History Of Venice

Go Back To History Of Italy

Timeline of Republic of Venice

421 Venice is founded on 25 Mar, 421. Torcello is the first Venice island to be inhabited.
 434-451 Attila, King of Huns is defeated in the Battle of Chalons in 451. Notwithstanding his defeat, Attila invaded Northern Italy & Venice in 452.
568 Lombard invasion of Italy under King Alboin. Great numbers of refugeesflee from the Venice mainland to the nearby  lagoons  islands. There the refugees chose to remain under the Byzantines rather than submit to Lambards or barbarian rule.
697 – 1797 Lagoon settlements became an independent military unit or “Doge.” First Doge Ludovico Manin elected for life by the city-state‘s aristocracy. Doges were the leaders of Venice for 1,100 years 697-1797——————————————————————————————————————————————–
810 Charlemagne’s son Pepin became the major threat to Venice.  Pepin captured Malamocco and the reigning Doge fled to Rivo Alto or Rialto. It was this small settlement that was to become the capital of the independent Venetian Republic later.
1256–1270 War of Saint Sabas

Palazzo Ducale means the Doge’s Palace

Newton and Galileo

Go To Master Index Of Science

Later in the 1670’s, Newton became very interested in theology. He studied Hebrew scholarship and ancient and modern theologians at great length, and became convinced that Christianity had departed from the original teachings of Christ. He felt unable to accept the current beliefs of the Church of England, which was unfortunate because he was required as a Fellow of Trinity College to take holy orders.

Happily, the Church of England was more flexible than Galileo had found the Catholic Church in these matters, and King Charles II issued a royal decree excusing Newton from the necessity of taking holy orders! Actually, to prevent this being a wide precedent, the decree specified that, in perpetuity, the Lucasian professor need not take holy orders. (The current Lucasian professor is Stephen Hawking.)

From http://galileoandeinstein.physics.virginia.edu/lectures/newton.html

The Spanish Inquisition 1478

Go Back To European Expansion

1469 Marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella
1478 The Spanish Inquisition
1482-92 The Granada War:  The Nasrid dynasty’s Emirate of Granada surrenders to Ferdinand and Isabella. Muslim rule that started in 711 in Iberian peninsula comes to an end.
1486 Ferdinand and Isabella rejects Columbus’ request for funding his voyage to India
1492 Columbus’ first voyage

After the conquest during the Age Of Exploration, religious reforms focused on improved education for the clergy and stricter enforcement of Christian doctrine in the population at large. [See Spanish InquisitionThe Spanish Inquisition (in 1478) was put in place by Ferdinand and Isabella in large part to ensure the orthodoxy of those who converted from Judaism and Islam. This regulation of the faith of the newly converted was intensified after the royal decrees issued in 1492 and 1502 ordering Jews and Muslims to convert or leave Spain.

The Alhambra (Granada, Spain), one of the spectacular tourist spots

Secret Mexican diary sheds light on Spanish Inquisition BBC News

Arabic manuscripts destroyed during Spanish Inquisition

“In the same month in which their Majesties [Ferdinand and Isabella] issued the edict that all Jews should be driven out of the kingdom and its territories, in the same month they gave me the order to undertake with sufficient men my expedition of discovery to the Indies.” So begins Christopher Columbus’s diary. The expulsion that Columbus refers to was very cataclysmic.  On March 30, they issued the expulsion decree, the order to take effect in precisely four months. On July 30 of 1491, the entire Jewish community, some 200,000 people, were expelled from Spain. The Spanish Jews who ended up in Turkey, North Africa, Italy, and elsewhere throughout Europe and the Arab world, were known as Sephardim — Sefarad being the Hebrew name for Spain.

Following the annexation, The city of Granada, which had been the last center of Muslim power in the Iberian Peninsula, lost its political importance and even much of its economic importance, and entered a long period of decline.

