Sweyn Forkbeard – First Viking King of Britain

Most of the readers would have heard of the great Danish king of England, Canute but not many of you would know of his father Sweyn. Sweyn Forkbeard was the first Viking King of Britain. Today, Sweyn is a forgotten king. But he ruled whole of unified Britain for 5 weeks. He became the King of Britain on Christmas Day in 1013 and ruled until his death on February 3, 1014.

Sweyn King of Britain

Sweyn Forkbeard Viking King of Britain

 

Sweyn was known as the Forkbeard because of his long and divided beard. He was the son of Harald Bluetooth, the King of Denmark and supposed to have been born in 960 AD. Though Sweyn was a typical Viking warrior but he was baptized to Christianity. In character, Sweyn was a very brutal man and was well known for his violence. He started his career of violence by launching a campaign against his own father in 986 AD. Sweyn allied with another chieftain Palnatoke to attack and kill his father Harald. Once the crown of Denmark was secured, Sweyn turned his attention towards Britain. He started his Britain campaign in 990s. He moved inland through the coastal towns destroying cities and killing its inhabitants mercilessly.

Ethelred the Unready

Ethelred the Unready was the ruling King of Britain

 

Britain, back then was ruled by Ethelred the Unready (or “ill advised”). He feared that Viking invasion might take away his crown. Thus Ethelred decided to pay Sweyn a tribute and bribes. Ethelred hoped that these gifts or taxes will send Sweyn and his troops back to Denmark. Though the bribes worked for certain time, and the large Dane contingent left yet small troop was left in Britain. This small troop settled in various parts of Britain and started raiding the British countryside. Ethelred was advised by his counsel that British lands should be freed from the Dane settlements. Ethelred was convinced that this was the only way to protect England.

 

Sweyn's Invasion of Britain

Sweyn Invaded Britain many times before being proclaimed the King

On November 13, 1002 (St, Brice’s Day) Ethelred ordered a massacre of all Danes living in England including women and children. Amongst the individuals killed in this massacre was Gunhilde, Sweyn’s sister. This enraged Sweyn and he decided to launch a second campaign to Britain. His forces again landed on English soil and started pillaging the countryside. Again King Ethelred was forced to send lavish gifts to appease the attackers. The Viking raids continued in varying scales until 1013. In 1013, Sweyn arrived with a large force and landed at Sandwich, Kent. The locals were so terrified that everyone submitted to the Danes without any resistance. After subduing the countryside, Sweyn turned his attention towards London. In London, Sweyn met stubborn resistance from Ethelred and his allies. But people within the city feared severe repercussions if they did not submit. The English Earls declared Sweyn as the king. Ethelred was forced to flee the capital.

Vikings killing British

Vikings pillaged the Countryside as they made way towards London

 

Following this victory, Sweyn was officially proclaimed King of Britain on Christmas Day. However, he died soon after. The reason of his death varies from one source to the other. One source suggests that one day he fell from his horse and was mortally wounded. Others suggest that he was murdered. Recently a group of archeologists have discovered human remains at Roskilde Cathedral, which was built by Harald Bluetooth. Scholars believe that the unidentified skeleton could be that of Sweyn.

 

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The Lost Treasure of Montezuma

In 1519, the Spanish under conquistador Hernan Cortes arrived in Tenochtitlan, which was then the capital of the mighty Aztec Empire. As soon as the Spanish landed from their ships they were meted out warm greetings. The Aztec emperor, Montezuma II even regarded the Spanish as Gods. He declared Cortes as the embodiment of Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. There were festivities organized to welcome the Europeans. But Cortes and his men had come to these shores with completely different purposes, they were far from the Gods that local people believed them to be. Soon, the so-called Gods betrayed Montezuma and his people. Their actions demonstrated that they were not godlike.

Montezuma the Aztec King

Montezuma the Aztec King

 

As a way out, Montezuma offered gold to Cortes which he felt would appease the Spanish and they would go away. But the bribe had a contrary effect on the Spanish. It fuelled their greed for more gold. Soon, Cortes had Montezuma put under house arrest and took over the governance of the area. With the help of some Tlaxcalan allies, Spanish were able to set up their base at one of the major city temples. Soon, the Tenochtitlan homes were ransacked and inhabitants were tortured or killed to obtain information for more treasures. In the next few months, Spanish were able to gain some treasures through their radical measures. Though the Aztecs were not happy with such treatment, but they took no steps.

