Battle of Jutland

Anna – Welcome back to Minimum Wage Historian where I, your provisional hostess, Anna Komnene will guide you through the interesting twists and turns of history. Zach sent a letter from Japan, but I didn’t read it. I’ll post it later or something if I find it interesting.
Matilda – And I, Matilda of Tuscany will aid in today’s topic along with Olga of Kiev, Gaspar Correia and Jane Austen.
Gaspar – Why is Jane Austen here again?
Matilda – Because she has more experience with the British Navy than all of us combined.
Anna – And because I like her books.
Jane – Thank you, my dear Anna. Now lets begin our charming discussion about the Royal Navy.

Gaspar - A WWI dreadnaught. I had to show something manly. The estrogen in this room is suffocating me.

Gaspar – A WWI dreadnought. I had to show something manly. The estrogen in this room is suffocating me.

Anna – Let us begin our story in the few years leading up to the first World War. Europe hadn’t had a large war for a few years and their militaries were confident and eager to prove themselves better than anyone else. The nations felt a war was coming and tension was escalating.
Jane – I hate to be rude but I must interject here. At this time, battle ships had several batteries of small to medium sized guns with only 2 to 4 larger guns of about 12 inches. The British watched the war between the Japanese and Russians with great interest and observed that the smaller guns had little to no impact on the battles at all. Also, the splashes the smaller guns created made it difficult to see the splashes the big guns made. That all means that the smaller, more useless guns made the big guns hard to aim. An Italian designer drew up plans for an “all big gun” ship and several nations took notice. The Japanese tried to make one but lacked the big guns. The Americans started making two but were entirely too slow in their attempt. The British though, in record speed created the HMS. Dreadnaught. Not only was it the biggest and most heavily armored ship, it was also the fastest and the most heavily armed. It sported ten of the 12 inch cannons in turrets. It was the first of a new design philosophy of naval ships. It was so radically different than any other ship before it that all ships created like it were called “dreadnoughts.

HMS. Dreadnaught, the first of its class that launched a complete change in the way things were done. Kind of like Led Zeppelin.

HMS. Dreadnaught, the first of its class that launched a complete change in the way things were done. Kind of like Led Zeppelin.

Matilda – When Germany saw the HMS. Dreadnaught, they scrambled to build their own. Once the Dreadnought took to sea, all other ships were obsolete. It was now a race to see who could put more dreadnoughts to see first.
Olga – So, big ship had big guns, yes? Why no do this before?
Matilda – They thought more faster firing guns was better.
Olga- Bigger is always better. Idiots!
Gapsar – I concur. When given the choice between firearms, I always choose the bigger of the two. It’s logic.
Anna – Eventually WWI broke out for moronic reasons and soon England and Germany were facing off over the water. England had a larger navy and a grand tradition of naval supremacy.
Jane – (sings) Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves!
Anna – Yes, they dominated the oceans for the past three hundred years. They were confident with every reason to be so. They took their navy and blockaded Germany. If you remember Zach’s earlier post about logistics, you’d know that all warfare comes down to logistics, the movement of supplies, weapons and personal to where they need to go. England was cutting off supplies to Germany from the ocean and Germany had to do something.
Matilda – Germany had one big problem, that was the Grand Fleet of England. It was larger and Germany couldn’t hope to take them on all at once. So, Germany came up with a plan to lure a part of the British fleet out and destroy it one bite sized piece at a time. So the Germans came up with this elaborate plan to send some of their faster, lighter ships up and lure a squadron of British ships they knew were parked nearby. The British squadron was commanded by Vice-Admiral Beatty. They would let Beatty chase them and bring the British ships into the path of the rest of the German navy. The Germans sent out submarines to act as scouts, but the plan was delayed so long that the subs were either destroyed, were chased off, had to go back to shore for refueling or fell asleep.
Anna – There was also another problem. The German’s super-secret plan wasn’t so super-secret. The British had cracked their codes and were listening in on what the Germans were saying. So, they knew the Germans were planning something big on the 31st of May, 1916. So they positioned their fleet in the area and waited.

Gaspar - I had to use this one. It was too good not to.

Gaspar – I had to use this one. It was too good not to.

The German Admiral Hanz Hipper had to break the blockade. That was his one job. The British Admiral Jellicoe had one job as well, to completely destroy the German navy.

The German Admiral Hanz Hipper had to break the blockade. That was his one job. The British Admiral Jellicoe had one job as well, to completely destroy the German navy.

Olga – Oooh! Do I get to see ships blow up now? I need to see fighting or I get bored and leave.
Anna – We’re getting there, Olga.

Here we see the Grand Fleet sailing in parallel columns. This was how they maneuvered in battle. It made signaling the rest of the fleet easier so they could make turns quicker and more accurately.

Here we see the Grand Fleet sailing in parallel columns. This was how they maneuvered in battle. It made signaling the rest of the fleet easier so they could make turns quicker and more accurately.

Jane – Admiral Hipper sailed down to look for the Germans and he was unknowingly heading right at them. If he continued on that path he would go right into the middle of the German fleet and be destroyed. But he had previous orders to reach and certain point and turn around, which as a good British sailor, he did. But then the British spotted two German torpedo boats and opened fire. They missed and the torpedo boats sped back to their own fleet which in turn opened fire on the British fleet, scoring a hit from very long range. Lucky hun! The British then launched a sea plane to scout the Germans out. This was the first time a seaborne plane was used in battle for reconnaissance. Of course we British did it first.
Anna – We Byzantines would rather just set our enemies of fire. So chew on that. As I was saying…oh yes. Admiral Beatty’s job was to keep his ships together to concentrate firepower but do to poor communication on his part to his captains and going faster than his slowest ships, he managed to spread his ship out, something he didn’t want to do. And once Beatty had the German ships in range….he held off firing for 10 crucial minutes and he still didn’t get his ships into a fighting formation. What was he doing? I don’t know.
Matilda – Finally the two fleets engaged and began firing. The Germans took off, leading Beatty south towards the awaiting German forces.
Gaspar – And this is where the German plan comes fully into action. The Germans had gone further than the dreadnaught and came up with a new weapon, a giant robot called a “Mobile Suit.” Leading this elite force of super weapons was a guy nicknamed “the Red Comet.” He was waiting with his force of mobile suits to destroy the British fleet.

The Red Comet was out for blood in his custom painted red Zaku!

The Red Comet was out for blood in his custom painted red Zaku!

Jane – I’m afraid Gaspar is feeling ill today. He must have a brain fever. He has confused Gundam for history. Though the show is most entertaining, it is far from factual.
Anna – He does that. You’ll get used to it.
Jane – I certainly hope not.
Anna – As the fleets sailed south they continued to fire at each other but the weather was in the Germans’ favor and caused nothing but visibility problems for the British. The HMS. Lion was struck in a turret and avoided being blown up completely by the quick action of a morally wounded Marine who ordered the magazine doors shut and flooded before the whole thing could go up and take out the entire ship. But another British ship was sunk. The HMS. Indefatigable was hammered by the Germans until a shell finally blew up one of its ordinance magazines and the ship exploded, killing all but two men.

The worst fear of any captain.

The worst fear of any captain.

Matilda – A little while later another British ship was blown completely up by another magazine hit. It wasn’t looking good for the British and they were almost to the awaiting German fleet. I can’t stand those Germans. Why, when they dared come down into Italy and march through…
Anna – Matilda, Calm down. We talked about this.
Matilda – Where’s my sword?
Anna – We’re professional historians. We have to keep our cool at all times. Remember. Fear is the mind killer.
Jane – While they are working on….whatever it is they are doing, let us continue with the battle, shall we? When another ship was feared blown up, Beatty said, “I fear there may be something wrong with our bloody ships!” That’s a stiff upper lip! But soon they spotted the German fleet in its entirety and immediately turned north to where Admiral Jellicoe awaited. Finally they spotted Admiral Beatty and Jellicoe used signals to ask the location of the German flotilla. Beatty, again with no explanation, did not answer for fifteen minutes. But in order to deploy his fleet to counter the Germans, he had to know where the Germans were and for 20 minutes he was without that information while the Germans steamed right at him. A very dire situation for an admiral to be in.
Olga – This getting good. (opens bag of dorritos.)
Anna – Meanwhile the Germans are completely unaware that a fleet of dreadnaughts are waiting for them. Finally the two fleets spot each other and two of the British ships foolishly wander into range of the German dreadnaughts. They blow up one of the ships and severely damage that one and another one that had rudder problems causing it to go in circles. The British couldn’t catch a break.
Matilda – The heavy capital ships fired and soon the battle was on. The flagships of the admirals were stuck in it exchanging salvos from their giant cannons. The British damaged the German flagship but the Germans blew up another British ship, the unfortunately named Invincible.

The battle was fierce as massive cannons pounded away at heavy armor.

The battle was fierce as massive cannons pounded away at heavy armor.

Anna – Because of poor visibility the Germans couldn’t see the entire British navy and were soon caught in a trap. They were in a position to only fire a few of their ships while the British could fire everything they had. The German admiral saw this and ordered a difficult but well practiced 180 degree turn and got out of dodge in a hurry. The British followed but only carefully.
Jane – I must add that at this time the HMS. Shark was severely damaged and was fighting a losing battle against four torpedo boats and a damaged U-boat. Against all odds he continued fighting until his ship was sunk. He won the Victoria’s Cross for heroism for his valiant effort.
Anna – The Germans were desperately trying to get away but knew they wouldn’t make it to nightfall unless they did something. The the German admirals launched a massive torpedo attack and sent four battle cruisers out to draw British fire in a suicidal mission to save the rest of the fleet. This “death ride” was a brave move by the Germans. The battle cruisers were pounded by heavy guns and all where severely damaged, but they lived and turned south again to catch up with the German fleet just as night fell.
Matilda – But the battle wasn’t over. The British continued to chase the Germans during the night and several short range and intense fights happened that saw more ships sunk. The German ship Nassau rammed the British ship HMS. Spitfire and fired its guns point blank, blowing away the superstructure tower because they couldn’t lower the guns enough to hit the ship. Another British dreadnaught accidentally rammed a German cruiser and sunk it.
Olga – Dah! Dah! Very good. (Continues to crunch away at her chips.)
Gaspar – This was when the Germans…
Jane – Mr. Gaspar, could you be so kind as to bring us all some of that lovely pizza from the oven?
Gaspar – Anything for a lady.
Jane – Thank you, Gaspar.
(Gaspar leaves)
Anna – Thank you Jane.
Jane – Please don’t mention it.
Anna – So, during the bloody night the Germans managed to slip away due to several blunders on the Brit’s part, including the failure of the admiralty in London to telegraph intercepted messages that said exactly where the German fleet was going. One would think that sort of thing would be important.
Olga – Wait, wait. Who won?
Anna – That’s hard to say. At first both sides reported a German victory and the Germans even celebrated it as a holiday until after WWII. But in reality, neither side won. The British lost far more ships than the Germans but the Germans completely failed to destroy the English navy and for the rest of the war the Germans avoided another head on battle like that and stuck to submarine warfare.
Matilda – This was Britain’s once chance to destroy the German fleet and they failed to do so. Both sides did not achieve their goals.
Jane – I believe, ‘indecisive’ is the word. How droll. The British lost 113,300 tons of ship to the Germans’ loss of only 62,300 tons. Though outnumbered, the Germans came out on top but didn’t have the numbers to continue fighting head on. But do not worry my dear readers, the British shall return in the second World War for more daring heroics on the high seas!

And, just because…

jutland poster

Sacagawea

Those are the Rocky Mountains? Please. I got this. Stand back and let me handle this, boys.

Those are the Rocky Mountains? Please. I got this. Stand back and let me handle this, boys.

Anna Komnene – Welcome to Minimum Wage Historian. I’m your host this time around.
Olga – Where’s Zachsky?
Anna – For the hundredth time, he’s in Japan. He’s taking a very long holiday. And I don’t expect he shall return. In fact he means not to.
Olga – So, I get his room?
Anna – If you wish. Just toss his stuff in the garage.
Jane Austen – I must say that that isn’t very considerate of you.
Anna – Its just Zach. Who cares? Let’s get started. Today, as you can see, we have St. Olga of Kiev, Jane Austen, Gaspar Correia and Scipio Africanus.
Scipio – Are you sure you don’t want to schedule Boudica or some other enemy of Rome on this panel, like you usually do?
Anna – Unlike Zach, I’m actually competent.
Gaspar – Harsh, Anna.
Anna – Silence! Ms. Austen, if you would be so kind, could you start us off?
Jane – It would be my most excited pleasure. Let us start with the birth of this woman. Sacagawea was born around 1788 or 89 in what is today Idaho. She was born into the Lemhi band of Shoshone. “Lemhi” was a name given to them by Mormon settlers. The world she grew up in was the world of the Native Americans before the white settlers came. It was a simple and sometimes harsh life. Her band of Lemhi were in a serious predicament and had troubles facing them from every turn.
Scipio – Indeed they did. Let’s look at Indian history from the military side of things for a moment. Indians in the South West had horses they captured from the Spanish. These horses spread north and eastward. At the same time, guns from French fur trappers were spreading west. Eventually the tribes with the horses met the tribes with guns and well…you can imagine how well that turned out. It turns out that in a fight, a gun is better than a horse. So, tribes with horses but no guns had to fall back and watch their hunting grounds be invaded by hostile tribes with better weapons. The Lemhi Shoshone were one of these unlucky tribes.

Don't bring a horse to a gun fight.

Don’t bring a horse to a gun fight.

