Mind Games of the Forgotten Russian Knight

Mind Games of the Forgotten Russian Knight

Russian archaeologists exploring deep within a hidden chamber in the crypt of a late 13th century castle made the highly-unusual discovery of a large sandstone inscribed with a series of curious interlocking squares. Bearing all the hallmarks of a secret encoded message, the symbol turned out to be a board game dating back to the medieval period according to a recent report in The Moscow Times .

Vyborg Castle is a Swedish-built fortress dating back to 1293 AD but historians believe an even earlier Karelian (historical province of Finland) fortress might once have stood on the site. Located near the town of Vyborg (today in Russia) it was one of Finland’s three major castles built strategically as the easternmost outpost of the medieval Kingdom of Sweden.

13th century Vyborg Castle, Russia. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Discovery of the Russian board game

According to a News Week article featuring the rare discovery, archaeologists discovered the large carved stone “during excavation works in a hidden chamber.” They also unearthed other curious items including “a purse with dozens of early 19th-century copper coins,” but Vladimir Tsoi, the head of the Vyborg museum-reserve told his social media group on Wednesday, speaking of the carved stone, “This is perhaps the most intriguing.”

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Excavation of a hidden chamber revealed the crypt. (Image: VK / Otto-Iivari Meurman )

Tsoi posted a series of photos showing a fired clay brick with tracings of what looks like “a Nine Men’s Morris game.” Nine Men’s Morris is similar to checkers in that two or more players move pieces across a grid aiming of reduce the opponent’s pieces, to actualize a win. This particular game was exceptionally popular in medieval England and boards have been found carved at many English cathedrals including at Canterbury, Salisbury and Westminster Abbey.

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Two views of the Nine Men’s Morris Game. Image: Vyborg Museum Press Office

Development of Nine Men’s Morris

Nine Men’s Morris, or versions of it, originated in different continents independently at different times. It was practiced in India in the 9th–10th centuries evident in the discovery of a board inscribed in stone in the Bhoga Nandeeswara temple in Karnataka, as described in this Economic Times article. It was also played in the Roman Empire over 2,000 years ago and archaeologists have found many boards inscribed at temples.

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Men playing Nine Men's Morris with dice, pictured in Grunfeld, Frederic V. (1975) Games of the World .

While most experts agree that the oldest versions of the game were Roman, a clay tile fragment from the archaeological museum at Mycenae shows what appears to be a Nine Men's Morris board. According to a 2017 Yorkton This Week article, scholar R. C. Bell, (author of several books on board games, most importantly Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations ) another was “cut into the roofing slabs of the temple at Kurna in Egypt” sometime around 1400 BC. However, Egyptologist Friedrich Berger who wrote A History of Ancient Egypt II pointed out that the temple at Kurna had also been carved with Coptic crosses, making it "doubtful" that the Nine Men’s Morris boards were executed as early as 1400 BC.

World’s oldest game claims

While archaeologists were arguing over which nation holds the prestigious title of having yielded the “oldest game in the world,” five years ago Turkish officials delivered a devastating upper-cut and grabbed the title belt, undisputedly. Reported by Discovery News in August 2013, Haluk Sağlamtimur, a researcher with Ege University was part of the team in southeast Turkey who unearthed “an old board and 49 intricately carved tokens depicting pigs, dogs, and pyramids, others feature round and bullet shapes.” The archaeologists also found “dice and circular tokens among the pieces, which were painted in colors” all of which dated to an incredible 5,000 years old.

Gaming tokens found in Başur Höyük, Turkey. (Image: Haluk Saglamtimur)

What all these early board games have in common is that they were generally the reserve of the educated classes in history. And by educated, I do not only refer to the ‘elites’ who had been educated in the seven liberal arts. Archaeologists believe the boards discovered in Roman temples were used by architects, measuring specialists and stonemasons, who had developed spatial awareness and had a grasp of square mathematics, which is all Nine Men’s Morris really is an exercise in.

The board discovered carved on the stone in the crypt of Vyborg Castle has not yet been associated with any of the castle’s past inhabitants, and all that is known at this time is that someone in the last 800 years had dedicated some time off the sword towards pursuits of the mind.

The Forgotten Story of the American Troops Who Got Caught Up in the Russian Civil War

It was 45 degrees below zero, and Lieutenant Harry Mead’s platoon was much too far from home. Just outside the Russian village of Ust Padenga, 500 miles north of Moscow, the American soldiers crouched inside two blockhouses and trenches cut into permafrost. It was before dawn on January 19, 1919.

Through their field glasses, lookouts gazed south into the darkness. Beyond the platoon’s position, flares and rockets flashed, and shadowy figures moved through tiny villages—Bolshevik soldiers from Russia’s Red Army, hoping to push the American invaders 200 miles north, all the way back to the frozen White Sea.

The first artillery shell flew at the Americans at dawn. Mead, 29, of Detroit, awoke, dressed, and ran to his 47-man platoon’s forward position. Shells fell for an hour, then stopped. Soldiers from the Bolshevik Red Army, clad in winter-white uniforms, rose up from the snow and ravines on three sides. They advanced, firing automatic rifles and muskets at the outnumbered Americans.

“I at once realized that our position was hopeless,” Mead recalled, as quoted in James Carl Nelson’s forthcoming book, The Polar Bear Expedition: The Heroes of America’s Forgotten Invasion of Russia. “We were sweeping the enemy line with machine gun and rifle fire. As soon as one wave of the enemy was halted on one flank another was pressing in on us from the other side.”

The Polar Bear Expedition: The Heroes of America’s Forgotten Invasion of Russia, 1918-1919

Award-winning historian James Carl Nelson's The Polar Bear Expedition draws on an untapped trove of firsthand accounts to deliver a vivid, soldier's-eye view of an extraordinary lost chapter of American history.

As the Red Army neared, with bayonets fixed on their guns, Mead and his soldiers retreated. They ran through the village, from house to house, “each new dash leaving more of our comrades lying in the cold and snow, never to be seen again,” Mead said. At last, Mead made it to the next village, filled with American soldiers. Of Mead’s 47-man platoon, 25 died that day, and another 15 were injured.

For the 13,000 American troops serving in remote parts of Russia 100 years ago, the attack on Mead’s men was the worst day in one of the United States’ least-remembered military conflicts. When 1919 dawned, the U.S. forces had been in Russia for months. World War I was not yet over for the 5,000 members of the 339th U.S. Army regiment of the American Expeditionary Force deployed near the port city of Archangel, just below the Arctic Circle, nor for the 8,000 troops from the 27th and 31st regiments, who were stationed in the Pacific Ocean port of Vladivostok, 4,000 miles to the east.

They had become bit players caught up in the complex international intrigue of the Russian Civil War. Russia had begun World War I as an ally of England and France. But the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, led by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, installed a communist government in Moscow and St. Petersburg that pulled Russia out of the conflict and into peace with Germany. By fall 1918, Lenin’s year-old government controlled only a part of central European Russia. Forces calling themselves the White Russians, a loose coalition of liberals, social democrats and loyalists to the assassinated czar, were fighting the Communists from the north, south, east and west.

Two months after the November 11, 1918, armistice that officially ended the war for the rest of Europe, as one million Americans in France were preparing to sail home, the U.S. troops in Russia found that their ill-defined missions had transformed into something even more obscure. Historians still debate why President Woodrow Wilson really sent troops to Russia, but they tend to agree that the two missions, burdened by Wilson’s ambiguous goals, ended in failures that foreshadowed U.S. foreign interventions in the century to come.

