Italy

Galba Emperor. June 8, 68 AD.

Servius Sulpicius Galba was Roman Emperor from June 8, 68 until his death. He was the first of the four emperors that reigned during 69, known as “the year of the four emperors“. He had an outstanding political career: he was consul in 33, governor of Germania in 45, and proconsul of Africa in 46. In 45, he was sent by Caligula to Germania to replace Gaetulicus, of whom the emperor had grown suspicious. Galba achieved his reputation by developing efficient military policies and imposing strict discipline among his men. During his reign in Germania, he repelled barbarian invasions that had taken Gaul. Caligula was so happy with Galba´s achievements that he rewarded generously the troops under his command. In the turmoil after Caligula´s death, Galba declined taking the throne, e...

The Stoning of Petronius Maximus. May 31, 455.

His birthdate is unclear, being his origins quite obscure, but it is widely believed that the late Roman Emperor, Petronius Maximus, belonged to the illustrious Anicius family. He developed his senatorial career during the reigns of Honorius and Valentinian III and was praetor in the first stage of his career in 411. Around 415, he served as tribunus et notarius, an entry position to the Imperial bureaucracy, which would take him to the position of comes sacrarum largitionum between 416 and 419, as well as urban prefect between 419 and 433. In 433, he was elected consul, and from 439 to 441 held the praetorian prefecture of Italy. By the time he obtained the title of patrician in 445, he had become the Roman with most honors outside the Imperial circle. According to John of Antioch, Valent...

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...

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 Battle of Trebia. December 18, 218 BC.

The Second Punic War (218–201 BC) was the second war fought between Carthage and Rome, the two main powers of the Mediterranean in the 3rd century BC. For 17 years, the two powers struggled for supremacy, first in Italy and Iberia, but also in Sicily and Sardinia and, facing the end of the war, in North Africa. After immense losses on both sides, the Carthaginians were defeated. Macedonia, Syracuse and several Numidian kingdoms were drawn into the war; and Iberian and Gallic forces fought on both sides. There were three main military scenaries during the war: Italy, where the Carthaginian general Hannibal defeated the Roman legions repeatedly, with occasional subsidiary campaigns in Sicily, Sardinia and Greece; Iberia, where Hasdrubal, a younger brother of Hannibal, defended the Carthagini...

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...

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...

The Sacrifice of Stamira. September 1, 1173.

Emperor Frederick Barbarossa bore a long-standing grudge to Ancona, one of the Italian Maritime Republics, for its assertion of independence. Ancona had already stubbornly and successfully resisted an earlier attempt of Imperial occupation in 1167. Moreover, to counterbalance the power of the Holy Roman Empire, the Anconitans made a voluntary submission to the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos, and the Byzantines maintained representatives in the city. In the later part of May 1173 the Imperial forces, commanded by Christian von Buch, Archbishop of Mainz, laid siege to Ancona. In preparation for this step, the imperial troops had previously requested and obtained the naval alliance of the Republic of Venice. Despite the ongoing conflict between the Empire and the Italian cities associate...

Mount Vesuvius on the feast of Vulcan. August 23, 79 AD.

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Oplontis and Stabiae, as well as several other settlements. The eruption ejected a cloud of stones, ashes and volcanic gases to a height of 33 km (21 mi), erupting molten rock and pulverized pumice and ultimately releasing 100,000 times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings. More than 1,000 people died in the eruption, but exact numbers are unknown. The only surviving eyewitness account of the event consists of two letters by Pliny the Younger to the historian Tacitus. On August 23, Mount Vesuvius begins stirring, on the feast day of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. The Vulcanalia was the annual festival held August 23 in his honor. His Greek counterpart is Hephaestus, the god...

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