In which modern-day location did the historical battles of Bagrevand happen?

In which modern-day location did the historical battles of Bagrevand happen?

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Wikipedia names at least two "battles of Bagrevand",

both occuring in the "plains of Bagrevand", but it did not name the modern day location of these battles. "Bagrevand" itself has a Wikipedia entry, but it is only described as "a region of the old kingdom Greater Armenia" without mentioning any specific location. Where approximately is the historical plains of Bagrevand?

According to Khorenatsi 3, 37, that was a field of Dzirav which now is in Turkey, il Agri, in the upper reaches of Eastern Euphrates (aka Murat River).

Both Khorenatsi and Buzand mention the mountain of Npat nearby. Unfortunately, I was (still) unable to find out where exactly this mountain (Npat, or Npatakan, or Nifagis, or Tapa-Sheid) is located.

This page (without mentioning any source) points at 39°36'30"N 43°28'37"E which is between the villages of Bayramyazi, Kumluca and Kumlubucak in Agri il.


  • Faustus of Byzantium (aka Buzand) "History of Armenia" (English translation), Book V, Ch. 4;
  • Movses Khorenatsi "History of Armenia" (wiki page), Book III, Ch. 37


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Jericho, Arabic Arīḥā, town located in the West Bank. Jericho is one of the earliest continuous settlements in the world, dating perhaps from about 9000 bce . Archaeological excavations have demonstrated Jericho’s lengthy history. The city’s site is of great archaeological importance it provides evidence of the first development of permanent settlements and thus of the first steps toward civilization.

Traces have been found of visits of Mesolithic hunters, carbon-dated to about 9000 bce , and of a long period of settlement by their descendants. By about 8000 bce the inhabitants had grown into an organized community capable of building a massive stone wall around the settlement, strengthened at one point at least by a massive stone tower. The size of this settlement justifies the use of the term town and suggests a population of some 2,000–3,000 persons. Thus, this 1,000 years had seen movement from a hunting way of life to full settlement. The development of agriculture can be inferred from this, and grains of cultivated types of wheat and barley have been found. Jericho is thus one of the places providing evidence of very early agriculture. It is highly probable that, to provide enough land for cultivation, irrigation had been invented. This first Neolithic culture of Palestine was a purely indigenous development.

These occupants were succeeded about 7000 bce by a second group, bringing a culture that was still Neolithic and still not manufacturing pottery, though it was not indigenous. This occupation probably indicates the arrival of newcomers from one of the other centres, possibly in northern Syria, in which the Neolithic way of life based on agriculture had developed. This second Neolithic stage ended about 6000 bce .

For the next 1,000 years there is little evidence of occupation at Jericho. Only about 5000 bce did Jericho show the influences of developments that had been taking place in the north, where an ever-increasing number of villages had appeared, still Neolithic but marked by the use of pottery. The first pottery users of Jericho were, however, primitive compared with their predecessors on the site, living in simple huts sunk in the ground. They were probably mainly pastoralists. Over the next 2,000 years, occupation was sparse and possibly intermittent.

At the end of the 4th millennium bce , an urban culture once more appeared in Jericho, as in the rest of Palestine. Jericho became a walled town again, with its walls many times rebuilt.

About 2300 bce there was once more a break in urban life. The nomadic newcomers, consisting of a number of different groups, were probably the Amorites. Their successors, about 1900 bce , were the Canaanites, sharing a culture found the whole length of the Mediterranean littoral. The Canaanites reintroduced town life, and excavations have provided evidence both of their houses and of their domestic furniture, which was found in their tombs as equipment of the dead in the afterlife. These discoveries have indicated the nature of the culture that the Israelites found when they infiltrated into Canaan and that they largely adopted.

Jericho is famous in biblical history as the first town attacked by the Israelites under Joshua after they crossed the Jordan River (Joshua 6). After its destruction by the Israelites it was, according to the biblical account, abandoned until Hiel the Bethelite established himself there in the 9th century bce (1 Kings 16:34). Jericho is mentioned several other times in the Bible. Herod the Great established a winter residence at Jericho, and he died there in 4 bce . Excavations conducted in 1950–51 revealed something of Herodian Jericho: a magnificent façade along the Wadi Al-Qilṭ is probably part of Herod’s palace, and its style illustrates Herod’s devotion to Rome. Traces of other fine buildings can be seen in this area, which became the centre of Roman and New Testament Jericho, approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) south of that of the Old Testament town. Jericho of the Crusader period was on yet a third site, a mile east of the Old Testament site, and it was there that the modern town would later develop.

Old Testament Jericho has been identified in the mound known as Tall Al-Sulṭān (at the source of the copious spring ʿAyn Al-Sulṭān), which rises 70 feet (21 metres) above the surrounding plain. A number of major archaeological expeditions have worked at the site, notably in 1952–58 under Kathleen M. Kenyon, director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem one of the main objectives has been to establish the date of the town’s destruction by the Israelites—a matter of importance for the chronology of the Israelite entry into Canaan. Most of the town of the period, including the whole circuit of the town walls, has been removed by erosion enough survives to show only that there was a town of the period. This may have been destroyed in the second half of the 14th century bce , but evidence is too scanty for precision. The site was then abandoned until the Iron Age. Little trace has been found of the 9th-century- bce occupation attributed to Hiel, but there was a sizable settlement in the 7th century bce , ending perhaps at the time of the second Babylonian Exile in 586 bce . The site was then finally abandoned, and the later Jerichos grew up elsewhere.

A particularly important remnant from Umayyad rule is the remains of the Khirbat al-Mafjar, a remarkable 8th-century building complex situated in the Wadi Al-Nuwayʿima, some 3 miles (5 km) north of Jericho. The complex, which originally included a palace, mosque, and bathhouse, was damaged by an earthquake shortly after it was begun and was never completed. Among the best-preserved of its remains are the exquisite mosaic panels and pavements for which the complex is renowned. Although the identity of its patron has been disputed, it has been associated with both Hishām ibn ʿAbd al-Malik (reigned 724–743) and his nephew, the controversial caliph al-Walīd ibn Yazīd (reigned 743–744).

A minor village in Ottoman times, Jericho became a winter resort after the British mandate over Palestine was established in the early 1920s. The city underwent major expansion, however, after its incorporation into Jordan in 1949. The establishment in the neighbourhood of two enormous camps of Palestinian refugees following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 brought great activity to the town, which was largely rebuilt the area of the oasis was expanded by irrigation. The Israeli occupation of the city following the Six-Day War of June 1967, however, resulted in the dispersal of much of the refugee population (see Arab-Israeli wars). Jericho was one of the first of the cities and towns evacuated by Israeli forces and turned over to the administration of the nascent Palestinian Authority in the wake of the 1993 Oslo Accords (see two-state solution). Pop. (2017) 20,907.


Some of the earliest human remains found in the Americas, Luzia Woman, were found in the area of Pedro Leopoldo, Minas Gerais and provide evidence of human habitation going back at least 11,000 years. [3] [4]

When Portuguese explorers arrived in Brazil, the region was inhabited by hundreds of different types of Jiquabu tribes, "the earliest going back at least 10,000 years in the highlands of Minas Gerais". [4] The dating of the origins of the first inhabitants, who were called "Indians" (índios) by the Portuguese, is still a matter of dispute among archaeologists. The earliest pottery ever found in the Western Hemisphere, radiocarbon-dated 8,000 years old, has been excavated in the Amazon basin of Brazil, near Santarém, providing evidence to overturn the assumption that the tropical forest region was too poor in resources to have supported a complex prehistoric culture". [5] The current most widely accepted view of anthropologists, linguists and geneticists is that the early tribes were part of the first wave of migrant hunters who came into the Americas from Asia, either by land, across the Bering Strait, or by coastal sea routes along the Pacific, or both.

The Andes and the mountain ranges of northern South America created a rather sharp cultural boundary between the settled agrarian civilizations of the west coast and the semi-nomadic tribes of the east, who never developed written records or permanent monumental architecture. For this reason, very little is known about the history of Brazil before 1500. Archaeological remains (mainly pottery) indicate a complex pattern of regional cultural developments, internal migrations, and occasional large state-like federations.

At the time of European discovery, the territory of current day Brazil had as many as 2,000 tribes. The indigenous peoples were traditionally mostly semi-nomadic tribes who subsisted on hunting, fishing, gathering, and migrant agriculture. When the Portuguese arrived in 1500, the Natives were living mainly on the coast and along the banks of major rivers.

Tribal warfare, cannibalism and the pursuit of brazilwood for its treasured red dye convinced the Portuguese that they should Christianize the natives. But the Portuguese, like the Spanish in their South American possessions, had brought diseases with them, against which many Natives were helpless due to lack of immunity. Measles, smallpox, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and influenza killed tens of thousands of indigenous people. The diseases spread quickly along the indigenous trade routes, and whole tribes were likely annihilated without ever coming in direct contact with Europeans.

Marajoara culture Edit

Marajoara culture flourished on Marajó island at the mouth of the Amazon River. [6] Archeologists have found sophisticated pottery in their excavations on the island. These pieces are large, and elaborately painted and incised with representations of plants and animals. These provided the first evidence that a complex society had existed on Marajó. Evidence of mound building further suggests that well-populated, complex and sophisticated settlements developed on this island, as only such settlements were believed capable of such extended projects as major earthworks. [7]

The extent, level of complexity, and resource interactions of the Marajoara culture have been disputed. Working in the 1950s in some of her earliest research, American Betty Meggers suggested that the society migrated from the Andes and settled on the island. Many researchers believed that the Andes were populated by Paleoindian migrants from North America who gradually moved south after being hunters on the plains.

