18 March

I know the day after St. Patrick’s Day….the cabbage has been eaten and the green beer is gone…..why not hurt your head with some history?

It is Women history month and since I do enjoy my history and today is the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune, 18 March 1871.

The Paris Commune was a popular-led democratic government that ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871. Inspired by the Marxist politics and revolutionary goals of the International Workingmen’s Organization (also known as the First International), workers of Paris united to overthrow the existing French regime which had failed to protect the city from Prussian siege, and formed the first truly democratic government in the city and in all of France. The elected council of the Commune passed socialist policies and oversaw city functions for just over two months, until the French army retook the city for the French government, slaughtering tens of thousands of working-class Parisians in order to do so.

The Paris Commune was formed on the heels of an armistice signed between the Third Republic of France and the Prussians, which had laid siege to the city of Paris from September 1870 through January 1871. The siege ended with the surrender of the French army to the Prussians and the signing of an armistice to end the fighting of the Franco-Prussian War.

At this period in time, Paris had a considerable population of workers—as many as half a million industrial workers and hundreds of thousands of others—who were economically and politically oppressed by the ruling government and the system of capitalist production, and economically disadvantaged by the war. Many of these workers served as soldiers of the National Guard, a volunteer army that worked to protect the city and its inhabitants during the siege.

More on the background of the uprising……https://www.thoughtco.com/paris-commune-4147849  and  https://www.counterfire.org/articles/history/21095-the-paris-commune-150-when-workers-ran-a-city

Among the leaders of this uprising were many women….among them was Louise Michel…..

During the Paris Commune, women organised as never before. There were women caring for the wounded, women bringing food to the fighters and women fighting – some doing both. Women’s organisations and meetings were set up to improve the role of women in society. But of all the many women who took part in these activities, including prominent political thinkers and organisers, such as Elizabeth Dmitrieff, Andre Leo, and Nathalie Lemel, the name which is remembered most in association with the Commune is that of Louise Michel.

This is probably because Michel, as her biographer, Edith Thomas, says, was everywhere at once: in the political clubs and on the battlefield, in the 61st Montmartre battalion (noted for fighting like devils, and for her energy in particular), on committees and in the ambulance stations she helped to organise. Soldier, ambulance nurse, orator, her courage and audacity meant she was at Clamart, Neuilly, and Issy Les Moulineaux, with a rifle in her hands. She also proposed going in person to Versailles to assassinate Thiers. When told she would not be able to get that far, she disguised herself and got within reach of Versailles.

https://www.counterfire.org/articles/history/22143-louise-michel-the-revolutionary-woman-who-led-the-paris-commune

These are events that you probably have never heard of or the women who were a vital part of this historic event…..and that is why I am here.

An interesting time and a fascinating historic event…..

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Amazon Female Warriors

Did you see Wonder Woman or WW84?

Wonder Woman everybody’s favorite Amazon.

By Amazon I am talking about the warriors of legend not the rain forest or the business that is sucking the life out of local retail.

Yes the Amazons are the people of Wonder Woman….but were they real or just myth?

Were the Amazons of ancient Greek mythology — fierce female warriors said to have roamed a vast area around the Black Sea known as Scythia — real? Or were they as fictitious as other Greek myths, such as Aphrodite emerging from genitals thrown into the sea or Jason stealing a golden fleece?

Modern historians assumed that the Amazons, first documented by the poet Homer in the eighth century B.C., were fantasy. But then, in the 1990s, archaeologists began identifying ancient female skeletons buried in warrior graves in the same region.

Some skeletons were found with combat injuries, such as arrowheads embedded in their bones, and were buried with weapons that matched those held by Amazons in ancient Greek artwork, according to Adrienne Mayor, a research scholar in the classics department and History of Science Program at Stanford University. 

“Thanks to archaeology, we now know that Amazon myths, once thought to be fantasy, contain accurate details about steppe nomad women, who were the historical counterparts of mythic Amazons,” Mayor, who is also the author of “The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World” (Princeton University Press, 2014), told Live Science in an email.

