Birth of Jesus Christ (variously given from 4
B.C. to A.D. 7). After
Augustus, Tiberius becomes emperor (dies, A.D.
37), succeeded by Caligula (assassinated, A.D.
41), who is followed by Claudius. Crucifixion of Jesus (probably A.D. 30). Han dynasty in China founded by Emperor Kuang Wu Ti. Buddhism
introduced to China.
Claudius poisoned (A.D. 54), succeeded by Nero (commits suicide, A.D. 68). Missionary journeys of Paul the Apostle (A.D. 34–60). Jews revolt against Rome; Jerusalem
destroyed (A.D. 70). Roman
persecutions of Christians begin (A.D. 64).
Colosseum built in Rome (A.D. 71–80).
Trajan (rules A.D. 98–116);
Roman empire extends to Mesopotamia, Arabia, Balkans. First Gospels of St. Mark, St. John, St. Matthew.
Hadrian rules Rome (A.D. 117–138); codifies Roman law, rebuilds Pantheon, establishes postal system,
builds wall between England and Scotland. Jews revolt under Bar Kokhba (A.D. 122–135); final Diaspora (dispersion) of Jews begins.
Marcus Aurelius rules Rome (A.D. 161–180). Oldest Mayan temples in Central America (c.
Goths invade Asia Minor (c. A.D. 220). Roman persecutions of Christians increase. Persian (Sassanid) empire re-established.
End of Chinese Han dynasty.
Increasing invasions of the Roman empire by Franks and Goths. Buddhism spreads
in China. Classic period of Mayan civilization (A.D. 250–900); develop
hieroglyphic writing, advances in art, architecture, science.
Constantine the Great (rules A.D. 312–337) reunites eastern and western Roman empires, with new capital (Constantinople)
on site of Byzantium (A.D. 330);
issues Edict of Milan legalizing Christianity (A.D.
313); becomes a Christian on his deathbed (A.D.
337). Council of Nicaea (A.D.
325) defines orthodox Christian doctrine. First Gupta dynasty in India (c.
Huns (Mongols) invade Europe (c. A.D. 360). Theodosius the Great (rules A.D. 392–395)—last emperor of a united Roman empire. Roman empire permanently
divided in A.D. 395: western
empire ruled from Rome; eastern empire ruled from Constantinople.
Western Roman empire disintegrates under weak emperors. Alaric, king of the Visigoths,
sacks Rome (A.D. 410). Attila,
Hun chieftain, attacks Roman provinces (A.D.
433). St. Patrick returns to Ireland (A.D.
432) and brings Christianity to the island. St. Augustine's City of God(A.D. 411).
Vandals destroy Rome (A.D. 455). Western Roman empire ends as Odoacer, German chieftain, overthrows last Roman
emperor, Romulus Augustulus, and becomes king of Italy (A.D.
476). Ostrogothic kingdom of Italy established by Theodoric the Great (A.D. 493). Clovis, ruler of the Franks, is converted to Christianity
(A.D. 496). First schism between
western and eastern churches (A.D. 484).
Eastern and western churches reconciled (519).
Justinian I, the Great (483–565), becomes Byzantine emperor (527), issues his first code of civil laws (529),
conquers North Africa, Italy, and part of Spain. Plague spreads through Europe (542et seq.). Arthur, semi-legendary king of the Britons (killed, c. 537).
Boëthius, Roman scholar (executed, 524).
Beginnings of European silk industry after Justinian's missionaries smuggle silkworms
out of China (553). Mohammed, founder of Islam (570–632).
Buddhism in Japan (c. 560). St. Augustine of Canterbury brings Christianity
to Britain (597). After killing about half the population, plague in Europe
Mohammed flees from Mecca to Medina (the Hegira); first year of the Muslim
calendar (622). Muslim empire grows (634).
Arabs conquer Jerusalem (637), conquer Persians (641).
Arabs attack North Africa (670),
destroy Carthage (697). Venerable Bede, English monk (672–735).
Arab empire extends from Lisbon to China (by 716).
Charles Martel, Frankish leader, defeats Arabs at Tours/Poitiers, halting Arab advance in Europe (732).
Charlemagne (742–814). Introduction of pagodas in Japan from China.
Charlemagne becomes king of the Franks (771).
Caliph Harun al-Rashid rules Arab empire (786–809): the “golden
age” of Arab culture. Vikings begin attacks on Britain (790), land
in Ireland (795). City of Machu Picchu flourishes in Peru.
Charlemagne crowned first Holy Roman Emperor in Rome (800).
Charlemagne dies (814), succeeded by his son, Louis the Pious, who divides
France among his sons (817). Arabs conquer Crete, Sicily, and Sardinia
Norsemen attack as far south as the Mediterranean but are thwarted (859), discover Iceland (861). Alfred the Great
becomes king of Britain (871), defeats Danish invaders (878). Russian nation founded by Vikings under Prince Rurik, establishing capital at Novgorod
Beginning of Mayan Post-Classical period (900–1519). Vikings discover Greenland
(c. 900). Arab Spain under Abd ar-Rahman III becomes center of learning
(912–961). Otto I becomes King of Germany (936).
Mieczyslaw I becomes first ruler of Poland (960).
Eric the Red establishes first Viking colony in Greenland (982). Hugh Capet
elected King of France in 987; Capetian dynasty to rule until 1328. Musical notation systematized (c. 990).
Vikings and Danes attack Britain (988–999). Otto I crowned Holy Roman
Emperor by Pope John XII (962).
Time is the motion of particles relative to each other. From a scientific
perspective, without motion and without matter there is no time. If the material universe had a beginning, time as we know
it began when the universe began. But science can postulate no such beginning.
None of us, including scientists, grasps reality whole, and within
their incomplete knowledge physicists grasp the universe as energy (E), equal to mass (M) times the speed of light (C) squared.
And astronomers gather that the universe is expanding, that galaxies have been moving away from a dense configuration for
the past 15 billion years.
The nearest galaxy to our galaxy, the Milky Way, would take 2
million years to span at the speed of light (299,793 kilometers or 186,291 miles per hour ).
Geologists claim the age of the sun and earth to be around
4,550 million years and that the sun is moving around our galaxy at roughly 500,000 miles per hour. One revolution around
the galaxy is said to take 200 million years. Dividing 4,550 by 200 makes 23 revolutions around our galaxy since the sun and
earth formed. Ten thousand years covers only -thousandth of a revolution.
Geologists describe the earth as having come together gravitationally
- energy that was hot and fluid and that was cooling. The denser matter (iron and nickel) settled at the center and the less
dense matter, in the form of rocks, floating to the surface. And as the earth gave off heat its outer layers cooled first,
leaving Earth's interior hot and molten. Gasses bubbled to the surface, eventually to become atmosphere. When the temperature
was right, gasses in the atmosphere produced clouds that contained moisture - hydrogen and oxygen. It began to rain, and water
began to cover much of the earth's surface.
