Although most would say that the victor of any war has the upper hand in presenting themselves to a particular place in history, current beliefs paint a much cleaner, more accurate, and truer understanding of events that have led society changes and modern ways of life. This may be the case for centuries past and with the advancement of understanding past events, such as anthropology findings, the use of science in laboratories and field research, has brought about a much different, much more modern, approach in viewing and researching the past cultures, military strategies, and even laws, Victors in war do not paint a picture of events, but instead, paint a picture of themselves through military strategies, economic advancement, and authority changes.
Military Reasons Using the Kushites as an example, the main reason they had a military and moved to other regions was not just political but religious as well. They began their war-like tactics because they wanted to create distance between themselves, meaning the monarchs, and the priests at Napata, along with moving to a more geologically safe area, meaning a place on the globe that would allow them to better defend themselves.
The Kushites did a great deal of militarily strategic moves in order to create a more sound and prosperous kingdom. One such move was the capital of Napata to the new capital of Meroe. This move was believed , by historians, to be one of response to an earlier invasion by Egypt. This move was purely military, at this point, since further invasion was possible, due to the lack of cover in the former capital, yet conflict within the culture was also taking place.
The dependence on religious leaders was not keeping the monarchs safe from harm, nor was this dependence prosperous for the culture’s economy. Each culture, whether that culture is in the world today or not, has the sole, or central, belief, or need, for self preservation. Without a military, a culture would be assimilated into another and lost forever. These ideas are not new by any means, and on the surface seem, common knowledge, but the complexities behind each cultures militarily strategic moves being forwarded, is fueled by the need for preserving a particular culture.
It’s the ways, or military strategies, that are used to do so that are of such interest to us today. From a military point, at least in the case of the Kushites, the need to move the culture forward, in a protected manner, is the main, or underlining reason, for strategies to be put in place, and not so much for the need to write themselves into or out of history, but more for the need to be a part of history by preserving their culture and moving forward.
It is important to state that the military involvement in the future preservation of the culture in which it fights for, is viewed, at least in the book for this class, as one way to see the need for military action, and the conclusions of that act are left up to the individual to interpret. Though it’s true that most believe, and stand by, the idea that history is written from the victor’s point of view, the true view of what approach history is written from is really the belief of those who study history and those who read it.
To say that historians only see the view of any culture as a victory or a defeat, is only prominent in military strategies, since on the battle field one must lose and one must win, and does not paint the picture of the culture behind the strategic decisions, and does not truly matter in the form of fairness, until that history is read and understood by others, who, in turn, decide which way it will be presented to those who study history, either for a class or as a past time, does the question of fairness come into play.
For the Kushites, history tells their story, but only because they have a military story that gives the reader access to the understanding of what they were about as a culture. Economic Advancement The Romans, as an example of the possible economic advancement of a government type, conquered land after land, and, from a historical point of view, did not really thrive economically. Romans, under the early rule of the Etruscans, were Manor owners and merchants that did not engage in a global type economy either in their time or, comparatively, in ours. The largest industry, outside of agriculture for the Romans, was that of mining.
The mines were the source for stones, for the buildings, iron for weapons, and slaves, for the purpose of mining. Once an area of land was conquered, some of the people were used as slaves in the mines, and most, if not all, died there, thus making slave trade an important economy for the Romans. Outside appearance of the Roman empire looks as though it was a safe and happy environment to be a part of, but the Plebeians knew better. Brutality was the center of entertainment in the centuries of 1 B. C. and 1 B. C. E. for the Romans in which gladiator and slave alike were the center of the show.
As the Roman empire expanded, they use of slaves became a great commodity to them, as did the mining that created the empire, coins, weapons, and, eventually ships, only to continue to feed the need of outside sources for economic wealth, and not so much on the agriculture of the people of Rome. This idea of conquer and use to support our homeland, is what the Romans did in their time, yet, as historians would argue, it was much more complex than that, and they would be right, but this can be viewed as as both a victory and a defeat in the arena of economic advancement.
