In Catalan, 1333 came to be called Lo mal any primer, or "the first bad year." That kind of gives you a sense of the mood in Europe as the fourteenth century approached its midpoint.
More recently, I found this decade quite difficult to research, and that usually means a Quiz that is pretty hard to take. Courage!
1. The epic Battle of Velbazhd, fought on July 28, 1330, reshaped the regional balance of power for a few decades; by the end of the century, however, both of the combatant countries would have been swamped by the Ottomans. Which do you suppose is a fair summary of Velbazhd?
a. The Serbians defeated the Bulgarian army and advanced on Macedonia2. The Emperor during this period was "little more than a figurehead, holding no real administrative power." In 1331, he plotted to seize power from the de facto authority, but was betrayed by a trusted adviser. Forced to flee the capital "with the Sacred Treasures," he sought refuge in a secluded monastery. When the monastery was put to siege, the emperor managed to escape, but was captured and banished to a small, isolated island. The establishment then appointed a new Emperor.
b. The Genoan Fleet overwhelmed the Venetians, gaining control of the Adriatic
c. Swiss Mercenaries held out against the army of Bohemia, maintaining Swiss independence
d. The Persians failed to overcome Goan defenses, and were forced to abandon their eastward expansion
Those were the political doings in the early 1330s in what country?
3. Amda Seyon I was well into his 1314-1344 reign as emperor of a Christian kingdom during the 1330s. In this decade, as throughout his reign, he continually expanded and put down rebellions in the Muslim provinces neighboring the core of his empire. His military success and the prosperity of his reign set the foundation for his country's enduring power over the following centuries. Today, as then, the country was something of a Christian outlier in a mostly Islamic region. Of what nation was Amda Seyon emperor?
4. During the 1330s, an increasingly important fortress on a bend in the Moscow River first started to be called a ____________.
5. In 1332, The Venetian historian Marino Sanudo Torsello published his History of the Realm of Romania. This is one of the most important sources of information we have about what 13th century empire? Hint: it’s not Romania.
6. China has had more than its share of them, but the one that lasted from 1333 to 1337 was pretty remarkable. It left from four to six million people dead. What was this problem?
7. George V the Brilliant (გიორგი V ბრწყინვალე) was King from 1299 to 1302 and again from 1314 until his death in 1346. “A flexible and far-sighted politician, he recovered his country from a century-long Mongol domination, restoring the country’s previous strength and Christian culture.” Here’s a map! Of what kingdom was George the king?
8. It would eventually reduce the human population of the planet by as much as a quarter. And it is first noted in the historical record in 1334, in Hubei. What was this problem?
9. In 1338, after decades of scuffling, the city of Nicomedia in northwestern Asia Minor was taken away from a shrinking empire by a growing empire. What were the empires?
10. This fresco, called The Effects of Good Government, was painted on the walls of city hall in 1338. But of what city? Was it Antioch, Edinburgh, London, Madrid, Siena, or Tehran?
Through History with The New Monday Quiz: the 1320s
1. Martini's painting is an altarpiece, originally intended to wow 'em in the pews. and it's Italian.
2. The Arsenale Nuovo was a Venice thing.
3. Expanding southeast into the Rus': Mighty Lithuania.
4. The Pharos was The Great Lighthouse.
5. Mansa Musa was on The Haj.
6. Musa destabilized the regional economy because he spent an absurd amount of gold, creating a kind of hyperinflation.
7. Here come the Ottomans.
8. Falling in love with Laura: Petrarch. He wrote a lot of sonnets about her. Should have put that in the clue.
9. Nicholas V thought he was a pope, but today he's usually called an "anti-pope."
10. Patzcuaro, with its beautifully preserved and historic colonial indigenous charm, is in Mexico.
Only two people in the contest this week. Susan scored six for six, but couldn't answer four -- "the 1320s are a bad time for me," she says, little suspecting the horrors of the 1330s. pfly has eight right, wins Historian of the Week, and is rewarded by a single glimpse of the ethereally beautiful Laura that will haunt him for the rest of his days. We'll be expecting some really good sonnets.