FYI April 28, 2017

April 28 – National Blueberry Pie Day

On this day:

1253 – Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist monk, propounds Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō for the very first time and declares it to be the essence of Buddhism, in effect founding Nichiren Buddhism.

Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō (南無妙法蓮華経) (also known as Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō)[1][2] (English: Devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra or Glory to the Sutra of the Lotus of the Supreme Law)[3][4] is the central mantra chanted within all forms of Nichiren Buddhism as well as Tendai Buddhism.[5]. The famous Tendai Monks Saicho and Genshin are said to have originated the Daimoku although Nichiren is known as the greatest proponent. The mantra is an homage to the Lotus Sutra which is widely credited as the “king of scriptures” and “final word on Buddhism”. According to Jacqueline Stone, the Tendai founder Saicho popularized the mantra “Namu Ichijo Myoho Renge Kyo” as a way to honor the Lotus Sutra as the One Vehicle teaching of the Buddha. [6]According to Richard Payne, the Tendai monk Genshin popularized the mantra “Namu Amida, Namu Kanzeon, Namu Myoho Renge Kyo” to honor the 3 jewels of Japanese Buddhism. [7]Nichiren, who himself was a Tendai monk, edited these chants down to “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo” and Nichiren Buddhists are responsible for its wide popularity and usage all over the world today.

The words Myōhō Renge Kyō refers to the Japanese title of the Lotus Sūtra. The mantra is referred to as daimoku (題目[8]?) or, in honorific form, o-daimoku (お題目) meaning title and was first revealed by the Japanese Buddhist priest Nichiren on the 28th day of the fourth lunar month of 1253 at Seichō-ji (also called Kiyosumi-dera) in present-day city of Kamogawa, Chiba prefecture, Japan.[9][10]

The practice of prolonged chanting is referred to as shōdai (唱題) while the purpose of chanting daimoku is to reduce sufferings by eradicating negative karma along with reducing karmic punishments both from previous and present lifetimes,[11] with the goal to attain perfect and complete awakening.[12]

More on wiki:


1503 – The Battle of Cerignola is fought. It is noted as the first battle in history won by small arms fire using gunpowder.

The Battle of Cerignola was fought on April 28, 1503, between Spanish and French armies, in Cerignola, near Bari in Southern Italy. Spanish forces, under Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, formed by 6,300 men, including 2,000 landsknechte, with more than 1,000 arquebusiers, and 20 cannons, defeated the French who had 9,000 men; mainly heavy gendarme cavalry and Swiss mercenary pikemen, with about 40 cannons, and led by Louis d’Armagnac, Duke of Nemours, who was killed. It was one of the first European battles won by gunpowder weapons, as the assault by Swiss pikemen and French cavalry was shattered by the fire of Spanish arquebusiers behind a ditch.

Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, called “El Gran Capitán” (The Great Captain), had many strategic advantages. He formed his infantry into new units called “Coronelías,” that were the seed of the later Tercios. They were armed with a mix of pikes, arquebuses and swords. This type of formation had revolutionized the Spanish army, which like the French, had also centred upon cavalry from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries, in the battles of the Reconquista against the Muslims in Spain. The Spanish troops had occupied the heights of Cerignola, and entrenched his soldiers with walls and stakes. In front of the hillside, a trench was dug in which the arquebusiers took their positions. The Spanish artillery was placed on top of the hill among the wineyards, having a good view of the entire battlefield. The jinetes, Spanish light cavalry, were placed in front of the rest of the army, while the Spanish heavy cavalry under Prospero Colonna were kept in reserve.[3]

De Córdoba’s troops faced a professional French army based on the Ordonnance reforms, relying on the heavily armoured cavalry of the Compagnies d’ordonnance and mercenary Swiss pikemen; however, at the same time, this army had more artillery than the Spanish. This paradox would be constant in the French armies through the first half of the sixteenth century. The French artillery however would not arrive in time to take active part in the battle.

