Cinematic Pioneers

Today marks the death, in 1948, of the aptly named Louis Lumière who, together with his brother Auguste, was one of the earliest filmmakers in history, and one of the first people to make moving pictures an entertainment medium for the masses. The Lumières’ father owned a photographic firm where both the brothers worked, and after he retired in 1892 they began to experiment with … Continue reading Cinematic Pioneers

“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”

The Spanish Armada

On May 28, 1588, the ill-fated Spanish Armada started sailing out of Lisbon, heading for the English Channel. The fleet, which consisted of 151 ships, 8,000 sailors, and 18,000 soldiers, was so huge it took two days for the whole thing to make its way out of Lisbon. The English attempted some last-minute diplomacy, but when that failed they battened down the hatches and sent … Continue reading The Spanish Armada

Story Time

On April 17, 1397, Geoffrey Chaucer first told The Canterbury Tales at the court of King Richard II, introducing the world to one of the most lasting literary works in history, driven by such memorable characters as the Wife of Bath. The Tales, which may have been the first to use a pilgrimage as its framing device, drew from many other famous works of the … Continue reading Story Time

Charles I

On March 27, 1625, the ill-fated Charles I became King of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Sadly, as with his grandmother, it was not a job to which he was well suited. Charles, the grandson of Mary, Queen of Scots, was born during Elizabeth’s reign and came to the throne at the young age of 24. He believed firmly in the divine right of kings and … Continue reading Charles I

A Right Royal Divorce

On March 21, 1152, four archbishops, acting with the pope’s approval, annuled the marriage between King Louis VII and Eleanor of Acquitaine, thus clearing the way for Eleanor to become one of England’s most notable queens. Louis and Eleanor married in 1137 and had two daughters together, neither of whom could inherit the French throne, due to Salic Law. Louis was desperate for a son … Continue reading A Right Royal Divorce

AADR*

*Anglophiles Against Drunk Riding Today is a good day to take a moment to contemplate the consequences of drunk riding, because March 19 is the anniversary of the dark and stormy night King Alexander III of Scotland took a long fall off his horse and kicked off a succession crisis. Alexander had three children with his first wife, Margaret of England, including two sons, but … Continue reading AADR*

Leading the Way to Independence

It’s the Ides of March! Aside from being the date Julius Caesar learned who his true friends weren’t, this is also the day South Carolina became the first of the 13 colonies to declare independence from Great Britain and set up its own government, in 1776. South Carolina set up its first government under John Rutledge, and on February 5, 1778 it became the first … Continue reading Leading the Way to Independence

Celebrate Hyperbole!

On March 5, 1770, the hyperbolically named Boston Massacre took place when British soldiers fired on a mob that had gathered to, essentially, talk smack to one of the soldiers stationed outside the Custom House. Five people died, and eleven were injured. To be fair, the colonists should take the lion’s share of the blame for what happened. It all started when a wigmaker’s apprentice … Continue reading Celebrate Hyperbole!

The End of Serfdom

On March 2, 1861, exactly six years after he ascended the throne, Tsar Alexander II signed the Emancipation Reform of 1861, emancipating the serfs of Russia and finally ending a practice that most of the rest of Europe had abandoned centuries ago. This act, one of the first and most liberal of Alexander’s reforms, freed more than 23 million people and allowed them to marry … Continue reading The End of Serfdom