Spot the Towns: Answer (Adivina las ciudades: Solución)

The Roman province of Hispania in 125 A.D. [Public domain via Wikipedia]
As promised in The History of Spain in a Dozen Maps last week, here come the answers to the game of Spot the Towns:

Como he prometido en La historia de España en doce mapas la semana pasada,  aquí son las respuestas al juego de Adivina las ciudades:

Beginners / Nivel inicial:
  • Cordóba = Corduba
  • Toledo = Toletum
  • Valencia = Valentia
Intermediate / Intermedio:
  • Cádiz = Gades
  • Cartagena = Nova Carthago
  • Tarragona = Tarraco
Advanced / Avanzado:
  • Zaragoza = Caesaraugusta
  • Mérida = Augusta Emerita
  • León = Castra Legionis
And the bonus city / Y la ciudad extra:
  • Brigantium = La Coruña

La historia de España en doce mapas

Read this in English

1. La prehistoria, 30 000 a.C.

En la edad prehistórica, la Península Ibérica fue, claramente, el lugar donde vivir – como se puede ver en este mapa:

Sitios prehistóricos en España [Gracias a Jesús del blog La Mar de Historias]
Bueno. Hace un año tenía una vacación estupenda en Ribadesella en Asturias – uno de esos lugares, donde sólo los españoles (y surfistas americanos) viajan para veranear y donde es, de hecho, es muy útil ser capaz de hablar español. Puedes encontrarlo en el mapa arriba, donde dice Tito Bustillo.

La Cueva Tito Bustillo, que está unos diez o quince minutos de distancia del centro de Ribadesella andando, es un patriomonio de la humanidad de la UNESCO (como la mejor conocida Altamira). Fue descubierto solo en los años 1960 por unos jovenes, quienes, evidentemente, tenían nada mejor que hacer, y le pusieron el nombre de unos de ellos, quien murió en un accidente de espeleología un poco más tarde. En la cueva descubrieron pinturas y herramientas de la Edad de Piedra; las pinturas más antiguos tienen unos 30 mil años. En un rincón hay unas pinturas de… eh… genitales femeninos, que fueron descubiertos, muy apropriadamente, por una miembro del grupo buscando un poco de privacidad para orinar. O, por le menos, eso dice el guía de turismo. 🙂

2. Asentamientos cartaginenses y griegos, 300 a.C.

La primera parte de ella es, como decíamos, el Occidente; es decir, Ibería; ésta, en su mayor extensión, es poco habitable, pues casi toda se halla cubierta de montes, bosques y llanuras de suelo pobre y desigualmente regado. La región septentrional es muy fría por ser accidentada en extremo, y por estar al lado del mar se halla privada de relaciones y comunicaciones con las demás tierras, de manera que es muy poco hospitalaria. Así es el carácter de esta región. La meridional casi toda ella es fértil, principalmente la de fuera de las Stélai…

Estrabón: Geografía

Asentamientos cartaginenses y griegos el la Península Ibérica, 300 a.C. [Map by CanBea87 via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0]
Los hombres de Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon fueron, claramente, no fueron los únicos quienes aprecieron la Península Ibérica. Además de los celtas omnipresentes viviendo en el interior, unos cartaginenses con iniciativa pronto aparecieron en la costa mediterránea, y, casi de inmediato, fueron seguidos por los griegos.

Lectura recomendada: Geografía, Libro III de Estrabón

3. Hispania (La España Romana, 125 d.C.)

Roman aqueduct in Segovia / Acueducto romano en Segovia

Los romanos legaron a los españoles su idioma, sus leyes y sus acueductos, entre otras cosas. España, por su parte, dio a los romanos a Trajano, a Adriano y a Séneca.

Esta Hispania produce los durísimos soldados, ésta los expertísimos capitanes, ésta los fecundísimos oradores, ésta los clarísimos vates, ésta es madre de jueces y príncipes, ésta dio para el Imperio a Trajano, a Adriano, a Teodosio.

(Latino Pacato Drepanio)

El mapa siguiente habla por sí mismo, si estás bendecido con la aptitud lingüística y/o un conocimiento básico de la geografía de la Península Ibérica:

La provincia romano de Hispania en 125 d.C. [Public domain via Wikipedia]
Un juego de adivina las ciudades 🙂

Nivel inicial:

  • Cordóba
  • Toledo
  • Valencia

Intermedio:

  • Cádiz
  • Cartagena
  • Tarragona

Avanzado:

  • Zaragoza
  • Mérida
  • León

Más puntos si puedes identificar Brigantium ¡(sin buscar en Wikipedia)!

Si quieres, puedes dejar tus soluciones en los comentarios abajo. :) O puedes encontrar las respuestas en Waterblogged en la semana que viene.

4. Los visigodos, 700 d.C.

Las provincias de la España visigoda [Image by Medievalista via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0]
De verdad, fue todo una procesión… una nación después de otra, casi tan mal como la llanura panónica, aquel cementerio de triste fama de los nómadas.

Celtas, cartaginenses, griegos, romanos… y después de los romanos, los visigodos. (Ni siquiera fueron los últimos.)

Los visigodos vinieron, vieron y vencieron, y después, fueron vencidos en su momento por los moros de África. El honor de perder su reino a los moros pertenece al rey Rodrido – sobre quien he escrito mucho antes de hoy (enlace abajo).

