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Baked History: Yum-kin Pie

Happy Halloween-month everyone! No I’m not one of those people who starts celebrating holidays in advance – but I thought it would be great to theme the rest of articles this month around the holiday so many other people love!

Just a house keeping note, you all may have noticed the site’s been very busy as of late. I’m most certainly going to try and maintain that but Inspyre and I will be having some life changes coming up, so we may not be as consistent.

As usual, if any one has any comments, questions or article ideas, please feel free to comment below or contact us directly!

Today, we’ll be talking about the history of PUMPKIN PIE (my favorite dessert). The first pumpkins were cultivated in 5500 BC in Central America, making it one of the original American vegetables. Due to it’s age, it was one of the first vegetables that explorers to the Americas took back to Europe [1]. By the late 1500s, the English were calling them “pumpions” and the French, “pompon”, both references to it’s roundness. Though original visitors to the Americas during this time may have been familiar with the vegetable, it most certainly did not gain popularity until much later.

As many Americans and Canadians are taught at a young age, when the countries were originally settled back in the 1600s, the Pilgrims and Natives shared….varying relationships depending on the location – more often than not, incredibly violent. When the first winter came around, and many Pilgrims died or realized they were going to shortly thereafter without help, relations improved. Legend goes that the Natives brought pumpkins for the pilgrims as a sign of good faith and to provide them with the necessary nutrients [2]. Pumpkins are not only native to the Americas, but the Natives were fond of boiling or roasting members of the squash family for sustenance.

Eventually, the discovery of the pumpkin made its way to France, where Francois Pierre la Varenne wrote a cookbook that has the first written recipe of pumpkin pie included [2]. This cookbook’s English translation made it’s way back to the Americas and Britain where the recipe began to evolve. In the late 1600s, a variety of British cookbooks began showing up with a different variations of what they call “pumpion pie”, and finally in the 1700s, the first American cookbook by Amelia Simmons was published, whose Pumpkin pudding recipe largely resembles our recipe today.

Amelia Simmons recipes [2]:

Pompkin Pudding No. 1.  One quart stewed and strained, 3 pints cream, 9 beaten eggs, sugar, mace, nutmeg and ginger, laid into paste No. 7 or 3, and with a dough spur, cross and chequer it, and baked in dishes three quarters of an hour.

Pompkin Pudding No. 2.  One quart of milk, 1 pint pompkin, 4 eggs, molasses, allspice and ginger in a crust, bake 1 hour.


If you’re looking for a more modern recipe, I HIGHLY recommend either a Costco Pumpkin Pie or this recipe from Food Network [3]!



1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), diced

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Flour for rolling the dough


One 15-ounce can unsweetened pure pumpkin puree (about 2 cups)

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/4 cups half-and-half

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg


  1. Make the dough by hand. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles yellow corn meal mixed with bean-sized bits of butter. (If the flour/butter mixture gets warm, refrigerate it for 10 minutes before proceeding.) Add the egg and stir the dough together with a fork or by hand in the bowl. If the dough is dry, sprinkle up to a tablespoon more of cold water over the mixture.
  2. Alternatively, make the dough in a food processor. With the machine fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles yellow corn meal mixed with bean-sized bits of butter, about 10 times. Add the egg and pulse 1 to 2 times; don’t let the dough form into a ball in the machine. (If the dough is very dry add up to a tablespoon more of cold water.) Remove the bowl from the machine, remove the blade, and bring the dough together by hand.
  3. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough with a rolling pin into a 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie pan and trim the edges, leaving about an extra inch hanging over the edge. Tuck the overhanging dough underneath itself to form a thick edge that is even with the rim. Flute the edge as desired. Freeze the pie shell for 30 minutes.
  5. Set separate racks in the center and lower third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Put a piece of parchment paper or foil over the pie shell and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake on a baking sheet on the center rack until the dough is set, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and lift sides of the parchment paper to remove the beans. Continue baking until the pie shell is lightly golden brown, about 10 more minutes. Cool on a rack.
  6. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  7. While the pie shell is cooling make the filling. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, half-and-half, spices, and salt until smooth. Return the pie shell to the baking sheet and pour in the filling.
  8. Bake on the lower oven rack until the edges of the filling are set but the center is still slightly loose, about 50 to 60 minutes. (If the edges get very dark, cover them with aluminum foil.) Cool on a rack. Serve room temperature or slightly warm.


Well I hope you all enjoyed our Yummy article, and feel free to leave comments below!



Baked History: Tiramisu, I see you!

After a long hiatus, we’re doing another baked history article! Today, we’re doing an article on the mysterious beginnings of the Tiramisu, an international favorite. The word Tiramisu is Italian for “pick me up”, most likely an ode to the coffee component, and the oldest recipes refer to it as “Tirime su” or “Tirime on”. Layered desserts aren’t very popular in Italy, so this definitely stands out as a dessert. There’s a lot of disagreement on the particular region that the dessert originates from, but it could be anywhere from Treviso to Tolmezzo to San Canzian D’Isonzo to Tuscany to Torino [1][2]. Basically, everyone has their own claim to the famous dessert! What we do know is that the dessert is a more recent invention, coming to the Italian public eye somewhere around the 1950s.

There’s a variety of stories with how Tiramisu was created. What’s clear is that this is a “restaurant” recipe, and not a familial one. The stories vary anywhere from a restaurant creating a similar recipe, and then somehow, over time the credit was “stolen” from them to an energy-giving treat for prostitutes working in an Italian brothel in the 1950s. Each region seems to have its own “indisputable” proof as well that they were the first to create it.

Treviso claims the recipe is theirs, having been created in the restaurant “Le Beccherie” in the 1970s by Ada Campeol, who created the recipe to give herself energy after giving birth to her son [3]. (The restaurant closed inn 2014 due to an economic crisis). The region already had a dessert “zabaglione custard”, which may have been the inspired beginnings to tiramisu itself. The zabaglione was inspired by the “Zabaja”, having existed since the 1700s. In his book, gastronome Maffioli says, “The groom’s bachelor friends at the end of the long wedding banquet, maliciously teasing, gave him a big bottle of zabajon before the couple retired to guarantee a successful and prolonged honeymoon.” [4]. “The zabajon,” Maffioli continues, “sometimes had whipped cream added, but in this case was served very cold, almost frozen, and accompanied by baicoli, small thin Venetian cookies invented in the 1700’s by a baker in the Santa Margherita suburb of Venice.”

Author and blogger, Anna Maria Volpi has provided this original recipe from the Le Beccherie, which she found in a Spring 1981 Vin Veneto magazine article.

Original recipe: [5]

The quantities Maffioli indicates are for a large restaurant-sized dessert:

12 egg yolks
1 lb 2 oz (½ kg) sugar
2 lb 4 oz (1 kg) mascarpone cheese
60 ladyfinger (savoiardi) cookies
Espresso coffee, as necessary
Cocoa powder, as necessary

She resized the recipe to fit in a 8 inch x 8 inch x 2 inch pan:

1 -1/2 cups (360 cc) espresso coffee
2 teaspoons sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1 lb (450 g)
mascarpone cheese at room temperature
30 savoiardi (ladyfinger cookies)
2 tablespoons bitter cocoa powder

1. Prepare a strong espresso coffee, about 1½ cups (360 cc). Dissolve 2 teaspoons of sugar in it while the coffee is still hot. Let the coffee cool to room temperature.
2. Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until they become light and fluffy.
3. Combine the mascarpone cheese
4. Dip half of the ladyfingers in the coffee and place them in the pan in a single layer.
5. Spread half of the mascarpone cream on the cookies
6. Dip the remaining ladyfingers in the coffee and place them in the pan in a second layer layer.
7. Spread the remaining mascarpone cream on the cookies.
8. Sprinkle with the cocoa powder and refrigerate for about 3 – 4 hours.


In Tolmezzo, however, there’s a very different story. They claim that there are not one, but two official recipes. [6].