Hernan Cortes and Montezuma

Initially Cortes was seen by Aztecs as God

 

Then in May 1520, during a religious festival held at Tenochtitlan temple many of the nobilities attending were massacred by the Spanish forces. This event brought about a fierce reaction from the Aztec population and they rose in rebellion against the conquistadors. They besieged the Spanish settlements. Seeing danger, the Spanish used their hostage Montezuma to pacify his subjects. But the attempt failed. Montezuma was pelted with stones when he appeared. Some sources say that Montezuma was mortally wounded by the rocks thrown at him. Other sources however, feel that Montezuma was executed by the Spanish seeing that he held no worth any longer.

Spanish killing Aztecs

Spanish mercilessly killed the Aztecs during a Festivity

 

Only option left for the Spanish was to flee the city. But the Tenochtitlan people had cut off all routes for escape. The bridges were removed so that there was no escape route left. However, the Spanish used their resources to build a bridge in quick time. Then on July 1, 1520 Spanish made their escape from the settlements. But their movement was detected by the Aztecs who attacked them and killed many fleeing Spanish soldiers in the process. The incident was later known as ‘La Noche Triste’ (The Sad Night).

La Noche Triste

La Noche Triste – when the fleeing Spanish were killed by Aztecs

 

On this night, Cortes not only lost many of his capable men, but also the Aztec treasure they had amassed over many months. In a desperate attempt to flee the marauding Aztecs, much of the treasure was thrown away to lighten the burden. This huge treasure later became popular as Montezuma’s Treasure, but it has not been found till date. Cortes however, returned back unscathed with vengeance in his heart. He returned to Tenochtitlan in May, 1521. The Spanish forces attacked the Aztecs warriors. Aztecs surrendered soon after but they were mercilessly slaughtered. Not only warriors, but thousands of civilians were killed in the raids and the city was looted. It is estimated that at least 240,000 Aztecs were killed in an eight day period. This event marked the fall of mighty Aztec Empire.

Lake Texcoco

Modern Day Image of Lake Texcoco

 

As for the lost treasure there are many theories. Some scholars feel that the treasure can be found where it was lost, in Lake Texcoco. However, many treasure hunters have explored the Lake but to no avail. Other scholars feel that the Spanish regained the treasure in their second campaign and boarded it on a ship to Spain. But the ship sunk in a storm.

 

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Kamikaze: The Savior of Japan

During the 13th century, the Mongols who were led by Kublai Khan, the grandson of great Genghis Khan planned two major invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281 AD respectively. On the both the occasion Mongol fleet along with their plans of conquest were laid to rest by massive typhoons. The typhoons destroyed Mongol fleets and forced the Mongols to retreat. These winds saved Japan from a certain foreign conquest and were lovingly named Kamikaze (the divine winds).

Thousands of Mongol Ships were destroyed by Kamikaze

Thousands of Mongol Ships were destroyed by Kamikaze

 

Kublai Khan was an able and ambitious ruler of the Mongols. He wanted to start where his grandfather had left off. He was the first Emperor of unified Mongolia and renamed Mongolian Empire into Yuan Dynasty. He wanted to embark on a series of conquests. He started by conquering China in 1230 and Korea in 1231. Japan which was hardly 100 miles away, feared an invasion would soon come to their shores. They had good reason for such belief, during 1267-74 Kublai Khan sent many messages to the Emperor of Japan demanding his submission to the Mongols or face the invasion. However, each time the messengers were blocked by the Japanese diplomats so they never got through to the Emperor. No replies from the Japanese Emperor made Kublai furious and the Mongols started preparations for the invasions. They started building an enormous fleet and recruited thousands of Chinese and Korean warriors.

Battle of Bun'ei

Mongols won decisive victory in Battle of Bun’ei only to be denied by Kamikaze

 

The Mongolian fleet set sail in autumn 1274 to launch the first invasion of Japan. The first invasion is also known as the Battle of Bun’ei. Mongols had 500-900 war ships along with 40,000 warriors mostly comprised of ethnic Koreans and Chinese. Mongols met the Japanese forces near the shores of Hakata Bay. The Mongols slaughtered their way through the initial Japanese resistance. The Japanese forces retreated, but the Mongols did not march forward. They felt that Japanese would be back with greater reinforcements, so they returned back to their ships. That night a violent typhoon struck at the ships that were decked in Hakata Bay. By morning, only a few ships remained. The fleet was completely destroyed, taking lives of thousands of Mongol soldiers. So, the Mongols had to shun their plans and return back.