Lectura recomendada: La lamentación de don Rodrigo

5. La Reconquista, 756 d.C. – 1492 d.C.

Por las torres de Valencia, salidos son todos armados;
Mío Cid a los sus vasallos tan bien los va aconsejando;
Dejan en las puertas hombres de gran recaudo.
Dio salto mío Cid sobre Babieca el su caballo;
De todas las guarniciones, muy bien está preparado.
La enseña sacan fuera, de Valencia dieron salto;
Cuatro mil menos treinta con mío Cid van a cabo;
A los cincuenta mil, vanlos a herir de grado;…

El Cantar de Mío Cid

Desarollo de la reconquista 914-1492 [By Macucal via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0]

El Mural El Cid Campeador de Cándido Pérez Calma [Photo by Lumiago via Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Para ver un mapa interactivo con mucho más detalles y con fotos y explanaciones, visita Explore the Med.

Una de mis momentos favoritos de la historia y literatura española, la reconquista fue un período de confusión, leyendas, alianzas extrañas y El Cid.

Lecturas recomendadas: 
El Cantar del Mío Cid 
Sidi de Arturo Pérez-Reverte

6. Castilla, la tierra de los castillos

El Alcázar de Segovia

Bueno, creo que no tengo que explicar para vosotros hispano-hablantes, que a Castilla, en el principio un condado del reino de León y después un reino independiente, le pusieron el nombre porque tiene muchísimos castillos en su tierra en la edad de la reconquista. El mapa siguiente viene de castillosnet.org y solo muestra las fortificaciones en la provincia de Castilla y León (como se llama ahora). Aún así, la cifra sube a un alucinante 627 castillos, muchos de cuales existen todavía y se puede visitar.

Castilla y León: 627 fortificaciones. [Mapa por castillosnet.org]

7. Cortés en México 1520 d.C.

Y Pizarro en Peru. Y Balboa en Panamá. Por no mencionar el hombre con quien empezó todo: Colón en el Caribe…

Y fué esta nuestra venturosa y atrevida entrada en la gran ciudad de Tenustitán México, a ocho días del mes de noviembre, año del Nuestro Salvador Jesucristo de mil quinientos diecinueve años…

Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España de Bernal Díaz del Castillo

Un mapa de los descubrimientos españoles quizás habría sido más instructivo aquí, pero al final elegí un sencillo mapa de una ciudad (no pude resistirlo):

Mapa de Tenochtitlán, 1520 [Public domain via Wikipedia]
Una de las grandes ciudades del mundo en aquella edad: Tenochtitlán – antes de que Cortés la destruyera.

Tenochtitlán 1519 Circular - ¡Un reto de natación!

Aunque esto no es un blog de deportes, me encanta la natación y la busqueda por un mapa de Tenochtitlán me dio la idea para un nuevo reto de natación: el Tenochtitlán 1519 Circular - lo que he calculado, con un poco de licencia geográfica necesaria, ser igual de 14.700 metros. 

Si tienes un mejor cálculo de la distancia aproximada para nadar la circunferencia de Tenochtitlán antes de que Cortés la destruyera, pues déjame un comentario abajo. Yo he basado la aproximación principalmente en el mapa del valle México en 1519, disponible en Wikipedia.

Si la salud me permite, voy a nadar el Tenochtitlán 1519 Circular más tarde en este año (en el momento estoy nadando un reto diferente) - todos estáis bienvenidos a tomar parte! :)

Como escribió Juvenal: Mens sana in corpore sano. (Mente sana en un cuerpo sano.)
Lectura recomendada: 
Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España de Bernal Díaz del Castillo
Huida hacia la inmortalidad: El descubrimiento del océano Pacifico de Stefan Zweig

8. El imperio donde nunca se pone el sol

Mapa diacrónico del Imperio Español [By Nagihuin via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0]
Estoy segura de que hay mapas en el internet que son mucho más fáciles entender (a veces se puede tener demasiado información), pero este mapa diacrónico del Imperio Español fue, claramente, una obra de amor, y no pude resistirlo.  Es muy raro que subo una imagen de resolución completa a Waterblogged, pero la única manera de gozar este mapa es hacer un zoom in – ¡así que hágalo! ¡Explóralo!

En el tiempo de su expansión más grande, el Imperio Español era unos 20 millones de kilómetros cuadrados y se hallaba en todos los continentes menos la Antártida. La frase el imperio donde nunca se pone el sol (que, de pasada, se originó con Heródoto) fue usado por la primera vez por el fray Francisco de Ugalde a Carlos V.

Lecturas recomendadas: 
El samurai de Shusaku Endo
Lituma en los Andes de Mario Vargas Llosa
El coronel no tiene quien le escriba de Gabriel García Márquez

9. Las cabalgadas de Don Quijote

Los viajes de Don Quijote [Map by lclcarmen3, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0]
No podemos hablar de la historia española, y menos en un blog de libros, sin mencionar Don Quijote. Si te gusta caminar (o quizás, cabalgar 🙂 ), hay, de hecho, una Ruta de Don Quijote en Castilla-La Mancha, una serie de rutas que siguen los pasos del famoso y ingenioso hidalgo… hasta lugares como este:

Campo de Criptana, Castilla-La Mancha
Lecturas recomendadas: 
Don Quijote de Miguel de Cervantes
Monsignor Quixote de Graham Greene

10. La guerra de la independencia

La guerra de la independencia – en la provincia de Cuenca [By Mira via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0]
Originalmente iba a trataros a un mapa completo de la península con todas las batallas marcadas por las espadas cruzadas como es tradicional… pero he cambiado de idea. La verdad es que no es fácil encontrar un mapa como eso, y cuando consideras, que la página de Wikipedia sobre las batallas the la guerra de la independencia tiene más de 150 artículos, no es difícil ver la razón. En vez de eso, puedes gozar este mapa pequeña de la area de Cuenca, una ciudad encantadora en Castilla-La Mancha, completo con batallas, arsenales, rutas y hospitales de los ejercicios…

Lectura recomendada:
El asedio de Arturo Pérez-Reverte

11. La Biblia en España, los años 1830

Los viajes de George Borrow en los años 1830

Habría puesto un mapa de las guerras carlistas aquí – habría sido lógico. Pero ya hemos tenido demasiado guerras (aunque estamos hablando de la historia de España).

