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Conservapedia:World History Lecture Five

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World History

Fifth Lecture – Middle Ages

Instructor, Andy Schlafly

Introduction to the Middle Ages[edit]

The “Middle Ages” is the period from the fall of the western Roman empire to the intellectual and cultural revival known as the “Renaissance”. As a rough approximation, the dates of the Middle Ages are from A.D. 500 to 1500, even though the Renaissance really began hundreds of years earlier than 1500 and Rome fell before 500.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Andy has no intention of delivering a series of "World History" lectures. Granted, his second one was entirely non-European, but I've skipped ahead to glance at the contents of the next few diatribes and they are predominantly, or exclusively, European history. The non-European world is lucky to get briefly tacked on at the end. In addition, the focus is overwhelmingly on recent times - out of fourteen lectures, four and a half are on the twentieth century alone, the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries get two and a half between them, and the remaining 5,000 years of recorded human history are crammed into the remaining eight. Effectively, the most recent two hundred years cover a full half of Andy's "World History" series. To put this as a Schlafly Statistic, a full 50% of his "course" is on 15% of the planet's land area, and 4% of our species' recorded timespan. And "course" is a VERY generous description.

This is always going to be the problem in writing World History, because world history is simply so vast that the historian runs into this exact danger of narrowing their focus onto the history of their own culture, and the history of the couple of centuries before their birth. The result among European and American attempts to write world history, as demonstrated here, is that all too often it takes on this "the West and the Rest" approach (the reverse is common among many postcolonial historians, who go too far in the opposite direction by over-emphasising their pet project at the expense of discussing Western history). Now that method itself is fine, if the historian makes it clear at the beginning that he/she is focusing on a particular area or timeframe. But Andy hasn't called these "Western History" lectures; they're "World History". There is a world beyond the West, and non-Western history is far older.

There are ways, though, to get around this. Use categories. The Times Atlas of World History, an excellent resource published every year or so for decades, groups the world's surface into specific areas - Europe, Oceania, Central America, etc. Then it groups the timespan of human history into specific eras - often single millennia at first, then single centuries by the time we get to the Medieval period, and so on. And within this, it groups by theme - military, epidemiological, economic, ecological, etc. These categories are somewhat arbitrary and they don't always appear consistently (historians can't discuss the economic history of Australasia, for example, before the nineteenth century, because there was no economic history in Australasia until that time). To his credit, Andy has tried to categorise. But it's come across as a pretty half-arsed job. Africa, for example, got a two-line snippet in Lecture Two. It doesn't appear again until Lecture Six, with a mishmash of themes and dates thrown randomly into a segment, and then disappears from the historical record. This is badly inconsistent, and the theme is repeated with other areas of the world. Notice, for example, how this section has the first mention of Japan - which had been home to large, organised societies for millennia before the European Middle Ages. So, there's no geographic consistency. Neither is there chronological consistency. Lecture One covered a far longer timespan than Lecture Four, and this just gets worse towards the end - there's a whole two lectures on the twentieth century alone, and those lectures are by far the longest ones. The six years of World War Two get more words than the entire two thousand years of human history from the "Creation" to the "Flood". Remarkable, considering that Andy actually has the "resources" of Answers in Genesis and similar Abominations unto the Species, to draw upon in order to pad out that trite religious crapfest. Thematic consistency, too, is completely absent. Reading Andy's version of history is like going to the Creation Science Museum. You'll get a few cherry-picked themes that mostly appeal to children and people who don't know what a library card is, some badly-written blurbs so soaked with fundamentalist right-wing crap that they quickly wander away from the original topic, snippets of pseudo-whatever bullshit trying to masquerade as real scholarship, a smattering of irrelevant factoids, and come out of it either confused or annoyed. Probably both.

Now at this point, Conservapedians might call "sour grapes" by saying that because we don't know as much about non-Western, non-recent history, lectures on those topics must be shorter simply because we don't have as much material to work with. Well, that's only true to a degree. The modern scholarly discipline of history is a good two centuries old, starting with Edward Gibbon, and has been going strong since. There are hundreds of thousands of professional historians in the world today, and there are so many history books covering just about every topic, society, and timeframe that you can possibly imagine, that you could spend the rest of your life reading books for sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, and barely scratch the surface of history. Moreover, these history books are not locked away in some secret vault which only lib'rul atheists can get to. They are on the shelves of bookstores and libraries across the globe, and all those ones in libraries, are free. Yet Andy seems to have the same attitude about history that he does about science - why bother reading about it, when you can just write your own version based on misunderstandings, half-truths, and theories pulled out of your arse - and peddle it to gullible audiences who are more interested in having their prejudices and preconceptions backed up than about actually learning.

Anyway, let's get on with this latest one. Andy Schlafly takes on the European Middle Ages. Given his rather peculiar obsession with "chivalry" - which is a false nostalgia born of nineteenth-century Romanticism, not the reality of the actual Medieval Period - it will hardly be surprising to see that particular dragon rearing its ugly, pseudohistorical head throughout the lecture. I'll look forward to playing St. George, and smacking the scaly bastard back down each time.

Both the beginning and end of the Middle Ages occurred in what is now Italy, and it was Italian humanists (non-religious intellectuals) who wanted to criticize the thousand years that separated the Roman empire from the Renaissance. By A.D. 1500 the humanists revered and esteemed the classical Greek and Roman civilizations of the ancient world, and revived the approach taken by those ancient civilizations. The humanists viewed the mostly quiet religious activity between A.D. 500 and 1500 as a waste of time, and mischaracterized the period as one of darkness and ignorance. However, it is true that not much was accomplished intellectually or culturally between about A.D. 500 and 1000. At least we can always expect one form of consistency from Andy - his ability to crowbar snarky snippets of Conservapedian rhetoric into factually dubious material. The term "Middle Ages" is - as he himself acknowledged in the previous sentence - a vague timeframe. Yet its geographical parameters are somewhat easier to define, as the Middle Ages we are all familiar with were a largely European phenomenon. Here, though, Andy claims that Italy alone saw the beginning and the end. The Fall of Rome, as we saw previously, was a long, drawn-out process which varied wildly from place to place across what had been the Empire. Similarly, different elements of the Renaissance occured in different ways in different areas, and we see the Middle Ages ending not because of intellectual changes only in Italy, but simultaneous changes in Spain (the end of the Reconquista and the start of Atlantic expansion), the Netherlands (the emergence of Andy's sacred commercial capitalism); Central Europe (the Protestant Reformation and the invention of the printing press)' Turkey (the Fall of Constantinople and the termination of Eastern trade with Europe) and elsewhere. More on that later. Suffice it to say: he's factually wrong , he's shoehorning in references to his nemeses "humanists" (I assume he means those dirty sinners who disputed 1 Samuel 2:9 by daring to suggest that Earth orbits the Sun), and he should know better. No surprises there. He's at least right in saying that adherents of early Humanism looked back to the Greek and Roman civilisations as examples of the world before philosophical free speech was shackled by the Christian Church. Andy's claim that 500-1500 was a period of "mostly quiet religious activity" is on the same level as saying 1939-1945 was a period of "mostly quiet political activity". The religious aftershocks of the Middle Ages are still shaking global society today. A bold claim - but one which will be explored throughout this paltry right-wing diatribe. Pretty rich of Andy to start bitching about mischaracterisation. Marks off for your answer there, Schlafly.

Recall that the Germanic tribes destroyed the Roman empire in the west in the A.D. 400s, and in particular Alaric the Visigoth sacked Rome in A.D. 410. Many of the Germanic tribes eventually converted to Christianity, but their own customs made the social organization of the Roman empire impossible to maintain. The networks of roads, water, shipping and agriculture that flourished during the Roman empire began to decay. There was little scholarship or artistic activity either. Basically, little was accomplished for hundreds of years in western Europe. Except for the Carolingian court of Charlemagne discussed below, there was no kingdom in Europe from the fall of Rome to A.D. 1000. Let's rephrase this. Recall that the Roman Empire weakened severely due to its own ad-hoc politics, lack of economic foresight, near-constant internal war, and shaky social foundations. The Germanic tribes kicked in the door of a rotting house, and - to everyone's surprise - the whole structure fell apart. The social organisation of the Empire was hard enough to maintain even by the strongest governments in the Republican Era - hence the endless slave revolts, bands of brigandae in the countryside, political purges of the Senatorial, patrician, and equestrian classes, urban-rural antagonism, and the emergence of two different cultures in East and West; all of which characterised the Imperial Era. Once central government in the West ground to a halt in various places and the economically ravaged, badly-depopulated provinces busied themselves with their own defence, the Empire's overstretched and mismanaged civil and military infrastructure - even the physical elements like roads and aqueducts - fell apart with astonishing speed. There indeed was very little scholarly or artistic activity, due to the emptied towns and monasteries being targets for raiders, the Germanics fighting among themselves over the carcass of the Imperium, and the hand-to-mouth existence for virtually everyone in the plague-wracked, severely depopulated Europe of the sixth and seventh centuries. However it is utter bullshit to claim that "there was no kingdom in Europe from the fall of Rome to A.D. 1000". The Franks, the Burgundiae, the Alemmani, the Goths, the Saxons, the Vikings, and many other societies established monarchic polities. Evidently Andy hasn't heard of Charles the Bold, Pepin the Short, Louis the Fat, Egbert, Ricimer, or a hundred other big political names between 500-1000 - because he didn't actually bother to do any research. Rather than actually opening a couple of books, he's just gone straight for the seventeenth-century belief that between Rome and Renaissance, nothing happened. Well that might have been fine for historians before Edward Gibbon (whose classic work, which Andy has now referenced three or four times, actually names a lot of these so-called "Dark Age" kings and discusses their accomplishments), but Andy has no excuse for not spending ten minutes glancing through a popular-press history book or grade-school textbook. Childrens' books are probably best for him, because their pages inevitably have all those colourful maps and fun pictures whose absence makes our grown-up books so terribly drab.

Christianity and its new network of churches helped filled the void. Also, a new method developed for protecting private property and encouraging farming on a local level rather than through a centralized empire: feudalism. It arose independently in western Europe and Japan.

Hang on, didn't Andy just tell us that the Early Middle Ages were utterly devoid of artistic and intellectual accomplishments? Now all of a sudden, it's Jesus to the rescue! He should be careful here, because Early Medieval scholastic theologians had a VERY different view of their faith than that promulgated in the heretical pages of Conservapedia. Also, don't forget that these men worked very, very hard - long hours next to draughty glassless windows, all year round, no light and no spectacles, laboriously copying out the entire Bible by hand, copy after copy after copy after copy until their wrists turned to putty. And on top of all that, they had to grow their own food and care for the local poor and sick, and pray eight times a day, and ran a significant risk of being poleaxed by a gang of drunken marauders or some local warlord greedy for gold. We don't have to be Christians to owe these men a huge debt of gratitude for keeping writing, books, and knowledge-making alive in Europe. All Andy has to do, by contrast, is tap a few keys in his warm, cosy office with hot coffee and fresh sandwiches at his side, and then spend the rest of his life demanding that he be worshipped as a saint (or the new God) for censoring out all of these poor medieval monks' painstaking handiwork. What a twat. It doesn't help that he's not only managed to lever in some Republican bullshit about private property (at this time in history, the average person's "private property" consisted of a few farming implements and clothes shared collectively with the family and the village, not hoarded in spiteful right-wing accumulative greed), he's given only a fleeting mention to a very controversial theory in history. Feudalism. Note how he mentions it, but doesn't bother defining it.

Well in a nutshell, historians and social scientists identify feudalism as a social system which emerged following the gradual collapse of central government in the Roman Empire. Once trade had ground to a halt (due to civil wars, marauders, and financial devastation), areas had to be become self-sufficient. Luckily, the crowded cities had, by this time, largely emptied due to the impact of plague and refugees escaping obvious trgets for the Germanics. So, small-scale, self-sufficient estates appeared. Feudalism. Under feudalism, the King legally owns all the land in the Kingdom, by dint of him having divine right and the loyalty of whatever semi-professional soldiers and simple thugs who had survived the collapse of the Empire and the Germanic invasions, and remained in rudimentary units. The King would "loan" this land to his nobles and knights (aristocrats consisting not of educated rhetoricians and blue-blooded toffs, but now the most aggressive thugs who have slashed and backstabbed their way to the top of the social pile) in exchange for the nobles performing military service on behalf of the King, when required. These knights, in turn, would "lease" their land to the peasants who worked the fields and paid the taxes (in goods, not currency), in exchange for military protection from the knights against marauders and enemies. That's feudalism in a nutshell: a simple hierarchy of social contracts whereby the man at the top will protect you, if you work for him. It was very localised and operated on a small basis.

But in recent decades, medievalists have increasingly questioned to what extent - if any - this system differed at the conceptual level from the Roman Empire, or the primitive capitalism of the Renaissance, or indeed any form of hierarchical, stratified social structure (including ours). The scale is different - feudalism is very localised and consists of many small, self-sufficient "manors" or estates, rather than a large-scale system of large aristocratic estates and trade between specialists who need each other to survive - but the basic concept of a rural, agrarian society built around a King-Aristocracy-Peasant social contract remained unchanged from the Empire (or indeed, from the time of the Pharaohs) and only began to change, MUCH later, as industrialisation in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries created new classes and reshuffled the social order. Feudalism is, at best, a dubious tool with which to chip away at the socio-economic vagueness surrounding the Early Middle Ages. I didn't expect Andy to know any of this, of course, because that would involve opening a book - but he could at least have told his poor students what the word means.

Under decentralized government in the Middle Ages, a huge church-state network called “Christendom” held influence over all of Europe. Christendom consisted of a religious hierarchy known as the sacerdotium and a secular (non-religious) hierarchy known as the imperium. These corresponded to man’s spiritual needs and his worldly or temporal needs. In western Europe, the pope of the Roman Catholic Church ruled over the religious side and an emperor ruled over the secular side, but they were constantly cooperating or arguing with each other. Emperors tried to control church officials and vice-versa. The Church even had its own armies and cities, and a powerful pope named Innocent III even asserted the right to resolve disputes between kings. The pope would excommunicate (kick out of the Church) kings to show his disapproval, and at times even attempted to remove kings from power. This all makes for interesting reading and debate. Oh good god, where do I start? This... this is just awful. "Christendom" is, and always has been, either a geopolitical term referring to all of the Christian lands collectively, or (less commonly) a chronological term referring to the Chrsitian era. The word is vague and casual, and didn't even exist in the Middle Ages. The related phrase Corpus Christianum (Body of Christ) was occasionally used, but that too was a vague geographical or chronological term. At NO POINT did it ever refer to the church-state network. And seeing as "states" in our modern understanding of the concept didn't exactly exist at the time, Andy's little assertion fails on several points. Also, the Middle Ages as he defines the period - 500 to 1500 - was a long time, and saw significant religious shifts. It wasn't until the late eleventh century that the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church even split, for crying out loud, whereupon two different "Christendoms" emerged (neither really considered the others to be true Christians). And in the later Middle Ages there were very frequently two or more Popes, and several antiPopes, all squabbling with and excommunicating each others' networks. A lot of points are lost there for Andy's hopeless simplicism. Sacerdotium and imperium are words referring to very complex matters of theology and god's transubstantiative power in the temporal realm (as expressed by the Church, which itself claimed to both receive and dispense secular power through the bamboozling and fraudulent Donatio Constantini) and the ethereal (metaphysical) realm. I didn't intend to write such a baffling description, but this is about as simple as it gets. Relevant terms - like the Donatio Constantini, will crop up again and be explained at the appropriate point. Medieval theology is mind-numbingly complex and so subtle that a lot of it is lost even on professional medievalists, and I freely confess that I don't fully understand these terms and concepts. To do so I'd have to read through the whole of Thomas Aquinas' gargantuan Summa Theologiae (c.1270s) and most of the Papal Bulls (proclamations) of the millennium between Constantine the Great and the High Middle Ages, even just to get a slightly less vague idea. Suffice it to say that Andy's description is utterly, utterly inadequate. Simplicism has no place in medieval theology. As for the rest, Andy at least hints at the occasionally frosty relations between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor (points off for not yet explaining what the Holy Roman Empire was, which he really should have done first to avoid confusion with the Ancient Roman Empire (I'll explain it soon)). His last sentence reads like a plea. "All of this makes for interesting reading and debate. Please read it, kiddies. Then tell me what it all means. Please. I can't be arsed."