In the 1980s, another American archeologist, Anna Curtenius Roosevelt, led excavations and geophysical surveys of the mound Teso dos Bichos. She concluded that the society that constructed the mounds originated on the island itself. [8]

The pre-Columbian culture of Marajó may have developed social stratification and supported a population as large as 100,000 people. [6] The Native Americans of the Amazon rainforest may have used their method of developing and working in Terra preta to make the land suitable for the large-scale agriculture needed to support large populations and complex social formations such as chiefdoms. [6]

The papal bull inter caetera had divided the New World between Spain and Portugal in 1493, and the Treaty of Tordesillas added to this by moving the dividing line westwards. [9]

There are many theories regarding who was the first European to set foot on the land now called Brazil. Besides the widely accepted view of Cabral's discovery, some say that it was Duarte Pacheco Pereira between November and December 1498 [10] [11] and some others say that it was first encountered by Vicente Yáñez Pinzón, a Spanish navigator who had accompanied Columbus in his first voyage of discovery to the Americas, having supposedly arrived in today's Pernambuco region on 26 January 1500 but was unable to claim the land because of the Treaty of Tordesillas. [12] In April 1500, Brazil was claimed for Portugal on the arrival of the Portuguese fleet commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral. [13] The Portuguese encountered stone-using natives divided into several tribes, many of whom shared the same Tupi–Guarani language family, and fought among themselves. [14] Early names for the country included Santa Cruz (Holy Cross) and Terra dos Papagaios (Land of the Parrots). [9] After European arrival, the land's major export was a type of tree the traders and colonists called pau-Brasil (Latin for wood red like an ember) or brazilwood from which gave it its final name, a large tree (Caesalpinia echinata) whose trunk yields a prized red dye, and which was nearly wiped out as a result of overexploitation.

Until 1529 Portugal had very little interest in Brazil mainly due to the high profits gained through its commerce with India, China, and the East Indies. This lack of interest allowed traders, pirates, and privateers of several countries to poach profitable Brazilwood in lands claimed by Portugal, with France setting up the colony of France Antarctique in 1555. In response the Portuguese Crown devised a system to effectively occupy Brazil, without paying the costs. Through the hereditary Captaincies system, Brazil was divided into strips of land that were donated to Portuguese noblemen, who were in turn responsible for the occupation and administration of the land and answered to the king. The system was a failure, and only four lots were successfully occupied: Pernambuco, São Vicente (later called São Paulo), Ilhéus and Porto Seguro. In 1572, the country was divided into the Northern Government based in Salvador and the Southern Government based in Rio de Janeiro. [9]

Spanish rule Edit

In 1578, the then King of Portugal Dom Sebastião disappeared in the Alcacer-Quibir war, a conflict between Portugal and the Moors in Morocco. The king had entered the war without much allied support or the necessary resources to fight properly. With his disappearance, and since he had no direct heirs, King Philip II of Spain, who was his uncle, took control of the Portuguese lands, in what was called the Iberian Union which lasted only briefly until 60 years later when John, Duke of Bragança, rebelled with the announced purpose of restoring Portuguese indenpendence, which he achieved, thus becoming John IV of Portugal. Sebastian was never found, and neither was his body, which made the Portuguese believe that one day he would come back and take Philip out of the government. Brazil was added to the Spanish Empire but kept under Portuguese administration, until Portugal restored its independence in 1668 and the Portuguese colonial possessions were given back to the Portuguese crown. [1]

Indigenous rebellions Edit

The Tamoyo Confederation (Confederação dos Tamoios in Portuguese language) was a military alliance of aboriginal chieftains of the sea coast ranging from what is today Santos to Rio de Janeiro, which occurred from 1554 to 1567.

The main reason for this rather unusual alliance between separate tribes was to react against slavery and wholesale murder and destruction wrought by the early Portuguese discoverers and colonisers of Brazil onto the Tupinambá people. In the Tupi language, "Tamuya" means "elder" or "grandfather". Cunhambebe was elected chief of the Confederation by his counterparts, and together with chiefs Pindobuçú, Koakira, Araraí and Aimberê, declared war on the Portuguese.

Sugar Age Edit

Starting in the sixteenth century, sugarcane grown on plantations called engenhos [Note 1] along the northeast coast (Brazil's Nordeste) became the base of Brazilian economy and society, with the use of slaves on large plantations to produce sugar for Europe. At first, settlers tried to enslave the natives as labor to work the fields. Portugal had pioneered the plantation system in the Atlantic islands of Madeira and São Tomé, with forced labor, high capital inputs of machinery, slaves, and work animals. The extensive cultivation of sugar was for an export market, necessitating land that could be acquired with relatively little conflict from existing occupants. By 1570, Brazil's sugar output rivaled that of the Atlantic islands. In the mid-seventeenth century, the Dutch seized productive areas of northeast Brazil, from 1630–1654, and took over the plantations. When the Dutch were expelled from Brazil, following a strong push by Portuguese-Brazilians and their indigenous and Afro-Brazilian allies, the Dutch as well as the English and French set up sugar production on the plantation model of Brazil in the Caribbean. Increased production and competition meant that the price of sugar dropped, and Brazil's market share dropped. Brazil's recovery from the Dutch incursion was slow since warfare had taken its toll on sugar plantations. In Bahia, tobacco was cultivated for the African export market, with tobacco dipped in molasses (derived from sugar production) being traded for African slaves. [15] Brazil's settlement and economic development was largely on its lengthy coastline. The Dutch incursion had underlined the vulnerability of Brazil to foreigners, and the crown responded by building coastal forts and creating a marine patrol to protect the colony. [16]

The initial exploration of Brazil's interior was largely due to para-military adventurers, the bandeirantes, who entered the jungle in search of gold and native slaves. However colonists were unable to continually enslave natives, and Portuguese sugar planters soon turned to import millions of slaves from Africa. [17] Mortality rates for slaves in sugar and gold enterprises [ ambiguous ] were dramatic, and there were often not enough females or proper conditions to replenish the slave population through natural increase.

[Note 2] Still, Africans became a substantial section of Brazilian population, and long before the end of slavery (1888) they had begun to merge with the European Brazilian population through miscegenation.

During the first 150 years of the colonial period, attracted by the vast natural resources and untapped land, other European powers tried to establish colonies in several parts of Brazilian territory, in defiance of the papal bull (Inter caetera) and the Treaty of Tordesillas, which had divided the New World into two parts between Portugal and Spain. French colonists tried to settle in present-day Rio de Janeiro, from 1555 to 1567 (the so-called France Antarctique episode), and in present-day São Luís, from 1612 to 1614 (the so-called France Équinoxiale). Jesuits arrived early and established São Paulo, evangelising the natives. These native allies of the Jesuits assisted the Portuguese in driving out the French. The unsuccessful Dutch intrusion into Brazil was longer lasting and more troublesome to Portugal (Dutch Brazil). Dutch privateers began by plundering the coast: they sacked Bahia in 1604, and even temporarily captured the capital Salvador. From 1630 to 1654, the Dutch set up more permanently in the northwest and controlled a long stretch of the coast most accessible to Europe, without, however, penetrating the interior. But the colonists of the Dutch West India Company in Brazil were in a constant state of siege, in spite of the presence in Recife of John Maurice of Nassau as governor. After several years of open warfare, the Dutch withdrew by 1654. Little French and Dutch cultural and ethnic influences remained of these failed attempts, but the Portuguese subsequently attempted to defend its coastline more vigorously.

Slave rebellions Edit

Slave rebellions were frequent until the practice of slavery was abolished in 1888. The most famous of the revolts was led by Zumbi dos Palmares. The state he established, named the Quilombo dos Palmares, was a self-sustaining republic of Maroons escaped from the Portuguese settlements in Brazil, and was "a region perhaps the size of Portugal in the hinterland of Pernambuco". [18] At its height, Palmares had a population of over 30,000. [19]

Forced to defend against repeated attacks by Portuguese colonial power, the warriors of Palmares were expert in capoeira, a martial arts form developed in Brazil by African slaves in the 16th century.

An African known only as Zumbi was born free in Palmares in 1655 but was captured by the Portuguese and given to a missionary, Father Antônio Melo when he was approximately 6 years old. Baptized Francisco, Zumbi was taught the sacraments, learned Portuguese and Latin, and helped with daily mass. Despite attempts to "civilize" him, Zumbi escaped in 1670 and, at the age of 15, returned to his birthplace. Zumbi became known for his physical prowess and cunning in battle and was a respected military strategist by the time he was in his early twenties.

By 1678, the governor of the captaincy of Pernambuco, Pedro Almeida, weary of the longstanding conflict with Palmares, approached its leader Ganga Zumba with an olive branch. Almeida offered freedom for all runaway slaves if Palmares would submit to Portuguese authority, a proposal which Ganga Zumba favored. But Zumbi was distrustful of the Portuguese. Further, he refused to accept freedom for the people of Palmares while other Africans remained enslaved. He rejected Almeida's overture and challenged Ganga Zumba's leadership. Vowing to continue the resistance to Portuguese oppression, Zumbi became the new leader of Palmares.

Fifteen years after Zumbi assumed leadership of Palmares, Portuguese military commanders Domingos Jorge Velho and Vieira de Melo mounted an artillery assault on the quilombo. On February 6, 1694, after 67 years of ceaseless conflict with the cafuzos (Maroons) of Palmares, the Portuguese succeeded in destroying Cerca do Macaco, the republic's central settlement. Palmares' warriors were no match for the Portuguese artillery the republic fell, and Zumbi was wounded. Though he survived and managed to elude the Portuguese, he was betrayed, captured almost two years later and beheaded on the spot on November 20, 1695. The Portuguese transported Zumbi's head to Recife, where it was displayed in the central praça as proof that, contrary to popular legend among African slaves, Zumbi was not immortal. It was also done as a warning of what would happen to others if they tried to be as brave as him. Remnants of the old quilombos continued to reside in the region for another hundred years.

Gold and diamond rush Edit

The discovery of gold in the early eighteenth century was met with great enthusiasm by Portugal, which had an economy in disarray following years of wars against Spain and the Netherlands. [20] [21] A gold rush quickly ensued, with people from other parts of the colony and Portugal flooding the region in the first half of the eighteenth century. The large portion of the Brazilian inland where gold was extracted became known as the Minas Gerais (General Mines). Gold mining in this area became the main economic activity of colonial Brazil during the eighteenth century. In Portugal, the gold was mainly used to pay for industrialized goods (textiles, weapons) obtained from countries like England and, especially during the reign of King John V, to build Baroque monuments such as the Convent of Mafra.