The Battle
The battle began with two charges by the French heavy cavalry, against the centre of the Spanish army, but was dispersed by Spanish heavy artillery and arquebus fire on both occasions. The next assault tried to force the right flank, but many of the French cavalrymen fell into the Spanish trench and the attack was then broken by a storm of fire from the Spanish arquebusiers. One of those killed by the arquebus volley was the French commander Duke of Nemours, making him probably the first general killed in action by small arms fire. With the Swiss commander, Chandieu, taking charge, the Swiss infantry attacked with the cavalry instead of waiting for the arrival of the French rear guard under d’Alègre. At the imminent assault upon the Spanish center the Spanish arquebusiers were withdrawn and the Landsknechts sent forward. The Swiss formations, soon joined by the Gascons, were unable to break into the defensive positions. Shot into the flank by the arquebusiers and harassed by the Spanish cavalry, the Swiss and French were driven back, taking heavy casualties including Chandieu.

De Córdoba then called for a counterattack against the now disorganized enemy by both the Spanish infantry and the heavy Spanish cavalry waiting in reserve. Mounted arquebusiers surrounded and routed the remaining French gendarmes, but the Swiss pikeman managed to retreat in a relatively organized fashion.[4]

Upon witnessing the defeat of both the gendarmes and the pikemen, Yves d’Alègre, the commander of the French rear guard, called for a withdrawal. He was pursued by the victorious Spanish jinetes.[5]

“..what happened in the battle of Chirinola {Cerignola}; where an Italian, believing the Spanish were beaten, threw fire in the powder wagons, and the army being confused by such an accident, El Gran Capitan was encouraged saying ‘good sign friends, those are the lights of victory’ and thus it was.” [6]

The battle resulted in a heavy French defeat with the French reported to have lost around 2,000 men, Spanish losses amounting to some 500 men.[7] The French supplies, wagon train and all of the French artillery still in it fell into the hands of the victorious Spanish troops. The end of the battle saw the first time a “call to prayer” (toque de oracion) was issued, a practice that was later adopted by most Western armies, when the Great Captain, upon seeing the fields full of French bodies (who, like the Spaniards, were Christian), ordered three long tones to be played and his troops to pray for all the fallen.

After the battle the defeated French army retreated to the fortress of Gaeta north of Naples. De Córdoba’s forces attempted to storm the fortress, but the attacks all failed. The besieged French were prepared for a long siege and were receiving supplies by sea. Thus unable to take Gaeta and fearing the arrival of possible French reinforcements, De Córdoba lifted the siege and retreated to Castellone, some 8 kilometers south of Gaeta.[8]

In retrospect, Cerignola marks the beginning of a near invincible Spanish dominance on European battlefields until the defeat of Rocroi in 1643 and also marked the rise of pike and shot tactics. It is considered to be the first major battle won largely through the use of firearms, comparable to what was to occur in Japan seven decades later in the Battle of Nagashino in 1575.


Born on this day:

1402 – Nezahualcoyotl, Acolhuan philosopher, warrior, poet and ruler (d. 1472)
Nezahualcoyotl (Classical Nahuatl: Nezahualcoyōtl, Spanish pronunciation: [nesawaɬˈkojoːtɬ] ( listen), modern Nahuatl pronunciation Listen), meaning “Coyote in fast” or “Coyote who Fasts”) (April 28, 1402 – June 4, 1472) was a philosopher, warrior, architect, poet and ruler (tlatoani) of the city-state of Texcoco in pre-Columbian era Mexico. Unlike other high-profile Mexican figures from the century preceding Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, Nezahualcoyotl was not Mexica; his people were the Acolhua, another Nahuan people settled in the eastern part of the Valley of Mexico, settling on the eastern side of Lake Texcoco.

He is best remembered for his poetry, but according to accounts by his descendants and biographers, Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxóchitl and Juan Bautista Pomar, he had an experience of an “Unknown, Unknowable Lord of Everywhere” to whom he built an entirely empty temple in which no blood sacrifices of any kind were allowed — not even those of animals. However, he allowed human sacrifices to continue in his other temples.

