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Conservapedia:World History Lecture Six

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World History

Sixth Lecture – Middle Ages (the Second Millennium)

Instructor, Andy Schlafly

Introduction to the Second Millennium (A.D. 1000s)[edit]

The second millennium began in the 1000s with a century of turmoil as Christianity grew larger and Islam began to challenge it. Two key dates were 1054, when the schism or split occurred between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and 1055, when the Seljuk Turks captured Baghdad in present-day Iraq. Both events set the stage for a big battle between Christian and Moslem forces in Palestine. The second millennium began a little more precisely. It began at 00:00 on January 1st, 1000. Andy really should know this. And what a great start to a Lecture on the High Middle Ages: a crowbarred-in reference to the contemporary conflict between Islam and Christianity. Sigh. We can all see where this drivel is headed...

In 1054, the Byzantine empire established its own church, known as the “Eastern Orthodox Church.” This church resulted from the schism in the Roman Catholic Church. The dispute began with a controversy over the popular use of icons and then spread to other issues such as whether priests could marry and whether divorce would be allowed. The Great Schism of 1054 was merely the culmination of centuries of political, geopolitical, and theological tension between Rome and Constantinople. Issues were varied, but the key points of conflict were filioque (an obscure theological question relating to the Nicean Creed), the Pope's claim of universal jurisdiction, and the often-severe tension between East and West over who had the legitimate claim to the title of "Roman Empire". Remember that the Byzantines did not call themselves "Byzantines", but simply called themselves (and were called by others) "the Romans". Bear in mind, too, that in 800 AD the Pope had revived the title "Roman Empire" under Charlemagne. Western and Eastern Europe had been drifting apart since even the height of the classical Roman Empire, and throughout the Early Middle Ages this trend exacerbated as contact between East and West lessened. The issue of ikons had been dragged out as a pretext for reviving the title "Roman Empire" in the West in 800, but was largely irrelevant by the time of the Great Schism.

The word “icon” comes from the Greek word “eikon” for “image”. The Eastern Orthodox Church embraced icons and rejected three-dimensional statutes. The Eastern Orthodox Church also allowed its priests to marry, and permitted divorce. The Roman Catholic Church took the opposite position on all three issues. Also, in an Orthodox wedding ceremony there is no exchange of vows between husband and wife. That is considered for them to decide privately. The factoid tacked on at the end adds nothing to this already-pointless segment. It seems that Andy is instead covertly whining about Orthodox Christianity, for reasons which are currently unclear but will undoubtedly crop up before long.

These churches disagreed about the authority of the pope, which would cause a split between Catholics and Protestants centuries later, also led to disagreements between the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church. To this day there have been many efforts to reunite these two churches, but they have been unsuccessful. Today Turkey is 99% Muslim, but the Eastern Orthodox Church remains the dominant church in Russia and many countries of eastern Europe and Asia. Why the reference to contemporary Turkey? And it's wrong. Turkey is in fact something of a pariah among Islamic nations, as since the 1920s Turkey has been officially secular. Andy doesn't seem to realise that the Russian Orthodox Church is different to the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, etc.

The Eastern Orthodox Church and particularly its Saint Cyril were extremely influential in converting the Slavic regions of Eastern Europe (including Russia) to Christianity. Saint Cyril even established a new alphabet for the purpose of teaching the Slavs to read the Bible. His Cyrillic alphabet remains the basis of the alphabet for Russia and other Slavic countries. Ahh, Andy wanders off onto his pet project of linguistic determinism. At least he keeps this tangent mercifully short.

After the schism, the Catholic Church strengthened its organizational structure in 1059 when it established the College of Cardinals to elect future popes, thereby ensuring a smooth transition from pope to pope that has continued to this day. At that time power in western Europe was centered in two places: Germany, where the Saxons ruled, and Rome, where the papacy presided. Their relationship was sometimes friendly, sometimes not-so-friendly. Smaller kingdoms in France and England existed also. What? Is this a discussion of the papacy or states? "Germany" did not exist until 1871. Unless Andy is using "Germany" in its historical context as a descriptor for Central Europe more generally (which he almost certainly isn't, due to his astonishingly poor knowledge of history), he's badly wrong. He should say "The Holy Roman Empire". Why do France and England get tacked on at the end? And why only them? According to this view, there were only four polities in the year 1000 - France, England, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Papal States. The rest of Europe, apparently, was utterly anarchic. Andy really, really should try opening a book.

The biggest event in English history was the Battle of Hastings in 1066, when the Normans invaded and conquered the island and established the reign of William the Conqueror, which lasted until 1087. The Normans continued on to conquer most of Italy in 1084. "English history" is quite long, and it's rather rich of Andy to tell us what the single "biggest event" in our history was, considering his piss-poor knowledge of historical reality. Also, by what criteria does he determine "biggest event"? Economic? Social? Political? Technological? Religious? Cultural? Linguistic? Points off for not actually describing the context which led to the Norman Invasion, and for failing to mention that it took the Normans some twenty years to subdue England, parts of Wales, and parts of eastern Ireland. He also seems to imply that the same Normans who conquered England promptly sailed back and conquered Italy. Ambiguity is such a dangerous thing, Andy, and so easy to avoid...

The most important pope of this time was Pope Gregory VII, who reigned from 1073 to 1085. He is known for ending the control of the western church by the secular (non-church) rulers, particularly by abolishing lay investiture, by which lay lords had control over the choice of bishops, abbots and other church officials. Pope Gregory excommunicated the German King Henry IV for insisting on installing bishops, and Henry IV even crossed the Alps in wintertime to seek forgiveness and absolution from the pope in the Canossa incident in 1077. Historians today view the incident as an example of humiliation of a king by a religious leader. Pope Gregory forgave him, but then Henry IV continued to demand control and even removal of Pope Gregory, ultimately causing him to flee Rome in 1084 to survive. Pope Gregory died a year later, while Henry IV lived on for another 20 years. By "the German King" Andy means the Holy Roman Emperor. Evidently, he's already forgotten the content of his own previous lecture.

Christianity continued to grow in power based on the feudal system. The Christians defeated the Muslims in Spain in 1085 at the battle of Toledo, beginning the process of converting Spain back to Christianity after hundreds of years of Moslem rule. By what stretch of the imagination could a socio-economic system (feudalism) enhance the power of a religion? And considering that Christianity was already entrenched as the overwhelmingly dominant religion of Europe long before the Roman Empire fizzled out, Andy's claim is simply foolish.

Several strict Christian religious orders were established in the 1000s in Europe, including the Carthusian Order (1086) and the Cistercian Order (1098). There are monks today who continue to belong to these orders. Both orders require silence and vegetarianism, in addition to giving up all worldly possessions. The Carthusians lived like hermits; the Cistercians spread Christianity and western farming knowledge to Eastern Europe, hosting many retreats for citizens to attend and participate in a week or weekend of prayer and learning. At its peak, the Cistercians had over 700 monasteries. The first university in the world was established in 1088: the University of Bologna in Italy. Andy has already mentioned monasteries in his previous "class", and managed to get it abysmally wrong. There is no point in repeating it here, Saint Schlafly the Obscure. Note that he doesn't say when this "peak" was, and tacks on medieval universities at the end. Medieval universities were a radical concept in European cultures, and were unlike anything the Greeks and Romans had had. Offering a choice of theology, law, medicine, or natural philosophy (a catch-all term for everything not covered by the first three), medieval universities offered degrees; a totally novel concept and one which Fundamentalist Christians are so scared of. So perhaps it's not surprising, given his morbid fear of "experts", that Andy only makes a fearful passing mention of universities. Even by the standards of the eleventh century, he's full of shit.

Capping the end of the 1000s was the capture by the Christians of Jerusalem. This was the greatest success of the Crusades, which we discuss next. Oh wonderful, the Crusades. As narrated by Schlafly the Sanctimonius. This is going to be painful...


The most famous military activity in the feudal period was the “Crusades”, a series of wars covering nearly 200 years, from A.D. 1096-1291. Only the First Crusade and, to a lesser extent, the Third Crusade were successful. But the First Crusade alone was immensely successful. Note that in the previous Lecture, Andy claimed that "there was mostly quiet religious activity between 500-1500". Well he was wrong there, and here he is going to prove just how full of crap he is. Oh and for the record, there was a lot of fighting still going on in Europe at the time. It's just that the Crusades have passed down through collective memory more successfully than other, larger wars of the period.

One of the main purposes of the Crusades was to make Jerusalem safe for Christian pilgrimages. Fed up with reports of the murdering of defenseless Christian pilgrims, in 1095 Pope Urban II called for feudal knights to retake the Holy Land from the Seljuk Turks. The Seljuk Turks seemed almost invincible as fighters, having conquered Asia Minor and even beating the once-mighty Byzantine Empire. The Seljuk Turks ruled from the 1000s to the 1200s, and did particularly well under its ruler Malik Shah, who died in 1092. But some Moslems were unhappy with being ruled by the Turks, and once Malik died dissension in the Islamic world grew. The Byzantine emperor, Alexius Comnenus, had been repeatedly defeated by the Seljuk Turks and he asked the pope for help to defeat the Moslems. He promised a reunion of the Eastern Orthodox Church and to give Byzantine lands (“fiefs”) to victorious knights from the feudal west.

This section is short, yet it is so full of self-righteous right-wing shit, and gross historical inaccuracy, that it requires extensive reconstruction. Someone ring up Haliburton.

The causes of the Crusades were - as might be guessed - complex. A variety of push- and pull-factors in Europe and the Levant (the Holy Land) combined around the end of the eleventh century to cause actual conflict. Historians, predictably, emphasise different aspects based upon their own personal opinions and the norms of the society in which they live. For nineteenth-century historians, the Crusades were all about religion and chivalry (which, as we have seen, did not actually exist). For historians of the mid twentieth century, it was all about economic and demographic factors. Now, there are even historians stressing environmental causes of the Crusades; particularly against the pagans in northern Europe, suddenly accessible due to longer summers. The latter is a bit silly, but accurately reflects how modern concerns affect our view of the past. Predictably, for Andy, it's all about evil Muslims and righteous Christians, which is more the level of a five-year-old than a professional historian. He fails to mention the demographic stability of Europe by c.1000 AD, which freed up a lot of humans from subsistence farming. This, combined with laws of hereditary ownership of land and estates, meant that a lot of men were suddenly landless with nothing to do. Additionally, the Vikings had evaporated as a threat but their raids had prompted European monarchs to assemble semi-professional military forces. So, by the late eleventh century there were a lot of restless, landless, armed men in Europe who had nothing to do but fight. And fighting in Europe wouldn't exactly help restabilise the continent.

Of course, it's extremely doubtful that Europeans were aware of the economic and social forces at the time and it would be moronic to claim that there was religion was just a pretext for getting men out of Europe. There were of course religious reasons. In 1071 the Byzantines suffered a severe defeat at the hands of the Seljuks at Manzikert, prompting Christian concern that Constantinople would soon be under siege. When the Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komnenos sent a letter to the Pope asking for help, the pretexts were in place and in 1096 the Crusade began.