There were other threats to peace. Foreigners from Asia known as “Mongols” were vicious warriors who seemed invincible. And there was terrible disease: the Bubonic Plague was probably the worst disease in all of history, killing a large percentage of the European population. Oh wonderful, the return of Andy's patented historical pogo-stick. Hang on tight as we go hopping randomly through centuries and themes, with no explanation why. Only a couple of sentences back he was talking about the seventh and eighth centuries, and the struggles between Church and Emperor. Now we're onto the Mongols (thirteenth century) and the Black Death (fourteenth century), with a bit of casual racism thrown in for fun. Woah, hold on tight, readers - we're about to bounce off towards another random non-sequitur. It could be quite fun, if we knew where we were going. But we have no idea whatsoever. It's like trying to read a real history book by picking a number out of a bingo machine, reading the corresponding page, then picking out another random number, and so on, then giving up after ten pages and proclaiming yourself a genius. And of course, there are few people who can be less fun to share a pogo-stick ride with, than Andrew Schlafly.

But before we reach those topics, there is something else of enormous importance that happened in the early part of the Middle Ages: Islam began. It attracted Arabs at first, and then spread as far away as Spain in the West and Southeast Asia in the East. Islam may even surpass Christianity as the world’s most popular religion in the 21st century, despite Christianity being nearly 50% older than Islam. Why is he wittering on about the twenty-first century? Last time I checked, the twenty-first century wasn't between 500-1500. And look - a Schlafly Statistic! Because remember; history is much better when time is expressed as a percentage. And a vague one at that. Well Andy, it has taken me 34% less time to write this comment than it took you to write the segment. See? It makes NO sense. It isn't looking good for the next section, either. Considering how terribly Andy mangled the history of his own religion in Lectures Three and Four, writing the "history" of his theological arch-nemesis is going to be fun. Why do I get the ominous feeling that reading the next section is going to be like watching Fox News...

The Rise of Islam[edit]

There is only one major world religion that developed after Jesus Christ: Islam. But it has gained more adherents and conquered more countries in the past 1300 years than any other non-Christian religion. The religion of Islam is one of the most important aspects of World History, and its importance is growing. Close, but no cigar. Doesn't Andy believe that atheism, agnosticism, secular humanism, and "evolutionism" are religions? Considering how much their congregations make him foam at the mouth, as well, it would appear that they count as "major religions" which have emerged after Christiantiy. Points off for sheer political pickiness, in pointing out that Islam "conquered" territories and areas, not "countries". His grammar is sometimes remarkably strange - "The religion of Islam"? What's the point of the first three words?

Its founder was Muhammad (570-632 A.D.), a successful merchant in Mecca. The word Islam means “submission to God.” According to Islamic (Muslim) beliefs, Muhammad founded Islam based on revelations from the Angel Gabriel, whom many Christians recognize as having the same name as the angel who appeared to Mary the mother of Jesus. (The angel Gabriel is also mentioned in the Old Testament, such as in the Book of Daniel.) In fact, Islam treats Mary, Jesus and the Old Testament prophets as very holy people, and Islam considers Abraham as their father just as the Jewish people do. Muslims considered Christians and Jews “people of the book”, and allowed them special rights in the early days of Islam—times have obviously changed since then. Hmm, sounds like Mohammed was a good capitalist. Oh, and Christians do more than think "Hey, their Gabriel has the same name as our Gabriel!". It't the same Gabriel, Andy. It's quite surprising that he paints such a rosy picture of early Islam, but predictably, he manages to tack on a bitchy comment about the modern world. And Andy really needs to brush up on his punctuation.

Muhammad preached a new monotheistic religion based on only one god, Allah, at a time when Mecca was still polytheistic. Located in Mecca was the “Ka’aba”, a temple which housed the “Black Stone,” an important religious relic of the Arabs’ polytheistic religion. Businessmen in Mecca—who made a substantial profit off of the swarms of pilgrims who came to see the holy shrine—feared that they might lose customers from Muhammad’s preaching and they drove him out in A.D. 622 in what is known as the “hijra” or withdrawal. Muhammad’s flight (to the town of Medina) marks the first year of the Islamic calendar. The Ka'aba is strictly off-limits to the vast majority of humans of any faith, and the Black Stone is a rarely-seen but intriguing artefact. It far pre-dates Islam, and is quite likely a meteorite. Note the awkwardly inserted reference to "businessmen" and "susbtantial profits", who Milton Friedman - sorry, Andy - remarkably portrays in a negative light.

Muhammad formed a community of this new faith, called the “umma”, and they began to help the poor. His teachings were recorded in the Qur’an or Koran, which is the bible of Islam. Muhammad then returned to Mecca in A.D. 630 with his followers, and conquered it. By 632, Islam controlled nearly all of Arabia. It has quickly spread and expanded both in popularity and power ever since, at times growing faster than even Christianity. Islam is most popular in the Middle East, Arabia, North Africa and Central Asia. Pakistan is Muslim, while India is Hindu, causing those two countries to be in perpetual conflict with each other. At one point Islam became popular in Spain, but that country was later retaken by Catholicism. Those damned Muslims, helping the poor. Evidently Mohammed was a lib'rul tax-raiser who savagely oppressed his people with universal healthcare and free state education. Why hasn't there been any mention of Mohammed receiving instructions from Gabriel that the Christians had misinterpreted God's commands, hence The Man Upstairs wanted Mohammed to get people back on the right track. Instead, Andy wanders off onto his pet project of cocking up contemporary geopolitics. Pakistan didn't exist until 1947, and he's meant to be talking about the seventh century. And in Lecture Two, he hammered home the fact that India has a lot of religious diversity - all of a sudden, it's entirely Hindu. The pogo-stick of history then jumps to Al-Andalus of the eighth century and the Reconquista of the High Middle Ages. All this jerky, unnecessary quantum-leaping is making me queasy. Or maybe it's just the thought of Andy.

The tremendous growth of Islam is due to its “Five Pillars of Islam” and moral commands set forth in the Qur’an (Koran). The Five Pillars of Islam are these:

1. Submission to one god, Allah, whose prophet was Muhammad. This is simple and powerful. It is easy for everyone to understand.

2. Prayer to Allah five times a day while facing Mecca. This is more than many Christians pray.

3. Fasting for the entire month of Ramadan, whereby no food is eaten during daylight hours in that month. Fasting strengthens the body and soul.

4. Almsgiving: Muslims must donate to the poor.

5. The Hajj or pilgrimage at least once during a Muslim’s lifetime to Mecca, where Muhammad himself made a hajj from A.D. 629 to 632.

Islam also has a social law known as the “shariah” to dictate how people should relate to each other. The shariah can impose harsh punishments pursuant to the Qur’an for wrongful conduct. Islam strictly prohibits alcohol, drugs, gambling, prostitution, homosexuality, pornography and other harmful activity. Abortion is illegal under Islamic law.
Look at this!! Andy is painting Islam as a better religion than Christianity! After all of his heresies so far, it is quite unsurprising that he suddenly sways towards Islam. He's managed to insult just about every Christian sect in existence, so they've probably all ganged up and kicked him out. Well he should be very happy as a Muslim - apparently it's simple, full of prayer and fasting to prove ones' devotion to the Big Man, and you get a group holiday to a sunny country. Nice! Andy fails to explain how systematic nutrient deprivation "strengthens the body". Maybe he just has a subconscious fear of one of his minions writing a Conservapedia article on "Schlaflyism and Obesity". The last segment is pure gold. Apparently Andy and Mohammed skip happily along, hand-in-hand, embracing one another (in a gruff non-homosexual hypermasculine way, of course) in their mutual hatred of Vodka Martinis, pep pills, roulette, saucy ladies, under-the-mattress magazines, and homoerotic locker-room horseplay. There goes everyone's fun. Well, at least Islam lets you smoke. Finally, fundamentalist Islam has the same pig-headed attitude to women as fundamentalist Christianity. Really, why did Andy hate Bin Laden so much? They could have spent whole afternoons just agreeing with each other at the gun club.

The shariah also requires women to wear veils to conceal their beauty in public—a practice known as “hijab”. American women reporters in Iran today wear veils when appearing on television to provide us with live news. Women are expected to obey their husbands, and under Islamic law are considered the property of their husbands and other male members of their household. Men are allowed to take up to four wives in some Muslim countries. In Islam’s earliest days (before the Shiites took power), women were not required to wear veils. It was only after encounters with Persians and Byzantines—when the strict Shiites controlled the Islamic world—that women were required to veil themselves in public. Neither the Koran nor the Had'ith, the two holiest books of Islam, actually require women to conceal their faces in public. That's due to a combination of pre-Islamic traditions, Arabian fashion, and the misogynistic bastards who seem to run all religions. Great work on discussing satellite television and lib'rul feminist journalists when you're meant to be talking about the seventh century Middle East, Andy. Oh, and what's this about the Byzantines? How, in the name of Greek buggery, would contact with the Orthodox Christian Eastern Roman Empire suddenly make women a thousand miles away start wearing veils? Another paragraph of fawning praise for Islam. If Andy actually obeyed the myriad of petty little laws in Deuteronomy and Leviticus (all those ones which Jesus said, in Matthew 5:17, still applied to his followers), he would have to grow a beard, wear robes, and cover his head. After a couple of months, he'd be indistinguishable from Mr Bin Landen. Hopefully a conspiracy theory will start that Andy is Bin Laden. That'd be fun.

A recent newspaper article described how three-quarters of the 900 taxi drivers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are Somalis, many of them Muslim. As Muslims, they do not believe in allowing alcohol in their cab. About three times each day, a Muslim cab driver refuses a customer because he notices that the customer is carrying alcohol. “It is a religious issue,” said one Muslim cabdriver. “I cannot force anybody to change their belief, but not in my cab. I don’t want the guilt. I just want to be an innocent person.” A flight-attendant described how she mentioned to a cabdriver to be careful with her suitcase because it contained wine. The driver then refused her service, and told other cabdrivers. Four other cabdrivers then refused her service. “What’s going to be next?” she said. “Do I have to cover my head?” But a Muslim cabdriver responded, “According to Muslim law, a Muslim driver cannot question a person's faith or beliefs,” he said. “It’s not a matter of the person, it’s what the person is carrying.” Right. So Andy has managed, in this "historical" account of seventh-century Islam, not only to whinge about Pakistan and mention satellite television, but now he is quoting (unsourced) newspaper articles from the twenty-first century United States about bloody airport taxi drivers. What the HELL does he think he's doing?? His discussion of early Christianity didn't draw upon uncited articles from the Baghdad Gazette about Christian chefs in Yemen. So what's all this in aid of? It might be a way for him to covertly bitch about overworked, underpaid, socially marginalised black migrants taking thankless jobs from the underclass of fat, lazy Republican white trash who seem incapable of doing much else besides polishing their assault rifles and prayin' for Lawd Jeezuz to give them next week's lottery numbers while debating, in Neanderthal grunts with their sloping-forehead brethren, whether that guy in the local doughnut shop is really Elvis. Or it might be a commentary on the sad state of the American automobile-manufacturing industry. Or it might be a poorly-disguised tirade against alcohol (Andy must be really fun at New Year). Or it might be another starry-eyed sermon about how great Islam is. It's hard to tell. He then pogo-sticks to the airline industry in order to snipe at aeroplane stewardesses (who also have a really, really thankless job) buying duty-free. This is Andy's worst paragraph in the entire Lecture series so far. It has no citations, no relevance to the material he's meant to be discussing, is confused, and has NO purpose whatsoever. Bravo, Andy. A few more of these and you can just turn your history classes into a political manifesto. At least that would be an honest publication, not a torrent of pissy right-wing propaganda masquerading as scholarly material.

The Islamic religion adheres to only the Arabic version of the Qur’an as the only authentic version, and translations are not accepted. This caused the spread of the Arabic language throughout the Middle East and into Asia, and increased the influence of the new religion. This also prevents any translators from changing the meaning of the Qur’an. Again with the pro-Islam praise. Andy is treading a very fine line between heresy and outright apostasy. He doesn't seem to be one of these King James-Only advocates - as evidenced by his hatchet-job on retranslating the Bible - but it wouldn't be surprising if he demanded that all Bibles be burned if they don't conform to a single translation. His own, naturally.

Muhammad’s first successor or “caliph” was his friend Abu-Bakr. He kept together the Islamic faith, but around A.D. 660 a schism occurred in Islam between the Sunnis, the largest group, and the Shiites (or Shi’ites or Shia). They could not agree on who should be the successor to Muhammad, and the Shiites chose Ali, a son-in-law of Muhammad, as caliph. The Sunnis—made up of the members of the Umayyad clan—triumphed in the first period of Islamic history. During the reign of a Sunni king named Umar, Islam grew at an astounding rate. At the Battle of Yarmuk, 40,000 Muslims defeated an army of 120,000 Byzantines. In 750 A.D., the Abbasid clan—whose members supported the Shiite sect—defeated the Umayyads. The rule of Abassid caliph “Harun al-Rashid” is known as the “Golden Age of Islam.” Finally, Andy's train of thought, which derailed so long ago, is hoisted back onto the tracks to continue its juddering, uncomfortable journey to nowhere. The Battle of Yarmouk, fought over a week in 636 (points off for not providing a date, Andy), has been greatly exaggerated over time by both sides. Modern scholarship is still quite vague, with estimates of the Byzantine-Ghassanid allied army numbering between 15-100,000 men, and the Rashidun Caliphate fielding some 24-40,000 troops. Notice note only the broad margin of debate on the sizes, but also note how the conservative estimate (calm down Andy, it doesn't mean what you think it does) puts the Muslim army at nearly twice the size of the Byzantines. The Byzantines were also busy fighting a major war against the Sassanid Persians and were trying to put down revolts in Greece, and had they been able to bring their best troops to Yarmouk, the Arabs wouldn't have been in such a strong position. Still, the Arab army was under a much better commander than the Byzantines, and their military intelligence network and logistics system were infinitely superior. The aftermath of the battle was very significant - the Byzantines had to abandon Syria, and their withdrawal allowed the Arabs to sweep down into the lightly-defended Byzantine province of Egypt. The loss of Egypt dealt the Byzantines an economic and strategic blow from which they never recovered. Andy could have mentioned the significance of the battle, rather than just tossing it in there for no reason.

To this day, the Sunnis and Shiites clash with each other, with the Sunnis considered to be more moderate and friendlier to western countries like the United States and the Shiites viewed as more extreme and hostile to western countries. The Sunnis are Arab and have ruled countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq, while the Shiites have majorities in Iraq and Iran. Another reference to the contemporary United States. Why couldn't Andy leave this for his final lecture? Although, it probably appears there as well. Many times. We'll all look forward to seeing contemporary geopolitical gripes clumsily crowbarred in from hereon.

The recent effort to form a democracy in Iraq has given the Shiites new power in one of the largest Muslim countries, causing concern by the Sunnis. This Shiites have religious practices that include beating their chests, slashing their forwards and weeping. The Sunnis are more reserved in their ceremonies. Jordan’s King Abdullah II declared in December 2005 that he feared that Iran sought to create “a Shiite crescent” in the Middle East consisting of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Iran denied this.

"Attention, passengers. Your attention, please. AndyTrack apologies to its passengers for having derailed yet again. Please be patient while the Best of the Public houmzkoold speshulissts scratch their greasy, Australopithecine brows, consult the Book of Jonah technical engineering manual, and try to figure out how to fix this knotty problem. It will probably simply involve blaming the lib'ruls, thus leaving you stranded and confused. In the meantime, please enjoy this soothing "Best Of" selection from Emperor Schlafly's finest haranguing propaganda and irrelevant factoids. Thankyou for your time. Which must be expressed as a percentage."

