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The army of British India



Also known as the ‘Indian Army’, this was a British – officered military force in India; the other ranks, corporals, sergeants and warrant officers were recruited from the native population. Even so, some purely European regiments managed to stay put until the early 1860s.

The Indian Army served outside India as well, and had a deserved reputation for ferocity and good discipline; it remained (at least until the Sepoy Rebellion) a staunch and integral part of the Pax Britannica. It creators were locally found guards employed in the protection of the East India Company, known as sepoys. (more…)

Latin American revolutionaries: Zapata & Villa

Emilio Zapata /

Emilio Zapata /

Emiliano Zapata was a Mexican revolutionary, son of a peasant of mixed (meztizo) blood. At around twelve he became an agricultural worker, then entered politics by arousing the local peasants against any form of government. When the Mexican Revolution began in 1910 against President Porfirio Diaz he was already an important leader. In true South American style he attacked first the great haciendas protected only by their owners and their employees, firing the houses and killing (if he could) the inhabitants.

He then announced a reform in agrarian policies, by which the great estates would be divided up among his followers, who would employ local Indians as the work force. Latin America has had to watch many such leaders of the people. (more…)

By | 2014-12-18T09:58:04+00:00 December 18th, 2014|South American History, US History, World History|0 Comments

The Nobel Peace Prize

Yasser Arafat, one of the winners of this award / the

Yasser Arafat, one of the winners of this award / the

In the case of a suitable candidate being found, this is an international prize, awarded annually, to a person or an institution considered by a Swedish/Norwegian committee, to have made outstanding contributions to peace. A trust fund to finance the award was established in the will of Swedish industrialist and chemist Alfred Nobel (1833 – 1896). (more…)

By | 2014-12-10T10:04:20+00:00 December 10th, 2014|Scandinavian history, Today, World History|0 Comments

Robert Owen, a founding father of Socialism



Though Owen was born in 1771, a son of a successful maker of saddles for horses and mules, he started work in a cotton mill in Manchester at the usual age of twelve, and by only nineteen was appointed manager. Later, moving to Scotland, he was almost solely responsible for founding a ‘new model community’ in Lanark.

Here he supervised better living conditions for the workers, better housing, better food, even building an Institute for the formation of the children’s general education and character, in true socialist style. Naturally there was opposition as he and his community grew to be famous, conservative mill owners tending to prefer 18-hour working days for their employees, and not caring too much if they were not properly fed. The Institute contained the world’s first day-nursery and a playground, and evening classes for the parents were available.

Remembering that this was still the end of the eighteenth century, it is barely credible that Owen also introduced a comprehensively stocked village shop. In 1813, at only forty-two, Owen went into partnership with another great reformer – Jeremy Bentham and a few more. They designed and formed New Lanark, which might be seen as the world’s first cooperative and socialist commune. Robert Owen wrote a book called A New View of Society in that year, in which he stated that character in the human race is formed by one’s social environment, daily work, paid holidays, shorter hours and above all education for youth.

New Harmony, Indiana /permanent

New Harmony, Indiana /permanent

And then it was off to America, the land of the free, where he established several cooperative Owenite communities, including one called New Harmony in Indiana. Sadly, they all failed, and Robert Owen died, exhausted, in 1858, though, as they say, his ideas lived on despite growing opposition. The now world-wide Socialist movement owes a great deal to people like Owen and Bentham.

By | 2014-12-09T18:27:07+00:00 December 9th, 2014|British History, US History, World History|0 Comments

Eduard Shevardnazde



This politician came from Georgia, a Soviet state until democratization. He was born in 1928, did well in history studies at the Kutaisi Institute of Education and joined the Communist party in 1948 at the age of twenty.

Enroled in the Komsomol youth league, he shot upwards through the party machinery during the 1950s and became head of the Georgian Ministry of Interior in 1964. Though it seems strange, given his later reputation, he was strongly against political corruption, becoming an energetic opponent. His bête noir was Mahavanadze, the Party Secretary, who received verbal assaults from every direction, except that it was Eduard who was behind them.

With established fame for courage, he became Party Secretary himself in 1972. He introduced startling reforms,especially in agricultural policies, but his enemies said they were only experimental, and would not last. In 1978 he was in the Politburo as a candidate member, having the advantage of long-standing acquaintance with Mikhail Gorbachev. Quite soon he received full Politburo status and was appointed Soviet Russia’s Foreign Minister in 1985. He was wholly different from his predecessor, the grim Gromyko who never smiled, whereas Shevardnazde’s attractive feature was his smile. You cannot win though, because his enemies pronounced that it was the smile of a tiger.

It was he who overhauled the foreign policy machinery; working alongside Gorbachev, he greatly helped towards ending the Cold War with the West. He was charming, and he listened to people. But his most important contribution was his invariable insistence on political reform within the USSR. During the winter of 1990/91 he repeatedly warned Gorbachev of the impending danger of a coup orchestrated by Soviet hard-liners who feared the two of them intended to turn from away Communism and install a democracy. They may well have been right, but outwardly both Shevardnadze and Gorbachev remained Marxist party apparatchiks.

