International History Blogfest to mark St Davids Day #StDavidsDay2013

1st March
Saint David's Day (Welsh: Dydd Dewi Sant) is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on the 1st of March each year. The first day of March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David. Tradition holds that he died on that day in 589. The date was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th century.

"Persepolis was the capital of the Persian kingdom. Alexander described it to the Macedonians as the most hateful of the cities of Asia, and gave it over to his soldiers to plunder, all but the palaces. It was the richest city under the sun and the private houses had been furnished with every sort of wealth over the years. The Macedonians raced into it, slaughtering all the men whom they met and plundering the residences; many of the houses belonged to the common people and were abundantly supplied with furniture and wearing apparel of every kind" (Diod.17.70.1-73.2)

So thus Diodorus Siculus laments the tale of this great city's destruction. Persepolis was built around 520 B.C , by Darius, the first of his name, the third Achaemenid king of kings Persepolis was planned and build by the feet of the mountain of Kuh-Rahmat, the Mountain of Mercy.

Artisans, workers and architects from all of the satrapies, participated in the construction of Persepolis, this is documented by a building inscription in Susa by Darius I. The inscription lists the various people of the empire doing various jobs concerning the building of the city. It reads as follows:

"The digging of the foundation, filling up mud-ground with rubble and moulding of the bricks has been done by Babylonians; cedar timber was brought here by Assyrians from Lebanon to Babylon and from there to Susa by Carians and Ionians; Sissoo timber was brought from Gandhara and Carmania; the gold wrought here was brought from Lydia and Bacteria; lapis lazuli and carnelian wrought here was brought from Egypt; the colours for the wall-reliefs were brought from Nubia, India and Arachosia; the stone columns wrought here were brought from Elam. The stone masons were Ionians and Lydians; the goldsmiths were Medes and Egyptians; the woodcarvers were Lydians and Egyptians; the bricklayers were Babylonians; the wall painters were Medes and Egyptians". (DSF)

History of the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire
After the its destruction, Persepolis lay in ruins for centuries, many European travellers marvelled at the sight that greeted them in the Fars plains by the mountains. George N. Curzon, published “Persia and the Persian Question” in 1892, this was the first publication describing the plateau and the ruins that were visible above ground, however these were mere condensed travellers logs written by travellers travelling through Iran.

Guest reader of #Onthisday  Haleh Brooks and editor of Haleh's World of Archaeology presents our feature article for today -

It was on this very day in 1931, that archaeological excavations began in Persepolis, these were endorsed by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago and was under the leadership of the great Professor Ernest Emil Herzfeld.

Haleh Brooks
He was at that time Professor of Oriental Archaeology in Berlin, and was commissioned by the Director of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, then James H. Breasted to lead the team in Iran.

The aim of the team was "... to undertake a thorough exploration, excavation and, if possible, restoration of the remains of Persepolis".
Between 1931-1934, assisted by the architect Erich F. Schmidt, he led the team and uncovered the Persepolis Terrace, the eastern Stairway to the Apadana and the small stair of the council hall which had remained under ground for almost 2000 years.

Later they also excavated the Harem of Xerxes. In 1934, prof. Herzfeldt left the team, and Erich F. Schmidt took over as field director, he continued with the excavations until the end of 1939, the second world war put an end to the teams work in Iran.

Until this date, no excavations had been carried out in Persepolis, however an extensive archaeological survey had been carried out by prof. Herzfeldt earlier.

Thanks to his knowledge and experience and no less his team of experts, he excavated and recorded Persepolis to very “modern” standard, leaving behind an eminence wealth of both photographic and hand written records.

He brought Persepolis out of the ground and presented to the world the cultural treasure that is Persepolis.

To read more about Prof. Herzfeld:
Iranica Online University of Chicago Wikipedia

To read more about Persepolis see:
Iranica Online

Feast your eyes on these few choice on-site photographs from a time long gone...the golden age of archaeology.

What if FDR's father James Roosevelt had backed down over his son's graduate education?

