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tv   [untitled]    May 12, 2012 8:00pm-8:30pm EDT

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imperical phenomena, things happening in the world, beyond simply thinking about things in new ways and being shown things that didn't even -- >> we were just having a conversation he was suggesting basically political science tools that i can apply to my data and come up with some pretty interesting conclusions, so right there is the conference in action. >> in the field of political science regarding congress, what are some of the top issues that are coming out? what are the areas of discussion your students want to hear you talk about, are asking you about, or your colleagues are researching it? >> there is a lot of work on parties, and people trying to make sense of a question that you raised earlier which is why are the parties polarizing as much as they are? how strong are parties? what does it mean for a party to influence the behavior of a rank and file member? these are live questions from scholars, and in many ways
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unresolved questions. >> the period you're writing about is we saw the decline of the wig party, correct, and then the birth of the republican party. >> right. >> did that come out of some of this clash in congress, this violence, this emotion that was running? >> i would say they're related, right, because some of what's happening there is slavery related and slavery is part of what's particularly in the 1850s fueling that violence, so i would say that they're related. the fact is, though, i think it is tempting to think that the wig party which is kind of reform and morality and you would assume they're not fighters and that the democrats are the ones who are the fighters. there are bullies and democratic bullies, so you can't really connect it in that way. you can say things got violent and the wigs took their marbles and went home because they're fighting the fight as well, but i think the slavery issue makes it all one bundle. >> along parties, does the tea
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party have legs for political power in congress? do you see a day where there may be a tea party, quote, candidate? obviously there are republicans that follow the tea party but does that have any legs as a political party. >> as a separate third party. >> absolutely. >> unlikely. at least in the short-term the tea party just for the republicans just as the occupy wall street, they're not sending candidates to office but they're a disaffected wing and it goes back to the party how do parties maintain discipline given huge disagreements among them? we saw this with boehner trying to negotiate with obama over the debt ceiling and trying to maintain a single front when he has a whole bunch of rank and file members who are gunning for him and are not willing to
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compromise in any level. >> william howell and joanne freeman from yale, we appreciate you stopping by here on american history tv. thank you for being with us. >> thank you for having us. >> each week american history tv sits in on a lecture with one of the nation's college professors. you can watch the classes here every saturday at 8 p.m. and midnight eastern and sundays at 1 p.m. this week history professor william fowler looks at early atlantic exploration, christopher columbus and the discovery of the caribbean and the americas. this hour-long class took place at northeastern university in boston. >> well, welcome back. good morning. do you remember the last time we met we were talking about the portuguese discoveries, the exploration they made down the coast of africa, and also the navigational techniques that they developed, the astro and
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the compass and the log, et cetera, and that the portuguese were the first europeans to really venture out onto the atlantic but they ventured south. they didn't venture west. keep in mind, too, as swung mentioned in the last class about the world being flat. europeans did not believe that. 13th and 14th century europeans knew the world was round. this map which is not meant for navigation shows you this is a 13th century european map of the world and you might not be able to make out the continents and the countries certainly but you can see indeed they saw the world as round. the question was not how the shape of the earth, the question is whether or not you could actually make it around the earth, that they knew theoretically if you sailed west you would come to the east and how far that would be and what dangers they would encounter, none of that was known to them. while the portuguese were working their way down the
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southern coast towards the tip of africa there were another group of people pushing off in a different direction onto the atlantic and these were the vikings as they're sometimes called. in the common image of course the vikings are seen as ferocious warriors, conquerers, looters, there was a prayer that monks used to offer in medieval europe, dear, lord, protect us from the wrath of the north man. some of that is true certainly. for the most part the norths, scandinavians, were farmers, sea traders, fishermen and for reasons not entirely clear beginning about the year 800, these norths began to push into the atlantic. now, it could have been that there was climate change in scandinavia that was harming the harvest and could have been over population. not quite sure. for whatever reason the nors
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began to leave scandanavia and venture out onto the atlantic. they weren't venturing out as explorers. they weren't looking for new continents or the route to asia out of china but they were looking for other plays to settle and they began to island hop. they came from scandanavia over to the shet land islands to the farrow islands and you can see they would come down the coast of england and ireland and europe and france and eventually some would get into the mediterranean, so they were wide ranging, very wide ranging. >> you said they went to north america. >> yeah. >> did they have anything documenting this or just going around? >> great question. where do we get the information about these vikings? mostly from what are called the icelandic sagas, and they're oral traditions the vikings, the nors men kept and written around
