming for that, but in the excitement he missed. Caesar rose to defend himself, and in the uproar Casca shouted out in Greek to his brother. The latter heard him and drove his sword into the ribs. After a moment, Cassius made a slash at his face, and Decimus Brutus pierced him in the side. While Cassius Longinus was trying to give him another blow he missed and struck Marcus Brutus on the hand. Minucius also hit out at Caesar and hit Rubrius in the thigh. They were just like men doing battle against him.

Under the mass of wounds, he fell at the foot of Pompey’s statue. Everyone wanted to seem to have had some part in the murder, and there was not one of them who failed to strike his body as it lay there, until, wounded thirty-five times, he breathed his last. “

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Dear Readers: I wanted to share with you some observations about the book my friend, Silvio Canto Jr., recently published: Cubanos in Wisconsin (Available form Amazon.com in BOOK and KINDLE) form).

Cuba has always been held captive by the Castro regime from the time I was born, and I was only vaguely aware of the sequence of events that put Fidel Castro in power. I recall some scenes from “The Godfather II” showing the turmoil and the attacks. But there is so much more to the story.

It seems that Castro came to power on a wave of popular support, as the US had stopped helping the corrupt leader Batista it became obvious to all that he was doomed. Castro had not declared himself a communist but acted as one as he brutally enforced a distributionist economic system that enriched only a very few. However, to get to power, he promised liberty and prosperity — which sounded great to a population chaffing under the rule of a corruptocrat.

It was the old bait-and-switch routine.

One of the concepts that came across in Silvio’s experiences was during the implementation of Castro’s vision, was the complete absence of private property. Silvio saw that the high-tech radio his father worked hard for and prized was being eyed by officials, who stated that the family didn’t own it. Sadly, the concept of the state owning everything, no matter the effort it took to obtain an item, is one we may have to get used to in this country.

Richard Baehr of American Thinker offers further details on what happened to the Canto family once Silvio’s banker father, who was forced by the new government to be a baker, when they decided to head to the United States:

The journey makes up a good part of the book. Today, many of us have vague recollections of Cubans flying out of Havana to Miami in the first years after the Castro regime came to power. But it was not that simple. Once a family became “Gusanos” (worms) in the eyes of the community for choosing to emigrate from Cuba, there was nothing automatic about applying for and getting permission to leave. Some families sent their children out first. It took several years before Canto’s family received their departure papers, a process that involved their having to give up pretty much all of their possessions beforehand. The journey to Madison was not a one-shot affair either. From Havana, their plane flew to Mexico City, after stopping in Meridia. The plane’s landing gear failed approaching Mexico City, and emergency vehicles were at the ready to deal with a possible belly flop landing. After a one week stay in Mexico City, the family boarded a plane for Kingston, Jamaica, a county of extreme poverty, from which the family could first apply for entry visas to the U.S.

Perhaps the person I identified with most was Silvio’s mom Angela, who valiantly protected her children from the chaos of the new world order. For example, one particularly irksome official named Bello tried to whisk young Silvio away to the surgacane fields. Silvio’s mom sharply rebuked the official, bravely saying that she would be going along with her son. Silvio didn’t have to cut sugarcane, but the family was subjected to a retribution in many ways after that incident.

Another incident touched my heart. At one point, the Cantos were considering participating in Operation Pedro Pan, which would get the children out of Cuba while the parents stayed. Angela would not hear of it, as she would not be parted from her children and insisted the family go together — which led to many adventures Silvio entertainingly chronicles in his book.

As a Californian, I read the Canto family experience with their first earthquake in Mexico City with some amusement.

Silvio’s book is a very engaging read, and should be picked up by anyone who wants to see how a relatively free society transforms itself into a thugocracy. There is a wide array of behaviors displayed, from going along with the brutality of the regime to fighting back via stealth and strategy. As Americans see the IRS used to enforce Obamacare, and other examples of statist power-grabbing, Silvio’s book could be valuable insight as to how we respond unless we change the direction of the country.