Anna – It was a simple matter of superior weapons technology. When Sacagawea was born, her tribe had to hide out in the mountains, away from the buffalo and only ventured down into enemy territory to hunt buffalo for the winter. It was that or starve. This enforced poverty lead to a breakdown of traditional Shoshone morals. They were a desperate people who were losing their spirit and their way. In Lewis’s journals we don’t see a very positive light on the Shoshone in that they bought and sold women like property (not a traditional Shoshone thing to do, BTW.) and in all likely hood, Sacagawea had a rough childhood and was probably beaten.
Jane – How horrible!
Anna – It only got worse. Her parents engaged her to marry a much older man in exchange for horses. Though poor, the Shoshone had one thing in abundance: horses, a fact that would come to be very important for Sacagawea later on. I can’t imagine that she would have been very keen on this idea of marrying some old man.
Jane – But surely it was a better choice than what happened. When she was eleven a raiding party of Hidasta Indians attacked their hunting party with terrible ferocity, killing several Lemhis. Sacagawea was kidnapped in this raid and taken for prisoner. Along with another girl named Jumping Fish, she was carried back to the Hidasta’s village. Jumping Fish managed to escape, but Sacagawea stayed and was a slave for three years.
Olga – Oh! I know this part. Indian girl then get fire and burn all Hidastas’ houses. ( Starts laughing maniacally.)
Anna – Umm…not quite, Olga. But thank you for trying. No, a French fur trapper came along by the name of Toussaint Charbonneau. He either bought Sacagawea or won her in a game of chance. Charbonneu took another Shoshone slave as wife. Sacagawea was thirteen years old.  (Olga frowns, yawns and leaves the room.)
Gaspar – Let’s take a moment to look at the character of this Toussaint Charbonneau. He was a fur trapper that spend all his time with the Indians. He had “gone native” if you will. He spent his life far away from civilization. He was late thirties when he married. And he was, and let’s be fair here, a total, complete and utter douchebag.
Anna – Aren’t you being harsh now?
Gaspar – No, I’m just presenting my completely unbiased opinions. We shall see if my judgement proves false or not. I’ll keep a tally of douche points.
Anna – Your contributions are not needed.
Gaspar – Nevertheless, I shall endeavor to track this man’s behavior.
Jane – I’m sure your efforts are greatly appreciated, Gaspar.

Oui, oui! Judge for yourself of my splendid pig-ness. I am, as zay say, ze bag of douche. Count up my DB points at ze end of the post and win a prize from me!

Oui, oui! Judge for yourself of my splendid pig-ness. I am, as zay say, ze bag of douche. Count up my DB points at ze end of the post and win a prize from me!

Scipio – Never mind all that. So, that is where we leave Sacagawea for a moment and go to far off Rome…her…Washington DC. President Thomas Jefferson had just bought the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the United States by buying land from France that wasn’t actually theirs to sell.
Gaspar – Splitting hairs.
Scipio – Like any good emperor, he wanted to find out about the land he had just acquired, so he organized an expedition to map out this new land and find out if there was a water passage that led to the Pacific Ocean.
Gaspar – Spoiler alert, there wasn’t one.
Scipio – So, Emperor Jefferson chose a Meriweather Lewis, a captain in the army. (A good thing he didn’t choose a lieutenant. Lt’s can’t find their backyard with a compass.) Lewis, a somewhat stoic career officer chose his good friend and fellow officer, William Clark as his co-captain.
Gaspar. With the two captains chosen, they went and hand picked a squad of the best men possible. They chose a rag-tag group of misfits, brawlers, one-eyed fiddle players and ruffians.
Anna – Okay, kind of true. But these men were professional soldiers, not the Dirty Dozen.
Gaspar – The part about the one-eyed fiddle player was true. Each one had unique skills that would help them along their journey. One was a carpenter. Another spoke French. Another knew some basic Indian sign language and others were good fighters.

My name is Cpt. Lewis and I’m putting together a special team, and I need me eight soldiers. Eight American soldiers. Now, y’all might’ve heard rumors about the armada happening soon. Well, we’ll be leaving a little earlier. We’re gonna be dropped into the Great Plains, dressed as civilians. And once we’re in enemy territory, as a bushwhackin’ guerrilla army, we’re gonna be doin’ one thing and one thing only… makin' maps.

My name is Cpt. Lewis and I’m putting together a special team, and I need me eight soldiers. Eight American soldiers. Now, y’all might’ve heard rumors about the armada happening soon. Well, we’ll be leaving a little earlier. We’re gonna be dropped into the Great Plains, dressed as civilians. And once we’re in enemy territory, as a bushwhackin’ guerrilla army, we’re gonna be doin’ one thing and one thing only… makin’ maps.

Anna – There was a great deal of preparation for Lewis and Clark, such as lessons in medicine, map making and wilderness survival. But we won’t get into all that because this post isn’t about them. Let’s just say that after a long while, they and their elite corp of explorers made their way up the Dakotas where they stopped by an Indian village. Here is their problem that’s actually relevant to Sacagawea. They planned to take boats by river all the way to the Rocky Mountains. But they couldn’t cross the mountains with all their gear on their backs. There was just too much of it. So, once they got there, they’d have to buy horses from the local Indians there, the Shoshone. So, they needed to find a guide and hopefully an interpreter. Well…at this camp there happened to be Charbonneau and Sacagawea. Charb’ always looking for an opportunity, saw that he could make a great deal of money by guiding these Americans. So, he went to their camp and offered his services. Lewis and Clark were kind of “meh” on the idea until he mentioned that one of his wives could speak Shoshone. “Gentleman, before you had my curiosity. But now you have my attention.” They shook hands and hired him.
Gaspar – Okay, let me tell this part. So, what does an honest Frenchman do? He goes to the nearest French trading post, tells the French officials there all about it and they bribe him to spy on the expedition. They give him a bunch of swag as payment and he walks back to camp carrying his loot. Lewis and Clark ask, “Yo, where’d you get all that junk?” Charb’ replied, “Oh, the French gave it to me…as a gift! Yeah, that’s right. A gift.” L and C weren’t satisfied with his response so Charb’ thinks that they need him and can’t fire him, so he makes a list of demands like “If you want my services, I’ll go if I don’t have to do any manual labor or obey orders.” L and C were professional military men so you could guess how well that went over. They fired him and kicked him out. A few days later Charb’ came crawling back, begging for the job. They agreed because they really needed Sacagawea.
Scipio – One point for the DB count.
Jane – At first, the expedition’s journals only referred to her as “Charbonneau’s Squaw.” Keep in mind that “Squaw” was a derogatory term, so If you use it I will harshly remind you to mind your manners. She presented Lewis and Clark with a buffalo robe as a present of friendship. But as the expedition went on, they start to refer to her more often and soon start using her name. We shall see why. There was one more detail, Sacagawea was seven months pregnant and gave birth shortly before the expedition set out. For the entire year and a half expedition she would carry her baby in a cradle board on her back.

