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RUBICON MAGAZINE SINGLE ISSUE HISTORY MAGAZINE

CHURCHILL ON TRIAL

10 Questioning the legacy of a British icon

HISTORY MYTHS DEBUNKED

HISTORY OF LITERATURE POLITICS BY ARISTOTLE

CHESTER 1000 YEARS OF HISTORY UNDER OUR NOSES

SENATOR, YOU’RE NO JACK KENNEDY WHY IS JFK SO POPULAR?

THIS MONTHS HISTORY QUIZ TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE


C O N T E N T S A P R I L

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E D I T I O N

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY APRIL

HISTORY OF LITERATURE POLITICS BY ARISTOTLE

CHURCHILL ON TRIAL

QUESTIONING THE LEGACY OF A BRITISH ICON

HISTORY QUIZ

TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE

SENATOR YOU’RE NO JACK KENNEDY WHY IS JFK SO POPULAR?

CITY SPOTLIGHT: CHESTER

2000 YEARS OF HISTORY UNDER OUR NOSES

COUNTDOWN

10 HISTORY MYTHS TO CORRECT YOUR FRIENDS ON


Hello, and welcome to the inaugural edition of Rubicon Magazine. We are excited to bring to you the bizarre and brilliant moments from history in a way that is visually interesting and academically engaging. We are passionate about history and historical preservation, as well as the stories from time that are greater than any fiction. We believe that a detailed and nuanced understanding of history is vital to making our own time better, as George Santayana once said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.� And he was right. Rubicon Magazine was launched with three clear goals in mind;

1. To educate and entertain, boosting the pursuit of historical knoweldge in the modern world 2. To combat the politicisation of history, illustrating the moral grey area that many historical figures find themselves in as opposed to manipulating historical events and peoples in order to push a particular political message 3. To stem the spread of pseudo-history and everyday historical misconceptions that persist in our day-to-day lives and muddy the waters of our heritage, giving our readers the means to continue the education themselves. With these stated goals, we set about mining history, both modern and classical, for some of the most important stories, places and people, who have helped to shape the world we recognise today. In this edition we focused on the legacy of these events and individuals. From Aristotle writing one of the most influential works of political philosophy of all time, to the legacy of perhaps our most famous Prime Minister, to the effects of JFK’s 1960 Presidential campaign on the political PR of the 21st century. History is something to be respected and reported on with the utmost care, detail, and factual integrity. Unfortunately this sentiment has been lost in our ever-divisive political environment. We are politically neutral, fact-driven, non-partisan lovers of history, and we hope you are too. Join us.

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Sam Revivo Editor, Rubicon Magzine


THISMONTHINHISTORY APRIL

1789 George Washington is sworn in as the first President of the United States

1865 Abraham Lincoln is assassinated in Washington DC

1945 Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his Berlin bunker

1961

Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space

1968 Martin Luther King Jr. is murdered in Memphis and the Civil Rights Act is passed into law

1982

Margaret Thatcher authorises ‘Operation Corporate’, signalling the beginning ofthe Falklands War

1986

The Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster in Ukraine triggered a chain of events which eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Union

1989

Anti-Communist protests break out in Beijings Tiannanmen Square, among the protestors is the now famous ‘Tank Man’

1994

Nelson Mandela becomes the first President of South Africa after the abolition of Apartheid laws 5


POLITICS

BY

When we consider the greatest political and philosophical rivalries in history, what springs to mind? Keynes and Hayek battling out central planning vs free markets? How about Disraeli and Gladstone jostling for Prime Minister in the late 19th century? We could look forward into the 21st century for our answer, as times are as polarised as ever, but in order to understand a true philosophical rivalry, we must go back to the beginning. The great tradition of philosophy can trace its roots back to Greek antiquity, to two men; Plato and Aristotle.

