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When Race Really Matters: The Roodee Races Begin

The Chester Racecourse for horse racing is established this year because soccer (or football) is too violent a sport. The shoemakers guild and saddle-makers guild have been using an area called "the Roodee" to settle disputes in a game using a leather ball. After broken arms, legs, general maiming and mortal wounds, it was clear that this was more than a friendly game, so soccer games were abandoned, and with permission of Mayor Gee of Chester, the Chester Racecourse is built on the Roodee. Roodee means "Cross Island". It is no longer an island due to a drop in sea level and the general silting of the tidewaters. As the myth goes, a statue of the Virgin Mary once stood on the island and in a freak accident, the statue fell on the wife of the mayor. A cross marks the spot and thus "Cross Island" is the name. When they are not racing horses they will host Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1903. They will also host a mid-summer festival featuring dragons and devils so the race course will be shut down for a time in 1599 and again in 1677 to allow the people of Chester to contemplate their sins. The "Cross" remains in its place and the Roodee remains the oldest horse race in operation today. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
If you use Google Maps to locate Chester you will see that it is an inland town, but in the past it was a port city. Perhaps this is a consequence of Global Cooling and perhaps Global Warming will restore Chester to its former glory. What is more likely is that any glory will turn to horror as the pristine wetlands return. So one wonders which "pristine past" do we wish to restore? Or are we trying to rebuild an idyllic past that never existed in the first place? [6]

The Tampa Bay of Pigs

Hernando de Soto is the new Governor of Cuba. Hernando's previous job was helping Pizarro to become filthy rich conquering the Incas. Now he wants to be filthy rich himself so we sets out to explore what will become the Gulf states of the United States. He lands in present day Tampa, Florida. Like Pizarro he comes well prepared and even introduces pigs to North America to make sure his and future expeditions will be well fed, but he can't get a straight answer from the Indians. They speak of pearls and gold but he can find nothing that compares to Inca riches. The chroniclers call the Indians liars that lead them into ambush after ambush. Hernando will make progress across the region, but he will die of fever along the Mississippi River in what is modern day Louisiana. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Early historians believed that Hernando went much further than Louisiana but modern historians have documented Hernando at different places at the same time. The three chroniclers of this journey are not necessarily lying but they only write down what seems important to them. This is why so many historians are bald. They tear their hair out in frustration shouting "Why didn't you write that down?" The thought processes are changing during this period of time. The modern mind categorizes and documents its progress. The scientific method is king for modern man, but not for these fellows of the 1500s. For example: they take a 5-day journey north, but later you find out that they took 7 days doing it. What they mean is a 5 day journey if they didn't take a break as if time were a measure of distance. This sort of sloppy thinking will change over time.

