Monday, October 14, 2013

History by the Numbers

When I was a school boy, the study of history fascinated me less than it should have, but the numbers, the dates, associated with certain events captured my attention.  Thus it was that there are a basketful, small basket, of dates associated with Western culture etched permanently in my memory.  Among these are 732 A.D., the Battle of Tours; 1066, The Battle of Hastings; 1215, Signing of Magna Carta; 1492, of course, crediting Columbus with the "discovery" of the New World; 1607, Jamestown Colony; 1620 the Pilgrims and Plymouth; 1776, the Declaration of Independence; and 1789 the Inauguration of President Washington.  There are others on the cortex, but this is representative of the sort of thing I absorbed.

And today is observed as representative of not one, but two of the above.  In the United States, this Monday in October is chosen as Columbus Day.  I commented on that this Saturday past.  The second is the recognition of the impact of the Battle of Hastings which is said to have been fought on October 14, 1066.

The events leading up to this conflict were precipitated by the death of King Edward in January of 1066, and specifically by his failure to provide a clear heir to the throne.  Harold Somebody-or-Other was crowned king, but there were other pretenders to the throne.  Among them were Duke William and King Harald III, or Harald Hardrata of Norway.  Anyway, in a series of conflicts with King Harold, both Hardrata and Tostig, brother of King Harold who supported Hardrata, were killed in battle by Harold's forces at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in September.  This set the stage for William, and the rest as they say, is history.  Well, so were the events that preceded.  Volumes have been written about the Battle of Hastings in which King Harold lost his life and the kingdom to the Norman.  And that is the way things were in England, 947 years ago.

William has been known ever after as William the Conqueror.
King William I, 1066 - 1087                


Vee said...

History form me is in timeline format - no dates attached.

Sharkbytes said...

Funny. I didn't like remembering the dates, and yet I know all but one of those you mentioned. Turns out I love history, but I sure didn't like the way it was taught when I was in school.

Shelly said...

And we think we live in politically turbulent times...

vanilla said...

Vee, how do you keep the timeline straight without dates? ;-)

Shark, teaching technique: Read chapters three through five and be prepared for a quiz?

Shelly, yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Lin said...

This reminds me of when my kids were in history class in high school. They have to cover so much now, there is no time to linger. I guess history just keeps growing longer and longer.

Vee said...

The timeline is visualized in my mind. My American History teacher at Muncie Central HS (Miss Bartlett if I recall her name correctly) had a timeline that went around the room (three times before the semester ended). Each major event was added from L. to r. (then the second and third rows l. to r. below the first). The dates were there but I just see the order now even though we were tested on the dates.

Since that class I always visualize history as a timeline. World History is harder to view that way because there are so many concurrent events.

When I think back, I realize this teacher was way ahead of her time with methodology. (She also had us subscribe to U.S. News and World Report. Each week we had to find articles that in some way connected to U.S. history.) She made us think rather than just read and memorize.

vanilla said...

Lin, "history just keeps growing longer and longer" --Funny how that happens.

Vee, you were one of the fortunate few who had an outstanding teacher of history. My students made a timeline and pasted it on the wall when I taught sixth grade world history. (Do they even teach history at that level today?) Granted, it was a sketchy overview, but it introduced the children to a concept of sequential development over a long period of time.