The first is a classic recipe created in Hotel Roma di Tolmezzo by cook Norma Pielli. Tolmezzo claims the irrefutable evidence is a receipt dated December 13, 1959! The second is called “Vetturino Tirime su Cup” created by chef Mario Cosolo of Al Vetturino restaurant in Pieris, near San Canzian D’Isonzo, dating back to the 1940s. This second recipe, shockingly doesn’t include the ingredients we know and love today, but instead, sponge cake, marsala wine and cocoa!

The hotel Roma has been around since the 1880s, and in the 1950s was being managed by Bepi del Fabbro and his wife Norma Pielli. The dessert was originally proposed to “To cheer me up a little and to crow the flors” (respectively, the coffee and at the time, zucchini flowers in the recipe!). The recipe was so popular, it became a mandatory stops for skiers coming down the mountains. According to legend, residents from the town of Trieste suggested changing the name of the dessert to Trancia to Mascarpone to Tirime on (in the Trieste dialect, this means “pull me up”).

In Norma Pielli’s diary [8]:Tiramisu. Ingredients: 4 whole eggs, 300 gr. of white sugar, 500 gr. of mascarpone, 40/45 biscuits biscuits, 300 cc. of bitter and strong coffee left to cool, 100 gr. sprinkling of bitter cocoa. Prepare coffee (moka or espresso) in advance and let it cool. Place 3 egg whites in a bowl and whisk them with a pinch of salt. With a whisk, beat the 3 egg yolks and the whole egg together with the sugar then, using a spatula, add the mascarpone and mix slowly from bottom to top to form a cream. Finally add the whipped egg whites and mix everything by mixing very slowly, from the bottom up, not to remove the cream. On the flat bottom of a bowl or a baking dish lay a layer of ladyfingers, soaked in coffee, drained and lightly squeezed with a fork to remove excess liquid. On the layer of ladyfingers spread a layer equal to half of the prepared cream. Then spread over it a second layer of ladyfingers, soaked and treated like the previous ones. Spread over the remaining cream. Put the cake in the fridge for 12 hours and taste it after having dusted it with bitter cocoa with a colander.

In 2013, daughters of Chef Mario Cusolo claim they found important evidence that their father is definitively the inventor of the dessert. In the storeroom of their house, daughters Gianna and Flavia found a portfolio containing photos that confirmed the Vetturino Cup had turned into “Tireme su” right after the 2nd World War [7]. The portfolio contained photos and a poster, which has unfortunately not stayed in tact. The photos, however, show the poster displayed in the background of the restaurant. The photo is from the marriage of Tiberio Mitri and Fulvia Franco in 1950, and the poster states “The Tirime on created by Mario is worth more than what it costs” (note the usage of the Tirime on instead of su)The Cosolos also point to an article written in 1975 by Giorgio Mistretta, in “La Buona Tavola”, where he states “In addition to the many specialties already mentioned, it deserves a separate mention of the ‘tirame su’ served at dessert: it is a semifreddo made with zabaglione created in 1935 and the progenitor of a whole family of ‘tirame su’ that you can meet today in the Friuli restaurants” (translated from Italian).

For 8 cups [9]:

For the sponge cake :
5 eggs
sugar (equal to the weight of 4 eggs with shell)
flour (equal to the weight of 3 eggs with shell)
baking powder ½ sachet (Author’s note: I’ve translated this as a total of 8g) [10]
the grated rind of 1 lemon.

For creams :
6 egg yolks
8-9 tablespoons of sugar
1 liter of liquid cream
80 ml of dry Marsala (a wine)
2-3 tablespoons of bitter cocoa.

In addition : dry Marsala for the bagna (Author’s note: this means bathing) as needed, bitter cocoa for dusting as needed

Sponge cake : in a bowl break 5 whole eggs and with electric whips mount them by adding the amount of sugar equal to the weight of 4 eggs with the shell. Beat for a long time until a swollen and fluffy mixture is obtained. Incorporate, sieving little by little, the flour , whose weight is equal to that of 3 eggs, together with half a packet of yeast and a pinch of salt (or half flour and half potato flour or frumina). Perfume with the grated peel of a lemon. Pour into a mold and bake at 160 ° / 170 ° C for 30/40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Creams : in a bowl with a concave bottom, whisk very well, with electric whips, 6 egg yolks with 6 tablespoons of sugar: when it becomes a nice clear froth, 80 ml of dry Marsala are added, one spoon at a time. The container is placed in a warm bain-marie placed on low heat and continuing to whisk with a hand whisk, always in the same direction, the eggnog is thickened. When it is well swollen, ie at the first boil, it is extracted from the bain-marie, allowed to cool and then placed in the refrigerator. Add a liter of fresh cream, with a high percentage of fat (at least 60-70%). Sift 2 or 3 tablespoons of bitter cocoa powder together with 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar and mix in small doses to 400 g of whipped cream. Return immediately to the refrigerator. This cream can be made by replacing cocoa powder with melted dark chocolate and warmed. With a hand whisk gently incorporate the eggnog to the remaining whipped cream: the cream should be full-bodied and light in taste.

Prepare the cups . Place the chocolate cream on the bottom of each (about half cup); above is placed a square of sponge cake soaked in Marsala; then it is covered to the brim with the zabaione cream. Decorate the surface using a sac-à-poche with a 10 mm curly nozzle. Finally sprinkle with plenty of cocoa. Store in the refrigerator for a few hours. This dessert should be savored “vertically”, collecting all the layers of the cup with a spoon.

And who could forget Tuscany? More precisely in Siena , where on the occasion of a visit by the Grand Duke Cosimo III de ‘Medici was invented a sweet called “soup of the duke” or “Zuppa del Duca” [13]. The dish was successful particularly among courtesans, who found it both stimulating and an aphrodisiac, enjoying it before their “trysts”. The dessert shares some characteristics to the current tiramisu [12]. However, there are some discrepancies in this legend because both the sponge biscuits and the mascarpone were little used in the Sienese pastry between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Marscapone, in particular, could hardly be preserved and transported quickly from Lombardy to Tuscany.

And finally, Torino. The legend says that during the unification of Italy a famous pastry chef prepared a special, potent dessert for Prime Minister Cavour, something that would sustain him in his difficult work of unifying the Italian peninsula. The coffee and liqueur mixture helped perk him up [11]. At the time, however, food preservation wasn’t great, to say the least, which presents the same problems as the Tuscan legend.

Torino Tiramisu  [14]

Serves 6:

3 egg Yolks
¼ cup Heavy Cream
½ cup Sugar
1 tsp. Marsala
½ cup Mascarpone
9 tbsp. Espresso (regular coffee can be used too)
3 tbsp. Kahlua
50 g Lady Fingers

  1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, until cream is formed and sugar is slightly dissolved. Whisk in marsala, continue to beat for a minute or so, and then take off heat. Let sit to cool.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.
  3. In a larger bowl, fold the mascarpone into the egg yolk cream.
  4. The mascarpone is folded into the egg cream.
  5. Fold in the whipped cream.
  6. Fold the creams together.
  7. In a small bowl, mix the kahlua and espresso together.

To Assemble:

  1. Crack 1 & 1/2 lady fingers into a small cup.
  2. Lay out your cups. I like to use these little espresso cups. Tiramisu is rich, so it’s the perfect portion!
  3. Pour coffee mixture over lady fingers until submerged.
  4. Pipe the cream on top.
  5. Dust with cocoa powder.


Well I hope you all enjoyed this special, way-longer-than-I-thought-it-would-be article about Tiramisu!

If you have any questions, or suggestions for the future, please don’t forget to comment below or contact us directly!

