A big, big thank you to all the listeners for making today possible. Today is the day we release our 100th episode! No history in this episode, just a little talk between Michelle (my wife) and I about History Podcast and what it means to us. I hope you all enjoy this episode and stay tuned for HP101, where I promise we will get back to the history.
This episode is a little different. No specific history topic this time, but we do have some great history talk recorded right from the floor of the Podcast & New Media Expo. I sat down with Gregory Lemon from the Myth Show and Bob Wright from Baseball History Podcast and talked history and podcasting. I hope you enjoy this episode, please leave your feedback in the comments. To listed to more from the OC Podcasters at the Expo check out our page on Podango. To hear last years podcast at the expo go to the episode list and download number 80.
NOTE: A mistake in last weeks episode date makes episode 99 appear before episode 98 in iTunes, so make sure you download this episode.
Welcome to episode 96. This episode was a request from Jonathan Grunert via email.
The Spanish armada also called just armada or the invincible armada. The Spanish Armada was the great fleet sent by Philip II of Spain in 1588 to attack England in conjunction with a Spanish army from Flanders (present-day Belgium). England’s attempts to drive back this fleet involved the first naval battles to be fought entirely with heavy guns, and the failure of Spain’s venture saved England and the Netherlands from possible assimilation into the Spanish empire.
Philip had long been considering an attempt to re-establish the Roman Catholic faith in England, and English piracies against Spanish trade and property gave him that opportunity. The treaty of Nonsuch (1585) which England undertook to support the Dutch rebels against Spanish rule, along with damaging raids by Sir Francis Drake against Spanish commerce in the Caribbean in 1585-86, finally convinced Philip that a direct invasion of England was necessary. He decided to use 30,000 troops belonging to the veteran army of the Spanish regent of the Netherlands, the Duke de Parma, as the main invasion force, and to send from Spain sufficient naval force to defeat or deter the English fleet and clear the Strait of Dover for Parma’s army to cross from Flanders over to southeastern England.
After nearly two years’ preparation and extended delays the armada sailed from Lisbon in May 1588 under the command of the Duke of Medina-Sidonia, a replacement for Spain’s most distinguished administrator who proved to be resolute and capable in action but he had relatively little sea experience. The Spanish fleet consisted of about 130 ships with about 8,000 seamen and as many as 19,000 soldiers. About 40 of these ships were line-of-battle ships, the rest being mostly transports and light craft. The Spanish were aware that even their best ships were slower than those of the English and less well armed with heavy guns, but they counted on being able to force boarding actions if the English offered battle, after which the superiority of the Spanish infantry would prove decisive.
The English fleet was under the command of Charles Howard, 2nd Baron Howard of Effingham; he was no more experienced an admiral than Medinoa-Sidonia but was a more effective leader. His second in command was Sir Francis Drake. The English fleet at one time or another included nearly 200 ships; but, during most of the subsequent fighting in the English Channel, it numbered less than 100 ships, and at its largest it was about the same size as the Spanish fleet. No more than 40 or so were warships of the first rank; but the English ships were unencumbered by transports, and even their smallest vessels were fast and well armed for their size. The English placed great dependence on artillery; their ships carried few soldiers but had many more and heavier guns than the Spanish ships. With these guns mounted in faster and handier ships, they planned to stand off and bombard the Spanish ships at long range.
Gales forced the armada back to the port of La Coruna (in northern Spain) for refitting, and it finally got underway again in July. The Armada was first sighted by the English off Lizard Point, in Cornwall, on July 29. The larger part of the English fleet was at Plymouth, dead to leeward, but by a neat maneuver was able to get to the windward, or upwind, side of the enemy (west of the Armada, given the prevailing west winds) and hence gain the tactical initiative. In three encounters (off Plymouth, July 31; off Portland Bill, August 2; and off the Isle of Wight, August 4) the English harassed the Spanish fleet at long range, easily avoided all attempts to bring them to close action but were unable of inflict serious damage on the Spanish fleet.