Early life
Born as Nezahualcoyotly Acolmiztli (Fasted Coyote, Arm of a Lion), he was the son of Ixtlilxochitl I and Matlalcihuatzin,[1] the daughter of Huitzilihuitl. Though born heir to a throne, his youth was not marked by princely luxury. His father had set Texcoco against the powerful city of Azcapotzalco, ruled by the Tepanec. In 1418, when the young prince was fifteen, his father was assassinated.

The Tepanecs of Azcapotzalco, led by Tezozomoc, conquered Texcoco and Nezahualcoyotl had to flee into exile in Huexotzinco, returning to stay in Tenochtitlan in 1422. His aunts bribed the Tepanec king and allowed for him to be partially educated as a Mexica. His exposure to Mexica culture and politics would influence how he later governed Texcoco. After Tezozomoc’s son Maxtla became ruler of Azcapotzalco, Nezahualcoyotl returned to Texcoco, but had to go into exile a second time when he learned that Maxtla plotted against his life.

The reconquest of Texcoco
As the tlatoani Itzcoatl of Tenochtitlan requested help from the Huexotzincans against the Tepanecs, Nezahualcoyotl envisioned a single military force in order to fight the mighty kingdom of Atzcapotzalco. After being offered support from insurgents inside Acolhuacan and rebel Tepanecs from Coyohuacan, Nezahualcoyotl joined the war. He called for a coalition consisting of many of the most important pre-Hispanic cities of the time: Tenochtitlan, Tlacopan, Tlatelolco, Huexotzingo, Tlaxcala and Chalco.

The war was declared a shared and single effort, and the coalition army of more than 100,000 men under the command of Nezahualcoyotl and other important tlatoque headed towards Atzcapotzalco from the city of Calpulalpan. This began the military offensive that would reconquer Acolhuacan, capital city of the kingdom of Texcoco, in 1428.

The campaign was divided into three parts. One army attacked Acolman to the north and the second Coatlinchan to the south. A contingent led by Nezahualcoyotl himself was intended to attack Acolhuacan, only after providing support, upon request, to the first two armies. The coalition conquered Acolman and Otumba, sacking them only due to the sudden Tepanec siege of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco.

In a tactical move, the three armies united again and then divided into two. One of them, under Nezahualcoyotl, headed towards Texcoco laying siege to Acolhuacan on its way, while the other attacked and destroyed Atzcapotzalco. At the time the armies met again, Nezahualcoyotl reclaimed Texcoco and decided to conquer Acolhuacan, entering from the north while the Tenochca and Tlacopan allies coming from Azcapotzalco attacked from the south. The two armies simultaneously attacked Acolhuacan from two directions until they controlled the city’s main square.

After their victory, the coalition began a series of attacks to isolated Tepanec posts throughout the territory of Texcoco. The defeat of the Tepanecs and the total destruction of the kingdom of Azcapotzalco gave rise to the Aztec Triple Alliance between Texcoco, Tenochtitlan and Tlacopan. Nezahualcoyotl, the wisest ruler that had ever ruled over Anahuac Valley – as it was known at that time – was finally crowned Tlatoani of Texcoco in 1431.

Legal system and punishments
According to Motolina, Nezahualcoyotl practiced his strict laws judiciously and imposed them on all his subjects. He killed four of his sons for their sexual relationships with his concubines. Conquered cities paid tribute that was distributed among three kings. Fourteen cities were under Nezahualcoyotl, including Otompan, Huexotla, Coatlichan, Chimalhuacan, Tepetlaoztoc, Chiauhtla, Tezoyucan, Teotihuacan, Acolman, Tepechpan, Chiconauhlt, Xicotepec, Cuauhchinanco, and Tulantzino.[2]

Nezahualcoyotl adopted the Mexica legal system into his empire to help in the reconstruction of his city. There were eighty laws that he enacted; among them were laws about crime and punishment including treason, robbery, adultery, homicide, homosexuality, alcohol abuse, misuse of inheritances, and military misconduct. For example, in the case for adultery, there were different punishments according to the levels of adultery and the status of those involved.

Adulterers were stoned, burned, or hanged if they had committed murder because of their extramarital affair. The Mapa Quinatzin depicts the hanging of a robber for stealing or breaking into a house. In cases of military misconduct, for example those soldiers who did not follow orders or killed captives, the condemned were hanged or beheaded. Nobles, too, were not immune to such punishments. Sons who stole from their father’s property were suffocated. Drunkards, incestuous men and women, and homosexuals were hanged as well.

