Spain – 100 pesetas – Year 1928 – Don Quixote by Cervantes

It is said that Don Quixote has been translated into more languages that any other work, except the Bible.  And the author’s influence was so great that the Spanish Language is commonly known as the language of Cervantes.  In an interesting coincidence, he and someone known as William Shakespeare, passed on the same date.

Spain 1928 100 pesetas
Spain 1928 100 pesetas, featuring the painting “Encounter of the Dukes by Don Quixote”
Spain 1928 100 pesetas
Spain 1928 100 pesetas

Spain – 50 pesetas – Year 1928 – Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez is featured on our banknote, his painting on the back and his likeness on the front. One of the greatest painters of the Spanish Golden Age, numerous artists have paid him homage in their own work including Manet, Dali and Picasso.

Spain 1928 50 pesetas, featuring the painting “Surrender of Breda” by Diego Velazquez
Spain 1928 50 pesetas, featuring Diego Velázquez, the great painter of the Spanish Golden Age.

Greece – 1944, WW2 and Hyperinflation

Million Drachmas, Greece, 1944, front, featuring Antikythera Ephebe, the bronze statue discovered in early 20th century

Where the number on a banknote (after all, a piece of paper) is a Million, you can bet there is hyperinflation. The banknotes on this page are from the WW2 era, 1944. War may clarify a few things such as who one’s true friends are, but it distorts most other things, including money.

Million Drachmas, Greece, 1944, back, featuring the Temple of Poseidon
Half Million, 500,000 Drachmas, Greece 1944, front, featuring Zeus, who resides on Mt Olympus, the thunder god.
Half Million, 500,000 Drachmas, Greece 1944, back

From Wikipedia article on Hyperinflation in Greece under the German-Italian occupation, (Reference and links in footnotes below):
With the German invasion in April 1941, there was an abrupt increase in prices. This was due to psychological factors related to the fear of shortages and to the hoarding of goods. During the German and Italian Axis occupation of Greece (1941-1944), the agricultural, mineral, industrial etc. production of Greece were used to sustain the occupation forces, but also to secure provisions for the Afrika Korps. One part of these “sales” of provisions was settled with bilateral clearing through the German DEGRIGES and the Italian Sagic companies at very low prices. As the value of Greek exports in drachmas fell, the demand for drachmas followed suit and so did its forex rate. While shortages started due to naval blockades and hoarding, the prices of commodities soared. The other part of the “purchases” was settled with drachmas secured from the Bank of Greece and printed for this purpose by private printing presses. As prices soared, the Germans and Italians started requesting more and more drachmas from the Bank of Greece to offset price increases; each time prices increased, the note circulation followed suit soon afterwards. For the year November 1943 – November 1944, the inflation rate was 2.5 × 1010%, the circulation was 6.28 × 1018 drachmae and one gold sovereign cost 43,167 billion drachmas. The hyperinflation started subsiding immediately after the departure of the German occupation forces, but inflation rates took several years before they fell below 50%.
Start and End Date: Jun. 1941 – Jan. 1946
Peak Month and Rate of Inflation: Dec. 1944, 3.0 × 1010%. 1

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The Million drachma banknote features the head a bronze statue recovered from the Sea bottom in 1900, off the island of Antikythera, Greece. This small island, a little less than 8 square miles, is important to ornithologists. It is an important resting place for regional migratory birds and is also the largest breeding ground for a certain species of falcon known as Eleonora’s falcon. 2

Antikythera Ephebe
But the tiny island is important to historians too. In 1900, sponge divers spotted the shipwreck off the island. In addition to many treasures and artifacts were two items of tremendous significance. One is a full size bronze statue of remarkable beauty and grace. The head of the Antikythera Ephebe is featured on our 1,000,000 drachma banknote.  The beauty of the artwork startled the artworld, revised art history and was featured prominently on our 1944 banknote.3

Antikythera Mechanism
But it wasn’t until years later that the greatest, perhaps, treasure of all was recognized in the recovered sea-soaked artifacts.  A small wooden box containing bronze items, corroding for two millenia beneath the sea, attracted little attention in the fifty years following its discovery.  Then in 1951 a Yale University professor and science historian began to study it. It has been intensely studied since, and has become known as the Antikythera mechanism.  It is considered by many to be the earliest analogue computer in the world. The technological skill and craftsmanship demonstrated in the mechanism became lost to history for reasons unknown. It wasn’t until the 14th century that anything comparable began to be produced. 4

Temple of Poseidon
On the reverse of our 1,000,000 drachma banknote, is featured the Temple of Poseidon. 5  Poseidon was the god of the Sea.  This temple is constructed on the bluff at the end of a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water, with a commanding view of the Sea, the dominion of Poseidon. 6

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The Half Million drachma banknote in this post features Zeus on the front. One must hand it to the Greeks, whereas other nations feature renowned politicians and other leaders on their banknotes, the Greeks feature God Himself. This is Zeus, the god of Thunder, known by others as Jupiter, the greatest of the planets.  He resides on Mount Olympus as the King of the gods.7

 

Croatia – “History of the Croats”

Croatia

The sculpture featured on our banknote is by the beloved artist of Croatia named Ivan Mestrovic, one of the greatest sculptors of history. It is entitled History of Croats and depicts a mother, seated, and in her lap a book entitled History of the Croats.  With this image, the artist entrusts the identity of his people to this strong and gracious Mother for safekeeping through all time.  The image has become beloved to all of Croatia.

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Croatia

Croatia – Roger Joseph Boscovich

Roger Joseph Boscovich, 18th century astronomer, physicist and mathematician, is featured on the front of our banknote of Croatia. He developed a method of determination of the orbit of a celestial body based upon just three measurements. he similarly developed a method for determining the rotation of a heavenly body based upon the measurement of the locations of three landmarks. These calculations are illustrated on the front of our banknote.

The sculpture, beloved to Croatians, “History of Croatians” by Ivan Mestrovic, is illustrated on the back of our banknote. She, a woman, as Mother, sits serenely, with a massive tome in her lap, a book identified on its spine as the “History of Croatians”. She is the keep og the Croatin identity, culture and history. A moving tribute is in this blog post here.

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Ukraine – 2013

Bohdan Khmelnytsky,  Hetman of Ukrainian Cossacks, is featured on the front of this banknote.  His Coat of arms is on the upper left of the image.

The back features the burial place of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, together with his weapons.

 

Ukraine 2013 banknote, front
Ukraine 2013 banknote, back
Detail from Ukraine 2013 banknote, back
Detail from Ukraine 2013 banknote, back

 

Belarus – National Bank Building, year 2000 banknote

The National Bank of Belarus is featured on this 20 ruble banknote. Belarus 20 ruble banknote, front, 2000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The interior of the national bank building is featured on the back of this 20 ruble banknote. Belarus 20 ruble banknote, back, 2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detail from Belarus 20 ruble banknote, front, 2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serbia – 1941

 

Serbia banknote, 1941, 500 dinari, front. A woman wearing the national dress is featured on the front of this WW2 era banknote.

 

Serbia, 1941, 500 dinari, back. A tradesman bricklayer is featured on the back of this 1941 banknote.

 

 

Serbia – Tesla Powers the World

Nikola Tesla, seated, holding his wireless lightbulb.  Yes, indeed, it has no connecting wires.  One could place it on a desk, or hold it in the hand and it would remain lit, with no connecting wires.  With all other light bulbs wire based, Tesla’s bulbs seem like something from outer space and the distant future.  And this is from the late 19th century and early 20th century.  Of course, there was a Tesla coil nearby.

