National Geographic History May/June 2021

See how National Geographic History magazine inflames and quenches the curiosity of history buffs and informs and entertains anyone who appreciates that the truth indeed is stranger than fiction with a digital subscription today. And that history is not just about our forebears. It’s about us. It’s about you.

United States
National Geographic Society
6 期號


1 分鐘
from the editor

No matter the time or place, sports fans love to debate. When the question popped up recently about who is the greatest athlete of all time, people’s arguments came fast and furious as they scanned the past for their favorites. Some said Serena Williams, the American tennis champ with a record-setting 23 Grand Slam titles. Others put forth American swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated modern Olympian with 28 Olympic medals (23 of them gold). There’s just one problem. They and many other popular candidates (like Michael Jordan, Simone Biles, Usain Bolt, and Pelé to name a few) all come from the very recent past. What about the athletes from the very distant past? If the question is sincere about “of all time,” then taking a longer view is necessary. Take these…

4 分鐘
mosaic discovery rewrites rome’s legacy in britain

Rome may have fallen in A.D. 476, but its influence continued to be felt across Europe far later than some historians had come to believe. An elaborate mosaic from a Roman villa in England’s rolling Cotswold Hills is rewriting the accepted narrative of the collapse of Roman rule in Britain. In Britain there are more than 2,000 known Roman mosaics made during imperial rule. Rome’s control of Britain ended in A.D. 410, and many historians believed that Roman artistry disappeared around the same time. By the late fourth century, most Roman troops were gone. In the early fifth century, Britain ceased to be part of the empire, and the economy was disrupted. Without wealthy patrons, the art form disappeared. Changing the Date In 2017 a mosaic discovered at the Chedworth Roman Villa in…

8 分鐘
rabban bar sauma: from china to europe

Two travelers from the 13th century made remarkable journeys. The man who headed east, from Europe to Asia, became a household name, thanks to his travelogue, The Travels of Marco Polo. The name of the other man is less well known, but his accomplishments are just as remarkable. Rabban Bar Sauma left China in 1275, followed the Silk Road, and made his way to Baghdad, Constantinople, and France, meeting khans, kings, and a pope. The remarkable Bar Sauma was born in Zhongdu, China, in 1220. His ancestors were descendants of the Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group from Central Asia. Bar Sauma was brought up in the Nestorian faith, a Christian denomination that originated in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) when it broke away from the church in the fifth century. Nestorianism took…

7 分鐘
the tulsa race massacre: one hundred years later

Oil was booming in the United States in the 1900s, and so was Tulsa, Oklahoma. The city grew as both the petroleum industry and its residents—Black and white—flourished. After Oklahoma officially became a state in 1907, the legislature soon enacted Jim Crow laws and segregation policies; despite these obstacles, Tulsa became home to a vibrant 35-square block neighborhood of Black Americans called Greenwood, also known as Black Wall Street. Greenwood was an economic haven for African Americans, but this community was shattered between May 31 and June 1, 1921, when a white mob attacked the district in a horrific event known as the Tulsa race massacre. Black Boomtown Following the Civil War, waves of African Americans left the South to relocate to other parts of the United States. In 1889 Congress made lands…

4 分鐘
the death of napoleon

Napoleon Bonaparte died on May 5, 1821, on the remote South Atlantic island of St. Helena. To the British, Dutch, and Prussian coalition who had exiled him there in 1815, he was a despot, but to France, he was seen as a devotee of the Enlightenment. In the decade following his demise, Napoleon’s image underwent a transformation in France. The monarchy had been restored, but by the late 1820s, it was growing unpopular. King Charles X was seen as a threat to the civil liberties established during the Napoleonic era. This mistrust revived Napoleon’s reputation and put him in a more heroic light. Fascination with the French leader’s death led Charles de Steuben, a German-born Romantic painter living in Paris, to immortalize the event. Steuben’s painting depicts the moment of Napoleon’s death…

4 分鐘
the wedding cake: a royal tradition

Layers of cake, each one ornately decorated with piped icing and stacked atop each other, is a staple of many modern weddings. The moment when the newlyweds cut their first slice of wedding cake is a popular photo op, a tradition that goes back to British royalty. By the 19th century cake at wedding celebrations was nothing new; it had been a part of the marriage ceremony since ancient times. The Romans crumbled a cereal cake over the bride’s head, and in medieval England the bride and groom would kiss over a confection made of small, stacked buns. The 1840 wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha took this old tradition and turned it into something new. Their cake was big: three tiers of English plum cake…