Of Guns and the Holocaust

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An ongoing argument among pro-gun activists I’ve often heard is the Nazi Gun Control Argument, which claims that Third Reich gun regulations rendered victims of the Holocaust weaker to such an extent that they could’ve effectively resisted oppression if they had been armed or better armed. Gun rights proponents and organizations like the National Rifle Association use this notion as part of its “security against tyranny” argument. They’ve also cited other authoritarian regimes that committed atrocities like Khmer Rouge, Stalinist Russia, and whatever totalitarian regime. Since the Parkland students have called for gun control legislation after 17 of their classmates were killed, the argument that a “well-armed populace is the best defense against tyranny” has been proliferated with a vengeance. During a debate shortly after the February shooting, Alaska’s Rep. Don Young said, “How many millions were shot and killed because they were unarmed? Fifty million in Russia because their citizens were unarmed. How many Jews were put in ovens because they were unarmed?” During a Florida Senate debate over an assault weapons ban, Sen. David Simmons claimed, “Adolf Hitler confiscated all the weapons-took all the weapons, had a registry for everybody,” before murdering his political opponents. This week, Iowa Rep. Steve King posted a meme noting Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez’s Cuban heritage and attacking her for ignoring “the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence, the right to self-defense.”

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Sorry, but Adolf Hitler and his Nazi friends weren’t exactly gun control fans. In fact, they loved their guns. They encouraged children as young as five to march with them and told them nursery rhymes that glorified weaponry. To them, as long as you were a member of the German Master Race, you can stockpile as many firearms as you wanted in order to terrorize all the undesirables at your pleasure. Wikipedia lists the Nazi gun control argument as counterfactual history because most scholars believe that the disarming and killing of Jews had nothing to do with Nazi gun control policy.

However, the very notion that a widespread genocide, totalitarian regime, and other human rights atrocities could’ve been prevented by more private gun ownership is completely wrong. Even today, there is little evidence to suggest that widespread private gun ownership leads to more to more democratic societies. According to the Small Arms Survey rankings from 2007, while the US leads the world in civilian gun ownership (88.8 firearms per 100), but it’s followed by Yemen (54.8). You can argue its well-armed population overthrew an authoritarian leader, but civil war and humanitarian catastrophe following that undermine the case. While Switzerland (45.7) and Finland (45.3) also make the top 10. But also does Saudi Arabia (35), the world’s largest absolute monarchy with rules derived from Wahabist Islamic fundamentalism. And, until recently, famously prohibited women from driving. Iraq is also up there (34.2) which had a well-established gun culture under Saddam Hussein’s rule, which didn’t prevent him from committing genocide and mass murder. Yet, it did contribute to the chaos that ensued after the US overthrew him. Another country with a high rate of gun ownership is Bahrain (24.8) which didn’t help the failed uprising against its autocratic government in 2011. Nor did high gun ownership rates prevent a string of military coups in Thailand (15.6) or keep Venezuela (10.7) from descending into authoritarianism and economic chaos. By contrast, while North Korea virtually has no guns in private hands, neither do South Korea and Japan. Then there’s the sub-Saharan Ghana, one of Africa’s most peaceful and democratic countries which has one of the lowest rates of gun ownership. Another is Tunisia who not only overthrew its dictator in 2011 (with military assistance), but is the only one of the Arab Spring countries that has remained relatively democratic and stable since then. From what the data shows, countries with lots of guns consist of democracies and dictatorships, peacefully orderly societies, and failed states. Same goes for nations with few guns. It shouldn’t even be a debate talking point.

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Here’s a picture from the Stroop Report during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Notice the Nazis basically forcing these people to put their hands up. Yes, it’s simply horrifying.

Furthermore, claiming that the Holocaust could’ve been prevented if more people were armed is misleading and offensive. Just ask the Jewish groups, Holocaust scholars, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum who have all repeatedly called for Nazi analogies to stay out of the gun control debate. Because no serious scholarship of the Holocaust points to the lack of guns as a serious factor. First, it ignores the Jews taking part in armed resistance efforts like the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Jewish partisans creating their own units after escaping the camps. In fact, the US Holocaust Museum has an entire page dedicated to other examples of armed resistance to the Holocaust while Wikipedia lists over 100 of them. But all had little chance of stopping the mass slaughter carried out by a major industrialized power like Nazi Germany since the odds were overwhelmingly. In the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, after the massive deportations to forced-labor camps and killing centers, people remaining in the ghetto organized and resisted with pistols, grenades, rifles, and automatic weapons. It was the largest Jewish armed revolt during WWII yet only managed to kill from 20 Germans. The Nazis quashed it in less than a month which resulted in 13,000 Jews killed and the remaining 50,000 sent off to concentration camps. Mostly because it was profound mismatch of manpower, the difficulties of smuggling weapons in the Ghetto confines, and a shortage of arms in Poland in general.

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And here’s what happened to some of the Polish Jews who took arms against the Nazis during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Notice how they’ll soon be shot at.

The German public was already disarmed in 1919 at the behest of Great Britain, France, and the United States due to a provision in the Treaty of Versailles which severely limited private firearm ownership to reduce Germany’s ability to re-arm itself. Though post-World War I Germany was awash with weapons. Many in the hands of the wrong people. Far-Right militias called the Freikorps stashed thousands of rifles and machine guns under the Allied Control Commission’s noses and used them in repeat armed attempts to overthrow the democratic Weimar Republic. And while mainstream scholars agree that a German gun registry law that created a permit system to own and sell firearms, it was established in 1928 under the Weimar. There were provisions that exempted “officials of the central government, the states, as well as the German Railways Company” and “community officials to whom the highest government authority has permitted acquisition without an acquisition permit.” This law was an attempt by the Weimar regime to disarm nascent private armies like the Nazi SA (a.k.a. Brownshirts) as an attempt to bring some stability to German society and politics. At the time, violent extremist movements were actively attacking the young and very fragile democratic state with the most prolific being the violent Beer Hall Putsch. So according to Dresden Technical University’s Dagmar Ellerbrock, “this order was followed quite rarely, so that largely, only newly bought weapons became registered. At that time, most men, and many women, still owned the weapons they acquired before or during the first World War.” A government that can’t maintain some degree of public order couldn’t sustain its legitimacy. Nor were the German people well-grounded in Constitutional, republican government as evidenced in their ballot box choices. Gun control wasn’t initiated to benefit the Nazis, but to prevent them and others of the same ilk from executing a revolution against a lawful government. In the strictest sense, the law succeeded since the Nazis didn’t stage a coup. But the 1928 provisions didn’t weaken the existing SA that pervaded German political life at the time. Ultimately, the Nazis ignored them with near impunity, engaging in terrorism on the streets as they expanded their political support. Eventually, they got elected in 1933 on promises to end economic poverty, reconquer “lost territories,” and end political paralysis at the Reichstag.

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Here are the 1938 Nazi gun laws, which actually expanded gun ownership to most Germans. As long as they weren’t foreign, Jewish, gay, gypsy, disabled, or left-wing, of course. Because the Nazis wanted them dead.

When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, the Nazis used whatever gun records they had to seize weapons from perceived enemies of the state like Jews, Communists, Social Democrats, union members, or anyone else refusing to affiliate with the Nazi Party. Because the Nazis were intent on killing them and used the existing gun laws and regulations to further the genocide. As SUNY-Cortland professor Robert Spitzer told Mother Jones, gun policy, “wasn’t the defining moment that marked the beginning of the end for Jewish people in Germany. It was because they were persecuted, were deprived of all of their rights, and they were a minority group.” Yet, according to Ellerbrock, the files included very few guns in circulation and the registry was so incomplete that many Jews kept their guns well into the late 1930s. However, they also introduced a collective gun license for Nazi organization members whose main beneficiaries were the thuggish Brownshirts. After the German Parliament, the Reichstag gave Adolf Hitler emergency powers, he had a free hand. As Ellerbrock noted, “Under totalitarian rule, it took just a few weeks to drastically increase the number of Germans who held private weapons.” In other words, these looser gun rules were meant to encourage citizens to terrorize Nazi opponents and oppress minorities like Jews, gypsies, and gays. In 1938, the Nazis adopted a new law that loosened gun ownership rules by deregulating the buying and selling of shotguns, rifles, and ammunition. It made handguns easier to own by allowing anyone with a hunting license to buy, sell, or carry one at a time. Also, it extended the permit period from a year to 3, lowered the legal purchase age to 18, and gave local officials more discretion in letting people under 18 get a gun. Of course, there were exceptions such as Jews who weren’t allowed to own guns at all along with other dangerous weapons. But for everyone else, Hitler made it easier to get guns and used mass gun ownership for “Aryan” Germans to trash Jewish-owned businesses, rough up Jewish pedestrians on the street, and engage in what were called pogroms in Russia. As Ellerbrock told Politifact, “The gun policy of the Nazis can hardly be compared to the democratic procedures of gun regulations by law. It was a kind of special administrative practice (Sonderrecht), which treated people in different ways according to their political opinion or according to ‘racial identity’ in Nazi terms.” Therefore, disarming and killing Jews had nothing to do with Nazi gun control policy. Thus, during the Third Reich gun registration was spotty, confiscation was selective, and Nazis found it easier to get guns.

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Even if Germany’s Jews were well-armed, they couldn’t have stopped the Holocaust. Since they made up of less than 1% of its population and subject to systematic persecution implemented by a modern bureaucracy, enforced by police state, and supported by most of the population. In fact, armed revolt would’ve made the situation worse for Germany’s Jews by validating all the bad stuff the Nazis said about them. At least as far as its propaganda machine was concerned.

But if Germany’s Jews were well-armed, could they have stopped the Holocaust? The fact they constituted less than 1% of the country’s population makes it ridiculous to argue that private firearm possession would’ve enabled them to mount resistance against a systematic persecution program implemented by a modern bureaucracy, enforced by a well-armed police state, and either supported or tolerated by most of the German population. Its highly unlikely that armed Jews (or any other target group) would’ve weakened Nazi rule, let alone a full scale popular rebellion. In fact, it seems more likely to strengthen the Nazi support they already had. For such actions would’ve substantiated any foul Nazi lies about Jewish perfidy as well as hasten Jewish demise. The German Jews detained and deported after 1938 tended to be older and less well-off since most Jews with any resources left Germany much earlier. And the deportation took place with the open or tacit approval and complicity of most of the German people. Any act of armed resistance would’ve been completely futile.

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Here’s a Jewish business smashed on Kristallnacht, or “Night of the Broken Glass” from November 9-10, 1938 where Brownshirts and German civilians terrorized Jewish buildings, businesses, and synagogues while authorities looked on. It’s estimated that 91 Jews were murdered that night, though the death rate was much higher. Also, 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Still, Germany’s Jews were in no way prepared for what awaited them. Nor could they imagine taking arms against their own country’s soldiers and police officers.

Even so, hypotheticals aside, gun ownership wasn’t widespread enough in Germany for a serious civilian resistance to the Nazis. Nor were Germans, particularly Jews, predisposed to violent resistance to their government. Anti-Semitism wasn’t new in Germany or anywhere else since they had been persecuted throughout history for centuries. Jews had survived previous pogroms before but not without suffering. They’d expect the barrage of anti-Jewish discrimination and violence would eventually subside and permit a return to normalcy like those in the past. Still, they considered themselves “patriotic Germans” for their World War I service who remained good citizens of the state they trusted beyond Hitler’s power seizure in 1933. As an overwhelmingly professional, urban and middle class, and strong in professions like law, medicine, and the arts, the notion these conscientiously law-abiding people would or could’ve taken to the streets and shoot down Hitler’s thugs is ludicrous. Those who didn’t flee into exile faced escalating barrage of discriminatory laws and were systematically dehumanized for years. Yet almost all obeyed to the letter. Even after their businesses, homes, schools, and hospitals were trashed and synagogues torched during Kristallnacht, and even when facing deportation and death, most Jews obediently reported to the holding centers with their suitcases as instructed, and were taken from there to the cattle trucks that hurried them to their deaths. They didn’t know the true horrors that awaited them in the concentration camps. In fact, as bad as things were for them in Nazi Germany, most Jews couldn’t imagine their fellow countrymen establishing an industrialized and scarily efficient mass murder system to kill them. The Nazis also used deception by telling their Jewish captives would be “resettled” for forced labor in the East. The death camp stops on railroads were disguised with signs showing they were regular train stations. The gas stations were referred to as “showers.” If they knew their fate, they probably wouldn’t have resisted. Since they’d be unable to bring themselves to fire upon their own nation’s soldiers or police officers. And what could they do about it. Though most of the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust came from Poland, the Soviet Union, and other conquered territories in Eastern and Central Europe. Yet, all were surrounded by an indifferent, hostile, or terrorized population. Other than a few exceptions, there was no place to run or hide.