 

 

In 1960, the name”Tesla” was assigned to the unit of Magnetic Flux Density by the Conference on Weights and Measures.  “A particle, carrying a charge of one coulomb, and moving perpendicularly through a magnetic field of one tesla, at a speed of one metre per second, experiences a force with magnitude one newton, according to the Lorentz force law. The tesla can also be expressed as shown in out banknote, 1 Tesla equals 1 weber per meter squared.

The equation adorns the front of this 100 dinari banknote from Serbia.  Coincidently, 100 T is the magnetic field strength of the average white dwarf star, which is considered the destiny of our sun.

 

Niagra Falls fascinated Nikola Tesla from his youth in Serbia.  He told his uncle that he wanted to place a wheel under the massive water falls to harness its power.

In America, Tesla designed the first hydroelectric plant and supervised its installation at Niagra Falls in 1895.  Thus the electrification of the United States, and indeed, the world, commenced.

 

 

The introduction of Tesla’s motor from 1888 onwards initiated what is sometimes referred to as the Second Industrial Revolution, making possible both the efficient generation and long distance distribution of electrical energy using the alternating current transmission system, also of Tesla’s invention (1888).  from here.

 

Regarding the image of the dove on our banknote, the following, by Tesla’s biographer, is selected from this website.

Nikola Tesla fed and cared for several pigeons, among a beautiful white dove with brown-grey tips on her wings was singled out. According to John O`Neil, the author of Tesla`s biography, the inventor loved this dove like he has not loved anyone else. The author claims that Tesla explained to him the connection.
Yes, I loved that pigeon, I loved her as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. If the pigeon became ill, he would nurse her back to health and as long as she needed him and he could have her, nothing else mattered and there was purpose in his life.
One night as he was lying in bed, she flew in through the window and he knew right away that she had something important to tell him – she was dying.
– And then, as I got her message, there came a light from her eyes – powerful beams of light. Yes, it was a real light, a powerful, dazzling, blinding light, a light more intense than I had ever produced by the most powerful lamps in my laboratory – Tesla told his biographer.
After the dove`s death, something disappeared from Tesla`s life. He knew his life`s work was done for good.

 

Belarus – Art

Belarus 1000 ruble banknote, front, 2000.

The banknote features the flowered fragment from the larger painting by Ivan F. Khrutski, “Wife with Flowers and Fruits”.

The renowned artwork has been featured on the stamp issue shown here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ivan Fromer Khrutsky, 1810-1885, appears to have painted mostly still lifes.  His first known works date from 1832, when he was about 22 years old.  By the time he was 26 years old, he was receiving awards for his works.  And here you and I are, centuries later, conversing about him, considering his work.  Indeed, his work is beautiful.

Greece – 1944 – Prelude to Civil War

 

Greece, September 9, 1944, 200 million drachmas. The image is from the Parthenon, two thousand years before …..

Above the numeral 200 is the units of the currency of Greece, “drachma”, or, plural, “drachmai”.  Beneath the number 200, in the middle of this banknote, are the two words which may be translated as follows.  “Diakosia” equals “two hundred” in Greek.  “Ekatommusia” equals “million” in Greek.  The date is September 9, 1944.  Two hundred million anything is a quantity beyond the intuition of most everyday people.

The Nazis withdrew from Greece in this month, but left hyperinflation remained; and soon the whole would be engulfed in a civil war that would be considered the first proxy war of the cold war era, the first of many.

 

Greece, 1944, 200 million drachmas

Readers with minds familiar with such numbers, hyperinflation, and hyperinflation’s societal ramifications; will rapidly move in their thoughts to the distress of the peoples who had no choice but to use these banknotes in their everyday lives.

From this website is the following 4 paragraphs beginning at our banknote’s date:

In September, 1944, after Germany’s withdrawal from Greece, British troops landed there. Greeks sniped at British soldiers, and the British arrested what was said to be 15,000 people and shipped them to a camp in a desert area in Eritrea. The Greek resistance retaliated by kidnapping 15,000 monarchists from Athens and marched them out of the city. Roughly 4,000 of the monarchists died during the march, and the Resistance lost support.
          Greece emerged from German occupation and British intervention with a civil war. Britain and the US supported Greece’s monarchical government. The rebels on the other side of the civil war included Communists. Greece’s king since 1947, Paul the First, was a determined enemy of the Communists, and he had the support of moderates.
          The war began winding down in 1948. The Communists in Greece were split between Stalinists and supporters of Yugoslavia’s Josip Tito. Stalin, meanwhile, was giving the resistance hardly any material support. He was unenthusiastic about the rebel cause in Greece – in keeping with an agreement between Stalin and Churchill during the world war. By September 1949 most of the rebels surrendered or escaped over the border into Albania, and the Albanian government, presumably with Soviet approval, prohibited the Greek rebels from launching military operations into Greece. The civil war had ended.
          Writes Elena Panaritis in 2011:
It was the bloodiest and most devastating war in the history of Greece considering the number of lives lost. The death toll reached nearly 10% of the Greek population.

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And now, let’s consider the image on our banknote, the Parthenon.  Towards the conclusion of the horriblest of wars, War World II, and, yet, at the beginning of “the bloodiest and most devastating war in the history of Greece”, our banknote is published; and, this image from the Parthenon is selected, constructed two thousand years previous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bosnia Herzegovina – The Ghost of the Mostar Bridge

 

The Mostar stone bridge is featured in the ghostly image on the backside of this banknote, dated August 15, 1994.  It is enlarged below, where it appears even more ghost-like.

Our banknote is dated August 15, 1994; whereas the bridge, illustrated on our banknote, was reported destroyed, in this article, dated November 10, 1993, 9 months earlier.

The bridge dates from 1566, 450 years, four and a half centuries.  It is a Bridge of Time.  It connects us today to our History, lest we forget.  And it connects our forebearer builders to their future; imagine their pride.    It is a Bridge of Life.  It provides the only route to drinking water for the townspeople.

Sixty artillery shells killed the bridge on November 8, 1993.  Ghostlike, this image hovers above our banknote, a haunting reminder of beauty lost, a Specter of war.

It is rebuilt now, and the memories of that nightmare are fading.  The bridge is replaced.  It looks almost the same, but it is not the same.  People are crossing the bridge again, but they are not the same.  Money replaced the bridge, but not the war lost lives.  Money repaired the bridge, but not the war scarred psyches of the survivors.

“From whence come wars and fightings among you?”  From whence, indeed.  Like a demon from the Abyss, War periodically seeks to walk among the living.  It is a great evil; to be resisted with great effort.

 

For a fine video about it’s reconstruction as a UNESCO world heritage site, please click this youtube link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Belarus – Poetry Celebrated

100 Rubles banknote, year 2000, back, Belarus.

Belarus celebrates Ballet set to the music created by the legendary Eugene Aleksandrovich Glebov, the stellar talent from Belarus.  Born September 10, 1929, he received essentially no musical training until he was 20.  But then he burst upon the musical scene like a bright shining star.  He was accepted into the prestigious Belorussian Conservatory at age 21 based upon evidences of prodigious organic talent exhibited by music written in his uneducated youth.  And he did not disappoint.  For much more on the life and work of Eugene Aleksandrovich Glebov (1929 – 2000), click here.