Columbus’ Second Voyage

Go To Columbus

Sept 25, 1493 Fleet of 17 ships, carrying about 1,000 colonists and livestock (horse, sheep, cattle)
October 13 The ships left the Canary Islands
 Nov 3 Reached the West Indies; The transatlantic passage of only 21 days was remarkably fast.
 Nov 19 Landed at Puerto Rico (San Juan Bautista)
 Nov 22, 1493 Reached Hispaniola (present-day Dominican and Haitian Republics)
April 30, 1494 Reached Cuba. Left Cuba on May 3rd
May 5, 1494 Reached Jamaica
10 Mar, 1496 Set sail for Spain, leaving his brother Bartholomew at Isabella as temporary governor. Columbus reached Cadiz 11 June, 1496.


Image result for the second voyage of columbus
On his second voyage, Columbus commanded a fleet of 17 ships, carrying about 1,000 colonists (all men). Unlike the low key first voyage, the second voyage was a massive logistic effort.

The second voyage brought European livestock (horses, sheep, and cattle) and settlers to America for the first time. Although Columbus kept a log of his second voyage, only very small fragments survive. Most of what we know comes from indirect references or from accounts of others on the voyage.

The fleet sailed from Cadiz on September 25, 1493, and reached the West Indies on November 3rd. After naming the first island encountered Mariagalante after his flagship, Columbus and his fleet sailed passed Dominica, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Nevis, St. Christopher, St. Croix, Puerto Rico, and other islands. Upon reaching Cap-Haïtien, Columbus found that all the men he had left the previous year had been killed by natives, whom they had mistreated. Rather than take revenge on the natives, he chose to sail eastward and found Isabela, the first permanent European colony in the Americas, on the north coast of Hispaniola instead. He left his brother Diego in charge of the colony, and spent the summer of 1494 exploring the southern coast of Cuba, during which time he also discovered the island of Jamaica. Upon his return to Isabela he found the colonists fighting among themselves and with the natives. After restoring order and defeating the natives, he left for Spain, in June of 1496.
Back in Spain, Columbus learned that many Spaniards who had returned from earlier voyages were accusing him of being a cruel taskmaster and complaining about the lack of riches in Hispaniola. Ferdinand and Isabella still believed in Columbus, however, and gave him three ships for a third voyage.

Summer Solstice At Stonehenge & Egypt

Go Back to Summer

Today, June 21st, is the first day of summer 2017. 

The summer solstice is generally understood to mark the first day of summer. The solstice is a time to recall the reverence and understanding early people had for the sky.
Some 5000 years ago, people placed huge stones in a circle on a broad plain in England and aligned them with the June solstice sunrise.

Around the same time Stonehenge was being constructed in England, two great pyramids and then the Sphinx were built on Egyptian sands.

In Egypt

Image result for summer solstice sunset scene between two egyptian pyramids

The Sun setting between two Pyramids on the first day of the Summer (Summer Solstice seen from the Sphinx)

At The Stonehenge

Summer Solstice
Revelers watch as the sun rises over the standing stones at the prehistoric monument Stonehenge

Sphinx in the foreground with the pyramids in the background

The Summer Solstice of 2017

Go Back to Summer

Wednesday at 12:24 a.m. Eastern Time marks the summer solstice.  The Northern Hemisphere will dip toward the sun, basking in its warmth for longer than at any other time. The solstice occurs because the Earth spins on a tilted axis.

1) Why do we have a summer solstice, anyway?

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice is when the northern hemosphere of the Earth is most inclined towards the sun and that is why we get the most daylight of the year. Also shows the area around the North Pole that will see 24 houers of day on the first day of summer because of the Earth’s 23.5 degree tilt.

Okay, most people know this one. Earth orbits around the sun on a tilted axis (probably because our planet collided with some other massive object billions of years ago, back when it was still being formed).

So between March and September, Earth’s Northern Hemisphere gets more exposure to direct sunlight over the course of a day. The rest of the year, the Southern Hemisphere gets more. It’s the reason for the seasons:

2) How many hours of sunlight will I get on Tuesday?

