How did the Versailles Treaty lead to World War Two?


Mass demonstration at Reichstag against the Treaty of Versailles

The guns fell silent on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Over four years of incredible destruction came to a silent end. For the belligerent Central and Allied Powers the armistice brought tremendous uncertainty. The Kaiser had just been overthrown and a new alliance of Liberals and Socialists announced a democratic regime at Weimar. The other Central Powers had collapsed in disarray and revolution. Russia, out of the war in early 1918 was in the midst of a deepening Civil War. Many of the Allies were exhausted and drained.

The delegates that crafted the treaty that ended the First World War believed that they had brought a lasting peace to Europe. President Wilson believed that the war had made much of the world safe for democracy to spread. However, conflicting goals, the harsh terms of the treaty and Germany’s response to those terms would to the most destructive conflict in world history – World War Two.

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When did Men Start Wearing Pants?

Scythian archer wearing pants from 500 BCE

Why did humans start wearing pants? To answer this question it’s important to understand two things – first, what were the earliest forms of clothing and how did they evolve into pants and secondly, why did a need for pants develop? It is also helpful to define what is meant by pants – specifically a bifurcated garment for the bottom half of the body which covers from waist to the lower leg. This definition helps to differentiate from the earlier leggings which were often pieces of cloth or skins which were wrapped around the legs and then tied on with straps. Leggings were comprised of two separate garments. Ötzil the Ice Man, perhaps the most famous archaeological find of prehistoric human remains from the northern regions, was found wearing leggings.

From archaeological evidence, it is known that the earliest types of clothing were wrap skirts or aprons for both genders. The oldest known woven example is a fragment made from woven reeds found in Armenia and dating from approximately 2900 BCE. While this is just a fragment the construction hints to what the complete style would have looked like with a waistband woven in the opposite direction from the skirt. This is likely stylistically based off of earlier versions made from hides which do not survive to the modern day. Even earlier examples were of so-called string skirts which were comprised of a waistband with strings or pieces of grass hanging down – these skirts often tied like an apron and depictions can be found in art dating back nearly 20,000 years. In the present day this style is still seen in southeast Asian and other countries, for example, the sarong, a traditionally unisex garment. In colder climates, these could be paired with the previously mentioned leggings and a T-shaped tunic. These are all very simple garment that requires limited construction and materials. [1]

The development of pants came alongside the domestication of horses and served as an indicator of class and profession. People who rode horses needed to have a way of protecting their legs and remaining clothed as a simple wrap garment would not remain on the body. Some early variants involved using the same single pieces of cloth and tying it through the legs to create trousers. Horses were initially domesticated in Central Asia sometime between 3500 and 3000 BCE. Horses were a signifier of prestige, and in many cultures horses and the equipment used in riding them or in using them to drive chariots were included in the tombs of the elite. In these earliest horse riding cultures then trousers, as a form of clothing connected to horses, also served as a sign of prestige. [2]

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What was the Borgias contribution to Renaissance Italy?

Cesare Borgia


The House of Borgia was an Italo-Spanish noble family, who became one of the most prominent and powerful families of the Italian Renaissance. They were very active in the ecclesiastical and the political affairs in Italy in the late 16th century. The family produced two Popes and Cesare Borgia, one of the most infamous figures of the Renaissance. The family was suspected of many crimes and they have become legendary figures. This article will attempt to disentangle fact from fiction and evaluate the contribution of the Borgia Family to the Italian Renaissance and the Papacy. Ultimately, the family played a very important part in the evolution of the Papacy. Their ambitions also destabilized Renaissance Italy and Cesare Borgia efforts to create a principality for himself out of the Papal States wreaked havoc on Italy.

The family originated from Valencia in modern Spain, then in the Kingdom of Aragon. There have been claims that the family was of Jewish origin. The first prominent Borgia was Alfonse de Borja (1372-1458) who was a distinguished law professor who later worked in the Curia, (Papal bureaucracy) and became a cardinal. He eventually became Pope Calixtus II, at an advanced age, but he only reigned as Pope for less than three years.[1] He did not achieve much as Pope apart from appointing his nephew to the Curia. Rodrigo Borgia (1451-1503) was a brilliant and charismatic man who was a gifted canon lawyer and able diplomat. He was made a cardinal and proved an able administrator. Rodrigo was elected Pope in 1492 and became Alexander VI. Like many other clerics, at the time, he had illicit relationships with women and he had four children with the beautiful Giula Farnese.

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How did the Renaissance influence the Reformation?


Martin Luther

The Renaissance placed human beings at the center of life and showed that this world was not just a ‘vale of tears.’ Instead, life on Earth could meaningful on its own and it was possible for people to live without reference to the divine.[1] The Renaissance or ‘rebirth’ was influenced by the ideas of the ancient past and it drew from Roman and Greek civilization in order to provide a solution to current problems.

The Renaissance was a Pan-European phenomenon and changed the mental worldview of the elites in Europe and indeed the emerging middle class across the continent. The cultural movement was to have a profound impression on people’s worldview. The Renaissance produced the Humanists who were a movement of educationalists and scholars, they sought truth and knowledge by re-examining classical texts and the bible. The Humanists ideas, the growth in textual analysis, and the Northern Renaissance changed the intellectual landscape and encouraged many Church reformers, such as Martin Luther and they later broke with Rome and divided Europe into two confessional camps, Protestantism and Catholicism.

