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Almanac – June 13

1381 – The Peasants Revolt led by Wat Tyler entered London and, joined by many local townsfolk, attacked the gaols, destroyed the Savoy Palace and the Temple Inns of Court, set fire to law books and killed anyone associated with the royal government.

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1884 – Gerald Gardner born. English Wiccan, as well as an author and an amateur anthropologist and archaeologist.

He was instrumental in bringing the Contemporary Pagan religion of Wicca to public attention, writing some of its definitive religious texts and founding the tradition of Gardnerian Wicca.

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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 – June 03

1924 – Franz Kafka died. German-language writer of novels and short stories, regarded by critics as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century.

 Kafka strongly influenced genres such as existentialism. His works, such as Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis), Der Process (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle), are filled with the themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent–child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, and mystical transformations.

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1926 – Allen Ginsberg born. American poet and one of the leading figures of the Beat Generation in the 1950s.

He vigorously opposed militarism, economic materialism and sexual repression. Ginsberg is best known for his epic poem “Howl“, in which he denounced what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States.

Ginsberg took part in decades of non-violent political protest against everything from the Vietnam War to the War on Drugs. His poem “September on Jessore Road“, calling attention to the plight of Bangladeshi refugees, exemplifies what the literary critic Helen Vendler described as Ginsberg’s tireless persistence in protesting against “imperial politics, and persecution of the powerless.”

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1942 – Curtis Mayfield born.  American soul, R&B, and funk singer, songwriter, and record producer.

He is best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and for composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly, Mayfield is highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music.

He was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums.

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Almanac – May 21

1471 – Albrecht Dürer born. German painter, engraver, printmaker, mathematician, and theorist.
His high-quality woodcuts (nowadays often called Meisterstiche or “master prints”) established his reputation and influence across Europe when he was still in his twenties,  and his introduction of classaicl motifs into Northern art, through his knowledge of Italian artists and German humanists, has secured his reputation as one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance.

This is reinforced by his theoretical treatises, which involve principles of mathematics, perspective and ideal proportions.

 

 

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Almanac – May 19

1536 – Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII of England, was beheaded for alledged adultery, treason, and incest.

Following the coronation of her daughter, Elizabeth, as queen, Anne was venerated as a martyr and heroine of the English Reformation, particularly through the works of John Foxe.

Over the centuries, she has inspired or been mentioned in numerous artistic and cultural works, as a result, she has retained her hold on the popular imagination.

Anne has been called “the most influential and important queen consort England has ever had”, since she provided the occasion for Henry VIII to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, and declare his independence from Rome.

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1649 – An Act of Parliament declaring England a Commonwealth was passed by the Long Parliament.

England would be a republic for the next eleven years.

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1925 – Malcolm X born. American Muslim minister and human rights activist.

To his admirers, he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans. Detractors accused him of preaching racism, black supremacy, and violence.

He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history.

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Almanac – May 14

1771 – Robert Owen born.  Welsh social reformer and one of the founders of utopian socialism and the cooperative movement.

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1881 – Mary Seacole died. Jamaican-born woman of Scottish and Creole descent who set up a ‘British Hotel’ behind the lines during the Crimean War, which she described as “a mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers,” and provided succour for wounded servicemen on the battlefield.

She was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991. In 2004 she was voted the greatest Black Briton.

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1940 – Emma Goldman died. Russian  anarchist known for her political activism, writing, and speeches.

She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century.

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Almanac – May 04

1471 –  The Battle of Tewkesbury: Edward IV defeated a Lancastrian Army and killed Edward, Prince of Wales.

I mention this here merely because I once took part in a re-enactment of this battle… (dont ask).
 
I was part of Edward IV’s victorious Yorkist army, though due to lack of enacters I was killed twice, returning to life each time to make up numbers. My life as a medieval zombie soldier…

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1852 – Alice Liddell born. Original of Alice In Wonderland.

In  July 1862, in a rowing boat travelling on the Isis from Folly Bridge, Oxford to Godstow for a picnic outing, 10-year-old Alice asked Charles Dodgson (who wrote under the pen name Lewis Carroll) to entertain her and her sisters, Edith (aged 8) and Lorina (13), with a story.

Dodgson duly  regaled the girls with fantastic stories of a girl, named Alice, and her adventures after she fell into a rabbit-hole.

The story was not unlike those Dodgson had spun for the sisters before, but this time Liddell asked  Dodgson to write it down for her. He promised to do so but did not get around to the task for some months.

He eventually presented her with the manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground in November 1864.

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1961 –  The Freedom Riders began a bus trip through the American  South.

Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States in 1961 and following years to challenge the non-enforcement of the United States Supreme Court decisions Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia (1946) and Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional.

 The Southern states had ignored the rulings and the federal government did nothing to enforce them. The first Freedom Ride left Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961, and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17.

The Freedom Riders challenged the status quo by riding interstate buses in the South in mixed racial groups to challenge local laws or customs that enforced segregation in seating.

The Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked, bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement and  called national attention to the disregard for the federal law and the local violence used to enforce segregation in the southern United States.

Police arrested riders for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and violating state and local Jim Crow laws, along with other alleged offenses, but they often first let white mobs attack them without intervention.

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1970 –  Kent State shootings: the Ohio National Guard, sent to Kent State University after disturbances in the city of Kent the weekend before, opened fire killing four unarmed students and wounding nine others. The students were protesting the United States’ invasion of Cambodia.

There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of four million students, and the event further affected the public opinion—at an already socially contentious time—over the role of the United States in the Vietnam War.

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Almanac – May 03

1469 – Niccolò Machiavelli born.  Italian historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He was for many years an official in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs.

He was a founder of modern political science, and more specifically political ethics. He also wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is renowned in the Italian language.

He was Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power.

He wrote his masterpiece, The Prince, after the Medici had recovered power and he no longer held a position of responsibility in Florence.

His moral and ethical beliefs led to the creation of the word machiavellianism which has since been used to describe one of the three dark triad personalities in psychology.

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1932 – Charles Fort died. American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena.

Today, the terms Fortean and Forteana are used to characterize various such phenomena. Fort’s books sold well and are still in print today.

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1940 – Conny Plank born.  German record producer and musician.  

His creativity as a sound engineer and producer helped to shape many innovative recordings of postwar European popular music, covering a wide range of genres including progressive, avant-garde, electronic music and krautrock. His immense catalog of work has greatly influenced modern studio production and engineering techniques.

As a musician, Plank is credited on albums by Guru Guru, Kraan, Cluster, Liliental and Os Mundi.

He collaborated with Dieter Moebius on five Moebius & Plank studio albums recorded between 1979 and 1986. The Moebius & Plank sound foreshadowed techno and electronica and influenced many later musicians.

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1963 – The police force in Birmingham, Alabama switched tactics and responded with violent force to stop the “Birmingham campaign” protesters. Images of the violent suppression are transmitted worldwide, bringing new-found attention to the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

The Birmingham campaign was a movement organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to bring attention to the unequal treatment that black Americans endured in Birmingham.

Led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, the spring 1963 campaign of nonviolent direct actions culminated in widely publicized confrontations between black youth and white civic authorities, and eventually led the municipal government to change the city’s discrimination laws.

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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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