Saturday, 14 January 2017

A Scottish Disaster In Estonia: The Siege of Wesenberg

The castle of Wesenberg in Livonia

As a particularly adventurous race, the Scots have had more than their fair share of misfortunes and disasters, even though these have been more than balanced out by their successes around the World.

Disasters often occur when people overstretch themselves or try something outside their experience. This raises the stakes, so when things do go wrong it's a long way down. Embarking on an adventurous course always carries with it the seeds of disaster, and the greater the adventure, the greater the potential for disaster.  In 1574 something went terribly wrong for a large number of Scots far from home—a group of several thousand mercenaries in the service of the king of Sweden in what is now the country of Estonia.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

The Fall of Calais: A Blessing in Disguise

An attack on Calais in the 16th century

Today (7th January) in 1558, the town of Calais and the small surrounding are, the last English possession in France, fell to a surprise attack launched a few days earlier by the French. At the time, this was considered a great blow, with England's Queen Mary, in particular, biting hard on the black pill. She is reported to have said:
"When I am dead and cut open, they will find Philip and Calais inscribed on my heart."
The reference to Philip is to her husband, Philip II of Spain.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

America: the Empire built on Fat and Shit

The end, as the philosophers often say, is in the beginning. This may or may not be true, but if it is, it is particularly interesting to consider the beginning of the American Empire.

Some would say that America hardly needs an Empire, as it is a vast continent-sized nation with enough of the resources and none of the inherent costs that come with being an empire. Isolationism has always been the default common-sense position for this impressive amalgamation of natural resources and human capital. However, instead of making the most of what they have, Americans have embroiled themselves—at great cost in terms of blood, finance, and internal corruption—in the affairs of the World. It does not seem to be a project that will have a happy end.