The Armada reached the Strait of Dover on August 6 and anchored in an exposed position off Calais, France. The English also anchored, still to windward (west of the armada), and were reinforced by a squadron that had been guarding the narrow seas. The first certain news of the armada’s advance reached Parma in the Flanders the same day, and he at once began embarking his troops in their invasion craft; but the process required six days, and the armada had no safe port in which to wait for him, nor any means of escorting his small craft across the costal shallows where Dutch and English warships patrolled to intercept them. This defect in Spanish strategy was to prove disastrous.
At midnight on August 7-8, the English launched eight fire ships before the wind and tide into the Spanish fleet, forcing the Spanish fleet to cut or slip their cables (thus losing the anchors) and stand out to sea to avoid catching fire. The Spanish ships formation was thus completely broken. At dawn on the 8th the English attacked the disorganized Spanish ships off Gravelines, and a decisive battle followed. The English ships now closed to effective range and were answered largely with small arms. The Spanish ships’ heavy guns were not mounted, nor were Spanish gunners trained to reload in action; and they sustained serious damage and casualties without being able to reply effectively. Three Spanish ships were sunk or driven ashore, and other badly damaged. At the same time the English were forced by shortage of ammunition to break off the action and follow at a distance. By the morning of August 9, the prevailing westerly winds were driving the Spaniards toward the shoals of the Zeeland banks. At the last minute however, the wind shifted and allowed them to shape a safe course to the northward. Both the west wind and the English fleet now prevented the armada from rejoining Parma, and it was forced to make the passage back to Spain around the northern tip of Scotland. The English fleet turned back in search of supplies when the armada passed the Firth of Forth and there was no further fighting, but the long voyage home through autumn gales of the North Atlantic proved fatal to many of the Spanish ships. Whether through battle damage, bad weather, shortage of food and water, or navigational error, some ships foundered in the open sea, while others wrecked. Only 60 ships are known to have reached Spain, many of them too badly damaged to be repaired, and perhaps 15,000 men perished. The English lost several hundred, perhaps several thousand, men to disease but sustained negligible damage and casualties in action.
The defeat of the Armada saved England from invasion and the Dutch republic from extinction, while dealing a heavy blow to the prestige of the greatest European power of the age. Tactically the armada action had enduring historical significance as the first major naval gun battle under sail and from that moment, for over two and a half centuries, the gun-armed sailing warship dominated the seas.
Welcome to episode 95. This episode was a request via email from Jonathan Grunert.
The reformation was a religious revolution that took place in the western church in the 16th century; its greatest leaders where Martin Luther and John Calvin. Having far-reaching political, economic, and social effects, the Reformation became the basis for the founding of Protestantism, one of the three major branches of Christianity.
The world of the late medieval Catholic Church from which the 16th century reformers emerged was a complex one. Over the centuries the church, particularly in the office of the papacy, had become deeply involved in the political life of western Europe. The resulting intrigues and political manipulations, combined with the churches increasing power and wealth, contributed to the bankrupting of the church as a spiritual force. Abuses such as sale of indulgences (or spiritual privileges) and relics and the corruption of the clergy exploited the pious and further undermined the churches spiritual authority.
The Reformation of the 16th century was not unprecedented. Reformers within the medieval church such as St. Francis, Peter Waldo, John Huss, and John Wycliffe addressed abuses in the life of the church in the centuries before 1517. In the 16th century, Easmus of Rotterdam, a great Humanist scholar, was the chief proponent of liberal Catholic reform that attacked moral abuses and popular superstitions in the church and urged the imitation of Christ, the supreme teacher. These movements reveal an ongoing concern for reform within the church in the years before Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of All Saints Church, Wittenberg, on October 31, 1517, the eve of All Saint’s Day—the traditional date for the beginning of Reformation.