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ARISTOTLE The differences between Plato and Aristotle led the latter to leave Plato’s academy, and open his own school. The diametric of their conflicting worldviews set the precedent for todays political dichotomy of Individualism vs Collectivism. Several rebuttals of Platonian thought appear in Aristotles earlier enquiries into morality and ethics. At the end of Ethics, Aristotle concludes that man is born an extension of society, and that no study of man is complete without studying society as a whole.


Aristotle’s view of citizenship is meritocratic, rather than collectivist. He defines one worthy of citizenship as “He who has the power to take part in the deliberative or judicial administration of the state”. In books two and three, Aristotle focuses on society and citizenship. Aristotle counters Plato’s vision of a top-down society, run by generals, philosophers and poets, he uses his rebuttal of Plato’s Republic to launch an analysis of three societies considered to be well-managed by Greek standards; Sparta, Crete, and Carthage. Aristotle adresses constituional change in chapters five and six, revolution, tyranny, and democratic vs oligarchial frameworks are the core themes of debate here. Books seven and eight outline Aristotles preferred methods for establishing and maintaining his vision for society, through population, the family, education, and ideal citizens. As one who believes in man as a political animal, this thesis makes sense. Aristotle considers public life to be far more virtuous and far more beneficial for the individual than private life. The relationship between city and man make up the early passages of Politics, as well as the issue of slavery, and what makes the city society natural. Throughout the text, Aristotle uses grandiose ponderings, and simple thought experiments to illustrate his arguments. Politics serves as the prerequisite for Classical Liberalism, contemporary Libertarianism, as well as inspiring Ayn Rand, the woman behind Objectivist thought. “I devised my theory independently, with a sole debt of acknowledgement to Aristotle, the only philosopher who ever influenced me” said Rand. Aristotle would go on to become one of the most influential thinkers in history. In his lifetime he would open his own academy, named the Lyceum, and even tutor Alexander of Macedon, known to you and I as Alexander the Great. After Alexander’s demise, Aristotle was chased out of the city to which he gave so much knowledge. Anti-Macedonian sentiment was rife after Alexander’s death, and Plato was Macedonian. His last surviving words were a bitter disparagement of Athenian culture. “I will not allow the Athenians to sin twice against philosophy.” In reference to the trial and execution of Socrates, the father of western philosophy. Aristotle died shortly after but his ideals and teachings live on in libraries, archives, and universities around the world.

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CHURCHILL ON TRIAL QUESTIONING THE LEGACY OF A BRITISH ICON

Winston Churchill is one of this countries most legendary statesmen, there is no doubt about that. However in recent years, his legacy has taken a turn. Pro-Churchill cafe’s have been attacked and vandalised, and opposition to the man being immortalised in the new £5 note design. These follow recent accusations of racism, tyrannical control over commonwealth colonies, and incompetence in the face of mass famine. So which Churchill is it? The magnificent orator who stood up to Hitler and declared that we shall never surrender? Or the xenophobic war criminal? Obviously neither are 100% him, as like any other person, Churchill operated within a moral grey area. We have a bad habit of placing historical figures into the immovable diametric of good and bad.Ghandi is good, Columbus is bad. This diametric is so engrained in public discourse about history that arguments to the contrary are not considered. Ghandi was openly racist with some questionable bedroom tastes, he fought for the system of apartheid in South Africa, only advocating that Indians be considered the same as whites, and actively stood against the self-determination of both Jews and Muslims in Israel and Pakistan respectively.

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Columbus wasn’t the genocidal maniac people claim he is. He did not spread smallpox to the native Americans out of his own personal hatred, European livestock wasn’t natural to North America, therefore the natives had no built up tolerance to petty diseases, in the mid 16th century no one could have possibly known this. Winston Churchill is no different. His first tenure as Prime Minister saw some moments which don’t look virtuous in hindsight, but it is important to remember that this was all-out war, and the nation as we know it was on the line. But as is so often the case with history, people and events are plucked out, the context is removed, and their words are reappropriated to appear to support almost anything. In this trial, we will be considering several events during the Second World War, using historical contexts and a dash of detatched objectivity, and creating a more fair and nuanced portrait of the Fiver Prime Minister.


