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 On this day in history Round One

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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Wed 08 Jan 2014, 21:42

It was very slow for my to access first time this morning, and I gave up, but I had no problems this time and the typing seems to be doing as it usually does. Will see if it sends quickly.

(Edited to say: Yes it did.)
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Fri 10 Jan 2014, 13:34

10 January 49 BC. Julius Caesar takes his army over the river Rubicon, which marks the border between Cisalpine Gaul and Italia, defying the instructions of the Senate and beginning the Roman Civil Wars.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Mon 13 Jan 2014, 09:36

January 13th 1968

Cash's song "Folsom Prison Blues" had been his second hit, recorded over ten years previously, and he had already performed it to various prison audiences in the intervening years to great acclaim. However it was in January 1968 that the song finally "came home" to the prison that had inspired it, an event recorded for posterity as both a film and a best-selling album "At Folsom Prison".

The single was re-released and became an even bigger hit than before though in the immediate aftermath of the Robert Kennedy assassination only after radio stations had forced the record company to remove the line "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die". Its success, and that of the album, revitalised a career by then very much in the doldrums after years of substance abuse and consequent difficulties with holding to and securing contracts. "At San Quentin" released the following year emulated this success and today many of the versions of Cash's songs most identified with the singer and with which we are most familiar are to be found on these two albums.

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Tue 14 Jan 2014, 07:48

January 14th 1814.

Due to the treaty of Kiel the Danish King, Frederick VI, ceded Norway from his possessions to his Swedish colleague, Charles XIII.

The Norwegians weren't having none of that and declared themselves an independent nation.
Eventually the Norwegians had to accept Swedish kingship but they did retain their own - freshly written - constitution, which was probably the most liberal one in Europe, and perhaps in the then known world.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Tue 14 Jan 2014, 13:09

@Nielsen wrote:
... probably the most liberal one in Europe ...

Maybe so. However this so-called "liberal" constitution also contained the following little gem;

"The Evangelical-Lutheran religion remains the public religion of the State. Those inhabitants, who confess thereto, are bound to raise their children to the same. Jesuits and monastic orders are not permitted. Jews are still prohibited from entry to the Realm."

This passage of course has been much amended in the meantime. It is worth noting though that the ban on Jews was lifted in 1851. The ban on Jesuits however remained in the nation's constitution right up until 1956.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Tue 14 Jan 2014, 13:51

@nordmann wrote:
Quote :
 It is worth noting though that the ban on Jews was lifted in 1851. The ban on Jesuits however remained in the nation's constitution right up until 1956.

Well frankly what's a few more years for the Jews? But those pesky Jesuits ... more trouble than their worth, eh? ...  Wink  (I am jesting - sort of!).

But it does rather remind me of some of Martin Luther's lesser-known writings that today rather get hidden away in the small-print and foot-notes of history. He might have nobly challenged the might and majesty of Rome, and championed against religious injustice an hypocrisy - but at the same time he was a very keen advocate of genocide -  even going so far as to denounce all, and Luther really did mean all, those fellow Protestants who perniciously tried to just live in harmony with their neighbours, whether jewish, catholic, hussite ... or whatever. No wonder the 30 years war was so brutal.

But I'm not going to search out some of his nastier comments .... I need to go buy dog & cat food otherwise they'll be more than just 95 theses thrust through the cat-flap tonight!
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Fri 17 Jan 2014, 13:57

17 January 1885, the Battle of Abu Klea, the Gordon Relief Column is attacked by Mahdist forces while on route from Kori to Khartoum. During the battle there was a minor penetration of the British square by the Mahdists. The battle only lasted about 15 minutes are would probably be forgotten today except the Sir Henry Newbolt penned a poem about it part of which is:

The sand of the desert is sodden red
Red with the wreck of a square that broke
The Gatling's jammed and the colonel dead
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.


The square didn't actually break and it was a Gardiner Gun that jammed not a Gatling.

William Topaz McGonagall also got in on the act;

Ye sons of Mars, come join with me
And sing in praise of Sir Herbert Stewart's little army
That made ten thousand Arabs flee
At the charge of the bayonet at Abou Klea.


Classic stuff.



how it was depicted in the film Khartoum


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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Fri 17 Jan 2014, 14:21

17 January 1966, a B-52 bomber collides with it's refuelling tanker over Palomares, Spain, dropping three hydrogen bombs on the ground and one in the sea. The non-nuclear explosives in two of the bombs detonate in contact with the ground causing plutonium contamination of the immediate vicinity. The fourth bomb is later recovered intact from the sea bed.

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Sat 18 Jan 2014, 18:47

18th January 1486.

Henry VII finally gets round to marrying Elizabeth of York (Westminster Abbey).
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Sun 19 Jan 2014, 13:06

19th January 1547.

The execution of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, son and heir of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk and grandson of the Norfolk who had defeated the Scots at Flodden.