Religious Skeptic
The friars that documented his life thought he was a pious man, though he was skeptical towards the indigenous gods that required human sacrifices. He practiced his faith in a peaceful way; In lieu of human sacrifice, he offered incense and fasted. He built a temple and prohibited human sacrifice in his city after he had fasted and prayed for the victory Texcoco had over Chalca. He allowed human sacrifices to continue in his other temples.

He also tried to convert neighboring cities to his faith, most especially Tenochtitlan. He gathered priests from Tenochtitlan which he used to aid in reconstructing the religious system in Texcoco. He restored the existing gods and temples but also reformed and modified the existing ones. He placed a greater importance on the Mexica god and built a large temple dedicated to Huitzilopochtli.


Revered as a sage and poet-king, Nezahualcoyotl gathered a group of followers called the tlamatini, generally translated as “wise men”. These men were philosophers, artists, musicians and sculptors who pursued their art in the court of Texcoco.

Nezahualcoyotl is credited with cultivating what came to be known as Texcoco’s Golden Age, which brought the rule of law, scholarship and artistry to the city and set high standards that influenced surrounding cultures. Nezahualcoyotl designed a code of law based on the division of power, which created the councils of finance, war, justice and culture (the last actually called the “Council of Music”). Under his rule Texcoco flourished as the intellectual center of the Triple Alliance and was home to an extensive library that, tragically, did not survive the Spanish conquest. He also established an academy of music and welcomed worthy entrants from all regions of Mesoamerica.

Texcoco has been called “the Athens of the Western World”—to quote the historian Lorenzo Boturini Bernaducci. Indeed, the remains of hilltop gardens, sculptures and a massive aqueduct system show the impressive engineering skills and aesthetic appreciation of his reign.

Many believe, however, that of all the creative intellects nurtured by this Texcocan “Athens,” by far the greatest belonged to the king himself. He is considered one of the great designers and architects of the pre-Hispanic era. He is said to have personally designed the “albarrada de Nezahualcoyotl” (“dike of Nezahualcoyotl”) to separate the fresh and brackish waters of Lake Texcoco, a system that was still in use over a century after his death.

The date of Nezahualcoyotl’s death is recorded as being June 4, 1472, survived by many concubines and an estimated 110 children. He was succeeded by his son Nezahualpilli as tlatoani of Texcoco.

His great-grandson Juan Bautista Pomar is credited with the compilations of a collection of Nahuatl poems. Romances de los señores de la Nueva España, and with a chronicle of the history of the Aztecs. The freshwater fish Xiphophorus nezahualcoyotl is named after Nezahualcoyotll. Nezahualcoyotll appears on the current 100 peso banknote of Mexico.

One of Nezahualcoyotl’s historical legacies is as a poet and a number of works in the Classical Nahuatl language written in the 16th and 17th centuries have been ascribed to him. In fact this attribution is testament to the long lifespan of oral tradition, since Nezahualcoyotl died almost 50 years before the conquest and the poems were written down another fifty years after that. Juan Bautista de Pomar, was a grandson of Nezahualcoyotl and likely wrote them from memory of the oral tradition. Poems attributed to Nezahualcoyotl include:

In chololiztli (The Flight)
Ma zan moquetzacan (Stand Up!)
Nitlacoya (I Am Sad)
Xopan cuicatl (Song of Springtime)
Ye nonocuiltonohua (I Am Wealthy)
Zan yehuan (He Alone)
Xon Ahuiyacan (Be Joyful)

One of his poems appears in tiny print on the face of the 100 peso note.
Amo el canto del zenzontle
Pájaro de cuatrocientas voces,
Amo el color del jade
Y el enervante perfume de las flores,
Pero más amo a mi hermano, el hombre.

(English translation)
I love the song of the mockingbird,
Bird of four hundred voices,
I love the color of the jadestone
And the intoxicating scent of flowers,
But more than all I love my brother, man.



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