The point of all this is, that Andy is even more wrong than usual in attributing a monocausal explanation for the First Crusade. There were all sorts of reasons, and we can't be sure just why it happened. Historians can only look at the evidence and construct theories - which don't always agree with each other. Yet one thing they can agree on - it was not monocausal, and certainly was not the sort of childish monocause that Schlafly claims.

At the Council at Clermont in southern France, Pope Urban II gave one of the greatest speeches ever. Promising absolution and assurance of salvation to anyone who died in the crusade, he urged a huge crowd to protect Christian pilgrims from the Turks. He demanded that all internal feuds end and he threatened excommunication for anyone who continued to bicker internally. Those who decided to fight in the crusades were said to be “taking up the cross,” because they would wear a tunic with a large red cross on it. Andy makes another of his trademark hyperbolic exaggerations. The Council of Clermont did indeed promise absolution of sins for anyone who died in the Crusade and did indeed threaten Christians who fought other Christians, with excommunication. Not that anyone paid much attention, of course. Not all crusaders wore large red crosses; this was a practice of the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller, and it is thanks to Hollywood that we have this image of Christian armies all wearing red crosses. Andy clearly gets his historical information from TCM.

At first Peter the Hermit answered the call of Pope Urban and led an unprepared group of peasants in the first mission, which failed. But news of its failure led to renewed determination by the Christians, and a well-equipped religious mission led by the Normans was formed. This became known as the First Crusade. The delightfully communist-sounding "Peoples' Crusade" led by Peter the Hermit did indeed fail badly. Many of the peasants turned back, died, or were enslaved. Those who actually made it to Constantinople really annoyed the Byzantine Emperor, as he was suddenly charged with looking after thousands of starving, ill-armed peasants. The lesson we learn here, is that grassroots religious activity is half-arsed, disorganised, and achieves little. Take note, Tea Party.

When the western forces reached Constantinople to join with Alexius’ soldiers, the western army was already overwhelming. It proceeded to capture Nicaea in 1097, and went onward to Jerusalem despite intense fighting and hardship. Wrong. The Western army was badly depleted by the time it reached Constantinople, and relations between the Catholics and Orthodox were still frosty.

In 1099, the First Crusade invaded and succeeded in capturing Jerusalem, and set up four feudal kingdoms that would remain for nearly 100 years. Critics claim that the Christian crusaders massacred the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the process. But it was a huge military victory and Jerusalem was finally made safe for the pilgrims. "Critics claim"? Note that Andy doesn't actually deny the slaughter, nor even defends it as justifiable action. He more or less admits the slaughter, yet doesn't even try to wriggle out of this knotty issue by concocting some crap about it being necessary. And as for safety, the safety of pilgrims was infinitely worse following the siege. It's simple logic, Andy. Warzones are not exactly safe places. Especially when the war is fought between two groups of religious zealots.

A mixture of Christian spirituality and military adventure motivated the participants in the Crusades like never before in history and perhaps never since. Merchants participated also in the hope of establishing new trade connections. While historians emphasize abuses committed by soldiers, most of the crusaders were acting to advance the cause of Christianity and secure salvation for others and perhaps themselves. This was not necessarily true for all of the crusaders. Criminals who fought were pardoned, and a crusader was exempt from taxation from the time that he “took up the cross,” until he returned from the war. Still for the most part, this was a religious war.

Oh, Andy, isn't the War on Terror inspired by Jeezuz?

Well, this crusading malarkey sounds a right jolly jape for all parties! You get a flashy coat with a big red cross on it, you can sin to your heart's content without God arse-raping you with hot pitchforks for all eternity, you get to kill a lot of people, and there's a good chance you'll make a few quid while at it! Darn those wretched historians for reminding us that there was a lot of horror and atrocity on both sides. These academics; they're just dull little people sticking their flies in our collective Christian ointment. Pooh to them, I say!

How unsurprising that Andy whitewashes history with his right-wing fundamentalist Christian horseshit. This paragraph is so packed with the stuff that it perceptibly stinks. Even over the internet.

A Second Crusade in 1147-49 was a failure. In 1187 the Muslims captured Jerusalem under their leader Saladin, and the Third Crusade (1189-92) had the limited success of obtaining a truce from Saladin that promised to allow Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem. That Crusade was led by the leaders of France and the Holy Roman Empire and King Richard the Lion-Hearted of England. The first returned home after an argument on the way to Jerusalem, and the second drowned; only King Richard saw the mission through.

Richard the Lionheart, Andy. Not "Hearted". Try to fail a little less often. Points off for not bothering to mention the names of King Phillip II of France and Emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa) of the Holy Roman Empire.

Andy doesn't bother to mention why there was another Crusade. The County of Edessa - one of the four Crusader principalities in the Levant which Andy mentioned, but didn't bother to name - had been overrun, thus prompting a response from Europe. At least Andy is right in stating that it was largely a failure, largely as the Europeans were more interested in the ongoing reconquista in Portugal and Spain. The Third Crusade was reluctant at best, and Saladin's stunning victory at the Horns of Hattin deserves at least a mention. While Andy may have a seizure from admitting that Saladin was a good general, we rational types can give the man the credit he weas due. Crusader leaders were little more than thugs revelling in carnage and torture, but Saladin was a truly brilliant general, diplomat, and civic leader. He ran rings around the Europeans, the Mongols, and his Muslim rivals on the battlefield and the negotiations table. He was also a very humane man, far more so than the Europeans. When Richard of England fell badly ill with a fever, Saladin sent him baskets of fruit, Islamic doctors (who were infintely more skilled than Christian surgeons), and even had gallopers bring ice all the way from the Syrian mountains - and sent across the front lines - so that Richard could have cold drinks in his recovery. Now that's a leader. Even Europeans recognised this. In Dante's Divine Comedy, Saladin appears as one of the "Virtuous Pagans" who get a slightly bearable afterlife on the extreme edge of Hell, where they live in a sort of peaceful limbo. It's not surprising that Andy couldn't bring himself to discuss Saladin, even if he had bothered to do the research. But considering the number of heresies that Andy has already committed, praising a non-Christian isn't going to make his eternal punishment any worse.

Two subsequent crusades were tragic. The Fourth Crusade (1202-04) never reached the Holy Land and ended with the crusaders’ sacking Constantinople—a Christian city—wounding it forever and embittering the East against the West. A Children’s Crusade (1212) consisted of peasants leading thousands of children on a mission of love to Jerusalem, but the children either drowned or were taken and sold into slavery. The later Crusades lost their religious motivation. Historians claim they were motivated by greed and ambition.

Those damned historians again. Andy makes it sounds as though the Fourth Crusade was unwittingly enticed into sacking Constantinople. They knew perfectly well what they were doing, and were only marching under the Crusader banner as a cheap excuse to get close enough to Constantinople to pillage it. He could have mentioned that. The Childrens' Crusade was indeed rather grim. Andy doesn't mention, though, how the slavers were Christians. He also - strangely - doesn't mention the Fifth and Sixth Crusades. The Fifth, consisting of a half-hearted march on Jerusalem and a simultaneous attack on Egypt, was a disaster for the Crusaders. The Sixth barely even got started. There were more crusades. but the Sixth was the last to be launched by the Pope, and by the early 1300s the Europeans had lost all interest in Crusading. In 1291 the last Christian fortress in the Levant - Acre - had fallen, and the Europeans found themselves with bigger problems at home to face. They packed up and left, abandoning the ravaged Byzantine Empire to its slow fading-away, and the crusades in the Holy Land ended.

Andy has also failed to mention crusades in northern Europe (the Teutonic Order against the pagan Lithuanians), the Albegenic Crusade (against heretics in southern France), and of course the centuries-long reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula. Instead he has made a slapdash, half-arsed attempt to cram in some religious propaganda, and given up halfway through. In that respect, this entire section is a microcosm of the Crusades themselves.

The Crusades remain a controversial issue, but all agree that the impact of the Crusades was enormous. Indeed, the Crusades were the biggest cause of the end of the Middle Ages in Western Europe. There are many reasons why:

What. The. HELL??

There is so much wrong with this, it would be easier to perform the Labours of Hercules than riugorously refute Schlafly's Christ-awful pseudoscholarship and piss-brained propaganda. We'll have to settle for a point-by-point rebuttal.

(1) The Catholic Church gained more power due to the Crusades, and this led to the Reformation. No it didn't. On either count. The Church experienced significant in-fighting and factionalism throughout the Crusades. Rememember that the medieval church was highly politicised, and regularly meddled in secular affairs. Rival cardinals supported - and were supported by - rival kings, creating an almot perpetual discord in the College of Cardinals. The issue of anti-Popes hadn't disappeared, either. Claiming that the Crusades led to the Protestant Reformation is bullshit in its purest form. Martin Luther didn't publish his 96 theses - the foundation of the Reformation - until 1517, some two hundred years after the Crusades ended. We'll examine the causes of the Reformation at an appropriate point later on, but suffice it to say here that this claim is simply wrong.

(2) The Crusades introduced Europeans to many new goods from the East, and this greatly increased trade. These new goods included cotton, citrus, sugar, oriental carpets, glassware, paper and gems. What has this got to do with ending the Middle Ages? All of these goods were either manufactured in, or imported into, Europe long before the First Crusade. Admittedly in small amounts, but the increase in trade was a quantitative change, not qualitative. In other words, increased trade was just more of the same, and not a radical new phenomenon. Why is this even in here?

(3) The Crusades introduced Europeans to gunpowder, one of the most significant inventions in the history of the world. Gunpowder influenced all future military conflicts. Wrong, wrong, WRONG. It is still not clear when or where gunpowder was introduced to Europe. The recipe may have been brought via the Silk Road by Marco Polo. It may have been uncovered during the Christian reconquest of Spain. It might have been captured from Mongols or traded from the Arabs, and it might even - though not likely - have been independently discovered in the Holy Roman Empire. We know that references to gunpowder start appearing in European literature around the mid-thirteenth century, but this doesn't really help as that time period coincides with all of the above possibilities. Andy is pulling his usual trick of plucking a theory out of thin air and pronouncing it as gospel. When in fact, as usual, he's talking shit.

(4) The Crusades contributed to the end of feudalism and gave power to kings, because the knights had to sell land to the kings to pay for the mission to Jerusalem. Many nobles lost their lives in the Crusades, further strengthening the relative power of the monarchs. Merchants favored the rise of kings, who could better promote and protect trade than feudal knights could. Oh, Christ. We already saw in the previous Lecture, how feudalism is a vague concept which might not even have existed. Yet if we do accept that feudalism was real, what caused it to end was the growth of commercial capitalism in the late 1400s and early 1500s: not the late 1200s. Similarly, the centralisation of state power occured at the same time, influenced by (and influencing) primitive capitalism. As for the nobility, a surprisingly low number of nobles actually participated in the Crusades, and the ones who did fight were not the firstborns who inherited estates and lands. It was not until the demographic crisis of the Black Death, and the increasing centralisation of the state, that the European nobilities began losing their grip on power.

