History of Robin I - History

History of Robin I - History

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Robin I

(Minesweeper No. 3: dp. 1,009 (f.), 1. 187'10", b. 35'6"
dr. 10'4"; s. 14 k.; cpl. 78; a. 2 3"; cl. Lapwing)

The first Robin (minesweeper No. 3) was laid down 4 March 1918 by the Todd Shipyard Corp., NTew York; launched 17 June 1918, sponsored by Miss Bessie Veronica Callaghan; and commissioned 29 August 1918, Lt. (jg.) Lewis H. Cutting in command.

Commissioned at New York, Robin operated in the area Vit]l one run to Hampton Roads, until 23 February 1919. By that time the necessity of improving sweeping methods to expedite the clearing of the North Sea Mine Barrage had beeome very apparent. Robin, with two other minesweepers tested the feasibility of using sweeps of greater breadth than 500-600 yards. The tests were conducted off Newport in late February and early March.

In mid-March, Rohin proceeded to Boston. On 6 April, she got underway for Scotland. On the 20th, she arrived at Inverness and joined the North Sea Mining Detachment. Based at Kirkwal1 she participated in the seven operations conducted to clear tee barrage of its more than 70,000 mines between the Orkneys and Norway.

With the conclusion of the final sweep, 19 September, Rohin returned to Kirkwal1 for a brief rest after the difficult assignment, made more hazardous by the strong winds, rough seas, and poor visibility of the North Sea. She departed Scotland 1 October ancl arrived at INew York 19 November.

Designated AM-3, 17 July 1920, she operated along the east coast for the next 11 years, with winter deployments to the Caribbean. After winter maneuvers in 1932, she continued on to the west coast and from her arrival, 6 March, until 9 April 1934 she operated in the San Pedro-San Diego area. During the summer, 1934, she returned to Norfolk, but by the end of November was back at San Diego. She remained on the west coast, ranging from Mexico to Alaska and as far west as Hawaii, for the remainder of the decade.

On 7 December 1941 Robin uas en route to Elawaii from Johnston Island. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 10th and until the end of February 1942 served as a salvage and minesweeping vessel. In February, she shifted to smal1 craft and target towing, torpedo retrieving, and passenger and cargo transportation duties. On 1 June 1942, she was officially redesignated AT-140.

In June 1943, after an extensive overhaul, she joined a convoy for Samoa. She arrived on the 10th and reported for duty as station vessel, Naval Station, Tutuila. Reclassified ATO140 on 13 April 1944, she operated out of Tutuila until 1945 on towing and salvage assignments which took her to the Ellice and Fiji Islands as wel1 as among the Samoan group. Then from January to March 1945, she operated among the MarsLalls and Gilberts.

On 21 March, Robin departed Majuro for the United States. She arrived at San Diego 21 April and two days later shifted to Long Beach for overhaul. Stil1 in the shipyard at the end of the war, she was designated for disposal. She was decommissioned 9 November and struck from the Navy list on the 28th.

Mk. 1 Edit

The Robin was first manufactured in October 1973 [3] as a direct replacement for the Reliant Regal. These models feature a 750cc engine, but in 1975, the car gained a number of improvements including an engine boost to 850cc. The Reliant Robin was well received in the 1970s because of good work executed by Ogle Design, (who had previously designed the Bond Bug, and Reliant Scimitar) and affordable price, considering 70 and 85 mph (113 and 137 km/h) was possible, and orders increased with the 1970s fuel crisis. The final original version of the Robin rolled off the production line in 1982, and after a number of limited editions, including the GBS and the Jubilee, it was replaced by the restyled Reliant Rialto designed by IAD in Worthing, UK. The vehicle was also produced under licence in Greece by MEBEA between 1974 and 1978, and it was manufactured in India by Sunrise Automotive Industries Limited as the "Badal".

Mk. 2 Edit

In 1989, Reliant revived the Robin name, producing a new and totally revamped Robin featuring a new fibreglass body featuring a hatchback, with later an estate and van joining the range. The Rialto continued in production alongside the new Robin until 1998 as purely a cheaper model in saloon, estate and van models also. Later on in production, the Robin received new, 12 inch wheels, improved brakes (from the original mini) and an improved interior with new dials and interior trim. Reliant also started offering an unleaded engine (shown by having a green rocker cover) which features hardened exhaust valve seats. As well as this, the new models joined the range with the LX, SLX, BRG, and Royale models. Royale and BRG models were top of the range and cost over £9,000. New colours such as metallic silver, British racing green, royal blue and nightfire red were used, along with a range of retro-style optional extras such as minilite alloy wheels and jaguar custom seat patterns, which then became available on all Robin models.

Mk. 3 Edit

The Robin received another facelift in 1999, with the design executed by Andy Plumb, chief designer at Reliant at that time. This final version was launched boasting the biggest changes since the original launch, with completely new panels and Vauxhall Corsa front lamps. It was the first Robin to be designed with the use of a computer. An electric and a diesel version along with a pickup variant were conceptualised, but never made. A hatchback van was manufactured.

In 2000, it was announced the final Reliant Robin would be built after 65 limited editions were made. It was named the "Reliant Robin 65" and had a very high specification. All 65s had gold metallic paint, red and grey leather seats, red carpets, walnut dashboards, white dials, minilite alloy wheels, premium stereo systems, electronic ignitions and gold plaques on the dashboards which were individually numbered and bore the original owner's engraved name. The selling price was £10,000. The last Reliant Robin produced was given away by The Sun newspaper in a Valentine's Day competition in 2001. [4]

BN-1 and BN-2 Edit

Manufacturing of the Robin resumed under licence by B&N Plastics in July 2001. This firm was allowed to produce 250 cars a year, but it was stalled by problems and production faults and went into financial trouble after producing just 40 or so complete cars up to October 2002.

The BN-1 Robin was based on the Robin 65 limited edition, and featured all the expensive extras but with a more modern feature set. The car had a completely redesigned interior, with a new dashboard and interior in black. The body also received some under-the-skin features, including integrated fibreglass skims for the door hinges and a new whole-body fabrication process, which resulted in reduced weight. The revised car was reapproved, so that it was legal for sale in the UK.

The BN-2 Robin was a higher specification model, featuring higher-grade materials for the interior, a custom metallic paint finish, a radio-CD (instead of radio-cassette) and front electric windows, a first for the Robin.

General specifications Edit

The single wheel in the front is responsible for the steering, while the engine (also in the front) drives the rear axle. The Reliant Robin aimed to provide economical and predictable personal transport. The 850 cc engine gives an acceleration of 0 to 60 mph in 14 seconds and a top speed of 85 mph, they also give a very good economy figure of up to 70 mpg the later Mk3 Reliant Robin was quoted to give 60 to 100 mpg.

Licence requirements Edit

Despite its size, by being a three-wheeler with an official mass below 450 kg (992 lb), the Robin could traditionally be driven by holders of a B1 category driving licence [5] in the United Kingdom, and registered and taxed at motorcycle rates, which gave a saving of £55 a year over a conventional car. Up until 2001, the B1 licence entitlement was given to those who passed the category A motorcycle test, leading to the common misconception that people could drive a Robin on a motorcycle licence. Those passing their motorcycle test after 2001 could not drive a Robin, until the law changed in December 2012. As of 29 December 2012, tricycles such as the Robin no longer fall within the B1 category licence in-line with European Union law, tricycles are now classified under the category A "motorcycle licence". As such, any person holding a "full motorcycle licence" may legally drive a Robin. As it was not the licence entitlement that changed, but rather the categorisation of tricycles into an existing category, the change applies to all holders of category A motorcycle licences, whenever they were obtained. Shortly after this an oversight was that a person with a full car licence could no longer drive a three-wheeled vehicle this was then altered by the UK government after car companies which produce three-wheeled vehicles (such as Morgan) protested over the licensing changes, this resulted in car licence holders now being able to drive a three-wheeled vehicle, but an age limit of 21 was also added this 21 or over age limit also applies to motorcycle category A licence holders.

Driving a Reliant with a motorcycle licence (United Kingdom regulations) Edit

Originally, it was possible to drive a three-wheeled Reliant with a motorcycle permit, as a full motorcycle permit included a B1 class endorsement, which gave a driver the right to drive vehicles with three or four wheels of up to 550 kg. [ citation needed ] However, the DVLA ceased to issue the B1 endorsement in 2001. [ citation needed ]

Interest in the Reliant increased once more after January 2013, when the licensing scheme was changed once again. From 2013, a holder of a full category A motorcycle licence over the age of 21 may drive a three-wheeled vehicle of any power. This age restriction applies to full Category B holders also.

Because of these licensing changes, a Reliant Robin cannot be driven with a provisional licence [6] unless the driver meets certain disability criteria. [7]

Reliant three-wheelers enjoy a special place in British culture, often as the butt of jokes, such as when Patsy Stone dismissively refers to Edina Monsoon's isolation chamber as resembling one in the TV series Absolutely Fabulous. In the United Kingdom, the Robin is sometimes affectionately nicknamed the "Plastic Pig" because of its distinctive shape and fibreglass body shell. It is also often, and erroneously, referred to as the Robin Reliant. [8] Georgia Nicolson, the fictional heroine of Louise Rennison's Confessions of Georgia Nicolson book series aimed at teenaged girls, regularly makes fun of the family car, referred to as a Robin Reliant.

Miss Shepherd owned one Reliant Robin [9] in The Lady in the Van, a 1989 book, 1999 play and 2015 film by Alan Bennett, a real-life portrayal of a case of Diógenes syndrome.

The Reliant Robin is staple material for comedian Jasper Carrott.

Perhaps two of the best known Reliants in British comedy are actually Reliant Regal Supervans—the dirty yellow van owned by the Trotter brothers in Only Fools and Horses, and the light blue van that always ends up getting tipped over, crashed into, bumped out of its parking space etc. by a British Leyland Mini in Mr. Bean.

Reliant Robins make semi-regular appearances on Scrapheap Challenge, often stripped down to a light three-wheeled chassis. One team converted the car into a wheelie-racer. [10]

The 2011 Disney film Cars 2 features a French character named Tomber who is patterned on a Reliant Regal saloon car, though he also has been compared to a Robin. His name means "falling" in French, referencing the instability of three-wheel vehicles. [11]

The 2018 music video for Rick Astley's 'She Makes Me', from the album Beautiful Life prominently features a yellow Reliant Rialto. [12]

The original American television series Magnum P.I. features a Robin in the season 6 opener from 1985, titled "Deja Vu". Johnathon Quayle Higgins rents and drives one.

In the Amazon Prime Video series Good Omens (which premiered on May 31, 2019) Witchhunter Private Newton Pulsifer (played by Jack Whitehall) drives a robin's egg blue Robin.

Top Gear Edit

On 18 February 2007 episode of Top Gear (series 9, episode 4), a Reliant Robin was used by Richard Hammond and James May in an attempt to modify a normal K-reg Robin into a reusable space shuttle. The booster rockets separated cleanly, but the fuel tank did not detach, and the Robin crashed into the ground. This launch was the "largest non-commercial rocket launch in European history." [13]

In a subsequent episode of Top Gear (series 15, episode 1), a modified 1994 Reliant Robin was used by Jeremy Clarkson to drive 14 miles from Sheffield to Rotherham. He described driving it as dangerous as "inviting your mum 'round for an evening on chatroulette", and that the Robin "wasn't funny, it was a complete menace." During the segment, Clarkson rolled a specially side-weighted Robin at least six times. The following two episodes featured racing driver The Stig and Ken Block on their test track in Robins, and neither of them could finish a clean lap in the specially doctored Robin.

Later on, Clarkson admitted that the Robin used in the show had the differential modified to allow "the poor little thing" to roll over easily. [14] [15]

Robin Hood

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Robin Hood, legendary outlaw hero of a series of English ballads, some of which date from at least as early as the 14th century. Robin Hood was a rebel, and many of the most striking episodes in the tales about him show him and his companions robbing and killing representatives of authority and giving the gains to the poor. Their most frequent enemy was the Sheriff of Nottingham, a local agent of the central government (though internal evidence from the early ballads makes it clear that the action took place chiefly in south Yorkshire, not in Nottinghamshire). Other enemies included wealthy ecclesiastical landowners. Robin treated women, the poor, and people of humble status with courtesy. A good deal of the impetus for his revolt against authority stemmed from popular resentment over those laws of the forest that restricted hunting rights. The early ballads, especially, reveal the cruelty that was an inescapable part of medieval life.

Numerous attempts have been made to prove that there was a historical Robin Hood, though references to the legend by medieval writers make it clear that the ballads themselves were the only evidence for his existence available to them. A popular modern belief that he was of the time of Richard I probably stems from a “pedigree” fabricated by an 18th-century antiquary, William Stukeley. None of the various claims identifying Robin Hood with a particular historical figure has gained much support, and the outlaw’s existence may never have been anything but legendary.

The authentic Robin Hood ballads were the poetic expression of popular aspirations in the north of England during a turbulent era of baronial rebellions and agrarian discontent, which culminated in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. The theme of the free but persecuted outlaw enjoying the forbidden hunting of the forest and outwitting or killing the forces of law and order naturally appealed to the common people.

Although many of the best-known Robin Hood ballads are postmedieval, there is a core that can be confidently attributed to the medieval period. These are Robin Hood and the Monk, Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne, Robin Hood and the Potter, and the Lytyll Geste of Robin Hode. During the 16th century and later, the essential character of the legend was distorted by a suggestion that Robin was a fallen nobleman, and playwrights, eagerly adopting this new element, increased the romantic appeal of the stories but deprived them of their social bite. Postmedieval ballads (which gave Robin a companion, Maid Marian) also lost most of their vitality and poetic value, doubtless as a result of losing the original social impulse that brought them into existence.

Moving Forward

Following the disappearance of the Murray-O’Hair family, Ellen Johnson was appointed President of American Atheists. During her tenure, American Atheists produced The Atheist Viewpoint, a television show which continues today. In addition, Ms. Johnson created the Godless Americans Political Action Committee and helped to organize the Godless Americans March on Washington. Ms. Johnson was president of American Atheists until May 2008. From that time until September 2008, Frank R. Zindler served as interim President.

