For my second crack at depicting history horizontally, I present to you A Psychotic Jumble of Colorful Vertical Bars That Might Be Awesome or Maybe Not I Can’t Tell Here Either But I Think It Might Be Fun.
This time, I got more specific than birth decade and actually identified the exact birth year and the death year of each name, using a bar to depict their lifespan. While the above chart simplifies who lived when, the diagram below allows you to follow a single horizontal path along any year and see who was and wasn’t alive at that time.
As I made the diagram, I ran into a big problem, which is that it looked like an upside-down L with way more names at the top than the bottom. Crunching all those recent names into blog width made the font tiny—so I solved the problem by cutting out about half of the recent names. But, before I did, I broke the complete list of 1800–2016 names into two groups by category and here they are below:
Okay now that that’s out of the way, here’s the big list. It goes back to 1450. Trace a horizontal line across to get a feel for what was going on during that particular time.
Note. A number of people have requested a sideways version of this diagram. Here it is.
Some overall thoughts:
✓ Lifespans are unfair. Looking at people’s lives visually really makes it clear when two people are born around the same time but then one of them randomly dies 30 years before the other.
✓ Murder is dickish. Another thing this diagram highlights. How not okay is it to cut someone else’s bar short? JFK might have been on his way to a nice 85-year bar when this other guy just took a scissors and snipped his bar.
✓ On the other hand, short lives were appreciated during the making of this diagram. This was a nightmare of a puzzle, especially at the top, and while trying to fit a lot of bars into a small space, there were times I found myself saying, out loud, Oh nice, when I’d look up someone’s life dates and realize that they were murdered at a young age. Likewise, one factor that led to a number of the recent people being cut from the big diagram was living too long. Frank Lloyd Wright’s a cool dude, but not 2.5 inches of diagram cool.
✓ Some people aren’t easily categorized. I tried my best. You try putting Ben Franklin into a category.
✓ Yeah, yeah, I said the whole Aladdin and Jafar are in the eye of the beholder thing and then I created a category for people who I deemed dicks. I know. But it was fun to label certain people as dicks. Ya know?
Each little part of this diagram tells a story. Let’s go through a few examples:
I mentioned in a box in the first chart that Mozart wrote his Requiem the same year the US forefathers were writing the Bill of Rights and that Beethoven had a love-hate relationship with Napoleon—but using the lifespan diagram, you can see both of these stories visually.
And in the intro, I referenced Copernicus’s seminal work happening right when Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling and Henry VIII was marrying Catherine of Aragon.
But if you look at the other stuff the diagram shows going on around that same time, it tells a bigger story:
While Copernicus, Michelangelo, and Henry VIII were happening, it was also the golden age of European exploration—look at all those light purple explorers!—and the precursor age to the oncoming Age of Imperialism. Simultaneously, you can see the Protestant Reformation brewing with the presence of all those dark blue religious figures. The one dark blue exception is Guru Nanak, who was over in Asia being the founding prophet of Sikhism. Meanwhile, Michelangelo was part of something larger, as the other pink bars—and Machiavelli—remind us that the Italian Renaissance was in full swing.
Every time I look at the lifespan diagram, a new interesting horizontal pops out to me. Here’s one more: People in the US associate the 1860s with Lincoln and the Civil War was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. But what we overlook is that the 1860s was one of history’s greatest literary decades. In the ten years between 1859 and 1869, Darwin published his world-changing On the Origin of Species, Dickens published A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations, Lewis Carroll published Alice in Wonderland, Dostoyevsky published Crime and Punishment, and Tolstoy capped things off with War and Peace. These guys were all in their primes at the same time. So was Lincoln, before some cock snipped his bar off at the worst time possible.
So there’s some horizontal history for you. Now go brush up so we can all be oriented the next time we yell at each other about fairy tales.
Prince George of Cambridge (р. 2013) is the elder child and only son of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867 - 1959) was an American architect, interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1,000 structures, 532 of which were completed.
The Requiem is a requiem mass by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Bill of Rights is a declaration of the rights that a citizenry have.
Ieasu Tokugawa (1542 - 1616) a fost primul shogun din shogunatul Tokugawa.
John Smith (banneret) (1616 - 1644) was an Englishman who supported the Royalist cause in the English Civil War.
Imperialism is an action that involves a nation extending its power by the acquisition of inhabited territory. It may also include the exploitation of these territories, an action that is linked to colonialism.
Protestant Reformation, was a schism in Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther and continued by John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and other early Protestant Reformers in 16th-century Europe. It is usually considered to have started with the publication of the Ninety-five Theses by Martin Luther in 1517 and lasted until the end of the Thirty Years' War with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
Guru Nanak (1469 - 1539) was the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus.
Sikhism is a religion that originated in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent about the end of the 15th century.
Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 - 1527) was an Italian diplomat, politician, historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer of the Renaissance period.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865.
On the Origin of Species, published on 24 November 1859, is a work of scientific literature by Charles Darwin which is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology.
Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812 - 1870) was an English writer and social critic.
A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a historical novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution.
Great Expectations is the thirteenth novel by Charles Dickens and his penultimate completed novel; a bildungsroman that depicts the personal growth and personal development of an orphan nicknamed Pip.
Crime and Punishment is a novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky.