Tag Archives: execution

Almanac – April 28

1789 –  The Mutiny on the Bounty, aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty.

The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian against commanding officer Lieutenant William Bligh. According to most accounts, the sailors were attracted to the idyllic life on the Pacific island of Tahiti and were further motivated by harsh treatment from their captain.

Mutineers set  Bligh afloat in a small boat with  some crew loyal to him. The mutineers then variously settled on Pitcairn Island or in Tahiti and burned the Bounty off Pitcairn Island, to avoid detection and to prevent desertion.

Bligh navigated the 23-foot (7 m) open launch on a 47-day voyage to Timor in the Dutch East Indies, equipped with a quadrant and pocket watch and without charts or compass. He recorded the distance as 3,618 nautical miles (6,710 km). He then returned to Britain and reported the mutiny to the Admiralty on 15 March 1790, 2 years and 11 weeks after his original departure.

Descendants of some of the mutineers still live on Pitcairn Island.

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1945 – Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were executed by a firing squad consisting of members of the Italian resistance movement. He had been traveling with retreating German forces and was apprehended while attempting to escape recognition by wearing a German military uniform.

His body was then taken to Milan where it was hung upside down at a petrol station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his demise.

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1948 – Terry Pratchett born.  English author of fantasy novels,  best known for the Discworld series of about 40 volumes –  since his first Discworld novel (The Colour of Magic) was published in 1983, he has written two books a year on average.

His latest Discworld book, Snuff, was at the time of its release the third-fastest-selling hardback adult-audience novel since records began in the United Kingdom, selling 55,000 copies in the first three days.

Pratchett was the UK’s best-selling author of the 1990s, and has sold over 70 million books worldwide in 37 languages.  He is currently the second most-read writer in the UK, and seventh most-read non-US author in the US.

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Almanac – March 16

1244 – Over 200 Cathars were burned after the Fall of Montségur.

All the people in the castle were allowed to leave except those who would not renounce their Cathar faith. A number of defenders decided to join these ranks, bringing the total number of Cathar believers destined to burn to between 210 and 215.

On March 16, led by Bishop Bertrand Marty, the group left the castle and went down to the place where the wood for the pyre had been erected.

 No stakes were needed: they mounted the pyre and perished voluntarily in the flames.

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1898 – Aubrey Beardsley died.  English illustrator and author.

His drawings in black ink, influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic.

He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement , and his contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant, despite the brevity of his career before his  death, aged 25,  from tuberculosis.

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1968 –   My Lai massacre, Vietnam.  Mass murder of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam by United States Army soldiers of “Charlie” Company of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the Americal Division.

 Most of the victims were women, children, infants, and elderly people. Some of the women were gang-raped and their bodies were later found to be mutilated and many women were allegedly raped prior to the killings.

 While 26 U.S. soldiers were initially charged with criminal offenses for their actions at Mỹ Lai, only Second Lieutenant William Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but only served three and a half years under house arrest.

Three U.S. servicemen who had tried to halt the massacre and protect the wounded were initially denounced by several U.S. Congressmen as traitors. They received hate mail and death threats and found mutilated animals on their doorsteps.

The three were later widely praised and decorated by the Army for their heroic actions.

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Almanac – January 31

1606 – Guy Fawkes, Thomas Wintour, Ambrose Rookwood and Robert Keyes  executed for plotting against Parliament and King James. Fawkes was the last to stand on the scaffold, his fellow plotters were already hanged and quartered.  He asked for forgiveness of the King and state, while keeping up his “crosses and idle ceremonies“, and aided by the hangman began to climb the ladder to the noose.

Although weakened by torture, Fawkes managed to jump from the gallows, breaking his neck in the fall and thus avoiding the agony of the latter part of his execution. His lifeless body was nevertheless quartered and, as was the custom, his body parts were then distributed to “the four corners of the kingdom”, to be displayed as a warning to other would-be traitors.

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1942 – Derek Jarman born. English film director, stage designer, diarist, artist, gardener and author. Films include Sebastiane (1976), Jubilee (1977), The Tempest (1979) and The Last of England (1988).

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1956 – John Lydon born. Also known by the former stage name Johnny Rotten,  a singer-songwriter and television presenter, best known as the lead singer of punk rock band the Sex Pistols and Public image Ltd.

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1960 – Grant Morrison born. Scottish comic book writer, playwright and occultist. He is known for his nonlinear narratives and countercultural leanings in his runs on titles including DC Comics’ Animal Man, Doom Patrol, JLA, The Invisibles, Action Comics, All-Star Superman, and Batman, and Marvel Comics’ New X-Men and Fantastic Four

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Almanac – January 17

1874 – Chang and Eng Bunker died.  Conjoined twin brothers whose condition and birthplace became the basis for the term “Siamese twins“.

Chang, who had contracted pneumonia, died rather suddenly in his sleep. According to the Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum“, Chang suffered a stroke the night that he died.

Eng awoke to find his brother dead, and called for his wife and children to attend to him. A doctor was summoned to perform an emergency separation, but he was too late. Eng died three hours later.

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1881 – Harry Price born. British psychic researcher and author, who gained public prominence for his investigations into psychical phenomena and his exposing of fake spiritualists. He is best known for his well-publicized investigation of the purportedly haunted Borley Rectory in Essex, England.

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1927 – Eartha Kitt born. American singer, actress, and cabaret star. She was perhaps best known for her highly distinctive singing style and her 1953 hit recordings of “C’est Si Bon” and the enduring Christmas novelty smash “Santa Baby“.

Orson Welles once called her the “most exciting woman in the world.”

