Tag Archives: History

What was Velvet Revolution? Where did it take place?

The Velvet Revolution, unlike other similar revolutionary movements, was not bloody. It was a peaceful movement that resulted in the liberation of Czechoslovakia, a country that does not exist anymore. Czech Republic and Slovakia are the two countries that exist in its place. There is an eventful history for what had once been a country, of unification and separation.
Czechoslovakia was formed after the First World War in 1918, combining the Czech speaking regions Bohemia and Moravia, and Slovakia, all of which had been parts of Austro-Hungarian Empire. But soon after the formation, unrest grew among the Slovaks against the administration dominated by Czechs. In Germany, Hitler was getting powerful and he encouraged the ethnic conflicts in Czechoslovakia. According to the Munich agreement in 1938, Hitler annexed the Sudetenland region of the country to Germany. But Hitler was more ambitious and invaded the country. A few parts of Czechoslovakia were occupied by Hungary and Poland as well. Hitler divided the nation into three regions in 1939 as before. He made Bohemia and Moravia German provinces while Slovak region was declared a separate republic under the control of Germany. Many Slovaks were inclined to this move.
During the Second World War, Czechs raised a mutiny against the Nazi rule but it was suppressed by the German government. However, Soviet Union came to the aid of Czechs and Nazis had to withdraw. Under the supervision of Soviet Union, a new government was formed under former President Edward Benes. The country came partially under the control of USSR. After conflict with Communists, Benes resigned and the country came under absolute Communist regime much to the dissent of people. In 1968, Alexander Dubcek became the Prime Minister. He implemented policies of liberalization and improved relations with non-Communist nations. This period is known as the Prague Spring. Threatened by this, the Soviet Union invaded the country and re-established the Communist rule in Czechoslovakia.
The anti-Communism sentiments intensified gradually among the people. Those who opposed the Soviet regime formed a movement named Charter-77 in 1977. On 16th November 1989, a huge march of students took place in Bratislava. The following days witnessed an overwhelming involvement of students in peaceful demonstrations in Prague against the government. The movement without any bloodshed is known as Velvet Revolution. The movement acquired strength gradually and the government exited the office. A new election took place and Vaclav Havel, famous playwright and the leader of anti-Communists was sworn in as the President of Czechoslovakia.
Gradually, the demand for a new Slovak country became too strong to ignore. In 1992, Havel resigned from office saying he was unable to witness the separation. On 1st January 1993, Slovakia became a sovereign nation. The parent country assumed the name Czech Republic. This separation was also peaceful like the Velvet revolution and is known as Velvet Divorce. In 2004, both countries acquired membership in European Union.

Where did the Cultural Revolution take place?

The Communist revolutionaries under Mao Zedung wrested the power from Kuomintang in mid- 20th century after a prolonged battle. On 1st October 1949, Mao declared the formation of People’s Republic of China. The country became an official Communist nation and Mao became the head of both the party and country. He implemented the policies to stabilize the economy and administration of China.
In the early days of his rule Mao implemented policies modeled after those of Soviet Union. In 1958, he decided to part with it and brought in a new policy, called Great Leap Forward. The project, aimed at the progress in agricultural sector, was however, a disappointment in various levels. The economic failure of the policy began to weaken Mao’s position in the party and he had to step down as the head of state. At the same time, the new President Liu Shaoqi undertook projects to encourage private agriculture and improve the financial sector of the country.
To counter these kinds of revisionist activities, Mao declared a new socio-political movement in 1966; the Cultural Revolution. The official term for the movement was the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. With the movement, Mao aimed to bring back the party and society to Communist ideals, which he thought the country was slowly losing. He formulated plans to weaken his political rivals and bring back Maoist principles as the primary ideology of the party. He formed a group Red Guards, consisting of mainly students, who acted as the front-line organizers of Cultural Revolution. Mao called for the students to annihilate people who traversed the path of capitalism. The collection of his thoughts, the Little Red Book, was the sacred text for the Red Guards. They stormed the campuses and questioned the teachers. Scholars and writers were sent to paddy fields to practice agriculture. Many universities were closed. Many cultural and religious establishments were destroyed during the movement.
Cultural Revolution witnessed many human rights violations and bloodshed. The party became more militant and the anti-Mao thinkers were hunted down. Many people were persecuted and suffered abuse. A lot of people were displaced from their homelands. The cultural revolution was being spearheaded by a group of four people. Known as the Gang of Four, it was composed by Jiang Qing, Mao’s last wife, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan and Wang Hongwen. Mao declared the end of the movement in 1969 but it continued unofficially.
The movement weakened considerably with the death of military leader Lin Biao in 1971. After Mao’s death in 1976, the country witnessed a struggle for power and after a long battle, the gang of four was arrested and Deng Xiaoping was sworn in as the Premier of China. Later, China officially renounced the Cultural Revolution and its associated events.

