On this day in 1503, for a period of two hours, French soldier Pierre Terrail is said to have single-handedly defended a bridge over the river Garigliano in Italy against a two-hundred strong Spanish army.
Terrial's famous defence of the bridge formed part of the Battle of Garigliano, a battle between a Spanish army under the command of Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba and a French army commanded by Ludovico II, Marquis of Saluzzo which ended in a victory for Spain and established the countries rule in Naples. It was also the second of two major Spanish victories during that year that saw the French expelled from the south of Italy.
Shortly after midnight on the morning of the 28th December in 1694 Queen Mary died at Kensington Palace of smallpox.
Mary's husband of seventeen years was William of Orange. Of her death, William is said to have told Gilbert Burnet, the Bishop of Salisbury that he had gone "from being the happiest" and was "now going to be the miserablest creature on earth".
On this day in 1192, King Richard I was captured in the Austrian town of Vienna whilst on his way home from crusade by King Leopold V of Austria.
Following his departure from the Holy land in October, Richard was travelling in a disguise when he was captured and imprisoned. The English king was held hostage until February 1194, a ransom was eventually paid to release him, part of which was used to build the Austrian town Wiener Neusdadt.
It was on this day in 1861 that Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria died at the early age of 42. Typhoid fever was thought to have been the cause of the Princes's death.
Victoria, of her first meeting with Albert, wrote that he was
"He is extremely handsome; his hair is about the same colour as mine; his eyes are large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth; but the charm of his countenance is his expression, which is most delightful."
The queen would become so overwhelmed by grief that she would remain in mourning for the rest of her life.
Victoria's prince would first lie at St George's Chapel, at Windsor Castle, he would later be re-interred at the Royal Mausoleum on the Frogmore Estate.
“Tell her what Heathcliff is an unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an arid wilderness of furze and whinstone” writes Emily Bronte of Heathcliff in her novel Wuthering Heights.
Wuthering Heights is a tale of wildness, passion and cruelty, it is one of my absolute favourite books.
It was in the December of 1847 that Emily Bronte's, writing under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, book was published.
Author Elizabeth Gaskell wrote of first seeing Haworth in her biography of Emily's sister Charlotte in 1857.
"Right before the traveller on this road rises Haworth village; he can see it for two miles before he arrives, for it is situated off the side of a pretty steep hill, with a background of dun and purple moor, rising and sweeping away yet higher than the church, which is built at the very summit of the long narrow street. All round the horizon there is this same line of sinuous wave-like hills; the scoops into which they fall only revealing other hills beyond, of similar colour and shape, crowned with wild, bleak moors, - grand from the ideas of solitude and loneliness which they suggest, of oppressive from the feeling which they give of being pent-up by some monotonous and illimitable barrier the mood of mind in which the spectator may be"
Gaskell's description of the landscape around Haworth certainly sounds like the terrain between Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights do you think?
Just the other day my husband and I were reminiscing about television programmes that we used to watch that are now no longer on our screens but we think should be. One programme that came up in the conversation was Balderdash and Piffle - does anyone remember it?
The second series, shown in 2007, was the one I remembered. In this series, the panel attempted to find out where a particular word was first used and the origins behind it. Some interesting and fascinating discoveries were made in answer to questions such as -
Did anyone go to the loo before 1940? What's so daft about a brush? Plus stuff that was a bit saucy such as is Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset really the birthplace of the marital aid?
Obviously one of the main books used in finding these words was the dictionary, and it was this very day in 1784 that the man who brought us the Dictionary of the English Language died.
Samuel Johnson was an English writer and critic, and one of the most famous literary figures of the 18th century his dictionary was published in 1755 and took just over eight years to compile, there are 40,000 words listed and over 114,000 quotations - quite a mammoth undertaking!
Johnson, it has been said, was
"gruff but good-hearted, independent, honest, deeply traditional, conservative in his values
but bold in defending them full of practical wisdom and common sense."
Samuel Johnson was laid to rest at Westminster Abbey.
On the 25th July 1137 Eleanor of Aquitaine married the son of Louis VI of France, and on Christmas Day 1137 she was queen of France. An intelligent and feisty woman, Eleanor is said to have to have arrived at the cathedral town of Vezelay dressed like an Amazon galloping through the crowds on a white horse, urging men to join the crusades. She also had every intention to go herself, accompanied by three hundred of her ladies dressed in armor and carrying lances.
Louis found Eleanor overpowering and demanding, he was exceptionally devout and preferred a evening of prayer in his chapel rather than a night in his wifes bed, on many levels Eleanor was too much like hard work. However, he suffered her for twenty-five years until their marriage was annulled on the 21st March 1152.
Despite being adverse to Eleanor's charms, he managed to father two daughters, however the birth of their second child was a blow for Louis personally and for his dynasty. What Louis needed was a heir and that meant a son, not a daughter.
Louis VII would marry twice after the end of his marriage to Eleanor fathering three more daughters and a son.
Eleanor's vast estates, from River Loire to the Pyrenees came under her control and within three months she would marry Henry, son of Matilda of England and Geoffrey of Anjou and she would later become queen of England.
Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus was a twin born on the 31st August 161 in Rome to Marcus Aurelius and Faustina his cousin. He was a twin, but his brother died at the age of three.
Most of us will remember him as Commodus, he was Emperor of Rome from 180 to 192.
I know my Roman Emperors from Augustus to Nero, throw in Valerian, Trajan and Hadrian but after that I'm on shaky ground. I only know of Commodus from watching Ridley Scott's film Gladiator, in which Joaquin Phoenix depicts Commodus. In Scott's brilliant film, Commodus is viewed as a bad emperor, murdering his father, usurping the throne, lusting after his sister and worst of all he defiantly has it in for poor old Maximus, whom he is terribly jealous of.
So was Commodus as wicked as we see in the film? Well, according to Cassius Dio, in his History on Ancient Rome he was
"not naturally wicked but, on the contrary, as guileless as any man that ever lived. His great simplicity, however, together with his cowardice, made him the slave of his companions, and it was through them that he at first, out of ignorance, missed the better life and then was led on into lustful and cruel habits, which soon became second nature."
What I have read about him, I'm not so sure he was right!
Those plotting against him thought so too, Commodus died on the 31st of December 192 from a second attempt to assassinate him. His mistress poisoned his food but he managed to vomit it out of his system. He was eventually strangled later that day in his bath by his personal trainer on the order of his chamberlain.
John Chandos was born in the County of Derbyshire. Chandos is believed to have been the mastermind behind three English victories during the Hundred Years War, the Battle of Crecy, Poitiers and Auray, and his death on the 31st December of 1369 is said to have been regretted by both the English and the French.
However, his death did not occur exactly as it is depicted.
For more on this click on the link to my blog on my website
History is so interesting isn't it? Do you love the story of King Alfred's unsuccessful afternoon in the kitchen or King Cnut unsuccessful attempt not to get his feet wet? Maybe you're interested in when the Normans landing on our shores or the stories of an era closer to our time?
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Thomas Vaughan: An Introduction
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