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The History Portal

Herodotus (c. 484 BC – c. 425 BC) is often considered the "father of history"
Herodotus (c. 484 BC – c. 425 BC) is often
considered the "father of history"


History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. Events before the invention of writing systems are considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term comprising past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of these events. Historians seek knowledge of the past using historical sources such as written documents, oral accounts, art and material artifacts, and ecological markers.

History also includes the academic discipline which uses narrative to describe, examine, question, and analyze past events, and investigate their patterns of cause and effect. Historians often debate which narrative best explains an event, as well as the significance of different causes and effects. Historians also debate the nature of history as an end in itself, as well as its usefulness to give perspective on the problems of the present.

Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends. History differs from myth in that it is supported by evidence. However, ancient cultural influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematic elements of historical investigation. History is often taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.

Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian, is often considered the "father of history" in the Western tradition, although he has also been criticized as the "father of lies". Along with his contemporary Thucydides, he helped form the foundations for the modern study of past events and societies. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals, was reputed to date from as early as 722 BC, although only 2nd-century BC texts have survived. (Full article...)

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Photograph of a golden embroidered-double-headed eagle on an off-white background, with crowned heads and spread wings and legs, carrying a round medallion with Greek inscriptions on its breast.
Double-headed eagle on an altar cloth, believed to have belonged to Paul Tagaris, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Paul Palaiologos Tagaris (Greek: Παῦλος Παλαιολόγος Τάγαρις, c. 1320/1340 – after 1394) was a Byzantine Greek monk and impostor. A scion of the Tagaris family, Paul also claimed a somewhat dubious connection with the Palaiologos dynasty that ruled the Byzantine Empire at the time. He fled his marriage as a teenager and became a monk, but soon his fraudulent practices embroiled him in scandal. Fleeing Constantinople, he traveled widely, from Palestine to Persia and Georgia and eventually, via Ukraine and Hungary to Italy, Latin Greece, Cyprus and France.

During his long and tumultuous career, Paul was appointed an Orthodox bishop, sold ordinations to ecclesiastical offices, pretended to be the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, switched from Greek Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism and back again, supported both the See of Rome and the Avignon anti-popes in the Western Schism, and managed to be named Latin Patriarch of Constantinople. In the end, his deceptions unmasked, he returned to Constantinople, where he repented and confessed his sins before a synod in 1394. (Full article...)
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