After the Illyrian revolt was put down, it took a long time to return the legions and the financial strain on Rome was also great. This was shown in food shortages and the implementation of higher taxes across the Empire. In Germania many people who didn’t pay tax immediately got crucified. Here, the stationed legions for the first time could collect taxes, build roads and move though Germania without opposition. Then, suddenly, different tribes started to attack scouts and tax collectors all over the province. These attacks were coordinated by Arminius, who had formed a coalition of almost all of the tribes to get rid of the Romans. As three Roman legions marched from their winter camp to their summer camp, Arminius said he would collect the auxiliaries, but as soon as he was out of sight, he went to his base and rallied his forces.
The Mycenaean Greek history was split into two eras. It started in around 1600BC in the Shaft Grave Era that ended in 1450BC at the collapse of the Minoan civilisation. The Shaft Grave period was when MycenaeanGreeks were the underdogs in the Aegean world with the Minoans ruling the seas while the Mycenaeans were minor trade partners. While on land they lived in simplistic citadels and they were influenced by the Minoan in ships, palaces and writing. The elite were buried in elegant shafts dug into the ground with great treasures. After the eruption of the volcanic island Theya, the Minoan civilization went into a steep decline and the with the loss of the sea domination and no army to speak of, they were quickly conquered by the militarisedMycenaeans. This started the Koine era, which was their hay day. From 1450 to 1250 they ruled the seas, built giant palaces, and fought great wars. But in 1250 the troubles started when most palaces were destroyed by natural disasters and unknown armies. However, they repaired the palaces and although they lost mastery of the sea to the sea people, they carried on until 1100 BC, when all palaces were destroyed or abandoned.
Mycenean Greece (1600-1100 BC) is the first civilization on the mainland that spread trade as far as the black sea and built giant palaces and fortifications, and famously sacked Troy. The Mycenaen Greece were a naval nation second to only the sea people going as far as the black sea and Italy. The Mycenaean Greeks had structured society with the king at the top with district captains ruling smaller districts and gave the taxes to the king then free men who were administrators, farmers, craftsmen, and merchants, and finally the slaves who did the grunt work. The main palaces were in Athens, Thebes, Orchomenus, Iolcos, Pylos, Mycenae, Elis, Menelation, and Knossos (after they invaded Crete). This is the overview for Mycenae. Tomorrow we shall look at the history of Mycenaean Greece.
The origins of the medieval tournament are unknown, but it probably started as a practice for the cavalry. In the late Roman period [400s], there was a large number of cavalry that needed training, but if it became a festival at that time we do not know. The Franks were brilliant at cavalry and certainly had horse-related games, but if those games were related to military training is again not known. The first person to make rules for a tournament was Geoffroi de Preulli who weirdly died in a tournament in 1066. When do you think tournaments started?
In medieval Europe, when besieging a castle there was a variety of siege engines, from battering rams to ballistas. The engines usually are classified into two types: projectiles and other. The most common types of projectiles are the mongrel (a type of catapult that gets its power from twisted ropes), the trebuchet (which gets its power from a heavy counter weight) and the ballista (which is a giant form of crossbow that could also fire stones). The most common other types of siege engines are the battering ram used to smash corners and burst through gates, the belfry, a siege tower used to get people onto the walls with archers on the top to give cover fire, and the cat, a type of cover that people used to protect themselves when filling in the moat or mining at the walls [sapping]. The cat is also is called a rat or tortoise. Which one, do you think, was the most effective when attacking a castle?
Mayans were such good traders that they were nicknamed “the Phoenicians of Middle America.” They usually traded in hollowed-out jungle trees going down rivers and coastal waters. The boats had one row of rowers on each side and in their middle had room for merchandise. The canoe’s ends were pointed to move easily through the water. The traders went as far as Northern Mexico and the most southern point in central America and their main product was salt. Ek Chuaj, the god of trading, was an underworld god who looked like a traveller with a basket.
The sacred cenote is a sinkhole filled with water, which the Mayans believed to be an entrance to the underworld. It is just north of the main temples in Chichen Itza, a city that was thriving in the 1000s AD. Its people were a curious mix of Toltecs and Itza Maya. You would have to walk 300m down a track from the main temples to reach the sacred cenote. At the cenote, Mayans occasionally made a human sacrifice though much more regularly they threw precious objects in the water. For a long time, people thought that the Mayans drowned the victims because this is what a conquistador wrote. However, an archaeological study of the all the skeletons showed that they were already killed before going into the cenote. What do you think?
For many years, historians thought that the Mayans were very peaceful and would spend their time doing astronomy and other peaceful arts rather than warfare but a 9.5 km long piece of earthworks at Tikal [a Mayan kingdom and a city] showed that warfare was a part of Mayan politics. Mayans usually used guerrilla warfare, ambush, raiding and traps [this was a spot of annoyance for the conquistadors] but if there was a battle it started with the sound of drums and horns followed by the two armies advancing towards each other and hurling projectiles then they attacked each other and discipline broke up. Soldiers were part time and most people never saw combat except if it was overthrowing a king.
Like most Mesoamerican cultures the Mayans got conquered by the Spanish, but the Mayans gave a harder time because they had many leaders and there wasn’t one emperor to topple. The first interaction between a European and a Mayan is when Columbus’s brother scouted an island off the coast of Honduras and met a Mayan trader. The next interaction was when the Conquistador Hernan Cortes stopped on his way to Mexico. After that a line of explorers came until Hernan came to conquer it in 1519. At that time, it had loads of kingdoms fighting each other. The last kingdom [Kingdom of Itza] fell to the Spanish in 1696.
The end of the classical Maya period [The Terminal Classic] is a mystery that has been puzzled over for decades. Why did the Mayans suddenly abandon and let the jungle grow over the walls and temples?
In the 900s (AD) there was a short and a very severe drought. The erection of defensive walls indicates that the drought was followed by an increase of warfare, even to the point that people dismantled temples and used their stones for the walls. The drought and wars are the most probably explanations for the end of the classical Mayan cities. However, Mayan territories had suffered from many droughts, even one that was recorded by Mayan scholars to last from 300 BC to 200 BC, so we don’t know exactly how and why the abandonment happened.
The Mayans stayed in the area, however, and lived in cities until the coming of the Conquistadores. Today, about 5 million still live in El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and southern Mexico.