england

The beginning of the Norman conquest of England. September 27, 1066.

Since 1050, William had been the pretender to the English throne, at the time in the hands of his cousin, Edward the Confessor, who had no descendants. However, he was not the only one to claim the English throne. His most powerful rival was an English count, Harold Godwinson, who was appointed successor by the Edward himself on his deathbed in 1066. William argued that Edward had promised the throne to him earlier, and that Harold had sworn support. Because of this “betrayal”, the Norman duke activated a military intervention. He prepared a great fleet that set sail from the mouth of the Somme River, and on September 27, 1066, one of the most powerful armies ever seen landed on Pevensey, in the south of England and defeated Harold´s army in the Battle of Hastings on October 14. Harold had...

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...

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. June 28, 1519.

Charles I of Spain was also Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire.  He was known as the “Emperor” or the “Caesar”. As Charles I, he first reigned together with his mother, Joanna I of Castille, until 1555, and was king of all the Hispanic reigns and territories, reuniting for the first time in the same person the crowns of Castille (including the kingdom of Navarre) and Aragon. He became Holy Roman Emperor under the name of Charles V on June 28, 1519. As a child, Charles received a humanist and Christian education from the Flemish court. He received through diverse inheritances a huge compound of territories and acquired the imperial election in 1519 (disputed by Francis I of France). Charles set out, with the help of his counsellors, how he could use this immense power. His major concerns be...

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 Battle of Towton. March 29, 1461

The Battle of Towton took place on March 29, 1461 in the city of Towton, Yorkshire, during the English Wars of Roses. It is now considered by historiographers the biggest and bloodiest battle in English territory with Yorkist victory. Edward had advanced from the west to the outskirts of London, where he joined his forces with Warwick´s. This coincided with the withdrawal of Queen Margaret to the north to Dunstable, and so, Edward and Warwick entered London with their army, where they were greeted with enthusiasm, money and supplies by most people in the city, that were Yorkists. With his brother and father both dead in battle, war was by that time a pure dispute for the crown, as Edward of York could no longer argue that he wanted to free his father from his “bad advisors”. The need for E...

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 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 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 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 Coronation of Bloody Mary. October 1, 1553.

Mary I, also known as Mary Tudor, was the queen of England from July 1553 until her death. She is best known for her vigorous attempt to reverse the English Reformation, which had begun during the reign of her father, Henry VIII. Her attempt to restore to the Church the property confiscated in the previous two reigns was largely thwarted by parliament, but during her five-year reign, Mary had over 280 religious dissenters burned at the stake in the Marian persecutions, which led to her denunciation as “Bloody Mary” by her Protestant opponents. Mary was the only child of Henry VIII by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to survive to adulthood. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded their father in 1547 at the age of nine. When Edward became mortally ill in 1553, he att...

The Battle of Pinkie. September 10, 1547.

The Battle of Pinkie, also known as the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, took place on 10 September 1547 on the banks of the River Esk near Musselburgh, Scotland. The last pitched battle between Scotland and England before the Union of the Crowns, it was part of the conflict known as the Rough Wooing and is considered to have been the first modern battle in the British Isles. It was a catastrophic defeat for Scotland, where it became known as “Black Saturday“. A highly detailed and illustrated English account of the battle and campaign authored by an eyewitness William Patten was published in London as propaganda four months after the battle. In the last years of his reign, King Henry VIII of England tried to secure an alliance with Scotland by the marriage of the infant Mary, Queen of...

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