Silvio’s mom is a driving force in making a better life for her children in the United States. That ties into a post I did for Legal Insurrection yesterday:  American Women, not Koch Brothers, birthed the Tea Party Movement

Most of the original “Tea Party” organizers joined the developing national-scale protest in 2009 because we were deeply concerned about our children’s futures. Between the enormous expenditures of the Toxic Asset Relief Program and the “Stimulus Package”, many of us were reeling over the fact our taxpayer concerns were being ignored, and the result would be making our children indentured servants of the state to pay off the enormous debt.

This ties into a the Thursday Canto Talk show, I am doing with fellow San Diego Tea Party – SoCal Tax Revolt Coalition co-founders: Dawn Wildman and Sarah Bond. We three activist moms will be discussing the 4th anniversary of the organized Tea Party movement with Silvio. It should be a blast. (CLICK HERE FOR PODCAST LINK).

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Dear Readers:  As I noted earlier, my political punditry will be appearing on Legal Insurrection for the next couple of days.  So, I will focus on history at the Shrine.

Normally, my gig is ancient Egyptian history.  However, I am going to jump ahead a few centuries and discuss the Crusades.  The reason is that this topic will be featured this Thursday (Jan. 10th) on Canto Talk (7 pm PST, 9 pm CT).  The guest that evening will be noted military history expert Barry Jacobsen (whose featured appearances include THERMOPYLAE and THE REAL KING ARTHUR).


The era of the Crusades is a fascinating period that clearly demonstrates that the Middle East has always been a hot bed of political intrigue, religious disagreements, and general unrest.  The four key players are:

  • Dualing Islamic Powers:  The Fatimids (who thought Ali, son-in-law to Mohammad via marriage to the prophet’s daughter Fatima — aka “Shia Muslims“) centered in Cairo, Egypt and the Abbasid Caliphate out of Baghdad (“Sunni” Musims who accepted accept Mohammad friend Abu Bakr as the successor to the prophet).
  • Western Europe: Western Europe was then emerging as a significant power in its own right, though it still lagged far other the above two Mediterranean entities.  At that time a combination of advances in agriculture, religious unification under Christianity, and developing nation-states permitted England, France, and Germany to organize and send troops to the Levant.  However, they rarely got along with Eachother.
  • The Jews:  This religious minority population, spread throughout Europe and the Levant, seemed to suffer no matter who was in charge.

Proving, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

There following is “The 8 Crusades Explained“, which focus on the organized campaigns that had the regaining the city of Jerusalem under Christian rule as its main objective.

1. The First Crusade (1095-1101) [Wikipedia]


In March 1095 at the Council of Piacenza, ambassadors sent by Byzantine emperor Alexius I called for help with defending his empire against the Seljuk Turks. Later that year, at the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II called upon all Christians to join a war against the Turks, promising an indulgence for those who died in the service of the army.

Crusader armies managed to defeat two substantial Turkish forces at Dorylaeum and at Antioch, finally marching to Jerusalem with only a fraction of their original forces. In 1099, they took Jerusalem by assault and created small crusader states which were the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

2. The Second Crusade (1145-47) [Wikipedia]


After a period of relative peace in which Christians and Muslims co-existed in the Holy Land, Muslims conquered the town of Edessa. A new crusade was called for by various preachers, most notably by Bernard of Clairvaux. French and German armies, under the Kings Louis VII and Conrad III respectively, marched to Jerusalem in 1147 but failed to accomplish any major successes. By 1150, both leaders had returned to their countries without any result.

3. The Third Crusade (1188-92) [Wikipedia]

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in 1187, Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt captured Jerusalem. Pope Gregory VIII called for a crusade which was undertaken by King Richard I of England (Richard the Lionheart), Holy Roman Emporer Frederick I, and King Philip II of France. They defeated the Muslims near Arsuf and were in sight of Jerusalem. However, due to an inadequate food and water supply, the crusade ended without the taking of Jerusalem. Richard left the following year after establishing a truce with Saladin. This crusade is sometimes referred to as the King’s Crusade. Pope Gregory VIII did not live to see the end of this crusade.