Among the chemicals on the Earth's surface were two nucleic acids:
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid). These acids could divide and replicate themselves. Biologists claim
that earliest forms of life consisted of carbon, water, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphor, sulfur and other materials. Although they
were not discovered until the 19th century, micro-organisms existed, presumably, and these organisms could mutate genetically
- as they are doing today. Biologists claim that across many millions of years various plant-life and spineless creatures
developed in ocean water, that eventually vegetable life in the form of algae transferred to land and became more complex
and nutrition for creatures that crawled out of the ocean.
Scientists calculate that more than 3.8 billion years after the
earth had formed - around 85 million years ago - there were reptilian creatures, including dinosaurs, tat laid eggs. Soon
after there were small nocturnal creatures that fed on insects and gave birth to babies that they
fed on milk from their own body - mammals. Paleontologists describe dinosaurs as having become extinct around 65 million
years ago. And they calculate that around thirty-eight million years ago primates appeared - creatures resembling those we
call monkeys and apes.
Biologists speak of variation between species and within species
- a specie being creatures that can interbreed. Within a specie, imprecise replications occur from parent to offspring - unlike
cloning. Across a great span of time, some variations within a specie survived while other variations did not, and the process
of variation produced division from one to two or more species.
Humans (homo sapiens) are said to have lived about 60 thousand
years ago in Africa. The poetic describe humans as below the angels, and indeed humans appear to be
a product of earthly imperfections. Unlike angels, they need to ingest water and food, and perfect nutrients and ingestion
is unavailable, so to survive they must excrete waste. Like other creatures on earth they have various other bodily functions
necessary for survival - sexuality.
Like some other creatures moving about to get nourishment, humans
have the ability to make choices, without which they could not have survived. And helping humans to survive has been their
capacity for empathy - possessed also, as we know, by dogs, who, like humans, have survived by living in groups. Contributing
to survival has also been adrenalin, anger and rage, and giving humans an advantage in survival is a highly complex nervous
system and the ability to reflect. While they struggle to gather sustenance from an imperfect world, some of them can reflect
on their own and humanity's contributions to that imperfection. Most of them also have a body chemistry that allows pleasure
and joy, despite reflections on their own mortality. Unlike the angels, humans, like other earthly creatures, are genetically
programmed to wither and die. Death has been useful for species: a means to rejuvenate, to make room for new-borns.
Stories and Shamans
An examination of Stone Age humanity reveals that people lived
in packs: in extended families, in clans or sometimes a grouping of clans called a tribe. They moved about, scavenging,
hunting game and gathering food that grew wild. They had sticks, bone, stones and twine for tools. Strangers they came upon,
or outsiders they knew, they did not necessarily see as fellow humans. There was no scientific understanding of the difference
between a human and beast. Ethnocentrism was extreme. Stone Age communities called themselves "the people," as if there were
no other humans.
There was fear that strangers they came across might attack them,
put some evil spirit upon them or steal their women, and attacks and the stealing of women sometimes occurred. This and an
endless camping trip with all of one's relatives was bound to produce disagreeable moments. In Colin Turnbull's study of the
people of the Ituri forest in the 1950s,published as The Forest People, we see that a community of hunter-gatherers
sometimes quarreled, and a quarrel might escalate into a brawl as people took sides, with the violence burning itself out
before it destroyed or endangered the community.
Rules in earliest human societies were created through discussion.
There was no written law or holy book from which to take guidance. No one presumed to be above others in authority. No one
exhorted the group about laws laid down by any of the spirits whose presence they felt. There were no preachers or priests,
but there were shamans - another word for witchdoctor. And in Stone Age societies almost anyone could be a shaman. They claimed
to be in communication with spirits, but, rather than command, the shamans merely described, or suggested, and performed what
they and others imagined were cures. Shamans strutted, or danced, or made shouting noises in an attempt to display their powers.
Many helped themselves to visions by using hallucinogenic drugs, perhaps from the bark of a tree. It was the community that
had authority - everyone and no one. From what has been seen of such societies, it appears that, in general at least, individuals
did not pray for themselves. Their work and their prayers were community endeavors. Their relationship with their gods was
as a group. Individuals identified their welfare with the welfare of the group, and morality was what they found to be best
for the group.
Stone Age people did have an understanding of simple cause and
effect: I drink water and my thirst goes away; you hit me and I hurt; I sleep and I awake rested; I eat this root and
I become sick. They were skilled in the techniques of hunting and gathering. Beyond these immediate realities they invented
explanations as to how the world worked. It was through stories that people thought they understood the world around them
- stories passed from generation to generation. People, it seems, wondered about the world around them, as bright children
do today. Stone Age people let their imaginations run. Stone Age people did not believe in skepticism or suspended judgment.
They had no idea of progression in discovery and knowledge. Their saw no progress in social organization and little if any
technological progress. They did not believe in progress.
Their stories merely changed. Their stories were often fanciful
and impulsive rather than systematic. Within a tribe might be variations on the same story. With free imagination as the source
of the stories, across generations their stories were embellished and altered. Stone Age people told their stories without
demand for consistency or empirical verification. The element of free imagination would make their stories appear to people
of later ages as childlike, incomplete or absurd. But Stone Age people accepted the stories as true because these were the
explanations of their mothers, fathers, grandparents and clan or tribal leaders.
Stone Age people believed that they were living at the center
of the universe, that the earth was a disk extending not far beyond known neighbors, mountains, or shorelines. They believed
that all movement was the product of will. They saw insects as moving by will. They saw the sun, moon and stars closer than
they were and as moving by will. For Stone Age people, will was spirit, and they saw their world as filled with many spirits.
Or, to use another word: gods. This was the original polytheism.
When a person saw his reflection in the water he believed he
was seeing his spirit - the invisible made visible by the magic of the water. (In modern times, Stone Age people might believe
that a photographer had captured something of their spirit and for this reason object to being photographed.)
Seeing the lifeless bodies of those who had died, people believed
the spirit of that person had left their body and gone to an invisible world where the spirits of the dead dwelled. And they
believed that invisible spirits hovered around them.
People saw spirits as able to penetrate human bodies through
the skin, nostrils, mouth, ears or other openings. Dreams, not being willed, were seen as invasions by a spirit during one's
sleep. Sickness was seen as an invasion by an evil spirit, and cures were sought in the form of having the invading spirit
exorcised from oneself - a practice that survived into modern times.
People saw spirits as able to invade things as well as persons.
If a rock happened to have a shape that reminded one of a dead uncle it might be because the spirit of the uncle had invaded
and become a part of that rock. Spirits were imagined to have taken up residence in stone or wooden idols. Spirit, they believed,
was invisible and in everything.
Not yet interested in strict categories, people did not think
about the difference between what they saw as spirit and what was later to be called materiality. And not having defined the
difference between spirit and materiality, they believed that if one ate a portion of the body of a strong beast, such as
a bear, one might acquire the spirit of the bear, or, if one ate a portion of the body of a deceased king one might acquire
the special qualities of that king. The flesh of timid animals might be avoided in fear of ingesting timidity.
And not having defined a difference between spirit and materiality,
Stone Age people believed that in preserving a corpse they were helping to preserve the spirit of one who had died. And they
believed that they could nourish the spirit of the corpse by putting gifts of food alongside it.