4. Giuseppe Maffioli, Il ghiottone Veneto (The Venetian Glutton). 1968.


Baked History: The Courting Cake

So today’s going to be a quickie! We’re going to talk about the history of the oh-so-delicious “Courting Cake.” The Courting Cake originated in Lancshire, England as a gift from women to the men they fancied. During this time in British history, men and women were usually segregated as the men did hard manual labor and women worked in cotton mills and lighter industry. This meant there wasn’t a lot of cross over between when men and women COULD meet, so a specific “promenade” area was set up when men and women could interact. Usually, this was done by walking up and down the street with your friends until a member of the opposite sex caught your eye. Some places like Preston segregated the prospective lovers even more with office clerks and similar ranks were on one street, and factory workers and those equivalent ranks were on another street. Either ways, at the end of the day, if someone caught your fancy, they would eventually be presented with a Courting Cake!

The ingredients themselves represent important aspects of the woman as well, all the more to win over the heart of her lover! The recipe uses shortbread as a base, which is like a thicker version of a sponge cake. A shortbread is slightly more difficult to make, so this would expect the wife-to-be’s baking skills! The recipe also uses strawberries, though in the days of yore, they used over-ripe or slightly bruised strawberries to represent “many a woman’s heart, slightly bruised, battered, and oft’ times a little past their best by the time they become betrothed” [1].

However, this adorable tradition eventually spread, all through England and even to the states! The most famous incident of the is the Lincoln couple. Apparently, in an effort to win Abraham Lincoln’s heart, Mary Todd went out and bought a recipe for Courting Cake. Upon tasting it, Lincoln proclaimed it was the best cake he had ever had [2]. Eventually, this recipe became a regular baking tradition at the Lincoln household. Even Prince William and Princess Kate Middleton were presented with a courting cake on their wedding day [1].

Now I’m sure you all are craving this cake now and wondering just exactly how to make it! Well, my loyal readers, below I have listed the recipe for your hearts to consume with joy. The recipe, as a side note, comes from one of my favorite shows, “The Great British Bake-Off”! So, I hope you all enjoy and enjoyed this delicious historical tid-bit.

Makes about 16 slices

225g/8 oz Butter or sunflower margarine

225g/8 oz Caster or granulated sugar

4 Free-range eggs, lightly beaten

350g/12 oz Self-raising flour

30-45ml/2-3 tbsp Full-fat milk

300ml/10 fl oz Double cream

225g/8 oz Strawberries, sliced

Icing sugar, to decorate

1. Grease and line the bases of three 18 cm (7 inch) round cake tins.

2. Cream the butter and the sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour, then add enough milk to give a soft dropping consistency.

3. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared tins and bake at 180c, gas mark 4, for 25 – 30 minutes, until well risen and firm to the touch, swapping the position of the top and bottom cakes halfway through cooking. Turn out and leave to cool on a wire rack.

4. Whip the cream until it just holds its shape. Sandwich the cakes together with the cream and the strawberries, reserving a few for decoration. Dredge the top with icing sugar and decorate with the reserved strawberries.

If you only have two tins, divide between the two, and decrease the cooking temperature slightly, around 170c, gas mark 3, and cook for a little longer.

The texture of the cake is firmer than a standard Victoria sponge, and slightly closer to a shortbread texture.




Jhansi ki Rani: The Queen of the Rebellion

Hello everyone! So I realized that in previous years, I almost always start off an article apologizing because I haven’t written an article in so long. This time, however, I’m doing well! So it seem odd to not have to start off with an apology, but let’s plunge ahead! Fun fact about this article: this is the first article associated with a future podcast episode! So, this article will be a short version on what we’re going to presenting in the podcast, also excluding opinions and analysis! We already have the show notes written up, so hopefully that episode will be released soon, along with retroactively releasing podcasts on older episodes! So that’s something fun to look forward to!

So, this article has actually been in the works for a little over a year. The inspiration came when I was sitting with my grandmother watching tv. Like any good Indian nani (maternal grandmother), she was watching Indian dramas, and this particular one happened to be about a female child, rebelling against the very foundations of Indian culture and tradition. I was pleasantly surprised by this drama as nobody randomly fell off a cliff or got amnesia in an entire episode, as usually happens with Indian dramas. Upon further research, I learned this drama was based off the true story of Jhansi ki Rani (Queen of Jhansi) (Here‘s [1] information on the drama, if anyone is interested). And thus began my research into this awesome female historical figure.

Jhansi ki Rani, who will be lovingly referred to as “Rani” for the rest of the article, is a huge historical figure in India. She is known for having largely assisted what is known as the first Indian independence movement, which was almost 100 years before the official Independence movement in the 1940s. Today, poems, songs and legends of her still exist as a testament to the strength of the Indian Will, as well as an inspirational character.

Rani was born 1827 in the city of Benares, under the name Manakarnika, although her childhood nickname was Manu. Her parents worked under the Raja Baji Rao II in Maharashtra, but they were all forced to move to Bithur. During this time, Rani built a very close relationship Nana Sahib, who was the oldest son of the Raja. Unfortunately, Manu’s mother died when she was 4 years old, which left her father to single-handedly raise her for the next 10 years, during which time, he unusually did not remarry. In her childhood, Rani was known to have an incredibly feisty and independent personality, having taught herself martial arts, reading and writing.

At the age of 15, Rani was married to Maharaja Gangadhar Rao of Jhansi. At this point, she took on the name Lakshmibai, deriving her name from the Goddess Lakshmi that the Jhansi royal family was incredibly fond of. Unfortunately for the royal couple, they had great difficulty producing an heir, and when they finally did 9 years into their marriage, the baby died at 3 months of age. The Maharaja, who was already very old, was close to dying so the couple adopted a distant 5 year old cousin – Anand Rao – who became known as Damodar. The Raja died very soon after the adoption, which resulted in the British annexing the state of Jhansi in April on 1857. After the Maharaja’s death, the British refused to allow the Rani to continue to rule. At this point, Rani was only 26.

In early May, a large fire broke out in the city of Meerut. The cause of this was rumors that the British had been tricking the Indian soldiers (who were mainly Hindu and Muslim) into biting into cow and pig fat, which is a huge taboo to respectively both religions. This caused a riot to broke, and eventually, this riot spread through India at roughly the size of present day Scandinavia in matter of days. This set the stage for what is now known as the First War of Indian Independence on 1857. To this day, there is still a considerable amount of argument about whether the Rani was helping the British or not. What we know for sure is that while the British were dealing with the riots taking place all over the country, Rani was managing Jhansi on her own and even putting down minor rebellions.

Completely unrelated, major fighting broke out in Jhansi in early May. Despite Rani trying to help and asking for British troops from afar to come assist, every British person was brutally murdered in Jhansi, after a 3 day siege of the fort. Rani continued to rule but on March 23rd, the British back-up finally came, demanding that Rani give up the throne, which she then refused to do. A war soon started against the British, with Rani personally leading her troops into battle and commanding the front lines. Unfortunately, Rani’s numbers were no match against the trained British forces, that had top-of-the-line artillery and weapons. Rani is said to have jumped over the walls of the Jhansi fort, with her son tied to her back, leading her troops into a retreat towards her allies – her childhood friend Nana Sahib, and a man named Tatia Tope.

As the British rejoiced, Rani and company decided to use this opportunity to take over another town, Gwalior, from the British. By the time the British troops from Jhansi had arrived, Rani and company had completely taken over the town. Eventually, the British pushed out Rani and company from Gwalior. In the retreat, her father was captured and hung several days later. Also during the escape, Rani was attempting to lead her troops to retreat, when she was caught off-guard by a British and cut-down. However, due to the fact that she was wearing man’s clothing, the soldier didn’t recognize her and left her for dead. Her followers soon came to her aid, and as she was dying, asked that she be cremated immediately after her death, as she feared the British would try to gain possession of her body. She died on June 18, 1858, and the British officially took Gwalior 3 days later. Rani’s comrades survived however, and Rao Sahib and Tatia Tope continued to lead guerilla attacks until they too were captured and executed. Nana Sahib, on the other hand, somehow managed to escape and disappeared, becoming his own legend.

