Relevant History

At the mid-point of the first season, Dan takes a breather to recap what we’ve learned, and discuss nationalism more broadly.

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

Following Commodore Matthew Perry’s expedition to Japan, the floodgates to foreign trade are open. British, French, and even Russian merchants come to Japan, introducing foreign ways of life. Rebellious daimyos, worried about losing their way of life, resort to extreme measures; they overthrow the Shogunate and restore the Emperor of Japan to a position of real power.

When even the Emperor cannot eliminate foreign influence, restive samurai launch a series of rebellions. Can the new government maintain its authority, and bring Japan fully into the modern era? Or will the old ways continue to dominate?

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Episode transcript (90% accurate): https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vS-TQxp2-HZPWF_iIwPdwIXK62jBrmJcMRl4JhbegAlUhyzDNEYvAWYLeCz-OXslwqLjCZWlG-RFaDy/pub

Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

In the year 1853, Japan is an isolationist, feudal society. By 1877, she’s a modern nation, with a centralized government and burgeoning national industry. This process, called the Meiji Restoration, is one of the most remarkable national transformations in all of history. But how does it happen?

In this episode, Dan discusses the first part of the story. We’ll start out with the Tokugawa Shogunate and its policy of Sakoku – isolation. Then we’ll talk about the Japanese experience in the 19th century, and how American Commodore Matthew Perry’s expedition changes Japan, and the world, forever.

Dan’s new interview with Ben from The History Voyager: https://open.spotify.com/episode/4EVcbeJhWQtnlp36jJI2L4

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Episode transcript: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQ_LZO-uyQSprOn-mKgPzYoULDrTkU0-ahVlGzkRqVEs8xTEHOv_mvZnrNelvy_Bq2EpIioDwlodo0g/pub

Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

After the founding of Russia’s Romanov Dynasty, the settlement of Siberia is ready to begin in earnest. Intrepid explorers push east across Asia, eventually coming into contact with the Chinese Qing Dynasty. There, Russia’s land borders will be established, as both sides try to avert a major Asian war.

Beyond the Eurasian landmass, Russian explorer Vitus Bering ranges even further, searching for a route to North America. Can Russia extend her empire across the Pacific, and span three continents? And what does the Siberian conquest mean for Russia’s future?

Map of Siberia’s river basins: https://www.freeworldmaps.net/russia/rivers.html

Dan’s new interview with Ben from The History Voyager: https://open.spotify.com/episode/4EVcbeJhWQtnlp36jJI2L4

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Episode transcript: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vRiq_c3JKacPyBSSUHk1D46dD8FxuaPnctiP1Af51H8c_p9TXyPOkcoiQzmqLqJF8zbsZ_88FmALMYw/pub

Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

In a rare twist, Dan dives into current events, evaluating the Russian invasion of Ukraine from a historical perspective. In the epic showdown between Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who will come out victorious? Here’s the situation on the ground right now, how things might shake out, and, of course, the relevant history behind the invasion.

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

Siberia is the world’s largest wilderness and last frontier. The Russian conquest this vast territory begins in the 1500s, but will take more than a century to complete. By the end of Russian expansion, the Tsar rules not just all of Siberia, but also Alaska and even parts of California.

How did a regional power in far-eastern Europe come to control such a vast land? And why did they do it? Here, Dan tells the first half of the story, from Russia’s medieval origins until the opening of the frontier and the founding of the Romanov dynasty.

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Episode transcript: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vRQYSSR91oAy-_2_2BQ5wjI01GWSWvtUWn0ZCkQBMuQhSikJwqyId2HlWg_bQiTZ7YrS-T7Fz6gnFWb/pub?lsrp=1

Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

The Iroquois people, properly known as the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, are one of the largest and most influential of Native American groups. So, who are these people? What were they doing before European colonization, and how did this affect their society?

Dan starts with an overview of colonization, then delves into the founding myth of the Haudenosaunee. When the Europeans show up, the Iroquois people are practically a modern nation. But as more and more colonists arrive on their borders, they will need to adapt if they want to preserve their nationhood.

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Episode transcript: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQ9AdxwjQ8EtmzEu6a7jFIyOFO_X4rtF-wCvXdXM_4KUd31a5Z8tKgpaSWUEw9NRoWzVA4iWtRD4DqW/pub
Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

In the ending days of the Thirty Years’ War, both sides struggle desperately for any advantage. Under First Minister Cardinal Mazarin, France is fighting a war on three fronts. But military heroes like the Prince de Condé give her an advantage over the stagnant Spanish Empire. Meanwhile, Swedish general Lennart Torstensson leads his army into the very heartland of the Austrian Empire.

Can the Habsburg powers of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire withstand this assault? Will the fledgling Dutch Republic finally gain their independence once and for all? One way another, the end of the war and the Peace of Westphalia will change the world forever.