Martin Luther claimed that what distinguished him from previous reformers was that while they attacked corruption in the life of the church; he went to the theological root of the problem—the perversion of the church’s doctrine of redemption and grace. Luther, pastor and professor at the University of Witenburg, deplored the entanglement of God’s free gift of grace in a complex system of indulgences and good works. In his 95 Theses, he attacked the indulgence system, insisting that that the pope had no authority over purgatory and that the doctrine of the merits of the saints had no foundation in the gospel. Here lay the key to Luther’s concerns for the ethical and theological reform of the church; scripture alone is the authoritive, and justification is by faith, not by works. While he did not intend to break with the Catholic Church, a confrontation with the papacy was not long in coming. In 1521, Luther was tried before the Imperial Diet of Worms and was eventually excommunicated; what began as an internal reform movement had become a fracture in western Christendom.
The Reformation movement within Germany diversified almost immediately, and other reform movements arose independently of Luther. Huldrych Zwingli built a Christian theocracy in Zurich in which church and state joined for the service of God. Zwingli agreed with Luther in the centrality of the doctrine of justification by faith, but he espouse a much more radical understanding of the Eucharist. Luther had rejected the Catholic churches doctrine of transubstantiation, according to which the bread and wine in the Eucharist became the actual body and blood of Christ. According to Luther’s doctrine of consubstantiation, the body of Christ was physically present in the elements because Christ is present everywhere, but Luther was not willing to go as far as Zwingli, who claimed that the Eucharist was simply a memorial of the death of Christ and a declaration of faith by the recipients.
From the group surrounding Zwingli emerged those more radical then himself. These Radical Reformers, part of the so-called left wing of the Reformation, insisted that the principle of scriptural authority be applied without compromise. Unwilling to accept what the considered violations of the biblical teachings, the broke with Zwingli over the issue of infant baptism, thereby receiving the nickname “Anabaptistis” on the grounds that they rebaptized adults who had been baptized as children. The Swiss Anabaptist sought to follow the example of Jesus found in the gospels. The refused to seat oaths or bear arms, taught the strict separations of church and state, and insisted on the visible church of adult believers—distinguished from the world by its disciplined, regenerated life.
Another important form of Protestantism (as those protesting against Rome were designated by the Diet of Speyer in 1529) is Calvinism, named for John Calvin, a French lawyer who fled France after his conversion to the Protestant cause. In Basel, Calvin brought out the first edition, of his Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536, the first extensive, systematic, theological treatise of the new reform movement. Calvin agreed with Luther’s teaching on justification by faith. However, he found a more positive place for the law within the Christian community than Luther did in his concern to distinguish sharply between law and gospel. In Geneva, Calvin was able to experiment with his ideal of a disciplined community of the elect. Under Calvin’s forceful leadership, church and state were united for the “glory of God.”
The Reformation spread to other European countries over the course of the 16th century. By mid-century, Lutheranism dominated Northern Europe. Eastern Europe offered a seedbed for even more radical varieties of Protestantism, because kings were weak, nobles strong, and cities few, and because religious pluralism had long existed. Spain and Italy were to be the great centres of the Counter-Reformation and Protestantism never gained a strong foothold there.
In England the Reformations roots were primarily political rather than religious. Henry the VIII, incensed by Pope Clement VII’s refusal to grant him a divorce, repudiated papal authority and in 1534 established the Anglican Church with the king, as it’s supreme head. In spite of its political implications, Henry’s reorganization of the church permitted the beginning of religious reform in England, which included the preparation of a liturgy in English, The Book of Common Prayer. In Scotland, John Knox, who spent time in Geneva and was greatly influenced by John Calvin, led the establishment of Presbyterianism, which made possible the eventual union of Scotland with England.
US government official and electrical engineer who developed the differential analyzer, the first electronic analogue computer.
Bush was born on March 11, 1890, in Chelsea, Massachusetts. He had two sisters. His father was a Universalist minister.
What is Universalism?
In Christianity, Universalism, Universal reconciliation, or universal salvation, is the doctrine that all people will eventually be saved and go to heaven at some point after they are dead. This is based on the belief that a loving God would not submit any person, regardless of their sins, to everlasting torment, but would instead reform them.