The Great Betrayal When Australia came under direct threat from Imperial Japan after the fall of Singapore, Churchill is supposed to have been indifferent to the peril of the colony, with some going as far as to say he was prepared to let Australia be invaded by the Japansese Army. Australians refer to this as the Great Betrayal. After the fall of France in 1940, Churchill met with American presdient Franklin D. Roosevelt. The two agreed on two major points. The first was that the European/Atlantic theatre, i.e. direct opposition to Hitler was the offensive military priority of the allies, which at this point was just Great Britain. The defensive priority was the Far East/Paciic theatre. This is known as the Germany First plan. “The security of the British Commonwealth must be maintained in all circumstances, including the retention of a Far East position.” - US-British staff conference ABC-1

Both parties agreed that since Nazi Germany was still rapidly expanding, and posed significantly more immediate threat than Japan, neutralising the Third Reich was paramount.

War Crimes In the aftermath of the First World War, when the Ottoman Empire had ben defeated, Britain came to control a large section of the Middle East, this was known as the Sykes-Pico Agreement. Some time before that, the British occupation of Afghanistan is where some historians place the birth of Churchills romanticised love of war. Here, Churchill is alleged to have spoken very ill of the native Pashtuns, and boasted about the widescale destruction of civilian infrastructure, This makes Churchill sound pretty bad, right? Well, before jumping to that conclusion, ask yourself what year this was, it was 1897. At this point he Churchill was a twenty two year old journalist writing for the Telegraph. He had nothing resembling political power, and everything he is quoted as saying is wartime propaganda.By 1921, he was the secretary of state for colonies, during which time he advocated for increasing use of the Royal Air Force in battle. He is even quoted praising the use of chemical gas in armed conflict. Again, this sounds awful with the context removed. Allow the full quote to provide that. “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so great that the loss of life will be kept to a minimum. It is not necessary to use deadly force. Only to spread a lively terror, and yet leave no permanent damage to any.”

When afforded the full context, Churchill is simply advocating non-lethal tear gas to quell violence long before lethal force is considered. Even today these are pretty standard police tactics in the UK, the US and Europe. 9


The Anglo-Iraqi War The Anglo-Iraqi was an attempted uprising agaisnt British rule in 1941. This was right in the middle of the Second World War, and the United States hadn’t yet delcared war on Japan. Britain was still alone. The problem with uprisings in the middle of a global war is that one can never really know who is behind it. Is it a genuine display from natives against their colonisers, or is it funded and supported by enemy nations. In the predicament Britain was in, the latter had to be assumed. The Germans had done this during WW1, most notably with Vladmir Lenin in Russia, which worked. The revolt in Iraq was organised by the Ba’ath Party, a group of pan-Arabists and Theocratic Socialists, who were supported by Germany.

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India Indian soldiers were fighting the Japanese. With the two situated in roughly the same corner of the world. Again, the background context of the Second World War clouds criticism of Churchills response to Indian pushes for independence. Though it is for sure that a horrendous famine hit Bengal in 1943, with up to two million casualites as a result, fingers are erroneously pointed at Churchill. Fair critique of the famine is also hindered by outright mis-truths about the nature of Churchills reaction. With some saying that he refused offers of rice shipments from the US and Canada. Firstly, neither are known for bountiful rice farms, they offered wheat. But due to Bengals position, the only shipping path was directly blocked off by the Japanese Navy, all of it. This led Churchill to deny the offer from Canada. When Churchill wrote to Roosevelt for help, he wrote: “I am seriously concerned about the food situation in India. I have had much hesitation in asking you to add to the great assistance you are giving us with shipping, but a satisfactory situation in India is of such vital importance to our plan to defeat Japan, that I am impelled to ask you to consider a special allocation of ships to India.”

Roosevelt refused. Citing the same reasons Churchill did for refusing Canadian help, Instead Churchill ordered Australia to deliver the shipments, though due to the ongoing D-Day preparations, finding enough ships was difficult.

