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History questions with obvious answers - that are wrong.

Discussion in 'History & Genealogy' started by Quid est Veritas?, May 29, 2017.

  1. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    I think it may be interesting to post history questions that seem simple to answer, but actually aren't. I think it can maybe lead to a few good discussions or at least be entertaining. I'll start off with a few.

    1: After which animal are the Canary Islands named?

    - Dogs.

    From Latin Canariae Insulae or Islands of the Dogs.
    Pliny the Elder said that the Mauretanians called it this because of many native dogs, but other modern historians think it may have referred to monk seals.

    The birds in fact are named after the islands.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
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  2. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    What day in February during a leap year is added to the calendar?

    - February 24.

    The Julian calender and European calenders generally did not number dates till much later. Dates were described according to how many days they were before certain dates like the Kalends (first), Nones (7th or 9th) or Ides (13th or 15th).
    The intercalary day was added after the festival of Terminalia (23 February), due to an older Latin calender that had added an intercalary month then. It was termed the Bissextile day or 'twice sixth' as its date was 6 days before the Kalends of March. Officially the 24th of February is the added day in many law codes and remained so in the official description of the Gregorian calender (rendered of course in Latin), making it the actual leap day.
     
  3. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    Who is the first President of the United States?

    This is difficult. If we count the Continental Congress during the War of Independance, then it was Peyton Reynolds, who first bore this title.

    The United States however came into existence in 1781 when the articles of Confederation were passed, making it the President of the congress then, John Hanson.

    Alternately, the first President under the elected US Constitution would be George Washington; but there were many before him that also bore this title as shown above.
     
  4. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    After which heavenly being is Los Angeles named?

    - The Virgin Mary.

    It was named 'Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciuncula', by the Spanish. This is the Town of our Lady the Queen of Angels of Porciuncula, referring of course to the Mother of Jesus.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
  5. mark kennedy

    mark kennedy Natura non facit saltum Supporter

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    I have one for you but unfortunately I've never been able to find a satisfactory answer. Why do tracks; horse, track and field, auto, always go counterclockwise? A friend asked me this years ago and there is no apparent answer. There are a few exceptions but very few. They say it has something to do with most people being right handed, it helps to keep better balance while running in a circle.

    The best explanation I heard was that the track was designed by the Greeks. The seat of honor as always to the right, so that's where the judges would sit.

    Grace and peace,
    Mark
     
  6. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    This is very interesting. I tried to find an answer, but have only found a few articles that are basically speculation.

    It reminds me of the debate on left vs right side of the road traffic.
    Romans kept to the left, as did mediaeval pilgrims - Pope Boniface told pilgrims to keep to the left in 1300 for instance.
    Pre-Revolutionary France had carriages keeping left and pedestrians keeping right. Napoleon made everyone keep right and this was subsequently made standard wherever Napoleonic code held sway. Englishmen like to claim that those driving on the right is just due to French contrariness, that they went against the old established European rules as a silly attempt to separate from the old ancien regime.

    The spanner in the works to this argument is American right handed roads. You would expect left sided if this was the ancient ways (which most accounts seem to have been the case), but why do they then drive on the right? They only formalised right handed driving in the US in the early 19th, but it was probably the custom before this. I have heard it argued this is related to handedness, that most are right handed and therefore favoured a left driver's seat to be able to whip two pairs of horses.

    A similar argument has been made about why spiral staircases are usually counter-clockwise. It allows the free hand to be the right one; for carrying objects or defending against attackers on the staircase. These are interesting suppositions, but difficult to determine the validity.
     
  7. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    What mountain in the US has the largest carved sculptures in the world, depicting historic American leaders?

    - Stone Mountain, Georgia.

    It depicts Jefferson Davis, RE Lee and Stonewall Jackson in bass relief with an area of 23 x 48m. This is far larger than Mount Rushmore whose heads are about 18m high, but interestingly it was started by the same sculptor responsible for Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum.
     
  8. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    To which country do the Channel Islands belong?

    - Neither the United Kingdom nor France is correct here. Technically they are the remnants of the Duchy of Normandy still under the Crown, but they are crown dependancies, not a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
    The Queen is their liege lord, but they are a separate entity to the UK in entirety. Funny enough, the official title for the Queen there is Duke; the masculine, not the feminine duchess.
     
