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The History Channel - Encyclopedia
Category: History and Culture > History
Date & country: 02/12/2007, UK
Words: 25871


Akhand Path
In Sikh worship, the continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib (holy book), from beginning to end. It usually lasts for 48 hours. People may take turns reading in relays, or provide food for the...

Akhenaton (or Ikhnaton)
King (pharaoh) of ancient Egypt of the 18th dynasty (c. 1353-1335 BC), who may have ruled jointly for a time with his father Amenhotep III. He developed the cult of the Sun, Aton, rather than the...

Akhetaton
Capital of ancient Egypt established by the monotheistic pharaoh Akhenaton as the centre for his cult of the Aton, the Sun's disc; it is the modern Tell el Amarna 300 km/190 mi south of Cairo....

akhirah
In Islam, life after death. Muslims believe that people need to follow God's teachings of respect, honesty, and kindness to others, and after death they will be judged by their actions. God will...

Akhmatova, Anna
(1889-1966) Russian poet. She was a leading member of the Acmeist movement. Among her works are the cycle Requiem (1963), written in the 1930s and dealing with the Stalinist terror, and Poem Without a Hero...

Akihito
(1933) Emperor of Japan from 1989, succeeding his father Hirohito (Showa). His reign is called the Heisei (`achievement of universal peace`) era. Unlike previous crown princes, Akihito was educated...

Akimel O'odham
Alternative name for a member of the American Indian Pima people. ...

Akintola, Samuel Ladoke
(1910-1966) Nigerian political leader and journalist. He obtained a degree in law from a UK university, returning to Nigeria in 1949 to become a major political figure of the Yoruba ethnic group. In 1955 he...

Akkad
Northern Semitic people who conquered the Sumerians 2350 BC and ruled Mesopotamia. Their language was Semitic (old Akkadian). Akkad...

Akkaia
Alternative form of Achaea. ...

Akko
Seaport in northwest Israel, situated on the Mediterranean Sea; population (1995 est) 48,300. The city was built on a small promontory which, with Mount Carmel to the south, forms a semicircular...

Akongo
Primordial god of the Ngombe people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), essence of the spirit in all humanity. ...

Aksakov, Sergei Timofeyevich
(1791-1859) Russian writer. Born at Ufa, he became a civil servant, and under the influence of Nicolai Gogol, he wrote autobiographical novels, including Chronicles of a Russian Family (1856) and Years of...

Aksum
Ancient Greek-influenced Semitic kingdom that flourished in the 1st-6th centuries AD and covered a large part of modern Ethiopia as well as the Sudan. The ruins of its capital, also called...

Akutagawa, Ry?nosuke
(1892-1927) Japanese writer of stories, plays, and poetry. Noted for stylistic virtuosity, he wrote autobiographical fiction and grim satirical fables such as `Kappa` (1927), but his best works are stories...

Akyab Island
Island off the northwest coast of Burma (now Myanmar); in World War II the Japanese built several airfields there, making it a valuable strategic target. The Allies planned an assault landing for 3...

Al
Legendary Armenian demon, appearing as half-animal and half-human, shaggy and bristly, often holding a pair of scissors. Als chiefly attack a mother in childbirth, strangling both her and her...

Al Kut
City and river port in eastern Iraq, 164 km/103 mi southeast of Baghdad, on the River Tigris; population (2001 est) 352,800. It is a grain market for the surrounding agricultural area and a...

Al Mad?nah
Arabic name for Medina, the second holiest city of Islam, situated in Saudi Arabia. ...

al-Amin, Jamil Abdullah
(1943) US political activist and author. As chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), he emerged with Stokely Carmichael as an advocate of black power in 1966. Brown was imprisoned...