Howard died nine days before Henry VIII: he was the tyrant's last victim (the 3rd Duke, Howard's father, very nearly was - see next week).

Surrey was a superb poet: he was responsible for the introduction into English writing of that "strange metre" - blank verse. It was not his only "creation": he "invented" the so-called English sonnet, as well as the innovative heroic quatrains that lent themselves to a new genre of personal elegy.

Here's what Alexander Pope wrote about him (Windsor Forest 1713):

Matchless his pen, victorious was his Lance,
Bold in the Lists, and graceful in the Dance:
In the same shades the Cupids tuned his Lyre,
To the same notes of Love and soft Desire:
Fair Geraldine, bright object of his vow,
Then filled the Groves...

But, like so many brilliant and creative men, Howard could also be a bit of an idiot. For years he had, touched by the "fury of his youth" and a "heady will", caused trouble rampaging with his friends around London, showing himself to be - to quote one of Cromwell's agents - "the most foolish proud boy in England." At one time he actually called the Secretary of State - the second most powerful man in England after the king - "a foul churl". Even when he was 30 years old he still had a serious attitude problem.

But coming the proud Plantagenet with attitude  in front of  Henry VIII - by tinkering with his coat of arms to flaunt his royal descent - was not a good idea. It was to prove to be Surrey's downfall. He was indeed a thoroughbred aristocrat, as he was doubly descended  from two great kings of England: from Edward I (father's side) and Edward III (mother's side). That was a very dangerous thing to be in Tudor circles: advertising it to the world by arrogantly displaying the royal arms of Edward the Confesssor in your coat of arms (without permission) was utter lunacy.

Surrey's cool nonchalance and witty arrogance infuriated the ageing and bloated king, who, as his own death approached, feared that Howard ambition could threaten the safety of his little son, Edward. A treason charge was inevitable.

Here's what I mean by cool arrogance:



PS Howard very nearly got away: his unenviable escape attempt involved a very unpleasant slippery slide down the privy outlet of his cell in the Tower. He was apprehended just after he emerged from his messy and smelly descent, and he then made everything ten times worse by announcing he had tried to escape because "they always find the innocent guilty". Fair comment on the Tudor regime, but it was seen at the time as a "clear and grievous aspersion on the king's justice".
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Tue 21 Jan 2014, 09:35

21 January 1793; Louis XVI is executed during the French Revolution;

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Tue 21 Jan 2014, 09:50

Louis XVI was the only victim of 'The Terror' that was buried in a coffin - with his head placed between his feet. All the others were bundled into common mass graves. Thus with the restoration of the monarchy, when Louis XVIII ordered his successor's body to be exhumed and moved to an imposing monument in the Basilica St Denis, they could be reasonably sure it was really him. But I'm still not convinced that the body they dug up and put next to him is actually that of his wife Marie-Antoinette.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Tue 21 Jan 2014, 12:14

@Meles meles wrote:
Louis XVI was the only victim of 'The Terror' that was buried in a coffin - with his head placed between his feet. All the others were bundled into common mass graves. Thus with the restoration of the monarchy, when Louis XVIII ordered his successor's body to be exhumed and moved to an imposing monument in the Basilica St Denis, they could be reasonably sure it was really him. But I'm still not convinced that the body they dug up and put next to him is actually that of his wife Marie-Antoinette.
 
Now that is something I never knew.

Also on the 21st January, in 1954 the world's first nuclear powered submarine is launched at Groton, Connecticut;

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Fri 24 Jan 2014, 07:19

23rd January 1855.  An 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit Wellington, NZ.  Rather surprisingly only 8 people (thereabouts) were killed, most of them Maori in a single house. Of course, European settlers had only come to Wellington in 1840, so the population wasn't huge. An earlier earthquake had perhaps showed people the wisdom of building one-storey wooden houses in New Zealand (something the people of Christchurch still want to see built), so only a few public brick buildings fell.  What with earthquakes, wars against Maori, and difficulties making a living, it is no wonder this was the breaking straw which sent quite a number of the settlers back home. 

23rd January seems to be a day for deaths, especially for entertainers.  1570: James Stewart, Scotland's regent died; 1806 William Pitt the younger; 1931 Anna Pavlova;1936 contralto Clara Butt; 1944 Edvard Munch; 1976 Paul Robeson; 2005 Johnny Carson.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Fri 24 Jan 2014, 09:07

James Stewart's death is interesting ... he's supposed to be the first recorded person to be assassinated (as opposed to being killed in battle) by being shot with a gun - poison or a sly dagger thrust were the more usual methods being quieter and more sure. He was killed as he rode down the main street of Linlithgow by James Hamilton who fired the shot from a window of his uncle Archbishop Hamilton's house.

And talking of assassination....