De manera que, en vez de un mapa de guerra tenéis aquí un mapa de literatura (mucho mejor para un blog de libros): los viajes de George Borrow, un humilde empleado de la Bible Society (Sociedad de la Biblia) en Londres, quien iba vendiendo una edición prohibida de la Biblia de arriba abajo en la tierra de España durante de las guerras carlistas. Sus distintos viajes se notan en rojo, azul, amarillo y verde – lo hicimos juntos el Señor Anglosajonista y yo misma.  Y os recomiendo mucho el libro, La Biblia en España, que fue la resultad de sus viajes. ¡Una lectura verdaderamente encantadora!

Lectura recomendada: La Biblia en España de George Borrow (¡por supuesto!)

12. UNESCO patrimonios de la humanidad

UNESCO patrimonios de la humanidad en España [By NordNordWest via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0]
Como ya hemos tenido demasiado guerras, descaradamente vamos a pasar por alto la guerra civil de 1936-39. En su lugar, terminamos con algo mucho más agradable: un mapa de los patrimonios de la humanidad en España. (Y esto ni siquiera marca Covadonga o Campo de Criptana, y muchos lugares encantadores.) ¿Por qué no usas este mapa para seleccionar tu próximo destino del viaje?

Quizás también te gusta:
A Brief (Literary) History of the ReconquistaCastillosnet.orgCueva de TitoTierra de gigantesSave the Trinidad (The Unwritten Biography of Cayetano Valdés)Ruta de Don Quijote 

The History of Spain in a Dozen Maps

Leer esto en castellano

1. Prehistory, 30 000 B.C.

In prehistoric times, the Iberian Peninsula was clearly the place to be – as attested by this map:

Prehistoric sites in Spain / Sitios prehistóricos en España [Courtesy of Jesús of the blog La Mar de Historias]
Now a year ago I had a great holiday in Ribadesella in Asturias – one of those places where only the Spanish (and American surfers) go on holiday to and it’s very useful to be actually able speak Spanish. You can find it on the map above where it says Tito Bustillo.

The Tito Bustillo Cave, some ten-fifteen minutes walk from the centre of Ribadesella, is a UNESCO World Heritage site (like the much better known Altamira). It was only discovered in the 1960s by a group of young people who evidently had nothing better to do and it’s named after one of them who died young in a caving accident. Cave paintings and stone age tools were found in the cave, the oldest paintings being about 30 thousand years old. In a hidden corner there are some paintings of… er… female genitalia which were, appropriately enough, discovered by a female member of the caving party who looked for some privacy to relieve herself. Or at least, so the tour guide says. 🙂

2. Carthaginian and Greek Settlements 300 BC

The first division of this continent towards the west is Iberia, as we before stated. The greater part of this country is but little fitted for habitation; consisting chiefly of mountains, woods, and plains covered with a light meagre soil, the irrigation of which is likewise uncertain The part next the north, which borders on the ocean, is extremely cold, and besides its rugged character, has no communication or intercourse with other [countries], and thus to dwell there is attended with peculiar hardship. Such is the character of this portion; on the other hand, almost the whole of the south is fertile, especially what is beyond the Pillars [of Hercules]…

Geography by Strabo

Phoenician/Carthaginian and Greek colonies on the Iberian peninsula 3rd century B.C. [Map by CanBea87 via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0]
The Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons were clearly not the only people who appreciated the Iberian Peninsula. In addition to the ubiquitous Celts inhabiting the inland, the enterprising Phoenicians (Carthaginians) soon showed up on the Mediterranean coast, closely followed by the Greeks.

Recommended reading: Geography, Book III by Strabo

3. Hispania (Roman Spain, 125 A.D.)

Roman aqueduct in Segovia / Acueducto romano en Segovia

The Romans bequeathed Spain their language, their laws and their aqueducts, among other things. Spain for her part gave the Romans Trajan, Hadrian and Seneca.

This Hispania produces tough soldiers, very skilled captains, prolific speakers, luminous bards. It is a mother of judges and princes; it has given Trajan, Hadrian, and Theodosius to the Empire.

(Latinius Pacatus Drepanius)

The following map speaks for itself if you are blessed with some linguistic ability and/or a basic knowledge of the geography of the Iberian peninsula:

The Roman province of Hispania in 125 A.D. [Public domain via Wikipedia]
A Game of Spot the Towns 🙂

Beginners:

  • Cordóba
  • Toledo
  • Valencia

Intermediate:

  • Cádiz
  • Cartagena
  • Tarragona

Advanced:

  • Zaragoza
  • Mérida
  • León

Plus points for identifying which modern town is Brigantium (without looking it up on Widipedia)!