Second Mongol Invasion of Japan

Kamikaze Struck During the Second Mongol Invasion of Japan

 

Though the Japanese had a lucky escape, but the Mongol spirits remained high. Kublai was more determined than ever to annex Japan. The Mongols wasted no time in rebuilding their fleet and recruiting larger number of warriors. Japan was also preparing for their defense by building two meter high walls all along the coast to protect themselves from future attacks. Seven years later in 1281, the Mongols returned to Japan with greater numbers. This time they had a fleet of 4,400 ships and estimated 70,000-140,000 soldiers. The forces were divided into two. One set sail from Korea while the other left from Southern China. Both the forces converged near Hakata Bay in August 1281. Mongols were not able to find landing space as the beaches had been walled. So, the Mongols decided to stay afloat for months while strategizing their attacks. All the while they exhausted their supplies. Then on August 15, the Mongols decided to launch an offensive the following day. At night, that day, when the final planning was done a typhoon struck again. About 4,000 ships were destroyed and 80% of soldiers were drowned or killed by the samurai warriors waiting on the beaches. Mongols turned back never to attack Japan again.

Kamikaze in World War II

Kamikaze was a group of suicide pilot squad during World War II

 

Kamikaze became famous during World War II. Kamikaze referred to the Japanese suicide pilots who deliberately crashed their planes into important enemy targets, usually ships. Kamikaze pilots did major damage to the US fleet and killed more than 2,000 American soldiers. Kamikaze movement evolved out of the desperation that Japan faced in the later stages of World War II, when they were losing.

 

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Penthesilea: Forgotten Queen of Amazons

Scarcely mentioned in the Greek mythology, Penthesilea was the Queen of Amazons. Texts suggest that she was the daughter of Ares and Otrera. She is among the most famous Amazonian Queens. She was known for being a fierce warrior and even took part in the great battle of Troy. Amazon had a custom of training their women into fierce warriors and Penthesilea was one such legendary warriors. Some texts suggest that the Amazon women were so dedicated to being warriors that they cut off one of their breasts so that they were able to wield the bow better. Though the truth of this fact has been debated in modern times.

Statue of Penthesilea

Statue of Penthesilea

 

Queen Penthesilea was very skilled with many weapons. Apart from that she was intelligent and beautiful too. Some texts state that she was the inventor of battle axe. But tragedy befell this beautiful and courageous Queen when she went hunting one day. In a freakish accident she killed her sister Hippolyta with a spear that was meant for some other animal. Hippolyta was very close to Penthesilea and she plunged deep in grief. She wished for death, but she could not commit suicide. As Amazon warriors could only die honorably in battlefield.

Penthesilea the Fierce Warrior Queen

Penthesilea the Fierce Warrior Queen

 

Penthesilea continued ruling Amazon kingdom. Her reign collided with the Trojan War. Initially, Amazons did not take part in the war and Penthesilea herself had decided to stay away from this conflict. But two key events: Achilles killing Hector and Penthesilea killing her sister Hippolyta led to Amazon participation in the war. So, the Amazon army marches to Troy. Penthesilea was not like other typical rulers, who would sit and watch other men fight. She used fight in the battle herself and during the ensuing battle she killed every Greek coming in her path. It is written that she was valiant and swift. She fought just like a man and went on a killing spree during the battle. Her goal though was to kill Achilles and avenge the death of Hector. Or to die in the process.

Some Stone Carvings Showing Penthesilea in Trojan War

Some Stone Carvings Showing Penthesilea during Trojan War

 

Some texts depict that, no one was able to stop Penthesilea as she made her way towards Achilles. Soon, two met each other face to face. It is said that Achilles fell in love with Penthesilea at first sight. But that did not stop him from killing her with a swift stroke of his blade. He caught her in his arms as Penthesilea fell after being struck the death blow. However, other Greeks did not have any generous feelings towards Penthesilea. It is noted that Thersites mocked Achilles for his treatment of the Queen’s body. Thersites went ahead and removed the eyes of Penthesilea with his sword, enraging Achilles, who slaughtered Thersites. However, after Achilles left, Diomedes who was the cousin of Thersites, dragged the corpse of Penthesilea behind his chariot. He threw the corpse into the river. Achilles is said to have retrieved the body and given Penthesilea proper burial.