Detail from the Belarus 100 Ruble banknote, year 2000.

Depicted, is a scene from the 1969 Ballet entitled Vybrannitsa, “The Chosen Lady”.  The Ballet was created based upon the poems of Yanka Kuprala.  Some poems of Yaknka Kuprala are reproduced below.

100 Rubles banknote, year 2000, front, Belarus.
Detail from the Belarus 100 Ruble banknote, year 2000.

This is the National Academic Grand Opera and Ballet Theater of the Republic of Belarus.

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The following poem is by Yanka Kupala and is  entitled “Young Belarus”.  It is reproduced from here.

The free wind has sung free songs to thy name,
Green woods caught them with friendly voices, The sun called with its flame to a seed-time far-famed,
The stars poured faith into broken forces.

And in time of storms, troubles and mighty desires,
Thou hast budded and bloomed, long-awaited, In a life-freshet, over the land of thy sires,
Thou hast flooded and poured, unabated.

Thou has flooded and poured, in a bright tale of life,
Through field, woodland, hill and vale streaming… From thy native flower-copses thy crown is made bright,
Like a swan’ plumage, brilliant gleaming.

Thou dost quiver and echo with songs of the bards,
Long-past years thou dost raise up and nurture, Today’s forward leap thou wouldst never retard,
Boldly facing mysterious futures.

In the sun thou goest bold, lovely flower of fire,
Gently sowing forth dreams, gold-adornéd; Thou fearest no neighbour, though great be his ire,
Thou fearest no path briared and thorny.

From end unto end, frontier mound unto mound,
On the breezes renewal is borne now, And, embracing the soul, without limit or bound,
Mother-joy for the better day born now.

Now there are no axes among forests green,
Felling young pine-trees in frosty winter, Now there are no reapers from dawn to dark seen
In summer with scythes ringing, glinting.

Strength is known in the hands, without tears songs are blithe,
Desirous of glory, breasts quiver, In their books a new law, with pens of sun-scythes,
New people are writing for ever.

Blossom them, and raise, soaring upon eagle’s wing,
Souls, hearts and thoughts slumbering dully, Awaken and forth into great spaces, bring
Strength by the witch-noose unsullied.

Send messengers forth, send unto the world’s bound,
As falcon from falcon-nest winging. Let them fly, fly away unto warriors sound,
Set the thunder of good news far-ringing.

Enough, dearest country, in field, wood and brake,
Hapless orphan, thou spendst night’s long glowering, Enough of thy heart’s-blood wrong drank as a snake,
And cold winds blew, through thy bare bones scouring.

Arise from the depths, thou of falcon-born race,
O’er sires crosses, their woes, degradations, O young Bie³aruœ, come thou forth, take thy place
Of honour and fame among nations.
—– Yanka Kupala

The following poem is by Yanka Kupala and is  entitled “From Forebearers’ Ages, Long Since Gone”.  It is reproduced from here.
From forebears’ ages, long since gone,
A heritage has come to me,
Among strange folk, among my own,
Me it caresses, motherly.

Of it to me dream-fables sing
Of first thaw-patches, vernally,
The woods’ September murmuring,
An oak-tree lone, half burned away.

Memories of it, like storks aclack
Upon the line have woken me,
Of a mossed fence, old, gone to wrack,
Fallen near the village, brokenly;

The dreary bleat of lambs that pours
Out in the pasture, endlessly,
The caw of the assembled crows,
On the graves in the cemetery.

And through black night and through white day
I keep, my watch unceasingly,
Lest this my treasure goes astray,
Lest by drones it should eaten be.

I bear it in my living soul
Like torch-flame ever bright for me,
That through deaf darkness to my goal,
Midst vandals it may lighten me.

With it lives my thought-family.
Bringing dreams of sincerity . . .
And its name, all-in-all must be
My native land, my heritage.
—–Yanka Kupala

 

 

 

For other stories from Eastern Europe on this website, click here.

Italy – The Prisoner, Marco Polo

Detail from front of 1000 Lira banknote of Italy.

 

With Whom, it might be said, it all began; Marco Polo.  Although other travelers had journeyed from Europe to China, it was Marco Polo’s written memoir that moved those to come.  His detailed chronicle of his 24 year long, 13th century, journey to China, sparked the imagination, and supplied inspiration, for much of the Age of Exploration to come. The manuscript became known as “The Travels of Marco Polo”, and was disseminated throughout Europe.

And to think, much of his stories were written while imprisoned!  Upon his return from the East, he found his city, Venice, at war with Genoa, and, consequently, he was imprisoned.  During this time, he dictated the stories of his amazing travels to his cellmate.  It’s not unlikely, that, had he not been imprisoned, he’d have been too busy to write this memoir that would inspire many to come, including Christopher Columbus.

Detail from back of 1000 lira banknote, Italy.

 

 

The back of our banknote illustrates one of the great landmarks in Venice, the hometown of Marco Polo.  Known as the Doge’s Palace, it was the official residence of the supreme authority of Venice, known as the Doge.  It’s history dates back to the time of Marco Polo and beyond.

 

 

The winged Lion is prominent in the Emblem Of Italy which adorns the front of our banknote.  The passant, the winged Lion, is the ancient symbol of Venice.  It represents Saint Mark, one of the four Evangels.  Saint Mark became the patron saint of Venice following a miraculous sailing survival story attributed to him.

 

 

 

1000 Lire banknote of Italy, featuring Marco Polo

1000 Lire banknote, Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Italy – Maria Montessori – The Magnificent

Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society. – Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Republika Srpska – The Fortress of Knin

The name Republica Srpska, was adopted August 12, 1992.  This event, together with all the political turmoil overtaking the former Yugoslav republic, led to war, which lasted until the Autumn of 1995.

1993 Banknote of Republic Of Serbia Krajina, front. The nomination, 10,000,000 dinaris is believed to be the largest prepared.

It is doubtful, but uncertain, that the banknote featured on this post, was ever formally issued.  The huge nomination is similar to that of Yugoslavian banknotes of the same decade, and indicates that the new Republic of Serbia shared in the same woes of hyperinflation.  The number, deset milliard signifies Ten Billion, deset meaning ten, and milliard meaning billion.

 

 

 

table of Yugoslav nations and their currencies from Wikipedia

The table to the right, illustrates the place of the short-lived Republic of Serbia during what came to be known as the Yugoslav Wars at the end of the 20th century.  These were considered the deadliest wars in Europe since WWII.

 

 

 

 

 

detail from back of 10,000,000,000 dinari banknote

The ancient fortress of Knin is featured on the reverse of this banknote.  It is the 2nd largest in all of Europe.

Construction on the stronghold began in the 9th century.  In the 11th century it served as the royal residence.

It consists of 5 interconnected towers and towns.  They are named the Donji Grad (Lower Town), Srednji Grad (Middle Town), Gornji Grad (Upper Town) or Kaštel Knin, Kaštel lab or Bandijera, and Južni Grad (South Town) or station Belveder. It is about 1500 feet above sea level and 300 feet above the town of Knin below.  It is 1500 feet long and about 330 feet wide with walls as high as 60 feet in several areas.

 

10,000,000,000 banknote from Republika Srpska Krijana, back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more stories from the Balkan Peninsula in this website, click here.