So, not only was she only 15-16 years old, had to go on a perilous journey, but she had to take care of a baby along the way. That was on top of saving everyone's gear, time and lives. But whatever.

So, not only was she only 15-16 years old, had to go on a perilous journey, but she had to take care of a baby along the way. That was on top of saving everyone’s gear, time and lives. But whatever.

Gaspar – Hard core.
Scipio – So, once the Missouri River thawed out, they crossed and began their journey over the Great Plains. They soon fell into a routine. As they were going against the current, going was slow, so often Lewis and Clark took turns walking along the shore ahead of the boats to make sure there weren’t any obstacles. Sacagawea at first just stayed in the boats but soon began walking along with Clark whenever it was his turn. They didn’t speak each other’s languages, but they soon became friends. She would walk along and gather berries and roots for their dinner stews, a skill that would later keep the expedition alive.
Gaspar – Ok, I have another story.
Anna – (groans)
Gaspar – So, one day as they were making their way up the river, for some reason both Lewis and Clark were on shore and Sacagawea was in the boat with her husband. Good ole’ Charb’ was piloting the boat when a sudden storm came up and threatened to capsize the boat. Any sailor worth his salt knows you never turn into the wind. So, what does Charb’ do? He turns into the wind and tips the boat over. All of the Expedition’s most important equipment goes into the river. Lewis and Clark are yelling from the shore and Charb’ instead of getting a handle on the situation, literally freezes and does nothing. Everyone’s freaking out. Everyone expect Sacagawea. She calmly rescues the equipment that fell in, including some very important map making gear and the expedition’s journals. Since she was the only one to even think about saving their gear, they named the river after her and from that point on, L and c begin to pay more attention to the quiet Shoshone woman.
Scipio – DB point number two, I believe.
Anna – Charbonneau also did some cooking. Some fine Frankish cuisine! He used otter guts to make sausages. See? That’s not so bad, Gaspar.
Gaspar – Yes, but according to Lewis, Charb’ used beaver intestines for the sausage casings, but…I hesitate to say this in mixed company, he apparently didn’t always get all the intestine’s contents out before stuffing them.
Jane – Oh, my. How beastly. I must say that if I were forced to eat…such things, I would surely die of starvation first.
Scipio – DB point three.
Jane – During the trip westward, Clark grew more attached to Sacagawea whom he called ‘Janey’ and her baby, whom he called ‘Pompy’ or ‘Little Pomp.’ But alas, soon Sacagawea fell very ill. We don’t know the exact nature of her infirmity but we do know that it was severe. There are several theories, some of them rather unpleasant which I shall not go into. Clark, who went through some medical training in preparation for the expedition, attended her and did the best he could with his limited knowledge. They still traveled and she lay in the boat in agony. It was the only time they heard her cry out loud, so it must have been horrible. But there was something very curious about this affair. In his journal, Clark said “If she dies, it will be the fault of the husband as I am now convinced.” Like I said, there are some unpleasant theories.
Gaspar – Somehow being responsible for Sacagawea’s near death? DP Point number four.
Scipio – But eventually she started to recover and Lewis and Clark told her husband to make sure she only eats salted buffalo meat and broth. But like the wonderful husband he was, he didn’t care and let her eat whatever she wanted and she fell ill again. DP Point five, by the way. I do have to stop here and mention a curious piece of equipment Lewis and Clark brought along. Gun powder was difficult to store and was subject to weather, something they couldn’t get by with. So, they brought along a gun called a “Girandoni Air Rifle.” It was a repeating rifle, the first and only of its kind at the time, fed by a tube magazine and could hold 22, .46 caliber rounds that shot with the muzzle velocity of a .45 ACP. Not bad. It had an air reservoir that was hand pumped to fill and was quieter than a musket.

If you're going to be gone on a year long huntin' trip, this would be a good gun to have...or during a zombie apocalypse.

If you’re going to be gone on a year long huntin’ trip, this would be a good gun to have…or during a zombie apocalypse.

Anna – There were other adventures as well, such as them almost being drowned by a flash flood. But one day they came to a rocky hill that Sacagawea recognized. She sucked her fingers which was a sign that she was in the territory of her home tribe. Eventually they met the Shoshone and at Sacagawea translated. She was surprised when she saw Jumping Fish, the girl that escaped captivity and even more surprised when she met the chief, it was her own brother. It was the only time they saw Sacagawea cry. With her help they bartered for horses to use in crossing the Rocky Mountains. But something happened to test Sacagawea’s loyalty. She overheard that her brother was going to take Lewis and Clark’s payment and go off to hunt buffalo without giving them their horses. She immediately told Clark and they confronted the chief who swore he’d pay up. Apparently she believed her future was with the people of the expedition and not her tribe. Right there she saved the expedition because they were on a very tight schedule and any kind of delay would have prevented them from crossing the mountains before the snows grew too heavy.
Jane – Sacagawea also met another person she knew, the older man she was once engaged to. My imagination leads me to think that she didn’t care much either way about him. But too soon they had to leave and cross the mountains. Even though it was late August, there was snow in the mountains and soon progress became difficult. They hadn’t brought enough food and when it ran out, all they had was what few animals they could shoot and what Sacagawea could find. If it wasn’t for her ability to find food, they might never have made it through the mountains. When their horses gave out, they ate them, but for Shoshone that is a strict taboo and almost equal to cannibalism, she most likely did not partake of the meager meal. It took them two weeks to pass through the mountains and when they emerged on the other side, they met the friendly tribe of Nez Perce. With their aid they regained their health.
Anna – They left their horses with the Nez Perce and continued on toward the Pacific coast. They met several tribes, some of them unfriendly. But when they saw that they had a woman with them, they new they weren’t a war party and let them pass. So, again, she saved their lives simply by being there.
Gaspar – Hard core. Also, at this time I’d like to add that Sacagawea had her own agenda. She wasn’t there just to help L&C, but she was there on a secret mission from the ancient order of The West Wind, a group of demon hunters and she was on the trail of a vile demon named “Crow Talker.” In the baby’s cradle board she kept hidden the obsidian dagger that would allow her to defeat Crow Talker. She knew he lived by the ocean and only needed the expedition to get her there to fulfill her ancient duty.
Anna – I’m going to slap you one of these days.
Scipio -Eventually our heroes reached the Pacific ocean in time to make camp for the winter. It was to be a miserable time. It was always raining which meant their leather clothes could never dry and all their gear was always damp. It also meant they couldn’t dry any meant to preserve it. Clark reported in his Journal that Charbonneau struck Sacagawea and Clark had strong words with the Frenchman. She was one of their group now and an equal. They even voted on where to make camp and she got a vote like everyone else. Sixth DP point. Striking what everyone in the expedition considered to be one of the bravest, most patient and caring women they had ever met.
Anna – Some local Indians came along with whale blubber which apparently was good to eat, but I think it sounds revolting. But Lewis and Clark wanted to go find this carcass for food. They were about to leave without Sacagawea because she wasn’t a hunter, but she stopped them and said she had come all this way and she was going to see this giant fish. So, they brought her along, but by the time they reached it, it had been picked clean to the bones by other Indians. But at least she got to see the skeleton of the great beast. This shows a strong will and an equally strong curiosity. Perhaps traveling over such great distances made her bolder?
Jane – Like gentlemen, Lewis and Clark wished to bring President Jefferson a gift. One of the local Indians had a shiny beaver robe that was exquisite. But they had nothing left to trade. So, Sacagawea traded her prized beaded belt for the robe so they’d have something to bring back to Jefferson. That was most considerate of her. During Christmas it was noted that Sacagawea gave Clark several white weasel tails as a gift. I’m not entirely certain what significance that holds, but it does appear to be special in some way. I think perhaps that she was ‘particularly close’ to William Clark.
Scipio – The long, wet winter eventually ended and they started on their journey back home. They made excellent time and Sacagawea was able to interpret with a friendly tribe because they had a Shoshone captive with them. At one point they had to choose which pass through some mountains to take and Sacagawea said she knew the mountains and picked for them the shortest way. The fact that they listened to her on so many occasions shows their respect for her knowledge.