In September 2008, Dr. Ed Buckner, a native of Georgia, was elected to lead American Atheists. Dr. Buckner served as President until 2010 when David Silverman was elected President. Mr. Silverman served as president until April 2018, when Dr. Buckner was named Interim Executive Director.

Robin D. G. Kelley

Contact Information

My research has explored the history of social movements in the U.S., the African Diaspora, and Africa black intellectuals music and visual culture Surrealism, Marxism, among other things. My essays have appeared in a wide variety of professional journals as well as general publications, including the Journal of American History, American Historical Review, The Nation, Monthly Review, New York Times, Color Lines, Counterpunch, Souls, Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noir, Social Text ,The Black Scholar, Journal of Palestine Studies,and Boston Review,for which I also serve as Contributing Editor.

My books include, Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012) Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (The Free Press, 2009) Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (Beacon Press, 2002) with Howard Zinn and Dana Frank, Three Strikes: The Fighting Spirit of Labor's Last Century (Beacon Press, 2001) Yo’ Mama’s Disfunktional!: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1997) Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class (New York: The Free Press, 1994) Into the Fire: African Americans Since 1970 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996) [Vol. 10 of the Young Oxford History of African Americans series] Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1990).

I am also co-editor of the following books: Walter Rodney, The Russian Revolution: A View From the Third World (with Jesse Benjamin (New York: Verso, 2018) The Other Special Relationship: Race, Rights and Riots in Britain and the United States (with Stephen Tuck) (New York: Palgrave, 2015) Black, Brown and Beige: Surrealist Writings from Africa and the African Diaspora (with Franklin Rosemont) (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009) To Make Our World Anew: A History of African Americans (with Earl Lewis) (Oxford University Press, 2000), volumes 1 and 2 Imagining Home: Class, Culture, and Nationalism in the African Diaspora (with Sidney J. Lemelle) (London: Verso Books, 1995) and the eleven volume Young Oxford History of African Americans (with Earl Lewis) (1995-1998).

I am currently completing three book projects:

Black Bodies Swinging: An American Postmortem (Metropolitan Books) is a genealogy of the Black Spring protests of 2020 by way of a deep examination of state-sanctioned racialized violence and a history of resistance. To understand how we arrived at this moment requires a different kind of autopsy—an historical postmortem that can lay bare the structural conditions responsible for premature death. Borrowing a metaphor from Abel Meeropol’s iconic song “Strange Fruit,” the book traces the deaths and the lives of our most recent casualties to the “blood at the root”—the racial terror at the base of our system of exploitation and wealth accumulation. The blood at the root is “racial capitalism.” The kind of historical autopsy I am proposing is intended to make visible the history and workings of racial capitalism. It exposes not only effects of racist policing but the extraction of wealth from black people, land dispossession, displacement, predatory lending, taxation, disfranchisement, environmental catastrophe, and the long history of looting through terror and government policies that suppressed black wages, relieved us of property, excluded black people from better schools and public accommodations, suppressed black home values, and subsidized white wealth accumulation. But Black Bodies Swinging is also a history of resistance, arguing that the new abolitionists represent the “Third Reconstruction generation” whose organizational genesis begins in the 1990s but whose political lineage can be traced back to slavery and settler colonialism.

I am also completing a biography of the late Grace Halsell, tentatively titled The Education of Ms. Grace Halsell: An Intimate History of the American Century . The Texas-born journalist, granddaughter of Confederate slave owners, daughter of a once wealthy cattle rancher and Indian fighter, began her career as a correspondent for several Texas papers during the 1940s and 50s, eventually worked as a staff writer for President Lyndon B. Johnson, before setting out in 1968 to chemically darken her skin and live as a black woman for a year. She published the best-selling Soul Sister: The Journal of a White Woman Who Turned Herself Black (1969). She would go on to write twelve more books, including an expose about living as a Navajo and working as a domestic in a California suburb ( Bessie Yellowhair ), a book about passing as an undocumented worker from Mexico ( The Illegals ), and several other unrelated texts. She traveled to Israel and Palestine in 1980 and wrote a book sharply critical of the occupation. As a result, jobs, lucrative book contracts, and other opportunities began to disappear. She died in 2000 from multiple myeloma cancer caused largely by the drugs she had taken to turn herself brown.

Finally, I am collaborating with Professor Tera Hunter on a general survey of African American history.

Robin monthlies

The first Robin miniseries was printed in 1992 following Tim Drake's debut as Robin. The series centered around Tim's continued training and set up villains linked to the character. It was followed up by another series Robin II: Joker's Wild which pitted Tim against his predecessor's murderer the Joker. With Batman out of town, it was up to Tim and Alfred to end the Joker's latest crime spree. A final miniseries, Robin III: Cry of Huntress wrapped up the trilogy, teaming Tim with the Huntress. In 1994, the success of the three miniseries led to the ongoing Robin series was published to 2009. The title will be replaced by a Batman and Robin series following the 'Battle For the Cowl' mini-series.

Whoever invented the method of using ice mixed with salt to lower and control the temperature of ingredients provided a major breakthrough in ice cream technology. Also important was the invention of the wooden bucket freezer with rotary paddles, which improved the manufacture of ice cream.

Augustus Jackson, a confectioner from Philadelphia, created new recipes for making ice cream in 1832.

In 1846, Nancy Johnson patented a hand-cranked freezer that established the basic method of making ice cream still used today. William Young patented the similar "Johnson Patent Ice-Cream Freezer" in 1848.

In 1851, Jacob Fussell in Baltimore established the first large-scale commercial ice cream plant. Alfred Cralle patented an ice cream mold and scooper used to serve it on February 2, 1897.

The treat became both distributable and profitable with the introduction of mechanical refrigeration. The ice cream shop, or soda fountain, has since become an icon of American culture.

Around 1926, the first commercially successful continuous process freezer for ice cream was invented by Clarence Vogt.

A Hole in the Head: A History of Trepanation

A detail of a 17th-century naval surgeon’s trephination kit. The trephines are very similar to both ancient Roman and modern ones.

In 1865, in the ancient Inca city of Cuzco, Ephraim George Squier, explorer, archeologist, ethnologist and U.S. charge d’affaires in Central America, received an unusual gift from his hostess, Señora Zentino, a woman known as the finest collector of art and antiquities in Peru. The gift was a skull from a vast nearby Inca burial ground. What was unusual about the skull was that a hole slightly larger than a half-inch square had been cut out of it. Squier’s judgment was that the skull hole was not an injury but was the result of a deliberate surgical operation known as trepanning and furthermore, that the individual had survived the surgery.

When the skull was presented to a meeting of the New York Academy of Medicine, the audience refused to believe that anyone could have survived a trephining operation carried out by a Peruvian Indian. Aside from the racism characteristic of the time, the skepticism was fueled by the fact that in the very best hospitals of the day, the survival rate from trephining (and many other operations) rarely reached 10 percent, and thus the operation was viewed as one of the most perilous surgical procedures. The main reason for the low survival rate was the deadly infections then rampant in hospitals. Another was that the operation was only attempted in very severe cases of head injury.