Magic and Religion
Not knowing how the world worked, Stone Age people attributed
everything to the magic of the spirits. Birds flying or hovering on an updraft of air without falling to the ground was magic.
Lightning, thunder, rain, the tides, and procreation were magic. Fire was magic and it was spirit, for it moved itself, and,
when water was thrown upon it, it uttered a cry like a slain animal.
People saw spirits as having emotion. Lightning, thunder, strong
winds high seas and floods were anger. People feared the anger of the spirits and hoped to placate them with kind words and
gifts through a magic of their own.
How the world came into being was explained in stories about
the doings of the spirits, a common story being of a male god of sky and the mother god that was earth giving birth to gods
that were atmosphere and other phenomena. The imagination of those who created the stories was limited to the world that they
could understand. They spoke of gods having created humanity out of earth, tree bark and other ingredients. A god was described
as having created plants, beasts and humans, and a story described why the spirits were immortal and humans merely mortal.
They believed that their gods had made the world what it is and
that their society and the world would always be as the gods had made it. They had no sense of social progress or image of
humanity's capabilities. The imagination of those who had a biological potential for genius, and others of normal intelligence,
was limited by their culture. Had it been otherwise, modern times would have come much sooner than it did.
Limited in their view of the breadth of the world, people believed
the gods had made their surroundings especially for them. The gods were their gods, and seeing their most powerful god as
having their interests at heart they tended to see this god as good. When something went wrong, as in failures at hunting
or sickness and death, a society might engage in a ritual to make things good again by waking up the Great Spirit. In another
society, calamity might be believed to be the product of people disobeying their gods.
Unrestrained in self-confidence, they believed that if the gods
could perform magic so too could they. The earliest form of religious ritual was an attempt at magic through imitation - such
as painting a face on the belly of a pregnant woman in hope that the magic of the drawing would encourage birth. There were
also ritual fasts or trances that were believed to invoke magic, done in order to receive from the spirits the skills needed
to be a good hunter or warrior.
Also common were rituals that we call funerals. The participants
wailed and cried with exaggeration to demonstrate that they cared for the dead person, fearing that otherwise the spirit of
the dead person might return in anger and haunt or harm them.
Funeral ritual for some tribes included burying their dead. Some
other tribes cremated their dead. A tribe in the Amazon jungle in the 20th century, the Yanomami, opted for cremation, believing
that burying bodies in the ground was a horrible indignity for the dead. One of their rituals was to grind the ashes of a
dead person into a soup, which they drank, believing that the dead would be unhappy if they did not have a resting place within
the bodies of their relatives.
Seeing matter and spirit as the same while guarding themselves
against the dead, ancient Greek warriors had a ritual of cutting off the fingers from the sword hand of an enemy they had
slain, in order to prevent revenge by his spirit.
Stone Age people were wary of enemies performing magic against
them. If one suffered from an illness it was often attributed to the evil intentions of someone exercising his magic, perhaps
someone with whom one had had an argument, or someone from a neighboring tribe that he had recently met. One might wear a
pendant made from a small stone, or perhaps a piece of copper thinned by pounding, as an object of magic to ward off evil.
And to avoid evil, taboos were created. Speaking the name of
a dead king might be taboo for fear of evoking a ghost with too much power. Speaking the name of a weapon might be taboo because
it would leave the weapon open to hostile magic, making it ineffective. Stone Age people took care not to let a personal object
fall into the hands of an enemy, who could then use the spirit in that object to send evil against them - similar to or worse
than a modern person losing his credit card.
Ritualized magic differed slightly from tribe to tribe, and the
stories that supported the rituals also differed. Early in the twentieth century differences in Stone Age religions put academicians
at great labor and debate. Unlike their Stone Age ancestors, the scholars were concerned with definitions. Emerging from these
debates was the commonly accepted belief that religion included both ritual and myth, and the scholars created a label for
the religion common among Stone Age people: animism. Their definition of animism was simple and therefore easy
to agree upon: the belief that spirit permeates all.
Agriculture and Fertility Gods
By 10,000 BCE, humans had spread into virtually all habitable places
on earth. In the northern hemisphere between the years 10,000 and 8,000 the last of the continental glaciers retreated. Where
the glaciers retreated, agriculture began to replace, in small steps, hunting culture. In an area called the Fertile Crescent, hunter-gatherers camped alongside fields of wild wheat or barley,
and cereals. Here was also the game - such as gazelles. Soon they were planting gardens to supplement their hunting. By 7000
BCE, the planting of seeds had become a major source of food. People began farming and raising animals, and their farms anchored
them to one place.
Agriculture was also developing elsewhere. It was spreading to
Greece. Around 6000 BCE, agriculture was developing independently
among hunter-gatherers in southern Mexico. In North
Africa along the upper NileRiver,
people were growing sorghum, millet and wheat. By 5500, people were planting crops in China.
By 4500, agriculture had spread from Greece into central Europe
where, by 4000 BCE, people were using a wooden plow.
By the year 4500, farming had reappeared in Africa
south of the Sahara in the NigerBasin
in the West. The Sahara at this time was grass and woodland with an abundance of rainfall, rivers,
lakes, fish and aquatic life. People there were growing crops and raising sheep, goats and cattle.
Farming created more food, and more food made possible more people.
More people kept farming communities on the brink of inadequate nutrition. And farmers were more dependent on nature than
were hunter-gatherers, who were free to drift from drought to areas that had more game and wild foods. Domesticated plants
were vulnerable to insect ravages in ways that wild plants were not. Archaeologists have found in the bones of children in
agricultural societies more signs of malnutrition than that of people living from hunting and gathering, and the average height
of early farming populations has been discovered to be shorter than that of hunter-gatherers.
Also, more populous societies lived amid a greater lack of sanitation.
People were careless about their refuse, their sewage and water supply. They knew nothing about bacteria, and their ignorance
was costly. They suffered from disease epidemics that had been rare among hunter-gatherers. Perhaps fewer than half of the
children of agricultural societies lived past the age of ten.
Needing rain for their crops, people in agricultural societies
tried evoking magic in the form of imitation. Where frogs came out when it rained, witchdoctors might croak like frogs to
suggest to their gods that they should start the rain.
With agriculture came gods of fertility. Farmers knew enough
about fertility to associate it with sexual intercourse. They believed that their gods created sexually, a father and mother
god having created son and daughter gods, and men and women copulated in their fields as religious ritual to suggest to their
gods that they should make their crops grow.
Where growing seasons passed, people saw their fertility god
as having died, and when the growing season returned they saw their god as having been resurrected - the beginning of resurrection
as a concept. One such god worshipped by the Greeks was Adonis. Adonis was believed to spend his annual death with the goddess
Persephone in Hades - otherwise known as hell. Each year when the growing season returned he was seen to have been resurrected,
and he was believed to be living in blissful union with the fertility goddess of love, Aphrodite.
In agricultural societies, misfortune was explained as the work
of displeased gods, and early farmers were eager to please the gods by sending them what gifts they could. It was believed
that killing someone or an animal sent that creature, in the form of spirit, to the invisible world of the gods. People saw
the sending of one or a few members of their society to the gods as a good bargain insofar as it served the survival of the
entire society. Or someone might be sacrificed who had been a stranger seized on some pathway or held captive from war - solving
the problem what to do with a war captive, who would otherwise draw on the people’s precious supply of food.