That way, for the millionth time.  Instead of weasel tails I should have gotten you a GPS.

That way, for the millionth time. Instead of weasel tails I should have gotten you a GPS.

Anna – I do not think that its any exaggeration to say that the expedition would not have made it without Sacagawea. She helped in many ways, finding food, rescuing vital equipment, good will ambassador so they weren’t slaughtered and translator. And yes, sometimes she pointed the way.
Gaspar – Hard core. In fact, she was so hard core that the United States Army declared her an honorary Sergeant in 2001.

Zach or any other vet could tell you that sergeants are not to be messed with. If a 15 year old girl could earn those stripes, she had to be tough.

Zach or any other vet could tell you that sergeants are not to be messed with. If a 15 year old girl could earn those stripes, she had to be tough.

Scipio – After the expedition Clark adopted Sacagawea’s baby and raised him as his own. But what happened to Sacagawea? Nobody knows. There are two theories. One, that she died in a trading camp of sickness, but some think that may have been Charb’s other Shoshone wife. The other theory was that she went back to her people. The Shoshone have a oral tradition that she returned and spent the rest of her days there. They even have a grave marker to honor her. Which is true? I don’t know. I’ll leave that to the reader to decide.
Gaspar – Like Charb’s ultimate DB score. That I leave to the reader.
Anna – Gaspar has been hardly fair and unprejudiced, but yes, he probably was a rotten pig.

Jane – And please do not forget Zach’s book, “Fearless: Powerful Women of History.” I blush to say this, but I and to be found within those pages, so please purchase this book and do enjoy.  Below is the “Link,” I think you call it.

http://www.amazon.com/Fearless-Powerful-History-Zachary-Hill/dp/1490934340/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380734970&sr=1-1&keywords=fearless+powerful+women+of+history

In Japan

I’m in Japan right now and will probably be here for at least a year. But do not worry my fellow historians for Anna Komemne will take over as host while I’m away. I’ll try to send some reports of local Japanese history when I can. Believe Sacajawea is next up on the schedule. (Assuming Anna follows my instructions. She’s not known for being obedient.)

Jackie Robinson

The man doing what he did best.

The man doing what he did best.

Zach – The world is a better place because of a baseball player named Jackie Robinson. I usually go after the more obscure and esoteric parts of history, but in this case we will be telling a part of history that I don’t think can be told enough. This is one of those rare moments in history where one man stands in the spotlight and changes everything around him.
Anna – To help us with telling the story of this great man, we have with us Countess Matilda of Tuscany, Jane Austen, Julius Caesar and Gaspar Correia.
Zach – I thought Olga was coming.
Anna – I may have accidentally told her about a building demolition that doesn’t actually exist.
Caesar – Very good, then we can discuss Mr. Robinson in peace.
Zach – Let’s start at the beginning. He was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo Georgia. His family were sharecroppers which meant they rented a small plot of land for farming. But a year later his father left and his mother, Mallie, took the family to California. With other members of their extended family they rented a plot and built two houses. Jackie was the only minority kid on his block and faced discrimination from an early age.
Anna – That had to be rough on the poor child. I couldn’t imagine what I’d do without my father.
Matilda – I could have done without my father.
Anna – Jackie had older brothers named Mack and Frank. Mack was a star athlete himself and went to the Olympics and he inspired Jackie to rise and make something of himself. He didn’t have a father, but he had good older brothers.
Caesar – Perhaps Mr. Robinson should have been born in Greece because he would have fit their ideal of the athlete. He was good at every sport he played even from a young age. He played baseball, basketball, tennis, football and track and field. Quite an accomplishment for any Greek.
Anna – I imagine he would have been a fantastic chariot driver. We would have made statues of him for our Hippodrome.
Zach – I’m sure if we still had chariot races he would have rocked them. In college his won several awards and broke his brother, Mack’s Broad Jump record. Now, the thing is, almost all of his team mates were white. So here we see Jackie with experience dealing with a majority of white team members. This experience will came in extremely useful later on.
Anna – It wasn’t just his athletics either. He was awarded membership in the “Order of the Mast and Dagger” which is for outstanding service to the school and whose scholastic and citizenship record is worthy of recognition. Not bad.
Matilda – But now we’ll look at another side of his character. While at Pasadena Junior College, Jackie Robinson got into an argument with police about an unjust arrest of another black student. This wasn’t the first or last. Jackie always fought against segregation and racism wherever he found it. He bristled under it and would not accept it like he was told to do. He was one of the Fearless: the few in history that stood up for their beliefs no matter what.

Next he attended UCLA where he continued to excel at sports

Next he attended UCLA where he continued to excel at sports

Zach – Then his brother Frank died in a motorcycle accident. He was close to his brother and went to UCLA to be closer to Frank’s family. Well, one thing I should mention. He played a lot of sports and rocked them all, but Baseball was considered his worst sport.
Jane Austen- That wasn’t all Mr. Robinson won. While at UCLA, he fell in love with Rachel Isum. They would eventually marry. I’m sure it was a beautiful love story. Perhaps I should write it one day. Her parents were against it at first because Jackie quite college to go professional with his sports. He even went to Hawaii for a short time and played football on their integrated team. There must always be an obstacle.
Gaspar – It was at this time that he visited a Shoalin temple deep in the Tibetan Mountains. He spent a year training and then wandered the earth, righting wrongs and helping people…
Anna – Gaspar.
Gaspar – Yes, my dear Anna?
Anna – Please stop.
Gaspar – Its not my fault you’re afraid to face real history.
Matilda – Let us move on. His semi-professional career was interrupted by the Second World War. Like so many other men at this time, he enlisted. He was assigned to the cavalry. Zach, I believe you were in the cavalry, weren’t you?
Zach – Just for one boring year in Iraq.
Anna – My father, Alexios I was a cavalry man.
Matilda – Yes, we know, You’ve told us a hundred times. But Jackie faced a different battle other than the Holy Roman Empire.
Zach – Nazi Germany. The Empire was long gone, Matilda. It was Nazi Germany then.
Matilda – If you say so. Jackie’s battle in the army was against racism. The army buses made black people sit in the back and Jackie refused. Military police were called and the bus driver pressed charges that included public intoxication even though Jackie didn’t drink. As a military woman myself, I have to add that creating divisiveness in your army is never a good thing. Well, Jackie was court marshaled which is a fancy word for “trial.” He was found innocent because he hadn’t actually done anything wrong. His court Marshal prevented him from going over seas and the army was deprived of what could have been an amazing hero.

