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The History Channel - Encyclopedia
Category: History and Culture > History
Date & country: 02/12/2007, UK
Words: 28028


Aichi
Japanese aircraft of World War II, principally used by the navy. The B7A, known to the Allies as `Grace`, was a torpedo-bomber produced in small numbers. The D3A, known as `Val`, was a...

aid
Financial or other assistance given or lent, on favourable terms, by richer, usually industrialized, countries to war-damaged or developing states. It may be given for political, commercial, or...

Aidan, St
(c. 600-651) Irish monk who converted Northumbria to Christianity and founded Lindisfarne monastery on Holy Island off the northeast coast of England. His feast day is 31 August. ...

aide-de-camp
Officer who acts as private secretary to a general, commander in chief, or air marshal, and would normally accompany them on any duty. Aides-de-camp are principally concerned with the...

Aidid, Muhammad Farah
(1936-1996) Somali soldier and politician. A one-time colleague of the Somali president Siad Barre, in 1990 he established an anti-Barre paramilitary organization, the United Somali Congress (USC), which...

Aidit, D N
(1923-1965) Indonesian politician, leader of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) 1951-65. Under Aidit's leadership the PKI became one of the largest political parties in Indonesia. With an estimated 20...

Aidoo, Ama Ata
(1940) Ghanaian dramatist and writer. She writes in English about the challenges of modern women in traditional African cultures. Dilemma of a Ghost (1965), her best-known play, deals with the...

Aigun, Treaty of
Treaty between Russia and China signed in 1858 at the port of Aigun in China on the Amur River. The left bank was ceded to Russia, but this has since been repudiated by China. ...

Aiken, Conrad Potter
(1889-1973) US poet, novelist, and short-story writer. His Selected Poems (1929) won a Pulitzer Prize. His works were influenced by early psychoanalytic theory and the use of the stream-of-consciousness...

Aiken, Joan (Delano)
(1924) English novelist and writer of critically acclaimed historical and mystery books for children including The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1962) and The Jewel Seed (1997). Her first publication was a...

Ailly, Pierre d'
(1350-1420) French geographer and theologian. As a cardinal he became involved in the Great Schism, arguing for the supremacy...

Ainsworth, William Harrison
(1805-1882) English historical novelist. He wrote more than 40 novels and helped popularize the legends of Dick Turpin in Rookwood (1834) and Herne the Hunter in Windsor Castle (1843). Ainsworth was born in...

Ainu
Aboriginal people of Japan, driven north in the 4th century AD by ancestors of the Japanese. They now number about 25,000, inhabiting Japanese and Russian territory on Sakhalin, Hokkaido, and the...

air force
A nation's fleet of fighting aircraft and the organization that maintains them. History The emergence of the aeroplane at first brought only limited recognition of its potential value as a means of...

air raid
Aerial attack, usually on a civilian target such as a factory, railway line, or communications centre (see also bomb). Air raids began during World War I with the advent of military aviation, but it...

airbrush
Small fine spray-gun used by artists, graphic designers, and photographic retouchers. Driven by air pressure from a compressor or pressurized can, it can apply a thin, very even layer of ink or...

aircraft carrier
Ocean-going naval vessel with a broad, flat-topped deck for launching and landing military aircraft; a floating military base for warplanes too far from home for refuelling, repairing,...

Airy, Anna
(1882-1964) English artist, etcher, and writer. London's riverside criminal haunts were the main source of her inspiration, recurrent themes being cockfighting, gambling, and boxing. Her paintings of munitions...

aisle
In church architecture, usually the areas running parallel to the nave, lying between it and the outer walls. In larger churches, the choir and transepts may be aisled; double aisles running between...

Aisne, Battles of
Three battles between Allied and German forces in northern France during World War I. The first battle in September 1914 was inconclusive and left both sides entrenched along lines they held for...

Ait Ahmed, Hocine
(1926) Algerian nationalist and politician. He was a member of the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) and the Conseil National de la Révolution Algérienne (CNRA) during the liberation war. Arrested in...

Aitken, Jonathan (William Patrick)
(1942) British Conservative politician who was at the centre of a number of political scandals and in June 1999 became the only former member of Parliament in the 20th century to be jailed, for perjury and...

Aitmatov, Chingiz
(1928) Kirghiz novelist. His work, drawing on oral epic tradition (the Kirghiz language had no alphabet until 1928), dramatizes the conflict between the tribal customs of the Kirghiz nomads and the Western...

Ajanta
Village in Maharashtra state, India, known for its Buddhist cave temples dating from 200 BC to the 7th century AD. The Ajanta Caves boast some 28 chambers cut from solid granite, which are covered...

Ajax
Greek hero in Homer's Iliad. Son of Telamon, King of Salamis, he was second only to Achilles among the Greek heroes in the Trojan War. He fought Hector single-handed, defended the ships, and...

Akaka, Daniel Kahikina
(1924) US Democratic politician, senator for Hawaii from 1990. He was elected to the US House of Representatives, as a Democrat for Hawaii, in 1976 and became senator for Hawaii in 1990. He was the first...

Akal Takht
Site of Sikh pilgrimage at Amritsar, Punjab, India. It is one of the five takhts (eternal thrones) of Sikhism. The foundations of this site were laid by the sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind, and...

Akayev, Askar
(1944) Kyrgyz politician, president from 1990. A reform-communist politician, he joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1981 and became executive president in Kyrgyzstan in November...

Akbar-nama
Book of miniatures (Victoria and Albert Museum, London) painted by Basawan and Chatai about 1595 for ...

Akbar, Jalal ud-Din Muhammad
(1542-1605) Third Mogul emperor of North India from 1556, when he succeeded his father Humayun. He gradually established his rule throughout North India. He is considered...

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. ...

Akins, Zoe
(1886-1958) US writer. She wrote poems, literary criticism, and plays, including The Greeks Had a Word for It (1930). She was born in Missouri. ...

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...

Alain-Fournier
(1886-1914) French novelist. His haunting semi-autobiographical fantasy Le Grand Meaulnes/The Lost Domain (1913) was a cult novel of the 1920s and 1930s. His life is intimately recorded in his correspondence...

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...

Albee, Edward (Franklin)
(1928) US dramatist. Associated with the Theatre of the Absurd, he is best known for his play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962, filmed 1966), a grim depiction of a miserable marriage. His other...

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...

Alberoni, Giulio
(1664-1752) Spanish-Italian priest and politician, born in Piacenza, Italy. Philip V made him prime minister of Spain 1715. In 1717 he became a cardinal. He introduced many domestic reforms, including the...

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...