Today is the День народного единство (Day of National Unification) here in Russia. It celebrates the end of the “Time of Troubles.” By the way, that phrase is one of the greatest understatements of all time. The Time of Troubles was a period lasting from 1598 to 1613 in which Russia basically coupled a civil war with complete anarchy and an invasion by the Poles, who occupied Moscow and made a general nuisance of themselves. And, as icing on the cake (or rather, lack of icing on the non-existent cake), there was also famine. Wikipedia is pretty good here at hitting the high points.
November 4, 1613 is when they ended, thanks to the appointment of Mikhail Romanov as Tsar (who, by the way, was the son of the equivalent of the Archbishop of Moscow). Sure, the wars kept going for a while, but in the end, things turned out okay, culminating in your humble author having a day off of classes.
How long ago was 400 years? A fucking long time, as professional historians and engineers both agree. To wit:
– The following countries did not exist: Germany, Italy, most of the Western Hemisphere, Australia, New Zealand
– England was a distant second to the Netherlands in naval prowess, and the Battle of the Armada in 1588 was widely considered a fluke.
– The idea that, of all the states in the HRE, Brandenburg would become the nucleus of a German nation, was only slightly less ridiculous than the fact that Lichtenstein would still be independent (somehow) 400 years later.
– The Swiss Army was feared around the world.
– People began predicting the end of the Ottoman Empire around this time. Close, but no cigar, every one (although a big reason it lasted was because nobody really wanted it to die.)
– The vast majority of people were illiterate.
– Most people in France didn’t speak anything recognizable as French.
– Japan thought, “Nah, no guns for us. Swords are way more awesome.” This worked pretty well for them for a while.