Category Archives: HISTORY

Technology in Europe: 15th and 16th Century

Technology in Europe: 15th and 16th Century


Technological development in the 15th and 16th centuries were generally limited to improvements on medieval innovations. The voyages of discovery were made possible by improvements in the compass and the astrolabe (used to determine latitude). New rigging techniques made ships more maneuverable and better able to sail off the wind.

On this day – 18th May

On this day – 18th May

1302   The weaver Peter de Coningk led a massacre of the Flemish oligarchs.

1652   In Rhode Island, a law was passed that made slavery illegal in North America. It was the first law of its kind.
1804   Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed emperor by the French Senate.

The Long Trip to Botany Bay

The Long Trip to Botany Bay

Diabolical conditions abroad the hulks, the floating prisons which took up the slack when transportation to America ended, forced Britain to rethink its penal policy. The consensus was that Britain urgently needed another colony. First under consideration was the island of Lemane in the Gambia, West Africa. Its advantage was isolation. No guards would be needed to watch over the felons. But it would have amounted to signing the death warrant of the desperate souls abandoned there. Happily the scheme was dropped.

The White Rose, Silenced Voices of Hitler’s Germany

The White Rose, Silenced Voices of Hitler’s Germany

Fifty-four years ago three German students were arrested. A few days later they were hauled before the Volksgerichtshof (“People’s Court”), sentenced to death and executed by beheading the same day. Within a few months many more arrests were made, and, in a second trial, three additional death sentences were handed down. (The “People’s Court,” I should add, existed outside the German constitution. It was created by the NSDAP, the National Socialist Party, in 1934 for the sole purpose of eliminating Hitler’s enemies.)

On this day – 17th May

On this day – 17th May

1630   Italian Jesuit Niccolo Zucchi saw the belts on Jupiter’s surface

1756   Britain declared war on France, beginning the French and Indian War.
1861   The first colour photograph is exhibited at the Royal Institution in London