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In Nazi Germany, propaganda was everywhere. Also, despite that they’d be forever remembered for committing genocide as a totalitarian regime, Adolf Hitler and his Nazis were genuinely popular among the German people. And that’s truly scary.

Besides, the Nazis controlled the media during the Third Reich, they could censor and spin the news at their discretion. They were masters of propaganda which saturated every level of their society at every age stratum. Not surprisingly, the Jews were a primary target who were systemically demonized. If most German citizens didn’t come to Jewish defense to fight off Nazi tyranny, it was because they didn’t want to. For they had been persuaded that what was happening was best for their country, and that the Jews deserved what they got. Or at least didn’t want to lose their privilege, alienate their friends and family, or be carted off to a prison camp and executed. Because the Communists tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler several times before the Nazis stamped them out. Even if Europe’s Jews fought back, which they did several times over, it would’ve been almost impossible for them to attract the rest of the world’s attention, let alone draw sympathetic reinforcement that could’ve toppled Hitler. But the Jews didn’t need guns to draw attention or sympathy from people in other countries were concerned what was going on with them. After all, many Jewish Americans were refugees or had relatives in Europe at the time. And Kristallnacht sent shockwaves around the world with the British Times writing, “No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday.” Yet, the Nazis also had financial or rhetorical support from numerous American tycoons and businesses like Henry Ford, William Randolph Hearst, Kodak, Coca Cola, Standard Oil, Chase Bank, Dow Chemical, Woolworth, Alcoa, Brown Brothers Harriman, General Motors, and IBM. Let us not forget the Nazi sympathizers on the America First Committee like Charles Lindbergh who didn’t want the US to welcome Jewish refugees. Across the pond, Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Windsor were also in the Hitler fan club along with Unity and Diana Mitford. French fashion designer Coco Chanel lived with a Nazi officer while WWI hero Marshal Philippe Petain led the collaborationist Vichy government during WWII. Norwegian politician Vidkun Quisling seized power in his country through a Nazi-backed coup and his regime contributed to the Final Solution. Let’s just say you had a lot of influential people outside Germany who didn’t want their countries to do anything about what was going on there.

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We must keep in mind that Nazi Germany managed to defeat armies from Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and France. And though they didn’t fare so well in Russia, they managed mow down 7 million Red Army soldiers.

As Warsaw Uprising illustrates, the notion that the Jews could’ve used rifles and handguns to stop the SS from herding them like cattle to their deaths is offensive. Inside Germany, only the army possessed the physical force necessary for defying and overthrowing the Nazis. But the generals already threw their support for Adolf Hitler early on. The Nazi Germany war machine was one of the most powerful military systems ever constructed, especially prior to and during the early years of World War II. The Nazi regime had managed to conquer all of France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Poland, along with huge swaths of the Soviet Union and northern Africa in the face of determined resistance by large, properly trained militaries equipped not just with handguns but also tanks, warships, airplanes, and other heavy superweapons. The Red Army lost 7 million fighting the Wehrmacht despite its tanks, planes, and artillery. Adolf Hitler deployed military-trained units to destroy Europe’s Jews so handguns and rifles wouldn’t have made a dent. Suggesting it would implies that the Jews had a path to resist the Nazis’ Final Solution when they didn’t. Arming every European Jew wouldn’t have made any difference.

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We must understand that atrocities like the Holocaust have happened not because of gun control or lack of guns. But when a large swath of the population doesn’t see them as a dealbreaker and are willing to embrace a totalitarian strongman in order to get what they want. The Holocaust was caused by anti-Semitism along with moral failure and indifference. To think it could’ve been avoided if people have been armed is a very offensive way to remember this unimaginable tragedy.

It’s all too easy to forget the allure that fascism presented to those in the West during times of social and economic upheaval. The Nazis were master manipulators of popular emotion and sentiment while disdainful of people thinking for themselves. Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came to power not through force of arms, but through success at the ballot box, propaganda, illegal violence, and Hitler’s political cunning. They didn’t just rise to power by intimidation and imposing totalitarianism, the Nazis were genuinely popular with enough of the population to prevent a coup. Nor did they need gun control to retain supreme and unlimited power. Shortly after being granted emergency powers, Hitler issued the Reichstag Fire Decree which suspended civil rights, banned the left-wing press, and authorized the mass arrest of Communists and Socialists (a move allowing Nazis to take seats of the arrested delegates and assume a Nazi majority). A month later, the Nazi majority Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, giving Hitler and the German Cabinet the power to enact laws without its involvement. These 2 acts transformed Hitler’s government into a legal dictatorship within 2 months. Within the next 6 months, the Nazis banned Jews, non-Germans, and political opponents from public service, outlawed trade unions, and barred all political parties aside from the Nazi Party. The success of Nazi programs like restoring the economy and dispelling socio-political chaos and the misappropriation of justice through terror assured the German people’s compliance. Else, they wouldn’t have loosened gun restrictions in 1938 as an effect a façade of legalism around exercising naked power like most of their actions. The 1938 weapons law wasn’t a part of normal governance since the Third Reich had demolished the rule of law. And while Jews were prohibited from owning guns, they weren’t allowed to many other things. They couldn’t vote, work in professions, attend school, go to the movies or theater, visit public parks or “Aryan” areas. In fact, Jews weren’t considered citizens of Nazi Germany or even human beings. To focus exclusively on gun control is to lose sight of the bigger picture. And suggesting that the only thing keeping Hitler in power was gun control only exonerates the many Germans who supported him.

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Here’s a cartoon depicting the Night of Long Knives where the Nazi regime killed their most prominent political enemies. Most were Brownshirt leaders. And yes, they were armed and the Nazis knew it. Most gave up without a fight.

Despite that while the Nazis confiscated weapons from people they didn’t like, Adolf Hitler didn’t need to seize weapons to get rid of perceived political enemies. Their gun laws weren’t the major part of the process to suppress political dissidents and round up German Jews for extermination. Take the Night of the Long Knives, for instance, which involved a series of extrajudicial executions to consolidate Hitler’s absolute hold on German power. Paramilitary organizations were part of the Nazi organization from its earliest days in the mid-1920s. A founding Nazi street fighting group were the Sturmabteilung or Brownshirts who were known for street violence tactics. Its leader Ernst Rohm was one of Hitler’s oldest allies and comrades. Another outfit called the Schutzstaffel or SS protected Nazi officials as they moved around the country. After Hitler won office, the SS under Henrich Himmler became part of Der Fuhrer’s inner circle. But Rohm was eager to consolidate his power, setting him on a collision course with established German military leaders and Hitler’s top advisers. They persuaded Der Fuhrer that the Brownshirts were difficult to control so he and that Rohm was plotting a coup. From June 30-July 2, 1934, the SS and Gestapo killed at least 85-200 Brownshirt leaders and other perceived enemies. Though the final death toll could be as many as 700-1,000 along with thousands of arrests. Most but not all were associated with Rohm. The incident had more to do with infighting among the Nazi community than with going after disarmed citizens. Quite the opposite for the Nazis knew full well they were going against a group with plenty of weapons. Hitler himself oversaw the Rohm’s arrest, which went down in the middle of the night with a truckload of armed Brownshirt troops driving up to a hotel. Not a shot was fired and Rohm complied. He was executed 3 days later. Those at the German Historical Institute wrote that with this operation, Hitler had managed to “legitimize outright murder on a large scale – without any legal proceedings whatsoever – and that the country largely accepted the Nazi propaganda that presented this strike as necessary.”

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Dictators don’t rise to power by taking away people’s guns. But rather through popular support and public purges to send a message to anyone who disagrees with them. If soldiers come to your door to kill you or take you away for speaking out against a Dear Leader, your private arsenal will not save you. In fact, it might even condemn you.

Nonetheless, the notion that if Jews were armed and could’ve prevented the Holocaust is ridiculous is an old claim the NRA and other gun rights people push to show that who are trying to show that when a civilian population is armed, it can prevent tyranny and that tyrants begin their rise to power by disarming the population. However, the fundamental problem with these claims is that they have no idea how and why dictators like Hitler and the Nazis come to power. Dictators come to power through a more gradual process aided by large swaths of citizens eagerly supporting the strongmen in charge and public purges of dissenters to send a message anyone still supporting the regime. By the time soldiers come marching to your door to kill or drag you away, it’s because they’ve been chosen and groomed for this task. And you’ve been demonized as a traitor who must be punished. Keeping a weapons stockpile will only be used to justify overwhelming force or murder. There’s a very long historical record of regimes hell-bent on crushing dissent seeing them as little more than nuisances which won’t even be recorded once the dark deed is done. If a military coup is involved, then it would’ve been made possible with the wide availability of guns along with widespread support for the insurgents from the people as was the case with the Communist takeovers of the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba. Tens of millions of people became victims in the 20th century because they were members of groups targeted for eradication over ethnicity, religion, or ideology by ruthless military dictatorships. While these massacres had concurrent efforts to disarm targeted populations thanks to gun registration requirements, to say those millions died because of gun control is bad history. It’s nothing short of delusional to think that small groups of untrained civilians could defeat some of the most powerful armies in the world. History shows that civilians are often powerless to militarily resist an oppressive dictator. We can only prevent genocide by strengthening democracy as well as supporting a free press and non-government organizations. Thinking gun control in the United States will lead to genocide abandons reality for a fantasy world.

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Blaming the Holocaust on the lack of guns allows people to ignore the real causes of the genocide like Nazism, Anti-Semitism, moral failing, and indifference. And it allows people to ignore how the Nazis stripped the Jews of more basic rights. Not to mention, it misrepresents history which isn’t just intellectually dishonest but also dangerous.

Blaming the Holocaust on the lack of guns allows people to ignore the Nazism and anti-Semitism along with the humanity’s moral failure and indifference that made its atrocities possible in the first place. The fact that gun culture considers the Jews’ lack of guns of more consequence than their lack of more basic rights says a great deal more about America’s gun culture than it does about the Nazis or the Jews. And even if they get it right about what the German gun laws did, they misrepresent the significance and consequences from those laws. Misreading history to suit one’s views is as intellectually dishonest as it’s dangerous. As Brown University historian Omer Bartov told Salon in 2013, “Their assertion that they need these guns to protect themselves from the government — as supposedly the Jews would have done against the Hitler regime — means not only that they are innocent of any knowledge and understanding of the past, but also that they are consciously or not imbued with the type of fascist or Bolshevik thinking that they can turn against a democratically elected government, indeed turn their guns on it, just because they don’t like its policies, its ideology, or the color, race and origin of its leaders.”

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The Anatomy of a Medieval Castle: Part 4 – Types and Architectural Features

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Italy’s Castel del Monte was built in the 1240s by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. You may not know it, but it originally had a curtain wall. Yet, it’s a unique enough castle to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Finally, we get to the castle architecture. Over the 900 some years castles were built during the Middle Ages, they took on many forms with many different features. Most castles were made from wood since it was cheap, readily available, and an easy building material. However, a wooden castle was totally helpless against flaming arrows because we all know how wood catches fire, breaks, and decays over time. However, if a noble could afford it, he’d have his castle constructed from stone despite the high expense and maintenance. But stone was significantly less flammable and breakable with siege weapons and the elements. Early castles mostly consisted of simple fortifications and design. But as the medieval period went on, they became more complex with more towers, stronger gatehouses, and sturdier walls.