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the 13th century. we don't have actual eyewitness first hand accounts of the nors setting out on the atlantic but we have the oral traditions written down. so they begin to push out and, again, think of these people as kind of island hopping. indeed the voyages they're making here in the vessels they had were probably not more than two or three days so they're not going vast out into the atlantic. here are the vessels they used. we talked about the egyptian vessel and the greek trirene and the war ship and they were not suited for long distance travel or travel on a ferocious ocean. you can see the viking log ship here is sort of the same way, not much free board. we talked about free board, the distance between the tarp and the water line so rough water would be rough water for this vessel, relatively small, 60 or
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70 feet long and we can see from this is an archaeological excavation, a real viking long ship, long boat, and we can see, too, the remnants of a mast here and these are the kinds of vessels the vikings used to sail out onto the atlantic. where did they go? we saw on the previous map they went down the coast of europe. they went to the ferro islands, shet land island, ireland and scotland and ventured a little further as well and ventured first over here to iceland. again, the journey from the north of scotland or the shet land islands towards iceland is not all that far, 300, 400 miles maybe. the vikings began to notice, you might ask, well, why did they sail west at all? because as they saw in the water they saw debris coming from the west and birds and so they understood that there had to be
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something out there, these birds are coming from somewhere and the debris in the water has to be coming from somewhere so that's why they sailed west. about the year 800, again, evidences we have archaeological evidence and no pinpointed but about the year 800 the vikings arrived in iceland and settled iceland. they settled there. not many of them, one of the things these people encounter of course is that the lands here are pretty fragile. i don't know if any of you have seen iceland. it is not a country that can support a large population, particularly in days of agriculture so they couldn't support a large viking population. about the year 900 one of these vikings, a man named eric the red ran into difficulties with local authorities and was apparently exiled out of iceland and told go west, get out of here. he did. he is going in a direction that
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they think there is something. look here between iceland and greenland, which we'll see in a moment, not a vast distance, so you can imagine standing on the shore of iceland seeing birds flying from the west and seeing debris in the water and so ever i c eric the red ex whiles from iceland and head west and finds greenland. he sees this, eric sees this, and sort of as an opportunity for real estate development. greenland you can probably call it whiteland, you might want to call it gray land, might want to call it icy land, rock land, but if you have seen greenland you wouldn't think of it as greenland. eric wants to attract people there. he calls it greenland. he returns home to iceland and he tells people he found this greenland. that begins a viking migration, a nors migration to greenland
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and they establish communities along the south shore of greenland, the south and southwestern shore of greenland. these viking settlements are going to be in greenland for almost 500 years. think about that for a minute. >> [ inaudible ]. >> around 900 to 1,000. we're talking about a very long period of time. they're here in greenland, 500 years before columbus. they're here 500 years before columbus. it is really a remarkable story. yeah? >> what happened to the vikings? >> that's a great question. what happened? we know they weren't there by the time 1500, thereabouts, we know that there are no viking settlements in greenland. again, the evidence is uncertain. it would seem a couple things happened, madelyn. one is perhaps the climate change. it got colder. we know that from climate
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evidence from climate history, that they have the little ice age as it is called so it probably did get colder in greenland which of course would impact domestic animals, agriculture, et cetera. they may have been attacked by pirates and others. there are lots of people who begin in the 1400 and 1500s, lots of vessels sailing through here and may have attack and had sacked some of these towns, and there is also something else that's curious and relates back to our friends the portuguese. one of the big export from greenland, what do you think the greenlanders would be sending back to iceland and back to scandinavia? >> ice? >> no, no, well, scandinavians have enough ice of their own. what might they send back? that's value? >> fish. >> lumber maybe? >> not so much lumber. there aren't trees. walrus tusks, ivory, ivory is
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really quite valuable and the portuguese as you know in the 15th century they push down africa and what can you get out of africa? >> elephant tusks. the portuguese find a greater supply of ivory and cheaper and it is likely then it is kind of an economic impact here, the portuguese in africa have an economic impact on the struggling communities in greenland. while these greenlanders are living here, they, too, look to the west. one of the things and one of the things matthew they do lack in greenland is timber. they're looking for a source of timber, timber for building, for fuel, and they sail west looking for timber, again the birds, the debris, and as you can see, not a very long distance as they sail west and they encounter north america. the first of the vikings to encounter north america is the son of eric the red, called
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leaf, eric's son, leaf, the son of eric, and it is leaf erickson who ventures west and we know encounters north america. he probably went first to labrador in the upper coast and didn't find much many the way of timber there and sailed further south until he would find, he is looking for a reasonable place to live and resources and agriculture, et cetera, and he finds it. he finds it. on the north, on the tip of new finland, the island of new finland, on the northwest corner in a little peninsula that juts up there is a place called ance la meadow. in the 1960s scandinavian archeologists began to look in this area. it is interesting how they
