Talk:World History Lecture Eight

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Just thought I would point out that the slave trade is not considered part of the Columbian Exchange. The Columbian exchange, also known as the great biological exchange, dealt with plants, animals, and pathogens. See for example, Alfred Crosby, The Columbian Exchange (1972)


There are a number of errors in the "Enlightenment" section, but I'd like to focus on the errors relating to Hume. First of all, presenting Hume as a sceptic towards religion, while absolutely true, is an understatement. Hume was sceptical of everything beyond experience, even those things (such as continuity and causation) which previous philosophers had taken for granted. Secondly, it is entirely untrue to claim that there were so few great English philosophers, whether that means English speaking or born in England (hopefully it doesn't mean the latter, because Hume was of course Scottish). Hume is considered one of the greatest not because he has so few peers, but because, surprisingly enough, he was a brilliant philosopher. Thirdly the claim that Hume's chief claim to fame is that he influenced Darwin is utterly absurd. His claim to fame is that he gave the finest statement of empiricism and made important criticisms of philosophy's attempts to understand metaphysics. The fact that he influenced Darwin may be important, but is not even well known. JHanson 17:16, 21 February 2009 (EST)


The caravel wasn't notable so much for its cargo ability (in the spice trade it was replaced by other, heavier ships) but its speed and manueverability in shallow water.

"Known as the 'reconquista', this was accomplished first through the reconquest of Granada" - the Reconquista had been going on for hundreds of years, it didn't begin with the capture of Granada.

Magellan's voyage didn't lead to ownership of Mexico and Peru. Cortes claimed Mexico for Spain in March 1519. Magellan sailed from Spain in August 1519.

"Giving them a bunch of blankets exposed to the deadly germ" almost certainly is not true for the time period discussed - it implies a knowledge of disease far beyond the 16th century. The few semi-documented cases come from the mid-late 18th century. Disease was the major killer of natives, but not through conscious infection through smallpox.

Philip II reigned from 1556-1598, not 1638-1715. The Dutch Revolt began in 1568. 1579 was the creation of the Union of Utrecht.

--CWaddell 21:51, 23 February 2009 (EST)

Andy, on the role of the caravel, read CP's Caravel, also Nao and Carrack as the vessels used by the Iberian nations in the early Age of Exploration. The caravel did much of the early work, especially down Africa, but its role diminished rapidly as soon as things really got under way.
  • Magellan did not round the Horn...he went through the Strait of Magellan. As did Drake later. The Horn (which is actually an island) was to be rounded in early 1616 by an expedition co-led by Willem Cornelisz Schouten and named after his home town of Hoorn in Holland.
  • Ivan the Terrible was tsar, or czar, of Russia (the first to be so) from 1547 until his death in 1584. Until 1547 he was Prince of Muscovy (Moscow) AlanE 23:21, 23 February 2009 (EST)

Thoughts and comments

Already I have mentioned Magellan’s non-rounding of the Horn, and intimated that the caravel was not as you described, suggesting you check Conservapedia entries for other vessels of the time. I also changed your date of Henry the Navigator’s founding of his school of navigation. – he was born in that year.