Christ on his Cross, can Andy actually stick to the bloody topic? In NO history book, chapter, article, or paper on early Islam (except shitty political polemics like this drivel) will there be misrepresented references to modern political events and isolated cultural practices. It's beyond ridiculous. It's now getting REALLY irritating, and it doesn't help that he keeps getting his own piss-brained propaganda wrong.

Islam is more forceful than other major religions in obtaining conversion and discouraging other faiths. Islam is hostile to missionary work by other faiths, such as Christianity. Islamic countries may also favor the Islamic faith by not requiring a poll tax by Muslims but requiring practitioners of other religions to pay a tax. Critics of Islam say that it encourages violence against “infidels” or non-believers. Occasionally there are news reports of brutal killings of Christian girls or imprisonment and death sentences for Christian missionaries in Muslim countries. In Afghanistan, a Muslim was sentenced to death for converting to Christianity. This is ridiculous. If Islamic countries (note how Andy doesn't cite any examples) don;t tax Muslims, where does the government get its money from? It's not as though the vast majority of Saudis pay nothing while the twenty Christians in Riyadh toil all their lives to pay 10,000% tax. It's rich of Andy to criticise Islam for encouraging violence against non-believers. Hasn't he heard of the Crusades? Or attended a Tea Bagger convention? Extra points off for obliquely referencing "Missing White Woman Syndrome" and tossing in some random Afghan who apparently didn't have a name, date of death, or news report from which Andy could glean this revelation. It seems odd to include this paragraph after he has just expended several hundred words extolling the conservative values of Islam. Maybe one of his acolytes gave him an email nudge to remind him whose side he is supposed to be on.

Muslim hostility and violence towards Jewish people is even worse. Biblical scholars trace the conflict to the rival sons of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, as discussed in our Lecture One (see Mesopotamia section). In 691 Sunni Muslims built the Dome of the Rock, a mosque in Jerusalem, on the same site where Jews believe God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, “Mount Moriah.” It is probably the most controversial religious site in the world today. Some extreme Muslim groups in the Middle East are determined to destroy Israel, and acts of terrorism to kill Jewish people are common there. But while Muslim terrorist acts against defenseless Jewish civilians are common, there are almost never similar acts of terrorist by Jewish people against innocent Muslim civilians. Andy's historical pogo-stick now takes us from seventh-century Jerusalem to the twenty-first century, with a bit of obligatory geopolitical scaremongering thrown in. Andy's representation of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, which has been going on in various forms since the seventh century, is so one-sided it's surprising his argument hasn't capsized under the tidal wave of fundamentalist Christian bullshit. Without taking sides, it's pretty fair to say that the Israeli Defence Forces and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation are both as bad as each other. It's just that when Israel shells villages and runs over Arab children with tanks, Fox News doesn't throw the media shitstorm they unleash when Arab groups bomb buses and fire rockets at hospitals. Jewish civilians are hardly "defenceless"; Israel has one of the highest per-capita military budgets on Earth. Andy's argument isn't helped by terrible grammar - both sides commit "similar acts of terrorist [sic]" against each others' civilians. Anyway, this is irrelevant to a discussion of the seventh century.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Islam is the “jihad”, which is defined in western dictionaries as any Muslim holy war against infidels. But another meaning of a “jihad” in Islam is an internal spiritual struggle within each person for control over himself and his complete allegiance to Allah. Muslim scholars describe jihad as being waged through the heart, the tongue, the hand, and the sword. Through jihad, Muslims are guaranteed entrance into heaven. Again, how is this any different to fundamentalist Christianity's aggressive proseltysing, holier-than-thou moral condescencion, and Dominionist belief that they must spread their narrow-minded and heretical crap to every human on Earth so that god can unleash his Apocalypse upon the world? Maybe Andy hasn't heard of the medieval Crusades.

Islam came very close to conquering western Europe and forcibly converting Christians to Muslims in the A.D. 700s. By then Spain was already under Muslim control by the Moors, and Muslim soldiers were advancing into Gaul (modern France). For twenty years they defeated Christian armies until the Battle of Tours (France) in 732, where massive Muslim forces met a determined Christian opponent named Charles Martel (the “Hammer”), who led the Germanic peoples known as “Franks” to a decisive defeat of the Muslims. Historians say that all of Europe might have become Muslim if not for this single victory. In the course of this battle, the Muslim leader Emir Abd er Rahman was killed, and the Muslims retreated back to Spain. Muslims today refer to this key battle as “The Court of Martyrs” in Arabic.

No, no, no. While there was some forcible conversion, Islam itself preaches tolerance towards non-Muslims. It's just that like any religion, especially Christianity, Islam has its adherents who conveniently ignore those parts of scripture which don't tally with their personal opinions and thus commit crimes in the name of their faith. It is noteworthy that in Christian-heavy territories under Muslim government in the Medieval Period - such as southern Spain, the Holy Land, Asia Minor, and parts of the Balkans - Islamic concepts were observed.

Islam recognises - generally - two types of state; the Dar al-Islam (a land where Islam predominates and the regime is Muslim), and the Dar al-Tawhid (a land where a minority of Muslims live under a non-Muslim government). For Muslims living in the latter, the Koran preaches that Muslims must do as the non-Muslim authorities tell them, unless it conflicts with their religious obligations. It's exactly the same as Jesus' command to "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's; and Render unto the Lord what is the Lord's". This includes paying taxes, obeying the law, and military service on behalf of the host country (under particular circumstances). Yet in both the Dar al-Islam and the Dar al-Tawhid, Muslims are expected to be obedient to the laws and requirements of their leader, whatever his/her religion, and be respectful to non-Muslims.

Which brings us to the concept of dhimmi. This term refers to non-Muslims (either in an Islamic or non-Islamic society), and respect of non-Muslims was a characteristic of the Caliphate (the Muslim equivalent of "Christendom") throughout the Middle Ages. Dhimmi, or non-Muslims living under Muslim government, have special and specific rights which grant them exemption from Islamic rituals and duties (they're not expected to observe the food rituals of Ramadan, for example, and they're not bound by Sharia financial laws). However there were also restrictions, and dhimmi could not (and legally still cannot) serve in the governments of Islamic states. Consequently, many Christians in the Medieval Era voluntarily converted to Islam - at least in name - in order to get round these legal knots. Many Muslim leaders stressed tolerance and inclusion towards dhimmi - Saladin, for example, made himself a lot of powerful Muslim enemies in the Near East precisely because he demanded that Jews, Christians, and the handful of remaining Zoroastrians in Muslim lands were accorded the full protection of Islamic law. This wasn't just a matter of principle. Like any religious society, it was useful to have a population who don't have to follow your rituals and religious laws. Jews, for example, often became moneylenders and bankers in both Christendom and the Caliphate precisely because they were exempt from Biblical and Koranic restrictions on usury and charging interest. Indeed, it has been argued that dhimmi were better off under Islamic law than the laws of the Byzantines or the Crusader states. Regrettably, the same cannot be said for non-Christians living under Christian Europeans in the Middle Ages. In the Holy Land and southern Spain, Muslims were slaughtered en masse and the survivors hideously tortured if they refused to convert. In the Baltic, pagans received the same treatment from the Teutons, and across Europe generally, Jews were routinely blamed for everything from crop failures to dead babies, and an awful lot of Jews and Muslims met very, very unpleasant deaths at the hands of those who preach the Word of the Lord. So, Andy, pull your head out of your arse and at least consider views different from your preconceived political propaganda. You were doing so well at it earlier on. Why the sudden volte-face?

The most famous Muslim in the western world has been Muhammad Ali, a champion boxer in the 1960s and 1970s who was the most-recognized athlete at that time. He converted to Islam and then refused to be drafted for the Vietnam War because the Islamic faith did not consider it to be a “holy war.” Judges rejected his claim and he was jailed, until the United States Supreme Court held that this view qualified Muhammad Ali for the “conscientious objector” exemption from the draft. He was released from jail and then won back his boxing championship. Of all the famous Muslims political and military leaders, scholars, theologians, and physicians of the era 500-1500 - Saladin, Avicenna, Ibn al-Arq to name only three of the most famous - Andy has completely ignored both history and logic by wandering off into a discussion of a distinctly twentieth-century sportsman. He should be talking about the Arab expansion of the seventh to ninth centuries, or at least the Crusades, but instead has started prattling about the Vietnam War in a manner which is as pointless as the war itself. Andy has the chance here to bitch about medieval Islam and loudly sing the praises of Charles Martel, who held back the Muslim invasion of Europe at Tours in 732; or Rolan's defence of the mountain pass at Roncevaux against the Basques in 778. Instead, he opts for this twaddle. How disappointing.

On Election Day in early November 2006, Keith Ellison is expected to become the first Muslim ever elected to the United States Congress. He’s from Minnesota, where there is a strong Muslim neighborhood. The Detroit, Michigan area has the largest settlement of Muslims in America. In France the growing Muslim population is very influential and Christianity has greatly declined there. WHAT THE HELL has this got to do with ANYTHING medieval? This segment started quite well with an outlining of Islam, but it rapidly veered off into nonsensical factoids and ends with this utterly irrelevant statement about a minor American political event, which has remained, anachrononistic and forgotten, in the text since 2006. Andy could at least have updated his propaganda. It shouldn't be here at all, but by now we've all come to expect this sort of asinine crap from Andrew "Attention Deficit Disorder" Schlalfy. Andy seems to be unaware that Europe has experienced a decline in Christianity since the eighteenth century, but it is still going strong over here and we are very much aware of our religious heritage. He also seems unaware that the Republic of France (which I'm sure he hates anyway, regardless of its religious issues) has officially prohibited the mixing of church and state since 1789. He ALSO seems unaware that as of the time of writing (mid 2011), the French government has become the only authority in Europe to pass controversial laws prohibitng the wearing of certain Islamic dress in public. But this was meant to be about the Early Middle Ages, wasn't it? Well if it was, it's his worst failure so far. Yep, there's nothing like ending a discussion of Early Medieval Islam by talking about the demographics of Detroit and a lament about Digital-Age France.

Contributions of Islam to Society[edit]

Muslim countries helped facilitate trade between Asia and Europe. Muslims also transmitted Indian mathematical discoveries to western Europe and Muslims established universities when much of western Europe was declining. Islamic learning included the works of Ibn Sina (980-1037 A.D.) who wrote “Canon of the Medicine,” a book describing many infectious diseases and their causes, during the Golden Age of Islam. Islamic architecture, as represented in mosques, is strikingly beautiful. Islamic religion strictly prohibits artists from depicting the human form, which contributes to the distinguishing geometric characteristics of Muslim architecture. Omar Khayyam lived in Persia, was tutored by a sheik, was probably Islamic, and was brilliant in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, and especially literature, writing a famous collection of poems entitled the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Islamic values are typically more conservative on matters of morality than many countries that are traditionally Christian. The Arabic language originally came from Hebrew and has spread with Islam to be the language of nearly 200 million persons today, and has given many words to the English language. Examples include “algebra”, “cipher”, “coffee” and “sugar”.

At least Andy is able to get this section largely right. In the Early and High Middle Ages (c.500-c.1300), the Arab world was significantly more advanced than Europe in intellectual, technological, governmental, and social terms. The Muslims kept alive the knowledge of the Greeks and Romans, which had either been lost or repressed in Europe and the Byzantine Empire, and it was thanks to Arabic translations of Aristotle, Plato, Galen, Hippocrates, etc that knowledge of the Ancient World was not completely lost in the torrent of Christian scroll-burnings and heretic-beheadings. It was not until the Late Middle Ages (c.1300-1500) that Europe began to rediscover and accept this knowledge; which was largely gleaned from Arabic libraries during the Christian Reconquista of Muslim Spain. Thanks to the foresight of a few brave and intelligent men, these libraries were not incinerated, and by the end of the 1200s Arab-preserved knowledge of the Ancients was being promulgated in Europe once more. Thomas Aquinas and Francis Bacon, for example, would never have written their monumental works of theology, philosophy, and early science without having access to the Arabic-to-Latin translations of Aristotle et al. Indeed, as the Renaissance was largely sparked by the rediscovery of ancient knowledge, it is quite reasonable to assert that without the Arabs, Europe might never have climbed out of the Middle Ages - or if it had, the historical trajectory would have been very different.

Avicenna (Ibn Sina) was indeed a superb physician, who had access to the works of Hippocrates and Galen, and Arabic medicine in general far surpassed that of the Christians. An apocryphal tale first recorded during the Late Middle Ages, set during the Second Crusade, is worth relating here. Following a battle between the Crusaders and the Muslims, the customary truce was called so that each side could bring in its wounded. In the Crusader camp, a European physician and a captive Arab physician found themselves working side-by-side on two Christian knights with similar leg wounds. The Arab physician - using the medical knowledge of Hippocrates - treated his patient by cleaning the wound with maggots and washing it with wine and herbs, wrapping the wound in a vinegar-soaked bandage, and ordering that the knight be placed in a shaded tent, on an iron-rich diet, until the wound healed. The Christian doctor - using the medical knowledge of the Bible - treated his patient by summoning several burly men to hold the knight down while the physician, using dirty and blunt instruments, sawed off the leg without even a good swallow of wine to give the poor man something to numb his senses. The physician then cauterised the stump by clamping a piece of white-hot metal against the flesh until all the veins and arteries were burned shut. The knight treated by the Arab physician recovered (and, according to most versions of the story, promptly hobbled out of the camp to go and convert to Islam). The knight treated by the European physician, predictably, died in excruciating pain with only a priest to hold his hand and tell him it was god's will. Now this story is probably just an illustrative fiction from the fifteenth century, but it accurately reflects the stunning disparity between Islamic and Christian knowledge in the Medieval Period. So should Andy and his ilk feel the temptation to start whining about medieval Islam again, they should ask themselves - if they fell sick or were injured in the age before secularist medical science brought us anesthetics and antiseptics and all those vaccines and medicines for which we should get down on our knees and thank Evolutionary Biologists - which religion would they prefer their doctor followed?

It is (characteristically) strange that after his recent meandering rant, Andy chooses to go out on a positive note for Islamic contributions to European science, knowledge, and language (one of those entertaining curiousities of history is that although Islam prohibits alcohol, the very word "alcohol" is a derivative of the Arabic al-kuhl). Similarly, it is typical of Mr Schlafly to misrepresent Arabic, which is a family of related languages rather than a single tongue. A sad little failure with which to end his polemic, and one so in-keeping with the rest of this drivel.

Russians, Slavs and Turks[edit]

Russia today is by far the largest country in the world by land mass, having almost twice the area of the second-largest country (Canada). Russia currently has the world’s eighth largest population, ranking behind number one China, number two India, number three United States, and several other Asian countries and Brazil. The title of this section sounds as though Andy is setting us up for a racist joke. It wouldn't be surprising. Kudos for starting a discussion of Early Medieval Russia with a Trivial Pursuit-style comparative factoid about modern Russia. Note how Andy mentions "several other Asian countries". Why doesn't he give their names? Oh right, he didn't do the research.

Russia is located on what is known as the “steppe” (pronounced simply as “step”), which is a broad, flat grassland lacking trees. The steppe stretches across Asia and eastern Europe. The steppe has fertile soil and navigable rivers for trade. By A.D. 100, Slavic peoples (the “Slavs”) had settled the steppe and cultivated the soil with iron tools. They lived in tribes and villages but were easy victims for nomadic fighters such as the Huns. Stunning tangent of physical geography, Andy. You haven't tried that since you talked about the Nile in Lecture One (which, by the way, you got wrong). The Huns do indeed appear to have crystallised on the Eurasian Steppe, but not until the third century.