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1977 – Gary Gilmore executed. An American who gained international notoriety for demanding that his own death sentence be fulfilled following two murders he committed in Utah.

Gilmore had requested that, following his execution, his eyes be used for transplant purposes. Within hours of the execution, two people received his corneas, and the seeds of a UK Punk classic were sown…

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MATA HARI – Femme Fatale

 

 

As today is the 95th anniversary of the execution of  Mata Hari, today’s  offering from our bookstore is –

FEMME FATALE

LOVE, LIES & THE  UNKNOWN LIFE OF

MATA HARI

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AUTHOR-           Pat Shipman

PUBLISHED-
    Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London. 2007

FORMAT–           Hb, 450pp, illustrated, refs, notes, index

CONDITION-
    Used…ex-library stock, so expect library stamps/marks/stickers.

                                    Dust-jacket, slight wear.
                                    Book in good, sound & clean condition

 

Mata Hari was  the prototype of the beautiful but unscrupulous female agent who uses sexual allure to gain access to secrets, if she was indeed a spy.

In 1917, the notorious dancer Mata Hari was arrested, tried, and executed for espionage. It was charged at her trial that the dark-eyed siren was responsible for the deaths of at least 50,000 gallant French soldiers.

Irrefutably, she had been the mistress of many senior Allied officers and government officials, even the French Minister of War: a point viewed as highly suspicious. Worse yet, she spoke several European languages fluently and travelled widely in wartime Europe. But was she guilty of espionage ?

For all the publicity Mata Hari and her trial received, key questions remain unanswered. These questions concern not only her inadequate trial and her unproven guilt, but also the events in her personal life.

What propelled Margaretha Zelle, destined to be a Dutch schoolteacher, to transform herself into Mata Hari, the most desirable woman in early 20th-century Paris ?

She danced before enthusiastic crowds in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Monte Carlo, Milan and Rome, inspiring admiration, jealousy, and bitter condemnation.

This biography pinpoints the powerful yet dangerous attributes that evoked such strong emotions in those who met Mata Hari. Hitherto the focus has been on espionage. This is the first account to explore the events that shaped her life and caused the transformation from rural Dutch girl to international femme fatale.

This book is available (1 copy only) from Wolfs head bookstore for just 1.50 GBP plus P&P in the UK. More details and price convertor for customers outside the UK at this link –
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Almanac – October 15

1764 – Edward Gibbon observed a group of friars singing in the ruined Temple of Jupiter in Rome, which inspired him to begin work on The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

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1844 – Friedrich Nietzsche born.  German philosopher, poet, composer, cultural critic, and classical philologist. He appears in the following video – can you spot him ?

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1881 – P. G. Wodehouse born. English humorist, whose body of work includes novels, short stories, plays, poems, song lyrics, and numerous pieces of journalism. He enjoyed enormous popular success during a career that lasted more than seventy years and his many writings continue to be widely read.

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1888 – The “From Hell” letter sent to investigators of the Jack the Ripper murders. Postmarked on 15 October 1888, the letter was received by George Lusk, then head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, the following day.Though hundreds of letters claiming to be from the killer were posted at the time of the Ripper murders, many researchers argue that the “From Hell” letter is one of a handful of possibly authentic writings received from the murderer.

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1917 – Mata Hari died. Margaretha Geertruida “Margreet” Zelle, better known by the stage name Mata Hari, was a Dutch exotic dancer, courtesan, and accused spy who was executed by firing squad in France under charges of espionage for Germany during World War I. It’s quite possible that she was used as a scapegoat by the French military authority to obscure the failing of the French military operations at the front.

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1938 – Fela Kuti born. Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of Afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick.

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1965 – The Catholic Worker Movement staged an anti-Vietnam War rally in Manhattan including a public burning of a draft card; the first such act to result in arrest under a new amendment to the Selective Service Act.

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1966 – Black Panther Party was created by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale.

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Almanac – August 3

1719“A Woman, who had served the Lady Anne Harvey for about 16 years in the Quality of a Coachman, and always behaved very well, was brought to bed of a Child, to the Inexpressible Suprize of the Family, who always took her for a Man.”

The Original Weekly Journal, 1719

1527 – The first known letter from North America  sent by John Rut while at St. John’s, Newfoundland. Rut was an English mariner  who was chosen by Henry VIII to command an expedition to North America in search of the Northwest Passage; he set sail from Plymouth with two ships, on 10 June 1527.

1916 – Sir Roger Casement hanged.  Humanitarian campaigner and an Irish patriot, poet, revolutionary and nationalist.He sought to obtain German support for a rebellion in Ireland against British rule. Shortly before the Easter Rising, he  was arrested and subsequently convicted and executed by the British for treason by John Ellis and his assistants at Pentonville Prison in London.

1934 – Adolf Hitler became  the supreme leader of Germany by joining the offices of President and Chancellor into Führer.

1955 – The English-language version of Samuel Beckett‘s play Waiting For Godot first performed, at the Arts Theatre, London.

It was not an immediate success – on hearing the now famous lines “Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful !”, a member of the audience is said to have retorted “Hear ! Hear !”.

1966 – Lenny Bruce died. American comedian, social critic and satirist. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous pardon, the first in New York state history. He was renowned for his open, free-style, dangerous and critical form of comedy which integrated politics, religion, and sex. His tumultuous private life marked by substance abuse, promiscuity, as well as his efforts to prevent his wife from working as a stripper, made him a compelling figure. He paved the way for future outspoken comedians, and his trial for obscenity, in which – after being forced into bankruptcy – he was eventually found not guilty is seen as a landmark trial for freedom of speech.
Official cause of death was “acute morphine poisoning caused by an accidental overdose.

Mr. Frankenstein

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