Castle Types

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Restormel Castle in England is an example of a shell keep which was a circular stone keep, are type of castle design. Though once a luxurious residence of the Duke of Cornwall, it was in ruins by the 16th century.

Adulterine Castle- a castle built without a liege lord’s or king’s approval.

Concentric Castle- a castle with 2 or more concentric curtain walls, such that the inner curtain wall is higher than the outer and can be defended from it. Often had round towers.

Courtyard Castle- a castle type consisting of a stone curtain wall surrounding a courtyard with buildings built inside it, normally against the curtain wall.

Knight’s Castle- a castle owned by a knight.

Motte and Bailey- an early form of castle where a large mound of dirt was built up. A wooden fortification was placed on top, which were shaped like a timber fence forming a circle like a crown.

Rectangular Keep- a stone castle with a square or rectangular keep with a second-floor entrance. The castle on Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a classic example.
Shell-Keep- castle style consisting of a circular or oval wall surrounding its inner portion. Usually stores and accommodates wooden buildings inside the hollow walls.

Stone Keep Castle- the classic medieval castle with a stone keep and a thick stone wall, which can be rectangular or circular in shape.

Tower House- a small castle consisting mainly or entirely of a single tower.

Architectural Features

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Built in the 12th century, the Château de Pierrefonds almost seems straight out of a fairy tale. Despite its 19th century restoration, it retains most of its defensive military architecture.

Aisle- space between an arcade and outer wall.

Ambulatory- aisle around an apse.

Apse- a circular or polygonal end of a tower or chapel.

Baluster- a small column.

Balustrade- a railing, as along a path or stairway.

Bar Hole- Horizontal bar for timber bar used as a door-bolt.

Barrel Vault- a cylindrical roof of stone or wood.

Base Cruck- a form of wood framed construction where the roof is supported by curved logs rising from the walls and not by aisle posts set on floor.

Bay- an internal division marked by roof principals or vaulting peers.

Blind Arcade- a line of arches on the face of a solid wall for decoration.

Bonnet- a freestanding fortification.

Boss or Keystone- a central stone in an arch or vault.

Bressumer- a beam to support a projection.

Cap House- a small chamber at the top of a spiral staircase in a tower or turret, leading to an open wall walk on the roof.

Cavalier- a raised structure containing a battery, usually sited above a bastion’s center to give better trajectory.

Cesspit- a wall opening where waste from one or more toilets were collected.

Colonnade- a range of evenly spaced columns.

Course- a level layer of stones or bricks.

Crossbar or Transom- a horizontal window division.

Cupola- a hemispherical armored roof.

Crow or Corbie Steps- a step-gabled end to a roof.

Diaphragm- a wall running up to the roof ridge.

Dog Leg- a right angle in a passageway.

Dormer- a vertically placed window in a sloping roof. Like you see on the top floors of a Cape Cod house.

Entresol or Mezzanine- a low story between 2 high ones.

Fireplace- a walled hearth used for heating a room. Most castles in the later Middle Ages had one in almost every room once they took off.

Gable- a wall covering the end of a roof ridge.

Garret- a building’s top story within a roof.

Groined- a roof with sharp edges at intersection of cross vaults.

Groin- junction of 2 curved surfaces in a vault.

Hood- an arched covering.

Impost- a wall bracket to support arch.

Jambs- side posts of an arch, door, or window.

Joists- wall-to-wall timber beans to support floor boards.

Lancet- a long, narrow window with a pointed head.

Label- a projecting weather molding above a roof or window to deflect rainwater.

Lantern- a small structure with open or window sides on top of a roof or dome to let light or air into the enclosed space below.

Lattice- Lines crossing to form a network whether on a window, fence, or gate.

Lintel- a horizontal stone or beam bridging an opening.

Loggia- a covered arcade or colonnade.

Louvre- a potter vent allowing smoke to escape from the hearth.

Meurtriere- an opening in the roof of a passage where soldiers could shoot into the room below.

Molding- masonry decoration that’s long and narrow as well as casts strong shadows.

Mullion- a vertical division of a window that’s constructed in panels.

Newel- Center post of a spiral staircase.

Nookshaft- a shaft set in a jamb or pier angle.

Pediment- a low-pitched gable over porticos, doors, and windows.

Pilaster- a shallow pier used to buttress a wall.

Piscina- a hand basin with a drain, usually set against or into a wall.

Pointed Arch- a sturdy arch that distributed the force of heavier ceilings and bulky wall. Can support much more weight than previous, simply, spindly pillars.

Rear Arch- an arch on a wall’s inner side.

Relieving Arch- an arch built up in a wall to relieve thrust on another opening.

Rib- a raised molding dividing a vault.

Roofridge- a roof’s summit line.

Soffit- an underside of an arch, hung parapet, or opening.

Spur- a triangular buttress used to strengthen a round tower’s bottom.

Spiral Staircase, Corkscrew, or Turnpike- a winding, circular staircase spiraling up clockwise which allowed added sword room for defenders. Steps were built unevenly to make it difficult for attackers to climb and fight. Said to be among the most economical and convenient method of accessing upper tower floors and easier to defend.

Squint- an observation hole in wall or room.

Traverse- a small bank or wall cutting across a covered way’s line.

Tympanum- a space between a lintel and arch over a doorway.

Vault- stone roofing.

Vaulted Ceiling- a ceiling with sturdy pointed archers and pillars that allowed ceilings to be taller than ever before. Also provided an impression of height, grandeur, and elegance. Can be built in a variety of different shapes and sizes.

Wall-Plate- a horizontal roof-timber on wall-top.
Wall-Stair- staircase built into a wall’s thickness.

The Anatomy of a Medieval Castle: Part 3 – The Keep, Bailey, and Interior

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Built in the 14th century, the French Château de Vincennes boasts one of the tallest medieval fortified medieval structure in its keep. Within Paris, this castle served as the French royal residence during the 15th century. Yet, it’s had a long and colorful history with memorable moments.

Once you get through the walls, it’s on to the castle’s interior. First, we go into the courtyard with the bailey where you’d find plenty of animals grazing, gardens, and buildings. These buildings consisted of stables, workshops, barracks, water suppliers, and storage facilities. You may even see a chapel there. Yet, the central heart of the castle was the keep, which was considered the strongest area and the last place of refuge if outer defenses fell. During times of peacetime, it was the lord’s main residence where he’d conduct his business. He’d hold meetings and entertain guests in the great hall. At banquets, the kitchens would be bustling preparing lavish feasts while everyone was treated to dinner and entertainment. In some castles, the lord and his family would eat and sleep in the hall. Sometimes you might even find a chapel or dungeon, too.

The Courtyard

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Scotland’s Doune Castle was built in the 13th century by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany. Its 14th century reflected current ideas on what a royal castle should be. Yet, we remember this as the castle featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Its courtyard isn’t particularly big in this aerial shot. Yet, it at least includes a well.

Bailey, Courtyard, Enclosure, or Ward- open space surrounded by a castle’s walls. Walls making up the bailey could be considered part of it. A castle could have several of these like an upper bailey, lower bailey, west bailey, and/or east bailey. Had room for buildings to house the Lord and his immediate followers along with space for animals and storage. During attacks, the local people could enter the bailey for safety.

Bake House- building that would’ve baked fresh bread for everyone living within the castle since bread was a dietary medieval staple.

Barmkin- a yard surrounded by a defensive wall in smaller castles.

Brewery- a building where an ale wife would’ve brewed ale and beer. Mostly because brewing beer was said to sterilize highly polluted water.

Death Hole- the space between the inner and outer curtain walls of a concentric circle that trapped attackers.

Garden- green area located in the bailey near the kitchen. Was split into several sections: fruit trees and bushes, herbs for cooking, herbs for medicine, vegetables, flowers for cooking, and flowers for medicine. There were often stairs leading up to it.

Inner Ward or Quadrangle- large inner courtyard inside a castle, usually around the keep. A focus to day-to-day residential life within the castle.

Outer Ward- large courtyard outside the inner ward but still held within the curtain wall. Was mostly reserved for livestock for grazing.

Stables- part where the horses and other livestock are kept since they’re the main medieval means of transportation, communication, and battle. Included haylofts and spaces for the grooms to live.

Workshops- separate buildings in the bailey for artisans to make objects for maintaining the building the grounds. Consists of carpenters, farriers, and blacksmiths.

The Keep

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Germany’s Burg Eltz was built in the 12th century and has been own by the same family for over 33 generations. It is one of 3 castles in the country that have never been destroyed. Yet, its keep is quite imposing in the Alps.

Forebuilding- a fortified entrance to the keep. Often held a staircase and a small chapel.

Keep, Donjon, or Great Tower-generally the central main tower built in the inner ward which was the tallest and strongest structure in the castle and gave a commanding view of all fighting positions. Usually served as the ruling lord’s residence since it was the safest place. The top most part served as his and his family’s quarters. The bottom was used for storage. While the middle was used for the great hall. In warfare, it was mostly used as the last line of defense during a siege or attack. Can be square or round and comprise of several floors. Can be attached to walls or free standing. Its walls could be over 17 feet thick to prevent undermining and a built-in staircase.

The Dungeons

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Castle dungeons were the stuff of nightmares. If you were thrown in here for a crime, you can be subject to a dark room in the castle basement with all kinds of horrifying conditions. And yes, you may be subject to torture and possibly execution. If you don’t starve to death or succumb to disease first.

Dungeon- a place to confine political prisoners. Mostly consists of a single small room with a single access from outside like a heavy door. Is generally underground and sometimes a secret passageway would lead to it. Though it could also be in the keep or under a gatehouse. Has plenty of unique torture devices for interrogation like branding irons, collar, torture rack, and others. Other enhanced interrogation techniques include whipping, boiling in water, and starvation etc. Also, employed full-time executioner who also administered torture.

Oubliette- a dark, narrow, underground, vertical tunnel-like dungeon with the only opening consisting of an iron-grilled trap door on the ceiling from the guard room floor where prisoners were left in their solitude for psychological torture. Though other torture methods may be used for interrogation or increase a prisoner’s suffering. Once a victim was thrown in the oubliette, they were considered forgotten by the outside world and left to die. Survival was nearly impossible and there was no way to escape.

The Great Hall

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The Great Hall was the main room in the castle where the lord would conduct his business, hold meetings, and throw feasts. In early castles, the lord, his family, and staff would even eat and sleep there.

Gallery- passage built into the thickness of the walls that runs around the upper part of a keep’s hall. Windows allow light into the hall below and the passage allows for movement around the keep’s upper floors. Also provides a position where hall events can be viewed. If the hall’s captured, defenders could’ve used a gallery to shoot arrows from.

Hall or Great Hall- a major room that’s possibly the heart of the castle which served as the castle’s principal living quarters. Usually a castle’s largest room either built in the keep or a separate building. Generally, consists of an elaborate high vaulted roof and/or a gallery running around on top of it. Served as a throne room, conference center, and dining hall.

Minstrels Gallery- a raised gallery overlooking the great hall intended for the lord’s musicians. Consisted of a narrow balcony with a railing or balustrade.

Truss- a timber frame used to support the roof over the great hall.

The Chapel

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Since Christianity was very important to people in the Middle Ages, most castles included a chapel. These can range from a simple room like this to elaborate buildings.

Aumbry- recess to hold sacred objects, typically in a chapel.

Chancel- the space surrounding the altar.

Chapel- a place of worship usually built within the keep, near the gatehouse, or a separate building in the bailey. Can range from a simple room or an elaborate edifice that can be 2 stories high with the family sitting in the balcony and servants in the nave. May have a resident or visiting priest depending on the resident noble’s peerage rank. Great place for the lord to marry off family members to secure alliances, soldier funerals, and display of piety. Also, a great space safe since harming a priest was widely seen as the ultimate act of barbarity. For only the most fearless of castle attackers would do such a thing. Not to mention, killing anyone in a place of worship was often frowned upon in the Middle Ages.

Choir- part of a cruciform church east of the crossing where you’ll find the singers.

Narthex- a chapel’s principal hall between the nave and the main entrance.

Nave- the principal chapel hall, extending from the narthex to the chancel.