For more stories from Yugoslavia in this website, click here.

For story tags, see bottom of this page.

Yugoslavia – The Days of Hyperinflation

 

500 BILLION Dinars, The largest nominated banknote ever issued in Yugoslavia. 1993

The number on this banknote is Five Hundred Billion.

That is 500 x 1000 x 1000 x 1000; that is, 500, 000, 000, 000.

It is one half trillion, a number I never even heard of in relation to money in the United States until the Crash of 2008.

But this was Yugoslavia, and it was 1993, and Yugoslavia was in the midst of strife and battles and wars that led to its dissolution by the end of the decade.

Back side of 500 Billion Dinar banknote. Issued by Yugoslavia in 1993. Withdrawn after 3 months.

 

My daughter’s language tutor who lived in Yugoslavia at the time, related the following story.  Inflation was so bad that she would run to the store to cash her paycheck and buy groceries as by the morning the value would be so much less.

An article by Thayer Watkins, PHD, relates many stories of the people who lived through, what he calls, the worst episode of Hyperinflation in history.  I wish he was correct on this.  Follow the tags in this website and consider some of the other episodes of hyperinflation our world has suffered.

For more stories from the Balkan Peninsula, click here.

For story tags, see bottom of this page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ukraine – The Age of the Cossacks, 17th Century

The Cossacks in Ukrainian history are remembered in the two Ukrainian banknotes on this page.

Portrait of Bohdan Khmelnytsky (1595 – 1657), Hetman of Ukrainian Cossacks . Coat of arms of Bogdan Khmelnitsky. Tryzub, the national coat of arms of Ukraine. Stylised grivna from the times of Kievan Rus’ as registration device.
Front: Portrait of Ivan Mazepa (1639 – 1709), Hetman of Ukrainian Cossacks . Coat of arms of Ivan Mazepa. Tryzub, the national coat of arms of Ukraine. Stylised grivna from the times of Kievan Rus’ as registration device. Signature: Sergiy G. Arbuzov (Golova – Governor, Dec. 2010 – Dec. 2012).

The Ukrainian steppes were dominated by two countries in 16th through 19th century European History.  But between these two, for a hundred years, the Cossacks stood up and made a bid for independence.

 

17th century – Extent of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, extending from Baltic Sea almost to Black Sea, overlaid of contemporary political map.

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, spanning from the Baltic Sea in the North, to the Black Sea in the South, was one of the largest countries of 16th and 17th century Europe.  It controlled over 400, 000 square miles, and almost all of the territory of present day Ukraine.

19th century – extent of Russian Empire in 1880 (shaded area) overlaid over contemporary political map. Ukraine is outlined.

The 18th and 19th century Russian Empire grew to be the third largest empire in history.  It also controlled essentially all the territory of modern Ukraine.

The 17th century declaration of an independent state on Ukrainian territory by the Cossacks, marked the beginning of the end of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  And the 17th century signing of the Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654 marked the end of Ukrainian independence, and the beginning of the subsummation of Ukrainian territory under the growing empire of Russia.

But, for a hundred years, the Cossacks formed Ukrainian history.  This is celebrated in the banknotes on this page.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky

Bohdan Khmelnytsky, detail from front of banknote.

Bohdan Khmelnytsky owned a modest estate in Subotiv, and lived there with his wife and children.  A powerful local magnate tried to seize his estate and Khmelnytsky resisted, writing numerous letters to various representatives of the Polish crown, who could, or would do nothing.    The magnate invaded his estate twice causing significant property damage, and, badly beating his son.  Finally Bohdan Khmelnytsky was evicted from his own land.

Although the crown showed little interest, Bohdan Khmelnytsky found great interest among his fellow Cossacks.  Traveling from one Cossack regiment to another, he found simmering unrest and great support. They had been restless for years, and Bohdan was to prove to be a gifted leader.

In a short time, unrest led to uprising, and uprising led to battles, and battles led to victories, and victories led to a decree of independence from the Polish crown.

Before I was fighting for the insults and injustice caused to me, now I will fight for our Orthodox faith. And all people will help me in that all the way to Lublin and Krakow, and I won’t back off from the people as they are our right hand.” – Khmelnytsky

From Wikipedia:

“At Christmas in 1648, Khmelnytsky made a triumphant entry into Kiev, where he was hailed as “the Moses, saviour, redeemer, and liberator of the people from Polish captivity… the illustrious ruler of Rus.” [citation needed] The Patriarch of Jerusalem Paiseus, who was visiting Kiev at this time, referred to Khmelnytsky as the Prince of Rus, the head of an independent Ukrainian state, according to contemporaries….
“After the period of initial military successes, the state-building process began. His leadership was demonstrated in all areas of state-building: military, administration, finance, economics and culture. Khmelnytsky made the Zaporozhian (Cossack) Host the supreme power in the new Ukrainian state and unified all the spheres of Ukrainian society under his authority. Khmelnytsky built a new government system and developed military and civilian administration.”

But he feared that the new state’s military strength was not enough to secure their position.  Seeking an ally, Khmelnytsky reached out to the Ottoman’s unsuccessfully, and then, reluctantly, to the growing Russian state.   The subsequent treaty with the Tsar in 1654 would be much disputed ever after. The Treaty of Pereyaslav would subsequently be interpreted by many as a military alliance, but by Russia, as a suzerainty, a complete incorporation of Ukraine into the Empire of Russia.

Left Bank, Right Bank Ukraine, and “The Ruin”

Right Bank Ukraine 17th century. (Image from Wikipedia)
Left Bank Ukraine, 17th century. (Image from Wikipedia)

Khmelnytsky, charismatic and influential leader though he was, established no rules of succession.  Upon his death the region fell into civil strife which lasted for thirty years until the rise of Ivan Mazepa.  This time period is called “The Ruin” in Ukrainian history.  It was during this time that Ukraine became to be known as Left Bank Ukraine and Right Bank Ukraine, in reference the Dnieper River as one looked downstream towards the Black Sea.

Ivan Mazepa

Portrait of Ivan Mazepa (1639 – 1709)

Ivan Mazepa, a Zaporozhian Cossack, arose to lead the Cossacks thirty years after the death of Khmelnytsky.  During the intervening period, known as “The Ruin”, many of the advances under Khmelnytsky were dismantled.  Mazepa, one of Europe’s largest landowners, Built churches throughout Ukraine, founded printing houses and schools, and expanded the primary educational institution of Ukraine to nourish 2000 students, the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

In the later years of his rule, Russia increasing sent the Cossacks to far off fields of battle, leaving their Ukrainian homeland unprotected.  Mazepa considered this a breach in the treaty with Russia.  When the Tsar of Russia refused to send defensive support when the Polish king threatened to attack the Cossacks homeland, Mazepa made his fateful decision.   Mazepa effectively switch sides and allied with the Poles who were marching with the Swedes towards Ukraine.  He was hoping to bring Ukraine under control of Sweden, which, in a separate treaty, had promised independence to Ukraine.  Russia won the battle against Poland and Swededn the following year effectively destroying Mazepa’s hopes.   Ukraine was under the control of Russia.

