beginning of the 16th century

Union with Lithuania and the Golden Age
Photo: Jan Matejko, Union of Lublin that created the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. National Museum in Lublin.

■ The royal line of Mieszko ruled Poland until the end of the 14th century, when they died out. This forced Poland to look for their new king elsewhere, and after a brief political romance with Hungary, the Polish Queen Jadwiga married the Grand Duke of Lithuania, thereby giving rise to long-lasting union between the two nations. The alliance eventually evolved into creation of one country: the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569.

■ The 150 or so years between the beginning of the 16th century and the first decades of the 17th century went down in history as the Polish Golden Age. The country’s political system evolved into an early democratic monarchy and became one of the first multicultural states in history, with minorities’ rights protected by the Union’s laws. The Commonwealth was one of the biggest political entities in Europe as well as one of the most influential, both culturally and politically.


As requested by przytulmnie-mocno a few days ago;

The Polish Winged Lancers were probably history’s single most famous cavalry outfit. The were one of the main types of the cavalry in the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland between the 16th and 18th centuries. When this cavalry type was first introduced by the Serbian and Hungarian mercenary horsemen in the beginning of the 16th century, they served as light cavalry banners in the Polish army; by the second half of the 16th century and after Stephen Báthory’s reforms, hussars had been transformed into heavily armored shock cavalry. Until the reforms of the 1770s, the husaria banners were considered the elite of the Polish cavalry.

With the Battle of Lubiszew in 1577, the ‘Golden Age’ of the husaria began. Between then and the Battle of Vienna in 1683, the hussars fought many actions against several enemies, most of which they won. They didn’t lose one battle for the first 125 years after the inception of the unit.

In the battles of Lubiszew in 1577, Byczyna (1588), Kokenhausen (1601), Kircholm(1605), Kłuszyn (1610), Chocim (1621), Martynów (1624), Trzciana (1629),Ochmatów (1644), Beresteczko (1651), Połonka (1660), Cudnów (1660), Chocim(1673), Lwów (1675), Vienna (1683), and Párkány (1683), the Polish hussars proved to be the decisive factor against often overwhelming odds. For instance, in the Battle of Kluszyn during the Polish–Muscovite War, the Russians outnumbered the Commonwealth army 5 to 1, yet were heavily defeated. During the Khmelnytsky Uprising (Battle of Zhovti Vody, 1648), the Polish army of 1,500, containing less than 200 hussars, defended against Khmelnytsky’s 11,000-man army due to the hussars’ defence work.

The role of the hussar evolved into a reconnaissance and advanced scout capacity. Their uniforms became more elaborate as their armour and heavy weapons were abandoned. In the 18th century, as infantry firearms became more effective, heavy cavalry, with its tactics of charging into and breaking infantry units, became increasingly obsolete and hussars transformed from an elite fighting unit to a parade one.

The hussars were famous for their huge 'wings’, a wooden frame carrying eagle, ostrich, swan or goose feathers. In the 16th century, characteristic painted wings or winged claws began to appear on cavalry shields.

The most common theory is that the hussars wore the wings because they made a loud, clattering noise which made it seem like the cavalry was much larger than in reality and frightened the enemy’s horses. Other possibilities included the wings being made to defend the backs of the men against swords and lassos, or that they were worn to make their own horses deaf to the wooden noise-makers used by the Ottoman and the Crimean Tatars.


Capoeira (/ˌkæpuːˈɛərə/; Portuguese pronunciation: [kapuˈejɾɐ]) is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, and is usually referred to as a game. It was developed in Brazil mainly by West African descendants with native Brazilian influences, probably beginning in the 16th century. It is known for quick and complex moves, using mainly power, speed, and leverage for a wide variety of kicks, spins, and highly mobile techniques.

The most widely accepted origin of the word capoeira comes from the Tupi words ka'a (“jungle”) e pûer (“it was”), referring to the areas of low vegetation in the Brazilian interior where fugitive slaves would hide. Practitioners of the art are called capoeiristas.

The Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish Paintings

The Dutch Golden Age painting is the painting of the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history generally spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years War (1568–1648) for Dutch independence. The new Dutch Republic was the most prosperous nation in Europe, and led European trade, science, and art. The northern Netherlandish provinces that made up the new state had traditionally been less important artistic centres than cities in Flanders in the south, and the upheavals and large-scale transfers of population of the war, and the sharp break with the old monarchist and Catholic cultural traditions, meant that Dutch art needed to reinvent itself entirely, a task in which it was very largely successful.

Although Dutch painting of the Golden Age comes in the general European period of Baroque painting, and often shows many of its characteristics, most lacks the idealization and love of splendour typical of much Baroque work, including that of neighbouring Flanders. Most work, including that for which the period is best known, reflects the traditions of detailed realism inherited from Early Netherlandish painting.