Churchills time in office was neither spectacular nor horrifying. He led this Britain through its near destruction and subsequent re-building. No doubt, this was the greatest struggle Britian ever had for its national sovereignty, and Churchill did everything in his power to make sure that our island nation stood tall, in doing this, he, like so mahy before him, operates in the moral grey area that many men in history have had to occupy. Churchill is a man of his time, a vastly different time to our own. He did not have the cultural sensitivity that we do, yet we did not face the same struggle for continued existence. Our verdict, not guilty


QUIZ 1 Which Russian Tsar spread the country’s borders to its current size?

2 The First World War was officially ended in which type of vehicle?

3 Who was the first Prime Minister of Great Britain?

4 What year was the Magna Carta signed?

5 For how long was England a republic following the English Civil War?

6 Which UK political party has produced the most Prime Ministers?

7 Who was the second President of the United States?

8 Which nation did Germany invade in September 1939, officially beginning the Second World War?

9 How long was the Zanzibar War? The shortest war in history.

10 Who passed the Education act of 1870, Disraeli or Gladstone? 11


SENATOR, YOU’RE NO JACK KENNEDY W H Y

I S

J F K

S O

P O P U L A R ?

It was the insult that won a televised debate. Republican senator Dan Quayle cynically attempted to use the similarities of age and experience between himself and JFK, his opponent, Democrat Lloyd Bernsten responded with the now famous “Senator, I knew Jack Kennedy, I served with Jack Kennedy. Senator you’re no Jack Kennedy.” The response was devastating to Quayle, perhaps because every young politician dreams of being JFK, young, handsome and charistmatic. But why is Kennedy so idolised? He is one of the most popular politicians of the 20th century, if not all time. 3/4 of Americans consider JFK to have been a good or outstanding president, according to Pew research. What exactly does it mean to be a ‘Jack Kennedy’? Was it his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis? Or his negotiating of the Vienna Summit? What about the Bay of Pigs? His seeming inability to get any meaningful legislation past congress? He was slow and pragmatic in his approach to the Civil Rights Movement, and did little to ease the escalating militarisaion of Vietnam as well as surrounding Laos and Cambodia. Every president is flawed, and truthfully, he’s by far not the worst president in history. But what makes him so beloved by so many people? The circumstances surrounding JFK’s sudden and shocking death by assasins bullet in 1963 were a perfect and delicate intersection of events, people and circumstances. The story of Jack Kennedy begins with his grandfather, Patrick Kennedy, born into a working class Irish familly in Boston. Kennedy Sr managed to work his way out of the poverty his fellow Irishmen could not and became active and influential in local politics and bootleg alcohol. Kennedy’s father, Joseph, a cunning and ambitious dreamed of making the Kennedy’s go furhter than any Irish family ever had. He dreamed that one of his children would be a president of the United States of America.

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JFK’s older brother was originally groomed for the ultimate honour, until he was killed in action during the Second World War. The brilliant but unfocused Jack Kennedy. Kennedy was initially interested in history and internatioanl politics more than the bureaucracy of domestic American politics, and wanted to be a journalist.

Kennedy’s greatest weapon. Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election by one of the closest margins in history. JFK’s running mate, Lyndon B. Johnson was another key in Kennedy’s winning of the White House. Kennedy was loved by the public but not congresss. Johnson was respected by congress but relatively unknown to the public. At 43, Kennedy was the youngest president in history.

