We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

In nine tenths of the written treaties between the Kings of Portugal and the various reigning Princes of Hindustan, the matter of pepper came up in the first clause.

- Admiral Ballard

I have been reading The Last Crusaders by Barnaby Rogerson. Like many books it has apposite quotations at the start of each chapter, of which the above quotation was by some distance my favourite one. The Ballard quoted is presumably the Ballard who wrote this book, who was indeed an admiral as well as a historian.

3 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Clix

    Was ‘pepper’ a euphemism for a wide range of spices and, er, substances?

  • Paul Marks

    Why has Iranian Shiaism gone so differently? Norman Stone’s question.

    Possibly becaus of the demented policies of the last Emperor of Iran (the “White Revolution”) – do not worry I am not going to go all Ron Paul and start ranting on about 1953 (a pro Soviet regime in Iran would have had terrible consequences).

    Perhaps because of the strength of the “hasteners” (not all 12er Shia are hasteners).

    However, Norman Stone is correct – the Sunni (in theory – and in Turkey in practice) are more orthodox (more doctrine based) than the Shia.

    Even if we leave aside heretical Shia (such as the ruling group in Syria) who are argueably not Muslim at all. Which is why our-friends-the-Saudis are so keen to have them exterminated.

    Still Norman Stone misses a key point – a point of difference between the Islamic and Western worlds.

    The de facto private ownership of land.

    This the “feudal” law of Europe had and Islamic civilization had to a much lesser extent.

    Historians tend to concentrate on things like relgious tolerance (and over stress the level that Islam had it).

    They tend to ignore things like land law (how easy was it for the government to confiscate land) and the nature of law (as different from the will of the ruler) generally.

    Even the worst Christian Kings (such as Philip II of Spain) was a fundementally different sort of position than a Turkish Sultan.

    For example his mother would not be some random slave in a harem (odd how even politically correct leftist historians do not seem to care about that). But the whole thing was different.

    Talk of hypocrtical and trial rigging Christian Kings (such as Henry the VIII) misses the point.

    An Islamic ruler did not have to rig a trial or cook up evidence against people he wished to destroy. Or to steal land.

    A wave of his hand – and it was done.

    Despotic government – government by arbitary WILL.

    This the old scholars understood – but the modern ones (even conservative historians such as Norman Stone) seem not to understand.

  • lucklucky

    “Was ‘pepper’ a euphemism for a wide range of spices and, er, substances?”

    I don’t think so. No one will sign a commercial treaty without everything well defined.