As a child, Bush was sickly and was occasionally bedridden for long stretches of time. Still, he was self-confident and sometimes got into fights with other boys. He once said, “all of [my] recent ancestors [before my father] were sea captains, and they have a way of running things without any doubt. So it may have been partly that, and partly my association with my grandfather, who was a whaling skipper. That left me with some inclination to run a show once I was in it.” (Zachary, 23).
Bush did well in school where he showed an aptitude for math. When he graduated he went off to Tufts College to study engineering. Half of his expenses were paid by a scholarship. He worked as a tutor and aid in the math department to pay the other half. Bush studied earnestly and earned a master’s degree in the time it usually takes to earn a bachelor’s degree. His academic success fueled his desire to do things his way not depending on others’ rules. This trait would become increasingly evident later in his life.
While at Tufts Bush enjoyed his first experience as an inventor. His invention was a land surveying device he called the profile tracer. It looked something like a lawnmower. As it was pushed over land it automatically calculated elevations and drew a crude map. It allowed one man to do the work usually done by three. Bush thought it would be commercially successful, but it never caught on. He learned from this failure. He learned that to become a real engineer he needed to learn more than math and physics. He needed to learn how to effectively deal with people.
After graduation from Tufts, Bush went to work for General Electric testing electrical equipment. He was laid off after a fire broke out in his plant.
Bush taught at Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, from 1914 to 1917. After conducting submarine-detection research for the US Navy, he joined the facility for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at Cambridge in 1919. In the late 1920s he devised the network analyzer to simulate the performance of large electrical networks. In 1930 he worked with a team at MIT to build the differential analyzer for solving differential equations. The finished machine, which could handle up to 18 independent variables, foreshadowed the electric computers developed after World War II. Bush’s other developments included the Rapid Selector, a device using a code and microfilm to facilitate information retrieval.
In 1940 Bush was appointed chairman of the National Defense Research Committee. The following year he became director of the newly established Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), which coordinated the nation’s weapons-development research for World War II and advised the government on scientific research and development. Many useful innovations resulted from OSRD research and development including improvements in radar, the proximity fuse, anti-submarine tactics, and various secret devices for the OSS (the precursor of the CIA). Bush was also very closely involved in the Manhattan Project, which developed the first atomic bomb. After the war he served as chairman of the Joint Research and Development Board and was a member of the Research and Development Board of the National Military Establishment. Bush also served as president of the Carnegie Institution from 1939 to 1955.
In the article “As We May Think”, published in Atlantic Monthly in 1945, he described a theoretical machine called a “memex.” It was an obvious extension of Bush’s earlier work with the rapid selector. The memex was also to be a storage and retrieval device using microfilm. It would consist of a desk with viewing screens, a keyboard, selection buttons and levers, and microfilm storage. Information stored on the microfilm could be retrieved rapidly and projected on a screen. The machine was to extend the powers of human memory and association. Just as the human mind forms memories through associations, the user of the memex would be able to make links between documents. Bush called these associative trails. Sound familiar?
This system is remarkably similar to modern hypertext. In fact, Ted Nelson, who coined the term “hypertext” in the 1960’s, acknowledges his debt to Bush.
Vannevar Bush died on June 30, 1974, years before the Internet became widely popular or the World Wide Web even existed. With the growing popularity of the Internet many now look back through its history and see Bush as a visionary.
Welcome to history podcast number 93. This episode is a request via email from Ruth Campbell. Ruth wants to know more about Pope Joan.
Joan, Pope, legendary female pontiff who supposedly reigned under the title of John the VIII, for slightly more than 25 months, from 855 to 858, between the pontificates of Leo IV (847 – 855) and Benedict III (855 – 858). It has subsequently been proved that apocryphal.
