Monday, September 27, 2010

August 24th in History

detail, J.N. Sylvestre's
1890 painting  "The
Sack of Rome by the Visigoths
on August 24, 410"

  410   The Visigoths under Alaric I begin to pillage Rome for three days; part of the "Migration Period" aka "Barbarian Invasions" from 300 to 700.  Christianity had been the official religion of the Roman Empire for about 20 years; some Romans blamed the success of the Visigoths on the abandonment of the traditional Roman Gods, rather than on the other causes for the decline of the Roman Empire. Alaric was an Arian, rather than Orthodox, Christian (even the early days of Christianity had their schisms). Arian Christianity was a sometimes-heretical, sometimes not deemed heretical variation of faith that differed over the nature of the Christian trinity.

The 'other' Goths, Eastern Germanic tribes, were the Ostragoths, who also overran the Roman Empire.  Also making life difficult for the Ancient Romans during this period were the Vandals - who gave their name to the word vandalism, the Huns of Attila-the-Hun fame, Franks and Friesans, Alans and Suebi, Bulgars and other Slavs.
 This migration from eastern and central Asia was followed by another round of invasions/migrations into the western area of Asia Minor and Europe, by Mongols and Magyars from the east, and Vikings from the North, after 700.  These two waves of migrations have created or contribute to most of the modern European ethnicities. Which was a distinct change in the direction of invasions after Alexander the Great had invaded primarily east and south from the northern Mediterranean Sea, and the Romans had invaded in all directions from Rome - east, west, north and south. 

Specifically the migration of the Huns had pushed the Visigoths to migrate into the Roman Empire where they originally had attempted to settle peacefully.  The German tribes had been providing mercenary military supplementation to the Roman troops for a significant period of time, called foederati.  Alaric had been employed in the internal battles on the side of Flavius Theodosius, for the position of emperor.  Theodosius I was the last emperor of a united Roman Empire.  Not being treated well as an individual - Alaric had hoped to be made a Roman General - and not having his people, the Visigoths who had suffered a greater proportion of the losses in various battles, particularly the ones that put Theodosius I on the throne, was the 'other' precipitating factor for the Visigoths to rebel and invade.  The word 'barbarian' refers not to their customs for facial hair, as is sometimes claimed, but from the proto indo european root 'barbaroi', referring to unintelligible language, and came to mean 'not greek' suggesting not cultured, or non-aryan. This detail of a painting by  late 19th / early 20th century, multiple award-winning, french artist Sylvestre demonstrates the odd and faintly homo-erotic notion that barbarian warriors were nudists, with neatly trimmed facial hair.  Or it could be Sylvestre's interpretation of history through the Victorian-era movement's view of 'Muscular Christianity' which stressed vigorous masculinity.

King John

1200    Bad King John of England, signee of the first Magna Carta, married Isobel of Angouleme in Bordeaux Cathedral.  King John, aka "Jean-sans-terre", or "John Lack-land", aka "softsword",  1167-1216, was king of England from 1199 to 1216.  John was a rather unsuccessful monarch; in 1185 he became King of Ireland; they threw him out after only 8 months on the throne.  He was known for treachery in factual history, not only in the famous play and movie, "The Lion in Winter", among other things, for having tried to pay the Holy Roman Emperor to keep his older brother King Richard the Lionhearted in captivity. He also conspired against his older brother Geoffry, and his nephew Arthur, Geoffrey's son, whom he is believed to have murdered. John's marriage to Isobel of Angouleme, who had an earlier and conflicting engagement to Hugh de Lusignan, cost him the Plantagenet lands in France, except for Gascoigne.  John also managed to get himself excommunicated by Pope Innocent III, and got the entire country of England interdicted.  He caved to the pressure, and paid the papacy  1,000 marks a year, and made England a papal fief to lift the interdiction and excommunication, and to become a supporter of John, in 1213. John died of dysentery while on the run from an invasion by France in support of an uprising by English Barons three years later.