24 Jan 41 - (date according to Suetonius) Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus aka Caligula was stabbed to death by a group of conspirators led by Cassius Chaerea.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Sun 26 Jan 2014, 09:13

Meant to post this yesterday, but I forgot.

January 25th 1533.

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn sort of get married:

http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/25-january-1533-marriage-of-henry-viii-and-anne-boleyn/

According to Thomas Cranmer, Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn on St Paul’s Day, the 25th January 1533. In a letter to Archdeacon Hawkyns, written in June 1533 and recording Anne Boleyn’s coronation, Cranmer wrote:-

“But now, sir, you may not imagine that this coronation was before her marriage; for she was married much about St Paul’s Day last, as the condition thereof doth well appear, by reason she is now somewhat big with child.”
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Sun 26 Jan 2014, 12:20

That's an intriguing one Temp. As the link points out, Henry's divorce from Catherine was not officially pronounced until 23rd May i.e. four months later. The sentence passed by Archbishop Cranmer that day followed a court case held at Dunstable Priory (4 miles from Ampthill Castle) in Bedfordshire where Catherine was staying. She, nevertheless, refused to attend or send a representative to the court.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 09:22

28 January 1393: The ‘Bal des Ardents’, at the Hôtel Saint-Pol in Paris.

With hindsight and a modern appreciation for risk and safety management, one could probably guess that it was all going to go horribly wrong ……

The ball and accompanying masque were arranged by the French queen, Isabeau of Bavaria, on the occasion of the wedding of one of her ladies-in-waiting, as an entertainment for the king, Charles VI. On the suggestion of Huguet de Guisay, who was well known at court for his pranks and outrageous schemes, six noblemen were to perform a dance disguised as wodewoses  – mythical, savage, hairy, wildmen-of-the-woods. The tight-fitting costumes, which had to be sewn onto the men, were made of linen soaked with resin to which flax was attached, "so that they appeared shaggy and hairy from head to foot". Given the highly inflammable nature of the costumes, strict orders forbade the lighting of hall torches during the performance. As was usual, part of the fun was that the identities of the dancers were hidden by masks so that both they and the audience could take extreme liberties but escape censor. Most of the audience was therefore unaware that the king himself was amongst the dancers.

The men put on a good show howling like wolves, shouting obscenities, groping the audience, and dancing in a lewd, diabolical frenzy.  But then Charles' brother the Duke of Orléans arrived, late and drunk, and strode straight into the hall carrying a lit torch. Accounts vary but it seems that Orléans held his torch above a dancer's mask trying to reveal his identity and a spark fell onto the man’s leg. The whole costume promptly burst into flames showering sparks everywhere, and so the fire then rapidly spread to the others.



Queen Isabeau, knowing that her husband was one of the performers, promptly fainted. However by chance King Charles was actually at a slight distance from the others, standing near his 15-year-old aunt Joan, Duchess of Berry. She swiftly threw her voluminous skirt over him as protection from the flying sparks and he was then bundled away. The others were not so fortunate and the scene rapidly descended into an infernal chaos: the dancers screaming with pain in their burning costumes and the audience, many of them also sustaining severe burns, desperately trying to rescue the men and extinguish the flames.


Charles and the Duchess of Berry.

Only two dancers survived unscathed: the king, thanks to the quick reactions of the Duchess of Berry, and the Sieur de Natouillet, who jumped into an open vat of wine, some say a tub of dishwater, and remained there until the flames were finally extinguished (in the top picture he's on the right under the musicians). The others all died, either at the scene or after lingering a few days in agony. The instigator of the affair, Huguet de Guisay, survived the longest but died on the third day, "… cursing and insulting his fellow dancers, the dead and the living, until his last hour."

“And thus”, concludes the chronicler Froissart, “the feast and marriage celebrations ended with such great sorrow.”

The event was generally seen as proof of decadence at the French court and it greatly undermined confidence in the nobility’s, and in particular the king’s, capacity to rule. Moreover Charles, who had started to show signs of mental illness a few months earlier, got rapidly worse after this debacle. He had periods when he didn’t recognize his wife Isabeau, and so complained about the strange woman who kept following him around the palace. He also periodically believed he was made of glass, literally, and so wouldn’t sit down for fear of shattering or snapping in half. Within just a couple of years of the tragic Paris Ball he was deemed incapable of ruling and his role had become merely ceremonial. By 1400 he was neglected, ignored and indeed often forgotten - a lack of leadership that greatly contributed to the decline and fragmentation of the Valois dynasty as others jockeyed to fill the power vacuum.


Last edited by Meles meles on Tue 28 Jan 2014, 20:54; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : As Paul points out the chronicler was Froissart not Froissant - my typo)
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 17:13

Meles meles,

thank you for your message.

Not to be pedant, but as I know occasionally the guy...
Is it not Jean Froissart who you means...?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Froissart

Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.