  9. blackribbon

    blackribbon Not a newbie

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    I take issue with this. He was the president of Confederation Congress (of the United States), not the United States. They are not exactly the same thing. To say he was president over the United States would indicate that he had more power than the governor/government of each state...and he did not. He had almost no real power at all and he was part of Congress & answered to Congress. George Washington had executive powers separate from Congress and under the limitations of the Constitution, over that of the state's governments.
     
  10. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    You are adding information to the word President. It is derived from the latin prae-sedere and originally denoted a sort of chairman (hence the etymologically related word presiding officer). It is still used in this manner in fraternal organisations, universities and some churches. It does not inhetently denote someone holding any power whatsoever, hence its use for presiding officers of the Continental Congresses.

    You are reading the constitutional powers of the modern US presidency into the word, which it does not necessarily imply. The US constitution was the first time that President was used for a head of state with executive functions (likely influenced by the Praesidium or camp headquarters in a Legion, an etymogically related but quite different concept).

    This is why it is a difficult question. You have to give more information or your answer is incomplete and ambigious.
    For do you mean the first President with executive power? Washington.
    The first president of the entity that would become the US? Reynolds (although the title was not really in use President of the United States here).
    The first of the formal United States?Hanson (where President of the United States and President of the Congress of the United States was used pretty much interchangeably, as President had not denoted any form of executive authority at this time).
     
  11. blackribbon

    blackribbon Not a newbie

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    Definition of "president" by Cambridge Dictionary
    "the highest political position in the United States and some other countries, usually the leader of the government"

    The highest political position in the United States at the time of the Continental Congress was not the head of Congress or even in the federal government at all... the primarily leadership in the US was retained by the states and one of the biggest problems with the Articles of Confederation.
     
  12. blackribbon

    blackribbon Not a newbie

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    Secondary definition
    "a person who has the highest position in a company or organization"

    Do you believe that the President of Congress was even in the highest level of power in Congress at that time? Did he have any power over the other Congressmen?

    If you want to say that he was the first person in the US government to have the title of "president" within the federal branch of our government, I wouldn't disagree...but it was a mostly ceremonial title with little to no power . I'd say at most, he was president over the Congress and represented congress...not the US people so not the president of the US at large.
     
  13. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    I think you're right about that. The way the question was worded controls the answer and it was as follows:

     
  14. blackribbon

    blackribbon Not a newbie

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    I agree. If the question was "who was the first president in the federal government of the newly created US?", then Reynolds or Hanson might be the right answer. Or "who was the first man to wear the title of president in the US government?" The first president of the people of the United States ("We the people") was the freely elected George Washington.
     
  15. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    I respectfully disagree, but it really doesn't matter. It is just an interesting bit of trivia.

    I could always argue that the question should have said "who was the first constitutional President" or "executive President" if the answer is to be George Washington. To my mind, just saying president without further explanation renders it ambigious, as per my initial post.

    Anyway though, I was unaware the dictionaries are so deficient on the meaning of 'President'. For instance the presiding clergyman at Anglican services may be termed the president, as is the term used in the UK for chairmen of government boards. Another example is the way the Vice-President is termed the President of the Senate in the US, where he has very little power beyond breaking ties.
     
  16. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    How many men fought to the last at Thermopylae with Leonidas?

    In spite of popular history and the film, more than the 300 remained. In addition to the Spartan contingent, 700 Thespians and 400 Thebans remained behind to fight the rear-guard action on the third day. The Spartans were likely also accompanied by helots, who may have acted as lightly armed auxiliaries or servants, of indeterminate number.

    While history has lauded the Spartans' brave stand, we forget the others.
    The Thebans were likely those that opposed Thebes submission to Persia, so would likely have been executed if they went home anyway.
    The Thespians however volunteered to stay out of simple sacrifice to help the rest of the army withdraw. This is even more brave when we take into account that they likely represented most of Thespiae's hoplites and their city had already been succesfully evacuated.
     
  17. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    When did Constantinople become Istanbul?

    The common answer is with the Ottoman Turkish conquest in 1453, but this is mistaken. Constantinople was already called Istanbul or a variation of this, before this date. It is derived from the Greek eis ten poleis, meaning roughly "going to the city", and was already in popular use.
    The Turks however continued to call their capital city Constantinople officially for the entirety of the Ottoman period. Only in 1922 did the post office change it to Istanbul and during the Turkification process of the 20s did the other institutions of the Turkish Republic follow suit.
    Istanbul is however an old and pre-turkish Greek name for the city, although pronounced in turkish manner.
     
  18. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    Which European discovered America?

    The simple answer is Christopher Columbus and obviously his discovery had the largest impact.

    Many know that the Norse discovered America about 500 years earlier , but even here there is a misconception. The expedition to explore and settle Vinland, Markland and Helluland was lead by Leif Erikson, but he had not discovered it. This honour belongs to Bjarni Herjolfsson, a Greenlander whose ship had been blown off course and who informed Leif about its existence and which subsequently convinced him to try and settle it. This was short-lived though.

    While the above two are very definite on both historical and archeaological grounds, there are other candidates as well.
    There is a bay in Brazil that keeps on yielding Roman amphorae for some reason. There was a small 2nd century Roman-style sculpture found in a native site in the Toluca valley in Mexico. These are however debatable, but interesting findings.
    There are also fantastical tales like the voyage of St Brendan, but these are of course quite dubious as historical sources.

    As an aside, the name America is said to derive from Amerigo Vespucci, an explorer and royal cartographer. Some think that this is mistaken, for it is very unusual to name a place after a commoner's first name. Standardly this is reserved for kings and last names are used when honouring common folk. Why was America then named for Amerigo and not Vespucci?
    The theory is that it might have been named for Richard Amerike, a Welsh merchant at Bristol who may have funded the expedition of Sebastian Cabot to Newfoundland in 1498 instead.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  19. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    How many Queens regnant of the UK bear the name Elizabeth?

    The answer is of course 1, even if Elizabeth is termed the Second.
    The fact of the matter is that Elizabeth I was Queen of England. In 1707, England and Scotland combined into the United Kingdom of Great Britain, after a hundred years of on-off sharing a monarch or commonwealth government. Ireland then joined in 1801, combining the treble crowns of James I (or VI of Scotland). This kingdom only had one Queen Elizabeth.

    This numbering wasn't an issue initially as all the monarchs had names that had not been in use by the earlier kingdoms, so bear the correct number (George I, II, III, IV), up until William who would be III for Scotland but IV for England. This was the height of the Scottish being seen as 'Northern British', so they just ignored it and called him William IV. The issue actually then came up after Victoria repopularised Scottishness with her son Edward. In the end, based on the example of William IV, it was decided to number the monarch according to the highest number of any of the constituent countries. Thus Elizabeth is the II, although Scotland never had such a queen before. Interestingly, this means that if a royal decides to rule as James for instance, he would be James VIII - which would look strange in lists of English kings, where they would jump from II to VIII.

    As an aside: Edward has its own problems with numbering. There are three English King Edwards that antedate King Edward I - Edward the Elder, Edward the Martyr and Edward the Confessor.
    Initially kings weren't numbered. The English only started to do so when King Edward I was suceeded by an Edward, who in turn was also followed by one. Being the height of the middle ages, they ignored the pre-conquest kings as they were only thinking of their own time. Thereafter Edward has always been numbered wrong, although some historians add 'since the Norman conquest' to correct it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2017
  20. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    What year did WWI end?

    The obvious answer is 1918. For yes, that is when the Armistice became effective, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. If you look on many memorials of the war, you will see 1914 to 1919 though. This is because the peace of Versailles was only signed then and this was traditionally the end of a war. In the 20th century, with its messy wars with uncertain ends or even participants, like Korea, Vietnam or the Arab-Israeli Wars, formal peaces are usually not taken as the endpoint - rather the end of hostilities. This is where the old formal rules of war clash with modern realpolitik and dirty wars.

    Even then though, forces continued to intervene in both Turkey and the Russian Civil War in 1919 - both conflicts directly as a response to WWI and being contiguous with it. So a date of 1919 is actually not that unreasonable, although the Western Front had fallen silent by then. Incidentally, the Russian Civil War actually had the United States and Soviet Russia at war with each other, in spite of numerous Cold War (and beyond) claims that they had never yet crossed swords.
     
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