It is also a great time for Flemish Painters of the Baroque

Flemish Baroque painting refers to the art produced in the Southern Netherlands during Spanish control in the 16th and 17th centuries. The period roughly begins when the Dutch Republic was split from the Habsburg Spain regions to the south with the Spanish recapturing of Antwerp in 1585 and goes until about 1700, when Habsburg authority ended with the death of King Charles II. Antwerp, home to the prominent artists Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens, was the artistic nexus, while other notable cities include Brussels and Ghent.
Rubens, in particular, had a strong influence on seventeenth-century visual culture. His innovations helped define Antwerp as one of Europe’s major artistic cities, especially for Counter Reformation imagery, and his student Van Dyck was instrumental in establishing new directions in English portraiture. Other developments in Flemish Baroque painting are similar to those found in Dutch Golden Age painting, with artists specializing in such areas as history painting, portraiture, genre painting, landscape painting, and still life.

A distinctive feature of the period is the proliferation of distinct genres of paintings, with the majority of artists producing the bulk of their work within one of these. The full development of this specialization is seen from the late 1620s, and the period from then until the French invasion of 1672 is the core of Golden Age painting.

The term “genre” is much used in the history and criticism of visual art, but in art history has meanings that overlap rather confusingly.  Genre painting may also be used as a wider term covering genre painting proper, and other specialized types of paintings such as still-life, landscapes, marine paintings and animal paintings.

The concept of the “hierarchy of genres” was a powerful one in artistic theory, especially between the 17th and 19th centuries:

  • History painting, including narrative, religious, mythological and allegorical subjects
  • Portrait painting
  • Genre painting or scenes of everyday life
  • Landscape (landscapists were the “common footmen in the Army of Art” according to the Dutch theorist Samuel van Hoogstraten) and cityscape
  • Animal painting
  • Still life, flowers, etc.

History Painting (historical, biblical, mythical, allegory, battle scenes)

  • Denis van Alsloot
  • Dirck Van Baburen
  • Jacob Adriaensz. Backer
  • Abraham Bloemaert
  • Jan Boeckhorst
  • Ferdinand Bol
  • Paulus Bor
  • Leonaert Bramer
  • Salomon de Bray
  • Bartholomeus Breenbergh
  • Jan Brueghel the Elder
  • Jan Brueghel the Younger
  • Hendrick ter Brugghen
  • Abraham Van Calraet
  • Jacob van Campen
  • Hendrik de Clerck
  • Gaspar de Crayer
  • Benjamin Gerritsz. Cuyp
  • Willem Drost
  • Karel Dujardin
  • Caesar van Everdingen
  • Carel Fabritius
  • Govert Flinck
  • Ambrosius Francken
  • Frans Francken the Younger
  • Hieronymus Francken the Younger
  • Aert de Gelder
  • Hendrik Goltzius
  • Pieter de Grebber
  • Cornelis van Haarlem
  • Hendrik Heerschop
  • Pauwels van Hillegaert
  • Gerard Hoet
  • Cornelis Holsteyn
  • Gerrit van Honthorst
  • Samuel van Hoogstraten
  • Arnold Houbraken
  • Michael Angelo Immenraet
  • Pieter Isaacsz
  • Lambert Jacobsz
  • Jacob Jordaens
  • Nicolaes Knüpfer
  • Salomon Koninck
  • Gerard de Lairesse
  • Pieter Lastman
  • Jan Lievens
  • Johannes Lingelbach
  • Jacob van Loo
  • Karel van Mander
  • Claes Cornelisz.Moeyaert
  • Paulus Moreelse
  • Daniel Mijtens the Younger
  • Jan Baptist van Meunincxhove
  • Eglon van der Neer
  • Adriaen van Nieulandt
  • Abraham Janssens van Nuyssen
  • Jacob van Oost the Elder
  • Jacob van Oost the Younger
  • Palamedes Palamedesz
  • Cornelius van Poelenburgh
  • Willem de Poorter
  • Jacob Pynas
  • Jan Pynas
  • Erasmus Quellinus II
  • Nicolas Regnier
  • Pieter Cornelisz van Rijck
  • Rembrandt van Rijn
  • Peter Paul Rubens
  • David Rijckaert (III)
  • Cornelis Saftleven
  • Joris van Schooten
  • Pieter Snayers
  • Frans Snyders
  • Matthias Stom
  • Jacob van Swanenburg
  • Abraham van den Tempel
  • Jan Tengnagel
  • David Teniers the Elder
  • David Teniers the Younger
  • Theodoor van Thulden
  • Moses van Uyttenbroeck
  • Gillis van Valckenborch
  • Otto van Veen
  • Esaias van de Velde
  • Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne
  • Johannes Vermeer
  • Simon de Vos
  • Cornelis de Wael
  • Jan Baptist Weenix
  • Jan Weenix
  • Adriaen van der Werff
  • Pieter van der Werff
  • Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert
  • Frans Wouters
  • Philips Wouwerman
  • Joachim Wtewael

