Birth of a Nation

And two start to become one…again. On July 22, 1706, commissioners from England and Scotland agreed to the Acts of Union, which, when passed the following year, would unite the two countries officially and create the Kingdom of Great Britain. Although England and Scotland had shared a monarch for over 100 years, they still technically remained separate countries at the start of the18th century. There … Continue reading Birth of a Nation

Two Crowns

Care for a coronation? On July 6 two of England’s most famous (and infamous) kings ascended the throne or were crowned. First, in 1189, was Richard the Lionheart, who’s become legendary for his military prowess (which, in some cases, was particularly brutal). The road to the throne was a rocky one: Richard was involved in several rebellions against his father, Henry II, in an effort … Continue reading Two Crowns

Warrior King: Part II

This is quite a week for kings going into battle. First there was George II leading his troops during the War of the Austrian Succession on June 27, 1743. Almost a hundred years earlier, on June 29, 1644, Charles I defeated a Parliamentarian detachment at the Battle of Cropredy Bridge, marking the last time an English king won a battle on English soil. 1644 hadn’t … Continue reading Warrior King: Part II

Warrior King

On June 27, 1743, King George II became the last King of England to lead his troops in battle, when he guided them to victory against the French at the Battle of Dettingen during the War of the Austrian Succession. Once upon a time, kings were expected to be warriors, and the military exploits of many English kings have become legendary (think Henry V at … Continue reading Warrior King

Better Late than Never

On June 20, 1825, the British Parliament finally got around to abolishing feudalism and the seigneurial system in British North America. They were a little late to the party: feudalism had essentially ceased to exist in practice by the 16th century in England and many other European countries, and most countries started officially abolishing it in the 18th century. Although feudalism defined the era known … Continue reading Better Late than Never

Higher Education

On June 20, 1214, the University of Oxford received its charter, making the place official more than a century after students began studying there. Nobody really knows for sure when Oxford was established, but we do know that teaching was going on there all the way back in the late 11th century. In those days, most wealthy Englishmen seeking higher education went to the University … Continue reading Higher Education

Poirot: How Does Your Garden Grow?

Ahh, springtime. When a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love, and other people’s fancies turn to thoughts of murder. At least, that’s how it is in this case.

We start off with a good closeup of the Soviet flag, flying over the Soviet embassy in London, presumably. A woman in a totally covetable gray coat strides purposefully inside and meets one of the officials, whose office is primarily decorated by a HUGE portrait of Stalin. She doesn’t get to admire the décor, because he comes downstairs to meet her in the hall, where they have an exchange in Russian that, unhelpfully, is not subtitled, so it’s anyone’s guess what they’re talking about. He sounds annoyed (though I’ll admit, Russian always sounds annoyed or angry to me), and she seems to be pleading. That’s all I’ve got. At the end, they exchange smiles, and she hands him an envelope. As he heads back to his office, he opens it and pulls out a ticket to the Chelsea Flower show that, for some reason, has WTF stamped across it in big, red letters. I know it didn’t meant the same thing back then as it does now, but I still laughed when I saw that.

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Old Friends

On June 13, 1373 the Anglo-Portuguese treaty was signed by King Edward III of England and King Ferdinand and Queen Eleanor of Portugal, establishing a treaty of “perpetual friendships, unions, [and] alliances” between the two countries. The treaty, which became the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance thirteen years later with the Treaty of Windsor, is still in effect and is thought to be the oldest treaty in the … Continue reading Old Friends

“The Woman I Love”

On June 3, Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, Duke of Windsor and former King of the United Kingdom, married Wallis Warfield Simpson, the woman he gave up the throne for. The lead-up to the marriage, with its sordid affair and constitutional crisis, is fairly well known. Suffice it to say, the twice-divorced Wallis was not popular in Britain after Edward vacated the throne … Continue reading “The Woman I Love”

England’s Got a New Queen

On June 1, 1533, England got a new queen: Anne Boleyn. Anne was crowned in a spectacular ceremony at Westminster Abbey just four days after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, declared her marriage to Henry VIII valid. Anne and Henry were married in secret shortly after returning from a meeting with the King of France in Calais in late 1532. Shortly after, she became … Continue reading England’s Got a New Queen