Living Quarters

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In most medieval castles, high ranking nobles rarely slept alone since many had servants there with them. Yet, they can nonetheless be colorful tableaus as you see in this one.

Apartment- a room belonging to a castle household resident like a lord’s widowed mother.

Bottlery or Buttery- a room for storing and serving beverages like wine land other expensive provisions like a castle wine cellar. Located between the great hall and the kitchen. The person who presided over this room was called the butler.

Bower- attractive private apartment intended for the Lady. Usually in a room behind the dais of the great hall but later a higher level in the keep.

Camera- a private room used for both living and sleeping that’s set apart from the more public areas of a house.

Cistern- a castle’s water source, which collected rainwater from roofs. Can be located within the keep or bailey. Some castles had rudimentary plumbing that channeled water from cisterns to sinks.

Great Chamber- the bedroom for the lord and lady located on the keep’s upper floor.

Kitchens- where food is made. In early castles, they were separate from the keep in kitchen towers due to fire risk. But moved to the keep when brick construction became more common. A castle kitchen’s size was often proportionate to castle’s intended grandeur and importance. The most elaborate kitchens were all set to cook and prepare game and fish when hunting on the grounds.

Larder- a cool area where perishable food is stored prior to use. Was usually close to the kitchen. Staffed by a larderer who was responsible for meat and fish. Often had ice to keep the food chilled along with meat hooks.

Latrine or Privy- rooms with holes in the seats used as toilets. Wastes dropped below into the bailey, the outer wall’s base, the moat, or cesspools within the tower. Usually far away from the chambers and often had double doors to reduce the smell. But as time went on, a private privy was built for people occupying important rooms. To keep out a noxious stink, privy windows had no glass, which made it freezing in the winter months. Can be fitted with a wooden or stone bench with as many as 4-6 holes in it. Hat a chute which led to a cesspit or moat. Supplemented by chamber pots.

Oratory- a private chapel with an altar used by the lord’s family for private prayer. Can also be a small cell attached to a larger chapel.

Pantry- a storage area for food, beverages, gold, and other items. Usually located in the keep’s lower levels.

Screens- wooden partitions at the kitchen end of a hall, protecting passage leading to the buttery, pantry, and kitchen.

Solar- originally a room above ground level, but commonly applied to the great chamber or a private room off the great hall. Was traditionally seen as the sleeping and private quarters of the Lord’s family. But later became their private living room. Usually above the great hall.

Wardrobe- a room used to store the lord and his family’s clothes and personal articles.

Well- a castle’s primary water source that proved important during a siege even if they had little food. Can be situated in the courtyard or keep. Or at least located near the kitchen either within the bailey or keep. Outside wells were usually protected from the elements by a wooden covering or iron grating. Yet, it was possibly the castle’s weakest point. Since invaders could poison the water supply if left unattended, which virtually guaranteed defeat.

Specialty Areas

RONNEBURG CASTLE ARMOURY

No castle could ever be without its own armory. But where it was could depend on the castle. On some it can be in the keep. In others, in the gatehouse or bailey.

Arcade or Cloister- a covered passageway with arches along one or both sides. Can also be a row of arches supported on columns, which could be free standing or attached to a wall (like a blind arcade).

Armory- a room which stored weapons, armor, and other defenses to use in war or attacks. Typically located in the keep’s upper levels.

Barracks- a building or group of buildings used to accommodate soldiers.

Blockhouse- a small square fortification, usually of timber bond overlapping arrangement of bricks in courses.

Dovecote- a building used to house pigeons and doves. Generally contained pigeon holes for birds to nest.

Guardroom- room used by on-duty guards. Can also store weapons. However, the guards wouldn’t sleep there since they’d be barracked in the gatehouse, a tower, or under the keep.

Ice House- building to store ice. Was usually built underground with a conical or rounded bottom to hold melted ice and a drain for water.

Kennel- place to keep animals, particularly hunting dogs.

Knight’s Hall- a large room or chamber within a castle where knights gathered for meetings, meals, and planning their next activities.

Knights’ Quarters- living area for resident castle knights.

Mess Hall- dining area for soldiers and servants. May include its own kitchen.

Secret Passage- secret routes in the castle that served a variety of purposes. Some were designed to pen up a distance from the castle so inhabitants could escape during an attack or get supplies in and out during a siege. Secret passages also led to secret chambers where people can hide, supplies could be kept, or a water well was dug.

The Anatomy of a Medieval Castle: Part 2 – Towers and Gates

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England’s Windsor Castle was built after William the Conqueror’s invasion in the 11th century. Since then, it’s been a residence for the royal family to this day. Even if modern British monarchs just use this place for a weekend getaway. And yes, you’d almost mistake this gatehouse as the castle itself.

So we’re off to a great start. Some of the other distinguishing castle features are towers and the gates. When you look at any castle picture, you might come across an imposing entrance with the impressive gatehouse containing a drawbridge and that sliding iron wrought door of spikes. Yet, since an unsecure entrance made a castle uniquely vulnerable, the gateway was usually the first structure built in stone. A gatehouse contained a series of defenses to make a direct assault more difficult than battering down a simple gate. Yet, you’d probably wouldn’t know this in movies where vast armies storm the castle with no problem. In reality, trying to storm a castle head was a stupid way to lose an army. Another prominent castle feature are the towers, which were used for look outs and shooting arrows along with storage and imprisonment. They could be built in various locations like the walls and the gatehouse as well as come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Though early towers were mostly square shape which were said to be quite easy to topple through burrowing at the foundations. While round towers were not.

The Main Entrance

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The Welsh Harlech Castle was built by English King Edward I Longshanks in the 1280s. It was involved in several wars and was used as a residence and military headquarters by Welsh hero Owain Glyndwr in the early 1400s. Later, it was held by the Lancastrians during the 1460s until the Yorkist forces took it during the Wars of the Roses. And served as a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War in the 1640s. Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site as one of “the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe.” Nonetheless, seeing this imposing gatehouse, you wouldn’t want to storm this castle.

Barbican- a stone outpost protecting the castle’s gate usually built in front of the main entrance. Construed in the form of a tower or gateway where guards could stand watch. Some may include a narrow passage allowing for a limited number of attackers forced into a confined area for defenders to shoot at them like fish in a barrel through murder holes from the ceiling. Early barbicans were built from earthworks and wooden palisades designed to add complexity to the entrance’s layout and confuse attackers. Usually acted as the outermost defense of a castle. Due to limited space, was only defended by a small number of men.

Breastwork- a heavy parapet slung between 2 gate towers. A defensive work usually situated over the portcullis.

Drawbridge- wooden bridge in front of the main gate to span the moat or ditch. In early castles, it was moved horizontally to the ground by hand or destroyed and replaced. In later castles, it was built so it can raise up in a hinged fashion thanks to pulleys, ropes, chains, and winches. Can be raised or withdrawn making crossing impossible and prevent siege weaponry being pushed toward the castle’s walls and gates.

Gatehouse- a complex of towers, bridges, and barriers built to protect the castle’s main entrance. Often had a guard house and living quarters. Usually consisted of 2 very large stone towers joined above the main gate guarded by a bridge, gates, portcullis, or a combination. But can range from a simple structure to a 2-3 story building with an impressive façade to impress royal visitors. Above the entrance were rooms to house the constable and some men to defend the building who were stationed on the first floor. While the top floor contained murder holes and storage space for weapons. Traditionally the most vulnerable part of the castle, it became one of the most secure and with an excellent defensive position. Contains a passage with all kinds of obstacles, traps, and murder holes in the vaulted ceilings. So perhaps you want to think twice before storming a castle. Usually the first part of the castle to be completed. Though a larger and circular wall castle could have more than one.

Murder Holes- holes left in the floor on a gatehouse’s upper level, used to thrust pole weapons down, or shoot down flaming arrows at attackers trapped between the inner and outer gates. Also used for dropping heavy rocks, hot tar, boiling water, and other nasty things.

Neck or Death Trap- a narrow walled passage between a barbican and the castle walls which trapped invading enemies.

Portcullis- a heavy, sliding metal or wood grate with sharp spikes that was vertically dropped just inside the castle’s main gate through ropes and pulleys. Designed to block passage and make using rams against the main gate less effective. Think about that before trying to break down a door with a battering ram. Can also be dropped on an enemy and injure multiple people. Was always in a state of readiness and the guards can drop it from its suspended position at any time. Some gatehouses could had more than one, depending on the castle’s size and number of entrances.

Turning Bridge- drawbridge pivoted in the middle and worked like a see-saw. Had a counterweight attached to the end near the gateway.

Wicket- a person-sized door set into the main gate door.

Wing-Wall- a motte’s wall downslope to protect stairway.

Yett- a portcullis of lattice wrought iron bars used for defensive purposes.

The Towers

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Originally built in the early 1100s, the Alcazar of Segovia started out as a fortress, but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery college, and a military academy. Today it’s a military archives building, museum, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yet, you have to admit how its towers give the place a unique look.

Bastion Tower- tower projecting from a wall face that functions as a bastion.

Bastle House- a small tower house with a living room over a cowshed.

Corner or Archer Tower- tower located on curtain wall corners used for firing arrows from slits.

Drum Tower- a large, round, low, squat tower built into a wall, usually connecting stretches of curtain wall.

Flanking or Mural Tower- tower located on the castle walls that provided effective flanking fire.

Gate Tower- tower constructed at the main entrance. May be part of the gate house.

Tower- fortification used to provide stability and additional defensive capabilities to the curtain wall. Used for firing upon enemies, lookout, storage, and keeping prisoners. Provided access to lookout points, wall walks, and sleeping points. Can be constructed in various shapes, sizes, and at various locations.

Sanitary Towers- a tower in the inner or outer walls used as a toilet. The wastes would drop into a cesspool in a pit.

Wall Tower- tower on wall that archers used for showering arrows on invading armies.

Watchtower or Look Out- a freestanding structure used to alert the castle in an enemy attack, spot returning soldiers and visitors in the distance, check whether the coast was clear before anyone left the castle, and send messages to distant people using recognized symbols. Had to be so high that areas around the castle could be watched for an impending attack or siege. Usually had a 360-degree view as well as employed a guard or watchman to see for many miles around.

Turrets

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Belgium’s 14th century Cleydael Castle seems straight out of a fairy tale on the water. However, the turrets on that one tower are quite unique.

Bartizan or Crow’s Nest- a small turret at the corner of a tower or wall. Usually at the top but not always. Usually located at one of the highest points of the castle and used as a lookout.

Belvedere- a raised turret or pavilion.

Squinch Arch- arched support for an angle turret that doesn’t reach the ground.

Turret- a small tower rising above and resting on the walls or the edge of the castle’s main towers, usually used as a lookout point. Allowed defenders to provide sheltering fire to the adjacent wall in attacks. Can contain a staircase if higher than the main tower or an extension of a tower room.

The Anatomy of a Medieval Castle: Part 1 – Around the Walls

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This is Bodiam Castle in Sussex, England. Built in 1385 to defend against French invasion during the Hundred Years War, it doesn’t have a keep. But its walls and moat are impressive.

Whether you’re into Disney movies, Middle Earth, or Game of Thrones, we all seem enchanted with medieval castles. However, while we imagine them as a fairy tale palace, they were medieval house fortresses for European nobility. Though you’ll also find castles in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Castles originated in the 9th and 10th centuries as the fall of the Carolingian Empire resulted in individual lords and nobles dividing the territory. To control the area surrounding them, these guys built castles as both offensive and defensive structures. Castles provided a base to launch raids and protect from enemies. Though castle studies often emphasize their military origins and see castles as “a fortified private residence,” they also served as centers of administration and power. Urban castles were used to control the local populace and important travel routes. Rural features were often near features integral to life and community like mills, fertile land, or a water source. Though most medieval castles in Europe today are made from stone, many were made from wood, especially in the early Middle Ages. Due to lacking arrow slits and towers, early castles often exploited natural defenses and relied on a central keep. But as a scientific approach to castle defense emerged, leading to tower proliferation and emphasizing flanking fire. Taking inspiration from Roman forts and technology from the Crusades, you’ll find some concentric castles. Nevertheless, since all things much come to an end, castles began to decline began to decline with the introduction of gunpowder which made them uncomfortable and undesirable places to live. Though these structures still captured the imagination enough to make aristocrats want to build castle like houses, but without the key defenses.