But the young and charming president wasn’t to last. His presidency was brought to a shocking and abrupt end by a snipers bullet. Argument and conspiracy surround Kennedy’s death still rage on, over 50 years later. It is perhaps just that that makes JFk such a popular political figure. JFK’s glamorous image and Think of all the great and couragious unmistakable charm were key in young minds taken from this world too his poltical success. An image soon; Marilyn Munroe, Kurt Cobain, of wealth, strength, youth and Amy Winehouse, Princess Diana, Jack leadership was crafted out of Kennedy. His lifelong crippling Kennedy. back pains and Addisons Disease called his strength into ques- Though he was begrudged to get it over the line during his presidency, tion. His conditions required him to take a lot of phamaceu- the Civil Rights Act was passed less than a year later by Kennedy’s suctical drugs to ease his cessor, Lyndon B. Johnson. The act near-constant pain. was passed through a bitterly divided congress. Johnson relentlessly evoked Kennedy surged through the US the slain commander-in-chief’s political maelstrom. He was elected to the House of Repre- memory. sentatives in 1947, rising to Kennedy will live on, immortalised, the US Senate not long after. as the smiling young president, taken too soon. He bought a new era of Jackie Kennedy was the closest glamour and stardom into American thing you could find to an poliics, arguably changing the Aristocrat in America at the practise of Political PR in the time. She was cultured, elegant, and fluent in three lan- process. guages. She was every bit as charismatic and charming as her husband. Soon they’d have two chidlren, completing the image of the fairy-tale American family, something every American could 13 relate and aspire to. This was Joseph Kennedy father poured a lot of money into his son’s early campaigning and public relations. “We are going to sell Jack like corn flakes” Kennedy Sr. boasted.


TRAVEL GUIDE: CHESTER 2000 YEARS OF HISTORY UNDER OUR NOSES

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EASTGATE CLOCK Firstly we arrive at the most iconic site in Chester. Located right in the middle of the busiest of Chester’s central streets, Eastgate Clock is the UK’s second most photographed clock, behind Londons Big Ben. The clock was built at the location of the original entrance into Roman Chester. The clock was added in 1899, and it was made a Grade 1 listed building in 1955.

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THE ROWS

Chester is known for its leisurely retail, and where would this be without The Rows. Completely unique to Chester, the rows were constructed in Medieval England, and carry a surprising amount of Architectural foresight, as the rows provide complete cover from the weather. Like many sites in Chester, the Rows are listed and protected by the English Heritage Archive

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CHESTER CASTLE

Chester castle is just a stones-throw from the city walls, situated in between Riverside Campus and the Chester Races. The castle was built in 1070, in the wake of the Norman invasion of Britain, and sits on the site of a former Anglo-Saxon fortification. The castle boasts a stunning neoclassical style, added by British architect Thomas Harrison in 1822.

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CHESTER CATHEDRAL Situated in the middle of Chester city centre, the cathedral is viewable from a number of spots around town. Its stained glass windows, gothic style, and breathtakingly high ceilings make it a must visit location for any Chester newbie or lover of history, The cathedral was erected in 1541, making it older than the country it is in.

THE ROMAN WALL

The iconic Roman walls have stood in Chester for almost two millennia, And have seen every millisecond of the cities storied history. The walls can take one around the entire city in less than an hour, if you’re up for the walk. Sites from the wall include the River Dee, The Parthenon-inspired court house, and Chester Race Course, the first of its kind in Britain.

