Between 260 and 274 CE, a series of generals ruled over the Gallic Empire. What about the Roman Empire, you are thinking? The Gallic Empire was a breakaway state that controlled the former (and future) Roman provinces of Germania, Gaul, Britannia, and for a time Hispania. It had five emperors in 14 years, printed it own coins, elected two consuls each year, and likely even had its own senate.
The Gallic Empire was a symptom of the Crisis of the 3rd Century, when Roman power was seriously challenged and breakaway states including the Gallic Empire and the Palmyrene Empires sprung up. Both were reconquered by the militarily capable Roman emperor Aurelian in 273 and 274, but the crisis did not really end until Diocletian took the purple in 284 CE.
Did you know that handwritten sheets – called avvisi – circulated among the cities and courts of Europe in early modern Europe after public mail routes became common? They were bought on the streets or by subscription, and had information and news from cities like Warsaw, Paris, and Madrid. They sometimes even had information from further afield such as Ireland or the American colonies. It is hard to understand now, by the once or twice weekly avvisi were a revolution in news, connecting Europeans more than ever before.
One newsletter, dated March 19th, 1588, describes the famous Spanish Armada which sailed against Queen Elizabeth I of England. It was described as having “140 or more sailing ships and eight months of provisions” plus “17,000 combat soldiers and 8,000 sailors.” The same avvisi also discusses the reconstruction of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, and how problems with pilings were fixed on-site rather than being replaced due to the “inconvenience” of closing the Grand Canal.
Archaeologists have recovered a rare and tantalising treasure just 160 feet offshore from Mallorca in Spain. Not gold or jewels, but 93 jug-like
terracotta vessels called amphorae from a Roman ship that sank 1,700
The amphorae are still intact and some are even sealed. So there is a pretty good chance that their contents survived the millennia. The amphorae are currently undergoing desalinization in a lab, to make sure that the salt doesn’t crystallize, breaking the amphorae and destroying their contents. But once that’s finished there will be some exciting news in the archaeology world!
An interesting summary of the linguistic history of the Iberian Peninsula!
Although this is not entirely accurate – Mozarabic speakers would say they spoke “Ladino,” for instance, and there were no linguistic census in 1000 CE to check exactly where the borders between languages and dialects were.
Archaeologists from the University of Seville recently completed a review of more than 500 Neolithic burials at 21 archaeological sites on the Iberian Peninsula. They found that at the 198 graves where the sex of the deceased could be determined, there were 1.5 male graves for every female grave. The researchers said that children’s graves were also underrepresented in the sample. “The quantity of males cannot be natural,” Cintas-Peña said. The study indicates that men were more likely to be buried with arrowheads and other projectiles, and more likely to have signs of injury or violent death, while women were more likely to be buried with ceramics.
However, the researchers added, the most elaborate graves in the cemeteries did not necessarily belong to men. They suggest gender differences, and male predominance in terms of violence, arose along with social inequalities as people accumulated private property. “If we can say that gender inequality began in the Neolithic, or in the Copper Age or in any period, it means that it’s something cultural, it’s not something biologically determined,” Cintas-Peña explained.
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.