Achilles& Penthesilea

Achilles holds Penthesilea after killing her

 

Ancient Roman poet wrote about Penthesilea in his poem and described her as Bellatrix, which is rumored to be the inspiration for naming of Bellatric Lestrange in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter Series. Though Penthesilea’s story is not told in the Illiad which ends with Hector’s funeral, which happened before the Amazons arrived. Her story is told in the lost epic of Aethiopis.

 

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Why did Alexander the Great leave his Indian Conquest Incomplete?

Every nation wants to be the greatest nation in the world. Historians grab every possible opportunity to glorify their nation. Often history is molded and real facts are twisted to showcase a nation’s glory. As a child I studied about Alexander the Great and his invasion of India in 325 BC (give or take a couple of years). In the Indian historical texts it is depicted that Alexander was overwhelmed by the character, valor and military might of Indian kings. His conviction was further fortified after meeting Porus and Chandragupta Maurya. It is said that he returned Porus his Kingdom and befriended young Chandragupta. He left hopes of conquering this great nation and returned back home.

Sculpture of Alexander The Great

Sculpture of Alexander the Great

 

Alas! Truth is far from these golden phrases. Alexander the Great was a highly ambitious man. He was cruel in a way too, because no great conquest can be carried out without a bit of cruelty. Apart from this the person who had conquered great Empires many millions away from home cannot be overwhelmed by a single battle or meeting a youthful talent. So, what was it that propelled Alexander to halt his war machines and turn back towards his native land?

Breastplate of Alexanders Armour

Breastplate of Alexanders Armour

In 336 BC, Alexander ascended to the Macedonian throne after the death of his father Phillip. In the initial days he spent time in consolidating his position as the King of Macedonia by crushing rebellions and various plots. After he was done with these internal strife, in 335 BC he set out to conquer the world with the Balkan conquest. Soon after Persia, Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia was conquered by the skilled troops of Alexander the Great. When Alexander entered Hellespont in 334 BC he has 48,100 soldiers, 6,100 cavalry and 120 ships. Most of the warriors who fought by his side were supremely skilled Greek soldiers. The council members were childhood friends and loyal subjects. Alexander’s army was known for their shrewd and well planned maneuvers in the battlefield. They were driven towards a common goal: to conquer the world.

Alexander's Army Formation

Alexander’s Army Formation

 

When Alexander’s troops set their reluctant foot on the Indian soil crossing Beas River, the scenario was completely different. The last few campaigns of Alexander were not one of glory. Most of the Greek soldiers were revolting, they ought to because most of them had not seen home for many years. The initial batch of skilled soldiers who had won swift victories were either killed in battle or they had to be sent home. The Greek soldiers were replaced by soldiers from various nationalities (Persians mainly). As a result conflicts within the troop were common. It is learned that most soldiers had asked their King to return back home after the conquest of Bactria and it was Alexander’s convincing power that forced them to cross into Indian Peninsula.

Alexander Crossing Beas River

Alexander Crossing Beas River

 

By the time Greeks under the leadership of Alexander reached India they were reduced to mere rags. There were hardly any world class soldiers, most were mercenaries and ruffians. They did not have their customary Greek military uniforms or superior equipment’s that accompanied them in the earlier campaigns. Most of the native Greeks had become lazy and arrogant after tasting the riches and luxuries of Persia and Egypt. Some of them had married native women and had a family now. So, the young men who had left Macedonia were now family men with a lot to think about. Far from thinking about world conquest, they wanted just one thing: to return home.

Battle of Hydaspes in India

Battle of Hydaspes in India

 

When Alexander entered India he invited all the nearby chieftains to submit to his authority and resume their functions as allies. Ambhi was the first to submit to Alexander and placed himself and his forces at the Great Conquerors disposal. But the Greeks met hostilities soon after. King Porus of the Paurava kingdom, situated on the banks of Hydaspes River in modern day Punjab, was defiant and Alexander had to participate in the Battle of Hydaspes. Though Alexander won a great victory in the ensuing battle, but he lost lots of men. The guerilla warfare employed by Porus, cost lot of Greek lives. Apart from this Indian monsoons, thick forests filled with venomous snakes posed a serious threat to Alexander’s army. Diseases claimed lots of life. By the end of the war Greek troops were only a band of few hundred men.