Minas Gerais was the gold mining center of Brazil, during the 18th century. Slave labor was generally used for the workforce. [22] The discovery of gold in the area caused a huge influx of European immigrants and the government decided to bring in bureaucrats from Portugal to control operations. [23] They set up numerous bureaucracies, often with conflicting duties and jurisdictions. The officials generally proved unequal to the task of controlling this highly lucrative industry. [24] Following Brazilian independence, the British pursued extensive economic activity in Brazil. In 1830, the Saint John d'El Rey Mining Company, controlled by the British, opened the largest gold mine in Latin America. The British brought in modern management techniques and engineering expertise. Located in Nova Lima, the mine produced ore for 125 years. [25]

Diamond deposits were found near Vila do Príncipe, around the village of Tijuco in the 1720s, and a rush to extract the precious stones ensued, flooding the European market. The Portuguese crown intervened to control production in Diamantina, the Diamond District. A system of bids for the right to extract diamonds was established, but in 1771, it was abolished and the crown retained the monopoly. [26]

Mining stimulated regional growth in southern Brazil, not just from extraction of gold and diamonds, but the stimulation of food production for local consumption. More importantly it stimulated commerce and the development of merchant communities in port cities. [26] Nominally, the Portuguese controlled the trade to Brazil, banning the establishment productive capacity for goods produced in Portugal. In practice, Portugal was an entrepôt for the import and export of goods from elsewhere, which were then re-exported to Brazil. Direct trade with foreign nations was forbidden, but prior to the Dutch incursion, much of Brazil's exports were carried in Dutch ships. After the American Revolution, U.S. ships called at Brazilian ports. When the Portuguese monarchy fled Iberia to Brazil in 1808 during the Napoleonic wars, one of the first acts of the monarch was to open Brazilian ports to foreign ships. [27] [28]

Brazil was one of only three modern states in the Americas to have its own indigenous monarchy (the other two were Mexico and Haiti) – for a period of almost 90 years.

As the Haitian Revolution for independence against the French crown was taking place in the late 1700s, Brazil, then a colony of Portugal, was also on the verge of starting their own revolution for independence. In the early 1790s, plots to overthrow the Portuguese colonial government flooded the streets of Brazil. Poor whites, a few upper-class whites, freed persons, slaves and mixed-race natives wanted to revolt against the Portuguese crown in order to abolish slavery, take power from the Catholic Church, end all forms of racial oppression, and establish a new governmental system that provided equal opportunities to all citizens. [29]

Though original plots had been foiled by royal authorities, Brazilians remained persistent in forming plots for revolutions after an outbreak of successful independence movements. The plan was similar to that of the French Revolutions, which by this time period had established the revolutionary rhetoric for much of the colonial world. However, the harsh punishment inflicted upon poor whites, working people of color, and slaves had silenced many voices of the revolution. As for the white elites, while some remained influenced by the revolutionary ideals spreading through France, others saw the incredible and intimidating strength of the lower classes through the Haitian Revolution, and feared that an uprising from their own lower class may lead to something equally as catastrophic to their society. [29] It would not be until September 7, 1822, that Brazilian Prince Dom Pedro would declare Brazil as its own independent empire. [30]

In 1808, the Portuguese court, fleeing from Napoleon's invasion of Portugal during the Peninsular War in a large fleet escorted by British men-of-war, moved the government apparatus to its then-colony, Brazil, establishing themselves in the city of Rio de Janeiro. From there the Portuguese king ruled his huge empire for 15 years, and there he would have remained for the rest of his life if it were not for the turmoil aroused in Portugal due, among other reasons, to his long stay in Brazil after the end of Napoleon's reign.

In 1815 the king vested Brazil with the dignity of a united kingdom with Portugal and Algarves. In 1817 a revolt occurred in the province of Pernambuco. In two months it was suppressed.

When king João VI of Portugal left Brazil to return to Portugal in 1821, his elder son, Pedro, stayed in his stead as regent of Brazil. One year later, Pedro stated the reasons for the secession of Brazil from Portugal and led the Independence War, instituted a constitutional monarchy in Brazil assuming its head as Emperor Pedro I of Brazil.

Also known as "Dom Pedro I", after his abdication in 1831 for political incompatibilities (displeased, both by the landed elites, who thought him too liberal and by the intellectuals, who felt he was not liberal enough), he left for Portugal leaving behind his five-year-old son as Emperor Pedro II, which left the country ruled by regents between 1831 and 1840. This period was beset by rebellions of various motivations, such as the Sabinada, the Ragamuffin War, the Malê Revolt, [31] Cabanagem and Balaiada, among others. After this period, Pedro II was declared of age and assumed his full prerogatives. Pedro II started a more-or-less parliamentary reign which lasted until 1889, when he was ousted by a coup d'état which instituted the republic in Brazil.

Externally, apart from the Independence war, stood out decades of pressure from the United Kingdom for the country to end its participation in the Atlantic slave trade, and the wars fought in the region of La Plata river: the Cisplatine War (in 2nd half of the 1820s), the Platine War (in the 1850s), the Uruguayan War and the Paraguayan War (in the 1860s). This last war against Paraguay also was the bloodiest and most expensive in South American history, after which the country entered a period that continues to the present day, averse to external political and military interventions.

Coffee plantations Edit

The coffee crop was introduced in 1720, and by 1850 Brazil was producing half of the world's coffee. The state set up a marketing board to protect and encourage the industry.

The major export crop in the 19th century was coffee, grown on large-scale plantations in the São Paulo area. The Zona da Mata Mineira district grew 90% of the coffee in Minas Gerais region during the 1880s and 70% during the 1920s. Most of the workers were black men, including both slaves and free. Increasingly Italian, Spanish and Japanese immigrants provided the expanded labour force. [32] [33] While railway lines were built to haul the coffee beans to market, they also provided essential internal transportation for both freight and passengers, as well as providing work opportunities for a large skilled labour force. [34] By the early 20th century, coffee accounted for 16% of Brazil's gross national product, and three quarters of its export earnings.

The growers and exporters played major roles in politics however, historians debate whether or not they were the most powerful actors in the political system. [35]

Before the 1960s, historians generally ignored the coffee industry. Coffee was not a major industry in the colonial period. In any one particular locality, the coffee industry flourished for a few decades and then moved on as the soil lost its fertility therefore it was not deeply embedded in the history of any one locality. After independence, coffee plantations were associated with slavery, underdevelopment, and a political oligarchy, and not the modern development of state and society. [36] Historians now recognize the importance of the industry, and there is a flourishing scholarly literature. [37] [38]

Rubber Edit

The rubber boom in the Amazon in the 1880s–1910s radically reshaped the Amazonian economy. For example, it turned the remote poor jungle village of Manaus into a rich, sophisticated, progressive urban center, with a cosmopolitan population that patronized the theater, literary societies, and luxury stores, and supported good schools. [39] In general, key characteristics of the rubber boom included the dispersed plantations, and a durable form of organization, yet did not respond to Asian competition. The rubber boom had major long-term effects: the private estate became the usual form of land tenure trading networks were built throughout the Amazon basin barter became a major form of exchange and native peoples often were displaced. The boom firmly established the influence of the state throughout the region. The boom ended abruptly in the 1920s, and income levels returned to the poverty levels of the 1870s. [40] There were major negative effects on the fragile Amazonian environment. [41]

Old Republic (1889–1930) Edit

Pedro II was deposed on November 15, 1889, by a Republican military coup led by General Deodoro da Fonseca, who became the country's first de facto president through military ascension. The country's name became the Republic of the United States of Brazil (which in 1967 was changed to Federative Republic of Brazil). Two military presidents ruled through four years of dictatorship amid conflicts among the military and political elites (two Naval revolts, followed by a Federalist revolt), and an economic crisis due to the effects of the burst of a financial bubble, the encilhamento.

From 1889 to 1930, although the country was formally a constitutional democracy, the First Republican Constitution, created in 1891, established that women and the illiterate (then the majority of the population) were prevented from voting. Presidentialism [ ambiguous ] was adopted as the form of government and the State was divided into three powers (Legislative, Executive and Judiciary) "harmonic and independent of one another". [ citation needed ] The presidential term was fixed at four years, and the elections became direct.

After 1894, the presidency of the republic was occupied by coffee farmers (oligarchies) from São Paulo and Minas Gerais, alternately. This policy was called política do café com leite ("coffee with milk" policy). The elections for president and governors was ruled by the Política dos Governadores (Governor's policy), in which they had mutual support to ensure the elections of some candidates. The exchanges of favors also happened among politicians and big landowners. They used the power to control the votes of population in return for favors (this was called coronelismo).

Between 1893 and 1926 several movements, civilians and military, shook the country. The military movements had their origins both in the lower officers' corps of the Army and Navy (which, dissatisfied with the regime, called for democratic changes) while the civilian ones, such Canudos and Contestado War, were usually led by messianic leaders, without conventional political goals.

Internationally, the country would stick to a course of conduct that extended throughout the twentieth century: an almost isolationist policy, interspersed with sporadic automatic alignments with major Western powers, its main economic partners, in moments of high turbulence. Standing out of this period: the resolution of the Acreanian's Question, [ jargon ] its tiny role in the World War I, of which highlights the mission accomplished by its Navy on anti-submarine warfare, [42] and an effort to play a leading role in the League of Nations. [43]

Populism and development (1930–1964) Edit

After 1930, the successive governments continued industrial and agriculture growth and development of the vast interior of Brazil. Getúlio Vargas led a military junta that had taken control in 1930 and would remain to rule from 1930 to 1945 with the backing of Brazilian military, especially the Army. In this period, he faced internally the Constitutionalist Revolt in 1932 and two separate coup d'état attempts: by Communists in 1935 and by local right-wing elements of the Brazilian Integralism movement in 1938.

The liberal revolution of 1930 overthrew the oligarchic coffee plantation owners and brought to power an urban middle class and business interests that promoted industrialization and modernization. Aggressive promotion of new industry turned around the economy by 1933. Brazil's leaders in the 1920s and 1930s decided that Argentina's implicit foreign policy goal was to isolate Portuguese-speaking Brazil from Spanish-speaking neighbors, thus facilitating the expansion of Argentine economic and political influence in South America. Even worse, was the fear that a more powerful Argentine Army would launch a surprise attack on the weaker Brazilian Army. To counter this threat, President Getúlio Vargas forged closer links with the United States. Meanwhile, Argentina moved in the opposite direction. During World War II, Brazil was a staunch ally of the United States and sent its military to Europe. The United States provided over $100 million in Lend-Lease grants, in return for free rent on air bases used to transport American soldiers and supplies across the Atlantic, and naval bases for anti-submarine operations. In sharp contrast, Argentina was officially neutral and at times favored Germany. [44] [45]

A democratic regime prevailed from 1945–64. In the 1950s after Vargas' second period (this time, democratically elected), the country experienced an economic boom during Juscelino Kubitschek's years, during which the capital was moved from Rio de Janeiro to Brasília.

Externally, after a relative isolation during the first half of the 1930s due to the effects of the 1929 Crisis, in the second half of the 1930s there was a rapprochement with the fascist regimes of Italy and Germany. However, after the fascist coup attempt in 1938 and the naval blockade imposed on these two countries by the British navy from the beginning of World War II, in the decade of 1940 there was a return to the old foreign policy of the previous period.