4. The Fourth Crusade (1204) [Wikipedia]

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The Fourth Crusade was initiated in 1202 by Pope Innocent III, with the intention of invading the Holy Land through Egypt. Because the Crusaders lacked the funds to pay for the fleet and provisions that they had contracted from the Venetians, Doge Enrico Dandolo, enlisted them to restore to obedience the Christian city of Zara (Zadar). Because they subsequently lacked provisions and time on their vessel lease the leaders decided to go to Constantinople, where they attempted to place a Byzantine exile on the throne. After misunderstandings and outbreaks of violence, the Crusaders sacked Constantinople.

5. The Fifth Crusade (1217) [Wikipedia]


By processions, prayers, and preaching, the Church attempted to set another crusade on foot, and the Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) formulated a plan for the recovery of the Holy Land. In the first phase, a crusading force from Hungary, Austria joined the forces of the king of Jerusalem and the prince of Antioch to take back Jerusalem. In the second phase, crusader forces achieved a remarkable feat in the capture of Damietta in Egypt in 1219, but under the urgent insistence of the papal legate, Pelagius, they proceeded to a foolhardy attack on Cairo, and an inundation of the Nile compelled them to choose between surrender and destruction.

6. The Sixth Crusade (1228-29, 1239) [Wikipedia]


Emperor Frederick II had repeatedly vowed a crusade but failed to live up to his words, for which he was excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX in 1228. He nonetheless set sail from Brindisi, landed in Palestine, and through diplomacy he achieved unexpected success: Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem were delivered to the crusaders for a period of ten years. This was the first Crusade that had no Papal involvement. The Pope eventually lifted the excommunication.

7. The Seventh Crusade (1249-52) [Wikipedia]


The papal interests represented by the Templars brought on a conflict with Egypt in 1243, and in the following year a Khwarezmian force summoned by the latter stormed Jerusalem. The crusaders were drawn into battle at La Forbie in Gaza. The crusader army and its Bedouin mercenaries were outnumbered by Baibars’ force of Khwarezmian tribesmen and were completely defeated within forty-eight hours. This battle is considered by many historians to have been the death knell to the Christian States. As part of this Crusade, Louis IX organised a crusade against Egypt which lasted until 1254.

8. The Eighth Crusade (1270) [Wikipedia]

Eighth Crusade

The eighth Crusade was organized by Louis IX in 1270, again sailing from Aigues-Mortes, initially to come to the aid of the remnants of the crusader states in Syria. However, the crusade was diverted to Tunis, where Louis spent only two months before dying. For his efforts, Louis was later sainted (the city of St. Louis, Missouri, USA is named for him). This Crusade is sometimes broken into an eighth and ninth crusade. The result of this crusade was the loss of Christian rule in Syria though it achieved a partial success in that Christian religious were allowed to live peacefully in the region.

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Dear Readers:  A bit of history today, so that I can share with you some of the interesting items I learned this holiday while reading Jack Weatherford’s book:  GENGHIS KHAN AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN WORLD (note – please order it through one of my Capitalist heroes, Legal Insurrection or Captain Capitalism.)

Genghis Khan

In fact, I would like to give my friend, Captian Capitalism, a hat-tip for the inspiration of this post. He noted that Genghis perhaps had the best harem set-up, as the Mongol Emperor kept his women separate. Since one in 200 men in Central Asia are his descendants, the success of this approach cannot be argued.

According to Weatherford, Genghis Khan’s military success stems from transforming steppe warband fighting to large scale conflicts with a smartly organized military structure. Through a series of small scale/inter-tribal civil wars, Temujin (Khan’s original name) refined various elements of shock warfare,. Temujin was given the title Genghis Khan – Unshakeable Leader – upon his designation as the Mongol’s top man in 1206 AD. Some of the examples of Khan’s war innovation included incorporating in an equitable and ordered fashion; killing off the aristocracies of the tribes while protecting and supporting the wealth producers (e.g., craftsman, scholars, merchants).