Al-Bakr, Ahmed Hassan
(1914-1982) Iraqi soldier and politician, prime minister of Iraq in 1963 and 1964, and prime minister and president 1968-79. A member of the socialist Ba'ath Party, during his term of office as head of...

al-Farab?, Ab? Nasr
(c. 870-950) Arab philosopher of Turkish origin. He is best known as having introduced Aristotle to the Islamic world. A diligent commentator on Aristotle's works from the neo-Platonist standpoint, he applied...

al-Hakam I
(770-822) Emir of Córdoba 796-822. He drove the Franks beyond the Pyrenees. Al-Hakam was confronted with severe internal dissidence among the Arab nobility. A rebellion in Toledo was put down savagely,...

al-Hakam II
(died 976) Caliph of Córdoba 961-76. He won many victories against the Christians and extended the influence of Islam. Son of Abd ar-Rahman III (also known as an-Nasir), al-Hakam adopted the...

al-Kind?
(lived 9th century) Arab philosopher. He was the first of the so-called Arabian school, and introduced into the Islamic world a system which combined Aristotelianism and neo-Platonism. His outlook was fundamentally...

al-Mamun
(786-833) Ottoman ruler. He was the seventh caliph of the Abbasside Dynasty, from 813. He had defeated his brother, al-Amin, to gain the throne. Al-Mamun encouraged science and the arts. He died during a...

al-Mansur
(712-775) Ottoman ruler. He was the second caliph of the Abbasside Dynasty, from 754, succeeding his brother al-Saffah. Al-Mansur founded the city of Baghdad (763) and made it his capital. He stabilized...

al-Maqrizi
(1364-1442) Arab historian and geographer. His most important work is a description of Egypt, including the natural features of the land and the customs and beliefs of its inhabitants. He also described the...

al-Qaeda
Islamic-extremist international terrorist organization, nominally controlled by Osama bin Laden. It was responsible on 11 September 2001 for the world's single worst terrorist atrocity, with the...

al-Rayhânî, Amîn
(1876-1940) Lebanese-born poet. Amîn moved to New York City with his family in 1888. His works include He wrote `Myrtle and Myrrh` (1905) and `The Book of Khalid` (1911). He was often referred to as...

Alabama
Confederate cruiser (1,040 tons) in the American Civil War. Built in Great Britain, it was allowed to leave port by the British, and sank 68 Union merchant ships before it was itself sunk by a Union...

alabaster
Naturally occurring fine-grained white or light-coloured translucent form of gypsum, often streaked or mottled. A soft material, it is easily carved, but seldom used for outdoor sculpture. ...

Aladdin
In the Arabian Nights, a poor boy who obtains a magic lamp: when the lamp is rubbed, a jinn (genie, or spirit) appears and fulfils its owner's wishes. ...

ALADI
Abbreviation for Asociacion Latino-Americana de Integration/Latin American Integration Association, organization promoting trade in the region. ...

Alain
(1868-1951) French philosopher. He was an influential exponent of the ideas of French radicalism, through his books and, from 1906, his daily newspaper column in which he extolled the role of individual...

Alam Halfa, Battle of
In World War II, unsuccessful German attack led by Field Marshal Rommel on the southern sector of the British defensive Alamein line in North Africa 30 August 1942. The British general Auchinleck...

Alamanni
Alternative spelling of Alemanni, a Germanic people. ...

Alamanni, Luigi
(1495-1556) Italian poet and humanist. He spent much of his life as an exile at the French court and so played an important role in introducing the literature and thought of the Italian Renaissance to...

Alamein, El, battles of
Two decisive battles of World War II in the western desert of northern Egypt. In the first (1-22 July 1942), the British 8th Army under Auchinleck held off the German and...

Alamo, the
Mission fortress in San Antonio, Texas, USA. During the War of Texan Independence from Mexico, it was besieged 23 February-6 March 1836 by Santa Anna and 4,000 Mexicans. They killed the garrison...

Alanbrooke, Alan Francis Brooke
(1883-1963) British army officer. He was Chief of Staff in World War II and largely responsible for the strategy that led to the German defeat. Born at Bagnères-de-Bigorre, France, Alanbrooke served in the...