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Episode transcript: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vRta8zistDAzRl4uauNzkdZeIU6aoiQc6JqrAbhNL0SCtPES5JhZjlvEhZmHGuKo9ixZn7IU3qFcsx9/pub

Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

France’s entry into the Thirty Years’ War did not happen in a vacuum; decades of political sparring and power politics led to that point. To fully understand why and how France got into the war, it’s important to see France through the eyes of Louis XIII, or better yet, through the eyes of his most important advisor, Cardinal Richelieu.

Born as Armand Jean du Plessis, Richelieu is one of the most influential – and overrated figures in all of history. He’s a priest, a general, a scholar, a diplomat, and a brilliant politician. It will take all of his skills to hold France together, and stand against the combined Habsburg powers of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire.

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Episode transcript: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTOX-pLT7cTHQtRNZofjsK9GgNmZgjZccjq89dJxft9OjCUVd0gR9BWn6a3Ajy5_neXXLDWgwZ0718l/pub

Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

In 1626, King Christian IV of Denmark-Norway joined the Thirty Years’ War as a champion of the Protestant cause. Within four years, he would be sent home with his tail between his legs. But the Protestants would gain a new champion: the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus.

In a few short years, the Lion of the North would forge a military reputation equaled by only a handful. Just as importantly, he would keep the Protestants in the fight, forcing the Catholic Habsburg monarchy to continue a costly, draining war. Here is Gustavus Adolphus’ story, and how he shaped the course of history.

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Episode transcript: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTyEbrFsmM2A3B5A5hJ9xBQ-IM4EeR0GFov0_xL7CUIB2rsD8-HxOUD_0fvYqAIqC543Q9NXg10qlmD/pub

Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

At the beginning of 1618, the Holy Roman Empire is at peace. By the end of the year, there is a rebellion in Bohemia, and Protestants and Catholics throughout the empire are at each others’ throats. In the Third Defenestration of Prague, Bohemian Protestants, tired of royal abuses, have literally thrown Emperor Ferdinand’s royal representatives out the window.

This local revolt could have been restrained to Bohemia. But Emperor Ferdinand makes a series of blunders and overreaches that draw outside powers into the war. Within a few years, the Thirty Years’ War will engulf much of Europe.

Check out The History Voyager podcast, with Ben Kitchings: https://t.co/lD9RQOe76R?amp=1

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Episode transcript: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vR4-v4x0gAnLnaeUbjZI-9RLq-xUKtYGVAdrFOrMG0u8Ua1NdlZCOglorMelWZx1BinAah5aKKJkYSr/pub

Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

In the middle of the 16th century, Habsburg Spain rules over the world’s first global empire – an empire on which the sun never set. But their new king, Philip II, is dead set on centralizing his rule. All of his domains, even the newest, must submit to his taxes, his legal code, and most of all to the dreaded Spanish Inquisition.

In the freedom-loving Spanish Netherlands, this royal overreach would not stand. Led by William of Orange, the Dutch people would rise up to resist Spanish tyranny. This would begin the 80 Years’ War, one of the world’s longest conflicts. And in the process, it would create a new nation, the Netherlands.

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Episode transcript: https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSCvckS96O6c4cz_voX4aW9xTEYjh60ahuPBbWTT0iATq7XGZ4wZ32RtSYJBQam21lbKVEo-byPureP/pub

Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

American Society for Suicide Prevention (please consider donating) - https://supporting.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donate.event&eventID=1&language=en

TIMESTAMPS:

EPISODE 1: BOOZE, STRYCHNINE, AND FERAL DOGS – THE STORY OF THE 1904 MEN’S OLYMPICS – 04m: 20s

EPISODE 2: CORPORAL VOJTEK – 30m: 20s

EPISODE 3: THE FIRST SERIAL KILLER (WE KNOW ABOUT) – 54m: 33s

EPISODE 4: SPOOKY HISTORY – 1h: 28m: 47s

Music: “Krampus’s Workshop” by Kevin MacLeod

In the early 1500s, the Catholic Church is plagued by corruption, and the Pope is blind to his people. To fund the building of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, he offers to sell indulgences; money in exchange for eternal salvation. In Germany, a priest named Martin Luther takes offense.

The resulting crisis is bigger than anyone – even Martin Luther – expected. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V will suddenly be forced to deal with not just foreign invasion, but civil war within his own empire. The outcome would change Christianity, and the world, forever.

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

When Bohemian priest Jan Hus begins preaching some novel theological concepts, he thinks he’s engaging in mere academic expression. Instead, he gets sucked into an ecclesiastical war between three Popes and an emperor. Against these forces, he fails.

But the legacy of Jan Hus would spread beyond Bohemia. Over the next century, he would become a symbol of church reform, and his teachings would form the backbone that would change Christianity forever.

