Parallels in History: Studies

Nov 2017
69
New Jersey, USA
#1
History is full of events and people that resemble each other. It's been said that history doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes.

Drawing parallels is a trope of the historically minded that's practically as old as history itself. Plutarch wrote Parallel Lives. Machiavelli understood the political and military events of 15th and early 16th century Italy through Livy and Polybius. Many other humanists used historical examples and parallels to make the world around them more intelligible.

We still often think in terms of parallels, for better, for worse. Sometimes they can offer remarkable insight into a situation. Often comparing and contrasting two distant historical events can help a student develop a deeper understanding of the historical process in general. On the other side, sometimes parallels are used to make alarmist exaggerations look credible and well researched.

I'm making this thread because I would be grateful for some help starting a personal project/hobby of collect and classify the different species of parallels, sort of like an entymologist would. So what historical parallels have you come across in your readings? Which have been most salient? Which are most relevant to us today? I would love to hear. The more particular and/or obscure the better!
 

Fantasus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2012
2,381
Northern part of European lowland
#2
There was a 30 years war in central Europe 1618-1648.
Make a parralel to the years from french revolution 1789 to defeat of Napoleon 1815.About 26 years. Then there was the years of ww1, ww2 and the years between.30-31 years.
France was most populous country and domination west of Russia about 1800
,Germany in the firsr half of the 20.th.
In both cases a person of obscure origin became absolute leader. A person outside even the main "national" origin (Napoleon from Corsica, Hitler from Austria).
In both cases those persons adversaries included Russia and Britain.Two countries ending up at the viicrorious side. In both cases a strategic defear at Moscow-and in Egypt or at its shores.
 
Sep 2017
21
South Carolina, USA
#3
I started reading Edmund Morris' biographies of Theodore Roosevelt because I think we are living a history parallel right now. Both Trump and Roosevelt were born rich New Yorkers and love being the center of attention. Both became US Presidents. There are some differences, but many similarities.
 

Fantasus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2012
2,381
Northern part of European lowland
#4
A different kind of parralel. Between great monumental projects and crisis, decline and even disaster.
If readers read this in disbelief here some examples: Ceaucescus great palace in Bucuresti. One of the greatest and most expensive od 20rh. Century. The Ceacescu couple ended up bwong oveethrown and shot.
Parthenon in Athens. World known, but as far aa I know build for money paid by Athens allies and meant for defense against persian attacka. No wonder Athenians got into trouble and later lost wars and leading role.
The.Sct. Peters Cathedral in Rome. The money for rhis partially paid by believers.ffor rwleas problems of afterlife. One main reason for Luther to go against the pope, leading to protestant split.
Neros Golden House, Casa Aurea, also in Rome. A.great uprising ended in his death.
Versailles, France. The most lavish Palace of its time. And costly. Was some paet payed by King Louis 16.and .Queen Maria Antoinette: their heads?
Or what about the fabulous Grave of the Qin emperoris dynasty ended in disaster.
King Alexander the "Great". Also making magnificent building projects.
His dynasty was short lived.
King Herod " the Great". A great master of magnificent architecture. Not a very succeafull dynasty.
India and its great monument "Taj Mahal". Did not rhe dynasty decline soon after?
Germany in the 12 years 1933-45. Probably there were.never as grandiose architecture projected for the "1000 years Realm"-ok 12 years.disaster.
 
Nov 2017
69
New Jersey, USA
#5
I started reading Edmund Morris' biographies of Theodore Roosevelt because I think we are living a history parallel right now. Both Trump and Roosevelt were born rich New Yorkers and love being the center of attention. Both became US Presidents. There are some differences, but many similarities.
That sounds like quite an interesting study.

Reminded me that George Washington and Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus are often compared. (According to Livy) Lucius was a republican dictator who left his farm to save Rome and then, like Washington, then abandoned power to return to his farm life.

Would be interesting to study how historical parallels have been invoked to glorify and defame US presidents.

A different kind of parralel. Between great monumental projects and crisis, decline and even disaster.
If readers read this in disbelief here some examples: Ceaucescus great palace in Bucuresti. One of the greatest and most expensive od 20rh. Century. The Ceacescu couple ended up bwong oveethrown and shot.
Parthenon in Athens. World known, but as far aa I know build for money paid by Athens allies and meant for defense against persian attacka. No wonder Athenians got into trouble and later lost wars and leading role.
The.Sct. Peters Cathedral in Rome. The money for rhis partially paid by believers.ffor rwleas problems of afterlife. One main reason for Luther to go against the pope, leading to protestant split.
Neros Golden House, Casa Aurea, also in Rome. A.great uprising ended in his death.
Versailles, France. The most lavish Palace of its time. And costly. Was some paet payed by King Louis 16.and .Queen Maria Antoinette: their heads?
Or what about the fabulous Grave of the Qin emperoris dynasty ended in disaster.
King Alexander the "Great". Also making magnificent building projects.
His dynasty was short lived.
King Herod " the Great". A great master of magnificent architecture. Not a very succeafull dynasty.
India and its great monument "Taj Mahal". Did not rhe dynasty decline soon after?
Germany in the 12 years 1933-45. Probably there were.never as grandiose architecture projected for the "1000 years Realm"-ok 12 years.disaster.
There's also a modern version of what you're talking about:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skyscraper_Index

I hadn't considered that this phenomenon (if it in fact exists) might have a historical parallel.
 
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Nov 2017
1
Belgium
#6
Hello everybody. First time poster here, so bear with me, english is not my strongpoint.

A couple of years ago I was reading one of J.Sumption's books about the 100 years war, when that nightmare called the Syrian Civil War broke out. Two years later it became apparent for me both wars had some parallels.

One thing you have to admit about the 100 Years War is the pragmatic way of conducting sieges. Why starve out a garrison, or defeat them in a costly assault, when you can just as well bribe the besieged with 20.000 livres and a guarantee they can leave the area safely. Works for everyone. Nobody has to die, and all parties get what they want, be it the strategic objective of seizing a stronghold , or getting paid to fight another day .

Same thing can be said about some of the sieges in the Syrian Civil War. We also see deals being made between besieger and besieged, with the besieger even providing busses to transport the besieged . Everybody wins that day. Pragmatism at its best.

It's one of those things I would like to dig deeper into, but alas, there are only 24 hours in a day.

Another historical parallel that can be made while we're in the middle east is the parallel between millenarian sects of the 16th century (think Munster Anabaptist) and IS (ISIS/ISIL or whatever you wanna call them). It's not exactly the same thing, but if you look close enough you can discover some similarities.

It was kinda weird for me after having read a bit about medieval millenarian sects, that all of sudden a modern variant of it pushed itself into the limelight in the form of IS, just as crazy as the medieval ones. Looking at the current state of events it appears IS will suffer the same faith as the medieval versions, namely they will be erased. Though I'm curious wether a pacifist strain will arise out of IS just like what happened with some their medieval counterparts.
 
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