That depends on where you live. The further north you are, the more sunlight you’ll see during the solstice. Alaska-based climatologist Brian Brettschneider created this terrific guide:

Sunrise at Stonehenge on the summer solstice, 21 June 2005

The solstice is a time to recall the reverence and understanding early people had for the sky.
Some 5000 years ago, people placed huge stones in a circle on a broad plain in England and aligned them with the June solstice sunrise.
Around the same time Stonehenge was being constructed in England, two great pyramids and then the Sphinx were built on Egyptian sands
If you stood at the Sphinx on the summer solstice and gazed towards the two pyramids, you’d see the sun set exaactly between them.

Columbus’ First Voyage

Go Back To Columbus

Columbus’ First Voyage

August 3, 1492 Columbus starts from Spain
October 11, 1492 See Columbus diary below, a day before seeing land
October 28 He reached Cuba, making landfall at Bariay, a harbor near the eastern tip of the island. Thinking he had found China, he sent two men to investigate. There they were the first to observe the smoking of tobacco, a habit which they promptly picked up.
December 5 Reaches Hispaniola – modern day Haití and Dominican Republic. Columbus arranged to leave 39 of his men behind in a small settlement, named La Navidad (See above) in Haiti. (Ref 1) (Note: On his second voyage he would find that all 39 of his men were killed by the natives).
January 16, 1493 They set out for Spain on January 16
March 4 Arrived Lisbon, Portugal.


Thursday, 11th of October (From Culumbus’s Diary)
The course was W.S.W., and there was more sea than there had been durmg the whole of the voyage. They saw sandpipers, and a green reed near the ship. Those of the caravel Pinta saw a cane and a pole, and they took up another small pole which appeared to have been worked with iron; also another bit of cane, a land-plant, and a small board. The crew of the caravel Nina also saw signs of land, and a small branch covered with berries. Every one breathed afresh and rejoiced at these signs.
Up to two hours after midnight they had gone 90 miles, equal to 22§ leagues. As the caravel Pinta was a better sailer, and went ahead of the Admiral, she found the land, and made the signals ordered by the Admiral. The land was first seen by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana. But the Admiral, at ten o’clock, being on the castle of the poop, saw a light, though it was so uncertain that he could not affirm it was land. He called Pero Gutierrez, a gentleman of the King’s bed-chamber, and said that there seemed to be a hght, and that he should look at it. He did so, and saw it. The Admiral said the same to Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, whom the King and Queen had sent with the fleet as inspector, but he could see nothing, because he was not in a place whence anything could be seen. After the Admiral had spoken he saw the light once or twice, and it was hke a wax candle rising and falling. It seemed to few to be an indication of land ; but the Admiral made certain that land was close. When they said the Salve, which all the sailors were accustomed to sing in their way, the Admiral asked and admonished the men to keep a good look-out on the forecastle, and to watch well for land ; and to him who should first cry out that he saw land, he would give a silk doublet, besides the other rewards promised by the Sovereigns, which were 10,000 maravedis to him who should first see it.* At two hours after midnight the land was sighted at a distance of two leagues. They shortened sail, and lay by under the mainsail without the bonnets. 

Friday, 12th of October
The vessels were hove to, waiting for dayhght; and onFriday they arrived at a small island of the Lucayos, called, in the language of the Indians, Guanahani.^ Presently they saw naked people. The Admiral went on shore m the armed boat, and Martin Alonso Pinzon, and Vicente Yanez, his brother, who was captain of the Nina. The Admiral took the royal standard, and the captains went with two banners of the green cross, which the Admiral took in all the ships as a sign, with an F and a Y ^ and a crown over each letter, one on one
side of the cross and the other on the other. Having landed, they saw trees very green, and much water, and fruits of diverse kinds. The Admiral called to the two captains, and to the
others who leaped on shore, and to Rodrigo Escovedo, secretary of the whole fleet, and to Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia,* and said that they should bear faithful testimony that he, in
presence of all, had taken, as he now took, possession of the said island * for the King and for the Queen his Lords, making the declarations that are required, as is now largely set forth in the testimonies which were then made m writing.
Presently many inhabitants of the island assembled.
What follows is in the actual words of the Admiral in his book of the first navigation and discovery of the Indies.^ “I,” he says, ”that we might form great friendship, for I knew that
they were a people who could be more easily freed and converted to our holy faith by love than by force, gave to some.


