The History Portal

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History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. Events before the invention of writing systems are considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term comprising past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of these events. Historians seek knowledge of the past using historical sources such as written documents, oral accounts, art and material artifacts, and ecological markers.

History also includes the academic discipline which uses narrative to describe, examine, question, and analyze past events, and investigate their patterns of cause and effect. Historians 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 as an end in itself, as well as its usefulness to give 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 cultural 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 the "father of history" in the Western tradition, although he has also been criticized as the "father of lies". Along with his contemporary Thucydides, he helped form the foundations for the modern study of past events and societies. 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 reputed to date from as early as 722 BC, although only 2nd-century BC texts have survived. (Full article...)

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  • ... that there were so many facts in The Shorter Cambridge Medieval History that some reviewers wondered whether it was a chronicle rather than a history?
  • ... that Ángel Mangual's walk-off single in the 20th inning on July 9, 1971, ended the longest scoreless game in American League history?
  • ... that Clyde Foster, a mathematician with NASA, persuaded former Nazi rocket scientist Wernher von Braun to support a computer science program at historically black Alabama A&M University?
  • ... that Ding Shisun considered his own tenure as President of Peking University a failure, but scholar Ji Xianlin called him one of the two best presidents in the institution's history?
  • ... that during Tag des offenen Denkmals, Germany's largest annual cultural event, thousands of historic monuments are opened for free?
  • ... that the first Paleolithic sculpture of a woman found in modern times was excavated at Laugerie-Basse, one of the Prehistoric Sites and Decorated Caves of the Vézère Valley?

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A portrait of Tom Crean, February 1915 smoking a pipe
Crean on the Endurance Expedition, February 1915

Thomas Crean (Irish: Tomás Ó Cuirín; c. 16 February 1877 – 27 July 1938) was an Irish seaman and Antarctic explorer who was awarded the Albert Medal for Lifesaving.

Crean was a member of three major expeditions to Antarctica during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, including Robert Falcon Scott's 1911–1913 Terra Nova Expedition. This saw the race to reach the South Pole lost to Roald Amundsen and ended in the deaths of Scott and his party. During the expedition, Crean's 35-statute-mile (56 km) solo walk across the Ross Ice Shelf to save the life of Edward Evans led to him receiving the Albert Medal. (Full article...)
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December 2

The Battle of Austerlitz, 2nd December 1805 by François Gérard
The Battle of Austerlitz, 2nd December 1805 by François Gérard

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Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.

— Nelson Mandela, 1st South African President

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  • ... that the anti-religious campaign culminating in the Stalinist show trial of the Kraków Curia (pictured) led to the imprisonment of 123 Polish Roman Catholic priests in just one year?
  • ... that Confederate brigadier general Alfred E. Jackson was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson because of his kindness toward Johnson's family during the Civil War?
  • ... that after HMS Porcupine was nearly split in two by a torpedo, the halves were nicknamed HMS Pork and HMS Pine?
  • ... that the Experiment was a boat powered by horses running on a treadmill and propelled by a then-novel type of screw propeller?
  • ... that one of the highest-ranking generals in China was injured in battle nine times?
  • ... that in Mesopotamian mythology, the Apkallu were sent by the god Enki, from Dilmun to teach human beings various aspects of civilization?
  • ... that Karl Marx's theory of historical trajectory attempted to prove the long-term unsustainability of capitalism?
  • ... that in November 1921, the schooner Cymric collided with a tram in Dublin?



