Antecedents of the Soviet Regime in Russia

Lecture by Dr. Carroll Quigley at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. in 1960.

In the social sciences, nothing has a single cause; and if I attempt today to give you the causes of why Russians are Russians, I hope you will realize that I am oversimplifying to a very great extent. In the first place, I am going to eliminate everything since 1917. There can be no doubt that the Russians behave today the way they behave to some extent because they have a Marxist ideology; but, rather, what I want to point out to you today is the more remote causes and motivations behind their behavior.

In examining the Russians or the Russian society, a historian will approach it very much the same way a psychologist would approach a patient. He would ask the patient to sit down and talk about what happened to him in his early life. And in some cases the further back the patient can go, the happier the psychologist is. Today I am sure in the history of Russia I am going to go back so far that most of you won’t be happy at all.

First we have the materials with which we begin and the site in which they were. And the materials with which we begin, say, 5,000 years ago, are mostly a very scattered Finnish or Proto-Finnish-speaking people in European Russia, particularly in the forest areas. These people lived with a very low economic system – subsistence or hunting, with a very rudimentary knowledge of agriculture.

About 4,000 years ago, in the eastern edges of Poland, around the Pripet Marshes, a people began to appear called the Slavs; and the Slavs have spread outward from that area until they cover most of eastern Europe, a good part of the Balkans, and a good part of northern Asia, as you know.

Now, these people are the materials with which we begin, and what we have to ask ourselves is, What made these materials turn into what we have today? In answering that question I want to cover approximately five points. First, the parents of the Russian culture into which these people were formed were what we call the Varangians, that is, Vikings, Scandinavian peoples, who came down through the river system of European Russia in the years after 700 A.D. And then again we want to speak of the mother of this culture, the Russian culture; and that is the Byzantine civilization, which was flourishing down on the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea around Byzantium and Constantinople. These are the parents; and we might say that Russian society throughout its history has been the child of the Vikings from the north and the Byzantine culture from the south.

Now, we are much more than what we get from our parents; and in the case of the Russian society the “much more” seems to me can be summed up from two factors. On the one hand, from the east came hordes of fighting, horseback-riding, aggressive peoples, mostly speaking Ural-Altaic languages, like the Mongols. And from the west came European culture, which was a force on Russia, not because it was European, but because it had a very much higher technology.

The picture that I am going to try to describe to you, then, is of the basic Slavic people, with their primitive economic status, mostly a subsistence, forest-dwelling culture; and how that was turned into a society from the Vikings in the north and the Byzantine society in the south, and how the society which rose from that mixture was then hammered out between the aggressive horseback-riding warriors of the steppes to the east and the high technology of the Europeans to the west.

I would like to begin by saying a few words about geography and possibly also about chronology. If we look at Eurasia on this map, or simply recall to mind the configuration of Russia as it is today, it consists of a series of horizontal zones. There are approximately six of those zones. I am going to bother you with them. In most cases I imagine that you are familiar with them.

The one line that I do wish to emphasize, however, is the line between the forest in the north and the grass lands to the south. That line runs across just south of Moscow. South of it we have steppes, divided into two parts – the grassy steppes in the northern part and the desert and salt steppes in the southern part. And, again, north of that line we have the forest zone, which is also subdivided into two – the deciduous forest in the southern part of the forest zone, that is, the trees whose leaves fall in the autumn; and in the northern part of the forest zone the coniferous or evergreen forest.

Now, that dividing line between the forest and the grass lands is very significant in the history of Russia. In the first place, in the forest you have the area where the Slavs could live the kind of primitive existence that I have mentioned – hunting, gleaning, in scattered communities, no centralized authority, no knowledge whatever of the State or of public authority. A low subsistence level.

In the grass lands, on the other hand, are wide-open spaces, made significant by the fact that in the 4th millenium B.C., maybe 3000 B.C., the inhabitants of the grasslands domesticated the horse. As a result of that, you have in the grasslands a people of very high mobility, who could cover tremendous areas, could centralize them into political units, perhaps temporary units, but very large and fluctuating units; and people who were extremely warlike.

It was the warlike warrior peoples of this area, mostly Ural-Altaic-speaking peoples, some of whom in the period we’re concerned with – about 700 A.D. – came into Europe and established the Hungarians, the Turks, the Bulgars; and, of course, the Mongols, who were the chief influence in the pressure from the east in Russian history. The chief Mongol invasion was about 1240.

Now, this system of horizontal bands is cut across in the extreme west by a magnificent system of rivers. And if we examine the system of rivers, we will see that there is a point on which they converge, approximately at Smolensk. From Smolensk you can go only a short distance and reach a river which will take you to one of the four great bodies of water, that is, down here to the Caspian Sea, like the Volga; down here to the Black Sea, like the Dnieper; up here to the Baltic Sea; and up here even to the White Sea.

If we look only at communications, it would seem that this area of parallel bands should have been centralized by a political force centered around Smolensk. As you know, that has not occurred. Smolensk at no time was the supreme political authority in Russia. Instead, from the very early period, from 1400 or a little after that, the center has been at Moscow.

Now, Moscow is much further east than Smolensk, and it is further north. The reason for that movement of the political center away from the point where you would have had the most convenient transportation center is due to the forces that I have spoken of – the pressure of European technology, in the hands of, originally, the Swedes, the Poles, and the Turks, later the Germans. The pressure of that western technology moved the political center of power from Smolensk eastward. And, similarly, the ravages of the fast-riding peoples of the steppes, coming in through the gap which we call the steppes corridor between the Caspian Sea and the Urals forced the political center northward away from the grass lands into the forest zone.

At one time, before Moscow became the center, the political center of Russia was at Kiev. But Kiev was destroyed by these migratory, fast-riding invaders from the steppes.

Now, I would like to examine what were the contributions that came from these different forces and gave us the five consequences which I have listed at the bottom of the mimeographed sheet. Those five consequences, it seems to me, are the permanent contribution, or among the permanent contributions, which have come from the forest that I am talking about.

First, a fissure between government and people – the people always treated as subordinates, the government frequently foreigners and not Russians or Slavs at all.

Secondly, the totalitarian, almost semidivine, private-property aspect of the governmental system, which included in its operations all aspects of life; which regarded the chief, the head man, the Czar for most of Russian history, as being so far above ordinary humans that he was directly endowed with power by God.

Thirdly, what I call the private-property aspect – that the government regarded the whole system as a private-property organization, to be exploited as they judged best.

Fourthly, xenophobia, which is one of the striking characteristics of the Russian outlook, that is, fear and hatred and a distrust of foreigners, of outsiders.

Lastly, expansionism – the fact taht the Russian people have been constantly pushing outward. Even when their population was not thickly concentrated, they tended to move further and further.

If we start with the primitive economy that I spoke of, and the scattered group of forest-dwelling Slavs, who first appeared in history around the Pripet Marshes – the Pripet Marshes today are in what we would call Poland, or close to the Polish eastern frontier – these people received about the year 700 or 800 an intrusion of Scandinavian peoples, who came down through the river system that I have spoken of. In Russian history these are called Varangians; but to us if we say “Vikings” we are expressing it more clearly. It is the Swedish people, coming in to exploit the area – for example, they were looking for furs, they were looking for wax, they were looking for honey, and forest products in general – they came in in a way which is not far different from the way in which the French, or even later the British, came in through the St. Lawrence and tried to exploit Canada.

The French, as you know, came in through the St. Lawrence and very quickly went through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi to New Orleans; so that Quebec is a French city and New Orleans is a French city. And this is approximately the way the Varangians did this. They came in as a militaristic people, with a love for booty, a belief that a way of life could be made out of war and plunder. They made no distinction between what we would call booty and legitimate trade. Whatever they could take they took.