Beginning in the A.D. 800s, the Vikings conducted trade from Constantinople and the Black Sea. The Slavs established an important trade city known as Kiev, which exists to this day, and named the territory “Rus”, from which the name Russian comes. That's it? Only one sentence about the Vikings? Andy could at least have said where they came from - Norway and Denmark. He could have mentioned the population pressures that compelled Viking raiders and colonists to expand out towards northern Germany, Normandy, and of course the British Isles. He could have mentioned their earliest recorded raid on Christendom - the Benedictine monastery on Lindisfarne Island, Northumbria, in 793. Considering the communications network at the time, this news spread remarkably quickly and was perhaps the most important factor in mobilising initial anti-Viking sentiment across Christian Europe. He could have mentioned how the English Kings had to concede the upper half of England to the Vikings, known as the "Danelaw" (great opportunity there for a Schlafly Statistic). He could have discussed their religion, their famous longships, Erik the Red's colonisation of Iceland and Greenland, and could have had a field day talking about how the Vikings were the first confirmed Europeans to settle in North America - as evidenced by the discovery of a Viking settlement at L'Ans aux Meadows, Newfoundland, in 1960. The Vikings had a major cultural and economic impact on Europe, and their expansion was a key factor in enabling the political unification of Charlemagne's pan-European realm in the late eighth century, and the mobilisation of the first professional military forces (which require a corresponding increase in government and civil infrastructure) in Europe since the Roman Empire. The Vikings were a very significant presence in European history, and reducing them to a mere sentence is absolutely ridiculous.

The capital of Rus was Kiev from A.D. 882 to 1169, and it prospered. Prince Vladimir of Kiev chose Orthodox Christianity as the religion, and established the Russian Orthodox Church for the Russian people, which led to cultural exchanges between Russia and Byzantine. Some historians say that the prince rejected Islam because of its prohibition on alcohol, which is a profitable export for Russia to this day. The more likely reason was that the prince was Christian himself, as he enthusiastically promoted Christian baptism for everyone. The capital of Kievan Rus was Kiev. There were other Russian principalities claiming the title of "Rus", including the emerging city-states of Novgorod and Moscow. Andy fails to mention the close commercial, cultural, and political links between Kievan Rus and the Byzantine Empire - hence the adoption of Orthodox Christianity, the evolution of the Cyrillic alphabet from the Greek alphabet (and this oversight from a man who adores wittering on about alphabets), and the origin of those beautiful onion-dome churches which characterise Russian ecclesiastical architecture. Also the origin of the title "Czar" from "Caesar", and the Russian Empire's fifteenth-century claim to be "the Third Rome". While Vladimir did institute the Christianity as the state religion, supposedly after becoming enamored with the Hagia Sophia, there was already a well-established, significant Christian population in Kiev at least 40 years prior. Russia is indeed stereotyped for high spirit consumption, but considering that distillation wasn't discovered until much later and that Kiev actually imported wine from Constantinople, Andy's statement is typically asinine and wrong. Although contemporary sources do indeed mention Islam's prohibition on alcohol and pork, these are almost certainly apocryphal; the far more plausible explanation Christianity became rooted in Kievan Rus is because of the political and commercial links with the Byzantines, not because the Russians enjoy the occasional tipple of an evening.

Kiev furnished many slaves to the Byzantine empire (the word “Slav” comes from same word root as the word “slave”). This was enormously profitable. Kiev also traded in many other goods, and by A.D. 1000 was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. It declined in the 13th century as the Mongols successfully invaded Russia and interfered with trade. The word "Slav" doesn't share an etymological root with "slave"; it is the root of "slave". The Latin word for slave is servitus, and the existence of the word "slave" and its relatives, in European languages, is a consequence of the Eastern European medieval trade in Slavs. It sounds suspiciously simplistic and retconned, but this is how things actually happen in history, from time to time. Nowhere near as often as Andy would have us believe, though.

Meanwhile, Islam was converting many Turks, who were superb fighters. Many of them had been raised as slaves in the Abbasid empire. When these slaves were used as soldiers, they were called “mamelukes”. So all Turks were "superb fighters". Great generalisation there, Andy. Explain, then, why it took the Turks so long to conquer Byzantium.

A group of Turks known as the Seljuk Turks had converted to become Sunni Muslims, and they gained control of trade routes connecting Asia and Europe. In 1055, the Seljuks captured Baghdad from the Persians, and killed the Shiite officials there. The Seljuk Turks gained in power and defeated the Byzantine empire in 1071 at the Battle of Manzikert. They soon controlled Anatolia. But the Turks did not adopt the Arabic language. Instead, they adopted the culture and language of Persia, referred to their rulers as “shah”, and almost obliterated the Arabic language from Persia. Seljuk ruler Malik Shah (1055-1092) supported Persian artists and culture. They were not great engineers, and the Persian irrigation and canal system collapsed. Disagreements between the Sunnis and Shiites emerged, and the Seljuk power declined after the death of Malik Shah. For a variety of reasons, the Turks didn't follow up on their victory at Manzikert by sweeping into Anatolia. The Turks and Byzantines fought across Asia Minor throughout the Middle Ages, and it took the Turks centuries to push the Byzantines all the way back to the gates of Constantinople. The Turks weren't great engineers? Not only did they repair ancient Roman aqueducts, they built a sophisticated infrastructure of roads and bridges, and in 1453 were able to smash their way through the monstrous fortifications of Constantinople using immense gunpowder weapons, which the Byzantines and Europeans could not match. That requires pretty good engineering. Probably because the Turks had the finest universities of the age, while European scholars were still too frightened to try and convince the Christian Church that maybe the Bible wasn't such a reliable textbook after all.

It was the occupation of Jerusalem by the Sunni Seljuk Turks that later led to the Crusades to recapture Jerusalem for Christianity, which we will discuss in the next class. There were many causes for the Crusades, and historians do not agree on all of them. Reducing the Crusades to this monocausal explanation is not only intellectually shoddy, it's also wrong. The Muslims had controlled Jerusalem since the seventh century, and it wasn't until the very end of the eleventh century that the First Crusade was launched. There were a variety of "push-and-pull" factors in Europe and the Middle East, which culminated in Pope Urban's declaration of Holy War in 1096. Andy will not discuss the Crusades in the next class; he will instead spew forth a torrent of factually-inaccurate bullshit which bears only a vague, passing similarity to reality - and even then, it's purely by coincidence. Notice how this section is also badly weighted. The Turks take up about half of the discussion, with Kievan Rus getting two little paragraphs and the Vikings getting only one short sentence. Very poor. Try harder next time, young Master Schlafly.

Western Europe in the early Middle Ages[edit]

After the Roman empire fell in the A.D. 400s there was the possibility that all of the achievements of the classical civilizations, including much of their knowledge, would be lost. Who would preserve the geometry discoveries of Euclid, or the philosophical advances of Plato and Aristotle? Who would maintain copies of the Gospels to preserve the teachings of Jesus? Who would safeguard history books? It isn't a question of who would preserve the knowledge. Parchment books last a remarkably long time. The Augustine Gospels held in Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge, are still in good condition even though they were written in the year 598. Think about that. The pages are animal skins, the inks are ancient plant dyes, and the book itself was carried by Saint Augustine when he was sent by Pope Gregory II to convert the early Anglo-Saxons over fifteen centuries ago. If the book is kept away from fire, flies, and students flooding their bathrooms, it should (touch wood) last for another couple of thousand years with the same basic treatment and storage it's been in since Romano-British times. The question is: who would preserve the knowledge from the hands of marauding Christian bands set on obliterating all that did not agree with the Bible? After all, Christians had torched the Library of Alexandria in 392, burned the Etruscana Disciplina in the 400s, the Nestorian Gospels in 435 - you get the picture. More than a thousand years later, after hundreds of other incidents, men like Galileo were still being forced to watch their life's work go up in puffy clouds because the Church disagreed. So, the complex answer to Andy's questions is to pose a more relevant question. The simple answer as to who preserved knowledge? The Muslims. Simple.

The period from the 5th to the 8th century (A.D. 400s through 700s) is known as the “Dark Ages” in western Europe. Everything seemed to decline and nothing outstanding seemed to emerge. Rome was sacked (invaded and looted) three times during this period, for example. Barbaric tribes terrorized everyone. The culture and economy declined. Roads and waterways fell into disrepair. The western world was at risk of losing all its knowledge and advances. To start with, Rome was only partly sacked in 410 by mutinous Gothic allies. Its subsequent severe depopulation and physical damage was due to the back-and-forth wars of the mid-sixth century between the Germanics and the Byzantines. The "Dark Ages" is one of those historical judgements which historians are trying to phase out from history and the collective consciousness - not because of some evil conspiracy, but because it is an erroneous concept. Eighteenth-century antiquarians looked at the period 500-1500 and determined that it had been a desperately grim period of barbarism and anarchy between the apparent cataclysmic destruction of the supposedly noble Roman Empire, and the stabilisation of Europe during the illusory religious peace and progress of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. To Whiggish historians ("Whig history" being the thesis that history is teleological, and that humanity always improves over time as it advances towards a specific goal), there were so few documents and records from the time that they could only assume some sort of apocalyptic period. But since the late eighteenth century and Edward Gibbon's pioneering research using actual primary sources locked away in monastery libraries, that view has changed. Modern historians are quite aware that the Roman Empire did not collapse catastrophically, and an immense quantity of written documents and archaelogical evidence have been uncovered. These reveal that the period was far less "Dark" as we once imagined. Historians instead increasingly see more continuities than changes between the last half of the first millennium and the first half of the second (500-1500), and hence refer to the period c.500-1000 as the "Early Middle Ages", c.1000-1350 as the "High Middle Ages", and c.1350-1500 as the "Late Middle Ages". The first cutoff point is a bit arbitrary, but roughly corresponds to Europe's demographic and political stabilisation around the turn of the first millennium. The second cutoff point corresponds to the devastating population loss caused by the Black Death (between 30-60% of the European-Middle Eastern population within five years), which triggered significant social and economic reform. The third vaguely matches the time period by which Europe was experiencing so many changes due to the Protestant Reformation, the discovery of the Americas, the emergence of capitalism, the Turkish invasion of the Balkans, and the epoch-changing impact of the printing press - all of these combining as "the Renaissance". So, Andy should have referenced this concept of "Dark Ages" at the start of the Lecture; he should update his historical concepts; and he should open a book. If not for his sake, then for his unfortunate students.

Monasteries[edit]

Historians credit Christian monasteries for preserving culture and knowledge during these “dark” times. The monasteries were communities of monks, usually male, who had committed the rest of their lives to God. They often moved apart so that they could be by themselves and pray many times a day. While not praying, the monks would read and write and teach, and they preserved the knowledge and history that might otherwise have been lost.

No they don't. Historians credit the Muslim Arabs for peserving Graeco-Roman knowledge during the Early Middle Ages, seeing as the texts in Europe had been incinerated by Christians. To illustrate this, let's take geography.

By the sixth century in Europe, even the most basic knowledge of what the world looked like had vanished. The Roman cartographer Claudius Ptolemy had famously made a map of the Old World in the first century which, given that he had to make it based on travellers' reports and astronomical calculations, would have been astonishingly good. None of the original maps survived, but his instructions on how to draw it did (when European cartographers rediscovered these instructions in the fifteenth century, from Arabic documents, they followed Ptolemy's guidelines and made Ptolemaic maps. Look up "Ptolemy's map" online, and see just how good it was for a man working in the first century AD). Unfortunately, his books disappeared in Europe, as his map of the world and his insistence that the Earth is a sphere - borrowed from the calculations of the Greek geographer Eratosthenes - conflicted with the Bible. In Europe, cartography between 500-c.1000 was very bizarre, as monks used information in the Bible to draw world maps. To give the monks credit, they were doing the best they could with the knowledge they had available, but compared to Roman maps they are frankly just weird. But when, in the 1150s, King Roger of Sicily commissioned a Muslim geographer - Muhammed al-Idrisi - to draw him a new map, Idrisi was able to draw upon Arabic translations of Ptolemy's work. The result was the first realistic map seen in Europe since the Romans. And it astonished people. Medieval cartographers ultimately went for maps which combined Ptolemaic geography with Scriptural references, but suffice it to say that without the Arabs, we all would have been bumbling around for centuries until a new Ptolemy was able to re-measure the Old World. So every time you glance at a map, remember to thank the Early Medieval Muslims.

Andy really could have given some more information on monks, here. Most children in the Western world learn about the European Middle Ages when they're in school, and at quite some length. This short, choppy assemblage of factoids is barely even right. Monks prayed eight times a day (Andy could at least have researched that), including twice in the middle of the night. And contrary to popular belief about gothic abbeys and pretty stone cloisters where monks would slowly wander, discussing the finer points of theology (again, a Victorian false nostalgia), monks throughout the Medieval Period were grubby, hardworking, and almost indistinguishable from peasants because monasteries were entirely self-sufficient communities. Monks had to live the same sort of lives as everyone else. They ploughed, sowed, weeded, harvested; they tended livestock; they built their own wattle-and-daub huts and their own stone churches; they looked after the sick, the infirm, elderly (if you lived past 40) and orphans; they prayed eight times a day and also had to go through some rather uncomfortable "penances" in order to atone for the sins of the local villagers; AND on top of that they had to copy out the Bible and the handful of religious texts which had survived the breakup of the Empire or been sent out since by the Pope - by hand - over and over again. Being a monk was certainly no fun. But at least they didn't have to read Saint Schlafly of Illinois' Historia Terrarum. Even medieval abbots weren't that cruel.

The most famous of these “orders” or communities was one established by St. Benedict in Italy in about A.D. 520. His “Rule of St. Benedict” is a strict set of disciplinary guidelines that require giving away all of one’s possessions and vowing obedience to the “abbot”, a monk elected to supervise the others. The Rule included other requirements also, such a vow of stability (promise not to move somewhere else), and stressed the importance of prayer and manual labor (“ora et labora”). St. Benedict had a sister, St. Scholastica, who established a similar rule for nuns to live by. By "most famous", we have to assume that the Benedictines are the only Order Andy has heard of. Otherwise he might at least have given fleeting reference to the Trappists, the Cistercians, the Carthusians, the Franciscans, etc. It would be quite fun to see Conservapedians abide by laws requiring manual labour and poverty. Going by the philosophy of consumerist capitalism and the dearth of Conservapedian articles on sport, most Conservapedian acolytes are probably just bloated bags of weak, wobbling flab, surrounded by all the trappings of a wealthy consumerist society. A bit of hard labour, fasting, and mental discipline would do them the power of good. Convenient how they ignore Jesus' repeated teaching that a holy person should give away all their possessions to the poor (Matthew 19:21), and that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 19:24. Bitchslapping fundamentalists with Bible verses is so much fun). But, Andy's already committed enough sins to spend eternity in Lucifer's basement. A couple more transgressions won't make much difference.

Abiding by strict rules of discipline and living separate from society, monks had no distractions. So they established schools and libraries, and transcribed or copied great works that needed to be preserved and duplicated (the printing press was not invented until about A.D. 1440). Venerable Bede, an English monk, wrote a history of England in A.D. 731 that is considered a masterpiece. Considering the days of endless drudgery they led, monks didn't have time for "distractions". Praying, eating, and sleeping were just about the most fun they - or anyone in Early Medieval Europe, for that matter - could have. They were allowed beer and alcoholic mead, though, so it's not all bad. The Venerable Bede was indeed one of the most important scholars - if not the most - of Early Medieval Europe. He had access to nearly 300 books in his monastery library, which made it the biggest library in Christendom outside of Rome (the Muslim Caliphate, of course, had much bigger libraries). 300 books sounds a pathetic figure by modern standards, but in the eighth century it was the equivalent of the Library of Congress. His Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum ("Ecclesiastical History of the English People", not simply "a history of England" as Andy claims. Strange he'd leave out "Ecclesiastical". *cough*heretic*cough*) was indeed a masterpiece of Early Medieval writing. It's also beautiful. And in a truly astonishing oversight, Andy the Apostate has completely missed out that it was Bede who, in this book, invented the "Anno Domini" (A.D. and B.C.) system whose phasing-out sends him into fits of apoplectic rage. Really, Andy. If you even bothered to do some research you would discover all this stuff. Instead of patting yourself on the back for awarding full marks to the most politically-brainwashed of your homeschooled troglodytes, try opening a bloody book.

