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Tax Freedom Day and the Miao Rebellions

The Miao and Yao people have been set adrift by the economic devastation caused by the floods of the Yangtze River and the monetary restrictions imposed by the Ming dynasty (read as higher taxes and a fiat currency). The pressure for rebellion has been building as the crack down on wildcat silver mining continues. The government has imposed a labor toll that most people are required to work off. People literally work for the government for a fixed time. For poor people, "Tax Freedom Day," is the day that their obligation for government-imposed labor... like dredging out the canal... is fulfilled. Craftsmen and saltmakers pay a "fee" (read as "bribe") to be excused, but for the poor, there are few choices. This explains why so many are engaged in illegal activities just to survive. A series of rebellions will break out beginning this year. They will erupt on-and-off until 1562 when the Chinese government officially allows people to pay a fee instead of taking their actual labor. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Just so you know... the rebellions are not all due to economics. In 1460, over 1,500 Miao boys were castrated and made into eunuchs. Hundreds did not survive the mutilation. Nevertheless, the local economic situation was dire allowing people with silver to buy land little-by-little from people who were caught short. It was illegal to deal in unminted silver but craftsmen demanded silver for payment and the local government needed craftsmen more than they needed the law. This is not the first time in Chinese history that the local government looked the other way when reality did not agree with the ideals of the Emperor and it won't be the last time. [5] [6]

May Day: Sleeping with the Enemy

Edward, the Black Prince, and Joan of Kent had married for love, but marriage for love is a rare event for the high aristocracy. It's about to happen again. King Edward the 4th has entertained an audience with Elizabeth Woodville on the subject of her widow's rights (called a dower). Her husband was killed while battling AGAINST King Edward's men! Some say witchcraft was involved (and it is possible) but Elizabeth is a breathtaking beauty. On May 1st, within weeks of meeting her, the King secretly marries Elizabeth in a pagan ceremony. The King returns to his camp and falls instantly to sleep. (Oh baby!) Whether for love or lust, this marriage certainly isn't for lands or titles. Elizabeth is a commoner and this is the second such marriage between a king and a commoner since the Norman Conquest. This marriage is going to cause a lot of trouble but Elizabeth will play a role in ending the War of the Roses and installing the first Tudor King on the throne of England.[7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
What was the King thinking? He certainly wasn't thinking with "the big head". Edward is a York. Elizabeth is a Lancaster. The King is not only sleeping with his enemy, he has made the aristocracy angry. It is this sort of capricious move that makes the nobles very nervous. The marriage will cause the Earl of Warwick to switch sides to the Lancasters. He is a very wealthy and powerful nobleman as well as a very good commander in battle. King Edward is really ... uh... screwed and so are his future children but that's another story. The title of that story has an ominous title: "The Princes in the Tower." It doesn't end well. [13] [14]

The First French Dictionary and a Dying Language

Brittany is now a French province since they took it away from England but the people don't speak English. They speak a Latin derivative called Gallo and a Celtic [KELL-tick] language called "Breton". This year a local priest complies a Breton-French-Latin dictionary called the Catholicon meaning "universal". It is considered the first French dictionary ever compiled but it won't be published until 1499. An English-Latin dictionary will be complied in 1483 and will also be called the Catholicon. In the modern day only 35,000 people use the Breton language and most of those are over 60 years old. It is a dying language. [15] [16] [17] [18]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Hebrew is the only dead language ever to be revived. Although used in daily prayer, it fell out of use in common speech until the early 20th century when it was revived by Eliezer Ben-Yehudah [el-ee-AY-zer ben yeh-WHOO-dah]... a newspaper editor and a very, very stubborn man. He was opposed by some Orthodox Jews who believe that Hebrew is the Holy Tongue and not appropriate to be used for common speech. The Jewish historian, Cecil Roth, remarked, "Before Ben-Yehuda, Jews could speak Hebrew; after him, they did." [19]

Alex Shrugged personal story (optional as always): I am a Modern Orthodox Jew. I once visited my doctor, an enthusiastic Christian man. He greeted me loudly, and blessed me using one of the names of God in Hebrew. It was the BIG ONE... the one Name you NEVER, EVER vocalize... not even in prayer. All the blood drained out of my face and my wife grabbed our children as we were all going to be hit by lightening. I know Christians use this name in their attempt to promote fellowship between Christians and Jews but don't do it that way. I'll spell out the Name but please don't vocalize it... Y-A-H-W-E-H. My heart flutters just spelling out. No kidding.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1464, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Beck, Sanderson (2010). Ming Empire 1368-1644. san.beck.org. Retrieved on 9 November 2014. “"A large uprising of Guangxi rebels was suppressed by a Ming army in 1467; thousands of Miao were killed."”
  2. Miao people - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 9 November 2014.
  3. Yao people - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 9 November 2014.
  4. Gernet, Jacques (1996). A History of Chinese Civilization, translated by Foster, J. R. and Hartman, Charles (in English), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 412-413. “"The social troubles of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries seem to have been caused mainly by the general instability in the professions and the multiplication of the number of uprooted people seeking new means of livelihood-particularly mining, smuggling, and piracy."” 
  5. Hangzhou Bay - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 9 November 2014.
  6. Alex Shrugged Notes: I'm drawing a large conclusion based on a small amount of data, but there is a lot implied in the reading I'm doing. The economic situation of the region is improving for the rich and the well-prepared but at the expense of the poor and the non-Chinese. Only those who can keep their head above water long enough are going to do well in the long run. In the short run the poor are going to be hosed.
  7. (2011) The Women of the Cousins' War: The Duchess, the Queen, and the King's Mother. New York: Simon & Schuster, 129-131. “"The marriage was said to have taken place on May 1, the greatest festival in the witch calendar, known as Beltane. For pagans and witches this date celebrates fertility and love at the start of summer, when the otherworld grows close."” 
  8. Edward, the Black Prince - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 11 November 2014.
  9. Alex Shrugged Notes: The pagan holiday of Beltane is a May Day holiday meant to ward off fairies and promote fertility.
  10. Beltane - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 12 November 2014.
  11. Elizabeth Woodville - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 12 November 2014.
  12. Edward IV of England - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 12 November 2014.
  13. Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 12 November 2014.
  14. Princes in the Tower - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 12 November 2014.
  15. Catholicon (trilingual dictionary) - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 12 November 2014.
  16. Breton language - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 12 November 2014.
  17. Gallo language - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 12 November 2014.
  18. Catholicon Anglicum - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 12 November 2014.
  19. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 12 November 2014.

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