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Here Comes the Cannon

The French are credited with having invented the cannon in 1325. Edward III of England will copy and use it in battle a few years later. The first cannon is a vase-like bottle, tipped on its side, set on a wooden frame with a large arrow sticking out of the barrel. The cannon brought fear to the battlefield... mostly to those men who had to light it off. Medieval technology makes it difficult to cast reliable iron cannons. They tend to crack and blow up. The first recorded fatality from direct cannon fire will occur in 1428 when a cannon ball bursts through a window as Thomas Montique, the 4th Earl of Salisbury, is looking out. He will die six days later. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
This early cannon is a scare weapon and nothing more. The European gunpowder mixture is weak because they are using calcium nitrate as saltpeter and they don't have the gunpowder mixture right. With very little natural saltpeter available in Europe, they are importing it from China which makes it expensive. In 100 years or so they will switch to potassium nitrate which is better.

Steven Harris might want to comment on this....

Oddly enough, during World War I, a shortage of acetone used in the production of cordite (a smokeless gunpowder) will force the British government to use HORSE CHESTNUTS in a BIOFUEL fermentation process to produce the needed acetone. Current day methods strip acetone from petroleum products, but interest in biofuels has been revived in recent years. Aside from ethanol and acetone, such a process can produce butanol as a fuel. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13]

How the Dark Ages Became Dark

The poet, Francesco Petrarch, enters the city of Florence and falls in love. Florence is considered the cradle of the Renaissance and it begins right here with Francesco Petrarch. Petrarch's poetry will define the sonnet and his work will be studied by Shakespeare and Milton. Petrarch will also write a series of dialogs with his hero, Cicero, an ancient Roman philosopher. He will point to that period between the fall of Roman Empire and his own age as lost in darkness and ignorance.... a dark age. His view of the past will also darken for him after witnessing the Black Death. [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

"My fate is to live
amid varied and confusing storms.
But for you perhaps, if as I hope and wish
you will live long after me,
there will follow a better age.
This sleep of forgetfulness
will not last for ever.
When the darkness has been dispersed,
our descendants can come again
in the former pure radiance."
-- Petrarch, Africa.[21]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Petrarch also fell in love with a married woman... Laura de Noves, the wife of Count Hugues de Sade... yes... an ancestor of the Marquis de Sade of 1740. It was common in Florence for married women to have admirers... men tempting them with gifts and flowery prose. Apparently Laura spurned Petrarch's advances, causing his unrequited love to be expressed in prose and poetry. She will be taken by the Black Death in 1348. Although 17th century historians will accept Petrarch's judgement of the interim dark period, modern historians disagree. Essentially, the earlier Middle Ages were edited out of existence by the Black Death and by the survivors who will have no desire to look back to those dark times.

Aztecs Finally Find Their Capital

The founding of Tenochtitlan is dated from this time. It will sit on an island in the midst of a basin located in present day Mexico City. It will eventually fall to the Spanish Conquistadors in 1521 led by Hernando Cortez. Much of the lake around Mexico City was drained in 1900 but the land itself is unstable, prone to earthquakes and the basin tends to hold in the air pollution, making it difficult to breathe. [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Some might ask why such a large city would be located on an island? Well... all cities start as small towns and grow beyond their boundaries. The island may have been chosen for defensive purposes but more likely it was chosen because the prime real estate had been taken already.

See Also


  1. Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim (Barbara Tuchman, bio). A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. Ballantine, 1979. p. 70-71. (BOOK)
  2. Hindley, Geoffrey. Medieval Siege and Siegecraft, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2009, pp. 63-65. (BOOK)
  3. Cannon - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  4. Gunpowder artillery in the Middle Ages - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  5. Pot-de-fer - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  6. English cannon - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  7. Horse Chestnut - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  8. Royal Navy Cordite Factory, Holton Heath: World War I - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  9. Cordite - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  10. Shell Crisis of 1915 - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  11. Chaim Weizmann: Scientific Career - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  12. Clostridium acetobutylicum - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  13. Acetone-butanol-ethanol fermentation - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  14. Alchin, L.K., Petrarch, LordsandLadies.org, 2013 [last update]
  15. Petrarch Quotes, QuotesBy.net, 2014 [last update]
  16. Petrarch, Poets.org, Academy of American Poets. 2014 [last update]
  17. Petrarchan Sonnet (Example: John Milton), World-Class-Poetry.com, 2012 [last update]
  18. Sadlon, Peter. Francesco Petrarch - Father of Humanism, Petrarch.PeterSadlon.com, 2007-Sep-10.
  19. Ford, Jeremiah. "Francesco Petrarch." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 2014-Mar-20.
  20. Durant, Will and Durant, Ariel. The Story Of Civilization, Volume 5, The Renaissance: A History of Civilization in Italy from 1304-1576 A.D.. 1953. pp. 4-11. (BOOK)
  21. Sadlon, Peter. Petrarch: Africa, Book 9. paragraph 450 (Latin). Petrarch.PeterSadlon.com, 2007-Sep-10 [last update].
  22. Valley of Mexico: Air Pollution - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  23. Greater Mexico City: Geography and environment - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  24. Grun. Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991. p. 186. (BOOK)
  25. Tenochtitlan, aztec-history.net, 2014 [last update]
  26. Tenochtitlan Facts - Tenochtitlan, tenochtitlanfacts.com, 2012 [last update]
  27. Tenochtitlan - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  28. Fall of Tenochtitlan - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]

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