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When did the Earth Day start to be observed? Which incident inspired the creation of Earth Day?

Santa Barbara Channel is a sea channel in Pacific Ocean that separates California State of the USA from the Channel Islands. It has a major role in the history of Petroleum excavation. The world’s first offshore oil drilling was established here by the USA. In January 1969, the region witnessed a huge oil spill due to the leak in a pipe used to carry oil from under the sea to outside. It was the third largest oil spill in history. In a mere period of ten days, around one hundred thousand barrels of oil spilled into the sea causing vast marine hazards.
Within a few days, more than three thousand sea-birds and thousands of marine animals, including fishes, dolphins and sea lions, were killed. Santa Barbara, who had been famous till then as a region of treasure, went on to be remembered for this disaster ever since.
The tragedy was a reminder of the human negligence towards nature. It inspired people to think about the future of Earth and environment. It was this incident that laid the foundation for the observation of Earth Day. A number of nature lovers were then trying to spread the awareness about the importance of nature conservation. American senator Gaylord Nelson was one among them. He was the person behind the creation of Earth Day.
The Earth Day was first observed in USA on April 22. But another Earth Day had been observed a month ago in San Francisco. An activist named John McConnell was behind the celebration, on 21 March 1970. But the idea attracted worldwide attention when it was implemented by Nelson.
Nelson was one of those who witnessed the tragedy that befell Santa Barbara. He was convinced that Earth would have a bleak future if this situation was to continue. In his effort to spread the awareness he was aided by another statesman Pete McCloskey. An activist named Denis Hayes was the coordinator of the first Earth Day, which was observed on 22 April 1970.
More than 20 million Americans thronged the streets pledging their support to nature conservation on the historical day. Most of the participants were students.
The idea crossed the American border in 1990. Many nature activists from various countries met Denis Hayes and sought help to spread the observation across the world. Thus in 1990, around 141 nations observed the Earth Day, holding various events. 200 million people raised their voice for nature. As a result, the Earth Summit was conducted in Rio de Janero in 1992. Gaylord Nelson, the brain behind the idea, was honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom by his country.
The Earth Day events are now coordinated by the Earth Day Network, an organization founded by Hayes. Various events are organized and activists show their support to the cause planting trees, cleaning rivers, conducting awareness programs and in many other ways.

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What is the story behind the formation of WWF?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) was a nature conservation organization founded in 1948. Its members included famous scientists and environmental activists. In 1961, the IUCN members organized a conference that lasted almost three days. However, the topic of their discussions during the conference was not environmental problems. Rather, it was about finding money for the activities of the organization. The organization of renowned scientists was struggling to make the money for even its daily activities.
However, two members who took part in the conference were thinking along a different way. They thought they needed a professional organization to raise fund for the nature conservationist activities. Those two people were famous British Ornithologists Peter Scott and Edward Max Nicholson.
At the same time there was another British activist who had been thinking the same way. It was Julian Huxley, the first Director General of UNESCO and co-founder of IUCN. He had recently written a few articles in ‘The Observer’ about the forthcoming natural disasters. He warned that the animals in Africa would disappear in two decades and the existence of man would be in danger as well. The articles captured attention worldwide and many nature lovers wrote letters to Huxley. One of the writers, in his letter, suggested to Huxley the idea of forming an international organization to raise fund for nature activities. The idea impressed Huxley and he contacted Nicholson and Scott. Nicholson was assigned with the works to form the organization. By 1961, many nature activists and scientists had joined the endeavor and on 11th September that year, the organization World Wildlife Fund was registered as a charity organization. The headquarters were decided to be built in Gland, Switzerland.
Peter Scott was selected as the first chairman of the organization. From then on, it was Scott who spearheaded the activities of WWF. The mascot of the organization was also the creation of Scott, based on a giant panda named Chi-Chi in London Zoo. The fundraising was initiated by an article about the extinction of animals in Daily Mirror, one of the most popular British newspapers then. The article attracted worldwide attention and in one week, the organization received the donations worth 60,000 pounds.
WWF is now the largest organization for the conservation of nature. It has offices in more than 40 countries and millions of activists across the world. Various conservation projects are carried out under their leadership. In 1986, as part of broadening their goals the name of the organization was changed. It is now officially known as World Wide Fund for Nature although the short name is used in the campaigns. The organization raises fund through various means, including membership fees, donations and the sale of greeting cards, stamps and souvenirs.