They had a private-property conception. They did not believe, or they did not even consider, that they were setting up a public authority or a State. Their attitude was approximately like that of the Hudson Bay Company coming into the forests of Canada – a private-property conception toward what they found. They organized a much higher economic system upon the subsistence economy which they found there. And they did that by establishing commercial relationships, by encouraging the people to produce surpluses which could be traded; by demanding food, which led to an intensification of agriculture; and so forth. Very quickly, just as the French went down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, the Varangians went all the way from the Baltic down to the Black Sea, reached Odessa and ultimately Byzantium.

Now, from Byzantium came other influences, which working together with these Varangian influences, give us the basic heritage out of which Russian society has emerged. From Byzantium the Russians obtained certain obvious things – their form of writing, their Greek alphabet; their religion, the Russian Orthodox Church; their form of architecture, the use of the dome, for example, in so many buildings, particularly, of course, ecclesiastical buildings; and, above all, their political organization. The word “Czar” means “Caesar”; and he was called that because the ruler in Byzantium was regarded as a descendant of the Caesars.

But, more important than the new things which seem fairly obvious – the alphabet, the religion, the architecture, and the political organization – are intangible things. One of these intangibles is the fact that all of these things were brought in by outsiders, that is, by the Viking Varangians, or by Greeks from Byzantium who followed the pathways up the river routes carrying the religion and the missionary enterprises. Outsiders brought these things in, and they were imposed upon the basic Slav population.

Secondly – and this is something that I’ll spend a little time on – there came in from the Byzantine outlook a general attitude which I sum up as totalitarian. I want to speak very briefly about the background of that totalitarian outlook.

If you visit primitive people who still live in tribes, they have in many cases a name for themselves; and if we translate that name it is frequently their own word for human beings. In other words, the Navahos and many other tribes speak of themselves as “men”. People who are not members of their tribe are not really men, they are like the animals. They know that they’re not animals, but they’re not men either. They’re sort of in between. They’re outsiders.

Such tribesmen do not feel any compunction, in most cases, in inflicting injury, or death, or stealing from, these outsiders.

And, furthermore, in such a tribe, the tribe absorbs the whole of life. It provides its members with a religion, with protection, with economic necessities, with ideology, with social satisfaction for their gregarious needs – with all of the things that are necessary in human life. All come from membership in the tribe.

The member of such a system very quickly gets the idea that the tribe is everything. He cannot distinguish between the man who is in the tribe and the tribe which gives him life, gives him activities, gives him satisfactions. The two cannot be separated. Where we might say “man versus the State”, as Herbert Spencer did in a little pamphlet which he wrote 80 or 90 years ago, to a member of a tribe such opposition is unthinkable. Outside of the tribe he’s nothing.

Now, this is what we might call a tribal totalitarian outlook. Such an outlook came into classical antiquity, at is origin, and in such a powerful form that for centuries it was embodied in the thinking of the greatest of the classicists. In the early days they expressed it as the “polis”. We translate the word “polis” to mean “city-state”. But it’s a poor translation. The word “polis” cannot be translated. It means the whole of society in which the human being lives and obtains satisfactions for everything that he needs.

Aristotle, who was one of the later and more enlightened of the classical thinkers, says: “A man cut off from the polis is not a man, He is either a god or an animal, because man cannot live separated from his fellows.” He says: “A man cut off from the polis is like a thumb cut off from the hand. There it lies on the floor. That isn’t a thumb. It’s just a piece of meat. In fact, it’s nothing.”

Now, this means that the polis was, from the point of vew of the Greeks, a totalitarian thing. We could sum it up quite clearly by saying that the distinction which we make between State and society was not made by the Greeks. The polis was both.

Later, when the Romans conquered the whole of the Mediterranean Basin, they didn’t speak so much of the polis. Instead, they spoke of the imperium. But the imperium to them was the same kaind of a totalitarian entity, which was both a political unit and a social unit. It was the everything that man needed. You didn’t become a member of a religious group in antiquity by conversion and joining ordinarily. You were born into it. It was the group to which you belonged.

When the Christians came along, they were persecuted, as you well know, for refusing to worship the emperor, to sacrifice to the emperor. This was not religious tolerance. It was because by refusing to sacrifice to the emperor, the Christians were regarded as being nonmembers of the Roman society and traitors to the Roman system, including the Roman State.

Now, that view, the totalitarian point of view, of classical antiquity, was challenged by many thinkers in the late period, chiefly by the Stoics and others. But on the whole it was maintained and continued until the very end. And when I speak of the end, I am talking about two entirely different things, because the system of which I speak ended in the western Mediterranean in 476. It did not end in the eastern Mediterranean until almost a thousand years later – 1453.

In 476 a German military leader came to the emperor in Rome and said: “Resign. Get out. Vanish.” This ended the Roman Empire. It ended the political system in the Latin-speaking West. But in the Greek-speaking East the political system continued. There still was an emperor in Constantinople. And there you had a totalitarian system in which the imperium meant everything that makes a man a man.

Now, this idea was directly taken from Byzantium up into Russia when the Varangian rulers adopted the Byzantine point of view as the way in which they would organize the society in which they lived.

In the West we said that the disappearance of the emperor in 476 was followed by the Dark Ages for several centuries. The Dark Ages are usually regarded as a very bad period. It was dark not only because we know very little about it, but also because it was at such a low level of culture.

I would like to point out that the Dark Ages contributed to our system some of the greatest things we have. And perhaps the greatest of them is this: that the disappearance of the Empire in the West showed conclusively that State and society are not the same thing, because the State disappeared, but society continued. And, indeed, it was a society which, without a public authority and without a State – something which is unthinkable to many people today – could provide the necessities of life for human beings. It provided them with protection through the feudal system. It provided them with food and other economic necessities through the manorial system. It provided them with an ideology through the various philosophical movements, culminating in scholasticism, as we call it. It provided them with a religion – Christianity. It provided them with social togetherness, because they lived in those little isolated communities which we call manors.

And thus it became perfectly clear that in order to have a religion, in order to have security, in order to have the necessities of life, and all the rest of it in the West, you did not need a State. Out of this comes the essential figure of speeches, many of the essential features of the western outlook – liberalism, freedom for groups to do in general what they may need to do without interference from central authority, laissez faire – that an economic system can function without the State telling exactly how it should be done, and what should be done, and who should do it, and so forth.

Now, this great heritage which has come to the West from the Dark Ages never got into Russia. Instead, through the Varangians’ private-property conception, exploitative, external, outsiders imposed upon the Slavic people, there was now added this intensified, highly sophisticated, totalitarian system of which we speak when we speak of the Byzantium outlook.

Those are the parents, and from those parents appeared this child – Russian society – organized on the river systems to the extreme western part of European Russia.

Now, we must add to this the two other forces which hammered out the Russian society that we know in recent centuries. Those two other forces I have already mentioned, namely, the movement of the hard-riding warrior people from the East and the pressure of European technology from the West.

The Mongols by the year 1237 had come in a tremendous raid and occupied most of Russia. Naturally, coming in the steppe corridor, they first occupied the grassland in the southern part. They cut across the river system. They destroyed much of the centralized character which the river system had provided for that whole western end of the great Eurasian plain.

That raid was so tremendous that the Mongols went all the way west. They went as far as Genoa. They circled into France. But in western and central Europe they stayed only a couple of years. In Russia they stayed for about 150 years. And in this long period of 150 years once again you had in Russia a foreign exploitative system, organizing what it found to get the most out of it for themselves.