(5) The increase in trade due to the Crusades led to an increased use in money rather than barter, and a new middle class (the “bourgeoisie”) developed. What Andy is trying to discuss - and failing badly - is monetisation. It is true that European economies monetised from c.1000 onwards, as coins gradually replaced barter systems. In 1066, for example, there was approximately £900,000 in cash in England, the vast majority locked up in the Treasury. Yet by 1315, the first year of the Great Famine, this had increased to £16,000,000 in cash, the vast majority in circulation among people. In the Holy Roman Empire and France, the thaler and livre, respectively, saw similar increases to the English pound. As is so often the case, the causes of this monetisation are debated, yet it seems to have to do with population increases, longer periods of peace in Europe, and icreased trade. The Crusades had nothing to do with it, as warzones are not exactly good places for money to flow in and out of. The concept of a "middle class" is vague enough in our modern societies, and trying to identify one in the High Middle Ages is a dubious quest. While a bourgeoisie did appear under early capitalism, this was in the Late Middle Ages (1400s) and not the High Middle Ages (1200s). Andy is getting worse as he goes along.

(6) Italian city-states, such as Rome, grew in power based on providing supplies and ships for the crusaders trying to reach the Holy Land. This is true, but what has it got to do with ending the Middle Ages? Also note that Rome was a negligible political power (except for the Pope himself). The Crusading armies were carried on Venetian and Genoese fleets, not Roman. This is an accurate but irrelevant observation.

(7) Europeans were inspired by magnificent cities they saw in the East, such as Constantinople, along with achievements in business and artistic works. Yet again, Andy tacitly praises Islam. And it's not as though Western Europe was devoid of artistic and architectural works. Constantinople was a ramshackle affair by the early 1200s, and while it is true that Islamic cities were generally more orderly and clean thatn their European counterparts, the Crusaders were far more interested in burning and demolishing what the conquered, than admiring it. And again, how did this contribute to the end of the Middle Ages? Does building a better bridge result in changing a whole epoch?

(8) Historians argue that the Crusades improved the power of women who were left to manage property as the crusaders went off into battle. Oh CHRIST. Will Andy PLEASE make up his mind whether he wants women empowered or not? According to him, women have always been domestically bound while the men toil away. Now all of a sudden, they have no power until their husbands went away to fight. Make up your mind!! As noted, few nobles actually fought. And, noblewomen were already in powerful domestic positions regardless of the proximity of their menfolk. Partly through custom, partly because women were (rightly) perceived to be better at organisation and management than men, and partly because that is simply the format that humans have followed since the dawn of civilisation. Andy really needs to work on this thing called "consistency". He's either in favour of female empowerment, or he's not. A feminazi (at least in his mind), or just a nazi. It's not a pretty choice, but it's one he has to make.

Some Christians fully defend the Crusades, and proudly compare the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq to a modern version of the Crusades.

Jesus F***ing Christ. What a way to end a discussion of the Crusades. This shitty, half-baked drivel has blindly blundered its way through propaganda, a total lack of research, and outright lies: only to arrive at this. It's hard to meaningfully consider just how many people have pissed in Andy's brain. It might be noted that, if he wants to wave the Christian banner for the Crusade on Terror, he ought to remember that the Crusades failed. This isn't supposed to be a soapbox, but let's just briefly get on one here.

Andrew Layton Schlafly has never fought in a war. That much is evident. He can "proudly compare" to his heart's content, but he has absolutely no idea what it actually is that he is comparing. Like the majority of warmongers in human history, Andy Schlafly is just some pompous, upper-class, hyper-religious prick who has no idea what the real world is like. He has led a cushy, comfortable life in which he has never once had to get his dainty, lily-white hands dirty, and has a vision of war that belongs entirely in Victorian novels. He went so far in Lecture Five to claim that war is "humorous", and here he inserts utter shit on how war is a noble act. And while such right-wing twats sit in their warm, cosy offices haranguing society on how we must engage in war against anyone who doesn't subscribe to the capitalist Western quasi-Crusade ideal, it is never his type who do the actual fighting. Rather, such sabre-ratling is just another symptom of his perpetual habit of shouting down from the ramparts of his ivory tower, telling the rest of the world how we should behave. He screams out that we should follow his economic system, share his political opinions, blindly obey his twisted and hypocritical "morality", and fight his wars. But from the ramparts of that ivory tower, it's hard to see the people struggling in the mud. Andy should pull his f***ing head out of his arse.

See, some of us have fought in wars. And those of us who have lived through war, can assure the likes of Andrew Schlafly that war is not some noble crusade. Least of all when it is motivated by pseudo-religious right-wing bullshit; regardless of what name either side gives to their god. Perhaps if Andy had seen one of his friends turned into a red splash in the sand, had smelled the rows of body bags with the flies buzzing around, had heard the sobbing children in the burning streets, had read the government letter saying that his son has been killed; had this pompous, self-righteous [expletive] actually experienced war - real war, not the sanitised six-o'-clock CNN version or, God forbid, the cheerful "Kill-'em-all" shit that Fox News vomits forth - he might understand what war really is.

But like all such right-wing [expletive]s, he is far too much of a coward to actually do that. Instead he will hide behind his computer monitor, dictating his shit to a world which he has no understanding of. So on behalf of the men and women of all sides who have died, are dying, and will die, in endless and pointless wars to satisfy the dictatorial cravings of disconnected politico-religious f***wits the world over, here's a famous poem by Wilfred Owen, 1917. We can only hope that everyone's favourite Conservapedian coward actually reads it.

"Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori" ("Sweet and Fitting it is to Die for One's Country")

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!---An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,

And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace

Behind the wagon that we flung him in,

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,

His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood

Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,

Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud

Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,---

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest

To children ardent for some desperate glory,

The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.

The Mongols[edit]

Asia and eastern Europe suffered the scourge of vicious fighters known as the Mongols. Japan was very fortunate in one key respect: it is an island enjoying the protections of water against invaders like the Mongols. Ahh, the Mongols. Andy has given himself a whole segment in which to blend geographical determinism, historical inaccuracy, Victorian misconceptions, and a liberal sprinkling of his trademark casual racism. It's already started! "[T]he scourge of vicious fighters" reads like something from a pompous Edwardian boarding-school textbook. But hey-ho, let's plod on and see what hideous, deformed mutant evolves from this bubbling broth of bullshit and error.

The Mongol tribe came from Mongolia, which is northwest of China in central Asia. They were skilled warriors and expert horsemen, capable of riding for days without any difficulty. They would pitch tents as needed and they would roam throughout Asia, destroying anything that stood in their way. They were known for their savagery and were poor administrators of the lands they conquered. Andy seems to have abandoned his attempt to categorise themes, as seen in Lecture One and which limped on, occasionally reappearing, up until the Early Middle Ages. Here, it seems to have finally died as Andy is tossing in random, unconnected themes such as horsemanship, tents, and bureaucracy. The Mongols here sound a lot like the US Army. They turn up, piss all over eveything, then pull out when the bumbling, feckless morons realise just how apocalyptically abysmal they are at actually solving problems. Andy must like that, as he is such a fan of comparing historical phenomena to contemporary American military propaganda...

The founder of the Mongol empire was Chinggis (Genghis) Khan (1162-1227), who united the Mongol tribes. He dreamed of creating the biggest empire in world history, and he did exactly that. He built a massive and powerful army based on meritocracy (promotion based on merit rather than friendship or seniority). Hmm, Andy not only gets something right (as he occassionally does), but promotes the idea of meritocracy. Careful, Andy. That smacks of socialism. Keep this attitude up, and before long the hammer and sickle will be flying over Pennsylvania Avenue. Hooray!

Chinggis Khan led the Mongols from 1206 to 1227. Historians consider him to have been a military genius, and he conquered the largest contiguous empire in the history of the entire world. Andy is getting quite starry-eyed about Genghis Khan. Note his pithy attempt to appear clever by saying "Chinggis". Of all the people who fall victim to Political Correctness, Andrew Schlafly wouldn't have been an obvious wager.

In all of history, only the Mongols were able to invade Russia successfully in the wintertime. The Mongols conquered Russia in 1237, and ruled over it until 1480. This caused isolation of the Russians from Europe, thereby creating a distrust of Europeans (and Americans) that exists to this day. Russia suffered economically and intellectually from the Mongol rule, and its citizens were subjected to the status of peasants who could act only as serfs for their protectors among the Russian ruling class, who imposed taxes for the benefit of the Mongols. Prince Alexander Nevsky, based on his cooperation with the Mongols, became the first prince of Moscow and all of Russia. The tributes by the Russians to the Mongols did not end until Ivan III of Moscow refused to pay tribute in 1480. By then the Mongols were too weak to do anything about it. What's this crap? Andy seems to be labouring under the impression that Russia has always been a huge, unified state - even though in the previous lecture, he waxed lyrical about Russian city-states. No, the Mongols were not the only people to successfully conquer Russia in the winter, because a state even vaguely resembling modern Russia didn't emerge until the late 1400s. At the time of the Mongol incursions into Europe, the area now occupied by the Russian Federation was composed of dozens of small, squabbling states. Much like Western Europe or the Islamic world. And what the hell is this claim that the Mongols caused contemporary Russian mistrust of the West? That's right children. When seeking to explain the hot-and-cold relationship between NATO and the Russian Federation in the early twenty-first century, forget the obvious factors. Forget the dissolution of the USSR, the legacy of the Cold War, Russia's resurgent economic and geopolitical power vis-a-vis the bloated and arrogant West, and the centuries of cultural, linguistic, religious, political, and military differences between the Slavic and Frankish/Germanic spheres of influence. As usual, Andy has neglected to actually tell his students why the Mongols had a negative impact upon the cultures of Kievan Rus, Novgorod, Muscovy, Smolensk, etc, and simply opts for cramming half-baked crap down their throats. Well, at least he didn't mention communism. Yet.

In 1231, the Mongols invaded Persia and killed hundreds of thousands of people. In 1258, the Mongols defeated the Muslims in Baghdad, located in modern-day Iraq. The Mongols spared Christians in the city but killed the caliph Abbasid. Only later did the Mongols themselves convert to Islam. Andy paints a portrait of the Mongols as evil savages, but neglects to mention that their attack on Persia was prompted by a diplomatic incident. Genghis had sent a diplomatic delegation to the Khwarazmian Shah of Persia requesting a formal treaty, akin to what we might term a non-aggression pact, with Persian tribute thrown in. The Shah not only refused, but violated diplomatic custom by executing the two Mongol diplomats in a rather unpleasant manner. The subsequent Mongol invasion was indeed very bloody, far more so than Mongol campaigns in East Asia, the Holy Land, and Eastern Europe. If Andy is going to start bitching about the Mongols (a strange volte-face, after his recent rosy-viewed image of them), he could at least mention what the Mongols' enemies actually did as well.

The Mongols destroyed cities, irrigation systems, and anything else that they wanted to. They were greatly feared. They ruled so much land that they had to divide it into four regions: Russia, China, central Asia and Persia. The region of Russia is known as the Khanate of the Golden Horde. Notice Andy's use of the present tense. Someone phone President Medvedev and tell him that his country is using the wrong name. It isn't the "Russian Federation", it's the "Khanate of the Golden Horde"! That'll go down well in the Kremlin. As usual, Andy cocks it up again. The Khanate was restricted to what is now Ukraine and Kazakhstan, not Russia. And the Mongols didn't divide their polity into four awkward geopolitical zones. They didn't even have maps, so how could they have?

