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Portal:History

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The History Portal

Herodotus (c. 484 BC – c. 425 BC), often considered the "father of history"

History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning 'inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation') is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.

History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them. Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.

Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends, because they do not show the "disinterested investigation" required of the discipline of history. Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is considered within the Western tradition to be the "father of history", and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts have survived.

Ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematical elements of historical investigation. Often history is taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.

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Karluk, caught in the Arctic ice, August 1913
The last voyage of HMCS Karluk, flagship of the Canadian Arctic Expedition, ended with the loss of the ship and the subsequent deaths of nearly half her complement. On her outward voyage in August 1913 Karluk, a brigantine formerly used as a whaler, became trapped in the Arctic ice while sailing to a rendezvous point at Herschel Island. After a long drift across the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, the ship was crushed and sunk. In the ensuing months the crew and expedition staff struggled to survive, first on the ice and later on the shores of Wrangel Island. In all, eleven men died before help could reach them.

The Canadian Arctic Expedition was organised under the leadership of Canadian-born anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson, and had both scientific and geographic objectives. Shortly after Karluk was trapped, Stefansson and a small party left the ship, stating that they intended to hunt for caribou. As Karluk drifted from its fixed position, it became impossible for the hunting party to return; Stefansson then devoted himself to the expedition's other objectives, leaving the crew and staff aboard the ship under the charge of its captain, Robert Bartlett. After the sinking Bartlett organised a march to Wrangel Island, 80 miles (130 km) away. Conditions on the ice were difficult and dangerous; two parties of four men each were lost in the attempt to reach the island.

After the survivors had landed, Bartlett, accompanied by a single Inuk companion, set out across the ice to reach the Siberian coast. From there, after many weeks of arduous travel, Bartlett eventually arrived in Alaska, but ice conditions prevented any immediate rescue mission for the stranded party. They survived by hunting game, but were short of food and troubled by internal dissent. Before their rescue in September 1914, three more of the party had died, two of illness and one in violent circumstances.

Selected biography

A Serbian Orthodox icon of Prince Jovan Vladimir, who was recognized as a saint shortly after his death
Jovan Vladimir or John Vladimir (Serbian Cyrillic: Јован Владимир; died 22 May 1016) was ruler of Duklja, the most powerful Serbian principality of the time, from around 1000 to 1016. He ruled during the protracted war between the Byzantine Empire and the First Bulgarian Empire. His close relationship with Byzantium did not save Duklja from the expansionist Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria, who conquered the principality in around 1010 and took Jovan Vladimir prisoner. A medieval chronicle asserts that Samuel's daughter, Theodora Kosara, fell in love with Vladimir and begged her father for his hand. The tsar allowed the marriage and returned Duklja to Vladimir, who ruled as his vassal.

Vladimir was acknowledged as a pious, just, and peaceful ruler. He took no part in his father-in-law's war efforts. The warfare culminated with Samuel's defeat by the Byzantines in 1014; the tsar died soon afterward. In 1016 Vladimir fell victim to a plot by Ivan Vladislav, the last ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire. He was beheaded in front of a church in Prespa, the empire's capital, and was buried there. He was soon recognized as a martyr and saint; his feast day is celebrated on 22 May. His widow, Kosara, reburied him in the Prečista Krajinska Church, near his court in southeastern Duklja. In 1381 his remains were preserved in the Church of Saint Jovan Vladimir near Elbasan, and since 1995 they have been kept in the Orthodox cathedral of Tirana, Albania. The saint's remains are considered relics, and attract many believers, especially on his feast day, when the relics are taken to the church near Elbasan for a celebration.

Did you know...

Ghenadie detronatul mitropolit-primat.jpg

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Sameul Daniell - Kora-Khokhoi preparing to move - 1805.jpg

The Khoikhoi were a historical group of Khoisan people, native to southwest Africa. The Khokhois had settled the region in the 5th century AD, and when Europeans first arrived there in 1652, they were still practicing traditional pastoral agriculture. Here, they are dismantling their huts in preparation for moving to more fertile grazing grounds.

On this day

March 26: Independence Day in Bangladesh (1971)

A page from William Caxton's edition of Aesop's Fables
A page from William Caxton's
edition of Aesop's Fables

Julie-Victoire Daubié (b. 1824) · Fred Karno (b. 1866) · Constantin Fehrenbach (d. 1926)

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Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.

— Thomas Edison, scientist and inventor

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State Emblem of the Soviet Union.svg
Soviet Union

"I knew that many things were wrong... I witnessed a great many injustices... But it was my revolutionary duty at the time not to criticize and not to help alien propaganda against [the Soviet Union], for at that time it was the only country where a revolution had been carried out and where Socialism had been built. I considered that propaganda should not be made against that country; that my duty was to make propaganda in my own country for Socialism."
Josip Broz Tito

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