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Showing posts from 2016

Napoleon Never Started A War

Hear me out.

Contrary to the often dramatised caricature of a mad, power-hungry & incredibly short Frenchman, Napoleon Bonaparte had never started a war during his time as emperor of the French.

In the space of 12 years (1803-1815), France was the target of seven international coalitions of European powers, determined to isolate and dismantle the French state for disrupting the status quo of European politics that had been thrown in disarray after the French revolution. All seven wars were declared upon France, not by it.

When confronted with war, Napoleon took to the offensive, that is a given. But how often in contemporary culture do we find ourselves briefly referring to Napoleon as "that crazy French guy who wanted world domination". In Franceshi & Weider's book on The Wars Against Napoleon: Debunking the Myth of the Napoleonic Wars (review), is is argued;
Napoleon had an ‘obsessive attachment to peace’, maintained his ‘intangible principle of avoiding con…

The International City of Tangier

At first glance, Tangier (طنجة) seems like an unremarkable seaside town, a stone throw away from the strategic strait of Gibraltar, connecting the Mediterranean to the Atlantic ocean. But this odd town has a disproportionately rich history. Founded by the Carthaginians in the early 5th century BC, ruled by Romans, Vandals, (Eastern) Roman again, Arab and the Portuguese. In fact, it was part of the dowry of Princess Catherine of Portugal to the recently crowned Charles II of England, transferring the settlement to English control in 1662. The English had planned to convert the town to their main naval base in the region (akin to Gibraltar but of course, the English only controlled Gibraltar in 1713) but abandoned & destroyed the town when it was besieged by the Moroccan Sultan in 1685. In the 19th century, Tangier became a hub of international diplomacy and politics. Amongst the curious notabilities in the town's history include it being the site of the USA's first consulat…