Welcome to GeoHistories, the website of GeoHistories.org. This site is under construction and will be fully developed over the next few months.
What is GeoHistory?
Geohistory is a blend of history and geography, with a flavour of archaeology and dashes of psychology and anthropology for good measure.
Our aim is simple – to improve the teaching of history and geography (and languages) in secondary schools by combining the two subjects into one exciting super subject.
We think that history and geography have to be understood, and studied together. And studying them together makes them simultaneously more useful and more interesting.
History then becomes the study of how people have acted, both singularly and collectively, in their geographical environment which both provides for life and action, and constrains the opportunities available.
Our Target Audience
- secondary school history teachers
- secondary school geography teachers
- foreign language teachers who want interesting materials in a foreign language for their students
- secondary school students
Our approach to GeoHistory is one of synthesis, but one focused on individual personalities and particular events in history as these are most appealing to young minds.
The First French Empire, ruled by the Emperor Napoleon, lasted from 18 May 1804 to 11 April 1814 and again briefly from 20 March 1815 to 7 July 1815, the so-called 100 Days. Now, the Empire was created by many people working in concert after the excesses of the French Revolution and was emphatically not the sole work of the Emperor. Ambitious and capable men looked at the ruin of the Revolution and the Terror and decided to build something with order and justice. Napoleon both achieved the leadership of this project and was ‘chosen’ by the project to be its figurehead. On the other hand, the particular flavour of Empire was down to the personality of Napoleon. The Empire and history would have been different had another man risen to lead the Empire. Napoleon was shaped by the Empire as it evolved, just as he shaped the Empire by his pride and ambition. Given a less capable tactical commander the Empire might have been even shorter-lived than it was. Or it might have lasted longer had a different emperor decided to not go to Moscow with the Grande Armée. In just this way the Stalinist Soviet Union was a flavour of Communism which was different from the flavour it would have had had Trotsky achieved supreme power in 1924 instead of exile from 1929 and an ice pick to the head in 1940. Men supported Napoleon, or fought against him, for their own various and many reasons. Many men and women made the French Empire. Napoleon ensured that it was a Napoleonic Empire.
Great men and women do matter in history, as do weak men and women. But the greats work within the available socio-economic-geo-political milieu to achieve what they can achieve according to their desires and abilities, in co-operation and competition with anyone else of ability, and with opportunity, who is operating at the same time and in the same space. The Russian Revolution may very well have failed without the ruthless abilities of the Bolsheviks like Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, or been defeated given more competent and united opposition from the Whites. The Bolsheviks were lucky in their opponents. Just like Napoleon was lucky at times with his enemies. But his luck eventually ran out.
In GeoHistories we will look at particular events, moments in time, where a person (or persons) acts, or faces a decision of consequence. We will look at these critical junctures because this is the kind of thing which makes history interesting, and we want history (and geography) to be interesting above all.
For instance, we will look at Napoleon in exile on Elbe and assess the situation for him at this juncture and look at what he could or should do. We will consider what led up to this moment in time, consider the Emperor’s personalty and the history of the Empire; consider the other personalities involved at this juncture (like Wellington, whom Napoleon has never met in battle) and consider the geographical situation. We will consider the rational options available to Napoleon and consider the foreseeable consequences of different courses of action. Then we will examine what choice was actually made and examine the immediate consequences of that choice.
In each case we will look at the situation on the safe side of the Rubicon, before the die was cast, while the world held its breath to see what would happen next.