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The Grito de Dolores. September 16, 1810.

The Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores) is considered to be the act that triggered the Mexican Independence War. According to Mexican tradition, a priest called Manuel Hidalgo y Costilla, together with Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldama, called his parishioners to rise up against “New Spain”. There is no documentation of who all the participants or direct witnesses were in the first hours of the independentist movement. The only thing we can be sure about is that in the morning of September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla summoned the people of Pueblo de Dolores and its surroundings by ringing the bells of the Parish of Pueblo de Dolores, today called Dolores Hidalgo, in Guanajuato. According to tradition, on the night of the 15th to the 16th of September, Hidalgo and other leaders of the r...

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 Battle of La Rochelle. June 22, 1372.

The Battle of La Rochelle took place on June 22, 1372 between the Castilian fleet and the English fleet along the coast of the city of La Rochelle, France. This battle was the first phase of what would lead to the siege of La Rochelle by the French, when terrestrial and naval forces of France and Castille took the city that had been in English hands. In 1369, Charles V of France broke the Treaty of Brétigny, therefore renewing hostilities of the Hundred Years War after a nine-year respite. In great measure, the King of France took this decision counting on the support of Henry II of Castille, who had a powerful army that made the offense more likely to be successful. The French king, following his strategy to take English strongholds, e intensified his blockade over La Rochelle, the key po...

The Burning of Edinburgh. May 5, 1544.

The so-called Rough Wooing Wars developed in two conflict periods: the first from 1543 to 1546 and the second from 1547 to 1550, between England and Scotland, in the context of the Scottish Independence wars. Although there were many reasons for the wars, including Henry VIII´s attempt to put an end to the Auld Alliance, a treaty signed in 1295 between Scotland and France, the trigger for the war was by the end of 1543 the Scottish Parliament rejected the Greenwich Treaty, through which the English king tried to unite both crowns by marrying his son, the Prince of Wales  and future king Edward VI, to the future queen of Scotland, Mary I, a newborn at the date of the treaty. The English army started a series of invasions to Scottish territory during that decade, starting with the Sacking of...

The Charge of the Mamelukes. May 2, 1808.

After signing the Fontainebleau Treaty on October 27, 1807, French troops entered Spain on their way to Portugal, and Madrid was occupied by Marshal Murat´s troops by March 23 1808. On the next day Ferdinand VII made his triumphal entrance in the city together with his father, Charles IV, who had been forced to abdicate. Both kings were compelled to go to Bayonne to meet Napoleon, where the Bayonne abdications took place, making Joseph Bonaparte, the emperor´s brother effectively king of Spain. Just before his departure to Bayonne, Ferdinand VII had constituted a Governing Board in Madrid. The truth was that the board was a puppet in the hands of Murat, a simple spectator to the facts that were to come. On April 27 Murat requested (supposedly in the name of Charles IV) to move Charles´s so...

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...

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 Battle of Berezina. November 27, 1812.

As the surviving masses of the Grande Armée struggled on for the perceived safety of the west, the Russian armies closed in on them. The French had suffered a defeat just two weeks earlier during the Battle of Krasnoi. However, reinforcements who had been stationed near the Berezina during Napoleon’s initial advance through Russia brought the numerical strength of the Grande Armée back up to some 30,000 to 40,000 French soldiers capable of fighting, as well as 40,000 non-combatants. The Russians had approximately 61,000 troops at the Berezina, with another 54,000 under Kutuzov just 40 miles (64 km) to the east who were approaching the river. Napoleon’s plan was to cross the Berezina River and head for Poland, while his enemies wanted to trap him there and destroy him. The origi...

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...

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...

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