Alani
A nomadic pastoral people in the ancient world, speaking an Iranian language and occupying steppe land to the northeast of the Black Sea. The Alani migrated into the eastern provinces of the Roman...

Alarcón, Juan Ruiz de
(c. 1581-1639) Mexican-born Spanish dramatist. His work includes heroic drama and comedies of intrigue, his masterpiece being La Verdad sospechosa/The Suspicious Truth (imitated by French dramatist Corneille in...

Alarcón, Pedro Antonio de
(1833-1891) Spanish journalist and writer. The acclaimed Diario/Diary (1859) was based upon his experiences as a soldier in Morocco. His novel El sombrero de tres picos/The Three-Cornered Hat (1874;...

Alaric
(c. 370-410) Visigothic king 395-410 who campaigned against the Romans in the Balkans and Italy. On 24 August 410 he captured and sacked Rome. After three days he led the Goths south, intending to invade...

Alas, Leopoldo
(1852-1901) Spanish novelist and literary critic. His masterpiece, published under the pseudonym of Clatin, is La Regenta (1884), the tragic study of a sensitive woman in a dull...

alb
In the Christian church, a liturgical vestment consisting of a white linen tunic with narrow sleeves and a hole for the head. Ultimately derived from the tunica alba of Roman citizens, it symbolizes...

Alban, St
(lived 3rd century) First Christian martyr in England. In 793 King Offa founded a monastery on the site of Alban's martyrdom, around which the city of St Albans grew up. His feast day is 20 June. According to...

Albani, Francesco
(1578-1660) Italian painter of religious and mythological subjects. He first studied in the school of the Flemish painter Denis Calvaert in Bologna, and then with the Carracci. His Four Elements 1626-28...

Albania
Country in southeastern Europe, bounded north by Serbia and Montenegro, east by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, south by Greece, and west and southwest by the Adriatic Sea. Government...

Albanian
People of Albanian culture from Albania and the surrounding area. The Albanian language belongs to a separate group within the Indo-European family and has an estimated 3-4 million speakers....

Albany, John Stewart, 4th Duke of
(1484-1536) Son of Alexander, 3rd Duke of Albany, he was made regent for the infant king James V in 1514 acting as an agent for the French king Francis I. He fled to France in 1517 where he was detained for a...

Albany, Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of
(c. 1340-1420) Scottish noble and governor of Scotland 1402-20. His brother, Robert III of Scotland, was an invalid and so deemed unable to rule. Albany vied with Robert's elder son, David, Duke of Rothesay, for...

Albatros
German fighter aircraft of World War I. The Albatros DIII, a highly streamlined biplane capable of speeds of 175 kph/110 mph armed with two machine guns, was one of the most significant fighter...

Alberdi, Juan Bautista
(1810-1884) Argentine political theorist and diplomat. Forced into exile 1838 because of his opposition to dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas, he wrote his great work Bases y punto de partida para la organización...

Albers, Anni
(1899-1994) German-born US weaver and designer, closely associated with the Bauhaus school of design. She wrote many articles on weaving and industry, as well as two books: ...

Albers, Josef
(1888-1976) German painter. Albers fled Germany for America in 1903, where he was influential in introducing the Bauhaus art school concepts, which stressed craftsmanship and a functional approach to design. A...

Albert I
(1875-1934) King of the Belgians from 1909, the younger son of Philip, Count of Flanders, and the nephew of Leopold II. In 1900 he married Duchess Elisabeth of Bavaria. In World War I he commanded the Allied...

Albert II, Crown Prince
(1958) Ruler of Monaco from 2005. The only son of Prince Rainier and his US wife, Grace Kelly, he served briefly in the French navy and then worked as an intern for various companies in France and the USA....

Albert Memorial, the
Imposing Gothic Revival monument in Kensington Gardens, London. It was erected 1863-72 in memory of Albert, the Prince Consort, husband of Queen Victoria. The monument was designed by George...