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What is Magna Carta? What is its importance in history?

The world’s transition from imperialism to democracy has been long and frequented by hurdles. Magna Carta is one of the unforgettable milestones in that journey, which played a major role in shaping the democratic ideals of the modern world.
The Latin term Magna Carta means Great Charter. This historical charter, also known as Magna Carta Libertatum, was signed on 15th June 1215 by the then English King John at Runnymede on the banks of Thames. Only four of the real Latin manuscripts of Magna Carta survive now. Two copies are kept in British Library where Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral houses each.
Magna Carta was drafted by the erstwhile Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, to bring peace between the English monarch and a group of local barons who were vehement critics of the rule. King John, the third ruler of the Angevin Kings, was very unpopular among the barons and even many royals. He, like his precursors, was the practitioner of the policy, ‘force and will’. His administration was weak and unrest had formed among the barons. And the failure in a battle against the French king weakened him considerably and the rebellious barons saw it as a good chance to pressurize him into agree to many of their demands. After long counsels with Pope and the Barons, John agreed to sign the charter.
The charter had many demands including the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, and limitations on feudal taxes to the Crown.
However, both the parties failed to abide by the stipulations and it triggered the first Barons’ War. Two years later, a peace treaty was signed and it was then the charter earned the name Magna Carta. The charter was regularly reissued by following monarchs but the formation of the Parliament and their laws reduced its practical relevance.
Magna Carta has now a long legacy behind it. Most of the modern human rights movements and theories owe a great deal of their formative principles to Magna Carta. Many writs widely used by modern governments, such as Habeas Corpus, trace their origins to the charter. The charter was the basis for the modern Natural Law Theory conceived by Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius in 1645. It also influenced the American Independence charter of 1776 and the post-French revolution charter of 1784. The American and modern British laws have also borrowed some elements of the document. The influence of Magna Carta could be seen in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 as well.
To preserve the legacy of the historical document, in 1922, Magna Carta Society was founded in England. Under the initiation of American Bar Association, the Magna Carta Memorial was established in Runnymede in 1957.

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What was the Boston Tea Party?

The Boston Tea Party is one of the most important chapters in the history of American Revolution. It was a protest by the Americans against the unfair tax imposed on them by the British government. “No taxation without representation” was a slogan echoed throughout America in those days.
In 1773, the British Prime Minister Frederick North introduced the Tea Act in Parliament and it was passed on May 10. This law allowed the East India Company to export tea directly to Americas and reduced the exporting duty of the commodity. The company selected merchants in American colonies to sell the tea.
At this time the warehouses o the company had millions of tons of tea stocked and the company was going through a financial crisis. The law was a blessing for the company since they could sell tea for comparatively low price in America where tea was very popular.
But the law triggered a response exactly opposite to that conceived by the British government. The tea merchants of American colonies went extremely unhappy because the law gave a monopoly to East India Company. They decided to respond strongly to this. The people of colonies were also supportive to the native traders. They abandoned the use of tea and turned to other drinks like coffee.
They also organized protests against the controversial law. They met the traders who ventured to sell the tea for East India Company and forced to withdraw from the agreement with the company.
Many of those traders backed off the deal. However the story in the colony of Massachusetts was a different story. Thomas Hutchinson, the governor of the state was very tough administrator. He neglected the protests of the people and encouraged the traders, which included his sons, there to sell the tea.
Day by day, the intensity of the protests from residents increased. They forcefully returned the ships from New York and Philadelphia which carried tea. However, three other ships reached the port of Boston with tea in November and December. The protestors couldn’t convince them to return them and the events that ensued were dramatic.
In the evening of 16 December, more than a hundred people invaded the Boston port and boarded the three ships. Disguised as Red Indians, they were divided into three groups. They picked all of the 342 chests of tea and threw them out into the sea. This event became went on to be written in golden letters in the history of American freedom movement in the name of Boston Tea Party. The British government responded to the incident with harsher steps and escalated the intensity of the revolution, eventually leading to the freedom of America.

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What is the origin of the word ‘robot’? And what were the first robots?