These nomadic warriors were part of an ancient group of tribes known as Scythians, who were masters of horseback riding and archery. They lived across a vast territory on the Eurasian steppe, stretching from the Black Sea to China, from about 700 B.C. to A.D. 500, Mayor wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine in 2015.

The Scythians were a hard-core people; they had a reputation for drinking excessive amounts of undiluted wine (unlike the Greeks, who mixed wine with water), imbibing fermented mare’s milk and even getting high on hemp, according to The British Museum. Frozen bodies of mummified Scythians preserved in permafrost reveal they were heavily tattooed with animals, according to the museum. 

https://www.livescience.com/who-were-amazon-warriors.html

Your lesson is now complete.

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19 May

On this day in history…..

Anne Boleyn is beheaded 1536…..Mary Queen of Scots is imprisoned in England 1568…..Spanish Armada sets sail 1588….Grant attacks Vicksberg 1863….Last battle of Civil War Spotsylvania, Virginia….Congress curbs immigration into the US 1921……Hanoi is bombed for the first time 1968.

And not one of those has anything to do with this post…..Psyche!

Actually this post is about an organization unknown as May19 or M19…..of which I wrote during Women’s History month…..https://lobotero.com/2020/03/19/womens-history-3-m19/

It was a terror group in the US mainly run by women….something that the history books seem to leave out when the study of the 1960s and 70s and into the 1980s come around……

On the evening of November 7, 1983, a call came into the U.S. Capitol switchboard. “Listen carefully, I’m only going to tell you this one time,” the caller said. “There is a bomb in the Capitol building. It will go off in five minutes. Evacuate the building.” Then the caller hung up.

At 10:58 p.m., a blast went off on the second floor of the structure’s north wing. The explosion blew doors off their hinges, shattered chandeliers and sent a shower of pulverized glass, brick and plaster into the Republican cloakroom. The shock wave from the explosion sounded like a sonic boom. A jogger outside on the Capitol grounds heard the blast: “It was loud enough to make my ears hurt. It kept echoing and echoing—boom, boom.” According to one estimate, the bomb caused $1 million in damage.

Later, National Public Radio received a message from a group calling itself the Armed Resistance Unit: “Tonight we bombed the U.S. Capitol.” Nobody was killed or injured in the attack, but the ARU made clear that it had contemplated lethal action: “We purposely aimed our attack at the institutions of imperialist rule rather than at individual members of the ruling class and government. We did not choose to kill any of them at this time. But their lives are not sacred and their hands are stained with the blood of millions.”

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/05/03/us-history-first-women-terrorist-group-191037

But for those visually impaired….a video about the bombing…..

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Women’s History #5–The Poetic Princess

A little more women’s history to help sooth the nerves in the time of sheltering in place…..

I first came across this woman when I was living in Spain…..she has a fascinating story……and since this is women’s history month what better time to introduce this poet to my readers?

Her name was Wallada bint al-Mastakfi…….

Wallada was born in 1001, the daughter of a noble in the Andalusian city of Córdoba. In 711 an army of Moors coming up from Africa had conquered the city for the Umayyad Caliphate, along with most of modern Spain. Córdoba became the capital of this province on the edge of their empire. Fifty years later, after the Umayyads had been deposed, a prince of their line named Abd al-Rahman fled to Córdoba. Several of the locals had taken advantage of the chaos to declare independence, and he conquered them and welded them together into the independent Emirate of Córdoba. By the time Wallada was born his descendents had declared themselves Caliphs, [1] and Córdoba was a city of half a million people – one of the most advanced cities in Europe.

Unfortunately for the Córdobans, however, by this time the Umayyads had definitely begun to lose their grip on their caliphate. In 976 a ten year old boy named Hisham had succeeded to the throne. In the grand tradition of child rulers throughout history, fierce competition immediately started over the regency (and thus effective control of the caliphate). The eventual winner in this was al-Mansur Ibn Abi Amir, a powerful leader whose victories against the Christian kingdoms clinging to the northern part of Spain earned him infamy as “Almanzor”. He died in 1002, with his son succeeding to the regency.

Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, Poetic Princess

More on her scandalous love affair with ibn Zaydun a prominent poet of Andalusia…..

Although ibn Zaydun was a leading figure in the courts of Cordoba and Seville, he was most famous among the people of his day because of his scandalous love affair with Princess Wallada. They did nothing to hide their passion, and at her literary circle, when the poets began improvising, as was their custom, they would allude to it quite openly. On one famous occasion, Wallada uttered this impromptu verse, as she gazed upon her lover’s face:

“I fear for you, my beloved so much, that even my own sight even the ground you tread even the hours that pass threaten to snatch you away from me. Even if I were able to conceal you within the pupils of my eyes and hide you there until the Day of Judgment my fear would still not be allayed.”

https://www.andalucia.com/history/people/ibn-wallada.htm

Fascinating love story…..

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Empress Irene

While sheltering in place….why not learn something?

It is the weekend and I have been dealing (like everyone else) with the virus stuff that I think my readers need to know……but after all it is women’s history month so I will give some of women of history that are seldom mentioned…….this time it is Empress Irene.

Who?

She was the empress of the Byzantines ………

Known for: sole Byzantine emperor, 797 – 802; her rule gave the Pope the excuse to recognize Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor; convened the 7th Ecumenical Council (2nd Council of Nicaea), restoring icon veneration in the Byzantine Empire

Occupation: empress consort, regent and co-ruler with her son, ruler in her own right
Dates: lived about 752 – August 9, 803, ruled as co-regent 780 – 797, ruled in her own right 797 – October 31, 802
Also known as Empress Irene, Eirene (Greek)

Background, Family:

  • from a noble Athenian family
  • uncle: Constantine Sarantapechos
  • husband: Emperor Leo IV the Khazar (January 25, 750 – September 8, 780); married December 17, 769, son of Constantine V Copronymus who arranged the marriage and his first wife Irene of Khazaria. Part of the Isaurian (Syrian) dynasty ruling the Eastern Roman Empire.
  • one child: Constantine VI (January 14, 771 – about 797 or before 805), emperor 780 – 797

https://www.thoughtco.com/irene-of-athens-p2-3529666

We always hear about the strong men of this empire but seldom anything about the women…..and Irene is one that should be mentioned more…..

Empress Irene was the wife of Leo IV and, on her husband’s death, she reigned as regent for her son Constantine VI from 780 to 790 CE. From 797 to 802 CE she ruled as emperor in her own right, the first woman to do so in Byzantine history. During her lacklustre reign, Irene ruthlessly schemed and plotted to keep the throne she would lose and regain three times, but she is chiefly remembered for restoring the Christian veneration of icons, which her predecessors of the Isaurian dynasty had sought so vehemently to repress. Even this seemingly pious campaign was really only a means for Irene to defeat her enemies and keep power. The Empress’ gold coins reveal much of her duplicitous character for, uniquely, they carried a portrait of herself on both sides

https://www.ancient.eu/Empress_Irene/

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Women’s History #4–Saltychikha

A look into history from the perspective of the Old Professor….

Let’s go to Russia who has had a wealth of “evil” men…..like Ivan the Terrible and Stalin…..how about women?

History has its “Bad” women…..those that tell the starving to eat cake…or those that worked as guards in prison camps……but for this post I would like to write about Russia’s evilest woman….Daria Saltykova of 18th century Russia.

When one thinks about serial killers, it’s usually male figures that first come to mind. But history knows no shortage of cruel women – just remember the famous Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory, who killed hundreds of young women between 1585-1609.

Well, a noblewoman with a similar inclination also lived in Russia in the 18th century. Her name was Daria Saltykova, but the people referred to her simply “Saltychikha”, pointing to her notorious nature, which turned her into a somewhat mythical figure in the collective Russian mind.

It was proven that, in 1756-1762, she killed at least 38 of her serfs, with the number likely being a lot higher. Witnesses spoke of 138 deaths in total, but her involvement was never confirmed. Among her victims were mainly young women whom she would beat with whips, bats and logs, tear their hair, burn with a hot iron, starve, freeze or drown to death.

