1513

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The Prince of Mass Movements *

Mercenary soldiers can be unreliable when the chips are down so Nicolo Machiavelli [MAH-kee-ah-VELL-ee] has developed a successful citizen militia to defend Florence. His success will be short-lived though. The Warrior Pope Julius the 2nd has attacked Florence, backed by the reorganized Spanish forces of Naples and the Medici family who have been out of power for several years and seriously want it back. Nicolo is naturally suspected of being disloyal to the Medicis so he is strung up by his arms and tortured for three weeks. He finally convinces them that he is a good and loyal servant and he is let go. Now he has resolved to ingratiate himself to his new leader by writing a book of political advice. It's going to take a while but when he presents it to the Prince, it will define the word "Machiavellian" [MAH-kee-ah-VELL-ee-an]. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The book "The Prince" is definitely one of the Great Books. It is filled with ideas that make you question what you believe. That is not always pleasant but if you want to understand how the world came to be as it is today, you must understand the thinking of the people who made it that way in the first place. Nicolo Machiavelli is one of those people. For a modern equivalent, I suggest reading "The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements" by Eric Hoffer and for teens who want to learn how fascism could get started in a "civilized country" read "The Wave" by Todd Strasser (or under his pen name: Morton Rhue). These books may upset you because they unveil a disturbing truth of human nature and you will recognize some of these forces working within your own organization, for good and for bad.[3] [4] [5]

Balboa and the South Sea

Vasco Balboa discovers the South Sea, now known as the Pacific Ocean, after marching across the isthmus of Panama. He wasn't really looking for an ocean. He was looking for gold. Christopher Columbus had taken his ships up a Panama river looking for the same thing but had to give up the search when one of his ships ran aground. Now Balboa has organized an expedition of 190 Spanish soldiers and a thousand Indians to make another search. Such expeditions are expensive and his creditors expect results. Unfortunately, finding oceans doesn't pay well so his creditors will be after him yet again. Staying one jump ahead of the chopping block has been his life. It will one day be the death of him. [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Balboa called it the South Sea because of the orientation of Panama. Panama runs generally East to West. That places the Atlantic to the North and thus the new ocean is the South Sea. Magellan will rename it the Pacific Ocean in 1520, but the name "South Seas" will continue to be used into the modern day.

Florida Found... but No Fountain of Youth

Juan Ponce de León has been looking to get rich in the New World but the ghost of Christopher Columbus continues to haunt him. The King of Spain promised lands in the New World to Columbus and his heirs so Ponce de León must go further out to find undiscovered countries. He has heard rumors of a large island to the northwest and begins an expedition to the Island of Benimy. No mention of a "fountain of youth" is made. On April 2nd he spots a large island and names it La Florida, meaning "The Flowers" after the Festival of Flowers that was being celebrated at the time. Arguments abound as to exactly where his expedition landed and it is likely he isn't the first. He is simply the first to document his landing. It will be a few years before they realize that La Florida is not an island. [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The whole "Fountain of Youth" legend came about AFTER the death of Ponce de León. There had already been legends about an island with special powers and someone decided to credit the explorer with searching for it to become young again. The place is called the Bimini which means "two islands" in the local language. These islands are located in the Bahamas, very close to Florida but there is no fountain of youth there. There was a very lucrative moonshining business located there during Prohibition. It was run by a guy named William S. McCoy who would fly whiskey into the United States. Many claim this is where the phrase "The Real McCoy" comes from... but probably not.[10]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1513, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Machiavelli, Nicolo. (Translator: W. K. Marriott) The Prince. 1513. (PUBLIC DOMAIN) quote="Nicolo Machiavelli, born at Florence on 3rd May 1469. From 1494 to 1512 held an official post at Florence which included diplomatic missions to various European courts. Imprisoned in Florence, 1512; later exiled and returned to San Casciano. Died at Florence on 22nd June 1527."
  2. Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 4 February 2015. “Niccolò Machiavelli dedicated The Prince to Lorenzo to inform him of tactics to use in unifying Italy, though the entire intent behind this dedication is shrouded in mystery.”
  3. The True Believer - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 4 February 2015. “The book analyzes and attempts to explain the motives of the various types of personalities that give rise to mass movements; why and how mass movements start, progress and end; and the similarities between them, whether religious, political, radical or reactionary.”
  4. The Wave (novel) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 4 February 2015.
  5. The Third Wave - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 4 February 2015. “The Third Wave was a social experiment to demonstrate that even democratic societies are not immune to the appeal of fascism.[1][2] It was undertaken by history teacher Ron Jones with sophomore high school students attending his 'Contemporary World' history class[1] as part of a study of Nazi Germany.[3]”
  6. Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0385177712. “He outfitted an expedition of 190 Spanish soldiers and a thousand Indian warriors and headed inland from the Panama coast [...] On September 7, 1513, he found himself on the other side of the isthmus, facing what seemed to be a huge body of water. Since Panama runs east and west and the Atlantic was on the north shore; Balboa called this new body of water the South Sea.” 
  7. isthmus - definition of isthmus. The Free Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 4 February 2015. “A narrow strip of land connecting two larger masses of land.”
  8. Fountain of Youth - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 January 2015.
  9. Juan Ponce de León - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 4 February 2015. “In an effort to reward Ponce de León for his services, Ferdinand urged him to seek these new lands outside the authority of Colón.[29] Ponce de León readily agreed to a new venture, and in February 1512 a royal contract was dispatched outlining his rights and authorities to search for 'the Islands of Benimy'”
  10. Bimini: History - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 4 February 2015. “Some claim that the term 'the real McCoy' was applied to the rum provided by William S. McCoy, who used Bimini to transport whiskey to America during the Prohibition, although the phrase pre-dates the Prohibition Era -- it is first recorded in the US in 1908 -- and the phrase is the subject of numerous fanciful folk etymologies.”

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