Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hundred Days Reform: Other Reforms

Emperor Guangxu
On June of 1898, Emperor Guangxu made an announcement that shook the foundations of the old Middle Kingdom. The Emperor issued decrees that aimed to modernized and bring progress to China after series of defeat and humiliation. Reforms were made to the education system, civil service examination, and administration. Other than that, there were also reforms for the military and the economy. Much of this radical changes were to the dismay of Emperor Guangxu’s old fashioned and traditionalist courtiers.

Mussolini's Battles: The Battle for Lira

Mussolini (center) in 1922
In 1922, the Europe was still recovering from the horrors and devastation of World War I. The huge casualties caused a huge drain to manpower. It also destroyed a lot of farms and factories. In addition, many countries were in debt which was caused by the huge money needed to wage the war. The pressure to repair the economy and rejuvenate their country fell to the leaders of the post war period. Some governments, however, failed to bring this needed boost and recovery to their people. This failure caused their fall. In Germany, the monarchy under Wilhelm II fell in the hands of Republicans. In Italy, the reins of power came under the hands of a new far right wing party – the fascist. They were led by a World War I veteran and die hard fascist named Benito Mussolini. He would instigate series of economic battles, among this battles was the Battle for the Lira.

Hundred Days Reform: Administration

Forbidden City (the center of the Empire)
 depicted in a Ming Painting
When Emperor Guangxu began the Hundred Days’ Reform, he wanted to improve the public administration of China. Much of his reforms were encouraged by Kang Youwei. The Emperor wanted to remove unnecessary offices to make the government more efficient and less costly.  Besides removing useless departments, the Emperor also sought to reform the government by creating new offices and appointing new officials. The reforms, however, faced formidable enemies which would succeed in halting the changes.

Hundred Days Reform: Education

Emperor Guangxu at his study
Beijing, 1898 – Chinese Emperor Guangxu had just took direct control of his Empire for a decade. During that time, China was in a dire situation. Its territories were carved by Western imperialist into several spheres of influence. Emperor Guangxu wanted to reverse the dismal conditions of China. Inspired by the Meiji Restoration and stories of same situation from abroad, like Peter the Great, in June 11, 1898 Guangxu decreed several orders instituting wide ranging and radical reforms. The Hundred Days Reform began. Including to the focus of reforms.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Cornelius Vanderbilt: Ferry Owner Turned Railroad King

Cornelius Vanderbilt
Transportation is a viable mode of traveling from one place to another. It allowed economies to grow. It allowed people to see different places besides their home. The bigger your country, the more the mode and more integrated the transportation should be. The United States is one example of these big countries and during the 18th-century, many cash in on this industry. Among of this transport tycoons is the competitive "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt. 

The Lunda Empire of Central Africa

H. M. Stanley
In the 19th century, the travels of Henry Morton Stanley brought exploration of the region of Central Africa. Back in Europe, as the Industrial Revolution continued to gain momentum, more and more resources were needed to sustain the growth of various industries. Belgium, a growing industrial nation, was looking into establishing a colony somewhere. And when the words of Stanley’s travels was heard, the Belgian move in to the modern-day Congo to establish its biggest colony. However, as they began their conquest, they saw a civilization that occupy the whole region. An empire that belonged to the Lunda people existed at their front.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Fight for Change: The Hundred Days Reform

Guangxu Emperor
China during the 19th century was a relic of its former glory. Once the envy of the world, the Chinese Empire, under the Machu Qing Dynasty, had fallen into corruption, decadence, and hardline conservatism. Twice, China was beaten by the combine forces of the British and the French and forced to sign many unequal treaties. These treaties forced China to give several concessions and humiliating surrender of sovereignty and territories. During the last parts of this century, reforms meant to reform and modernize the whole Empire. The reforms were opposed not by the so-called foreign devils, but by those who were from the inside of the imperial court. For a hundred days, the fight was on for the future of imperial China.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

J.P. Morgan: The Giant of Financial World


J.P. Morgan
Most of the greatest tycoons of the Gilded Age were rags to riches stories. From a poor humble background, to a self-made man, to a great industrialist criticized for his practices, this is the usual story line of great businessmen like Rockefeller and Carnegie. However, it cannot be said the same for John Pierpont Morgan. His story was that of someone born to a rich and affluent family. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Burger's Mongolian Connection

Mongols besieging Baghdad
In modern day fast food chains, one of the most popular main dishes is hamburger. This dishes made of a bun and a beef patty in the middle gave a good meal to many. The burger was popularized in the United States during the 19th century. Further back, hamburger was said to be brought by German immigrant from the German city of Hamburg. But a deeper search to the beginnings, the main idea for hamburger came from one of the greatest conquerors - the Mongols.

