Cover Songs – WIF Music Monday

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10 Cover Songs More Famous

than the Original

We’ve told you before about how a cover of a song can end up more famous than the original. But 10 entries wasn’t enough to do the subject justice, as there are lots of great examples we left off the list. So here’s the sequel!

10. Black Magic Woman

The Cover (Santana)

If you ask someone who knows anything about Santana to start naming their songs, “Black Magic Woman” will almost certainly be in the top five. Released in 1970, it reached number four on both the US and Canadian music charts and would become one of Santana’s biggest hits. Their version included extra guitar at the beginning and the end, and also included conga and timbales drums.

The Original (Fleetwood Mac)

The song was originally written in 1968 by Peter Green, the founder of Fleetwood Mac. But if you asked someone to start naming Fleetwood Mac songs, “Black Magic Woman” probably wouldn’t come up, at least not until they got pretty deep into their catalogue. Their version is shorter and lacks the extra instrumentals. It wasn’t exactly unpopular, it was just overshadowed by Santana’s version. In fact, they continued to play it throughout the early ’70s, often reminding the audience that it actually was a Fleetwood Mac song.

9. No No Song

The Cover (Ringo Starr)

Ringo Starr first became famous for playing the drums for some British band you may have heard of, but after that he had a career as a solo artist. One of his more popular songs was the 1974 release “No No Song,” which is surprisingly not aimed at infants. It basically tells the story of people offering the singer all sorts of drugs that they refer to as “the best in all the land” and the singer turning them down.

The Original (Hoyt Axton)

Hoyt Axton was an American folk singer from Oklahoma. The son of the woman that co-wrote the song “Heartbreak Hotel,” it seems that writing good songs ran in his family. Hoyt became fairly well-known in the ’60s and ’70s, both for writing songs and for appearing on TV. In fact, he was such a good songwriter he’s going to appear on this list again. How’s that for foreshadowing?

8. Joy to the World

The Cover (Three Dog Night)

No, not the Christmas carol. If we say the words “Jeremiah was a bullfrog,” you might recognize it as the beginning of Three Dog Night’s hit “Joy to the World.”Released in 1970, it rose to number one on the charts in the US and in Canada. It was quickly certified gold and eventually sold five million copies.

The Original (Hoyt Axton)

See, we told you. Hoyt’s slower and softer version of the song didn’t perform nearly as well. It’s a shame his versions weren’t as successful as the covers, but it seems he had a knack for writing good songs that others could later make great. Also, after Three Dog Night’s version was released, Hoyt and his mother became the first mother and son to have both written a number one rock and roll hit.

7. La Bamba

The Cover (Los Lobos)

La Bamba was a 1987 biographical movie that told the story of Mexican-American musician Ritchie Valens. Many of the songs from the soundtrack were recorded by the band Los Lobos, the most popular of which was the titular “La Bamba.” The song rose to the top of the US and UK charts in the same year, thus becoming one of the most commercially successful songs sung in Spanish.

The Original (Ritchie Valens)

Although it had long been a popular Mexican folk song, the first version of “La Bamba” to gain wider acclaim was released in 1958 by Ritchie Valens. Although his version didn’t perform as well initially, it has since become well regarded. It was the only Spanish song included on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

6. Louie Louie

The Cover (The Kingsmen)

“Louie Louie” is one of the most covered songs in history. Estimates range on just how many artists have recorded versions, but it’s generally agreed to be at least in the hundreds. Whatever the number is, the most popular version was recorded by The Kingsman in 1963. Their version also generated controversy — someone wrote a letter to Robert Kennedy in 1964 complaining that the song contained “obscene” lyrics. The FBI proceeded to investigate… for four months.  In the the end, they admitted they couldn’t hear anything and gave up.

The Original (Richard Berry)

The original version of “Louie Louie” was written in 1955 by Richard Berry. His version was much slower and clearer, and was performed in the style of a Jamaican ballad, which probably didn’t appeal much to America’s mainstream audience. The original is much more easily understood, and the story told takes a more prominent place. Unfortunately, Berry didn’t receive much for writing the song, as he signed away the rights before it became a hit. However, because a company wanted to use the song in the 1980s, he was able to renegotiate the rights and received a very large sum of money.

5. Hallelujah

The Cover (Jeff Buckley)

“Hallelujah” has also been covered many times. One of the more popular versions was released by John Cale in 1991 as a tribute to the original. This inspired Jeff Buckley to record his own version, which was released in 1994 on his only complete studio album, Grace. Although the album wasn’t initially a hit, it went gold in 2002 and “Hallelujah” was ultimately ranked 259th on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Unfortunately, Buckley didn’t get to see this success, as he died in 1997.

The Original (Leonard Cohen)

“Hallelujah” was originally released in 1984 by Canadian Leonard Cohen. Supposedly he spent years fine-tuning the song, writing almost 80 verses before trimming it down to its current state. His version was not initially a hit, but many people have come back to listen to it after hearing one of the covers, perhaps while watching Shrek. We’re sure he’s not too bummed out about it, as he’s been inducted into both the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

4. Without You

The Cover (Harry Nilsson)

“Without You” has been covered many times, notably by Mariah Carey in 1994. Her version reached number three on the US charts, but actually isn’t the most successful version. Harry Nilsson released his take in 1971, just one year after the original came out. His went to the very top of the US charts, and remains the only version to do so.

