The History Portal
History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning 'inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation') is the study of the past. Events occurring before the invention of writing systems are considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who focus on history are called historians. The historian's role is to place the past in context, using sources from moments and events, and filling in the gaps to the best of their ability. Written documents are not the only sources historians use to develop their understanding of the past. They also use material objects, oral accounts, ecological markers, art, and artifacts as historical sources.
History also includes the academic discipline which uses narrative to describe, examine, question, and analyze a sequence of past events, investigate the patterns of cause and effect that are related to them. Historians seek to understand and represent the past through narratives. They often debate which narrative best explains an event, as well as the significance of different causes and effects. Historians also debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.
Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends. History differs from myth in that it is supported by evidence. However, ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematic elements of historical investigation. History is often taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.
Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is often considered (within the Western tradition) to be the "father of history," or, by some, the "father of lies." Along with his contemporary Thucydides, he helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals, was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts have survived.
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A late 17th or early 18th-century report of the plot.
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.
The plan was to blow up the House of Lords
during the State Opening of Parliament
on 5 November 1605, as the prelude to a popular revolt in the Midlands
during which James's nine-year-old daughter, Elizabeth
, was to be installed as the Catholic head of state. Catesby may have embarked on the scheme after hopes of securing greater religious tolerance under King James
had faded, leaving many English Catholics disappointed. His fellow plotters were John and Christopher Wright
, Robert and Thomas Wintour
, Thomas Percy
, Guy Fawkes
, Robert Keyes
, Thomas Bates
, John Grant
, Ambrose Rookwood
, Sir Everard Digby
and Francis Tresham
. Fawkes, who had 10 years of military experience fighting in the Spanish Netherlands
in the failed suppression of the Dutch Revolt
, was given charge of the explosives. Read more...
Jews captured by SS and SD troops during the suppression of the Warsaw ghetto uprising are forced to leave their shelter and march to the Umschlagplatz, for deportation, at gunpoint. Taken by Jürgen Stroop, this photograph is one of the most famous of World War II; the boy's identity is unknown, but he may be Tsvi C. Nussbaum, who survived the war.
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Shen Kuo (Chinese: 沈括; 1031–1095) or Shen Gua, courtesy name Cunzhong (存中) and pseudonym Mengqi (now usually given as Mengxi) Weng (夢溪翁), was a Chinese polymathic scientist and statesman of the Song dynasty (960–1279). Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, entomologist, anatomist, climatologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, medical scientist, agronomist, archaeologist, ethnographer, cartographer, geographer, geophysicist, mineralogist, encyclopedist, military general, diplomat, hydraulic engineer, inventor, economist, academy chancellor, finance minister, governmental state inspector, philosopher, art critic, poet, and musician. He was the head official for the Bureau of Astronomy in the Song court, as well as an Assistant Minister of Imperial Hospitality. At court his political allegiance was to the Reformist faction known as the New Policies Group, headed by Chancellor Wang Anshi (1021–1085).
In his Dream Pool Essays
or Dream Torrent Essays
; Mengxi Bitan
) of 1088, Shen was the first to describe the magnetic needle compass
, which would be used for navigation (first described in Europe by Alexander Neckam
in 1187). Shen discovered the concept of true north
in terms of magnetic declination
towards the north pole
, with experimentation of suspended magnetic needles and "the improved meridian
determined by Shen's [astronomical] measurement of the distance between the pole star
and true north". This was the decisive step in human history to make compasses more useful for navigation, and may have been a concept unknown in Europe for another four hundred years
(evidence of German sundials made circa 1450 show markings similar to Chinese geomancer compasses in regard to declination). Read more...
On this day
Wallachian copy of Regulamentul Organic
Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.
The following are images from various History-related articles on Wikipedia.
Roman cast terracotta of ram-horned Jupiter Ammon, a form of Zeus 1st century AD. Gods, could sometimes be transferred or adopted by many civilizations, and then adjusted for local conditions.
Gold stag with eagle's head, and ten further heads in the antlers. From a Xiongnu tomb. 4th–3rd century BC
A painting depecting the Qing Chinese celebrating a victory over the Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan. This work was a collaboration between Chinese and European painters.
The Iron Age kingdom of Israel (blue) and kingdom of Judah (yellow)
Painting of Murong Xianbei archer, in Late Antiquity, nomads across Eurasia, began to use the stirrup. Horse riding warriors could be devastating in combat.
Cishou Temple Pagoda, built in 1576: the Chinese believed that building pagodas on certain sites according to geomantic principles brought about auspicious events; merchant-funding for such projects was needed by the late Ming period.
Map showing growth of Frankish power from 481 to 814
A political map of the Mauryan Empire, including notable cities, such as the capital Pataliputra, and site of the Buddha's enlightenment.
Roman Empire 117 AD. The Senatorial provinces were acquired first under the Roman Republic and were under the Roman Senate's control; the Imperial provinces were controlled directly by the Roman emperor.
Gutenberg reviewing a press proof (a colored engraving created probably in the 19th century)
Cossacks became the backbone of the early Russian Army.
Model for the Three Superior Planets and Venus from Georg von Peuerbach, Theoricae novae planetarum.
Nok sculpture of a sitted person
Engraved world map (including magnetic declination lines) by Leonhard Euler from his school atlas "Geographischer Atlas bestehend in 44 Land-Charten" first published 1753 in Berlin
Egyptian soldiers from Hatshepsut's expedition to the Land of Punt as depicted from her temple at Deir el-Bahri.
World Colonization of 1492 (Early Modern World), 1550, 1660, 1754 (Age of Enlightenment), 1822 (Industrial revolution), 1885 (European Hegemony), 1914 (World War I era), 1938 (World War II era), 1959 (Cold War era) and 1974, 2008 (Recent history).
Map of the approximate political boundaries in Europe around 450 AD
10th-century Ottonian ivory plaque depicting Christ receiving a church from Otto I
The Ezana Stone records negus Ezana's conversion to Christianity and conquests of his neighbors.
Battle of Vienna, 12 September 1683
The Chinese Han Dynasty dominated the East Asia region at the beginning of the first millennium AD
Technical drawing of Roman Ballista mechanism.
Execution of some of the ringleaders of the jacquerie, from a 14th-century manuscript of the Chroniques de France ou de St Denis
"If there is something you know, communicate it. If there is something you don't know, search for it." An engraving from the 1772 edition of the Encyclopédie; Truth (center) is surrounded by light and unveiled by the figures to the right, Philosophy and Reason
A medieval scholar making precise measurements in a 14th-century manuscript illustration
Europe and the Mediterranean Sea in 1190
Reconstruction of an early medieval peasant village in Bavaria
The early Muslim conquests
Expansion under Muhammad, 622–632
Expansion during the Patriarchal Caliphate, 632–661
Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661–750
A possible representation of a "yogi" or "proto-Shiva", 2600–1900 BCE
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