Tronies, portrait, selfportrait, equestrian, groupsportrait, military

  • Pieter van Anraedt
  • Jan de Baen
  • David Bailly
  • Jan van Bijlert
  • Abraham van Blyenberch
  • Gerard ter Borch
  • Gesina ter Borch
  • Jan de Bray
  • Gonzales Coques
  • John de Critz the elder
  • Jacob Gerritszoon Cuyp
  • Jan Frans van Douven
  • Anthony van Dyck
  • Albert Eckhout
  • Wybrand de Geest
  • Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger
  • Frans Pietersz de Grebber
  • Johannes van Haensbergen
  • Frans Hals
  • Daniel Haringh
  • Bartholomeus van der Helst
  • Jan van den Hoecke
  • Ludolf Leendertsz de Jongh
  • Thomas de Keyser
  • Roelof Koets of Zwolle
  • Sir Peter Lely
  • Isaac Luttichuys
  • Frans Luycx
  • Jacob Levecq
  • Nicolaes Maes
  • Pieter Meert
  • Michel Jansz van Mierevelt
  • Jan van Mieris
  • Daniel Mytens the Elder
  • Caspar Netscher
  • David van der Plas
  • Pieter van der Plas
  • Hendrick Gerritsz Pot
  • Jan Antonisz. van Ravesteyn
  • Arnold van Ravesteyn
  • Jan Albertsz. Rotius
  • Dirck van Santvoort
  • Godfried Schalcken
  • Anthoon Schoonjans
  • Paul Van Somer
  • Pieter Claesz Soutman
  • Justus Sustermans
  • Wallerant Vaillant
  • Johanna Vergouwen
  • Jan Verkolje
  • Johannes Cornelisz. Verspronck
  • Jacob Ferdinand Voet
  • Ary de Vois
  • Cornelis de Vos
  • Willem Wissing

Genre, scenes of daily life, music

  • Cornelis Pietersz Bega
  • Charles Emmanuel Biset
  • Peter van Bloemen
  • Balthasar van den Bossche
  • Andries Both
  • Esaias Boursse
  • Adriaen Brouwer
  • Hendrick van der Burgh
  • Willem Pieterszoon Buytewech
  • Pieter Codde
  • Joos van Craesbeeck
  • Gerrit Dou
  • Joost Cornelisz Droochsloot
  • Jacob Duck
  • Willem Cornelisz Duyster
  • Dirck Hals
  • Pieter de Hooch
  • Pieter van Laer
  • Judith Leyster
  • Gabriel Metsu
  • Jan Miel
  • Jan Miense Molenaer
  • Frans van Mieris the Elder
  • Willem van Mieris
  • Adriaen vam Ostade
  • Anthonie Palamedesz
  • Theodoor Rombouts
  • Michael Sweerts
  • Jan Steen
  • Johannes Vermeer
  • Sebastian Vrancx
  • Thomas Wyck

Landscape, seascape, city scape, winter, night

  • Lucas Achtschellinck
  • Jacques d'Arthois
  • Jan Asselijn
  • Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraaten
  • Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem
  • Paul and Mattheus Brill
  • Anthonie van Borssom
  • Jan Dirksz Both
  • Abraham Van Calraet
  • Gillis van Coninxloo
  • Albert Cuyp
  • Dirck Dalens the Elder
  • Guillam Dubois
  • Pieter Janssens Elinga
  • Allaert van Everdingen
  • Abraham Genoels
  • Jan van Goyen
  • Abel Grimmer
  • Joris van der Haagen
  • Jan Hackaert
  • Dirck Helmbreker
  • Jacob de Heusch
  • Willem de Heusch
  • Meindert Hobbema
  • Gillis d'Hondecoeter
  • Cornelis Huysmans
  • Philips Augustijn Immenraet
  • François van Knibbergen
  • Philip de Koninck
  • Govert van der Leeuw
  • Jean-François Millet (I)
  • Pieter de Molijn
  • Frederick de Moucheron
  • Isaac de Moucheron
  • Aert van der Neer
  • Pieter de Neyn
  • Jan van Nickelen
  • Bonaventura Peeters
  • Egbert Van Der Poel
  • Frans Post
  • Adam Pynacker
  • Roelant Roghman
  • Jacob Van Ruisdael
  • Salomon van Ruysdael
  • Marten Rijckaert
  • Pieter Rijsbraeck
  • Herman Saftleven
  • Jacob Savery the Elder
  • Willem Schellinks
  • Hercules Seghers
  • Adriaen van Stalbemt
  • Lucas van Uden
  • Lodewijk de Vadder
  • Adriaen van de Velde
  • Jan Vermeer of Haarlem
  • Daniel Vosmaer
  • Jan Wijnants
  • Jan Wildens
  • Matthias Withoos
  • Gaspar van Wittel
  • Pieter Wouwerman


  • Gerrit Berckheyde
  • Thomas Heeremans
  • Jan van der Heyden
  • Jan van Kessel of Amsterdam


