Good Queen Bess

Happy coronation day, Elizabeth! That’s right: on January 15, 1559, Elizabeth I, last monarch of the House of Tudor, was crowned Queen of England in Westminster Abbey, following her accession on November 17, 1558. After a highly unstable childhood, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn somehow managed to weather the reign of her devoutly Catholic half-sister, Mary, who was a little too fond … Continue reading Good Queen Bess

Princess Bride

On May 13, 1515, Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor, Queen of France, were officially married at Greenwich Palace, more than two months after marrying in secret in France following the death of Mary’s first husband, the French King Louis XII. Mary, who was extremely close to her elder brother, Henry VIII, was reputed to be one of the most beautiful princesses in Europe. Her marriage … Continue reading Princess Bride

Pretty, Witty Nell

If she were alive today, Nell Gwyn, one of the coolest royal mistresses ever, would be turning 363 years old. Happy birthday, Nell! Nell rose from almost complete obscurity to become a major symbol of the Restoration period, and one of the first actresses to take to the English stage (before her time, women’s roles were played by men). She was probably born in London … Continue reading Pretty, Witty Nell

Good Christmas, Bad Christmas

In 1777, in the midst of the American Revolution, General George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, PA to camp for the winter. For many of them, it was the worst Christmas ever. Inadequate clothing and supplies, coupled with wet weather, meant the men were underfed, cold, and oftentimes sick. As many as 2,000 men are said to have died … Continue reading Good Christmas, Bad Christmas

Let’s Be Friends

After centuries of antagonistic relations (to say the least), Britain and France finally buried the hatchet with the signing of the Entente Cordiale on April 8, 1904. The Entente was a series of agreements that basically carved up giant chunks of Africa between the two nations: England got to keep meddling in Egypt and wouldn’t interfere in France’s attempts to “preserve order…and provide assistance in … Continue reading Let’s Be Friends

Justice For All

On July 1, 1870 (nearly 100 years after the founding of the country) the United States finally got an official Justice Department. Back in the days of yore, when America was just an infant discovering how awesome its hands and feet were and such, justice lay in the hands of the Attorney General, who was just a part-timer. The role grew along with the country, … Continue reading Justice For All

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

Two Kings of Ireland

On June 24 (or thereabouts), 637, the Battle of Moira was fought by the Gaelic High King of Ireland Domnall II against his foster son King Congall of Ulster in the Woods of Killultagh. It’s thought to be the largest battle ever fought in Ireland. After establishing a power base in Dalaradia, Congall was recognized as King of Ulster in 627. Unfortunately, his ambition brought … Continue reading Two Kings of Ireland

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

Opening Night

On June 12, 1997, Queen Elizabeth II re-opened the Globe Theatre in London, following its reconstruction about 230 meters from the original site. The original Globe was owned by Richard Burbage and his brother, Cuthbert, William Shakespeare, John Heminges, Augustine Phillips, and Thomas Pope. The theatre was built in 1599 using timber from an earlier theatre that was built by the Burbages’ father, James. The … Continue reading Opening Night