Squier then brought his Peruvian skull to Europe’s leading authority on the human skull, Paul Broca, professor of external pathology and of clinical surgery at the University of Paris and founder of the first anthropological society. Today, of course, Broca is best known for his localization of speech in the third frontal convolution, “Broca’s area,” the first example of cerebral localization of a psychological function, but at this time his fame seems to have been primarily for his craniometric and anthropological studies.

The trephined Inca skull given to Ephraim George Squier. It now resides in the American Museum of Natural History.

Broca and More Skulls

After examining the skull and consulting some of his surgical colleagues, Broca was certain that the hole in the skull was due to trephination and the patient had survived for a while. But when, in 1876, Broca reported these conclusions to the Anthropological Society of Paris, the audience, as in the United States, was dubious that Indians could have carried out this difficult surgery successfully.

Seven years later a discovery was made in central France that confirmed Broca’s interpretation of Squier’s skull, or at least demonstrated that “primitives,” indeed Neolithic ones, could trephine successfully. A number of skulls in a Neolithic gravesite were found with roundish holes two or three inches wide. The skulls had scalloped edges as if they had been scraped with a sharp stone. Even more remarkable, discs of skull of the same size as the holes were found in these sites. Some of the discs had small holes bored in them, perhaps for stringing as amulets. Although a few of the discs had been chiseled out after death, in most cases it was clear from the scar formation at the wound’s edge that the interval between surgery and death must have been years. Trephined skulls were found of both genders and of all ages. Virtually none of the skull holes in this sample were accidental, pathological, or traumatic. Furthermore very few of the skulls showed any sign of depressed fractures, a common indication for trephining in modern times.

Trephined skulls have been discovered in widespread locations in every part of the world, in sites dating from the late Paleolithic to this century.

These findings finally established that Neolithic man could carry out survival trephination but left unresolved the motivation for this operation. At first, Broca thought that the practice must have been some kind of religious ritual, but later he concluded that, at least in some cases, it must have had therapeutic significance. Broca actually wrote more papers on prehistoric trephination and its possible motivation than he did on the cortical localization of language. Since Broca’s time thousands of trephined skulls have been found and almost as many papers written about them. They have been discovered in widespread locations in every part of the world in sites dating from the late Paleolithic to this century. The usual estimates for survival of different samples of trephined skulls range from 50 percent to 90 percent with most estimates on the higher side.

Methods of Trephining

Across time and space five main methods of trephination were used. The first was rectangular intersecting cuts as in Squier’s skull. These were first made with obsidian, flint, or other hard stone knives and later with metal ones. Peruvian burial sites often contain a curved metal knife called a tumi, which would seem to be well suited for the job. (The tumi has been adopted by the Peruvian Academy of Surgery as its emblem.) In addition to Peru, skulls trephined with this procedure have been found in France, Israel, and Africa.

The second method was scraping with a flint as in skulls found in France and studied by Broca. Broca demonstrated that he could reproduce these openings by scraping with a piece of glass, although a very thick adult skull took him 50 minutes “counting the periods of rest due to fatigue of the hand.” This was a particularly common method and persisted into the Renaissance in Italy.

Different methods of trephining: (1) scraping (2) grooving (3) boring and cutting (4) rectangular intersecting cuts.

The third method was cutting a circular groove and then lifting off the disc of bone. This is another common and widespread method and was still in use, at least until recently, in Kenya.

The fourth method, the use of a circular trephine or crown saw, may have developed out of the third. The trephine is a hollow cylinder with a toothed lower edge. Its use was described in detail by Hippocrates. By the time of Celsus, a first-century Roman medical writer, it had a retractable central pin and a transverse handle. It looked almost identical to modern trephines including the one I used as a graduate student on monkeys.

The fifth method was to drill a circle of closely-spaced holes and then cut or chisel the bone between the holes. A bow may have been used for drilling or the drill simply rotated by hand. This method was recommended by Celsus, was adopted by the Arabs, and became a standard method in the Middle Ages. It is also reported to have been used in Peru and, until recently, in North Africa. It is essentially the same as the modern method for turning a large osteoplastic flap in which a Gigli saw (a sharp-edged wire) is used to saw between a set of small trephined or drilled holes. (I used this method as a graduate student, too.)

“Trepan” Versus “Trephine”

The relationship between the terms trepan and trephine is a curious one. The terms are now synonyms but have different origins and once had different meanings. In Hippocrates’ time the terms terebra and trepanon (from the Greek trupanon, a borer) were used for the instrument that is very similar to the modern trephine. In the 16th century, Fabricius ab Aquapendente invented a triangular instrument for boring holes in the skull. (He was Harvey’s teacher and the discoverer of venous valves.) It had three arms with different-shaped points. Each of the ends could be applied to the skull using the other two as handles. He called it a “tre fines” from the Latin for three ends, which became trafine and then trephine, and by 1656 it was used as a synonym for trepan, as a term for the older instrument. In another version of the etymology, a quite different triangular instrument for boring a hole in the skull was invented in 1639 by John Woodall, a London surgeon, who also called his instrument a tres fines, which became trefina and then trephine and, eventually, a synonym for trepan. More generally, in Renaissance times and later, trephination was a popular operation and a great variety of instruments for carrying it out were invented.

Why did so many cultures in different periods cut or drill holes in the skull? Since most trephined skulls come from vanished nonliterate cultures, the problem of reconstructing the motivations for trephining in these cultures is a difficult one. However, there is information about trephining in Western medicine from the fifth century BCE onward as well as about trephining in recent and contemporary non-Western medical systems. Both of these sources may throw light on the reasons for the practice in earlier times. In the following sections we consider trephination in Hippocratic medicine, in ancient Chinese medicine, in European medicine from the Renaissance onward, in contemporary non-Western medicine, and on the Internet today.

Greek Medicine

The earliest detailed account of trephining is in the Hippocratic corpus, the first large body of Western scientific or medical writing that has survived. Although there is no question that there was a famous physician called Hippocrates in the fifth century BCE, it is not clear which of the Hippocratic works were written by him. The most extensive discussion of head injuries and the use of trephining in their treatment is in the Hippocratic work On Wounds in the Head.

A 17th-century naval surgeon’s trephination kit.

This treatise describes five types of head wounds. Interestingly, however, the only type for which trephination is not advocated is in cases of depressed fractures. Even when there is not much sign of bruising, drilling a hole in the head is recommended. The trephining instrument was very similar to the modern trephine, except that it was turned between the hands or by a bow and string rather than by using a crosspiece. The Hippocratic writer stressed the importance of proceeding slowly and carefully in order to avoid injuring the [dural] membrane. Additional advice was to “plunge [the trephine] into cold water to avoid heating the bone . . . often examine the circular track of the saw with the probe. . . . [and] aim at to and fro movements.” Trephining over a suture was to be studiously avoided.

The Hippocratic doctors believed that stagnant blood (like stagnant water) was bad. It could decay and turn into pus. Thus, the reason for trephining, or at least one reason, was to allow the blood to flow out before it spoiled.