Monasteries continue to exist to this day. There is a Benedictine monastery only fifteen minutes away from our classroom in Morristown, New Jersey, known as “Delbarton”. These monks still abide by the same Rule that St. Benedict established in A.D. 520. What's the point of this irrelevant little factoid? Where's Morristown, NJ? And more to the point, what does it have to do with the Venerable Bede? Well if Andy wants unnecessary snippets, I can do much better. My house is just round the corner from the (still-functioning) monastery where the Venerable Bede actually lived. See, Andy? No matter how great you think your crummy references are, someone, somewhere, can always slap you back down. Points off, as well, for mentioning one Christian monastery in the United States. According to the Vatican's website, there are some 118 monasteries in the United States. Oh, and the one he's wittering on about is called "St Mary's Abbey", and has its own website. It's great what real research can come up with.

Britain, King Arthur and the Anglo-Saxons[edit]

As the Roman empire was collapsing in the A.D. 400s, it withdrew from Britain. In the view of some, the legend of King Arthur dates to this time, when a hero named Ambrosius Aurelianus emerged for the British people. But no one knows how much of the legend of King Arthur has a factual basis, if any.

Oh, great. The history of the British Isles between c.500-1000 is reduced to talking about King Arthur. King Arthur is a myth, and no matter how much he and his cronies crop up on the CGI sets of Hollywood and the BBC, there is no evidence that he even existed - at least not in the way we think. Given Andy's propensity for mistaking myth with fact, as with the Great Flood and the Tower of Babel (well, all of the Bible, really), it's not surprising that he mentions King Arthur. But it's like writing a history of the United States by talking about Paul Bunyan or the Jolly Green Giant. It's curious as to why Andy would mention King Arthur, then question whether he existed. If he's unsure (as he rightly should be), why mention him at all? There's a hell of a lot more he could have written about. And if he can't be bothered to pick up a history book, even five minutes on Wikipedia would have given him something to write about.

The Roman Empire withdrew its garrison from Britannia Province in 410. Points off for vagueness, Andy. The name "Ambrosius Aurelianus" is a retconned construction - the King Arthur legend doesn't even appear in writing until the thirteenth century (some five or six hundred years after his supposed existence), and the early versions of the Arthurian legend are wildly different from the ones we think of today. More points off for not bothering to say why King Arthur is such a popular myth - apparently in Andy's world, actually recounting tales is unimportant. We won't recount the Arthurian legend here, as most rational people are already aware of it. And if not, research it yourself. Research is a very rewarding activity. Shame that Andy doesn't know what he's missing.

Who were the British people at that time? The “Anglo-Saxons”, who were Germanic tribes that conquered England and ruled it in a chaotic manner until the Norman conquest of A.D. 1066 brought order and prosperity to the entire island. The “Anglo-Saxons” were actually a mixture of three different Germanic peoples: the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes. The “Picts” were another group of people who settled Scotland at this time. The greatest Anglo-Saxon ruler was Alfred the Great, who defended Britain from Viking attacks in the A.D. 800s. The Romano-British (take note, Andy) culture was, as the name suggests, a mixture of Roman customs with those of Germanic migrants who had settled parts of the British Isles during the Roman occupation and had been partially assimilated. When the Emperor decided to withdraw the last Roman troops from Britannia in 410, the province managed to keep going as a unified unit for a short time, until political rivalries and economic failures, coupled with a fresh wave of migrations across the North Sea, split the British Isles into a patchwork of squabbling little fiefdoms. Yet the reality was quite different to the "chaos" that Andy envisages. By the eighth century, politics had largelys stabilised under a few larger fiefdoms. In the southwest, Cornwall. In the south and east, Wessex. In the centre and west, Mercia. And in the north, Northumbria. These were independent states but by the ninth century, Wessex had unified them all through diplomacy or conquest, and had driven the Danes out of Northumbria. The first King of England (Rex Anglorum) was proclaimed in the early ninth century, and by the time of the Norman invasion in 1066, England was a unified polity. Not "chaos". There is no mention in here of King Egbert, Offa, St Edmund the Martyr, of any of the other big names of the period. And given his love of legends posing as historical fact, Andy hasn't bothered to tell the entertaining tale of King Alfred burning the cakes. According to legend, following a defeat by the Vikings Alfred hid in a peasant's house, masquerading as an ordinary warrior. He was charged with keeping an eye on the cakes (i.e: peasant food made from oats, not sweet things with icing and cherries), but was so gloomy he forgot about them and they burned. The woman drove Alfred out of the house, haranguing him along the lines of it being little wonder the Vikings were rampaging all over the country, as the Saxon men were all idle daydreamers. This insult steeled Alfred into rejoining his troops, rally ingthem, and crushing the Vikings. A quaint little story, and one that Andy might have liked. But suffice it to say that not only has Andy (yet again) not bothered to do research; what little he has got, is wrong.

Pope Gregory the Great send Augustine of Canterbury to convert Britain to Christianity in A.D. 596, and English monks and nuns helped that effort in the centuries that followed. No. Britain had been christianised under the Roman occupation, and was still Christian after the Roman withdrawal. Pope Gregory sent Augustine (along with the still-surviving Bible mentioned in the previous segment) because by the late sixth century nobody in Rome had heard from Britain in a long time, and the Pope feared that the Romano-British had been overrun by slavering hordes of pagan barbarians. His fears were partly justified - King Æthelbert of Wessex, the first ruler Augustine encountered, was indeed a pagan - but it's not as though Christianity had been completely snuffed out across the British Isles. Augustine converted a few pagan leaders, and just kept an eye on the existing Christians. By the time of the Norman invasion, Britain (including Ireland and Scotland, with the sole exception of a few islands in the Outer Hebrides) was resolutely Christian, and had been for centuries. More points off there, Ændy the Apostate.

Charlemagne and the Carolingian Court[edit]

Small Germanic kingdoms dominated western Europe after the fall of the Roman empire. But Christianity continued to grow, and the Catholic Church based in Rome increased its power. Bit by bit, person by person, the Germans were converted to become Catholics. Clovis, the leader of a German group known as “Franks”, ruled over the important area of Gaul that corresponds to modern France and portions of its surroundings. His wife Clotilda converted Clovis to Catholicism, and then Clovis converted his entire army too. The pope then supported Clovis and he became even more powerful. This was how the Roman Catholic Church interacted with military rulers. It's surprising that Andy is aware of King Clovis, who is to the modern French what Alfred is to the modern English. He neglects to recount the legend, though, of how a white dove flew down from Heaven to anoint Clovis with Holy Oil and thus converted him to Christianity. Another little Christian tale that a Christian historian (even a historian masquerading as a Christian, or a Christian masquerading as a historian - both and neither of which Andy is) really should know.

One of the most significant popes was Gregory the Great (Gregory I) (A.D. 540-604). He decided to use church money for non-religious (secular) purposes, such as establishing government programs for the poor (welfare), supporting armies, and paying for public projects such as roads. Pope Gregory blurred the lines between church and state, which became known as the “temporal power” of the Catholic Church, and this would become a source of enormous conflict in future centuries. Ooh, Catholicism and state welfare - every Protestant Fundamentalist Republican's favourite colour scheme. Gregory didn't exactly blur the temporal power of the Church. The blurring is a consequence of the Donatio Constantini, a controversial theory which later manifested as an even more controversial document, which claimed that back in the fourth century Emperor Constantine the Great had granted control of the Western Roman Empire to the office of the Pope. This gave the Pope both spiritual authority over the souls of the Europeans, and temporal/secular power over European kings. The document first appeared in the ninth century and was exposed as a total fraud by fifteenth-century scholars, but the claim itself precedes the actual document and was the root of the church-state conflicts of the High Middle Ages. Unsurprisingly, Andy doesn't know this.

Gaul was the most significant part of the former Roman empire, and many terms come from it. “Major domo,” for example, is the term for the major of the palace, which in Gaul was the most powerful person in the kingdom. By what criteria does Andy determine "the most significant part of the former Roman empire"? Economy? Infrastructure? Population levels? The random etymology lesson seems unncessary, seeing as major domo is a rare term these days. The Mayor (not major) of the Palace was not the most powerful person in Gaul. The King was (at least officially). That's... that's pretty obvious.

From Gaul a leader emerged named Charles Martel, who ruled the Franks from A.D. 719-741 and extended their territory. He crushed the Muslim invasion at the Battle of Tours in 732 (see above). His son had the humorous name “Pepin the Short,” but he was also a brilliant leader of the Franks. Pepin conquered territory around Rome and then gave it as a gift to the pope. The pope returned the favor with the “Donation of Pepin,” laying the foundation for the Papal States, which were territories under the control of the pope. Charles Martel and Pepin’s family were the Carolingian dynasty that ruled the Franks from 751 all the way to 987. Charles Martel, or Charles the Hammer, actually had been a majordomo under the Frankish Merovingian dynasty. Maybe Andy's previous factoid was meant to lead into this, but it failed to do so. It's unclear why he says "see above", as he didn't actually mention the Battle of Tours before now. He only obliquely referred to it. Pepin the Short does appear to have had a comical name (along with similar contemporary Kings, like Louis the Fat and Charles the Bald), but he was also known at the time as Pepin the Younger and Pepin the Great. His relations with Pope Stephen II were instrumental in laying the foundations for Charlemagne - Stephen was the first Pope to exercise his assumed temporal power by crowning a secular King, and crowned Pepin as Patricius Romanorum, or Protector of the Romans; a precursor for the soon-to-appear "Holy Roman Emperor". This sort of information would have been better, Andy.

Pepin’s son (and Charles Martel’s grandson) was Charlemagne (A.D. 742-814), who became the most famous member of the family. The name “Charlemagne” (SHAR-luh-MAIN) is from the Latin “Carolus Magnum,” which means “Charles the Great.” He conquered the territory once held by the Roman empire in his attempt to reestablish it; he educated children in palace schools; and he created the “missi dominici” (king’s officials) to watch over his empire. His revival of education became known as the Carolingian Renaissance, a brief period of progress or light in what is otherwise criticized as the Dark Ages. Well at least he get's Charlemagne's lineage right. Charlemagne, however, did not reconquer the Roman empire - and if he had, shouldn't Andy give a bit more description, considering that the formation of the Ancient Roman Empire warranted an entire half-Lecture? Charlemagne inherited an extensive Frankish kingdom when he came to the throne, one that had been largely carved out through the military and diplomatic achievements of his grandfather and father, and the only realm in Europe which had official blessing from il Papa in Rome. Charlemagne's territorial extensions were mostly assimilations of the Burgindians who lived in what is now eastern France and western Germany, and pressing into Saxon territories in Central Europe. He also subdued northern Italy and the Low Countries. Much of his military ability stemmed from expanding the professional army of trained, full-time soldiers (first instituted by Charles martel), in response to news of Viking raids around the coasts of the North Sea. This army, unlike contemporary warbands, could be mobilised at any time of the year and deployed to any part of the Kingdom, and its trained, disciplined men had a significant strategic and tactical advantage over much larger bands of amateur warriors and conscripted peasants. Equally as significant, as Andy actually gets right, was his recognition that his Kingdom required a proper administrative apparatus to hold it all together. Using literate men educated at the monasteries, Charlemagne constructed the first proper civil service since the Romans, allowing him to levy taxes, raise troops, and facilitate trade. The peace and administrative organisation of Charlemagne's realm was perhaps most significant in allowing Western Europe's population to climb back up to its pre-fifth century levels, and by 800 the Frankish Kingdom had a bigger population than the Western Roman Empire in 400. At the same time, historians point to Charlemagne's Christian realm as instrumental in forming a collective European identity, based on Christianity and contrasted against non-Christians, rather than a hotchpotch of local identities. He was an astonishingly significant leader, and Andy really could have said more about his economic, social, political, intellectual, and cultural impacts than this.

Charlemagne was a well-educated Christian known to be highly intelligent and a promoter of arts and learning. He served king of the Franks from A.D. 768 until his death in 814. The Franks were offended by a practice of another Germanic tribe, the Saxons, whereby they would leave their dead out on funeral pyres to be consumed by animals. This seemed contrary to the Christian faith in the resurrection, and for 35 years Charlemagne attempted to forcibly convert the Saxons to Christianity. But the Saxons would revert to paganism after every conversion, until Charlemagne made paganism a crime against the state. Critics say that Charlemagne treated non-Christians badly, and cite an example of how Charlemagne ordered 4,500 Saxons to be beheaded after they destroyed one of his armies. No mention of the fact that in spite of his patronage of the arts, Charlemagne himself was illiterate until very late in life. This image of "Karl (Charlemagne) the Saxon Slaughterer" has more to do with nineteenth-century German nationalists than actual events. And really, when it comes to mistreating non-Christians, Andy hasn't got a leg to stand on.

Charlemagne was very good to Christians and he was crowned “Holy Roman Emperor” by Pope Leo III in A.D. 800, supposedly by the pope placing a crown on him by surprise from behind during Christmas mass in Rome (a “coronation”). This established the precedent for the practice that pope decided who would be king, a practice continued by Charlemagne’s son. The power of the Catholic Church thereby grew even stronger. This moment in A.D. 800, the crowning of Charlemagne in Rome, is considered to be the birth of the “Holy Roman Empire.”

"Charlemagne was very good to Christians". Andy makes him sound like Santa Claus. A LOT of points are taken off for getting the birth of the Holy Roman Empire wrong.

By 800, Charlemagne was the most powerful man in Europe. Pope Leo III was not a very popular Pope (indeed, a mob in Rome had beaten him up in the street and tried to gouge out his eyes), and he had abysmal relations with the Byzantines in the East. To escape his enemies, Leo fled to join Charlemagne, who gave the Pope protection in exchange for ecclesiastical recognition of the Frankish realm. But while he was unpopular, Leo was wily, and knew that he could use Charlemagne as a pawn. The Byzantines (who had not yet split away into a seperate church) considered themselves the rightful defenders of Christianity and the inheritors of Rome - indeed, they and everyone else still referred to the Byzantines simply as "the Roman Empire" - and "the Romans" in the East had a rather unflattering view of "the Franks" in Western Europe. Partly in order to assert the growing power of the Western church, partly in order to ensure Charlemagne's continued protection of the church, partly to further the agenda of the Donatio Constantini fraud, and partly out of nostalgia for the old Empire, Pope Leo decided to recreate the Western Empire. When Charlemagne came to pray in Rome on Christmas Day 800, Pope Leo indeed surprised him by popping a crown on his brow and proclaiming Charlemagne the Imperator Romanorum - the Roman Emperor. Not the "Holy" Roman Emperor, and this is significant. The surprise coronation greatly annoyed the Byzantines, whose Emperor was rightfully the "Roman Emperor", and didn't look kindly on these primitive Westerners proclaiming a rival "Roman Emperor". Indeed, this was very instrumental in driving a wedge even deeper between West and East. The name "Holy Roman Emperor" (Sacrum Imperator Romanorum) did not exist until 962, when it was given as title to Otto I.

Charlemagne had a prestige that many future kings in the Middle Ages attempted unsuccessfully to duplicate. His empire, also known also known as the Carolingian empire, covered modern-day France, Germany to the River Elbe, much of Italy and part of Spain. One of the most lasting effects of his rule was the establishment of Christianity as the main religion in the West. Astonishingly, Andy is right here - and on a complex topic. Well done, young Master Schlafly! You've gone from a D- to a C, at least. It probably won't last, though. It's arguably right that all of our modern Western conceptions and understandings of "Empire", and even the word itself, stem from that moment on Christmas Day 800 AD when Leo spoke the words "Carolus Magnus Rex; Imperator Romanorum". Much later, rival European monarchs referred to themselves from time to time as "emperors", Enlightenment scholars spoke flatteringly of "empire" as the guardian of civilisation, and Victorian colonists went out and conquered self-proclaimed "empires" in the name of progress. All stemming back to this moment. Awkward final sentence though - Christianity had been the dominant religion of Europe long, long before Charlemagne.