Animal and human sacrifices appear to have been less prevalent
in societies of hunter-gatherers, such as those on the plains of North America and in Australia.
Sacrificing people took place among agricultural people in India,
Egypt and elsewhere in agricultural Africa
and among the farmers of Europe and the Middle East.
Justinian's War for the
The Roman Empire and Constantinople
By 500 CE North Africa and Western Europe were occupied by the Franks, Visigoths, Ostrogoths and Vandals. From
Constantinople a so-called Roman emperor still ruled the eastern half of the empire,
to be known also as the Byzantine Empire. This empire included Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Egypt, which were tied together by trade. Constantinople was trading
to the coasts of Gaul, Spain, Africa, India and China, and it remained a prosperous city, which drew diplomats, merchants,
sailors and other travelers from many parts of the globe. It was a city populated by Greeks, Armenians, Syrians a few Arabs
and others. Constantinople's soldiers were largely German, and some were Huns. By the 500s most of Constantinople spoke Greek,
with Latin being used only for religious, formal and official occasions. And people of the city were united by their common
Roman citizenship and their Christian faith.
The emperor at Constantinople, Justinian (527-65), saw himself
as the rightful heir of a rule handed down from as far back as Augustus Caesar, a rule he claimed was created by God. God,
he said, had displayed his love by bestowing two gifts: the priesthood and the imperial dignity. Faithful subjects described
the emperor at Constantinople as God's vicar on earth and as ruling by divine right. The emperor's Germanic subjects seem
to have been most impressed, viewing the emperor as almost a god in his own right.
As a Christian city, Constantinople had many churches, monasteries
and convents. It had free hospitals for the sick, staffed by monks and nuns. There were alms houses for the needy and the
old - free accommodation for the homeless. The city subsidized orphanages. And in times of increased need rationing
was often introduced to help the poor.
Many of Constantinople's Christians saw the world as a vale of
tears in which one should not place trust or hope. But the people of Constantinople were generally enthusiastic about chariot
racing. From early in the morning, young and old people, "skin heads" and priests from all over Constantinople would converge
on the city's circus to view and gamble on the chariot races.
Violence for Italy, North
Africa and the Trinity
The Roman emperor Justinian outlawed paganism, including Plato's
old academy at Athens, and he drove non-Christian philosophers into exile. Fearing that God might bring famine against his
sinful subjects he outlawed blasphemy, sacrilege and homosexuality. He persecuted the religious community in Palestine known
as the Samaritans, and he put restrictions on the religious and civil freedoms of Jews, including outlawing the Talmud, which
he described as puerile fabrications, insulting and blasphemous.
Christianity is derived from Bishop Arius, who led the Church in claiming that God and Jesus were separate beings. His view
was rejected at the Church's first ecumenical (general) council, in A.D. 325.
Like other Christians, Justinian was expecting the second coming
of Christ in the near future, and in preparing for this he wanted to unify what he saw as God's empire. He wished to liberate
western Europe and North Africa from the non-Trinity, Arian branch of Christianity - the Christianity of the Vandals, the
Ostrogoths and the Visigoths.NOTE The Franks were his allies - Catholics who had converted a few decades before Justinian ascended the throne.
Justinian believed that as God's chosen emperor it was his duty to create one state, one church and one law.
In the year 532 Justinian negotiated a peace treaty with the Persian
Empire, centered at Ctesiphon, in order to wage war in the west - against the Vandals. The Vandals,
some historians have claimed, had grown soft in the one hundred years since they had conquered North Africa. Perhaps they
were enervated by the mild North African climate, by self-indulgence and by the new wealth that many of them had gained. Some
have described the Vandal's military as having declined in efficiency, and their new king, Gelimer, as without military or
diplomatic talent. Constantinople's historian, Procopius, was to attribute the coming Vandal defeat to God and fate. The Vandals,
at any rate, were weaker than they might have been if they had formed an alliance with their fellow Arian Christians, the
Ostrogoths of Italy. Instead, they had been warring against the Ostrogoths.
Rather than treat Justinian as a danger to themselves as well
as to the Vandals, the Ostrogoths allowed Justinian's fleet of 500 ships, with 15,000 soldiers, to use their port in Sicily
against the Vandals. That was in June, 533. From Sicily, Justinian's military, under the commander Belisarius, invaded
North Africa, and victory came fast. Belisarius defeated the Vandals by December 533.
Despite their Christianity, Belisarius made slaves of the defeated
Vandal warriors. Vandals were to return all estates that they had taken in conquering North Africa, a pronouncement that inspired
many claims and much litigation. Churches confiscated by the Vandals were to be returned to Catholic worship, and anyone guilty
of having been an Arian Christian was to be excluded from public office. Justinian's forces seized Gelimer's treasures, and
Gelimer was taken to Constantinople and displayed in the victory parade. He refused to abandon Arianism, but Justinian was
charitable and granted him an estate on which he was allowed to retire.
The conquest of North Africa, however, was not complete.
Justinian's victory against the Vandals was followed by intermittent wars between his forces and the blue-eyed Berbers (also
called Moors), from North Africa's hill country. The Berbers fought on horseback along a front that was too long for Justinian's
troops, and Justinian's military tried to defend "Roman civilization" with defensive fortifications.
Justinian Versus the
Continuing his drive to reunite the Roman Empire and to defeat Arianism,
Justinian moved next against the Ostrogoths. In 536, his forces, led by Belisarius, landed in Italy near Naples, and in November Belisarius conquered that city. The Ostrogoths were
threatened also by the Franks, to their north, and the Ostrogoths neutralized the Franks with a bribe, gold proving stronger
than Frankish loyalty to the cause pursued by Justinian. With a group of Roman senators as hostages and an oath of fidelity
from the Bishop of Rome, Pope Silvarius, the Ostrogoths abandoned Rome, and Belisarius' army arrived there in December. The city's Catholics
viewed them as foreigners. They had suffered no discrimination under the Ostrogoths, but they were hopeful and filled with
respect for the emperor Justinian. The Pope was also hopeful, and he broke his word to the Ostrogoths and went over to the
side of Justinian.
The king of the Ostrogoths, Witigis, assembled an army of about
150,000 (mostly mailed cavalry), returned to Rome in March 537 and began a siege of the city. The Ostrogoths cut Rome's outside
supply of water - the beginning of the end of Rome's great aqueducts and an end to its luxurious public baths, Rome now relying
on its water wells and water from the Tiber river. The Ostrogoths tried storming Rome's wall, but failed, the city's defenders
in one area throwing statues down upon the attackers. A secret group of anti-Catholics tried to open the gates for the Ostrogoths,
but failed. Belisarius sent women, children and slaves from the city, whom the Ostrogoths allowed to leave unharmed. He drafted
all able-bodied men in the city into his army, and joining his army were about sixteen hundred cavalrymen - mostly Huns and
Slavs led by Romans - who managed to sneak into the city through the Ostrogoths.