In this organization the chief collaborators were the Dukes of Moscow. Originally Moscow didn’t seem very important. It was on a small tributary of a river that flowed to the Caspian Sea. But soon the Mongols made the Dukes of Moscow the chief collaborators and the chief agents through wich they exploited these areas.

One of the reasons that they did that is perhaps accidental. In most of Russia and in most Russian cities there was no established system of political succession. Because they had a private-property concept, even of public authority, when it was imported from Byzantium, they did not have a constitutional system of succession. In Kiev, Smolensk, Novgorod up in the north, and in these other areas, generally the succession was left by testament, just as if it were private property. “I, the ruler, about to die, leave to this one my holdings.”

In some cases he left it to his eldest son, but in some cases he would think a second son was more able, or a nephew. In fact, for a conisderable period, when they organized the system more or less as a single commercial exploitative river system, they left it to the oldest member of the whole exploitative group, who might well be a person from a distant city – the oldest member of the clan, so to speak.

Now, in Moscow they established a system which looks like primogenesis. It was not exactly that, because the ruler still had the right to give it to whomever he wished by testament. And for many centuries there was always a capable heir to whom to give it. This is of significance.

Over the long-time stretch a succession of fairly capable rulers is far more imporatant in achieving a united political organization than an alternation of capable, even extremely capable, rulers interspersed with incompetents; or a system where you have a broken, disputed succession, which will disrupt any political system.

Now, to this rather accidental feature the Mongols added two very important features. They found collecting tribute and they found settling disputes in this great area more than they themselves wished to do. It was a burden. So they made at the beginning, under Ivan the First – whose dates are down there – 1325 to 1341 – they made the Duke of Moscow the collector of the Mongol tribute for the whole area. After 1380, when the Mongols were going, the Dukes of Moscow continued to use the tribute-collecting machinery as a taxation system.

Secondly, the Mongols made the Grand Duke of Moscow the court of appeal for disputes from other cities. The Mongols could not permit a dispute to get out of hand. They wanted order; they wanted submission; they wanted tribute. Accordingly, disputes had to be settled. If they couldn’t be settled locally, let them go to the Grand Duke of Moscow.

And from these three things – a steady, capable succession, the tribute-collecting administration; and the judicial appeal aspect – there came a centralized system when finally the Mongols were hurled out. That hurling out was begun by Dimitri Donskoi, about 1380.

Out of this comes what we call the Moscovite Period, from 1380 down to 1694. This is the period in which Russia really took shape.

Now, just as the pressure from the east was relieved by the expulsion of the Mongols, the pressure from the west, from western technology, became stronger and stronger. It took the shape of pressure from the Swedes, the Poles, even the Bulgars, and the Turks, from Turkey, because, as you know, after 1453 the Turks had destroyed the Byzantine Empire and captured Constantinople.

This western technology of which I speak is a very great thing. It is the basis of much of the greatness of our western civilization as we know it, and I include in it many things which we just accept as a matter of course. For example, we have an alphabetic system of writing. If you compare that to the Chinese system of writing, you can see what a tremendously important element it is. It meant you can communicate and you can teach writing quite quickly to many people.

We have a good number system. As you compare that number system, with positional notation and the use of the zero, to the number system, let us say, of the Romans, you can see at once how very important this is – our method of keeping records and accounts.

In addition to this, there are other things. An organized productive system. To most people who have not studied the Middle Ages or the late Medieval Period in Western Europe it seems as if the manorial, feudal system must be extraordinarily primitive and weak. This is not true. Let me just contrast two events.

In 732 the Saracens, who almost exactly a hundred years before had started here (indicating Arabia), by 732 had crossed Gibraltar (in 711) crossed Spain and the Pyrenees, and were advancing on Paris. Western Christendom was really on the ropes, ready for the knockout blow. Yet the Saracens were defeated at the Battle of Tours in 732 by Charles Martel.

Well, that, we could say, is explicable. The Saracens had a tremendously long line of communications. They were in strange terrain, and so forth. And, after all, they only fell back to the Pyrenees. But from that date, 732, when Christendom was saved from the Moslem horde, to 1099, when western Christendom captured Jerusalem, you have an amazing counteroffensive. To mount an offensive in the year 1099 from France which could capture Jerusalem is a very great exploit. If you stop and think of the difficulties which the British had in 1956 in getting Cairo, you can see that this was a very great achievement.

Now, I simply mention it to show you that there was power in that manorial-feudal system. And it continued to develop in the direction of increasing power.

One of the things which made it powerful were weapons, gunpowder. The first record we have of gunpowder being used in the West, or at least being available, is approximately 1325. We have the receipted bill that the King of England paid for two cannons. The Mongols had probably had it from the Chinese earlier. The Turks had artillery of a sort. And this weapons pressure upon the Slavs became one of the chief methods of western pressure.

Naturally, if the Slav system was going to survive, it had to adopt these western things; and from 1380 onward there was a consistent effort by the rulers of the Slav system to adopt and impose upon the Slavs, whether they wished it or not, western technology and these western techniques.

Now I’d like to deal with a rather technical point, which is this: Weapons were expensive. In the West, in Western Europe, weapons became cheaper and cheaper. And they became cheaper for two reasons. First, our manufacture of weapons became so effective that the price of weapons steadily fell. By 1840 you could buy a Colt revolver for about $40. This was not expensive, and you had a quite effective weapon.

The second thing is, standards of living in the West, because of the effectiveness of their agricultural system, were steadily rising. And when these two lines cross – rising strandards of living of the masses of the people and decreasing prices of weapons – combined with another point – increasing simplicity in the use of weapons – you get a situation where weapons are widely distributed.

By 1850 in much of the West, and, above all, of course, in America, the ordinary person could afford the best available weapon. If the ordinary person has the best weapon available, all men are in fact equal. And if they are in fact equal, then a majority can make a minority yield and you can get majority rule, and ultimately you can get democracy.

In Russia that never happened. And the reason it did not happen was this: In order to resist the pressure from western technology, coming subsequent to the pressure of the horseback-riding steppes raiders, the ruling group at the top of the Slav system had to pay for these things expensive prices and import them and get the goods which to pay for them by taking them from the masses of the peasantry.

This meant that the ruling group had weapons. The peasantry didn’t. It meant that the ruling group had to steadily increase their pressure on the peasantry, taking from them by taxation more and more of what they produced in order to pay for this western technology. And this included western shipbuilding, the western system of printing, all kinds of things as you might well imagine. I don’t have to enumerate them. The second thing. Not only the tax collector was coming out looking for the peasants, but the recruiting officer was also coming. And when the peasant was recruited into the army and given a weapon, he ceased to be a part of ordinary society.

Now, indeed, the peasant himself was not really a part of ordinary society. Throughout Russian history the peasant has always been regarded as an exceptional outsider to the system. In most cases for long periods the ordinary Russian law and the ordinary Russian courts did not apply to the peasantry.

Thus you have a kind of outcast peasantry, characterized by this more and more well-organized, more and more powerful, upper exploitative system, which had to arise to defend the whole area against the pressure of the West.

The only solution which the peasant had to that was to move. So as they could do so, they fled. They fled, moving through the forests and even through the grasslands, until by the year 1850 they had in large numbers moved out. The system, the rulers, did not welcome this movement of the peasantry. They wanted the peasantry to stay fixed where they were.

The rulers also needed administrators of a higher level. To obtain these administrators, they handed the peasantry more or less over to the landlords and gentry, over to their tender mercy, to whip or chastize or injure or exploit, as they saw fit. And in return the governmental system demanded from these “boyars”, as we call them in the earlier period, the gentry, the landlords – demanded from them service to the State.