The capital of the Carolingian empire was not Rome, but Aachen in what is now Germany. Charlemagne’s son Louis “the Pious” held the empire together from 814-840, but when he died his three sons fought with each other. They split the empire three ways in the Treaty of Verdun in 843. Western Europe was just too vast and diverse for a single ruler, and a new system was needed. That new system was feudalism.

Oh god, Andy's about to try and explain feudalism. Get your red pens ready. It is true that on his deathbed, Charlemagne - knowing that his sons would tear the Kingdom/Empire apart in civil wars if he chose a single successor - nominally split the short-lived Imperium Romanorum between them. Louis clung on to sole rule for a short while, but at Verdun in 843 the Imperium Romanorum was split into the Regnum Francium (Kingdom of the Franks), the Regnum Burgundium (Kingdom of Burgundy), and the Regnum Teutoricum (Kingdom of the Germans). The former evolved into France. The second remained as Burgundy throughout the Middle Ages, constantly at war with its neighbours. It was only the latter which later reclaimed the title of Imperium and thus was considered the only legitimate successor to the Roman Empire, when a new Pope crowned Otto as "Holy Roman Emperor".

Well, that's the Carolingian Realm over with. Poor Charlemagne must be spinning in his grave at Andy's well-meaning, but crude, job. Let's pour a stiff drink before moving on to Andy's version of medieval economics.

Feudalism in Western Europe[edit]

The new system of government and economics for western Europe was feudalism, also known as manorialism. The feudal system arose in the 8th century in the Frankish kingdom as a way to protect against foreign invasions, especially invasions by Vikings (“Danes”) from Scandinavia. The Normans (descendants of Scandinavians and Franks from Normandy, France) brought feudalism to southern Italy and Sicily. The Norman conquest of Britain in 1066 brought the feudal system to England, Scotland and Ireland. Viking invasions lasted until the 10th century, by which time many Vikings had accepted Christianity and settled into civilizations of their own in northern Europe. The end of the Viking raids enabled trade to increase in western Europe. So, Andy has decided to start a segment on feudalism by pogo-sticking back to the Vikings. He really should have included this segment earlier. The Normans were indeed descended from the Vikings, but by the eleventh century they were indistinguishable from the native French. They spoke French, worshipped Christ, and were in all ways assimilated into French culture. The only difference is that the Duke of Normandy had a little more independence from the French King than other Dukes. Attempts to claim that they were Scandinavian warriors is little more than nineteenth-century pseudohistory from German nationalists trying to link themselves with the Norsemen, and Englishmen who couldn't stomach the thought of having been conquered by the French.

The basic feudal system consisted of a “noble” or “lord” who possessed land (called a “fief”) given by the king. The lords lived in castles surrounded by moats, and rented their land out to “vassals.” Vassals were also considered nobles, but with less power. They provided military service to the lords in exchange for protection and land, which they in turn rented out to the “peasants” or “serfs” to farm. The system had some similarities to the plantation system used in the south in America before the Civil War, except the peasants and vassals were not bound to their lord in western Europe and thus were not slaves. Instead, the peasants were bound to their land, and when one lord sold all the land to another lord, the peasants did not move. Warfare amongst the various different estates was common under feudalism, due to the lack of any kind of centralized government, and peasants were required to fight for their lords against foreign invaders. They were also required to provide their lord with a share of their crops while not fighting an invasion. We've already examined the basic structure of feudalism, and the crucial disagreement between medieval historians as to the importance of feudalism and indeed, whether it ever existed in the first place. Andy, unsurprisingly, not only takes it at face value but manages to express the concept in a manner that is both childish and factually wrong. "The lords lived in castles surrounded by moats" is like something from a preschool history book. All that's needed is a drawing of a smiling knight wagging his finger at a cute anthropomorphic dragon (sorry, "dinosaur"). Castles didn't come off prefabrication assembly lines, and not all of them had moats. Also bear in mind that the motte-and-bailey wooden castellum of the Early Middle Ages were very different to the stone fortresses of the High and Late Middle Ages. Vassal is a generic term; peasants were referred to (at least in Old and Middle English) as "villeins". He at least gets the social contract system vaguely right, but spoils it by pogo-sticking over to the antebellum southern United States (his biggest and most pointless leap yet), and gets it badly wrong. Medieval serfdom and nineteenth-century slavery were very different. Serfs could expect their local Lord to offer legal and military protection in exchange for paying taxes. Slaves, as everyone knows, receive sweet sod-all and simply have to do as they are told - or else. Claiming that there was no central government is frankly just wrong. There were these people called "Kings".

Initially, most peasants were free men, but eventually became more and more dependent on the lords, especially as serfdom increased. Serfs were bound to the land by custom and heredity and were not particularly free. The peasants did not have the iron plow until about A.D. 1000, and it was hard work to till the soil with the primitive wooden plows. After discovering the iron plow, food production soared. Andy has, remarkably, got something right here. Peasants in the Roman Empire had relied on the carruca, a plough with a wooden blade to cut furrows in the soil. They weren't very good, especially in areas with clay-rich topsoils. These remained in use throughout the Early Middle Ages, until the period roughly around the turn of the first millennium, when ploughs with iron-shod blades (not solid iron, as Andy claims) began to appear. These were much, much better and enabled peasants to cut deeper furrows - thus burying seeds deeper in the soil where birds could not get at them quite as easily - and made ploughing faster, allowing peasants to cultivate more land in the same amount of time. This, coupled with a period of clement weather in Europe known as the Medieval Warm Period, significantly increased the food supply and thus the population.

The peasants worked on these estates or “manors” in order to obtain a “benefice” (privilege) to keep some of the food they grew for their own families, and also to benefit from the protection from foreign invasion. So the deal was this: the lord allowed the peasant to farm land on the lord’s estate (the “manor”) in exchange for the peasant giving the lord some of the food and fighting in wars as needed. In the words of a popular business expression today, this was a “win-win” situation for both, though obviously the lord benefits more. Critics say that women were discriminated against with respect to ownership of property, because they did not have the opportunity to serve in the army to acquire land and only sons, not daughters, inherited fiefs. "So the deal was this". Brilliant scholarly phraseology there, Andy. And this from a man who constantly bitches about the apparent decline in standards in the English Language. Remember what Jesus says in Matthew 7:5, Andy - "You hypocrite. First remove the log from your own eye, then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your neighbour's eye". Oh yes, the Bible is filled with these fun little snippets. Although he gets the basics of feudalism right, a reference to "a popular business expression today" results in low marks for both irrelevance and inaccuracy (does "win-win" apply to an unbalanced deal?). It's too late to try and defend women, too, no matter how chivalrous it may be. Women didn't join the army because the concept of national armies didn't yet exist (even the one created in the Frankish Realm had dissipated at the time of the Treaty of Verdun in 843). Inheritance rights varied across Europe. In England, only the eldest son inherited an estate, a practise known as primogeniture. In France, by contrast, the law required all sons to receive part of the land. This variation has even been cited by some economic historians as a reason why England experienced a more rapid increase in food production and population than France, as English farms remained at the same size and production capacity for generations, while French farms were broken up into smaller, less efficient units every time a landowner or tenant died. Finally, points off for not defining a "fief", an ancient and vague unit of land measurement and later a catch-all geopolitical term.

The feudal system was quite flexible, and a successful way to run an economy. Lords, vassals, and peasants often had contractual agreements with each other, which led to the development of charters stating lists of rights and privileges. A lord could himself be a vassal to another lord, and thus multiple layers could develop. In this respects the system was like a version of multilevel systems of marketing used today (like Amway): everyone earns a share of workers he recruits to work for him, and those workers in turn have an incentive to recruit more workers. Modern corporations likewise have multiple layers of employees and compensation systems, though not tied to land as on the feudal estates. Really? A reference to Amway? Andy is meant to be talking about feudal social relations, and he's managed to shoehorn in a reference to a catalogue company. Someone should ring Amway and ask the CEO if he would describe himself as a feudal lord. The rest of this paragraph is so badly written it's hard to tell what Andy means. He's either got feudalism horribly wrong, or is distorting it to allow him to cram in references to contemporary consumer capitalism, or both.

The feudal system had elements of free enterprise that remain beneficial to us today. Everyone in the feudal system had an incentive to work hard, and the ability to buy, sell and inherit property created substantial rewards. There was no centralized government or national regulations, so each lord was free to become as strong and powerful as he could. All sources of wealth at that time consisted of land (unlike today, where stocks, cash, offshore oil wells, copyrights, patents and other forms of property are a big part of the overall wealth, and unlike Jesus’ time, when much wealth consisted of ownership of sheep, cattle and other animals). Feudalism converted much useless land and forests into productive farmland. For pity's sake, enough with the terrible capitalist propaganda! Under feudalism, people had the incentive to work hard because if they didn't, they would starve to death. Not because they could acquire riches. There was centralised government, in the form of monarchies. The reference to offshore oil wells, copyrights, and other twenty-first century paraphernalia is totally unwarranted; and Andy gets it wrong in that back in Jesus' time, the sources of wealth were exactly the same as in the Middle Ages. It is true that Europe experienced extensive deforestation and cultivation during the Middle Ages, but this was a long process and by the end of the Late Middle Ages, most of the European landmass was still covered in forests and uncultivated land.

“Chivalry” developed as a code of behavior for everyone, and it required loyalty to one’s lord and to God. Christianity was honored, as were women, who under the code of chivalry were to be considered the equivalent of the Virgin Mary. When an enemy was conquered, they were to be treated fairly and with good sportsmanship. Tournaments of jousting knights were held to entertain spectators and improve combat skills. On the humorous side, it became popular to use battering rams and catapults in warfare. This was a free enterprise approach to the military, whereby each lord developed his own army. The system developed very good soldiers, and they kept their skills sharp by engaging in frequent battles with rival manors or estates. Through competition and free enterprise, the warriors became fighters superior to the foreign invaders, and the invasions stopped.

Oh Christ. Here it is. Sir Andrew of Schlafly's vision of "chivalry". There is so much wrong with this paragraph that it's hard to know where to start. A good place would be the simple truth that this conception of "chivalry" is almost entirely a construct of Romanticism, a nostalgic artistic movement of the nineteenth century. The popular imagination of knights in shining armour, battling nobly in leafy meadows and rescuing deferent peasants from dastardly villains, before whisking golden-haired damsels to safety in glittering castles, is absolute crap. In the Middle Ages, life was grubby and harsh for everyone, and men and women of all social groups lived much less attractive lives than this Victorian imagination would have us believe. It's also ridiculous to believe that the exact same code just popped up suddenly, at the same time, all across a continent as diverse as medieval Europe. In real combat there were no rules or codes of honour except victory by any means, and the history of medieval warfare is awash with tales of knights murdering, torturing, and slaughtering captives and civilians in all manner of ghastly and hideous means, and at apocalyptic scales. It is true that captured nobles were generally treated well, but this was so that the captor could receive a hefty cash ransom in exchange, rather than because of some professional code of conduct. Prisoners who were not worth ransoming, either met a quick and painful death on the battlefield, or were taken away to meet a much slower and much more painful demise at the hands of bored and sadistic soldiers. Women were certainly not spared rape, torture, and wholesale execution either. There were of course some humane knights in the Middle Ages, but this is due to some people actually being decent human beings. And they were very much in the minority. Remember that medieval people were hideously good at imagining, building, and using - constantly - all manner of nightmarish devices of horrific torture. Most of them still exist, for crying out loud. Maybe Andy should visit a castle (although that would involve travelling to the heathen world beyond the US of A) or a museum, or simply read a book; look at some of the instruments of unimaginable pain devised in the Middle Ages; and ask himself how these fit in with his dreamed-up shit about "chivalry".

Oh, and lest Conservapedians throw their teddies out of the pram, there is contemporary evidence for the total lack of "chivalry" at the time. In 1139 the Second Lateran Council under Pope Innocent II tried to outlaw the use of crossbows against Christians. This was because crossbows apparently gave an unfair advantage to common-born peasants, allowing them to shoot down nobles without a fair fight. Alright, that smacks of chivalry a bit. But the fact that a few years later the same law was passed, then again a few years later, and so forth every couple of years right up into the age of gunpowder, testifies that nobody was paying any attention whatsoever.[1] Which is unsurprising, given that this was war. Remember the words of Cicero - Inter arma, silent leges est. "In times of war, the law is silent". When you're faced with an invasion and being overrun by your enemies - who may well dream up all sorts of painful things to do to you if you fall into their hands, as witnessed by the very grisly demise of King Aella of Northumbria - the rules of "chivalry" go out the window. People in the Middle Ages fought dirty, in order to survive. There's a difference between Hollywood and the real world.

As for Andy's claim that "[t]he system developed very good soldiers, and they kept their skills sharp by engaging in frequent battles with rival manors or estates", this is both vague and downright wrong. The closest thing to professional soldiers were, of course, the knights. Yet their power in battle had less to do with delicately-honed fighting skills and more to do with the fact that they were big, tough men clad in better armour and carrying nastier weapons than everyone else. This trend simply increased in the High and Late Middle Ages. And while the knightly class of the High Middle Ages were a little more polished and refined, the knights of c.500-1000 were simply the most psychotically violent men in the area who had slaughtered their way to the side of a warlord king. So much for the knights. Not quite the dainty, pink-skinned, shiny-armoured heroes of Hollywood. The vast majority of combatants in Early Medieval battles, furthermore, were simply a rabble of untrained, undisciplined peasants who would be summoned to come fight with nothing more than perhaps an axe or even their agricultural implements, and whatever tatty, falling-apart bits of armour they had scavenged from corpses on earlier battlefields. Not exactly "very good soldiers". The economic implications of perpetual warfare were less than rosy, either. Knights did practice fighting at tournaments but again, in the Early period, these were not the pretty, ribbony affairs of the silver screen but were almost indistinguishable from actual war, and many knights died during combat "practice". So many, in fact, that English and French kings, and Holy Roman Emperors, passed increasing numbers of laws (with severe penalties amounting to the Crown seizing their property or stripping them of noble titles if disobeyed) prohibiting the number of participants who could attend tournaments, and how long they could last - lest the knights all kill each other and leave the King defenceless in case of an actual war. Finally Andy doesn't define who these "foreign invaders" were, nor when these vague and uncited "invasions" stopped. Suffice it to say that, unsurprisingly, he's wrong.

Likewise, this concept of "free enterprise" in the context of military combat is frankly ridiculous. What the hell does free enterprise have to do with fighting? It's not as though Kings allowed their noblemen a free rein - the truth is that when they wanted to fight, nobles simply cobbled together whatever they could in order to form a rag-tag army to boost the numbers of their immediate circle of armoured thugs. How the hell is the use of battering rams and catapults "humorous"? Notwithstanding the fact that battering rams and catapults predate the Middle Ages by millennia, there's nothing funny about an army of your enemies battering down your door or flinging very big rocks at your head. And how is that an example of free enterprise? Trying to apply capitalist economic principles of free enterprise and competition from the modern boardroom to the medieval battlefield, is moronic. Even for Andy, this insertion is just stupid.

Translating Medieval Chivalry to Today BONUS FUN ROUND!. This segment appears to be have been added by Mr Schlafly to the original Lecture Five, some months after the draft which has been dissected here. In a delicious twist, Andy's obvious attempt to improve the article has in fact made it even worse. These rules are quite interesting, and certainly give Victorian moralists a run for their money. Watch out, Mrs Beeton! A whippersnapper upstart from the colonies is now promulgating a pamphlet to rival yours: "Mister Schlafly's Guide upon Etiquette and Mannerisms for the Proper Young Man; with supplementary notes for those of the more sinful gender." Observe his suggestions!

Rules of Chivalry For Boys

When you see a girl carrying something heavy, offer to carry it for her. Males are required to do all the heavy lifting, without any regard for age. Thus, mothers must never carry their toddler sons, as it is a violation of the laws of chivalry.