Karel Čapek
The word ‘robot’ was coined by the Czech Playwright, Karel Čapek (photo, left) in the play called RUR, which stood for Rossum’s Universal Robots. In the play, people have mechanical servants which look like people and do manual work for them. Capek called these machines robots from the Czech word robota, which means labor.
If we define a robot as a machine that works like a human being, then the first robots were Autometa: remarkable moving dolls that could copy human actions, sometimes with amazing facility, for example, one could write a whole sentence using a pen and ink.
Autometa were made in the 1700s,they worked by clockwork and contained very complex systems of gears. They were made purely to astound and entertain people and could not do physical tasks like modern robots. Those developed as machines became more and more automatic. However, only with the development of computers over the last 40 years or so have robots been able to perform complex tasks.

Additional reading:
Robot (Wikipedia)
Karel Čapek (Wikipedia)

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How did Adolf Hitler spend his last few days before committing suicide?

Hitler’s last days were played out in his underground-fortified bunker from where he made final efforts to save Germany from total defeat, which in any case was inevitable. Situated under Hitler’s own chancellery edifice, the Führerbunker and four-meter thick concrete walls which kept out the sound of all but the largest explosions. Measuring 51.86 meters in length, 26 meters in width and 10 meters in depth, the Führerbunker boasted 44 rooms serving official and private purposes. Enough food was stored to last for 50 days. The bunker was ventilated and lit by means of large generators that were petrol-driven but could be hand-cranked in an emergency. Hitler had some three rooms for his own private use. It was there that he spend what were to be the last two weeks of his life.
Eventually, accepting there was no longer any hope and terrified of falling into the hands of the Russians, Hitler and his wife Eva Braun committed suicide on 30 April, 1945. They took poison after first trying it on Blondie, Hitler’s Alsatian dog. The poison worked and as Hitler watched in dismay, Blondie keeled over and died. They then drank the poison themselves before Hitler shot Eva with a revolver and then himself. Their bodies were taken up to the chancellery gardens and burned in a last act of loyalty to Hitler’s orders. The Russians later came across the charred remains. The area where it all happened is now Berlin municipal car park, and the place where the Führerbunker was constructed has residential buildings today. (See the photo below.)

Additional reading:
Adolf Hitler (Wikipedia)
Führerbunker (Wikipedia)

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Has any of Nostradamus’s predictions actually come true?

Nostradamus, the famous astrologer of the 16th century has made about 353 predictions regarding not only the near future but also the centuries to follow.

Nostradamus and The World Trade Center

Even those who are quite good at English might find it difficult to comprehend the four lines given below. The verse-like lines were originally written in French and so the real meaning is somewhat lost in translation. The easy way is to go through the English translation once and then read the explanation given in the next paragraph.
At forty-five degrees the sky will burn,
Fire to approach the great new city
In an instant a great scattered flame will leap up,
When one will want to demand proof of the Normans.
Now, a description of these lines, which makes them a little easier to understand, though not completely: Nearly 450 years ago, French astrologer Nostradamus (picture above) spoke of a new and huge city in his verse-like prediction. This city was situated at 45° latitude. In the city, a colossal fire breaks out suddenly and huge flares of fire leap towards the sky. The proof of this event will finally be given by the Normans, that is, they are going to be asked for its proof.
After reading the description one cannot even guess which event Nostradamus had predicted in the above mentioned lines. Up to four and a half centuries the prediction of Nostradamus awaited being proved true like many of his other predictions. Finally, on September 11, 2001, when the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the USA were attacked by terrorists, Nostradamus’ lines given above were flashed on to the internet within seconds and gained attention world wide. According to many people, Nostradamus had been proven correct once more. They believed that Nostradamus had foreseen the destruction of the twin towers about 450 years ago! The time when the USA was still considered as the city of Red Indians and European settlers had not reached its shores.
If we try to fit the words of Nostradamus’ prediction with the event that actually happened in September, 2001, the first thing that comes to mind is that the two sky scraper towers of the World Trade Center were situated in New York city, which was termed as ‘great new’ city by Nostradamus. However, New York’s geographical location is not 45° latitude. The actual figure is 40° 5′ North latitude. In other words, it is a little far from 40° latitude to the north. The exact difference is about 600 kilometers. Two lines of the prediction seem to lit the event exactly since no sooner did the two airplanes of the hijackers strike the twin towers on the morning of September 11, 2001, one after the other, than huge flares of fire reached the skies.
Now, let’s turn to the next line, which somehow fails to lit with the World Trade Center attack. The word ‘Normans’ relates to the Viking people that inhabited Norway and settled down on the French coast about 1500 years ago. Eventually they captured entire France and as time passed they accepted French rites and rituals. what connection these people have with the World Trade Center and its grotesque episode is anybody’s guess.
Despite this, the ‘intelligent’ who could decipher the message in Nostradamus’ deep and mysterious words caught the thread of his meaning and understood what he wanted to say. It was just a question of somehow fitting the words to the actual event. So even if the World Trade Center/WTC was not situated at 45° latitude, the hijackers’ Boeing-757 that crashed into the northern tower of the WTC came at it exactly at an angle of 45°. Approximately during 150 BC geologist Ptolemy had made about 3,000 dots on his haphazard map of the Earth and then, based on this, had chalked out various longitudes and latitudes. In those days the word ‘latitude’ meant ‘angle’ as well as ‘latitude’ though.
People who had faith in the farsightedness of Nostradamus found the connection between the Normans and the WTC. They considered Normans as French. Now the only question was of proof of the terrorist attack. The French spy federation had complete information about the attack a day earlier (on September 10, 2001). They had sent the information across to the USA’s intelligence agency FBI but even so they (the Americans) paid no heed.
There are many more such events and examples which proved Nostradamus’ predictions as true and strengthened the faith of his believers and followers. As a result, the predictions of the events of the world up to the year 3797 made by Nostradamus who was born in 1503, are still considered authentic even today – almost 500 years later. They are still a rich source of, and a favorite subject for articles, events and shows for all sorts of newspapers, magazines, TV channels, etc. No sooner does a huge event or accident happen than Nostradamus and his predictions are remembered. There are still 1786 years for the ‘expiry date’ of the predictions made by Nostradamus since his predictions go on up to the year 3797.