  • (1) Of the 321 words in “Portuguese Exploration”, 127 are actually on that subject. The other 184 are on Columbus.
  • (2) Dias didn’t “fail”. His purpose was to find the way to India. That he did. He chose to return. His expedition was not set up to actually “go” to India.
  • (3) There’s a complete lack of anything about discovery/trade/colonisation anywhere in the world except the Americas; apart from one mention of the Philippines, and Dias and Da Gama’s first voyage. Where are the Dutch? – for most of the 17th century they were the most successful traders on earth and controlled most of the spice trade – which, remember, was the main reason for the voyages of discovery to start off with. What mention of the discovery of Australia? The founding of Cape Colony? Those two great examples of capitalism, the Dutch and English East India Companies?
  • (4) Where’s the English Civil War? Cromwell et al.
  • (5) ”Commercial competition between European nations in North America culminated in the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763)” is just a tad parochial. Actually the Seven Years War was a teeny bit bigger than that. In Europe, it was fought over possession of Silesia by Prussia and Austria. France, Russia, Sweden, Poland sided with Austria; Britain with Prussia. The conflict in Europe contained about 20 major battles in each of which at least 40,000 troops took part with total battle losses of well over 200,000 men. That does not include smaller engagements, sieges, the sacking of towns and villages and pillaging of the countryside, major sea battles ( Lagos, Quiberon Bay) and so on. (It is estimated over a million people died as a result of the conflict in Europe). Because Britain and France were already at each others’ throats unofficially in various parts of the world (including the aptly named French and Indian Wars) there were also major engagements between Britain and France in India, and the West Indies. Late in the war Spain and Portugal set to it in South America. It reached every inhabited continent except Australia (the discovery of which in the early 1600s doesn’t seem to matter, I notice.)
I am not at all minimising the importance of the F and I War – it had an enormous impact – it gave Canada to Britain and in a way opened the door for the American Revolution a few years later. But the Seven Years War also gave Britain control of India, which is not exactly trifling; and the Battle of Quiberon Bay off Brittany in 1759 equals Trafalgar in importance.
To say that the Seven Years’ War was about “commercial competition between European nations in North America” is a bit like saying World War II started with Pearl Harbor. (And I have met Americans who thought it did.) AlanE 00:39, 12 March 2009 (EDT)00:38, 12 March 2009 (EDT)
One other thing....English. Phonetic? How does that gell with the infamous "ough" words. You know, "cough", "through" "burough", 'rough", etc? Not to mention "veer"' "mere", "pier" "ear" and so on. I love English. I wallow in it. I carry volumes of Shakespeare around in my back pocket. But I would never call it phonetically easy. AlanE 01:14, 12 March 2009 (EDT)
Yes, I'd agree on that. There are some languages (such as Italian) where you can teach someone the pronunciation rules and then they can correctly read aloud anything written in that language without understanding it. In English, if you see the word "moped", you don't even know how many syllables it has until you know (by understanding and by context) if it's a noun or a verb. DeniseM 05:04, 17 March 2009 (EDT)
English has some bothersome exceptions to phonetic pronunciation, but there's no denying that the language is largely phonetic. Indeed, phonics is proven to be the best way to learn it.
I'll review the other comments above and incorporate in to the lecture as appropriate. Thanks.--Andy Schlafly 09:48, 17 March 2009 (EDT)
You're welcome. English (as I think I said in my revised version) does have a large phonetic element, but less so than many (most?) other languages that use sound-based written elements. Italian or Hebrew or Arabic or Russian is pretty close to perfectly phonetic, which I think is what is meant by describing a language as phonetic. Personally I'm a great lover of puns and wordplay, so I'm quite happy by all the irregularity. DeniseM 13:31, 17 March 2009 (EDT)
The larger language (in terms of usage) of Chinese is not phonetic. Also, I'm surprised to hear you claim that Hebrew is phonetic. It traditionally lacked vowels!--Andy Schlafly 15:47, 17 March 2009 (EDT)

(outdent) Denise, "sound-based written elements" = phonetic, rather than characters representing ideas (as they do in Chinese). In this sense English is phonetic - although I think there is a specific linguistic word for this; phonograms as opposed to ideograms ?  :) . Even though a character (or sequence) may represent ultiple sounds depending on context (and which language it was adapted from), it still stands for sounds. A phonetic written language is not the same as a phonetically consistent lexicon. In this sense any language not written in ideograms is phonetic. If I read it correctly, Andy was simply saying that as a phonetic (characters = sounds) language, English has advantages over ideogrammatic languages. LowKey 19:58, 17 March 2009 (EDT)

Reply to comments

The above comments, corrections and suggestions on this lecture have been particularly superb. I have incorporated nearly all of them, and the lecture is now complete except for a final proofread. The class of about 46 or so students is grateful for your insights.

I welcome further suggestions.

The only suggestions that I recall not incorporating are the bit about the English civil wars (e.g., Cromwell) and the Dutch exploration and settlement in Africa, which are covered in a future lectures, and the defense of Hume at the top above, which I feel is too sympathetic to him. Except as otherwise noted above, I think I included everything else. On behalf of the students, I thank you.--Andy Schlafly 20:10, 17 March 2009 (EDT)

Reversion explained

The confinement analogy is insightful. The luxuriousness of the quarters is beside the point.--Andy Schlafly 21:53, 18 March 2009 (EDT)

Another Reversion explained

Some of the reverted edits were good, but several of them introduced a bias and withheld key information from students. There have been relatively few good English philosophers; Burke was remarkable in predicting outcomes based on his conservative political philosophy. Feel free to reinsert the additions without deleting information.--Andy Schlafly 12:56, 21 March 2009 (EDT)


It was my understanding that Protestants recevied Copernicus' work well, but the Catholic Church condemned it because it conflicted with their interpretation of the Bible. This, of course, is the opposite of what you state and I would like some more information concerning it. I would also like to know where you learned that "Wars were being fought and soldiers were dying . . ."? Which wars specifically led to the Catholic Church's banning of Copernicus's theory as fact? I had no idea that the Church had prohibited it because they wanted to avoid further controversy with Protestants. I thought there was a Catholic objection to learning it as a mathematical theory. Information, please. --Steve 08:55, 26 March 2009 (EDT)