The Real Dido

Aeneas tells Dido the misfortunes of the Trojan city by Pierre-Narcisse Guerin
In modern day Tunisia, once a powerful city stands. The city of Carthage was a Mediterranean superpower before it was eclipse by the glory of Rome. The Carthaginian Empire was a maritime nation, founded by the legacy of its ancestors - Phoenician. According to legend the city of Carthage was founded by a Phoenician princess named Elissa, but she is more popularly known as Dido.

The Last Great Manchu Emperor

Emperor Qianlong
China, the 17th to the 18th century - under the Manchu or Qing Dynasty, the Empire saw new fats of prosperity. Culture flourished under several emperors. Expansion of territory or influence continued. The Chinese economy was the envy of the world as many countries sought to trade with the Empire. During the 1700's one emperor became the focus of such heights. A cultured man, he was Emperor Qianlong.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fall from Grace: The Homestead Strike of 1892

Worker behind a cover during the shoot out
After the bloody and devastating Civil War, a period of industrial boom soon followed. The period known as the Gilded Age saw the rise of many industrialist, mostly were known as Robber Barons. This group of industrialist abused the lack of laws that protect fair competition, dissent wages, and safe working conditions. They subjected their workers to long hours work in very harsh working conditions for meager wages. In 1892, a union, the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers (AA), pushed for a strike to voice their concerned on the management of the Homestead Steel Plant owned by the steel tycoon, Andrew Carnegie, and his right hand man, Henry Frick.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mussolini's Battles: The Battle for Grain

A propaganda poster where Mussolini stands
in a tractor
In 1925, Benito Mussolini, a World War I veteran and a socialist turned conservative, declared himself the sole ruler of Italy. Il Duce, as he was called, became the most powerful man in the Italian Peninsula. His vision for the Italian nation was to turn it into a powerful and self-reliant states. And so, Mussolini waged series of economic battles to make Italy economically strong for his future conquest. Among the first battle had a goal to secure the supply of grain of Italy. In order to achieve self-sufficiency in grain, Mussolini announced the Battle for Grain.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dejima Island: The Window to Japan

Dejima Island
As European incursion to Asia increase during the 16th century, many areas fell to become colonies of the west. Japan, an archipelago in East Asia was under the rule of the Tokugawa Bakufu or shogunate. Under the early Tokugawa Shoguns, Japan had trade relations with many Europeans. From the Spanish, to Portuguese, and the Dutch, Japanese goods were sold and imported goods brought. However, as volume of trade increase, so as the fear of the Shoguns of the consequence of the economic relation. They feared that rising trade meant the rising influence of the foreigners to Japan. As a result, the Tokugawa closed the country and expelled all foreigners from all European nations except for one. The Dutch, via the Dutch East India Company, were allowed to stay but only in a tiny island off of Nagasaki - the island of Dejima.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Almoravids - The Beber Empire of Spain and Africa

Almoravid Empire
Spain, in during the period of exploration, was the bastion of Christianity. But before it came to be, it was hugely inhabited and ruled by the Muslims. First, controlled by the Umayyad Caliphate which later moved to Spain itself and became the Cordoba Caliphate. It was later divided by Christian Kingdoms and smaller Islamic Kingdoms known as Taifas. However, when the Reconquista began, the Taifas asked helped from a dynasty that dominated Morocco – the Almoravids.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Empire of the Golden Stool: The Asante Empire

Osei Tutu
As the 19th century dawn, imperialism, driven by the industrial revolution in Europe, landed on the shores of Africa. Many empires, kingdoms, chiefdoms, and other form of political systems fell one by one to the hand of the Western Powers. Many of Africans resisted and fought bravely against the invaders. In South Africa, the Zulus overwhelmed the well-armed and better trained British forces during the Isandwana. In the area of modern state of Ghana, an Empire once stood that defended its sovereignty bravely against the British. This was the Empire of Asante.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Cleveland Massacre: The Rise of Standard Oil

John D. Rockefeller (1870's)
In winter of 1871, a collusion was form between the railroads and the oil industry. As the two began to execute their devious plan to corner the railroad and oil industry under the name of South Improvement Company, the public, especially the press, protested against the monopolistic intentions of the group. As a result, the South Improvement Company disappeared with the winter. However, when spring bloom in 1872, so as a new powerful company also appeared, a bigger and stronger company of the oil mogul John Rockefeller, Standard Oil.

Khafre: The Builder of the Sphinx

The Great Sphinx of Giza in 1870's. The face is said to be modeled from Pharaoh Khafre
Egypt – land of the Pharaohs and pyramids. Its tombs and monuments fascinated both tourist and intellects alike. In the Giza Plateau, the staggering Great Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu stands as the testament of the power, wealth, and eternal life of the pharaoh. Next to the Great Pyramid of Khufu lies another monumental pyramid. And near to the plateau stands on guard a giant structure depicting a sitting lion with a head of a human known to all as the sphinx. This two iconic structures were the result of the reign of the Pharaoh Khafre.