Tag Archives: westminster abbey

Almanac – March 17

1040 – Harold Harefoot died. King of England from 1035 to 1040. His cognomen “Harefoot” referred to his speed, and the skill of his huntsmanship.

 He was the younger son of Cnut the Great, king of England, Denmark, and Norway by his first wife, Ælfgifu of Northampton, although  Florence of Worcester (12th century) claimed  that Ælfgifu wanted to have a son by the king but was unable to, so she secretly adopted the newborn children of strangers and pretended to have given birth to them. Harold was reportedly the son of a cobbler, while his brother Svein Knutsson was the illegitimate son of a priest. Its probably a myth.

Harold died at Oxford,  of “a mysterious illness”, although an Anglo-Saxon charter attributes the illness to divine judgment…not least because he’d alledgedly defrauded some monks out of land that they had their covetous eyes on.

He was buried at Westminster Abbey… for a while.  His body was subsequently exhumed, beheaded, and thrown into a fen bordering the Thames when Harthacnut assumed the throne in June 1040.

 The body was  recovered by a fishermen, and resident Danes reportly had it reburied at their local cemetery in London, before it was eventually buried in a church in the City of Westminster, St. Clement Danes.

 A contradictory account in the Knýtlinga saga (13th century) reports Harold buried in the city of Morstr, alongside his half-brother Harthacnut and their father Cnut. While mentioned as a great city in the text, nothing else is known of Morstr.

 

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Almanac – December 25

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A happy Midwinter festival (Midsummer in the southern hemisphere) of your choice to all our readers.

The Robin in the picture is the one that’s hanging around my garden this winter.  They’re generally pretty inquisitive birds, but this one is positively fearless.

 

This  Christmas song is made up of bits of all the other Christmas songs – truly the soundtrack for Xmas In Hell !

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1066 – William the Conqueror  crowned king of England, at Westminster Abbey, London.

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1137 – Saladin born. Salāh ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb,  Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant. At the height of his power, his sultanate included Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Hejaz, Yemen, and parts of North Africa.

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1924 – Rod Serling born.  American screenwriter, novelist, television producer, and narrator best known for his live television dramas of the 1950s and his science fiction anthology TV series, The Twilight Zone. Serling was active in politics, both on and off the screen and helped form television industry standards. He was known as the “angry young man” of Hollywood, clashing with television executives and sponsors over a wide range of issues including censorship, racism, and war.

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1925 – Carlos Castaneda born. Peruvian author and student of anthropology. Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castaneda wrote a series of books that describe his alleged training in shamanism.

The books, narrated in the first person, relate his supposed experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui “Man of Knowledge” named Don Juan Matus. Critics have suggested that they are works of fiction; supporters claim the books are either true or at least valuable works of philosophy and descriptions of practices which enable an increased awareness.

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1950 – The Stone of Scone, traditional coronation stone of British monarchs, was taken from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students. ( It later turned up in Scotland on April 11, 1951.)

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2008 – Eartha Kitt died. American singer, actress, and cabaret star.  Orson Welles once called her the “most exciting woman in the world.”

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Almanac – October 25

1400 – Geoffrey Chaucer died.  Known as the Father of English literature, he  is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey. While he achieved fame during his lifetime as an author, philosopher, alchemist and astronomer,  Chaucer also maintained an active career in the civil service as a bureaucrat, courtier and diplomat. Among his many works, which include The Book of the Duchess, the House of Fame, the Legend of Good Women and Troilus and Criseyde, though  he is best known today for The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer is a crucial figure in developing the legitimacy of the vernacular, Middle English, at a time when the dominant literary languages in England were French and Latin.

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1881 – Pablo Picasso born. Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer who spent most of his adult life in France. As one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. And (according to Jonathan Richman) no-one ever  called him an asshole.

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1938 – The Archbishop of Dubuque, Francis J. L. Beckman, denounced swing music as “a degenerated musical system… turned loose to gnaw away at the moral fiber of young people”, warning that it leads down a “primrose path to hell”.

Thousands of young people instantly thought: “Sounds good ! Where can I get some ?”

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1944 – Heinrich Himmler orders a crackdown on the Edelweiss Pirates, a loosely organized youth culture in Nazi Germany that had assisted army deserters and others to hide from the Third Reich.

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1993 – Vincent Price died. American actor, well known for his distinctive voice and serio-comic performances in a series of horror films made in the latter part of his career.

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2004 – John Peel died.  English disc jockey, radio presenter, record producer and journalist. He was the longest-serving of the original BBC Radio 1 DJs, broadcasting regularly from 1967 until his death in 2004. He was known for his eclectic taste in music and his honest and warm broadcasting style.
He was one of the first broadcasters to play psychedelic rock and progressive rock records on British radio, and he is widely acknowledged for promoting artists working in various genres, including pop, reggae, indie pop, indie rock, alternative rock, punk, hardcore punk, breakcore, grindcore, death metal, British hip hop, electronic music and dance music.

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2010 – Gregory Isaacs died. Jamaican reggae musician, described as “the most exquisite vocalist in reggae”  Known as the Cool Ruler.

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