Howard Wiseman's Hobby: History
History has been a passion of mine since I discovered how much we do
know about the past. I particularly remember being astonished to find
out, in my early teens, that the barbarian invasion of the Roman Empire
was not a time of complete chaos with no historical record, but rather
that we know pretty well what happened and when. Despite enjoying and
doing well in history in junior school (age 15) I did not continue it
in senior, opting for science subjects instead. I don't regret this,
because I think history is more accessible to an interested amateur
than is science.
My current level of activity in my history hobby dates from c.1993 when
I bought the book King Arthur - The True Story by Phillips and
Keatman. Although in hindsight I don't think much of the book's
arguments, its importance was again that it revealed to me that this
period of British history does have historical records, however meagre,
and not just legends. The meagreness of the records meant I was
eventually able to become familiar with pretty much all of them, and to
create my first history website, The Ruin and Conquest of Britain, in
1997. Arising out of this site, I have managed to publish a couple of research papers on the history of early
mediaeval Britons, in 2000 and 2011.
The Ruin and
Conquest of Britain (1997-2018)
The transition from Roman Britain to early-mediaeval England and Wales
is, to me, one of the most fascinating periods in history. The struggle
and ultimate failure of one society to defend itself against decline
and replacement by another is bound to be interesting. It is of course
the time of the real "King Arthur", if there ever was such a person. It
has become a hobby for me to try to reconstruct the history of the 5th
and 6th centuries in Britain. I first put this website up c.1997, and
it has been evolving ever since.
This site also contains:
From an interest in the survival of Roman institutions in Britain in
the 5th and 6th centuries grew an interest in the mixed fortunes of the
Empire itself in that time: the end of the Western Empire and the
flowering of the Eastern Empire. This in turn led to finding out
about the ups and downs of the Roman Empire over its entire (but
especially its later) history, which I began studying in c.1998. This
website charts the history of the Roman Empire from 338 BC to 1453 AD.
Here "charts" is used advisedly, as maps form the core of this site. I
have been drawing historical maps of all sorts ever since my mid-teens,
but computers and the internet have given a new life to this
One Page Wonders --- A bref
regard at the Longue Durée
of Countries, Nations, or States.
Having charted the history of the Roman
Empire, I next tried a similar exercise in my original region of
interest, Britain. Here the emphasis was not on the continuity of
a state, but rather the rise of different Empires within the one
country. This has led to a series of similar studies (some still in
preparation). Some will focus on the history of a country (e.g. the
Island of Britain), others on that of a nation (e.g. the Nordic
peoples), others on the history of states (e.g. the Burgundian states).
Since each consists of just a single-page, I have grouped them together
to avoid cluttering this page.
Centuries of "British" "Empires" (2003-2015): From the over-kingdom of Cunobelinus,
through the Empires of the Romano-British, Anglo-Saxons, Danes,
Normans, Plantagenets, Tudors, and the world-straddling British
Centuries of the Nordic Peoples (2009-2010):
From the age of Vikings, Varangians,
and Normans, to the present Nordic nations (Danes, Norwegians, Swedes,
Between France and Germany --- 16
centuries of Europe's Middle Kingdoms (2012-2014): A quirky analysis of the geo-political
evolution of France, Germany and the nearby states, in particular how
the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy can all trace their origins to the
Kingdom of the Burgundians.
Quick and Dirty Alternate Histories
One might view alternate history as a
dangerous and unnecessary distraction, given how much fascinating real
history there is. However, counter-factual argumentation is something
historians must do to justify any claim for certain people or events as
being crucial to history. And there are numerous counter-factual
musings on various of my history pages. So I finally (2013) gave in
to an urge to create a "quick and dirty" alternate history map, and another one (though more pseudo- than alternate) in 2018.
Alternate History Europe
(2013): In this alternate history, the dual
monarchy was not created in 1867, and Austria was more aggressive. This
resulted in the Great War of 1878-83. The map shows Europe and the
Mediterranean after the 1884 Peace of Paris.
Alternate/Pseudo-History in 541 (2018): I have created a map based on Geoffrey of Monmouth's 1137 pseudohistory, featuring an epic war between King Arthur of Britain and Emperor Leo of Rome in the year 541. I speculate how this could have arisen as alternative history, diverging in the first century B.C. with a smashing defeat of Parthia by Rome, followed by Rome's expansion much further east than in our own timeline.
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