What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

132 - Poland's Wry-Mouthed Duke

June 18, 2007, 5:59 PM

mail-1.jpg

Poland at the time of the death of Boleslav the Wrymouthed 1138: how could one resist a map with a title like that? Not that the map isn’t remarkable in its own right. The starkly contrasting colour scheme with sinuous black rivers slicing through Polish white and white streams dissecting the the encircling black lands, the mention of better- and lesser-known lands and tribes (the Kurons and the Jadzvings!) and the delicate amplification of the coastline, making waves deep into the Baltic Sea: it all lends an unreal air to the map.

Surprisingly real, though, is the position and size of Poland. Considering how many times that country would expand, contract, be partitioned (three times, I think) and reconstituted, shifting east and (most recently) west, the Poland of Boleslav the Wrymouthed looks remarkably much like present-day Polska. It seems the only missing parts are the southern part of the area occupied by the Prussians (a Baltic tribe, later displaced by German colonists) and the area hemmed in by the labels Bohemia and Moravia, usually referred to as Silesia.

What kind of king was Boleslav? Actually, no king at all, since he was Duke of Poland. Boleslav defeated the Pomeranians (shaded area on the Polish coast on the map) in 1109, regaining access to the sea. Nominally a liege of the German emperor, Boleslav defeated Henry V in 1109 – must have been a good year to be a Polish duke – and paid tribute in the form of the isle of Rügen and western Pomerania to Lotharius II.

By his second wife, Salome von Berg-Schelklingen, Boleslav had 14 children, some of whom continued the family tradition of carrying silly nicknames. Boleslav IV the Curly and Mieszko III the Old spring to mind. In his testament, Boleslav III divided his lands among four of his sons, providing that the eldest would have supreme power. This didn’t last long, and Poland descended into centuries of feudal fragmentation and German encroachment.

This map was suggested to me by Benjamin; a more precise source is lacking – but for some reason, the colouring seems to suggest the period leading up to the Second World War.

 

132 - Poland's Wry-Mouthed ...

Newsletter: Share: