The 1250s were 1/4 of the way from 1000 to 2000. And the world was a lot more like the one we live in than it had been 250 years earlier. And yet, sometimes things seem a little alien to us today.
1. In 1250, when the Ayyubid sultan as-Salih Ayyub died, the Mamluks he had owned as slaves murdered his son and heir al-Muazzam Turanshah, and Shajar al-Durr the widow of as-Salih became the Sultana…. She married the Atabeg Emir Aybak and abdicated, Aybak becoming Sultan. He ruled from 1250 to 1257. Out with the Ayyubids and in with the Bahiriyya Mamluks, who would form one of the most powerful and wealthiest empires of the time, lasting from 1250 to 1517. A significant transition in the long, long history of what nation?
2. In one of the earliest instances of a specific person identifying an element, St. Albertus Magnus of Cologne, one of the great brainy guys of his era, is said to have isolated this one about 1250. We number it Element 33, and it’s a grey metalloid useful in alloys and especially useful as a poison; it was at one time nicknamed “inheritance powder.” Name that element!
3. Also around 1250, Birger Jarl is said to have founded a town on the archipelago where Lake Mälaren meets the western shore of the Baltic Sea. Today it’s a big, prosperous city. Name that town!
4. In 1252, the first standard gold coins minted in Europe entered circulation. They were called Florins. What political entity do you suppose minted florins?
5. The Dali Kingdom had been an independent state in what is now the Yunnan Province of China since 937. Confronted by an assault from an overwhelming military force in 1253, the last King of Dali accepted vassalage and incorporation into a much larger empire spanning from the Pacific to the Black Sea. And almost no one was killed. Who swallowed up Dali in 1253?
6. In or a little before 1254, Pope Innocent III wrote this:
Finally, in the Gospel the Truth declares that… certain faults are pardoned in this life, and certain others in the life to come, and the Apostle says that the fire will assay the quality of everyone’s work, and if his work burns he will lose his regard, but himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (I Cor. 3:13, 15). And it is said that the Greeks themselves unhesitatingly believe and maintain that the souls… of those who die free from mortal sins but with even the slightest venial sins, are purified after death and can be helped by the prayers of the Church…. We, following the tradition and authority of the holy Fathers, call that place ______________; and it is Our will that the Greeks use that name in the future. For sins are truly purified by that temporal fire -- not grievous or capital sins which have not first been remitted by penance, but small and slight sins which remain a burden after death, if they have not been pardoned during life.
What doctrine was he thereby making official?
7. This city on the western tip of continental Europe had been captured by Afonso I in 1147. In 1255, Afonso III moved the capital here, and it has remained the capital ever since. What’s the city?
8. Bagdad was one of the world’s great centers of learning and culture until 1258, when it was put to siege and then to slaughter; estimates of the death toll range from tens of thousands to as many as a million.
They swept through the city like hungry falcons attacking a flight of doves, or like raging wolves attacking sheep, with loose reins and shameless faces, murdering and spreading terror...beds and cushions made of gold and encrusted with jewels were cut to pieces with knives and torn to shreds. Those hiding behind the veils of the great Harem were dragged...through the streets and alleys, each of them becoming a plaything...as the population died at the hands of the invaders.
And just like that, the Golden Age of Islamic Science and Learning was at an end. What attacking army would commit such pointless savagery?
9. On February 8, 1258, a little baby boy was born: Ertuğruloğlu Osman Gazi, who would grow up to become Osman I, founder of a major world dynasty that would last until 1922. Name that major world dynasty!
10. The Golden Horde became functionally independent in the late 1250s. But wait, what was the Golden Horde?
Through History with The New Monday Quiz: the 1240s
1. Cimabue is one of the first “big names” in painting.
2. He won a battle against the Swedes on the Neva River, which is why we call him Alexander Nevsky.
3. Up to half of Hungary's then population of 2,000,000 were victims of The Mongols, of course.
4. England agreed not to attack France for as long as its king was off on the Seventh Crusade. Making a hash of it, as usual, although I'm sure I wouldn't have done any better, even if I thought it was a good idea in the first place.
5. The London landmark is Westminster Abbey.
6. Conflicts between the Pope and the Holy Roman Empire. There were a number of these.
7. Trending in 13th Century intellectual life: Aristotle.
8. Chapultepec hill, on the shore of Lake Texcoco, in Mexico City. The tribe was the Mexica.
9. Germany’s most visited landmark is the Cologne Cathedral.
10. University College is a unit of Oxford University, natch.
Christine M got there firstest, and also with the mostest. It therefore falls to her to rebuild the shattered Kingdom of Hungary.