 

 

 

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Bohdan Khmelnytsky changed his world, and altered the course of history; and much controversy surrounds his memory.
In much of Ukraine he is celebrated is a national hero. His statue is in Kiev and a city and a region are named after him. But he is also criticized for the treaty with Russia which some consider disastrous for the history of Ukraine.
Khmelnytsky is a celebrated as a hero in Russia, as he was in the Soviet Union. Russian history stress their interpretation of the treaty as expressing Khmelnytsky’s desire to reunify Ukraine with Russia.
Poland views Bohdan Khmelnytsky in a very poor light, as his rebellion proved to mark the end of their golden age.
The Khmelnytsky uprising is viewd by Israel as one of the most traumatic events in Jewish history. History has it that he used Jews as scapegoats and sought to eradicate Jews from the Ukraine. Khmelnytsky’s rebels associated with him murdered tens of thousands of Jews between 1648 and 1656.

Ivan Mazepa is regarded as a traitor in Soviet and Russian history.  Among Ukrainian’s the remembrance is mixed.  During Perestroika, many documents came to light that portrayed Mazepa differently. Since Ukraine’s recent 1991 independence, Mazepa has been proclaimed a national hero. He is considered the first Cossack leader to take a stand against the Tsar who had failed to abide by the Treaty of Pereyaslav. This view however is disputed by pro-Russian Ukrainians; and Ukraine has been repeatedly condemned by Russia Ukraine for its celebration of Ivan Mazepa.

 

Yugoslavia – Tesla and Zmaj – The Scientist and the Poet

This post is dedicated to Zuska, a brilliant mind and champion of children’s literature, April 24, 2018

Nikola Tesla, the great scientist, detail from front of Yugoslavian 1992 series banknote.

The brilliant scientist, Nikola Tesla, featured on the banknote below, visited his homeland just once following his emigration to America. The renowned literary light, Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj, featured on the other banknote below, is said to have read his own poetry just once in public, and that upon Nikola Tesla’s homeland visit. As reported by another, “Dazed by the warm words of his literary idol, the young genius, apparently shaken, cried and kissed Dragon (translation of “Zmaj”) in his hand. Officials cried with him. If there is something noble and sacred in the experience of national identity and closeness that deletes geographical distance, then it happened in Serbia at that moment….”

 

 

1993 Yugoslavia series banknote featuring Jovan Jovanocich Zmaj

It was 1892 when they met. Jovan Jovanovich’s literary career had begun four decades earlier and compassed many genres; but what had most endeared him to his nation were his poems and stories for children. By 1892, his stature was national, his stories beloved, and his rhymes sung by parents to children throughout the land. Now 60 years old, Zmaj had been summoned by the King to join with many dignitaries in welcoming home a renowned son of Serbia. He had outlived his beloved wife and all five of their children. He wrote a poem for the occasion.

1992 series Yugoslavia banknote featuring Nikola Tesla

It was early July, 1892, when Nikola Tesla’s train arrived in Belgrade. He was 35 years old. It was a year of triumph. He was to be granted 40 patents in America, that year, for his inventions of all of the technologies surrounding the utilization AC power which would power the world ever since. What was known as “the War of the Currents”, concluded with the triumph of Tesla’s inventions over those of Edison. But it was a triumph reached through much pain. Having arrived in America a decade earlier with 4 cents in his pocket and a book of Zmaj’s poems, he went to work for his idol, Thomas Edison. After substantial successful work, Edison reneged on his agreement to pay; and Tesla was left in poverty. For awhile Telsa was reduced to digging the ditches for Edison’s DC current cables. It was a dark and difficult period for Nikola Tesla.

One can imagine Zmaj, walking to the podium, grey headed and worn, but stately and beloved; and Tesla watching nearby, famous in that assembly, but filled with the recent battle-scars which none could see. Carefully, Zmaj unfolded a sheet of paper before the rapt audience, and then began reading a poem he had specially created for the occasion.

1992 series banknote of Yugoslavia, back

He began, fittingly, by lauding the mysterious powers of electricity, which until Tesla, had been unreachable for humankind. And as he traveled in his poem through the pride of Serbia in their now renowned son, and then to the appropriateness of Tesla’s necessary return to America, tears began to fill Nikola’s eyes. He continued to listen to the words of this man, whose rhymes had painted his distant childhood with happiness, and whose verses had brightened his darkest hours in America; and his feelings began to overmaster his countenance. Tears streamed unwiped down his cheeks.

Tesla coil

And as the Master wove his tale towards its conclusion, poetically illustrating that Other Power, (which he knew so well), and which he declared now bound Tesla, “the Electrician”, forever to the bosom of his homeland over distances infinite, “without wires and without cables”, Nikola was sobbing. The Poet finished, and no one spoke. And to the sounds of sobbing Nikola, the entire assemblage of the nations’ dignitaries descended into tears, crying, melting into oneness in that magical moment. And with the old poet’s words lingering in the air, and the room filled with not a word but the sounds of many crying, the great scientist stood and approached the poet. Reaching for his outstretched hand, he grasped it and kissed it through his tears, and said, (in a poor translation of his Serbian), when I was a hardest in America and when I was of all rejected and misunderstood, with bitter tears I read Your poetry, and I promise to You now Your verses translated into English and in Amer go to publish “

It was a promise kept.

Below are five poems. Below the poems are two references regarding the meeting described above.

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Poems

The following five poems are by Jovan Jovanovich Zmaj and translated by Nikola Tesla with Robert Underwood Johnson, editor of The Century Magazine. The poems and associate images are selected from a large collection on a wonderful website here and, more specifically, here . From the About page: “This site is dedicated to poetry written in the Serbo-Croatian language. It aims to bring the poets and their works to a wider audience through a collaborative effort to translate the poems into other languages and by consolidating them in one place. One is easily impressed by the beauty and wealth of culture embedded in this poetry. It is remarkable how little of this artistic output can be found on the Internet, particularly from the 19th and 20th centuries. This site hopes to change that! ”

I urge you to visit that website and read the poems. They are quite beautiful!

