April 1, 1392 April Fool
Today in History » European History
by Cape Cod Curmudgeon
2M ago
In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, “March 32” of 1392 is the day the wily fox tricked the vain cock Chanticleer. The fox appealed to the rooster’s vanity and insisted he would love to hear the cock crow, just as his amazing father had. Standing on tiptoe with neck outstretched and eyes closed, the rooster obliged  with unfortunate, if not unpredictable results. April Fools.  The ancient Roman festival of Hilaria held on March 25, may be a precursor. The Medieval Feast of Fools, held December 28, remains to this day a time in which pranks are played in Spanish-speaking countries. In 1582 ..read more
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March 18, 37 Little Boots
Today in History » European History
by Cape Cod Curmudgeon
1y ago
Around the year 14 or 15, the youngest son of the Roman war hero Germanicus found himself growing up around the Legions. As a boy of just two or three, little Gaius Caesar accompanied his father on campaigns in the north of Germania. Centurions were amused to see him dressed in miniature soldier’s uniform, including the boots, the “Caligae”, and the segmented Roman armor – the “lorica segmentata”. Soldiers of the Legions called him “Little Boots”, “Caligula” in Latin, after the little soldier’s boots the boy liked to wear in camp. The future dictator was said to hate the nickname, but it stuck ..read more
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August 16, 1346 A Feudal State
Today in History » European History
by Cape Cod Curmudgeon
1y ago
From the time of Charlemagne, the social and political structure of Middle Ages European society revolved around a set of reciprocal obligations between a warrior nobility supporting and in turn being supported by, a hierarchy of vassals and fiefs. This was Feudalism, a system in which the King granted portions of land called “fiefs” to Lords and Barons in exchange for loyalty, and to Knights (vassals) in exchange for military service. Knights were a professional warrior class,  dependent upon the nobility for lodging, food, armor, weapons, horses and money. The entire edifice was bo ..read more
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August 24, 79 Vesuvius
Today in History » European History
by Cape Cod Curmudgeon
1y ago
On February 5 in the year AD 62, an earthquake estimated at 7.5 on the Richter scale shook the Bay of Naples, spawning a tsunami and leveling much of the coastal Italian towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum and surrounding communities. Though massively damaged, the region around Mt. Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples was a favorite vacation destination for the upper crust of Roman society, with crowds of tourists and slaves adding to some ten to twenty thousand townspeople crowding the city’s bath houses, artisan shops, taverns and brothels. Reconstruction began almost immediately and continued for the ..read more
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August 4, 1697 Drinking the Stars
Today in History » European History
by Cape Cod Curmudgeon
2y ago
Wines were near-universally red in medieval and renaissance Europe and almost always, still.  The in-bottle refermentation that gives “sparkling” wine its ‘fizz’ was a problem for winemakers.  Fermentable sugars were frequently left over when weather began to cool in the fall, particularly with the white grape varietals.  Refermentation would set in with the warm spring weather, converting bottles into literal time bombs.  Corks would pop out and wine would spoil.  Sometimes the whole batch would explode, one pressurized bottle going off in sympathetic detonation with ..read more
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August 3, 1914 Apocalypse
Today in History » European History
by Cape Cod Curmudgeon
2y ago
In 1869, Germany had yet to come into its own as an independent nation. Forty-five years later she was one of the Great Powers, of Europe. Alarmed by the aggressive growth of her historic adversary, the French government had by that time increased compulsory military service from two years to three, in an effort to offset the German’s military of a much larger population. Joseph Caillaux was a left wing politician, once Prime Minister of France and, by 1913, a cabinet minister under the more conservative administration of French President Raymond Poincare. Never too discreet with his personal ..read more
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July 31, 1917 Passchendaele
Today in History » European History
by Cape Cod Curmudgeon
2y ago
The “War to end all Wars” exploded across the European continent in the summer of 1914, devolving into the stalemate of trench warfare, by October. The ‘Great War’ became Total War, the following year.  1915 saw the first use of asphyxiating gas, first at Bolimow in Poland, and later (and more famously) near the Belgian village of Ypres.  Ottoman deportation of its Armenian minority led to the systematic extermination of an ethnic minority, resulting in the death of ¾ of an estimated 2 million Armenians living in the Empire at that time. For the first time and far from the last an un ..read more
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June 9, 721 Odo the Great
Today in History » European History
by Cape Cod Curmudgeon
2y ago
In AD732, a Frankish military force led by Charles Martel, the illegitimate son of Pippin II of Herstal, met a vastly superior invading army of the Umayyad Caliphate, led by Abd Ar-Rahman al Ghafiqi. The Islamic Caliphate had recently defeated two of the most powerful militaries of the era.  The Sassanid empire in modern day Iran had been destroyed altogether, as was the greater part of the Byzantine Empire including Armenia, North Africa and Syria. As the Caliphate grew in strength, European civilization faced a period of reduced trade, declining population and political disintegration ..read more
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July 25, 1944 Doodlebug
Today in History » European History
by Cape Cod Curmudgeon
2y ago
In the early morning hours of June 13, 1944, a member of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) spotted a bright yellow glow in the early morning darkness. The sentry was on the lookout for such a sight and immediately informed his superiors. The code word, “diver”. The yellow glow went out within moments and plummeted to the earth, landing in the village of Swanscombe, some 20 miles east of the Tower of London. Other such devices were soon falling from the sky with terrible exclusive force. Cuckfield, West Sussex, London and Sevenoaks, in Kent. This time only six people died in a place called Bethna ..read more
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June 24, 1535 The Cages of Münster
Today in History » European History
by Cape Cod Curmudgeon
2y ago
A popular legend depicts the Augustinian monk Martin Luther nailing a parchment to the door of the Wittenberg Palace Church in 1517, his “ninety five theses” a direct challenge to the authority of the pope, and the Catholic church. It likely never happened that way. Luther had no intention of confronting the Church. Subsequent events would harden Luther’s attitudes toward the Church but for now, this was but ninety-five propositions, framed and submitted for scholarly debate. Luther enclosed his “ninety five theses” in a letter to the Archbishop of Mainz on October 31, the date now regarded as ..read more
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