Even when she was still alive, people used to spread scary stories and rumors about her taking baths in victims’ blood and eating babies.

So who was this woman and why had the authorities failed to capture her for so many years? And, most importantly, what drove her desire to kill and mutilate?

https://www.rbth.com/history/331778-saltychikha-story

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Women’s History #3–M19

M19?

It is NOT some mystery virus lurking on the horizon.

Does anyone have any idea what that is all about…don’t bother I will fill in the blanks….

The time is the 1970s and “terrorists” and the world is awash with groups that want to destroy something….the PLA, UNITA, Bader Gang, etc, etc.

You may think that today’s political and cultural divide today is wide, but it’s nothing compared to the ‘70s and early ‘80s. 

Imagine what the country would be like today if almost every day there were bombings by domestic terrorists? If there were attacks that assassinated police at point-blank range, and groups like the Black Liberation Army took credit?

Imagine that Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries were discovered to have an arsenal with thousands of military weapons along with FBI and DEA identification cards. Imagine a series of bombings set off in the Officers Club of the Washington Navy Yard, the South African consulate, and the New York City Police Benevolent Association.  

All of this actually happened — and at the time there was not even a major sense of panic about it. It was business as usual. It makes Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and his “revolution” look like child’s play. 

You Say You Want a Revolution?

bombed Capitol and M19 prisoners photo

M19 stands for May 19th Movement…..it is a group that is totally led by women…..

Amidst the social and political turmoil of the 1970s, a handful of women—among them a onetime Barnard student, a Texas sorority sister, the daughter of a former communist journalist—joined and became leaders of the May 19th Communist Organization. Named to honor the shared birthday of civil rights icon Malcolm X and Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, M19 took its belief in “revolutionary anti-imperialism” to violent extremes: It is “the first and only women-created and women-led terrorist group,” says national security expert and historian William Rosenau.

M19’s status as an “incredible outlier” from male-led terrorist organizations prompted Rosenau, an international security fellow at the think tank New America, to excavate the inner workings of the secretive and short-lived militant group. The resulting book, Tonight We Bombed the Capitol, pieces together the unfamiliar story of “a group of essentially middle-class, well educated, white people who made a journey essentially from anti-war and civil rights protest to terrorism,” he says.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/1980s-far-left-female-led-domestic-terrorism-group-bombed-us-capitol-180973904/

More women that our educational system has tried to erase from our history…..they may have been “terrorists” but they still deserve to be part of our history.

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Women’s History #2–Patty And The SLA

Long before ISIS or Al-Qaeda…there was the SLA…

SLA?

Symbionese Liberation Army!

Maybe one of their famous members might help you understand……Patty Hearst…..does that ring a bell?

(At the sound of the horn sprint to Google and learn)

The older you are the more that name will mean to you….

First Patty Hearst…….

Around 9 o’clock in the evening on February 4, 1974, there was a knock on the door of apartment #4 at 2603 Benvenue Street in Berkeley, California. In burst a group of men and women with their guns drawn. They grabbed a surprised 19-year-old college student named Patty Hearst, beat up her fiancé, threw her in the trunk of their car and drove off.

Thus began one of the strangest cases in FBI history.

Hearst, it was soon discovered, had been kidnapped by a group of armed radicals that billed themselves as the Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA. Led by a hardened criminal named Donald DeFreeze, the SLA wanted nothing less than to incite a guerrilla war against the U.S. government and destroy what they called the “capitalist state.” Their ranks included women and men, blacks and whites, and anarchists and extremists from various walks in life.

https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/patty-hearst

The group that took then converted Patty Hearst was the Symbionese Liberation Army…..