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This is Herstmonceux Catstle in England’s East Sussex. Built in the 15th century, it’s one of the most significant brick buildings in England. Though more like a palace than a fortress, its walls and moat are nonetheless impressive. By the way, from 1957-1988, it was home to the Greenwich Royal Observatory. Today it’s used by the Bader International Center of Queen’s University in Canada.

The first part of this series will focus on the outermost components like the walls and what’s outside them. As the first line of defense, such structures would have to make invasions and sieges incredibly difficult for the enemy. Before a castle was built, you’d often construct an artificial hill called a motte and a ditch filled with water called a moat. A castle’s walls had to be high enough to make scaling with ladders impossible. And they had to be thick enough to withstand bombardment from siege engines. Though sizes vary, a typical castle wall could be 10 feet thick and 39 feet tall. They’d also have stone skirts around their bases to prevent infiltration as well. Walkways on top of curtain walls allowed defenders to rain arrows on the enemies below with battlements giving them further protection.

Outside the Walls

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The Chateau de Gisors in France whish was a key fortress for the Dukes of Normandy in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was built to defend the Anglo-Norman Vexin territory from the King of France. However, when Richard the Lionheart got imprisoned in Germany, the castle went into Philip Augustus’s hands. Was also known for its links to the Templars, serving as a final prison for its last Grand Master in 1314. Still, its motte is particularly notable.

Berm- a flat piece of land between the curtain wall and the moat protecting it. Intended to reduce soil erosion to keep the wall from collapsing. Also kept debris from the wall from falling into and filling the moat.

Bivalate- a pair of defensive ditches or earth embankments surrounding a mound or medieval castle.

Caponier- a covered passage within a ditch.

Caponiere- a covered passage across a ditch to an outer fortification structure like a ravelin.

Counterscarp- outer slope of a ditch.

Couvre Face- a low rampart in a ditch protecting the ravelin’s face.

Covered Way- a protected communication wall all around the ditch’s outer edge, covered by earthworks from enemy fire.

Crownwork- a freestanding fortification built in front of the main defenses.

Cunette- a trench at a ditch’s bottom.

Ditch or Fosse- a common defense dug around the castle’s outside walls and the resulting earth to create banks. Most were dry but some were filled with water to create moats. The steeper the ditch sides, the better since it made it more difficult for attackers to climb. Though ditches weren’t filled with water, rainfall would’ve created a muddy obstacle to cross. The castle’s toilets also emptied into it, giving attackers another disgusting problem.

Earthwork- fortification made of earth mounds, banks, and ditches.

Glacis- a bank sloping down from a castle which acts as a defense against invaders. Consists of broad, sloping, naked rock or earth on which the attackers are completely exposed.

Hornwork- an independent earthwork located in front but not connected to the curtain wall within its bastions’ range (so it can be defended by them). Had long parallel sides with a back shaped like a crescent moon facing the castle’s curtain wall. But was built so low so it couldn’t shelter attacking forces if overrun. Forced attackers to start their siege further away from the castle and gave defenders a better chance to destroy siege lines before they could reach the structure.

Moat- a deep, wide ditch surrounding a castle’s outer walls. Often filled with water from diverted rivers, lakes, or springs with a special dam. Mostly had an inlet and outlet of water rather than being a self-contained donut (unless the castle was built on an island in the middle of a lake). It was often around 3-30 feet deep and at least 12 feet wide. It was sometimes within the outer wall or between the outer wall and the inner wall. Its primary purpose wasn’t to stop attackers but siege weapons, siege towers, battering rams, and most importantly, tunnelers. Since tunneling a castle was an effective means of collapsing the walls or infiltrating it. A moat would cause any tunnel to collapse through flooding. Also, gave valuable time for castle defenders to form strategies for subsequent defense. Sewage was often tipped into the moat so it would smell pretty unpleasant.

Motte- a natural or artificial hill with a flat top upon which a castle was built. Was constructed from dirt and rocks to a height between 10 and 100 feet.
Neck Ditch- a ditch cutting across a neck of land to hinder an enemy’s advance.
Place of Arms- an enlarged area in a covered way where troops could assemble.
Ravelin or Demilune- a triangular earthwork located in front (but not connected to) the curtain wall, within range of the curtain wall’s bastions. The back was shaped like a crescent moon and faced the curtain wall. But built low so it couldn’t shelter attacking forces if the ravelin was overrun. The front sides also had a defensive wall of their own. Allowed defenders to fire upon attacking troops before they could reach the curtain and a better chance to destroy siege lines before they could reach the castle. Forced attackers to start their siege further away from the castle.

Revetment- a retaining wall to prevent erosion.

Scarp- a slope on a ditch’s inner side.

Tilting Yard- yard or field where jousting tournaments and combats took place. Usually situated just outside the castle’s confines.

Watergate- a gate allowing a coastal castle to be resupplied by sea, especially during a siege.

The Walls

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Scotland’s Craigmillar Castle is a ruined castle in Edingburgh built in the 14th century. Mary, Queen of Scots once stopped here to convalesce after her son James’s birth. It was here some of her supporters decided to kill her godawful husband Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Still, the walls are amazing to look at.

Allure or Wall Walk- walkway at the top inside of the curtain wall, which allowed guards to look for enemies. Reached either from a set of stairs running up from the wall’s inside or from a built-in tower. Can also be the fighting area on a tower as well.
Bastion or Bulwark- a structure projecting at the end of the curtain wall or at the junction of 2 walls. Usually situated at each corner of a curtain wall. Though could be placed in the middle if the walls were long. Allowed the defenders to cover dead ground (blind spots where attackers can’t be seen or fired upon) and provide crossfire for the curtain wall and adjacent bastions. Can consist of a tower or turret.

Batters- a section at a castle wall’s base that’s angled in such a way to make dropped stones bounce away from the curtain wall and into the enemy. Also add strength to the wall walk’s base.

Buttresses- a rectangular masonry projections used as additional outside strength and support for walls. Become thinner towards the top. Prominently featured in Gothic cathedrals like Notre Dame.

Chemin-de-Ronde- a walk-walk extending all the way around a castle.

Chemise Wall- wall formed by a series of interlinked or overlapping semicircular bastions.

Citadel- the innermost curtain wall of a concentric castle. Had walls higher than the rest and was the last line of defense before the keep itself.

Corbel- a stone bracket projecting from a wall or corner that supports a main floor or other structure’s weight. Often used for turrets.

Cornice- a decorative projection along the top of a wall.

Counterguard- a long near-triangular free-standing fortification within the moat.
Crenels, Embrasures, or Wheelers- small openings in crenellation that’s splayed on the inside, allowing the archer to move into the arrow slit space and get a better view.

Cross-Wall- an internal dividing stone wall in the keep providing extra strength and a platform for wooden floors. Also served as a barrier at times when the keep had been invaded.

Curtain Wall or Enceinte- a surrounding outer stone wall around the castle connecting the towers and other fortifications. Was designed to protect the castle. Can be 8-20 feet wide, up to 45 feet high and 1,500 feet long.

Flying Buttresses- masonry projections used to spread and support the weight of tall walls by transferring force directly to the ground. Were often elaborately designed, appearing to dart and sweep around each building, giving a sense of movement and flight. Usually decorated with intricate carvings giving a sense of grandeur and importance.

Garderobe- a room projecting from a wall that served as a toilet the family’s clothes. A hole in the floor allow wastes to drop below. Had chutes for discharge which often led to the castle moats and had iron bars to prevent entry from attackers.

Glacis- an angling of the curtain wall along the vertical plane that allows the wall to deflect some or all the force of rocks or other missiles thrown from a siege engine or cannon balls fired from siege cannons.

Hoardings or Brattices- wooden fortifications added to the crenellations and towers to provide additional protection to the castle’s defenders. They were removable and provided overhead cover. Also provided a walkway outside the crenellations facilitating the dropping of stones and hot liquids on attackers.

Hoarding Holes- holes in the castle walls to support the hoarding.

Inner Curtain Wall- defensive wall within a castle dividing the inner area into 2 or more defensive areas.

Lunette- a fortification shaped like a half-moon or arrowhead which was similar to a bastion except that it didn’t have wings connecting to a castle’s wall and the back was generally open. Can be its own structure or connected to a curtain wall like a bastion.
Machicolations- permanent stone additions to a castle’s battlement which provided better cover for defenders inside the castle, allowing them to drop items like boiling oil, hot lead, dead animals, human excrement, and rocks on attackers. Most often located in places that would be commonly attacked like near the main entrance.

Oriel Window- a window or set of windows sticking out from a building like bay windows. Made of stone or wood. Often had corbels underneath to support them.

Orillion- an arrowhead bastion.

Palisade- a sturdy wooden fence built to enclose a site until a permanent stone wall could be constructed. Can be as high as 10 feet tall.

Pitatta Forma- a fortification structure protecting the curtain wall between 2 bastions. It’s square or rectangular in plan but takes the form of a small tetrahedral bastion.

Plinth- a wall’s projecting base.

Postern or Sally Port- a small secondary gate located in the curtain wall’s back, which mostly functioned as a backdoor entrance or exit. Was connected to a small guard room near the bailey. Was often in a concealed location which allowed occupants to come and go inconspicuously. If possible, it could be built on a cliff, only accessible by footpath. During a siege a postern could act as a secret exit for troops to pass through besiegers or send out a messenger. Was firmly barricaded during conflict and people sometimes used a password to enter. Used by tradesmen and servants during peacetime. Designed for only one unmounted person could go through at a time.

Putlog Holes- castle wall holes to support scaffolding.

Rampart- a defensive wall of stone and mounds of earth that can be built quickly for early medieval castles. Later replaced by battlements.

Rear Arch- arch on an inner wall’s side.

Relieving Arch- an arch built in a wall to relieve thrust on another opening.

Respond- a half-pier bonded into a wall to carry an arch.

Redan- a small ravelin, derived from the lunette but had shorter sides. Was often made of earthwork but could comprise of stone and other materials. Could be its own structure or connected to a curtain wall like a bastion.

Rubble Core- a filling between the outer and inner wall parts.

Shield Wall- an exceptionally thick wall protecting the castle on its most vulnerable side.
Talus- a slope on the curtain wall that inhibited an attacker’s ability to reach the wall with a siege tower. Since a tower’s ramp wasn’t enough. Also provided a strong foundation to help support a wall against undermining.

Battlements

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England’s Warwick Castle was developed from an original built by William the Conqueror during the 12th century. During the Hundred Years War, it was refortified which resulted in one of the most recognizable examples of 14th century military architecture. After its stronghold days were over in the 17th century, it was converted in a country house. And yes, you’ll find a lot of cool battlements here.

Arrow Loops, Arrow Slits, or Loopholes- thin slots in the walls and structures used to shoot arrows through. Came in a variety of shapes and sizes, usually depending on the weapons fired from it. Low and narrow arrow slits were suited for crossbows. High and wide arrow slits were built for longbows, which can be as high as 9 feet. But common designs are key holes, vertical slits, or crosses which allow the archer to fire his weapon with a great amount of protection.

Battlement, Rampart, or Crenellation- a defensive, outside top wall that has a broad top with a walkway and a typically stone parapet. Notched wall consists of alternate crenels (openings) and merlons (square sawteeth) to give castle defenders a position to fight or fire through as well enough protection to reload.

Fausse Braie- an exterior battlement, outside and parallel to the main battlement and considerably below its level.

Finial- a slender piece of stone used to decorate the merlon tops.

Merlons- upward square sawteeth of a battlement. Often pierced with arrow slits for observation and fire. Are usually rectangular in medieval Europe but can also appear in a swallow-tail form along with other shapes. Also have a secondary decorative purpose by giving the castle a distinct castle like appearance you find in storybooks.

Oilette- a round opening at a loophole’s base to help archers to easily aim a shot.

Parados- a low wall on a main wall’s inner side.

