Yeah, but that hasn’t stopped quite a few history books treating 476-? representing a period where civilization collapsed in the West.
It seems like from what I can tell if we’re going to mark the point of western civilization crumbling with the Roman Empire, it’s either two generations earlier or two or three generations later than 476.
I’ve never actually studied Polish history directly. Most of what I know is gleaned from either German or Russian sources (so obviously slanted one way or the other, hopefully in ways which cancel each other out).
Of course we are talking about long-term stuff, that is all we do when we talk about history, otherwise it is journalism (classic historians’ bad joke). Hell, the Romans and Greeks that wrote about Viriato, Boudica or Arminius did it decades and centuries apart from the events. The fact that the Roman world was the one that had to write about them, and how they did it, shows how much winners wrote history back then, there were no more Lusitans to write about Viriato, were there?
Because historiography is always a matter of perspective, and winners can end up seeing themselves as villains, especially after a few generations. And besides people always don’t recognize the huge long-term importance events when they happen, quite on the contrary if you ask me.
“History is written by the survivors.” sounds appropriate here.
I cannot think of many occasions of the winners seeing themselves as villainous except in the sense that for example, 21st century Americans are not in favor of the slave trade or slavery - but we still present Washington and Jefferson and so on in largely favorable terms.
There is a fair amount in my experience of talking about not judging the past by the standards of the present when it comes to that - but that may depend on who one talks to.
Speaking of the Civil War yeah it’s a heavy view of this romantic notion and it’s not the case at all reality. Ironically what gets ignored the most is the crazy amount of first-hand sources that we have of the war through the lensthrough the lens private soldiers. Let me see a distinct difference between what caused the War and why the war was fought versus why the individuals soldiers were involved.
I obviously have a quite biased view of it, but Romans did saw themselves as villains to some extent in certain events (even if the lesser evil choice, in some cases), especially when their traditional ideas regarding wealth and how the lack of it made strong men (physically and moral-wise) clashed with the fact that they had became the rich (and, consequently, degenerate) civilization fighting miserable, pure and strong savages.
Well, throughout a huge part of history winners and survivors were basically the same. Only with the development of strong, stable states with a national or proto-national identity behind it did losing stoped representing practical extinction. That is the whole reason the saying “history is written by the winners” do exist.
Our contemporary\modern experience does make us not fully grasp the notion of “winners write history”, but as a classical antiquity historian that reality becomes pretty obvious. The Greeks wrote the story of their clashes with the persians, the Romans wrote the story of their wars with… well… the whole mediterranean and a very large part of the European one, the christians wrote their story of the conflicts with pagans, etc. So many cases, so many times.
So, at least regarding classical antiquity, yes, winners did wrote the history of their times, time and time again. Maybe I am just too contaminated by the history of those days
I defer to you on if that really counts - I’m not trying to be contrary, but I don’t know enough about the Roman idea of themselves and goodness to understand it.
I disagree. It has only meant practical extinction in the conflicts where a) the losers were completely and utterly defeated, and b) where the losers were assimilated entirely into the winning group to the point that their past identity doesn’t exist.
I don’t know as much about ancient history as I’d like, but when I think of “strong, stable states with a national or proto-national identity”, I don’t think of - say - Mercia (or the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms) and the Welsh principalities.
Not in the sense of say, 16th century England or France, certainly…
So there are no available Persian sources at all, or just “the West, as something influenced by the Greeks, prefers Greek sources”? Picked as one of many conflicts that didn’t involve one side annihilating the other.
Most of my reading is the within the last fifteen hundred years, so while we’re talking about perspective, that influences mine.
That is pretty much a description of the end many big wars had in antiquity. Unless we are talking about big states, total defeat with total annexation and middle to long-term assimilation was always on the table. Take Rome VS Carthage, it took them 3 wars, but Carthage did end up completely destroyed and assimilated, to the point of having Romans salting the earth of the defeated city. Take all the tribes the Romans conquered in Spain, Gaul, all the cities with their own culture, religion and organization that Romans conquered in Italy, etc.