Good question, Steve. The objection to Copernicus's theory was based on a particularly literal interpretation of the Bible, and generally Protestants at the time took the Bible more literally than Catholics.
Here is one source, which was the first link that came up on my first search, from a Rutgers' source:
Copernicus' densely mathematical Latin book, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, had never really attracted much interest from Roman Catholics; earlier Medieval philosophers like Nicholas Oresme (c.1325-1382) and Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) had already suggested a moving Earth, and Catholics were used to interpreting Scripture allegorically. So what else is new? It was the Protestants, particularly Lutherans, who saw that Copernicus' moving Earth was fatal to their cherished literal interpretation of the Bible: "This fool [Copernicus]," wrote Luther in his Table Talk, "will turn the whole science of astronomy upside-down!" Meanwhile, Lutheran Andreas Osiander (1498-1552) had written a preface to Copernicus' book, reassuring readers it was all just a "mathematical exercise", and did not need to be taken literally.[1]
--Andy Schlafly 10:35, 26 March 2009 (EDT)
Copernicus attracted at least the interest of the General Congregation of the Index which stated:
This Holy Congregation has also learned about the spreading and acceptance by many of the false Pythagorean doctrine, altogether contrary to the Holy Scripture, that the earth moves and the sun is motionless, which is also taught by Nicholaus Copernicus's On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres and by Diego de Zuniga's On Job. This may be seen from a certain letter published by a certain Carmelite Father, whose title is Letter of the Reverend Father Paolo Foscarini, on the Pythagorean and Copernican Opinion of the Earth's Motion and Sun's Rest and on the New Pythagorean World System (Naples: Lazzaro Scoriggio, 1615), in which the said Father tries to show that the above-mentioned doctrine of the sun's rest at the center of the world and the earth's motion is consonant with the truth and does not contradict Holy Scripture. Therefore, in order that this opinion may not creep any further to the prejudice of Catholic truth, the Congregation has decided that the books by Nicolaus Copernicus (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) and Diego de Zuniga (On Job) be suspended until corrected;[..] [2]
So, there was at least one influential fraction of the Catholic authorities which detested the work of Copernicus as much as Martin Luther. Clement ♗ 11:03, 26 March 2009 (EDT)
Your cite is to 1616, after over 50 years of Protestant criticism of the Copernican view. Your cite is a merely reaction to the inroads made by the Reformation. The Protestants were the leaders in rejecting the Copernican.--Andy Schlafly 11:08, 26 March 2009 (EDT)
An invidious comparison has often been made between the Protestant leaders Luther and Melanchthon, who spoke out against Copernicus, and the Catholic Church, which kept quite. This silence has even been interpreted as benign approval. Outspoken approval, as we saw above, has also been alleged. Now, thanks to Garin's assiduity, Tolosani's testimony is available and shows that what happened late to Galileo's Dialogue nearly happened to Copernicus' Revolutions. (p 541)
  • Tolosani's critique of Copernicus is from 1546. But I thought you weren't so fussy when it comes to dates...
Clement ♗ 12:30, 26 March 2009 (EDT)
Clement, if you want me to respond to your comments, then you have to respond to mine. There's no disputing that Protestants were the leaders in attacking Copernicus, and that the Catholic reaction was in the wake of the Protestant attack. I'm not criticizing the Protestants, but am debunking the myth that the Catholic position on this particular issue was more objectionable than the Protestant one.--Andy Schlafly 17:49, 26 March 2009 (EDT)
There's no disputing that Protestants were the leaders in attacking Copernicus, and that the Catholic reaction was in the wake of the Protestant attack. Sorry, but E. Rosen in the article above does exactly this: he disputes that Protestants were the leaders, and that the Catholics only reacted. It seems that both held positions equally objectionable, while in your lecture, you are criticizing the Protestants exclusively. Clement ♗ 18:14, 26 March 2009 (EDT)
Clement, your statements are baseless and your provide no quotes to support them, and I haven't criticized Protestants or Catholics in this context. The title of the article you cite is absurd, as the pope does not "approve" scientific theories.
I'm going to stop wasting my time responding to your comments unless you become more substantive and fair in your remarks. Also, note our Conservapedia:Commandments. They apply to your edits too.--Andy Schlafly 19:46, 26 March 2009 (EDT)
Clement, your statements are baseless and your provide no quotes to support them, and I haven't criticized Protestants or Catholics in this context. The title of the article you cite is absurd, as the pope does not "approve" scientific theories.
Isn't that a contradictio in adiecto?
As for the pope's position: we are talking about the 16th century, a time when theology and science couldn't be that easily be separated. My first quote from 1616 showed that even in the 17th century, an agency of the Holy See - the General Congregation of the Index - was occupied with approving and disapproving the work of scientists!
BTW, which of the Conservapedia:Commandments did I violate?
  1. checked: edits on encyclopedia entries are verifiable
  2. checked: well, I didn't credited source for the most obvious things (dates of live of Louis XIV or Philip II). But neither did you, when you misstated them
  3. checked: edits are family-friendly
  4. checked: I'm using B.C. or A.D. if necessary
  5. checked: I didn't post personal opinion on an encyclopedia entry. In fact, I'm arguing that you did
  6. checked: I'm no bot, Sir!
  7. checked: Until now, I made 18 edits, 8 of which are to talk-pages.
Clement ♗ 00:15, 27 March 2009 (EDT)
Of your last 16 edits here, I couldn't find a single substantive one of value. Instead, your edits included an insult of my efforts posted on RJJensen's page, a denial of the obvious fact that Luther and other Protestants in the 1500s were the leaders in criticizing the Copernican theory, a few trivial (and, frankly, unhelpful) edits to the lectures (such as adding a French spelling), and statement that contradicts the dictionary about the meaning of "Prussia". That's 0 out of 16 in terms of value, and a lot of wasting of my time.
Improve or go elsewhere. Please.--Andy Schlafly 08:14, 27 March 2009 (EDT)
I'm sorry that you didn't like my edits - and that you feel that they are trivial and unhelpful. I thought that - at least - correcting the dates of life of Louis XIV and Philip II was helpful. Clement ♗ 10:48, 27 March 2009 (EDT)

