1391

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After the Mongols: The Reforesting of China

It was no easy task for the Chinese to throw off their Mongol overlords. The landscape has been devastated by war and some regions have been depopulated. Now under the Ming Dynasty the economic reconstruction has begun. 50 million trees will be planted this year with the goal of rebuilding the economy through merchant shipbuilding. Chinese Windmill palms will provide fiber for rope. Varnish trees have multiple purposes and their seeds are edible. Sterculia trees are used as an ancient Chinese medicine depending on the species. (Caution: some contain dangerous alkaloids.). Sterculia trees generally smell bad. They are named after the Roman god Sterquilinus... the god of... uh... fertilizer. By 1396 over 84 million fruit trees will be planted but the Chinese won't benefit from this effort until the turn of the century. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. --Chinese proverb [7]

It is not clear where the Chinese are getting all of these saplings because it's not like they can pick up a semi-mature tree at the local garden center. Recovery from the Mongols is going to take a long time so they are thinking long-term first... growing the things that take a long time to mature and following up with their mid-term needs such as fruit trees. You don't have to tell anyone how to plan for the short-term. Everyone knows how to do that.

Another Plague Outbreak

Due to an outbreak of famine in England last year, the people are weakened and susceptible to disease. A bad fruit crop has caused dysentery which is an inflammation of the bowels. Across the English Channel, the French have been hit by a wave of St. Anthony's Fire. Essentially it looks like "Reefer Madness". People go insane but in fact they are being poisoned by a fungus in the rye crop. Kids are more-or-less safe from the poison because they are not eating rye products. They are eating mush. In the midst of this disaster the Black Death returns with a vengeance. [8] [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is difficult to find new things to say about the Black Death but it lurks in the background of everything that is going on during the Middle Ages. Imagine yourself at this time without knowledge of what causes disease. Without a clue as to how to avoid disease, it is as if you are sitting under the Sword of Damocles. Your life is hanging by a thread and you have no idea when that thread will break. In the past people would look to religion for comfort but after that first devastating wave of the Black Death in mid-century, the best did not survive... mostly... so they cannot even hope to appease God by being good or contributing to the Church. Most people have become cynical and their bad attitude is distorting society.[11]

Spain and Forced Conversions

Anit-Jewish riots have broken out across the kingdoms of Castile, Toledo and Aragon which are in present-day Spain. Archdeacon Ferrand Martinez has been stirring up anti-Jewish sentiment without actually saying, "Get the Jews." Nevertheless, the mob gets the idea and before the year is out 10,000 Jews will be murdered across the region... everywhere except in Muslim-controlled Granada. The Jews are scattering and many decide to convert to Christianity to save their lives. This is the beginning of decades of persecutions of the Jews that will culminated in two major events in world history: the voyage of Columbus to the New World in 1492 and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. [12] [13] [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The conversion of the Sefardic Jews will be as sincere as any forced conversion of the Middle Ages could be but such conversions will result in a separation of the Jewish Christians from the non-Jewish Christians. These secret Jews will remain under suspicion and because of that suspicion, they will be called marranos which means "pigs". Oddly enough they will remain as a distinguishable group into the modern day. In the United States these crypto-Jews are centered in Texas. [15] [16]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1391, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

  1. Gernet, Jacques. (translated by Foster, J. R. and Hartman, Charles) A History of Chinese Civilization. Cambridge University Press. 1996. pp. 390-392. (BOOK) quote="But the most astonishing thing was the effort made to reforest China at this time, over 50 million sterculia trees, palm trees, and varnish trees were planted in Nanking area in 1391 with a view to the construction of a high seas fleet, which was in fact to be used for maritime expeditions of the beginning of the fifteenth century."
  2. Sterculia (Chinese Chestnut). Flora of China, 2014 [last update]
  3. Sterculia monosperma (Chinese Chestnut) - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  4. Koelreuteria paniculata (Varnish Tree) - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  5. (Chinese Windmill Palm) - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update] note=It is used for making rope, brooms and brushes.
  6. Sterquilinus - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  7. &lquot;A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.&rquot; -Greek Proverb - Imgur. imgur.com, 2013 [last update] (CARTOON) Note: A two panel cartoon. Panel 1 shows a father explaining to his small son about the important things in life while watering a sapling. Panel 2 show his grown son pushing his child on a tree swing and thanking his father.
  8. Cantor, Norman F., In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made, Harper Perennial, 2001. p. 134. (BOOK) quote="There were several of these—a serious outbreak of plague in 1391, harvest failure in 1428, and floods in 1434."
  9. Black Death and Plague in the 14th Century. The Medieval Combat Society. 2013 [last update] |quote=The population of Britain was estimated at between 3.5-5 million before 1348 and 2 million in 1377. Plague returned to England again in 1391.
  10. Creighton, Charles. A History of Epidemics in Britain: From A.D. 664 to the Extinction of Plague. London: C. J. Clay and Sons. 1894.
  11. Damocles - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  12. 1391, from Jewish History.quote="1391 June 6, FORCED CONVERSIONS (Seville, Spain) Ferrand Martinez, Archdeacon of Ecija, began to incite mobs into attacking the Jewish quarter. [...] Over 10,000 Jews were killed, and many others chose conversion and became New Christians or Conversos. Of these, many continued to practice Judaism in secret while paying lip service to the Church. They became known by the Christians as Marranos. [...] King Pedro IV ordered that all Jews who had hidden in Christian houses be allowed to return to their homes unmolested. Furthermore, he decreed that synagogues were not to be turned into churches. This did not prevent him from confiscating all the property of those Jews who had either fled or been murdered.
  13. Barcelona, Spain Jewish History Tour - Jewish Virtual Library. 2014 [last update] |quote="On Ash Wednesday 1391, a series of Church-led riots broke out across the country. The riots reached Barcelona in early August, during which time thousands of Jews were murdered or forcibly converted."
  14. Kingdom of Castile - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  15. Peter IV of Aragon - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  16. Crypto-Judaism - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]

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