Also, I apologize for my inconsistency in the pronunciation of “Sigismund” and “Hussite.” I am an American.

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

In the 1400s, the Iberian peninsula is divided into a handful of smaller countries. By the end of the century, Spain would be one of the leading powers in Europe. By the end of the next, her colonial empire would be the greatest in the world. But what if you found out that “Spain” never even existed until the 1700s?

In this episode, Dan talks about the marriage of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. Their marriage, and the union of their two crowns, would forge a new kingdom, and a new national identity.

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

By the end of April, 1453, the city of Constantinople is in a desperate state. Without immediate relief from their fellow Christians, the city will surely fall. Can the defenders hold out until help arrives? In his second episode on the Fall of Constantinople, Dan brings the story to its epic conclusion.

MAP OF THE FIRST THREE WEEKS OF THE SIEGE: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/62/Siege_of_Constantinople_1453_map-fr.svg/2500px-Siege_of_Constantinople_1453_map-fr.svg.png

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

Whether or not 1453 is the most important year in history is a subjective question. But if it’s not on your top five list, it should be. It was the year the city of Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire. This isn’t just about the transfer of one city, or even the end of the Byzantine civilization. It’s the day the Middle Ages ended and the Renaissance began. It heralded a new day in the history of Islam, with the Ottomans rising to supremacy, and it motivated Western European nations to look for a new route to the riches of the east. Here is the first half of the story of the Fall of Constantinople.

MAP OF THE FIRST THREE WEEKS OF THE SIEGE: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/62/Siege_of_Constantinople_1453_map-fr.svg/2500px-Siege_of_Constantinople_1453_map-fr.svg.png

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

At the dawn of the 14th century, Anatolia is divided between a handful of semi-independent governors under the nominal leadership of the Sultanate of Rum. By 1444, Ottoman troops had defeated a major European coalition at the Battle of Varna, securing a transcontinental empire. This is the story of the rise of the Ottoman Empire, a Mediterranean juggernaut that would stand for four and a half centuries.

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

Dan returns from an unplanned hiatus to discuss one of history’s darker episodes: the depopulation of the Middle East in the 13th and 14th centuries. First Mongol hordes, then the Black Death ravage the region, eviscerating Islam’s Arabic cultural heartland. This one-two punch leaves an opening for a rising power: the Ottoman Empire.

Dan’s appearance on The Salad Tossers (NSFW): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLPAKwpv7Jg

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

Following the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, the Delhi Sultanate is shrunken, weakened, and nearly bankrupt. He is succeeded by his cousin, Firuz Shah, who doesn’t even want his job. But even as Firuz Shah and his descendants rebuild the Sultanate, a new threat is gathering on the horizon: the Timurid Empire, led by the legendary general Tamerlane.

Will the Delhi Sultanate withstand the Timurid horde? And will it stand
against the tide of Mughal invaders that comes next? Witness the dramatic fall of the Delhi Sultanate, through the eyes of Tamerlane and his descendants. One of these descendants, Babur, will found a new empire: the Mughal Empire, that will rule India for generations.

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

The Delhi Sultanate is a land of intrigue, ethnic conflict, and high art. Which one of these things is most important depends on your point of view, and on who the Sultan is at the moment.

Enter an era where anything can happen. Great kings and Sultans rule over millions, and hold their fate in their hands. With great wisdom comes great prosperity. But Mongol attacks and civil conflict pose a constant threat to this multi-ethnic empire. Can the Delhi Sultanate survive the age of the Mongols, and the chaos the famous horse-warriors bring to Asia?

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled program to give you something you didn’t ask for, and probably didn’t want: my thoughts on conspiracy theories throughout the ages. Sorry. My computer crashed, and I lost all my notes.

Part 2 of Crossroads of Civilization will be arriving as expected next week. In the meantime, enjoy my thoughts on the Cataline Conspiracy, the Knights Templar, the Nazis, and the Kennedy Assassination.

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

The story of India is the story of humanity itself. From the first humans to leave Africa to Alexander the Great and the Emperor Chandragupta, some of history’s greatest events have happened here. But how did India go from the cradle of civilization to a subcontinent divided between Muslims and Hindus? To understand why, we need to start from the beginning.

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

During the Fourth Crusade, what began as a Christian holy war against Egypt turned into a Venetian war of conquest against the ancient Byzantine Empire. The conquest, in turn, began as what amounted to a hostile business takeover; but it would turn into something far more sinister. By the time the fires of the sack of Constantinople had cooled, the Crusaders had achieved a remarkable feat: the seemingly-permanent cleaving of eastern and western Christianity.

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Music credit: Sergey Cheremisinov - Black Swan

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Created 1 year, 9 months ago.

50 videos

Category Arts & Literature

Ideas, innovations, and cultural trends all steer the course of history. That's what makes them relevant.