This painting by John Vanderlyn depicts Christopher Columbus and members of his crew on a beach in the West Indies, newly landed from his flagship Santa Maria on October 12, 1492. Vanderlyn (1775-1852) was commissioned by Congress in June 1836 to paint the Landing of Columbus for the Capitol Rotunda. It was installed in the Rotunda by early January 1847.
In this painting, Christopher Columbus and members of his crew are shown on a beach in the West Indies, the first landfall of their expedition to find a westward route from Europe to China, Japan and India. On October 12, 1492, they reached this island, which the natives called Guanahani and Columbus named San Salvador.
The setting of the painting is a narrow beach at the edge of a wooded bay or inlet. Columbus, newly landed from his flagship Santa Maria, looks upward as if in reverent gratitude for the safe conclusion of his long voyage. With his left hand he raises the royal banner of Aragon and Castile, claiming the land for his Spanish patrons, and with his right he points his sword at the earth. He stands bareheaded, with his feathered hat at his feet, in an expression of humility.

The Santa Maria Columbus's flagship

The Santa Maria, Columbus’s flagship

In retrospect, it is somewhat surprising that what is today considered one of the most important voyages in history was something of a failure at the time. Columbus had promised to find a new, quicker route to the lucrative Chinese trade markets and he failed miserably. Instead of holds full of Chinese silks and spices, he returned with some trinkets and a few bedraggled natives from Hispaniola. Christopher Colobus tries to find a different route to China, but instead found the Carribean Islands. He tried to find many spices and gold, but there weren’t many.

Some 10 more had perished on the voyage. Also, he had lost the largest of the three ships — the Santa María  — entrusted to him.

Columbus actually considered the natives his greatest find. He thought that a new slave trade could make his discoveries lucrative. Columbus was hugely disappointed a few years later when Queen Isabela, after careful thought, decided not to open the New World to slave trading.

Columbus never believed that he had found something new. He maintained, to his dying day, that the lands he discovered were indeed part of the known Far East. In spite of the failure of the first expedition to find spices or gold, a much larger second expedition was approved, perhaps in part due to Columbus’ skills as a salesman.



Christopher Columbus

Back to Age of Exploration

  1. Voyages
    1. The First Voyage
    2. Letter to the King after first voyage
    3. The Second Voyage
    4. The Third Voyage
    5. The Fourth Voyage


The return of Christopher Columbus; his audience before Ferdinand and  Isabella.

In 1453, the Islamic Ottoman Turks  successfully captured Christian Constantinople (present-day Istanbul)—formerly western Europe’s main source for spices, silks, paper, porcelain, glass, and other luxury goods produced in India, China, Japan, and the spice islands (present-day Indonesia). Collectively these areas were known as the east Indies. Also, the silk road  trade route  was shut down by the Ottoman Turks.

The Portugal’s  alternate  route, by sea, was now in demand.  Christopher Columbus spent the better part of his adult life embracing a different navigational solution other than Portugal’s already established maritime route. The core  of his idea was  sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean to the east Indies would be shorter, and  quicker. Moreover, knowing modern geography  makes his idea  a guaranteed failure.  In hindsight if his idea was correct, a world of opportunity would open up not only for  him but other fortune hunters.   Of course,  this did not happen.

