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Gutenberg Is Sued for Printing

The Gutenberg printing press is going to change everything but it's exact beginnings are murky. The first official mention of Johannes Gutenberg and any kind of printing is in a lawsuit he is currently involved in. Whatever he did, he was apparently experimenting with printing before now. He won't introduce a printing press with movable type until around 1439... just a few more years. When he does, he is going to put more than a few copyists out of work. They will manage to hang on for a time. The artwork they create in books is valued just for the beautiful lettering, but in the long run, copying books by hand will become a rare event. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I once attended the completion of a handwritten Torah scroll. The scribe allowed me to draw a letter into the scroll so that I could claim to have participated in its creation. It was a moving event.

The Koreans came up with movable type a few years ago but it won't do the Koreans as much good as it will for the Europeans. Koreans are still using traditional Chinese symbols called Hanzi. Each Hanzi symbol represents an idea or word. In the Korean printing house, these symbols are sitting on racks, sorted by sound. The European alphabet is sorted by convention and there are only a few characters to sort in any case. Even if one makes a mistake with a letter or two, the meaning still comes through. This is not often true with Chinese Hanzi or Japanese Kanji. The Koreans will switch to a block-based system but the Hangul alphabet won't be accepted officially in Korea until 1894. [4] [5]

China: The Great Wall Withdrawal

With the death of the Yongol Emperor, China has begun a policy of withdrawal. In previous years they had pushed into what is present day Vietnam and north into Mongolia, but they have met heavy resistance. The "Great Viet" dynasty (Dai Viet), kicked the Chinese out in 1428 and the Mongols have been pushing back hard. This has led to a Chinese embargo of goods to Mongolia. China has also completed a series of defensive walls to the north of Beijing. Most people today call it "The Great Wall of China" but the Ming Dynasty calls it the Border Barriers. It is not the first such wall to be constructed but the Ming dynasty will discover that when men abandon the defensive walls, a wall is no defense at all. [6] [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Oddly enough, the embargo of critical goods that China imposes actually spurs Mongol cross-border raids to get the things that they need. The Chinese abandoned the last frontier garrison at Xanadu in 1430 for economic reasons but these forward bases had a purpose and the Chinese are going to find that it is more expensive NOT to have such bases. The Ming Dynasty will become dependent on their defensive wall, and like the French Maginot Line at the beginning of World War 2, once the line is breached, there is very little of substance behind it. Secondary defenses will wither away.

Second Take regarding ISIS/ISIL (optional, as always): There is a temptation to draw a comparison between the Ming abandonment of Xanadu and the ISIS invasion of Iraq which caught the USA flat-footed with no garrisoned troops in forward positions but that comparison only works if the USA was willing to use forward-based troops in a aggressive manner. It is not the equipment, the men nor the money that is the issue, but the leadership's willingness to do what is necessary or to live with the consequences. The USA was not willing in Iraq so now everyone is living (and some are dying) with the consequences. No whining.

Parliament: It's a Swedish Thing

If you recall, in 1280, King Magnus the 3rd of Sweden offered to make anyone a noble (and given them tax-free status) if they would pay a lump sum or commit an able-bodied son to the king's army as a knight. This year Sweden has a meeting of the nobles in Arboga for their first parliament or "Riksdag of the Estates". It is an informal gathering of the nobles with their own interests in mind. No peasants are represented. The word "Riksdag" comes from the old Norse word "thing" which means "assembly". [10] [11] [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The peasantry is considered one of the three "Estates" (the other two being the Church and the Nobility) that hold the medieval world together, but to suggest that the peasants needed representation would have sounded ridiculous to the nobility of the day. In modern times, the term "Estate" usually refers to the Media (The Fourth Estate) or Wikileaks (The Fifth Estate as it was called in the movie of the same name). For further information, see "Estates of the realm"... a medieval turn of phrase if ever there was one.[13] [14]

100 Years' War: Burgundy Packs It In

After Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, it was thought that a rather troublesome problem had been resolved, but Joan's inspiration, even after death, has quietly infused the French troops with the will to win. It is obvious now which way this war is going and the Duke of Burgundy is on the wrong side. Time to switch. Phillip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, signs a treaty with King Charles the 7th of France and joins the King in his war against the English. In exchange, King Charles promises to punish those who murdered Phillip's father, John the Fearless, who died unexpectedly... with an axe through his head. [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Together, King Charles and Duke Phillip will do what Joan of Arc could not, even though she tried. They will liberate Paris and give the English the boot. 13 years of peace will follow.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1435, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Asimov, Isaac. Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. Garden City, New York: Doubleday. 1982. ISBN 0385177712. pp. 66-67.(BOOK) quote: "By 1435 he was involved in a lawsuit, and in that suit the word drucken (printing) was used. Gutenberg's attempt to make printing practical may have begun as early as that."
  2. Johannes Gutenberg - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  3. Alex Shrugged Notes: I have seen different dates for this event. Such discrepancies are common when reading history. I am using Issac Asimov's date but that doesn't make him right. If you see a different date, just roll with it.
  4. Chinese characters - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  5. Hangul - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  6. Gernet, Jacques. (translated by Foster, J. R. and Hartman, Charles) A History of Chinese Civilization. Cambridge University Press. 1996. pp. 408, 726. (BOOK) Quote: "As was so often the case in Chinese history, the restrictions imposed on trade with the people of the steppe were at the root of the difficulties and of the recrudescence of incursions."
  7. Ming–Ho War (Succession War between the Chinese Ming Dynasty and the Vietnamese Ho Dynasty) - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  8. Yongle Emperor - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  9. Ming Great Wall - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  10. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1991. p. 204. (BOOK) Quote: "Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) meets for the first time."
  11. Riksdag of the Estates - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  12. Thing (assembly) - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  13. Estates of the realm - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  14. The Fifth Estate (2013) - IMDb. 2014 [last update] Description: "A dramatic thriller based on real events that reveals the quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that turned an Internet upstart into the 21st century's most fiercely debated organization."
  15. 1400-1450 AD: 1429, HistoryCentral.com, 2014 [last update] Quote: "1435 AD Peace Treaty of Arras -In 1435, Duke Philip of Burgundy became weary of his alliance with the English. He signed a peace treaty with Charles VI which recognized Charles as the one king of France. Charles promised in return to punish the murders of Philip's father. The English did not accept the peace treaty and warfare continued. Charles and Philip fought together and liberated Paris from the English. A truce then ensued between Britain and France that lasted 13 years."
  16. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1991. p. 204. (BOOK) Quote: "Peace of Arras between Charles VII and Phillip of Burgundy."
  17. Philip the Good - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  18. Joan of Arc - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  19. Congress of Arras - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]

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