Sunday, March 29, 2015

The History Files: Episode 006 - A Cavalcade of Historical Fiction plus Major Events of the 1450s

In this episode of the History Files podcast, Gordon talks with special guest Nancy Frye about five major events of the 1450s that shaped our world, after first chatting extensively about historical fiction in film, television, and literature...the good and the not so good.

Special note: One of the things I didn’t squeeze into the show, while discussing China and silver, was the importance of Spanish silver on world trade. The Spanish “real” was, during the 17th and 18th Centuries, the standard form of exchange between people, nations, and cultures everywhere in the world. Renowned for its purity and reliable weight, these “Spanish Dollars” or “pieces of eight” were hugely important in world trade. Spanish ships carrying silver real’s sailed across the Pacific from Peru and Mexico to Manila, which became the primary trade entrepot for Chinese merchants engaged in commerce with the Europeans, and likewise Spaniards engaged in the China trade. Similarly, the “Spanish Dollar” was the standard form of exchange within all of the American colonies, Spanish and English alike (and I imagine French and Portuguese as well!). Since small change wasn’t minted, in order to “make change” these silver dollars would be cut into up to eight pieces, thus the “pieces of eight” nomenclature. See also the doggerel “Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar...”, being a quarter, half and three-quarters of a dollar respectively. 1/8 of a dollar was 12-1/2 cents in “American money”, as it were, but seldom used. The quarter and half-dollar denominations became standard, even though the name “piece of eight” still referred to the original sum of the parts.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The History Files - episode 004: The Versailles Treaty

In episode 004 of the History Files podcast, Gordon and Dylan discuss the consequences of the Versailles treaty, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and other related events from the vantage point of 2015 and the centennial of World War 1.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The History Files - episode 003: the Ukraine

In this episode of The History Files, Gordon is skeptical about promises of self-determination, tells us why we in the West should care about the Ukraine, and declares the A-10 the Chevy pickup of tactical aircraft.