The Original (Badfinger)

British rock group Badfinger released the original version in 1970 on their albumNo Dice. The sad song offered some awful foreshadowing, as two of the members later committed suicide. The song was in fact inspired by real events in their personal lives. Their version wasn’t nearly as popular as later covers, possibly because it wasn’t released as a single.

3. Mandy

The Cover (Barry Manilow)

In 1974, Barry Manilow released “Mandy.” It was a big hit, becoming his first song to reach number one on the US charts. It would also become his first gold single. It kicked off his huge career, in which he at one point had five albums on the bestseller list at the same time.

The Original (Scott English)

The original version was released in 1971 by the ironically named American Scott English. The song he released was actually called “Brandy.” His version was somewhat popular, but was only really well-known in the UK. Manilow changed the title because another song with the name Brandy in it was popular at the time.

2. Tainted Love

The Cover (Soft Cell)

“Tainted Love,” released in 1981, was Soft Cell’s second single and their biggest hit. Their version was slower than the original and used synthesizers and rhythm machines as background noise instead of traditional instruments. It was their most successful song, rising to number 1 in the UK charts and 8 in the US.

The Original (Gloria Jones)

The original was recorded in 1964 by Gloria Jones. The motown song was a commercial flop, but after awhile it became somewhat popular in clubs in northern England, which prompted Jones to rerelease it. She did so in 1976, but the song again failed to chart. It would remain largely unknown until Soft Cell’s cover.

1. Layla

The Cover (Eric Clapton) 

Clapton released a trimmed down version of “Layla” in 1972 that reached number 10 in the US and number 7 in the UK. 20 years later he released an acoustic version that only reached number 12 in the US, but ended up winning the 1992 Grammy for Best Rock Song, beating out “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

The Original (Derek and The Dominoes)

“Layla” was ranked 27th on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, but the first time it was released it wasn’t very popular. Recorded with Clapton’s band Derek and The Dominoes in 1970, the first version of the song failed to chart. This was perhaps partly due to the fact that Clapton’s name wasn’t on the front of the album, and no one had ever heard of this Derek character. It was also over seven minutes long, and as a result wasn’t played often on the radio.

Cover Songs

– WIF Music Monday


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Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 149

… Cool your heels, play tiddlywinks, take a plane ride, anything, just stay out of the damned devil’s sight…

“Penty is getting plenty close,” Agent Daniels is warning Constance about their adversary’s new proximity. “I’m hoping that he isn’t able to track me sooner than 24 hours, ‘cause if I don’t stay in one spot, he can only guess.”

“You’re not from around here, are you?” 

“You mean he is back at 33 LaSalle?”

“No, he is 10 blocks north of you at 5046 Greenwood.”

She is not a native Chicagoan so some quick counting of streets leads her to conclude, “Does he know something we aren’t aware of?”

“I think he is using this Midwest location as a centralized contact point for those of us not given to spatial displacement.”

“Huh, say what?” spatial what? “How is it that you know where he’s at?”

“I have my ways.”

“I should have known.”

“You should have known,” Ace’s is playing the waiting game, mostly taking his Beechcraft out for daily spins up and around Lake Michigan, or basically wherever he pleases. He feels his skills are being wasted… until there is something to do.

“If you’re so good at second guessing, what do you think we are going to do next?”

“We’re going to fly down to Florida and see what Fanny is up to?”

“That may not be such a good idea — I believe she is carrying a gun now.”

“Scratch that idea,” he is not high on Fan’s list of favorite people at this moment and she has had time to stew about things.

“You are going to drive us over to that house on Greenwood, stake it out for a bit, kick the tires, rattle his cage, you know boogie with the boogie man.” Constance knows that Agent Daniels must be moving on to some other assignment any day and someone has to keep tabs on the Great Deceiver.

“That may not be the greatest idea Miss Caraway. As soon as you underestimate him, he will take a bite out of you,” warns Daniels. “I realize that you guys are restless, but Libby is working on his coming out party and you do not want to mess that up. Cool your heels: Watch Penty from afar, do property searches on the Greenwood house, play tiddlywinks, take a plane ride, anything, just stay out of his sight. Resist the urge to tinker and leave ‘him’ to me.”



Episode 149

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Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 148

… “I want you to be a part of my next crusade.” Billy Graham has his sights set on revival…


 “I want you to be a part of my next crusade.” Without concern or compunction, Billy Graham has his sights set on revival. It has been 45 years since the last “Great Awakening” and considering the troubling direction of the world, the frequency of wars, the coming age of information, moral decay, etc…, the time has come for the next such amassing of God’s people. “I am gathering the world’s most influential leaders in their fields of expertise, and not just the blatantly religious. You, Willard Libby represent perhaps the fittest example of proving the case for Christ; your Carbon-14 findings will rock secular strongholds down to the quick.”

“I am flattered that you would consider me,” Libby’s modest style is what makes him so attractive to Graham, who is not seeking grandstanders, only defenders of the Word. “You are aware that the fantastic people who are working on my behalf (and Martin) believe they are having encounters with the Devil?”

“As a matter of fact, I have spoken to most of them, the CIA guy foremost of those; and I must tell you that it makes me shudder to think how bold Satan has become. But that is what I’m talking about: the world needs to know exactly what they are up against. When asked, 99% of people on Earth don’t believe that Satan exists, which is just the way he wants it.

“And you won’t hear about this stuff on radio news broadcasts or on television either. The truth needs to be told.”

“You can count me in, though the vehicle with which I tell the world about my half-life discoveries is not what I envisioned.”

“We don’t have the plan for our lives; God is the author of the world he has created with His hands, for His great pleasure.”

