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The Consecration of Westminster Abbey. December 28, 1065.

Before either pagan temple or Christian church was erected on it, the site of Westminster Abbey was a place of marsh and forest. From its dense bushes of thorn derived its ancient name of Thorn Ey (the Island of Thorns). According to monastic tradition, the earliest building on the Isle of Thorns was the Roman temple of Apollo, destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 154. King Edward I the Confessor was ultra-religious with a special devotion to Saint Peter. Before he acceeded the throne, he had vowed that he would make a pilgrimage to the apostle‘s tomb in Rome, and soon after his coronation he announced his intention of keeping his oath. The Great Council was afraid of the dangers of the journey and a deputation was therefore sent to Leo IX to persuade him to release Edward from his vow...

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...

Aqua Traiana. Fresh water to a new Rome. June 24, 109 AD.

On June 24, 109, Emperor Trajan opened the Aqua Traiana aqueduct, channelling fresh spring water from sources around Lake Bracciano to Rome, the bustling capital of his empire. The vast structure traversed the countryside to the Janiculum Hill, where it was used as bathing and drinking water for the locals, and also to power a series of water mills for industrial purposes like processing grain and sawing stone. The springs around Lake Bracciano, about 25 miles northwest of Rome, were an important water source for the Ancient Etruscans. Around the year 100, Trajan started the construction of a nymphaeum at the site—a monument consecrated to the nymphs, young water goddesses—as well as the Aqua Traiana, which has survived up to the present day. Trajan recorded many of his achievements in ima...

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