Of course, they could not permit the peasantry to move without chasing them. And we might well say that the movement of the Slavs eastward in that long period from about 1400 to practically 1900 was essentially a movement of the peasants trying to escape from the pressure of the system and being persued by the recruiting officer and the tax collector.

Poverty thus made the possession of firearms a State prerogative. Fiscalism drained from the people much of their wealth, so they could not get firearms. This meant they could not resist the autocracy, and the peasants were finally subjected to the gentry and to other classes of the State in order that they might give services to the system.

From 1694 to the revolution of 1917 we have the period that we speak of as Imperial Russia. There was throughout this period deliberate effort at westernization. Economic advances, improvements in education, improvements in administration – all of these different aspects of progress in this Slavic system were imported by the governmental group and imposed upon the people. They were not brought in or locally ivented by the masses. Peter the Great, of course, as you know, is famous for this. He went and served in a shipyard and other activities in western Europe in order to find out how these things actually could be done.

By the year 1750 you still had a foreign exploitative governmental system imposed upon the masses of the Slav society. But by 1750 the pressure was relieving, because by 1750 clearly Turkey, Poland and Sweden were in decline; and Germany was at that stage no real threat, because exactly a hundred years before, in 1648, the French, with the help of Richelieu, had succeeded in decentralizing Germany under the Treaty of Westphalia. And it wasn’t until, as you well know, 1870 that the German Empire was centralized. Thus we had almost a hundred years – from 1750 to 1850 approximately – in which the pressures of the West and the pressure of the East were both relieved from the Slavic system. And this had a strange result, to which I will refer only briefly.

The result was that it gave the ruling group a guilty conscience. They got religion. They got religion, however, only in alternate reigns. And the reason for that is that whenever a czar attempted to reform, or relieve the pressure, as, for example, Alexander I for much of his life a reformer – the result was the revolution of 1825, the Decembrist Revolt. Accordingly, his successor, Nicholas, was an oppressor. He said, “You see what reform does. It just leads to disturbance and uprising.”

When Nicholas passed from the scene, in 1855, after the disasters, or in the middle of the disasters of the Crimean War, we got another czar, Alexander II, who was a reformer. He ended serfdom, among other things. He was rewarded for this by assassination, in 1881.

After him came Alexander III – again a reactionary for 13 years. And finally, at the end, Nicholas II, who was neither an oppressor nor a reformer, who was nothing.

I think we can show what Nicholas II was by quoting one sentence from his diary. As you know, in the war with Japan the Russians were badly defeated. The naval disaster to their fleet, which went all the way around to Japan and was destroyed on arrival, reached the Czar on a certain day. The next morning in his diary he has this: “Went walking in the morning and shot two crows. In the afternoon walked with Anastasia.” This shows how important this tremendous disaster was to him.

Now, I’ll attempt briefly to sum up: from the original material of the Slav people, long suffering, patient, evasive, suspicious, there was constructed a system which had the qualities that I have listed, from the Vikings to the north and the Byzantines to the south. Then that system was hammered into shape from western technology and eastern nomadic peoples to create the kind of despotic system which we know today, naturally, of course, with additions.

I think that what has happened there is this: that the Russian system had reached a peak, about 1900, as far as we can see, and had ceased to rise; and that this was the reason for much of the discontent. And then that system was knocked right out of the picture by the German Army in 1917. Without the defeat of the Russian ruling system by the German Army I do not see how it would have been replaced by this new system, which is a much more effective organization of the same plan. You see, I didn’t say that this system is different. It’s much more effective and efficient.

Russia is a danger to us because it is a great power. It’s that simple. And it is a great and threatening power to us because we liquidated, and had to liquidate, the two powers which were hemming its power in. We got rid of Japanese power and we got rid of German power in 1945. These were the bulwarks that were holding the Russian system in. Having eliminated them, obviously Russia’s power can flow outward for very considerable distances and become a threat to us.

Now, as to Marxism; Marxism can become an immensely strengthening factor in the Russian system if they interpret it and distort it in their way, which is what they have done. What they have in Russia today is certainly not Marxism in the Marx-Engels sense. It is Leninism in the Leninist-Stalinist-Khrushchev sense. They are not the same.

The Russians can adopt Marxism only by changing it and distorting it. One example: The period of the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is, the period of the transition from the establishment of the proletariat in political supremacy, to the arrival of the classless society and full communism, was to be a very brief period, so brief that Marx hardly mentioned it. In Russia it has become the dominant, permanent system. So it has strengthened it because they have changed it into something else – into a Russian ideology.

I had listed there as point four – xenophobia, fear of strangers. I feel it’s a very important element in the Russian system.

And you know, really, if you’re utterly objective about it, how can you blame them? If we establish bases all around their fringe – in Turkey, in Cyprus, and other areas, Africa, and everywhere that we can establish bases – and then we send up planes with nuclear weapons in them, and these planes head for Russia, and then just before they reach the jumping-off place, they turn around, and the Russians are watching them on radar, you can’t blame them for being a little worried. How worried we would be if the Russians succeeded in establishing bases – which they won’t have to, because they’re going to use intercontinental ballistic missiles – but if they establish bases, let’s say, in Cuba, and set up short-range, intermediary missiles, we would be very worried. I am in no doubt that they are fearful of us. This is some of the evidence.

But more important than this is the fact that Lenin taught them that the capitalist system inevitably would break down, as it did in the depression of the 1930’s; and when it broke down, it could only recover by government spending; and that government spending could best be devoted and justified in terms of weapons and imperialist aggression.

Seljuk Turks – New World Encyclopedia

The Seljuqs (also Seljuk or Seljuq Turks) were a Muslim dynasty of originally Oghuz Turkic descent that ruled parts of Central Asia and the Middle East from the eleventh to fourteenth centuries. They set up an empire known as “Great Seljuk Empire” that stretched from Anatolia to Punjab and was the target of the First Crusade. Increasingly fractured by fighting among independent Seljuk principalities, the once great Seljuk Empire was weakened during the first two crusades, gave way to the Ayyubid dynasty under Saladin, and finally crumbled during the Mongol invasions. It was ultimately succeeded by the Ottoman Empire, which inherited much of his cultural foundation.

The dynasty marked the beginning of Turkic power in the Middle East. The Seljuks are regarded as the cultural ancestors of the Western Turks, the present-day inhabitants of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan. They are also remembered as great patrons of Persian culture, art, literature, and language.

Early History

Originally, the House of Seljuq was a branch of the Kinik Oghuz Turks who in the ninth century lived on the periphery of the Muslim world, north of the Caspian and Aral seas. In the tenth century the Seljuqs migrated from their ancestral homelands into mainland Persia, where they adopted the Persian culture and language in the following decades.

The traditional ancestor of the Seljuqs was their bey (cheiftan) Seljuq who was reputed to have served in the Khazar army, under whom, the Seljuks migrated to Khwarezm, near the city of Jend also called Khujand circa 950 C.E., where they converted to Islam.

Great Seljuk

The Seljuqs were allied with the Persian Samanid Shahs against the Qarakhanids. The Samanids however fell to the Qarakhanids and the emergence of the Ghaznavids and were involved in the power struggle in the region before establishing their own independent base.

Toğrül Bey (c. 990 – September 4, 1063) was the grandson of Seljuk. He united the Turkomen warriors of the Great Eurasian Steppes into a confederacy of tribes. He and his brother Çağrı wrested the empire from the Ghaznavids. Initially the Seljuks were repulsed by Mahmud and retired to Khwarezm but Toğrül and Çağrı led them to capture Merv and Nishapur (1028-1029). Later they repeatedly raided and traded territory with his successors across Khorasan and Balkh and even sacked Ghazni in 1037. In 1039 at Battle of Dandanaqan they decisively defeated Mas’ud I of the Ghaznavids resulting in him abandoning most of his western territories to the Seljuks. In 1055 Toğrül captured Baghdad from the Shi’a Buyids under a commission from the Abbasids.