Alexander died on the voyage back home

Alexander died on the voyage back home

 

Apart from this rebellions were common among the surviving soldiers. Alexander was also tired from soul and his dreams were fading. He understood the logic of not moving forward. In the meantime, rumors spread among the Greek forces that there were thousands of soldiers on the other side of Ganges waiting to slay them. Nanda had a huge army, which was many times larger than Alexander’s small forces. He had the dared elephants (Greeks were quite new to the use of Elephants in battle). So, men could not be persuaded to cross the Ganges. Understanding that his dreams would have to wait, Alexander decided to return back. He gave Porus his kingdom and appointed Seleucus Nictor as the regent for India.

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The Secrets of Knights Templar

After the Christians captured Jerusalem following the First Crusade in 1099, many faith followers made pilgrimages to the Holy Land and the Holy Places scattered around. Though the city was secured but the outskirts were full of bandits who routinely slaughtered the pilgrims, often accounting for hundreds, as the people tried to make their way through the coastline of Jaffa to the Holy Land. Then in 1119. The French knight Hugues de Payens approached the king of Jerusalem Baldwin II with a proposal to create a Monastic Order of knights who would protect the pilgrims. After much deliberation and trial runs, Roman Catholic Church endorsed the Monastic Order of Knights and they were named Knights Templar. Most scholars believe Knights Templar was the first of its kind Warrior Monks. In their early days, the knights had to rely on the alms of travelling pilgrims.

Knights Templar Armor

Knights Templar Armor

 

In the initial days, Knights Templar instituted of only 9 knights but the number grew significantly as they started finding favor of the European monarchies. Within two centuries the Knights Templar rose as a very powerful organization that could defy anybody barring the Papal orders. They engaged in the following Crusades for supremacy over Jerusalem. They grew rich by looting cities and mosques during the Crusades. Though the Knights Templar were fearsome warriors, but they were respected for their shows of charity towards the poor.

Knights Templar during the Crusades

Knights Templar during the Crusades

 

Soon the Knights Templar had lot of wealth. So, they invented the banking system. They would finance and help the monarchies in Europe with their funds. Though lending of money on interest was forbidden by the church, yet the Knights loaned huge money and changed the payment process. Soon, their vast wealth became a cause of concern in the royal circles. This led to their demise in hands of King of France and the Pope in 1307 and 1314.

Demise of Knights Templar

When King Phillip of France ascended the throne, Knights Templar was a powerful organization. He felt insecure in their presence, for they wielded unchallenged power. Their vast wealth meant, they could shift the power balance any time they wished for it. So, King Phillip included some of his informants in the group and sought information. After Richard the Lionheart had retreated from Holy Lands, Knights Templars had settled in various parts of England and France. They were now primarily money lenders. They met in private to discuss important issues. King Phillip got all the news regarding their plans from informants. In 1307, King Phillips was planning to wage a war against England’s Edward I and he needed funds. So, he thought of another way to arrange money, rather than lending it from the Knights Templar.

Phillip IV of France

Phillip IV of France, who disbanded the Knights Templar

 

He had the Knights arrested on the grounds of heresy. This was the only charge that would allow him to seize all their wealth and assets. The Knights Templar was disbanded as an organization and all the members were tortured for confessions. Ridiculous confessions were sought such as homosexuality, sodomy, spitting on the Cross and other unholy practices. King Phillip also urged other monarchies to take similar actions and most of them did.

 Jacques de Molay

Jacques de Molay burned at the stake in 1314

 

On March 19, 1314 the last Grand Master of Knights Templar, Jacques De Molay was burned at stake in the middle of River Seine in Paris on account of some framed charges. Following this, most of the members fled to Scotland and the movement went silent until it re-surfaced again in 1705. Some scholars feel that the Knights Templar is still operational till present day and they are still secretly undertaking missions.

The Lost Treasure of Knights Templar

When the Knights were arrested Phillip had dreamed of retrieving huge treasures to fund all his campaigns. Though some treasures had been ceased, but the large portion of huge treasures could not be found. Some scholars feel that, Knights already had an idea about the scheme French King was plotting. They had used carriages to send away their treasures for safekeeping. Their motive was to preserve some of the religious relics that might otherwise be lost with time. Their meek surrender to the royal troops was just an effort to bide time while the treasures reach their destination. After the fall of Knights Templar many have tried to retrieve this immense treasure, but no one has been successful.

