Saturday, September 25, 2010

July 31st in History

30BC   Battle of Alexandria in the Final War of the Roman Republic,  Mark Antony achieves a minor victory over former ally and brother-in-law Octavian's forces.  Most of his army subsequently deserts, leading to his suicide and the equally famous suicide by asp of Cleopatra III, last pharaonic leader of Egypt.
 Other versions have the snake a variety of Egyptian Cobra; and a third version has death by a toxic ointment. The current theory is that she drank a mixture of hemlock, wolfs bane, and opium.  Or Octavian may have simply had her killed.  Octavian went on to be the sole power in Rome, under the name Augustus.  Cleopatra was the descendant of one of Alexander the Great's generals who defeated Darius III, and was the last of the Ptolemaic dynasty.  Many of her predecessors didn't even speak Egyptian; they spoke Greek, which was the reason for the three languages used that show up on the Rosetta Stone. Antony had married Cleopatra while still married to Octavian's sister, and had children from both marriages - twins with Cleopatra

recent eruption of Fuji

  781     The oldest recorded eruption of Mt. Fuji (Traditional Japanese date: July 6, 781) one of the three 'Holy Mountains'.  It figures prominently in traditional art and  literature as a major national icon.  The tallest mountain in Japan, a stratovolcano, Fuji has the classic steep-sided symmetrical cone-shape from the build up of cooled magma from serial eruptions.  The mountain was first scaled by a monk in the 7th century; it remained strictly sacred for centuries.  Women were not allowed on the summit until the mid-19th century.  Since the latter half of the 19th century it has been a major tourist attraction.

1492   The Jews are expelled from Spain when the Alhambra Decree takes effect at the completion of an 800 year attempt by Christian Visigoth kingdoms to retake what is modern Spain and Portugal called the Reconquista.  The Decree was issued by the joint Catholic Monarchs of Spain, the same Ferdinand and Isabella who sent Columbus to look for a western passage to India, the same year.  The edict technically remained in force until it was revoked in 1968 following the convening of the Second Vatican Council.  Jews had been welcome under the Muslim rule of the region, as people of the book.  A significant number of Jews had been in Spain dating back to the Roman era.  Contrary to the interfaith conflicts of the modern era, Jews were cooperative with Muslims against the Visigoths, and Muslim rule had attracted Jewish immigration. Charlemagne completed the northern portion of the Reconquista, rounding out the rest of that Christian Mediterranean that is the modern French Riviera.  Post Reconquista, thousands of Jews became victims of violence and oppression, and many attempted to escape persecution by converting to Catholicism.  There were so many that new terms for them came into use, conversos, or marranos.  Even that measure wasn't enough to prevent hatred; the converso and marrano families eventually fell out of favor; they were targeted by the Spanish Inquisition beginning in 1480.  Unknown thousands died.  Under the Alhambra Decree, the Jews were given three months to leave with all their belongings - except anything made of gold or silver, or any minted money. So the decree was a grab for wealth as well.  Most of the departing Jews went to northern Africa, an area still under Muslim control; and the southeastern Europe where there were thriving Jewish communities.  Genetic testing indicates that roughly 20% of men in Spain are descended from Sephardic Jews.

I would like to take this opportunity to direct our penigma readers to a posting that addresses this aspect of history with an insightful connection to some modern era events in Florida on one of the blogs from our blog roll, Juan Cole's Informed Comment :

1658   Aurangzeb is proclaimed 6th Mogul emperor of India, and expanded Muslim rule throughout the Indian subcontinent through aggressive wars.

1703   Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, is placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet, but is pelted with flowers. After three days in the pillory, Defoe went into Newgate Prison.

1790   First U.S. patent is issued to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.

1914   The New York Stock Exchange closed due to the outbreak of World War I. (Trading didn't resume until December.)
1919   German national assembly adopts the Wiemar Constitution, which comes into force on August 14.

1930   The radio mystery program The Shadow is aired for the first time.  Developed from pulp magazine series, the protagonist, aka Lamont Cranston, had the power to cloud men's mind, which he acquired while adventuring and studying - again, Indiana Jones style - in Tibet.  The classic introduction to every episode was the signature question and answer, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"  The classic ending to every episode, "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay.....the Shadow knows!"  The voice of The Shadow was provided by a series of actors, including Orson Welles.

1932   The NSDAP (Nazi Party) wins more than 38% of the vote in German elections. The vote was split among 14 parties.

one of the gold plates
showing cuneiform writing
1938   Archaeologists, led by German Professor Ernst Herzfeld discover engraved gold and silver plates from King Darius I in Persepolis. Persepolis was the capital of the Persian Empire, aka the Achaemenid Empire, 550-350 BC., the largest of the ancient empires. The discovery dated back to aprox. 500 BC.  Prof. Herzfeld in some ways could be a real life model for fictional archeologists like Indiana Jones. Herzfeld left Germany for the Institute for Advanced Studies in the United States, along with other brilliant scientists like Einstein, fleeing the Nazis. He died in 1948 in Switzerland.  His discoveries have had religious implications, and are used, for example by the Mormons in support of their theology.  Today in history, art imitates life, and vice versa.

1941   Holocaust: under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Nazi official Hermann Göring, orders SS General Reinhard Heydrich to "submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question."

1964   Ranger 7 sends back the first close-up photographs of the moon, with images 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from earth-bound telescopes.

1965 Birth of J. K. Rowlings, author of the Harry Potter books.

1972    Operation Motorman: British troops move into the no-go areas of Belfast and Derry, Northern Ireland. End of Free Derry.
            Three car bombs are detonated in Claudy, Northern Ireland, killing nine in what is believed to be a Provisional Irish Republican Army attack.

1981    A total solar eclipse occurs.

2007    Operation Banner, the presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland, and the longest-running British Army operation ever, comes to an end.

2008   Scientists reported the Phoenix spacecraft had confirmed the presence of frozen water in Martian soil.

No comments:

Post a Comment