Arriving in Washington to take up the post of Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral of the Fleet Franklin D. Roosevelt fulfilled a dream that he had cherished ever since enrolling at Annapolis instead of his father's preference of Harvard.

Born into a fabulously wealthy aristocratic family in Hyde Park, New York fifty-one years before, he was an eighth generation American of Dutch origin.

But it was the tabloid headlines of William Randolph Hearst that raised the family name to true celebrity status when his fifth cousin died at the head of a small regiment in Cuba in 1898.

On this day in alternate history
Of course FDR would ultimately confront a threat from an island posing a much greater danger to America. And an incident much bigger than the blowing up of the USS Maine. But on this day in 1933, those fears were far into the future, and his immediate focus was to drive Naval reform in his "First Hundred Days". Ironically, for a man with no shortage of funds, his priority now was to save money on behalf of a Federal Government that was tottering on the brink of bankruptcy.

"Ought the seditious and official attack [by Chase] on the principles of our Constitution ... to go unpunished?" (Thomas Jefferson)

In the first impeachment of a Justice of the Supreme Court, the Jeffersonian Republicans-controlled Senate voted to convict Samuel Chase of charges of political bias that had resulted in the treatment of defendants and their counsel in a blatantly unfair manner.

The outcome represented a decisive setback for the Federalist Party because Chase was a well-known firebrand states-righter and revolutionary. At a stroke, Thomas Jefferson had seized control of the judiciary from the Federalists and also prevented Chase from running for President in 1808.

Perhaps more significantly, conviction of an original signatory of the declaration of independence symbolised the final defeat of the sense of brotherhood amongst the remaining founding fathers. Infighting had been begun inside Washington's cabinet, developed during the elections of 1796 and 1800 and climaxed dramatically when Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton had shot each other dead in a duel at Weehawken.

On this day in alternate history
The beneficiary was unquestionably Jefferson, who could now enter his second term without equal, or indeed the inconvenience of an independent judiciary.

In reality, Burr survived Weehawken with at least his life in tact. Wikipedia reports that the Jeffersonian Republicans-controlled United States Senate began the impeachment trial of Chase in early 1805, with Vice President Aaron Burr presiding and Randolph leading the prosecution. Historian Forrest MacDonald has credited Burr's judicial manner in presiding over the impeachment trial of Justice Samuel Chase with helping to preserve the principle of judicial independence that was established by Marbury v. Madison in 1803. It was written by one Senator that Burr had conducted the proceedings with the "impartiality of an angel and the rigor of a devil".

Space Race on Steroids

Writer for Today in Alternate History  Eric B. Lipps writes -

Navy pilot Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space.

An alternate history by Eric B. Lipps
Unlike his Russian counterpart Yuri Leonov, who had gone up the previous October, Shepard will make only a partial orbit before returning to Earth. That point will be carefully obscured in press releases until the Soviets succeed in pointing it out to the international media.

Eric B. Lipps
It is not lost on President Kennedy that Shepard has gone aloft atop a conventional rocket rather than the much-hyped Dyna-Soar, which remains years from launch.

Although he had been enthusiastic about the space plane while in the Senate, Kennedy is beginning to doubt that it can be made to work. And with the Soviets continuing to forge ahead in space, the President is now considering an array of options to regain the initiative. Many of the alternatives resemble those considered by his opponent in the 1960 election, Vice-President Richard Nixon. Nevertheless, there is now too much money and political capital invested in Dyna-Soar to simply abandon it, barring some disaster.

In reality, Dyna-Soar was an early-1960s version of the space shuttle. Its development was aborted when JFK decided to go all-out with conventional rockets in order to beat the Soviets to the moon. But it might not have been, in which case we might have had a shuttle by the early seventies alongside the big Apollo-type rockets.

What if the sending of the Zimmermann telegram led to peace?

Editor of This Day in Alternate History Professor Jeff Provine writes -

The U.S. government releases the unencrypted text of the Zimmermann Telegram to the public:

"We intend to begin on the first of February unrestricted submarine warfare. We shall endeavor in spite of this to keep the United States of America neutral. While such tactics are not to our pleasure, it has become necessary to fight against the British Navy as they have sought to starve the people of Germany into submission through their blockade. Americans as well have felt the economic frustration of their activity of war. Please call the President's attention to the fact that the ruthless employment of our submarines now offers the prospect of compelling England in a few months to make peace".