Parapet- a barrier at the edge of a roof, terrace, walkway, or other structure. Often used to defend a castle from military attack as a low defensive wall at shoulder or head height.

I Want You to View These Vintage Wartime Propaganda Posters (Second Edition)

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Once again, the 4th of July puts us in the patriotic kick of things. Unless the Trump administration put a damper on that, like it does with everything. Anyway, I did a post of old wartime propaganda posters for the 4th of July last year. And since I have plenty left over, I thought it would be a good idea to do another. Because I think we all long for the days when propaganda didn’t try to pass itself as news. Though to be fair many of these wartime posters function more like public service announcements with messages like conserve resources, do your part, don’t give out any military secrets, buy bonds, enlist, and what not. And yes, you’ll find plenty with racist caricatures, particularly on any of the WWII ones featuring the Japanese. Still, they tend to be rather interesting to look at and not such for the artwork. But many of them have become so ingrained in the popular imagination that they’ve been parodied in pop culture for years. Nevertheless, for your reading pleasure, I give you a treasure trove of more propaganda posters from the old wartime years. Enjoy.

  1. Conserve water for the military industrial complex.

To be fair, this is for WWII when many nations were fighting for their survival. Still, the military industrial complex has gained a shadowy reputation since then.

2. This Christmas give your family the gift of war bonds.

Sure your kids may not enjoy them now. But wait until they’re about to go to college. Also, it’s your patriotic duty to do so.

3. Don’t get VD or else you’ll miss the boat.

Because our nation can’t afford soldiers with gonorrhea or chlamydia. So guys, keep it in your pants.

4. Angelic lady with harp wants you to enlist at your nearest recruiter station.

Because if you don’t enlist now, there’s a good chance they’ll draft you. A gem from World War I, by the way with George M. Cohan’s “Over There.”

5. One legged sailor wants you to do your part.

Because as you can see, he already did and got his leg blown off for it. And to him, it was worth it.

6. The YWCA wants you to support women workers.

Because women build planes and bombs so men can use them to blow up or shoot down other guys. By the way, average air time in a WWI aircraft was 20 minutes.

7. “When the sword is drawn, the Navy upholds it!”

So join the US Navy. Because spending long days warding off German U-Boats sure beats trenches and planes. Seriously, anything is better than the trenches.

8. Before you bang this woman, know that she might be an STD laden whore.

Yes, they seem to have a lot of wartime posters on STDs. But then again, contracting an STD is far worse than getting a cold.

9. Don’t be lazy or you’ll help the Nazis win.

Makes me wonder if they’re putting this guy down or sympathizing with him. I mean, the guy has a broken arm and can’t really do his job.

10. Even Mickey Mouse wants you to buy bonds.

Because Mickey loves America and wants to protect it from Nazis. Despite that Walt Disney was anti-Semitic.

11. Strike a blow for the Axis and give more wood for the army.

And we mean lumber this shirtless jacked guy chops down. Not the other kind since being gay in the military can give you a one way ticket to Levenworth, Kansas.

12. Civilians need food so plant more beans.

Because these people liberated from Axis occupation are absolutely starving. Mainly because of totalitarianism, systematic oppression, and the fact we bombed the shit out of their towns.

13. Buy war bonds to the moms and kids of fallen men.

Because a lot of employers simply won’t hire single moms during the 1940s. This is especially the case when she has two kids under the age of 5.

14. In a time of war, great Americans don’t take time off when their country needs them.

Though even during a time of war, can’t people just take time off for medical needs? Besides, everyone needs a break.

15. A woman loves a man who volunteered for submarine service.

Yet, serving in a submarine is absolutely no picnic at all. Still, at least they didn’t have women on there fortunately for her.

16. Defeat the Nazis and defend religious freedom.

Though I’d think it would be more to the point if it was a synagogue instead of a church. But church works fine.

17. The traffic light is right, stop waiting to beat Hitler and enlist.

However, they forgot to put a disclaimer: Must be 18 years or older. Though the traffic light is very effective.

18. Send your scrap to Uncle Sam so they can shoot down Nazi planes.

Still, I’m not sure a burning plane for a scrap metal poster is a good idea. But then again, this is WWII so it’s understandable.

19. Want to avoid VD? Try Prophylaxis.

Prophylaxis means prevention. And I guess the prophylaxis here is keeping it in your pants.

20. Whether in the fields, factories, or combat zones, we must attack at all fronts.

Yet, this doesn’t necessarily mean using a hoe or a blow torch as weapons. But they’re the home front.

21. Kids, help Uncle Sam win the war by buying war savings stamps with your change.

Since bonds are for grownups. And the US government isn’t above getting its hands on your monthly allowance to pay for a new machine gun.

22. Ladies, don’t worry about rations, can your food instead.

Yes, they encouraged people to can their food so they’d last for weeks. Then again, they didn’t have as reliable refrigeration then.

23. The Red Cross and Uncle Sam need you!

I don’t know about you, but Uncle Sam seems to be a bit creepy with that nurse. I have a bad feeling where this is leading.

24. Soldiers, when you sleep with a woman, you might pick up more than a girl.

And they think college hookup culture is bad these days. Yes, the World War II generation slept around, too.

25. This soldier wants you to save gas through carpooling.

Yes, carpooling saves gas. But the disadvantage of carpooling is that it’s not always feasible for co-workers living a neighborhood away from each other. Though this wasn’t much of a problem in the 1940s.

26. Before the war, men never thought a woman can do a blue collar job.

Yes, this is kind of sexist. But women did work in factories during both world wars. Not to mention, many female factory workers in WWI started out as girls.

27. Be wary and don’t fall for Axis propaganda.

Note they included religious bigotry on there but left out other faiths. Still, I’d worry more about Axis Sally than Tokyo Rose.

28. See a German U-Boat? Bomb it!

This is a navy recruitment poster. And here’s a guy carrying explosives. Hope he throws it at the Germans quick or he’s sunk.

29. Someone talked and this man’s ship got bombed.

Yes, scare them straight into shutting up while they make port in a foreign country. Still, you’d wonder if this guy ever learned to swim.

30. Uncle Sam wants you to shut up about military strategy.

Because you’ll never know when you meet a Nazi spy. So keep your trap shut.

31. The British Navy needs your bones for bombs.

They also need bones for all this other stuff, too. Though the aircraft one is puzzling to me.

32. Remember, loose talk during lunch can cost lives.

Nothing inspires paranoia like this one. Doesn’t help they’re drinking beer either. Oh, I see what they’re getting at.

33. Winston Churchill always holds the line to victory.

Here’s Churchill’s famous English bulldog portrait. And it doesn’t seem very flattering to me.

34. Careless talk will give you a German Iron Cross.

Or as this poster conveys, “make you a traitor.” Also not, the Nazi signet in full display.

35. Remember to eat healthy to be US strong.

Too bad a lot of people in our country do not nowadays. Still, you can see the point.

36. Talk less because you’ll never know if you meet a German spy.

Keep in mind that the Gestapo mainly dressed in civilian clothes in Nazi Germany. So this isn’t incredibly far fetched.

37. Fight for your country so you won’t have to lose your sacred rights.

Too bad they didn’t try to warn us during the 2016 election. Because our rights are now under attack from the Trump administration and the GOP as we speak. Have you seen the GOP healthcare plan and anti-protest laws?

38. VD can be cured, but antibiotics can’t relieve your regret.

So a sailor should be a good boy to keep it in his pants and his mouth shut. Because careless talk may mean death to your comrades.

39. Set to course to victory, join the US Coast guard.

Sure patrolling the nation’s borders may seem like a boring gig as you see these guys’ faces. But at least you most likely won’t die.

40. Defend America, don’t waste your food.

Because Americans need to be healthy to defeat the Nazis. So clean your plate at dinner.

41. Empty cans? Save them for ammunition.

Funny how the bullet chains are cans with tomatoes. As if they’re firing a machine guns with sauce bullets.

42. To avoid careless talk, don’t forget to tie your parrot’s beak shut.

Or any military camp could just ban pets. Much easier than tying something on a parrot’s mouth.

43. Soldiers, Uncle Sam wants you to take care of your gear.

For soldiers need to make sure everything’s working so their equipment can last. Doing that, the life they could save, could be their own.

44. Support oil for it powers planes and land vehicles.

Though today, you’d be more for clean energy like wind and solar. Okay, maybe we’re not that far yet, technology wise. But we’ll get there.

45. Join the Navy and man the guns!

I don’t know about you. But there’s something phallic about that missile and it doesn’t help that the guy doesn’t have shirt on. Just a thought.

46. Produce to the limit or else the 2 headed Axis hulk will storm New York City.

Because you don’t want this monster destroying the Statue of Liberty. Still, in movie world, cataclysmic events in New York are commonplace.

47. Use your ration stamps to stamp out black markets.

Funny how they have a black marketer in disgusting green. Yes, ration stamps get the job done.

48. Keep em’ fighting since production wins wars and prevent accidents.

Again with the bare chest and phallic looking missiles. And you wonder why sailors are more prone to gay stereotyping.

49. Every minute counts so avoid time off.

Instead of avoiding time off, it’d be better if it said, “avoid vacation time.” Because if someone needs a day off for illness, injury, or family, then they should have it.

50. Keep our cars rolling cause America can’t hitchhike to victory.

Still, hitchhiking isn’t a good idea even if that’s a way people got around at the time. And hitchhiking to victory, forget it.

51. “We’ve just begun to fight! Watch us put it across!”

I guess this is for recruitment as the eagle looks ahead. Guess this is from WWII.

52. The housewives brigade wants your scraps.

So give them all your junk so they can give to the war effort. Metal, paper, and bacon grease preferred.

53. Don’t read history, make it. Join the Navy.

But I think reading history is very important. This goes especially for the stuff that isn’t flattering like slavery.

54. Buy bonds to keep Germany and Japan from this mom and kid.

Yes, they have menacing hands that’ll go after your family. Just imagine the suffering.

55. Men who know always say no to prostitutes.

Because prostitutes are STD ridden whores who’ll infect them. Then again, this isn’t an entirely accurate description.

56. War bonds are the crop that never fails.

Though if I can grow money I would. But unfortunately money doesn’t grow on trees. Or from the ground.

57. Eat some of each from every food group every day. Other than that, eat whatever you want.

Nowadays, you’d have to eat a set of servings from each group. And it’s usually shaped within a plate or a pyramid.

58. In a time of war, it’s best you watch your weight.

So I guess they don’t want you to overeat either. Yes, it’s best you know your capacity.

59. Knock out VD. Prophylaxis prevents disease.

And yet, they have tanks shooting out saying, “soap,” “silver,” and “mercury.” Unfortunately, such treatment aren’t as good as penicillin.

60. July 4th is Uncle Sam’s birthday and the US is still going strong after 142 years.

And see Uncle Sam charge with his bayonet among the exploding bombs. Not necessarily a safe way to run through. But it’s WWI.

61. Simple Sam breaks a tool every day at work.

Here he is on a stool with a dunce cap. Yes, his antics in the factory waste time. But he really can’t help himself.

62. The Statue of Liberty wants you to buy a liberty bond or she perishes.

So while Uncle Sam urges men to serve, Lady Liberty urges everyone else to buy bonds. But she doesn’t look defenseless here.

63. Take the pledge that you’ll use ration points and not buy black market stuff.

Because it’s your patriotic duty to do so as an American consumer. So raise your hand and swear to it.

64. Let the guns do the talking for silence is security.

Because the guns can do quite a lot of damage. Kind of intimidating if you ask me.

65. Sure she might be hot but she could very well be a Nazi spy.

If you want to know, just ask her what she thinks about Jewish people. Okay, maybe that’s a bad indicator.

66. Always be be on the alert and join the Marines.

Here he has a gun pointed at planes during the night. I’m sure the planes don’t know what’s coming.

67. A rattlesnake is less dangerous than careless talk.

And rattlesnake bites are are real bitch. In fact, rattlesnakes can kill you. Just look at the fangs of this thing.

68. Think this Japanese beauty is hot? Avoid her.

Crazy how they managed to put a naked woman on here. Not often you see this on a WWII poster.