“When do we start,” he puts his arm around Martin, anxious to escape his imposed imprisonment.

“Spring is around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere and we are in the process of securing venues for the crusade. We have to expect that the Lord will be sending a million seekers our way, with the hope of attracting a billion more!”

“I am into large-scale thinking, but you best leave the Bible thumping for folks who know what they are talking about.”

“Listen and learn, my friend,” the evangelist exhorts, “your job is to bend the ears of the technological intolerant.”


Episode 148

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The Byproducts of War – Teflon, Duct Tape, Tampons and Disney

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10 Famous Products Brought

To Us By World Wars

War is hell. But for a few opportunistic and enterprising visionaries, it can also be a springboard to business success. Two of the biggest,bloodiest global conflicts in human history did more than rewrite maps and change the balance of international power — they provided the world with some of its most successful brands ever.

10. Instant Noodles


The journey of this inventor and businessman goes through not one, but two World War II occupations, and even into space. Born in Taiwan in 1910, Momofuku Ando was expatriated to Japan during their occupation of his island home. After the war in the Pacific came to a conclusion, Ando found himself under occupation by American troops and battling hunger alongside the newly-defeated Japanese.

It took Ando several years before his idea for cheap noodles went into mass-production, but after several attempts he finally found a formula that worked. College students in need of cheap sustenance can thank the endless food lines, desperation, and lack of surviving infrastructure in the wasted cities of Japan for giving Momofuku the inspiration and drive to develop his signature Cup of Noodles.

9. McDonald’s French Fries


Graduating from pigs to potatoes, high school dropout J.R. Simplotdeveloped the first ever freeze-dried potatoes and vegetables for the U.S. Army, right when international logistics threatened to derail Allied efforts in Europe. The longer shelf-life and easy reconstitution of Simplot’s frozen veggies helped ensure troops overseas could be kept stocked with the food they needed to fuel their march through Europe.

When the end of the war dried up demand from his biggest customer, Simplot signed a contract with one Ray Kroc to provide frozen French fries. Fast-forward some 50 years, and Simplot’s potato empire has permanently forced the association of “Idaho” and “potato” by providing McDonald’s with more than 50% of its French friesworldwide.

8. Chemical Fertilizers


Back before the abundance of cheap food drove the world’s population to unsustainable levels, agriculture was limited by the amount of nitrogen found in soil. While scientists had already discovered the link between nitrogen levels and crop yields, the fertilizer industry didn’t really explode until it literally started making explosives.

Starting in World War I, the chemical research of Fritz Haber allowed the German army to douse its enemies in deadly chlorine. In World War II the Allied Powers took the Haber Process further by manufacturing copious amounts of munitions through nitrogen synthesis. At the end of the war, these industrial-scale efforts were re-purposed to produce chemical fertilizers.

7. Tampons


The world’s favorite feminine hygiene brand didn’t start as a sponge forambiguous blue water. The haphazard medical conditions of World War I did more to kill troops than the actual fighting. To improve the situation, manufacturing company Kimberly-Clark developed a lightweight, highly absorbent gauze known as Cellucotton to help American soldiers injured in combat.

In the post-war years, leftover Cellucotton bandages were re-purposed by menstruating Red Cross nurses. Kimberly-Clark took note, and after a little tinkering produced their first sanitary napkin expressly for women’s health. The Kotex model was replicated by Tampax in the midst of World War II, and over the following decades they refined their bandages-turned-pads into the cotton tubes we now know as tampons.

6. Teflon


During World War II, Allied scientists were tasked with keeping military weaponry one step ahead of the fascists. The Manhattan Projectcommenced with the goal of making the biggest boom since the start of the universe. Teflon, accidentally discovered in 1938 by Roy J. Plunkett, came under intense demand almost immediately when it was found to withstand the volatile ingredients of the first atomic bombs. After the Project culminated with the destruction of two Japanese cities, Teflon would be repurposed most famously as a non-stick coating in pots and pans, as well as a stain-resistant coating for clothing.

5. Sweet’n’Low


This sugar substitute was discovered in 1879 by a chemist named Ira Remsen who couldn’t be bothered to wash his hands before eating. At that time, the national obsession with weight-loss schemes hadn’t started, and folks were happy to eat plain old sugar. Saccharin didn’t come into mainstream use until World War I imposed rations on consumer staples like sugar, and people began buying up alternatives in droves.

The same thing happened again in World War II, and when a father and son team combined saccharine with dextrose at their diner in the 1950s, their product was rebranded as Sweet’n’Low. Turning the leftovers from wartime rationing into a new weight-loss gimmick, saccharin survived the return of natural sugar and kept its place on restaurant tables across America.

4. Microwave Ovens


Before Hot Pockets and TV dinners made the nuclear option a staple of the American kitchen, microwaves were simply a side-effect of World War II radar emitters. Self-taught engineer Percy Spencer was conducting research on magnetrons — a key component of radar systems — when he noticed that a candy bar in his pocket had melted. He theorized that microwaves emitting from the magnetrons generated the heat responsible for ruining his snack. Naturally, he tested his theory by proceeding to blow eggs and popcorn up using microwave emissions.

He finally managed to pull himself away from his new toy long enough to let his employers know what he had found. His discovery was soon put to work, and the first commercial microwave ovens were produced in 1955.