Also, let's not forget that he was an officer. A black officer was a rare thing in those days. Yet another challenge to ignorant racists.

Also, let’s not forget that he was an officer. A black officer was a rare thing in those days. Yet another challenge to ignorant racists.

Zach – After the war he played football for the bulldogs again and then coached basketball. Then in 1945 the Kansas City Monarchs sent him a contract. He accepted and began his professional baseball career that would shape the rest of his life. The pay was much better but the constant traveling by bus meant he was away from his family far too often. During that time the Boston Red Sox held a try-out for black players. Jackie tried out but unfortunately it was a shame. The Red Sox just wanted to look like they weren’t a bunch of racist douche bags so they could continue to be racist douche bags in peace. They were the last team to became racially integrated. Red Sox, you suck.

Caesar - A well deserved dislike I believe.

Caesar – A well deserved dislike I believe.

Jane Austen- Then entered an amazing man by the name of Branch Rickey. This was a unique man. He was an idealist. In my time I was an abolitionist and I believe he would have bee as well. His younger years were spent playing sports and he had a passion for baseball. The only thing standing in his way was that he was no good at it. So, Branch Rickey went to college and learned how to manage sports teams instead. A sensible turn of advents, I say. Through a long and colorful career that included setting up the minor leagues as a farming system for new talent, he eventually became the General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. However, Branch saw a cancer in the game he loved so much. His devote religious faith installed him with a belief that all men were equal under the eyes of God and he believed that segregation in baseball was an evil he had to fight. He also saw the business end of it in the fact that some of those black players were better than his white major league players and that he could get them cheaper and before any other ML team did. He was a visionary but also a practical man.

Jackie and Branch fighting the man in their unique way.

Jackie and Branch fighting the man in their unique way.

Matilda – Branch looked through many candidates for his first black major league player and he passed by several that were actually better players than Jackie. Branch was looking for someone special though. He was looking for someone with courage and inner strength.He found the qualities he was seeking in Jackie Robinson. In August 28, 1945, Jackie Robinson met Branch Rickey for the first time and the meeting was a grueling three hours. Branch had to find out if Jackie was capable of standing up to the discrimination he knew would attack Jackie from all angles. He knew he’d face opposition from his team mates, from players on other teams and from the audience. Branch told Jackie that no matter what, he could not fight back. No matter how justified it would be, they’d make it look like he was at fault. Using his Christian faith, Branch told him to turn the other cheek. Jackie couldn’t believe this at first and asked, “Are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?” Branch said, “No.” That he was looking for a man “with guts enough not to fight back.” Jackie agreed.
Zach – But first he had to prove himself in the minor leagues and played for the Dodger’s affiliate minor league team the “Royals” down in Daytona Florida. There he faced strong discrimination including a sheriff that threatened to close the ball park and some places that wouldn’t let them play if Jackie played. But somehow Jackie held his head up high and continued to play ball. In his first official game as the first black man to play in the minor leagues, the opponent’s pitcher was told to throw the ball at Jackie’s head. The pitcher refused and Jackie got a home run that first game. Very cool. If that isn’t sticking it to the man, I don’t know what is.
Anna – And something more surprising was that the public grew to love Jackie. His fanbase grew and attendance to the Hippodrome broke records.
Zach – Not Hippodrome.
Anna – Whatever.
Matilda – On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first black Major League baseball player. The stadium was packed and Jackie stole home that first game, his signature move. But things were not all happy. In the team some players threatened to leave and the manager gathered them all together and told them in no uncertain terms “I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a #%^*&^$# zebra. I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What’s more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded.” That ended the little mutiny right on the spot.
Zach – During one game against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Phillies manager, Ben Chapman, taunted Jackie relentlessly the whole game. This however had the opposite effect Ben was hoping for. When players and the audience saw the abuse Jackie was subjected to, they actually rallied around Jackie and people grew far more supportive. One of Jackie’s biggest supporters on the team was a man named Pee Wee Reese. During one game where audience members were shouting rude things at Jackie, Pee Wee put his arm around Jackie to show them that he supported him. They later made a statue of that famous scene.

There will always be good men to stand up to hatred and discrimination.

There will always be good men to stand up to hatred and discrimination.

Gaspar – Jackie Robinson continued to beat his opponents by playing Baseball and playing it better than they did. He held his poise and never fought back. This was a man that walked out into a stadium with thousands of people throwing curses at him and looked them in the eye. Few could say that they could do such a thing. Martin Luther Jr. said he was “a legend and a symbol in his own time”, and that he “challenged the dark skies of intolerance and frustration.” He opened the door for black people in sports. He was the first and as the first he had all the attention of the haters. Someone had to do it and the world was fortunate that it was a man of such integrity.
Jane Austen – Gaspar, that was actually…nice.
Gaspar – There’s nothing I can add to this man’s story to make it more heroic.
Zach – Jackie spent the rest of his life helping others. He fought discrimination where he found it and helped minority children rise above poverty and become great men through the Jackie Robinson Foundation. On and off the field he was an amazing man that we should look to as a symbol of determination. He was one of the Fearless.

 

Don’t forget Zach’s book. Fearless: Powerful Women of History.

Jane Austen

( From the Zach’s book, Fearless: Powerful Women of History. If you haven’t bought it, you really should. )

http://www.amazon.com/Fearless-Powerful-History-Historian-ebook/dp/B00DTAGTLM/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373319915&sr=1-4&keywords=fearless+powerful

Jane Austen being her bad self.

Jane Austen being her bad self.