Stand up when a girl or woman enters the room. This rule applies whenever any female enters any room - the dentist's waiting room, the boardroom, the cinema. Even in the strip club and the bedroom, maintain a posture that is erect and firm.

Speak in a respectful manner in front of a girl. Always use a calm voice when reading to your wife from the Letters of Saint Paul, which remind her that she is merely a vessel for your seed and must never object to anything you ever say or do.

Be appreciative when girls bake cookies for the entire class. What is this, a Peanuts comic strip from 1932? Andy appears to be living in an alternate dimension. Which would explain a lot.

Compliment girls appropriately. Always nag your daughter for dressing her age, remind your girlfriend that she looks fat in that blouse, and advise your mother that in fact, you think her cooking is shit. Lies make Baby Jesus cry, and the Bible says that women are subordinate to men. So who cares about their feelings? They're just things.

Open doors for girls. Always do this, even if your arms are full or you are in a wheelchair. There's no excuse. But on the bright side, feel free to slam the door in Andy Schlafly's face.

Offer to purchase tickets or meals for girls, and develop a work ethic to provide money for that. Get used to having no money, at least until girls realise that you are trapped in some strange parallel universe where it's still 1753. Prohibit your female partner from finding gainful employment of any sort, even if the two of you spend your lives in wretched poverty, as you are the male and the heavy burden of fiscal responsibility must be borne solely upon your shoulders.

Watch out for the safety of girls. Keep it in your pants.


Rules of Chivalry for Girls

When a boy does help you, as in carrying something or opening a door, thank him. Be subservient and cringeing at all times to all males. But next time a girl carries something for you or holds open a door, give her an earful of abuse for being a feminist.

Do not attempt to embarrass a boy, as in trying to beat him in arm-wrestling or bragging that you did better on a test. Be ashamed at all times of your physical and intellectual abilities. And don't complain. After all, it's your own fault for eating the apple in the Garden of Eden.

Avoid gossip. Maintain absolute silence at all times for the rest of your life.

Avoid profanity. Boys can swear, but you ******* can't.

Put your superior social skills to good use by welcoming others. Become an air stewardess. Or, throw lots of parties all the time! But you have to stand at the door. You're not allowed in.

Be respectful of your parents' wishes. If Mummy wants to sell you into slavery (as permitted in Exodus 21:7-8), or Daddy orders you to marry the man who raped you (as commanded in Deuteronomy 22:23-29), shut up and don't complain.

Dress modestly, not provocatively or suggestively. Dress like a nun at all times. Showing your ankles, lips, or condensed breath in winter is tantamount to smearing yourself in Vaseline and doing it doggy-style in the park on a lunchtime, filmed by a national television network. In fact, just wear a burkha. Send away to Mr Schlafly's Mail-Order Emporium for one.

Watch out for the safety of boys. Don't piss in his coffee.


The roots of our free enterprise economic system of private property are in feudalism. The impact goes beyond private property. The entire concept of "customer service" and "the customer is always right" can be traced to the chivalry developed under feudalism. The concept of "the customer is always right" has NOTHING to do with feudalism. If a customer complains to a cashier, they are generally given what they want, or at least an explanation. If a peasant were to complain to their Lord, one of two things would happen. Either they would get a fair hearing in the manorial court, where they would be told that it was tough. Or, they would get a sharp, short smack from one of the Lord's lackeys, maybe a whipping, and in a few cases, execution. Now, if Customer Services were to dish out whippings and beheadings to complaining clients, going to the shopping mall would certainly be a lot more exciting. But, as usual, fantasy and reality are not quite the same, Andy.

The institution of marriage was strengthened by feudalism. There was no place for unmarried adults, or polygamy, both of which plagued other cultural systems throughout history. Kudos for inserting a bitchy comment about unmarried persons "plaguing societies". Aside from the fact that this is a crass and condescending assumption that the entire human species should follow Schlafly's own hypocritical version of morality, it's simply wrong. Monks and nuns were unmarried, and if Andy believes that every single human in medieval Europe got married, he's even more delusional than might be thought.

The concept of "sportsmanship", which we hear so much about today, comes from the chivalry that developed during feudalism. The chivalry of looking out for each other, and particularly for children and the elderly, became strong too. The concept of "sportsmanship" is inherently subjective, and varies not only from time to time and place to place, but person to person. Evidently Andy is unaware of the full phrase, which is "Corinthian standards of sportsmanship", a Victorian aphorism from the playing-fields of private schools in nineteenth-century Britain. As the wording implies, the concept has to do with Ancient Corinth, a Greek city-state, and not the European Middle Ages. Looking after children and the elderly isn't chivalry. It's necessary for the survival of the human species. It's not as though before the Middle Ages, people let their children and their parents starve.

Feudalism had much that many people miss today. For example, people worked close to home, and there was no commuting or traveling to a job. No one was "laid off" by a big company then and left without work. Communities were strong and people defended each other against foreign enemies. Families stayed close together. Perhaps the roots of homeschooling are in feudalism! Yes, we all miss the feudal era. We miss the beatings, the hunger, the sickness, the low life expectancy, the suspicion that people from outside the village might be witches coming to poison the wells and spoil the crops. Life is suddenly so much worse now that we don't have to worry about being raped, tortured, murdered, or sold into slavery by roving marauders. Those long days of backbreaking physical labour in the fields from dawn to dusk, in all weathers, to scrabble together enough food to prevent the local Lord from having his filthy, diseased serfs whipped senseless, and leaving the villagers with barely enough parasite-infested provisions to last through the winter - oh, those were the good old days! Andy's right that nobody got laid off - they simply died in huge numbers. Families stayed close together because without the family, you would die. The state - what little there was - couldn't care less if you were orphaned, and if people could not support themselves they simply died. By the thousands. Oh yes, that's a good social order. Oh, and as for the roots of homeschooling in feudalism - Andy is actually right on this one. Medieval serfs were illiterate, had only the most basic understanding of their religion, had no hope of rising above the lowest rung of society, and were utterly inconsequential to the leaders of society. Truly, the roots of feudalism gave rise to homeschooling.

However, like many idealistic things, chivalry was not followed if it became too inconvenient; for example, at the Battle of Agincourt, the English had taken a large number of prisoners (far outweighing their own men) when they received word of a new French force approaching. The English king, who was by all accounts an extremely pious man, immediately ordered the execution of all but the highest born of the prisoners, so that they wouldn't riot and assist in overpowering their captors. Andy shoots himself in the foot. At least he acknowledges the truth, but he destroys his own Ten Commandments of Chivalry by mentioning this. If women decide that it's not convenient to dress like an Edwardian spinster in the middle of the summer, or men realise it's a lot easier to remain seated every time they're eating dinner on the sofa when their wife comes into the living room, Andy's little rules will disappear very rapidly. But remarkably, civilisation won't collapse. At least, not outside his mind.

Communism, which did not develop until the 20th century, is the exact opposite of chivalry: under communism, everyone is treated the same or "equally": boys and girls, men and women, young and old. The pithy little reference to communism is quite a novelty, as that hasn't appeared before. What is ironic is that communism and chivalry are rather similar - both are inventions of the late nineteenth century, and both are utterly misunderstood by Schlafly.

Later, beginning in 1099 and continuing until the 1300s, the wealth and highly trained soldiers made possible the Crusades to recapture Jerusalem (which had fallen under Muslim control). The reasons for the Crusades are varied, complex, and debated. They were certainly not as monocausal as this.

Impact of Feudalism Today: Our law of real property (land) is based on the feudal system. Homes today are usually owned as a “fee” or “fee simple,” which is the concept developed by the feudal system to represent a grant of land to someone. Also, the roots of our free enterprise economic system of private property are in feudalism. Considering the rosy view that Andy has given us, it's surprising that he hasn't just ended this segment by calling for a return to eleventh-century Feudalism. As it is, he accredits both commercial capitalism and some obscure piece of United States real estate law to a system of European medieval social organisation which was not only not the origin of these things, but may not even have existed. Bravo, Andy. Your sheer crapness is truly without equal.

Feudalism and Religion in Japan[edit]

On the other side of the world, in the “Far East,” Japan was independently developing a feudal system similar to that in western Europe. The centralized system of Japan had weakened and declined just as it had in western Europe. The reasons were different, however. The Japanese culture always stressed self-discipline and military skills, and when combined with introduction of writing in the 5th century and Buddhism in the 6th century, there was little need for a centralized government. In addition, the central government that did exist, which was known as the Heian court, lost credibility through its own extravagance and waste. Yes, the social structure in contemporary Japan shared many similarities with the societies of Europe. However, it was also largely the same system that had existed across most of the world since the dawn of civilisation, with the exception of large, centralised societies in which central government had lessened the power of the nobility - as in Ancient Egypt and Rome. Points off for crowbarring in a Republican polemic about the evils of Big Government.

Aristocratic clans had dominated Japan until A.D. 500, when the Yamato clan gradually gained prominence as the leading clan and named themselves “emperor”. But the real power remained controlled by those of noble birth, and then (like now) the “emperor” was just a figurehead. Shinto was the dominant religion, though it has since merged somewhat with Buddhism. Nobody in Japan used the word "emperor". "Emperor" is derived from the Latin imperator - as Andy himself actually said in Lecture Four - and the Japanese didn't speak Latin. Surprisingly, they spoke a form of early Japanese. The word Andy is looking for, and would have found had he bothered to do the research, is ヤマト大王/大君 (yamato ōkimi) or 治天下大王 (amenoshita shiroshimesu ōkimi); both of which are linguistic ancestors of the title for the current Japanese head of state, the 天皇 (tennō). We simply use "emperor" because it is a vague approximation of the concept. Given his preoccupation with linguistics, Andy should really be aware of this.

Feudalism then developed in Japan as families began to acquire control over land and establish independent estates, just as the lords did in western Europe. The peasants were bound to both the land and their master in Japan. Like medieval Europe, fortresses were constructed to protect the large estates and moats were even used to surround the fortress, for added protection. An example of a family that built a large, independent estate was the Fujiwara. Andy makes it sound as though the idea of using a water-filled ditch for protection is stunningly imaginative, and not the sort of thing he would have expected from the Japanese. Moats have been used for thousands of years by all manner of societies. They're pretty common.

The world’s first psychological novel, “The Tale of Genji,” was written in the 1000s by Lady Murasaki about Japanese culture during the Heian period (794-1185). This was a period of great style in Japan with its center at the capital at Heian, where Kyoto is today. Recently, in 1997, Kyoto became known as the place where many nations attempted to limit the alleged global warming through the “Kyoto Treaty” for reducing factory and car emissions, which the United States never ratified. Andy fails to define "psychological novel", which is additionally anachronistic and spatially incorrect, as modern psychology emerged in nineteenth-century Europe and not medeival Japan. If he isn't talking about modern psychology, then he shouldn't be using its terminology. Referencing the Kyoto Protocols here is a complete non-sequitur., and seems to only exist so that Andy can cram in some stinking Republican bullshit about climate-change denial. Insert expletive here.

Skilled military leaders or generals, known as “bushi”, raised their own armies of “samurai” soldiers to protect their estates. Like the chivalry in western Europe, the samurai lived by a code of conduct known as the “bushido,” meaning “the way of the warrior”. One difference is that bushido included a code for Japanese women to follow, which chivalry did not. Bushido involved a ritual known as “seppuku”, by which samurai committed suicide through self-disembowelment. Seppuku was practiced when a warrior faced the prospect of dishonor, to avoid disloyalty, or to display protest. Andy has launched into a discussion about samurai apparently based on the eponymous 2003 film. He gives no indication of the socio-political origin of the samurai class (such as the 663 Battle of Hakusukinoe which triggered subsequent social and military reforms). The only reference to any aspect of samurai custom is the ritual of seppuku or hara-kiri, which usually always crops up in Western cinema about pre-industrial Japan and hence reveals the level of Andy's rigorous peer-reviewed historical sources.

Even more than in western Europe, strict loyalty to one’s lord was emphasized in Japan. About a thousand years later this code would make the Japanese extremely tenacious fighters against Americans in World War II. The bushido required the samurai never to retreat or surrender. Family values were part of the bushido also. A version of Buddhism developed that ensured salvation and heaven for those who lived upright lives. This section is packed with so much bullshit that the noxious pseudohistorical nonsense seems to be seeping downwards, permeating each paragraph below until the segment is just a formless pile of utter crap. This paragraphy is a particularly good example. In a section on Japanese history in the rough period c.500-1500, Andy is now referencing the twentieth century. Why, Andy? WHY?

For hundreds of years the aristocrats gained more and more land in Japan until A.D. 1185, when the Minamoto clan became the most powerful and announced that their leader would served as a military governor called a “shogun”. This clan then ruled Japan for nearly 400 years from its capital at Kamakura, which is south of present-day Tokyo. The pogo-stick of history has at least landed - temporarily - in the right time period. At least Andy has been able to mention Tokyo without referencing animé, sushi, or Hello Kitty. That's the sort of clueless, racially stereotyped level he seems to be working on. Maybe he hasn't mentioned them because he resents that Japan's economy is so much stronger than America's.

When the Minamoto clan seized power in the 12th century, they held onto it for a few hundred years. Some of their emperors were children. Civil war eventually erupted in Japan in 1467, and the country fell back into feudalism consisting of many tiny kingdoms, with each one ruled by a “daimyo”. The daimyo held the same role as the lords in the feudalism of western Europe. Andy evidently can't reference any of these child-emperors, or perhaps none of them had names. He did the same with the Roman emperors. Really, Andy. Libraries are generally free.

The national religion of Japan is Shinto, which considers the emperor to be a living god. Shinto is more like a code of conduct than a religion. Shinto has no afterlife. Instead, it demands loyalty and obedience of all to the emperor, who is divine. It led to extreme nationalism in Japan that made it a very tough opponent of the United States in World War II. It was not until the United States defeated Japan in World War II that the emperor renounced his status as a god and the state religion of Shinto ended. Today Shinto consists of the worship of “kami” in shrines supervised by priests. Worship consists of personal purification and daily prayers to the kumi. Oh GOD. The seepage has now reached such critical levels that any resemblance to real history has become lost in a cesspit of utter bullshit. This is the second time he's mentioned the Second World War in a segment on MEDEIVAL Japan. We're not interested in twentieth-century Japan at this stage, Andy. This man should really see a doctor about his Attention-Deficit Disorder.

Shinto has similarities to Buddhism, but there is major difference in Japan: Shinto is a religion of life used for marriage, while Buddhism is a religion of death used for funerals. Oh great, we end on some pithy little statement about Shinto. Where's the political history? The economic history? The social history? Where are the discussions of Japanese art and culture? The unification of Japan? Japan's relations with contemporary neighbours? There isn't even a rambling diatribe about how the Japanese alphabet is the root cause of everything in Japanese history. An ending that is simultaneously irrelevant, simplistic, and has no purpose whatsoever. A microcosm of Andrew Schlafly himself.

America[edit]

There were three noteworthy ancient American civilizations:
  • Teotihuacan (Mexico) in A.D. 100-900
  • Maya (modern-day Guatemala) in A.D. 300-900
  • Moche A.D. 200-700
They all engaged in human sacrifice, and practiced polytheistic religions—sharing a common belief in Quetzelcoatl (KWET-suhl-kuh-WA-tuhl), a god of the wind and air depicted as a feathered serpent. The Aztec civilization, which came much later, also worshiped this god. The Teotihuacan, Maya, and Moche civilizations also used a truncated pyramid similar to a ziggurat, entertainment by ball-playing, and reliance on corn as a crop. They are known as “Pre-Columbian” because they predate the arrival to the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Each of these civilizations is explained (along with proper pronunciations) below:

Andy does not tell us by what criteria he judges the various civilisations of pre-Columbian America, suggesting that he has based this selection upon either the handful of societies with which he is familiar, or has just pulled the list out of his derriere. Libraries are generally free, Andy. Try uing one.