The dependence of outside sources, as we now know with our own country’s dependence on oil can tell us, can have a detrimental effect on a country’s economy. Dependence is a road to failure, but not right away, this can take centuries to happen. As economic advancement is not, necessarily the way a ruling party would view themselves, it does become the history of those areas effected by the conquerers, such as the popularity of coins from Rome in India or shipping goods by water instead of land. In economic advancement, Romans were writing themselves into the history books of other cultures without, directly, writing history themselves.
Confrontations Confrontations will happen and have happened in our past, and historians have written one account after another of such exercises. Confrontations occurred at the religious level of most civilizations both past a near present. As did the Kushites fight to free themselves from the rule of their priests, as the Romans fought against and then for the catholic church, and as the people of India fought to keep their beliefs intact, religion is just as much, if not more so, the center of reason for combat between to rulers and/or territories.
The Romans were the first to allow those in which they conquered to keep their own religious beliefs, so long as they payed Caesar what is owed to him. In the time of A. D 13, Caesar Constantine of Rome became the first Emperor to submit to the catholic church, thus, giving greater power to the church than they had exercised before. Under this ruling, the church now became the center of worship and conflicts began, continued, were fought for by Kings and those who did not submit to the church, found themselves either on the road to death or a signed confession of loss of path.
It is here were the victors write their own history and where we read that account. We rarely hear of those who were conquered as treated well and prosperous under the rule of another or new center of authority. Those who fell under the law of the church and defied that law, found themselves wiping out their own bloodlines in the name of God. These people have a short written line in history as nothing more than those who tried to rise up against them and fell. Spartans would take prisoners from war, and use them as slaves. They became known as the Helots and no longer had their own culture but renamed within a new one.
Assimilation occurred, and does occur, with conflict. Their can only be one winner and one loser, and one will change the other, as is the case of the Romans, the Spartans, and the Kushites. These three cultures ruled at one time and are forever remembered for the deeds in which they commenced with on the battle field. There are many reasons to go to war, some are noble and some are not. Still, historians only report what took place in past events, it’s up to the reader or student to decide whether or not it is written from the victors point of view or from the conquered point of view.
History is taught from the victors point of view, as it is with Columbus. We do not live in the United States of Columbus, yet he is who we attribute this land to. This is just an example of the victor not really writing their own history the way they would perceive it. Confrontation is the source of change. Change is what reduces one culture to rubble, along with their buildings and daily life. Change is also responsible for the advancement of another culture and movement towards a continuation in history.
It’s the change that brings about a history of a people. Conclusion whether or not history is written from the point of view of the victors or not, the story is there. What brought a culture to clash with another culture, or what internal events took place, a change occurred. One culture was tired of being repressed by another, one culture was growing and needed more land and resources to maintain life as they had made it for themselves, or one religion disagreed with another and conflict occurred over beliefs.
The military serves whomever is in control and, as the old saying goes, whomever has the gold has the power. If a culture can pay a soldier, then that soldier will assimilate into the belief of the one paying them. It is true for past civilizations and, to a degree, it is true today. The question of whether or not this is fair depends on who, in history, you asked. A paid Roman soldier would agree with the Caesar, whereas a peasant in England forced to work an iron mine, would say historians have only mentioned him and does not go any further than that.
Sparta would say they are victorious even though their King died in the war against Persia. Still, they won that war and Persia, a mighty giant in the world at that time, meaning 480 B. C. , fell to rubble, like those they conquered and assimilated themselves. Our textbook gives us an account of what happened in the past, and our instructor gives more information and details to those events, but it is up to us, the students, to come away with the knowledge of what really happened.
Only then is the conclusions that are agreed or disagreed on fair, and only to that person who sees the events in accordance with their own views and understanding of the world we live in today. There is much more to be done in historic interpretation, and in the way of teaching and learning about history, yet the views of each event will, or can be, seen as different or the same. There is no right or wrong answer to the interpretation of history only in the accuracy of the information provided, which, too, is ever changing.
This class is but a small scratch on the surface of this time period and it’s history. Much has been learned and discussed, yet conclusions are, at best, illusions. Historians themselves will tell you that. As for what these cultures did to advance economically, to secure their lands, and settle religious differences, is what the textbook has done for us. This paper is the reflection of critical thinking based on what was learned both from the textbook and in the classroom. The debate is not over yet.
Courtney from Study Moose
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