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decided to do this. they looked at maps from the 14th and 15th century of this part of the world, primitive to be sure, primitive to be sure and the maps did show and gross outline something that looked like new finland and then began to apply kind of common sense and if you were sailing west from greenland, what would likely not first place looking at tides and currents and wins and they sort of narrowed it all down and came to this place called ance la meadow and they found archaeological remains of the vikings settlement on new finland. this is leaf erickson's settlement. what you see here is a reconstruction of the homes, parks canada, the canadian equivalent of the american national park service now administers this site, a remarkable place. i have been there several times, and i really if you have an opportunity, it is a little out of the way, that's for sure. if you have the opportunity to visit it, it is really quite
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remarkable to come here and see the actual archaeological site of people who lived in north america, europeans, not natives obviously, the europeans that lived here in the year 1,000. this is a reconstruction of the kind of huts they lived in. here is one of the archaeological digs. you can see by the way just in the distance the shoreline and it is a gentle sloping shore. it is green. i took these photographs in the summertime, not sure what it is like in the winter. you can see it is sort of a welcoming place. it doesn't look harsh or hostile. so they settle here then. they lived here. now, let me go back here for a moment. the question might arise but they're not there now, what happened? why didn't they stay? we think they stayed here in ans la meadow not more than a couple years, so it wasn't a long settlement. there are things we know about
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the settlement from archaeological evident. we know, for example, women were here which sort of indicates that somebody might have been thinking about a relatively permanent place. how do you think we might know that women were here from archeology? >> remains of different types of clothing? >> clothing, but also what we found, i shouldn't say we, what the archeologists found were the remnants of a spinning wheel. a spinning wheel. the nors warriors didn't spin but their wives did. we know that women were here and other archaeological remains you just identified indicate clearly they were here and here for a period of time. now, what happened? why didn't they stay? well, think for a moment, these norsmen find warriors, no question about that, and they have metal weapons, and they meet natives called the inway,
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may active peoples. the native peoples were still in the stone age. when you think about the encounter here of two cultures coming against one another, and their capacity to defend or attack, the viking weapons while metal weapons were not far superior to the weapons that the skra links had, and there are more scralings so it seems likely then the vikings could not sustain themselves against the hostility of the scralings. that's going to change in about 500 years and what's going to make it possible for a relatively small number of europeans to sustain themselves again hostile people. >> guns. >> gun powder, cannons, muskets,
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and the vikings don't have that technology. it will not development that far kind of war-making technology. yeah? >> thanksgiving. >> thanksgiving, what do you mean? >> to sustain the population because they didn't have any -- >> good point, yeah, yeah, good point. this is not particularly rich agriculture country. unless they had good relations who would know how to hunt and gather, it would be very difficult for them to survive, you're right, and they did not have. a little sideby here for a moment. recent archaeological excavations in the late 20th and 21st century, farther north we find european goods, so on one hand the hostility between the two and also seems that for over a period of time maybe hundreds of years, maybe hundreds of years, the vikings first of new
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finland and then in greenland are trading in the arctic. there is an interchange there. there is an interchange, the archaeological evidence would seem to indicate that. people always say, well, didn't the vikings come farther south? the answer to that is probably not. every once in awhile someone will come up with some kind of theory, you know, that the vikings were in new england or the vikings were in rhode island or some place like that or minnesota, not the football team but the original vikings. that doesn't seem to have much substance. we know for certain without question they're in new finland. we know they were trading with the inyou it in the arctic and then it goes away. it goes away by 1500, roughly 1500 and the vikings are no longer either in greenland or certainly not in north america. so it is an astounding story
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about the accomplishment, of that there is no question. as historians we have to ask, so, what was the long-term impact? the answer to that is probably not much because no one else really knew about this. there was no sustained settlement, no big or important cultural interaction here, extraordinary achievement, yes, but in terms of impact upon the settlement and the evolution of north america, probably not terribly important. yeah? >> when did europe find out there was contact with the west? >> i am sorry? >> when did western europe or western powers have an understanding of the vikings establishments? >> that's a great question. when did or let me rephrase that slightly. did other western europeans know about the vikings in greenland,
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iceland? the answer to that would seem to be yes. they new inferentially, but they would, for example, there was european trade with iceland, so french, spanish, british sailors did go to iceland, and it is probably true that when they're in iceland they might well have heard stories about something to the west. we have no really hard evidence of that. common sense would tell us that sailors would tell stories to one another. it is possible. for example, christopher columbus did apparently visit iceland during his early stages as a sailor, as a trader and the merchant, and one can speculate when columbus was in iceland did he hear about these stories from the west? maybe. maybe not. you have to ask yourself, he doesn't speak icelandic so could hen understand and we'll see in a moment columbus wasn't looking to find greenland, north america or iceland. he had entirely different motives.