The Gipsy Praises His Horse

You’re admiring my horse, sir, I see.
He’s so light that you ‘d think it ‘s a bird
Say a swallow. Ah me!
He’s a prize!
It’s absurd
To suppose you can take him all in as he passes
With the best pair of eyes,
Or the powerful aid
Of your best pair of glasses :
Take ’em off, and let’s trade. What! “Is Selim as good as he seems?”
Never fear,
Uncle dear,
He’s as good as the best of your dreams,
And as sound as your sleep.
It’s only that kind that a gipsy would keep.
The emperor’s stables can’t furnish his mate.
But his grit and his gait,
And his wind and his ways,
A gipsy like me doesn’t know how to praise.
But (if truth must be told)
Although you should cover him over with gold
He’d be worth one more sovereign still.” Is he old?”
Oh, don’t look at his teeth, my dear sir!
I never have seen ’em myself.
Age has nothing to do with an elf;
So it’s fair to infer
My fairy can never grow old.
Oh, don’t look (Here, my friend,
Will you do me the kindness to hold
For a moment these reins while I ‘tend
To that fly on his shanks?) …
As I said (Ah now thanks!)
The longer you drive
The better he’11 thrive.
He’11 never be laid on the shelf!
The older that colt is, the younger he’11 grow.
I’ve tried him for years, and I know.” Eat? Eat?” do you say?
Oh, that nag isn’t nice
About eating! Whatever you have will suffice.
He takes everything raw
Some oats or some hay,
Or a small wisp of straw,
If you have it. If not, never mind
Selim won’t even neigh.
What kind of a feeder is he? That’s the kind!” Is he clever at jumping a fence?”
What a question to ask! He’s immense
At a leap!
How absurd!
Why, the trouble’s to keep
Such a Pegasus down to the ground.
He takes every fence at a bound
With the grace of a bird;
And so great is his strength,
And so keen is his sense,
He goes over a fence
Not across, but the way of its length!” Under saddle?” No saddle for Selim!
Why, you’ve only to mount him, and feel him
Fly level and steady, to see
What disgrace that would be.
No, you couldn’t more deeply insult him, unless
You attempted to guess
And pry into his pedigree.
Now why should you speak of his eyes?
Does he seem like a horse that would need
An eye-glass to add to his speed
Or, perchance, to look wise?
No indeed.
Why, not only’s the night to that steed
Just the same as the day,
But he knows all that passes
Both before and behind, either way.
Oh, he doesn’t need glasses!” Has he any defect?” What a question, my friend!
That is why, my dear sir, I am willing to sell.
You know very well
It is only the horse that you give or you lend
That has glanders, or springhalt, or something to mend:
‘T is because not a breath
Of defect or of death
Can be found on my Selim that he’s at your pleasure.
Alas! not for gipsies the care of such treasure. And now about speed. “Is he fast?” I should say!
Just listen I’11 tell you.
One equinox day,
Coming home from Erdout in the usual way,
A terrible storm overtook us. ‘T was plain
There was nothing to do but to run for it. Rain,
Like the blackness of night, gave us chase. But that nag,
Though he’d had a hard day, didn’t tremble or sag.
Then the lightning would flash,
And the thunder would crash
With a terrible din.
They were eager to catch him; but he would just neigh,
Squint back to make sure, and then gallop away.
Well, this made the storm the more furious yet,
And we raced and we raced, but he was n’t upset,
And he wouldn’t give in!
At last when we got to the foot of the hill
At the end of the trail,
By the stream where our white gipsy castle was set,
And the boys from the camp came a-waving their caps,
At a word he stood still,
To be hugged by the girls and be praised by the chaps.
We had beaten the gale,
And Selim was dry as a bone well, perhaps,
Just a little bit damp on the tip of his tail.*

[Tesla’s note: * Readers will be reminded by this conclusion of Mark Twain’s story of the fast horse as told to him by Oudinot, of the Sandwich Islands, and recorded in ” The Galaxy ” for April, 1871. In that veracious narrative it is related that not a single drop fell on the driver, but the dog was swimming behind the wagon all the way.]

I Begged a Kiss of a Little Maid

I begged a kiss of a little maid;
Shyly, sweetly, she consented;
Then of a sudden, all afraid,
After she gave it, she repented;
And now as penance for that one kiss
She asks a poem I’ll give her this.
But how can my song be my very best
When she, with a voice as soft as Circe’s,
Has charmed the heart from my lonely breast –
The heart, the fountain of all true verses?
Why, oh, why should a maid do this?
No I must give her back her kiss.

A Fairy From The Sun-Shower

[When the Servians see the sun-rays of a summer shower they
say it is the fairies combing their hair.]

OVER the meadow a shower is roaming ;
Just beyond is the summer sun ;
Fair is the hair that the fays are combing
Myth come true ! here ‘s my dainty one
Tripping the path in the wind’s soft blowing ;
Her slender form through her gown is showing,
Her foot scarce whispers the way she ‘s going.
” Come, my bright one, come, my soul,
Let my kisses be your goal.” But the path has heard my sighing,
Turns aside, and leads my fay
Into the forest, love defying.
Path, accursed be ! but stay !
Lost to love each moment gliding,
What if in the woodland hiding
Still for me my fay be biding ! . . .
” Wait, my bright one, wait, my soul,
Your sweet kisses are my goal.”

Why The Army Became Quiet

Some said they did but play at war,—
How that may be, ah! who can tell?
I know the gallant army corps
Upon their fleeing foemen fell,
And sacked their camp, and took their town,
And won both victory and renown. Now home returning, wild with song,
They come, the colors flying free.
But as within the door they throng,
Why does the army suddenly
Hush the fierce din, and silence keep?—
Why, little brother is asleep.

The Monster

” IN place of the heart, a serpent ;
Rage for the mind’s command ;
An eye aflame with wildness ;
A weapon in the hand ;” A brow with midnight clouded ;
On the lips a cynic smile
That tells of a curse unmatchable
Born of a sin most vile.” Of longing, or hope, or virtue,
No vestige may there be ;
You, even in vice inhuman
What can you want of me ?” You in its maddest moment
The Deepest Pit designed,
Let loose to sow confusion
In the order of mankind ;” Here Hatred found you crawling
Like vermin, groveling, prone,
Filled you with blood of others
And poisoned all your own.” Your very thoughts are fiendish
Smoke of the fires of Hell.
Weird as you are, how is it
I seem to know you well ?” Why with your wild delirium
Do you infect my sleep ?
Why with my daily footstep
An equal measure keep ? “The monster mutely beckons me
Back with his ghostly hand,
And dreading his fearful answer
I heed the grim command.” Nay, softly,” he says ; ” I pray thee,
Silence thy frightened moan,
And wipe the sweat from thy forehead
My kinsman thou, my own!” Look at me well, good cousin ;
Such wert thou fashioned of !
Thou, too, wouldst me resemble
Without that magic Love!”

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some referenced materials regarding the meeting between Nikola Tesla and Jovan Jovanovich Zmaj:

Nikola Tesla and Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj met when only Tesla’s visit to Belgrade, 2. July 1892. year, when the train, via Novi Sad, come to Serbia, and in Belgrade was organized a festive new year’s Eve. Words of welcome, and with great enthusiasm Tesla is welcomed Serbian King, many famous people of the time, many citizens who have come to greet the famous genius, and one of the speakers at the ceremony he was none other than Tesla’s favorite poet, Jovan Jovanović Zmaj.

He is the scientist welcomed lyrics, which is the only time that Dragon publicly reads his poems. Tesla, sincerely moved by this encounter, approached by a poet and he kissed my hand and said: when I was a hardest in America and when I was of all rejected and misunderstood, with bitter tears I read Your poetry, and I promise to You now Your verses translated into English and in Amer go to publish “.

Upon his return to America, Tesla with passion to translate The songs and started writing about Serbian history. So he arose and Tesla’s essay from 1897. years of bitter fate of the Serbian people, in which Tesla uses and Dragons lyrics and thoughts together with their interpretations of the Kosovo and pokosovske the tragedy of the Serb people.

from Avant Art Magazin 10/07/14.

 

The following is taken from the website listed below.

“His annotated literary thoughts, both literature and writers, speak of being proud of his Serbian origin and birth, and that his patriotism could be brought into line with the universalist view of the world, which was derived from the desire to do all that he does – to the benefit of the whole mankind.

The awareness that everyone can be good with you, but that no one can love you as your neighbor, radiates from a string of Tesla records, and came to the fore when it came to Belgrade in 1892 when it came to a delightful welcome compatriots. Hence, from a feeling of closeness, and his enthusiasm with Belgrade, the dragonship of the Dragon and his later translation effort.

During the Tesla and Dragon meetings, more than a hundred names, the Dragon wanted to underscore this moment by not only writing the song in honor of Tesla’s arrival, but also for the first time publicly reading his verses.”