  • Aert Anthonisz
  • Hendrick van Anthonissen
  • Ludolf Bakhuizen
  • Jan Theunisz Blanckerhoff
  • Jan van Capelle
  • Jeronymus van Diest
  • Willem van Diest
  • Andries van Eertvelt
  • Hendrik van Minderhout
  • Pieter Mulier the Elder
  • Reinier Nooms
  • Bonaventura Peeters
  • Jan Peeters I
  • Jan Porcellis
  • Julius Porcellis
  • Isaac Sailmaker
  • Willem van de Velde the Elder
  • Willem van de Velde the Younger
  • Lieve Pieterszoon Verschuier
  • Abraham de Verwer
  • Simon de Vlieger
  • Hendrick Cornelisz Vroom
  • Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen
  • Adam Willaerts

Animals, hunting

  • Jan Fyt
  • Melchior d’Hondecoeter
  • Paulus Potter
  • Roelant Savery
  • Paul de Vos

Still life, flowers, food, vanitas, Trompe l’oeil

  • Willem van Aelst
  • Balthasar van der Ast
  • Jan Anton van der Baren
  • Osias Beert
  • Martin Boelema de Stomme
  • Hans Bollongier
  • Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder
  • Ambrosius Bosschaert II
  • Abraham Bosschaert
  • Johannes Bosschaert
  • Joseph de Bray
  • Elias van den Broeck
  • Pieter Claesz
  • Evert Collier
  • Adriaan Coorte
  • Alexander Coosemans
  • Andries Daniels
  • Cornelis Jacobsz. Delff
  • Isaac van Duynen
  • Floris van Dyck
  • Jan Baptist van Fornenburgh
  • Willem Gabron
  • Pieter Gallis
  • Jan Pauwel Gillemans
  • Nicolaes Gillis
  • Gerrit Willemsz Heda
  • Willem Claeszoon Heda
  • Cornelis de Heem
  • Jan Davidsz. de Heem
  • Jan Janszoon de Heem
  • Jacob van Hulsdonck
  • Willem Kalf
  • Jan van Kessel
  • Cornelis Kick
  • Roelof Koets
  • Nicolaes Lachtropius
  • Simon Luttichuys
  • Cornelis van der Meulen
  • Abraham Mignon
  • Maria van Oosterwijck
  • Clara Peeters
  • Pieter Gerritsz van Roestraten
  • Rachel Ruysch
  • Floris van Schooten
  • Otto Marseus van Schrieck
  • Harmen Steenwijck
  • Pieter Steenwijk
  • Christiaen Striep
  • Jan Philips van Thielen
  • Johannes Torrentius
  • Jan Jansz. Treck
  • Jan Jansz. den Uyl
  • Adriaen van Utrecht
  • Jan Jansz. van de Velde
  • Vincent Laurensz van der Vinne
  • Matthias Withoos
  • Catarina Ykens-Floquet
  • Frans Ykens

Others, interiors, skating

  • Hendrick Avercamp
  • Bartholomeus van Bassen
  • Job Berckheyde
  • Abraham Blooteling
  • Dirck van Delen
  • Pieter Janssens Elinga
  • Wilhelm Schubert van Ehrenberg
  • Jacob de Gheyn II
  • Gerard Houckgeest
  • Cornelis de Man
  • Pieter Neefs the Elder
  • Peeter Neeffs (II)
  • Pieter Jansz Saenredam
  • Jacobus Ferdinandus Saey
  • Hendrick van Steenwyck (II)
  • Hendrick Cornelisz van Vliet
  • Paul Vredeman de Vries
  • Isac Vromans
  • Emanuel de Witte

The enormous success of 17th-century Dutch painting overpowered the work of subsequent generations, and no Dutch painter of the 18th century—nor, arguably, a 19th-century one before Van Gogh—is well known outside the Netherlands. Already by the end of the period artists were complaining that buyers were more interested in dead than living artists.

If only because of the enormous quantities produced, Dutch Golden Age painting has always formed a significant part of collections of Old Master paintings, itself a term invented in the 18th century to describe Dutch Golden Age artists. Taking only Wouwerman paintings in old royal collections, there are more than 60 in Dresden and over 50 in the Hermitage. But the reputation of the period has shown many changes and shifts of emphasis. One nearly constant factor has been admiration for Rembrandt, especially since the Romantic period. Other artists have shown drastic shifts in critical fortune and market price; at the end of the period some of the active Leiden fijnschilders had enormous reputations, but since the mid-19th century realist works in various genres have been far more appreciated.

“Tsuki hyakushi” One hundred aspects of the moon

Kitayama Moon
Toyohara Sumiaki, an accomplished flute player, was in charge of the court music at the beginning of the 16th century. One night he wandered onto the Kitayama moors where he enchanted the wolves with his beautiful flute playing.