Jhansi Ki Rani Portrait

Jhansi Ki Rani Portrait

Jhansi Ki Rani

                                   Jhansi Ki Rani

Jhansi Ki Rani in battle with her son on her back

Jhansi Ki Rani in battle with her son on her back



Great Britain and Why It’s Not So Great…

Hi everyone! I’m on spring break now so expect lots of articles. We’ve got this one, one on the red panda, and another one that i don’t remember what i was going to write about. Haha, ya i’m kinda forgetful! So as promised, here’s the article on why i blame Great Britain for practically everything wrong in the world!

I’d like to point out first of all, that these are only relating to modern day topics. I’m not even going to REACH into the mess of their past and how the screwed everyone else over too. Here, I’m just going to talk about India/Pakistan/Bangladesh, Israel/Palestine, Australia, and of course Canada.

We’ll first start with the mess that is present-day India. Way back in the hay-day, England’s chartered East India Company, went into India and began bargaining for spices and such. Eventually they ended up colonizing the entire country. However, when their soldiers (who were Hindu and Muslim) found out that the bullets they were using were coated in cow and pig fat, there were huge riots all over the country. These riots eventually led to the dismemberment of the East India Company and Britain decided that they would instead set up what became known as the British Raj. After WWII, they decided they weren’t up to the task of keeping many of their territories, and wanted to “give India their independence.” The problem was, that the British had stifled the Indian people so long (they weren’t allowed to make their own cloth or salts and any food produced was handed to the British) that they had become overly dependent on the British. So not only were they not ready for independence at this point (i’m ignoring Gandhi cause i personally believe he was an idiot and a hypocrite but i’ll get into that some other time), but there was also the issue that the BRITISH hired a completely clueless idiot to divide the country into 3 parts, which are today Hindustan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. He, ignorantly, divided the country based on regions of religious concentration (i.e. Hindus and Muslims, completely ignoring other major religions like Sikhs). This, unfortunately, split some villages in pieces, and even worse, split major states into two different countries. You see, for people from Punjab, our identifier isn’t to our country, it’s to our state. So whether you live in Pakistan or India, if someone asks where you are from, you say Punjab, not India. This bond, though present in other states, does not run as deep. Therefore, when the map maker cut Punjab in half, there were huge riots in Punjab that are ignored by most present-day historians. To cut Punjab in half was like cutting a country within a country itself in half. Either ways, once the British deemed this entire affair settled they left. What they ALSO failed to take into account was that there was also a very important region in the north called Kashmir, which was important to BOTH countries not only for its resources, but for its culture. Though i have to say that today, both India and Pakistan need to stop acting like children and MOVE ON, it IS the fault of the British that wars break out every 10 years or so between India and Pakistan for Kashmir, and within Punjab for the creation of a land called Khalistan (land of the Sikhs), as the Sikhs were completely ignored in the partition movement, and are present in Pakistan AND India today. And let’s not forget that because Pakistan was split into East and West Pakistan (the East being present-day Bangladesh) being COMPLETELY separated from each other by a huge land mass called INDIA, there was no way for the central bureaucracy, which was based in west Pakistan to send support to Bangladesh when the faced their frequent flooding and tsunamis and other natural disasters. AGAIN, there was another independence movement, but this time, East Pakistan from West Pakistan. Until today, Bangladesh and Pakistan are not stable countries at all, with India being covered in poverty, pollution, and corruption – all because the British thought taking over a completely independent land in the first place in the name of profit was a good idea.

That takes care of the India section, so now we move onto the Israel-Palestine issue. Now my knowledge on this area is a bit rusty, but essentially, after WWII, the Jews of the world needed a place to go. So, Britain, in their infinite wisdom, decided that giving them a piece of holy land that they had ALSO promised to Palestinians when they were displaced from their own land as well, would be a good idea. Essentially, Britain promised the same piece of land to two different parties who had hated each other for centuries. When Britain finally realized its mistake, it was too late, and the two parties were already at the point of a full out war. With the US supporting Israel though, the Jews won and managed to keep a small section of land. By this point, Britain had dropped the issue in the US’s lap and had head for the hills with its tail between its legs. Israel, however, was a country completely surrounded by Islam-centered countries, and had to hold its own for quite some time, with only the US to rely on. When Egypt attacked them, the Israelis somehow managed to GAIN land, and took land away from the Palestinians. Once the US finally brokered a treaty with Israel and Egypt, other countries began to follow suit, albeit it after a VERY long and uneasy period. However, the Palestinians never consented to these “infidels” on their land, and until this day, war and extreme hate continue between the two half-nations.

With Australia, as i’ve pointed out before, England is responsible for the natural decimation of the land, and its because of them that very few indigenous species remain in Australia. However, what i HAVEN’T mentioned before is that the British rudely stampeded into Australia because they needed somewhere to send their convicts and wiped out the Aborigines of the area to accomplish this. Therefore, all the people who originally colonized Australia were convicts. Now this isn’t to say that all the people in Australia are bad people, as this took place hundreds of years ago. What this DOES say is because of the natural decimation caused by the British and their convicts, there are HUGE droughts in many parts of Australia, which would not have occurred if the natural fauna and flora were still present. Furthermore, though it has finally stabilized, the government of Australia was for the longest time in shambles.

On a side note, the British also send unwanted children to Australia on their own without any family. This part didn’t even happen that long ago, as many of these children are still alive in Australia today. If you’re interested, here’s an article on the apology that Britain made a little too late, after the Australians but up a fight.

Finally, we reach the Canadians. Surprisingly, or maybe not, the Canadians were one of the only Commonwealths that didn’t want independence. They had a healthy and very dependent relationship with Britain, even though they were mainly French speaking from the time they were conquered by the French in the early days of North American colonization. However, Britain forcibly broke them off when they could no longer support their colonies after WWII. To me, this is like taking a child away from his parents and say “Here, survive on your own.” As much as I hate Britain, this perhaps was not the right way to handle the situation. Ultimately, i feel this left the Canadians somewhat confused and in shock, and although they are better for it now, they still maintain a strong relationship with the British and continue to see the Queen as their monarch. Her birthday is even a national holiday. As much as i love the Canadians, i can’t help but feel a little sad for them, because they are such a great country and people, but somehow managed to get stuck with idiots like the British.

So it is for these reasons that i hate Britain. And to clarify, when i say Britain, i mean the government, not the people (i have too much family living there to properly hate the people, plus everyone in England is very pleasant and kind! It’s just the government that seems to be full of idiots). And i didn’t even touch upon the atrocities that occurred when there was a monarch on the throne or even after England became a constitutional monarchy. In essence, Great Britain really sucks.

Double Tri-Force of Trade

Sooo…this post isn’t really a post. It’s just something i’m ecstatic over being able to finally prove! I’m sure you all know about the Triangle Trade during the 17th and 18th centuries? If not, look it up! 😀 At any rate, what i’m sure no one realized before was that there are 2 triangle trades and the links between them actually make a DOUBLE tri-force!! 😀 Isn’t that exciting?!?! At any rate, in case it’s not self explanatory, here’s an explanation:

Trade went from Europe, to Africa, to the Americas, back to Europe.

North America to South America. Africa to South America and North America directly (these types of routes were actually more commonly used during this era, but less famous due to the fact that they usually did not carry slaves).

Then there’s the UNKNOWN triangle trade that went from Europe to Africa to Asia. Asian goods were actually incredibly popular among African royalty, and thus many Indian and Chinese silks went to Africa, as well as trade between India and China. Then that weird line that seems to go from North-Western China to Africa actually represents the Silk Road, which was still used to cart more delicate materials like porcelain from one continent to another.


Well I hope everyone enjoyed this random post!!! My next post will actually concern why Great Britain is the cause of everything wrong in the world 🙂 Have a great week!