Word of the German eagerness for peace seized many Americans, especially the German-Americans whose parents or themselves had immigrated. Other Americans began to demand the opening of German ports to ships with food and medicine, especially those whose exports had been harmed by the cut-off of German consumers. Britain had allowed searched ships through its blockade, but propaganda through political cartoons showing John Bull stealing dinner from starving German children's mouths stirred public opinion. William Jennings Bryan, who had resigned as Secretary of State due to Wilson's fascination with the war, spoke out from his stage on the Chautauqua circuit that the United States must take up a fresh stand to end the war before desperation pushed the Germans too far. Former President Theodore Roosevelt spoke out against the German "pirates", but promises of German U-boat escorts for neutral ships kept their image as, at most, wartime privateers.

President Wilson delivered an address to Congress on April 6 to confirm neutrality while publically rebuking the Germans for their unrestricted submarine warfare and also rebuking the Allies for not seeking reasonable peace. Allied freight was sunk by the millions of tons in the Atlantic, and improved convoy and decoy tactics were limited by increasing neutral support for blockade-running ships with courses set for lucrative German ports. The war seemed to continue at a bitter stalemate over the summer, but the collapse of Russia and decisive Central victory at the Battle of Caporetto seemed to give the Germans an edge. As the revolutionary government of Russia began talks for peace at Brest-Litovsk, the beleaguered French also agreed to armistice with Austria through Belgian intermediaries. Frustrated Britons felt that they could not carry the war on alone and capitulated to US-led talks hosted in New York.

Diplomacy was bitter and nearly fell apart on a number of occasions as various sides made overwhelming demands. Enumerated reparations caused so much money to exchange hands that an equivalency was found granting primary gains to France, Alsace-Lorraine became divided, and Northeastern Europe became a variety of new states such as Poland, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, while Austrian advances on Serbia were rebuffed and internal nationalities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire gained significant self-rule.

An alternate history by Professor Jeff Provine
Over the course of the 1920s, many of these nations would rebel to become independent states, as well as Ireland in the UK, as the Balkans and Middle East shattered into other states.

Professor Jeff Provine
Meanwhile, Wilson would get his wishes of a League of Nations to be hosted in neutral Geneva. Upon the implosion of the Ottoman Empire, renewed colonialism would swarm into the Middle East, sparking, along with bitter economic downturn, the Second World War in the mid-1930s. Again, the United States would seek neutrality.

In reality, Zimmermann sent his telegram to Mexico, suggesting an alliance in which Germany would aid the Mexican forces with weapons and money to retake Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona territory lost in the Mexican-American War some seventy years earlier. The telegram was delivered to Americans by British code-breakers, however, and word of such treachery shocked the public as did the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare, which would prompt an American declaration of war against Germany.

Gruffydd ap Llywelyn falls from the Tower

Marko Bosscher writes - On the first of March 1244, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Fawr fell from the Tower of London, where he had been held hostage by Henry the Third. The next morning a Yeoman of the Guard found sheets hanging from his window and bloodstains on the ground below, Gruffydd had been too heavy for his improvised escape ladder.

Rumors soon spread. Some said that Gruffydd had died, others that he had been allowed to escape by King Henry to ferment a civil war against his half-brother Dafydd.

In fact Gruffydd had been badly injured in the fall (he would never regain the use of his left arm, and walked with a limp), but he was whisked away by men loyal to Daffyd and would publicly proclaim his loyalty in Daffyd’s court several months later.

His relationship to his brother was difficult. Their father Llywelyn the Great had greatly expanded the old realm of Gwynedd and proclaimed the principality of Wales, but he had selected the younger brother Daffyd (the son of his new English wife Joan) to be his heir.