One of the earliest extant sources for the Joan legend is the De septem domis Spiritu Sancti (“The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit”) by the 13th century French Dominican Stephen of Bourbon, who dated Joan’s election c. 1100. In this account the nameless pontiff was a clever scribe who became a papal notary and later was elected pope; pregnant at the time of her election, she gave birth during the procession to the Lateran, whereupon she was dragged out of Rome and stoned to death.
The story was widely spread during the later 13th century mostly by friars and primarily and primarily by means of interpolations made in many manuscripts of the Chonicon pontificum et impertorum (“The Chronicle of the Popes and Emperors”) by the 13th century Polish Dominican Martin of Troppau. Support for the version that she died during childbirth and was buried on the spot was derived from the fact that in later years papal procession used to avoid a particular street, allegedly where the disgraceful event had occurred. The name Joan was not finally adopted until the 14th century; other names commonly given were Agnes or Gilberta.
According to later legend, particularly by Martin (who dated her election 855 and who specifically named her Johannes Angelicus), Joan was an Englishwoman; but her birthplace was given as Mainz (now in Germany), which some writers reconciled by explaining that her parents migrated to that city. She supposedly fell in love with and English Benedictine monk and, dressing as a man, accompanied him to Athens. Having acquired great learning, she moved to Rome, where she became a cardinal and pope. From the 13th century the story appears in literature, including the works of the Benedictine chronicler Ranulf Higden and the Italian Humanist Giovanni Boccaccio and Petarch.
In the 15th century Joan’s existence was regarded as fact, even by the council of Constance in 1415. During the 16th and 17th centuries the story was used for protestant polemics. Such scholars as Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, afterward Pope Pius II, and Cardinal Ceasar Baronius regarded the story as unfounded, but it was the Calvinist David Blondel who made the first determined attempt to destroy the myth in his Elaircissement familier de la question: Si une femme a ete assie au siege papal de Rome (1647; “Familiar Enlightenment of the Question: Whether a Woman Had Been Seated on the Papal Throne in Rome”). According to one theory, the fable grew from widespread gossip concerning the influence wielded by the 10th century Roman woman senator Marozia and her mother Theodoria of the powerful house of Theophylact.
The second edition of J.J.I. von Dollinger’s Die Papstfabeln des Mittelalters (“Fables about the Popes of the Middle Ages”) was published in 1890. Another study of the Pope Joan question is contained E. Vacandard’s Etudes de critique et d’histoire religieuse, 4 vol. (1909-23; “Studies of Criticism and of Religious History”).
I’m Jason Watts and your listening to history podcast number 92, Jamestown.
Jamestown, site of the first permanent British settlement in North America, founded May 14, 1607, located on a peninsula (later Jamestown island) in the James River in Virgina. Named in honor of King James I, the colony initiated the cultivation of tobacco, established the first representative government on the continent in 1619, brought the first African slaves to the colonies, and built the first Anglican church in America. Situated in an unhealthful marshy area, the colony always had a small population because of a high mortality rate.
Most of us attribute the early colonies with the Pilgrims, however this group was not trying to escape religious persecution it was hoping to make some profit in the new world. In 1607 Virgina was largely unknown. It was named to honor Elizabeth I, England’s “Virgin Queen”. The new region, which stretched from present-day North Carolina to New England was thought to have untold hidden prizes in the form of gold and other precious minerals. The Northwest Passage was also fabled to exist in this New World. The Northwest passage was supposed to be a passage to the Orient, where the explorers would gain access to the riches of the Orient. Anxious to seize the new resources King James I, approved the plan to settle this new huge territory.
Two companies were to establish colonies. The Virgina Company of London was licensed to utilize the southern section of the territory and the Plymouth Company which was comprised mainly of investors from Plymouth, England, was to colonize the northern portion. In 1607, after just one year, the Plymouth Company failed in their efforts to colonize the Atlantic Coast of modern-day Maine. The Virgina Company chose the Chesapeake Bay area hoping it might be the gateway of the Northwest Passage.