Who Was Nostradamus?

Who actually was Nostradamus who became so famous (or notorious as some people will have it) for his predictions that encompassed centuries? If looked at this from the parameters of the fame he has achieved due to his predictions which have proved true time and again, then he was one in a million. Nevertheless, this infant who was born on December 14, 1503, in the French village of Remy, was not even accounted for in the census of that village since his parents and whole family were Jews. Politically speaking, Remy was then part of Provence and many Jews resided there. A couple of years before Nostradamus’ birth, on September 26, 1501, the then French emperor Louis the VII had given an ultimatum to all the Jews to take up Christianity and had given them three months’ time in which to do so. Those who flaunted this declaration were not permitted to stay on in the region.
Nostradamus’ parents and all other family members embraced Christianity, since no place was safe for Jews in those days. Louis the VII wished to convert all the people residing in France into Christians since he needed the support of Pope Alexander the VI to ensure that his reign continued. Even after the family gave up their Jewish culture and embraced Christianity, the doors to prosperity did not open up for Nostradamus because of his original name which was Michel de Nostredame (meaning — Michel of our Lady) was as it is and had no overtones of Christian Latin in it. The name itself proclaimed him to be a French Jew. Over and above this, Michel de Nostredame started being interested in subjects that opposed the then beliefs and thoughts of the Christian church: medicine, chemistry and astronomy.
In 1517, Michel went to Avignon situated to the north of St. Remy for his primary education. Three years later, in 1520, due to the epidemic of plague that hit Europe his education remained incomplete. Since many children had gone down with plague, the management shut down the school. Fortunately, Michel was not infected by the disease but even then instead of returning to St. Remy he started off on the long journey to Europe. He wanted to know and understand the medical aspect of the epidemic. This journey was to continue for eight long years. Who knows which paths he took and which places he visited. Nevertheless, that arduous journey was the proof of his deep rooted interest in medical science and finally, in 1529, he gained admission to the Montpelier University of France to study medical science. He graduated after 4 years and started his medical practice in the prosperous city of Eigen, where some years later he got married.
Around 1538, plague struck once again. Michel de Nostredame’s wife and two sons lost their lives to plague and so a heartbroken Michel started out on a 6 year long journey. On the way, he treated hundreds of people suffering from plague. After studying medicine further in the Marseilles University of France, he settled down in the city named Solon and got married once again. The terrace of the house he purchased here on November 11, 1547, was ideal for viewing planets and proved to be the reason for his interest and subsequent fame in the field of astrology. He even changed his name in Solon. To get rid of the ‘Jew’ stamp he changed it to Nostredamus from Nostredame. In English the pronunciation changed from the hard ‘d’ to the soft ‘d’ and finally to Nostradamus.
As per some historical records, one fine day, Nostradamus felt that he came to know about important events of the future automatically. It was a natural inspiration. Intuition, as his followers would like to call it. After 1547, the physician Nostradamus started gaining fame as an astrologer. Many citizens of Solon used to come to his place to have their horoscope made or to understand the detailed meaning of what was written in their horoscopes. Every night, after dinner, Nostradamus would sit in solitude in the attic on the terrace and practice deep thinking. He would sometimes go on the terrace and observe the daily movements of Venus, Mars and Jupiter in the skies with his naked eyes. He would return to the attic and according to the so-called inspiration he felt, would pen down his predictions for whichever future event he had envisioned.