When Wilson sent the troops to Russia in July 1918, World War I still looked dire for the Allies. With the Russian Empire no longer engaged in the continental struggle, Germany had moved dozens of divisions to France to try to strike a final blow and end the war, and the spring 1918 German offensive had advanced to within artillery range of Paris.

Desperate to reopen an Eastern Front, Britain and France pressured Wilson to send troops to join Allied expeditions in northern Russia and far eastern Russia, and in July 1918, Wilson agreed to send 13,000 troops. The Allied Powers hoped that the White Russians might rejoin the war if they defeated the Reds.

To justify the small intervention, Wilson issued a carefully worded, diplomatically vague memo. First, the U.S. troops would guard giant Allied arms caches sent to Archangel and Vladivostok before Russia had left the war. Second, they would support the 70,000-man Czechoslovak Legion, former prisoners of war who had joined the Allied cause and were fighting the Bolsheviks in Siberia. Third, though the memo said the U.S. would avoid “intervention in [Russia’s] internal affairs,” it also said the U.S. troops would aid Russians with their own “self-government or self-defense.” That was diplomacy-speak for aiding the White Russians in the civil war.

“This was a movement basically against the Bolshevik forces,” says Doran Cart, senior curator at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City. “[But] we couldn’t really go in and say, ‘This is for fighting the Bolsheviks.’ That would seem like we were against our previous ally in the war.”

Allied soldiers and sailors in Vladivostok, Russia, September 1918 (Heritage Images / Contributor)

Wilson’s stated aims were so ambiguous that the two U.S. expeditions to Russia ended up carrying out very different missions. While the troops in north Russia became embroiled in the Russian Civil War, the soldiers in Siberia engaged in an ever-shifting series of standoffs and skirmishes, including many with their supposed allies.

The U.S. soldiers in northern Russia, the U.S. Army’s 339th regiment, were chosen for the deployment because they were mostly from Michigan, so military commanders figured they could handle the war zone’s extreme cold. Their training in England included a lesson from Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton on surviving below-zero conditions. Landing in Archangel, just below the Arctic Circle, in September 1918, they nicknamed themselves the Polar Bear Expedition.

Under British command, many of the Polar Bears didn’t stay in Archangel to guard the Allied arms cache at all. The British goal was to reach the Russian city of Kotlas, a railroad crossing where, they hoped, they might use the railway to connect with the Czechoslovak Legion in the east. So British officer Lieutenant General Frederick Poole deployed the Polar Bears in long arcs up to 200 miles south of Archangel, along a strategic railroad and the Dvina and Vaga rivers.

But they never got to Kotlas. Instead, the Allied troops’ overextended deployment led to frequent face-to-face combat with the Bolshevik army, led by Leon Trotsky and growing in strength. One company of Americans, along with Canadian and Scottish troops, fought a bloody battle with Bolshevik forces on November 11, 1918 -- Armistice Day in France.

“Events moved so fast in 1918, they made the mission moot,” says Nelson, author of The Polar Bear Expedition. “They kept these guys in isolated, naked positions well into 1919. The biggest complaint you heard from the soldiers was, ‘No one can tell us why we’re here,’ especially after the Armistice.” The Bolshevik Revolution had “dismayed” most Americans, Russia scholar Warren B. Walsh wrote in 1947, “mostly because we thought that the Bolsheviks were German agents or, at least, were playing our enemy’s game.” But with Germany’s defeat, many Americans -- including many Polar Bears -- questioned why U.S. troops were still at war.

While the Polar Bears played a reluctant role in the Russian Civil War, the U.S. commander in Siberia, General William Graves, did his best to keep his troops out of it. In August 1918, before Graves left the U.S., Secretary of War Newton Baker met the general to personally hand him Wilson’s memo about the mission. “Watch your step you will be walking on eggs loaded with dynamite,” Baker warned Graves. He was right.

Graves and the AEF Siberia landed in Vladivostok that month with, as Graves later wrote, “no information as to the military, political, social, economic, or financial situation in Russia.” The Czechs, not the Bolsheviks, controlled most of Siberia, including the Trans-Siberian Railway. Graves deployed his troops to guard parts of the railway and the coal mines that powered it -- the lifeline for the Czechs and White Russians fighting the Red Army.

But Russia’s quickly shifting politics complicated Graves’ mission. In November 1918, an authoritarian White Russian admiral, Alexander Kolchak, overthrew a provisional government in Siberia that the Czechs had supported. With that, and the war in Europe over, the Czechs stopped fighting the Red Army, wanting instead to return to their newly independent homeland. Now Graves was left to maintain a delicate balance: keep the Trans-Siberian Railway open to ferry secret military aid to Kolchak, without outright joining the Russian Civil War.

Alexander Kolchak decorates his troops (Wikicommons)

Opposition to the Russia deployments grew at home. “What is the policy of our nation toward Russia?” asked Senator Hiram Johnson, a progressive Republican from California, in a speech on December 12, 1918. “I do not know our policy, and I know no other man who knows our policy.” Johnson, a reluctant supporter of America’s entry into World War I, joined with anti-war progressive Senator Robert La Follette to build opposition to the Russia missions.

The Bolsheviks’ January 1919 offensive against American troops in north Russia -- which began with the deadly attack on Mead’s platoon -- attracted attention in newspapers across the nation. For seven days, the Polar Bears, outnumbered eight to one, retreated north under fire from several villages along the Vaga River. On February 9, a Chicago Tribune political cartoon depicted a giant Russian bear, blood dripping from its mouth, confronting a much smaller soldier holding the U.S. flag. “At Its Mercy,” the caption read.

On February 14, Johnson’s resolution challenging the U.S. deployment in north Russia failed by one vote in the Senate, with Vice President Thomas Marshall breaking a tie to defeat it. Days later, Secretary of War Baker announced that the Polar Bears would sail home “at the earliest possible moment that weather in the spring will permit” -- once the frozen White Sea thawed and Archangel’s port reopened. Though Bolshevik attacks continued through May, the last Polar Bears left Archangel on June 15, 1919. Their nine-month campaign had cost them 235 men. “When the last battalion set sail from Archangel, not a soldier knew, no, not even vaguely, why he had fought or why he was going now, and why his comrades were left behind -- so many of them beneath the wooden crosses,” wrote Lieutenant John Cudahy of the 339th regiment in his book Archangel.

But Wilson decided to keep U.S. troops in Siberia, to use the Trans-Siberian Railway to arm the White Russians and because he feared that Japan, a fellow Allied nation that had flooded eastern Siberia with 72,000 troops, wanted to take over the region and the railroad. Graves and his soldiers persevered, but they found that America’s erstwhile allies in Siberia posed the greatest danger.

Sticking to Wilson’s stated (though disingenuous) goal of non-intervention in the Russian Civil War, Graves resisted pressure from other Allies—Britain, France, Japan, and the White Russians—to arrest and fight Bolsheviks in Siberia. Wilson and Baker backed him up, but the Japanese didn’t want the U.S. troops there, and with Graves not taking their side, neither did the White Russians.

Across Siberia, Kolchak’s forces launched a reign of terror, including executions and torture. Especially brutal were Kolchak’s commanders in the far east, Cossack generals Grigori Semenov and Ivan Kalmikov. Their troops, “under the protection of Japanese troops, were roaming the country like wild animals, killing and robbing the people,” Graves wrote in his memoir. “If questions were asked about these brutal murders, the reply was that the people murdered were Bolsheviks and this explanation, apparently, satisfied the world.” Semenov, who took to harassing Americans along the Trans-Siberian Railway, commanded armored trains with names such as The Merciless, The Destroyer, and The Terrible.