During the early 1940s, Brazil joined the allied forces in the Battle of the Atlantic and the Italian Campaign in the 1950s the country began its participation in the United Nations' peacekeeping missions [46] with Suez Canal in 1956 and in the beginning of the 1960s, during the presidency of Janio Quadros, its first attempts to break the automatic alignment (that had started in the 1940s) with the U.S.A. [47]

The institutional crisis of succession for the presidency, triggered with the Quadros' resignation, coupled with other factors, such as a planned communist coup, would lead to the military intervention of 1964 and to the end of this period.

Military dictatorship (1964–1985) Edit

The Brazilian military government, also known in Brazil as the United States of Brazil or Fifth Brazilian Republic, was the authoritarian military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1 April 1964 to 15 March 1985. It began with the 1964 coup d'état led by the Armed Forces against the administration of President João Goulart.

The coup was planned and executed by the commanders of the Brazilian Army and received the support of almost all high-ranking members of the military, along with conservative elements in society, like the Catholic Church and anti-communist civil movements among the Brazilian middle and upper classes. Internationally, it was supported by the State Department of the United States through its embassy in Brasilia.

The military dictatorship lasted for almost twenty-one years despite initial pledges to the contrary, the military government, in 1967, enacted a new, restrictive Constitution, and stifled freedom of speech and political opposition. The regime adopted nationalism and anti-communism as its guidelines.

The dictatorship achieved growth in GDP in the 1970s with the so-called "Brazilian Miracle", even as the regime censored all media, and tortured and exiled dissidents. João Figueiredo became President in March 1979 in the same year he passed the Amnesty Law for political crimes committed for and against the regime. By this time soaring inequality and economic instability had replaced the earlier growth, and Figueiredo could not control the crumbling economy, chronic inflation and concurrent fall of other military dictatorships in South America. Amid massive popular demonstrations in the streets of the main cities of the country, the first free elections in 20 years were held for the national legislature in 1982. In 1988, a new Constitution was passed and Brazil officially returned to democracy. Since then, the military has remained under the control of civilian politicians, with no official role in domestic politics.

In May 2018, the United States government released a memorandum, written by Henry Kissinger, dating back to April 1974 (when he was serving as Secretary of State), confirming that the leadership of the Brazilian military regime was fully aware of the killing of dissidents. It is estimated that 434 people were either confirmed killed or went missing (not to be seen again), 8,000 indigenous people suffered a genocide and 20,000 people were tortured during the military dictatorship in Brazil, while some human rights activists and others assert that the true figure could be much higher.

Tancredo Neves was elected president in an indirect election in 1985 as the nation returned to civilian rule. He died before being sworn in, and the elected vice president, José Sarney, was sworn in as president in his place.

Fernando Collor de Mello was the first elected president by popular vote after the military regime in December 1989 defeating Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in a two-round presidential race and 35 million votes. Collor won in the state of São Paulo against many prominent political figures. The first democratically elected President of Brazil in 29 years, Collor spent much of the early years of his government battling hyper-inflation, which at times reached rates of 25% per month. [48]

Collor's neoliberal program was also followed by his successor Fernando Henrique Cardoso [49] who maintained free trade and privatization programs. [50] Collor's administration began the process of privatization of a number of government-owned enterprises such as Acesita, Embraer, Telebrás and Companhia Vale do Rio Doce. [51] With the exception of Acesita, the privatizations were all completed during the term of Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Following Collor's impeachment, acting president, Itamar Franco, was sworn in as president. In elections held on October 3, 1994, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, his finance minister, defeated left-wing Lula da Silva again. He was elected president due to the success of the so-called Plano Real. Reelected in 1998, he guided Brazil through a wave of financial crises. In 2000, Cardoso ordered the declassifying of some military files concerning Operation Condor, a network of South American military dictatorships that kidnapped and assassinated political opponents.

Brazil's most severe problem today is arguably its highly unequal distribution of wealth and income, one of the most extreme in the world. By the 1990s, more than one out of four Brazilians continued to survive on less than one dollar a day. These socio-economic contradictions helped elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) in 2002.

In the few months before the election, investors were scared by Lula's campaign platform for social change, and his past identification with labor unions and leftist ideology. As his victory became more certain, the Real devalued and Brazil's investment risk rating plummeted (the causes of these events are disputed, since Cardoso left a very small foreign reserve). After taking office, however, Lula maintained Cardoso's economic policies, [52] warning that social reforms would take years and that Brazil had no alternative but to extend fiscal austerity policies. The Real and the nation's risk rating soon recovered.

Lula, however, has given a substantial increase in the minimum wage (raising from R$200 to R$350 in four years). Lula also spearheaded legislation to drastically cut retirement benefits for public servants. His primary significant social initiative, on the other hand, was the Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) program, designed to give each Brazilian three meals a day.

In 2005 Lula's government suffered a serious blow with several accusations of corruption and misuse of authority against his cabinet, forcing some of its members to resign. Most political analysts at the time were certain that Lula's political career was doomed, but he managed to hold onto power, partly by highlighting the achievements of his term (e.g., reduction in poverty, unemployment and dependence on external resources, such as oil), and to distance himself from the scandal. Lula was re-elected President in the general elections of October 2006.

The income of the poorest increased by 14% in 2004, with Bolsa Familia accounting for an estimated two-thirds of this growth. In 2004, Lula launched the "popular pharmacies" programme, designed to make medicines considered essential accessible to the most disadvantaged. During Lula's first term in office, child malnutrition declined by 46 per cent. In May 2010, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) awarded Lula da Silva the title of "world champion in the fight against hunger". [53]

Having served two terms as president, Lula was forbidden by the Brazilian Constitution from standing again. In the 2010 presidential election, the PT candidate was Dilma Rousseff. Rousseff won and assumed office on January 1, 2011 as the country's first female president.

Nationwide protests broke out in 2013 and 2014 primarily over public transport fares and government expenditures on the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Rousseff faced a conservative challenger for her re-election bid in the October 26, 2014, runoff, [54] but managed to secure a re-election with just over 51% of votes. [55] Protests resumed in 2015 and 2016 in response to a corruption scandal and a recession that began in 2014, resulting in the impeachment of President Rousseff for mismanagement and disregard of the national budget in August 2016. In 2016, Rio de Janeiro was the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2016 Summer Paralympics, making the city the first South American and Portuguese-speaking city to ever host the events, and the third time the Olympics were held in a Southern Hemisphere city. [56]

In October 2018, far-right congressman and former army captain Jair Bolsonaro was elected President of Brazil, disrupting sixteen years of continuous left-wing rule by the Worker's Party (PT). [57] With an unprecedented corruption scandal eroding the public's trust of institutions, Bolsonaro's position as a political outsider along with his hardline ideology against crime and corruption helped him win the presidential election. During Bolsonaro's presidency, the installation of wind energy and solar energy reached its highest level throughout history. As of February 2021, [ref] according to ONS, total installed capacity of wind energy was 19.1 GW, with average capacity factor of 30%. [58] n 2020 Brazil was the 8th country in the world in terms of installed wind power (17.2 GW). [59] As of April 2021, [ref] according to ONS, total installed capacity of photovoltaic solar was 8.9 GW, with average capacity factor of 24%. [60] [61] [62] In 2020, Brazil was the 14th country in the world in terms of installed solar power (7.8 GW). [59] One of the main objectives of the Bolsonaro Government is to try to complete the execution of more than 14,000 works promised by previous governments, which were never completed, many even having started. According to calculations, the execution and completion of works that have already started would cost something around R$144 billion. [63] Some of the most important road works carried out in Bolsonaro's term include: completion of the duplication of the BR-116 in Rio Grande do Sul, [64] of the BR-101 in the Northeast, [65] of BR-116 in Bahia, [66] of BR-364 between Cuiabá and Rondonópolis, [67] duplication of the BR-470 in Santa Catarina, [68] from BR-280 in Santa Catarina, [69] of the BR-381 in Minas Gerais, [70] construction of the International Integration Bridge (linking Foz do Iguaçu to Presidente Franco, in Paraguay), [71] bidding for construction of a bridge that will connect Porto Murtinho (MS) to Carmelo Peralta (Paraguay) for the realization of the Bioceanic Corridor, [72] completion of asphalting of BR-163 in Pará, [73] inauguration of the Abunã Bridge connecting Rondônia to Acre, [74] paving of BRs in the Northeast such as BR-222 [75] and the BR-235, [76] in addition to being programmed new concessions for the main highways of Paraná [77] and President Dutra Highway, [78] among others. During Bolsonaro government, there has also been a greater focus on the construction of railways, with the Government, for example, inaugurating a stretch of the North-South Railway, between Goiás and São Paulo, [79] start of construction of the Railroad of East-West Integration in Bahia, [80] in addition to planning the construction of Ferrogrão, between Mato Grosso and Pará, [81] among others.

Religious change Edit

Until recently Catholicism was overwhelmingly dominant. Rapid change in the 21st century has led to a growth in secularism (no religious affiliation). Just as dramatic is the sudden rise of evangelical Protestantism to over 22% of the population. The 2010 census indicates that fewer than 65% of Brazilians consider themselves Catholic, down from 90% in 1970. The decline is associated with falling birth rates to one of Latin America's lowest at 1.83 children per woman, which is below replacement levels. It has led Cardinal Cláudio Hummes to comment, "We wonder with anxiety: how long will Brazil remain a Catholic country?" [82]

The Last Kingdom: the real history behind the series

The Last Kingdom, based on the Saxon Stories novels of Bernard Cornwell, re-tells the history of King Alfred the Great and his desire to unite the many separate kingdoms into what would become England. Here, we recap the real history behind the story so far, and what’s covered in series four…

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Published: May 6, 2020 at 1:00 pm

When is The Last Kingdom set and what it is about?

It is the story of the struggle between Saxons and Danes in 9th-century England, when England was not one nation but a series of independent kingdoms variously overrun or ravaged by Danes. The era of Lindisfarne and raiders from the sea is long past – by this point in history, the Vikings in Britain are settlers, lords and kings.

This tale plays out from the perspective of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a man born a Saxon and raised a Dane, grappling with his persistently split loyalties between his oaths (of which he makes many), his conflicting cultural identities, and his quest for retribution.