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Aftermath of Mutiny on Bounty HMS

Mutiny on Bounty HMS refers to the mutiny by the staff against their commanding authority on-board the Bounty HMS. Whenever the story of mutiny on Bounty comes to mind two characters immediately come to mind – William Bligh and Fletcher Christian. One is the oppressor and the other oppressed. In adaptations of this historic tale, Christian is depicted as a righteous man while Bligh is a tyrant. But facts are a bit different from the tale. Some feel that Christian was a power hungry person habituated to idyllic life and Bligh simply became his victim.

Modern Day Replica of HMS Bounty

Modern Day Replica of HMS Bounty

 

The story begins when a small ship named Bounty was bought by the Royal Navy. In those times, African slaves were transported to West Indies and they were put to work in the islands. Providing for their food was taxing the royal British coffers, so Sir Joseph banks came up with an idea. He wanted to transport lots of breadfruit trees, found in abundance in Tahiti, to West Indies. Breadfruit would provide low cost food supplies for the slaves. HMS Bounty was tasked with setting sail from England to Tahiti and picking up breadfruit plants. They were transport these plants to West Indies and make it back home. With this intention in mind, the ship sailed from Spithead under captaincy of Lieutenant William Bligh. During the outward journey, Bligh demoted the ship’s sailing master John Fryer and replaced him with Fletcher Christian. This caused raised tensions between the captain and John Fryer. However, after a tumultuous journey Bounty reached Tahiti on October 26, 1788 after being ten months at sea.

HMS Bounty in Tahiti

HMS Bounty landing in Tahiti

 

The crew quickly collected as many breadfruit plants as they could. Bligh decided to have a five months layover period, which was needed for the breadfruit plants to reach a point where they could be easily transported across the sea. This decision proved a blunder for Bligh. Soon the crew formed friendships with the local tribes and they were very welcoming. The crew had everything – good food, ideal lodges and attractive women to build relationships. Christian went as far as marrying a Tahitian woman named Maimati. This did not please the Captain and he started punishing crew members for small, insignificant mistakes. They were flogged on a regular basis and Christian took Bligh’s rant each time. The relation between Christian and Bligh was strained.

Portrait of Fletcher Christian

Portrait of Fletcher Christian

 

Tensions rose between the Bligh faithful and the discontent sailors when the ship’s plans for departure was revealed. Most of the crew members were happy with the idyllic life of this small Pacific Island and a long journey back, where their life would be at stake was not welcomed. Despite all oppositions, Bounty set sail on April 5, 1789. At night, Christian was already contemplating returning back to the islands after discussing with the Captain. But he knew that Bligh will not allow him. At morning, he found support among the other crew members. So, they took up weapons and stormed into Bligh’s cabin (which remained open at all times). They forced Bligh out of the cabin, though there were many faithful to the Captain but there was no resistance to the mutiny.

Bligh on Small Boat

Following the Mutiny Bligh was set afloat in a small boat

 

Mutineers forced Bligh and four loyal crew members on to a small boat and set in afloat. But Bligh was a master navigator who sailed for 47 days in the small boat to reach Timor in Dutch East Indies and from there he went back to England. He was later tried and court martialed for losing the ship. Though Bligh was reinstated in the Royal Navy at a later date.

Pitcairn Islands

Pitcairn Islands

 

For Christian and his followers they traveled to Pitcairn (close to Tahiti) on board the HMS Bounty. Once they reached the islands, which had favorable living conditions. They burnt the ship, in what is now famous as the Bounty Bay. Christian and his mates settled down on this island. Initial days passed in merriment but the tensions started brewing after a few months. Alexander Smith (aka John Adams) last of the surviving crew members who was interviewed by captain of another British ship Topaz stated the facts from the latter life of Fletcher Christian.

As per Smith’s accounts, after a few months Christian became remorseful, he started missing the luxuries of sophisticated life. He was grief stricken and often visited a cave to cry in solitude. His behavior towards other survivors became harsh. Many of the crew members were killed in the ensuing power struggles. In one such fight, Christian killed a Tahitian crew member. Smith further reveals that the Tahitians with an intention to seek revenge then killed Christian. With Christian dead there was a crisis of leadership and many British members vied for the spot. Again many killed each other. Only Alexander Smith, who was able to blend in with the Tahitians, lived on with the families of other crew members on Pitcairn Island.