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Chester was built by the conquering Roman Empire as Deva Victrix in the AD 70’s. Its name is a portmanteau of the River Dee, and the Roman legion who seized the territory from Cornovii Celts. The fortress was built between 70 and 80AD, this time also saw the defensive Chester City Wall, which would later be expanded further by the Normans. Deva Victrix was significantly larger that other Brittanic settlements, and was a powerhouse in the region, alongside York (Ebaracum) and Caerleon (Isca Augusta). Several relics of Roman Chester still remain, from the Ampitheatre, to the Roman Gardens, both located close to the River. The ampitheatre could sit between 8,000 and 10,000 people, making it one of the largest in the entire province. By 410AD, the Roman military was essentially gone from Chester, as the empire slowly collapsed. The Britons were the first to seize the city in the post-Roman years. Chester became a valuable military outpost in the Kingdom of Powys. The dominance of the Britons held until the early 7th century, when the Welsh were defeated convincingly by Northumbrian Anglo-Saxons, the city was officially named Chester in 689AD after being conquested by the Kingdom of Mercia, held by the Mercians until the end of the Heptarchal era. Chester fell to the Normans in 1070Ad, who built Chester Castle, to defend the city from Celtic tribes across the Welsh border. As England developed, and the city modernised, its population boomed. The influx of people and investments led to several ambitious construction projects in the city. The most notable of these are the Chester Rows, built as early as the 13th century, the rows are completely unique to Chester. A Benedctine monestary dedicated to St. Werburgh was torn down by Henry VIII in the late Medieval period, and handed over to the recently established Church of England, later to become Chester Cathedral. As newfound wealth from the British Empire met improving civil and economic freedoms in the height of the Victorian Era, Chester grew into a retail-orientated city, with tourism and shopping its main industry, The Eastgate Clock Tower was constructed in 1899, and opened a year later to commemorate the turn of the 20th century. To this day it is a symbol of the city, as well as being the second most photographed clock in the country, behind Big Ben of course. Rubicon Magazine spoke to James MacVey, a trustee of the North West Society for Conservation: “Chester has done a remarkable job of preserving its history, which gives the city a beating pulse, and an excitement, one wonders how many Roman legions or viking raiders roamed these streets in times of peace and war. ”The city houses classical, neoclassical, gothic, baroque and tudor architecture, they vastly outnumber modern builds and make Chester feel completely timeless.”

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Despite being a thousand years removed from this history, it’s still clear to see when walking around the city centre. Chester has done significantly better than other cities in the country in terms of historical preservation. This is largely due to the efforts of local organisations set up to lobby for, and protect Grade 1 and 2 listed buildings. Chester boasts 58 Grade 1 listed buildings, these include the city cathedral, 39 Bridge Street, and the Chester Rows. One of these such organisations in the Chester Civic Trust, who describe themselves as ‘agents of last resort’, in the fight to preserve historic interest in the city. “Our remit is broad enough to cover a wide range of property in various stages of disrepair, but in order to qualify for grants and take advantage of lowinterest loans from the Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF). “the building or structure has to be special and its restoration has to be commercially unviable. In other words, we tend to take on only the desperate cases!” claims the companies website. Museums are another vital way the cultural DNA of a city can remain intact, one such museum is the Chester Grosvenor Museum, on the aptly named Grosvenor Street. Since 1886, the Grosvenor has been dazzling visitors with articles from throughout Cestrian history. A spokesperson for West Cheshire Museums said “We value the Grosvenor very highly, the work they do to educate residents and tourists is remarkable, and the kids love it.” The imaginations of local school children are caught even further by the charming Roman tours of Chester, where kids get the chance to step into the boots of a Roman centurion, and their collective chants can be heard throughout the streets. Tours run every day at 12pm and 3pm. Through the tireless efforts of the community and the council, Chester has managed to preserve the jaw-dropping architecture; Classical, Medieval and Victorian alike for new generations to marvel at and become inspired by.

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HISTORICAL MYTHS DEBUNKED

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Columbus Discovered That the Earth is Round

The Fiction

The Fact

The myth states that prior to Christopher Columbus’ maiden voyage to the New World, it was generally accepted that the earth was flat, and any attempt to circumnavigate the globe would result in falling over the edge.

Humans have roughly understood the sphercial nature of the Earth throughout our history with some surprising accuracy. During the era of Greek antiquity, Eratosthenes used numerous mathematical divisions to figure out the estimated size, location and roundness of the world, two thousand years ago.

The myth was perpetuated by scholars in the early days of the Protestant reformation of the 17th century, it is believed to have been concocted to discredit the academic declarations of the Catholic Church.

As the age of antiquity ended, and Europe sunk into the dark ages, much of this information was lost due to falling literacy, but those endowed with access to knowledge were fully aware that the Eath is round.

