Friday, September 24, 2010

July 15th in History


1205 Pope Innocent III states Jews are doomed to perpetual servitude and subjugation due to crucifixion of Jesus.
 He viewed the recapture of Jerusalem in 1187 as divine judgement on Christians for their sins.  One of his central goals was to reassert the secular power of the church, including keeping leaders of state out of the selection of bishops.  Innocent involved the papacy in the succession of leaders of the Holy Roman Empire, and other secular politics.  During his papacy the Roman Catholic church was at its most powerful, and Innocent III was arguably the most powerful single individual in all of Europe.


1606 – Rembrandt van Rijn, Dutch artist (d. 1669); he is among the most well-known  masters recognizable by only one name in all of art history.  For a friend, I am including a favorite from his many works, the legendary ancient roman Rape of Lucretia.  This is one of three of the same subject painted over a period of a few years. The women in the two extant masterpieces are different, as is their clothing.  One is before she stabs herself, this one, in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, is just afterwards; the third is known to have existed at one time, but has never been found, a lost masterpiece in the series.  It is speculated that it might be an intermediate painting of the event, possibly the stabbing itself.  Rembrandt often painted subjects, like this one, that were the subject of popular stage productions at the time.  Presumably this made his work more marketable to buyers.

1662 King Charles II charters the prestigious Royal Society in London. This is the coat of arms of the society, the UK, and to a degree the EU's equivalent to our Academy of Science in the U.S.  I'll spare you all the armorial blazoning, but 10 purely silly and trivial bonus points if you can do it, unaided.

1795 The 'Marseillaise', written by Rouget de Lisle three years earlier, officially became the French national anthem. Award yourself bonus points if you know the words and can sing along with the movie, Casablanca.

1799 – The Rosetta Stone, named for the Egyptian village where it was discovered  during Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign, by French Captain Pierre-Fran├žois Bouchard.  The English subsequently invaded Egypt, displacing the French, captured it.  It was put on display in  the British Museum in 1802, where it remains.  The stone is a tri-lingual proclamation on behalf of Ptolemy V, in ancient Egyptian demotic script, one in hieroglyphs, and one in ancient Greek.  It took 20 years of international efforts at deciphering, but it became the eventual key that allowed the ancient Egyptian to be understood.  It is not unique; a few other similar bilingual and trilingual proclamations exist, but they did not have the breakthrough impact of the Rosetta stone on linguistics and archeology.  Custody of the stone continues to be a point of contention between the Brits who felt they stole it fair and square; the French, who take the position of finders keepers; and the Egyptians who want it back as part of their national heritage.

1815, Napoleon Bonaparte surrenders and is later exiled to the island of St. Helena (without the Rosetta stone).

1830 The Sioux, Sauk and Fox Indian tribes signed a treaty giving the U.S. most of Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri, after the Louisiana Purchase by Thomas Jefferson - from Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804 - had doubled the size of the United States while helping to finance Bonaparte's ambitions. Isn't it wonderful how all these threads of history come together!

1853 Commodore Perry arrives in Japan, forcing them to open trade to the United States, under order from President Millard Fillmore (another July today in history thread comes together). Previously, Japan would only trade with the Dutch - sometimes, and the Chinese - most of the time. This event had a dramatic effect on the subsequent history of the Pacific rim.

1870 – Reconstruction era of the United States: Georgia becomes the last of the former Confederate states to be readmitted to the Union. ( I would have expected it to be South Carolina, but that's history for you.)

Manitoba becomes 5th Canadian province and NW Territories created.  Anyone remember the bonus points for knowing where Rupert's Land was?

1903 Ford Motor Company takes its first order creating a major part of the auto industry and assembly-line manufacturing, which was to have a major impact on labor and industry, and transportation in the United States.

1904 Birth of Pavel Cherenkov who discovered the eerie blue electro-magnetic radiation that bears his name, in 1934; he shared the 1958 Nobel Prize for Physics.
 
1904 1st Buddhist temple in U.S. forms,  in Los Angeles, California.

1912 British National Health Insurance Act goes into effect.

1918 2nd Battle of the Marne river began during WW I.