69. Sailor, beware of who you screw at port.

So don’t tell her anything about equipment, salings, or troop movements. She might be using her hotness to get you to talk.

70. Want to bring him back sooner? Get a war job.

Though the sooner you bring him back home, the sooner you’ll get a pink slip. So what it brings you is mixed.

71. “You give us the fire. We’ll give ’em hell!”

Here he is about to get in a fighter. Remember that bombers and pilots didn’t have a high survival rate in WWII. So he’s not likely to make it.

72. In Germany, someone is doing the same job as you, beat ’em.

Funny how they put it behind a large white swastika. Looks so evil.

73. The swastika marks the spot.

And it’s squarely on Hitler’s ass. And the planes are bombing it like crazy as he screams in pain.

74. Make every minute count for Pershing. Join the  shipyard.

However, keep in mind that WWI era wasn’t known for good health and safety conditions. And that the guy isn’t in proper safety equipment.

75. Remember, housewives, save fats for explosives.

Because fats contain nitro glycerin. So whenever you contribute grease to the military, you’re killing Nazis.

76. Women, there’s a war to be won. So get on your feet now.

Because when there’s a war on, the US needs everyone they have. So ladies, it’s off to the munitions factories.

77. Canada needs soldiers like you in its army.

Instead of a noble knight on horseback, we have a soldier on a motorcycle. Don’t think popping a wheelie is a good idea.

78. Smack the Japanese and join the submarine service.

Here’s a guy holding a V for victory. Hope he knows that the Pacific front was particularly horrific.

79. A starving child’s life was saved because you went without luxury. So give us money.

What a way to pull at people’s heartstrings. Though recently, the American Red Cross’s reputation has suffered.

80. “Let’s go Canada!”

Apparently, Canada didn’t have its famous maple leaf flag yet. And this guy hardly looks like a badass.

81. Every time you take the day off, you help Hitler.

Seems like they’re big on getting people not to miss any day at work. Though everyone deserves a break now and then. Even in wartime.

82. Break the bottle neck traffic, carpool.

Yet, in this one, the car breaks the bottle. But you have to agree, carpooling is a good idea, whenever it’s feasible.

83. Tell where he’s going, he’ll never get there!

Because telling where he’s going helps the enemy. So don’t. Okay?

84. Remember, make a mistake, you help the enemy! Because there’s a war on.

Sorry, but we can’t afford secretaries making mistakes. Too bad she might not have adequate training which I’m quite sure about.

85. Don’t forget that this hideous Japanese guy is the enemy.

Really? Depicting Japanese guys as raping white women? That’s about as racist and horrendous as sending a bunch of Japanese Americans to internment camps out west.

86. Still need more rags for salvage.

And yet, this old guy leads an invisible homeless guy. Couldn’t see anything so cruel.

87. “Remember Pearl Harbor and purl further!”

Seems like this was designed by a knitting circle. Still, it’s kind of clever.

88. Hey, British POWs, want some fresh air? Join the Free Corps.

The British Free Corps was a Waffen SS unit during WWII consisting of British prisoners of war who were stationed at the Eastern Front to fight the Russians. Only 54 joined up and major figures were later court martialed as traitors.

89. Fight the Japanese menace surrounding Australia. Blockade!

Though to be fair, militaristic Japan wanted an empire. And Australia is quite close to Indonesia.

90. “Couldn’t have done it without you!”

As if this American sailor can’t help but show how many Japanese boats he’s sunk. So proud of his accomplishments.

91. Salvage your rubber cause these guys have more important places to go.

Though it seems like they’re going on a joy ride more than anything. But they need rubber for tires to get around places.

92. Talk too much and this soldier’s behind a barbed wire fence.

Of course, he’d probably be at some POW camp which is nothing like Hogan’s Heroes. But at least he can be happy he’s not from Russia.

93. Can’t fight in war? Plant a victory garden instead.

After all, if you can grow it, you don’t need to buy it. You can even give some of your produce to the troops, too.

94. Open your eyes, America, since fighting Nazis isn’t business as usual.

Nor is it with the Trump administration. Not sure how we’ll get through that with our federal government intact.

95. Be good this year and invest in defense.

Because if you’ve been bad and help Nazis, then you’ll probably get something worse than coal. Like a charge for treason. And Santa wouldn’t like that.

96. Keep your mouth shut and don’t rat out information.

Cause you never know when the Axis powers would use it against you. So be smart and don’t say anything about war stuff.

97. The YWCA wants you to back our girls over there.

Yes, women who served in WWI didn’t get the credit they deserved. This switchboard operator is one of them.

98. Even a fish would keep its mouth shut around Japanese bait.

Boy is their rendition of the Japanese racist. Still, even if the fish took the bait, it would die right there.

99. After Iwo Jima, it’s all of us together.

This is a depiction of the famous photo at Iwo Jima. Subject of two Clint Eastwood movies.

100. Wasting stuff helps Hitler.

And they had to do a paper version of Hitler with a weird looking mustache brush. Not flattering but he’s a horrible man anyway.

Why We Need to Stop Likening Donald Trump to Andrew Jackson

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As president, Donald Trump has often been linked to Andrew Jackson in both good qualities and bad. Trump has braced the comparison since he chose to grace the Oval Office with Jackson’s portrait as well as laid a wreath at his grave at the Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee to honor his 250th birthday. Though he doesn’t try to claim that he shares the policies and attitudes Jackson embraced, he’s proposed to be in the 21st what the seventh president was during the 19th. After all, what made Jackson so fondly remembered by some was his connection to ordinary people as well as his embodiment of populist politics. Meanwhile, detractors often note how Jackson was an unapologetic racist and slave owner whose harsh treatment of Indian tribes eventually led to the Trail of Tears. And they often remark compare it to how Trump used racism to win over the support of working class whites as a political outsider taking on the establishment and riding into Washington to return power to the people. However, though understand Americans’ need to make historical comparisons, I find the idea of likening Trump to Old Hickory deeply insulting to Andrew Jackson and his memory.

Now I understand that Andrew Jackson wouldn’t rank among many Americans’ favorite presidents for very justifiable reasons. Sure he was an unapologetic racist who defended slavery without question and his policy on Indian removal in the Southeast resulted in tragic consequences such as the Trail of Tears, destruction of tribal culture, and genocide. In addition, Jackson’s dismantling of the Bank of the United States led to the Panic of 1837 as well as decades of frequent bank failures and economic instability until the creation of the Federal Reserve. Jackson’s practice of appointing personal associates, wealthy friends, and party loyalists to federal offices as a reward for victory generated what would later be called the spoils system which led to a lot of government corruption for decades and eventually the assassination of a US president. And yes, I understand that like Trump, Jackson could be especially harsh on his enemies, violated political norms and constitutional concepts he didn’t like, had some anti-intellectual tendencies, was obsessed with the media, occasionally had little regard for the law and institutions, and was seen by his detractors as an unstable demagogue and a would-be dictator.

However, besides inspiring distrust in certain elements of political elites in their day along with some other qualities, Trump and Jackson have little in common. In fact, Andrew Jackson would’ve despised Trump and liken his sham populism to an image of William Henry Harrison drinking hard cider in front of a log cabin. Jackson certainly would’ve been greatly insulted of Trump citing him as his hero and a reflection of himself. Such notion that a draft-dodging elitist and opportunist who’d apply to his high-born privilege in order to skirt the consequences for his legion of despicable business practices and did nothing to demonstrate a commitment to public service could resemble Old Hickory basically desecrates almost everything about him and what he stood for. Whenever you see Jackson’s portrait in Trump’s Oval Office, don’t see it as being enshrined in a place of honor regardless of what you think of him. Rather think of Jackson’s presence in the Oval Office as one of great misfortune of having to see a man like Trump exploit him as nothing more than a mere prop to shamelessly project his faux populist image in order to deceive his constituents with no second thought. Only to betray his lowly supporters by using his presidential power to enrich himself along with his elitist friends, backers, allies, as well as the GOP and corporate establishment at the common people’s expense. All Jackson can do is hopelessly watch by, unable to tell the world what he was all about in his defense while Trump distorts his image and legacy for his own benefit. Jackson may not have been an exemplary role model, but he was certainly no Donald Trump. And we should see Trump’s honoring him as nothing short of disgraceful to a man who’s currently turning in his grave.

By all accounts, Andrew Jackson was a complex and fascinating man who remains one of the most studied and controversial Americans in the 19th century. Whether you love him or hate him, there are plenty of qualities about the man you have to respect as well as the impact he made. And despite all the awful stuff he did, there’s a reason why historians rate his presidency so highly. Generations of parents named their sons after Jackson, often placing both his names before their surname. Jackson’s election to the presidency comes off as a vindication of American ideals and affirms American greatness. Jackson’s unapologetic defense of slavery and infamous policy regarding Indian removal have marred his complicated legacy and for very good reason. The fact he made his fortune speculating Indian lands as well as owning (and possibly trading) slaves doesn’t help his reputation. Yet, he was a staunch believer in popular democracy (at least among white men) and believed in the sanctity of the American Union with almost religious conviction. But despite his lasting reputation as an aggressive, no nonsense, I’ll-do-things-my-way kind of guy, Jackson was far more than the one dimensional caricature he’s often depicted as. He was self-raised, self-educated, and well-read in current events (with a subscription to 17 newspapers). He conducted himself as a quintessential Southern gentleman with exquisite manners and a rather gallant attitude towards women. Though nasty and spiteful to enemies, he was generous, considerate, and loyal to his friends and a devoted husband to his wife Rachel. Though strong in his convictions and an intense partisan, he was not without moments of compromise and indecision. And he wasn’t above appointing cabinet members who disagreed with him like his closest advisor Martin Van Buren as well as Edward Livingston and Louis McLane. Nor did he always hold grudges for he welcomed Thomas Hart Benton back into the fold despite being a longtime foe. Furthermore, he considered his word his bond as well as strived to exhibit fidelity, honor, and integrity.

We need to understand that what attracted ordinary people to support Jackson was totally different than what attracted people to Trump. Though 19th century political campaigns often involved nasty mudslinging, Jackson’s appeal to the common people had much more to do with the great positive sentiment Jackson evoked in the average Americans at the time. What ordinary Americans loved most about him was that he really was one of them. His father died before he was born while his mother died in his teens. Everything Jackson achieved in life came through his own efforts. What Jackson projected is the belief that any kid can grow up to be president. If a poor kid from the Carolinas can reach the White House, then it must be the case that talent, grit, and honor could make up for the humblest beginnings. His modest background as a self-made man on the frontier who championed those of his former station cast him as an outsider from the aristocracy of Washington’s political elite. The people loved him for it and voted for him out of affinity and pride. His 1829 inauguration saw one of the largest crowds by that point as he took the oath of office at the US Capitol’s East Portico. After the ceremony, Jackson invited the public to the White House for a reception where thousands of his supporters held a raucous party, inflicting a degree of damage to the fixtures and furnishings

And Andrew Jackson had done plenty in his lifetime of public service to earn his supporters’ admiration that they were glad to cast their vote for him. He served as a courier to a local colonial militia during the American Revolution and at the Battle of Hanging Rock during his early teens. At 14, he was taken captured by the British, where he braved small pox, starvation, and being slashed by a British officer for refusing to clean his boots. When he moved to Tennessee as an adult, he spent much of that time in the service of his adopted state and the US. He helped write the state’s constitution and served as a circuit judge. He represented Tennessee in the House and the Senate. He was governor of Florida while it was a federal territory. Most famously, Jackson commanded Tennessee militia and later US Army troops during the War of 1812, earning the name “Old Hickory” for his resilience in combat and willingness to endure the same hardships as his men. He fought a war against the Creek Indians with an arm in his sling from a shoulder wound. His victory at the Battle of New Orleans was the signal triumph of the American armed forces between the Revolution and the Civil War. During that time, Jackson was broadly acclaimed as second only to George Washington among the pantheon of American military heroes. Because despite the War of 1812 being virtually over for 2 weeks thanks to the Treaty of Ghent, the British had still viewed the Louisiana Purchase as illegitimate. Had the Brits seized on New Orleans, they were prepared, treaty or no treaty, to declare the Louisiana Purchase a dead letter and redraw the political map of North America. Jackson’s victory ensured that the British wouldn’t renegotiate peace terms ending the war. Though some people questioned Jackson’s politics, nobody questioned his courage and patriotism.