The Ostrogoths had no navy, and Justinian's navy was giving him advantage
in Italy. Not only did he ship food and reinforcements up the Tiber river and into Rome, he was able to blockade food
from reaching the Ostrogoths. A little more than a year after the siege had begun the hungry Ostrogoths lifted their siege
and returned north. There the Ostrogoths and their fellow Arians, the Burgundians, blockaded the city of Milan and reduced its inhabitants to eating dogs and mice. And when the
Ostrogoths and Burgundians took the city they massacred all the city's adult males, estimated at 300,000, and the Burgundians
took the city's women as slaves.
By 539, food production and distribution in Italy had diminished
to the extent that many were dying of malnutrition. Cannibalism appeared. Unburied corpses littered the countryside. Taking
advantage of Italy's vulnerability, the Franks invaded Italy in search of plunder, slaughtering along the way.
In 540, Justinian was troubled by renewed hostilities with Persia,
and he felt that he needed to throw the full weight of his forces against the Persians. That year he sent instructions
to Belisarius to make peace in Italy by offering the Ostrogoths territory north of the Po River in exchange for Justinian
keeping all of Italy south of the Po. And the Ostrogoths agreed. Constantinople and surrounding areas were then attacked by
bubonic plague. But the plague did not deter Justinian from continuing his efforts against the Persians.
More War in Italy
Justinian's generals south of the Po in Italy had taken advantage
of their power to plunder the Italians, which turned many Italians against Justinian's effort in Italy. The Ostrogoths, under
a new leader, resumed their war against Justinian's forces, and they pushed Justinian's forces southward, bypassing Rome.
In the spring of 543 the Ostrogoths captured Naples, and the new leader of the Ostrogoth army, Totila, treated the city's
The Ostrogoths advanced from town to town. The inhabitants of
the town of Isaurius sided with the approaching Ostrogoths, and the town's garrison, loyal to Justinian's cause and to Catholicism,
slaughtered them - passions and fear triumphing over Christian principle, as it would for centuries to come.
Totila sent an appeal to Rome's Senate, telling them that his
rule of Rome would be better than Constantinople's, and he gave them his solemn oath not to harm Rome's inhabitants. The general
in charge of Rome's defense responded by expelling the Arian clergy from Rome, fearing they were agents of Totila.
Around the first part of the year 546, another Ostrogoth siege
of Rome began. The city's inhabitants went from eating nettles, dog and rodents to starvation. From Justinian's commander
inside the city, starving Romans requested food, permission to abandon the city or that the army kill them. The commander
replied that giving them food was impossible, letting the leave the city would be dangerous and that killing them would be
criminal. Then after receiving payment from those who wanted to leave, he allowed them to do so, and all the civilians left
except approximately five hundred. Some of those leaving dropped from the exhaustion. Some were cut down by the
Ostrogoths, and some left unmolested.
In December, 546, a gate into Rome was opened from within, and
Totila's forces rushed into the city. Justinian's troops and a few senators fled through another gate. Some within the city
took refuge in churches, and a few were cut down by Totila's troops. Totila went to pray at St. Peter's Cathedral. He then
had Rome destroyed, including a portion of the city's great walls.
Totila then went north to consolidate his strength there. Again
naval superiority allowed Justinian to land troops in Italy, and his forces reoccupied Rome and rebuilt its walls. In 549
Totila and the Ostrogoths returned and began a third and final siege of the city. Bloody battles were fought, and the following
year Totila took the city again.
In 551 the superiority of Greek seamanship and of Justinian's
navy allowed Justinian's forces to obtain the upper hand in Italy. The following year Justinian's forces also seized two strongholds
on the southern coast of Spain. And in 554 his armies finally defeated the Ostrogoths - the end of a costly and painful enterprise
that had devastated Italy. The Pope and Catholicism now reigned supreme in Rome and central Italy - which was declared to
be the work of God. The Trinity version of Christianity had won against Arianism, violence again deciding a matter of theology.
A weakened Constantinople
The Trinity had triumphed in Italy,
but Justinian's conquest of Italy had drained Constantinople's
resources. Justinian's wars had weakened his ability to protect his empire's northern frontier along the Danube River and his frontier in the east. From the steppes just west of the Don River came Bulgars, who raided, ravaged towns and farms north of Constantinople,
and left again. From grasslands north of Constantinople's empire, Slavic tribes, speaking an Indo-European
language, invaded Constantinople's empire. Some of the Slavs turned from plunder to seizing the lands
of Latin-speaking Byzantine provincials and settling into farming in sparsely populated areas and on what had been wasteland.
The Slavs were followed by those who in theory are considered to be a Mongolian people - Avars - traditionally herders, bow
legged from the constant riding on horseback They were warriors interested in plunder, like the Huns before them, fighting
in cavalry formation, organized and disciplined.
By the time of Justinian's death in 565, much of Constantinople's
imperial wealth had been spent. Justinian's successor, Justin II, was unable to prevent a Germanic people called Lombards
from taking power in Italy. The Lombards
had been moving south from around the Elbe River since the 400s. They reached Milan
in 568, and soon after they took control of territory between Ravenna and Rome. They taxed
those in Italy whom they had conquered, but they allowed the
Catholics control of Rome and some surrounding territory - the Pope remaining
the political leader of this area and the symbol of Roman tradition. Soon the usual assimilation between invaders and Romans
took place, the Lombards adopting Latin as their language and Catholicism as their religion. And in
589 in Spain, the Visigoth king converted to Catholicism,
soon followed by his subjects. Justianian had failed to reunify the old Roman Empire, but his vision
of a Catholic western Europe was being realized
China from Ming to Manchu
The Ming Dynasty in 1500s
Passing rule from father to son again produced incompetent leadership.
It was in 1506 that Zhengde, fourteen-year-old son of Ming emperor Hongzhi, inherited power. Hongzhi had warned that his son
Zhengde was too inclined toward a love of ease and pleasure. And Zhengde became a ruler interested in entertainments such
as music, wrestling, magicians and acrobatics, interested also in riding, archery and hunting, and without much interest in
the affairs of state.
Zhengde became ill and died in 1521, at the age of thirty-one,
and having had no sons, rule passed to one of his adopted sons, Jiajing, who was fifteen. The dowager empress and a Grand
Secretary ruled for awhile. The power of the eunuchs was curbed and wealth that eunuchs had accumulated was confiscated -
70 chests of gold and 2,200 chests of silver from one eunuch alone. The economy was restored. But eventually Jiajing came
of age and the Grand Secretary died. Then the government faltered as Jiajing focused on Taoism and immortality. He spent money
on Taoist temples, but his spiritualism did not make him a worthy ruler at least in the eyes of eighteen of his concubines.
In 1542 they conspired to strangle him while he slept. All were executed but the concubine who had warned the empress.
Jiajing did little to improve China as a military power. Frontier
military colonies had only about forty percent of the number of men originally intended to guard against the Mongols and others.
Interior regiments were no more than ten percent of their prescribed strength. The government was not giving military men
adequate pay or rations. Death and desertions thinned the army, and many of those who were recruited into the military were
unwilling to risk their lives in combat.