Alp Arslan was the son of Çağrı and expanded significantly upon Toğrül’s holdings by adding Armenia and Georgia in 1064 and invading the Byzantine Empire in 1068 from whom he annexed Anatolia after defeating them at the Battle of Manzikert. He ordered his Turkoman generals to conquer the Byzantine lands and allowed them to carve principalities of their own as atabegs that were loyal to him. Within two years the Turkomans captured Asia Minor and went as far as the Aegean Sea establishing numerous “beghliks” such as: the Saltuqis in Northeastern Anatolia, Mengujeqs in Eastern Anatolia, Artuqids in Southeastern Anatolia, Danishmendis in Central Anatolia, Rum Seljuks (Beghlik of Süleyman, which later moved to Central Anatolia) in Western Anatolia and the Beghlik of Çaka Bey in İzmir (Smyrna).

Under Alp Arslan’s successor, Malikshāh, and his two Persian viziers, Nizām al-Mulk and Tāj al-Mulk, the Seljuk state expanded in various directions to former the Persian border before the Arab invasion, so that it bordered China in the East and the Byzantines in the West.

He moved the capital from Rayy to Isfahan. The Iqta mililtary system and the Nizāmīyyah University at Baghdad were established by Nizām al-Mulk, and the reign of Malikshāh was reckoned the golden age of “Great Seljuk.” The Abbasid Caliph titled him “The Sultan of the East and West” in 1087. The Assassins of Hassan-e Sabāh however started to become a force during his era and assassinated many leading figures in his administration.


The Seljuk power was at its zenith under Malikshāh I, and both the Qarakhanids and Ghaznavids had to acknowledge the overlordship of the Seljuks. The Seljuk dominion was established over the ancient Sassanid domains, in Iran and Iraq, and included Anatolia as well as parts of Central Asia and modern Afghanistan. The Seljuk rule was modeled after the tribal organization brought in by the nomadic conquerors and resembled a ‘family federation’ or ‘appanage state’. Under this organization the leading member of the paramount family assigned family members portions of his domains as autonomous appanages.

Division of empire

When Malikshāh I died in 1092, the empire split as his brother and four sons quarreled over the apportioning of the empire among themselves. In Anatolia, Malikshāh I was succeeded by Kilij Arslan I who founded the Sultanate of Rum and in Syria by his brother Tutush I. In Persia he was succeeded by his son Mahmud I whose reign was contested by his other three brothers Barkiyaruq in Iraq, Muhammad I in Baghdad and Ahmad Sanjar in Khorasan.

When Tutush I died his sons Radwan and Duqaq inherited Aleppo and Damascus respectively and contested each other as well, further dividing Syria amongst emirs antagonistic towards each other.

In 1118, the third son Ahmad Sanjar took over the empire. His nephew, the son of Muhammad I did not recognize his claim to the throne and Mahmud II proclaimed himself Sultan and established a capital in Baghdad, until 1131 when he was finally officially deposed by Ahmad Sanjar.

Elsewhere in nominal Seljuk territory were the Artuqids in northeastern Syria and northern Mesopotamia. They controlled Jerusalem until 1098. In eastern Anatolia and northern Syria a state was founded by the Dānišmand dynasty, and contested land with the Sultanate of Rum and Kerbogha exercised greeted independence as the atabeg of Mosul.

First and Second Crusades

The Seljuks had already lost Palestine to the Fatimids before their capture by the crusaders. The fractured states of the Seljuks were thus, on the whole, more concerned with consolidating their own territories and gaining control of their neighbors than with cooperating against the crusaders when the First Crusade arrived in 1095 and successfully captured the Holy land to set up the Crusader States.

Before and during the Second Crusade, Ahmed Sanjar had to contend with revolts of Qarakhanids in Transoxiana, Ghorids in Afghanistan and Qarluks in modern Kyrghyzstan, even as the nomadic Kara-Khitais invaded the East, destroying the Seljuk vassal state of the Eastern Qarakhanids. At the Battle of Qatwan of 1141, Sanjar lost all his eastern provinces up to the Syr Darya River.

During this time, conflict with the crusader states was intermittent, and after the First Crusade, the increasingly independent atabegs (governors) would frequently ally with the crusader states against other atabegs as they vied against each other for territory. At Mosul, Zengi succeeded Kerbogha as atabeg and successfully began the process of consolidating the atabegs of Syria. In 1144 Zengi captured Edessa, as the County of Edessa had allied itself with the Ortoqids against him. This event triggered the launch of the second crusade. Nur ad-Din, one of Zengi’s sons who succeeded him as atabeg of Aleppo and created an alliance in the region to oppose the Second Crusade which arrived in 1147.

Ayyubid conquest and disintegration

In 1153 the Oghuz Turks rebelled and captured Sanjar, who managed to escape after three years, but died within a year. Despite several attempts to reunite the Seljuks by his successors, the Crusades prevented them from regaining their former empire. Atabegs such as the Zengids and Artuqids were only nominally under the Seljuk sultan, they basically controlled Syria independently. Ahmed Sanjar’s death in 1156 fractured the empire even further, rendering the atabegs effectively independent:

  1. Khorasani Seljuks in Khorasan and Transoxiana. Capital: Merv
  2. Kermani Seljuks
  3. Sultanate of Rum. Capital: Iznik (Nicaea), later Konya (Iconium)
  4. Atabeghlik of Salgur in Iran
  5. Atabeghlik of Ildeniz in Iraq and Azerbaijan. Capital Hamadan
  6. Atabeghlik of Bori in Syria. Capital: Damascus
  7. Atabeghlik of Zangi in Al Jazira (Northern Mesopotamia). Capital: Mosul
  8. Turcoman Beghliks: Danishmendis, Artuqids, Saltuqis and Mengujegs in Asia Minor
  9. Khwarezmshahs in Transoxiana, Khwarezm. Capital: Urganch

After the Second Crusade, Nur ad-Din’s general Shirkuh, who had established himself in Egypt on Fatimid land, was succeeded by Saladin who then rebelled against Nur ad-Din. Upon Nur ad-Din’s death, Saladin married his widow and captured most of Syria, creating the Ayyubid dynasty.

On other fronts the Kingdom of Georgia emerged as a regional power and extended its borders at the expense of Great Seljuk as did the revival of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia under Leo II of Armenia in Anatolia. The Abbasid caliph An-Nasir also began to reassert the authority of the caliph and allied himself with the Khwarezmshah Ala ad-Din Tekish.

Toğrül III succeeded briefly in consolidating Seljuk power under his sultanate, with the notable exception of Anatolia. In 1194 Toğrül was defeated by Ala ad-Din Tekish, the shah of Khwarezmid Empire, and the Seljuk finally collapsed. Of the former Seljuk Empire, only the Sultanate of Rüm in Anatolia remained. As the dynasty declined further in the middle of the thirteenth century, the Mongols invaded Anatolia in the 1260s and divided it into small emirates called the Anatolian beyliks, one of which, the Ottoman, would rise to power and conquer the rest.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga – Review

Ever since Nintendo teamed up with Square back in the waning days of the SNES, a slow procession of RPGs featuring that wacky plumber Mario has been trickling forth. While Square departed after the first of these titles, they have nevertheless been some of the most entertaining action RPGs for the systems they appear on, and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga certainly goes a long way towards continuing this trend. Developer AlphaDream, late of such unknown wonders as Tomato Kingdom, has succeeded admirably under the guidance of Nintendo and has created a game that manages to contain both the feel of previous Mario RPG titles and games from the Super Mario Bros. series. With colorful, if slightly pastel artwork, a cheerful soundtrack and a madcap storyline that is superbly translated, Superstar Saga contains that most difficult of elements to achieve: good, consistent gameplay.