Brutal in their military techniques, the Mongols added the Chinese warfare of gunpowder and the catapult to their fierce arsenal. They seemed unstoppable and, in addition to conquering much of Asia (including present-day Russia), they also ruled what is now Poland, eastern Germany and Hungary by 1242. They were finally beaten back by Egyptian Mamluks in a famous battle in Palestine, where for the first time another group was able to defeat the Mongols in tough hand-to-hand combat. The furthest the Mongols could reach into western Europe was the outskirts of Vienna. Andy's ghastly grammar rears its ugly head yet again. He has a strange preoccupation with Russia, and hasn't actually mentioned the Mongol incursions into China, southeast Asia, India, the Holy Land, and Eastern Europe. He could at least have named the battles in question. The Mongol victory over a Hungarian army at the Battle of Mohi in 1241 not only devastated Hungary, but left Europe open for Mongol invasions. Indeed, the Mongols launched attacks against the Byzantine Empire, Romania, Lithuania, and Poland; but their invasion ground to a halt for reasons which are still debated. The death of Genghis' successor, Ögedei Khan, caused infighting and civil wars among the Mongol generals competing for supreme power. It is likely (but not certain) that the Mongols were reluctant to invade the densely-forested, more heavily-populated, fortified states of Byzantine Europe and the Holy Roman Empire, where the Europeans would have a major advantage. The Mongol invasion of the Holy Land, meanwhile, had stumbled along from the 1240s to 1271 as the Crusaders, Muslims, and Mongols made and broke all sorts of treaties with each other. But in 1271 the Mongols retreated out of the Holy Land - as Andy mentions, but does not explain. It's difficult to know which "famous battle in Palestine" Andy means, as there were several conflicts between the Mongols, Muslims, and Crusaders - in all possible combinations - from the 1240s to 1300. Finally, he gets it apocalyptically wrong in stating that the Mongols reached Vienna. The famous Islamic siege of Vienna was by the Ottoman Turks in 1529, some three hundred years after the Mongol incursions. Really, Andy. This stuff is remarkably easy to find. Libraries are generally free.

The Mongols enjoyed continued success in China, where Kublai Khan founded the Yuan dynasty beginning in 1260, with its capital in present-day Beijing. He connected the Huang He River with Beijing by extending the Grand Canal. He promoted Buddhism and ended mandatory education in the teachings of Confucius. He allowed freedom of religion. He installed foreign administrators to manage the vast country. Oh hooray, the return of Andy's famous historical pogo-stick. We've bounced from the Ukraine to Poland, then back in time to Palestine, leapt forward three centuries to Vienna on a wild goose chase, and now spring across to thirteenth-century China. Does this pogo stick come with a sickbag? Something about these lectures is making me queasy, and it's not just the sudden, jerky movements. Note that barely a couple of paragraphs ago, Andy was scoffing that the Mongols were terrible administrators, yet all of a sudden they are now great bureaucrats. As it happens, Mongol involvement in Chinese affairs was surprisingly minimal. Apart from the men at the very top, the structure of the Chinese state apparatus remained the same. For millennia, the Chinese policy regarding powerful outsiders was not to fight them, but to buy them off with tribute. The Mongol invasions of China largely followed this route, with Mongol princes coming into China in search not of rape and plunder, but the tribute they had been promised. When fighting did occur, it took the form of wars of attrition, and the Mongols needed sixty years to subdue China. Even then, they did not fully control China and as soon as the Mongols started fighting among themselves (which they did frequently), the Chinese pushed the Mongols a little further back. Oh yes, the Chinese are a remarkably resilient civilisation. As Andy himself blathered on about in Lecture Three. Shame he seems to have forgotten it already.

But the Mongols could not conquer Japan. Twice they tried to cross the waters to reach Japan, in 1274 and 1281. Each time an intense wind that the Japanese call the “kamikaze” turned back the Mongols. It was not until World War II that a larger seaborne invasion of Japan was attempted. The Mongols were also unable to conquer Cambodia or Vietnam. The Mongols did control Korea from 1231 to 1350. Oh for Christ's sake. Why is he wittering on about the bloody war? And he gets it horribly wrong. There was no seaborne invasion of Japan in the Second World War! The whole point of dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was to frighten the Japanese into a surrender and thus avoid an Allied invasion of the heavily fortified Japanese home islands, which would have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths on both sides. Hasn't Andy ever read a history book? At least he's right about the kamikaze. But that's pithy comfort for such a Christ-awful paragraph.

The Mongols retained control of the area known as “Eurasia”, which is the region where Europe and Asia meet. It consists of flat grassland that lacks almost any trees, also called “steppe”. Eurasia isn't where Europe and Asia meet, it is Europe and Asia. This is about the tenth time in this series that Andy has told us what the steppe is. We know, Andy. We already knew.

From the 1250s to 1350s, there was a period of “Mongol Peace” (Pax Mongolica) when traders were not harassed and some might say were even protected by the Mongols along the Silk Roads, which were the ancient and medieval trade routes linking the Mediterranean world to China. "Some might say". Who? He's right, at least. It was thanks to Mongol control of the landmass between Europe and China which facilitated trade and communication between the two civilisations. Marco Polo made his journeys along the Silk Road during Mongol rule, and there was significant diplomatic contact between Mongols and the Franks. Thankfully Andy was able to talk about the Silk Road without comparing it to the internet again...

Inflation (weakening of the money) destroyed the Mongol empire, just as it destroyed so many other empires and countries. The rulers kept printing more money and its value kept declining, until businessmen did not want to use it anymore. Persia obtained its independence from the Mongols in 1335, and China rebelled against the worthless money also, ridding themselves of the Mongols in 1369, when the Chinese established their own Ming Dynasty. But the Mongols remained a constant threat to China into the 1700s. Bloody hell. Andy's train of thought has yet again completely derailed. The Mongols did not print money. Printed money did not appear in Europe until the seventeenth century, and the very concept of moveable-type printing didn't even appear until 1440. The Mongol polity shrank due to civil wars between rival Mongol leaders, constant rebellions among subject peoples and opportunistic attacks by semi-independent states around the periphery of the Mongol realm, and the Mongols' inability to actually administer their territory -all of which Andy has already mentioned, but seems to have forgotten by now. This... this is just awful.

The collapse of the Mongol empire in Persia and eastern Europe enabled the Ottoman (Muslim) Turks to rise to power. They built their own empire then, which lasted until World War I and continues to influence Turkey to this day. Andy really needs to learn how to stick to the topic. In a segment about the Mongols, he's so far managed to mention the Pacific Theatre of World War II, printed money, libertarian propaganda, got several things badly wrong, and is now twittering away about the Ottoman Dynasty. Why?

Today about 9 million people speak the Mongol language: 2.7 million in Mongolia; five million in Inner Mongolia; and one million in Russia. Some in Afghanistan and Turkey are descended from the Mongols. So? Around 7% of the current Central Asian population are direct descendents of Genghis Khan himself. Great opportunity for a Schlafly Statistic there! Andy could have talked about Genghis' burial, in which some 40,000 people were killed to keep the grave's location a secret, and for decades the only living creature which knew where he was buried was a camel, which knew the route to follow, as its baby had been buried next to the man. Andy could have talked about Mongol artistic and cultural achievements, conversion to Islam, diplomatic relations with the Europeans and Chinese, or could at least have wandered off onto an alphabetical polemic about the Mongolian written language. He hasn't even mentioned the Timurid resurgence, and Tamerlane's invasions on the fifteenth century. No. Instead, he's simply crammed in half-arsed arguments, right-wing propaganda, and so much crap that if we were to try and print this lecture out from the Conservapedia site, the printer would clog up with rich, cloying bullshit. Sigh...

Nation-States in Europe[edit]

After the Crusades, the kings and the Catholic Church had much more power and feudalism was weakened. This set the stage for a rise in power of the nation-states that continue to exist to this day. Viking invasions, which had contributed to the rise of feudalism, subsided. The Vikings settled down and converted to Christianity and the threat of foreign invasions was diminished. With new stability, trade began to flourish once again. The European population tripled between A.D. 1000 and 1300. Oh dear, we're off to a bad start. Nation-states are a concept of the nineteenth century, not the thirteenth. Andy is already wrong about most of this paragraph's content, as has already been explained. But he's at least right about population growth, which is key to understanding what is to come. Well, it's key to understanding real history, not Andy's weird version of events.

Towns began to grow, and merchants formed “guilds”, which were organizations to establish rules and fairness in trade. Guilds were led by men, but both men and women could be members of a guild. The practice of apprenticeship began during this time period, by which young men could receive training from a master craftsmen. A middle class arose, comprised of bankers, merchants and craftsman, and was known as “burgess” in England, “bourgeoisie” in France, and “burgher” in Germany. As prosperity grew, there was also a rise in banking and investment, and gold coins were used as currency. An agricultural revolution occurred, bringing improvements such as new plows, harnesses and farming methods. Feudalism continued to decrease as food surpluses occurred, population increased, and many serfs could now leave the manors.

Hmm, another shout out for gender equality! Careful, Andy. As for the rest, well, he's only half right.

During the High Middle Ages (c.1000-1340s), Europe experienced very significant economic changes in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Andy vaguely refers to the key three changes - monetisation, commercialisation, and urbanisation. These occured simultaneously and influenced one another, and were only made possible through population growth. The essential factor - population growth - is key because it created increasing numbers of landless peasants. As estates were generally inherited by the eldest son, land remained fixed while the population grew. This led to lords employing these landless peasants as wage-labourers on various projects, from farming and woodcutting to mining and construction. And they needed to be paid in a currency whose value was fixed. As barter is open to debate, payment in coins becamse preferable as their value is fixed by the Crown. So, a lot more money began to circulate. And as these wage-labourers had no land and thus could not grow their own food, they needed to buy surplus food at market. Hence, commercialisation increased as markets sprang up across Europe and farmers adopted new agricultural techniques (such as three-field crop rotation to imaintain soil fertility and increase food output, harnessing draught animals around the chest rather than the throat to maximise muscle potential of oxen and donkeys without strangling them, and the amalgamation of small farms into bigger estates to allow large-scale farming) to increase the food supply. New markets gave rise to new towns, and throughout the period Europe saw increasing urbanisation as existing towns grew, and new towns were founded by royal charters across the continent. While European towns in 1000 had been small and far apart, Europeans by 1300 were very rarely more than a day's walk from a decent-sized market town. Indeed by 1300, Paris and London were second only to the biggest city on the world, the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. This led to urban wealth. Clever lords realised that they could increase their income by leaving these towns largely to their own devices, and taxing the trade which went through them. Hence the burghers, or urban merchants, appeared as a group who enjoyed more freedom than the rural farmers. And let's not forget that taxation, planning, and infrastructure creation were made possible by the emergence of lots of educated men from the new universities. So in a nutshell, these are the changes which Europe experienced during the High Middle Ages. Cash, trade, and towns. Andy really could have expanded upon this.

An epidemic of the bubonic plague known as the Black Death struck Europe and many parts of Asia between 1347 and 1351. The plague was spread by rats and other rodents, and spread rapidly along trade routes and especially the Silk Road. It originated amongst the Mongols in Asia, who carelessly allowed their sacks of food to be exposed to rats and fleas that carried the fatal disease. Traders brought it with them into the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. In four short years, 40 to 45% of the European population was lost to the plague, especially the poor. The Mongols amplified the problem by using catapults to toss plague-ridden bodies over city walls. The modern world is not the first to use biological warfare.

