The Obelisks of Ancient Egypt

One of the oldest and most iconic structures of ancient Egypt is the obelisk. A rising tower of stone, it was designed to astound mortals with its height and impress the immortals More »

The baby who provoked a revolution

The birth of a male heir to James II of England made possible a permanent Catholic dynasty. Several Protestants echoed Mary and Anne’s doubts that the baby had been smuggled into the More »

Red Indians and how to tame them

The Elizabethans’ colonial voyages brought them into contact with a people very different level of civilisation from their own—the ‘Indians’ of the New World, as is illustrated by the account written in More »

Mormons in search of Promised Land, 1846-69

The Mormons have been described as the most systematic, organised, disciplined and successful pioneers in American history. For over 20 years they were one of the main forces driving the settlement of More »

‘Alien’ citizens in the Medieval England

Thousands of foreigners poured into England in the Middle Ages. Similar like today, they have been attracted to England by job opportunities or possibility to study. Finding these everyday immigrants is no easy task. More »

 

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

Who was Alexander Selkirk?

Who was Alexander Selkirk?

Cast away on a desert island, surviving on what nature alone can provide, praying for rescue but fearing the sight of a boat on the horizon. These are the imaginative creations of Daniel Defoe in his famous novel Robinson Crusoe. Yet the story is believed to be based on the real-life experience of sailor Alexander Selkirk, marooned in 1704 on a small tropical island in the Pacific for more than four years, and now archaeological evidence has been found to support contemporary records of his existence on the island.

On this day – 16th May

On this day – 16th May

1770   Marie Antoinette, at age 14, married the future King Louis XVI of France, who was 15.

1881   In Germany the first electric tram for the public started service.
1920   Joan of Arc was canonized in Rome
1960   A Big Four summit in Paris collapsed due to the American U-2 spy plane incident.