Americans on the home front were asked to buy war stamps to support the forces in Siberia (Library of Congress)

Just when the Americans and the White Russian bandits seemed on the verge of open warfare, the Bolsheviks began to win the Russian Civil War. In January 1920, near defeat, Kolchak asked the Czech Legion for protection. Appalled at his crimes, the Czechs instead turned Kolchak over to the Red Army in exchange for safe passage home, and a Bolshevik firing squad executed him in February. In January 1920, the Wilson administration ordered U.S. troops out of Siberia, citing “unstable civil authority and frequent local military interference” with the railway. Graves completed the withdrawal on April 1, 1920, having lost 189 men.

Veterans of the U.S. interventions in Russia wrote angry memoirs after coming home. One Polar Bear, Lieutenant Harry Costello, titled his book, Why Did We Go To Russia? Graves, in his memoir, defended himself against charges he should’ve aggressively fought Bolsheviks in Siberia and reminded readers of White Russian atrocities. In 1929, some former soldiers of the 339th regiment returned to North Russia to recover the remains of 86 comrades. Forty-five of them are now buried in White Chapel Cemetery near Detroit, surrounding a white statue of a fierce polar bear.

Historians tend to see Wilson’s decision to send troops to Russia as one of his worst wartime decisions, and a foreshadowing of other poorly planned American interventions in foreign countries in the century since. “It didn’t really achieve anything—it was ill-conceived,” says Nelson of the Polar Bear Expedition. “The lessons were there that could’ve been applied in Vietnam and could’ve been applied in Iraq.”

Jonathan Casey, director of archives at the World War I Museum, agrees. “We didn’t have clear goals in mind politically or militarily,” he says. “We think we have an interest to protect, but it’s not really our interest to protect, or at least to make a huge effort at it. Maybe there are lessons we should’ve learned.”

About Erick Trickey

Erick Trickey is a writer in Boston, covering politics, history, cities, arts, and science. He has written for POLITICO Magazine, Next City, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, and Cleveland Magazine

Detroit Red Wings: The forgotten member of the Russian Five

I ask you one question was Vyacheslav Kozlov the forgotten member of the Russian five? The Detroit Red Wings drafted young Kozlov in the third round, 45th overall in the 1990 NHL Entry Level Draft.

You’ve got to remember this was during a time where the uncertainty of these young Russian players being able to defect to North America was in real question. Drafting these players this high in the draft was a huge risk because you may never see them within your franchise little own your lineup.

The year before Kozlov was drafted, Jim Devellano and the Detroit Red Wings selected the great Sergei Fedorov in the 4th round, 74th overall. Vladimir Konstantinov was the last player chosen in 1989. He went in the 11th round, 221st overall, the same year as Fedorov. Many people consider that to be the best Detroit Red Wings draft of all-time, and it is hard to argue. The draft doesn’t even go that many rounds anymore the current format ends at the conclusion of the 7th round.

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The three members of the Russian-five, the Detroit Red Wings, were bargains, for two reasons. The Detroit Red Wings were credited with being one of the first teams overseas scouting. In turn, their European scouting was well advanced by the time the rest of league caught on and started scouting abroad themselves.

Another reason was the risk of the player not being released by the Red Army (Russian Government) allowing them to play in the NHL. In the film, The Russian Five directed by Joshua Riehl, Jim Devellano explains that a scout mentioned to him about this young kid, Slava Kozlov being the “best” 15-year-old player he’d ever seen. Devellano replies “best Russian 15 year old?” The scout replied, “no, best ever.”

Devellano felt he needed to grab Kozlov in the third round rather than wait until the fourth as he did the year before with Fedorov for fear another franchise may have seen Kozlov and followed suit as the Wings did in 89′ by taking him in the fourth round before the Detroit Red Wings had a chance to pick him.

When you say the term Russian Five, what comes to your mind first? I’m sure Kozlov is the fifth name you think of. First I think of Sergei Fedorov, that is simply because he is personally my favorite of the group. He’s actually one of my favorite hockey players of all-time, so I am admittedly biased.

The second is Vladdy I hate to say it but because of the devastating accident. He was a Norris Trophy candidate in back to back seasons prior to the limousine accident. He was a top defender in the NHL. He was entering the prime of his career, and we were left to wonder what could have been if that unfortunate accident didn’t occur.

Igor Larionov was nicknamed the professor. In 1995 the Detroit Red Wings sent a former 50 goal scorer in Ray Sheppard to the Sharks for Larionov. So the price was steep but in the end, it would pay off in a big way.

Slava Fetisov Detroit acquired in a deal with the New Jersey Devils for a 3rd round pick in 1995. The Wings would end up being swept by the Devils in the 95 Stanley Cup Finals. When Fetisov defected to North America, he was regarded as one of the best defensemen in the world. We’ll talk much more about Fetisov another time.

Basically what I’ve tried to say is Kozlov always seems to be the fifth guy mentioned. He had a tremendous career, a better career than many people probably realize. He played sparingly in his first two seasons in which he made a mere 24 NHL appearances. In those combined 24 games he recorded 7 points.

He was able to burst onto the scene at the age of 21 in 1993. He played 77 games and scored 34 goals, added 39 assists and totaled 73 points. He was a plus 27 and owned a shooting percentage of nearly 17%.

The two-time Stanley Cup Champion continued on for 16 more years in the NHL. He was the main player sent to the Buffalo Sabres in a deal that landed the Detroit Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek. The Wings also sent a first round pick that would end up being Jim Slater who recorded 138 total points throughout his career.

Kozlov also continued to thrive into his mid 30’s while playing with Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers. From the age of 33-36, he recorded point totals of 71,80,41,76 respectfully in consecutive seasons.

This brings me to a conclusion I wonder if Slava Kozlov wasn’t just overlooked as a member of the Wings, I wonder if he isn’t a Hall of Famer? Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov, and Slava Fetisov are all represented in the Hockey Hall Of Fame. Surely if Vladdy were able to continue his career, he’d be in the HOF. Larionov started his NHL career later in life at the age of 29. He recorded 644 career NHL points in 921 games.

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Kozlov played in 1182 career NHL games recording 356 goals, 497 assists totaling 853 career points. The Hall of Fame is the “Hockey Hall of Fame” and not just the NHL players are represented. It begs me to wonder if the HOF shouldn’t have the entire group represented. It was a unique time and a critical part of hockey history.

Secret war

From 1918 until 1922 the United States, Great Britain, France and Japan actively opposed the Russian communists in a secret war. Over time these efforts petered out but the British and French interference continued after the end of the First World War and were kept secret from their population for decades.

As proof, only a few years ago a family in Australia finally discovered the details and burial place of a relative who had been awarded the Victoria Cross the highest British military honour which was unexplained in the medal’s citation.

He had died as a member of a British unit fighting in Russia in 1919 and was buried in Vladivostok. At the time the government kept the details secret in order not to reveal that the country was involved in a conflict that had never been declared or officially recognized.

Even now there are few in the West who know about a campaign that is only found in specialized history books but this interference has never been forgotten in Russia.

What You Need to Know First to Understand the Russian Revolution

“Now that the lush and prosperous years had come to Russia, the last thing she needed was war they should have just said a Requiem Mass for that Archduke Franz Ferdinand, after which the three Emperors of Germany, Austria and Russia should have drunk a glass of vodka at the wake and forgotten the whole affair.”

– Alexander Solzhenitsyn, August 1914 

The events that unfolded in Russia from the autumn of 1916 through the autumn of 1917, including the collapse of the czarist regime and the rise of Bolshevism, bent the arc of history in unfathomable ways and continues to influence Russia’s politics and relationship with the rest of the world today. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of these world-shattering events, we begin today with a series of columns that will highlight how the Russian Empire, ruled by the Romanov dynasty for more than 300 years, transformed into the Communist Soviet Union.