What? We were talking about the economy, and now we've suddenly moved to the plague? Oh well. Andy's casual racism surfaces as he depicts the Black Death as originating among those dirty Mongols. Predictably, he's wrong. The Black Death - more properly, bubonic plague - appeared in Europe during the days of the Roman Empire, and the Plague of Justinian in the early 500s devastated the Byzantine population with a disease which, while we cannot be certain, was most likely the bubonic plague. Historians and epidemiologists are not sure where the Black Death evolved, but it does seem to have been somewhere in Central or Eastern Asia in the first century AD. The strain which arrived in Europe in the early 1340s was particularly virulent, and hit a population which had no natural immunity. And it was bad.

Andy doesn't give the context of the plague, which would have been helpful. The Black Death appeared in Europe in 1346, but it was only able to spread so quickly due to existing population pressures. As Andy mentioned, Europe's population had tripled, and he expansion of towns meant that urban areas were overcrowded and squalid. This eased the spread of the disease, while general weaknesses among the population also exacerbated its spread. The Medieval Warm Period, an epoch of warmer weather in Europe which had played a role in stabilising Europe's population around 1000 AD, petered out in the early 1300s. Overfarming had loosened many topsoils, and the heavier rains and colder weather which accompanied the end of the Medieval Warm Period and beginning of the Little Ice Age were not good for soils and crops. The result was, from 1315-1317, the Great Famine.

There are competing theories on why the Great Famine occured. Malthusianists argue that the population had outstripped the food supply, Marxists argue that commercialisation created a large class of wage-laboureres whose coins did not go far enough and thus left the landless workers increasingly hungry, Environmentalists point to the aforementioned climate shifts. Whatever the reason - which was likely a combination of these - the Great Famine caused the death of some 10% of the European population and left the rest nutritionally deficient. When the Black Death arrived some thirty years later, the European population had still not recovered, and archaeological evidence suggests that Europeans in 1346 were generally underfed - and thus had weakened immune systems. When the Black Death arrived, it swept across Europe and within five years, had obliterated between 30% and 60% of the European population. In some places it was much worse - Norway, for example, suffered close to 80% mortality, while England lost roughly half of its population in only three years.

As can be imagined, this was an absolute cataclysm which came close to destroying European civilisation. Contemporaries believed that the end of the world was nigh, as the plague (contrary to Andy's assertion) affected everyone. Peasants and priests, knights and nobles, lawyers and physicians - even Popes and Emperors - all died from the disease. By the time the disease began to peter out around 1350, the survivors had gained better natural immunity and although the Black Death kept cropping up until the nineteenth century, the population had stabilised. However, the world they were left with was very, very different.

It must be pointed out, though, that the exact nature of the Black Death is not certain. There are theories that the disease was not even bubonic plague, but was anthrax or ebola. Estimates of the mortality rate are very broad (30-60%) and the death toll varied greatly between areas. Some parts of Italy and Poland, for instance, were completely free of the disease. The extraordinarily high death toll and the astonishing speed at which the disease spread are also strange for bubonic plague, as is the fact that bubonic plague appears to have been in Europe long before 1346. Anyway, regardless of what it actually was, the Black Death was a disaster. Infecting the world with its noxious miasmas and spread through stinking shit. Much like Conservative propaganda.

The fatality rate was even higher in China, where an estimated 25 million died from it. It took 100 years for Europe and China to recover, and a longer period of time for Islamic countries and the Middle East. Egypt was hit particularly hard, with some areas not recovering for 500 years. Well at least Andy actually acknowledges the non-European world. In the Islamic, Persian, Mongol, Indian, and Chinese realms, bubonic plague was just as devastating.

The germ theory of disease had not been discovered, so nobody could figure out what was causing people to catch and die from the disease. How do you know if you have the disease? Here are the symptoms. Three to seven days after an infection, the person experiences initial symptoms of chills, fever, diarrhea, headaches, and the swelling of the infected lymph nodes. If it is untreated, 30-75% of those who contract the plague die. Why is Andy asking his students this question? Is he implying that homeschoolers are at risk of contracting bubonic plague? Well, most of them do seem to be drawn from the Great Unwashed. Anyway, what happened to "Nation-states in Europe"? Isn't that the title of this segment?

The plague weakened the Catholic Church, which appeared helpless to stop it. After the plague began to subside in the 1350s, there were severe worker shortages and even rebellions as workers demanded higher pay. The devastation to the serf population weakened the force behind the success of the manors and contributed greatly to the end of feudalism. The plague also created a demand for more centralized government that could respond effectively to disease. Well considering that - according to Andy - the Catholic Church was enhanced by the Crusades, this setback from the Plague means that the Pope at least broke even. Not bad! If it were true. Andy reduces the socio-economic consequences of the plague - which were highly significant - to a couple of short, incorrect statements. It is true that the sudden labour shortage empowered the survivors, who were suddenly able to demand higher wages from their landlords. If the lord refused, the peasants could just pack up and move to a village where the landlord was just as desperate for workers and was willing to cough up. Royal attempts to curb this did indeed lead to peasant rebellions in Europe from the 1340s to the 1370s, the result of which was almost inevitably a softening of relations between the Crown and the peasants. But despite what Andy thinks, nobody demanded a strong government which could stop the plague. The Black Death was widely perceived as a punishment from God for various sins, and thus the Crown had nothing to do with it.

In England, the rise of a centralized government began with a series of Anglo-Saxon kings including Alfred the Great, Edward the Confessor and Harold. In 1066 William the Conqueror, a Norman duke, led an invasion of Britain against the Saxon King Harold. He successfully conquered the country and declared himself owner of all its land, granting fiefs to his Norman lords. The system of feudalism under William led to the rise of a centralized government, and the blend of the Norman and Saxon cultures would come to define the people of England. In 1166, William’s relative Henry II introduced trial by jury and took control of the court system in the “assize of Clarendon.” Royal judges traveled throughout the land, their decisions establishing an English common law, which has greatly influenced law in the United States. William was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine, a remarkable woman who had two husbands and two sons who were kings. Oh, we actually come back to nation-states. Note that in the previous Lecture, Andy claimed that England was chaotic until the Norman Conquest. Now he's telling us about the strength of Anglo-Saxon monarchs. Consistency, Andy! Consistency! He suddenly switches to circuit judges, a random reference to Eleanor of Aquitaine, and a shoehorned insert of the United States. Why?

Henry’s successor was his son, Richard “The Lionheart,” who fought in the Third Crusade and Richard’s successor was his brother John “Lackland”. History and myth surrounding these two men has been immortalized in legendary figures such as Robin Hood and Ivanhoe. Under John’s rule, Philip II of France seized Normandy, and the nobles of England objected to John’s extreme taxation to fund a war. They revolted in June 1215, and forced John to sign the “Magna Charta” (or “Magna Carta”), a “great charter” that diminished the king’s power and gave increased rights to the nobles. It granted the rights to trial by jury and equal protection under the law, and prohibited taxation without representation. The English parliament was also established at this time; the burgesses and knights of the middle class (later known as the “House of Commons”) were now allowed to participate in the legislative process along with bishops and lords (“House of Lords”). These parliamentary bodies govern Britain to this day. What's this got to do with the price of Tia Maria? Ivanhoe is a bloody fictional character created in the nineteenth century, not a medieval myth! Andy buggers up the creation of the English parliamentary system. It was not suddenly implemented in the Magna Carta (of which there were several versions, and all of which name surprisingly few rights), but slowly evolved throughout the High and Late Middle Ages as an advisory council to the Crown. It wasn't even particularly unique; the French Crown was able to lean on the Estates-General and the Holy Roman Emperor upon the Reichstag or Diet, both of which were pretty much the same as Parliament. It wasn't until the seventeenth century that Parliament acquired enough power to challenge the Crown, and it wasn't until the nineteenth century that Parliament superseded the Crown as the most important political institution.

The rise of a unified nation-state in France began with a line of kings known as the “Capetians” (987-1328). Hugh Capet was the first of the Capetian kings. By the beginning of the fourteenth century, the Capetians had succeeded in bringing most of France under a centralized government. Philip II was a Capetian king who expanded France, seizing territories including Normandy from John of England, and establishing the official office of “bailiff”, with tax collecting and royal court duties. Louis IX “the Pious” established an appeals court, with authority surpassing that of the local courts. Under the Capetian kings, a French legislative body known as the “Estates General” was created, including the “Third Estate,” which allowed commoners to participate in lawmaking. The rise of a unified nation-state in France began with the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century, you pillock. Throughout the Middle Ages France was the most powerful, yet most diversified, state in Europe. And while modern France is notorious for its high degree of centralisation, medieval France was - like its neighbours and contemporaries - very decentralised and loose. Note how Andy deploys loaded language ("seizing") to demonise the French, before wandering off onto another half-arsed legal polemic. Typical.

Germany did not succeed in establishing a nation-state, but attempts were made, beginning with Otto I “the Great.” Otto ruled from 936-973, allied himself with the pope and attempted to establish a “Holy Roman Empire.” His efforts did not succeed in uniting Germany as one nation, however. Likewise, in Italy, a unified nation failed to emerge. Instead the various city-states fought bitterly amongst eachother, which was to continue for centuries. For pity's sake, there was no "Germany". The word did exist, but was used in the same way we use "Asia" - as a vague generalisation for a broad and diverse grouping of vaguely-connected peoples and societies. The Holy Roman Emperors made no attempt to construct a nation-state, because the concept didn't bloody well exist. The same is applicable to Italy. All European societies in the Middle Ages were loose, diversified, and localised. The formation of nationalism in Europe is a hugely contested topic among historians, but it does seem to date to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when technology allowed rapid communication and war cemented artificial national identities. It did NOT appear in the Middle Ages.

While nation-states were rising, and kings were gaining more and more authority, controversy arose over who held supreme authority: the pope or the king. “The Great Schism” (1378-1417) was an argument resulting in French cardinals electing an “antipope” (Clement VII) in order to dispute the authority of recently elected Pope Urban VI. This and other controversies set the stage for the Protestant Reformation. Ah yes, the antiPope. At one point there were three Popes at the same time, which sounds quite fun. However, it had little impact on the later Reformation, which was more to do with Martin Luther's disapproval of the sale of indulgences and other Catholic trinkets.

The Hundred Years’ War, between England and France, lasted from 1337 to 1453. This war began when the last Capetian king died without leaving a successor, and English King Edward III seized the French throne. Joan of Arc, a girl who felt called by God to lead the French army, defeated the English at the siege at Orleans in 1430 at the age of seventeen, but was later captured by the English and burned at stake as a heretic in 1431.

Oh great, the Hundred Years' War gets a pithy little mention. Edward III did not seize the French throne, he simply claimed it. But so did the French dauphin, hence the war. Points off for Andy's pissy self-righteous insertion about teenagers being called by God to smite the English. Andy really doesn't like us, does he? He seems to be morphing into Mel Gibson. Cue Peter Griffin:

"Yes, I'm Mel Gibson, preparing for a new role. I play Peter Griffin - a heroic Englishman who defies the English, to free England from the English."

Joan of Arc was actually captured by the Burgundinians (after a probable betrayal by the French) and later sold to the English as part of peace negotiations. She was tried by an ecclesiastical court but as the English bishops refused to condemn her, she was handed over to a common-law court and burned as a petty traitor. More points off for not mentioning who won the war - the French. Vive la France!

That's it? That's the segment about nation-states? It was all about the plague! Try harder, Andy. Or recycle "Nation-States in Europe" in a lecture on the nineteenth century.

Church Philosophers and Architecture[edit]

While nation-states were growing in Europe, so were universities. A rapidly-growing number of rich and poor students were instructed in universities in Paris, Oxford, Naples, Padua, Salerno and many others in theology, philosophy, law and medicine. During the 1100s and 1200s “scholasticism” flourished, which sought to combine logic of the classical philosophers with medieval Christian theology. The Scholastics were divided into two groups, the realists (preferring the works of Plato) and the nominalists (preferring Aristotle’s teachings). Hey, Andy gets something right! Medieval universities did indeed offer four areas of study, along with the novel concept of degrees in order to establish an academic hierarchy. Strange that Andy is praising universities, when he hates them so much.

Saint Anselm (1033-1109), born in northern Italy, was an early intellectual giant of scholasticism. The period from the late 1000s to about 1300 is known as the “High Middle Ages,” partly due to this intellectual activity known as scholasticism and also due to great population growth. "High Middle Ages" is one of three general epochs used by historians to divide up the period c.500-1500. The Early Middle Ages, from 500-1000, corresponds to the end of the Roman Empire and the stabilisation of the European population around the turn of the first millennium. High Middle Ages relates to Europe's commercialisation/urbanisation/monetisation/dramatic population growth from 1000-mid 1300s. The latter cutoff point corresponds to the demographic crises caused by the Great Famine and the Black Death, and the Late Middle Ages corresponds to the 1350s-c.1500, when a number of sociological, theological, commercial, technological, and geopolitical changes shifted the Medieval Period into what we term the Renaissance. Bravo for not only not explaining the other two epochs, Andy, but also for getting the one you did mention, wrong.

Scholasticism strengthened understanding of Christian doctrine through careful definition and systematic argument. Anselm preferred to defend Christianity through use of powerful logical arguments, rather than relying entirely and solely on scripture. Anselm is famous for the first “ontological” argument, which is an argument attempting to prove the existence of God by reasoning from the definition of God. Ooh. Is Andy implying that the Bible isn't good enough on its own, and requires Scholasticism to validate it? Jesus won't be happy to hear that. Of course, seeing as Andy has very little idea what Scholasticism is, and has almost certainly never actually read a Scholastic text (they're very, very heavy work, even for a proper historian), he has a partial excuse when he gets up to the pearly Gates to find St Peter tapping his foot and frowning.

Anselm was a brilliant Latin scholar who became a Benedictine monk to the disappointment of his father, who wanted him to enter politics. After Anselm became a monk, he “proved” the existence of God as follows. Everyone, even a fool, can conceive of a variation in perfection of a being. In other words, some beings are more perfect than others with respect to justice, wisdom or power. Because there is a variation, there must be a being that is most perfect. But “existence” is an attribute of perfection: it is more perfect to exist than not to exist. Therefore the most perfect being must also exist. Therefore God, defined as the most perfect being conceivable, must exist. Andy cocks up Saint Anselm of Canterbury's theological arguments. Anselm begins his De Veritate with a classic a posteriori argument; stating at the outset that God is definite and the absolute truth, and then constructing arguments based upon this assertion. Even Anselm himself was aware of the logical fallacy of this style, and in his later works Monolgion et Proslogion, wanders off into a long and very boring theological argument based on Avicenna and Augustine of Hippo. But even though his writings are a better cure for insomnia than a quadruple dose of temazepam, Saint Anselm was genuinely striving to extend the boundaries of human knowledge. Something which Andy could never achieve.

Anselm also had a tremendous logical argument for why Christ must exist. In the feudalism of Anselm’s day, the severity of a crime and amount of satisfaction required of the offender varied depending on who the victim was. Someone who committed a crime against the king would require more satisfaction or payment by the criminal after he was caught than a similar crime against a peasant. Similar rules exist today, where a crime against the president is far more serious than a similar crime against an ordinary citizen. Anselm wrote a paper entitled “Cur Deus homo?” (“Why Did God Become Man?”), in which he explained that finite man could never satisfy a crime or sin against the infinite God. Only an infinite man (Christ) could provide full satisfaction because the victim of the crime or sin was the infinite God. Hence the existence of Christ is essential. Really, why is Andy so preoccupied with Scholasticism? Surely for a Fundamentalist, the Bible itself is sufficient proof of God. After all, these Scholastic texts were written by dirty academic types with their filthy agendas, and are probably riddled with lib'rul deviations. And they're in Latin; while, as we all know, true Christians only speak that weird pidgin called American "English". Shame that he wanders off onto a random insert about the contemporary President of the USA. Oh, and as for Anselm's argument that Christ was necessary - Thomas Aquinas strongly disagreed with it based upon a simple question. If Christ was essential for humanity's salvation, why did God wait so long before sending Christ? Aquinas gave his own answers to a question which we all would like to know. Let's read on.

Anselm was appointed the archbishop of Canterbury, England, which he accepted reluctantly. He became determined to reform the English Church and he fought against efforts by the King of England to control or interfere with the Church. At one point Anselm presented his grievances against King William to Pope Urban II. These conflicts were precursors to a huge dispute between a pope and English king centuries later, which caused the king to form his own church and split from Roman authority. Right, right. The split which Andy is referring to is the schism between Henry VIII and the Pope, in the sixteenth century. He is here claiming that the events of the early twelfth century were a direct foundation for the events of the early sixteenth century. Bullshit.

The most famous Scholastic was Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), a Dominican monk who wrote Summa Theologica. Many consider this to be the most perfect and complete summary of Christian theology, and he established an entire type of Christian philosophy known as “Thomism”, which is followed to this day. Aquinas was somewhat controversial during his life, but was quickly revered by the Catholic Church after his death. He developed five new proofs for the existence of God using logic. The first three were “cosmological” proofs rather than the “ontological” approach of Anselm. A cosmological proof deals with the natural order of the universe. Aquinas’ most famous cosmological argument was that whatever is in motion (for example, us) must have been put in motion by something else (our parents). They, in turn, must have been put in motion by something else (their parents). But this sequence cannot go on to infinity. There must have been a first mover. This we call “God”. Summa Theologiae, Andy. Get it right. Note how he doesn't actually give the Five Proofs (Prime Mover; First Cause; Contigency; Degree; Teleology) and - this is just delicious - references the "cosmological proofs". The concept of "cosmological" and "ontological" proofs comes from Richard Dawkins. Plenty of theologians and philosophers through the centuries have commented on Aquinas' Five Proofs, but the aforementioned termiology is Dawkins' own. Brilliant, Andy. Just brilliant.

Thomas Aquinas’ views on the nature of man included a unique interpretation of the Fall of Man; some would call it an incomplete one. He believed that while men had rebelled against God and the human will was fallen, the human intellect remained perfect. Therefore, human wisdom could be relied upon and given as much prominence as the teachings of the Bible. This idea justified mixing the works of the classical, secular philosophers into Christian theology. Also as a result, the authority of the church became as important, if not more so, than that of the Bible. These ideas set the stage for humanism, which was the predominant philosophy of the Renaissance. Tsk, tsk. This sounds dangerously like lib'rul bastardisation of the Bible. Andy should be writing a scathing, hate-filled polemic against Scholasticism as some pithy effort of woolly-minded pseudochristians trying to reconcile the Bible with lib'rul ideology (at least in the mind of a Conservapedian), but instead is promoting the very thing he constantly bitches about. Andy's stupidity never ceases to amaze!

Thomas Aquinas is further known for his famous observation that the devil cannot withstand mockery. Mockery can be useful in defeating a bad idea or temptation. Hmm, no reference to this little snippet. If the Devil is anywhere near as powerful as Christians would have us believe (even though an apparently omnipotent God can't or won't get rid of De Debbil, thus rendering said God either incompetent or downright nasty), then Lucifer isn't going to give a rat's ass about people mocking him. Note Andy's shoot-in-the-foot admonition to his homeskulerz to mock opponents' arguments. All that tactic does is lead to both sides taking the piss out of each other, which isn't exactly a civilised way to win a debate. Great work there, Andy the Apostate.

There were other prominent Scholastics, such as Peter Abelard (1079-1142), who used logic and questioning to discuss issues of religious controversy in his Sic et Non (“Yes and No”). Apparently there were other prominent Scholastics, but not prominent enough to warrant an actual discussion.

There was outstanding architecture in the Middle Ages, which can be seen in the majestic churches built during that era. There were two main styles: Romanesque and Gothic. Romanesque architecture is characterized by thick walls, rounded arches and small windows. The Gothic style, developed later, consisted of taller, perpendicular structures with long windows, pointed arches and “flying buttresses” (stone supports on the outer walls of churches). Gothic architecture, with its tall, pointed spires is said to reflect the desire of people of the Middle Ages to grow closer to God, reaching towards heaven and away from the earth. Tall windows allowed sunlight to illuminate the interior, unlike Romanesque architecture, in which windows were small and interiors were dim. A particularly stunning example of Gothic architecture is the Notre Dame in Paris, on which construction began in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII, and was completed about 200 years later in about 1345. The Notre Dame features a beautiful stained-glass “rose window,” another distinguishing characteristic of Gothic churches. Hmm. Andy fails to mention that Romanesque preceded Gothic, and comes dangerously close to equating cathedrals with the Tower of Babel. Heretic!! Notre Dame de Paris is indeed a beautiful cathedral, yet there are hundreds of cathedrals which Andy could have mentioned in addition. He makes it sound as though Notre Dame was the only cathedral with a stained-glass window. Oh, and just to be fair on both the religious and secularist sides, let's take a brief pause to mention Richard Dawkins again. In The God Delusion, Dawkins wanders off into a polemic about cathedrals draining resources and finances away from civic projects, and thus were a waste. Medieval cathedrals, like the Egyptian pyramids, were a combination of religious mission and public works; cathedrals were immense projects which brought hundreds of jobs and encouraged the growth of entire cities and regional economies. They also attracted monasteries, which functioned as local orphanages and hospitals. They are not only beautiful buildings, but had very significant social impacts on the local area which might not otherwise have emerged. In a bizarre and unfortunate twist, both Schlafly and Dawkins are equally wrong. Sitting together in the Naughty Corner will be a fun experience for both.

The End of the Byzantine Empire and the Expansion of Islam[edit]

The end of the Byzantine empire occurred when Mongols invaded in the 13th century, followed by the rise of the Ottoman (Muslim) Turks to power in the 14th century, who replaced the Byzantium empire with their own. The Ottoman empire then lasted over 600 years, from 1299 to 1923, when it was divided by the victors in World War I. At the height of its power in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Ottoman empire included Anatolia, the Middle East, portions of North Africa, and much of southeastern Europe. And now we move onto Andy's sop to the non-white world. A couple of crappy segments tacked on at the end, in which he casually references vast periods of time and vast landmasses with glib generalistations. "The Byzantium Empire [sic]" had been in decline since Manzikert in 1071, as the West was not particularly interested in helping the East, and the Empire had a lot of enemies. The commercial and political links with the growing powers of Kiev and Muscovy did not save Byzantium, and in 1453 Constantinople itself finally fell to the Turks. The city was largely abandoned anyway, and unlike the classical Romans in the West, the Roman in the East did go down in a blaze of fire and flame, with the Emperor and his men (including a lot of European mercenaries) dying in a bloody last stand in the streets of central Constantinople. Following this, Russia took up the claim to be Rome's successor, and the Turks began a series of campaigns into southeastern Europe. The Ottoman Empire was vast, and was one of the world's major powers until the early twentieth century. It deserves a hell of a lot more mention than this passing one-liner which Andy throws to us. Instead Andy jerks around from century to century, and we all end up confused. As usual.

While powerful nation-states were developing in Europe, absolutist empires were spreading throughout the East and Islam was growing rapidly. In present-day Turkey, in a region known as “Anatolia,” Muslim warriors called “ghazi” arose, seeking to conquer land belonging to infidels, or people of non-Islamic faith. A famous ghazi named Osmen Bey began the Ottoman empire. The strongest element of the Ottoman and other Asian empires of the time was their use of gunpowder, which gave rise to the term “gunpowder empires.” Under Ottoman rule, non-Muslims had to pay a tax to avoid military service, which was mandatory for Muslims. Slaves called “janissaries” were also used as warriors. Andy really is a fan of these weird titles. He called Ancient Egypt a "hydraulic empire", and now calls the Ottomans a "gunpoweder empire". Where is he getting these names from? Oh right, his arse. He seems to suggest that gunpowder was restricted to the Muslims, when in fact, the Chinese and Indians had already been using it for centuries, and the Western Europeans had been dabbling in applications for the strange black powder since the mid-thirteenth century.

In 1453 Ottoman sultan Mehmed II captured Constantinople, and tore the cross off the top of the Hagia Sophia, and declared the Christian church a mosque. Selim the Grim and Suleiman I followed, expanding the Ottoman territories into an empire comprising Constantinople (now Istanbul), Syria, Palestine, Egypt, North Africa, Greece and even parts of Hungary and Austria. The height of the Ottoman empire existed during the reign of Suleiman I, which lasted from 1520 to 1566 AD. Suleiman was known by Europeans as “the Magnificent” because of the splendor of his reign, but has had the most prominence throughout history for his outstanding contribution as a lawgiver. His picture can be found in the United States Supreme Court alongside those of Moses, Thomas Jefferson and Solon. Called “people of the book”, Christians and Jews were allowed to practice their faiths under Ottoman rule. Oh, those fiendish Muslims. Tearing the cross off a church? Outrageous! All the pious Crusaders ever did was slaughter tens of thousands of civilians! Why the reference the the US Supreme Court? What the hell has this got to do with anything?

In addition to the Ottoman empire were the Islamic empires of Safavid and Mughal. The Safavid dynasty, located in north-west Persia, was founded by a 14-year old “shah” (king) named Ismail who conquered the Seljuk Turks in North India. The Shi’ite Safavids fought with the Sunni Ottomans for 200 years. Safavid Shah Abbas the Great saw the peak of the Safavid Empire during his reign from 1588-1629, and established trade with Europe. Great. More major world powers reduced to one-line sentences. Andy either can't be bothered to do the research, or has a deep aversion to discussing the non-white world. Seeing as he can't be bothered to do research on Europe, the latter seems most likely.

The beginnings of the Mughal Empire, located in India, were established by Babur around 1525 AD. Under the reign of Babur’s grandson Akbar (1556-1605), the Mughal Empire experienced its “Golden Age,” during which taxes were decreased. The languages spoken were Persian, Hindi (still spoken in India today), and Urdu (a new language combining Persian, Hindi, and Arabic characters; present-day Pakistan’s official language). Other religions were tolerated under Akbar’s rule, but not under Aurangzeb’s notoriously intolerant rule (from 1659-1707), during which Hindus were taxes and their temples torn down, causing discord in the Mughal Empire, including an uprising of the previously non-violent Hindi-Muslim Sikhs. The pogo-stick of history is jumping so erratically through time and space that it's hard to know where we now are. The only connecting thread is Andy's ability to weave Republican propaganda on tax into short, choppy narratives of entire epochs. It's unfair to call Andy on his spelling errors, but his claim "Hindus were taxes" is just great.

Contributions of these Islamic empires include the stunningly beautiful Taj Mahal, an enormous tomb built of pure white marble beginning in 1631 by Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan for his beloved wife. Building of the Taj Mahal in India lasted 18 years, and 20,000 workers were used. Jahan was so overwhelmed with its beauty, and so cruel to its workers, that he had their hands cut off so they would never build another one like it! Jahan also constructed the “Red Fort,” a red-sandstone palace and the “Peacock Throne,” encrusted with thousands of gems. Many beautiful mosques and palaces were built in Constantinople under Ottoman rule, many designed by artist and architect Pasha Sinan. The most famous Ottoman form of art was the blue-and-white pottery of Iznik. Andy praises non-Christian architecture. That'll earn him a slap on the wrist from Republican Jesus™. Again, he confuses myth with fact. Earlier in the course he told us that Ivan the Terrible had the architects of St Basil's Cathedral blinded so they could never again build something so beautiful, and now he claims that the workers on the Taj mahal had their hands chopped off. Unsurprisingly, these are apocryphal tales and never happened.

The Islamic empires participated in international trade (especially the Ottomans and Safavids), but not to the extent that the Europeans were trading. Technological advancements flourishing in Europe (such as the printing press) were not received well in dar-al Islam (lands under Islamic control). These factors, combined with prolonged periods of warfare eventually led to the downfall of the Islamic empires. The printing press wasn't received well in Christendom, either. Religious types (regardless of actual religion) tend to raise their eyebrows at any means of disseminating knowledge, outside of their direct control. That's how we end up with such merry little acts as book burnings, fatwas, and abuses of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act on YouTube. Andy ends this pithy little discussion with the assertion that not accepting the printing press caused entire civilisations to collapse. Brilliant.


As we have already seen in this course, language played a central role in defining a society. This was also true in sub-Saharan Africa (south of the Saharan desert), where the Bantu language was shared by peoples in West Africa prior to 1000 B.C. Historians refer to the West Africans as “Bantu speakers” who lived along the rain forest on the edge of what is now Nigeria. The Bantu speakers began migrating to the east and south of Africa around 2000 B.C., and this migration was at its peak between about 700 and 500 B.C. By A.D. 1000, the migration had ceased and several Bantu kingdoms arose in southern Africa. Ah, Africa gets a mention for once. Considering that our species evolved in Africa, you'd think that the continent would have a got a decent mention before Lecture Six. But no. Let's see how much semi-racist bullshit Andy can cram in here. He starts with his favourite pet projects - linguistic determinism and the Migrations Hypothesis - neither of which should be here.

In eastern Africa, the Arabic language was influential. When the Bantu language collided with Arabic, the result was the Swahili for the peoples of east Africa. "the result was the Swahili for the peoples". For someone so preoccupied with language, Andy can't even get his own language right.

There was no private property in these settlements, as property was shared among the community. Typically a family member served as the leader of each family or “kinship group” and there was no formal government. Oh great. Propaganda on private property mixed with a polemic on formal government. Andy is either confused as to whether he admires a lack of private property with no government, or he's just slagging off African societies as being primitive. If it's the first option, Andy is weird. If it's the latter, he's a racist bastard. Not a pretty choice, Mr Schlafly. Maybe if he actually did some research, he could wriggle out of this sticky situation without having to nail his flag to either mast.

Fruits, particularly bananas, initially imported from Southeast Asia by traders, were a major source of nutrition that helped increase the health and population. Malay sailors brought the banana over the Indian Ocean to an island known as Madagascar, where the people still speak a language similar to that spoken in Malaysia. This is getting ugly. We're only onto the third paragraph, and Andy is already crowbarring black people and bananas into the same section. At least he's right that bananas are highly nutritious, but it's a shame that he doesn't wander off into a Ray Comfort-esque discussion of how bananas are proof of God's existence. That would have been fun.

The primary African religion was “animism”, or a belief that spirits exist in nature similar what some American Indians believe. The religion was handed down from generation to generation not in writings, but in oral stories. The storytellers are called “griots”. There was a little bit of farming along the edges of the rain forests, but most of the activity was a “hunting-gathering” type. In central Africa there was some cattle raising.

It'd be interesting to know whether Andy considered putting an illustration in for this section. Africans living in primitive tribes, eating bananas, and worshipping a non-Christian religion, all on the edge of the rainforest. There are all sorts of images from Nazi magazines that he could have drawn upon.

Animism is a very broad term for a system of beliefs. It isn't a set "religion" like Christianity or Hinduism, with a fixed set of beliefs, institutional hierarchy, and sacred texts. Andy evidently doesn't know this, as he's too busy pulling crap out of his derriere and posting it on Conservapedia, all the while covertly glancing over at his Klansman costume. Tosser.

By 700 B.C. the Bantu speakers in West Africa discovered iron smelting, and began using it to make tools and weapons. The distribution of knowledge of that invention followed the path of the spread of the Bantu language itself through central and southern Africa. Apparently the Bantu language is magnetic.

There was an active slave trade in Africa long before Americans began importing slaves in the early A.D. 1600s. Muslims engaged in African slave trade across the Indian Ocean to the Far East and South Asia. Africans captured fellow Africans and sold them into slavery, where they would work in households in faraway lands. Typically the slaves sold to Muslim traders were from central and eastern Africa. Slaves were the only type of private property that existed, so personal wealth depended on how many slaves one owned. Oh great, the slave trade. Andy has compressed the history of Africa from 2000 BC to the Renaissance into a few shitty little paragraphs, and has decided that he can no longer be bothered concocting pseudoracist bullshit. Instead, he's now justifying slavery by asserting that Africans already practised it, and blaming Muslims. And hang on, didn't Andy claim, nary four paragraphs ago, that there was no private property in African societies? All of a sudden, there was! He is, of course, wrong. It is true that slavery did exist among Africans (just as it existed among Asians, Europeans, South Americans, etc) and that there was a slave trade from East Africa into the Middle East (which had been going on, in dribs and drabs, since the Egyptian Old Kingdom), but slaves were not the sole source of wealth. As was the case in most societies around the world, ownership of livestock was the prime indicator of wealth. Due to the low population density and vast land expanses of the savannah, land ownership was negligible; hence livestock (principally cattle and goats) remained the main source of wealth while in Europe, China, and India, increasing populations caused land pressures and state regulation, and thus land ownership became the prime source of wealth. Andy is badly wrong here. Which is unsurprising.