Zach – Okay, this time I guess we’re doing Jane Austen or something.
Anna – Don’t sound too excited.
Zach – Please. Guys don’t read this girl stuff.
Anna – Being a little judgmental, are we?
Zach – What? I’m not going to read about girls knitting and drinking tea or whatever.
Anna – Girl stuff? Is that what you believe this to be? I’d have you know that Jane Austen’s books are very popular two hundred years later because they are books that speak of the universality of the human condition. Everyone can read about these characters and say, “hey, I know a person just like that.” They still hold up after two centuries. Do you think that maybe it’s because it’s something more than “girl stuff.”
Zach – Whatever. It’s fine with me. Let’s do this.
Anna – Today we have a panel of women who have read Austen’s books.
Olga – I said I would, yes, but I did not.
Anna – Typical.
Olga – I was cleaning my flame thrower.
Anna – Moving on. We have St. Olga of Kiev, Countess Matilda of Tuscany and Hua Mulan.
Matilda – Before we get into what Jane accomplished, perhaps we should start with who she was.
Anna – Excellent idea. We’ll start with the basics then. Jane was born on December 16, 1775 in Steventon, England.

The house where Jane grew up.

The house where Jane grew up.

Zach – That means she’s a Sagittarius like me.
Anna – That was very educational.
Matilda – England at this time was the world’s super power. Their fleet was the most powerful fleet in the world and her colonies stretched across the globe. They said that the sun never sets on England. In fact, two of her brothers were in the navy and obtained the rank of admiral. Through much of her adult life, England was at war with France.
Olga – Where is that Napoleon fellow? He from France, dah?
Mulan – Yes, he was the leader of France during the Napoleonic Wars. That’s why they’re called…do I really have to explain this?
Olga – Dah.
Mulan – I refuse. Yes, the largest war the world had seen up to that point was raging and Jane Austen seldom mentions it. But we do see its effects. Jane Austen was…how to put this politely…not a big fan of the French. One of her cousins married a Frenchman who was later beheaded during the Revolution. After that she did not view them with much favor.
Anna – Jane grew up in what we’d call an “upper middle class” family. They were a part of what was called “the landed gentry.” This meant you weren’t a peasant and so were entitled to higher social privileges, but they weren’t rich aristocrats either. Her father was a rector of the Anglican Church. He was country clergy. This also meant that they didn’t have a lot of money. For income they would rent rooms out in their house and tutor students on the side.

Anna - Zach, that's not her house. Zach - Yeah, but that would make it more interesting, wouldn't it?

Anna – Zach, that’s not her house.
Zach – Yeah, but that would make it more interesting, wouldn’t it?

Mulan – They weren’t without connections though. Her brother, Edward was adopted by some one of their rich uncles, Thomas Knight. He and his wife had no children of their own and so they adopted Edward.
Olga – Adopted? But he had family.
Mulan – This was actually common back then. A rich part of the family would often take in a child or two from some of their poorer relations. It was this rich aunt who was Jane’s patron and helped support her writing.
Anna – She also had a brother named George who was handicapped. He had seizures and was probably deaf as well. In one of her family’s letters it speaks of Jane who visited George often, as being able to talk to him with her hands. So, Jane possibly knew some sign language.
Mulan – Also, Jane was an Abolitionist. All her favorite authors were abolitionist and she hated the idea that one man could be property of another. She was considered quite liberal for her day because she also felt that people should make their own choices in life. How rebellious!
Matilda – Very well, more about her life then…Well, when her father retired they sold their and more painfully, their library. And then…
Olga – Wait, wait, wait. I do some homework. These books, they expensive, dah? Rich uncle who make lot of money in India, he pay for many books.
Matilida – Yes, that’s correct. Many of the books that shaped Jane’s literary identity were bought by her uncle-in-law who was governor of India. What is your point?
Olga – Well, well, this governor make much money selling opium. Yes, he sell other stuff, but he also sold opium.
Zach – Back then they didn’t understand the dangers of it.
Anna – Yes, this shows that Jane’s world wasn’t as closed off to the world as we often think. Her cousin-in-law was killed by French revolutionaries and her books and shawls came from India. In fact, one of her first unpublished books was about a girl that goes to India to find a husband.
Matilda – As I was saying, after her father sold the house, they moved to Bath which was an ancient Roman resort town. Gentry from all over would go to Bath during the summer to relax on vacation.

Zach -Nice looking place. Inhabited since Roman times. I'm going to say the whole place was haunted and that Jane hunted evil ghosts and solved mysteries. Anna - Just stop, Zach. Please stop.

Zach -Nice looking place. Inhabited since Roman times. I’m going to say the whole place was haunted and that Jane hunted evil ghosts and solved mysteries.
Anna – Just stop, Zach. Please stop.

Olga – (laughs) Funny name. Why called Bath.
Anna – Because there were ancient Roman baths there, so they called it Bath.
Matilda – Many of Jane’s books feature Bath prominently and was quite influential on her life and writing.
Zach – Persuasion, especially. (Everyone looks at Zach.) Um…so I’ve heard.
Mulan – And then Jane’s father died and Jane, her sister Cassandra and their mother were left with very little. They moved around and stayed with friends and family until their rich brother finally found a cheap cottage for them to live in and it was here that Jane wrote many of her famous books.
Olga – Why there?
Mulan – Simple. She needed the money. Jane was always writing. Even as a young girl she was writing stories and sharing them with her family.
Zach – In fact, she was somewhat of an amateur historian herself. She wrote “A History of England from the Reign of Henry IV to the Death of Charles 1st. By a partial, prejudiced and Ignorant Historian.”
Anna – Wow, Zach. Sounds like you two have a lot in common. Both born in mid-December, love reading and write inaccurate and awful histories.
Zach – Hers was meant to be comedic. It was actually a parody of a popular history book that she didn’t like.
Mulan – (Covers mouth as she laughs.) Sounds like Zach knows more about Jane Austen than he leads on.
Zach – What? No, that’s not it all. I don’t read chick-lit. I read books about war, pirates, and explosions. I just make it my business to know who else writes history. That’s all.
Olga – That all? (Olga laughs.)
Zach – Let’s move on.
Anna – Indeed. So, Jane started writing books and editing old books she wrote. Her brother, Henry, was her literary agent and sent in her books and organized the deals. At first her books were anonymous. It wasn’t the ideal social situation for a young woman to write novels for a living. That wasn’t scandalous and was becoming more common, but it wasn’t exactly a goal to aspire for.
Olga – Like Zachy, she write novels! Funny.
Matilda – Not funny because it was her only source of income. She wrote books because she loved writing, but she published them because she needed to eat.
Mulan – She never married. She fell in love once but the man’s family did everything they could to separate them. She apparently wasn’t high enough on the social ladder for them.
Zach – You can see this disillusionment in her books with Pride and Prejudice being sparkly and happy, like a fairy tale, but Persuasion is far more intimate and melancholy in its tone and portrayal of love. You see this pined for lost love and many think it came from her own lost chance at love.
Anna – You seem to know an awful lot about “chick-lit,” there, Zach.
Zach – Okay, I may have had to read one or two Austen novels in school or something. Everyone does.
Anna – Yes, but…
Zach – Drop it.

Mulan - Zach's personal copy of the book. Zach - What? That's a lie. Don't believe her folks.

Mulan – Zach’s personal copy of the book.
Zach – What? That’s a lie. Don’t believe her folks.

