Medieval History: The Stock Market Has Always Been Confusing

I’m always scouring for clues about my ancestors and while doing so, come across some interesting tidbits. It’s especially intriguing to read about the medieval merchant elite, and imagine them in Amsterdam, while boats sailed peacefully through the canals and men stood about the exchange talking about the latest ship that did or didn’t make profits for its investors. Spoiled grain, piracy, storms, they all led to disaster. Companies in the form of co-operatives were pieced together, often for only a year and then disbanded, the company, intending to only invest together for the length of one ship’s voyage. It was probably quite similar to today’s investing in commodities. The first to write of the details of the exchange was Joseph de la Vega, a Dutchman of Sephardic Jewish origin. He titled his book, “Confucion de los Confucions.”

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors and Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:

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Religion & Ancient History: What is Zion?

Zion is a hill in Jerusalem, it’s the sacred site of King David’s royal palace so obviously, a very important place for Jews. It was the ancient center of worship and governance. Jerusalem is inhabited by both Muslims and Jews and Islam has a sacred presence on the same hill. A mosque now stands on the Temple Mount, built on the site where King David’s temple was. All this is built of ancient stonework, including the sacred Christian Basilica, built adjacent to the Temple Mount. People from many religious backgrounds flock to Jerusalem. Tour buses are plentiful. Built within Jerusalem’s ancient stone structures are stalls where vendors sell their wares. Jerusalem is a fabulous, historical, spiritual site upon an ancient hill. History’s stories are not just told but are revealed in plain sight.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors and Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:

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ANCIENT HISTORY: What’s Self-Flagellation?

When Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” came out, his self-flagellating monk had a lot of us wondering, what’s that about? In 1347, the Black Death (plague) descended from China to Europe. People were ignorant and superstitious so came up with a variety of rationalizations for why the plague was killing their loved ones. Not understanding cleanliness, biology, and the nature of disease, they believed God was punishing them. A cult arose, called the Flagellants and cult members swore to flog themselves three times a day. With bare-torsos, cult members, sometimes a thousand strong, sauntered down the street singing hymns while their leader whipped them and they whipped themselves. Ironically, many of them died, not from the Black Death, but from infected wounds from the self-flagellation because cult dogma forbade bathing, even the wounds. Suellen Ocean is the author of the historic novel The Celtic Prince Available here:

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ANCIENT HISTORY: What’s a Goth?

First off, the Goths overtook the Roman Empire. But who were they? They were an ancient people, usually characterized by their tall, blond appearance. The word Goth is also used to describe someone who is uncivilized or a barbarian. It’s a common phrase, “the Barbarians brought down the Roman Empire.” One could spend a lifetime trying to decipher the exact ethnic make-up of these Barbarian groups. These ancient Teutonics (loosely Germanic) were no doubt comprised of members of their local tribe, infused with descendants of slaves from the Roman Empire who could have come from various sections of the Empire, including the Mediterranean. Basically, historically, a Goth is used to describe Northern European Barbarians commonly associated with Scandinavia and Norway.

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Before Christianity, There Was the Pagan Cult

Romans were not the only ones with a variety of gods. Pagan worshipping was prevalent throughout the world, there were many cults. Shortly before Christianity, keeping with tradition of Roman rulers revered as gods, Julius Caesar was selected to the ranks of divinity. Eventually, Christianity took hold, and replaced a myriad of Pagan cults, including Mithras, Apollo the sun god, the Asian Goddess of Fertility Cybele and especially popular with women was the Pagan deity Isis.

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ANCIENT HISTORY: Who Were the Sea People?

Viking is from the Old Norse word vikingr, and is used to describe the pirate Northmen who plundered the coasts of Europe in the 8th to 10th centuries. Viking is also another name for sea rover. The title Norseman and Northmen have the same meaning; it’s used to designate ancient Scandinavian men, including Norwegians. These blond, blue-eyed men were highly skilled sea and inlet navigators who made their way south to the Mediterranean and the Lebanon where they were called, the “Sea People.” History records Egyptian Pharaoh, Ramesses III, struggled with invaders who were also called, the “Sea People.”
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Do Women Love a Man in Uniform?

What is it that makes a woman admire a man in a military uniform? Is it the pride and self-confidence he conveys while serving his country? When the Civil War broke out, photography was a new technology and there were cameras everywhere, unfortunately they captured the horror of that brutal war. However, the photographers also captured the men who stood proudly wearing those uniforms, both Union and Confederate. If you look at antique photos of Generals William Sherman and Robert E. Lee, or photos of Ulysses S. Grant and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, they all show a posturing that was meant to convey confidence, probably to the enemy, but as it happens, just what studies say women appreciate and find attractive… confidence.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the Civil War Era Historic Romance, Black Pansy.

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