Albert, Battle of
In World War I, an inconclusive battle between French and German forces September 20-30 1914, in Somme département northeast of Amiens, as part of the German `race to the sea`. The French and...

Albert, Carl (Bert)
(1908-2000) US representative. A Democrat, Albert became majority whip of the House of Representatives in 1955 and majority leader in 1962. He created an alliance between the representatives from northern and...

Albert, Prince Consort
(1819-1861) Husband of British Queen Victoria from 1840. A patron of the arts, science, and industry, Albert was the second son of the Duke of Saxe Coburg-Gotha and first cousin to Queen Victoria, whose chief...

Alberti, Leon Battista
(1404-1472) Italian Renaissance architect and theorist. He set out the principles of classical architecture, and covered their modification for Renaissance practice, in De re aedificatoria/On Architecture,...

Alberti, Rafael
(born 1902) Spanish poet. His early work, influenced by surrealism, included `Sobre los angeles/Concerning the Angels` 1927-28, a vivid account of an emotional crisis. After 1931 he became a communist and...

Albertinelli, Mariotto
(1474-1515) Italian painter of religious subjects. He followed Fra Bartolommeo in style, though had his own dignified simplicity of grouping. The Visitation (1503, Uffizi, Florence) and Madonna and Child with...

Albertus the Great, St
(1200-1280) German scholar of Christian theology, philosophy (especially Aristotelian), natural science, chemistry, and physics. He was known as `doctor universalis` because of the...

Albigenses
Heretical sect of Christians (also known as the Cathars) who flourished in southern France near Albi and Toulouse during the 11th-13th centuries. They adopted the Manichean belief in the duality...

Albion
Name for Britain used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. It was mentioned by Pytheas of Massilia (4th century BC), and is probably of Celtic origin, but the Romans, having in mind the white cliffs of...

Albizu Campos, Pedro
(1891-1964) Puerto-Rican revolutionary. A member of the Nationalist Party, he was the most prominent independentista of his time. He masterminded a nationalist uprising in Puerto Rico in 1950 and was accused...

Albizzi, Rinaldo degli
(1370-1442) Italian political figure and soldier, unofficial ruler of Florence 1417-34. A leading member of the Albizzi family, which dominated the government of Florence after the revolt of the Ciompi in...

Alboin
(lived 6th century) King of the Lombards about 561-573. At that time the Lombards were settled north of the Alps. Early in his reign he attacked the Gepidae, a Germanic tribe occupying present-day Romania, killing...

Albright, Ivan (Le Lorraine)
(1897-1983) US painter. A former medical draftsman, he drew on this background, both in his preoccupation with decay and in his paintings' macabre surrealistic details. He attained his widest exposure from his...

Albright, Madeleine
(1937) US diplomat and Democrat politician, Secretary of State 1997-2001. An adviser to leading Democrat politicians from the early 1970s, she was US ambassador to the United Nations 1993-97. Albright...

Albright, William Foxwell
(1891-1971) Chilean-born archaeologist and biblical scholar. An authority on biblical languages and commentator on the Dead Sea scrolls, he brought archaeology and linguistics to bear on biblical studies,...

Albuera, Battle of
In the Peninsular War, British victory over the French 16 May 1811 at Albuera, a village some 21 km/13 mi southeast of Badajoz, Spain. A French army of about 23,000 troops under Marshal Nicolas...

Alcaeus
(c. 611-c. 580 BC) Greek lyric poet. Born at Mytilene in Lesvos, a contemporary of Sappho, he was a member of an aristocratic family opposed to the ruling tyrants, and spent time in exile. The surviving fragments of...

Alcalá Zamora y Torres, Niceto
(1877-1949) Spanish politician, first president of Spain 1931-36. In April 1936 a Socialist motion in the Cortes (national assembly) censuring the president was carried and he resigned. ...

alcalde (or alcaide)
Title for a judicial officer or a mayor in Spain and parts of Central and South America settled by the Spaniards. ...