In exchange for peace and the acknowledgement of his claims by the English king Gruffydd had been given as a hostage to King John the First. Gruffydd would spend many long years as a “guest” to the English King, while in Wales his half-brother was being groomed to take over from their father, In 1237 Llywelyn suffered a stroke and Daffyd ruled on his behalf, and when Llywelyn died three years later he formally became the ruler of the Gwynedd. Gruffyd was allowed to return to Wales, where he was held in captivity by his brother, to prevent him from making a claim to the Gwynedd.

An alternate history by Marko Bosscher
But trouble was brewing on the horizon, the English King would not recognize Daffyd’s claim outside the Gwynedd, and things came to a head in 1241. King Henry invaded Wales and forced Daffyd to accept a treaty that involved giving up his claims to the lands outside, and sending his half-brother to England as a hostage. Which is how Gruffydd came to be locked up in the Tower in 1244.

With his half-brother by his side and unrest brewing in the English half of Wales Daffyd formed an alliance with the other Welsh nobles and invaded the English lands. During 1245 he dealt King Henry several defeats, but in february 1246 he suddenly died.

Because Daffyd had left no heirs his older brother succeeded him, with one of his sons still held hostage by the English and the military campaign floundering because of the death of his half-brother Gruffyd agreed to negotiations.

Marko Bosscher
Because he was unwilling to yield the gains made by Daffyd hostilities soon broke out again.

In order to bolster his support Gruffyd proclaimed himself Prince of Wales the following year. He himself was was no commander, but he had the luck that his son Llywelyn was a great military leader and Henry suffered several defeats before finally agreeing to a treaty.

By the time of his death in 1257 Gruffyd had been acknowledge as Prince of Wales by all the Welsh nobles, if not the English King. He was succeeded by his younger son Llywelyn.

Henry released Owain, who had been in English captivity all this time, in the hopes of fostering civil war. Despite his strong claims Owain found little support among the war-weary Welsh, and his small army was quickly routed. He was imprisoned by his brother and lived in captivity for most of the rest of his life. In 1264 the Baron’s Revolt broke out in England, Llywelyn saw an opportunity.
Proffering his fealty to Henry he offered to send an army in his support. Henry reluctantly accepted and recognized the title of Prince of Wales. Although this plan seemed to backfire when the Barons scored several victories, in the end Henry won and his son Edward I would further strengthen the position of the Prince of Wales in exchange for soldiers to fight the Scots.

In reality: Gruffydd fell to his death trying to escape from the Tower. His son Llywelyn would be recognized as Prince of Wales by the Welsh and the English, but Edward I quashed the nascent principality.

Beneke, Welsh Wizard

The Editor of #Onthisday Dirk Puehl writes - It was rather a chance meeting that brought the German professor Friedrich Eduard Beneke together with Rosmerta Howl from Carmarthen in 1827. The former had just returned to Berlin after years of disfavour for speaking out against mighty Hegel, the latter visited the Prussian capital in the wake of “Pickwick” Fürst von Pückler-Muskau. The Welsh adventuress was an infrequent guest in the famous Salon of Rahel Varnhagen where she and Beneke became acquainted during a soiree. A lengthy discussion together with the famous Romantic poet Ludwig Tieck ensued, with Beneke lecturing his position of metaphysics, Tieck adding the sense of wonder and magic while Rosmerta introduced the professor and the poet to Iolo Morganwg’s theory of concentric rings of existence emerging from the old Celtic Otherworld, the Annwn, then a pet theory of the Welsh revival circles.

Whether the unfamiliar theory and ancient lore or the charms of Rosmerta Howl captivated Beneke’s interest is open to debate. While Tieck perpetuated the meeting in his novel “The Scholar” (“Der Gelehrte”), Beneke began to study history, language and customs of the old Gauls and Britons with a vengeance. He studied Brythonic languages together with Friedrich Rückert who was equally captivated by the topic and began to estrange his Berlin students beyond anti-Hegelian positions with highly theoretical deliberations on other and spirit-worlds as well as metempsychosis.

An alternate history by Dirk Puehl
Beneke finally lost his chair at the Berlin University of the Arts in 1832 and returned to Göttingen to earn a meagre living as lecturer, since the late 1830s as assistant of the Princeps mathematicorum Carl Friedfrich Gauß, he even published a paper on “Paraxial Approximation and the Wisdom of the Ancients“ and was noted especially in students‘ anecdotes for sudden appearances and disappearances in and from improbable places.