Double Triforce of Trade

Double Triforce of Trade

The Effect of King Henry VIII of England on the French Revolution and WWI

Hi everyone! Sorry i haven’t written anything in a while! As a treat, (well probably more torture than treat) i’m going to post a 7-page essay i had to write for my IB extended essay. Not only will this hopefully help future IB students, but it will show the extent of my hate for Great Britain and why i blame them for everything wrong in the world (this is the background section). In my next post, i’ll expand on modern maladies and how England is at fault for that (ya…i really hate them)! Anyways, enjoy! 😀

King Henry VIII of England, who ruled from 1509-1547, led a very unstable, although politically active life. He is most known for having married six wives in a time when divorce was taboo, particularly if the marriage had been consummated. Furthermore, he established the Church of England, and further propelled what was to become the Protestant Reformation. However, was King Henry VIII also responsible for the French Revolution of 1789 and World War I as well? Whether he was the cause or not can be analyzed by his familial interactions, political and economic choices, and his military movements.
French Revolution – Familial Relations:
It can be stated that Henry VIII is the direct cause of the French revolution. He married Catherine of Aragon, the youngest daughter of King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain, and his first child, died two months later, which may have contributed to King Henry VIII to take his frustrations of losing a potential heir out by going to war with France, whose ruler was King Francois I. This happened several times in Henry’s life, where he lost a potential male heir, as only one of his many sons lived to his teenage years. Four of these sons were born by Catherine, although all of them died within days of being born. Unfortunately, Henry never forgave Catherine for the death of his child, which he blamed entirely on her. This is exhibited by the many affairs that he had at the time, particularly with Bessie Blount, Mary Boleyn, and Anne Boleyn, each affair resulting in illegitimate children. This became a trend with Henry – blaming his wives for not giving him a son, and then taking his frustrations out in a politically inadvisable way. There is also evidence supporting the notion that Mary Boleyn was Francois’ mistress while she was in France. King Henry VIII’s sister Mary Tudor was also married to King Louis XII, making Francois I of France his step-nephew ( King Henry VIII’s daughter with Catherine, Mary I, had an arranged political marriage with Philip II of Spain. The marriage was an unhappy one and she died without leaving an heir to the Spanish or English throne. The king of Spain became Philip III. Ultimately, King Henry VIII’s family was a very mixed one, furthering the point that Henry was related to almost every royal family in Europe at the time.
French Revolution – Financial Crisis:
King Henry VIII’s war with Francois I depleted France’s treasury funds, causing them to go into debt; something that even with 300 years to recuperate, they were never able to completely repay or restore their economy back to its original state from. With debt, and lack of influence, the Valois dynasty, the French monarchial family at the time, died only to be replaced by the Bourbon dynasty. The Bourbon, established by King Henry IV, was quite successful. He could produce no heir and was incapable of winning any wars or battles. Eventually, Louis XIV’s grandson won the Spanish throne in the war of Spanish succession as Philip V of Spain, and France became bankrupt again after the war (Goubert). After Louis XIV’s death, the empire began to crumble. Louis XVI became king in a time of civil unrest after France had just lost the Seven Years War and the War of Austrian Succession, both of which pitted England versus France ( Essentially, King Henry VIII initiated a long standing feud between England and France that existed up to the French Revolution.
During the French Revolution, George III was king of England. His father, King George II who was the first king to be administered a prime minister due to his poor ruling skills. George II’s great-great grandfather was King James I of England who was the nephew and successor of Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII. It was James’ daughter who married the King of Bavaria at that time, thus making all their descendents of German descent as part of the Hanover Dynasty. Unfortunately, George II of the Hanover dynasty, did not posses his ancestors’ ruling skills and quarreled frequently with both his father and his son. George III, on the other hand, is known for having caused unrest in the American colonies and furthermore, allowing them to successfully revolt against the British Empire. The American Revolution is known as one of the great reasons of the French Revolution. The political system of France, called the Estates-General, was one that had begun years ago and was incredibly outdated by the time the French Revolution came about, also contributing to the revolution ( Therefore, it becomes evident that the financial crisis, which fueled political crisis, Henry VIII and his family instigated in France, in part allowed for the French Revolution to take place.
French Revolution – Military Movement:
King Francis I was the French foil of King Henry VIII. Francis’ heir after 7 generations was Louis XIV, who helped his own grandson, Philip V, win his throne in the War of the Spanish succession. The war was eventually fought with France and Spain on one side and England and the Holy Roman Empire on the other side. Spain and France lost the war and many Spanish lands were conceded to Austria (
During King Henry VIII’s final years, he attempted to take military control of France and Spain for what appears to be no reason, other than greed for expansion. King Henry VIII attacked Louis XII (Goubert). It is hypothesized that King Henry VIII was losing his sanity in the final years of his life and therefore several events may have accounted for this. Firstly, King Henry VIII’s lack of a successful male heir for so many years lead to an unimaginable frustration for him, partly in fault of his chauvinism as well, as it has been shown that he did in fact consider men the greater of the species, and women only for bedding and producing heirs. Furthermore, many feel that it was King Henry VIII’s life ambition to surpass his ancestors militarily, economically, and in overall power, which may have caused several of his unwarranted attacks on sovereign nations. It can be argued, in addition, that a sane person, and particularly a ruler, would not take these actions unless they were mentally unstable. Thus, not only can Henry be considered mentally unstable, but his instability caused him to declare wars with several nations, mainly France, that should have been avoided. These wars with France ultimately led to a public distraught with their rulers.
French Revolution – Analysis:
Early in life, a restless King Henry VIII had decided that he would gain control of as many lands as were possible. Unfortunately for France, they were the target of King Henry VIII’s conquest. King Henry VIII fought with Francois I, launching a war that completely depleted French funds. Furthermore, not only were they depleted for years, but the French monarchy was never able to raise enough revenue to pay the debt back, and recover from their economic slump. Essentially, King Henry VIII’s attack pushed the French to retaliate, causing the English to retaliate, starting an endless cycle, which ended with a complete depletion of the French treasury, as well as tax problems throughout the years. Furthermore, the wars of King Louis XIV made the situation far worse, as his numerous conquests and wars, such as the War od Spanish Succession, increased the overall debt of the country. By the late 1780s, the French life was so encompassed by war, that it was no wonder the country was on the verge of revolt. And the worst of it was that they had failed to garner any land during these wars and had lost two key opportunities to gain possession of another crown – that of the Spanish in the War of Spanish Succession and the Austrian throne in the War of Austrian Succession – as the Scots had lost the opportunity to do so with the English some two hundred years earlier. Essentially, the citizens of the French kingdom were poor, hungry, and over-taxed. They had been at war with England for years, and the fighting had depleted their funds. Yet, rumors of food being constantly thrown away at the French palace were relentless and many, exciting the common folk into an unstoppable rage – a rage the balled itself into what eventually became the event of the century – the French Revolution.
Economic problems, however, were not the only cause of the French Revolution; political instability within Europe is also another cause. Interestingly enough, part of this instability can also be traced back to King Henry VIII. King Henry VIII pushed forward the inter-familial marriages taking place at the time and in the future. The first example of this is having his own daughter, Mary I, married Philip II of Spain, who was technically her nephew as her grandparents were his great-grandparents. He arranged many other marriages as well, most of them between cousins or some form of relation. Keeping this in mind, and not knowing the repercussions of it, his ancestors kept up this policy, which is also shown in the case of his sister Margaret Tudor, whose grandchildren married each other. These grandchildren, Mary Stuart or Mary Queen of Scots as she is better known, gave birth to James I/V of England/Scotland. There are many more examples of these types of marriages, originating from King Henry VIII’s plans, but over several hundred years, every single European family was related to each other. This being the case, no one wanted to help their French brethren at the risk of offending another relative. If one looks even deeper at the situation, it may have been that since every royal family had some sort of claim to another throne, that if they had foreseen Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s deaths, they would have simply ignored them, for they would have wanted the throne for themselves. Nonetheless, had all the families not been related, then the close Franco-Spanish may have benefitted France as a whole, and the Revolution would not have taken place if the Spanish had offered food, clothing, or even monetary compensation. But since this was not the case, France finally fell into a state of irreparable disrepair, and unable to fix their economy or their political situation. Thus, the seeds for the French Revolution were embedded in the minds of the population and it was destined to take place.