Apparently the Hippocratic doctors expected bleeding from a head wound and the reason for drilling the hole in the skull was to allow the blood to escape (“let blood by perforating with a small trepan, keeping a look out [for the dura] at short intervals”). Since they presumably had no notion of intracerebral pressure, why did they want the blood to run out? Although the reasons for trephining are not discussed in “On Wounds in the Head,” they seem clear from other Hippocratic treatises such as “On Wounds and On Diseases.” The Hippocratic doctors believed that stagnant blood (like stagnant water) was bad. It could decay and turn into pus. Thus, the reason for trephining, or at least one reason, was to allow the blood to flow out before it spoiled. In cases of depressed fractures, there was no need to trephine since there were already passages in the fractured skull for the blood to escape.

By Galen’s time (129–199) trephining was in standard use in treating skull fracture for relieving pressure, for gaining access to remove skull fragments that threatened the dura, and, as in Hippocratic medicine, for drainage. Galen discussed the techniques and instruments in detail and advocated practicing on animals, especially the Barbary “ape” (Macaca sylvana). He was well aware of avoiding damage or pressure on the dura and indeed carried out experiments on the effect of pressing on the dura in animals.

Trepanation in Ancient China

The possibility that trepanation was practiced in ancient China is suggested by the following story about Cao Cao and Hua Tua, from a historical novel attributed to Luo Guanzhong, written in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and set in 168–280 at the end of the Later Han dynasty. Cao Cao was commander of the Han forces and posthumously Emperor of the Wei dynasty, and Hua Tuo was (and still is) a famous physician of the time.

Cao Cao screamed and awoke, his head throbbing unbearably. Physicians were sought, but none could bring relief. The court officials were depressed. Hua Xin submitted a proposal: “Your highness knows of the marvelous physician Hua Tuo? . . . Your highness should call for him.”

Hua Tuo was speedily summoned and ordered to examine the ailing king. “Your Highness’s severe headaches are due to a humor that is active. The root cause is in the skull, where trapped air and fluids are building up. Medicine won’t do any good. The method I would advise is this: after general anesthesia I will open your skull with a cleaver and remove the excess matter, only then can the root cause be removed.” “Are you trying to kill me?” Cao Cao protested angrily . . . [and] . . . ordered Hua Tuo imprisoned and interrogated.

Ten days later Hua Tuo died. His medical text was lost upon his death.

Western Medicine

From the Renaissance until the beginning of the 19th century trephining was widely advocated and practiced for the treatment of head wounds. The most common use was in the treatment of depressed fractures and penetrating head wounds. However, because of the high incidence of mortality particularly when the dura was penetrated, there was considerable debate in the medical literature throughout this long span about if and when to trephine. Besides trephining in cases of skull fracture, the Hippocratic practice of “prophylactic trephination” in the absence of fracture after head injury continued to persist. For example, in the 1800s Cornish miners “insisted on having their skulls bored” after head injuries, even when there was no sign of fracture.

The practice of trephination was so dangerous that the first requirement for the operation was said to be “that the wound surgeon himself must have fallen on his head.”

Until the early 19th century trephination was done in the home. However, when the operation was moved to hospitals, the mortality was so high that trephination for any reason including treatment of fractures and other head injury declined precipitously. The practice was so dangerous that the first requirement for the operation was said to be “that the wound surgeon himself must have fallen on his head.” Or as Sir Astley Cooper put it in 1839, “If you were to trephine you ought to be trephined in turn.” It was against this background that the discovery of Neolithic trephining was so unbelievable to the American and French medical communities in the middle of the 19th century. Eventually, the introduction of modern antisepsis and prophylaxis of infection at the end of the 19th century, as well as an increased understanding of the importance of intracerebral pressure in head injury, allowed trephination to return as a common procedure in the management of head trauma.

In modern neurosurgical practice, trephining is still an important procedure but it is no longer viewed as therapeutic in itself. It may be used for exploratory diagnosis, for relieving intracerebral pressure (as from an epidural or subdural hematoma), for debridement of a penetrating wound, and to gain access to the dura and thence the brain itself (for example, to provide a port through which a stereotactic probe can be introduced into the brain.)

Epilepsy and Mental Disease

In the European medical tradition, in addition to its use in treating head injury, trephining has been an important therapy for two other conditions, epilepsy and mental illness.

A 16th-century woodcut of a trephination in the home. Note the man warming a cloth dressing, the woman praying, and the cat catching a rat.

The tradition of trephining as a treatment for epilepsy begins as early as Aretaeus the Cappadocian (ca. 150), one of the most famous Greek clinicians, and lasted into the 18th century. The 13th-century surgical text “Quattuor magistri” recommended opening the skulls of epileptics so “that the humors and air may go out and evaporate.” However, by the 17th century trephination for epilepsy was beginning to be viewed as an extreme measure, as in Riverius, “The Practice of Physick” (1655):

If all means fail the last remedy is to open the fore part of the Skul with a Trepan, at distance from the sutures, that the evil air may breath out. By this means many desperate Epilepsies have been cured, and it may be safely done if the Chyrurgeon be skilful.

One 13th-century text recommended opening the skulls of epileptics so “that the humors and air may go out and evaporate.”

By the 18th century the incidence of trephining for epilepsy had declined and its rationale changed. Now rather than the idea of allowing an exit for evil vapors and humors, the purpose was to remove some localized pathology. By the 19th century trephining for epilepsy was confined to the treatment of traumatic epilepsy, that is, cases associated with known head injury.

Another use of trephining was as a treatment for mental disease. In his “Practica Chirurgiae,” Roger of Parma (ca. 1170) wrote:

For mania or melancholy a cruciate incision is made in the top of the head and the cranium is penetrated, to permit the noxious material to exhale to the outside. The patient is held in chains and the wound is treated, as above, under treatment of wounds.

Robert Burton, in “Anatomy of Melancholy” (1652), also advocated boring a cranial hole for madness, as did the great Oxford neuroanatomist and physician Thomas Willis (1621–1675).

Hieronymus Bosch’s The Cure for Madness (or Folly), also known as The Stone Operation shows a surgical incision being made in the scalp.

Probably the most famous depictions of apparent trephining for mental disease are in early Flemish Renaissance painting. Thus, Hieronymus Bosch’s The Cure for Madness (or Folly), also known as The Stone Operation, shows a surgical incision being made in the scalp. The inscription has been translated in part “Master, dig out the stones of folly.” There are similar depictions of the removal of stones from the head by Peter Bruegel, Jan Steen, Pieter Huys, and other artists of the time.

By the 18th century, “most reputable and enlightened surgeons gave up the practice of . . . [trephination] . . . for psychiatric aberrations or headache without evidence of trauma. Thus, . . . the skull was never to be trephined for ‘internal disorders of the head.”’

Trephining in Africa

Herodotus describes the Libyans as cauterizing the heads of their children to “prevent them being plagued in their afterlives by a flow of rheum from the head.” And indeed, trephined skulls have been found among the people he was probably writing about, the Tuareg nomads.

An important source of information on the motivations for trephination is contemporary traditional practitioners and their patients. There are literally hundreds of 20th-century accounts of trephination, particularly in Oceanic and African cultures. Especially detailed and recent ones concern the Kisii of South Nyanza in Kenya and include photographs of the surgical instruments, practitioners, and patients X-rays of the skulls of surviving patients detailed interviews and even a documentary film.

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus describes the Libyans as cauterizing the heads of their children to “prevent them being plagued in their afterlives by a flow of rheum from the head.”