Quetzalcoatl (which is actually pronounced “KET-sal-co-atl”) is the Aztec name for their feathered serpent deity. The feathered serpent deity was a common feature of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican religions. The Mayans and the people of Teotihuacan worshipped a feathered serpent deity, but they did not refer to him as Quetzalcoatl, because they didn’t speak the same language as the Aztecs. The Moche people were from Peru, not Mesoamerica, and therefore would not have worshipped the Mesoamerican feathered serpent deity at all.

The Teotihuacan (pronounced TA-oh-TEE-wuh-KHAN) (A.D. 100-900) The Teotihuacan civilization followed the Olmec civilization in Mesoamerica, creating a large city totaling perhaps 200,000 people. They worshiped gods of the sun and moon, as well as goddesses of rain and water. People lived in barrios (suburbs or ghettos) around the city. Like many ancient societies, they had an upper class of priests and nobles. Like the Vikings, the poor Teotihuacans are given a short list of generic categories which tell us nothing about their culture, history, politics, language, or any other facet of organised society. Note that barrio is a Spanish word which would have been alien to any Teotihuacan, as according to Andy's own chronology they disappeared before any Spaniard set foot on a New World beach. The fact that Andy considers the Teotihuacans a significant civilisation, but knows nothing about them, says a lot about the standards of his research. But we knew that already.

The Maya (MAH-yuh or MEYE-uh) (A.D. 300-900) The Maya civilization in Central America was located on the Yucatan peninsula, which totaled 5-16 million people. The Mayans have been called the “Greeks of the New World” by many historians. The Mayans had some knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, ritual ball games for entertainment, and the use of their own pictographic language. Unlike Europeans at the time, Mayans did understand the concept of zero just as the Indians in South Asia did. This population estimate is remarkably vague. And no historian who expects to be taken seriously would use such a crass phrase. Unlike Andy, real historians have moved away from the need to use bad comparative bases for entirely different societies. He also misrepresents the Maya - their astronomy and mathematics were highly advanced, and they did indeed use the concept of "zero".

The Mayans used a yearly solar calendar that was perhaps more precise than the Roman (Julian) calendar, using 18 months and 20 days per month, which has almost the same number of days as our 365-day calendar. The Mayans also built temples looking very similar to the ziggurats used in Mesopotamia, puzzling many historians. The Mayans constructed a spectacular capital at Tikal and a worship center at Chichen Itza featuring the ziggurats. For food, the Mayans grew maize (corn), squash and beans. They also traded in stones, salt, honey and shells. Like American Indians the Mayans had no coins or paper money, but sometimes traded in cacao (chocolate) beans. Unlike the American Indians, the Mayans used a written language based on symbols or “glyphs”, as in hieroglyphics. The Maya used three calendars. The Tzolk'in (a modern word, not used by the Ancient Mayans) was a 260-day calendar with origins possible in the timespan of human pregnancy, or possibly from calculations of 13 and 20; sacred numbers in Mayan mythology. The Ha'ab was exactly 365 days in length; the Mayans were possibly aware of the concept of leap years, but as the extra time only adds up significantly over centuries, it doesn't really matter. The Ancient Egyptians, for example, also used a calendar of exactly 365 days, which only required reshuffling every couple of centuries. The Tzolk'in and Ha'ab coincide with each other once every 52 years; thus giving rise to the "Long Count" calendar with which, thanks to crappy New Age conspiracy theories about 2012, we are all familiar. Andy thankfully doesn't drift off into this, but it's worth mentioning that the Mayans predicted solar eclipses stretching well into the twenty-second century AD. So, no, they didn't believe the world will end on December 21st, 2012. Which means that we still have to buy Christmas presents next year.

The Mayan religion was polytheistic and Mayans “appeased the gods” by sacrificing children to the gods. The Mayans believed in creation as explained in their religious text named the “Popol Vuh,” and the Mayans hoped that a god named Quetzalcoatl would return to rule in peace. Wealthy women enjoyed some rights in the society and most women stayed in the home to raise children.

Andy shouldn't start with this scathing, holier-than-thou attitude towards child sacrifice; seeing as the Biblical god demands in Genesis that Abraham sacrifice his son, and Jephthah's poor daughter actually does get sacrificed to the Biblical god in Judges 11:35-39, Andy doesn't hold the moral high ground here. As usual. Hopefully he's overlooked that verse in his heretical Bible rewrite, thus rendering his little pet project a complete waste of his time. Another shoehorned-in reference to woman being subservient. When will Andy realise that throughout human history women haven't raised children because of "conservative values" (an oxymoron if ever there was one) but because it was, and is, necessary for the survival of the human species?

Earlier, Andy dated the Mayan civilization from AD 300-900. These dates correspond with the Classic Period of Mayan civilization. If Andy is going to bring the “Popol Vuh” into a discussion of the Classic Maya, he probably ought to mention that it was written down in the sixteenth century, well into the Post-classic period. The “Popol Vuh” may have been based on ancient oral traditions, but the text is very much a product of colonial Guatemala. And the Mayans certainly would not have been hoping for Quetzalcoatl to come and rule them in peace. Quetzalcoatl was an Aztec god, and even the Aztecs probably never hoped for any such thing.


The reason for the decline of the Mayan civilization is unknown. Mayan cities were abruptly abandoned in the 800s and by the mid-900s the civilization was just a shadow of its former self. It disintegrated into independent towns, or city-states. But today 4 million people still speak the Mayan language. There are a variety of theories, drawing upon the possibility of epidemic, ecological change, population pressures, and the sort of generic socio-economic-political theories which crop up in discussions of social collapse. Andy could have at least mentioned these.

The Toltecs (A.D. 900-1200) The Toltecs were a northern Mexican nomadic tribe that ruled about 50 miles north of present-day Mexico City, in a city called Tula. They were fighters who helped conquer the city of Teotihuacan in the 8th century. But living by the sword they also were conquered by the sword, as Jesus says, and the Toltecs fell at the hands of northern Chichimec tribes. Why has Andy suddenly shoved in a reference to Jesus? This is the fifth Lecture and he's had plenty of time to mention belligerent societies falling through belligerence (such as the Spartans), but he seems to have saved it up for the Toltecs. Probably the result of his condescending dismissal of non-Anglophonic, white, Protestant, capitalist civilisations.

The Toltecs may have traded with a group that lived in the southwestern portion of the United States, the Anasazi. Some historians feel that the Toltecs traded obsidian, which is black volcanic glass having a unique shape, for jade with the Anasazians. The Toltecs had a religious leader named Topiltzin-Quetzalcoatl. According to legend, war forced him to flee into the Gulf of Mexico, but he vowed to return one day. This legend was transmitted to the Aztecs, who rose to power in the Valley of Mexico once the Toltecs declined. "Some historians feel"? What, do they perform some sort of extra-sensory perception whereby touching obsidian allows them to see through time? Points off for not saying "the southwestern portion of what is now the United States".

The Aztecs (the Mexica) (A.D. 1200-1521) The Aztecs adopted many of the legends, ball games, calendar and customs of their predecessors, but were more warlike. In 1325, they built their capital named Tenochtitlan in central Mexico on an island in Lake Texcoco pursuant to a prophecy, and constructed three causeways to connect it to the mainland. The capital city was magnificent, featuring splendid pyramids and temples. The Aztecs trade with far-away peoples, and acquired wealth through trade and tributes. Intellectually, however, the Aztecs did not advance knowledge or civilization. The grammar here is really bad, even for Andrew "Standards are Declining" Schlafly. And by what criteria can he conclude that the Aztecs "did not advance knowledge or civilisation"? They built a remarkable civilisation. Indeed estimates suggest that by the year 1350, Tenochtitlan was the largest city on Earth; a clean, neat, geometric city of grid-plan streets connected by canals and floating gardens. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived, Bernal Díaz famously described the city as "something from a dream". So no, Andy. Despite them being neither Christian nor Republican, the Aztecs were a highly advanced society. Until the Christians buggered it up.

For food they used plots of floating land called chinampas, which were made from soil dredged from the bottom of the lake. They grew mostly corn and some squash and beans. They traded gems, cacoa (chocolate), and animal skins. They were more powerful than their neighbors and even formed a “Triple Alliance” with the city-states of Tlacopan and Texcoco to keep peace. The Aztecs had very little bureaucracy and did not maintain a standing army. There was no reason to, as soldiers could be summoned as needed. Now Andy is actually mentioning reasons for considering the Aztecs a significant civilisation. State-organised agriculture, commercial links, and complex diplomacy. The Aztecs did indeed have a civil service, as all large societies require an administrative apparatus and a city the size of Tenochtitlan could not endure or even be created, without all those people necessary to organise and perform the myriad of day-to-day tasks which are needed to feed a huge population. Finally, they did have a standing army which was constantly deployed to capture warriors from neighbouring societies for sacrifice in the capital city. Andy really should know this. Aren't the Aztecs part and parcel of American history syllabi?

The Aztecs funded their activities based on mandatory tributes, and they would sacrifice people (including their enemies) with greater frequency than prior civilizations. For example, the Aztecs worshiped a war god named Huitzilopochtli, to whom the Aztecs sacrificed prisoners of war. They felt this helped their future with the gods. He fails to mention that many Aztecs volunteered for sacrifice, for much the same reason as many Christians queued up outside Roman courts demanding to be put to death. It was quite an honour to be sacrificed for one's deity.

Montezuma II was the ruler when the Spanish arrived and conquered the Aztecs in 1519. Historians feel that the Aztecs had already been weakened internally, partly due to their demands of tribute and human sacrifice. The Spaniards, under Hernando Cortes, crushed the Aztecs in 1521 and destroyed the Aztec capital at Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City). Cortes founded Mexico City as the new capital. The tactile historians return, touching their way through the past. The reasons for Cortes' remarkably rapid destruction of the Aztec state remain disputed, but historians do point to the fact that the Aztecs were so disliked by neighbouring societies, that many Mesoamericans were quite happy to see the Spaniards slaughter them. It was only once the Aztecs were gone, that neighbouring peoples realised the Spanish did not intend to leave the rest alone. There is also no mention of how the Spanish, with only 200 conquistadores, were able to crush the Aztecs so easily. No mention of the Aztec fear of horses and guns, which were utterly alien to them. No mention of the Aztecs' lack of iron, which but even their bravest warriors at an enormous disadvantage when fighting men clad and armed with steel. Andy could have had a field day talking about La Noche Triste, when the Christians were forced to flee Tenochtitlan with heavy losses. And, predictably, there is no mention of the appalling atrocities committed by the Spanish against the Mesoamericans, all in the name of Christ. He should read "The True History of the Conquest of New Spain" by Bernal Díaz del Castillo - a conquistador who participated in the invasion, saw the aftermath first-hand, and actually wrote to the King of Spain to inform him of the appalling atrocities being carried out by the Spanish. After just a few pages of reading about how Christians impaled babies. disembowelled prgnant women, roasted people on iron racks over fires, set starving dogs on children, hacked off the hands and feet of priests before making them try and hobble away to be used for cavalry practice, skinned people alive, and all sorts of other horrific tortures before sentencing the survivors to perpetual slavery - all for the good of their own heathen souls, of course - he might begin to change his mind about Christianity's historical record.

The Incas (the Quechua) (beginning in A.D. 1250, but especially 1438-1537)

The Incas developed a massive empire in the Andes Mountains in South America, considered to be the largest civilization in all of the Americas. Its beginnings were in the Moche civilization that thrived in South America in the first millennium, along the Andes mountain range. Their culture was based on a system of “reciprocity”, whereby people traded favors and work in a cooperative manner, and on “verticality”, whereby people exploited the advantages of different altitudes in the mountains for jobs like growing different crops.

A ruler named Pachacuti (A.D. 1438-1471) conquered the surroundings of Lake Titicaca and then gained control of the coastal Chimu, which had been a power in the 900s, by cutting off its irrigation system. He established an empire on the west side of South America that extended along the coast from nearly from the top (north) of South America to its bottom (south), including present-day Ecuador and Chile. The empire also extended many miles inland, including the high regions of the mountains. Included were 12 million people of many different ethnic backgrounds. Loyalty was obtained by taking important hostages from conquered peoples, and also by settling reliable Quechua loyalists in each conquered area. The capital was at Cuzco.
At least Andy didn't try and shoehorn in a discussion of "Inca feudalism". The Inca were indeed a great civilisation, and their road system was just as good - if not better - than that of the Romans. Surprisingly, they never made contact with the Aztecs in spite of the two sharing common trade partners in the middle. People "trading favours" sounds a bit suspicious. Isn't Andy opposed to prostitution?

Unlike other civilizations, the Incas lacked a written language. Instead, the Incas used a large cord to administer their empire. The “quipu” was a third cord that held together many different cords of various colors, shapes and sizes. The cords kept an accounting of things in the empire, such as population. The Incas had superb roads and system of messengers and soldiers to transmit messages and maintain order. Stations existed along the roads for supplies, food, and overnight stays, like hotels. Overall, the Incas were good administrators of their vast empire. Alphabetical Andy tries - and fails - to explain a non-written language. He makes it sound ("a large cord") that there was a vast string stretched across the realm. Inca quipus are quite unique, and were baffling to historians until the twentieth century. He gets the Inca road system right, but spoils it by equating relay-stations with hotels. There is a difference between hotels and inns, and between inns and state relay stations. For a start, they're not available to just anyone.

The Incas differed from the Aztecs in that the Incas did not demand tribute to fund the empire. Instead, the Incas required people to work in “mita”, which were shifts of mandatory farming, building, or mining. Small groups formed (“ayllu”) to do community projects. Women cared for the households and did tasks like making clothes. Like the Central American (“Mesoamerican”) societies, daughters inherited from their mothers and sons inherited from their fathers, a system known as “parallel descent.” The Spanish called the Incas “big ears” because the wealthy (aristocrats) would wear earrings so heavy that they would stretch their ears. The king, or “Inca”, was considered to be a god who descended from the sun, while his main wife was considered to be from the moon. Like the Egyptians, mummification was used to preserve the rulers after they died, and major decisions would even be made in the presence of the mummies to benefit from their wisdom. Wrong. Incan mummification was more akin to freeze-drying, and bore no resemblance to the Egyptian method. Thankfully Andy didn't attempt pseduo-crypto-crap by claiming, as fringe "historians" are wont to do, that the Egyptians and New Worlders knew of each others' existence.

Religion played a key role. There was a god believed to be the creator named Viracocha. Human sacrifice was used but animal sacrifice was more popular. Sin was recognized and punished in an afterlife. The main religious city was probably Machu Picchu, located high in the Andes and first discovered in 1912 by Hiram Bingham. Historians don't work on probabilities, Andy. Not without good evidence. What evidence is there that Macchu Picchu was the main religious centre? Predictably, he doesn't give any.

The Incas used irrigation and food was plentiful. They devised a system to freeze-dry potatoes in order to survive famine. However, the Incas had very few skilled artisans, in contrast to Mesoamerica. Explain, then, the engineering works mentioned barely a paragraph ago...

Civil war caused decline in the Inca empire in 1525, when ruler Huayna Capac died and his two sons, Atahualpa and Huascar, fought. Although Atahualpa won, his empire was weakened and he was no match for the Spaniards when they arrived from Europe.

Again, no mention of the atrocities committed by Francisco Pizarro's conquistadores. No mention of the market-square massacre, the execution of Atahualpa, and the brutal torture of Emperor Cuauhtémoc . In Andy's version of history, what does not fit with his preconceived notions is simply airbrushed away. Nowhere more so than in this segment.

That's it? That's lecture Five, covering the period c.500-1000? Where's the mention of North America, Oceania, India, Africa, Southeast Asia? These places did exist then. Perhaps they'll crop up in the next rhetoric-laden political manifesto, but even if they do, it will be a negligble improvement as the information, as this Lecture demonstrated, will be short, wrong, and utterly at odds with reality. As usual.

  1. Indeed, in 1199(!), king Richard the LionheartWikipedia of England died from a gangrenous wound inflicted by the bolt of a lowly French crossbowman during the siege of Château de Châlus-ChabrolWikipedia