Monthly Archives: April 2011

Today in History – 30 April 1492


Christopher Columbus: Receives His Commission of Exploration from Castile (Spain)

Christopher Columbus was born between the 22nd August and the 31st October 1451, in Genoa (now in Italy). Contrary to common belief Columbus did not discover America, but he did greatly increase European awareness of the New World.

The maritime career of Christopher Columbus began when he was 10 years old. In the years that followed he undertook a number of journeys on the open sea in various roles on various ships. In 1485 he began looking for an opportunity to explore and discover a western route to Asia. He presented his ideas to the king of Portugal and was ultimately frustrated after several attempts. He also tried England, Genoa, Venice and then Spain (Castile) in 1486. He was frustrated in all these attempts (England eventually agreed, but by that time Columbus was already in league with Castile), but the king and queen of Castile (Ferdinand II and Isabella I) retained his services and after many attempts he finally gained the support of Ferdinand II and Isabella I on this day in 1492.

In all, Columbus would make four voyages between Castile and America. His life would end in great disappointment, having been jailed and having the terms of his contract with Castile overturned due to various claims and convictions of abuse of power and mismanagement of the domains over which he governed in the New World. Columbus died on the 20th May 1506 in Valladolid, Crown of Castile (now in Spain).

 

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Today in History – 29 April 1672


Louis XIV: Franco-Dutch War – France Invades the Netherlands

The Franco-Dutch War was more than a war between France and the Netherlands, then known as the United Provinces. It involved a host of other nations including Sweden, Spain, England and other less known regions/countries. The war lasted from 1672 to 1678 and ended with the Treaty of Nijmegen.

This day in 1672 saw the beginning of the war with the French invasion of the United Provinces and they quickly made progress into the country. However, as the war continued it quickly became a stalemate-type situation, though the French did gain territory from the Treaty of Nijmegen.

For a more detailed treatment of the war, see the Wikipedia page at:
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-Dutch_War

 


Today in History – 28 April 1789


William Bligh: Mutiny on the Bounty

William Bligh was born on the 9th September 1754 to Francis and Jane Bligh in St Tudy, Cornwall. He was signed up for a career in the Royal Navy when aged 7 in 1761.

In 1776, Bligh was with Captain James Cook as Sailing Master on the Resolution for Cook’s third and final voyage during which Cook was killed. Following this Bligh served on various ships and saw military action at a number of locations including Gibraltar in 1782.

In 1787 Bligh was made commander of the Bounty. On this day in 1789, the mutiny on the Bounty took place. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian, Master’s Mate. Bligh and a large number of the crew were provided with a ship’s launch and a small amount of provisions and Bligh made for Timor (from near Tonga). The journey was completed in 47 days and covered a remarkable distance of 6 700km.

It is thought that the mutiny took place in order to escape from the hardline discipline of Bligh and to escape to the island pleasures of Tahiti. Evidence would suggest that Bligh was far more easy going than other captains, though the future ‘mutiny’ in Sydney (see below) would suggest otherwise. Bligh was treated well in the court-martial and was acquitted.

From the Bounty, Bligh served in various roles, including Governor of New South Wales from the 13th August 1806 to the 26th January 1808. His post ended with the Rum Rebellion, which essentially was an on land mutiny by the New South Wales Corps under Major George Johnston. He succeeded Philip Gidley King and was replaced by Lachlan Macquarie.

Bligh’s rise through the ranks of the Royal Navy continued until he was appointed Vice Admiral of the Blue in 1814, though he never again received an active command. He died on the 7th December 1817.

As an interesting side point, the current premier of Queensland (Anna Bligh) is a descendant of William Bligh.

 


Today in History – 27 April 1124


Scotland: David I Becomes King

On this day in 1124, upon the death of his brother Alexander I, David (Dabíd mac Maíl Choluim) made himself king of Scotland with the full backing of Henry I of England. He had been Prince of the Cumbrians (1113-1124) before becoming King of Scotland (1124-1153). Cumbria was in effect a separate kingdom to that of Scotland (known as Alba) to the north and became merged with it upon the ascension of David to King of Scotland.

His reign was one of warfare and expansion, with the first 10 years of his reign involving a struggle for power with his nephew (the son of Alexander I) Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair. With the death of Henry I of England, he came into conflict with King Stephen and expanding the Scottish Kingdom into northern England.

David I is seen as a ‘reformer’ in the Scottish Church, setting out to reorganise the church. The map in this post shows the boundaries of the various dioceses he put in place. He is also seen as a reformer of Scotland as a whole, bringing civility to a barbaric country.

