The History Portal
History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.
History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them. Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.
Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends, because they do not show the "disinterested investigation" required of the discipline of history. Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is considered within the Western tradition to be the "father of history", and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts survived.
Ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematical elements of historical investigation. Often history is taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World
is an open letter
written on February 24, 1836, by William B. Travis
, commander of the Texian
forces at the Battle of the Alamo
, to settlers in Mexican Texas
. The letter is renowned as a "declaration of defiance" and a "masterpiece of American patriotism", and forms part of the history education of Texas schoolchildren.
On February 23, the Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Texas had been besieged by Mexican forces led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna. Fearing that his small group of men could not withstand an assault, Travis wrote this letter seeking reinforcements and supplies from supporters. The letter closes with Travis's vow of "Victory or Death!", an emotion which has been both praised and derided by historians.
The letter was initially entrusted to courier Albert Martin, who carried it to the town of Gonzales some seventy miles away. Martin added several postscripts to encourage men to reinforce the Alamo, and then handed the letter to Launcelot Smithers. Smithers added his own postscript and delivered the letter to its intended destination, San Felipe de Austin. Local publishers printed over 700 copies of the letter. It also appeared in the two main Texas newspapers and was eventually printed throughout the United States and Europe. Partially in response to the letter, men from throughout Texas and the United States began to gather in Gonzales. Between 32 and 90 of them reached the Alamo before it fell; the remainder formed the nucleus of the army which eventually defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.
, "surrounded by glory"; c. 495 – 429 BC) was a prominent and influential statesman
, orator, and general of Athens
during the city's Golden Age
—specifically, the time between the Persian
wars. He was descended, through his mother, from the powerful and historically influential Alcmaeonid
Pericles had such a profound influence on Athenian society that Thucydides, his contemporary historian, acclaimed him as "the first citizen of Athens". Pericles turned the Delian League into an Athenian empire and led his countrymen during the first two years of the Peloponnesian War. The period during which he led Athens, roughly from 461 to 429 BC, is sometimes known as the "Age of Pericles", though the period thus denoted can include times as early as the Persian Wars, or as late as the next century.
Pericles promoted the arts and literature; this was a chief reason Athens holds the reputation of being the educational and cultural centre of the ancient Greek world. He started an ambitious project that generated most of the surviving structures on the Acropolis (including the Parthenon). This project beautified the city, exhibited its glory, and gave work to the people. Furthermore, Pericles fostered Athenian democracy to such an extent that critics call him a populist.
Did you know...
On this day
Laura Secord warns James FitzGibbon
- 1593 – Ottoman forces were crushingly defeated by the Habsburgs at Sisak (now in Croatia), triggering the Long War.
- 1813 – War of 1812: After learning of a forthcoming American attack, Laura Secord (pictured) set out on a 30 km (19 mi) journey from Queenston, Ontario, Upper Canada, on foot to warn Lieutenant James FitzGibbon.
- 1948 – Over 800 West Indian immigrants disembarked the British troopship HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury, England, becoming known as the "Windrush generation".
- 1986 – footballer Diego Maradona scored both the "Hand of God goal" and the "Goal of the Century" against England during the quarter-final match of the FIFA World Cup.
- 2002 – An earthquake measuring 6.5 Mw struck a region of northwestern Iran, killing at least 261 people and injuring 1,300 others, and eventually causing widespread public anger due to the slow official response.
Sayf al-Dawla (b. 916) · Howard Staunton (d. 1874) · Judy Garland (d. 1969)
As long as I breathe I hope. As long as I breathe I shall fight for the future, that radiant future, in which man, strong and beautiful, will become master of the drifting stream of his history and will direct it towards the boundless horizons of beauty, joy and happiness!
"High ideas were besmirched by cruelty and greed, enterprise and endurance by a blind and narrow self righteousness, and the Holy War itself was nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God, which is a sin against the Holy Ghost."
— Steven Runciman
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