The Mongols in the northeast had united under a descendant of
Genghis Kahn and were making raids into China. In one month in 1542 they burned homes, stole cattle and horses and massacred,
it is written, over around 200,000 people. In 1550 the Mongols advanced to the gates of Beijing and looted and burned its
suburbs. Assaults came also from Chinese (reputed to be Japanese) linked to illegal trade with foreigners. These men had established
bases on the coast and raided or took over villages and towns up river.
It was a private army, organized by Qi Jiguang, that eventually
defeated the raiders from the coast, while Jiajing pursued his Taoism. Jiajing withdrew from governing for long periods, and
his Taoist search for everlasting life through potions led to his death by poisoning in 1566. Jiajing's son, Longqing, was
also little interested in affairs of state. But he did expel Taoists from the court, and his minister, Zhang Juzheng, made
peace with the Mongols. Longqing ruled to 1572 and was succeeded by Wanli, who ruled to 1620, for forty-seven years - the
longest reign in China since the early Han dynasty seventeen centuries before.
China under Emperor Wan
Wanli became emperor at the age of ten, and his reign began under
the leadership of his mother and Zhang Juzheng. They restored discipline and efficiency in government. Finances were stabilized,
and attacks at China's border were repelled. But after Wanli came of age, and Zhang Juzheng died, the recent history of Chinese
emperors repeated itself. Wanli increasingly withdrew from state affairs. Government posts were left unfilled, and
people languished in prison without trial because there were no judges to try them. Wanli allowed the eunuchs to acquire influence
at court. The eunuchs took tax money intended for the state treasury for themselves. Wealth was not being saved, or sufficient
grain stored for relief in hard times. When an area was devastated by earthquake, flooding or drought, Wanli would order relief,
but little if any relief would materialize. And desperate people were turning again to banditry and rebellion.
High taxes continued to oppress all but the upper classes. Millions
of middle men were involved in tax collection, taking their cut before passing the collected wealth to the court. In some
provinces half of the revenue went to support the local nobility. Some with surplus money were lending it out as usurious
rates, and Wanli was spending great amounts of state money on palaces and other luxuries for his family. Wanli, meanwhile,
had grown so fat that he could not stand.
China was doing well artistically, but there was little intellectual
leadership advocating political and social reform. The intellectuals were supporting serenity through withdrawal or a return
to traditional obedience and worthy authoritarian rule. Unlike the bourgeoisie in Europe, there was little interest among
thinking Chinese in better ways of doing work through improved tools - while thinking laborers were without the means to improve
China's gentry, traditionally Confucianist and into both farming
and government service, had become more alienated from government and had been turning more to Buddhism and to patronizing
Buddhist monasteries. This was encouraged by factional fighting among the Confucianists and by the risks that came with power
in the hands of eunuchs. Confucian scholars disliked the decline in Confucianist standards. Confucianists were splitting
into numerous factions. Numerous private Confucianist academies arose, while few if any Confucianists were finding fault with
monarchy or authoritarianism itself. Confucianists continued to see salvation in adherence to proper ethical conduct rather
than a change in institutions. And they continued to see commerce and the crafts as matters for inferior people.
The degree of withdrawal from state affairs by Wanli amounted
to benign neglect for commerce and trade. China was producing ceramics, silk and cotton cloth. A genuine money economy was
developing, and China's growing cities had a few affluent merchants. China's agriculture was advancing - with some new crops
such as maize, sweet potatoes and peanuts from the Americas. This contributed to China's rise in population - to over
100 million - double what it had been around 1368, when the Ming Dynasty began. But not much wealth was being invested
in economic growth. Rather than wealth being invested in business growth, much of it was being used in safer lending at usurious
rates. In addition to government using business as a source of wealth, and the Confucian view of commerce as dishonorable,
wealthy Chinese - gentry and wealthy merchants - were spending a lot of money on consumption. Businessmen as well as the landed
wealthy tended to see land as a better investment than business growth. Much of industry was handicraft in the hands of peasants,
and whenever their productively increased it would be siphoned off by landlords. Also, government sponsored handicraft guilds
laid down rules that inhibited competition and growth. Industries were often forced to sell to the government at prices that
were too low. Business growth was hampered also by common people unable to increase their consumption. And government
continued to impose limitations on foreign trade, including forbidding Chinese merchants to go to sea.
Europeans to China
Instead of Chinese merchants going to Europe, European merchants came
to them. In the middle of Wanli's reign, Dutch and English traders arrived off the coast of China. The Jesuit missionary,
Matteo Ricci, arrived in China at Macao in 1582. He adopted the name Li Mateo and made himself more amenable
to the Chinese by adopting the dress of a Confucian scholar, and he made Christianity more palatable to the Chinese by linking
it with Confucian thought. He settled in Nanjing, and having learned Chinese and the classical Chinese literature,
and showing deference to China's system of authoritarian rule and privilege, Ricci was accepted by China's scholars and nobility.
In early 1601, Ricci received permission to go to Beijing, where he presented the court with a harpsichord, a map of the
world and two clocks that chimed. He introduced himself to the court as Wanli's humble subject and as familiar with the "celestial
sphere, geography, geometry, and calculations." Ricci aroused interest and awareness of technical advances in the West. And
permission to function in China allowed Ricci to expand Christianity there, China having more than three hundred Roman Catholic
churches by 1610.
The Last of the Ming and
the Arrival of the Manchu
Wanli died at the age of fifty-seven - old for someone as heavy
as he. His successor was his grandson, Tianqi, who was fifteen and illiterate. The withdrawal of emperors from governmental
affairs continued. Emperor Tianqi enjoyed carpentry while his court and administration was being tyrannized by a eunuch, Wei
Zhongxian, who dismissed anyone from government service whom he thought might be disloyal to him.
Rebellion occurred in 1624, led by six Confucianists who were
attempting a moral revival of "pure" Confucianism. They were known as the Six Heroes. They were dreamers interested in moral
revival rather than organizing an armed opposition, and, like the Confucianist Wang Mang centuries before, they paid for it
with their lives. They were tortured and beaten to death, and seven hundred of their supporters were purged from their government
Some in China concluded that Wei Zhongxian's terror and Tianqi's passive
acceptance indicated that the Ming dynasty had lost the Mandate of Heaven. Tanqui died in 1627 and was succeeded by his feeble
younger brother, Chongzhen, and during Chongzhen's reign heaven seemed to be intervening against the Ming, as China suffered
(with other parts of the world) from unusually bad weather: low temperatures, drought and flooding from too much rain.
Also a trade depression had developed in Europe in the 1620s, which had some impact on China. All over China people were in
rebellion. Militarily the emperor remained weak. And more raiding was underway from the north - not from the Mongols this
time but from the Manchus, raiding from what is now called Manchuria.
In Manchuria were Chinese who had extended Chinese-style agriculture
there. In that part of Manchuria called Jilin were the descendants of the semi-nomadic Ruzhen who had established the
Jin dynasty in northern China in the 1100s. By the early 1600s, one among them, Nurgaci, had brought adjoining Manchu tribes
under his rule. His son and successor, Abahai, ruling from the town of Mukden, gave the name of Manchu to his subjects. He allied himself with
Mongol tribes, made a treaty with the Koreans and was set for an assault on China.