What starts out as a tale of straightforward revenge – reclaiming his ancestral home in Northumbria from his usurping uncle and avenging the murder of his adoptive Viking father – rapidly extends into a history-adjacent Vikings versus Anglo-Saxons epic, as Uhtred finds himself in the Kingdom of Wessex, where Alfred the Great has dreams of expelling the northmen from all the realms of ‘England’ and creating a single nation, something that wouldn’t be achieved until the reign of his grandson.

The show is based on the Saxon Stories novels of Bernard Cornwell (now renamed as the The Last Kingdom series owing to the show’s success), of which there are currently 12 in print, with the concluding 13th instalment – War Lord – due to be published in October 2020.

Want to read reviews of season 4 and know even more about the real events from history that inspired the drama? Read more from the experts at our curated page on The Last Kingdom

What is the plot of The Last Kingdom season four?

Season four of The Last Kingdom is widely expected to cover books seven and eight of Bernard Cornwell’s saga, The Pagan Lord and The Empty Throne. Alfred the Great is dead, as is his ever-conniving nephew Aethelwold Alfred’s son Edward the Elder sits on the throne of Wessex his daughter Aethelflaed is wed to the ruler of Mercia and the Danes, led by Haesten and Cnut (not Cnut the Great – he won’t be born for another hundred years), sense opportunity. Uhtred, meanwhile, realises now might be the time to challenge his uncle Aelfric for his birthright, the lordship of Bebbanburg in Northumbria.

Once season four is complete, there are still four more books (so far) in Cornwell’s series to adapt – if the The Last Kingdom is renewed for future seasons.


What happened in The Last Kingdom season one? And what’s the real history?

The Last Kingdom begins in 866, the year that Vikings first seized control of York. Uhtred is a child and heir to Bebbanburg (Bamburgh) in Northumbria. When the Vikings arrive, his father, Lord Uhtred, rides out to give battle and is predictably slain the boy Uhtred is captured.

Uhtred’s uncle Aelfric hopes to ransom the boy back and quietly murder him so that he can claim the lordship of Bebbanburg for himself unimpeded, but that plan is scuppered when Danish jarl Ragnar the Fearless takes a liking to the lad and ultimately takes him back to Denmark along with a Saxon girl, Brida.

Fast forward several years: Uhtred is now a young man, fully immersed in Norse culture and religion. His apparent happiness comes crashing down when Ragnar the Fearless is murdered, burned alive in his hall by shipmaster Kjartan and his son Sven the One-Eyed, in retribution for Ragnar taking Sven’s eye many years before. Kjartan spreads rumours that Saxon-born Uhtred is the miscreant behind the deed, forcing Uhtred to flee back across the North Sea to the lands he left as a boy.

It’s on returning to Northumbria that Uhtred meets Guthrum and Ubba, one of the fabled sons of legendary Viking hero Ragnar Lothbrok, whom he watches murder King Edmund of the East Angles. The real Edmund “was tied to a tree, beaten and then murdered with a volley of arrows,” writes ecclesiastical historian Emma J Wells – which is pretty much what happens here, except it plays out in a church.

Guthrum and Ubba don’t believe his innocence, so Uhtred flees to Winchester, capital of Wessex, the titular ‘last kingdom’ to fall prey to the Danes. Aethelred I rules, but by the middle of the season he has been mortally wounded, and on his deathbed passes the crown to his brother, Alfred – overlooking Aethelwold, his own son, portrayed as a drunkard who believes the crown should have been his by default.

“[Alfred] can never have expected to be king, as the youngest of five brothers, but all of them died young,” writes Michael Wood. “He was 21, pious and brave, but in poor health, with a crippling hereditary illness, perhaps Crohn’s Disease.”

Young Ragnar, son of Ragnar the Fearless, returns from Ireland – one of the many shores aside from England that the Vikings sailed to – to confirm for himself that Uhtred didn’t kill their father. When he leaves to seek revenge on Kjartan, Brida departs with him.

Uhtred proves instrumental at the battle of Cynwit in Devon in 878 – one of the five most important ‘lost battles’ of the Viking age, writes Thomas Williams, who describes it as “one of the great military reversals of the early Middle Ages”, prior to which he kills Ubba in single combat. Uhtred’s part in the battle is glossed over (a common theme in The Last Kingdom) and victory is ascribed to Odda the Elder, ealdorman of Devon, as it is in real history.

Uhtred and Alfred clash frequently through the rest of the series over loyalty and religion, but where Alfred is forced to admit Uhtred’s usefulness is when the would-be Lord of Bebbanburg helps Alfred escape into the Somerset Marshes – where he famously burns the cakes – in the wake of the Danish invasion of Wessex in 878, and then at the battle of Edington in which the Saxons inflict a crushing defeat on the Northmen.

Listen to renowned historical novelist Bernard Cornwell talk about his books that inspired The Last Kingdom, and about his writing career more broadly:

What happens in The Last Kingdom season two? And what’s the real history?

Uhtred heads north – not to Bebbanburg, but to rescue Guthred, a Christian Dane prophesised to become the king of Cumberland. The mission is a success, but once king Guthred is convinced to betray Uhtred and sells him into slavery. Alfred sends Young Ragnar (son of Ragnar the Fearless and Uhtred’s adoptive brother, taken hostage by Wessex at the end of season one) to rescue him. Reunited, Ragnar and Uhtred besiege Kjartan and Sven the One-Eyed in Durham, finally avenging Ragnar the Fearless.

This season also develops the character of Aethelflaed – not yet the ‘Lady of the Mercians’, but a young woman and, as a daughter of a king, one ready to be married off in alliance – “As a wife, Æthelflæd’s story is all too familiar in terms of royal dynastic marriages,” writes Dr Janina Ramirez. She is wed, in history and on The Last Kingdom, to Aethelred of Mercia. “Theirs was an entirely political union, designed to strengthen the two kingdoms against Danish and Norwegian incursions in the north,” says Ramirez.

On the show, the Mercian Aethelred reveals himself to be a poor husband, possessive and abusive. He takes Aethelflaed to war against Danish brothers Siegfried and Erik (both fictional antagonists) and their underling Haesten (who did exist), where she is captured and held for ransom, setting up the season’s climactic battle at Benfleet in 893 and Odda the Elder’s suicide in lieu of certain execution for treason.

What happened in The Last Kingdom season three? And what’s the real history?

Season three opens by introducing two new antagonists, the warrior Bloodhair and his seer, Skade – who has a vision of Bloodhair killing Alfred in battle. But Alfred really is dying, through ill health Edward the Aetheling is a young man not yet ready to rule Aetholwold is sowing discord as he sees a route to finally becoming king.

Relations between Uhtred and Alfred reach crisis point when Uhtred accidentally kills a priest after Aethelwold’s meddling in response, Alfred tries to make Uhtred swear an oath to serve Edward. Uhtred, realising that swearing an oath to Edward would mean a life of servitude, flatly refuses, then takes Alfred hostage to effect his escape.

Season three places Aethelwold centre stage playing politics. He also leaves Wessex, stopping first at Mercia, where he sows the seeds of betrayal for Aethelflaed, and the at Bloodhair’s camp, where he argues that the Danes should form a single ‘great army’ to crush Wessex.

“West Saxon chroniclers were scathing about Æthelwold’s alliance with Vikings, but as a tactic of war it wasn’t unusual,” writes early medieval historian Professor Ryan Lavelle, who is also The Last Kingdom’s historical consultant. “There is good reason to suspect that Alfred too allied himself with Viking mercenaries when circumstances required.”

Uhtred makes his way north to Durham and to his brother Ragnar the Younger, where he briefly plots with Bloodhair, Haesten and Ragnar’s cousin Cnut to form a great army to invade the Saxon kingdoms, but abandons them to rescue Aethelflaed – now hiding in a nunnery, because Aethelred is plotting to have her killed.

Later, Aethelwold murders Ragnar in his bed – preventing him from reaching his sword and denying him entry to Valhalla. Haesten is revealed to be a spy for Alfred and alerts the king to the Danish threat.

Alfred finally succumbs to his illness – but not before he reconciles with Uhtred and sees Edward married. Uhtred publicly affirms his support for Edward as the presumptive king, and they ride to meet Aethelwold and the Danes near Bedford – defeating them with the help of Mercia and Kent. At the battle’s climax, Uhtred catches up with Aethelwold (having learned that he was the one responsible for Young Ragnar’s death) and stabs him through the heart.

This final act of Aethelwold’s machinations plays out markedly different to real events. Though in the show it is dealt with in the immediate aftermath of Alfred’s death in 899, the actual battle took place at unidentified location suspected to be Holme in East Anglia in 902, after a three-year insurrection in which Aethelwold had moderate success. Even the circumstances of the battle are reversed, with the Danes ambushing Edward’s army – they won the battle, but Aethelwold died in the fighting, making it somewhat pyrrhic.

“Æthelwold’s insurrection is little known today, a mere footnote in Anglo-Saxon history,” says Lavelle. “It also hints that, had Æthelwold enjoyed a little more fortune in the fallout from Alfred’s death, and had one obscure battle in 902 had an alternative outcome, the future of England could have been very different indeed.”

What happened in The Last Kingdom season four? And what’s the real history?

Edward rules in Wessex, battered from all sides by advisors and trying to step out of Alfred the Great’s shadow (or perhaps live up to it), but that’s no lingering concern of Uhtred. By the end of episode one he is sailing north to reclaim his ancestral home of Bebbanburg (Bamburgh) from Aelfric, the dastardly uncle who tried to have him murdered as a boy and then connived to have him sold into slavery as an adult.

Bebbanburg is conveniently vulnerable – not because of the Danes, but the bellicose attentions of the Scots – and Aelfric is struggling to contain them.

The history is mixed here, says early medieval historian Ryan Lavelle in our episode one review: “Northern Northumbria was in a frontier zone contested by an emerging Scottish kingdom and raiding was probably frequent enough, though the events portrayed here are as much a nod to the historical lord [Uhtred] of Bamburgh.” That Uhtred, whom Lavelle explains would have been at the limits of his power much like Aelfric is here, fought the Scots in the 11th century, not the 10th.

Listen on the podcast: Dan Jackson traces the distinctive history and culture of northeast England, from ancient times to the present day

Back in The Last Kingdom, Uhtred reckons a small army could take the fortress. Alas, Edward refuses to give him said army, so it’s on to Plan B: kidnap his estranged son (also called Uhtred) from his church, have him sneak into Bebbanburg with some other priests, then open its sea gate under the cover of darkness so that Uhtred and his merry band can sneak in and assassinate Aelfric.