PS: I wanted to send a reply to Temp and Nordmann on the Plato thread, but preparing such a difficult item I have to construct a rather elaborated piece of work to not be sabred down in infamy...so need time and that's an item I am scarce of...
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 17:52

Hello Paul. Yes that's the fellow, Jean Froissart (c. 1337 – c. 1405) ... my error, I originally wrote Froissant instead of Froissart.

His description of the 'Bal des Ardents' comes from Book IV of his Chronicles. His works, even before the days of printing, were widely copied and illustrated. The first picture above is from the Harley Froissart manuscript in the British Library, the illustrator is unknown but is given as 'a master of Vienna'. The second picture is a detail from a copy of Froissart's Chronicles illustrated by the Flemish painter known as 'Master Anthony of Burgundy' who was active between 1460 and 1490, and that maunuscript copy is in the Getty Museum.

PS : How are things in België these days?  ... I don't have so much contact now since my partner died but I did speak to friends in Wavre, Dendermonde and Geraardsbergen over Christmas.

Groetjes uit Frankrijk,

MM
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 22:02

28th January 1547.

Death of Henry VIII.


Last edited by Temperance on Wed 29 Jan 2014, 04:17; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 23:12

28th January 1788 - The first British penal settlement was founded at Botany Bay.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Wed 29 Jan 2014, 03:34

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
28th January 1788 - The first British penal settlement was founded at Botany Bay.

Thus, today is Australia Day - yesterday actually -but in that sense 28th January is in memory of First Fleet.


Last edited by Nielsen on Thu 30 Jan 2014, 01:03; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Wed 29 Jan 2014, 19:10

@Gilgamesh of Uruk wrote:
28th January 1788 - The first British penal settlement was founded at Botany Bay.

Gil,

I didn't know that much about Australia (as a Belgian...) till I read the novel from one of my favourites Colleen McCullough: "Morgan's run" And it was all there: Norfolk Island, Botany Bay, the convicts first on the Thames and then to Australia...
http://www.amazon.com/Morgans-Run-Colleen-McCullough/dp/0671024183
18 January 1788 landed Arthur Philip the future governor.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botany_Bay
But also:
On the morning of 24 January the French exploratory expedition of Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse was seen outside Botany Bay.
The story of Lapérouse...it reads as a novel...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Fran%C3%A7ois_de_Galaup,_comte_de_Lap%C3%A9rouse
And in honour of our Australian members from our local Benelux entertainer André Rieu (from Maastricht):




Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Wed 29 Jan 2014, 20:05

I am a little uncertain reading posts from yesterday in a different timeframe from me, but Australia Day is the 26th January, the day the First Fleet arrived in Australia. A event of some controversy (as is NZ's Waitangi Day) since there is a feeling among Aborigines that this event did not benefit them.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Mon 03 Feb 2014, 13:46

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Mon 10 Feb 2014, 12:14

10th February, 1567 - a little after two o'clock in the morning.

Huge explosion in Edinburgh. Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, husband of Mary Queen of Scots, found dead (apparently strangled) in the rubble of Old Provost's House - better known as Kirk o'Field.

Argument still rages as to how much  Mary knew, but it seems that half the nobility of Scotland was implicated in the plot to kill the young fool who fancied himself as joint ruler of Scotland. John Guy comments (of the events during the week before Kirk o 'Field): "Back in London, Cecil watched and waited. Unlike Mary, he was entirely prepared for what was about to happen in her country."
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Thu 13 Feb 2014, 12:41

13th February 1542 - at just after 7:00 on that chilly morning Catherine Howard was executed on Tower Green.

The night before her execution she apparently asked for the executioner's block to be brought to her room so that she could practice how to lay her head upon it. Arriving that evening to take her confession and give spiritual comfort the Archbishop of Canterbury found her at times calm and resolved, and then at others weeping and distraught. But it is recorded that in the morning she faced her death with relative composure despite looking pale and terrified. She needed help in climbing the scaffold but once there, standing by the block, she managed to make a short speech describing her punishment as "worthy and just", and asking for mercy for her family, and prayers for her soul. 

Fortunately for her the executioner didn't bungle the job and she was beheaded with a single stroke. Lady Rochford, Catherine's principal lady-in-waiting, had also been implicated in Catherine's adulterous and treasonous affairs with Culpepper and Dereham (who had both already been executed) and she followed Catherine onto the scaffold. Lady Rochford did not go quite so calmly to her own death but rather made quite a scene: weeping, shouting, imploring, protesting, until she too was silenced by the axe. Queen Catherine's and Lady Rochford's bodies were immediately taken away and buried in unmarked graves in the Tower of London's chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, close to where the bodies of Catherine's executed cousins, Anne Boleyn and George Boleyn already lay.

Henry VIII didn't attend either Catherine's execution or burial.