In 1974 a little-known but wealthy Berkeley undergraduate, Patricia Hearst, became a media celebrity after being kidnapped by a group of revolutionaries calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. The kidnap victim transformed into a seemingly willing accomplice; over the months of her kidnapping, she participated in crimes, claimed allegiance to the S.L.A., and defended her captors as valiant heroes. From tape recordings, her trial testimony and own telling of the story years later, several different versions of events emerge, but there seems to be no resolution to the questions about her transformation. Her parents thought that she had been brainwashed; experts suggested that she was a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome, mistakenly identifying with her captors in an effort at self-preservation. Yet it is also possible that Hearst repudiated her upbringing to flirt with radical terrorism.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/guerrilla-rise-and-fall-symbionese-liberation-army/

The 1970s was a fascinating time in history….without Patty Hearst this group would have been just a minor footnote in history….if that….

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Women’s History #1–Fatima al-Fihri

March is women’s history month and we bloggers post and paying homage to those women throughout history….most do their writing on the famous women they know….Michelle Obama, Rosa Parks, etc. I want to give a historical look at those women that never are remembered for various reasons….

My first post will be about Fatima al-Fihri.

About now if you are not scratching your head you are reaching for the Google button….cool your jets….I will explain about her….

Who established the first university in the world?

Over 1000 years ago, amongst a migrant community in the western districts of Morocco, the vision and investment of one woman paved the way for the founding of the world’s first university: the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco.

Fatima al-Fihri, who was born in Tunisia, hailed from a well-educated family. Not much is known about her early life, but sometime in the early 9th century, Fatima migrated with her father and sister from Qayrawan in Tunisia to Fez in Morocco. Upon the death of her father, Fatima inherited a large fortune. She invested this wealth in founding a mosque and educational institution for the benefit of her local community. Gradually, the establishment blossomed into the University of al-Qarawiyyin, named after Fatima’s birthplace – Qayrawan – in Tunisia.

Established in the year 859, the University of al-Qarawiyyin was the first degree-granting educational institute in the world (as recognised by UNESCO and Guinness World Records). Students from all over the world travelled to study a wide range of subjects, ranging from natural sciences to languages to astronomy, and Fatima herself studied there too. During the medieval times, the University was considered a major intellectual centre.

Fatima al-Fihri: Founder of the world’s first university

She is a forgotten woman in world history….and she should be celebrated and not ignored……as the West has a tendency to do with people they do not want to promote for whatever lame reason.

Read more in the life of Fatima al-Fihri….

https://www.stylist.co.uk/visible-women/fatima-al-fihri-founder-world-first-known-university-this-weeks-issue-430/224181

She should be hailed for her contribution to education.

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Freya Stark

Sunday and my break from the dismal news of the week…..if I cannot entertain then I need to educate.

I have been given my readers a look at the women that helped mold the modern Middle East after World War One….

First was Gertrude Bell then Jane Digby…..

https://lobotero.com/2019/12/21/gertrude-bell-2/

https://lobotero.com/2019/12/28/jane-digby/

The third and final woman is that of Freya Stark…..

Raised in Italy and England by liberal-minded parents, Freya Stark already spoke several languages as a child. Riding and mountaineering were part of her education, and with her mother and grandmother as role models she developed into an unconventional woman who was as at home in elegant salons as she was able to deal with poverty and physical exertion.

In spite of her delicate and sickly constitution, Freya Stark was tough and tenacious. In 1912 she began her studies in history at Bedford College in London, but broke them off with the onset of the First World War, when she left for Bologna to work as a nurse.

She had problems with self-esteem, feeling awkward and unattractive because she had to wear clothes tailored by her mother. Later in life, when she had her own money, she was known for her elegant and extravagant clothes/outfits.

Her engagement to a physician from Bologna was short-lived. Shocked, Freya moved to London, where for a time she worked as a censor of international correspondence – good preparation for her later collaboration with the Ministry of Information in London where she would be employed as an expert on the Middle East during the Second World War.

https://www.fembio.org/english/biography.php/woman/biography/freya-stark/

To help my readers learn about this fascinating women I found a couple of short videos……

This one is longer but a good look at the life of an interesting woman……

And finally……

Women made a difference in the Middle East as the First World War ended….for the good or the bad…they made a difference….something that cannot be said about the US which pretended that they were solidly behind the idea of self-determination for all people.

I hope this short series helped my reader learn about the courage and the fortitude of these women.

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