Tag Archives: French revolution

Almanac – June 08

632 – Muhammad, Islamic prophet, died,  in Medina, at the age of 63, in the house of his wife Aisha.  With his head resting on Aisha’s lap, he asked her to dispose of his last worldly goods (seven coins), then murmured his final words:

Rather, God on High and paradise.

He was buried where he died, in Aisha’s house.

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793 – Vikings raided the abbey at Lindisfarne in Northumbria, commonly accepted as the beginning of the Scandinavian invasion of England.

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1794 – Robespierre inaugurated the French Revolution’s new state religion, the Cult of the Supreme Being, with large organized festivals all across France.

The primary principles of the Cult of the Supreme Being were a belief in the existence of a god and the immortality of the human soul. Though not inconsistent with Christian doctrine, these beliefs were put to the service of Robespierre’s fuller meaning, which was of a type of civic-minded, public virtue he attributed to the Greeks and Romans.

This type of virtue could only be attained through active fidelity to liberty and democracy. Belief in a living god and a higher moral code, he said, were “constant reminders of justice” and thus essential to a republican society.

To inaugurate the new state religion, Robespierre declared that 20 Prairial Year II (8 June 1794) would be the first day of national celebration of the Supreme Being, and future republican holidays were to be held every tenth day – the days of rest (décadi) in the new French Republican Calendar.

Every locality was mandated to hold a commemorative event, but the event in Paris was designed on a massive scale. The festival was organized by the artist Jacques-Louis David and took place around a man-made mountain on the Champ de Mars. Robespierre assumed full leadership of the event, forcefully – and, to many, ostentatiously – declaring the truth and “social utility” of his new religion.

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1809 – Thomas Paine died.  English  political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary.

As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he inspired the Patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called “a corsetmaker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination.”

Paine died at the age of 72, at 59 Grove Street in Greenwich Village, New York City.  Although the original building is no longer there, the present building has a plaque noting the fact.

After his death, Paine’s body was brought to New Rochelle, but as the Quakers would not allow it to be buried in their graveyard as  per his last will, so his remains were buried under a walnut tree on his farm.

In 1819, the English agrarian radical journalist William Cobbett dug up his bones and transported them back to England with the intention to give Paine a heroic reburial on his native soil, but this never came to pass. The bones were still among Cobbett’s effects when he died over twenty years later, but were later lost.

There is no confirmed story about what happened to them after that, although down the years various people have claimed to own parts of Paine’s remains, such as his skull and right hand.

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Almanac – May 01

MAY DAY

1776 – Establishment of the Illuminati in Ingolstadt, Upper Bavaria, by Adam Weishaupt, as  an Enlightenment-era secret society opposed to superstition, prejudice, religious influence over public life, abuses of state power, and in favour of  women’s education and gender equality.

The Illuminati were outlawed along with other secret societies by the Bavarian government leadership with the encouragement of the Roman Catholic Church, and permanently disbanded in 1785.

In the several years following, the group was vilified by conservative and religious critics who claimed they had regrouped and were responsible for the French Revolution.

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1999 – The body of British climber George Mallory was found on Mount Everest, 75 years after his disappearance in 1924.

During the 1924 British Mount Everest Expedition, Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew “Sandy” Irvine both disappeared somewhere high on the North-East ridge during their attempt to make the first ascent of the world’s highest mountain. The pair’s last known sighting was only about 800 vertical feet from the summit.

Whether Mallory and Irvine reached the summit before they died remains a subject of speculation and continuing research. Irvine’s body has not yet been found, nor his camera, which could contain photographic evidence that the pair were the first to reach the summit of Everest.

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Almanac – April 19

1791 – Richard Price died.  British moral philosopher and preacher in the tradition of English Dissenters, and a political pamphleteer, active in radical, republican, and liberal causes such as the American Revolution.

He fostered connections between a large number of people, including writers of the Constitution of the United States. He spent most of his adult life as minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church, where possibly the congregant he most influenced was early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who extended his ideas on the egalitarianism inherent in the spirit of the French Revolution to encompass women’s rights as well.