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Mystery of Cain and Abel

One of the most disturbing stories from the Book of Genesis in Old Testament is that of Cain and Abel. For many thousand years this story has bewildered the readers and stands as a testimony to the disastrous effects of envy. For those of you who do not remember this horrific tale, let’s recall. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Heaven after they tasted the Forbidden Apple. As the couple started their new life on Earth, Eve conceived Cain and sometime later she gave birth to his brother Abel. The elder son, Cain was very ambitious and became the pioneer of agriculture. He learned the art of tilling the soil. He became rich with all the essentials of life at his disposal. While Abel was a nomadic shepherd, often struggling to find his food. But God somehow favored the simpler man of the two, Abel. Cain grew jealous of his brother and one day took him out to the fields. Cain attacked his brother and committed world’s first murder. Cain killed Abel.

Cain murdering Abel

Cain murdering Abel, as per Story of Old Testament

 

For many years, researchers have argued about the authenticity of the event. But there is a new light thrown to this puzzle with some new discoveries. While seeking the truth we should identify that the Old Testament is highly metaphorical at times. At other times the depictions suggest real events or places. Such as the Garden of Eden with its fours did exist and archeologists found its existence in southern Iraq. The Great Flood did happen as a result of an asteroid impacting the Earth during the Neolithic Age. The Six Days Evolution mentioned in this old text can be compared to the evolutionary theory of mankind.

Homo Sapien & Homo neanderthalensis

Skull of Homo Sapien on Left and Skull of Homo neanderthalensis on Left

 

So, what is the metaphorical meaning of the Cain and Abel story? Modern day researchers feel that Cain and Abel were not two individuals rather they represented two species – Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis. Both these species had originated from the same father species – Hominid genus. Cain, the elder species murders Abel, the younger species. Such an event perfectly fits with the fossil records of the two species. Homo sapiens emerged some 200,000 years ago while Homo neanderthalensis emerged about 130,000 years ago. For some while the scientists believed that Neanderthals were nothing but a sub-species of Homo sapiens, but that theory has now been refuted.

Neanderthals face

How Neanderthals may have looked like

 

Early human settlements were indeed the progenitor of planned agriculture, while the Neanderthals were more reliant on hunting, herding and gathering for their subsistence. So, Neanderthals in the role of Abel matches perfectly. As the two species started co-existing, tension brewed. Humans were technologically much advanced, but they had to still compete with the Neanderthals. This not sit well, so the humans started killing the Neanderthals with their smart weapons. The Neanderthals were a much laid back species, who could not defend themselves. Thus they were exterminated by their superior species. Recent evidences have provided evidence of co-habitation, interbreeding and inter-species violence between these two Hominid species.

An archeological dig in Iraq recently came up with a Neanderthal skull. Neanderthal was killed about 50,000 to 75,000 years ago. He took a spear in his rib, and the spear was typically human made. Another Neanderthal male skeleton found in Libya had his head crushed by a human made weapon. These facts clearly point to a genocide carried out by the humans of their resembling species, the Neanderthals.

 

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The Attack on Pearl Harbor could have been avoided

Attack on Pearl Harbor at 7:55 AM on December 7, 1941 may have changed the course of American history for once and all. The attacks led to US entry into World War II both in European and Pacific theatres. This attack also iterated that an isolationist country was equally vulnerable to external attacks. And the US have followed this lead throughout their later history. But all these lessons came at a very high cost. As per official records, no less than 1500 lives were lost in the attacks. Despite the following success of the US in World War II, many have speculated that the attack on Pearl Harbor could be easily avoided with a little more attention to details. However, some documents suggest that Pearl Harbor might not have been the only target. A failure at Pearly Harbor would have instigated attacks on other areas of the US.

Pearl Harbor attacks

Pearl Harbor attacks from a Distance

 

But coming to Pearl Harbor attacks by the Imperial Japanese forces, it should be said that both military and government had plenty of clues suggesting that an attack was imminent. The relations between Japan and the US were crumbling. Japan had already entered World War II on the part of Axis powers. They had invaded China in an aggressive move. China fell rather quickly. But this was hurting the US interests. In July, 1941 US President declared a ban on trading relations with Japan. Japan needed the American oil to power their war machines. So, they were angered by this move. Many diplomatic meetings between contingents of both nations failed because Japan were not in a mood to give up their claim on China.

Ships ablaze in Pearl Harbor

Ships ablaze during Pearl Harbor Attacks

 

Japan had already started a propaganda war against the US. Their television was airing statements suggesting that the US was their enemy. US intelligence had information regarding such statements and the anti-American sentiments that ran within the nation. Some Intelligence officials had even suggested that an aggressive move by Japan was imminent. But the American diplomats felt that Japan was simply not capable of waging such a war.