General Atlas of All the Islands in the World

Islario general de todas las islas del mundo (General atlas of all the islands in the world) is the greatest work by Seville cosmographer Alonso de Santa Cruz (1505–67). The atlas was begun during the reign of Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain Charles V and finished in that of his son King Philip II, to whom it was dedicated. It consists of 111 maps representing all the islands and peninsulas of the world, and showing all the discoveries made by European explorers from 1400 to the mid-16th century. The atlas begins with a letter by Santa Cruz to the king, in which he justifies his work and explains different geographic concepts. Preceding the maps is “Breve introducción de la Sphera” in which Santa Cruz makes a cosmographic description, illustrated by 14 astronomical figures. The maps are organized in four parts: the first deals with the North Atlantic; the second, with the Mediterranean and adjacent areas; the third, with Africa and the Indian Ocean; and the fourth with the New World. The maps include scales in latitude and some in longitude and bodies of water with varied scales and oriented with compass roses. The Islario general is the earliest atlas in which paper is used, instead of the parchment that was previously most commonly used for such charts. The design of the maps is more functional, with less attention to aesthetics and more to geographic detail than in the late-medieval portolan maps and atlases. Scholars have determined, on the basis of the dates that appear in the descriptive texts on the islands, that the maps were made beginning in the fourth decade of the 16th century, around 1539, and that the entire atlas was completed circa 1560. It is highly probable that the Islario general was a part of a Geografía Universal that Santa Cruz never finished. Santa Cruz was one of the key figures of the Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) in Seville. One of his first works was a set of the spherical charts of the New World. He created various other works on cosmography and geography, such as the Libro de longitudes; and on historical themes, including  Crónica de los Reyes Católicos (Chronicle of the Catholic kings) and Crónica de Carlos V (Chronicle of Charles V). Following Santa Cruz’s death, his successor, Andrés García de Céspedes, attempted to claim credit for this work. On the cover the name Alonso de Santa Cruz has been erased, García de Céspedes’s name is inserted as if he were the author, and the work is dedicated to King Philip III. In the manuscript itself, apocryphal texts have been superimposed over the originals, with the aim of disguising the real authorship and date of creation.

Map Cartography & (Legendary) Lands

Map cartography is the study and practice of making maps. 

Here Be Dragons

The phrase refers to dangerous or unexplored territories, referring to the Medieval practice of putting dragons, sea serpents, and other mythological creatures in uncharted areas of maps.

The latin phrase “HC SVNT DRACONES” is also used. The term appeared on the Lenox Globe around the east coast of Asia, and might be related to the Komodo dragons in the Indonesian islands; this suggests that the term may have supposedly been used quite literally at times. 

Isle of Demons

It is a legendary land that was believed to exist on Quirpon island, Newfoundland in Canada. It was generally shown as two islands. It began appearing on maps in the beginning of the 16th century, and disappeared in the mid-17th century.

It was believed to have been populated by demons and wild beasts. The demons and wild beasts would torment and attack any ships that passed or anyone that was foolish enough to wander onto the island. 

A legend tells of a sea captain’s niece who became pregnant while having an affair with one of the sailors and was left on the island, along with her lover, where they were tormented by demons and evil spirits.

The Isle of Demons first appeared on the map of Johannes Rysch in 1508. It may be a variation of the older legend of the legendary island named Satanazes, meaning “devils” in Portugese; it was normally depicted in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, north of Antillia. 


In Classical European literature and maps, it is a region in the far north. The term “ultima Thule” in medieval geographies also denotes any distant place located beyond the “borders of the known world”

the most northerly of the Britannic Islands, is farthest north, and that there the circle of the summer tropic is the same as the Arctic Circle.

The inhabitants or people of Thule are described by Strabo in his Geographica, along with eye witness accounts of Pytheas during the 4th century BC:

…the people (of Thule) live on millet and other herbs, and on fruits and roots; and where there are grain and honey, the people get their beverage, also, from them. As for the grain, he says, since they have no pure sunshine, they pound it out in large storehouses, after first gathering in the ears thither; for the threshing floors become useless because of this lack of sunshine and because of the rains.

Ilha da Queimada Grande

Also known as Snake Island, it is a real island off the coast of the state of São Paulo, Brazil. It is home to one of the most venomous snakes in the world, with a reputed “1-5 snakes per square metre”; and the island is 4.6 million square feet in size. Access to the island has been banned by the Brazilian government.

It is home to the Golden Lancehead Viper, with a venom so strong it can kill its prey almost instantly. It is said to be able to melt human flesh

There are known deaths caused by the snakes of the island. One tale tells of a fisherman who, although unaware of consequences, enters the island to pick bananas. However, he gets bitten by (one of) the snakes. Although he manages to travel back to his boat, he dies due to the snakes’ venom. He was later found in a great pool of blood on the boat deck.


The Winged Hussars, were one of the main types of the cavalry in the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland between the 16th and 18th centuries. When this cavalry type was first introduced by the Serbian and Hungarian mercenary horsemen in the beginning of the 16th century, they served as light cavalry banners in the Polish army; by the second half of the 16th century and after Stephen Báthory’s reforms, hussars had been transformed into heavily armored shock cavalry. Until the reforms of the 1770s, the husaria banners were considered the elite of the Polish cavalry. The most probable purpose of the wings was to make a loud, clattering noise which made it seem like the cavalry was much larger than in reality and frightened the enemy’s horses.