In addition to his work as a moral and political philosopher, he also wrote on issues of statistics and finance, and was inducted into the Royal Society for these contributions.

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1928 – Alexis Korner born.  Blues musician and radio broadcaster, who has sometimes been referred to as “a Founding Father of British Blues”

A major influence on the sound of the British music scene in the 1960s, he was instrumental in bringing together various English blues musicians.

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1933 – Jayne Mansfield born. American actress in film, theatre, and television, a nightclub entertainer, a singer, and one of the early Playboy Playmates. She was a major Hollywood sex symbol of the 1950s and early 1960s.

Frequent references have been made to Mansfield’s very high IQ, which she claimed was 163.  She spoke five languages, including English,  fluent French and Spanish, German that she learned in high school, and she studied Italian .

 Reputed to be Hollywood’s “smartest dumb blonde”, she later complained that the public did not care about her brains: “They’re more interested in 40–21–35,” she said.

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Almanac – February 23

1723 – Richard Price born. British moral philosopher and preacher in the tradition of English Dissenters, and a political pamphleteer, active in radical, republican, and liberal causes such as the American Revolution.

He fostered connections between a large number of people, including writers of the Constitution of the United States. He spent most of his adult life as minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church, where possibly the congregant he most influenced was early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who extended his ideas on the egalitarianism inherent in the spirit of the French Revolution to encompass women’s rights as well.

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1821 – John Keats died. English Romantic poet. He was one of the main figures of the second generation of romantic poets along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, despite his work only having been in publication for four years before his death.

Although his poems were not generally well-received by critics during his life, his reputation grew after his death, so that by the end of the 19th century he had become one of the most beloved of all English poets.

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1958 – David Sylvian born. English singer-songwriter and musician who came to prominence in the late 1970s as the lead vocalist and main songwriter in the group Japan.

His subsequent solo work is described  as “a far-ranging and esoteric career that encompassed not only solo projects but also a series of fascinating collaborative efforts.”

Sylvian’s solo work has been influenced by a variety of musical styles and genres, including jazz, avant-garde, ambient, electronic, and progressive rock.

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Almanac – August 10

991 – Battle of Maldon: an English force, led by Byrhtnoth, Ealdorman of Essex, were defeated by a band of inland-raiding Vikings near Maldon in Essex. One manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle said a Norwegian, Olaf Tryggvason, led the Viking forces, estimated to have been between 2,000 and 4,000 fighting men. A source from the 12th century, Liber Eliensis, written by the monks at Ely, suggests that Byrhtnoth had only a few men to command: “he was neither shaken by the small number of his men, nor fearful of the multitude of the enemy”. Not all sources indicate such a disparity in numbers.

An account of the battle, embellished with many speeches attributed to the warriors and with other details, is related in an Old English poem which is usually named The Battle of Maldon.

1792 – French Revolutionaries imprisoned Louis XVI and the monarchy was suspended.

1842 – The Mines Act came into force in the UK, releasing all women and girls, as well as boys under the age of 10, from underground employment.

1909 – Leo Fender, inventor and musical instrument manufacturer, born.

1948 – Montague Summers died.  English author and clergyman. He is known primarily for his scholarly work on the English drama of the 17th century, as well as for his idiosyncratic studies on witches, vampires, and werewolves, in all of which he professed to believe. He was responsible for the first English translation, published in 1928, of the notorious 15th-century witch hunter’s manual, the Malleus Maleficarum.

1961 – First use in Vietnam War of the Agent Orange by the U.S. Army.
Agent Orange was the code name for one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects.

2008 – Isaac Hayes died.  American songwriter, musician, singer, actor, and voice actor. Hayes was one of the creative influences behind the southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served both as an in-house songwriter and as a record producer, teaming with his partner David Porter during the mid-1960s. During the late 1960s, he also began recording music and  had several successful soul albums such as Hot Buttered Soul (1969) and Black Moses (1971). In addition to his work in popular music, he worked as a composer of musical scores for motion pictures, probably best  known for his musical score for the film Shaft (1971).

