Agema Publications

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National History

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J Flower
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National History

Post by J Flower on Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:56 pm

I have wondered how people of various Nationalities view History. As we have an international Player base do we all see the past through the same lens? For example the war of American Independence is probably viewed differently from an American or English view point. I would be interested to hear what others have to say about this.

Have also read a German Authors account of the Waterloo Campaign. That put the Duke of Wellington in a different light.

As the Anglo _Saxon World was normally on the winning side, and the winners get to write the histories, has this distorted our view of things?
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revvaughan
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Re: National History

Post by revvaughan on Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:36 pm

Truly incredible concept... I play with a group of wargamers called the HOLF and we likwise have a global base. Infact, my War Minister is from Hong Kong and my Naval Minister is from Latvia to name a few. When I published a newsletter for the HOLF I asked that very same question and we had some great answers. I hope that we can have that same discussion here.
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Deacon
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Re: National History

Post by Deacon on Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:38 pm

Here's my take as an American.

I think that the differences in perspectives are stronger the more recent the history. For example, I was in Vietnam a few years ago, and obviously their publicly stated perspective on the conflict is quite at odds with the American view, even though the American view has undergone a great deal of revision since the war.

With centuries now past between game events and things like the American revolution, I haven't seen a great deal of difference in the various histories I've read, at least on the facts and the basic motivations.

The differences are more around what's worth paying attention to. The American Revolution was a defining event for us. It obviously isn't as important for others. So if you ask an American for "important events in history" you're likely to get a very different set of events than if you ask an Englishman.

Another example might be how hard it is to find any good histories of SE asia in English. It's just not a subject that most people think is important enough to warrant having books readily available.
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Basileus
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Re: National History

Post by Basileus on Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:39 pm

Possibly the intensity of feelings is not just related to the passage of time but the distance from factors which effect the current time period. What do I mean by this?
The fall of the Roman Empire is quite a while ago, but recent debate on the fall is still heated due to the debate being influenced by views on the current nature of Europe. So research favouring the idea that the fall was no big deal and no major material change to individuals was funded by the EU when clearly the aerchaeological evidence is clear that it was a complete disaster. So something a long time is still quite powerful if it relates to current political circumstances.
I found this when I got involved in a a debate on Janissaries at the Total War website. I had been reading up on Turkish history because I was playing as an Ottoman position in one of these games at the time. The book I had been reading said that being a Janissary was quite a good thing. So I said this on the website and got flamed for the comment because for some people in south east Europe the matter of Janissaries is still quite emotive. They see it as their children were stolen by the Turks, which you wouldnt be happy with, so I can understand that.
So I suppose what I am saying is that historical perspective is effected by more than just time but by emotive factors which may still be affecting a society at the time Smile
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Deacon
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Re: National History

Post by Deacon on Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:03 pm

I can't argue with that.

Americans lack a long history, so we can't carry centuries old grudges like you continentals can Razz . Give us a few hundred more years...

I think modern eyes also tend to bring our current emotions to old events.

The Jannisaries were slaves, and taken from their families by force. Yet, as you say, they had relatively good lives and prospects for the period. But if your ancestors were carted off, you don't tend to be very forgiving about the subject. You say the magic word 'slavery' and the issue immediately becomes black and white.

American issues with African-Americans would be a case in point. For the African-American community, the history of slavery is still very present for them since the echoes are still affecting them. For most of the rest of American, it's ancient history.


J Flower
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Re: National History

Post by J Flower on Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:58 am

I also wonder if the perspective of which side your counrty was on also has an influence on your perspective, winners , losers, or a score draw.

I agree that modern technology has widened the scope to view others view points but I still think our sub concious nationalistic feelings can influence our take on things.

The facts & figures will remain the same, although the way they are regarded may vary.

I often find that even between American & English writers this is the case, the interpritation is never entirely the same.

One persons Freedom fighter is another man's Terrorist !

The Hessian
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Re: National History

Post by The Hessian on Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:02 pm

It is quite interesting. We are termed a United Kingdom, which technically we are but at ground level, we have a scottish parliament that would dearly love to take Scotland out of the Union. We have a welsh assembly that would like to do the same but public sentiment is very much against so far.... as N.Ireland...that is still a tinderbox as such compared to the rest.
The English have meddled in all their lives mostly for the Bad! but frankly we seem to have got to live together quite well and hopefully that will continue.
We do not suffer in the majority from such tensions and really ancient hatreds that still exist in parts of "civilised" Europe. Balkans,particularly but even parts of Belgium, Spain.... Our nearest is N.Ireland and hopefully in the future they may well allow a union of Ireland on a basis of Equality...but who knows.

How did such a small collection of islands at one time have so much of the world provisionally under our control? Amazing

J Flower
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Re: National History

Post by J Flower on Fri Apr 13, 2012 8:59 pm

Ref UK getting such an Empire, to a certain extent it was not on purpose, One African leader summed it up by saying First came the Church man, then the white trader lastly the red coated soldier.Then what to do with the conquered people. Bringing the burning torch of enlightenment to them was the god given right of the British Empire.