Feel free to leave your solutions in the comments below. :) Or wait to find out the answers on Waterblogged next week.

4. Visigothic Spain, 700 AD

The provinces of Visigothic Spain [Image by Medievalista via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0]
Really, it was a procession… one nation after another, as bad as the Carpathian Basin in Central Europe, that infamous graveyard of nomadic nations.

Celts, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans… and after the Romans came the Visigoths. (Nor were they the last ones!)

The Visigoths came, saw, conquered and then were conquered in due course by the Moors from Africa. The honour of losing the kingdom to the Moors fell to King Roderick – of whom I have already written as much elsewhere as was worth writing (link at the end of the post).

Recommended reading: The Lament of King Roderick

5. Reconquista – The Reconquering of Spain from the Moors, 756 AD – 1492 AD

Out through the Quarter Towers full armed away they went.
The lord Cid and his henchmen did counsel and consent.
Levies they left behind them, the gates to watch and keep.
On the steed Bavieca sprang the lord Cid with a leap.
Fair trappings and caparisons girded that steed about.
With the standard from Valencia forthwith they sallied out.

Were with the Cid four thousand less but a score and ten,
They came gladly to a battle against fifty thousand men.

The Poem of the Cid

The progress of the reconquista 914-1492 [By Macucal via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0]

The Mural El Cid Campeador by Cándido Pérez Calma [Photo by Lumiago via Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
For a much more detailed and interactive map with photos and and explanations (only for Spanish speakers, although Google Translate could be your friend if you don’t speak Spanish), see Explore the Med.

One of my favourite times of Spanish history and literature, the reconquista – the reconquering of the peninsula from the Moors – was a period of confusion, legends, strange alliances and El Cid.

Recommended reading: 
The Poem of the Cid 
Sidi by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

6. Castile, the Land of Castles

The Alcázar of Segovia

I don’t know how many of you know but Castile, originally a county of the kingdom of León and then an independent kingdom in her own right, got her name from the castles that proliferated on her land during the reconquista. The following map is taken from castillosnet.org and only shows the fortications in what is now the province of Castile and León. They amount to a whopping 627 and many still are standing. Castle buffs, Spain can keep you happy for a lifetime! 🙂

Castile and León: 627 fortifications. [Map by castillosnet.org]

7. Cortés in Mexico 1520 A.D.

And Pizarro in Peru. And Balboa in Panama. Not to mention the man who started it all – Colombus in the Caribbean…

So, with luck on our side, we boldly entered the city of Tenochtitlan or Mexico on 8 November in the year of our Lord 1519…

The Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Díaz del Castillo

A map of the Spanish discoveries would have been perhaps more informative here, but I ended up choosing a simple city map (I couldn’t resist it):

Map of Tenochtitlan, 1520 [Public domain via Wikipedia]
One of the great cities of the world at the time: Tenochtitlán- before Cortés destroyed it.

Tenochtitlán 1519 Circular - A Swimming Challenge!

Although this is not a 'sporty' blog, I'm in fact a keen swimmer and the search for this map resulted in my devising a new swimming challenge: the Tenochtitlán 1519 Circular Swim - which with a bit of necessary geographic licence I make out to be 14,700 metres.

If anybody has a better estimate of the distance involved in swimming around Tenochtitlán before Cortés destroyed it, please leave a comment below. I mainly based the estimate on the map of the Mexico Valley in 1519, available on Wikipedia.

Health permitting I'll be swimming the Tenochtitlán 1519 Circular later this year (I'm currently doing a different challenge) - you're welcome to join in. :) 

As Juvenal wrote: Mens sana in corpore sano. (A healthy mind in a healthy body.)
Recommended reading: 
The Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Díaz del Castillo
Flight into Immortality by Stefan Zweig

8. The Empire on which the Sun Never Set

Diachronic map of the Spanish Empire [By Nagihuin via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0]
There must be maps out there that are much easier to make sense of (there’s such a thing as too much information) but this diachronic map of the Spanish Empire was clearly a work of love and once again, I couldn’t resist. I seldom upload full size images to Waterblogged, but the only way you can truly enjoy this map is by zooming in – so go right ahead. 🙂 Explore!

At its fullest expansion the Spanish Empire consisted of some 20 million square kilometres and was present on every continent minus Antarctica. Many English speakers are familiar with the phrase the empire on which the sun never set (which, by the way, originated with my darling Herodotus) – well, contrary to popular belief, it was not coined for the British Empire but for the Spanish, by a courtier of Carlos V.

Recommended reading: 
The Samurai by Shusaku Endo
Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa
No One Writes to the Colonel by Gabriel García Márquez

9. The Wanderings of Don Quijote

The travels of Don Quijote [Map by lclcarmen3, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0]
Can’t talk about Spanish history, and especially not on a blog of books, without mentioning Don Quijote. If you belong to the hiking fraternity, there is in fact a Ruta de Don Quijote in Castile-La Mancha, a series of walking routes which traces the footsteps of the famous and ingenious hidalgo… to places like this:

Campo de Criptana, Castilla-La Mancha
Recommended reading: 
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene

10. The Peninsular War

The Spanish War of Independence – in the province of Cuenca [By Mira via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0]
Originally, I was going to treat you to a full map of the Peninsula with all the battles marked by the traditional crossed swords but I thought better of it. To begin with, it’s not easy to find such a map, and when you consider that the page listing in Wikipedia on the battles of the Spanish War of Independence, better known in English as the Peninsular War, runs to a full 150 entries, it’s not difficult to see the reason why. So instead enjoy this map of the neighbourhood of the charming Cuenca in Castile-La Mancha, fully developed with battle locations, armories, army routes and military hospitals…!

