The Seven Years’ War

The Seven Years’ War pitted Prussia and Great Britain against Russia, Austria, France, Sweden, Saxony, and other minor powers.  Great Britain mostly fought in its colonies, in India and North America, where it was called the French and Indian War.  This left Prussia and its king, Frederick the Great, to prosecute the war in continental Europe, mostly at British expense.

Despite being out-manned and overwhelmed by any material measurement, Prussia managed to hold back its opponents and survive the war intact, a war which had begun with the goal of dismembering the thriving Prussian state and reducing it to what it had been over a century prior.

Frederick the Great’s undeniable military competence was the primary factor in Prussia’s survival, but he had two unparalleled advantages over every other enemy general.  The first was that he was fighting alone, and any gain was his alone, whereas his allies did not necessarily wish for each other to become stronger at Prussia’s expensive.  Secondly, he was king.  Other generals needed to worry about what their leaders would say, a fact which especially crippled the Russians, but Frederick had no such worries, and could take any risk instantly without need to get permission.

After seven years of struggle, the borders of Prussia ended where they began, but she had survived, and would continue to grow in prestige and power as a result of Frederick’s careful handling of the almost unwinnable war.

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IF

King Philip II of Macedon conquered almost all of mainland Greece, except for Sparta, who, despite their greatly decreased power from their height after the Peloponnesian War, still possessed a martial reputation and their historical independent spirit.  Wanting to conquer them without a fight, he sent to the ephors the following message: “You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your lands, I will burn your farms, slay your people, and raze your villages.”  To which the Spartans replied, “If.”

King Philip let them be.

Solving the Problem of a Plurality of Popes

In 1378, under Pope Gregory XI, the papacy returned to Rome, ending the Avignon Papacy.  After his death, however, Pope Urban VI was considered so overbearing that the cardinals also elected Pope Clement VII, who established himself at Avignon.  This split, known as the Papal Schism or Western Schism, would last until 1417, and at times the Catholic Church had three simultaneous popes.

Approximately fifteen years into the schism, seeking a solution the problem, the theologians at the University of Paris had large chest placed into the cloister of the Mathurins.  They asked that anyone with a solution to the schism write it down and place it into a slot in the lid of the chest.  All in all, over ten thousands solutions were suggested, which were read through by fifty-five professors in a desperate attempt to find an acceptable solution.

The proposals were mostly categorized into three groups.  One group proposed that all current popes abdicate and a new one be elected.  Another proposed arbitration between the popes that would result in a single, legitimate pontiff.  The third called for a new convention of the Catholic cardinals who would elect a new pope, delegitimizing the previous ones.

The final solution was a combination of the first and third proposals.  Pope Gregory XII, one of the Roman popes, excommunicated the Avignon pope and resigned, allowing the cardinals to elect Martin V as pope.  Some still supported the Avignon and Pisa popes, but Martin V had the vast majority of Catholic support, and with his election, the Papal Schism essentially ended.

The Naming of Soapland

In 1951, the first Turkish baths began to be offered in Japan.  By 1956, they’re offering “special services,” which begins to attract government attention.  By 1960, customers can get sex while visiting a Turkish bath.  These Turkish baths are essentially happy ending baths, and by the 1980s, they have millions of customers a year.

However, the Turkish embassy in Tokyo began receiving calls from inquisitive customers about prices and reservations.  Once the Turkish embassy realized what mix-up, they complained to the Japanese government, until, in 1985, the 110 members of the trade association of Turkish bathhouses came up with a plan for a new name that would apply to all of them.  To come up with the name the held a nationwide contest.  About 2200 suggestions were submitted, and the new name chosen was Soapland.  Today, these facilities still exist in Japan, offering customers the chance to be cleaned by a beautiful women, along with the satisfaction of other needs.

Lycurgus’s Suicide

Lycurgus was the fabled lawgiver of the Spartans, the creator of their peculiar constitution and way of life.  It is his state that we think of when we think of the Spartans, and he created the most revered, respected, and stable government in Ancient Greece.  After he had bestowed upon Sparta her most laudable constitution, he made the Spartans promise not to change it until after his return.  After they agreed to do so, he departed from Sparta, never to return.  He went to the Oracle at Delphi and, having been told that his laws were excellent and would serve the Spartans well, he starved himself to death, so that Sparta would never depart from the laws that would make her great.

From Ilyich to Ilyich

Anastas Mikoyan was the great survivor of the Soviet Union.  When the 26 Commissars were captured and shot at Baku, he alone escaped alive.  He was a Bolshevik from 1915 to his death in 1978.  He was a member of the Politburo under Stalin, although, had Stalin lived much longer, it’s possible he would have been eliminated.  He was one of the few people willing to contradict Stalin.  He survived through Kruschev, before finally passing away under Brezhnev.  It was said of him, so adroit at avoiding the purges and dangers that befell so many of his contemporaries, that he could walk from one end of Red Square to the other in a rainstorm and emerge dry.  From his long political life came the Soviet expression “From Ilyich to Ilyich,” representing his survival from Ilyich Lenin to Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev.

Scipio’s Rendering of Accounts

Scipio Africanus, together with his brother, Lucius Cornelius Scipio, were sent by Rome against King Antiochus, and defeated him at the Battle of Magnesia.  Upon his return, he was called upon by tribunes to render an account of the booty taken in the war.

He reached into his toga and pulled out his account book.  “Here is the account of all the money and booty taken.  I have brought it to be publicly read and deposited in the treasury, but, senators, I will now not do this nor thusly degrade myself.  I will not render an account of four million sesterces to a treasury which I have personally enriched by two hundred million sesterces.  When I returned from Africa, I brought back nothing but my cognomen.  I was not made greedy by Punic wealth nor by brother by Asian, but each of us has more begrudgers than money.”