22 August 2014
On 6 July 1415 Jan Hus was murdered at the Council of Constance, King Sigismund of Luxembourg the ruler of Kingdom of Hungary having betrayed him with promises of protection. Hus was a religious man but saw faults with the Catholic Church. He attempted reforms from within only to be excommunicated. After his martyrdom the rising nationalism in Bohemia combined with religious unrest led to rebellion.
The Hussites were a very effective fighting force. Many new tactics were developed including war wagons. These helped play an important part in winning an independent Czech kingdom after numerous crusades against them. Finally a decisive victory at the Battle of Lipany in 1434 allowed them to finally get peace with King Sigismund in 1436.
The five failed crusades against the Hussites helped to spread their message of reform across Europe. The Church ended overt attempts to destroy them and changed their strategy to isolate the new Czech Kingdom and minimize the spread of what they considered the Hussite Heresy.
The flag above became the official flag of the Hussite armies after the end of the wars. It combined elements from a number of popular flags during the wars.
08 August 2014
In 1816 a quirk in decisions during the Congress of Vienna created Neutral Moresnet. This area was about 1 square mile and contained a zinc mine neither the Netherlands nor Prussia wanted the other to control. For nearly a century the small territory survived the turmoil around it never being attacked or invaded. Even after the zinc mine went dry the town continued to boom as new enterprises grew.
Refugees, exiles, and adventurers from across Europe, and from as far as the United States and China, arrived in the territory boosting the population. This growth and new ideas helped to expand the economy of Neutral Moresnet. A lack of central authority and the option to use several different law systems to settle disputes also added to the uniqueness of the land.
In 1908 the territory had become a gathering point of speakers of Esperanto. Soon the territory declared its independence as Amikejo, a word in Esperanto meaning 'place of friendship'. The World Congress of Esperanto that met in Dresden declared the settlement the world capital of Esperanto.
Its neighbors were unsure what to do with this territory since both Belgium and Germany neglected for decades their obligation to oversee it. Neither wanted to cause a diplomatic situation on the others border. By 1920 with the German Empire more concerned with monitoring wars in the Balkans and failing Ottoman Empire paid less attention to its borders with Belgium and France. This allowed Amikejo to continue to prosper as a free trade city and through smuggling.
Amikejo would eventually gain recognition by other nations. Once this happened it became a small free state not much larger than Monaco.
(For more information on Neutral Moresnet see Peter C. Earle's short book A Century of Anarchy: Neutral Moresnet through the Revisionist Lens.)
02 August 2014
Napoleon in America was written by Shannon Selin
The story was great. Jean Lafitte rescues Napoleon from Saint Helena and takes him to New Orleans in the United States. After recovering from his exile Napoleon tours the United States claiming a desire to live in peace. It is clear that he is less than honest in his claims. North America appears ripe with opportunities for the little dictator. Canada, Texas, the west, Europe, and even the United States itself could possibly become the object of his desires.
Once he determines his target, Napoleon gets to work at attempting to accomplish his goal. There are plenty of French exiles, American mercenaries, and people with questionable motives available for a new army. They are gathered together and thankfully some time is spent training the mixed force. There are still plenty of surprises during the campaign; North America is not Europe, there are plenty of things to catch Napoleon off guard.
The ending was satisfactory, and the outcome was in question until the end. While I felt the possibility of a sequel the story was self contained and doesn't need a sequel to be complete.
Well, the most important character is Napoleon himself. A large supporting cast made up of a great many historical figures helps round things out.
In the back of the book is a summary of the cast of characters, at least the ones that were based off actual historical figures. And there are a lot of them! The Napoleonic era was never one of my strong points so I didn't recognize many of the characters but knowledge of them all wasn't necessary to enjoy the story.
This is an excellent book. The only real complaint I had was that things seemed to flash back to Europe a little too often. I was anxious to see what Napoleon would do. I do realize the European reaction to Napoleon's escape is an important part of the story, but a little more insight into what the American government's reaction to Napoleon's betrayal of their hospitality and protection would have been nice.
Despite my limited knowledge of the source material the book was obviously well researched. When the battles finally took place they were well detailed and not glossed over. I've tried to avoid spoilers. Napoleon does raise an army in America but I left out the target. While he may or may not have been successful there is a good end point for the story and the reader isn't left disappointed.
Anyone who likes alternate history should find something to enjoy in this story. Unless you just have a general dislike of the Napoleonic era there should be something of value for you to find within.
One final note - I noticed the use of &c. for etc. I had never seen that before, and honestly thought it was a glitch in the Kindle version of the book at first. However that is a legitimate, but uncommon, way to abbreviate etcetera. Now I plan on springing that on my writing group the next time I have to use etc. in a short story.
4 out of 5 stars.
Publisher: Dry Wall Puublishing
Page Count: 312
Genre: Alternate History