Dirk Puehl
Beneke was in correspondence with quite a few members of the Gwyneddigion Society on the inheritance of Iolo Morganwg who had died in 1826 as well as the whereabouts of Rosmerta Howl until he finally met with William Owen Pughe and others in London in 1835.

How he made the journey from Göttingen to there with almost no means to speak of remains a mystery. The discussions followed up the topics of the surviving correspondence, about the Welsh fairies, the Tylwyth Teg, fairy paths, the Annwn and, of course, Rosmerta. He finally met her in Camarthen in 1836 and returned to Göttingen a year later after a prolonged but undocumented sojourn in the historical region of Brycheiniog in Southern Wales.

His unexpected reappearance in the German university town saw him not only obviously financially independent but in even more frequent meetings with Gauß without giving lectures anymore. Beneke resettled to a lonely manor in the nearby Harz mountain range where he continued his studies in utmost privacy. He was rumoured to have beeen seen in various European towns and ancient locations from Spain, France and Bohemia and even Central Turkey to Scotland and Ireland until he finally disappeared on March 1st, 1854 on the island of Anglesey. His body was discovered in June 1856, floating in a Berlin Canal, without any obvious reasons for his death.

What if the Latin Towns combined to defeat Rome at its very birth?

Editor of This Day in Alternate History Professor Jeff Provine writes -

752 BC
The ancient experiment of building a new city upon the backs of outcasts came to an end when the allied armies of the Latins stormed Roma.

Led by King Acron of the Caeninenses, the armies had joined upon the suggestion of fighting to end the city of Rome once and for all after its treachery at the festival of Neptune Equester. The enormous unified armies of the Latins crushed the Romans despite heavy losses with their king Romulus executed for crimes against womanhood.

An alternate history by Professor Jeff Provine
It was an end to a tragic life. Romulus and his twin brother Remus had been born sons of the god Mars by the Vestal Virgin Rhea Silvia, daughter of Numitor, the deposed king of Alba Longa and descendant of the Trojan Aeneas. Amulius, who had deposed his brother Numitor, had Rhea executed and the boys exposed to ensure his place on the throne, but they were discovered by a she-wolf, who suckled them to health. They would then be found by shepherds, who would raise them to adulthood.

As shepherds, they came into arguments with the shepherds of King Amulius, who captures Remus and discovers his identity. With the reality known, Romulus and Remus killed Amulius, restored their grandfather Numitor to the throne, and set off to make their own kingdom by building a city. The brothers argued almost immediately about which hill to build upon, and Romulus won via augury. As construction began upon the Palatine Hill, Remus criticized the work and, for final insult, jumped over the half-built wall. Romulus killed his brother and declared famously, "So perish every one that shall hereafter leap over my wall!"

When his city (named Roma after himself) was completed, Romulus selected the best one hundred men, naming them Patricians and creating a senate structure to aid him rule as fathers of the city. He organized the fighting men into his newly invented "legion" and depended more heavily on infantry than cavalry. The revolutionary city exploded in population, attracting exiles, criminals, runaways, ne'er-do-wells, and general vagrants. Most of these were males, and so the boomtown became grossly disproportionate with the sexes.

Taking Numitor's advice, Romulus decided to celebrate the festival of Neptune and invited the Latin people of the surrounding cities. Many came, particularly the Sabines. At Romulus' signal, the men of Rome pounced, carrying off as many virgins as they could - 683 according to ancient sources. Rather than sexual rape, the kidnapped women were invited to marry Roman husbands and granted shared property and civil rights in a city of free men. The women agreed to these progressive ideals, but the cities of their fathers rallied to take back their daughters. As they began to march, the Caeninenses held as spies detected the strength of the Roman army. Deciding to use cunning to deliver might, their king Acron called for a council with the other kings of the Antemnates, Crustumini, and the Sabines. Their unified army overwhelmed the Romans and decimated the city, punishing any woman who wept for her lost husband (and rights). Romulus, who had committed the sin of fratricide, was deserted by Mars and punished by Juno.