Uhtred does get in – not without some mishap – only to find his plan scuppered by the return of the Aelfric’s own estranged son, Whitgar, who terminally alters the power balance in the north by executing Aelfric and claiming Bebbanburg as his own. Outmanoeuvred, Uhtred and co escape, but not without the death of Father Beocca, his close confidante and effective father figure.

In Mercia, Aethelred’s captain of the guard (Eardwulf) brings news that the Danes in East Anglia have left their camp for Ireland. Aethelred, chafing at being nominally subservient to Wessex, sees an opportunity to one-up Edward and promptly marches his entire army to East Anglia to claim it as his own. But it’s all smoke and mirrors: the Danes, led by Cnut and Brida, did leave East Anglia, but didn’t put out to sea. They sailed upriver, disembarked near Aethelred’s seat in Aylesbury, and took it as their own.

The news doesn’t reach Aethelred Eardwulf fails to tell him, fearing his master’s rage. It’s another black mark in a long line of character flaws in this depiction of the Mercian ruler, who is by turns capricious, adulterous and cruel. (“[Aethelred] is played as a pretty despicable character – a portrayal for which there is no historical evidence,” notes Lavelle.)

In Winchester, Edward refuses to spill Wessex blood to save Mercian soil, earning the approval of his most powerful vassal (and father-in-law) Aethelhelm, and the ire of his sister Aethelflead and his mother Aelswith. Though long-dead in real history, the Aelswith of The Last Kingdom has to deal with her diminishing role at court – leading to a momentous decision to retrieve Edward’s son from his first marriage (which both took place and was annulled off screen in season three) from a convent. The boy is revealed to be Aethelstan, the future first king of the English.

The intrigues and vacillations culminate with Aethelflead taking decisive action: she sneaks away from Winchester, raises the Mercian fyrds independently of her absent husband and (thanks to Uhtred) lures the Danes to battle at Tettenhall – a real clash that took place in 910, in which three Viking kings were killed. It was this battle, writes historian Dr Janina Ramirez, that “secured [Aethelflaed’s] image as victorious warrior queen”.

In the show, Aethelflaed doesn’t stand alone: she has the support of the Welsh (making their first appearance in The Last Kingdom), and late in the battle both Aethelred and Edward arrive to turn the tide. Cnut is slain, and Brida is taken back to Wales as a slave.

“The appearance of Welsh warriors on the battlefield is a historical imagining on this particular occasion, but Welsh military service for Anglo-Saxon armies wasn’t unknown at this time,” says Lavelle in our episode four review. These are the men King Hywel Dda (‘the Good’), who ruled Deheubarth (‘the South Part’), and they serve an important role – “a reminder that the story of early medieval Britain was more than an English one.” The real Saxon army at Tettenhall was an alliance of Aethelflaed and Edward, though Aethelred’s presence is uncertain.

The Last Kingdom sees Aethelred sustain a fatal head injury at Tettenhall. Despite the fact he is only expected to live for a few days (a fiction: Aethelred died in 911), Eardwulf kills him in his sickbed. Why? To protect a sudden elevation. With the question of who should succeed as ruler of Mercia, Eardwulf finds himself the firm favourite, a deal to be legitimised through marriage to Aethelred and Aethelflaed’s daughter, the child Aelfwynn.

Though Aethelflaed eventually takes the throne as she did in history (though it’s thanks to Uhtred in this telling), this sets up an arc in which Uhtred spirits Aelfwynn across the countryside in search of safety, bringing her into contact with ‘The Sickness’, which – in an era without handwashing – is as pernicious as you might imagine. Aylesbury is even put into quarantine.

What is this sickness? “There is no historical epidemic known in early medieval Britain from 910/911 or even the first decades of the 10th century, but what is happening is not long after a period of disease recorded in 896, in which a number of the great and good of Wessex perished,” says Lavelle in our episode six review. Despite its imagery being heavily linked with the middle ages, there is nothing, either in the show or in real history, to suggest that it this Sickness is the Black Death.

In the midst of the succession crisis, a new Danish threat emerges: Sigtryggr, a real Viking who mooted as a descendant of Ivar the Boneless. He lands in Wales, routs King Hywel, rescues Brida, leads a warband to Wessex and ahistorically seizes Winchester – left undefended while Edward interfered in the Mercian succession.

At the end of the season’s climactic month-long siege, Uhtred turns negotiator, helping to forge an agreement in which Sigtryggr relinquishes Winchester in favour of York. This is again the right history at wrong time: Sigtryggr, notes Lavelle in our episode ten review, was the historical ruler of the Anglo-Scandinavians of York – but not until 920. Uhtred rides into the sunset (for now) with Aethelstan as his ward – the boy can’t stay in Winchester, not least because Aethelhelm, grandfather to Edward’s current heir, has just poisoned Aelswith to ensure his family retains power…

How will The Last Kingdom end?

If the show continues and follows the thread of Bernard Cornwell’s novels, then we might already know the answer. Cornwell told HistoryExtra in 2018 that “The Last Kingdom series is going to end with a real historical event: the battle of Brunanburh in 937. The battle marked the beginning of England, so obviously had to be included in the series.”

The Last Kingdom season four airs on Netflix from Sunday 26 April.

Kev Lochun is BBC History Revealed‘s production editor

18 Accurate: The Battle Of Culloden Happened, With Prince Charles Edward Stuart Leading The Jacobites

The Battle of Culloden was a pivotal point in the series, but also in history. The Jacobites were indeed led by Bonnie Prince Charlie into the infamous battle where many Scots’ lives were stolen that day.

The way it was portrayed in the show was very accurate, aside from the fictional characters who were participating in the war. It was a bloody fight that the Jacobites quickly lost. The clans were forever changed after this battle and things never went back to being how they were before the war. And much like the show, no one ever heard from the Bonnie Prince again once he fled.

The Battle


Bunker Hill (Part 1): Prelude to the Battle

Join Ranger Patrick in an overview of how the Battle of Bunker Hill came to happen on June 17, 1775 across the hilly pastures north of Boston.

Duration: 7 minutes, 47 seconds

Map of Boston and the surrounding area during the siege of Boston, 1775-1776. Provincial forces fortified to the south and west of Boston in April and May, 1775, while British forces fortified "the Neck" at the south end of Boston, Boston Common, and Copp's Hill.

Click on the image to explore map.

Courtesy Boston Public Library, Norman B. Levanthal Map Center and Library of Congress

The autumn and winter of 1774 proved to be a time fraught with growing tension and close-calls. Colonists began to mobilize for war while the British Army sent detachments to secure gunpowder and cannon in nearby towns. Finally, on April 19, 1775, fighting erupted in the small Massachusetts towns of Lexington and Concord. Running skirmishes took place throughout the day as the British detachment from Boston fought their way back to their home camps in Boston—a distance of some twenty miles. Local town militias mobilized quickly to defend and assist their neighbors from British attacks. By the end of the day, British-occupied Boston lay surrounded by thousands of militiamen. As alarm spread throughout New England, as many as 20,000 men marched to Boston from modern-day Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

By June, the British Army received expected reinforcements and the commander, General Thomas Gage, was under pressure to break out of Boston and end the colonial uprising. The British commanders agreed on a strategy to claim the heights to the north and south of Boston as locations from where they could launch final crushing blows to the rebellion. Details of these plans leaked, and the Massachusetts Provincial government learned of the British plans. Deciding to claim the hills first, a detachment of approximately 1,000 Massachusetts and Connecticut soldiers were ordered to march to "Bunker Hill" in Charlestown on the night of June 16, 1775.

Bunker Hill (Part 2) "One Step Further"

Ranger Patrick explores how the battle unfolded on June 17, 1775.

Duration: 11 minutes, 53 seconds

Map of the Bunker Hill battlefield. The entire peninsula of Charlestown was affected by the battle. The central hill with a roughly square fort (the "redoubt") is known as "Breed's Hill" today. Today's "Bunker Hill" is to the northwest of Breed's. Boston's North End is to the southeast.

Click on the image to explore map.

Courtesy Boston Public Library, Norman B. Levanthal Map Center

Opening Moves

Colonel William Prescott and General Israel Putnam were the ranking officers in the expedition to Charlestown, however Prescott, being from Massachusetts, commanded the majority of the men. For generations many have argued over who ultimately chose where to fortify a position on the lower, more centrally located hill known today as "Breed's Hill," rather than the higher prominence known today as "Bunker Hill." But on that night, construction began sometime around midnight as hundreds of men with pickaxes and shovels constructed a fort atop the lower hill overlooking the settlement of Charlestown and the beaches along the Harbor.

At dawn, lookouts on British warship and sentries in Boston quickly noticed the new redoubt constructed within cannon-range of the North End of Boston. Early cannon-fire upon the fortification quickly awoke the town and countryside. By mid-morning, General Gage had decided to assemble troops and mount an attack to clear this threat. While a cannonade from both British ships and Copp's Hill began to bombard the area of the redoubt, Prescott ordered his men to continue to expand the fort and dig in for an eventual assault. As the day progressed, units received conflicting orders whether to stay or reinforce the men under Prescott. Because Charlestown was a peninsula, it was very risky to send too many men to a place that could easily be cut off by a successful British attack. Yet with some 2,400 British solders, officers, and Marines assembling in Boston for transport to Charlestown, Prescott's numbers dwindled from men fleeing the scene under the cannonade.

By midday, the first wave of British boats landed British solders. They assembled out of musket range and awaited the second wave of troops. General William Howe was given command of the field by Gage, and it appears that he anticipated sending his force in two thrusts: One force would advance on the redoubt as a feint, a second would march to the right through an open pasture and flank, surround, and crush the resistance inside the redoubt. The tall grass in the area, however, covered up many of the hazards and obstacles that faced Howe's men in the flanking attack. Furthermore, desperately needed Colonial reinforcements were soon arriving under the command of New Hampshire Colonel John Stark. Rather than send his men into the redoubt with Prescott, Stark led his command of roughly 800 men to a fence in a downhill pasture to Prescott's left. This put Stark's men at the opposite end of the very same pasture Howe hoped to exploit in the flanking attack.

Depiction by Percy Moran circa 1909 of British Grenadiers and Light Infantry scaling today's "Breed's Hill."

Courtesy Library of Congress

The Attacks

By early afternoon Howe felt he had enough men to launch his assault. As the British forces began their advance, the cannonade from Copp's Hill and British warships ceased. In line formation, the two wings had to negotiate fences and other obstacles as they slowly neared the Provincial line. The men from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire were ordered to hold their fire until the enemy drew so close that their musket fire would have its most devastating effect. It was at this time, legend claims, that one of the commanding officers from the colonies ordered: "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!"