Recommended reading:
The Siege by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

11. The Bible in Spain, 1830s

The travels of George Borrow during the 1830s

I could have put here a map of the Carlist Wars, but there is such a thing as too many wars, even when we’re talking of Spanish history. Or especially when we’re talking of Spanish history.

So instead, another literary map (much more appropriate to a book blog): the travels of George Borrow, a lowly employee of the Bible Society in London, who peddled a forbidden translation of the Bible up and down the land of Spain during the Carlist Wars. His various journeys are shown in red, blue, yellow and green – a combined effort on Mr Anglo-Saxonist’s and my part. And I warmly recommend you all The Bible in Spain, the book that resulted from his experiences. A truly entertaining read!

Recommended reading: The Bible in Spain by George Borrow (of course!)

12. UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain [By NordNordWest via Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0]
As we had too many wars already, we’re now going to shamelessly bypass the Civil War of 1936-39. Instead, we’re going to finish with something much more pleasant: a map of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Spain. (And it doesn’t even mark Covadonga or Campo de Criptana and many other charming places.) Why not use it to pick your next holiday destination? 🙂

You might also like:
A Brief (Literary) History of the ReconquistaAsturias Is Spain... Castillosnet.orgTito Bustillo CaveLand of GiantsSave the Trinidad (The Unwritten Biography of Cayetano Valdés)Ruta de Don Quijote (Don Quixote Route) - a hiking trail

Twelve Books in Twelve Months (2019)

About a year ago I looked back at 2018, admitted it had been a real struggle to keep the blog going and hoped for things to go better in 2019. Well, I can tell you this: they didn’t (if you didn’t work this out already for yourselves by the scarcity of the posts). What can I say? May 202o be better than 2019 and may I write some good posts this year! 🙂

But while you’re waiting for those posts, let’s have a quick review at some of the books of 2019: books you might enjoy – or you’ll want to avoid! 🙂

By the way, if you ever want to know what I’m reading, you can always take a look at the Reading Log (which I do try to keep reasonably up-to-date).

Continue reading “Twelve Books in Twelve Months (2019)”

Who’s Who: Obscure Authors

I had to write a Who’s Who page for the blog as Mr Anglo-Saxonist heard on the radio that in America an Anglo-Saxonist is not merely a person obsessed by Anglo-Saxon history but some species of unsavoury character… and requested that I make it clear that he’s merely the first but not the latter!

Since I was going to write a Who’s Who, I felt I might as well include the more obscure authors and historical figures that populate these pages.

It is a work in progress…

…but I thought I’d share the first instalment with you.

By way of kicking off the new year. Happy New Year to you all, by the way! 🙂

Obscure Authors

Anonymous [Photo by Alex Proimos via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0]
George Borrow

An enterprising employee of the Bible Society of London who went to  to peddle a forbidden book up and down the land of civil war torn, Catholic Spain in the 19th century. A gifted linguist and a born adventurer, Borrow wrote his highly entertaining story up in… The Bible in Spain. (I don’t have to spell out what book he was selling, do I?)

Ernle Bradford

An English sailor and historian who fell in love with the Mediterranean during World War II. He wrote histories and travel books in an entertaining, relaxed style, eminently suited for holiday reading. If you only ever read one book about the Battle of Thermopylae, read his. More about him in Sailing into History.

Bernal Díaz del Castillo

A Spanish conquistador who took part in the conquest of Mexico with Hernán Cortez. He described his experiences in the The Conquest of New Spain.

Alonso de Contreras

A Spanish soldier of fortune in the 17th century. Contreras mostly served in the Mediterranean against the Turks although he also visited the Indias where he fought against Sir Walter Raleigh. A hot head and a womaniser, he often got into trouble for killing when not on the battle field; he was imprisoned several times and even lived as a hermit for a while. He wrote his life’s story up in The Adventures of Captain Alonso de Contreras.

Felix Fabri

A German monk with the gift of the gab who twice went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the Red Sea and Egypt in the 1480s and then wrote a detailed account of his travels. He can be a bit boring on occasion – when he describes every stone and tree stump in Jerusalem and the number of indulgences he received for kissing them – but he had an open and enquiring mind and he did go on pilgrimage in a then enemy country. Well worth persevering with. (Or take him in small (tasty) bites here on Waterblogged.)

Antonio de Nebrija

The man who wrote the first grammar of a ‘vulgar’ tongue in Europe; he dedicated his grammar of the Castilian language to Queen Isabella and his foreword continues to be quoted to this day.

Arthur Ransome

Who is only obscure outside England…!

An English children’s author (and supposed spy) who wrote the Swallows and Amazons series about the outdoor adventures of some enterprising children. Unlike Enid Blyton, Ransome wrote well enough to be an entertaining read even for adults.

Venedikt Yerofeev

A dissident Russian author in the second half of the 20th century. He was kicked out of university for not taking the compulsory military training seriously enough (he cheeked the major in charge). Best known for his highly subversive novel, Moscow Stations wickedly funny.

Asturias Is Spain…

…And The Rest Is Conquered Land

There’s a popular saying in Spain, principally in Asturias, a province on the Bay of Biscay in Northern Spain, which goes:

Asturias es España, y lo demás tierra conquistada.