3. Duct Tape


Quibbles over whether “duct” or “duck” came first aside, this ubiquitous, multi-functional tape first emerged during the Second World War. GIs needed a flexible, water-proof material they could use to repair everything from canteens to ammunition cases. When Johnson and Johnson came up with a combination medical tape and self-adhesive strip they could deliver in rolls to the troops, duct tape was born.

The versatility of the tape made it popular among troops long after the war ended. Consumer demand quickly turned the military tool into a household name — which is only fitting, considering it was a Navy mother who first conceived of the idea out of concern for her enlisted family.

2. Disposable Syringes


As anyone who lived through the ’80s most homophobic health scarecan tell you, sharing needles is a quick way to spread diseases. But before America became obsessed with HIV/AIDs, the military was trying to balance the need for frontline painkillers with the risk of overdoses and morphine addiction.

During the American Civil War, as well as the First World War, wounded soldiers pretty much had to play through the pain until they were carted off to ad hoc medical tents and treated with morphine there. By World War II, the old glass and metal syringes were abandoned in favor of a new product, called the Syrette, which was compact (limiting the dosage it could administer), and expendable. Syrettes were distributed to troops pre-filled with single doses of morphine. This set the stage for later inventors who moved beyond distributing morphine to troops and reworked the product into a mass-produced medical device, now typically made of plastic.

1. Disney


No, Walt Disney didn’t start his namesake entertainment company in the midst of World War II. As the screaming voices of those within the Disney vault will tell you, his animation studio had been enjoying years of success with a string of animated shorts in the 1920s, as well as feature-length efforts like Snow White.

Walt proceeded to drive all that success straight into the ground, releasing a string of feature-length failures (we now call them “classics”) and then fumbling management of his striking animators who wanted Disney to unionize. By the time he capitulated, the company was facing bankruptcy.

Then the U.S. government, out of concern over fascist influence in South America, offered Disney an all-expenses paid trip down through Brazil, Argentina and Chile. The plan was for Disney to do a series of animated propaganda pieces celebrating Latin American culture, softening international relations and allowing the U.S. to focus on storming European beaches.

Disney’s deal with the military grew to include a series of propaganda cartoons, and resuscitated his collapsing brand so it could grow into the international entertainment superpower we all know and fear today. Without WWII, Disney would have gone whistling while he worked into the margins of history.

Now you know what war is good for.

The Byproducts of War

– Teflon, Duct Tape, Tampons and Disney


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Forever Mastadon ~ Episode 146

As the post-war world revolves on, the devil is doing what demons do and the struggles to overcome his influence go on…

Pentateuch is unaware of how close he is to the Laboratory Schools and the basement hideaway of Martin Kamen and Willard Libby. If nothing else, the Dark Deceiver will transform this place into a Halloween favorite, if not the coldest place on the block.

He has summoned L. Dick Cannon to his new Chicago digs; he just won’t be getting the top-to-bottom house tour afforded to those who can stomach the hellish undertones of Pentateuch. Cannon is his new pet project, the upright D. Joseph Winters perfecting the art of lies and using this deluded human fanatic as a launching pad for more of his carnal crap.

L Dick Cannon-001Pet-Project


“This is one grand house Mr. Winters,” Cannon gushes over an oversized fixer-upper.

“Yes it does have possibilities, just like you Mr. Cannon,” he is pushing this Church of Spiritual Engineering founder, as hard as he can without touching him, which usually does not end well. “I have arranged for a meeting with John Garfield. He has solid ties to Hollywood, but has been hounded by the House Committee  on Un-American Activities, of all things, is a ripe candidate for celebrity spokesman for your church and he is in Chicago trying to ditch the government’s efforts to defame his character.”

“Orson Wells would have been perfect,” L. Dick dreams aloud, “but he is just too much a smarty-pants for my liking. Let’s see if we can reel this one in!”

As the post-war world revolves on, the Devil is doing what demons do and the struggles to overcome his influence go on:

  • Constance Caraway and Fanny Renwick are drifting apart, in search of their individuality.
  • Ajax Aidan Bannion is (once again) flying headlong into a place he’s been before.
  • Pentateuch has lost sight of his real goal, recruiting L. Dick Cannon, yet another earthbound accomplice.

To which there is but one conclusion:

  • You never know what you will find when you’re traveling down the primrose path???


Episode 146

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Influential Families – WIF Global Genealogy

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10 Influential Families

Who Shaped World History

Some families will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. In the background of history’s most devastating wars and economical crises stand the ambitions and thirst for power of influential families that called the shots. People, governments and even countries were pawns that they played to mold human civilization as we know it.

10. Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty


The Nehru-Gandhi clan is remembered as the family that shaped modern India. They share the same name as Mahatma Gandhi and both fought for India’s independence, but that’s as far as the relationship goes. He was a spiritual leader, while the Nehru-Gandhis are a political dynasty that’s dominated the Indian National Congress ever since India claimed its independence.

Jawaharlal Nehru, opposed British occupation in India and led numerous civil disobedience campaigns, which put him behind bars. After being released in 1945, he played an important role in the negotiations that would create the independent states of India and Pakistan. He was appointed Prime Minster of the Republic of India in 1947, a position he held until his death in 1964.

A chip off the old block, Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi spent a year in prison for opposing British occupation. She was Prime Minister between 1966 and 1977 and again from 1980 through 1984, ruling like a dictator. She was assassinated by a Sikh member of her personal bodyguards. Her son, Rajiv Ghandi, shared the same tragic fate, killed during the 1991 elections by a young Tamil girl who tied a bomb to her body in protest of India’s political actions in Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, the family’s political ambitions couldn’t be quenched. Rajiv’s son, Rahul Ghandi, followed in his father’s footsteps and entered politics in 2004, aged 34.