In 1992 a parting of the ways took place and Eduard returned to his home state of Georgia, now in the middle of what could be termed a civil war. When independence came he eventually became President, and survived two attempts on his life in 1995 and 1998. Unfortunately his regime was reputed by the world press as politically corrupt, with E.S. heavily involved in the corruption. He was forced to resign in 2003, vanished from view, and died in July, 2014.

By | 2014-12-02T17:33:19+00:00 December 2nd, 2014|Russian history, World History|0 Comments

A reminder from Dean Swift

Very soon now all THREE volumes

of General History

will have been published

and available for a sale at a very cheap price


These three volumes contain

almost all the posts published on

during the last four or five years.

Just go to or (America) or (España)

go to Books and key

general history Dean Swift

in order to buy your copies

and have them sent directly to your home address.

General History Volume 3

should be on Amazon with the other two just before or just after Christmas 2014.

By | 2014-11-08T11:19:50+00:00 November 8th, 2014|Today, World History|0 Comments

Immigration to the United States

Immigrants – those who arrive in a new country having left their own:

Emigrants – those who leave their own country to go to another:

Emigration – the act of leaving one’s country to start a new life in another:

Immigration – the noun that describes the action of immigrants:


Almost there: arrival at Ellis Island /

Almost there: arrival at Ellis Island /

This brief lesson in English vocabulary is essential before starting an article about immigration or emigration. Television news programmesand the rest of the media continuously mix up the words which makes for confusion. (more…)

By | 2014-10-17T16:47:20+00:00 October 17th, 2014|US History, World History|0 Comments

The influenza pandemic (and panic) of 1918

Mass treatment for influenza in the USA /

Mass treatment for influenza in the USA /

The Plague, or the Black Death or Bubonic Plague struck down nearly a third of the population in most European countries during the Middle Ages. There being no known antidote, populations had to wait until these plagues vanished or burnt themselves out. Literally, as it turned out in the Plague during the reign of Charles II in England, when the Great Fire of London succeeded where no doctors or medicines could. Influenza or the rudely named ‘Spanish ‘flu’, is a common virus which spreads rapidly, attacking very young and elderly people for preference. Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, had it been made in the Middle Ages, would according to the scientists have killed the Bubonic virus instantly. Fleming was born in the late Eighties of the nineteenth century, and penicillin was still not around in 1918 when the fly virus mutated and a very virulent form of it occurred in three different forms in a matter of months. (more…)

By | 2014-10-17T09:41:47+00:00 October 17th, 2014|World History|0 Comments

The Russo-Polish War of 1929

Following the collapse of Germany at the end of the Great War, Poland foundf herself independent, a most unusual position for that sad country. It was November, 1918; Marshal Pilsudski was commander of Polish forces and Prime Minster of Poland. He saw Russia as the principal opponent of Polish independence, and as a soldier recognised Russia’s weaknesses as a result of the Great War. In a moment of insanity, he thought there was an opportunity to recover Polish territory lost to Russia during the partitions of the 18th century.

   To the great surprise of the world’s newspapers, and the annoyance of Russia, Pilsudski launched a surprise attack on the Ukraine. The Ukrainians, astonished, provided little resistance and the Poles occupied Kiev. But then the Red Army got itself together and counter-attacked, forcing the Poles back to their own frontier. Among the Soviet leaders only Trotsky wanted to let sleeping dogs lie, but Lenin, true to form, decided to invade Poland, with two objects in mind; first, to occupy Poland, and second, to start a proletarian revolution there too. It did not work, for the presence of Russian troops in Poland roused Polish nationalism, and the vast Red Army was halted by the dogged Poles before it reached Warsaw. Not only halted but pushed backwards. Luckily peace was signed by both parties at Riga in Latvia in 1921. (more…)

By | 2014-10-16T09:50:33+00:00 October 16th, 2014|A History of Poland, Russian history, World History|0 Comments

Friedrich Engels

Engels as a young man /

Engels as a young man /

Marx and Engels go together like Marks and Spencer; Karl and Groucho are however better known than Engels, though without him we would probably have had less Marxism, and therefore less Communism. In 1920 Friedrich was born into the family of a very rich owner of factories in the Rhineland. Higher education (universities) not exerting their present-day stranglehold over the young, Friedrich left school at sixteen to work with the family firm. Ar twenty-two this required going to England, where his father’s company had good relations (contracts) with cotton manufacturers in Manchester. Though he was well housed and paid a German-sized wage, he lost no time in observing conditions among lowly workers in middle-Victorian England. Using his contacts with the newspapers he wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1845. Though truthful and accurate, his exposé cannot have pleased his family much. (more…)

By | 2014-10-16T16:47:57+00:00 October 16th, 2014|German History, World History|0 Comments
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