Trephining among the Kisii is carried out primarily for the relief of headache after some kind of head injury. According to Margetts, it is not done for “psychosis, epilepsy, dizziness or spirit possession.” The operation is carried out by general practitioners of medicine and takes a few hours. Restraint rather than anesthesia is used. The hole in the skull is usually made by scraping with a sharp knife with a curved tip to avoid injuring the dura. Various medicines are administered before, during, and after surgery but their nature does not seem to have been studied. Mortality, by one authority, is described as “low, perhaps 5 per cent.” The practitioners and patients seem to be quite satisfied with the results of the operation.

Although headache after head injury is the most prevalent reason given for trephining by contemporary practitioners of traditional medicine in Africa and elsewhere, other reasons are cited in the literature such as “to let out the evil spirits which were causing an intractable headache.”

Trephining on the Internet

Today, the practice of trephining is not confined to surgical suites or traditional medicine men. It is advocated by the International Trepanation Advocacy Group as a means of enlightenment and enhanced consciousness. Their general idea is that when the skull sutures close in childhood it “inhibits brain pulsations causing a loss of dreams, imagination and intense perceptions.” Trephining a small hole, they say, “restores the intracranial pulse pressure which leads to a permanent increase of the brain-blood volume which leads to accelerated brain metabolism and more areas of the brain functioning simultaneously” and “increased originality, creativity and…testosterone level.” Beyond such “physiological” arguments, the group supports the practice by pointing out its ancient, widespread, and continuing presence in other cultures. This particular form of alternative medicine recently gained considerable if not entirely positive publicity: In November 1998 it was featured on ER, the television soap opera set in an emergency ward.

Much of the defense for alternative medicine treatments is that they must work because they have been around for such a long time, an apparently attractive argument for the increasing popularity of five-thousand-plus-year-old Chinese traditional medical practices. However, the case of trephining suggests that just because a procedure is very old does not mean it is necessarily an effective one, at least for enhanced enlightenment and creativity.

Trepanation as an Empirical If Not a Rational Procedure

The most common view of the prehistoric and the non-Western practice of trephining, especially in the absence of a depressed fracture, was that it represented some kind of “superstition,” “primitive thinking,” “magic,” or “exorcism.” Yet an examination of the reasons for the practice among the Hippocratic and early European doctors as well as among contemporary Kenyan practitioners suggests a different view. Trephining may have appeared, in these contexts and cultures, to have been an effective empirical approach to head injury and the headaches that often accompany them. Headaches after head injury often do feel like “a pounding” and “pressure” inside the head and thus the idea that a hole in the skull would relieve them is not necessarily magical or bizarre. Furthermore, epidural bleeding does sometimes accompany head injury, and in these cases trephining might have actually reduced intracranial pressure. Finally, the apparently excellent survival rate meant that the procedure, at least until it moved into a hospital setting, may have met the prime requirement of medicine, “do no harm.”


The first International Colloquium on Cranial Trepanation in Human History was held at the University of Birmingham in April 2000. Papers from this unique three-day meeting were published as Trepanation: History, Discovery, Theory, which provides the most complete review of the subject to date. A major achievement of the meeting was the demonstration that trepanation was widespread in many regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas in both preliterate and literate periods. The volume also contains illustrations of trephined skulls from many cultures and of the great variety of instruments used.

Another interesting development was the return of E. L. Margetts to the Kisii of Kenya, whose trepanning practices he had studied 25 years earlier. He estimates that there may now be more than 100 surgeons carrying out the operation. Unlike in the past, they now use modern Western local anesthetics injected into the scalp prior to surgery. However, the reasons for the very low rate of infections still have not been studied systematically.

Since my original article, there seems to have been an increase in Internet sites advocating trepanning and often self-trepanning for the treatment of, among other disorders, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and stress and to improve mental “energy and vigor.”

The British Medical Journal took these developments seriously enough to issue a warning of their dangers:

Doctors have warned about the dangers of trepanning after the launch of several websites promoting the “do it yourself ” surgery and the case of a Gloucestershire woman who drilled a 2 cm diameter hole in her skull. Concern has been expressed about the growing interest in trepanning for several conditions, including depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. Concern is also growing about the increasing promotion of trepanning, including videos, T-shirts, and a virtual trepanning shopping mall on the internet.

Trepanning received widespread publicity when the surgeon Stephen Maturin carried out the procedure on a sailor in view of the assembled crew in the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, based on the Patrick O’Brian naval novels about the Napoleonic Wars.

Charles G. Gross was a pioneering neuroscientist who specialized in vision and the functions of the cerebral cortex. This essay is excerpted from his book “A Hole in the Head: More Tales in the History of Neuroscience.”

History of Robin I - History

The Real History of the Crusades

The crusades are quite possibly the most misunderstood event in European history. Most of what passes for public knowledge about it is either misleading or just plain wrong

By Prof. Thomas F. Madden

Misconceptions about the Crusades are all too common. The Crusades are generally portrayed as a series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are supposed to have been the epitome of self-righteousness and intolerance, a black stain on the history of the Catholic Church in particular and Western civilization in general. A breed of proto-imperialists, the Crusaders introduced Western aggression to the peaceful Middle East and then deformed the enlightened Muslim culture, leaving it in ruins. For variations on this theme, one need not look far. See, for example, Steven Runciman's famous three-volume epic, History of the Crusades, or the BBC/A&E documentary, The Crusades, hosted by Terry Jones. Both are terrible history yet wonderfully entertaining.

So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

From the safe distance of many centuries, it is easy enough to scowl in disgust at the Crusades. Religion, after all, is nothing to fight wars over.
Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed , the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity — and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion—has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed's death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world — quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.

That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.

Pope Urban II called upon the knights of Christendom to push back the conquests of Islam at the Council of Clermont in 1095. The response was tremendous. Many thousands of warriors took the vow of the cross and prepared for war. Why did they do it? The answer to that question has been badly misunderstood. In the wake of the Enlightenment, it was usually asserted that Crusaders were merely lacklands and ne'er-do-wells who took advantage of an opportunity to rob and pillage in a faraway land. The Crusaders' expressed sentiments of piety, self-sacrifice, and love for God were obviously not to be taken seriously. They were only a front for darker designs.

At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.
During the past two decades, computer-assisted charter studies have demolished that contrivance. Scholars have discovered that crusading knights were generally wealthy men with plenty of their own land in Europe. Nevertheless, they willingly gave up everything to undertake the holy mission. Crusading was not cheap. Even wealthy lords could easily impoverish themselves and their families by joining a Crusade. They did so not because they expected material wealth (which many of them had already) but because they hoped to store up treasure where rust and moth could not corrupt. They were keenly aware of their sinfulness and eager to undertake the hardships of the Crusade as a penitential act of charity and love. Europe is littered with thousands of medieval charters attesting to these sentiments, charters in which these men still speak to us today if we will listen. Of course, they were not opposed to capturing booty if it could be had. But the truth is that the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder. A few people got rich, but the vast majority returned with nothing.