The Spanish had a short-lived mission in the largely uncharted lower Chesapeake in the late 16th century. A group of settlers from the nearby Roanoke colony also had trekked the lower Chesapeake region in 1585-86. Unfortunately, the collapse of Roanoke and the mysterious disappearance of its colonist, coupled with the unwillingness of the Spanish to share intelligence with their English rivals, meant no one on the first voyage had sufficient knowledge of the area or its inhabitants.
Nonetheless, the leaders of the Virginia Company, comprising many prominent members of England’s political and business empires, attempted to set the colony on path. They selected seven men as Jamestown’s governing council, though rather than naming them straight away (an perhaps discouraging other investors from joining), they enclosed the names in a box only to be opened upon landing in Virginia. Along with the names, they included a lengthily set of instructions for founding and operating the colony.
144 sailors and settlers left for Virginia in 1606 aboard the Godspeed, Discovery, and Susan Constant, the largest of the three ships, with Newport at the helm. Among the 105 settlers making the voyage, more than one-third were male investors. Undoubtedly hoping to protect their investments and provide leadership, their aim was to make a quick profit on the gold and silver. They expected to mine and return to England as rich men. Although, many would never see their homes again.
In April 1607 they arrived on the Virginia coast. Newport opened the box containing the instructions for the endeavor. The appointed seven councilors included Newport, Smith and Wingfield, who was also selected as first president of the council.
Instead of providing leadership for the colony, the council devolved into factionalism and trivial jealousy. The bickering among the leaders proved to be deadly for the new colony.
The leaders selected a marshy strip of land barely attached to the north shore of the James River and named it Jamestown after their king. Newport returned to England in June with two ships carrying samples of sassafras and clapboard, which the settlers had produced in the seven weeks since founding Jamestown.
After Newport left, the council ordered most to search for gold and working to produce goods to ship back to England. Their search for precious minerals took valuable time and energy away from constructing shelters and maintaining crops, the few crops that they had planted. The various expeditions between 1607 and 1610 failed to find significant mineral deposits or the rumored passage to the Pacific.
As the region’s summer heat began to wear on the Englishmen, their choice of location proved to be increasingly impractical. Fed by the salty James River, wells turned putrid during the late summer, and a major drought that corresponded with their arrival minimized the chances of finding fresh water.
And while sporadic attacks by local Indians caused wounds and a few deaths, the major killers were dysentery, typhoid and salt poisoning from the afore mentioned wells. When Newport returned from England in January 1608, just over a third of the original settlers were left. Wingfield had been removed as council leader on charges of plotting with the Spanish to destroy the colony, and Smith again faced hanging by his rivals. The leaders had completely turned against each other, and those who remained in power were ready to give up and return to England, leaving the non-investors to fend for themselves in the Virginia wilderness.
Newport’s return provided brief relief. He brought new supplies and 100 new settlers. However, shortly after the supplies were unloaded and repairs begun on the fort had begun, a fire destroyed all but three buildings and the majority of the supplies intended to last the entire winter. The survival of the colony now depended on the Powhatan Indians.
The Powhatans were a loose association of about 30 tribes whose lands spanned from the James River to the Potomac River and from the Atlantic to the site of modern Richmond. They were led by Wahunsonacock, who had commanded leadership of several small tribes in the vicinity of Jamestown in the 1570s. He proved daunting match for the English.
Wahunsonacock commanded the trade throughout his region, especially copper, skins, pearls, and tobacco. He undoubtedly saw the arrival of the English, with their wealth of metal goods, weapons, and glass beads, as an chance to maintain his position as Powhatan leader.
The desire for trade on both sides kept the colony alive through their first winter. John Smith played a pivotal role in establishing contact with the Powhatans, trading for food throughout the fall of 1607. He became vital as the ambassador between the English and Powhatan.
The Indians originally welcomed Smith as a trader, but as the settlers’ need for corn and meat increased, it became increasingly complex to work with Wahunsonacock. Smith used threats and force, coupled with rewards of trade goods, to acquire enough food to keep the colony alive.