Perhaps the most profound lesson from the book was Khan’s motivation: He was driven to obtain goods and luxury items for his people, and he desired to have an effective trade system that supported artisans, craftsmen, business enterprises, miners, and other suppliers of material beauty and comfort. A good example of how to make yourself a target of the Khan’s wrath:

He had far more goods now than he could possibly use or distribute to his people, and he wanted to use this vast amount of new resources to stimulate trade. In addition to the thriving supply of traditional Asian goods, other commodities sometimes trickled in from the more distant and exotic lands of the Middle East. The Muslims in that part of the world produced the finest of all metals, the magnificent gleaming steel. They had cotton and other fine textiles, and knew the mysterious process of making glass. The vast area from the mountains of modern Afghanistan to the Black Sea fell under the power of the Turkic sultan Muhammad II, whose empire was called Khwarizm.

Khan initially sought a trading partnership with Khwarzim; however, the Governor of one of its cities and the brother of the Sultan’s powerful mother killed the caravan members of the first salvo of traders from the Mongolian Empire. Khan demanded the guilty parties be punished, and the Sultan (at the behest of his mother) rebuked Genghis in a dramatic and offensive manner. End result: Khwarzim joins the Mongols, the Sultan dies in cowardly exile, and the Sultan’s mom becomes a servant in the Khan’s wife’s court.

Genghis Khan

A lot of the bad press associated with the “Mongol Hordes” was effective use of the “new media in the 1200’s”. Using the scholars and storytellers he collected in his wins, Khan had dispatches prepared highlighting terror tactics the Mongols used and ginning up the numbers slaughtered so that future enemies would be less likely to engage in war more likely to negotiate trade or willingly join Team Khan. In fact, the Mongols were fairly civilized by the standards that time: They almost never engaged in torture, mutilation, or maiming. And while the Mongol army was quick to kill and utterly destroyed those who resisted their rule or betrayed them outright, conquest and loot were their goals. They did not relish in beheadings, impalings, quartering, or catapulting living children into walls — hallmarks of the way other cultures of that time handled war.

Interestingly, the Mongols often managed to turn enemy advantages into their own time and time again. One example comes after the death of Khan, when a leader named Subodei wanted to target Europe and recounted his experiences leading a Mongol army against Christian ones on the Russian plains for the first time:

The Mongols began the confrontation with a small skirmish, after which they immediately began to fall back toward the east, from whence they had come, as though they might have been afraid to fight a large and powerful foe. The Russian troops and some of their Kipchak allies gleefully followed them, but day after day the Mongols remained a little beyond the reach of the pursing Russians. While some of the regiments had not yet arrived to join the pursuit, the slower regiments fell behind, and the faster ones races on nipping at the heels of the Mongols. The Russians feared that the Mongols might escape and thereby deprive the Russians of a large number of horses and other booty they carried from earlier raids across Persia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.

Needless to say:

The Mongols had lured in a now separated and nearly exhausted Russian army. Despite having nearly twice the men on the field (as high as 80,000), the Russians were butchered. For example, the Mongol tactics of using quiet, coordinated feints utterly confused the peasant infantry. Another aspect that befuddled the Russians: The Mongols had designed their arrows so they could only be used in Mongol bows. So, once the Mongol archers attacked, their arrows couldn’t be used by the Russians — whereas the Mongols could readily send back the Russian arrows to kill the original senders. Once the Mongols decimated the infantry, they readily picked off the heavily armored noblemen on warhorses, as the horses were big, bulky, and so weighted down with metal and could hardly outrun the swift Mongol horsemen.

In the words of the Novogorod Chronicle of 1224: Of the large army sent out to fight the Mongols, “only every tenth returned to his home”.

One last note: The Mongol expansion throughout Central Asiafrom around 1207 to 1360 helped bring political stability,re-established the Silk Road, and promoted East-West trade and dialog. It also brought an end to the Islamic Caliphate’s monopoly over world trade.

One downside: It also provided a fantastically effective route for the the Bubonic Plague/Black Death to infect the civilized world a few years later. We will touch upon that topic in a future post.

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