Professor Jeff Provine
As per the ancient prophecy that the descendants of Aeneas would lead to a great nation, the truth came as Acron used the opportunity to create a permanent military confederation with the other cities.

Unlike many of the Greek empires where dominant cities ruled over weaker ones and demanded tribute, the confederation was one of equals, usually only seen under the duress of war against a common enemy. The Italian Confederation would spread over the peninsula and create many colonies in the west while successfully defeating Greek attempts to colonize from the east.

Despite centuries of success, the Confederation would eventually be broken by the strength of the Carthaginian Empire, the embodiment of the curse of its ancient queen and abandoned lover of Aeneas, Dido. Carthage would go on to build a widespread merchant empire through Europe, the Mediterranean, and Africa until its own fall by invasion of the German Vandals. Even with its ultimate failure, the Italian ideals of confederation and equality would be a landmark looked back upon by political thinkers in the Enlightenment, serving as groundwork for breakaway Angle colonies of the New World (giving freedom to men but notably ignoring liberties of slaves and women). In reality, the Latin towns attacked Rome one by one, and Romulus soundly defeated each in turn. The first were the Caeninenses with their king Acron killed in battle. Romulus returned to his city to hold the first "triumph", a parade celebrating victory in battle and containing many thankful sacrifices to the gods, primarily Jupiter. Rome would have many more triumphs over its years of transforming from a kingdom to a republic to an empire and conquering the known world from the Pillars of Hercules (Spain) to the Euphrates (Mesopotamia) as well as serving as a model for renewed theories of government in the 1700s.

And last, but not least, Robbie A. Taylor writes -

Puerto Rican nationalists, having assassinated President Truman just 4 years earlier, strike another blow against the United States by taking a dozen Congressman captive in the Capitol Building. When President Alben Barkley refuses to meet them or grant their demand of independence for Puerto Rico, they execute their captives, and are then killed by police.

Charles Lindbergh discovers an intruder in his home and subdues him. The German man, who only identifies himself as John Smith, reveals under intense police interrogation that he was there to kidnap Lindbergh's infant son. Even after 10 years in prison for attempted kidnapping, 'Smith' never gave his real name.

Kang Teh, imperial governor of Manchuria, secedes from China in an attempt to grab the crown for himself. Within the month, the Emperor's soldiers convince him to rejoin the empire.

A selection of alternate histories by Robbie Taylor1692
The witches Sarah Goode, Tituba and Sarah Osborne are charged with practice of the dark arts, and the slave Tituba confesses. She is allowed to die a Christian death by drowning, but the widespread coven she belonged to is dispatched with more diverse punishment. God's justice is visited on almost 200 residents of the misbegotten village of Salem.

Robbie's Tweets from Alternate History now available on Twitter and his latest e-book "The Tree Of Knowledge (The Chelsea Perkins Trilogy)" on Amazon.
The Susquehannock, an autonomous people allied with the Oueztecan Empire, abolish slavery within their borders. This causes runaway slaves across the continent to seek it out, swelling its borders. When the Oueztec come to reclaim their slaves, they find a people grown more powerful in their freedom than they had expected, and decide to leave them be.

Please stay tuned for our forthcoming celebration of Irish Alternate History for St Patrick's Day, 17th March 2013. We look forward to commemorating the life of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.
17th March

Robbie Taylor, Creator of Today in Alternate History Eric B. Lipps, writer for Today in Alternate History Dirk Puehl, Editor of #Onthisday Professor Jeff Provine, Editor of This Day in Alternate History
Haleh Brooks, Guest Reader of #Onthisday and editor of Haleh's World of Archaeology Marko Bosscher, tours Natural History museums at Eruditorum. Alternate Historian, Editor of Today in Alternate History Eric Oppen, writer of Today in Alternate History

Today's seven-way post includes contributions from the Marko Bosscher, Reverend Robbie A. Taylor, Professor Jeff Provine, Haleh Brooks, Eric B. Lipps and the Editor.

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