Smith’s efforts, along with the death or departure of other council members helped Smith achieve leadership of the colony in September 1608. He quickly organized new rules to make the colony more self-sufficient, though his “no work, no food” policy made him less popular than ever with the other gentlemen.
Smith took pleasure in his greatest success during Jamestown’s early years when he concentrated on securing food and making merchandise to be returned to England for profit. He sent men to live at the falls (near present-day Richmond) and at the mouth of the James River to attain food sources; this plan put him further at odds with other leaders. He returned to England in October 1609, luckily for him, he missed the coming disaster of the following winter.
By late 1609 Wahunsonacock had had enough of the Englishmen. As the drought continued, the Powhatans’ food supplies also dwindled. The English settlers’ raided Wahunsonacock villages taking what little food they had and ruining relations.
During the winter of 1609-10 the Powhatans cutoff trade with the English and overwhelmed their fort. More than 200 settlers were trapped inside, and with minimal food they perished. Parties from the fort, sent to re-establish trade with the Powhatans, were ambushed and slain. Disease and starvations persisted through the winter; the settler’s were reduced to eating horses, rats, shoe leather … and each other. Only 60 Jamestown colonists survived the brutal winter, which is now known as the Starving Time.
In 1610 Jamestown was about to be abandoned by its inhabitants when Thomas West, Lord De La Warr, arrived with new energy and new supplies.
New leaders instituted martial law and responded to Powhatan attacks with their own. By 1614 Wahunsonacock’s forces were largely defeated and English settlers began expanding along the James River. A fragile peace was established in 1614 when Wahunsonacock’s daughter Pocahontas married Englishman John Rolfe.
Jamestown fell into decay when the seat of government of Virginia was moved in 1699 to the Middle Plantation (later Williamsburg).
By the mid-18th century the peninsula had become an island. Conservation efforts halted the erosion of the site, and excavations uncovered artifacts. In 1936 the island was incorporated into the Colonial National Historical Park, and 17th-century replicas have re-created the colonial atmosphere.
Hi my name is Michelle; I’m the wife of the History Podcast’s founder Jason. I have presented some episodes quite a while ago, so I thought I’d release an episode after an extended hiatus.
This podcast is on the History of the Hawaiian volcanoes. Here’s some insight as to why I selected this particular topic. I have always been intrigued and fascinated by volcanoes. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to view the dramatic differences in the size, scope, and topography of a few volcanic areas. I have visited Mount Lassen, a volcano in Northern California multiple times. Plus, I walked the calderas of Yellowstone National Park, a few years ago. These volcanic areas are definitely scenic, despite the foul odors caused by sulfur gases. The volcanic chain that makes up the Hawaiian Islands is so beautiful and vibrant. Seeing Diamond Head on the Island of Oahu and the volcanic rocks on Kauai, I decided to learn more about this volcanic chain that forms the Hawaiian Islands. The main Hawaiian Islands visited by tourists consist of: Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Hawaii.
Here’s a brief discussion to the History of the Hawaiian Volcanoes:
The Hawaiian Volcanoes are a type of volcano called hotspots. In geology, a hotspot is a location on the Earth’s surface that has experienced active volcanism for a long duration of time. The hot and fluid type of magma creating these volcanic products is basalt. Hotspot volcanoes tend to be shield volcanoes that rarely erupt explosively and practically all are found on oceanic plates. The Hawaiian volcanoes are the most studied hotspot volcanoes and are situated in close proximity to the Pacific Plate. Most of the Hawaiian volcanoes, specifically the volcanoes that make up the Hawaiian Islands, go through several defined stages of evolution during their lifespan. These growth stages are impacted by the position of the volcano in relation to the hotspot, whether the volcano’s summit lies below, near, or above sea level, as well as by the composition of the lava being erupted.
As just shared, various stages of volcanic activity exist, with a majority of the volcano’s growth occurring in the shield stage. During this stage of growth, the volcano accumulates about 95 percent of its mass and it takes on the “shield” shape, hence the name shield volcanoes. In addition, this is the stage where the volcano’s eruptive frequency reaches its peak. The phases of the shield stage consist of: submarine, explosive, and subaerial phases. When volcanoes come close to sea level, the pressures that prevented explosive reactions between erupting lava and water no longer exist. As this point is reached, the volcanoes enter the explosive phase of the shield stage. In this phase, lava and seawater interact to cause explosive eruptions. These eruptions are rich in ash and continue intermittently for several hundred thousand years. Calderas continually develop and fill, and the rift zones remain prominent. The phase ends when the volcano has sufficient mass and height, typically about 4,000 feet above sea level. The constant interactions between seawater and erupting lava at vent locations no longer occur at the conclusion of the explosive phase. During Subaerial Phase, the explosive eruptions become much less frequent and the nature of the eruptions become much more subdued. The edges of the growing volcanoes are unstable causing potential landslide occurrences. This stage is arguably the most well-studied, due to all eruptions that occurred in the 20th century in Hawaii were produced by volcanoes in this phase. Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes are in this phase of activity.
Kilauea and Mauna Loa are two of the most active volcanoes in the world, which are located on the island of Hawaii on the southeast end of the Hawaiian Volcanic chain. In addition, the five volcanoes that form the island of Hawaii are all less than 1,000,000 years old.
In the northwestern direction, the Hawaiian Islands are progressively older. The extinct volcano that formed the island of Kauai is about 5,000,000 years old. That means that there is a span of 4,000,000 years difference in volcanic age between the islands of Kauai and Hawaii. Evidence has suggested that the hotspot forming the Hawaiian volcanoes is in a relatively fixed position. As a result, the movement of the Pacific Plate has been northwestward at a rate of approximately 10 cm annually. The Emperor Seamounts encompass an entirely submarine ridge that continues northward to the edge of the Pacific Plate. By viewing topographic maps, the Hawaiian Islands are a continuation to the Hawaiian ridge and bend into the Emperor Seamounts.
The ages of the volcanic rocks of the Emperor Seamounts, garnered by dredging and drilling, has determined that the Hawaiian-Emperor Ridge is a progressively older volcano formed at by volcanism at the Hawaiian hot spot. This integral center of volcanism in the Pacific has been active for at least 80MM years. The Pacific Plate has moved over it as just mentioned at the rate of 8 – 10 cm per year. The bend that exists between the Emperor Seamount and Hawaiian Ridge occurred about 40MM years ago. This indicates a noteworthy shift in the direction of the Pacific Plate.
The rationale for a volcanic hotspot maintaining its position for millions of years with a plate passing over it is unknown. A theory is that a hotspot is a deep mantle plume caused by very slow convection of highly vicious mantle material. With hot yet solid material moving upward, partial melting may occur from the lowering of its pressure dependent melting temperature. Within the next couple of decades, due to thorough seismic sounding of the mantle, the knowledge of the mechanics of hotspots should be discovered and understood more fully.
Hope the concise background of the formation of the Hawaiian Volcanoes proved enlightening. In conclusion, I wanted to share that the United States National Parks Service includes the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The park highlights two of the world’s most active volcanoes just mentioned, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Extensive insight on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and views of dramatic volcanic landscapes are offered at this National Park.
Here’s some relevant trivia:
The Hawaiian Islands form an archipelago of nineteen islands and atolls, numerous smaller islands and atolls, and undersea seamounts trending northwest by southeast in the North Pacific Ocean. The Hawaiian Islands were once known as the Sandwich Islands, which was the name given to the Hawaiian Islands by Captain James Cook on his discovery of the islands on January 18, 1778. The name was made in honor of one of his sponsors and superior officer, John Montague, 4th Earl of Sandwich. During the late 19th century, the name Sandwich Islands was no longer a term used to reference the Hawaiian Islands.
Mahalo or thank you in Hawaiian for listening to this history podcast!