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Vikings Wore Horned Helmets

The Fiction Vikings have become immortalised as larger than life figures of the old world. Their brutal raids of England, short-lived settlements in North America, and distinguishing appearance carved out a corner of history for the Nordic warriors. Horned helmets have become symbolic of how we look back on those who terrorised the coasts and shores of Britain.

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The Fact Vikings simply did not wear horned helmets, surveys and research from Viking burial sites show smooth, bronze, rounded helmets, this was a logical decision from the Nords, as horns on a helmet provide the enemy with something to grab on to, giving the enemy a clear advantage in battle. The origins of this myth in the Romantic paintings Wagner, most notably, Ring Des

are rooted of Richard 1876’ Der Nibelungen


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In Old English, people said ‘Ye’Instead of ‘The’

The Fiction The myth states that in Medieval England, before the evolution of the English language into what it as today, our ancestors used the letter ‘Y’ in place of a ‘TH’. Though this was used on signs, scrolls and other documentation, indicating that its use was commonplace, the use of ‘Ye’ in place of ‘The’ was purely written, and when spoken, ‘The’ was pronounced exactly like we do now.

The Fact Even in the oldest of old English, the letter ‘Y’ was never used orally over the ‘TH’ sound, Y wasn’t even included in the English alphabet until the 11th century. In the wake of the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066, the technologically advanced French, introduced type-sets to the Islanders. Until this point the now defunct ‘Thorn’ letter was used to indicate the ‘TH’, however the French had no such letter, instead they had the Y, as the Brits had no use for this letter, it was used for several hundred years, until the English language evolved to include ‘TH’.

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The Great Wall of China Can be Seen from Space

The Fiction Built between the 8th and 5th centuries BC, the Great Wall of China is one of the wonders of the ancient world, a military defence against invading Mongolian armies. Legend says that the wall is so vast, that it can be seen from outer space by the naked eye. Except, it can’t. The myth was popularised by British writers William Stukely and Henry Norman, both of whom died long before mankind was able to go into space, and put their hypothesis to effective rest.

The Fact Of all the people to go into outer space, including the 12 who have walked on the moon, none have ever reported to see the wall from outside the atmosphere. Anecdotal evidence aside, the wall is just over 29ft wide, and blends into the surrounding soil, this would make viewing the wall from outer space akin to a matchstick being held up 3km (2 miles) away. The be able to see the wall from space would require eyesight 17,000x stronger than ordinary human vision. Unsurprisingly this has never been achieved. 19


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JESUS CHRIST WAS BORN ON CHRISTMAS DAY

THE FICTION

Jesus Christ was born on December 25th, and his birthday is celebrated annually as Christmas Day.

THE FACT While there is much debate on the life of Jesus Christ, including wether or not he actually existed, historians can generally agree that he was not born in December. The closest estimate with any consensus places Christ’s birth between May and July. The December 25th celebration is a co-option of the Pagan winter solstice festival, this is where the traditions of food, gifts, trees and mistletoe all originate.

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ALLEGED WITCHES WERE BURNED TO DEATH AT THE SALEM TRIALS

THE FICTION In 1692, 35 supposed witches were put on trial in Salem, Massacheussets, and subsequently burned alive at the stake.

THE FACT Though witch-trials and executions were common practise in late-medieval Europe, society has moved since then. The most famous witch trials in history didn’t go down the way people think. In fact, none of the 35 accused were even burned at the stake, 15 died while imprisoned, 19 were hanged, and one, Giles Corey, was squashed to death by being placed under a wooden platform, while rocks were stacked on, one at a time, until Corey eventually died. His last words were to request more rocks be piled on.

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HITLER BUILT THE AUTOBAHN AND MUSSOLINI MADE THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME THE FICTION The Fascist dictators of Italy and Germany brought great technical reform to their respective nations; Hitler designed and built the Autobahn and Mussolini made the trains “run on time”.