It was a matter of survival.
You did end up picking a conflict of which I honestly know nothing source-wise, because it is a Greek thing and I am more of a Roman mentality and memory kind of guy. What I can say is: regarding the enemies Rome conquered? I don’t know of any (besides the guys from Greece,but even those boarded the Roman train pretty fast, and even if Roman and Greek sources do have their differences even hundreds of years later, Greek authors did ended up writing from the perspective of the Roman world). The lusitanian, iberian, celtiberian, gaul, german, britannian, illyrian, dacian, etc tribes didn’t left any kind of narrative concerning their wars with Rome. Carthage didn’t left any kind of written records narrating their war with Rome, I don’t know of any Egyptian records regarding their fight with Rome, nor do I know of similar sources from the Asian kingdoms conquered.
Having so much Latin and Greek sources surviving until our days is already pretty impressive (even if they are a small drop in the ocean of Latin and Greek literary and record-keeping production), having them for the people Romans conquered is practically impossible. Losing a war and being conquered wasn’t that big of a leap, and being conquered being a medium to long-term extinction event wasn’t that off the mark in the huge majority of the cases.
I think this is indeed the case. None of us is really wrong, we are just using different experiences with the subject to achieve pretty different answers. The consequences of defeat, and the nature of historical self-narrative, changed quite a lot in the last 500 years when compared to the thousands of years before.
Well if we’re limiting this to “big wars” there’s always more risk of one side being conquered or annihilated, but raids (Brennus is coming to mind, although I’m not sure he’s the best example) wouldn’t lead to one side or the otehr being utterly destroyed.
The Punic Wars seem an explicit struggle for hegemony from the start from my reading, which would naturally mean the loser’s survival is in doubt.
Not to beat a dead horse, and hopefully this hasn’t been bought up before, but what if Elson is actually the female dragoon and Garret is just a red herring?
I am basing this on nothing other than the fact that Cataphrak never confirmed his fate and I remember him once saying that “his story is over”. HlS
Then it was confirmed that, IIRC, out of the RO’s (not including the betrothed), one has wealth (Welles), one has influence (Elson - at least within Grenadier square) and one has wealth and influence (Katarina).
Going off of the above that would also mean that Garret would likely be one of the main contenders to win the hand of the Countess.
Small turf wars and raids didn’t end up in annexation, but those aren’t exactly the cases one thinks about when dealing with the whole “war is written by the winners” kind of deal, and small wars not meant to conquer your enemy, or a portion of his territory, rarely result in a clear distinction between winner and loser. Take “big wars” as wars where one of the sides is forced to commit a very big amount or all of his resources. What were for the Romans small wars were pretty big ones for the people they were conquering.
Well,from the Roman perspective they did end up utterly destroying their enemy, even if a few hundred years later. Some Romans did partially justified the conquest of Gaul as the payback for sacking Rome 350 years earlier. That sacking of Rome was a pretty traumatic event for Romans, and they were happy to see their ancestors avenged. Moral of the story: don’t mess with Rome, and always make sure no ambitious roman politician thinks conquering you is a good move for his career and place in history.
Anyway, I have no more arguments to offer on the subject, and facing the risk of starting recycling my comments or abusing Cata’s goodwill, I will quietly abandon the conversation. Thank you for the interesting conversation (and a thank you to Cata for letting us talk about this on his thread).
It’s funny how this started over something purely related to one specific account of a fictional game world, but credit to Cataphrak for writing the kind of world where we talk about how history and politics and wars work because those elements in his work are so fascinating.
He may be a trans man, which would mean he is a man, whether Tierran society cares to see it or not. Though sadly I don’t believe that is the direction Cata wants to go with the character. Or @Studwick may be right and the crossdressing dragoon really is Blaylock.