David I was born between 1083 and 1085, and died on the 24th May 1153. He is buried in Dunfermline Abbey. He was succeeded by Malcolm IV.

 


Today in History – 26 April 1865


United States: John Wilkes Booth is Killed

On the 14th April 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinated the President of the United States of America at Ford’s Theatre, in Washington D.C. Booth, a Confederate sympathizer, managed to escape the scene of his crime and fled on horseback to a farm in northern Virginia. It was here, 12 days after his attack on the president that Booth was shot and killed.

John Wilkes Booth was born on the 10th May 1838, into the well known Booth family and became a well known actor in his own right. But it would be his assassination of Abraham Lincoln that he would always be remembered for.

Eight other co-conspirators were tried and convicted for their parts in the assassination and other roles in the plot that resulted in the death of the president. Four of these were hung a short time later.

 


Today in History – 25 April 1915


ANZAC: First Landings at Gallipoli – Turkey

Around the world today, Australians and New Zealanders will be remembering the fallen, on what is now known to us as ANZAC Day. ANZAC Day is remembered annually on the anniversary of the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I. On this day in 1915, ANZAC troops landed on the beach of what is now Anzac Cove. Gallipoli was evacuated in December 1915. The campaign was a disaster, but a legend was born out of it, that of ANZAC.

ABOVE: Map Showing the Location of Gallipoli

ANZAC Day was officially held for the first time in 1916 with a number of ceremonies and services held in Australia, New Zealand, England and Egypt. It was not until 1927 however, that Australians held their first uniform remembrance day and it became more established after that.

From the Second World War, ANZAC Day took on a broader significance, as a day to remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country in both Australia and New Zealand.

For more visit these sites:

 


Post War – A History of Europe Since 1945, by Tony Judt


Post War – A History of Europe Since 1945, by Tony Judt

I have now started to read ‘Post War,’ by Tony Judt. The edition I have was published in 2005 by The Penguin Press. It is a massive work of over 900 pages, that includes both photographs and maps.

The period of history being dealt with is post war Europe from the end of World War II to 2005. It includes the immediate aftermath of World War II, right through the Cold War period and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Though I have only just started (yesterday) I have completed about 100 pages thus far, which has taken me through the preface, introduction and the first chapter, ‘The Legacy of War.’ The first chapter deals with the immediate aftermath of the war and its consequences for the people of Europe. It is an horrific picture of post war Europe and the devastation it had on the entirety of Europe – nations, cities and towns, peoples and families. It is the legacy of total war.

 


Today in History – 24 April 1731


England: Daniel Defoe Died

On this day in 1731, English author Daniel Defoe died. He is best known for his novel ‘Robinson Crusoe.’ Defoe is recognized as one of the earliest authors of English novels and wrote over 500 books, pamphlets and journals. He was also recognized as something of a financial journalist.

Daniel Defoe was born some time between 1659 and 1661 – the exact date of his birth being unknown. He was born Daniel Foe (the ‘De’ being added later).

In his youth his family survived the Great Fire of London (1666), which left only his family’s home, and two others standing, in their part of London. A year later he survived a Dutch fleet that sailed up the Thames and attacked Chatham.

Defoe was a Christian and a Dissenter. At one time he was jailed for his views and in an earlier time was also a bankrupt. It is thought that he may have died while in hiding from those seeking him out because of unpaid debts. Defoe died  on the 24th April 1731 and is buried in Bunhill Fields, London.

Among Defoe’s many works are ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and ‘Moll Flanders.’

A biography of Daniel Defoe by William Minto can be found at the Internet Archive:
http://www.archive.org/details/daniel00defoemintrich

The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe:
http://www.archive.org/details/lifeadventuresof00defouoft

Moll Flanders, by Daniel Defoe:
http://www.archive.org/details/fortunesandmisfo00defouoft

 


Today in History – 23 April 1661


England: Charles II Crowned in Westminster Abbey

Following the death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658, political events led eventually to the restoration of the English monarchy and the ascension of Charles II to the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland. His father, Charles I, was executed by Oliver Cromwell at Whitehall on the 30th January 1649 towards the end of the English Civil War and Charles fled the country. With the death of Cromwell and the collapse of the English Commonwealth, Charles was invited to return to England and did so with great public fanfare on the 29th May 1660. He was crowned in Westminster Abbey on the 23rd April 1661.

For more on Charles II, visit:
Charles II

 


Today in History – 22 April 1970


Earth Day: Celebrated for the First Time

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 on this day. Earth Day was first celebrated in the United States and was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson to raise awareness of the world’s environmental problems and hopefully provoke action to remedy them. Earth day is now celebrated around the world in many countries.

For more on Earth Day, visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day

 


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