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San Francisco Mission District burning in the aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.
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The first reflecting telescope, built by British scientist Isaac Newton in 1668. It had a 6 in. aperture and magnified 40 times
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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
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John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, Captain-General of the English forces and Master-General of the Ordnance, 1702 (c), attributed to Michael Dahl 91996.jpg
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, Captain-General of the English forces and Master-General of the Ordnance, 1702 (c), attributed to Michael Dahl, after Godfrey Kneller. This painting is in the collection of the National Army Museum, London.
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A medieval ship flag captured from a Danish ship by forces from Lübeck in 1427 displaying the arms of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Pomerania. The flag remained in this city for 500 years, until destroyed in World War II during an Anglo-American bombardment that damaged St. Mary's Church where the flag was kept. A 19th century copy is exhibited at the Danish Museum of National History at Frederiksborg Palace, Denmark. The saint accompanying the Virgin Mary and infant Christ is Saint James the Greater, identified by his scallop shell emblem. Based on the heraldic images shown, the flag must have dated from the reign of King Eric of Pomerania. It was consequently created no earlier than 1396 and no later than the 1420s. The flag was made of coarse linen. All figures and heraldic insignia were created using oil-based paint, and the flag's two sides were imperfectly painted as mirrors of each other.
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1863 Meeting of Settlers and Maoris at Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.jpg
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Full description from Page 446 of the October 31 1863 The Illustrated London News:


The Engraving on page 436 represents a large meeting of the European and Maori inhabitants of the province of Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, held at the Pah Whakairo, a native village, about ten miles from Napier, on the 20th of July last. It is taken from several views of the meeting photographed by Mr. Charles H. Robson.

Mr. Grindle, Government interpreter at Napier, has obligingly furnished us with some particulars of the meeting, and of the condition and general conduct of the Maoris in that settlement, at this juncture full of interest.

Throughout the whole of the disturbances, so frequent of late years in New Zealand, he says that the natives of that part of the country have always maintained the strictest neutrality and evinced an earnest desire to cultivate the good will and friendship of the settlers. Even in times of strife and bloodshed their conduct has ever been marked by an anxiety to respect the lives and property of their white neighbours. This feeling was strongly exemplified in the years 1857-8, during the feud between the Hapuku and the Moananui, two rival chiefs of the province. At that period, although the contending tribes were often hard-pushed for provisions, the sheep and cattle of the settlers grazed quietly in the vicinity of the fortified villages, and not a single one was ever known to be missing; and the settlers themselves were earnestly warned to avoid approaching too near the contending parties whilst engaged, lest some one might be injured by a stray bullet. This quarrel had its origin in disputes and jealousies arising from the sale, by one of the chiefs in question, of blocks of land to the Government, which, according to native custom, implicated the Government also, as the purchasing party. Their conduct, therefore, towards the settlers on that occasion certainly evinced a remarkable degree of forbearance for men of untutored minds.

At a later date, when the famous King movement was fast gaining ground, and many tribes were pledged to is support, these people, although professedly in favour of the movement, uniformly retained their resolution to preserve peaceful relations with their European neighbours. And at the present crisis in New Zealand, whilst the powerful and warlike tribes of the Waikatos, with whom the King movement originated, are at war with the Government, and their emissaries continually traversing the country exciting and urging the tribes to revolt, the people of Hawke's Bay remain steady in their resolution to preserve peace in their own district, and publicly declare that, although morally supporting the confederation of the tribes for the maintenance of their nationality, they will, if necessary, resist by force any attempt of other tribes to disturb the peace of the province.

The meeting represented in our Engraving was called for the purpose of celebrating the completion of a large flour mill erected by the natives of the district, with the assistance of the Government, at the Pawhakairo village. The Europeans were invited to attend to afford each party an opportunity of expressing to the other their doubts and fears in the present aspect of affairs in the country. A large company assembled, amongst whom were many ladies and gentlemen from the town of Napier, and Donald M'Lean, Esq., the Superintendent of the Province. This gentleman was for many years at the head of the Native Department under the general Government of the colony, and is a man of great experience in all matters affecting the natives. Possessing the entire confidence of both races, and a perfect knowledge of the Maori language and character, no man could be better adapted to allay the feelings of distrust naturally awakened in the breasts of these bold and warlike people by the stirring events passing in other parts of the colony.

Many chiefs, representatives of various tribes, addressed the meeting, and all expressed their unaltered determination to live in peace and amity with their white neighbours. But they said the measures then being taken by the local Government gave them much uneasiness. "Why," said they, "are stockades being erected and men being drilled? There can be no necessity for these preparations here. We have always been your friends, and have never given you cause to be suspicious of us, nor have we ever mistrusted you; but now we are in doubt as to the meaning of these proceedings." They were answered by his Honour the Superintendent, who informed them that the militia were called out pursuant to instructions from the Governor; that this was usual amongst Englishmen in every country, even in times of peace; that it had already been done in every other province in the island; that warning letters were continually being received from loyal natives in other districts of meditated attacks upon the town of Napier by the Waikatos, now in arms against the Government, together with other disaffected tribes; and that the stockades, therefore, and all the other preparations, had no reference whatsoever to them, but were merely precautionary measures to guard against threatened incursions of hostile tribes. His Honour spoke at some length, and the result was that the natives were fully satisfied, and a paper was drawn up by them, and signed by all the principal chiefs, declaring their fixed determination to maintain peace in the province and to assist the "Pakehas" in repelling any hostile tribes. This, together with the speeches of the chiefs, was afterwards published in a local newspaper printed in the Maori language, called the Waka Maori o Ahuriri, or the "Maori Canoe of Ahuriri."

The gentleman near the centre of our Engraving, with his head uncovered, is Mr. M'Lean, the Superintendent of the province. At his feet is an aged chief, named Porokoru, seated in a wheelbarrow, in which he had been conveyed to the spot, being unable either to walk or stand erect from age and decrepitude. He was the first to address the meeting, and, in doing so, expressed his heartfelt pleasure at seeing so many of his white friends gathered around; declaring, in a song with which he opened his speech, that the Maoris had only been preserved from total extinction as a people by the timely arrival of the white man. In the foreground are a number of calabashes, containing "titis" - small birds, cooked and preserved in their own fat. These birds are much esteemed by the natives as an article of diet. They are very rich and luscious. The pillars in the background are specimens of uncouth carving, common in all fences around native villages.

During the course of the day the meeting adjourned for the purpose of partaking of the refreshments provided by the natives for their European friends.

The importance of this meeting cannot be too highly estimated at the present juncture of affairs in the colony. There can be no doubt it had its due effect upon other tribes. Some emissaries of the tribes in rebellion were present, and it is to be hoped that the report they made to their own people of the peaceful resolves of the Hawke's Bay natives had the effect of somewhat dampening their ardour of rebellion.

The province of Hawke's Bay is one of the principal grazing districts in the colony; it possesses abundance of fine agricultural land, and has a climate proverbially mild and healthy. Its native population is about 3600, and the European population about 2600.
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Original or archival image caption, which may be erroneous, biased, obsolete or politically extreme.
German: Mit Gewalt aus Bunkern hervorgeholt
Forcibly pulled out of bunkers
title QS:P1476,de:"Mit Gewalt aus Bunkern hervorgeholt"
label QS:Lde,"Mit Gewalt aus Bunkern hervorgeholt"
label QS:Lfr,"Tirés de force de leurs abris"
label QS:Lpt,"Retirados à força dos covis"
label QS:Lru,"Насильственно извлеченные из убежища"
label QS:Lpl,"Siłą wyciągnięci z bunkrów"
label QS:Lit,"Scovati con forza dalle loro buche"
label QS:Len,"Forcibly pulled out of bunkers"
label QS:Leo,"Perforte eltiritaj el trancxeoj"
label QS:Lcs,"Násilně vytaženi ze zákopů"
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Edward Gibbon, by Henry Walton (died 1813). See source website for additional information. This set of images was gathered by User:Dcoetzee from the National Portrait Gallery, London website using a special tool. All images in this batch have been confirmed as author died before 1939 according to the official death date listed by the NPG.