europe

The Great Famine. August 10, 315.

The Great Famine of 1315 to 1317 is the historical name given to  a catastrophic event that took place in the across northern Europe and Italy. The famine created a secular crisis known as the Crisis of the 14th century. Between 1310 and 1330, Europe experienced a long period of bad weather, with extreme temperatures in winter and cold and floods in summer. The combination of a global climate change and a population at historically unprecedented levels (which had been growing exponentially for several centuries) made the situation extremely dire. Even the slightest changes in the harvest could mean massive starvation. The famine occurred because of crop failure, the consequence of the bad weather that started in the spring of 1315, reaching its peak during the winter of 1315-1316, and last...

The Storming of the Bastille. July 14, 1789.

The Storming of the Bastille took place in Paris on July 14, 1789. Although the medieval fortress only guarded seven prisoners, its fall into the hands of the Parisian revolutionaries symbolized the end of the Ancien Régime, and was a flashpoint of the French Revolution. The surrender of the prison as a symbol of the monarchy´s power and despotism, sent shockwaves not only across France, but also throughout the rest of Europe, echoing as far as Russia. The importance of the Storming of the Bastille was not all that relevant, and its symbolic value overblown as the main representation of the fall of the monarchy´s absolutist power. Over time, the story took on legendary proportions over what really took place. It wasn´t an act as strategically or politically important as presented by romant...

The Fifth Crusade. May 27, 1217.

The Fifth Crusade (1217-1221) consisted of a series of military actions initiated by Western Europe in order to recover Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land, by first trying to conquer Cairo under the control of the Ayyubids. Pope Innocent III and his successor, Honorius III, summoned the crusaders, led by the forces of Andrew II of Hungary and Duke Leopold VI of Austria. They tried to attack Jerusalem, but ultimately left the city in Muslim hands. In 1218 two armies, one led by Oliver of Cologne from Germany, and another by William I of Holland, composed of Flemish, Dutch and Frisian soldiers, joined the Crusade. They allied forces with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum in order to attack Damietta (Egypt). The Seljuks launched an attack on the Ayyubids in Syria, trying to free the crusaders ...

February 1, 1851. Mary Shelley.

  Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, better known by her husband´s surname, Mary Shelley, was a British writer, mostly remembered for being the author of the Gothic novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus (1818), which is actually considered to be the first modern science-fiction novel, starting the genre. She also published and promoted Percy Bysshe Shelley´s works, romantic poet and philosopher, as well as her husband. Both her father and her mother were reputed philosophers and politicians, her mother being also a famous feminist activist that unfortunately died after giving birth of puerperal fever. She received from her father, William Godwin, an education that urged her to join liberal politics, and gave her to read her mother´s memoirs and books, that incremented Mary´s devotion t...

Christmas, the Birth of the New Man. December 25.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. Paul the Apostle had a view of the birth of Jesus as a major cosmic event which brought a “new man” who  would undo the damage caused by the fall of the first man, Adam. The Pauline perspective puts an emphasis in the birth of a new man and a new world with the birth of Jesus Christ. The first source stating December 25 as the date of birth of Jesus was Hippolytus of Rome, one of the most important early Christian theologians, assuming that the conception of Jesus took place at the Spring equinox, on March 25, and then added nine months. There is historical evidence that by the middle of the 4th century the Christian churches of...

The Monroe Doctrine. December 2, 1823.

The U.S. government feared the victorious European powers that emerged from the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815) would revive monarchical government. France had already agreed to restore the Spanish monarchy in exchange for Cuba. As the revolutionary Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) ended, Prussia, Austria, and Russia formed the Holy Alliance to defend monarchism. In particular, the Holy Alliance authorized military incursions to re-establish Bourbon rule over Spain and its colonies, which were establishing their independence. The Monroe Doctrine was a United States policy that opposed European colonialism in the Americas. It argued that any intervention in the politics of the Americas by foreign powers was a potentially hostile act against the United States. It began in 1823; however, the term &...

The Elizabethan Era Begins. November 17, 1558.

The Elizabethan era is the epoch in the Tudor period of the history of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603). Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history. The symbol of Britannia (a female personification of Great Britain) was first used in 1572, and often thereafter, to mark the Elizabethan age as a renaissance that inspired national pride through classical ideals and international expansion. This “golden age” represented the apogee of the English Renaissance and saw the flowering of poetry, music and literature. The era is most famous for its theatre, as William Shakespeare and many others composed plays that broke free of England’s past style of theatre. It was an age of exploration and expansion abroad, while back at home, the P...

St. Brice´s Day Massacre. November 13, 1002.

The St Brice’s Day massacre is a little known event in English History. The crowning moment in a reign that earned King Aethelred the nickname Aethelred the Unready (or ill advised), took place on 13th November 1002 and resulted in widespread violence, upheaval and invasion. Repeated Viking raids had savaged the lands of England since the first attack in 792 AD. The attack on the monastery at Lindisfarne, one of the holiest places in England, marked the Vikings out as warriors who feared nobody, not even the wrath of God. To Christian England, they seemed fearsome and some believed they were sent as a punishment from God. Their more earthly intentions soon became apparent as they stripped the northern cities of gold and precious objects, and began to take land and settle. By the time the G...

Mozart´s Linz Symphony. November 4, 1783.

Born in Salzburg, in the Holy Roman Empire, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in Vienna, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35. The circumstances of his death have been much mythologized. He composed more than 600...

The Death of Servet. October 27, 1553.

Michael Servetus, also known as Miguel Servet, was a Spanish theologian, physician, cartographer, and Renaissance humanist. He was the first European to correctly describe the function of pulmonary circulation, as discussed in his book Christianismi Restitutio (1553). He was a polymath versed in many sciences: mathematics, astronomy and meteorology, geography, human anatomy, medicine and pharmacology, as well as jurisprudence, translation, poetry and the scholarly study of the Bible in its original languages. When Juan de Quintana, an imperial theologian became Confessor to the Habsburg emperor Charles V, Servetus joined him in the imperial retinue as his secretary. Servetus travelled through Italy and Germany, and attended Charles‘ coronation as Holy Roman Emperor in Bologna. He was...

The First Parachute Jump. October 22, 1797.

By the dawn of the 19th century, ballooning had become a staple of popular culture. No féte or celebration was complete without at least one ascent. Aeronauts, both male and female, rose majestically from pleasure grounds and gardens all over Europe. Tivoli Gardens in Paris, was one of the most popular spots for this entertainment and soon became the playground of the “flying” Garnerin family. Andre-Jacques Garnerin was the greatest French aeronaut to follow J.P. Blanchard, and during his aerostatic career he was accompanied and abetted by his wife Jeanne-Genevieve (the first woman parachutist, 1798) and niece Elisa (who learned to fly balloons at age 15 and became the first professional parachutist, making 39 parachute descents from 1815 to 1836). Garnerin had made his first balloon ascen...

The Columbus Day. October 12, 1492.

Columbus Day is a national holiday in many countries of the Americas and elsewhere which officially celebrates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus‘s arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer on behalf of Spain, who set sail across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a faster route to the Far East only to land at the New World. His first voyage to the New World on the Spanish ships Santa María, Niña, and La Pinta took approximately three months. Columbus and his crew’s arrival to the New World initiated the Columbian Exchange, also known as the Columbian interchange, named after Christopher Columbus. It was the widespread transfer of plants, animals, culture, human populations, technology, and ideas between the Americas, West Afric...

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