The Gutenberg Press Comes to the Americas *

The bishop of Mexico has convinced the largest printing company in Seville, Spain to open a branch office in Mexico City. Juan Cromberger sends his branch manager, an Italian printer, to the Americas. His first project is a catechism for the Indians as an introduction to the Catholic faith. Other printing projects will include government notices, various pamphlets and small books supporting church services. [13] [14] [15] [16]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The first news report from the Americas was printed in 1541 when a severe earthquake hit Guatemala. The head line was "Report of the Terrifying Earthquake Which Has Reoccurred in the Indies in a City Called Guatemala." Good headline. You almost don't need to read the story. A second printing press won't be brought to the Americas until 1584 when a fellow named Riccardo will open a print shop in Lima, Peru.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1539, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. A brief history of Chester Racecourse. D2 Architects (Chester, Cheshire) (2015). Retrieved on 19 March 2015. “Records suggest that Chester Racecourse is the oldest in England still in use today. Regular races have been held there since 1539 when -- under the reign of Henry VIII and with the consent of the City's Lord Mayor, Henry Gee -- the race took place on Shrove Tuesday for the prize of a silver bell.”
  2. History on Chester Racecourse. Chester Racecourse (OFFICIAL SITE) (2015). Retrieved on 19 March 2015. “Chester was a major maritime port in the medieval period, and in the 13th century, Water Gate served as the main harbour. However, increased silting, combined with a falling sea level, led to the creation of the racecourse on land known as the Roodee -- the name derived from 'rood' (the Saxon word for cross) and 'eye' (the Norman word for island). Roodee therefore means 'island of the cross' -- part of a sandstone cross stands within the racecourse.”
  3. Welcome to Chester Races!. Chester Walls (2008). Retrieved on 19 March 2015. “'Upon Goteddsday (Shrove Tuesday) at the crosse upon the Rood Dee, before the mayor of the cittie did offer unto the company of Drapers an homage, a ball of leather, called a footeball, of the value of 3s 4d, which was played for by the shoemakers and saddlers to bring it to the house of the Mayor or either of the Sherriffs. Much harm was done, some having their bodies bruised and crushed, some their armes, heads, legges broken, some otherwise maimed and in peril of their life'.”
  4. Chester's Roodee Cross. Geograph Britain and Ireland (PHOTO) (2008). Retrieved on 19 March 2015. “This ancient 'cross', which is known to have existed in the Middle Ages, is situated in the middle of Chester Racecourse. In fact it gave the name to the area as the Saxon for cross is rood, and the Norse for island is eye, hence rood eye, island of the cross. Apparently very old maps show it in a slightly different location, but the 1891 and modern O.S. maps record it in its present position at the corner of an invisible parish boundary. The city walls and the steps up to Nuns Road can be seen behind the stone, and the white barriers are the part of the actual racecourse circuit.”
  5. gee-gee - definition of gee-gee. The Free Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 19 March 2015. “(Animals) a horse”
  6. Alex Shrugged notes: I found the Chester Racecourse using Google Earth. Search for "Chester Racecourse, Chester, Chesire". It is obvious where the former wetlands were located even today and one can image what would happen if these areas became flooded as they once were.
  7. Parallel Histories: Hernando de Soto. Library of Congress (2005). Retrieved on 19 March 2015. “In May 1539 de Soto and his expedition of 570 men and women arrived near present-day Tampa. His exact route is unknown, but his party became the first Europeans to penetrate the Southeast during a remarkable trek through what is now Florida, central Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.”
  8. Hernando de Soto Biography. NotableBiographies.com (2015). Retrieved on 19 March 2015. “Hoping to find another Peru, de Soto and 620 men landed south of modern Tampa Bay, Florida, on May 30, 1539. His party encountered a man named Juan Ortiz, a survivor of an earlier failed expedition to Florida, who had lived among the Indians for twelve years. With Ortiz acting as interpreter, de Soto began his search for treasure and an advanced Indian civilization. Marching up the west coast of Florida, he spent the winter near present site of Tallahassee.”
  9. Hernando de Soto. All About Explorers (2015). Retrieved on 19 March 2015. “King Charles I of Spain authorized him to conquer and colonize the region that is now the southeastern United States. Off went Hernando on another road trip through what is now Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, and Mississippi.”
  10. Hernando de Soto. Biography.com (2015). Retrieved on 19 March 2015. “By May 18, 1539, de Soto and his fleet at last set out for Florida. On May 25 they landed at Tampa Bay. For the next three years de Soto and his men explored the southeastern United States, facing ambushes and enslaving natives along the way.”
  11. (1910) Hernando de Soto, The Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 19 March 2015. “hey proceeded with favourable weather until 25 May, when land was seen and they cast anchor in a bay to which they gave the name of Espiritu Santo (now Tampa Bay). The army landed on Friday, 30 May, two leagues from an Indian village. From this point the Spaniards began their explorations of the wild unknown country to the north and west which lasted for nearly three years. They passed through a region already made hostile by the violence of the invader Narvaez, and they were constantly deceived by the Indians, who tried to get them as far away as possible by telling them stories of great wealth which was to be found at remote points. They wandered from place to place, always disappointed in their expectations, but still lured onward by the tales they heard of the vast riches which lay just beyond.” 
  12. Hernando de Soto Arrives and Explores Florida. University of South Florida (2003). Retrieved on 19 March 2015. “De Soto sent guides ahead to locate and chart a course for his army. The expedition set sail for Florida on the 18th of May 1539, with five large vessels and four smaller ones. On these vessels were de Soto's army as well as priests, women, horses, mules, war dogs, and pigs. On May 25th, they made landfall in the Tampa Bay area. De Soto's expedition initially landed at Piney Point. They made camp at Uzita, which was a native village on the northern shore of the Little Manatee River.”
  13. "Part 4 Colonial Printers and Papers", A Publisher's History of American Magazines (PDF). “The first printing press in North America was brought to Mexico City from Spain in 1539. Archbishop Zummaraga of Mexico had ordered a native-language catechism from Juan Cromberger, the leading printer of Seville, and encouraged Cromberger to open a branch in Mexico City.” 
  14. Printers - Cromberger, Juan, d. 1540. Primeros Libros (2015). Retrieved on 19 March 2015. “In June 1539, Juan Pablos signed a contract to serve as typesetter and administrator for &lquot;the House of Cromberger&rquot; in Mexico. Also in 1539, the House of Cromberger was extended a &lquot;privilege&rquot; (a monopoly) by the bishops of New Spain and it was seen and approved by the viceroy and Royal Council. Juan Cromberger died in September 1540, but Juan Pablos observed the use of &lquot;casa de Cromberger&rquot; until at least 1544.”
  15. Bishop Juan de Zumárraga - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 19 March 2015.
  16. Cristóbal de Cabrera. Manual de adultos. En casa de Juan Cromberger. 

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