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the europeans did hear the stories, the oral tradition. they did hear the stories, no question about that. again, historical impact, probably fairly minimal. not so for this guy. christopher columbus. i need to warn you about one thing. christopher columbus, we don't have a clue what he looked like. this could be christopher columbus, could be almost anyone from the time period. we have no life portraits of christopher columbus so you can imagine him in any way you want. he is born in genoa iltly, 1451. his father is in the wool business, in the mediterranean at that time period means travel by sea. as an early age columbus, young christopher, goes to sea in this wool business. he seems to enjoy it, seems to
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be pretty good at it, and he takes up the life of a sailor. we know that he sails to portugal. there is the place to go. think about this, late 15th century. what do you think is going on down on the water front of lisbon? what are they talking about? what do you think they're talking about down there? >> india. >> india, china, the exploration of the captains, what's coming up, more news, and all of these exciting things which columbus hears. columbus also watching these portuguese and sees how they navigate and use the compass and the astro laid and he takes courage from them because these are pen, the portuguese, able to make long voyages and come back. that's the important part, isn't it? long voyages out but they come back. from them columbus learns about what sea stores to you take? what lasts on a long trip? if you're going off on a hiking
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trip into the appear lashss, what do you bring that will last and not go bad? not an unimportant question. what ship spoils point spoil? what kind of ves ls to use? columbus learns, just absorbs all of this from the portuguese shipments. you had a question. >> no. >> it absorbs all of these portuguese shipments and learns how to handle these type of vessels and we talked about the portuguese, very handy and weatherly and sea worthy and learned how to sail close to shore, in and out and how to master the sort of long distance voyages that the portuguese were accustomed to making and he also knew about the larger vessels and what their capabilities are and learned how to handle metal and where do you learn about that? how are you going to handle a
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crew on a long voyage? what are the techniques? all of these things he is learning and observing and participating in from the portuguese. well, where does columbus get the idea of sailing west to come to the east? he gets it again from the general knowledge of the time that the world is round. columbus who by this time experienced navigating and a pretty good chart maker. he learned that from the portuguese, too, and he begins to calculate the size of the earth. how big is this ball? columbus comes up with an estimate that is grossly inaccurate. he comes up with an estimate of the size of the earth which is considerably smaller than it actually is which of course is a good thing for him of course. if columbus knew the true size of the earth he would know that what he proceed poesds to do west to come to the east wasn't
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possible and so he sort of shingz the earth and he also knows what else does he not know about and you can shing the size of the earth but if you're sailing west to get to east there is left-hand, something called north america, south america, and he has no knowledge of that, none, none. he thinks it is ocean between europe and china and then shrinks that ocean. columbus comes up with his proposal and tries to pedal his wears and he needs sponsorship. he needs someone to finance what could be an expensive voyage, like going to the moon, okay, going to mars, cost money. columbus has to find the money. he go first to this man, henry the vii, tudor, king of england, known as the biggest skin flint in europe. henry the vii listens and says no. columbus then decides, well, england is not going to sponsor the voyage, so he goes other
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places. he tries francois i, king of france, but the french nation at this particular time is somewhat in crisis and francois i is not willing to support him either, and so columbus begins to go and visit with other people and here you see a wonderful depiction. here he is making his proposal to a group of people and goes to portugal and makes his pitch to the portuguese and the king of portugal and the people that know sea fairing, he will do what executives do when in doubt what do they do when in doubt? >> [ inaudible ]. >> exactly, you call in the former committee, hire consultants, and that's what you see depicted here, columbus making his proposal and the king's consultants looking it over. the king of portugal and the portuguese skeptical. again, not skeptical that you can sail to the west and come to
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the east but also keep in mind going to the portuguese, they're already invested very heavily in the africa route, and the idea of now going across, so the portuguese are not keen to do this at all, not keen at all. columbus next tries the spain, ferdinand, isabella. at this time spain and portugal are rivals, very serious rivals for trade and for other political reasons as well. so columbus makes his pitch to the spanish court and that's what you see here. again, the consultants pondering and thinking and looking at the charts and the consultants came back with an opinion and said you have made the earth too small. they were right. they were right. the experts in portugal and spain were right. you have made the


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