As gamers well know, the Mushroom Kingdom is about on par with South America in terms of kidnapping rates. Superstar Saga, however, opens with a different sort of hoodwinking: a hitherto untroublesome evil witch named Cackletta swoops her way into Princess Peach’s castle and steals, of all things, Peach’s voice. This renders the princess not voiceless, but something much worse; when Bowser arrives for his requisite kidnapping, he has second thoughts upon being bombarded with an “explosive” verbal barrage.

Enter Mario (and a little later, Luigi). After minimal exhortation from the tearful minister Toadsworth, the duo are off to the Bean Kingdom, where Cackletta is lying in wait for some reason, apparently preferring dramatically staged misdemeanours to the more prosaic sort. The border crossing is where the game really gets going, and, appropriately enough, things start out with a minigame. Perhaps one of the strongest parts of Superstar Saga is the nearly seamless integration of minigames into the gameplay. Much of the non-combat screen time in the game is spent performing various feats of trickery, and minigames follow naturally from there. So too do the battles, which are conducted in a traditional RPG setting. What sets Mario & Luigi in a league of its own is how difficult it makes determining where action RPG leaves off and traditional begins. Fights can quite easily cost players no damage at all, because characters have the ability to dodge, deflect, or return nearly every attack in the game, all based upon the hand-eye co-ordination which isn’t generally required in traditional RPG battle systems.

Players can also deal damage or suffer setbacks before a fight even starts, depending upon how they deal with enemies on the map screen. Monsters show up much the same as in the Chrono series, and jumping on them deals damage, while a poorly timed jump will result in a painfully bad landing. In addition to regular Jump attacks, Mario and Luigi also pick up Hammer and Hand attacks throughout the course of the game, both of which can be upgraded. Character stats are broken into five categories, and every time a character levels up, it is possible to provide a stat boost to one area, and so players can create defensive tanks, offensive powerhouses, or even the most charismatic moustache the Bean Kingdom has ever seen.

Now, this summary pretty much describes either of the game’s predecessors, and no sequel would be complete without some new tweaks for players to test-drive. The hook here comes in the form of Bros. Attacks, effectively the magic of Superstar Saga. Consuming BP( Bros. points), they combine the brothers’ attacks into synergistic fury, and if timed properly deliver a much bigger punch than conventional attacks. Bros. Attacks also come with three different difficulty settings, and so novice players can be aided by slow motion which, though it is more costly, offers an added advantage of security. It is, in the end, much better to get the timing down, because repeated use of Bros. Attacks can lead to Advance moves which are even more powerful. These involve a different sequence of buttons than the regular Bros. Attacks, but when executed properly are the most powerful attacks in the game.

In all, Superstar Saga has taken a pretty innovative and decent system and made it even better. The level of involvement required of players is much higher than that in most RPGs, and ensures that boredom will seldom threaten the festivities. This is in part because players will not spend a great deal of time flipping through eighteen screens of inventory. The menu system in Superstar Saga is a streamlined affair, and items can be equipped when they are purchased. This does mean that aside from special items, there is no equipment to seek out, but this will not end up being much of an issue for anyone but the most hardcore lover of treasure chests. As for the rest of the game, gameplay is perfectly integrated with the battle system; just as is the case with fighting, characters can make use of tactics that combine hammers, jumping, and hand techniques in order to clear the game’s many obstacles. The same philosophy is put into place in the minigames, which generally require a certain degree of teamwork in order to guarantee success.

Yoko Shimomura, with a little guidance from Koji Kondo, provides the game’s soundtrack, and while there are a few good tracks, there is a slight tendency to overuse the classic Super Mario Bros. theme. This is not to say that the rest of the music is trash or anything, but aside from the battle theme and another track or two, there has not been a great deal of creativity exercised. That said, the musical shortcomings of the game are more than made up for by the quality of the sound. Nintendo, perhaps shamelessly if the title screen is any indication, had the Game Boy Player in mind when making this title, and as a result the sound quality is perhaps the best yet to make an appearance on the Game Boy Advance. While a number of sound effects are NES throwbacks, which is probably deliberate, there are also a wealth of newer sounds. This includes a few voice samples, and each of the instrumental voices used in the game’s tracks are of considerably higher quality than those found in many other GBA titles. Though the musical quality of the soundtrack leaves a little to be desired, the overall quality of the sound is among the best on the handheld.

Graphically, more work would have been beneficial too. Once again, this is not to say that Mario & Luigi looked bad, because it doesn’t. Rather, it is the stylistic tendencies of AlphaDream that don’t quite jive with the usual look of Mario titles. Traditionally, Mario games have appeared in cheerful, bright colours, with the possible exception of Yoshi’s Island, which leaned in the direction of pastel. Superstar Saga is suspect in this regard; while many areas feature pleasant colour schemes, there are a few that are reminiscent of AlphaDream’s previous offering, the very eastery Tomato Kingdom. This is a minor quibble, admittedly; the game’s artistic style perfectly complements its hilarious story and generally fanciful setting. Even so, there is a definite pastel influence that does detract slightly from the overall presentational quality of the game, and the level of sprite detail is much lower than it could be.

After the dozens of Mario titles that have issued forth from Nintendo’s maw, it is difficult to expect too much in the way of originality. It is therefore a testament to the creative power of Shigeru Miyamoto, et al. that new Mario games can continually enrich and expand the universe of the series. Besides all the tasty bean-based additions, there are also a few more monsters that wouldn’t look out of place in the Mushroom Kingdom. The wealth of minigames and some of the ingenious block and jumping puzzles found in the game are also elements that it is nearly impossible to think the series could have done without; particularly, the rally blocks and the tipping scale games, though very simple in concept, are evidence of the hard work that went into making this title as fresh as it is.

Nonetheless, it is difficult to continually come up with new and exciting stories for heroes who have, after all, been around for nearly twenty years. Superstar Saga features a cohesive, if slightly silly, plot. Its biggest problem stems from the fact that the resolutions to problems tend to fall out of the sky (literally, in some cases). There is also a certain degree of repetition, and some of the events that transpire are just a little too unbelievable, even for a game as obviously dedicated to levity as this title is. Ultimately, gameplay manages to remain interesting over the fifteen to twenty-five hours it takes for events to run their course, and all of the game’s characters are endearing, if a tad shallow.

Of particular note is the big baddie’s evil sidekick, a fountain of wisdom known as Fawful. If anything in Superstar Saga has the power to floor with sheer funniness, it is Fawful’s dialect, which hovers somewhere between Yoda and Apu. Seldom is a character in an RPG truly funny, but some of the lines Fawful comes up with are just so hilariously constructed that it’s very difficult not to laugh. This tight scripting would not have been possible without an outstanding localization team, and Nintendo truly went all out in this regard. Not only did the company hire top-notch translators to pore over the English version, it also hired teams to make the transition into a number of languages for European release, hopefully ensuring that every gamer will get the chance to experience this game as it should be: fluently and without error.

As good a game as Superstar Saga is, though, it doesn’t really offer much more than the average game in terms of replay. Certainly, there are a number of very engaging minigames, and as the title does not take a great deal of time to complete, there is a certain attraction to a quick playthrough. When the dust settles, though, there is only one ending, and once acquired, most of the game’s techniques are very difficult to unlearn. There is also a fairly low degree of challenge; while moves take some time to learn, they are not overly difficult to master, and most players will have little trouble doing so. Still, anyone who loves Nintendo titles will probably be lured into repeat playthroughs, simply because the game is so much fun to play.