By the fall of 1916, Russia had been at war with the Central Powers—Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire (modern day Turkey)—for more than two years. In the 20 years he had been on the throne prior to World War I, Nicholas II had faced pressure to reform the absolute monarchy that he inherited from his father, Alexander III, in 1894. At the time of his accession, the 26 -year-old czar appeared to embrace progress and modernity. He granted permission for the Paris Pathé company to film his 1896 coronation procession and his subsequent state visits to European leaders with his wife, Empress Alexandra and baby daughter, Olga, became the first royal tour documented by newsreel cameras. Throughout his reign, Nicholas showed a concern for his image at home in leveraging the emergent mass media of the early 20th century. When the Romanov dynasty celebrated its 300th anniversary in 1913, Nicholas commissioned an authorized biography of himself and photographs of his family appeared on postcards.   

His domestic policy, however, betrayed Nicholas’ governing principle of maintaining autocratic rule. In an 1895 speech to representatives of the nobility and municipal officials, the czar declared “there have arisen the voices of people carried away by senseless dreams of taking part in the business of government. Let everyone know that I will retain the principles of autocracy as firmly and unbendingly as my unforgettable late father.” The speech shattered the hopes of elected municipal officials who hoped for a gradual transition to a system closer to a constitutional monarchy.

Nicholas was forced to adopt new reforms, including the creation of the representative assembly called the Duma, after defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 and the massacre of workers demonstrating outside Saint Petersburg’s Winter Palace the following year. Despite the Duma’s creation, Nicholas still retained the title of autocrat, the ability to appoint his ministers and the right to veto motions proposed by the assembly. Nevertheless, reforms occurred gradually during that first decade of the 20th century. The Russian peasantry, which had been freed from serfdom by Nicholas’s grandfather, Alexander II, in 1861, began to receive individual landholdings, releasing them from the traditional peasant communes. These land reforms were designed to foster a conservative, monarchist peasantry than would serve as a counterweight to urban workers, who repeatedly demonstrated for better working conditions and compensation and were more likely to be drawn to Bolshevism.

The term Bolshevism came from the Russian word bolshinstvo, meaning majority. Adopted by a splinter faction of Russian revolutionaries advocating for a Marxist-inspired uprising of the working class, the Bolsheviks had their ideological roots in the 1848 pamphlet The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The group’s leader, Vladimir Lenin, found in his supporters a smaller, more disciplined party that was determined to transform the First World War --“an imperialist war”—into a broader class war with the workers fighting the “bourgeoisie” and aristocracy.

The Russian empire’s involvement in World War I began when Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum that threatened Serbian sovereignty in the aftermath of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne. Russia, as the traditional protector of other Slavic peoples, including the Serbs, mobilized its armies. The conflict in the Balkans expanded to encompass most of Europe as Russia’s allies in the Triple Entente—France and Great Britain—also went to war with the Central Powers.

The outbreak of the war prompted a burst of patriotism that initially reinforced the czar’s rule. Sixteen million soldiers were mobilized on the Eastern Front over the course of the conflict including 40 percent of all men between the ages of 20 and 50. Despite the enthusiasm and rapid mobilization, the Russian war effort was beset with problems from the start. The wages for workers in the munitions factories did not keep up with the increased cost of living, exacerbating the discontent that existed prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Industrial and transportation infrastructure was inadequate to the task of providing the necessary supplies for the troops.

Minister of War Vladimir Suklominov was accused of corruption and Nicholas ultimately removed him from office for failure to provide necessary munitions, sentencing him to prison for two years. (Suklominov’s actual culpability remains a matter of historical debate.) Russia suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg in the first weeks of the war, resulting in 78,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded and 92,000 captured by the Germans. The next year, Nicholas assumed direct control of the army as Commander in Chief, placing himself personally responsible for subsequent defeats.

A chance to end the stalemate on the Eastern Front came in the summer of 1916. Representatives from Britain, France, Russia and Italy (which joined the war on the side of the Triple Entente in 1915) agreed at the Chantilly conferences of 1915 to undertake coordinated action against the Central Powers. Under the command of General Alexei Brusilov, units of Russian shock troops broke through Austria-Hungarian lines in what is now western Ukraine and prompted Germany to divert forces from Verdun on the Western front. The victories achieved by the Brusilov offensive came at a cost of a million Russian soldiers and ultimately came to an end in September 1916 because of persistent supply shortages in the Carpathian Mountains.

Just as Nicholas was experiencing military setbacks on the Eastern front, his wife, Alexandra, was overwhelmed by challenges on the home front. The importance of the railways for transporting military supplies to the front disrupted the transportation of food to the cities and, outside of sugar, no other goods were subject to a regimented rationing system. Alexandra and her two eldest daughters, Olga and Tatiana, trained as nurses, endowed hospital trains and established committees to address the needs of war widows and orphans, and refugees. (In Boris Pasternak’s epic, Doctor Zhivago, Lara travels to the front in search of her husband as a nurse aboard a Tatiana hospital train). The philanthropy of the Imperial women, however, could not compensate for the absence of a coordinated government response to the needs of thousands of wounded soldiers, military families and displaced persons.

Nicholas and Alexandra also struggled with family challenges their most urgent concern was Alexei’s health. The heir to the throne suffered from hemophilia, a disease prevalent among the descendants of his great-grandmother, Britain’s Queen Victoria, which prevented his blood from clotting normally. In their 1916 correspondence, the royal couple expressed relief that Alexei had recovered from a life-threatening nosebleed. The czarina turned to faith healers, including a wandering holy man from Siberia named Grigori Rasputin, who became known as “the Mad Monk” though he never entered a holy order and was in fact married with three children. Before the war, Rasputin provided spiritual counsel for the Imperial couple and prayed for the recovery of the heir to the throne. During the war, however, Rasputin provided Nicholas and Alexandra with political advice. When Suklominov was released from prison after only six months, the Russian public blamed Rasputin’s influence.

Because Alexei’s hemophilia was kept secret, little could be done to quash the rumors swirling about Rasputin, who had a disreputable reputation because of his drunkenness and womanizing. Alexandra, in turn, became a deeply unpopular figure because of her familial relationship with Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany (they were first cousins) and her perceived reliance on Rasputin.

In these conditions, the Duma assumed the role of critiquing the policies of the czarist regime and demanded even further reform. In November 1916, Vladimir Purishkevich, a reactionary deputy known for his militant anti-Bolshevism gave a speech in the Duma denouncing what he described as the “ministerial leapfrog” in which Nicholas, under the influence of Alexandra who was in turn influenced by Rasputin, removed competent ministers from office and replacde them with unqualified figures endorsed by Rasputin. Purishkevich concluded his speech with the words, “While Rasputin is alive, we cannot win.” Prince Felix Yusupov, the wealthiest man in Russia and the husband of Nicholas’s niece Irina was impressed by the speech and began plotting the murder of Rasputin.

(Editor’s Note: For purposes of these columns, we will use the Gregorian calendar dates, which we use today, but Russia only started using in February 1918. Hence, the Bolsheviks took power on November 7, 1917, even though it was called the October Revolution.)

The Sale of Alaska and the Rush for British Columbia

On March 30, 1867, the British Empire was caught off guard with the news that Russia’s Alaskan possessions had been sold to America for $7.2 million in a secretive diplomatic maneuver which Secretary of State William Seward described as the most important deal of his life.