The term “age grade” refers to how people around the same age would gather in African tribes to perform work or share stories. Both men and women shared in farming work. Well, at least he acknowledges that both genders participated in heavy work - as was the case in all human societies from the Paleolithic Era to the Digital Age. A lot of points are taken off for using the word "tribe". "Tribe" is an extremely contentious term among historians and sociologists, as there is no consensus on just what a tribe is, nor how a "tribe" differs from any other system of social organisation. Evidently Andy is a Primordialist rather than a Structuralist (the idea that ethnic identities are natural rather than artificial), but of course as he's never heard of these terms, he doesn't know what he is.

There were several empires in Africa. In West Africa, the kingdoms thrived based on transporting and trading gold and salt across the Saharan desert. Once the Berbers discovered how to use camels to take them across the desert in the A.D. 200s, trade across the desert began. Ironically, salt became so important to preserving food and promoting health that it became almost as valuable as gold! These empires in West Africa raised money by taxing the goods as they passed through their empires. Islam was popular in West Africa and children were taught to read the Qu’ran in Arabic. Yes, the Roman Empire had provinces in Africa. But after them, no society in Africa called itself an "Empire" until the Europeans turned up in the late 1800s with their Bibles, revolvers, and flags. How is it ironic that salt was valuable? In all societies until the nineteenth century, salt was a valuable substance as it either had to be mined out of the ground, or extracted by boiling up giant pans of seawater by sunlight or fuelled fires. That made salt costly, everywhere. Does Andy even know what "ironic" means? He should look in the mirror. Oh, and children were not taught to read the Qu'ran in Arabic. Children were not taught to read, anywhere in the world, unless they were either very rich, or lived during or after the late nineteenth century.

The Kingdom of Kongo was a Bantu-speaking society that lasted from sometime after A.D. 1000 to the 1500s. It consisted of present-day Congo and Angola. It declined once the Portugese explored and invaded the east coast of Africa in the mid-1500s, and introduced the Catholic religion to the Kongo. Another snippet of Political Correctness, as Andy refers to "Kongo" rather than "Congo". At least he didn't break out into the "Um Bongo" song. Oh, and the Portugese didn't introduce Catholicism from East Africa. Kongo - historically and presently - in in West Africa. Get it right, Andy.

The Kingdom of Aksum, located in present-day Ethiopia, traced its roots of Aksum to the migration of Arabs across the Red Sea into Africa in 1000 B.C. It had a written language called “Ge’ez” (a Semitic languge using Arabic characters) and controlled the southwestern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. The peak of its power was under the strong ruler named Ezrana in A.D. 325-360. Ezrana conquered Kush and destroyed the city of Meroe. He also converted to Christianity and a Coptic Church formed in the Aksum kingdom. Aksum developed a coin currency and a unique architectural style called a “stele”, which consisted of large stone pillars. But in A.D. 710, the Muslims conquered Aksum and destroyed its big trading city known as Adulis. Ah, Axum. As Andy is clearly structuring this by just tossing in societies at random with no regard for their time period or geographical location, it seems reasonable for him to wander off into an equally unstructured, disorderly diatribe about writing, monarchy, and load-bearing architecture. With a snipe at the Muslims, for good measure.

The Kingdom of Ghana (A.D. 800-1076), Mali (A.D. 1235-1403) and Songhai (A.D. 1403-1591) were all located in West Africa and were mostly Muslim. Ibn Battuta, a Muslim traveler who toured the Islamic regions of the world around A.D. 1352, wrote of his admiration of Mali. All these West African empires thrived under strong rulers and the very active gold-salt trade across the Sahara. Trade was based on leopard skins, slaves, pepper, ivory, bronze, brass and copper. A society known as Hansa was famous for its leather goods and cloth. But by A.D. 1500 both Islamic countries and Christian European countries were gaining influence in Africa. That's right Andy. Just chuck unconnected societies together simply because they existed in the same vague geographical zone. Ghana, for one, was most certainly not a predominantly Islamic society. The Asante, the dominant social group of the Ghana Kingdom, worshipped their Asantehene in a similar way to how the Egyptians worshipped their Pharaoh - a semi-divine physical connection to the purely divine. The Ghana Kingdom was a highly structured society, with slaves being assimilated as full members, and organised public works projects to clear the forest to increase arable farmland. As contact with the Portugese increased during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, Ghana also created a civic bureaucracy very similar to those emerging in Europe - with separate commerical and diplomatic departments to deal with the Europeans, Arabs, and neighbouring African societies. Mali was indeed a powerful commercial and military polity, and there is quite a lot of evidence to suggest that the Malians established transatlantic contact with South America, centuries before Columbus. Andy's grocery list of commercial goods is largely wrong. Leopards don't live in West Africa, pepper is from Indonesia, elephants were not native to West Africa until recent centuries, and for reasons which are still unclear, West Africa didn't develop brass or bronze. Instead, they went straight from the Copper Age to the Iron Age, skipping the intermediate Bronze Age which characterised the rest of the Old World. Finally, points off for claiming that the Europeans were gaining influence in Africa. In 1500, European control of Africa was restricted to four or five tiny, isolated forts on the beaches of West Africa, where the diseased Europeans had to make constant concessions to local (and infinitely more powerful) African leaders so that the forts would not be overrun. This was largely how it remained until the "Scramble for Africa" in the last decades of the nineteenth century. So there, Andy. Read a bloody book.

The Kingdom of Zimbabwe existed from southeastern Africa to the Indian Ocean around A.D. 1200s to the 1500s. Like other African empires, the city of Great Zimbabwe was build on trade, particularly gold. Numerous Swahili towns in this region of Africa profited from trade in slaves, ivory and goods from Persia, China and India, such as cotton, silk and perfumes. Great Zimbabwe did indeed have commercial links with societies across the Indian Ocean. It's remarkable that Andy gets this right. What a shame that his correct information is sandwiched between blocks of bullshit.

Religion. Islam and Christianity both spread in Africa, and still do today. However, the Africans would often retain some of their tribal customs. Historians claim that the Africans treated women better under tribal customs than under Islam, citing less use of the veil by women in African societies than Arab Muslim societies. African Christians also had conflicts with principles of faith established by European Christians, such as issues related to the divinity of Christ, although the Catholic Church today is growing much faster in Africa than in Europe. For example, Coptic Christians in Egypt slightly differ from European Christians in their view of Christ, and they split in A.D. 451. Is Andy trying to categorise? Too late, mate. The discussion of religion is short and pithy, and rapidly disappears in a Schlafly Sermon on the status of women - which, predictably, he cocks up. The issue of the divinity of Christ dividing European and African Christians is frankly ridiculous. Andy is referring to Nestorian Christianity, an early sub-sect stamped out in the days of the Roman Empire. It had nothing to do with Africa.

Islam was more popular in North Africa, where it became the main religion for the peoples bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The Berbers converted to Islam, and then merged with the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties to bring North Africa under Muslim rule by the end of the seventh century. From northern Africa, the Muslims entered and conquered southern Spain, where they were known as Moors. The Muslims then increased trade with other African peoples and regions bordering in the Indian Ocean. The Almoravid dynasty conquered Morocco in the A.D. 1000s and Ghana and parts of southern Spain in A.D. 1076. By the mid-1100s, the Almoravids conquered the Almohads also. The pogo-stick of history is jumping around so much we have yet again lost our way. We now appear to be in Early Medieval Spain, and Late Medieval Ghana, simultaneously. Andy truly excels as bilocationism.

Meanwhile, Christianity had some success in East Africa, and particularly in what is now Ethiopia. Trade between East Africa and central Africa and the Indian Ocean flourished both under the Muslims in East Africa and, later, the Portuguese. This section has been so badly organised that it's not surprising Andy ends on this pointless statement. His sop to African history was frankly terrible, crammed with crass generalisations and incorrect factoids, and in several places came dangerously close to bemoaning the White Man's Burden. Well say goodbye to Africa, children. The cradle of the human species won't appear again until close to the end of the course, and even then it's a short mention. But hey, who cares? Republicans don't give a rat's ass about Africa (so long as the Africans keep quiet while the fat, arrogant, greedy West completely fucks up their economies and governments), and God is far too busy helping brainless American prom queens win beauty contests to do anything about the disease, hunger, genocide, and crushing poverty which so frequently crop up across the continent. It's surprising that Andy even bothered to mention Africa, but woefully unsurprising that he did such a piss-poor job.


The name “Oceania” describes the lands of the central and south Pacific, including Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia, and sometimes the Malay Archipelago. The islands traded with each other, though typically not with faraway lands. The Australian aborigines (natives) exist to this day on the island, having their own culture that only began to change with immigration by Europeans in the past 200 years. The aborigines foraged (searched) for food and did not farm. Great opening. Andy could have at least mentioned human migrations into Oceania. It would have been very entertaining to read his version of how kangaroos and wallabies made it to Noah's Ark, and why the Aborigines (obviously descendents of Noah's family) forgot how to farm. Human colonisation of the Pacific islands was a remarkable feat considering the navigational techniques of the time, and Andy could have had fun talking about Polynesian stick-maps and linguistic oddities. But seeing as he seems to have gleaned all of his information from the equivalent of a Happy Meal children's quiz, it's unsurprising that such glaring oversights are made.

In fact, Australians did not have agriculture until the Europeans arrived. The earliest agricultural civilizations were the Indus Valley, Sumer (Southwest Asia), Egypt and Andean highlands (potato). Agriculture developed independently in different areas of the world in ancient times. Andy is really hammering home the fact that the Aborigines didn't have agriculture. As it happens, the Maori did. Why is he talking about Sumer and Egypt? They're not exactly in Oceania. If Andy just wanted to pad out this section to disguise his obvious crapness, he could at least have pulled a stream of irrelevant or fabricated factoids out of his arse. It's one of the few things he excels at.

Like other cultures, the Polynesians were polytheistic and used a flattened or terraced pyramid for worship, similar to a ziggurat. They grew in population most significantly after A.D. 1000. Why is any of this relevant? Andy doesn't even say where Polynesia is.

The Hawaiian islands in the middle of the Pacific are so far away that they are not typically part of Oceania, and the distance was too far to establish trade until European sailors arrived. Bollocks. The Hawaiians were trading with other Polynesian societies long before the Europeans turned up.

The New Zealand population survived by growing sweet potatoes and fern roots, and also by raising dogs. Fish was obviously a major food source on many of the islands, including Hawaii. Err, no. While canines are native to Oceania, they were not domesticated. The Europeans brought dogs with them, and ones that escaped into the bush became the feral dogs which Maoris later domesticated.

None of these Oceanic societies had metallurgy (e.g., iron) or other technology. But they did have social structures common to nearly every society, with a military class and the rich and poor.

Ok Andy, we get the point that you think Oceania was primitive. And it just ends with a generic statement? Really?

Granted, it is difficult to know as much about Oceanian societies as we know about Eurasians, Africans, and Amerindians, but just because there are no pre-European written records and the population densities were extremely low, does not mean that the history of Oceania c.30,000 BC to c.1700 AD can be compressed into half a dozen sentences. This is childishly bad, and almost criminally negligent.

That's it? Well, this was Andy's worst lecture yet. It's half-arsed, and it reads as though he kept losing interest and just cobbled together random crap during advert breaks on the telly. It doesn't even have the comedy value of his earlier polemics on chivalry and language. Well, let's hope he can rekindle his muse for the next Lecture: Andrew Schlafly, Renaissance Man! That should be fun...