And so Catherine Howard died - both a Queen of England and a naive, foolish, teenage girl whose entire fate and destiny from birth had been manipulated and controlled by her own ambitious family. But Catherine's prayers on the scaffold were partially answered: her pleas that her own family be shown mercy did indeed meet with a favourable response, and the Howards, who had medaciously gambled away the life of their own daughter, were back in power within a generation*.

*EDIT:

See also Temp's "On this day" post for 19th Jan 1547. They were tricksy b*ggers them Howards ... and frankly they still are. Even in the 21st century the Howard family hold the hereditary position of Earl Marshal of England, and that title isn't just about who can have a coat-of-arms but still has considerable political power, not the least a seat in the House of Lords "in perpetuity". We've touched on this elsewhere on this site, but I am still somewhat bemused at how the Howards, as a staunchy Catholic family, managed to retain their power, titles and influence through the protestant reformation? Even today the Monarch of England can't be Catholic or even marry a Catholic .... but the Howards have nevertheless managed to remain true to the Catholic faith whilst still holding political and secular power. How'd they do that?


Last edited by Meles meles on Thu 13 Feb 2014, 15:11; edited 7 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Thu 13 Feb 2014, 14:05

Ely Cathedral - 13th February 1322.

Possibly due to foundations having being undermined by the recent building of the adjacent Lady Chapel, the chancel and tower erected a hundred years before by Bishop Northwold came crashing suddenly back down to earth bringing most of the fabric of the surrounding building with it. The incident was the inspiration for Kenneth Follett's fictional Kingsbridge Cathedral collapse in his best-seller "Pillars of the Earth" - the scene here being taken from the corresponding TV mini-series.



Unlike in Kingsbridge however nobody in Ely actually got squashed - luckily the collapse took place in the dead of night with no one under it at the time. In terms of modern economics however, taking into account the cost of materials, absolute value of working hours used in its construction as well as in the subsequent clean-up and reconstruction, and of course the property's estimated real estate value and earnings potential, the Ely collapse when set against the World Trade Center attack of 2001 punched a comparable hole in the national exchequer, around £55 billion at lowest estimate going by today's prices.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Thu 20 Feb 2014, 08:36

We the haven’t had any musical anniversaries for a while so,

20 February 1816 Rossini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville, or the Futile Precaution premiered at the Teatro Argentina in Rome.

The opening night was a disastrous failure. The audience hissed and jeered throughout and several on-stage accidents occurred. But this was nearly all due to the behaviour of the friends and followers of rival composer Giovanni Paisiello. In 1782 he had produced his own opera based on the same play and although over 30 years had passed he still took Rossini’s new version as a direct attack on his own work. He had therefore recruited his followers to swamp Rossini’s opening night to heckle and to try and rouse the audience against it.

They succeeded ... but for one night only. The second performance without Paisiello’s rent-a-mob, was a roaring success and Rossini’s opera immediately became an enduring favourite.

And the music has found its way into all sorts of unlikely places:




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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Thu 20 Feb 2014, 09:38

Keeping it musical then ...

February 20th 1969 - Bob Dylan had written the song for the film Midnight Cowboy but hadn't managed to submit it in time for Harry Nielsen to record it. Thinking it didn't really suit his own vocal style (sic) he then offered it to the Everley Brothers, playing it for them backstage on an accoustic guitar at one of their concerts. However Phil Everley later related that Dylan sang it so softly he'd actually misheard the words, and thinking that Bob had sung "Lay lady lay, lay across my big breasts, babe" presumed it was a song about lesbians. Everley's response was a polite "Thank you, it's a great song, but I don't think we could get away with that." Dylan, undeterred, as a guest a few days later in Johnny Cash's kitchen offered it to the country singer, who alas also politely declined it (at the same get-together another of Cash's guests, Shel Silverstein, offered him "A Boy Named Sue"). In the end Dylan decided he could probably use it himself after all and on this day in 1969, having recruited the studio janitor to play bongo and cowbells, he recorded it as one of the tracks on his forthcoming "Nashville Skyline" album.



The bongo/cowbell playing janitor was an inspired choice, as it transpired. Kris Kristofferson turned out to be something of a dab hand at the singing lark too ...
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Mon 24 Feb 2014, 11:43

24 February 1607

The first performance of the first true opera - L'Orfeo (Orpheus) by Claudio Monteverdi. Strictly speaking it isn't the earliest drama set to music, nor even the earliest for which the music and libretto still exist, but it is the first one that became immdediately popular and has continued to be performed until today.

Its first performance was at the Ducal Palace at Mantua before the Gonzaga court. A letter from Carlo Magno, a court official, says: "Tomorrow evening the Most Serene Lord the Prince is to sponsor a [play] in a room in the appartments which the Most Serene Lady [Duke Vincenzo's widowed sister Margherita Gonzaga d'Este] had the use of ... it should be most unusual, as all the actors are to sing their parts."