Second Attempt

On September 11, 1683, Muslims made a second major attempt to conquer Europe (recall that Charles the Hammer turned back their first attempt).

What do you call the Siege of Vienna in 1529? A minor attempt? Clement ♗ 15:38, 26 March 2009 (EDT)

And the Battle of Lepanto in 1571? A reconnaissance in force? Clement ♗ 15:52, 26 March 2009 (EDT)

Seven Years War

Britain won the war, partly due to the genius of William Pitt, after whom Pittsburgh is named. Britain gained both Canada and India as a result of the Seven Years War, but lost the American colonies two decades later in the Revolutionary War. Pitt himself had left power before the war concluded (though he returned to power later); he opposed the peace treaty on the grounds that it did not give enough to Britain. France was humiliated by this war, which may have contributed to the French Revolution a few decades later.

As you stated that the ally of Britain was Prussia, I'd like to include a sentence like:

Prussia only got its hold on Silesia confirmed, but by the fact that it survived against an overwhelming coalition it gained an equal footing with the other European kingdoms. Clement ♗ 15:50, 26 March 2009 (EDT)

Galileo vs. Kepler

It seems to be unfair to scold Galileo for teaching geometry to medical students so that they could use astronomy and astrology in the practice of medicine!, while you don't mention that Kepler's main revenues stemmed from casting horoscopes for emperor Rudolf II. Clement ♗ 16:02, 26 March 2009 (EDT)

Interesting tidbit about Kepler, but I wasn't intended to "scold" Galileo but was merely giving a flavor for what science and medicine were like then. Kepler earning money from the emperor is less telling.--Andy Schlafly 17:45, 26 March 2009 (EDT)

The historiagraphy for this piece is not good

De La Casas is hardly the only one who reported the atrocities committed by the Spaniards in South and Central America. The historians who deny his claims are mostly right-wing Spanish historians who were pro-imperialist or ultra-nationalist. He is only really guilty of doing what most Europeans did prior to the 19th century: inflating numbers. He also most likely misattributed deaths to atrocities rather than disease, but his descriptions of the brutality are supported by other, independent sources. DeLaRojo 09:45, 28 February 2012 (EST)

Moving on to the Seven Years War, it was hardly the end of all Spanish influence in the region. Sure it significantly damaged the Spanish's ability to govern, but they still controlled Florida and would remain in the region until the Spanish-American War. Additionally, the French still controlled Haiti and its profitable sugar production up until the rebellion in 1791 and ultimate indepedence with L'Toussaint Overture 1794. DeLaRojo 09:50, 28 February 2012 (EST)
Finally, statements such as "Of course, eventually the interest and development in North America increased and surpassed that of South America." are both unnecessary and contentious. The colonies developed sure, but that doesn't mean that they became the primary focus for Europe. The French took Haiti and the Carribbean for its production, and Spain made lots of money of the primary production of its colonies. DeLaRojo 09:58, 28 February 2012 (EST)