1215 version of
the Magna Carta

1215    Pope Innocent III declared the Magna Carta invalid, claiming King John signed it under duress, the pope declared the Magna Carta, aka the Great Charter, "not only shameful and demeaning, but also illegal and unjust."  There was a second version of the Magna Carta in 1225, and a third and final version which became official law in 1297, and is still part of the law of England and Wales.  It has been confirmed more than 40 times, mostly in the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Subsequently it was largely repealed beginning in 1829, and continuing through 1969 in England and Wales, and Ireland.  Only clauses 1, 9, and 29 remain as law.  The Magna Carta created the right of habeus corpus, incorporated in the United States Constitution, and still in force in the U.S., more or less.

1217    Death of Eustace the Monk, French mercenary, outlaw, and pirate at the battle of Sandwich. (b. c.1170) Eustace was born the younger son of nobility; went to Toledo, Spain to study 'black magic', then returned to become a monk.  In addition to becoming a monk, he served as seneschal and bailiff to the Count of Boulogne.  He was accused of misusing his office, and was declared an outlaw.  In retaliation he burned some buildings. After that he became a pirate in the English Channel, working for King John of England, see above, against the French from 1205 .  Then he switched sides and worked against King John.  When the barons began their civil war against King John, leading up to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, Eustace worked for the barons, including their french allies.  He had so thoroughly antagonized the English, that when he was captured, they gave him a choice of where he was going to be beheaded - over the rail, or tied to the side of a trebuchet on deck.  A later romanticized version of Eustace the Monk's exploits in 1223-24 is thought to have been part of the historical basis for the later legend of Robin Hood.

1349   Six thousand Jews are killed in Mainz after being blamed for the bubonic plague.  The Jewish community in Mainz dated from the 10th century, and through the 13th century, the city was a center for German Jewish scholarship.  By the 15th century, the relationship between the Christian citizens and the Jewish community had become less consistent, with Jews expelled in 1462 and 1474, but then invited back.  The massacres of Jews was a response to as high as 60% of the population dying from the plague, causing enormous upheaval socially, politically and economically.  There is a new medical assessment of the records of the black plague, which suggest that it was not the classic yersinia pestis, or black plague at all, but possibly a viral hemorrhagic fever.  Jews were not the only minority blamed and persecuted but they were one of the most consistent targets, and not only in Germany.  Historians credit this pattern of persecution as providing a larger historic background, as a continuum, to the anti-semitism of WW II.

1391   Jews massacred in Palma de Mallorca.

1456   The printing of the Gutenberg Bible is completed, in Mainz.

1662   Act of Uniformity requires England to accept the Book of Common Prayer.

1680   Death of Colonel Thomas Blood, Irish-born thief who tried to steal the British crown jewels in 1671. (b. 1618)  He also tried to commit a murder or two, and the occasional kidnapping.  He switched sides between Royalists and Roundheads, during the English civil wars.  After the restoration of Charles II, he was pardoned, and was given a position at court.  Blood was considered such a scoundrel that when he eventually died of natural causes, the authorities dug up his body after he was buried, just to be sure he was dead, and not faking it to avoid paying his debts.
His epitaph read:
Here lies the man who boldly hath run through
More villainies than England ever knew;
And ne'er to any friend he had was true.
Here let him then by all unpitied lie,
And let's rejoice his time was come to die.

1682   William Penn receives the area that is now the state of Delaware, and adds it to his colony of Pennsylvania. Delaware was named from the first colonial governor of Virginia, the 3rd Baron De La Warr.  Dutch, Swedes and Finns settled the area, becoming part of, variously, New Netherland, New Sweden and New Castle.  The Duke of York overpowered the earlier settlers, claiming the territory for himself and England, before passing ownership on to William Penn who wanted ocean access for his colony.  Pennsylvania became to big, so Penn acted as governor for both states as separate administrate entities.   At the time New York and New Jersey had a shared governor, as did Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
1690  Calcutta, India is founded, on land purchased by the East India Company.

1814   British troops invade Washington, D.C. and burn down the White House and several other buildings, as part of the War of 1812.