(The following welcome poem is a poor computer generated translation, alas, taken from the website’s original, below. But the eager mind, nevertheless, will glimpse the truths therein. I have been searching for an adequate English translation and would be very grateful should any reader point me in that right direction.)

Hello Nikola Tesla when he arrived in Belgrade

I do not know what it is, it’s essence
The only thing that does is misunderstand
As soon as we hear you come to us,
You immediately electrified us
What the rope wire
Electricity is jury wide,
The jet will be a compound
(After maybe an ethereal).
Stoji a tree, says Srpstvo,
Mother every leaf – son;
His biggest list blinked
So go away in the distance.
Thou didst Tesla, thou exclaimed,
He went far stronger
In far Colombia,
To have you tumble collapsed.
And you, Tesla, where you are
Inspired minds of the guard,
You will return to the neodymium,
To kiss your tree.
He loves a tree, his lungs,
Inside breast, son’s spine;
Every branch of the Serbian tree
Tesla tep, Tesla.
Today, Belgrade is happy
Handling with Serbian dikom
And he reveals his heart
Before the Serbs.
But you have to go back again
The meeting lasts for a while
Al ‘toplotu is carried by itself
Bratimski hugs
Realized j ‘yours
Mis’o divna i golema:
There will be links between us,
And there is no distance, no.
He understands the list again
Every tree’s shaft,
The electrician will connect us
(Electricity of Our Hearts)
And without wire and without cables.

“Dazed by the warm words of his literary idol, the young genius, apparently shaken, cried and kissed Dragon in his hand. Officials cried with him. If there is something noble and sacred in the experience of national identity and closeness that deletes geographical distance, then it happened in Serbia at that moment.”

from this online magazine.

 

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Ukraine – Vladimir the Great, 10th Century

Vladimir Putin will never give up Ukraine, for, you see, among other reasons, his namesake is Ukrainian.

Below is the story of Vladimir the Great, followed by a brief history of the present.

Vladimir The Great
Yaroslav The Wise

Vladimir, afterwards known as “The Great”, and his son Yaroslav, afterwards known as “The Wise”, brought the kingdom of Kiev-Rus to its zenith in the 10th and 11th centuries.   The modern states, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus all draw upon them for their heritage.

 

Vladimir the Great

Historians consider the Kievan state to have been founded around 880. A hundred years later, Vladimir, upon the death of his father and a subsequent fratricidal war, fled the region, to his kinsmen in Norway. Returning in 978 with as many Norse soldiers as he could muster, he quickly captured Kiev, (present day capital of Ukraine), and expanded his dominion throughout the region. Within a few years, Vladimir consolidated the regions of eastern Europe from Kiev to the Baltic Sea, including present day Ukraine, Belarus, and a portion of Russia. During his reign and that of his son, Yaroslav, the kingdom known as Kiev-Rus reached its zenith.

A little later, Vladimir, having known great military success, and his dominion at peace around him, grew troubled in his thoughts and his mind pondered. Sensing the inferiority of his pagan shrines to the religions flourishing in the world, he sent emissaries to all parts to learn of the great religions that he may determine the best. Of Islam, upon learning that alcoholic drinks were forbidden said, “Drinking is the joy of all Rus. We cannot exist without that pleasure.” Upon questioning the ambassadors from the Jews, and learning of their loss of their home city Jerusalem, he concluded that they had been abandoned by God. His emmisaries visiter the Christian church of Germany and were unimpressed. But upon visiting the Byzantine church in Constantinople, and witnessing the majesty of their ceremonies during the festival, his emissaries reported back, “We know longer knew whether we were in Heaven or on Earth.”

His decision made, he was baptized, wed the daughter of royalty, returned to his land, destroyed the pagan landmarks, and commanded his people to follow Christian faith. Thus, was the Russian Orthodox Church born.

Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev

Yaroslav encountered family battles too following the death of his father in 1015, but by 1019, he had became the grand prince of Kiev, and by 1036 uncontested ruller of Kievan-Rus.  Culture expanded in his days.  He built Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev and Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novogrod.  He was a great patron of learning and books, also promulgated the first east Slavic law code, the Rus Justice, which was further advanced by his sons upon his death in 1054.

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In 2016, Vladimir Putin presented a statue honoring his namesake.  The statue was erected in Moscow where Putin declared him a “unifier and defender of Russian lands.”

As one contemporary has noted, “Russia without Ukraine is a country; Russia with Ukraine is an empire.”  Putin will never give up on Ukraine.

 

Portrait of Volodymyr the Great (c. 958 – 1015), the Grand Prince of Kyiv (Kiev), also known as Vladimir Sviatoslavich the Great, the Prince of Novgorod. Orthodox saints and acolyte during church ceremony. Tryzub, the national coat of arms of Ukraine. Stylised grivna from the times of Kievan Rus as registration device.
Diorama of Volodymyr’s Burg in Kyiv (Detynets; Citadel) with the Church of the Tithes or Church of the Dormition of the Virgin (built by the order of Volodymyr the Great) in the front. Artistic composition depicting a battle axe, a fullered arming sword, a cross, a flail and an eagle as elements of design from the times of Volodymyr the Great. Logo emblem of the National Bank of Ukraine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait of Yaroslav The Wise (c. 978 – 1054), the Grand Prince of Kyiv (Kiev), also known as Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Kievan Rus’. Silver coin of Yaroslav Mudriy . Tryzub, the national coat of arms of Ukraine. Stylised grivna from the times of Kievan Rus as registration device.
Diorama of the original Holy Saint Sophia’s Cathedral (Sobor Svyatoi Sofii) in Kiev where Yaroslav the Wise was buried. Artistic composition depicting two different battle axes, a ceremonial bowl and the legal code of Kievan Rus’ “Pravda Rus’ka” as elements of design from the times of Yaroslav The Wise. Logo emblem of the National Bank of Ukraine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poland’s Copernicus – The Revolutionary of Revolutions

Nicolaus Copernicus wrote a book and called it “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres.” The Heavenly Spheres were the five known planets of his age. The word “planet” came from the ancient Greek word for “wanderer”, because these five planets appeared to wander about against the fixed background of the starry night. These wandering movements had for millennium puzzled and intrigued the minds of people. Copernicus added our Earth to the classification of planets and argued that it moved through the heavens like the other five wanders, and that they all traveled around the Sun.

Galileo was born 21 years after Copernicus died, and built upon the work of Nicolaus.

 

detail from front of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, Nikolai Kopernik

Copernicus wrote the book when he was around 40 years old. But because he anticipated that his ideas would be controversial, he delayed publication until just before his passing about 30 years later.

He didn’t seek to be controversial but merely sought a more elegant explanation for the truth of the observed universe. He sought Beauty. He built upon the ideas of predecessors, many of them out of the mainstream of contemporary thought.

His book is considered now to mark the beginning of the Scientific Revolution which has completely transformed our understanding of the world.

 

detail showing the insight of Copernicus: Revolutions of Planets around Sun, back side of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland

The Sun at center surrounded by 6 circles for the orbits of the 6 planets. (Copernicus assumed orbits were circular as did his predecessors. Later, the true ellipse shape of orbits was uncovered.)

Our Earth is shown in the third orbit at its 4 prime astronomical locations, Spring equinox, Summer solstice, Autumn equinox and Winter Solstice.

 

detail from back of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, showing positions of Mercury and Venus

The two nearest planets, Mercury and Venus.