The sale had suddenly made the isolated colony of British Columbia very hot real estate. During this 1867 purchase, Lincoln’s Trans Continental Railway, begun in 1863 at the height of the Civil War was a mere two years from completion, linking the Pacific to Atlantic for the first time in history and thus destroying the British monopoly over maritime shipping routes.

With students of Lincoln’s program to be found among the intelligentsia of Russia, led by Count Sergei Witte and Dimitri Mendeleyev, the American modeled (and largely American-built) Trans-Siberian Railway’s construction was not far away, and the linking of rail across the two continents was discussed as a real possibility by republican visionaries the world over.

The chances that British Columbia would join confederation were minute at this time as the broken colony had no ties of commerce to Britain or the east coast confederacy 3500 km away. In fact, on July 2, 1867 the first of several petitions was sent to Queen Victoria requesting that either the colony’s debt burdens and economic woes be alleviated by the Mother country or that the queen grant them permission to annex to the USA!

At this time, American consul to Victoria Allen Francis, wrote a letter to the president stating:

“Even the colonists claiming most loyalty to the queen, are now urging with great unanimity annexation to the United States as their only salvation- as the only means of retrieving the colonies from their present embarrassment and decline.”

BC’s Colonialist Newspaper described the situation in the following terms:

“Since no change would be for the worse, they (British Columbians) would welcome annexation to the United States to continuing in a state of poverty and wretchedness. In writing this we know we speak the mind of 9 out of every 10 men in the colony… the sentiment is heard at every gathering street corner- at social gatherings, in business circles- in all places”

On July 18, 1868 the Hudson Bay territories (aka: Rupert’s Land) were sold to Ottawa under an operation led by Sir Georges Etienne Cartier who stated “in this country we must have a distinct form of government in which the monarchical spirit will be found.”

Cartier’s monarchical spirit was reflected in Canada’s leading fathers of confederation such as Sir John A. Macdonald who famously stated “a Britisher I was born and a Britisher I will die” and who looked to the vast wilderness west of Toronto saying in 1867: “I would be quite willing, personally to leave the whole country a wilderness for the next half century, but I fear if Englishmen do not go there the Yankees will.”

On May 22, 1867, Father of Confederation Sir Alexander Galt stated British policy for western expansion (to block the connection between Russia and the USA) saying: “If the United States desire to outflank us on the west, we must accept the situation and lay our hand on British Columbia and the Pacific Ocean. This country cannot be surrounded by the Unites States- We are gone if we allow it… ‘From the Atlantic to the Pacific’ must be the cry in British America as much as it has ever been in the United States”

The last serious effort by British Columbians to join America was made with the Annexation petition of 1869 listing BC’s desperate grievances with the empire and appealing to President Grant:

“The only remedy for the evils which beset us, we believe to be in a close union with the adjoining States and Territories, we are already bound to them by a unity of object and interest nearly all our commercial relations are with them They furnish the Chief Markets we have for the products of our mines, lands and waters They supply the Colony with most of the necessities of life They furnish us the only means of communication with the outer world… For these reasons we earnestly desire the ACQUISITION of this Colony by the United States.”

DEBUNKED: There was no ‘Wolf Truce’ between Russia & Germany during WWI

In April 2019, the authors of the video game &lsquoTannenberg&rsquo, a first-person shooter, set during WWI and describing events around the Battle of Tannenberg (1914), introduced an in-game event named &lsquoWolf Truce&rsquo &ndash basically a game mode where you&rsquore fighting wolves.

The game developers based this on a seemingly real event, allegedly reported by the New York Times on July 29, 1917. A newspaper clipping reporting the event back then was even provided:

&ldquoIn the course of last Winter's campaign, the wolves of the Polish and Baltic Russians stretches had amassed to such numbers in the Kovno-Wilna-Minsk district as to become a veritable plague to both Russian and German fighting forces. So persistent were the half-starved beasts in their attacks on small groups of soldiers that they became a serious menace even to fighting men in the trenches. Poison, rifle fire, hand grenades, and even machine guns were successively tried in attempts to eradicate the nuisance. But all to no avail. The wolves&mdashnowhere to be found quite so large and powerful as in Russia&mdashwere desperate in their hunger and regardless of danger. Fresh packs would appear in place of those that were killed by the Russian and German troops.

As a last resort, the two adversaries, with the consent of their commanders, entered into negotiations for an armistice and joined forces to overcome the wolf plague. For a short time, there was peace. And in no haphazard fashion was the task of vanquishing the mutual foe undertaken. The wolves were gradually rounded up, and eventually, several hundred of them were killed. The others fled in all directions, making their escape from carnage the like of which they had never encountered. It is reported that the soldiers have not been molested again&rdquo.

La Domenica del Corriere, November 1914

This &ldquoinformation&rdquo found its way into newspapers of that time and later even into some historical publications. However, few people dared to check the New York Times&rsquo sources.

The Bridgeport evening farmer, February, 1917 The Hopkinsville Kentuckian, February, 1917

Meanwhile, Russian hunting scientist, Sergey Matveychuk, said there were no Russian sources for this information. The earliest this information appeared was February 15, 1917, in the &lsquoBridgeport Evening Farmer&rsquo newspaper.

&lsquoHopkinsville Kentuckian&rsquo then published the &ldquonews&rdquo (in almost the same words) on February 22nd, followed by the Alaskan &lsquoDaily Empire&rsquo &ndash on March 16th.

Photograph of soldiers playing football in No-Man's Land during the Christmas Truce. Dated 1914

It&rsquos no wonder that in Russia, when looking through sources about the Eastern campaign, there are no mentions of any such &ldquoWolf Truce&rdquo, and it would have been really out of order and logic, if the rivaling armies would suddenly decide on a truce, even temporarily, and would not be found in any records. For example, the Christmas Truce of 1914 was a series of ceasefires along the Western Front, when German and British troops lit Christmas candles and sang carols, in some places met and exchanged gifts. The truce lasted until New Year&rsquos day and is widely accounted for in memoirs, newspapers, and official documents.

If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.


Marvel Comics' first Black Knight, Sir Percy of Scandia, first appeared in the medieval-adventure series Black Knight #1–5 (cover-dated May 1955 – April 1956) from Atlas Comics, the 1950s precursor to Marvel Comics. [2] [3]

Sir Percy's descendant, Professor Nathan Garrett, debuted as the modern-day supervillain Black Knight in Tales to Astonish #52 (Feb. 1964). This villainous Black Knight appeared in The Avengers #6, #14–15 (July 1964, March–April 1965), and in the feature "Iron Man" in Tales of Suspense #73 (Jan. 1966), in which he was mortally wounded.

Dane Whitman, Garrett's nephew, made his first appearance in The Avengers #47 (Dec. 1967) and became a heroic version of the Black Knight in the subsequent issue. [4] Whitman sporadically appeared with the Avengers until becoming a core member, regularly appearing in #252–300 (1985–1989) and #329–375 (1991–1994).

The Gatherers storyline running through The Avengers #343–375 (1992–1994) placed the spotlight on the Black Knight, as the book's focus turned toward his tumultuous relationship with the Eternal Sersi and mysterious connection to the other-dimensional villain Proctor. Whitman later starred in Malibu Comics' UltraForce #8–10 (1995) and UltraForce, vol. 2 #1–12 (1995–1996), leading a new team of heroes on a parallel world. Returning to the Marvel Universe proper, Whitman appeared in Heroes for Hire #1–16 (1997–1998) and, later, Captain Britain and MI13 #1–15 (2008–2009). The Black Knight has yet to return to the Avengers, the team with which the character is most closely associated. In 2015, as part of All-New All-Different, a solo series was launched featuring Dane Whitman however, it was canceled after 5 issues due to low sales.