We should also understand that there was much more about Andrew Jackson than this image of a wild backwoodsman initially suggests. When a young woman from South Carolina named Julia Ann Conner visited his Hermitage in 1827, she found him to be nothing like she expected. Rather she wrote him to be a “venerable, dignified, fine-looking man, perfectly easy in manner.” She noted how Jackson kept articles he received from the Washington’s family on his mantelpiece as “preserved with almost sacred veneration.” Conner even joined him in a game of chess and referred Jackson as an “excellent player” as he “frequently directed my moves—apparently much interested in the fate of the game … there were no traces of the ‘military chieftain’ as he is called!” This is a very different portrait of Jackson than what many Americans are used to. But it nonetheless explains much of his character. Though he may come off as reckless, he more often played games in politics and war with skill and patience. His enemies and much of posterity never quite understood that what was the most fundamental fact about Jackson wasn’t a problem with his temper, but more often than not, his ability to control it and harness that energy in ways that would’ve driven other politicians to ruin such as intimidating his foes or advancing his agenda. Sure he was prone to fits of rage and for getting into duels and brawls, especially as a young man. But he was self-aware enough to understand his weaknesses and took care to compensate for them. With that came a kind of self-restraint, which worked so well his closest advisor, Martin Van Buren marveled how Jackson could turn anger on and off at will. But as Conner noted, he was as at home with his chessboard as he was with charging blindly forward. Though he certainly was a powerful personality, Jackson’s rise from his humble beginnings could never be possible without his shrewdness, resourcefulness, as well as his capacity to cultivate himself while retaining an image as a fearsome and violent man of action he used to his advantage. Yet, seeing Jackson this way makes the idea of him being a reflection of Trump astoundingly laughable.

Andrew Jackson’s distrust for elites and the Washington establishment was also very different from Trump’s. A political centrist and believer in Jeffersonian principles, Jackson believed that monied and business interests would corrupt Republican values. While his defeat of the Second Bank of the United States and his opposition to federal public works projects hurt ordinary Americans, his rationale behind both reflects that sentiment. Back in the 19th century, legislatures often granted corporations charters to build infrastructure which gave them valuable privileges. State governments often shared corporate ownership with private investors. Jackson feared that public investments offered unearned advantages to insiders that would surely lead to corruption and as he put it, “destroy the purity of our government.” Nevertheless, despite vetoing the Marysville Road project, Jackson’s administration saw more federal funding on infrastructure than all his predecessors combined. And Jackson’s Marysville Road veto had more to do with it connecting two towns in Kentucky, which he viewed as nothing more than a pork barrel project for Henry Clay’s home state.

As for the Second Bank of the United States, well, it was a public-private corporation partly funded by taxpayers but controlled by private investors, some of whom were European. Despite its hold on the nation’s currency gave it immense economic powers such as destroying state banks by calling in their loans, it faced no democratic oversight. And its capital was twice the federal government’s expenditures. The Panic of 1819 was particularly devastating for ordinary Americans thanks excessive land speculation, unsecured loans, misrepresentation, and the unrestrained use of paper money. The Bank did little to relieve since it was deeply enmeshed in these inflationary practices. Jackson opposed the Bank because he considered it a privileged, monopolistic, and undemocratic corporation. He was sure the Bank made dubious loans and campaign contributions to influence politicians and editors as well as to even buy elections. When the bill to renew the charter reached his desk, Jackson vetoed it bristled with populist attacks ringing eerily familiar. He charged that “The rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.” They sought special favors “to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful,” rightly leading “the humbler members of society—the farmers, mechanics, and laborers … to complain of the injustice of their government.” In his farewell address, Jackson warned that the people, “have little or no share in the direction of the great moneyed corporations,” and were always “in danger of losing their fair influence in the government.” Today, you’d find many of these anti-big business sentiments in a Bernie Sanders speech against the Citizens United ruling, a Supreme Court decision that Jackson would’ve certainly not enforced. Trump, on the other hand, clearly sees absolutely no problem with corporate influence on government as illustrated by his donations to various political entities including Citizens United, receiving generous campaign contributions, and appointing billionaire CEOs to cabinet positions.

Nevertheless, what’s the most outrageous about the Trump-Jackson analogy is the most basic. Regardless what you think about him, Andrew Jackson was the president who more than any other, secured the future of American democracy. For the quarter-century before Jackson, presidents were essentially aristocrats who essentially appointed their own successors with the Election of 1800 being the only exception. When he was elected to the presidency in 1828, he won with 56% of the popular vote which was 12 points more than his opponent, John Quincy Adams. By frustrating Adams’s bid for reelection, Jackson broke the mold and became president at a time when states had started abandoning their property and residency voting requirements, which he both encouraged and benefitted from. Sure Jacksonian democracy fell short of today’s model since most women and blacks couldn’t vote. But by enfranchising all white males other than property owners, it represented a huge step forward from the unabashed elitism characterizing the 18th century. That elitism was part of why many in the political establishment in Jackson’s time likened him to a dangerous demagogue as well as an unstable, would-be dictator. We should note that the Founding Fathers came up with the Electoral College and election of senators through the state legislatures because they harbored a lot of distrust toward the common people and likened democracy to mob rule. Jackson knew this and as president, had repeatedly called for a constitutional amendment to abolish it for reasons we don’t have to get into after 2016. And it was certainly why then Speaker Henry Clay encouraged the House of Representatives to choose John Quincy Adams over Jackson in 1824, which resulted in his appointment as Secretary of State. Furious Jackson supporters would call this a “corrupt bargain” because their candidate won at least 42% of the popular vote. Yet, because no candidate received a clear majority of electoral votes (due to the race consisting of 4 different guys), the decision fell to the House. Still, had Jackson succeeded in eliminating the Electoral College, Trump would’ve never become president since he lost the popular vote by the largest historical margin of anyone who’s ever won the presidency.

Moreover, Andrew Jackson’s character and worldview reflected a genuine conviction in the people’s ultimate wisdom. He came to that populism through his experience and his own humble beginnings. As a self-made man, he saw his political mission to remove what he believed to be corrupting influences such as the Second Bank of the United States, entrenched federal appointees, and money speculators. That so ordinary Americans which he called “the planter, the farmer, the mechanic, and the laborer” could rise to prosperity. In other words, Jackson believed the federal government should benefit the interests of all Americans and that political participation should be a right. And he expanded the role of the presidency from mere executive to active representative of the people. Another one of Jackson’s most central beliefs was the inviolability of the federal Union and that concepts like secession and nullification were unacceptable. The fact he was willing to go to war with South Carolina when it threatened to secede during the Nullification Crisis illustrate this. Jackson believed that popular democracy spoke most clearly when the nation spoke as the nation. Not as separate polities in individual states. And that the union must be preserved above all else. His ideas in popular democracy and devotion to the Union above all else have left an indelible mark in the American consciousness, both of which he considered as inseparable. Generations after him have built on them and expanded on and in ways even he wouldn’t have imagined. Yes, his idea of popular democracy only included all white men. But it nevertheless provided a foundation for women and minorities to campaign for their voting rights as well as inspired almost every liberal and progressive movement and policy ever since. Jacksonian democracy became a touchstone of American politics that every presidential candidate since had to possess a common touch or effectively fake it. His idea of the president being the people’s representative has helped shaped the modern American presidency as we know it. And the Jacksonian concept that the union must be saved above all else strongly influenced the Union cause during the Civil War. Jackson’s policy during the Nullification Crisis set a precedent for Abraham Lincoln to follow through by sending military force against the Confederacy.

Andrew Jackson may have done plenty of terrible things that have hurt a lot people during his lifetime as well as led to plenty of negative repercussions even after he left office. He could sometimes be woefully wrong on what he thought was best for the American people. He may have stood on the wrong side of history in regards to defending slavery and removing Native Americans from their land so his friends could build plantations. Yes, he personally profited from stealing land from the Indians during the Indian wars. Yes, he brought a new coalition to elites into power such New York politicians, Pennsylvanian businessmen, and Southern slaveholders. And yes, he tended to their special interests as any typical politician. Still, Jackson was no opportunist and didn’t use populism as a political device. He didn’t use his image as a temperamental man for mere theatrics. He wanted to accomplish things. He never ever threw his friends under the bus even it was expedient to do so. He never embarrassed foreign dignitaries nor handled diplomatic disputes with anything other than moderation and skill. Nor did he try to profit from the presidency since he asked a friend to settle his business affairs after he won the election so he could focus on being president. But regardless of how we view Jackson today, he was a military hero who served his country in combat and a politician who generally placed the nation’s interests above his own. He symbolized the democratic struggle among the great majority against unearned power and special privilege. Furthermore, he was a firm believer in American democratic values as he once said, “As long as our government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of persons and of property, liberty of conscience, and of the press, it will be worth defending.”

As Thomas Hart Benton said of the Jackson presidency, “Great is the confidence which he has always reposed in the discernment and equity of the American people. I have been accustomed to see him for many years, and under many discouraging trials; but never saw him doubt, for an instant, the ultimate support of the people … He always said the people would stand by those who stand by them.” Andrew Jackson was a very flawed man whose life and legacy reflected the best and the worst of America in his time and all time. Yet, even the ugliest parts of his life and legacy don’t dismiss him as any less than a man who tried to be worthy of the American people’s support. After all, despite that America has viewed itself as a beacon of liberty, democracy, and prosperity, it was also built on slavery and Native American displacement and genocide. And Jackson’s attitudes and actions regarding slavery and Native Americans are so glaring that they can’t be ignored. Nor should they be. Though his grave sins keep us from viewing him as an icon of reverence, Jackson’s life should teach us that even heroic men like him are seldom pillars of perfection. Jackson knew this for though he may have been critical of the founding generation, he nonetheless appreciated those responsible for crafting and refining the systems of checks and balances on which the nation was based. Even though he didn’t always observe them as president. Not to mention, a lot of Jackson’s own supporters didn’t always agree with him including close friends and advisers. Still, if Jackson and his fellow Democrats can get things so badly wrong, then we’re forever vulnerable as well. History may well remind us that we’re always at risk of falling short in the unending search for a more perfect Union.

Nevertheless, while Jackson shouldn’t be idolized on a pedestal, he doesn’t deserve outright vilification either even if he deserves being called out for his sins. Nor should he ever be reduced to a one-dimensional caricature since there’s nothing simple about him. Such approaches do a disservice to him as the complex and fascinating man he was and how he should be remembered as. Nor should he be embraced by a president who knows nothing about him, shares none of the causes he championed, and praises him so he can depict him in his own image. Donald Trump is no Andrew Jackson nor does he even come remotely close. Unlike the 7th president, this unrespectable man has repeatedly demonstrated that he cares more about himself than the American people and what is best for this nation’s future. His praises of dictators show he has more affinity for a culture common in authoritarian systems where ruling regimes have a monopoly on truth. Though he has promoted himself as a successful businessman, he’s very much a product of inherited wealth and unearned privilege which have gotten him where he is today. And he often used his status to avoid military service, federal taxes, and taking responsibility for his despicable business practices. Nor was his success the result of his hard work and natural ability. It’s very clear that Trump’s populism is a sham. Then there’s the fact Trump has promoted his real-estate investments during his presidential campaign as well as acknowledges that he “might have” discussed his global business interests in his talks with foreign leaders since his election. Even as president Trump hasn’t separated himself from his business, which puts him in clear violation of the Emoluments Clause. It’s very clear he’s profited from both his campaign and his presidency. His business interests abroad might have an impact on American foreign policy. To equate Jackson with Trump normalizes the latter in ways that should offend us in 2017. Jackson for all his faults doesn’t deserve to be equated to this unrespectable man, regardless of his sins. Jackson may not have been a great hero to many people’s eyes for very good reasons. But what Trump embodies basically goes against almost everything that Jackson stood for as well as exemplify why Americans still admire him today.