That, in the end, is probably the most important thing that can be said of Superstar Saga. While it does not feature the best graphics or music in the world, it is fun to play. While not terribly original or masterfully scripted, it is fun to play. Despite lacking difficulty and length, it is a lot of fun to play, and that is one thing for which Nintendo’s first and second-party titles can usually be counted upon. Perhaps that is why it is, more often than not, a safe bet to purchase a title put out by the Big N: a track record of consistently enjoyable games, which Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga can now count itself one of.

Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier

Trier, which stands on the Moselle River, was a Roman colony from the 1st century AD and then a great trading centre beginning in the next century. It became one of the capitals of the Tetrarchy at the end of the 3rd century, when it was known as the ‘second Rome’. The number and quality of the surviving monuments are an outstanding testimony to Roman civilization.

Brief synthesis

Trier, which is located on the Moselle river in the West of Germany, was a Roman colony from the 1st century A.D. and then a great trading centre in the beginning of the next century. It became one of the capitals of the Tetrarchy at the end of the 3rd century, when it was known as the ‘second Rome’. The number and quality of the surviving monuments are an outstanding testimony to Roman civilization.

There is no place north of the Alps where so many important Roman buildings and such a concentration of traces of Roman settlement have been preserved as in Trier, the “Rome of the North”. In late classical times, Trier was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire; it was the seat of the prefects of Gaul, Germania, Britannia and Hispania and after the imperial reforms of the Emperor Diocletian was the seat of the vice-emperor (Caesar) of the Western Empire.

While the structures built during the first and second centuries (the Moselle Bridge, the Barbara Baths, the Porta Nigra and the lgel Column) illustrate the richness of the commercial city, from which the garrison towns and fortresses on the Rhine were supplied, the monumental buildings from the reign of Constantine (Imperial Baths, Aula Palatina, Cathedral) are a visible expression of the immensity of imperial power and the claim to world domination made from the West of the Empire for the last time before the eclipse of the classical era (this claim was taken over in the East by the new capital of the Empire, Constantinople, which thereby superseded Trier as well as Rome).

Of the buildings preserved from classical times, at least two of those described above are unparalleled. The Porta Nigra, with its state of preservation and its architectural layout (the combination of a fortification with the features of palace architecture) is a unique construction that is unlike any of the other preserved Roman city gates. Its development during the Middle Ages into a (likewise very unusual) double church also makes it a symbol of Western history. The monumental brick structure of the Basilica, with its lapidary form and the vast dimensions of its interior (the largest known interior from classical times) was the embodiment of the seat (sedes imperii) and the power of the Roman Empire.

One of the oldest church buildings in the Western world, the Cathedral has been a witness to the Christian faith since Constantine made Christianity a tolerated and supported religion in his Empire. Its architectural design unites elements of all the periods of classical, medieval and modern times, but has always been marked by the monumental concept that lies at its origins. The series of archbishops’ tombs covers with few interruptions the entire period from the 12th to the late 18th century. The Romanesque parclose, the renaissance pulpit and some of the Baroque marble altars belong to the major works of sculpture of their respective periods.

The Church of Our Lady is the earliest church built in French High Gothic style outside France. Its purity of style (it was completed in only 30 years) and the undeviating implementation of the architect’s plan for a basilica-shaped graduated central area, for which there were partial models, though no entire prototype, in France probably make it the most perfect example of the centralized construction concept in Gothic style.$

Criterion (i): The Porta Nigra, which is an enormous fortified gate built of large stones, flanked by two semi-circular four-storey towers, is a unique achievement of 2nd century Roman architecture. The remains of the choir and the cloister of the two-level church built within its walls by Archbishop Poppo between 1034 and 1042 further enhance the monument.

Criterion (iii): Trier bears exceptional testimony to Roman civilisation due to the density and the quality of the monuments preserved: the bridge, the remains of the fortified wall, thermae, amphitheatre, storehouses etc. Funeral art, as demonstrated by the nomination of the Igel Column, and the craftsmanship of potters, glassworkers and minters flourished particularly.

Criterion (iv): Trier, along with Istanbul, is the example of a large Roman capital after the division of the Empire. The remains of the imperial palace, in addition to the Aula Palatina and the imperial thermae (the largest of the Roman Empire after those of Diocletian and Caracalla in Rome) are impressive in their enormity. Under the north basilica (now the Cathedral), the decoration of a painted ceiling, where members of the imperial family (most probably Helena and Fausta) appear to be identifiable, also bears testimony to the Aulic character of the architecture.

Criterion (vi): Trier is directly and tangibly associated with one of the major events of human history, Constantine’s march against Maxence in 312, which was a prelude to the Edict of Milan (313) and which meant the recognition of Christianity.


The layout of the city still corresponds to its 2nd century configuration, with the major thoroughfares of the cardo (Simeonstrasse) and the decumanus (Kaiserstrasse). The components of the World Heritage property are partly well-preserved ruins (Barbara Baths, Imperial Baths, Amphitheatre), monuments that regained their Roman appearance in the 19th century by deletion of later additions (Porta Nigra) or reconstruction (Basilica) or incorporate Roman structures (Moselle Bridge, Cathedral). The Igel Column survived unaltered, the Church of Our Lady replaced the south church of the Constantine Cathedral complex in the 13th century. By their layout and dimension, all Roman buildings furnish evidence of importance of the former capital of the Western Empire to this day. All components are treasured main historic monuments.


The efforts concerning the protection and preservation of the Roman monuments in Trier started at the beginning of the 19th century; they are closely connected with the development of monument protection in Prussia. Hence, these monuments are not only authentic documents of the Roman period, but also significant examples of the history of monument preservation in Germany. In World War II, only the Basilica and the Church of Our Lady were damaged by fire and bombs; they were carefully restored between 1954-1956 and 1946-1949 respectively.

Protection and management requirements

The laws and regulations of the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Rhineland-Palatinate guarantee the consistent protection of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier. They are listed monuments according to the Rhineland-Palatinate Monument Protection Act. Once finalised and approved, a buffer zone will exist for the property.

Conservation and construction issues are dealt with and managed in close cooperation between the owners (Federal State of Rhineland-Palatinate, City of Trier, Diocese of Trier), the responsible conservation authorities and building administrations, the Ministry for Science and Culture and the Trier-Commission, which was founded in 1926. The memorandum “Save the archaeological heritage of Trier” guides the conservation measures undertaken by the owners of the properties. It is presented by an advisory board, the Trier-Commission, which is continuously monitoring the Roman monuments. A Management Plan will be put up in the near future and will consist of a set of maintenance and conservation measures to ensure the further protection of the property, the sustainable use and the interpretation to the public.

During the Great Depression, Al Capone created one of the first “Soup Kitchens” for the unemployed

Crime boss, gangster, and lawbreaker are the most common words used to describe Al Capone, one of the most notorious men of the 20th century.

He was born in Brooklyn to poor Italian immigrants and joined a street gang at a young age after he was expelled from school for punching a female teacher. Capone might have had a brighter future had he continued his education, but instead, he became America’s biggest crime boss.

However, most people haven’t heard of the charitable support that Capone offered during a hard period for many Americans. In the 1930s, the Great Depression left a lot of citizens hungry and unemployed. Although he was a criminal to many, Capone was also respected community leader for a lot of people due to his charity. Some say that he did more for the citizens of Chicago, Illinois than the state itself did.

Al Capone’s Soup Kitchen, situated on what is now a parking lot on the corner of 9th and State St, served over 120,000 meals to hungry people. The free soup kitchen kept regular working hours, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner and fed thousands every day despite only having a few employees.