Asturias is Spain, and the rest is conquered land.

It makes reference to the Battle of Covadonga, 722 A.D. when the troops of Don Pelayo, king of Asturias, defeated the invading Moors. The battle is considered the starting point of the reconquista, the reconquest of Spain from the Moors (a long process of wars which ended with the taking of Granada in 1492). Legend would have it that Pelayo and his 300 defeated an army of 180,000 Moors. Historically speaking, it’s more likely that the Moors were not quite so numerous, nor Pelayo’s lot so few but – why spoil the legend? It’s still a famous victory for those defending their homeland.

Don Pelayo in Covadonga by Luis de Madrazo y Kuntz, 1855. Courtesy of the Museum of Prado

As a consequence of Don Pelayo’s victory, Asturias has never been conquered by the Moors which explains the above saying.

Continue reading “Asturias Is Spain…”

Las verdaderas historias de… (The True Stories of…)

Hace unas semanas he escrito unas líneas sobre Alonso de Contreras, un soldado español del siglo XVI, cuyas memorias inspiraron la vida del capitán Alatriste, el conocido héroe de Arturo Pérez-Reverte.  Cosa que al parecer no le gustó a casi nadie (pero a mí sí que me gustó escribirlo). Si no lo has leído, puedes encontrarlo aquí:

Capitán y español (Las vidas de aquellos capitanes)

A few weeks ago I wrote some lines about Alonso de Contreras, a Spanish soldier from the 16th century, whose memoirs inspired the life of Captain Alatriste, the well-known hero of Arturo Pérez-Reverte. A piece that apparently almost nobody liked (but I did like writing it). If you haven’t read it, you can find it here:

The Three (Spanish) Musketeers

Bueno. Como mencioné en ese post, Alonso de Contreras no fue el único soldado español que escribió sobre su vida. Hoy os voy a recomendar dos libros más; porque, creed me, la historia es mejor que la ficción.

Anyway. As I mentioned in that post, Alonso de Contreras wasn’t the only Spanish soldier who wrote about his life. Today I’m going to recommend you two more books; because, believe me, history is indeed better than fiction.

Continue reading “Las verdaderas historias de… (The True Stories of…)”

The Three (Spanish) Musketeers

Leer esto en español

A murderer at the the age of thirteen, exiled from Madrid… what future would have had a boy like that?

Well, it seems that he had a pretty interesting future. So interesting that later he considered it worthwhile to write his memoirs. So interesting in fact that these memoirs gave life to a character in a well-known – at least in Spain – novel. And this character, in turn, gave life to a character in a TV series…

Do you know who they are?

The Surrender of Breda by Diego Velázquez [Courtesy of the Museum of Prado, Madrid]
If you have seen the original Spanish version of this post, you may have noted that it contains several quotes by Eduardo Marquina. They are from his play En Flandes se ha puesto el sol, The Sun Has Set in Flanders. Unfortunately, I was unable to find an English translation of this work, and I most definitely draw the line at trying to translate poetry. My apologies, but apart from a brief excerpt, you'll just have to do without.

Continue reading “The Three (Spanish) Musketeers”

Capitán y español: Las vidas de aquellos capitanes

Read this in English

Asesino a la edad de trece años, desterrado de la Villa… ¿qué futuro habría tenido un chico como aquello?

Pues parece que tenía un futuro bastante interesante. Tan interesante que más tarde le valdría la pena escribir sus memorias. Tan interesante, de hecho, que estas memorias dieron vida a un personaje en una novela muy conocida. Quién, a su vez, dio vida a un personaje de una serie de la televisión…

Capitán y español, no está avezado
a curarse de herida, que ha dejado
intacto el corazón dentro del pecho.

(Eduardo Marquina: En Flandes se ha puesto el sol)

Te adivines ¿de quiénes se tratamos?

Las lanzas o La rendición de Breda por Diego Velázquez [Gracias al Museo del Prado]
Continue reading “Capitán y español: Las vidas de aquellos capitanes”

Twelve Books in Twelve Months (2018)

For certain unfortunate reasons I don’t wish to detail here, I struggled to keep the blog going last year and, as you might have noticed, there were times when weeks went by without me being able to publish any other post than the weekly quote. Nevertheless, I still did manage to read a few books… so to start the new year off (may it be better than the last), let’s look back on some of last year’s readings.

Books you might enjoy – or you’ll want to avoid! 🙂

Continue reading “Twelve Books in Twelve Months (2018)”

The Guns Fell Silent

A hundred years ago, on the Western Front, effectively marking the end of World War I.

My great-grandfather was conscripted in World War I – was taken prisoner of war and survived. My grandfather was conscripted in World War II and disappeared without a trace, leaving his son born posthumously, out of wedlock. What about your family?

Listen to the moment when the guns fell silent and let’s remember all the victims of war – whether soldiers or civilians. (The recording was released by the Imperial War Museum.)

¡Elefantástico!

Read this in English
Mingling with Elephants: Young Friend of the Elephants on Elephant Apprecition Day in Whipsnade Zoo / En la compañía de elefantes: Joven Amiga de los Elefantes en el día de apreciación al elefante en Whipsnade Zoo

El sábado pasado (22 de septiembre) fue el día de apreciación al elefante. ¿Hay un mejor manera de celebrarlo que con unos libros memorables sobre elefantes?

Gente es tan complicada. Dame un elefante cualquier día.

(Mark Shand)

¡Que disfrutes!