The Manchus were making incursions into northern China at the
same time as people in China were rebelling against their emperor, Chongzhen. In 1644 a rebel Chinese force swept into Beijing.
Chongzhen hanged himself. In the coming seven years the Manchu fought battles outside of Beijing, the Manchu gaining
hold of military garrisons at strategic points, and Ming supporters taking refuge in Taiwan, which did not submit to the Manchus
until 1683. The Manchu's took power in Beijing and eventually over the whole of China. (
Details provided by reader. ) China's emperors now belonged to a Manchu family called the Qing family, a dynasty that was to rule to the
A few Chinese chose death rather than serve the Manchu. But the
Manchus - who were never more than two percent of the population in China
- would be able to rule China because of the acquiescence
of the Chinese. The Manchus employed Confucianism as support for political authority, promoting study of the classics and
the veneration of ancestors, including the idea that a ruler rules by virtue of his goodness. And Chinese filled many of the
positions in the Manchu government bureaucracy.
Manchu emperors kept military power out of the hands of Chinese
and in the hands of their fellow Manchu, and they moved to prevent their fellow Manchu from being swallowed by the Chinese.
Manchus in China were obliged to devote themselves to military
service. They were forbidden to engage in commerce or labor, and forbidden to marry Chinese.
With the peace that the Manchu imposed upon China,
prosperity and population growth returned, and trade with Europe increased. One Manchu emperor, Kangxi,
ruled sixty-one years, - from 1661 to 1722 - and would be considered one of China's
great emperors. He won praise from Jesuits in China for his
"noble heart," his intelligence, his excellent memory, his taste in reading and his being an "absolute ruler over his passions
The United Nations
Wartime Sense of Purpose
The United Nations began with the London Declaration of June 12, 1941, when unity and a sense of purpose was felt
by various nationalities struggling against a common enemy: Hitler's Germany. They declared that "the only true basis of enduring
peace is the willing cooperation of free peoples in a world in which, relieved of the menace of aggression, all may enjoy
economic and social security." Signing the London Declaration were Britain, Canada, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa
and the exiled governments of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Yugoslavia.
Charles deGaulle, in exile from France, also signed. Soon after the U.S. went to war against Japan and Germany it joined this
group. Another declaration was signed in Washington, on January 1, 1942, and joining in this was the Soviet Union. This was
called the "Declaration by United Nations" - the name "United Nations" coined by the U.S. president, Franklin Roosevelt.
Each government pledged "to employ its full resources, military or economic" to the defeat of Germany, Japan and Italy. They
agreed that none were to make a separate peace with the enemy. A number of Latin American nations joined the group, as did
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and some smaller African states.
At their Teheran conference in late 1943, Stalin, Churchill and
Roosevelt discussed the possibility of a United Nations trusteeship for France's colony of Indochina (including Vietnam).
The Indochinese were to be included among the "free peoples" spoken of in the London declaration but after a wait of twenty
or thirty years. In deference to Churchill a UN trusteeship for India was not discussed.
Roosevelt in 1944 was considering running for re-election. He
linked the Republicans with isolationism and argued for the United Nations. He argued that the United Nations had to be able
to commit people to military action, "to keep the peace by force, if necessary" rather than wait for consultations, discussions
and debates. He likened the latter to the police calling a town meeting before stopping a burglary. Roosevelt favored a blanket
approval from Congress in advance. "It is clear," he said, "that if the world organization is to have any reality at all,
our American representative must be endowed in advance by the people themselves, by constitutional means through their representatives
in the Congress, with authority to act."
Beginning in September 1944, at the Dumbarton Oaks mansion in
Washington D.C., representatives of the Soviet Union, Britain, the U.S. and China agreed on the structure of the UN. The purpose
of the United Nations, it was declared, would be:
1. To maintain international peace
and security; and to that end to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace
and the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means adjustment
or settlement of international disputes which may lead to a breach of the peace;
2. To develop friendly relations among
nations and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
3. To achieve international cooperation
in the solution of international economic, social and other humanitarian problems; and
4. To afford a center for harmonizing
the actions of nations in the achievement of these common ends.
The principles by which this was to be realized were:
1. The Organization is based on the
principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving states.
2. All members of the Organization
undertake, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership in the Organization, to fulfill
the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the Charter.
3. All members of the Organization
shall settle their disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security are not endangered.
At the Yalta conference in February 1945, Roosevelt, Churchill,
and Stalin declared their resolve to establish the UN, with Roosevelt and Churchill both agreeing that the Ukraine and Byelorussia
(republics within the Soviet Union) would be separate member states with their own votes in the UN. They agreed to the time
and place of a founding meeting of the United Nations and that the UN would be led or dominated by the five major allied powers
as permanent members of the Security Council - the U.S., Soviet Union, Britain, China, and France. The question arose about
some Latin American nations joining. Stalin asked how the Soviet Union could build world security with nations that had been
hostile to the Soviet Union. Churchill commented about nations that had been waiting "to see who would win," and Roosevelt
apologized to Stalin for having prematurely promised these nations UN membership. He added that he was doing what he could
to encourage them to declare war on Germany and that they could help write the UN Charter and become initial members when
they signed the UN declaration. Stalin agreed. The question arose of a conference to discuss "territorial trusteeship and
dependent areas" - in other words colonialism. Churchill became enraged, stating that as long as he was Prime Minister he
would "not yield one scrap" of Britain's heritage. He was placated when the U.S. Secretary of State, Edward Stettinius, showed
him a report that the United States opposed putting any colony into an arrangement without the consent of the colonial power
The conference for founding the U.N. began in April, 1945, at
San Francisco. By May 1945 Roosevelt had died and tensions existed between the Soviet Union and Roosevelt's successor, President
Truman. Truman had lived through some failed idealisms and had his doubts about the United Nations, but there was Roosevelt's
legacy to which he wanted to adhere. He did not want a return to the isolationism that had followed World War I, and he was
committed to maintaining the U.S. as a player in the new internationalism. Another founding conference
for the United Nations was scheduled to meet in San Francisco, and Truman said the U.S. would proceed with that conference
and that if his criticism of the Soviet Union regarding Poland upset the Russians then they "could go to hell." Truman's strategy
was to put economic pressure on the Soviet Union and, on May 12, Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union stopped. But he wanted to
continue working with the Soviet Union, including within the United Nations.
A survey in May indicated that 40 percent of the American people
doubted the conference in San Francisco would succeed. Those believing that the UN could prevent war within the coming fifty
years had dropped from 49 to 32 percent. But 85 percent still believed the U.S. should join the UN.
At San Francisco, delegates from fifty nations hammered out an
agreement, creating the UN Charter. The Charter declared against wars of aggression and against
wars that violated international treaties or agreements. The Charter declared against war crimes and crimes against humanity
- genocide, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts. Articles 42 and 43 authorized the use of armed force to maintain
international peace and security. Article 51 acknowledged the right of members to join together for self-defense -
an issue in support of regionalism that had been advocated by Latin American countries that feared the spread of communism.
Articles 55 and 56 required that "all members pledge themselves to take joint and separate action
to promote "universal respect for, and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all."