Urban II gave the Crusaders two goals, both of which would remain central to the eastern Crusades for centuries. The first was to rescue the Christians of the East. As his successor, Pope Innocent III, later wrote:

How does a man love according to divine precept his neighbor as himself when, knowing that his Christian brothers in faith and in name are held by the perfidious Muslims in strict confinement and weighed down by the yoke of heaviest servitude, he does not devote himself to the task of freeing them? . Is it by chance that you do not know that many thousands of Christians are bound in slavery and imprisoned by the Muslims, tortured with innumerable torments?

"Crusading," Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith has rightly argued, was understood as an "an act of love" — in this case, the love of one's neighbor. The Crusade was seen as an errand of mercy to right a terrible wrong. As Pope Innocent III wrote to the Knights Templar, "You carry out in deeds the words of the Gospel, 'Greater love than this hath no man, that he lay down his life for his friends.'"

The second goal was the liberation of Jerusalem and the other places made holy by the life of Christ. The word crusade is modern. Medieval Crusaders saw themselves as pilgrims, performing acts of righteousness on their way to the Holy Sepulcher. The Crusade indulgence they received was canonically related to the pilgrimage indulgence. This goal was frequently described in feudal terms. When calling the Fifth Crusade in 1215, Innocent III wrote:

Consider most dear sons, consider carefully that if any temporal king was thrown out of his domain and perhaps captured, would he not, when he was restored to his pristine liberty and the time had come for dispensing justice look on his vassals as unfaithful and traitors. unless they had committed not only their property but also their persons to the task of freeing him? . And similarly will not Jesus Christ, the king of kings and lord of lords, whose servant you cannot deny being, who joined your soul to your body, who redeemed you with the Precious Blood. condemn you for the vice of ingratitude and the crime of infidelity if you neglect to help Him?

The reconquest of Jerusalem, therefore, was not colonialism but an act of restoration and an open declaration of one's love of God. Medieval men knew, of course, that God had the power to restore Jerusalem Himself — indeed, He had the power to restore the whole world to His rule. Yet as St. Bernard of Clairvaux preached, His refusal to do so was a blessing to His people:

Again I say, consider the Almighty's goodness and pay heed to His plans of mercy. He puts Himself under obligation to you, or rather feigns to do so, that He can help you to satisfy your obligations toward Himself. I call blessed the generation that can seize an opportunity of such rich indulgence as this.

It is often assumed that the central goal of the Crusades was forced conversion of the Muslim world. Nothing could be further from the truth. From the perspective of medieval Christians, Muslims were the enemies of Christ and His Church. It was the Crusaders' task to defeat and defend against them. That was all. Muslims who lived in Crusader-won territories were generally allowed to retain their property and livelihood, and always their religion. Indeed, throughout the history of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, Muslim inhabitants far outnumbered the Catholics. It was not until the 13th century that the Franciscans began conversion efforts among Muslims. But these were mostly unsuccessful and finally abandoned. In any case, such efforts were by peaceful persuasion, not the threat of violence.

Like all warfare, the violence was brutal (although not as brutal as modern wars). There were mishaps, blunders, and crimes.
The Crusades were wars, so it would be a mistake to characterize them as nothing but piety and good intentions. Like all warfare, the violence was brutal (although not as brutal as modern wars). There were mishaps, blunders, and crimes. These are usually well-remembered today. During the early days of the First Crusade in 1095, a ragtag band of Crusaders led by Count Emicho of Leiningen made its way down the Rhine, robbing and murdering all the Jews they could find. Without success, the local bishops attempted to stop the carnage. In the eyes of these warriors, the Jews, like the Muslims, were the enemies of Christ. Plundering and killing them, then, was no vice. Indeed, they believed it was a righteous deed, since the Jews' money could be used to fund the Crusade to Jerusalem. But they were wrong, and the Church strongly condemned the anti-Jewish attacks.

Fifty years later, when the Second Crusade was gearing up, St. Bernard frequently preached that the Jews were not to be persecuted:

Ask anyone who knows the Sacred Scriptures what he finds foretold of the Jews in the Psalm. "Not for their destruction do I pray," it says. The Jews are for us the living words of Scripture, for they remind us always of what our Lord suffered. Under Christian princes they endure a hard captivity, but "they only wait for the time of their deliverance."

Nevertheless, a fellow Cistercian monk named Radulf stirred up people against the Rhineland Jews, despite numerous letters from Bernard demanding that he stop. At last Bernard was forced to travel to Germany himself, where he caught up with Radulf, sent him back to his convent, and ended the massacres.

It is often said that the roots of the Holocaust can be seen in these medieval pogroms. That may be. But if so, those roots are far deeper and more widespread than the Crusades. Jews perished during the Crusades, but the purpose of the Crusades was not to kill Jews. Quite the contrary: Popes, bishops, and preachers made it clear that the Jews of Europe were to be left unmolested. In a modern war, we call tragic deaths like these "collateral damage." Even with smart technologies, the United States has killed far more innocents in our wars than the Crusaders ever could. But no one would seriously argue that the purpose of American wars is to kill women and children.

By any reckoning, the First Crusade was a long shot. There was no leader, no chain of command, no supply lines, no detailed strategy. It was simply thousands of warriors marching deep into enemy territory, committed to a common cause. Many of them died, either in battle or through disease or starvation. It was a rough campaign, one that seemed always on the brink of disaster. Yet it was miraculously successful. By 1098, the Crusaders had restored Nicaea and Antioch to Christian rule. In July 1099, they conquered Jerusalem and began to build a Christian state in Palestine. The joy in Europe was unbridled. It seemed that the tide of history, which had lifted the Muslims to such heights, was now turning.

But it was not. When we think about the Middle Ages, it is easy to view Europe in light of what it became rather than what it was. The colossus of the medieval world was Islam, not Christendom. The Crusades are interesting largely because they were an attempt to counter that trend. But in five centuries of crusading, it was only the First Crusade that significantly rolled back the military progress of Islam. It was downhill from there.

When the Crusader County of Edessa fell to the Turks and Kurds in 1144, there was an enormous groundswell of support for a new Crusade in Europe. It was led by two kings, Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany, and preached by St. Bernard himself. It failed miserably. Most of the Crusaders were killed along the way. Those who made it to Jerusalem only made things worse by attacking Muslim Damascus, which formerly had been a strong ally of the Christians. In the wake of such a disaster, Christians across Europe were forced to accept not only the continued growth of Muslim power but the certainty that God was punishing the West for its sins. Lay piety movements sprouted up throughout Europe, all rooted in the desire to purify Christian society so that it might be worthy of victory in the East.

Crusading in the late twelfth century, therefore, became a total war effort. Every person, no matter how weak or poor, was called to help. Warriors were asked to sacrifice their wealth and, if need be, their lives for the defense of the Christian East. On the home front, all Christians were called to support the Crusades through prayer, fasting, and alms. Yet still the Muslims grew in strength. Saladin, the great unifier, had forged the Muslim Near East into a single entity, all the while preaching jihad against the Christians. In 1187 at the Battle of Hattin, his forces wiped out the combined armies of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem and captured the precious relic of the True Cross. Defenseless, the Christian cities began surrendering one by one, culminating in the surrender of Jerusalem on October 2. Only a tiny handful of ports held out.