Whitman and Sir Percy also starred in the limited series Black Knight #1–4 (June–Sept. 1990), written by Roy and Dann Thomas and drawn by successive pencillers Tony DeZuniga and Rich Buckler. In 1995, Percy had a cameo in Namor #60 as part of the Atlantis Rising story. Whitman and Sersi then headlined the one-shot Black Knight: Exodus (Dec. 1996), written by Ben Raab and illustrated by Jimmy Cheung and Andy Lanning. Another Black Knight one-shot starring Sir Percy, written by Thomas and illustrated by Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna, was published as Mystic Arcana: Black Knight #1 (Sept. 2007), the second of four Mystic Arcana one-shot issues.

Sir Percy of Scandia Edit

The original Black Knight is Sir Percy of Scandia, a 6th-century knight who serves at the court of King Arthur as his greatest warrior. Recruited by the wizard Merlin, Percy adopts a double identity, and pretends to be very incompetent until changing into the persona of the Black Knight. [5] As the Black Knight, Percy wields the Ebony Blade, which Merlin forged from a meteorite. [6] A constant foe of the evil knight Mordred the Evil (Arthur's traitorous nephew), Percy is eventually killed by him during the fall of Camelot when stabbed from behind with an enchanted blade – although Mordred then dies himself of wounds inflicted by Arthur. [7] Merlin ensures that Percy's spirit will live on by casting a spell that will revive his ghost if Mordred should ever return. [7] Percy's spirit has appeared several times to counsel his descendant, Dane Whitman.

Nathan Garrett Edit

Biologist Professor Nathan Garrett is the direct descendant of Sir Percy (although it has been implied Percy's nephew Raston inherited the blade), and found Sir Percy's tomb and the Ebony Blade. Garrett's evil tendencies make him unworthy of wielding the sword, and Sir Percy’s ghost shuns him. An embittered Garrett then devises an arsenal of medieval weapons that employ modern technology and has genetic engineers create a winged horse. Calling himself the Black Knight, Garrett embarks on a life of crime to spite his ancestor. After a battle with the hero Giant-Man [8] Garrett joins the supervillain team the Masters of Evil at the request of master villain Baron Zemo and like the others spreads Adhesive X over the city, but is first defeated by Thor. After two unsuccessful battles with the Avengers, the second time of which he was broken out of jail by the Enchantress, [9] he battled Iron Man due to Doctor Doom's mind-control machine (which made supervillains attack Mister Fantastic's and the Invisible Woman's wedding, which the affected villains subsequently forget due to a machine created by Mister Fantastic). [10] Garrett is mortally wounded falling from his winged horse while trying to kill Iron Man. [11] A dying Garrett reveals his secret identity to his nephew, Dane Whitman, and repents for his life of crime. [12] Whitman then adopts the identity of the Black Knight himself. [13]

Dane Whitman Edit

Dane Whitman is the Black Knight who has been a longtime member of the Avengers as well as a member of the Defenders, Ultraforce, Heroes for Hire, and MI: 13. [14]

Augustine du Lac Edit

A Vatican Black Knight named Augustine du Lac [15] received the Ebony Blade after Vatican agents retrieved it from an Iraqi vampire nest. [16]

He is a member of a team of supervillains that invades the African nation of Wakanda. A devout Catholic, du Lac hopes to convert the populace to Catholicism. Black Panther takes the Ebony Blade and defeats him. [17]

He had his own version of Aragorn to use as a steed. This Aragorn was later captured by Alyosha Kravinoff and killed for food. [18]

Female Black Knight Edit

A teenage female Black Knight later appears in the Vengeance limited series as a member of the Young Masters. Like Garrett, this incarnation is a villain, and appears to possess the Ebony Blade. How she came into possession of the sword and what happened to Augustine has yet to be revealed. She was with the Young Masters when they were at an abandoned HYDRA base in Pennsylvania. While inspecting Bullseye's corpse, they were attacked by Lady Bullseye. [19] Later targeting Doctor Octopus for "execution", the Young Masters found themselves battling the Sinister Six while being assisted by the Teen Brigade, with Black Knight being assisted in taking down Sandman by Teen Brigade member Ultimate Nullifier. [20] While visiting a nightclub, Black Knight encountered Ultimate Nullifier at the time when the Young Masters plotted to recruit a reborn Loki to their side. [21] In the morning, Black Knight showed Ultimate Nullifier a letter that spurred the Young Masters on their quest to kill older villains along with a CIA file discussing genocide on Russian prisoners carried out by Red Skull in World War II Poland. Informing Ultimate Nullifier that she was going to leave the Young Masters and had plans that did not involve evil, she left the Young Masters' base leaving behind the CIA file for Nullifier. [22]

Black Knight was later seen with the Young Masters where they are seen as members of the Shadow Council's Masters of Evil, which is led by Baron Helmut Zemo following Max Fury's death. [23]

Nathan Garrett and Dane Whitman are part of a lineage of Black Knights stretching back to the 6th century. In New Excalibur #10, the first part of the "Last Day of Camelot" storyline, [24] it is revealed that Dane has turned Garrett Castle into a Black Knight museum with various exhibits on the Black Knights, including the body of Sir Percy. There is a long line of paintings of the Knights including, according to the curator, "Sir Ralston[sic] and Sir Eobar or lesser known knights like Sir William and Sir Henry." [25] These Black Knights are:

  • Sir Raston ("Ralston" appears only in New Excalibur #10) – Sir Percy's nephew, who became the Black Knight after him. He lived in the Dark Ages, but was recruited into the Anachronauts by Kang the Conqueror and travelled through time. [26]
  • Sir Eobar of Garrington – He was the Black Knight during the Crusades. [27] [clarification needed]
  • Sir William – He is depicted fighting in the trenches of World War I.
  • Sir Henry – He is depicted as a swashbuckling figure.

Later in "The Last Days of Camelot", Sir Percy reveals to Dane that he was not the first Black Knight and that eight knights had carried the Ebony Blade before him, the last being King Arthur's cousin Sir Reginald. Each one had been driven mad by the sword and had to be killed until it was decided there were only three people who could take the sword, but King Arthur and Merlin were needed in other capacities, so the "burden" fell to Sir Percy who accepted despite knowing the risks. [28]

The apparent "Last Knight" is Ernst Wythim, a member of the lineage from around 2600 AD. [29]

Earth X Edit

In the Earth X series, Ahura – the son of Black Bolt and Medusa – becomes the Black Knight. [30] Dane Whitman was turned to stone by the Grey Gargoyle.

Marvel Zombies Edit

Dane becomes one of the dozens of super-powered zombies that are laying siege to the castle of Doctor Doom. The zombies have detected delicious humans hiding inside, all of whom ultimately escape.

Ultimate Marvel Edit

In the Ultimate Marvel universe, the Black Knight (real name Alex) is a member of the would-be superhero team the Defenders. He is long-haired, bearded, and out-of-shape, with a piece of armor, and resembles a LARPer. [31] He later shows up in Ultimate Comics: New Ultimates, alongside the super-powered Defenders from a mysterious source. [32]

The Dane Whitman version of Black Knight appears in the pages of Ultimate Comics: Ultimates as a member of an Ultimates team that preceded the current one by almost a decade. This Black Knight was highly unstable and was kept from officially joining the team until he stabilized. This never came to pass as the team bungled a mission and the project was shut down immediately after. [33]

History Edit

The Ebony Blade was created by comic book writer Stan Lee in Black Knight Comics #1, published under Atlas Comics in 1955. Its history was later revealed in Marvel Super-Heroes #17 (Nov 1968), written by Roy Thomas. The blade was shown to have been carved from a meteor, and enchanted by the wizard Merlin for Sir Percy of Scandia, the first Black Knight. Due to all the blood that Sir Percy shed with the blade, it acquired a curse. The sword passed down through the generations until it came to Sir Percy's descendant Dane Whitman. Dane used the blade for many years. It passed briefly to Valkyrie when Dane's body was turned to stone, [34] and his soul sent back in time to the 13th century, but was soon returned to him. [35] [36] Due to the curse, Dane eventually gave up the Ebony Blade by driving it deep into the same meteor that it was forged from, now residing in his castle. Only another deemed worthy would be able to withdraw it.