The musket fire proved devastating when the advancing British came into range. The pasture that was supposed to be the avenue for a flanking attack became a pen of slaughter. On the hill, fire from both the redoubt and from buildings at the edge of the abandoned settlement of Charlestown harassed the feint attack as well. At one point Prescott ordered his men to cease fire. Uncertain whether the colonists had fled the redoubt, British units marched closer, only to receive another heavy volley of fire. Meanwhile, British gunners trained their cannon on the abandoned town and set the buildings ablaze with red-hot heated cannonballs to drive out skirmishers at the edge of town

Howe was forced to order a withdrawal when all momentum was lost. After regrouping his forces and incorporating reinforcements, a final assault marched to the left of the redoubt rather than the right. As the British forces increased pressure upon the redoubt, men inside were exhausted and running desperately low on ammunition. As British soldiers and Marines mounted the walls, they engaged with bayonets in a bloody melee inside the redoubt. Any colonist able to flee ran as the British pursued. The British forces gave chase as far as the next hill—today's Bunker Hill. Survivors and forces that never engaged regrouped on the mainland on hills opposite Bunker Hill. Both sides awaited a counter-assault or follow-up attack. Neither came.

"The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, 17 June, 1775" by John Trumbull. Trumbull witnessed the battle, and the Warren family commissioned this artwork sometime between 1815 and 1831 to commemorate the death of the Physician, Patriot, and martyr.

Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston,


The battle lasted for no more than two hours. Yet the results were horrifying. Over 1,000 British soldiers, officers, and Marines were killed or wounded. Many of the wounded would die over the next days, weeks, and months from their wounds. Of the roughly 1,400 to 1,800 provincial soldiers directly engaged at Charlestown, some 300-500 were killed, wounded, or captured. Among the dead at Bunker Hill was the Patriot leader Joseph Warren. Warren, a physician turned political activist, had become the preeminent leadership figure in the revolutionary Massachusetts government. A commission as a Major General had just been approved for Warren, however he fought and died as a foot soldier inside the redoubt during the battle. His death proved to be a serious blow to the cause. Many mourned his death as the death of a heroic martyr.

In July, General George Washington arrived in Cambridge to assume command of a new Continental Army and direct the ongoing campaign at Boston. General Gage was eventually recalled to London to answer for the outcome of the battle. General Howe, the field commander at Bunker Hill, assumed command. Howe was unwilling to repeat another disaster he witnessed first-hand at Bunker Hill, and Washington lacked the supplies to mount any offensive. Thus the siege of Boston stalled into a stalemate. It would not be until the March of 1776 that the siege came to an end. After acquiring over fifty pieces of artillery from Fort Ticonderoga during the winter, General Washington ordered men to fortify Dorchester Heights to the south of Boston overnight. This position proved even more formidable than the one at Charlestown, and Howe ultimately decided to evacuate Boston entirely. The event at Dorchester Heights ended the campaign at Boston, but the war would continue for another seven long years.

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Zoar Not rated yet
I find the history of Zoar, but I am not finding it on maps. Why?

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I understand that when Jesus returns He will do away with the old earth and heavens and replace them with new. However, during end times, will it be safer &hellip

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I am studying the story of Deborah and Barak in Judges 4 and would like to see a map of where Deborah was, and where Barak was, and where the river &hellip

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I am doing a study of the prophesies of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation. It would help to have a map that showed the peoples before and up to Abraham.

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Such an amazing testament of giving God the Glory and allowing and obeying God. Would love to see where that was, and still is.

Camelot, Court of King Arthur

Although most scholars regard it as being entirely fictional, there are many locations that have been linked with King Arthur’s Camelot. Camelot was the name of the place where King Arthur held court and was the location of the famous Round Table.

Perhaps a clue to its possible location might be found in the sources we have for the legend of King Arthur. Did he exist and if so, who was he? Was he perhaps a Romano-Celtic leader defending his lands from Anglo-Saxon invaders?

The earliest reference to Arthur is in a poem dating from around AD 594. Aneirin’s Y Gododdin is the earliest surviving Welsh poem and consists of a series of separate elegies to the men of the Gododdin who died at the Battle of Catraeth (believed to be modern day Catterick in Yorkshire), fighting against the Angles of Deira and Bernicia. Nearly all the Britons were killed and their lands absorbed into the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. In one of these elegies a reference is made to Arthur, which suggests he was already a famous figure at the time of the poem’s original composition.

Camelot, from a 14th century manuscript

This is the earliest reference to Arthur. He appears again in the ‘History of the Britons’, written in AD 830 by Nennius, where he is depicted as a heroic general and a Christian warrior. Later references date from the early 12th century, and include Geoffrey of Monmouth’s chronicle Historia Regum Britanniae (“History of the Kings of Britain”), and later, the works of Chrétien de Troyes and Thomas Malory.

Let us look at the top four contenders for Camelot.

Caerleon, South Wales

Both Geoffrey of Monmouth and Chrétien de Troyes place Camelot, Arthur’s chief court and fortress, in Caerleon, South Wales, one of three Roman legionary forts in Britain. Although the name ‘Caerleon’ sounds typically Celtic, it is actually a corruption of the Latin words castrum (fortress) and legio (legion).

The Welsh are the direct descendants of the Romano-Britons of England and Wales, who were pushed back towards the west of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th and 6th centuries. Arthur is considered by many to have been a Romano-British leader fighting the Anglo-Saxon invaders. So the placing of Camelot in Wales at Caerleon could be quite plausible.

The legend of Arthur and his knights also appears in The Mabinogion, a collection of eleven stories collated from early medieval Welsh manuscripts, intertwining pre-Christian Celtic mythology, folklore, tradition and history.

The Mabinogion tales were written down in the 14th century but it is widely acknowledged that the stories they are based on date from much earlier than this. The four ‘mabinogi’ tales are thought to be the earliest, dating from the 11th century. Five of the remaining stories involve the legend of Arthur and his knights, even including one of the earliest references to the Grail legend. Three of the Arthurian tales are set at ‘Arthur’s Court’.

If we look at Aneirin’s poem with its reference to Arthur written around AD 594, and then look at the Mabinogion stories, it appears that the tale of King Arthur is rooted in Welsh folklore, having been passed down through the ages in the oral tradition. If so, this may suggest that Arthur may indeed have been a real person and that some, if not all, of the deeds and accounts of him may be based in fact. Or it may be that ‘Arthur’ is a composite character incorporating the deeds of several British warriors and leaders of the 5th and 6th century.

Cadbury Castle, Somerset

Another candidate is Cadbury Castle, an Iron Age hill fort near Yeovil in Somerset, referred to as a location for Camelot by the antiquary John Leland in his Itinerary of 1542. Leland fervently believed that King Arthur was a real person and did exist in historical fact.

Following the withdrawal of the Romans in the mid 5th century, the site is thought to have been in use from then until around AD 580. Archaeological excavations on the site have revealed a substantial building which could have been a Great Hall. It is also clear that some of the Iron Age defences had been re-fortified, creating an extensive defensive site, larger than any other known fort of the period. Shards of pottery from the eastern Mediterranean were also found, showing wealth and trade. It therefore seems probable that this hill fort was the castle or palace of a Dark Ages ruler or king.

Local names and traditions seem to reinforce the links between Arthur’s Camelot and Cadbury Castle. Since the 16th century, the well on the way up the hill has been known locally as Arthur’s Well and the highest part of the hill has been known as Arthur’s Palace. Cadbury Castle is also situated not far from Glastonbury Tor, a location shrouded in mystery and legend. A causeway, known as King Arthur’s Hunting Track, links the two sites.

Also, according to tradition King Arthur, the legendary ‘Once and Future King’, sleeps in Cadbury Castle. The hill fort is supposedly hollow, and there he and his knights lie, ready until such time as England should need their services again. Indeed, every Midsummer Eve, King Arthur is supposed to lead a troop of mounted knights down the slopes of the hill.

Tintagel Castle, Tintagel, Cornwall.

In his “Historia Regum Britannae” Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote that Arthur was born in Cornwall at Tintagel Castle. Indeed a 1,500 year old piece of slate with two Latin inscriptions was found at Tintagel in the late 1980s, which would seem to link Arthur with Tintagel. The second inscription on the slate reads ” Artognou, father of a descendant of Coll, has had [this] made.” King Coel (Old King Cole of the nursery rhyme) is said by Geoffrey of Monmouth to be one of Arthur’s ancestors.

Recent excavations have revealed pottery from the 5th and 6th centuries, suggesting that this place was inhabited during the Romano-British period.

So if Tintagel was Arthur’s birthplace, was it also Camelot? We cannot be sure. Certainly the spectacular and dramatic setting of Tintagel Castle fits in perfectly with the romance of Arthur’s Camelot. However the castle there today was actually built in the early 1100s and so cannot be Camelot.

Winchester, Hampshire

One of the most famous accounts of Arthur and his knights is Thomas Malory’s 15th century work, Le Morte d’Arthur, a compilation of tales about King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and the Knights of the Round Table, taken from both French and English sources. Here it is said Winchester Castle was Camelot.

For hundreds of years, a round wooden tabletop has been displayed in the Great Hall at Winchester Castle in Hampshire. It is painted with the names of King Arthur and 24 knights, and shows their places around the table. In 1976 this round table was carbon-dated to around the turn of the 13th/14th century. It has hung in the Great Hall, Winchester since at least 1540, and possibly since as far back as 1348. It was almost certainly painted during the reign of Henry VIII in the early 1500s, as it has the Tudor rose at its centre and is thought to portray King Henry as Arthur on his throne, surrounded by the Knights of the Round Table.

Whilst Winchester Castle was built in the late 11th century, it is interesting to note that in the 9th century, the town of Winchester was the ancient court and capital of King Alfred the Great, a great warrior famous for defeating the Danish invaders and a great statesman, law maker and wise leader. Coincidentally, these are all traits that the legendary Arthur was supposed to possess: a successful warrior leading his people against invaders and at the same time, a wise and gracious leader.

The locations above are only four of the many places that have been associated with the Arthurian legend of Camelot. Other possible sites that have been put forward include the Castle of Dinerth Edinburgh the Roman fort of Camboglanna on Hadrian’s Wall Colchester Wroxeter Roxburgh Castle in the Scottish Borders and more.