9. The House of Plantagenet


The descendants of the Anjou counts of France, who offered 14 English kings, are remembered as the House of Plantagenet. The family’s name is believed to derive from the Latin planta genista, meaning sorghum. Geoffrey, count of Anjou, often wore a sorghum twig on his bonnet. It was his son, crowned King Henry II of England in 1154, who founded the dynasty. His bloodline continued until 1399 when Richard II was deposed by Henry of Bolingbroke, crowned Henry IV, who founded the Lancastrian cadet branch of the Plantagenets.

The kingdom flourished under their rule. They introduced the Gothic style, which inspired the time’s greatest architectural masterpieces, like Westminster Abbey and York Minister. They adopted the common and constitutional laws that shaped England as we know it, and it was under their rule that the controversial Magna Carta was drafted. Even the Parliament of England has its roots in Plantagenet rule, just like the prestigious universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The House of Plantagenet came to an end with Richard III’s death in battle in 1485. He was defeated by Henry Tudor, who brought his family to the helm of the country.

8. The Julio-Claudian Dynasty


In Ancient Rome, two powerful families merged into one even greater dynasty that would write the history of the Empire. The Julio-Claudian dynasty refers to five of Rome’s greatest emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero, all related by marriage and adoption, who ruled between 14 BC and 68 AD. Julius Caesar is often credited as the founder of the dynasty, but Caesar was never an emperor, nor did he have any blood ties with the Claudians.

It all began with the first Emperor, Augustus Caesar, the great-nephew and adoptive son of Julius Caesar and founder of an imperial system that changed the face of Europe. He was a revolutionary dictator and a visionary statesman who lay the groundwork for Western Europe’s Romanization.

All five emperors followed a similar pattern. They came to the helm of the empire through family ties, added new territories to the Empire, launched gigantic building projects, were loved by the people, and were rejected by their senators. Caligula is remembered as a despotic ruler who named his horse, Incitatus, his consul. He was assassinated by a member of the Praetorian guard. Claudius invaded Britain and Mauritania, adding them to the empire. He is thought to have been poisoned by his fourth wife, Agripina, to rush her son Nero’s ascension to the throne. The Julio-Claudian dynasty came to an end with Nero’s suicide.

7. The Ptolemaic Dynasty


Alexander the Great is remembered as the king who claimed some of the farthest known corners of the world. Ptolemy was one of Alexander’s seven personal guards. His loyal servants were made generals and then deputies to the ambitious conqueror. After Alexander death in 323 BC, each of his generals became satrap of a region within the vast empire. Ptolemy received Egypt. In 305 BC, he proclaimed himself King Ptolemy I. The Egyptians accepted him as the successors of the pharaohs, and for three centuries the Ptolemy dynasty ruled the land.

Ptolemy I conquered new territories, including Cyprus, Palestine and numerous Greek islands. During his reign, the majestic Library of Alexandria was built, turning the city into a center of study and the arts, and Egypt into a political and economical hub of the ancient world. Throughout Ptolemaic reign the empire was scarred by wars with the Seleucids, a dynasty founded by another of Alexander the Great’s generals.

The dynasty’s most resonant name remains Cleopatra VII, who sparked conflict between Rome and Egypt. Cleopatra rebelled against her brother and husband, Ptolemy XII, deposing him with Julius Caesar’s help. In 31 AD, Augustus Caesar defeated Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius, bringing the Ptolemaic dynasty to its knees and Egypt under Roman rule. Cleopatra’s suicide put an end to a dynasty that, for three long centuries, influenced the fate of the entire Mediterranean basin.

6. The Ming Dynasty


After successfully removing the Mongolian Yuan dynasty from the helm of the Chinese Empire, the first Ming Emperor ascended to the throne in 1368. Crowned Hongwu, Zhu Yuanzhang was a former Buddhist monk who was inspired to name his newly founded dynasty Ming, meaning “brilliant.” He would soon become known as a cruel and powerful ruler. He led his armies in invasions of Mongolia, and by the time of his death in 1398 he had united most of central China under his rule and forced Korea to pay tribute.

Protection against Mongol and Japanese invasions was a priority. Starting in 1387, the cornerstones of the Great Wall of China were laid. The Ming sovereigns, the last authentic Han emperors and the last dynasty of Chinese-born leaders, led China to the heights of material prosperity and social stability. Under their rule, China’s population reached a record 200 million inhabitants. The Chinese army counted over one million soldiers. Ming Emperors launched ambitious projects: a powerful fleet used by Emperor Zhenghe to sail to Africa, the restoration of the Great Canal, and the consolidation of the Great Wall of China. In the 15th century, the capital was moved to Beijing.

Ming emperors successfully opposed Japanese invasion, but it cost them the stability of their country. In 1644, the dynasty’s power began to fade away when the increasingly populous country, exhausting its agricultural resources, joined the rebellion led by general Li Zicheng. The last Ming emperor, Chongzhen, hanged himself.

5. The House of Habsburg


A resonant name in European history, the House of Hapsburg occupied the throne of theHoly Roman Empire between 1438 and 1740. The last of the royal bloodline was Charles II, whose genetic inheritance was just as bad as if he had been born from an incestuous relationship.