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What were the causes of the Northern Renaissance?

Durer Self-Portrait

The Italian Renaissance had placed human beings at the centre of life and had promoted secular values as opposed to religious ones. Influenced by the ideas of the ancient past it conceived of a new way of life and provided a new worldview. The Renaissance was a period of great works of art, literature, and philosophy. The Renaissance or ‘re-birth’ was not just confined to Italy. There was also a Northern Renaissance. This is the term given to the cultural flowering that occurred north of the Alps, in German-speaking countries, the Lowlands, France, and England. The Northern Renaissance was a unique event and although influenced by the Italian Renaissance was distinct from it. The origins of the Northern Renaissance were a result of the spread of printing, the influence of Italy, growing wealth and the decline of the culture associated with feudalism.

The Northern Renaissance was similar to the Italian Renaissance. It also was interested in the ancient past and believed that it was a guide to the present day. The Northern Renaissance was also very much concerned with humanism and its values.[1] This was the idea that humans with the use of their reason could improve their circumstances and their society. It was more concerned with the individual. The movement believed in the possibility of human freedom and in the perfectibility of man. However, the Northern Europe Renaissance was much more religious in its nature than the Italian Renaissance. Many Northern scholars such as Erasmus were very much interested in the reform of the Church and denounced superstitions and clerical abuses and corruption, in the name of the true faith.[2] The great scholar Erasmus, who was born in modern-day Netherlands, was religious and also very interested in the classical world.

Bruegal’s Fall of Icarus

However, he, like many other German and other Northern Humanists saw no contradictions between Christianity and ancient cultures and believed that they could be reconciled. The religious character of the Renaissance north of the Alps was due in part to the continuing influence of the Church, unlike in Italy, where the Church was in decline.[3] The Northern Renaissance was an impressive cultural epoch and its achievements were as great as those in Italy. It produced writers of the stature of Rabelais, Montaigne, Erasmus and Thomas More. In the arts, it also was a time that saw the production of many masterpieces by artists such as Durer and Bosch. The Northern Renaissance, humanists, were not just concerned with the study of ancient texts but also the bible. Scholars began to study the bible in a new and critical way. Scholars produced more reliable versions of key biblical texts and produced commentaries on the New and Old Testament. These were very influential and the Northern Humanists ‘New Learning’ inspired many to question the teachings and authority of the Church and this did much to pave the way for the Reformation[4]

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How historically accurate is Braveheart?

Monument to William Wallace in Stirling, Scotland

Braveheart was a popular movie released in 1995 that won 5 Oscars and featured Mel Gibson as William Wallace. Wallace was a Scottish knight who became a hero in the Scottish rebellions against the English in the late 13th and early 14th century. The movie helped to inspire Scottish national pride while also, to some, represent an early, Medieval warrior who fought for freedom for himself and his people. While much of the story depicted did occur, including the English occupation of Scotland during the time of Edward I, king of England, the depiction of the revolt against the English and other events do not correspond well to historical accounts.

In the movie, William Wallace is suggested to have traveled in Europe during the early years of Edward I’s occupation of Scotland. However, little is known about Wallace’s early years. First, it is assumed Wallace came from a noble family; two villages are often claimed as his birth places (Elderslie and Ellerslie), both on the western part of Scotland. [1] We do know that Wallace was an experienced swordsman and knight, which indicates he may have fought in wars prior to his own rebellion and participation in the wars against the English. In fact, it is he fought with king Edward I as a mercenary during that king’s wars against the Welsh. That may have been the most feasible path for him to have gained fighting experience and possibly learn about English war tactics.[2]

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What was the impact of the Irish Famine on Ireland and the world?

Irish Potato Famine in 1847 (Scene at Skibbereen James Mahony)

The Great Irish Famine (1845-1850), one of the last great famines in western Europe. The Famine was a disaster for Ireland and in many ways the country has not recovered from its impact to this day. The Famine or the ‘Great Hunger’ as it was known led to the deaths of 1 million people and the emigration of another two million. The article will examine the impact of the famine on Irish society and how it ‘decisively shaped the country’s history and the nature of its society and economy.[1] The Irish Famine was not just of local importance but was to have international repercussions. This was because it led to the emigration of millions of Irish people, which changed societies from North America to Australasia.

Ireland in 1840 was largely a peasant society, where Catholic tenants worked the land of a Protestant landowning elite. Much of the agricultural land in the country was part of the estates of Protestant landlords.[2] The country was part of the United Kingdom and was ruled by a British appointed administration in Dublin Castle, who were under the direct control of the London government. The country was overwhelmingly agricultural with little or no industry. Much of the population depended on the potato for their livelihood. The vast majority of the Irish population lived in conditions of abject poverty.[3] In 1845, the potato blight was inadvertently brought to Europe from South America. The potato blight arrived in Ireland in the summer of 1846. It caused the potato crop to fail in many areas.[4]

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