The kitchen, which was demolished 20 years after the Depression, was a place that provided warm meals for unemployed people thanks to Capone. Besides his charity, Capone was also known for sending expensive flowers to rival gang member’s funerals, and for his generosity to strangers and Italian immigrants.

Condemned as an effort to make up for his past, Capone’s charity actually provided a much-needed counterbalance to his bad reputation. Most people don’t really see him as a bad person, anyway. Even the illegal fortune he made smuggling alcohol was seen as an act of bravery, considering the harsh restrictions of prohibition at the time.

While part of the Five Point Gang, Capone was involved in organized criminal activities such as brothels and massacres. He was known as Scarface, the co-founder of the Chicago Outfit. After organizing and ordering the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago, the modern Robin Hood (as many liked to call him) became “Public Enemy No. 1.”

After seven years as a crime boss, he was convicted of tax fraud at the age of 33 and given a sentence of 11 years in prison. Capone became one of the earliest prisoners at Alcatraz in San Francisco. However, his calm temperament convinced the government that he wasn’t a troublemaker and that he could be transported to another facility.

While serving his sentence in Alcatraz, Capone was diagnosed with syphilis dementia. As his health deteriorated, he was sent to the low-security Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island near Los Angeles to serve the end of his sentence. He was released from prison in 1939.

One year before his death, Capone’s psychiatrist concluded that he had the mentality of a 12-year-old child. He spent his last years at his mansion in Palm Islands, Florida, where he died from fatal cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke in 1947.

Capone left a long-lasting legacy behind. Visitors from all over the world still visit Chicago and drive by Capone’s old house or visit his grave.

Although he was known for his cruel way of dealing with enemies, Capone was a man who would walk among people, offering a handshake and an encouraging smile.

He was always there to help the desperate, offering them jobs and warm meals, and never expecting anything in return.

Retro Review – Metal Gear Solid (1998)

As part of a new feature, I’m taking a look at some older games as well. I thought it might be interesting to look at games that came out at this time several years ago, so to start with I’ll be looking at games released 10, 15, 20 or 25 years ago. I’ll mostly not be going for anything older, as I’m not old enough to have played them at the time so they have little real affinity to me. I won’t rule it out though, as there are of course some gems from back then. I’ll also not be looking at anything more recent, as games from 5 years ago are still from this current generation and much more likely to be remembered and indeed still being played by people. I’m open to requests for future reviews within the year ranges from whichever month I’m writing in so feel free to let me know in the comments.

I’m also going to make an effort to not just pick the most obvious and popular games, but the timing on this one just wouldn’t let me skip it! These will also generally be a bit shorter than modern game reviews, but I couldn’t help myself with this one.

15 years ago today Metal Gear Solid was released on the Sony PlayStation. At the time I didn’t know what to expect, as back then I had no idea that there were two previous games in the series (Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake – worry not though, I’ve been through them both several times since) as these had been released on the not terribly well known in Europe MSX. I never even saw one of these as a kid, so had no way to try these out until emulation became more accessible. Sorry Konami! He’d designed successful games previously, but the massive success of Metal Gear Solid made designer Hideo Kojima a star in the video game world and has gone on to become a very well known figure.

Metal Gear Solid then was launched to rave reviews, and I think it was based on the Official PlayStation Magazine’s recommendation that I decided to pick it up, and I was utterly blown away. Right from the first cutscene the level of storytelling was almost unprecedented in games of the time and the at times twisty plot wove a complex and deep world that I’ve been very interested in the subsequent expansions of since.

For the very few of you reading who don’t know, Metal Gear Solid casts you as a former special forces agent called back into service to save the world, which on the surface of it is a fairly basic action movie premise. Solid Snake is tasked with taking down the rogue agents of Foxhound, who have hijacked a nuclear training exercise on Shadow Moses Island in Antarctica. The various agents of Foxhound you face during the game all have their own gimmick and animal themed codenames, and each give interesting boss fights. The terrorists are led by Liquid Snake, who shares more than just a codename with our hero.

Snake has to make his way across the island, all the while collecting new weapons and gear to take down different enemies or destroy obstacles. You’ll also pick up an access card allowing you through locked doors, and are granted higher level cards to get to previously inaccessible areas. Along the way you meet many memorable characters, not just the supporting cast but also the villains. The ultimate goal of the game is to take down the ‘walking nuclear battle tank’ of the title, Metal Gear before Liquid is able to use it to launch a nuclear weapon.

Structurally, the game has a lot in common with its predecessor, Metal Gear 2. Massive sections of how the game work are very similar. The back tracking to collect weapons, the temperature controlled keys, the Hind battle and even some character arcs – it’s almost more like a 3D remake than a sequel. This isn’t even really much of a complaint, as I and probably most people who played it at the time had never played Metal Gear 2 and was none the wiser for many years after so at the time it all felt fresh and new.

Visually, as with many games of the era it hasn’t aged too well. On my most recent play I was playing the PlayStation Network version of the game (the fourth time I’ve now bought it. Guess I’m just a sucker like that.) I initially tried to play it on my TV but it just looked terrible. Not a lot of people will have played the original PlayStation on a screen larger than 21 inches at the time, certainly not compared to how many people game on 40+ inch screens these days. Back in 1998 however, the visuals were well received, and looked pretty decent on my 14 inch TV. I ended up playing through it on my PSP instead, and on the 4.3 inch screen the graphics actually looked quite crisp. The character models have aged the worst as they have very little detail particularly on the faces, but you’re never in doubt as to what the characters look like thanks to the animated portraits in the Codec sequences.

Voice actor and screen writer David Hayter provides the voice of Solid Snake, and while he’s almost gone on to become a growly parody of himself these days in his first outing he’s much more understated. Great performances are given by the rest of the cast too, with Paul Eiding’s Colonel Campbell being one of my favourites. The music too is still great, and has been in regular play on my playlist for over a decade. I prefer the music here over the over orchestrated score from the next couple of games, and the loss of most of the music was my main problem with the HD (for the time) GameCube remake, the Twin Snakes.

Control wise the inability to control the camera just feels wrong to modern gaming sensibilities. Despite the 3D trappings, MGS has much more in common with the older 2D games in the series, and controls from a mostly top down view. As with most original PlayStation games you the game would default to D-pad controls with the option of switching to analog mode with a Dual Analog or Dual Shock controller but this sadly didn’t add any camera controls on the right stick. The use face buttons for looking around and shooting instead of the shoulder buttons also just don’t feel right anymore, even more so after Metal Gear Solid 4 was released with modern style dual analog controls. I seem to remember being able to aim much easier when I first played it, but that could just be memory playing tricks on me. The guns now seem very inaccurate compared to modern games, and the lack of a first/third person aiming mode really feels counter intuitive now.

I’d probably suggest the PSP as the platform of choice for any future plays of the game if not for two things: I couldn’t seem to mash circle fast enough for the torture scene to survive it (although I could just be rubbish now) and the D-Pad didn’t want to let me crouch walk in blast furnace, plunging me to my death over and over – I got around that my remapping to the analog stick but it wasn’t comfortable enough to use it by default though.

I’m rather biased favourably towards this game, but generally I find it still holds up very well, and particularly considering how convoluted the plot of the games has gotten by the more recent instalments is much more accessible! The only real problem with the game playing it now is the controls as they do feel quite clunky compared to modern layouts, a problem common among games from this era – to some extent you can mitigate this on newer emulated versions on the PS3 or handhelds as they allow you to remap the controls and end up with buttons where you’d now expect to find them. I’m sure almost everyone reading this will have played it long ago, but for anyone who hasn’t it’s well worth getting hold of.