As to N.Ireland, having served there, I must say the vast majority of people just want to get on, the tiny headline grabbing minority have given the area bad press. Yes areas were/are dangerous to go to but the same can be said for many other parts of the world. However if the Olympic Commitee allow the sport of stone throwing to be introduced at the next games then I think the Northern Irish have a ggod chance of winning a gold.

UK in general, there was a politition who described it as a mongrel nation, made up of the mating of various ideas, cultures & relegions , an interesting way of looking at things. maybe this great variety has led to a level of tolerence. Although any sporting event will see any of the other nations cheering the others on so long as they are playing against England.
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Deacon
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Re: National History

Post by Deacon on Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:12 pm


Reminds me of a quote I like:

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We dont just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."

--James D. Nicoll
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the great unwashed
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Re: National History

Post by the great unwashed on Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:14 pm

I've often come across people who look at history and put modern values on it and with those values judge it. Take slavery, Nowadays it is deemed an abhorration and rightly so, but go back a few hundred years and it was perfectly acceptable. I feel that to let emotions dictate one's interpretation of the facts distorts reality.
with regards perspective based on nationality, as a Frenchman who's now spent most of his life in England i'm still reminded of Crecy, Agincourt, Trafalgar and Waterloo, amongst others, and the expression 'cheese eating surrender monkeys' does raise it's head, though i will add never with malice.
Interestingly, when i talk to family back in France, the above rarely feature. Those who live in the centre will more likely refer back to Julius Caesar, the genocide of the Gauls and Alesia. Those from Normandy will proudly refer to 1066 and all that, not accepting that Normandy was ruled by the English but rather that the English Kings were Normans. Those from Paris will refer to The old foe across the Rhine and will hark on about 1813-14, 1870-71, 1914-18 and 39-45.
i find it interesting that even within one nation, what is deemed important can vary to such an extent.

J Flower
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Re: National History

Post by J Flower on Sun Apr 15, 2012 7:52 am

The Europhobic English , seem to have forgotten that they have a language drawn from most of Europe , from the Romans, Danish, Saxons, French. Add in a mix from various parts of the former Empire, And you have the English language. Maybe one of the reasons that it is so successful as a second language is that whilst learning it you find a few words from your mother tounge mixed in.

Interestingly as a foregin student you can learn either Oxford English or American English, two culturally diverent nations with two versions of in theory the same language.

Living in Germany I can say that the point put across by " the Great Unwashed " is reprocated here, France is seen more as the old foe rather than England. On the sports field so long as the Dutch take a hammering then everything is alright.

Bavaria still maintains that is an independent nation with a German vassel. They may not be far wrong.

Documentaries on TV form Roman times upto the grounding of the German Empire are usually good, those on the early 20th century seem to loose there way a little.

Some historians quite rightly point out that at Waterloo the British were in the minority on the allied side, with the Netherlands & Germany supplying the bulk of his army. It was they say an allied rather than an English victory.


God put the English on an Island , but the Devil taught them to swim. Is a term I've heard muttered by some people.

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Jason
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Re: National History

Post by Jason on Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:53 am

It's an interesting discussion and it's good to see that here, compared to other places I've seen similar discussions, it's remaining civil and friendly Smile

For my part, yes I believe that different nations view historical events through their own tinted glasses and place their own view on them.

I am fascinated by the regional variations as well. One I remember well is in Orkney, I was up there for a job interview (for a job at Skara Brae) about 3 years back and whilst there I had a look round the main local history museum for the islands. What I found interesting was the anti-Scottish nature of most of the exhibition, Orcadians clearly do not seem themselves as Scottish (comparable with the way Cornish don't seem themselves as English perhaps). There was a lot of "and then those questionable birth Scottish came here and raided and raped and nicked everything that wasn't nailed down...and what was nailed down, they pulled out the nails and then nicked it...and then they nicked the nails!"
Then the English turn up...and I was half expecting it to be "questionable birth English" but quite the opposite. the displays talked about how Cromwell sent troops there after the Civil War to protect the islands, and how the garrison married local girls and taught the locals useful things like how to make doorlocks (so, I guess, next time the Scots came to raid, they might not be able to nick everything), the tone was "We love England". Very Happy

Of course, there is the political angle, nations use historical events and sites to justify themselves and support their claims against their neighbours. Even now apparently a cultural war rages between Armenia and Azabaijan over who invented the Fez. And Thailand and Cambodia use the Preah Vihear Temple as the key to their territorial dispute. I studied Public Archaeology at uni and political heritage was a big part of that, truly fascinating...

..but then we live in a world where nations have gone to war because of a football match...so fighting over historical sites isn't that much different I guess...

count-de-monet
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Re: National History

Post by count-de-monet on Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:24 pm

"God put the English on an Island , but the Devil taught them to swim. Is a term I've heard muttered by some people."

Very Happy

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Jason
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Re: National History

Post by Jason on Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:45 pm

I always said the Devil was simply misunderstood Wink

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