Founded by Rudolf I, king of Germany between 1273 and 1291, the dynasty owes its name to Habichtsburg Castle (Hawk’s Castle) in the Swiss hamlet of Aargau. They’re widely remembered for having taken arranged marriages to a whole new level, fully exploiting unions between European royal families with the aim of forming new alliances and earning new territories. Their motto was simple and straightforward: “Let others wage wars, but you, happy Austria, shall marry.” Maximilian I’s marriage politics brought the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Burgundy to his feet, and Empress Maria Theresa of Hapsburg is often referred to as the Grandmother of Western Europe.

The Habsburgs offered kings to England, Portugal and Spain, and played a dominating role in Europe from the 15th to 20th century. They reached the peak of their power in the 16th century, their glory began to wobble after the Thirty Years’ War, and the empire crumbled during World War I. The last monarch of the Hapsburg dynasty, Charles I of Austria, renounced the throne in 1918.

4. The House of Medici


Infamous and glamorous, the history of the Medici family is a story of envy, intrigue, ascension to the highest peaks of power and moral decay. The Medicis ruled the citadel-city of Florence, bringing it to the highest peaks of economic, political and artistic progress. They started as a middle-class family of bankers, and made a fortune trading textiles. Thanks to their connections with Florence’s political world, they founded a modern banking system that would soon dominate society. They landed contracts with the Vatican itself, and ensured their continuous ascension to the position of the most powerful and influential family in Florence from the 13th to 17th century. The Medici Bankbecame the most powerful institution of its kind in Europe.

The Medicis were patrons of the arts, propelling Italian art and literature to new levels. Under their rule, Florence bloomed. Lorenzo the Magnificent sponsored numerous Renaissance masterpieces, and was Michelangelo’s first patron. The Medicis providedthree popes, Leo X, Clement VII and Leo XI, as well as numerous members of British and French royal houses and a queen that would change the fate of France. Catherine de’ Medici, Queen of France between 1547 and 1559, supported the Roman-Catholics against the Huguenots and allied with the Guise Catholic faction, a decision that triggered St. Batholomew’s Day Massacre, the brutal slaughter of hundreds of protestants.

3. The Clan of the Great Khan


Genghis Khan, founder of the vast Mongol Empire, was a visionary warrior and leader. Temujin rose to power after successfully uniting all nomad tribes in Northeast Asia and dominating the green steppes of Mongolia. In 1206, the daring horseman proclaimed the Mongol Empire and called himself Genghis Khan, the “universal ruler.” His next move was to attack China.

The Great Khan died in 1227 and was buried in a secret place in the Mongolian steppe. According to traditional tales, he fell from a horse and died from his injuries. Other sources mention malaria and even an arrow wound. The exact cause of death remains a mystery. Throughout his rule as Khan, he conquered 12 million square miles of territory. He reached lands in the distant corners of today’s Iran, Iraq and Turkey.

Before he died, Genghis Khan ordered his sons to split the empire in multiple khanates that would continue to push the boundaries of the Mongol Empire. At the peak of its glory it occupied most of Eurasia, spreading from Austria to Korea and from south Siberia to the Himalayas. The Great Khan’s descendants conquered nearly everything of interest, turning the Mongol Empire into the largest territory in history. Genghis Khan’s grandson, Kubilai Khan, founded the Yuan dynasty in 1271, which ruled China until 1368.

2. The Capetian Dynasty


The origins of the world’s largest and oldest royal dynasty can be traced back to Hugh Capet of France, founder of the House of Capet in 987. The first Capetian kings were weak rulers. Under Louis VI the dynasty finally began its territorial expansion, but it wasPhilip II who truly deserves to be called the first great Capetian king thanks to his efforts in regaining control of French territories that had fallen into the hands of the British. In 1328, Charles IV put an end to the male Capetian bloodline, but the family found a quick fix to their problem. The throne was passed to the House of Valois and later to theBourbons, both claiming to be direct descendants of the Capetians.

By the High Middle Ages, the Capetians were already the largest royal family in Europe. The dynasty offered 38 French kings, 9 kings of Portugal, 11 kings and queens of Naples, 12 kings of Navarre, 10 kings and queens of Spain, plus endless princes, dukes and counts who dominated Western Europe’s aristocratic families, from England to Naples and from Holland to Poland. The Capetians are also credited for most of France’s laws and institutions that would survive until the French Revolution. Less glamorously, they’re remembered as one of history’s most incestuous families, as members were often forced to marry their siblings to secure their position. Nowadays, the Capetian bloodline includes Juan Carlos of Spain, King Albert II of Belgium, and Grand Duke Henry of Luxembourg.

1. The House of Rothschild


Mayer Amschel Rothschild was an 18th century money lender from Frankfurt whose exemplary strategies for success propelled his family to the highest peaks of financial and economic power. His main goal was to grow and control the family business. To that end, he created a set of rules passed on to future generations through his will: only men can do business, the eldest son of the eldest son is the head of the family, there should be absolute discretion regarding their fortune and descendants are strongly encouraged to marry members of the same clan in order to keep the money in the family.

His son, Nathan Mayer Rothschild, moved the family’s business headquarters to London, and hit the jackpot in 1814 when he began to issue bonds for government loans, which he used to exponentially grow his business. The family raised funds to support both Britain and Napoleon’s armies in the Napoleonic Wars. In 1815, they financed Britain’s colonial wars, and in 1818 they granted a loan to the Prussian government. By the 1820s, the Rothschilds were so financially potent they were able to support the Bank of England’s coinage to help it elude a financial crisis.

