Pure Luck: The Role of Chance in History

Luck is a way of understanding or judging how chance events affect our lives.  Chance may be a mixed bag of marshmallows and razor blades, a flowing river of good and bad experiences; positive, negative, or improbable events. Throughout history, Chance, Fate, Destiny or just pure Luck have had such an impact on mankind’s lives, leading men to conjure up gods and goddesses to implore; invest magical powers into amulets, talismans and numbers; follow superstitious habits, and chanting spells and incantations; all in an attempt to redirect the natural flow of life in their favor.

Japanese superstitions regarding cats.  Ume no Haru Gojūsantsugi" (梅初春五十三駅) by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. A shapeshifting cat. A kabuki that was performed in 1835 (Public Domain)

Japanese superstitions regarding cats.  Ume no Haru Gojūsantsugi" (梅初春五十三駅) by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. A shapeshifting cat. A kabuki that was performed in 1835 (Public Domain)

Fate, Luck or Just Mother Nature Intervening?

In the 13th century the Mongol Empire expanded across what is today approximately 50 modern countries, reaching from the Sea of Japan to Eastern Europe. In 1273 AD, seeking to expand his father’s Empire, Kublai Khan sent a missive to the king of Japan demanding he took to his knee and became a vassal of Mongolia. Instead, the Shogunate prepared Japan for a Mongolian sea invasion, which occurred in 1274 AD, when more than 20,000 Mongolian soldiers boarded 500 ships and ravaged the islands of Iki and Tsushima, before reaching Hakata Bay in Japan. The odds were stacked against the Japanese. Not only had they not fought on home soil for 50 years, but they trained in single combat, even when using massive armies, while the Mongols used unfamiliar tactics and weapons including early explosive devices like hand grenades.


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