THE FACT

Hitler rose to power in Germany in 1933, just over a decade after the Autobahn had initially been conceived by the Weimar Republic in the early 20’s. Hitler did, however, extend the Autobahn to the newly secured teritories in Austra and the Rhineland. Most of Italy’s infrastructure reform had been completed before Mussolini’s 1922 seizure of power, even then the trains were not as punctual as Mussolini would have you believe.

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300 SPARTANS HELD OFF THE PERSIAN ARMY AT THERMOPYLAE THE FICTION

As depicted in the 2006 cinema epic 300, King Leonidas, and a legion of just 300 men, held off Xerces and his gargantuan Persian army.

THE FACT While the movie did roughly get Persian soldiers correct, about number of soldiers keeping them passage of Thermopylae has been cinematic effect.

the number of 100,000, the at bay at the altered for

The 300 Spartans were joined by around 6,000 soldiers from neighbouring city-states, who were sympathetic to the Spartan cause, it is still a very impressive feat, all things considered.

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NERO PLAYED THE FIDDLE AS ROME BURNED

THE MYTH

Nero was a vicious tyrant of Rome. Cold, calculating, and callously indifferent to the suffering of his people. This evil is exemplified by the legend of Nero sitting with a fiddle while the city burned to the ground.

THE FACT Firstly, and most obviously, Nero didn’t play the fiddle, as it wasn’t invented until the mid 11th century, some 1000 years after the great fire of Rome (64AD). The myth traces its roots to the historian Tacitus, who wrote unconfirmed reports that Nero sang to himself during the blaze. Given his reputation, the surprising reality is that Nero actually rushed to provide help for the city, but was accused of causing the fire himself. Nero personally blamed a small Judeo-Roman sect, now known as Christians.

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SLAVES BUILT THE GREAT PYRAMIDS

THE MYTH

The great pyramids of Giza were built by slaves, given the estimated time of construction, it’s fairly safe to assume that the alleged slaves were Jewish Israelites. The myth of slaves building the pyramids dates way back to the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus.

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THE FACT

While those who built the great pyramids were undoubtedly poor and uneducated, they were not slaves, in fact they were well-respected in Ptolemic Egypt. The mysterious pyramid builders were entitled to a burial tomb close to the pyramids, they were afforded time off, had access to meat and other in-demand foods, they were not treated or remembered as slaves, because they were not slaves.


WHOLESOME MOMENTS IN HISTORY

History can be bleak, hopeless and depressing at times, so we’ve put together some wholesome moments from history to close off this months edition. Enjoy.

In 1880, Leichtenstein went to war for the first and only time, sending a small batalion to fortify their border during the Austro-Prussian war. 80 troops were sent, and 81 returned. They made a friend on the way home, an Austrian general.

In 1943, a group of Polish soldiers were trecking from Siberia to Israel to join up with the British Army. On their way, the unit adopted a bear named Wojtek. The men grew to love Wojtek, and it was reciprocal, after Wojtek was denied access to a military vessel, the soldiers thought on their feet and Corporal Wojtek was officially conscripted into the Free Polish Army. Just by observing the soldiers, Wojtek was able to help carry heavy artillery shells and was awarded a medal of gallantry for his help. He also discovered an Arab spy, had a knack for beer and cigarettes, and even fought and defeated another bear who was fighting for the enemy. Wojtek retired from the army in 1950, and spent the rest of his life at Edinburgh zoo, occasionally being visited by his former comrades. He died at age 21, significantly beyond the life expectancy of a bear.

On Christmas Day 1914, British and German soldiers put down their weapons and ceased for fighting for the day. Games of football were played, gifts and photographs on loved ones at home were exchanged, and for a day it must’ve felt like the world wasn’t tearing itself apart. This famous moment of peace in the face of war was immortalised by a 2014 Christmas advert by the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. The advert was assisted in its historical accuracy by a team of miliary historians from Imperial College London. 23


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RUBICON  

Rubicon is a single-issue history magazine written, illustrated and designed by Sam Revivo.

RUBICON  

Rubicon is a single-issue history magazine written, illustrated and designed by Sam Revivo.

Profile for samrevivo