The following is a magnificent performance of the entire opera, performed in original Italian and accompanied by a period orchestra .... but if  you can't face all of it  (and remember this opera is exactly contemporaneous with Shakespeare's plays) .... just watch the opening few minutes. The conductor is Jordi Savall, well known in France and Spain as a tireless promoter of medieval/renaissance/baroque music (not unlike the sadly-missed David Munrow).

..... What an entrance - and he's just the conductor!



There is no detailed account of the premiere although Francesco Gonzaga, brother of the Duke, wrote that the performance, "had been to the great satisfaction of all who heard it", and that it had particularly pleased the Duke who immediately ordered a second performance for 1st March. The Mantuan court theologian and poet, Cherubino Ferrari, wrote that, "Both poet and musician have depicted the inclinations of the heart so skilfully that it could not have been done better ... The music, observing due propriety, serves the poetry so well that nothing more beautiful is to be heard anywhere".

And that, whether one loves it or hates it, is how opera was born.

PS

Note that in the above production, while the music is performed on authentic instruments, the cast does include women!  Shocked  The original production, at least as presented before His Serene Highness the Duke of Mantua, would have had an entirely male cast. Thus Euridice would have been played by a man (in the above performance the key role of Eurydice can be comfortably sung by a male tenor voice), and all the other female chorus roles would have been played by boys. The most important soprano roles however were almost certainly played by male castrati. After the premiere and second performance on 1 March, a third performance of L'Orfeo was planned to coincide with a proposed state visit to Mantua by the Duke of Savoy. Accordingly Francesco Gonzaga, the Duke's brother, wrote to the Duke of Tuscany on 8 March asking if he could retain the services of "the castrato Magli" for just a little longer. It is not recorded exactly which role Signor Magli had played in the original performance but, given his obvious status and value to his employer, he must have played/sung one of the premier parts. However in the event the state visit was cancelled, and so was the celebratory performance. And thus in April 1607 the castrato Magli was allowed to go home to his master in Tuscany.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Mon 24 Feb 2014, 15:05

Thank you so much for posting that, MM. It is superb.

PS Love his big, floaty cloak.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Mon 24 Feb 2014, 15:53

I like Mister Beardy the Hair Monster .... and drummer in the opening fanfare! I did wonder where all the members of the American rock group Z Z Top finally ended up!

PS:
And I've just noticed how close, very close actually, ... is the music of the opening scene with chorus, to Monteverdi's famous arrangement for Vespers. But I suppose if a tune's good enough to praise Mary the Mother of God, it should certainly be fine to flatter a Duke!

PPS:
Actually I think it was the other way around. It seems that Monteverdi's "Vespro della Beata Vergine - Vespers for the Blessed Virgin", first performed in 1610, borrowed some of it's music from his opera L'Orfeo of 1607. And why not? Why indeed should the devil, or indeed Hades, have all the best music?


Last edited by Meles meles on Mon 24 Feb 2014, 16:13; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : changed wording, and his Vespers were of course in praise of Mary not God)
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Mon 24 Feb 2014, 16:01

@Meles meles wrote:
...
PPS:
And I've just noticed how close, very close actually, ... is the music of the opening scene with chorus, to Monteverdi's famous arrangement for Vespers. But I suppose if a tune's good enough to praise the Lord God it should certainly be fine to flatter a Duke!

And that, MM, is perhaps where you've brought understanding to my mind of the difference between 'praise' and 'flattery'.

The one sincere - probably - towards a deity, the second for a mere human being.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Mon 24 Feb 2014, 19:42

Think that may still have been in the heyday of the Spanish male sopranos - they didn't resort to "alterations" till the supply of those dried up! Always used to present the altered one with the amputated bits - you had to be "in possession" of them to be admitted to Holy Orders. the fate of those whose voices didn't allow a musical career in later life.

BTW - surely the "Audi Coelo" from VDBV used an echo effect he'd got from somebody else's earlier opera?
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Mon 24 Feb 2014, 21:00

Very probably Gil ... it also reminds me of some of the church choral/instrumental pieces by Gabrielli and Frescobaldi of about the same time.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Mon 24 Feb 2014, 21:53

- Wikimisleadia wrote:
While the honour of the first ever opera goes to Jacopo Peri's Dafne, and the earliest surviving opera is Euridice (also by Peri), L'Orfeo has the honour of being the earliest surviving opera that is still regularly performed.
From the sleeve notes for my copy of VDBV "Marco da Gagliano wrote an extended monody in his opera Dafne (played alongside Monteverdi's Arianna at Mantua in 1608) in which the 'echo' voice changes the singer's last word from "gaudio" to "audio" "vita" to "ita". The use of "omnes" to bring in the full ensemble is, however, apparently M's own devising.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Sat 01 Mar 2014, 18:06

On this day, possibly, in 589, St David - Dewi Sant - died.


Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Sat 01 Mar 2014, 22:18

Gil,

although I saw St David I didn't make a connection with "Dewi Sant". "Dewi Sant" nearly as difficult as Temp's Tesco link...
But as always one has the mighty Google and...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_David
http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080227085339AAKE2DL

Sorry, Minette, that language too difficult for me...at my Seventies, not capable anymore to absorb...it sounds like Chinese for me...

Gil and what about my forefather Saint Riquier?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richarius

Birthday unknow and we have to wait till 26 April for..., but perhaps not that famous as the Welsh one...

Kind regards from your friend,

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Mon 03 Mar 2014, 08:56

March 3rd 1938

King Abd-al-Aziz ibn Saud, the Arabian tribal leader, had given permission to Standard Oil some years before to prospect for oil in the vast trackless desert area bordering the Persian Gulf. Some oil had been found in neighbouring states though neither the king nor Standard Oil expected much success from this latest venture as the deposits thus far located seemed to indicate a lessening supply, if any, the nearer to this area one approached. In fact what the king thought was that at least in the process the prospectors might actually hit on a water supply, the absolute absence of which in the area meant that civil and troop movements through the region were all but impossible.

By March 3rd 1938 both the oil company and ibn Saud's patience had all but run out. After several expensive wells had been sunk not a drop of water, let alone oil, had as yet been located. Standard Oil were ready to switch their investment elsewhere. In desperation, and without funds to start yet another well, the engineers in charge of the well called Damman No 7 decided simply to bore deeper in one last effort to locate at least a gas deposit which would confirm their worst expectations regarding the actual extent of the oil fields in the area. At a depth of 4,727 feet the fierce resistance of stone finally gave way and a deluge of crude oil gushed from the gantry. Standard Oil had happened upon oil, in fact the largest oil reservoir in the world.


Damman No 7

The extent to which this event has shaped the modern world in its aftermath is difficult to calculate. No matter how one looks at history it is impossible to assume that anything at all could have been the same but for this small group of engineers' sheer dogged persistence. Despite the claims and ambitions of those who would be great, it is often on such small decisions taken by anonymous players that all of history turns.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Wed 05 Mar 2014, 11:30

March 5th 1963 (it was fifty years ago today ...)

The Beatles' "From Me To You" is released.

The song was composed by Lennon and McCartney in a bus bound for Shrewsbury while on a UK tour supporting Helen Shapiro. However did they write this - their first UK number one - unaided? Apparently so, as fellow passenger Roger Greenway recounted afterwards  ...

John and Paul were sitting at the back of the coach and Kenny Lynch, who at this time fancied himself as a songwriter, sauntered up to the back of the coach and Kenny Lynch ... decided he would help them write a song. After a period of about half-an-hour had elapsed and nothing seemed to be coming from the back, Kenny rushed to the front and shouted, 'Well, that's it. I am not going to write any more of that bloody rubbish with those idiots. They don't know music from their backsides. That's it! No more help from me!'

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Fri 07 Mar 2014, 14:00

7 March 1945, the capture of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, gives the Allies a bridgehead over the Rhine;

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Fri 07 Mar 2014, 23:18

Triceratops,

is this an American propaganda film or a historical survey?







Kind regards and with esteem,

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Mon 10 Mar 2014, 09:35

10 March 1914 - the suffragette Mary Richardson walked into the National Gallery with a meat cleaver hidden up her sleeve and then, shouting "Votes for Women!", she attacked, The Rokeby Venus, by Diego Velazquez:



She was sentenced to six months in prison, which was the maximum penalty for causing damage to an artwork, despite this attack being the most valuable work damaged so far in a campaign of militancy that in the previous year alone had caused over £50,000 of damage to works of art. The mainstream British press was largely unsympathetic to the suffragette cause and resolutely adopted a stance of horrified moral outrage at these attacks against the nation’s cultural heritage. The Times in particular reported the attack using the sort of language that conjured the idea of violence inflicted on an actual person rather than on a painting, describing, "a cruel wound in the neck" and "brutal incisions to the shoulders". In the popular newspapers Mary Richardson was referred to almost like a murderer, gaining the moniker "Slasher Mary" …. a nickname that she doesn’t seem to have objected to in the slightest.

In a statement to the Women’s Social and Political Union shortly afterwards, she explained: "I have tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government for destroying Mrs. Pankhurst, who is the most beautiful character in modern history." (Emmeline Parkhurst as a founder of the movement had been constantly harried by the authorities and had been most recently arrested on the 9 March, the day before the attack). In a 1952 interview she also added that the reason for her choice of target was simply because she just didn't like, "the way men visitors gaped at it all day long".