By the late 13th century, the Spanish Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon had reconquer most of the Islamic Berber/Moors controlled territory. In 1479, the two kingdoms were united as a result of the marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. The last Islamic kingdom, Granada, was lost in  1492. For Christian Spain, this  conquest was the most important event in their history.  After nearly eight centuries of fighting, the Christian Iberians finally defeated the African Islamic Berbers/Moors.  On the second of January, 1492, King Ferdinand together with Queen Isabella rode into Granada victoriously. Columbus was present at that joyful event.

Believing a route sailing west across the Atlantic would be quicker and safer, Columbus devised a plan to sail west to reach the East. He estimated the earth to be a sphere approximately 63% its actual size and the distance between the Canary Islands and Japan to be about 2,300 miles. Many contemporary nautical experts disagreed, adhering to the second century BC estimate of the earth’s circumference at 25,000 miles. This made the distance between the Canary Islands and Japan about 12,200 statute miles. While experts disagreed with Columbus on matters of distance, they concurred that a westward voyage from Europe would be an uninterrupted water route.

Columbus then went to the Spanish monarchy of Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon, in 1486 but was rejected as the focus of Isabella and Ferdinand was on the Granada war with the Muslims. . He continued to lobby the royal court and soon after the Spanish army captured the last Muslim stronghold in Granada in January of 1492. Shortly after, the monarchs agreed to finance his expedition.

In August of 1492, Columbus left Spain in the Santa Maria, with the Pinta and the Niña along side. After 36 days of sailing, Columbus and several crewmen set foot on an island in the present day Bahamas, claiming it for Spain. There he encountered a timid but friendly group of natives who were open to trade with the sailors exchanging glass beads, cotton balls, parrots and spears. The Europeans also noticed bits of gold the natives wore for adornment.


  1. https://subratachak.wordpress.com/2016/03/25/reasons-for-conflict-between-the-ottoman-and-the-habsburg/
  2. http://www.robinsonlibrary.com/america/discovery/columbus.htm

Columbian Exchange

Back to Age of Exploration

The Columbian Exchange

The Columbian Exchange influenced technological advances in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Europe was an economic and technological power compared to the Native Americans they encountered in the New World. Yet, they still benefited from the exchange of ideas and cultures. Native Americans were impacted profoundly by the technological transition. When Europeans crossed the Atlantic and colonized the New World they sparked a flow of changes in Native American culture.
The most notable of these changes were:

  • A Written Alphabet
  • New Farming Capabilities
  • New Firearm and Weapon Capabilities
  • Architectural Ingenuity
  • Animals
Europe to America America to Europe
The written alphabet Corn, Potatoes, Tomato, Cocoa,
Plow –>technological movement
Weapons (Guns, knives)
Wheel (transportation, construction)
On Columbus’s second voyage in 1493 he brought horses, dogs, pigs, cattle, chickens, sheep, and goats Explorers brought back turkeys, llamas, alpacas, and guinea pigs to Europe


Explorers brought their horses across the ocean

Explorers brought horses from Europe to America

The difference between the animals on the different sides of the Atlantic was extraordinary. The natives only had a few animal servants. They had the dog, two kinds of South American Camels, the guinea pig, and several kinds of fowls. Before the Columbian Exchange the natives had no beast of burden and did their hard labor entirely on their own.

On Columbus’s second voyage in 1493 he brought horses, dogs, pigs, cattle, chickens, sheep, and goats. When the explorers brought the new animals across the ocean it introduced a whole new means of transportation, a new labor form, and a new food source. The animals were rarely troubled by the diseases (small pox) the humans were. So while the humans died off, the animals were thriving on the rich wildlife.

The pigs reproduced the fastest and served as meat for the explorers.  Swine herds were found everywhere.  In 1514, pigs had multiplied to about 30,000 in Cuba.  The pig of this time was a little different then today’s pig, it was more like a speedy wild boar.  Pizarro brought pigs with him to Peru in 1531.  Also De Soto brought them with him to Florida, and the thirteen that he brought multiplied to seven hundred three years later.  This just shows us how rapid they were reproducing. .


  1. Columbian Exchange