Other factors, such as the political system in France at the time, also contributed to the French Revolution. The French had a body known as the Estates-General that was had been in place since 1302, only about 500 years after the formation of France itself. But throughout the years, the Estates-General had not changed with the times. This being the case, it was seriously outdated, essentially causing a political backup with the peasantry and lower class citizens. These citizens wanted rights, clothes, and food, yet the Estates- General was unable to provide any of that. However, most historians will agree, that the number one instigator of the French Revolution was, in fact, another very famous revolution – The American Revolution. The American Revolution flared Enlightenment thoughts and ideals across Europe and in France particularly. Ironically enough, King Henry VIII can also be connected to the American Revolution, directly linking him to the French Revolution once again. King George III was ruler of Britain during the American and the French Revolutions. George III had actually picked up his ruling style from his father, who had learned his style from being pampered by his father. George I was actually the great-grandson of James I of England, showing that the ruling style had actually filtered down rather succinctly. However, since King Henry VIII was insistent on getting things exactly as he wanted (which he seems to have passed down to George III), and he was known to have megalomania (which also seems to have been passed down to George III), and those did pass down to his descendants, he would in fact be responsible for the American Revolution , much like in the case of the Estates-General, which is in turn responsible for the French Revolution, because the old style of rule did not fit the new age, along with being responsible for several causes of the French Revolution.
World War I – Familial Relations:
Henry can also be attributed for helping to start World War I. Henry is also directly linked to the Hanover Dynasty, making all of his decedents of Anglo-German decent. The Hanover dynasty was directly involved in the causes of WWI. King George V lost his territories to Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, after which many of the European nations began to scramble for alliances, which would inevitably lead to WWI at the slightest sign of political stress. Furthermore, Henry VIII ruled at the same time as Charles V of Spain, who at the time was also king of the Holy Roman Empire, Italy, as well as Duke of Burgundy and a Lord of the Netherlands, respectively. He created permanent, bitter relations with Spain when he insulted Charles’ aunt, Catherine of Aragon, with an annulment after a 24 year marriage through the Roman Catholic Church to a consummated marriage. Coincidentally, the reason he claimed for his divorce was that his first wife had consummated her marriage with his elder brother Arthur, before he died, though she claimed that was not the case. The fact that he did this after such a long period of time is most likely the reason the Pope denied the annulment. At the same time, this directly insulted his daughter, the future Queen Mary I, and made her an illegitimate child of Henry. Also, Elizabeth I took the British throne as opposed to her older half-sister, Mary, thus angering Mary. Mary eventually married her cousin Philip I, and lived the rest of her life in bitterness towards the English due to the many insults bestowed upon her by her father and half sister, but mainly from the heavy insults paid to her mother from her father, as her mother lived out the rest of her divorced life in an isolated manor, hating Henry for his actions and dying incredibly ill. Mary further blamed her father for her mother’s death, which she claimed could have been avoided if he had taken care of her, like a proper husband was supposed to, instead of gallivanting off and marrying two other women before her death. Charles V thus insulted with the English from their actions towards his aunt, Catherine of Aragon, and towards his cousin and future daughter-in-law, Mary I, the Spanish throne became tainted with hate towards the English. His descendent was Charles I of Spain, who was brother to Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. Ferdinand was convinced to abdicate his throne in favor of his nephew Franz Joseph I of Austria. After the suicide of Franz’s son, due to Franz’s not accepting of Rudolph’s mistress, his nephew Franz Ferdinand became Archduke. It was his assassination that immediately led WWI. Consequently, one can see that Henry’s family was clearly confusing. With so many important relations in one family, the most insignificant problem could become an international crisis, as it did with World War I.
World War I – Military movement:
Henry set the precedent during his time to annex territories when he repeatedly tried to take over neighboring nations, most notably Scotland. His descendents continued this policy, and it can be said quite safely that every European Royal family has some relation to him in some way or another. Since all these families essentially engaged in a battle over territories, a power struggle eventually began; this set off many smaller wars such as the wars of Louis XIV. After Louis XVI was overthrown and executed, the state of France fell into disarray, as there was no solid leadership within the nation, except Napoleon I and Napoleon III, both of whom were exiled. One such war was the Franco-Prussian War which took place when the Hapsburgs, or the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, became suspicious when the Prussians began to grow powerful in ways of land acquisition, politically and militarily. The leader of France at the time was Napoleon III. However, when he lost the war, he was exiled to England, ending his relatively short rule, and making him the last monarch of France. After the Franco-Prussian War, European nations scrambled to build alliances. When Franz Ferdinand visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, he was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist, who resented him occupying the area Serbia felt was rightly theirs. This Serbian nationalist was a part of a secret organization known as the Black Hand which had originated from a semi-secret organization known as Narodna Odbrana, which was created after the annexation.
World War I – Analysis:
Several causes of the First World War can be contributed to the precedents that Henry set forth himself. Up until his death, Henry was always attempting to conquer a neighboring nation, mostly Scotland or France. One of the reasons for WWI was the competition created between the European nations. Not only were many of these countries vying for international colonies, such as in the Americas and Africa, they were also competing to see who had the biggest and strongest armies. Henry too, had set this precedent by continuously increasing his naval and army’s powers, in his conquest to rule over France and Scotland. He passed on his armies to his daughter Elizabeth, and although they served her in fighting off the Spanish Armada, they are also what eventually caused tensions to spring up between England and the rest of the continent, as well as with a young, colonial, America. Nationalism was also a major aspect in increasing tensions. Henry had set up a common belief in England that prevails to this day, that Britain was meant to conquer over the rest of the world. This is most prominently shown by saying that “The Sun never sets on the British Empire.”He did this by separating himself from Rome, and creating the Church of England. To the rest of the world, he essentially announced he was above the Pope and to some extremists, that he thought he was above God. With this done, and the war between his daughters over religious control of the country, the newly established followers of the Church of England began what became known throughout the world as a type of superiority complex, one more reason for the American Revolution, as they tried to overly-impose themselves onto the American colonists, according to said colonists. However, there is suspicion that the French may have also been involved in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, as it was his nation that had taken over the Lorraine area of France, for which the French had become resentful for quite some time, as they wanted the immediate recovery of the area. Ironically, Ferdinand was a member of the Hapsburg-Lorraine family, thus France effectively wiped out a member of their own “family”. Henry also created some alliances, which caused some nations to support one over another. This was mainly accomplished by the intermarriage system he set up, not only within the Tudors, but within the Hanovers and the Bourbons as well. Although most royal families were all related, some were more connected than others. For example, two different branches of the Hanover Dynasty ruled over Germany and England, causing them to be aligned with each other for a relatively short period of time. And although the French monarchy no longer existed at this time, the relations between the monarchial families of England and France had been long since established through numerous marriages, creating a long lasting national alliances with each other, when both were in the face of danger (as there hate for each other at this point had worn off to a point of friendship).
French Revolution – Conclusion:
King Henry VIII was in fact responsible for the French Revolution. Both his political and social life ultimately led to the destruction of thousands of families in France and even some in Austria. Not only did he set up the system which led to almost every European monarch being related to every other European monarch, but he also was the monarch who pushed France into a permanent state of debt, which was a direct and major cause of the French Revolution. Not only was King Henry responsible for his descendents actions, but he made life miserable for those around him, which thus influenced their decisions. One such case is Mary I where she tried to kill her sister, Elizabeth I, several times. In present day, this is similar to the Georgia/Russia situation. Georgia, in constant repression, is much like the French middle and lower class, while Russia is like the monarchy, making laws that only benefit him directly. This example, shows that not only was King Henry VIII responsible for the French Revolution in more than one way, but that his effect is still present, as his technique of ruling has even spread to a more general level, such as small political and social elitist groups, instead of just the royal elite.
World War I – Conclusion:
Furthermore, Henry was responsible for the First World War. His social life led to the precedent of “conquer first, ask questions later.” This ultimately threw Europe into a state of dismay as 400 years worth of political turmoil and spying imploded onto Europe after what was supposed to be a simple assassination, which should not have caused six major world powers to declare war on each other within a few weeks. Furthermore, Henry essentially pushed the incestual relations to another level, as he married his eldest daughter off to her first cousin. This proceeded throughout the ages, as is most pertinently shown with Carlos of Asturias, the first son of King Philip II of Spain, who only had four great-grandparents, and eight great-great grandparents, making his parents half-siblings. Also, Henry set up the pattern of attempting to conquer territories and establishing advanced armies even more so than his ancestors had. If relations were not already stressed enough, this show of military force was certainly enough to instigate nations to attack before being attacked, such as with the Spanish Armada’s attack on England. The Spanish loss to an underdog, due to the sheer number in forces, as well as several other factors, was not only humiliating, but kept nations even more alert than they had been before. With this example came not only the threat of being attacked by neighboring nations, but also the possibility of having one’s colonies rebel against rule, which is precisely what happened to Britain with its American colonies and in South Asia with India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In conclusion, it can be proved that King Henry VIII indirectly caused both the French Revolution and World War I.

