"World Map 1681 - No. 1" by Gerard van Schagen
Photo by Chuck Coker.
On a side note, I recommend downloading this image. It is crazy cool and detailed.
And they had no idea what Alaska looked like.
My DilemmaI was recently told that I ought to create a much more detailed back-story for my MG fantasy world. I ought to know how dragons came into my world and how they changed human history. This made sense to me, and I felt a little silly for not doing it before. I'd always had ideas, but I hadn't fully fleshed them out.
At first I was a bit stumped about some of the specifics, but then I started listening to history podcasts. So many interesting things have happened throughout human history! It's hard not to be inspired when the story is told in a compelling way. (Side note: not all history podcasts are told in an inspiring way.)
I mean, anybody can give the cold, hard facts. The facts alone typically aren't what make a story thrive. It's the odd little details.
(Photo by Ludovic Hirlimann)
Hardcore HistoryFor me, Dan Carlin's Hardcore History helps bring history to life. He actually tries to give an idea of what life was like on the ground. And it just so happened that when I was searching for a way to deliver my dragons into my world, I listened to his series on Genghis Khan, and I thought, "What if these Dragon People had been living the rough life on the Mongolian steppe for years and were led to conquer Europe by a ruthless and brilliant leader?"
Genghis KhanDid you know that at one point in time in history, Genghis Khan's army (his son was the Khan at this point) had stormed through Europe defeating armies left and right? I'd had no idea.
(Picture curtesy of Internet Archive Book Images)
When the Khan's army was on the verge of finishing off France and basically owning all of Europe, the Khan (Ogedei - pronounced O - geh - die) died, and the armies pulled back so they could elect a new Khan, and that took forever and was a bit contentious, and that's why we don't speak Mongolian today. Or something like that. Seeing as how it didn't actually happen, there is, of course, debate on exactly what would have happened.
People Had Crazy Names Back ThenI've been listening to a few different history (and other) podcasts. It's good stuff for a long trip. I learned about Charlemagne and his dad, Pippin the Short, and his son, Louis the Pious, on my long trip to a wedding.
Long story short: check out a few history podcasts. You might learn something cool.