Despite their humble beginnings, the German-Jewish family soon ran businesses all over the world and was even ennobled by the British and Austrian governments. In the mid 19th century the Rothschilds reached the pinnacle of their money-lending business after opening banks in most European countries, exercising their influence in Austria, France, Germany, and Switzerland, and building Europe’s first railroads. In 1875, Nathan’s son, Lionel, lent four million pounds to the British government to buy stocks for the Suez Canal. By then, the family possessed the greatest fortune in the world.

Influential Families

The Bush family is an American family that is prominent in politics and business. Along with many members who have been successful bankers and businessmen, across generations the family includes two U.S. Senators, one Supreme Court Justice, two Governors and two Presidents (one of the two presidents also served as Vice President). George Herbert Walker Bush and Barbara Pierce Bush have been married for 70 years, holding the record for the longest-married presidential couple. Peter Schweizer, author of a biography of the family, has described the Bushes as “the most successful political dynasty in American history”. According to some online sources, the Bush family is of primarily English and German descent.

George W. Bush and family.jpg


The Bush Family

The Bush family in the Red Room of the White House (January 2005). Seated left to right: Marvin Bush, Laura Bush, George W. Bush, Barbara Bush, George H. W. Bush, Jeb Bush. Also pictured, from left: Georgia Grace Koch, Margaret Bush, Brian Berzins Walker Bush,Jenna Bush Hager, Doro Bush, Barbara Pierce Bush,Robert P. Koch, Pierce Bush, Maria Bush, Neil Bush, Ashley Bush, Sam LeBlond, Nancy Ellis LeBlond, Mandi Bush, George P. Bush, and Columba Bush.

– WIF Global Genealogy


Short-lived Countries & Upper Lower Slobbovia

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10 of the Shortest-Lived States in History

The goal of any state is to survive the test of time. Some states have achieved this, forming great nations and even empires – providing their people with security and stability. Other states in history, for some reason or another, have barely lasted a day. As a fledgling state you should know that something’s gone awry when your entire history can be summarized in a paragraph. Below are 10 of the shortest-lived states in history.

10. Italian Regency of Carnaro – 1 year, 109 days


The city of Fiume, now part of Croatia, was unsettled after the First World War, in 1919, after Italy, Hungary and Croatia battled for the right to the land in the Paris Peace Conference. On September 11, 1919, Gabriele D’Annunzio, an Italian poet and patriot, angered by the British, French and Americans for not giving Fiume to Italy, left to seize the city with an army of patriots. The following day, Gabriele seized the city from the occupying British, French and American force. Declaring the city as the Italian Regency of Carnaro, an independent state, the new state held a vote with the result favoring annexation to Italy by a vast majority. Italy, pressured by its allies, forbid the annexation from taking place, instead placing the Regency under blockade.

On September 8, 1920, Gabriele unveiled the state’s constitution, establishing a corporate, fascist state, similar to that which would be founded by Mussolini. The downfall of the state came with the Treaty of Rapallo on November 12, when Italy and Yugoslavia recognized Fiume as a free city, not an independent state. Angered, D’Annunzio declared war with Italy on December 3, quickly losing by the 30th of that month.

9. Markovo Republic – ~243 Days


The first Russian Revolution lead to unrest and uncertainty across the Russian Empire from 1905 to 1907. The village of Markovo, around 100 miles from Moscow, formed a political party, the Peasant Union, after writer Sergei Semenov sent a list of demands to the government in Moscow that went unanswered. On October 31, 1905, they declared themselves the Republic of Markovo. P.A. Burshin, the village elder, was elected President. The new state refused to recognize the authority of the Imperial Russian Government and represented a number of small villages through democratic councils – right on the Tsar’s doorstep. The Republic quickly grew in fame for resisting the Imperial Government and demanding democracy, with a professor from Chicago arriving to lend assistance to the fledgling state.

In July 1906, once the revolution was all but defeated, Imperial forces marched on the Republic. Disbanding it’s Government, arresting leaders and bringing the Republic back into the Russian Empire.

8. Freistaat Schwenten – 218 Days


Emil Hegemann, the pastor of Schwenton, a small village with a majority German population, formed the Independent State of Freistaat Schwenten when the village came under threat. After Greater Poland remained part of Germany in the armistice, an uprising of Poles broke out on the doorstep of the village in December, 1918. After the pastor was unable to get the local German garrison to protect their German nationality, he rallied the villagers and founded the independent and neutral state of Freistaat Schwenten on January 6, 1919.

The landlocked states put together a plan to raise a navy to protect their lake and had 120 soldiers, consisting mostly of German nationals fleeing the Polish Uprising. Patore Hegemann, now President, was also the minister of foreign affairs. The state even arrested the wife of the French ambassador in Berlin, on espionage charges. On August 16, 1919, after getting onto the map, Freistaat Schwenten joined the state of Germany.

7. Republic of Ezo – 184 Days


After the defeat of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the Boshin War, between the Shogun and Imperial forces in 1868, the former Shogun’s navy, led by Admiral Enomoto Takeaki, fled mainland Japan to the Northernmost island of Ezo.  Capturing the port of Hakodate and the surrounding areas, the Admiral founded the Republic of Ezo on December 25, 1868, and was elected President.

Although the new Republic had limited resources, they had the support of France. This included an attempt to steal an Ironclad warship for the new Republic, being delivered to Imperial Japan by the United States. This mission ultimately failed, attracting the attention of the Imperial Navy. On June 27, 1869, battles between the Imperial and Shogunate navies led to an imperial victory over the Republic of Ezo.