Sean Dolan, Dane's ex-squire, was able to draw the blade during an attack on Whitman's castle. This transformed Dolan into Bloodwraith. Dolan fought with the curse and was able to give up the sword for a brief time. During this time, it was trapped in the Negative Zone barrier outside of Attilan. In the meantime, a second Ebony Blade had been brought into this dimension by Proctor, an alternate reality version of Dane. [37] When Proctor was killed, his blade was taken into Avengers custody.

Dolan was drawn to this second Blade, and once again became Bloodwraith. [38] Crystal retrieved the original Blade, and The Vision threatened to destroy it if Bloodwraith didn't surrender. Bloodwraith tossed the alternate Blade aside and reclaimed his own. Crystal picked up the second Blade and said it would be important to the future of the Inhumans. Bloodwraith was last known to have the Blade in his possession in Slorenia, where he was trapped by the Scarlet Witch. [39]

At some point Dracula replaced Dane Whitman's blade with a fake one (see below), and the real Blade came to be in Iraq and was secured by the Vatican after it was found by Opus Dei in a purging of a vampire nest. The Vatican sent a new Black Knight assassin (Augustine du Lac) to kill Black Panther, who took it from the Knight for his own uses. Black Panther used the blade in several battles, including the Skrull invasion.

Upon learning the blade was fake for a second time, Dane Whitman retrieved the real blade from Black Panther's Wakandan nation where he was presented it by Queen Ororo T'Challa. [40]

During War of the Realms event, when Malekith attacked Black Knight, Union Jack and Spitfire, he acquired the Ebony Blade and was ready to kill them until the War Avengers arrived. [41]

It comes to light in King in Black that the wizard Merlin had lied about how a wielder uses the cursed sword. Knull, primordial dark god of all symbiotes revealed it only gives its true power to those whom prove to be most baneful and hatefilled of individuals. Not those whom are pure in body and mind it takes one who is able to come to grips with their own faults and push on despite them to utilize what the evil deity describes as World Ender. [42]

The sword also gives its users a state of resurrective immortality wherein if the wielder were to fall in battle, a blood offering of sorts can be use to restore them to life. [43]

Powers and abilities Edit

The Ebony Blade is a powerful enchanted weapon. It is said to be indestructible, and only the extremely powerful Iron Ogre, a magic creature, could split it in half. [44] The blade has many mystical or quasi-mystical capabilities, including the ability to:

  • sheer through any physical substance with the exception of other enchanted weapons and extremely strong metals like adamantium.
  • cleaves mystical barriers
  • deflect energy when angled correctly
  • absorb all forms of energy, including the Promethean Flame
  • grants retroactive immortality
  • manifests shadowed armor in a similar manner to a Klyntar
  • discharges force of its own
  • can absorb souls to make itself stronger
  • bypass intangibility
  • wispy armor enables wielders to fly
  • protection from mysticism
  • bestows an incredible healing factor

Dane Whitman discovered most of these abilities through scientific testing of the Blade.

Additionally, the Blade bonds to its wielder in such a way that the wielder can summon it back to himself or herself using a mystical ceremony if it is ever lost, even if it is in a different time period.

The blade cannot be used against its owner, as seen when Caden Tar tries to use it to kill Dane Whitman, but cannot pierce his skin. [45]

The Blade formerly rendered its wielder invulnerable to everything except another weapon carved from the same meteor, such as the Ebony Dagger.

Other notable wielders of the Blade include Whitman's ancestors Sir Percy of Scandia, Eobar Garrington, Valkyrie, and Ares.

Curses and influences Edit

The Ebony Blade was afflicted with a blood curse due to all the blood the original Black Knight had spilled. Dane Whitman eventually purged the Blade of its curse at Doctor Strange's behest by plunging it into the Brazier of Truth while Strange bathed them both in magic fire. The curse returned, however, when the Sub-Mariner used it to kill his wife Marrina. The curse seems to affect different people in different ways. It turned Dane into a statue, it amplified Proctor's gann'josin-based powers, and it granted Sean Dolan great physical powers as Bloodwraith.

The Blade was sometimes known to subtly compel Dane to do things or go places that were tied to its previous wielders, as well. It was revealed by the symbiote god Knull that its power relies on the curse. As it thrives on the negative proclivities of flawed and imperfect wielders to maximize on its inherent power. Something that only the unworthy can utilize as its edge dulls when wielded by a chivalrous soul.

Fake Ebony Blade Edit

On occasion, the Ebony Blade appears in two separate comic series simultaneously, most notably in 2006 when it was in use by Dane Whitman (Black Knight) in the New Excalibur series whilst it was in use in a Black Panther ongoing by another Black Knight and subsequently Black Panther.

In a 2006 interview, when addressing a question about the confusion of the Ebony Blades appearing in two comics, Marvel Comics' editor Nick Lowe had this response:

The Black Knight in Black Panther wasn't ya' boy, Dane Whitman. It was an imposter who stole the sword from Dane. Now, since the imposter wasn't an idiot, he knew that if he outright stole the sword, Dane would come looking for it. So he replaced it with a different sword, so Dane didn't even know it was missing. We're touching on this in New Excalibur #14–15. [46]

At the end of those issues no full explanation was given. Whitman was shown to have sensed that his Ebony Blade was not the real one and left to find the original, then being used by Black Panther. Though both Captain Britain [47] and Pete Wisdom [48] knew the location of the real blade, Whitman had somehow forgotten it was fake during his next comic appearance in Captain Britain and MI-13 #1.

Writer Paul Cornell revealed a full explanation within the Captain Britain series, having Dracula replace Dane Whitman's blade with a fake version at some point between Avengers (vol. 3) #37 and New Excalibur #10. This fake blade has a vampire fang within it, which has shown some signs of sentience as people have talked to the blade directly. This mystical sentience has acted in the same fashion as the original's curse convincingly enough to fool Whitman. Even after Whitman first realized it was fake in New Excalibur, it affected his memories so that he forgot, meaning he thought he held the real one by the time of Captain Britain and MI-13.

Upon learning that the blade was fake for the second time in issue 7 of that series, Whitman retrieved the real blade from Black Panther's Wakandan nation where he was presented it by Queen Ororo T'Challa. [40]

Television Edit

  • The Nathan Garrett incarnation of the Black Knight appears in the "Captain America" and "Avengers" segments of The Marvel Super Heroes animated series as a member of Baron Heinrich Zemo's Masters of Evil. He also appears on his own in an episode of the "Iron Man" segment.
  • The Sir Percy incarnation of the Black Knight appears in the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends animated series episode "Knights & Demons", voiced by Vic Perrin. Dane Whitman was also meant to appear, but was rejected to avoid confusion. [49]
  • The Augustine du Lac incarnation of the Black Knight appears in the 2010 Black Panther animated series, voiced by JB Blanc. [50] As in the comics, he is one of several supervillains who assists Klaw in invading Wakanda.
  • The Nathan Garrett incarnation of the Black Knight appears in the Iron Man: Armored Adventures animated series, voiced by Alistair Abell. This version serves as a Maggia member and personal enforcer to Count Nefaria.
  • The Dane Whitman incarnation of the Black Knight makes a cameo appearance in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes animated series episode "Come the Conqueror".

