History Talking: Series 1

BL MS Royal 4 E.iii, fol.146r
Lancelot in conversation with a lady who is holding a small black and white dog. British Library MS. Royal 4 E.iii, fol. 146r.

History Talking: Series 1

Presented by Dr Ruth Salter, produced by Dr Richard Blakemore.

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25th December 1914: Christmas Day on board HMS Talbot

by Dr Ruth Salter [1]

Great-grandad in uniform 1

My great-grandfather, Arthur John Pidgeon

I know that it’s not 25th of December today, but what could be more fitting for the final blog post of the series, and for the final entry taken from my great-grandfather, Arthur John Pidgeon’s W/T Signal Log than his Christmas Day’s log?

If you’ve missed the other two blog posts with extracts from Arthur’s Log, see the first entry, and the second entry.

 

 

 

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23rd December 1888: The Van Gogh story everyone wants to hear…

by Donna Yamani

van gogh 2

Vincent Van Gogh, Self Portrait With A Bandaged Ear, 1889

On the night before Christmas Eve in 1888 — a cold Sunday evening in the French city of Arles — Vincent Van Gogh took the razor he kept on his small dressing table and slashed off his left earlobe.

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20th December 1699: A new ‘New Year’

by Dr Andy Willimott

Delaroched, Peter I the Great, 1838

Paul Delaroche, Peter I the Great, 1838 (via Wikimedia)

Peter the Great’s reign was marked by an overriding desire to enforce reform on Russia, dragging it kicking and screaming in to line with many European practices. On 20 December 1699 (according to the Julian Calendar), he even introduced a decree that caused consternation among the Russian court and Orthodox Church. Until that point Russia had observed Byzantine practice, following a calendar dated from the notional birth of Adam and marking the New Year on 1 September. According to this calendar the year was 7207.

 

 

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19th December 1154: Henry II and the Hand of St James

by Dr Ruth Salter

King Henry II of England. British Library, MS. Royal 14 B.vi, membrane 6

Henry II of England. British Library, MS. Royal 14 B.vi, membrane 6

836 years ago, on a day much like this (possibly), Henry II was crowned at Westminster Abbey.  His predecessor (and uncle), Stephen, had died just under two months earlier, much of his reign having been taken up by ‘The Anarchy’ – a civil war of succession following the death of Henry I between Stephen and his cousin Matilda (Henry II’s mum).

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16th December 1631: Vesuvius erupts again

by Prof Paul Davies

Everyone knows the story of Mount Vesuvius and its destruction of Pompeii (79 CE), which remained hidden from the world until its rediscovery in the eighteenth century. Far less familiar is the volcano’s later eruption of 1631, even though it was just as catastrophic, and may well have resulted in a higher death toll. At least 3,360 people perished, and some estimates put the number as high as 6000. Several villages were completely destroyed including Bosco, Torre dell’ Annunziata, Torre del Greco and Granatello, as well as Ercolano, the ancient Herculaneum – known as Resina in the seventeenth century – which suffered a second time. Indeed, the list of casualties might have been higher still, had it not been for a rescue mission conducted three days later to save stranded villagers. Here below is an account of the beginning of the tragedy written by an eyewitness, Giulio Cesare Braccini, and translated from his book Dell’Incendio fattosi nel Vesuvio a 16 dicembre 1631, Naples 1632 (p. 28 ff.)

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