Mr. Frankenstein

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Almanac – July 14th

Bastille Day in France.
The storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris   on the morning of 14 July 1789. The medieval fortress and prison  represented royal authority in the centre of Paris. While the prison only contained seven inmates at the time of its storming, its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution. In France, Le quatorze juillet (14 July) is a public holiday, formally known as the Fête de la Fédération (Federation Holiday). It is usually called Bastille Day in English.

1881Billy The KidWilliam H. Bonney ( but born William Henry McCarty, Jr., also known as Henry Antrim )   shot and killed by Pat Garrett. According to legend he killed 21 men, but it is generally believed that he killed between four and nine.

 

1912Woody Guthrie born. Singer-songwriter and folk musician whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children’s songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar. and his best-known song is probably “This Land Is Your Land.” Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Jeff Tweedy and Tom Paxton have all acknowledged Guthrie as a major influence.
1918 Ingmar Bergman born. Swedish director, writer and producer for film, stage and television. Described by Woody Allen as “probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera,” he is recognized as one of the most accomplished and influential film directors of all time.He directed over sixty films and documentaries for cinematic release and for television, most of which he also wrote. He also directed over one hundred and seventy plays. . Most of his films were set in the landscape of Sweden. His major subjects were death, illness, faith, betrayal, and insanity.

1933 – The Nazi eugenics programme began,  with the proclamation of the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring that called for the compulsory sterilization of any citizen who suffered from alleged genetic disorders. Those  targeted were identified as “life unworthy of life” (German: Lebensunwertes Leben), including but not limited to the criminal, degenerate, dissident, feeble-minded, homosexual, idle, insane and the weak, for elimination from the chain of heredity. More than 400,000 people were sterilized against their will, while 70,000 were killed under Action T4, a “euthanasia” program.
1957 – Rawya Ateya takes her seat in the National Assembly of Egypt, thereby becoming the first female parliamentarian in the Arab world.
 
 
1959Grock the Clown died. Born Charles Adrien Wettach, was a Swiss clown, composer and musician. Called “the king of clowns”  and  “the greatest of Europe’s clowns”,  Grock was once the most highly paid entertainer in the world.
 

 

Mr. Frankenstein
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Almanac – July 13th

1527John Dee born – English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist  and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I. He devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy, divination and Hermetic philosophy.

1793John Clare born – English “peasent poet”,  the son of a farm labourer who came to be known for his celebratory representations of the English countryside and his lamentation of its disruption. His poetry underwent a major re-evaluation in the late 20th century and he is often now considered to be among the most important 19th-century poets. His biographer,  Jonathan Bate.  states that Clare was “the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self”.

 

1793 – Journalist and French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat is assassinated in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday, a member of the opposing political faction.

1863 – Riots broke out in New York City in protest against the drafting of men to fight in the American Civil War. The start of  three days of rioting which were  later regarded as the worst in United States history.

1923 – The Hollywood Sign is officially dedicated in the hills above Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. It originally reads “Hollywoodland but the four last letters are dropped after renovation in 1949.

1934 – Birth of Wole Soyinka,  Nigerian writer, notable especially as a playwright and poet; he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African in Africa and the diaspora to be so honoured.

1936 – Assassination of Spanish politician Jose Calvo Sotelo, triggering the military uprising that led to the Spanish Civil War.

1936 –  Birth of Albert Ayler, American jazz saxophonist and singer

 

 

 

1951 – Death of Austrian  composer Arnold Schoenberg . Schoenberg’s approach, both in terms of harmony and development, is among the major landmarks of 20th-century musical thought; at least three generations of composers in the European and American traditions have consciously extended his thinking or, in some cases, passionately reacted against it. During the rise of the Nazi Party in Austria, his music was labeled, alongside jazz, as degenerate.

1955Ruth Ellis was hanged for murder – the last woman to receive the death penalty in the UK.
Mr. Frankenstein
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