The History Portal

Historia, 1892 painting by Nikolaos Gyzis

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 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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The first page of William Barret Travis's letter, To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World is an open letter written on February 24, 1836, by William B. Travis, commander of the Texian forces at the Battle of the Alamo, to settlers in Mexican Texas. The letter is renowned as a "declaration of defiance" and a "masterpiece of American patriotism", and forms part of the history education of Texas schoolchildren.

On February 23, the Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Texas had been besieged by Mexican forces led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna. Fearing that his small group of men could not withstand an assault, Travis wrote this letter seeking reinforcements and supplies from supporters. The letter closes with Travis's vow of "Victory or Death!", an emotion which has been both praised and derided by historians.

The letter was initially entrusted to courier Albert Martin, who carried it to the town of Gonzales some seventy miles away. Martin added several postscripts to encourage men to reinforce the Alamo, and then handed the letter to Launcelot Smithers. Smithers added his own postscript and delivered the letter to its intended destination, San Felipe de Austin. Local publishers printed over 700 copies of the letter. It also appeared in the two main Texas newspapers and was eventually printed throughout the United States and Europe. Partially in response to the letter, men from throughout Texas and the United States began to gather in Gonzales. Between 32 and 90 of them reached the Alamo before it fell; the remainder formed the nucleus of the army which eventually defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.

Selected biography

A statue of Phan Đình Phùng which is located in center of the traffic circle facing the Cho Lon General Post Office, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City.
Phan Đình Phùng (1847 – January 21, 1896) was a Vietnamese revolutionary who led rebel armies against French colonial forces in Vietnam. He was the most prominent of the Confucian court scholars involved in anti-French military campaigns in the 19th century and was cited after his death by 20th-century nationalists as a national hero. He was renowned for his uncompromising will and principles—on one occasion, he refused to surrender even after the French had desecrated his ancestral tombs and had arrested and threatened to kill his family.

Born into a family of mandarins from Hà Tĩnh Province, Phan continued his ancestors' traditions by placing first in the metropolitan imperial examinations in 1877. Phan quickly rose through the ranks under Emperor Tự Đức of the Nguyễn dynasty, gaining a reputation for his integrity and uncompromising stance against corruption. Phan was appointed as the Imperial Censor, a position that allowed him to criticise his fellow mandarins and even the emperor. As the head of the censorate, Phan's investigations led to the removal of many incompetent or corrupt mandarins.

Upon Tự Đức's death, Phan almost lost his life during a power struggle in the imperial court. The regent Tôn Thất Thuyết disregarded Tự Đức's will of succession, and three emperors were deposed and killed in just over a year. Phan protested against Thuyet's activities, was stripped of his honours and briefly jailed, before being exiled to his home province. At the time, France had just conquered Vietnam and made it a part of French Indochina. Along with Thuyết, Phan organised rebel armies as part of the Cần Vương movement, which sought to expel the French and install the boy Emperor Hàm Nghi at the head of an independent Vietnam. This campaign continued for three years until 1888, when the French captured Ham Nghi and exiled him to Algeria.

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Beijing Castle Boxer Rebellion 1900 FINAL.jpg

An attack on Beijing Castle during the Boxer Rebellion, September 1900. The Boxer Rebellion was a nationalist movement by "Righteous Harmony Society" against European and Christian influence; it failed, and China was forced to pay an incremental reprimand of 67 million pounds to the European countries that put it down.

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November 15: Republic Day in Brazil (1889)

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Buran

Odo II, Count of Blois (d. 1037) · The Duke of Hamilton & Lord Mohun (d. 1712) · Gus Poyet (b. 1967)

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As long as I breathe I hope. As long as I breathe I shall fight for the future, that radiant future, in which man, strong and beautiful, will become master of the drifting stream of his history and will direct it towards the boundless horizons of beauty, joy and happiness!

— Leon Trotsky, 20th century Russian revolutionary

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Colonialism

"Colonialism is an idea born in the West that drives Western countries - like France, Italy, Belgium, Great Britain - to occupy countries outside of Europe."
Ahmed Ben Bella

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