Mercury occupies the innermost orbit.

Venus occupies the second orbit from the Sun.

Our Earth occupies the third orbit from the Sun. It’s four prime orbital positions are illustrated on our banknote.

 

detail from back of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, showing position of Mars

 

Mars occupies the fourth orbit from the Sun.

Two of the four prime orbital positions of Earth are shown in the third orbit in this detail.

 

 

detail from back of 1000 zloty banknote, Poland, showing orbits of Jupiter and Saturn

Jupiter occupies the fifth orbit from the Sun.

Saturn occupies the sixth orbit from the Sun.

 

Poland, 1000 zloty banknote, back
Poland, 1000 zloty banknote, front

Nicolai, you’re awesome.

 

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Romania – Marked by the Sun for the New Millenium

The 2000 Lei banknote was designated by Romania to be redesigned in honor of the approaching year 2000, the dawn of the new millennium.  The theme selected was astronomical in view of the happy circumstance of a total eclipse traversing the country in 1999.

Solar systems as depicted on front of 2000 lei banknote, Romania

Our solar system is depicted on the front of Romania’s 2000 Lei banknote.

One can count 8 planets in this artist’s rendition of the solar system.  It was a bold move.

In 1930, Pluto was discovered and considered the solar system’s ninth planet.  In 1992, it was first suggested that this ninth “planet”, Pluto, might be reclassified, no longer as a planet, but, as a dwarf planet.  This suggestion was met with great debate and outcry.

In 1998 our artist prepared this 8 planet mural of our solar system for Romania’s eternal commemoration of the solar eclipse to sweep the country at the dawn of the new millennium.

In 2005, an object 25% more massive than Pluto was discovered orbiting our sun in the Kuiper belt, and Pluto’s fate was sealed.  Both Pluto, and the newly discovered Eris, were classified as “dwarf planets”, and the term “planet” redefined to exclude these smaller bodies.  Therefore, as of 2006, at the beginning of the new millennium, our solar system is considered to consist of just 8 planets.

But Romania depicted it thus in the old millennium!  Rather forward thinking of Romania, don’t you think?

The other side of the banknote features a silhouette map of Romania together with the trail of the sun’s shadow across the country.

detail from Romania 2000 lei banknote.

The colors blue and yellow and red are the colors of the national flag, and color the map of Romania depicted on the banknote.

As the earth rotates eastward towards the sun, our moon, speeding also eastward overhead, but at approximately twice the speed of the land below, moves briefly into that region where it blocks the sun’s rays to the earth.  The track of the shadow cast by the moon, as it eclipses the sun, moves eastward across our earth.  On this day in 1999, it is shown passing through Romania, commencing in the western extremity of the country, and passing through its southeastern regions.

It is a magnificent reminder of the immense movements of this world we inhabit.

 

detail showing track of total solar eclipse in western Romania

The northernmost and southernmost extent of totality ar indicated by the outside pair of lines.  The middle line indicates the center of the shadow track where totality lasts the longest, approximately 2 minutes and 23 seconds.  The adjacent two lines on either side of the centerline indicate where totality lasts 2 minutes.  The next pair of lines indicate 1 minute 30 seconds of shadow, and the next pair of lines indicate 1 minute of shadow.

Major western Romanian cities in the path of totality are shown on the map.

 

Major central and southeastern Romanian cities in the path of totality are shown in this portion of the map of Romania.

Bucuresti is the capital of Romania, and one of the great cities of Europe.  The history of Bucharest dates from at least the 15th century, and was the one time home of Vlad III, or Vlad the Impaler, or otherwise known as Vlad Dracula; yes, you read that correctly, Dracula.  His name had its origin in the name given to his father, Vlad Dracul, or, Vlad the Dragon, upon becoming a member of the order of the dragon, or dracul.  Dracula is the genitive form of dracul, and means essentially, son of the dragon.  Vlad appears to have been born in 1429 after his father settled in Transylvania, a historic region in central Romania.  The order of the dragon was dedicated to fighting the Ottoman advance into Europe.

A similar map with additional detail, provided by NASA, is included below.

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NASA map showing details of solar eclipse across Romania in 1999

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hungary (1946) – The Days of Hyperinflation

 

100,000,000,000,000,000,000 = 1 hundred quintillion.

Hungary (1946), Szazmillio B.-Pengo, FRONT, the highest denominated currency ever circulated.

This is a Szazmillio B.-Pengo banknote. “Szazmillio” is Hungarian for one hundred million, so, this is a hundred million B.-Pengos.  “B.-Pengo” means a billion pengo. But Hungary used the “long scale” as did much of eastern Europe at that time. Thus “billion” means a million million, or a trillion. (“Short scale” billion means a thousand million. See here and see below). Thus our banknote is the equivalent of 100 million million million pengos, or one hundred million trillion pengos, or one hundred quintillion pengos.

How much is one hundred quintillion? If in individual pengo banknote was 2″ wide x 4″ long, 100 quintillion banknotes would completely cover our planet, 2000 layers deep!

If those individual banknotes were laid end to end, 100 quintillion banknotes would reach to our nearest star Alpha Centari and back again to Earth, 90 times!

Here is someone’s illustration of what just one quintillion pennies would look like……… 1 quintillion pennies. Envision that multiplied by one hundred!

But a pengo was worth far less than a penny in those days.

Hungary (1946), Szazmillio B.-Pengo, BACK, the highest denominated currency ever circulated. This is the Hungarian Parliament Building on the Danube River.

What did hyperinflation feel like? The worst year was from August 1945 through July 1946 during which prices increased an average of 19% per day. On the worst days, prices would triple from one day to the next. A loaf of bread that cost a dollar yesterday costs 3 dollars today and nine dollars tomorrow and 27 dollars the day after tomorrow.

Says the Technical People: “Hyperinflations are caused by extremely rapid growth in the supply of “paper” money. They occur when the monetary and fiscal authorities of a nation regularly issue large quantities of money to pay for a large stream of government expenditures. In effect, inflation is a form of taxation in which the government gains at the expense of those who hold money while its value is declining. Hyperinflations are very large taxation schemes.” http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Hyperinflation.html

How fast did they grow the money supply during that fateful year? How fast did they print more paper money? From what I’ve read, the money supply in July 1945 was 25 billion pengo, and then in January 1946 1,646 trillion pengo, and then in May 1946 65 quadrillion pengo and then in July 1946 47 septillion pengo. They were printing money like it was going out of style. They were printing money so fast that halfway through they stopped collecting taxes (now That had to be Fast!), because the tax value of collections one day late had lost so much value.

It stopped in August 1946 when a new currency was introduced, the florint, at the rate of 1 florint equal to one octillion pengos. And of course, they unplugged the printing presses too.

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 = 1 octillion

Whew!

From Wikipedia…..

“The long and short scales are two of several large-number naming systems for integer powers of ten that use the same words with different meanings. The long scale is based on powers of one million, whereas the short scale is based on powers of one thousand.

Short scale

Every new term greater than million is one thousand times larger than the previous term. Thus, billion means a thousand millions (109), trillion means a thousand billions (1012), and so on. Thus, an n-illion equals 103n + 3.

Long scale

Every new term greater than million is one million times larger than the previous term. Thus, billion means a million millions (1012), trillion means a million billions (1018), and so on. Thus, an n-illion equals 106n. ”

…..from Wikipedia.

 

 

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