Category: government

The ancient city of Koh Ker had a very brief spell as the capital and center of the Khmer Empire, between 928 and 944 CE. The capital was then moved back to Angkor Wat.

A new study has used ground-penetrating radar and manual excavation to uncover some of the hidden structures of the Koh Ker settlement, discovering a chute some seven kilometers long (4.3 miles), designed to ferry water from the Stung Rongea river to the city. But the chute has been calculated to be too small. This meant there were likely overflows and flooding, and the water would end up being wasted, without reaching where it was supposed to go.

In 944 CE after just 16 years in Koh Ker, King Jayavarman IV decided to move the capital back to its previous location in Angkor Wat. It was probably no coincidence that Angkor Wat’s water infrastructure actually worked.

From 1914 to 2005. Or, from World War I through the Invasion of Iraq

Technically, the Taiwan Republic was the first independent republic in Asia. The Republic of Formosa was established on May 25th, 1895. However, on May 29th, 1895, a Japanese military force of over 12,000 soldiers landed in Northern Taiwan and turned Taiwan into a Japanese colony.

In 1315, Louis X, king of France, published a decree proclaiming that “France signifies freedom” and that any slave setting foot on the French ground should be freed. And France maintained that law, even after it began allowing slavery in its New World colonies in the 1600s. Any enslaved person who as brought to France became free. Born into slavery in Saint Domingue, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas became free when his father brought him to France in 1776.

Slavery in the French colonies was another story. The French crown regulated the slave trade and institution in the colonies, starting with Louis XIV’s Code Noir in 1685. The royal government had over 100 years of profiting from plantation-based slavery and particularly sugar production before the French Revolution killed the royal family and attempted to end slavery in the colonies. The first elected Assembly of the First Republic abolished slavery in France (since the royal law was no longer recognized) and more importantly in France’s colonies.

However, Napoleon restored slavery and the slave trade in 1802. This was mainly because of lobbying by planters in the West Indies, and to benefit from taxing the planter’s slavery-produced profits. In 1848, under the Second Republic, slavery was totally abolished in the French colonies. And this time it stuck.

Catherine of Aragon was the first-ever female ambassador in Europe. She was named the ambassador from the kingdom of Aragon to England in 1507.

At the time, Catherine was the 22-year-old widow of the former crown prince, Arthur. He had died in 1502, and Catherine had stayed on in England and become betrothed to the new crown prince, Henry. It was not because Henry particularly wanted her. No, Catherine was still in England because her father-in-law King Henry VII did not want to give back Catherine’s very large dowry.

Catherine’s position was precarious.
She had little money, as neither her parents nor her penny-pinching father-in-law wished to support her financially. She had no status, as her husband was dead and her betrothed had remained just that for going on three years. Naming Catherine ambassador, therefore, was less a compliment to her diplomatic skills and more a way to bolster her position and therefore her parent’s.

It is the duty of a good shepherd to shear his sheep, not to skin them.

On June 14, 1825, the Brazilian province of Cisplatina illegally formed a provisional government On August 25, 1825, Cisplatina’s newly-elected assembly voted to secede from Brazil. This started the Cisplatine War, which ended with the Treat of Montevideo in 1828. Cisplatina was now the independent nation of Uruguay.

While British and American suffragettes get all the attention, Japan had a contemporary suffragette movement. It began after the Meiji Restoration when major educational and political reforms started educating women but excluding them from participation in the new “democratic” government. By law, they were barred from joining political parties, expressing political views, and attending political meetings. Japanese women, more educated then ever and slowly participating in Japan’s workforce, began fighting for the right to participate in the new civil democracy as well.

Unfortunately, when Western white women began winning the right to vote after World War I, Japanese women’s participation in politics was still fighting for basic rights. In 1921, for instance, a court ruling overturned the law forbidding women from attending political meetings. This led to a flowering of women’s suffrage organizations in the 1920s, in addition to literary circles which began publishing feminist magazines during the interwar period.

Japanese women kept the issue alive, but did not win the right to vote until 1945, when election laws were revised under the American occupation.

In 1944, George Stinney Jr., 14, became the youngest American executed in the 20th century when he was sent to the electric chair.

In 1945, the U.S. State Department commissioned an official Spanish translation of the Star-Spangled Banner as part of an effort to redefine the US’ relationship with Latin America. So the US State Department held a contest! They requested Spanish versions that fit musically while being as close to the original as possible.

In the end, the winner was “El Pendón Estrellado” by Peruvian immigrant Clotilde Arias, a New York-based composer. It has never caught on.