Nostradamus published the first edition of his evergreen book of predictions in 1555. The book which was written in French was called ‘Les Propheties de M. Michel Nostradamus’ – The prophecies of Mr. Michel Nostradamus. The sub—title was ‘Centuries’ but the word ‘century’ was not used to literally mean 100 years. There were a total of 100 prophecies in the book. All of them were in the form of short 4-lined verse. If each of his predictions which were written in the form of a ‘quatrain’ are to be considered as short verses or poems, then along with being a physician and an astrologer, Nostradamus was a poet too. A good linguist too, as he had used Latin, Italian as well as Greek words along with French in many places. He published books named Centuries 2, 3 and 4 after this first book named Century 1. The last book had only 53 predictions instead of the usual 100. Thus, the total number of predictions was 353, while the aim of Nostradamus was to take this score up to 1000.
when a person is depressed he takes the support of astrology to comfort and console himself. For the French people the 16th century was depressing in many ways. Bloody battles were fought in the name of religion. Fatal epidemics like plague broke out time and again. The farmers were exploited, and it was a time of droughts and famines. In short, the time for the French citizens was full of sadness, depression and hopelessness; so Nostradamus’ books which showed them a trailer of their future started selling like hot cakes. However, many of Nostradamus’ predictions were for the distant future and not for the near future or tomorrow and so most of his fame (that gave him instant success) came not from the written word but from the verbal prophecies he made. It is quite possible that each prediction was a rumor that was attributed to Nostradamus, but let us see one event as an example:
In 1555, Nostradamus was lying on the sick bed. He was alone in the house. All the doors were shut. Late at night one of the servants of the landlord was looking for a dog that had wandered off and was lost. The servant roamed far and wide and searched for the dog everywhere but did not find it. So that servant started venting his anger on all the residents of the city. He finally reached Nostradamus’ house and knocked on the door. Nostradamus who was still in bed answered him saying, “Why are you making so much noise? Go to the Orleans road which is a short distance away from here. Your landlord’s dog, tied to a lamp post, has been sitting there since long!”
This incident can in no way be considered as gospel truth, nevertheless, there are innumerable such events which have been credited to Nostradamus name. His fame continued to grow; so much so that the French queen Catharine also heard of him. Catharine sent for his book and read it. Who knows what meaning she gleaned about which prediction but she asked the then king of France (Henry the II) and sent for Nostradamus and invited him to Paris. Nostradamus started out from Solon and reached the king’s court after an arduous journey of about 30 days. Catharine held quatrain number 35 in front of him, the suspense creating English translation of which is as under:
The younger lion will overcome the older,
In single combat, on the field of war,
His eyes will be pierced in their golden helm,
Two wounds become one and he dies a cruel death.
Catharine feared that these lines had been written for King Henry. Whatever explanation Nostradamus gave to the queen when he was face to face with her no one knows, but this much is certain that the answer was as confusing as his words in the verse were. Predicting the death of the king was like signing your own death warrant. Nostradamus returned to Solon after making many predictions in the queen’s presence and earning quite a few gold coins along with the promise of a life-time pension.
Catharine alerted King Henry due to the fear she herself had (and perhaps because of the indications given by Nostradamus). But even so, on July 10, 1558, the king who was fond of the sport of fencing fought a duel with the commander-in-chief of his body guards, Count Montgomery, in a tournament that was to be held on that day. According to the rules of the game, both of them were wearing a ’helm’ meaning ’helmet.’ In Henry’s case, the metal used for the head gear was gold. During the duel an accident which rarely takes place occurred and the point of the count’s sword pierced King Henry’s left eye right up to his brain. There were two wounds – the eye was lost and the brain too was injured and so after suffering a lot and fighting a losing battle for 10 days, Henry finally passed away.
What more was needed to make Nostradamus, the soothsayer, world famous? The said prediction did not pertain to an ordinary man. The emperor of France had to bow down to his prediction. Most obviously, all four of Nostradamus’ books proved to be a ‘ready reference’ for all the small and big believers of astrology. As time passed, people felt that many of his predictions were coming true. Each and every event could be likened to one or the other prediction. The rising of Hitler to power, the commencement of the Second World War, the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the assassination of American president Kennedy, Saddam’s anti-America revolt, etc nothing was left out.