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Dracula – Fiction or Factually-based-off-of-a-Terrible-Romanian-Ruler?

Hi everyone! So based off of pure intuition (since absolutely NO ONE has replied to the poll i set up), i feel that the history articles are the most well received, especially since the geisha article alone has received more than 200 hits since it was posted! So, i hope, that in order to increase my viewership (since it just makes me all giddy inside!) i would try to do some more of them, especially since i enjoy writing them so much!

Then, a few nights ago, when i was thinking of how much i absolutely despise these “new” vampires (aka Twilight), and how much better the OLD vampires from the 1920s and such were, that actually instilled fear into the minds of the not-yet-corrupted-American. I began to think of Dracula at the point, in his old haunted mansion on top of some obscure cliff looking over the Romanian sea, and realized, in my history buff-ness that not many people realize that Dracula was in fact a REAL person! Yes you read right! Dracula, although not an ACTUAL vampire, came pretty close to one and the story behind how the Dracula that we all know and somewhat love/fear is actually VERY interesting!

Dracula was named by author Bram Stoker (who authored the original novel Dracula) for the 15th century Ruler Vald III Dracula the Impaler, Prince of Wallachia. The original name “Drăculea” means “son of Dragon” or “son of Dracul” who was Vlad’s father, and the previous ruler of Romania (thus accounting for the Vampire’s location in Romania). Interestingly enough, Vlad II (Vlad III’s father) was named Dragon by his subjects for having joined the “Order of the Dragon,” a Christian-based noble society striving to “defend the cross against enemies of Christianity” like the Ottoman Turks, the biggest “non-believer” threat at the time. Although his mother is unknown, the rest of Vlad II’s family is known, and is life is surprisingly well documented. Vlad was actually initiated into The Order of the Dragon at the age of 5, essentially setting him up to become a ruler. Now the reason why Vlad II’s joining the Order of the Dragon is so interesting, is because while he was allied with Hungary in the alliance, Hungarian-allies ousted Vlad II from his throne and Vlad was forced to ally himself with the Ottoman Empire, the very people he was supposed to be fighting. But to keep the alliance, Vlad and his brother Radu were sold into Ottoman custody as a sign of good-will towards the Empire. However, Vlad was a stubborn youth and was often beat to near death, while his brother, converted to Islam and joined the Turkish court. These beatings severely influenced Vlad III’s life, and eventually caused his extreme hate of the Turks. Because of the trade, Vlad also hated his father for betraying his sons and the Order, of which Vlad still believed himself to be a servant of. While Vlad III was quickly released from the Turks, and returned 1 year later, in 1443 to take back his throne, his sons were forced to stay on and learn Turkish and Persian (which Vlad III could speak fluently later in life) and the Quaran. In 1447, Vlad II and his eldest son were brutally blinded and buried alive by some enemies who ambushed them.

After his father’s murder, the Ottomans but Vlad III on the throne in 1448, but he was quickly ousted by the same people who killed his father and brother. Forced to flee, Vlad went to live in Moldavia with his uncle until 1451, when his uncle was assassinated. Ironically, Vlad now had to flee to the very people who had betrayed his father in the first place – the Hungarians. However, Hunyadi, the man who had killed Vlad II and ousted Vlad III, was impressed with Vlad III’s hatred of the Turks and of the new Sultan, who was a close friend of his converted brother, and made Vlad his new advisor. In 1453, the Ottomans began serious expansion and just 3 years later, were threatening the Hungarian Empire. Vlad took advantage of the situation and regained his throne by killing the current ruler in hand to hand combat (how cool is that!)!

Now here comes the REALLY interesting part. After Vlad took control, (i’m going to ignore the political stuff he did like helping the country and such) he seeked revenge on the people who had murdered his father and brother, as well aimed to kill anyone who would be a threat to him, and his power. Although it took him 10 years to accomplish, Vlad also eventually found the men who killed his family, rounded them up on Easter Sunday in 1457, and impaled them on the spot. As his dynasty had come from the Transylvanian Saxons, the first thing Vlad did in 1459 was impale a bunch of Saxon settlers. THEN (this part is really cool) Vlad found some more potential challengers to his throne (yes, potential) and found a prince who was suspected to have taken place in his brother’s murder, and made him read his OWN eulogy before having him kneel on the ground before his open grave and be executed! Later that year, he impaled countless Turks, and in 1462, when Vlad was at war with his hated enemy, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, he forced him to walk through a forest where Vlad had 20,000 of his previous soldiers IMPALED throughout the entire forest! When the Sultan somehow managed to take Vlad’s stronghold, Vlad resorted to guerrilla warfare and in one night killed 15,000 Turks, though the Sultan managed to escape.

Eventually, Vlad and Radu were pitted against each other, with Radu fighting for the Turks, but the tables turned when some of Vlad’s allies turned on him, and without funds, Vlad eventually lost the war after being charged for high treason against the Hungarians (the Hungarian King forged “illegal” documents for Vlad, and a letter saying he was helping the Turks and planted them on Vlad (thus the high treason)), and thrown into prison where he was held for 10 years, while his brother continued to rule. After his release, the Ottomans helped him recapture Wallachia, and Vlad held the throne for a whole TWO months before dying in battle.

Currently there is a debate as to where Vlad was buried as his initial gravesite was found to have no body after an excavation in the 1900s.

Therefore, it was actually Vlad III’s brutal method of destroying his enemies that got him the name of the Impaler, but his family name (Drăculești) that got Dracula his name. Matthias, the ruler of the Hungarian Empire who imprisoned Vlad, was largely responsible for the incredible exaggerations of Vlad’s nature, however, as he needed funds from Vlad’s enemies to “fight” him. Interestingly, while the German stories seem to have a political agenda and paint a light of hate on Vlad, the Russian stories seem to paint him as a somewhat kinder person.

Either ways, tales of Vlad’s horrible nature began to run rampant across Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, and eventually the stories transformed into tales about vampire like creatures, and thousands of cases were reported across Europe.

So although HOW the brutal leader’s tales of brutality transformed into a blood-sucking, undead, Count is unknown, we CAN correlate that the brutality itself is what left a mark (would YOU say that Dracula’s blood-sucking-ness is a kind and gentle way to die?), and to this day, has an unbelievable root in Europe.

Vlad the Impaler's portrait

Vlad the Impaler’s portrait



Dracula from the original 1931 Universal Studios movie

The Geisha: the prostitute of Japan?

Hello everyone! I’m sorry i haven’t had a chance to write lately but i’ve been really busy with college. At any rate, i recently watch the movie Memoirs of a Geisha and am now reading the book. Although i consider myself a Japanese fanatic, or a weebo as one of my friends so delicately put it, i really didn’t know about one of the most cultural aspects to have somewhat survived in Japan – the Geisha. When most people, particularly Americans, think of a geisha, they immediately think that a geisha is the equivalent to a prostitute. However, based on the research done by the author of Memoirs, this was not the full truth. According to Arthur Golden, a geisha is a woman who entertains men with conversation, dance and music, but also has to sell her virginity to the highest bidder. After doing some research of my own, i found out that the geisha of Japan were actually very sophisticated and cultured women who practiced many arts, flower-arranging NOT being one of them. Furthermore, the practice of selling one’s viriginity, or mizuage, was not real. In fact, a mizuage actually consisted of a tea ceremony and a different hair cut to symbolize one’s coming of age.