Unfortunately it seems likely that we will never know for sure whether Camelot actually existed, and if it did exist, where it was situated. However the legend of King Arthur and his Camelot lives on, as popular as ever.

Joshua’s Conquest: Did It Happen?

The reliability of the account of the Conquest in the book of Joshua has been challenged on two fronts. First, many critics argue that it simply did not happen, at least not in any way similar to the account in Joshua. Second, many critics argue that the idea that God authorized the Israelites to conquer the people of Canaan and kill not only men but, in some instances, women and children, is immoral, and therefore evidence that the Bible is not inspired. This article addresses the first objection I will address the second objection in a separate article.

“We Didn’t Do It—and Here’s Why We Did”

The first point to be made about these criticisms is that they are actually incompatible with each other. Who offers theological justification for doing something they didn’t do?

Critics of the Bible almost uniformly assert both that Joshua didn’t fight the dramatic battles of conquest recorded in the book of Joshua and that the biblical writers rationalized the Israelites’ supposedly immoral battles of conquest by claiming that God told them to wage them. Richard Dawkins, for example, describes the book of Joshua as “a text remarkable for the bloodthirsty massacres it records and the xenophobic relish with which it does so,” while asserting at the same time, specifically with regard to Joshua’s conquest of Jericho, that “it didn’t happen.” 1 But this doesn’t make any sense. People do not create theological justifications for things that they did not do.

It gets worse when one considers the larger context in which the divine command to wage a war of conquest against the Canaanites is set. The claim of the Pentateuch is that the Israelites were reticent to invade Canaan at all and did so only after a generation died in the wilderness. If we apply the “criterion of embarrassment” (more familiar perhaps in its widespread application by biblical scholars to the Gospels) to the Pentateuchal narrative, the portrayal of the generation that left Egypt as hardheaded and hardhearted unbelievers who died ignominiously in the wilderness must be assigned considerable credibility. It requires no little ad hoc reasoning 2 to maintain that a biblical author justified Israel’s supposedly immoral (and fictitious!) wars of aggression by glorifying Israel as God’s dutiful army at the same time as he scathingly condemned Israel’s cowardice and unbelief. Nor can Pentateuchal source criticism help here, since both motifs are found in the same putative sources.

The best escape from this problem would be to claim that the biblical authors created the fiction of Israel’s cowardice and unbelief to underscore the claim that the conquest and massacre of Canaanites was God’s idea and not Israel’s. But such an explanation undermines the basic claim that is being made against the Old Testament narrative, namely, the claim that the authors were writing from the perspective of a culture that erroneously assumed the legitimacy of wars of aggression and the notion that God must be on the side of the victor. Writers who approached their subject from such an assumption would not have any reason to invent fictions about their forebears being hopelessly idolatrous and unbelieving on the borders of Canaan despite having witnessed the most stupendous signs and wonders in history.

If Numbers and Deuteronomy are telling us the truth about the Israelites in the wilderness, as I have argued that they are, then we must take much more seriously the claim of those same books that God commanded the Israelites to invade and conquer Canaan. To be more precise, we will have to recognize that the idea that God wanted the Israelites to wage their war of conquest against Canaan dates from before the Conquest. The theory that this belief arose as an after-the-fact theological justification begins to lose credibility.

Joshua: The Evidence

We have already seen some evidence that the Old Testament account of Israel’s conquest of the land of Canaan is at least based in historical fact. Although a great deal could be said on this subject, I will highlight three pieces of evidence that support the historicity of the account found in the Old Testament.

(1) The list of cities in the Transjordan region through which the Israelites passed on their way into the land in Numbers 33:45-50 includes Iyim, Dibon-gad, Abel-shittim, and Jordan. A list of places through which Egyptian armies passed in their military incursions dating from the same general period include these four places in the same order. Ian Wilson in his book The Bible Is History quotes archaeologist Charles Krahmalkov on this point: “The biblical story of the invasion of Transjordan that sets the stage for the conquest of all Palestine is told against a background that is historically accurate. The Israelite invasion route described in Numbers 33:50 was…an official, heavily trafficked Egyptian road through the Transjordan in the Late Bronze Age.” 3 By itself, this piece of information does not prove that the Conquest happened, but it does lend some credibility to the account.

(2) Although most archaeologists today think that the story of Joshua’s conquest of Jericho cannot be true, their reasoning is likely based on a mistaken chronology. As Time magazine recently put it, “Did Joshua conquer the city of Jericho? The walls of this Canaanite city did come tumbling down, say most historians, but centuries before Moses’ protégé could have arrived.” 4 This assessment is based on the conclusions of Kathleen Kenyon, who in the 1950s dated Jericho’s fall to around 1500 BC while assuming a late date of around 1200 BC for the Conquest. The issue here, then, is one of chronology. The bottom line is that “the walls” did, in fact, “come a tumblin’down,” just as the Bible says, although the current archaeological convention does not date the event to the period indicated by the Bible. Similar chronological difficulties attend the events of the Exodus: there are records of Egypt being devastated by the kinds of plagues recorded in the Book of Exodus, but modern archaeology dates this devastation to a period hundreds of years earlier than the Bible indicates. 5 One should not underestimate the extreme complexities and difficulties of calibrating archaeological finds across the region with the chronological information found in ancient written sources.

(3) Scientists have discovered evidence that provides remarkable confirmation of one of the miracles of the Conquest: the crossing of the Jordan River. The book of Joshua reports that when the Israelites began to cross the Jordan opposite Jericho, the waters of the Jordan “rose up in one heap a great distance away at Adam” as they flowed down toward the Dead Sea (Josh. 3:14-17). This damming of the river allowed the Israelites to walk across the riverbed on dry ground. Critics of the Bible routinely claim that no such event occurred, and suggest that the book is crediting Joshua with a miracle similar to the crossing of the Red Sea in order to portray him as Moses’ true successor. However, we have good evidence, both internal and external, supporting the historicity of the account of Joshua’s crossing of the Jordan.

Adam was a village some fifteen or twenty miles upstream (north) from where the Israelites crossed the river. (They crossed directly across from Jericho.) There is nothing historically or religiously significant about this village other than its role as a “footnote” in this account that would explain why the book of Joshua specifies it as the place where the waters were stopped. Furthermore, a writer composing a “pious fiction” about Joshua stopping the waters of the Jordan would surely have had the waters stop right in front of the Israelites, not miles upstream. This incidental detail clearly indicates that the story is at least based on fact.

But there is more: we now know how the Jordan River was dammed up. The crossing of the Jordan was made possible by a mudslide, itself caused by an earthquake precisely where the book of Joshua specifies. Historical records confirm that such mudslides that temporarily dam up the river have occurred from time to time at that very location on the Jordan, including in the years 1160, 1267, 1546, 1834, 1906, and 1927. With this evidence, we may confidently declare the case closed: The Israelites did indeed cross the Jordan River after it was dammed up several miles upstream from them. 6

By the way, the fact that the river was stopped by an earthquake and mudslide does not in any way undermine the Bible’s giving God the credit for it. There is nothing wrong with thinking that at least some of the Old Testament wonders may have involved natural processes over which the Lord exercised dramatic sovereign control. Mudslides damming the Jordan did not happen every day from what we can tell such an event happens there on average once every couple of centuries or so. Yet the river was stopped at just the right time for the Israelites to cross over into the Promised Land and march on Jericho. Ironically, by using such natural processes to bring about some of his dramatic provisions for the people of Israel, God left behind “clues” to the veracity of the biblical accounts that we can examine and verify millennia later.

It would be unreasonable to insist that we be able to prove every detail of an account of events occurring more than three thousand years ago. However, it is rather surprising how much evidence we actually have to corroborate or confirm the account of the Conquest. The skeptic’s claim that it never occurred would seem to be the view that should be on the defensive.

1 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006), 247.
2 An argument or claim is said to be ad hoc if the only apparent reason for proposing it is to save one’s theory.
3 Ian Wilson, The Bible Is History (Washington, DC: Regnery, 1999), 66, quoting Charles Krahmalkov, “Exodus Itinerary Confirmed by Egyptian Evidence,” Biblical Archaeological Review, Sept./Oct. 1994, 58.
4 Michael D. Lemonick, “Are the Bible’s Stories True?” Time, Dec. 18, 1995, 69.
5 See, for example, Francis Hitching, The Mysterious World: An Atlas of the Unexplained (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979), especially 173 Emmanuel Anati, The Mountain of God (New York: Rizzoli, 1986) Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1990), 191-96.
6 Colin J. Humphreys, The Miracles of Exodus: A Scientist’s Discovery of the Extraordinary Natural Causes of the Biblical Stories (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003), 15-27 Wilson, Bible Is History, 73-74 Kenneth A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 167.

The modern city

After the revolution of 1911, Beijing remained the political centre of the Republic of China until 1928, when the Nationalists moved the capital to Nanjing Beijing was again called Beiping. The city came under increasing pressure from the Japanese, who established the puppet state of Manchukuo in Manchuria in 1931. In July 1937 fighting broke out between Chinese and Japanese troops near the Marco Polo Bridge, southwest of the city Beiping was subsequently occupied by the Japanese until 1945. After World War II the city reverted to the Nationalists, who were defeated by the communists in the ensuing civil war. In 1949, with the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing (with its old name restored) was chosen as the capital of the new regime. The city soon regained its position as the leading political, financial, and cultural centre of China.

In the 1950s and ’60s urban-development projects widened the streets and established the functional districts that characterize the modern city, but political campaigns culminating in the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) delayed many of these projects. Beginning with the economic reforms of the early 1980s, the pace of change accelerated, and Beijing changed dramatically. New shopping centres and residential buildings appeared throughout the city, and high-tech industrial parks were established, especially in the suburbs. One such area, dubbed “Silicon Valley,” was developed with government backing between Peking and Tsinghua universities. Another striking change, noticeable particularly in the newer shopping centres, has been the emergence of a consumption-oriented middle class similar to that found in Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul (South Korea), and other Asian cities undergoing rapid economic growth. At the same time, Beijing, like other modern cities, has faced growing problems with air pollution, traffic congestion, and overcrowding.

Soon after it was announced in 2001 that Beijing would host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, the city embarked on an ambitious program to construct sports venues and housing for athletes and to improve the city’s transportation infrastructure—notably by greatly expanding the subway system. These tasks were accomplished in time for the Games. In addition to construction related to the Olympics, a host of other office and residential high-rise buildings mushroomed throughout Beijing, vastly transforming the look of the city.

Watch the video: History professor recreates famous battles in Totally Accurate Battle Simulator (May 2022).