According to the believers of Nostradamus absolutely nothing was left out. If one thinks on the lines of science, logic and intelligence then what actually are all these predictions of Nostradamus? Before ending Nostradamus’ story let us take a peek at this side also. Read each event described hereafter with a steady and unbiased mind and full concentration.
Nostradamus has described many events but he has not given the date, year, or even the century of any of the future events. Though he has written about the events that will happen, but there is absolutely no clue about when they will take place. On the other hand in the 4 books titled ‘Centuries,’ the total predictions made are 353. Each one is different from the other; meaning there is a lot of variety. Thirdly, during the 450 years that have passed after the penning down of ‘Centuries,’ all types of incidents have happened. Therefore, just as everyone finds something to match his/her shape or size in a shop selling ready made clothes, according to the law of probability, it is not at all difficult to relate some or the other words written by Nostradamus to some event or the other. There is no bondage of century, year or even date in doing so, is there?
» Nostradamus became famous as an astrologer, but in actual fact the word necromancer is more applicable to him. The language used in the quatrains is so confused that one cannot find the thread of the events predicted. No one understands even one word. The believers and followers of Nostradamus scan the books written by him after the event has happened and then whichever verse resembles the event is made famous – and then wait for some other big incident to relate it with one more prediction. This will obviously go on until 3797 AD.
» Many of Nostradamus’ predictions can be interpreted in more than one ways. For example: In the prediction concerning the World Trade Center he has used the French word ‘Ville neuve’ in his original writing. This means ‘new city.’ Not only does a city with such a name actually exist near Paris in France, but its geographical location is also 45° latitude. This new (neuve) city (ville) had gone up in flames during the war Napoleon had waged against England and in the Second World War, German fighter planes had bombarded it, but what is the importance of an event that is considered insignificant during a gruesome world war? At forty-five degrees latitude, the sky will burn… fire approaches the great new city… the words of this prediction were molded to fit the destruction of the World Trade Center.
» Nostradamus has played quite a lot with words in the sentences he has used. As a result, it is easy for many people to turn and twist the words according to their whims to give the words the meaning they want to. For example in the prediction about a gruesome war, the last line is “Mabus then will die.” Which is this fierce battle? Obviously the one between Iraq and the USA! Then who is Mabus? Can it be anyone other than Saddam Husain? If the name does not match, ask Nostradamus’ believers and you will receive a prompt reply that one should write “Sudam” according to the pronunciation and then hold this up in front of a mirror. The experiment is worth doing. The names are not going to match even after the experiment. Have another go. Play with the name of the terrorist Osama Bin Laden. First of all, replace ‘0’ with ‘U.’ Now take away ‘in’ and write only ‘B.’ Now arrange all the letters in such a way that Nostradamus’ prediction becomes absolutely true. Write the capital letters ‘U’ and ‘B’ in the small case as ‘u’ and ‘b’. At the same time capitalize the letter ‘m’ – ‘M’. Now have you got the word ‘Mabus?’ Therefore as soon as this ‘Mabus’ died, Nostradamus’ prediction was hailed as gospel truth by one and all!
» I Many of the predictions that have been attributed to Michel Nostradamus are not there at all in his books ‘Centuries.’ There are about 50 such predictions which are famous since they were made after the event took place and so have been relegated to Nostradamus. Three predictions related to the destruction of the World Trade Center are doing the rounds and creating a lot of ripples everywhere. The writer of two of these predictions is not Nostradamus.
Besides all these facts, Nostradamus who passed away in 1556, has become immortal and each of his predictions are considered evergreen even today. Even if the predictions have no connections whatsoever with science, logic or intelligence, Nostradamus is not going to be forgotten until year 3797.