Continue reading “¡Elefantástico!”

Elephantastic!

Lee esto en castellano
Mingling with Elephants: Young Friend of the Elephants on Elephant Apprecition Day in Whipsnade Zoo

Elephant Appreciation Day is on us again and what better way to celebrate these lovable animals than with a collection of memorable books featuring elephants?

People are so difficult. Give me an elephant any day.

(Mark Shand)

Enjoy!

Continue reading “Elephantastic!”

A Short Pictorial History of Ribadesella

“Of where?” I hear you all saying.

Here:

Ribadesella, Asturias, Spain

Spain’s Best Kept Secret

Ribadesella is a small town in a spectacular setting at the mouth of the River Sella right under the Picos de Europa. Cliffs protect its wide sandy bay. You can surf, swim, go kayaking on the river or hiking in the mountains. Plus there’s a cave with 30 thousand year old cave paintings, practically in town.

Well may you wonder why you’ve never heard of it.

Perhaps because Ribadesella is the place where the Spanish go on holiday. You hardly hear a foreign word in the street. This is a different Spain from the Spain of package holidays.

Enjoy this short pictorial history of the town – brought to you by the Municipality of Ribadesella (and Waterblogged).

Continue reading “A Short Pictorial History of Ribadesella”

Six Mouse Clicks

The most boring type of blog post?

A book review.

They all follow the same predictable pattern – understandably. After all, a reader will rightfully expect information about the plot, the characters and the style of writing, with some tidbits about the author. The result, as with any genre writing, is a complete lack of creativity.

That is why, although Waterblogged is ostensibly a book blog, I was never really in the business of writing book reviews. Nevertheless, over the past three years I found myself writing a handful. There are books that are so good that you can’t help recommending them to others.

(There was, of course, an exception. You’ll find it here.)

Six reviews; six mouse clicks.  Six books you will want to read.

Fiction – English-Speaking Countries:

The Bridge of San Luis Rey

Fiction – Spanish-Speaking Countries:

Death in the Andes

Fiction – Rest of the World:

Moscow Stations

History:

City of Fortune

Biography:

The Novel Life of Britain’s Greatest Frigate Captain

Autobiography:

The Bible in Spain

Throwback Thursday:
Revisiting the early days of Waterblogged

Submarine!

Visits to Chatham Historic Dockyard, home among others to the diesel-electric submarine HMS Ocelot, and to the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth, home to HMS Alliance, a submarine built at the end of World War II, means I’ve got some photos of the outside and inside of the submarines to share. (Click on the gallery to enlarge photos.)

This being primarily a book blog, the photos are accompanied by a book list – half a dozen books set on submarines. Not a definite list, by any means; I have heard of several others well spoken off (but I haven’t got round to reading them yet). If you’d like to recommend a book on submarines that you enjoyed, please leave a comment below.

Continue reading “Submarine!”

The History of England in a Dozen Maps (La historia de Inglaterra en doce mapas)

1. Doggerland (8000 B.C. / 8000 a.C.)

“Dogger. Gale warning.
Gale warning issued 14 March 03:43 UTC¹.
Wind southeast 4 or 5, increasing 6 to gale 8. Sea state moderate, becoming rough or very rough. Weather: occasional drizzle. Visibility good, occasionally poor.”

Shipping Forecast, issued 14 March 17:25 UTC, Met Office

If you ever heard the shipping forecast on BBC Radio 4 (an oddly soothing recital except when it’s inserted into the middle of the nailbiting finish of a test match), then you know that Dogger is one of the forecast zones in the North Sea.

Si has oído, alguna vez, el shipping forecast, es decir, el pronóstico marítimo, de BBC Radio 4 (un recital extrañamente tranquilizador (excepto cuando lo leen durante el emocionantísimo final de un partido internacional de críquet), sabes que Dogger es una de las zonas pronósticas marítimas en el Mar del Norte.

How Britain became an island. Illustration by Francis Lima via Wikipedia [CC-BY-SA 4.0]
Up to 8000 B.C. Britain was connected to the Continent by a land bridge and Doggerland was above sea level. But as glacial ice melted after the last ice age, sea levels rose: Britain became an island, while Doggerland went to the bottom of the deep blue sea…

La mapa arriba ilustre como Gran Bretaña se convirtió en una isla.

Hasta 8000 a.C. Gran Bretaña estaba conectado al continente con un ‘puente’ de tierra y el territorio de Doggerland se encontró arriba del nivel del mar. Al terminar la era glacial, el nivel del mar se elevó: Gran Bretaña se convirtió en una isla, mientras que Doggerland se hundió al fondo del mar…

Recommended reading:We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea by Arthur Ransome

Continue reading “The History of England in a Dozen Maps (La historia de Inglaterra en doce mapas)”

Hic Sunt Dracones

Here Be Dragons

Close your eyes and imagine one of those old maps which were illustrated with caravels and and fantastic sea animals, where the blank centre of Africa was marked terra incognita and faraway islands were labelled with the warning, Hic Sunt Dracones, Here Be Dragons¹. Is your pulse racing yet? Maps have an intoxicating power for those addicted to travel; historical maps are similarly intoxicating for those addicted to history. Since I’m addicted both to travel and history, you can imagine in what state maps leave me…

(Hic!)