Film Edit

The Dane Whitman incarnation of the Black Knight is set to appear in the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe film, The Eternals, portrayed by Kit Harington. [51]

Forgotten Soldier

Discover personal stories of enslaved and free African Americans on both sides of the American Revolution and their contributions toward establishing an independent nation in “Forgotten Soldier,” a special exhibition at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Rare documents and artifacts, interactives and compelling art, including a new contemporary work by nationally acclaimed artist Titus Kaphar, trace the experiences of African-American soldiers who took part in the American cause for a free and independent nation or took up arms for British forces in hopes of obtaining their own freedom.

The special exhibition, on display from June 29, 2019, and originally scheduled through March 22, 2020, illuminates the difficult choices and risks faced by African Americans during a revolutionary time in history and the varied and indispensable roles they played during the war and beyond.

Among the countless stories, learn about Crispus Attucks, a sailor formerly enslaved and of African and American Indian descent, who was the war’s first casualty at the Boston Massacre, and later considered “the First Martyr of Liberty.” Bristol Rhodes, an enslaved man who secured freedom by joining the Rhode Island Regiment, fought at the Siege of Yorktown in October 1781, and lost his left leg and one hand due to cannon fire. Thomas Carney, born free in Maryland, joined the 5th Maryland Regiment in 1777 and served as a Continental Army private in some of the most iconic battles of the war—Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth and Guilford Courthouse—receiving a cash bonus and 100 acres of bounty land for his service.

“Lieutenant Thomas Grosvenor and His Negro Servant,” ca. 1797, John Trumbull, Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection.

Significant Loans

Dunmore’s Proclamation of 1775 from the Library of Congress will be on loan for six months of the exhibit, followed by another copy of the document from the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. The document by Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia, promised freedom to all enslaved African Americans owned by rebelling Patriots, if they would serve and bear arms with loyalty to Great Britain.

Treaty of Paris, Article 7, New York, 1783, on loan from the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C., ordered that all prisoners were to be freed, and the British were to withdraw all of their forces, “…without causing any Destruction, or carrying away any Negroes or other Property of the American inhabitants….”

The American “Inspection Roll of Negroes No. 1” and the British “Book of Negroes, on loan from the U.S. National Archives in Washington, D.C., and The National Archives (Public Record Office), Kew, London, England, will be reunited for the first time since 1783 for this special exhibition. The Americans and the British created these two documents to partially satisfy a requirement of Article 7 of the Treaty of Paris. These ledgers record the names of approximately 3,000 African-American men, women, and children who escaped to British lines during the war in hopes of obtaining their freedom. An interactive in the exhibit will offer an in-depth exploration of the “Inspection Roll of Negroes Book No. 1” from the U.S. National Archives.

“Lieutenant Thomas Grosvenor and His Negro Servant” portrait by John Trumbull, circa 1797, on loan from Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection. In this 15-by-11 inch oil painting, Asaba and his owner, Lt. Thomas Grosvenor of Pomfret, Conn., look at the fallen hero, Dr. Joseph Warren, who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. Asaba survived this battle and was freed by Grosvenor after the war.

Interactives & Hands-On Experiences

(Some interactives may not be available upon reopening to follow safety protocols)

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – An interactive wheel activity shows the choices that many African Americans made in the hope for freedom, knowing that liberty was not guaranteed. By turning the wheel to make a choice, visitors can find out what happened to actual people who made the same choice and learn about their stories in the exhibition.

Hiding in Plain Sight – This search-and-find activity illustrates the story of James Lafayette, an enslaved African American who served as a Patriot spy and relayed messages to George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War. Visitors can find eight hidden objects used to pass spy messages.

Carl, J.H., “Drittes Regiment Garde,”(1784). Prints, Drawings and Watercolors from Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. Brown Digital Repository. Photo courtesy of Brown University Library.

Of The Greatest Service: Joining Patriot Ranks – Using touchable objects, a flip door shadow box reveals some items that free African Americans would have received while serving in Continental Army militias and regiments.

Who Am I? And What Became of Me? – Learn the identity and fate of six individuals by reading brief stories of their circumstances during the Revolutionary War.

Remember a Soldier! – This activity encourages visitors to send an uplifting postcard message to modern-day enlisted soldiers to let them know they are not forgotten.

Contemporary Art of Titus Kaphar

“Forgotten Soldier” features an original work by Titus Kaphar, an American contemporary artist and 2018 MacArthur Fellow whose work reconfigures subjects in art history, often reinserting African Americans into familiar narratives of the past.

Titus Kaphar works at his studio in New haven, Conn. Photo by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Surrounded by 18th-century stories of African-American soldiers before, during and after the Revolution, the special exhibition showcases a commissioned sculpture by Kaphar that invites visitors to “shift their gaze” or look at history in a new light to contemplate these soldiers often overlooked in historical accounts. The project is in partnership with the Williamsburg Contemporary Art Center.

His paintings and sculptures have garnered a national spotlight in exhibits and permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, among other prominent institutions, and graced the cover of TIME Magazine in 2014 and again in 2020. The New York Times recently profiled his work and his efforts to nurture young artists in New Haven, Conn.

Stories of African Americans in Permanent Exhibition Galleries & Mobile App

Visitors can connect with more stories of African Americans in the Revolution and their wartime experiences by exploring the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown permanent gallery exhibits, enhanced through the museum’s free mobile app. The James Lafayette gallery tour, available on the mobile app, uncovers the lives of James Lafayette, Peter Salem, Billy Flora and Billy Lee. Visitors can download the app from home or at the museum on Google Play or the Apple App Store by searching Yorktown Museum Gallery Tours.

Related Public Programs and Events

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown hosted a series of public programs and special events to complement this special exhibition. Supplemental daily programming illuminates the lives of African-American soldiers in the Revolutionary War with educational lectures and hands-on learning activities with historical interpreters. Designed to provide the knowledge and skills needed to help ensure history isn’t forgotten, the five-part “Preserving The Past: Family History Workshop Series” explored genealogy and military records, cemetery preservation, photograph and document conservation, and preservation of oral histories. A special salute to “The African-American Soldier” November 9-10 featured re-enactors representing the varied and indispensable role of African-American soldiers in each of America’s armed conflicts.

The special exhibition was held in conjunction with the 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution, marking the 400th anniversary of the first recorded Africans in Virginia in 1619 and the evolution of America.

“Forgotten Soldier” is made possible in part by Altria Group.

About the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through August 15, tells the story of the nation’s founding, from the twilight of the colonial period to the dawn of the Constitution and beyond. Comprehensive indoor exhibits and outdoor living history capture the transformational nature and epic scale of the Revolution and its relevance today. The museum is located at 200 Water Street, in Yorktown, Virginia. Parking is free.

“Forgotten Soldier” is included with 2020 museum admission is $15.25 for adults, $7.75 for ages 6 through 12, and free for children under 6. A value-priced combination ticket to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and Jamestown Settlement is $27.50 for adults and $13.50 for ages 6-12.

Cowberry is a Valuable Berry

Cowberry water was a very popular drink. It was used against inflammation, as an antipyretic and diuretic. It was prescribed against sore throat and joint pain, and in overheating in the sun. It was used topically as a cooling compress.

After preparing the water, strained cowberries were re-filled with water again, because the berries still had a sufficient amount of juice in them. Cowberry water is a good thirst quencher and has a delicate flavor.

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