The Renaissance in Spain

During the Renaissance, the Spanish empire also extended throughout Western Europe. Introduction We often think of globalization as a modern phenomenon, but the confluence of cultures we see today was already growing in the Spanish Empire during the 15th and 16th centuries. For instance, dividing screens from Japan were imported to Mexico, where they were[…]

An Introduction to the Northern Renaissance in the Fifteenth Century

Italian art and ideas migrated North from Italy. What Was the Renaissance and Where Did It Happen? The word Renaissance is generally defined as the rebirth of classical antiquity in Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.  Seems simple enough, but the word “Renaissance” is actually fraught with complexity. Scholars argue about exactly when the Renaissance[…]

Xanadu: Marco Polo’s Famed Nirvana

Distant and mysteriously lost Xanadu came to represent a place of mystery, splendid luxury and easy living. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Xanadu (aka Shangdu, Shang-tu, and Kaiping), located in Inner Mongolia, northern China, was made first the capital (1263-73 CE) and then the summer capital (1274-1364) of the Mongol Empire by Kublai Khan (r. 1260-1294[…]

The Origins and Prehistory of Ancient China’s Hsia Dynasty

Interesting myths and fascinating legends about Yü and the origins of the Hsia abound. The existence of the Hsia, traditionally regarded as the first of China’s three great founding dynasties and one of the chief progenitors of Chinese civilization, has not only long been questioned but also vehemently rejected by scholars caught up in the[…]

The Plague at Athens, 430-427 BCE

The epidemic killed upwards of 1/3 of the population; a population which numbered 250,000-300,000 in the 5th century BCE. Introduction In the 2nd year of the Peloponnesian War, 430 BCE, an outbreak of plague erupted in Athens. The illness would persist throughout scattered parts of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean until finally dying out in[…]

The Dark Ages of Ancient Greece

The details of Greek history in the Dark Age remain difficult to discover. Introduction The local wars, economic disruptions, and movements of peoples in the period 1200–1000 B.C. destroyed Mycenaean civilization in Greece and weakened or obliterated cities, kingdoms, and civilizations across the Near East. This extended period of violence brought grinding poverty to many[…]