The History Portal
History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.
History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them. Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.
Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends, because they do not show the "disinterested investigation" required of the discipline of history. Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is considered within the Western tradition to be the "father of history", and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts survived.
Ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematical elements of historical investigation. Often history is taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.
The Act of Independence of Lithuania
: Lietuvos Nepriklausomybės Aktas
) or Act of February 16
was signed by the Council of Lithuania
on February 16, 1918, proclaiming the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania
, governed by democratic
principles, with Vilnius
as its capital. The Act was signed by all twenty representatives
, chaired by Jonas Basanavičius
. The Act of February 16 was the end result of a series of resolutions on the issue, including one issued by the Vilnius Conference
and the Act of January 8. The path to the Act was long and complex because the German Empire
exerted pressure on the Council to form an alliance. The Council had to carefully maneuver between the Germans, whose troops were present in Lithuania, and the demands of the Lithuanian people.
The immediate effects of the announcement of Lithuania's re-establishment of independence were limited. Publication of the Act was prohibited by the German authorities, and the text was distributed and printed illegally. The work of the Council was hindered, and Germans remained in control over Lithuania. The situation changed only when Germany lost World War I in the fall of 1918. In November 1918 the first Cabinet of Lithuania was formed, and the Council of Lithuania gained control over the territory of Lithuania. Independent Lithuania, although it would soon be battling the Wars of Independence, became a reality.
(10 September 1793 – 2 August 1834) was an early 19th-century English diarist, social observer and political hostess on behalf of the Tory
party. During the 1820s she was the "closest woman friend
" of the hero of Waterloo
and British Prime Minister
, the 1st Duke of Wellington
. She maintained a long correspondence and association with the Duke, all of which she recorded in her diaries, which are consequently extensively used in all authoritative biographies of the Duke of Wellington.
Born into the periphery of the British aristocracy and married to a politician and member of the establishment, she was perfectly placed to meet all the key figures of the Regency and late Napoleonic eras. Recording meetings and conversations often verbatim, she has today become the "Mrs. Arbuthnot" quoted in many biographies and histories of the era. Her observations and memories of life within the British establishment are not confined to individuals but document politics, great events and daily life with an equal attention to detail, providing historians with a clear picture of the events described. Her diaries were themselves finally published in 1950 as The Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot.
Did you know...
- ... that Giovanni de Ventura, a plague doctor who may have worn a beak doctor costume (pictured), was restricted by a covenant to treat only infectious patients? In the nose of the mask, there were types of plants that were used to filter the sickness from the wearer.
- ... that in some archaic Greek alphabets, an Ε could look like a Β, a Β like a C, a Γ like an Ι, an Ι like a Σ, or a Σ like an Μ?
- ... that the Chinese government has published a list of sixty-four important cultural relics that are forbidden to be exhibited outside of China?
- ... that the 1886 novel Albertine exped the abolition of public prostitution in Norway?
- ... that Carl Sagan worked with the US Air Force on detonating a nuclear device on the Moon?
- ... that Olympic gold medals have been made out of silver, jade, and glass?
- ... that in 1945 a Japanese battalion was rearmed to serve alongside the British 5th Parachute Brigade in the Far East?
- ... that Solomon was accidentally castrated as an infant?
On this day
- 1290 – Edward I issued an edict expelling all Jews from England.
- 1806 – A gunpowder magazine explosion in Birgu, Malta, killed around 200 people.
- 1949 – Francisco Javier Arana, Chief of the Armed Forces of Guatemala, was killed in a shootout with supporters of President Juan José Arévalo.
- 1966 – Angered by racism and poverty, African American residents of the Hough neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, began to riot for six days.
- 2014 – Silvio Berlusconi (pictured), the former Prime Minister of Italy, who had previously been found guilty of paying for an underage prostitute, had his conviction overturned on appeal.
Bartolomé de las Casas (d. 1566) · Clare Stevenson (b. 1903) · Priyanka Chopra (b. 1982)
What we find in books is like the fire in our hearths. We fetch it from our neighbors, we kindle it at home, we communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.
— Voltaire, 18th century French philosopher
"The ideas which now pass for brilliant innovations and advances are in fact mere revivals of ancient errors, and a further proof of the dictum that those who are ignorant of the past are condemned to repeat it."
— Henry Hazlitt
Things you can do