The charter envisaged a regular military force available to the
Security Council. The Charter could be amended by a two-thirds majority vote in the UN's General Assembly. The General Assembly
was to be a place for discussion and the making of "recommendations" regarding the maintenance of international peace
and security. Responsibility to implementation was to be with the Security Council. The issue over unanimity within the Security
Council was addressed by providing any one of its members a veto against any decision made by other members of the Security
The UN was to be administered by a Secretary General, appointed
by the General Assembly on recommendation of the Security Council, for a term of five years. He was to sit in on sessions
of the General Assembly and to be able to bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion threatened
international peace and security.
Members of the United Nations were required to pay dues.
Ceremonies for the signing of the UN Charter took place at San
Francisco on June 26. President Truman flew in and spoke to the gathering, saying that he would use the United Nations as
a central instrument in foreign policy. He renounced great-power dominations. Strong nations, he said, should lead the way
to international justice "by their own example." Let us not fail to grasp "this supreme chance," he said, "to establish a
worldwide rule of reason."
Ratification of the Charter by member nations was completed on
October 24, 1945, and October 24 was designated as United Nations Day.
In November, a UN
General Conference in London created the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Its constitution
claimed that "...since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed."
It described World War II as having been "made possible by the denial of the democratic principles of the dignity, equality
and mutual respect of men, and by the propagation, in their place, through ignorance and prejudice, of the doctrine of the
inequality of men and races." The solution, according to the document was education.
Members of the Security Council failed to agree concerning the
creation of a regular armed force for the UN, and no such force was created. The sense of urgency and common purpose that
had existed in 1941 in Europe had slackened during the peace that followed the war in Europe.
1946, the First Full Year
The UN Charter did not address the question of independence from
colonial rule, a question that was the leading cause of the violence in the world that the UN was hoping to avoid. French
troops had fired on demonstrators in Morocco, Algeria and Syria. They had bombed Damascus. British troops had intervened in
partnership with the French, but the French and British plan to keep their troops in Syria and Lebanon was interrupted by
a request in February 1946 from Syria and Lebanon for a withdrawal of foreign troops. Both Syria and Lebanon had been
members of the UN since October 24, 1945. The Soviet Union cast its first veto in the Security Council because it considered
the language supporting Syria and Lebanon too weak - an infrequent use of the veto having been expected. At any rate, France
and Britain complied with UN wishes, and the evacuation of Syria and Lebanon was completed by April 15.
Another challenge to the UN was taking place regarding Soviet
troops in Iran. Soviet troops had been there with British troops supposedly to keep oil from falling into German hands. In
1946 Iran complained to the United Nations about the presence of Soviet troops and Soviet interference in internal Iranian
matters. On the Security Council the Soviet Union failed to get a postponement of a debate on the issue. The Soviet UN Ambassador
walked out. The Security Council kept the issue alive and the issue was resolved by the Soviet Union talking directly with
Iran and agreeing to withdraw.
Civil war was raging in Greece, and the United Nations investigated
a complaint from Greece regarding assistance from outside Greece to Communists trying to defeat government forces militarily.
A UN Special Committee was created. The fighting in Greece would continue until 1949 when the Yugoslavs, who had been supporting
the Greek rebels, stopped that support.
In 1946, India complained about a new law in South Africa that
commercially and residentially separated Indians within that country, India complaining that this violated the UN Charter's
provision for human rights. But nothing was done to alter the course of events in South Africa.
Vietnam had declared its independence in September. In December
the French navy bombarded Hanoi, killing 6,000, and the United Nations stood by as war in Vietnam progressed and France tried
to force its rule onto the Vietnamese.
In 1946, the UN did assume responsibility for controlling international
narcotic traffic - formerly a responsibility of the old League of Nations, defunct since 1942. And the UN resolved to assume
leadership in promoting international machinery to study the prevention of crime and the treatment of prisoners. The UN established
its World Health Organization (WHO). The General Assembly discussed the gravity of housing problems in various places in the
world. The General Assembly created the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) "to assist children of war-devastated countries
and to raise the general level of child health.
The United Nations resumed what had been the League of Nations
Permanent Count of International Justice. This new UN body was to settle according to international law those legal disputes
that states submitted to it, and it was to give advisory opinions on legal questions that "authorized international organs
and agencies" sought from it. The Court was composed of 15 judges, elected to nine-year terms, with no more than one judge
of any nationality.
And the UN decided to locate its headquarters in New York City,
the General Assembly accepting an $8.5 million gift from John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
1947-49 and NATO
In Palestine, Britain
had been ruling under an old League of Nations mandate. The UN General Assembly accepted Britain's
plan to leave Palestine, and it endorsed a plan to partition Palestine
into an independent Arab state and an independent Jewish state and to make Jerusalem
as an "international" city. There had been no Soviet veto regarding the creation of Israel
although Stalin had been hostile toward Zionism. Stalin was looking forward to influence with the secular and left-leaning
founders of Israel.
On May 14, 1948,
the day that the British mandate in Palestine expired, Israel
became an independent state and Lebanon, Syria,
and Egypt launched attacks on what they refused to recognize
as Israel. The UN was not equipped to support its creation
of Israel militarily. The United
States exercised a spirit of peacemaking by putting an embargo on weaponry to Israel,
but the Israelis were able to purchase weapons from Soviet controlled Czechoslovakia.
Violence raged again with the UN standing by. In 1949 a UN mediator, Ralph Bunche, organized an armistice between the four-powers
attacking Israel and the Israelis, and in 1950, amid hopes
that a permanent peace was in the making, Ralph Bunche received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Meanwhile fighting had broken out in Kashmir
between Pakistanis and Indians, a dispute rising from the partition of India
that year. Violence was also taking place in Indonesia, where
the Dutch were trying to hold onto rule. Indonesia had declared
itself independent. There was strong condemnation of the Dutch in the United Nation, and in 1947 the Security Council ordered
a ceasefire, to which both sides agreed. The Dutch renewed their war against Indonesian independence in December 1948. Under
pressure from the United States in August, 1949, the Dutch
agreed to another ceasefire. Without UN involvement, a conference between the Dutch and Indonesians led to an agreement and
the creation of an independent Indonesia with the Dutch queen
as titular head-of-state and Sukarno of Indonesia as President.
In 1948, when Stalin began blockading Western access to Berlin,
the Security Council took up the issue as a threat to peace and security. The Soviet Union vetoed an
attempt at a compromise solution. In January the Western powers countered with a "counter-blockade" of goods entering the
Soviet sectors of Berlin. Rather than the UN it was the Berlin
airlift that persuaded the Soviet Union to lift its blockade.
Then came the creation
of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), seen in the Soviet Union as a hostile act. The U.S. State
Department stated NATO's purpose as bringing about "world conditions which will permit the United Nations to function more
efficiently." The founding declaration for NATO spoke of international peace, security and justice and of intentions
of refraining from "the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations." Referring
to members of NATO, the declaration stated that "an armed attack against one or more ... shall be considered an attack against
them all" and that NATO members had the right of individual or collective self-defense, as granted by Article 51 of the United