End of the Irish Invasion ; — or — the Destruction of the French Armada, caricature by James Gillray
French warships, labeled Le Révolutionaire, L’Egalité and The Revolutionary Jolly Boat, being tossed about during a storm blown up by Pitt, Dundas, Grenville and Windham, whose heads appear from the clouds. Charles Fox is the figurehead on Le Révolutionaire which is floundering with broken mast. The Revolutionary Jolly Boat is being swamped, throwing Sheridan, Hall, Erskine, M.A. Taylor and Thelwall overboard.
The Expédition d’Irlande (“Expedition to Ireland”) was an unsuccessful attempt by the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars to assist the outlawed Society of United Irishmen, a popular rebel Irish republican group, in their planned rebellion against British rule. The French intended to land a large expeditionary force in Ireland during the winter of 1796–1797 which would join with the United Irishmen and drive the British out of Ireland. The French anticipated that this would be a major blow to British morale, prestige and military effectiveness, and was also intended to possibly be the first stage of an eventual invasion of Britain itself. To this end, the French Directory gathered a force of approximately 15,000 soldiers at Brest under General Lazare Hoche during late 1796, in readiness for a major landing at Bantry Bay in December.
The Unsung Conquerors of the Aztecs,
The history books tell us that the Spanish conquered Mexico with superior weapons such as guns, armor, and steel swords as well as a host of deadly diseases brought from Europe. However despite their weapons and superior military tactics, the Spaniards were still little more than a pathetic band of mercenary’s that could have been wiped out at any time. So why didn’t that happen? One fact that has been nearly forgotten by history is that Cortes and the Spaniards had the help of Native allies who provided 80,000 - 200,000 warriors. Often in common high school textbooks this fact is only briefly mentioned, leading one to believe that the Spanish were able to bring down a mighty empire with only 900 men. In reality, the Spanish probably never would have been able to gain a foothold in Central America without the help of their native allies.
When Cortes and his Spanish conquistadors landed in Mexico in 1519, one of the first large states his expedition encountered was Tlaxcala, a union of city states and tribes in Central Mexico. The Tlaxcalan’s were not like the Aztecs. Suspicious of the Spanish, they didn’t buy into all the Quetzalcoatl humbuggery that was attributed to Cortes. At the first sign of trouble, the Tlaxcalans attacked and surrounded the Spanish. It seemed that Cortes’ expedition would end right then and there, despite their superior weapons the Spanish were outnumbered and surrounded. When it seemed that the Tlaxcalans were going to strike their final death blow, a wise man and respected elder named Xicotencatl the Elder convinced the Tlaxcalan war leader to spare the Spaniards and strike an alliance with them instead. A deal was brokered and the Tlaxcalans provided the Spanish with food, clothing, servants, and a 1,000 man escort to Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. When Cortes and his men were ejected from Tenochtitlan after kidnapping the Aztec Emperor Montezuma, a rallying call went all over Mexico for allies to help bring down the Aztec Empire. The Tlaxcalans donated tens of thousands warriors to the Spanish cause. Other allies such as the Huexotzinco, Atlixco, Tliliuhqui-Tepecs, Tetzcocans, Chalca, Alcohua, Tepanecs, Tepeyac, Yauhtepec, and Cuauhnahuac also sent tens of thousands of warriors to join the alliance as well.
So why did the natives of Mexico join with a band of foreigners to overthrow the Aztec Empire? Like all empires the Aztec Empire was built upon bloodshed, violence, tyranny, and oppression. During the previous 100 years the Aztec brutally conquered the tribes and city states around them, until by 1519 they dominated most of Central Mexico. People conquered by the Aztecs were brutally massacred, their people taken into slavery or sacrificed in Aztec rituals. Those states, such as Tlaxcala, maintained their independence by paying a tribute, usually in the form of victims for Aztec human sacrifices.
Needless to say the people of Mexico hated the Aztec’s and all they stood for. Central Mexico was ripe for rebellion, and all it took to spark the rebellion was the appearance of some strange foreigners with seemingly magical weaponry who claimed they wanted to destroy the Aztecs as well. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
In the final showdown between the native alliance and the Spanish, the Spanish only had a little less than 1,000 - 1,300 men whereas the natives had brought an estimated 80,000 - 200,000 warriors. The large numbers of revolting natives combined with the superior arms of the Spanish overwealmed the Aztecs, already weakened by a terrible plague of smallpox. After a mere 2 month siege, Tenochtitlan fell.
To the people of Central Mexico the fall of the Aztec Empire was greater than their most wonderful dreams. However, the Spanish would bring thousands of more soldiers and colonists. Over the next 60 years the Spanish would conquer the other city states of Mexico, bringing the natives under the yoke of Spanish rule. As it turned out the Spaniards were no better than the Aztecs, forcing the people of Mexico under a system of disease, slavery, and poverty. The new boss was the same as the old boss.
The Ivory Stocked Pistols of Maastrict, 1650 - 1700.
Between 1650 and 1700 the Netherlands was the trade capitol of the world. The combination of exotic goods from other lands and a large number of skilled artists and craftsmen led to the creation of these beautiful pistols. Typically flintlock, although some wheel-lock examples are known to exist, the Maastricht pistol had a common design and theme. Typically they are hand carved from a single piece of elephant ivory imported from Africa. The pommel usually ends with the head of a soldiers, Greek mythical figure, or a Turkish man. They can also include elaborate gold and silver inlays on the barrel and lock.
Created by highly skilled artisans, they were primarily produced for wealthy clients, most particularly Europes nobles and monarchs. A great number were also produced as trade pieces for the Dutch East India Company. Many more craftsmen from France, Germany, and Bohemia also copied the form and style of the pistols. Today such pieces are extremely rare with only 100 known specimens being identified as true Maastricht pistols.
Propaganda cup of Cato (the cup to the left, the one to the right being dedicated to Catilina), for his election campaign for Tribune of the Plebs of 62 BC (left cup). These cups, filled with food or drinks, were distributed in the streets to the people, and bore an inscription supporting the candidate to the election
Wild Bill Hickok at Cards by N.C. Wyath, 1916.
Wild Bill to the Card Cheat —-I’m calling the hand that’s in your hat!
The Kepplinger Holdout card cheating device, late 19th century,
J. D. Kepplinger was a master card cheat and con man in the late 19th century. In 1888 the brilliant Kepplinger invented his own card holdout device. The device attached to his arm, which was concealed by his sleeve, which was connected by a cable to a mechanism attached to his thighs. When he opened and closed his legs a metal claw would popup through his sleeve and snatch away a card for later. When Kepplinger needed that card later, he simply opened his legs again, and the device would conveniently insert the card back into his hand.
With his special Kepplinger holdout device, also known as the San Francisco holdout, J.D. Kepplinger was able to clean out many cardplayers throughout the Old West. That was until professional gamblers became suspicious.
One day during a pleasant game of poker three other gamblers seized him and dragged him to the back of the saloon. There they stripped off his clothes and discovered the ingenious device. They offered Kepplinger two options, either he construct devices for them or he face the consequences of being caught cheating at cards (which mean’t being shot or beaten up). Kepplinger made more devices for his new comrades, who formed a team of card cheats. For over a year the team grew rich cleaning out the table of the Barbary Coast and San Francisco. That was until they were caught by the police and sent to prison.