Matilda – She died in 1817 when she was 41. Some of her books were published in her lifetime and gained her some recognition, but really, she was just starting her career when she died and several of her books were published after her death by her brother.
Mulan – So, that covers the basics of her life, correct.
Anna – In a very brief manner, yes.
Mulan – But let’s find out more about who she was as a person. We tend to have this image of Jane Austen in our minds, one that is serious, painfully polite and somewhat tedious. We see her sipping tea and talking quietly with her neighbors while they knit or sew or whatever English women did. In the biography that her family wrote after her death, they did everything to paint this picture of her, that she was the height of decorum. But is this true? What was she really like?
Matilda – I have one. One of the first stories her family remembered about her was when she was a little girl, nine or ten years old. Her father was returning to town in a fancy coach of some kind and Jane wanted a ride in it but the coach would only go into town and no further. So, she grabbed her little brother Henry and walked the six miles to town to meet up with the coach. This is the first example of who she really was. She wasn’t some meek, take orders and stay silent kind of woman. She saw a goal and went after it.
Olga – She has spirit!
Mulan – As we said, her family took in boarders as a source of income and with six brothers, Jane was constantly surrounded by men. The stories she wrote during this time were filled with violence, horror, grossness, insanity, immorality and the occasional joke about gays in the navy. “Rears and Vices” she called it, making a play of words on the ranks of admirals.
Anna – So far this isn’t painting a picture of a quiet, unseen woman working on sewing in the parlor.
Olga – Oh! Oh! I know something!
Zach – Go for it.
Olga – She went to school at Oxford!
Anna – In a way, you are correct, Olga. She did in fact go to school in Oxford…the town of Oxford, not the famous university there. Like many girls of her age (7 years old) and social standing, she was sent away for private tutoring.
Mulan – Many said that Jane was shy around strangers and sometimes came off as aloof, but very funny, witty and sharp around people that got to know her. From what I gathered, I believe she was an introvert and spent most of her time in her head. She didn’t go out of her way to make friends and preferred to observe human nature with a select few people she trusted. This is why we get sometimes contradictory images of her. One, the quiet almost anti-social girl that didn’t want to talk and the sharp tongued fire brand of her letters and friends observations.
Matilda – We can see that fiery and sometimes irreverent personality far more clearly in her notebooks she wrote as a girl and young woman. She loved to parody and make fun of famous writers and politicians of her day. She also really loved to make fun of her own society. She was an English woman through and through, but even she saw that some things in her culture were ridiculous and wasn’t afraid of pointing them out. In her books you can see this in a far more subtle way. Her books are always quietly mocking and shedding light on the things she thought stupid.
Zach – I have a few quotes here where she makes fun of stuff…here they are.
“A large income is the best recipe for happiness I have ever heard of.”
Keep in mind, later in life she was offered marriage to a somewhat wealthy man but turned it down because she did not love him.
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
“I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.”
“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”
Mulan – Xie Xie, Zach. Those quotes are nice but to really see her sword sharp wit, you must read her books.
Olga – I no read books. Any killing?
Mulan – No.

"Her name was Elizabeth Bennet. Her name was Elizabeth Bennet."

“Her name was Elizabeth Bennet. Her name was Elizabeth Bennet.”

Olga – Mutilations?
Mulan – No.
Olga – At least a good burning?
Mulan – No burnings. Sorry. There is a lot of human struggle, but mostly of the normal life variety. What she does is take the normal life that she knew so well and wrote about it in detail. No, her heroines don’t save the world from evil tyrants, their struggles seem just as important and harrowing because the characters seem real to us. But there are seductions.
Olga – Okay, I can go for that.
Anna – I know something of writing books, having written one myself. Jane’s books are at the start of the modern novel. Her earlier works were more like the old morality plays that were full of melodrama and dues ex machinas. However, novels like Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion are firmly in the modern novel category. Unlike her predecessors, she tried to capture the realities of life. So, all those modern books you’re reading? Austen was a pioneer of that.
Matilda – And many of the places in her books were places she had visited. In fact, she was quite well traveled within England. The war made it impossible to travel elsewhere, especially through French occupied territory.
Olga – Dah, I go read Janey’s book. Which one?
Mulan – Sense and Sensibility. I love the battle of reason versus emotion. As a soldier, I appreciate the honor and respect shown from the colonel character.
Anna – Pride and Prejudice. It the funniest, most dramatic and well crafted of her stories.
Matilda – Emma. It’s light hearted but has a serious lesson about right and wrong and helping people.
Zach – Persuasion. It’s so much more personal and tender while showing some of the harsh realities of love and uncaring family. It’s about a lost love and a second chance.
Anna – Really, Zach?
Zach – What?
Anna – You seem to know an awful lot about this.
Zach – Well, I just, you know. Read it once. For school.
Olga – Why is Zachy looking around like he nervous?
Zach – I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Mulan – (whispers to Anna) Let me try something. (Speaks up to Zach) So, on to characters now. In Mansfield Park, we have the main character of Fanny Price. Is she a weak willed wimp or deceptively strong? Zach, what do you think?
Zach – Oh, I don’t know. Whatever.
Matilda – I think she’s a spineless nobody.
Mulan – Total wimp.
Zach – Now hold on. Just because she’s quiet and meek doesn’t mean she’s weak. She just has different priorities than we do.
Mulan – No, Zach, you’re wrong.
Matilda – Yes indeed, she’s aweak-willed coward.
Zach – No she’s not! She’s a deeply complex and fascinating woman!
(Anna, Mulan and Matilda look at each other and nod. Olga just looks confused.)
Anna – And with that, startling revelation, we’ll end it here.
Zach – Startling revelation? I don’t know what you mean. You’re blowing things out of proportion.
Anna – Of course, Zach. Of course.

Don't be hatin'.

Don’t be hatin’.

Fearless is out!

My new book, “Fearless: Powerful Women of History is out. It takes the posts about awesome women into one book with two exclusive articles, one about Jane Austen and the other is St. Teresa of Avila. It has new illustrations and several of the articles have been expanded. Go check it out.

You can find it here:

You can find it here:

Pics from “Fearless: Powerful Women of History.”

I’ve been busy writing Minimum Wage Historian’s first book. It’s about the awesome women that keep getting ignored in history books. So, me and Anna have worked hard to assemble this book. Also, two exclusive articles to the book are Jane Austen who was a literary badass and St. Teresa who risked being questioned by the Spanish Inquisition to do what she felt was right, without compromise. So, check the book out. Also, fully illustrated by me!

Here's our very own co-host, Anna Komnene.

Here’s our very own co-host, Anna Komnene.

Gaita of Lombardy

Gaita of Lombardy

Jane Austen

Jane Austen

An woman samurai preparing to kick butt.

A woman samurai preparing to kick butt.

Queen Matilda of England

Queen Matilda of England

Rani Lakshmibai

Rani Lakshmibai