In March 1914, referring to the incident the Women’s Social and Political Union, announced in a press statement that, "You can get another picture but you can not get another life". And indeed the painting was soon repaired and restored by the National Gallery's chief restorer Helmut Ruhemann and is still on display:

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Fri 14 Mar 2014, 13:50

March 14th 1757 - 

To the perpetual Disgrace
of PUBLICK JUSTICE
The Honble. JOHN BYNG Esqr
Admiral of the Blue
Fell a MARTYR to
POLITICAL PERSECUTION
March 14th in the year 1757 when
BRAVERY and LOYALTY
were Insufficient Securities
For the
Life and Honour
of a
NAVAL OFFICER

Byng was executed by firing squad on board HMS Monarch after a court marial following Britain's surrender of its garrison on Minorca and the French take-over of the island. Byng's crime was not cowardice - he had attempted to engage the French fleet and his ships had incurred heavy damage in the conflict. However he had not forced a close engagement and the French had retreated, leaving Byng with little option but to return to his original mission and contact the British garrison to arrange the reinforcements which he had been tasked to collect and provide. After four further days in which contact with the garrison proved impossible and there was no sign of the French coming back Byng made the fateful decision to repair to Gibraltar, there to collect the reinforcements, stock up on provisions and arms, and make his ships seaworthy again. However before he could set sail another English ship arrived with new commands - Byng was to be relieved of his command and transported a prisoner back to England.

The reason Byng could not contact the garrison was because his own skirmish with the French had coincided with their surrender at the Fort of St Philip. The admiralty (of which ironically he was to be promoted to their ranks himself while still under court martial) had decided that Byng's failure to engage the French at closer range had doomed the garrison to defeat. The fact that the same bunch had once tried and dismissed another admiral Thomas Mathews for doing precisely the opposite - bringing about defeat by pre-emptively engaging the enemy at close quarters -did not even appear to occur to any of the Navy bigwigs. The loss of Minorca had made them look bad in the eyes of their army contemporaries and they were determined to make an example of someone. Byng was the natural fall guy, though whether he could have affected the outcome of the larger battle was a moot point. He might even have ended up losing his small fleet had he attacked the better armed French.

But that was by the bye. Byng was charged under the newly revised Articles of War for "not doing his utmost", found guilty and executed on this day in 1757. By then public opinion, originally whipped into outrage at the loss of Minorca, had emphatically come round to Byng's side as the actual facts of the case had emerged. But it was to be of no avail for Mr B.



Ironically this execution is often cited as a reason for the British Navy's further successes throughout the next 150 years. Officers, it was reasoned, knew that it was better to risk losing everything in battle than take a conservative view. There is some logic in this reasoning, though one wonders how many other incidents involving great loss of life but no particular military advantage also occurred on the same basis. Through the veils of propaganda and stilted naval reportage from the era it is hard to know, even at this remove in time. 

That the Byng execution was a travesty of sorts however was something that couldn't so easily be swept under the naval carpet, and the family's epitaph cited above, carved on Byng's tomb in Southhill Church, echoed the sentiments of a nation at the time.


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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Fri 14 Mar 2014, 13:56

This is fully a week out, having taken place on the 7th March 1964, this year it's the 14th;

The Cheltenham Gold Cup of 50 years ago;

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Fri 14 Mar 2014, 14:14

Voltaire's comment on Admiral Byng's execution was typically dry but very much to the point. Satirizing the event in his novel 'Candide' (publ. 1759, ie just two years after Byng got the bullet), Voltaire has his hero, Candide, whilst in Portmouth witness the execution of a British admiral by firing squad. Candide is then told that: 

"In this country, it is good to kill an admiral from time to time, in order to encourage the others".  
(Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres).

Monsieur Voltaire didn't miss a trick did he?
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Fri 14 Mar 2014, 14:36

I liked his deathbed comment when asked by a priest would the die-hard aetheist at least now renounce Satan, to which Voltaire replied; "Now is not the time for making new enemies."
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Fri 14 Mar 2014, 20:07

And quickly before the moon passeth o'er the horizon and this day is done ...

March 14th 1885 was the opening night of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera, "The Mikado", at the Savoy Theatre in London. It was an instant success and has been regularly performed ever since.

And even if you don't like opera, I'm afraid you have to accept that "The Mikado" introduced the phrase "a short sharp shock ", into the vocabulary of 'Daily Mail' readers everywhere, if not the whole nation. It also gave us the song: "I've got a little list" .... which in 1885 was used to criticise and poke fun at things of popular diislike ... as it still is, be they politicians or celebs ... or ipods, or whatever....

This is not a terribly modern production, so some of the contemporary jibes might well have lost their barbs, but you get the idea .. it's from 'The Proms' of 2007 ..

But I'm sure you'll get the gist,
You too have not been missed.
So though you might be miffed,
You still are on the list!





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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history Round One   Sat 15 Mar 2014, 09:38

15th March 44BC

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