Alcamenes
(lived 5th century BC) Athenian classical sculptor, successor to Phidias, whose student he may have been. Delicacy and finish characterize his works such as Aphrodite of...

Alcantara, Knights of
Military and monastic order of knights founded 1156 as the order of St Julian for the defence of Spain against the Moors. The order was approved 1177 by Pope Alexander III. In 1835 it was changed...

alcázar
Any one of several fortified palaces built by the Moors in Spain. The one in Toledo was defended by the Nationalists against the Republicans for 71 days in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. ...

Alcazarquivir, Battle of
Battle on 4 August 1578 between the forces of Sebastian, King of Portugal (1554-1578), and those of the Berber kingdom of Fès. Sebastian's death on the field of battle paved the way for the...

Alcestis
In Greek mythology, the wife of Admetus, King of Thessaly. At their wedding, the god Apollo secured a promise from the Fates that Admetus might postpone his death, when the time came, if he could...

Alciati, Andrea
(1492-1550) Italian humanist lawyer. He wrote in particular on civil law. He also found time to produce his Emblemata (1531), one of the first and most popular collections of allegorical images, which had a...

Alcibiades
(451/0-404/3 BC) Athenian politician and general during the Peloponnesian War. In 415 BC Alcibiades was appointed one of the commanders of an Athenian expedition against Sicily, but was recalled to answer charges of...

Alcinoüs
In the Greek epic Odyssey (attributed to Homer), the king of the Phaeacians, in the island of Scheria. ...

Alciphron
Greek writer. His prose epistles consist of four groups: letters from fishermen, farmers, parasites, and courtesans. The scenes are set in Athens in the 4th century BC and the style is vivid and...

Alcmaeon
In Greek mythology, son of Amphiaraus. At his father's command, he and his brother Amphilochus killed their mother Eriphyle. Pursued by the Erinyes (Furies), he fled to Psophis where he was purified...

Alcmaeonidae
Noble family of ancient Athens; its members included Pericles and Alcibiades. As a result of Megacles' treatment of the insurgents under Cylon 612 BC, the Alcmaeonidae...

Alcman
(lived 7th century BC) Greek lyric poet. He composed choral works for Spartan festivals, especially songs to be sung by two choirs of girls. The longest surviving fragment of his work is the...

Alcmene
In Greek mythology, the wife of Amphitryon. Zeus, the king of the gods, visited Alcmene in the form of her husband, and the child of their union was the Greek hero Heracles. ...

Alcock, John William
(1892-1919) English aviator. On 14 June 1919, he and Arthur Whitten-Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight, from Newfoundland to Ireland. He was awarded the KBE in 1919. ...

Alcott, Louisa May
(1832-1888) US author. Her children's classic Little Women (1869) drew on her own home circumstances; the principal character Jo was a partial self-portrait. Sequels to...

Alcuin
(735-804) English scholar. Born in York, he went to Rome in 780, and in 782 took up residence at Charlemagne's court in Aachen. From 796 he was abbot at St Martin's in Tours. He disseminated Anglo-Saxon...

Aldegrever, Heinrich
(1502-c. 1561) German print maker and painter. In his early career he produced several small engravings of religious subjects, but his main work was ornamental designs; his style was strongly influenced by the...

Alden, John
(c. 1599-1687) English Pilgrim who travelled to America aboard theMayflower. He held several important posts within the Duxbury colony, where he had moved to from nearby Plymouth in about. 1627. ...

alderman
Anglo-Saxon term for the noble governor of a shire; after the Norman Conquest the office was replaced with that of sheriff. From the 19th century aldermen were the senior members of the borough or...

Aldermaston
Village in west Berkshire, England, and site of an atomic and biological weapons research establishment, which employs some 5,000 people working on the production of nuclear warheads. During...

Aldershot
Town in Hampshire, southern England, 56 km/35 mi southwest of London; population (2001) 58,200. Industrial products include electronics, and vehicle components for cars and tankers. It contains the...