1932 President Hoover cuts own salary 15%.  It didn't help end the Great Depression.

1937 Japanese attack Marco Polo Bridge, invading China.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp opened near Wiemar, Germany.

1940  The first betatron placed in operation, Urbana, Illinois.  Bonus science points if you know what a betatron is.

1941 Florey and Heatley present freeze dried mold cultures, crucial to the development of Penicillin, which was of course crucial in turn, in WW II.

1941, master spy and double-agent Juan Pujol Garcia, Allied code-name "Garbo," sends his first communique to Germany from Britain. The Nazis knew him by the code-name Arabel. He is undeniably one of the most fascinating figures in espionage in World War II, and remains one of the comparatively lesser known.  Garbo developed a hearty antipathy for the Nazis, Fascists and Communists from his experiences in the Spanish Civil War.

The British initially turned down his offer to spy for them, so he became a German agent first, with the intent to double-cross them.  In 1940 he began operating from the area around Lisbon, Portugal, managing to deceive the Germans that he was already in England, before actually relocating there.  He managed this deception entirely by relying on information from newsreels, newspapers and books from the library.

Garbo and his spy-master boss,  Cyril B. Mills , created an entirely fictitious spy ring, brilliantly making up subordinate spies as necessary.  He was so successful, that Hitler awarded him the Iron Cross for his service to Nazi Germany in 1944.  The Brits gave him the MBE (Member of the British Empire), also for his services to Germany on behalf of the Allies.

His most successful deception was his contribution to convincing the Nazis that the invasion of Normandy would take place at Calais, as part of Operation Fortitude.  This extraordinary man is well worth a more extensive 'read'; he's better in real life than any fictional James Bond.

1948 Alcoholic Anonymous founded in Britain.

1951 – Jesse Ventura, American wrestler, Navy Underwater Demolitions team member (not a Navy Seal), actor, author, media figure, 38th  governor of Minnesota (Independent, 1999 - 2003), 9/11'truther'  and all around conspiracy believer, and model for 'action figures'.  He was born James Janos, and has added many sobriquets to his wrestling, theatrical, and political name - Jesse the body Ventura, Jesse the mind, Jesse the mouth, and so on.  He did generate one of the best bumper stickers for the state of Minnesota, "My governor can bench press your governor".He is reported to have sold or donated all of his wrestling era feather boas for charity.  The plastic action figure as wrestler is on the left, the plastic governor as wrestler is on the right.

1952 The first transatlantic helicopter flight begins.

1954 Temperatures reach 110 degrees F (43 degrees C) at Balcony Falls, Virginia (state record)

1958 President Eisenhower sends U.S. troops to Lebanon; they stay 3 months.

1961 Spain approves equal rights for men and women.

1961 birth of Scott Ritter, prominent American UN weapons inspector in Iraq, 1991 - 1998. During Desert Storm, he was an advisor to General Schwarzkopf.  Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, he was a strong voice arguing, correctly, that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, and that the war was unnecessary.  He remained a strong critic of the Bush administration's policies in the middle east throughout the George W. Bush presidency.  He also worked as a consultant and advisor for Fox News.

1964 Barry M. Goldwater nominated for president by Republicans; he went on to lose the general election, except for the state of Arizona, and a handful of southern states unhappy with anti-segregation civil rights legislation.  Bonus points if you can name who his running mate was, and who else ran. One bonus point if you can name who won, and who the winner's running mate was.

1965 "Mariner IV" sends back 1st pictures of Mars. 
On earth, Athanassiades Novas succeeds Papandreo as premier of Greece

1968 Commercial air travel begins between U.S. and U.S.S.R.

1975 Non-commercial air travel begins between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. when Soyuz 19 and Apollo 18 are launched and rendezvous 2 days later.

1983 There were 8 fatalities, 54 wounded, when Armenian extremists exploded a bomb in front of the Turkish airlines counter at the Orly airport in France.  This act of terrorism was intended to kill, maim, or intimidate as many Turkish officials as possible, in retaliation for Turkish acts of genocide against the Armenians.

1987 John Poindexter testifies at congressional Iran-Contra hearings.

1991 U.S. troops leave northern Iraq.

1996 MSNBC begins Microsoft internet-NBC TV (in case you didn't know what the MS stood for in the call letters).

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