The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes

315 years. 20,528 voyages. Millions of lives.

By Andrew Kahn and Jamelle Bouie

Usually, when we say “American slavery” or the “American slave trade,” we mean the American colonies or, later, the United States. But as we discussed in Episode 2 of Slate’s History of American Slavery Academy, relative to the entire slave trade, North America was a bit player. From the trade’s beginning in the 16th century to its conclusion in the 19th, slave merchants brought the vast majority of enslaved Africans to two places: the Caribbean and Brazil. Of the more than 10 million enslaved Africans to eventually reach the Western Hemisphere, just 388,747—less than 4 percent of the total—came to North America. This was dwarfed by the 1.3 million brought to Spanish Central America, the 4 million brought to British, French, Dutch, and Danish holdings in the Caribbean, and the 4.8 million brought to Brazil.

This interactive, designed and built by Slate’s Andrew Kahn, gives you a sense of the scale of the trans-Atlantic slave trade across time, as well as the flow of transport and eventual destinations.


anonymous asked:

I don't mean this to sound like an attack or anything, I'm honestly just trying to learn. How is capitalism a racist system?

Capitalism and Slavery

By the mid-19th century overt racism was mainstream academic orthodoxy. The growth of racialist consciousness in Europe was a direct result of colonial expansion and the resultant demand for cheap labor for the plantations. Chattel slavery, resurrected to exploit the resources of the new world, persisted far into the 19th century in the U.S. The few Europeans who ended up as semi-slaves in the New World had usually lost their citizenship because of convictions for petty crime. The demand for slave labor was not met in the homelands of the colonial powers, largely because the ruling classes feared the resulting social turmoil. The surplus population of European peasants was eventually utilized for wage slavery, whereas the aboriginal peoples of Africa and South America, whose darker skin color was an indelible identifying mark, provided the solution to labor shortages in the New World.

Slavery clearly required an ideological justification, for it was contrary both to the formal teachings of Christian charity and the notions of the inalienable "rights of man” propounded by the ideologues of the market and the Enlightenment:

“The slaves were in an inferior position economically. Gradually, white slaveowning society constructed a wall of color: that it was not the mode of slave production which was to be despised, but the slave: that the reason the black skin was the mark of the slave was that it was first the mark of human inferiority.

"In this manner the class problem of slavery became complicated and confused by the color question. The slaves, besides being an exploited social class, became, in the perverted thinking of the dominant society, an inferior race as well." 
—Richard Fraser, "The Negro Struggle and the Proletarian Revolution”

While it is difficult to date the beginning of this new racial ideology precisely, it is clear that there was an explosion of such notions beginning in the 16th century. Ashley Montagu made the following observation in his book Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race:

“A study of the documents of the English and American slave traders down to the eighteenth century also serves to show that….many of these hardheaded, hardbitten men recorded their belief that their victims were often quite clearly their own mental equals and superior to many at home.

"It was only when voices began to make themselves heard against the inhuman traffic in slaves, and when these voices assumed the shape of influential men and organizations, that, on the defensive, the supporters of slavery were forced to look about them for reasons of a new kind to controvert the dangerous arguments of their opponents.”

The influence, clarity and sophistication of these “reasons” increased over the next several centuries, until by the 19th century, “race” was widely seen as the key determinant of human history. By explaining the success of European colonialism by divine sanction (or, after Darwin, “natural selection”), the ideologues of empire infused the colonialists with confidence and moral conviction. At the same time, missionaries undermined the victim’s will to resist with the gospel of “turning the other cheek” to the conquistadors and slave-drivers.

While it would hardly have occurred to a feudal lord to differentiate among his serfs on the basis of their skin color or type of hair, in the age of vast international empires, racial categorization helped make sense of the world. The belief in racial identity, racial purity and racial mission was a vital part of the “laager mentality” among the isolated and outnumbered colonials. In 1890, for example, 300 million Indians were ruled by a mere 6,000 British administrators, backed by only 70,000 soldiers.

The ideology of empire painted a picture of humane, brave, industrious and intelligent colonialists bringing the benefits of modern civilization to peoples who, for the most part, were portrayed as vicious, cowardly, lazy and stupid. Even when non-Europeans were given some positive characteristics, these were inevitably coupled with fatal flaws and organic weaknesses. Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem of 1899 saluting the American rape of the Philippines called on Uncle Sam to join with John Bull and:

“Take up the White Man’s burden— 
Send forth the best ye breed— 
Go bind your sons to exile 
To serve your captives’ need; 
To wait in heavy harness, 
On fluttered folk and wild— 
Your new-caught, sullen peoples, 
Half-devil and half-child.”