1817    Birth of Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy, Russian writer (d. 1875)

1831   Charles Darwin is asked to travel on HMS Beagle.

1857   The Panic of 1857 begins, setting off one of the most severe economic crises in U.S. history.

1858   In Richmond, Virginia, 90 blacks are arrested for learning.

Charlie Chan and 'Number 2 son'

1884   Birth of Earl Derr Biggers, American author, creator of the fictional character of Charlie Chan.  He based his fictional character on a real life exceptionally gifted  Honolulu detective, Chang Apana, he learned about on vacation in Hawaii.  Biggers died. 1933.  Biggers had intended his detective to offer a hero that contradicted the evil 'yellow peril' and 'Fu Manchu' stereotypes, although arguably Biggers contributed to more stereotypes in the nearly 50 movie adaptations of his character, including in other languages than English.  A very popular series of Charlie Chan movies were made in Shanghai and Hong Kong which were very popular in China in the 1930s and 1940s.

1891   Thomas Edison patents the motion picture camera.

1898   Count Muravyov, Foreign Minister of Russia presented a rescript that convoked the First Hague Peace Conference.

1909   Workers start pouring concrete for the Panama Canal.

1912   Alaska becomes a United States territory.

1929   Second day of two-day Hebron massacre during the 1929 Palestine riots: Arab attack on the Jewish community in Hebron in the British Mandate of Palestine, resulted in the death of 65-68 Jews and the remaining Jews being forced to leave the city.
           Birth of Betty Dodson, American feminist and sex educator

1949   The treaty creating NATO goes into effect.

1950    Edith Sampson becomes the first black U.S. delegate to the UN, appointed by President Harry Truman.

1954   The Communist Control Act goes into effect. The American Communist Party is outlawed.
Getúlio Dornelles Vargas, president of Brazil, commits suicide and is succeeded by João Café Filho.

1955   Birth of Mike Huckabee, American politician, Governor/Presidential candidate

1959  Three days after Hawaiian statehood, Hiram L. Fong was sworn in as the first Chinese-American U.S. senator, while Daniel K. Inouye was sworn in as the first Japanese-American U.S. representative.

1960   A temperature of −88°C (−127°F) is measured in Vostok, Antarctica — a world-record low.

1967   Led by Abbie Hoffman, a group of hippies temporarily disrupt trading at the NYSE by throwing dollar bills from the viewing gallery, causing a cease in trading as the brokers scramble to grab them up.

1968   France explodes its first hydrogen bomb, thus becoming the world's fifth nuclear power.

1970  A bomb planted by anti-war extremists exploded at the University of Wisconsin's Army Math Research Center in Madison, killing a researcher.

1981   Mark David Chapman is sentenced to 20 years to life in prison for murdering John Lennon.

1989   Colombian drug barons declare "total war" on the Colombian government.

1991   Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
           Ukraine declares itself independent from the Soviet Union.

1992    Diplomatic relations are established between the People's Republic of China and South Korea.

1994   Initial accord between Israel and the PLO about partial self-rule of the Palestinians on the West Bank.

1995   Computer software developer Microsoft releases their Windows 95 operating system.

1998   The Netherlands is selected as the site for the trial of the two Libyan suspects of the 1988 Pan Am bombing.

1998    First Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) human implantation tested in the United Kingdom.

2004   89 passengers die after two airliners explode after flying out of Domodedovo International Airport, near Moscow. The explosions are caused by suicide bombers (reportedly female) from the Russian Republic of Chechnya.

2004  Death of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Swiss-born psychiatrist (b. 1926) who studied death and dying, including the grieving process for those who are terminally ill, those who grieve the loss of others.  She was interested in out of body experiences, and near-death experiences.

2006   The International Astronomical Union (IAU) redefines the term "planet" such that Pluto is considered a Dwarf Planet.
2007   James Ford Seale, a reputed Ku Klux Klansman, was sentenced to three life terms for his role in the 1964 abduction and murder of two black teenagers in Mississippi.

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