6. Parthenopean Republic – 142 Days


In 1798, whilst Napoleon was attempting to conquer Egypt, King Ferdinand IV of Naples joined the anti-French coalition. Troops from Naples and Revolutionary France clashed in French-occupied Rome, forcing King Ferdinand to flee. The French, in the process of executing their own monarchy, installed a Republic Government in the former Kingdom of Naples on January 23, 1799. The Parthenopean Republic was born.

Despite the leaders being unable to manage their finances, democratize the city or form an efficient army, liberty and equality were seen throughout the new Republic. A tree of liberty was raised and a newspaper published. The Royal exiles, in Palermo, organized an uprising with the help of the British and Admiral Nelson, who hated freedom just about as much as them. On June 13, 1799, King Ferdinand’s hired sword, Cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo, entered the city of Naples with his men and slaughtered Republican supporters. Putting an end to the Republic and re-establishing the monarchy, by July 8, 1799, more than 200 people had been executed.

5. Hungarian Soviet Republic – 134 Days


After World War I, the Hungarian Communist Party seized power from the Hungarian People’s Republic. The leader, Bela Kun, declared the reformation of Hungary as a new state, the Hungarian Soviet Republic on March 21, 1919. A temporary constitution granted freedom of speech and assembly, free education and cultural rights not previously available under the monarchy. However, at the heart of their popularity was their promise to restore Hungary’s borders which had been reduced after the First World War.

On June 25, a dictatorship was announced and popularity of the new Government and state amongst its people nose-dived quickly, with attempts to extort grain from peasants and vast numbers of executions (around 590). The new nation’s downfall came about when the Government decided to keep their word on re-establishing their borders. In late May, the Hungarian Red Army occupied parts of Slovakia. After the French threatened to get involved, they backed off. That is until July 30, 1919, when the Hungarian Red Army, unable to learn any lessons after they’d burnt so many books, failed to break the Romanian Army during their attempted invasion. Romania occupied Budapest, bringing an end to the Hungarian Soviet Republic on August 1, 1919.

4. Crimean People’s Republic – ~34 Days


On December 13, 1917, in Bakhchisaray, Russian-Occupied Crimea, the local Tatar people declared independence for the region of Crimea during the power vacuum of the Russian civil war. Forming the Crimean People’s Republic, Noman Celebicihan, founder and first President, created one of the Islamic states that featured secularism and female suffrage. Historians also suggest that all people were equal in the CPR, with Jews facing none of the prosecution that they did in the Christian world. Non-Muslims were even allowed to live the same life as Muslims. This strangely progressive Republic, although short-lived, allowed all peasants to be legally free and girls to go to school.

From the 1st to the 15th of January, 1918, after winning the uprising at home, Russian Bolsheviks fought the new Republic, attempting to regain control. The three regiments of the CPR eventually fell, with Crimea being reintegrated into the USSR.

3. Bavarian Soviet Republic – 27 Days


Bavaria, a powerful self-governing region of Germany, became ruled by the people after a strike on November 7, 1918, overthrew the Bavarian monarchy. Kurt Eisner, a member of the Independent Socialist Party and the man behind the strike, was named President of Bavaria. Following his election loss, Eisner was shot dead on February 21, 1919, while on his way to resign, by a right-wing monarchist.

The Independent Socialist Party used the ensuing panic to seize full power, formally proclaiming the region of Bavaria as the independent Bavarian Soviet Republic on April 6, 1919. With the leader, Ernst Toller, doing little to restore order, the Communist Party ofGermany seized power on April 12. With the Communist Party being about as popular as the last Government, loyal elements of the German army defeated the new Red Army, returning Bavaria to Germany on May 3.

2. Republic of Connacht – 12 Days


The Republic of Connacht, founded during the Irish rebellion of 1798, was an Irish Republic founded by the French General Jean Humbert. The French, hoping to annoy the British who were fighting an Irish rebellion, and maybe “liberate” the Irish in the process, sent Jean Humbert and 1100 men to County Mayo on August 22, 1798. On the day of his arrival, Humbert proclaimed that the French had arrived to deliver “liberty, equality, fraternity, and union” to the Irish.

On the 27th, after taking the garrison of Castlebar from the British, along with Killala and Ballina the previous day, Humbert founded the Republic of Connacht and declared Castlebar as its capital, with John Moore, a local, being named President. On September 8, Humbert marched his force to Longford, where his 850 French troops and 1000 Irish allies met an English force over five times as strong. After a battle that lasted no more than 30 minutes, Jean Humbert surrendered along with his Irish allies, bringing an end to the Republic of Connacht.

1. Carpatho-Ukraine – Less than 24 Hours


Carpatho-Ukraine was a region of Czechoslovakia which had the smart idea of declaring itself an independent republic on the brink of World War II. After the Nazi annexation of Western parts of Czechoslovakia in 1938, the Czech state was weakened and the region of Transcarpathia demanded more autonomy from the Government. After further areas of Czechoslovakia were annexed by Hungary, the state was thrown into uncertainty, with Transcarpathia, now named Carpatho-Ukraine, declaring independence on March 15.

After Avhustyn Voloshyn was declared president of the Republic, the inability to bring about order led to border skirmishes taking place on the new state’s boundaries. This gave Hungary sufficient reason to invade the region on the same day as it’s declaration of independence. The next day, coming across little military resistance, Hungary annexed Carpatho-Ukraine.

 Short-lived Countries

 (Upper Lower Slobbovia-see Li’l Abner)