Scientific’ Racism in the 1800s…

By the end of the 19th century, the proposition, “biology determines destiny” was scientific orthodoxy, and prominent scientists such as Louis Agassiz, Samuel Morton, Robert Knox, Herbert Spencer and Ernst Haeckel were busy devising hierarchies of the races in which the “European,” or often more specifically “Anglo-Saxon” (for the English, Germans and Americans), were placed at the top, with the other “inferior” races ranked beneath them. For example, Agassiz, a Harvard professor who was America’s foremost zoologist of the 19th century, claimed that “the brain of the negro is that of the imperfect brain of a seven months infant in the womb of the white.” A whole range of quack sciences such as phrenology and craniometry arose to measure and quantify the differences among individuals as well as races.

Numerous debates about the origin and genesis of humankind raged throughout the 19th century. In the early-mid century, a debate raged between partisans of monogenism and polygenism (i.e., between those who held that all humanity has a common root and those who argued that the different “races” were created separately). The learned associations of the world discussed whether some groups could be classified as human at all, such as the Australian aborigines, who, as late as 1926, were treated as rural pests to be exterminated. By the end of the century, attention had shifted to social-Darwinist theorizing about how the dog-eat-dog ethos of capitalist society (“survival of the fittest”) was beneficial for the species.

The following description of the Hottentots was typical of “science” circa 1862:

“the race called Hottentots [are] a simple, feeble race of men, living in little groups, almost, indeed, in families, tending their fat-tailed sheep and dreaming away their lives. Of a dirty yellow colour, they slightly resemble the Chinese, but are clearly of a different blood. The face is set on like a baboon’s; cranium small but good; jaws very large; feet and hands small; eyes linear in form and of great power; forms generally handsome; hideous when old and never pretty; lazier than an Irishwoman, which is saying much; and of a blood different and totally distinct from all the rest of the world." 
—Robert Knox. The Races of Man: A Philosophical Enquiry into the Influence of Race over the Destinies of Nations

The layering of prejudice is interesting in the above quotation—an Irishwoman, generally considered "white,” is the standard for laziness against which the Hottentot is measured. While there was a definite ordering of “races” among whites, in general the “fairer races” were destined to conquer and supersede the “darker races”: “Before the go-ahead Dutchmen it was easy to see that this puny, pygmy, miserable race [the Hottentot] must retire….” To Knox and his contemporaries it was axiomatic that race was a determining force in history.

The debates that raged in the scientific community a few generations ago about the hierarchy of “racial superiority” and the destiny of “inferior” races—extinction, extermination, servitude or assimilation—were not the province of a lunatic fringe. They represented the mainstream of scientific thinking. Overtly racist ideas pervaded every aspect of intellectual life: literature, the arts, philosophy and history. Even the most militant sectors of the workers’ movement were polluted.

Racism, like other forms of capitalist ideology, reflects the reality of social oppression and exploitation, but it inverts cause and effect. It is bourgeois not only in its historic origins, but also in its social function—providing a rationale for the misery, suffering and injustice which are an inevitable part of the free-market package. Peoples that were enslaved, conquered or dispossessed, are not victims of an irrational social order, but rather doomed by biological predetermination.

Racism is one of the key means by which the economic and social hierarchies of the capitalist world are ideologically “naturalized.” At the top of the pyramid, because of their fitness to rule, sit white, bourgeois men. The rest of the world—whether female, black, Asian or even the white male working class—are to the ruling class as children to parents. There has always been a close connection between racism and male supremacist ideology. “According to the anthropologist McGrigor Allan in 1869, ‘The type of the female skull approaches in many respects that of the infant, and still more that of the lower races.”’ As an example of the pervasiveness of such attitudes the authors of Not In Our Genes quote Charles Darwin, the greatest scientist of the 19th century, as remarking: “some at least of those mental traits in which women may excel are traits characteristic of the lower races.” Liberals, who dismiss such absurdities as evidence of the scientific backwardness of that age, and comfort themselves with the thought that such vicious ignorance has been transcended, fail to see how, at every stage, science is conditioned by the prejudices of the existing social order.“

(Read Full Text)


Lamu can refer to the island, off the coast of Kenya. But Lamu is also the name of the city on the same island. Lamu town is one of the oldest settlements in Kenya and was founded by the Swahili People. From the beginning of the 16th century, the city has experienced a lot of influence from the Portuguese and Omanis. The port of Lamu has long been used as a transit port for slaves. But there came an end to the slave trade in 1907. Since then, a lot of tourists visit the island and the city.

Besides the city of Lamu, there are three villages on the island: Shela (has the most spectacular beaches), Matondoni (known for its construction and repair of dhows, traditional sailing ships) and Kipungani (a small village on the south coast of the island). There are no real roads on the island, just a few streets and sandroads. Most of the residents don’t have motorized vehicles. They travel on foot or by boat. Donkeys are used to transport goods and materials. In 2001 the city was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


history meme — italian version // two wars: the wars in lombardy

The wars in Lombardy were a series of conflicts between the Republic of Venice and the Duchy of Milan and their respective allies, fought in four campaigns in a struggle for hegemony in Northern Italy that ravaged the economy of Lombardy and weakened the power of Venice. They lasted from 1423 until the signing of the Treaty of Lodi in 1454. During their course, the political structure of Italy was transformed: out of a competitive congeries of communes and city-states emerged the five major Italian territorial powers that would make up the map of Italy for the remainder of the 15th century and the beginning of the Italian Wars at the turn of the 16th century, viz. Venice, Milan, Florence, the Papal States and Naples. Important cultural centers of Tuscany and Northern Italy—Siena, Pisa, Urbino, Mantua, Ferrara—became politically marginalized.