After going into my research, i began to wonder why many people have the misconception that geisha are prostitutes when i can upon a startling find. Back in the hay day, or during WWII to be more precise, many American soldiers were stationed in Japan, and Japanese women (meaning geisha and prostitutes) were stumbling over themselves for a chance to be able to entertain these men and gain some sort of higher status – to clarify, geisha simply wished to continue to practice their art, not sleep with these men. Thus, the “geisha girl” was born. Geisha girls were actually prostitutes who dressed like geisha, BUT wore the traditional obi, or the band that held their kimono together in the front (for easy removal since it could take up to an hour to arrange an obi correctly for a real geisha), and they also fashioned their hair a different way.

Japanese prostitutes

With the girl on the left, you will notice her obi is tied in the box fashion, while the girl on the right has the sash fashion. It is important to note that both of these girls are prostitutes, which can also be seen from their hair.

When the soldiers began coming to Japan, prostitutes began dressing more similarly to geisha, with a few differences, as stated above. However, the American soldiers couldn’t tell the differences between the girls, as they probably only saw the white face make up as a distinguishing feature. Just to clarify, I’m for once not blaming Americans for their ignorance as i realize how difficult it can be to distinguish people from a completely different culture. To these Americans, they were probably trying to distinguish different types of foods, forget about the people. At any rate, the soldiers, in their unknowing-ness began calling these women “Geisha girls” and the word forever became synonymous with the word geisha. Even today, when foreigners see real geisha, they still call them “geisha girls.” I can bet you that if you go out onto the street and ask someone what a geisha is, they will either reply that they do not know, or that it is a prostitute.

I’d like to point out that a lot of this knowledge would not be available to me, and thus you, if it wasn’t for 1) Mrs. Mineko Iwasaki, who had to bear through many horrendous things because of Mr. Arthur Golden’s inability to follow a contract, and for her book Geisha, A Life, which although i have yet to read, made me realize how many of Mr. Golden’s details were incorrect, and 2) Mr. Okinawa Soba, whose flickr account made many interesting details about the lives of geisha and prostitutes available to me. Three of the URLs i used were:

I’d also like to point out just HOW difficult it is to find a picture of a formally and correctly dressed geisha, and a japanese prostitute. Well, I hoped this article brought some light upon the subject. Furthermore, I really don’t have much feedback from anyone about how i’m doing with these articles, and as i’ve never done anything like this before, i would very much appreciate any comments, feelings, questions, discrepancies, criticisms or whatever else it is that you can think of! In closing, I will leave you some pictures of ACTUAL geisha, and you can compare the differences for yourself. Thank you!

Geisha back (the neck was very important for geisha)

Geisha back (the neck was very important for geisha)

Geisha full back

Geisha full back

Geisha (modern day)

Geisha (modern day)


Mineko Iwasaki as a young geisha in the 1960s

Mineko Iwasaki as a young geisha in the 1960s



History’s Mysteries: The Romanov Mystery

While watching the old Anastasia movie with my best friend today, we stumbled upon the numerous conspiracy theories, Anastasia impersonators, and of course, Rasputin stories. After my interest was OFFICIALLY peaked, i began intensive research into the Romanov history. Now although i have always known that most conspiracy theories are bologna, this one seems legitimate. Being the history buff that i am, i knew that it was not actually Anastasia who was suspected to be alive, but her sister Maria (depending on which source you’re going to listen to). What i didn’t know was that their brother, Alexei, also had a missing body. When i looked at the MULTIPLE stories of Romanov children impersonators (which were always Maria and Anastasia, Maria and Alexei, Anastasia and Alexei or just one of them by themselves conveniently enough), i started to notice that the stories almost ALWAYS revolved around these 3 children. Though i was easily able to discount several of the impersonators, such as Anna Anderson, and other women who claimed to be Anastasia, some of the stories gave me serious doubts about the validity of the “DNA testing” done on a few of the bodies found at the mass grave near where the Romanov family was imprisoned. Firstly, it is still in debate whether it was Anastasia or Maria’s body found next to Alexei’s (away from the rest of the family), even AFTER several DNA tests. Furthermore, even though there are conflicting accounts, there is no way anyone other than the guards there could have known that those 3 were the last 3 to “die” in their family. There are even reports that as their bodies were being carried away, that Anastasia and Maria woke up screaming (though they were brutally murdered again). This brings the question to light as why ONLY Anastasia, Maria and Alexei have stories about their survival, as opposed to their sisters Tatiana and Olga. Why did neither have even ONE story of their survival. Furthermore, there are several accounts of people helping a “young boy and girl [who appears to have been his sister] escape.” There are accounts of a soldier helping Anastasia escape, another one where Anastasia is caught at a train station and executed and another yet where Anastasia and Maria run away to a convent in the Ural Mountain until they died.

I have picked the people who, if anyone’s story is true, i believe theirs is. The first is for Anastasia. If anyone is Anastasia (and its not the nun in the Ural Mountains) then i believe it to be Eleonora Albertova Krüger, who in fact insisted she was not royalty, but many things pointed to her being royalty, along with her brother “George”, such as the fact that she had a dog named Maron, not a normal name for the Polish she claimed to be though she was originally registered as a Russian; Maron being an anagram for Roman for Romanov. Not only did she and her brother both have an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia and Alexei, but she was also fluent in multiple languages and told her students stories of beautiful palaces she had lived in. George and Nora also refused to admit they were siblings, even though he seemed to come to meet her out of the blue. Furthermore, he had tuberculosis, which can apparently have symptoms similar to that of hemophilia. For me, Suzanna Catharina de Graaff, was discredited by the mere fact that Anna Anderson, a known psychotic woman, identified her as her sister. Though somewhat unfair to make this judgment, it stands (plus her arguments didn’t even make sense).

If George is not Alexei, then i am convinced it would have had to have been Eugene Nicolaievich Ivanoff, who had such similarities to Alexei, that it would have been almost impossible to replicate (such as he knew how to sew as well as was fluent in several languages and of Russian descent). He was also a hemophiliac.

For Tatiana we have Larissa Feodorovna Tudor, who herself never claimed to be of royal descent but had an unexpected amount of wealth upon her death (possibly from the diamonds sewn into her dress upon escape?), and her conflicting information (like what age she actually was at her death (27, 28, or 29)), and the fact that there was actually no immigrant with her name who entered the country (was she snuck in? that would make sense). She also had an uncanny resemblance to the Grand Duchess.

Finally, for Olga we have Marga Boodts, we have simply because at least 5 relatives identified her undeniably as Olga and even gave her financial aid and housed her. I hold family recognition at the highest level which fuels most of my argument for her. Unfortunately, one of her supporters was also a strong supporter of Anderson, which slightly discredits her but not enough with all her other supporters.

With Maria there didn’t seem to be any credible impostors, though i’m sure there are several unknown and credible ones.

In conclusion, although the bodies of all the Romanovs’ were found, there has been doubt for almost 100 years that they really died, and with all these rumors that sprouted up simultaneously and without anyone having been able to know that there were TWO bodies missing, it seems possible that some of the Romanovs did manage to escape. In fact, my own theory is that whatever siblings escaped, their bodies were replaced with a close relative of theirs, which would have tested out with DNA. With Alexei, they may have pronounced that it was him simply on the fact that the DNA was similar and that they knew the remains were of a boy of approximately 12-15 years old (not enough proof if you ask me). Until each of these individuals DNA is tested against Romanov blood, i personally, will never been 100% sure if there are any remaining Romanovs.

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