Japanese Bomber World War II

Nakajima B5N2 Torpedo Bomber takes off from Shokaku for Pearl Harbor

 

The American ambassador to Japan in those days was Joseph Grew. Grew had received information from his Peruvian counterpart that Japan was planning an attack on Pearl Harbor. Grew received this information January 27, 1941 which was nearly one year prior to the attack. Grew passed this information immediately to the higher officials sitting in Washington. But the information was blown away due to lack of any concrete evidence. After the attacks, Grew went on record to criticize President Roosevelt for America’s involvement in World War II and attack on Pearl Harbor.

Airbase in Pearl Harbor

Airbase in Pearl Harbor after the Attack

 

In the memoirs of people within the close circles of Roosevelt, it is known that the President was seeking a war with Japan and Germany. He had said in one statement that Allied forces could not win without American help. So, could he be paving the way for such a participation with his inaction? There are many facts that point in the affirmative. After the ban on trading with Japan, the Japanese Prime Minister Prince Konoye wanted to meet Roosevelt in Hawaii (the choice of location would remain suspicious). After initially agreeing, the meeting was rescheduled in Alaska. This meeting never happened. In October, Konoye was replaced by aggressive minded Prime Minister Tojo Hideki. Some diplomats felt that the meeting could have temporarily avoided the attacks.

Naval fleet in Pearl Harbor

Naval Fleet decimated in the Attack

 

Another suggestion is that, the American code-breakers had already broken through most of the ciphers used by the Japanese during World War II. They had given many suggestions that the Japanese were planning for attacks along the coastline. Maybe, as a precaution plenty of naval fleets and fighters were deployed in Pearl Harbor. But the problem was they were not ready for war. It was down to American complacency, they kept on blowing away realistic suggestions that the war was coming to their land.

Plenty of live could have been saved had the American top officials taken a proactive rather than reactive approach. It seems logic was over-ruled in favor of pride.

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Controversy Regarding Moon Landing

In July, 1969 humankind took a great leap forward when Neil Armstrong and his team set their foot on Moon. It was recorded in history as one of the greatest feats in human civilization. Millions of people were in awe of the feat. But there were some who claimed that the entire thing was a lie and setup. The theorists feel that the entire thing was orchestrated by NASA with the aid of American government to divert attention of the nation from the Vietnam War, as well as show superiority over USSR.

 

The Conspiracy theorists claim that there are discrepancies in the photo and video footage that was sent by the team from Moon. Some of these images indicate that the mission never left Earth in the first place and these were fake. As an example: photos were taken at the landing site where after planting the American flag, it seems to ripple in the wind instead of curling against the flag pole. As Moon has no atmosphere, so there would be no wind as well. Other discrepancies include: photos and videos from Apollo Moon shuttle show astronaut’s footprints on Moon’s surface and suggest that Moon’s surface is covered by a thick layer of dust. And yet there is no dust buildup around the spaceships feet or any other place where soil should be piled by the powerful thrusters when they were in use while landing.

USA Flag Fluttering on Moon

Flag Fluttering and Lots of Footprints

 

Other complications arise from the pictures that shadows of rocks and other objects on Moon. All the shadows are in contradicting directions. Moon has only one source of light and it is the Sun. This should suggest that all the shadows should point in the same direction. Shadows falling in different direction implies that there were multiple light sources in the area. Just like the bright lights used on Hollywood sets. Another remains in the shadows itself. The portion of the spaceship not facing the Sun should be completely black and shadowy. And yet the faces of astronauts who are saluting the above mentioned flag can be clearly seen. How is this possible?

American Flag Fluttering on Moon

American Flag Fluttering and a Black Sky in Background

 

In another photograph there is a jet-black sky shown. Where did the stars go? As Moon has no atmosphere, so the stars should have appeared much brighter than on Earth and ought to have been picked up by the photographic equipment. Yes they were not. Additionally, many photographs at different sites or at different angles seem to have the same background. These are just some of the anomalies sighted by the Conspiracy theorists.

Astronauts on Moon

Clearly visible faces of Astronauts even when they are on the other side of Sun

 

NASA have explained these anomalies with scientific explanations such as reflected sunlight, reflection of light from astronaut’s spacesuits and a specially constructed flag pole. But perhaps the best proof of Moon landing being a legitimate truth lies in the claims of fakery itself. An organization such as NASA would not commit so many mistakes if they were to fake an incident.

 

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