The wars, which were both a result and cause of Venetian involvement in the power politics of mainland Italy, found Venetian territory extended to the banks of the Adda and involved the rest of Italy in shifting alliances but only minor skirmishing. The shifting counterweight in the balance was the allegiance of Florence, at first allied with Venice against encroachments by Visconti Milan, then switching to ally with Francesco Sforza against the increasing territorial threat of Venice. The Peace of Lodi, concluded in 1454, brought forty years of comparative peace to Northern Italy, as Venetian conflicts focused elsewhere.

After the Treaty of Lodi, there was a balance of power resulting in a period of stability lasting for 40 years. During this time, there was a mutual pledge of non-aggression between the five Italian powers, sometimes known as the Italic League. Even there was frequent tension between Milan and Naples, the peace held remarkably well until the outbreak of the Italian Wars in 1494, as Milan called upon the king of France to press his claim on the kingdom of Naples. (x)

Some studies about Tortuga’s island plants! :D :D

Lignum vitae

Lignum vitae is a trade wood, also called guayacan or guaiacum, and in parts of Europe known as pockholz, from trees of the genus Guaiacum. The trees are indigenous to the Caribbean and the northern coast of South America and have been an important export crop to Europe since the beginning of the 16th century. The wood was once very important for applications requiring a material with its extraordinary combination of strength, toughness, and density. It is also the national tree of the Bahamas and the Jamaican national flower.

Source: Wikipedia

anonymous asked:

What is this lymond thing u keep praising

it’s a series of incredibly complex, incredibly witty, incredibly exciting historical novels, written by a scottish author named dorothy dunnett. there are six volumes in total, following the exploits of Francis Crawford of Lymond, a minor Scottish noble who becomes embroiled in various royal court intrigues and military campaigns across Europe and the Middle East.

the series takes place in the 16th century, with the first book beginning in 1547 (when Mary Queen of Scots was five years old, for reference), and the final book ending in 1558. many of the characters are real historical figures, but the main characters (ie, lymond and his family, friends and main enemies) are fabricated.

the easiest way for me to describe Lymond himself is that he’s a kind of combination of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes,  Peter O’Toole’s fictionalised interpretation of Lawrence of Arabia, and Marvel’s Loki. he’s my favourite fictional character of all time.

the books can be a little heavy-going if you’re not used to reading things where you have to pay close attention to every line (i first read them over the course of a few years in my mid-teens, and later realised that i’d failed to pick up on about 50% of the major plot points), but they’re absolutely worth it. the lymond books are my #1 recommendation for anything, basically. and that’s partly because while they do have a cult following, they’re kind of a niche interest.

so every time someone messages me to say they’ve started reading lymond because of stuff i’ve posted on tumblr, i’m 100% thrilled! IF ONLY IT WAS POSSIBLE TO HAVE A REAL FANDOM FOR THIS SERIES. there are annual conventions, but they look EXTREMELY intellectual, and because i’ve only read the series 2.5 times so far, i don’t feel like i’m knowledgeable enough to attend myself, yet. :/// (some helpful person did create a non-fiction companion book to the series, explaining all of the historical allusions and literary quotes. i think i should probably invest in a copy.)

on top of the fact that the lymond books are gripping, smart, witty, and often heartbreaking, i’d also point out that dorothy dunnett is incredibly good at portraying ~realistic~ historical scenarios. by which i mean, on top of being very well-researched, the lymond books also feature female characters who are just as smart and capable as the men, and that the general cast represents a realistic range of ethnicities — partly thanks to the fact that lymond, along with many of the main characters, spends several years living a sort of nomadic existence as a mercenary. this isn’t one of those historical stories where all the women are sexy love-interests or crazy bitches, and everyone is white Because Of History. these books are definitely less sexist, racist and homophobic than any historical movie or TV show i’ve ever seen, and they were written in the 1960s and 70s. basically dorothy dunnett was an awesome lady. :)

edited to add: the books are VERY SPOILERY though!! and there are definitely spoilers in the lymond tag on tumblr!! don’t go there! don’t read spoilers! JUST READ THE BOOKS.


The Topkapı Scroll (TurkishTopkapı Parşömeni) is a Timurid dynasty pattern scroll in the collection of the Topkapı Palace museum.

It has been presumably prepared in Iran during the Safavid dynasty in the end of the 15th century or beginning of the 16th century.

The scroll is a valuable source of information, consisting of 114 patterns that may have been used both indirectly and directly by architects to create the tiling patterns in many mosques around the world, including the quasicrystal Girih tilings from Darb-e Imam.