Additional reading:
Nostradamus (Wikipedia)
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Which countries have been under foreign rule for more than a century?

Here’s a list of such countries that have been subjugated by other for more than a hundred years.
Finland: Can you guess the number of years this European Country spent under foreign subjugation? Finland came under the Swedish Kingdom’s rule in 1154. After centuries of Swedish rule, Finland became a part of Russia before it gained independence in 1917. Number of years in subjection: 763.
Cape Verde: In 1498 Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese sailor, had reached India from Portugal via Cape Verde. Located off the western coast of Africa, this island nation measuring 4,033 square kilometers was annexed by Portugal in 1462 and became independent of the Portuguese rule in 1975. Number of years under foreign rule: 513.
Albania: In 1478 the Turkish Army invaded Albania—a country lying at the southeastern end of the Adriatic Sea. It was impossible for Albania, a small country having an area of 28,750 square kilometers, to wage a war against Turkey’s powerful Ottoman Empire. The Turks ruled over Albania for 434 years and withdrew in 1913 after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Syria: This Middle Eastern nation, nine times larger than Israel, was under the rule of Turkey’s Ottoman Empire in 1517. After the defeat of Turkey in the First World War and collapse of the Ottoman Empire thereafter, Syria came under the control of France as a protectorate. The French rule lasted 26 years and Syria became an independent State in 1946. Number of years under foreign dominion: 429.
Cuba: In 1492, on his voyage to discover India, when Columbus disembarked the shores of Cuba, an island in the Caribbean Sea, there were 50,000 Red Indians dwelling in Cuba. The queen of Spain, Isabella claimed Cuba for Spain. The production of coffee, sugar and tobacco in Cuba yielded huge profits for Spain. Finally at the end of the 19th century when Cuban peoples’ war of independence against Spain became aggressive and the USA declared war on Spain to protect its financial interests in Cuba, it finally became a free nation in 1902. Number of years under the yoke of foreign rule: 410.
Gambia: Gambia was the first African country to come under the heel of the Colonial British rule. in 1588, when the British slave traders first established their colony in Gambia it was not a country but a region inhabited by various tribes. The British, who always preferred to stay near the banks of the Gambia River, did not declare Gambia as a nation. Consequently in 1965 when it gained independence, the geographical map of Gambia seemed very strange as the country had a length of 322 kilometers and width of merely 59 kilometers. Number of years under colonial hegemony: 77.
Barbados: The 430 square kilometers island of Barbados was the first among the other islands of West Indies to come under the Colonial British rule in 1627. Along with the African slaves, the Indians too were employed to toil in the sugarcane fields of Barbados. This island became an independent nation in 1966. Number of years spent under the colonial regime: 339 years.
Philippines: Philippines, the country comprising of 7,100 islands was formerly ruled by Spain. Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer who led the voyage around the world was the first European to visit Philippines. Unfortunately, Magellan could not complete his around-the-world voyage. In 1521 during a battle with the native people on the coast of Philippines, he lost his life. However, his visit to Philippines marked the beginning of colonization in the Southeast Asia. Spanish explorer Miguel Lagazpi arrived in 1565 and the first European settlement was established. Philippines remained as a Spanish Colony till 1898 when Spanish-American war broke out in Cuba and Philippines. Spain was defeated by the American Navy and eventually Philippines gained independence. This island nation remained under the colonial regime for 327 years.
Estonia: After the Swedish rule and then the Russian reign, Estonia first became independent in 1921. But the freedom lasted for 20 years or so. In the year 1940 Estonia was brought under the Soviet heels and was incorporated in USSR. With the formal dissolution of USSR in 1991, Estonia became an independent state. The people of Estonia remained under foreign dominion for 259 long years.
Armenia: Armenia came under the the Czar’s regime in 1813. It was in 1917 that the then reigning (zar Nicholas was brutally killed by the Russian Communists and the rule of Czars came to an end. Although the country was declared independent, the agony of its populace did not end due to the harassment of the communists who had formed the government. Like Estonia, Armenia too gained absolute freedom after the disbandment of the USSR in 1991. Period of in subjection: 178 years.
Sri Lanka: The Portuguese were the first colonial rulers of this country in the 16th century. Then it was the turn of the Dutch in the 17th century and finally the British ruled the entire island nation till 1948. As such the natives of Sri Lanka never waged the war against the British to gain independence, but it was bestowed upon them by default after the independence of India, as the British found it pointless to continue their rule in Sri Lanka. Number of years under the European colonial rule: 152.
Malia: Measuring only 316 square kilometers, this republic located in the Mediterranean Sea comprising of three islands was annexed by the British in 1814. Due to its strategic geographical location, the British established a major naval base in Malta. It gained freedom from the British rule in 1964. Period of British rule in Malta: 150 years.
Bahrain: Located in western Asia, this archipelago having an area of 678 square kilometers comprises of 35 islands. The oddity of this country is that Bahrain is the first Arabian nation where the resource of crude oil was found and also the first to have exhausted it. Britain controlled Bahrain as a protectorate from 1861 till 1971 when it finally became free from the British shackles. Bahrain remained under the British rule tor 110 years.
The list of countries that were forced into subjugation does not end here. There are still many countries who deserve a mention. Yet the significant point to be noted is that all across the world, the epoch of enslavement has come to an end. The era of colonization, when a particular country was ruled by another has become history. we are fortunate enough to breathe the air of independence and autonomy.

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