The response was the Third Crusade. It was led by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa of the German Empire, King Philip II Augustus of France, and King Richard I Lionheart of England. By any measure it was a grand affair, although not quite as grand as the Christians had hoped. The aged Frederick drowned while crossing a river on horseback, so his army returned home before reaching the Holy Land. Philip and Richard came by boat, but their incessant bickering only added to an already divisive situation on the ground in Palestine. After recapturing Acre, the king of France went home, where he busied himself carving up Richard's French holdings. The Crusade, therefore, fell into Richard's lap. A skilled warrior, gifted leader, and superb tactician, Richard led the Christian forces to victory after victory, eventually reconquering the entire coast. But Jerusalem was not on the coast, and after two abortive attempts to secure supply lines to the Holy City, Richard at last gave up. Promising to return one day, he struck a truce with Saladin that ensured peace in the region and free access to Jerusalem for unarmed pilgrims. But it was a bitter pill to swallow. The desire to restore Jerusalem to Christian rule and regain the True Cross remained intense throughout Europe.

The Crusades of the 13th century were larger, better funded, and better organized. But they too failed. The Fourth Crusade (1201-1204) ran aground when it was seduced into a web of Byzantine politics, which the Westerners never fully understood. They had made a detour to Constantinople to support an imperial claimant who promised great rewards and support for the Holy Land. Yet once he was on the throne of the Caesars, their benefactor found that he could not pay what he had promised. Thus betrayed by their Greek friends, in 1204 the Crusaders attacked, captured, and brutally sacked Constantinople, the greatest Christian city in the world. Pope Innocent III, who had previously excommunicated the entire Crusade, strongly denounced the Crusaders. But there was little else he could do. The tragic events of 1204 closed an iron door between Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox, a door that even today Pope John Paul II has been unable to reopen. It is a terrible irony that the Crusades, which were a direct result of the Catholic desire to rescue the Orthodox people, drove the two further—and perhaps irrevocably—apart.

The remainder of the 13th century's Crusades did little better. The Fifth Crusade (1217-1221) managed briefly to capture Damietta in Egypt, but the Muslims eventually defeated the army and reoccupied the city. St. Louis IX of France led two Crusades in his life. The first also captured Damietta, but Louis was quickly outwitted by the Egyptians and forced to abandon the city. Although Louis was in the Holy Land for several years, spending freely on defensive works, he never achieved his fondest wish: to free Jerusalem. He was a much older man in 1270 when he led another Crusade to Tunis, where he died of a disease that ravaged the camp. After St. Louis's death, the ruthless Muslim leaders, Baybars andKalavun, waged a brutal jihad against the Christians in Palestine. By 1291, the Muslim forces had succeeded in killing or ejecting the last of the Crusaders, thus erasing the Crusader kingdom from the map. Despite numerous attempts and many more plans, Christian forces were never again able to gain a foothold in the region until the 19th century.

Whether we admire the Crusaders or not, it is a fact that the world we know today would not exist without their efforts.
One might think that three centuries of Christian defeats would have soured Europeans on the idea of Crusade. Not at all. In one sense, they had little alternative. Muslim kingdoms were becoming more, not less, powerful in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The Ottoman Turks conquered not only their fellow Muslims, thus further unifying Islam, but also continued to press westward, capturing Constantinople and plunging deep into Europe itself. By the 15th century, the Crusades were no longer errands of mercy for a distant people but desperate attempts of one of the last remnants of Christendom to survive. Europeans began to ponder the real possibility that Islam would finally achieve its aim of conquering the entire Christian world. One of the great best-sellers of the time, Sebastian Brant's The Ship of Fools , gave voice to this sentiment in a chapter titled "Of the Decline of the Faith":

Our faith was strong in th' Orient,
It ruled in all of Asia,
In Moorish lands and Africa.
But now for us these lands are gone
'Twould even grieve the hardest stone.
Four sisters of our Church you find,
They're of the patriarchic kind:
Constantinople, Alexandria,
Jerusalem, Antiochia.
But they've been forfeited and sacked
And soon the head will be attacked.

Of course, that is not what happened. But it very nearly did. In 1480, Sultan Mehmed II captured Otranto as a beachhead for his invasion of Italy. Rome was evacuated. Yet the sultan died shortly thereafter, and his plan died with him. In 1529, Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Vienna. If not for a run of freak rainstorms that delayed his progress and forced him to leave behind much of his artillery, it is virtually certain that the Turks would have taken the city. Germany, then, would have been at their mercy. [At that point crusades were no longer waged to rescue Jerusalem, but Europe itself.]

Yet, even while these close shaves were taking place, something else was brewing in Europe—something unprecedented in human history. The Renaissance, born from a strange mixture of Roman values, medieval piety, and a unique respect for commerce and entrepreneurialism, had led to other movements like humanism, the Scientific Revolution, and the Age of Exploration. Even while fighting for its life, Europe was preparing to expand on a global scale. The Protestant Reformation, which rejected the papacy and the doctrine of indulgence, made Crusades unthinkable for many Europeans, thus leaving the fighting to the Catholics. In 1571, a Holy League, which was itself a Crusade, defeated the Ottoman fleet at Lepanto . Yet military victories like that remained rare. The Muslim threat was neutralized economically. As Europe grew in wealth and power, the once awesome and sophisticated Turks began to seem backward and pathetic—no longer worth a Crusade. The "Sick Man of Europe" limped along until the 20th century, when he finally expired, leaving behind the present mess of the modern Middle East.

From the safe distance of many centuries, it is easy enough to scowl in disgust at the Crusades. Religion, after all, is nothing to fight wars over. But we should be mindful that our medieval ancestors would have been equally disgusted by our infinitely more destructive wars fought in the name of political ideologies. And yet, both the medieval and the modern soldier fight ultimately for their own world and all that makes it up. Both are willing to suffer enormous sacrifice, provided that it is in the service of something they hold dear, something greater than themselves. Whether we admire the Crusaders or not, it is a fact that the world we know today would not exist without their efforts. The ancient faith of Christianity, with its respect for women and antipathy toward slavery, not only survived but flourished. Without the Crusades, it might well have followed Zoroastrianism, another of Islam's rivals, into extinction.

The 2009 H1N1 Pandemic

In 2009, a new kind of influenza A (H1N1) virus emerged in the United States and spread quickly around the world. Initially known as “swine flu,” this particular subtype of virus contained a novel combination of influenza genes that hadn’t previously been identified in animals or people. The virus was designated as (H1N1)pdm09.

Very few young people had any existing immunity to the virus, but about 1/3rd of people over 60 had antibodies against it. Because it was very different than other H1N1 viruses, the seasonal vaccinations didn’t offer much cross-protection either. When a vaccine was finally made, it was not available in large quantities until late November, after the illness had already peaked.

The CDC estimates that between 151,700 - 575,400 people died worldwide during the first year that the (H1N1)pdm09 virus circulated. About 80% of those deaths are believed to have been people younger than 65 — which is unusual. During typical seasonal influenza epidemics, 70-90% of deaths occur in people over 65.

Know your flu risk. Check out the Flu Tracker on The Weather Channel App.

Watch the video: Η ΙΣΤΟΡΙΑ ΕΝΟΣ ΜΙΚΡΟΥ ΑΓΓΕΛΟΥ (December 2022).

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