05/04 – Inter Caetera: A World Split in Two

The Cantino planisphere, a 1502 map depicting a world carved in half by the Portuguese and Spanish. (Wikimedia Commons) On this day in 1493, a papal bull by the name of inter caetera ("Among other works") was issued by Pope Alexander VI from the Vatican. The decree stated that the Americas would be split into…

03/20 – The Dutch East India Company

Because of its unique status as a company-state, the VOC had its own flag - closely modeled after the Dutch flag. (Wikimedia Commons) On this day in 1602, the Dutch East India Company - or Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, VOC) was established in the Netherlands. A combination of several trading companies, the VOC was created at…

Indonesia – From Colonization to Independence

Pinkerton's incredibly detailed 1818 map of the East Indies. (Wikimedia Commons) The end of the 19th century was a tumultuous time in Southeast Asian history. Many colonial nations developed strong nationalist movements and, eventually, overthrew their colonial masters. Unlike Africa - recently colonized during the "Scramble for Africa" in the 1880s and 1890s - much…

02/29 – Columbus’ Lucky Eclipse

An idealized view of one of Columbus' larger expeditions to the Americas, by Russian painter Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky. (Wikimedia Commons) On this day in 1504, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and his party were stranded on Jamaica. Having destroyed his remaining ships through bad navigation and even worse seamanship six months prior, Columbus relied on the…

02/06 – Dandara dos Palmares

A modern interpretation of warrior queen Dandara. (Youtube) On this day in 1694, warrior queen Dandara, a leader of free Alagoan Afro-Brazilians, committed suicide in order to avoid enslavement. Dandara was renowned throughout Alagoas for her expertise in capoeira - a form of martial combat developed by Brazilian slaves - and since a young age,…

01/23 – Rorke’s Drift

Alphonse de Neuville's 1880 painting depicts the heroic British defense, based entirely on British eyewitness accounts. (Wikimedia Commons) On this day in 1879, a group of roughly 150 British Red Coats completed their defence of Rorke's Drift - a trading post known as kwaJimu (Jim's Land) to the South African locals - against a force…

01/18 – The Karantina Massacre

Militia fighters engage an unknown enemy during the Civil War, by Catherine Leroy. (Pinterest) On this day in 1976, forces from the Christian Lebanese Front militia and Phalangists overran a Muslim slum in East Beirut and began the Karantina Massacre. 1,500 civilians - Muslims from Syria, Kurdistan and Palestine - were killed in a stunning…