Aquí hay dragones

Cierra los ojos e imagínate uno des esos mapas antiguos, ilustrados con carabelas y animales marinos fantásticos, donde el centro en blanco de África se marcaba terra incognita e islas del ultramar se marcaban con la advertencia, Hic Sunt Dracones, aquí hay dragones¹. ¿Te acelera el pulso? Mapas tienen un poder embriagador para los que son adictos al viaje, y mapas históricos tienen un poder semejante embriagador para los que son adictos a la historia. Como que yo soy adicto a ambos, puedes imaginarte en que estado me quedo después de admirar unos mapas…

(¡Hip!)

Map of the Pacific Ocean by Ortelius, 1589. The ship drawn out of all proportions in the southeast quadrant is Magellan’s Victoria, the first ship to circumnavigate the globe. [Public domain via Wikimedia Commons]
Which is perhaps why it occurred to me the other day that there are worse ways of summing up a country’s history than by examining a handful of telltale maps. A few countries immediately spring to mind as excellent candidates for this kind of exercise: I’ll start with my adopted country, England.

Quizás por eso me ocurrió la idea de contar la historia con un puñado de mapas elocuentes. Unos países se ofrecen inmediatamente como candidatos excelentes para este tipo de ejercicio: voy a empezar con mi país adoptivo, Inglaterra.

And since this pretends to be a book blog, I’ll throw in a handful of book recommendations too!

Y como eso pretende ser un blog de libros, ¡voy a añadir unos recomendaciones de libros también!

I hope you’ll enjoy The History of England in a Dozen Maps (coming tomorrow), the first post in what I hope to turn into a new series under the title of Mapping History.

Espero que os guste La historia de Inglaterra en una docena de mapas (saldrá mañana), el primer post en un series nuevo que intento con el título Mapping History (Historia en mapas).

Notes:
¹ Wikipedia tells me that hic sunt dracones doesn't actually pop up on any map. Well, it's still a good phrase. :) It does appear, however, on the Hunt-Lenox Globe near the eastern coast of Asia and it might have been referring to the Komodo dragons. It might have.

¹ Wikipedia me dice que la frase hic sunt dracones, de hecho, no aparece en ningún mapa. Bueno, aun así se queda una frase encantadora. Se aparece, sin embargo en el Globo de Hunt-Lenox Globe, cerca de la costa oriental de Asia y pudiera referirse a los dragones de Komodo. Pudiera, dije. 

Implacabile (The Corvette that Never Was)

The Impacabile!

Monostory’s heart sank a little, just a little. The old memory returned: his first ship, the Implacabile, was also a warship… and if she still existed… if she could have taken up her station in Fiume to guard the port… if… and again, if…

(András Dékány: The Black Prince)

I wanted to start this post with the adrenaline-rush of a heroic fight of the Hungarian frigate Implacabile against overwhelming odds during the 1848-49 War of Independence on the Adriatic – as told by András Dékány in his novel The Black Prince

Unfortunately, Dékány didn’t go into sufficient detail.

The legend of the Implacabile lives in the consciousness of the sea-loving minority of the Hungarian public because of András Dékány’s novel. He seduced generations of Hungarian children with it; it forms the background of the protagonist Balázs Monostory. Yet Dékány never fully developed the story of the Implacabile. He contented himself with a handful of suggestive and emotive fragments, like the moment when the Taitsing crosses with Chinese pirates:

The Taitsing surged ahead, running before the wind. She was a wonderful ship, with a wonderful crew.
“The Implacabile!” the joyful memory bubbled up in Monostory.
Yes; the lost, sunk Hungarian frigate sped like this as she charged into battle against the Austrian emperor’s corvette.
“The Implacabile!”

In a novel that runs to more than 400 pages, Dékány only mentioned the ship’s name 13 times. This, however, didn’t prevent him to play expertly with his readers’ imagination and emotions. From the emotive half-sentences he scattered throughout the novel we created an entirely fictitious, glorious fight between the first Hungarian frigate and untold scores of Austrian warships on the bluest of all seas, the Adriatic. And so the legend of the Implacabile was born, thanks to a children’s book.

On the north wall of the cabin, there was, however, one thing to arrest a visitor’s attention: you could see a ship’s flag here, spread out. The flag was rather faded with time but it was a ship’s flag – a rare object. The flag of the Implacabile, the first Hungarian Navy frigate, sunk ten years earlier and commanded by Balázs Monostory, was the only decoration in the cabin of the captain of the Taitsing.

The flag, saved when the frigate sank, had accompanied Balázs Monostory for ten years. But so far he failed to realise his plan of handing it over to his leader, Lajos Kossuth, a man in exile just like the owner of the cabin himself.

Gabriela Malatesta’s eyes clouded over as she looked at the flag. Red-white-green. Those same colours formed the flag of the Italian patriots.

The fragments of information actually shared by Dékány in The Black Prince add up to this:

  • The Implacabile was a Hungarian frigate, intended to defend the harbour of Fiume but has never taken up her station to do so
  • Her captain was Balázs Monostory
  • She fought the Austrian corvette Condor – incidentally also commanded by a Hungarian officer – off the coast of Istria on the Adriatic during the 1848-49 War of Independence
  • During the battle, the sailors of the Implacabile used hand bombs fabricated on board in the manner of the Italian carbonaris 
  • She sunk after the battle and her shipwrecked sailors were rescued by a passing Turkish warship

But what’s the truth – if any – behind the legend? Did the Implacabile even exist? And if she did, did she ever fight a warship of the Emperor of Austria on the Adriatic?

Continue reading “Implacabile (The Corvette that Never Was)”