Little Bits of History

August 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 23, 2017

1305: William Wallace dies. Scottish Gaelic would render his name Uileam Uallas and the Norman French would have it as William le Waleys, but regardless of the way his name is given, he was a Scottish knight who became one of the leaders of the Wars of Scottish Independence. There were actually two portions of the wars, with the First War lasting from 1296 to 1328 and ending with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton and then a Second War from 1332 to 1357 which ended with the Treaty of Berwick. In both of these confrontations, Scotland was able to remain an independent state. They were important for a variety of reasons including the introduction of the longbow as a key weapon of medieval times.

Wallace was born into a family of the lesser nobility and little is known of his early life. He grew into an imposing man, said to be very tall and strong. Alexander III was King of Scotland from 1249 until he fell from his horse in 1286. His rule had brought stability and prosperity to his country. His death without a male heir left the country in upheaval and headed toward civil war and with the power gap, their neighbor to the south looked to take control. Instead of permitting the Scottish nobility come to a consensus about their next King, Edward I of England reversed their rulings and called the Lords to his court to stand as plaintiffs. When they refused, Edward began raids on border towns and war began.

Because of Wallace’s great abilities, it is theorized he had previous wartime experience, but none had been found in the record. But with his country in peril, Wallace began his resistance with the assassination of William de Heserig, the English High Sheriff of Lanark in 1297. Wallace then joined William the Hardy, Lord of Douglas and they continued to resist English incursions. On September 11, 1297 Wallace and Andrew Moray joined forces for the surprising Scottish victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. The Scots continued to hold their own against the British invaders and Wallace continued to fight against them. On August 5, 1305, a Scottish knight loyal to Edward I betrayed Wallace and led to his capture.

Wallace was brought to London and stood trial at Westminster Hall. He denied being capable of treason against the crown, for he “could not be a traitor to Edward, for I was never his subject.” He was found guilty anyway and sentenced to death. He was held at the Tower of London and on this day was stripped naked and dragged through the streets at the heels of a horse. Once at the Elms at Smithfield, he was hanged, but before dying he was cut down. He was then emasculated and eviscerated with his bowels burned before him as he watched. He was then beheaded and his body cut into four pieces. His head was tarred and placed on a spike on London Bridge. His body parts were distributed for display in Newcastle, Berwick, Stirling, and Perth.

An independent Scotland – like all countries – will face challenges, and we will have our ups and downs. But the decisions about how we use our wealth will be ours. – Nicola Sturgeon

If you put a frog in boiling water, it’ll jump straight out. If you put it in cold water and gradually bring it to the boil, it’ll sit right there until it dies. Scotland has been sitting in England’s gradually boiling water for so long that many people are used to it. – John Niven

Scotland and England may sometimes be rivals, but by geography, we are also neighbours. By history, allies. By economics, partners. And by fate and fortune, comrades, friends and family. – Douglas Alexander

Without the shepherd’s dog, the whole of the open mountainous land in Scotland would not be worth a sixpence. – James Hogg



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Gothic King and Roman General

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 23, 2015
Roman General Flavius Stilicho confronts Radagaisus

Roman General Flavius Stilicho confronts Radagaisus

August 23, 406: Radagaisus is executed. He was a Gothic king and led an invasion against Roman Italy in late 405 and early 406. He was a committed Pagan and had plans to sacrifice the Christian Senators of the now-Christian Roman Empire to his own gods and to burn Rome to the ground. He led a force of about 20,000 fighting men who were often accompanied by their families and other noncombatants. The overall size of the group led by Radagaisus may have been close to 100,000. Little is known of the Goth king prior to his incursion into Italian territory. It is assumed he was pressured by invading Huns. It is known that he approached Italy via the Balkans and his origins were somewhere on the Great Hungarian Plain west of the Carpathian Mountains.

His forces were met by those led by Flavius Stilicho (sometimes written as Stilico) who was a high ranking general of the Roman army. He was half Vandal and married to the niece of Emperor Theodosius. For a time, he was the most powerful man in the Western Roman Empire due to his many victories against both internal and external enemies. For this battle, he led about 15,000 men from the Italian field army and these were accompanied by a second group of Roman troops which may have been recalled from the frontier. He was aided by help from Gothic foederati (barbarian mercenaries) under Uldin. Alaric I remained outside the conflict due to treaty restrictions.

Radagaisus had besieged Florentia which was on the verge of surrender when Stilicho’s army arrived. The Gothic army retreated to the hills of Fiesole, about 5 miles away and Radagaisus tried to escape, leaving his troops behind. He was captured by the Romans. His attempt to save himself may have been spurred on by an army revolt. After his capture, he was executed on this day. About 12,000 of his higher ranking fighters were drafted into the Roman army. Some of the others were dispersed but most of the remainder of his followers were taken as slaves and with such an influx, the slave market temporarily collapsed.

Many of the men were eventually able to join forces with Alaric I who launched his own attack against Rome in 410. Alaric’s first appearance as a leader came in 391 but he, too, was stopped by Stilicho. Alaric led a force of about 20,000 allied with Eastern Emperor Theodosius to defeat a Frankish usurper in 394 but received little recognition. He continued to campaign in the region of Constantinople and eventually into Greece (Athens). He invaded Italy in 401 and was again defeated by Stilicho. When the great general died in 408, it was possible to move more freely and in 410, Alaric was able to sack Rome. While they plundered the city, they were humane towards the inhabitants and burned only a few buildings. Alaric died later in the year.

Conquest is the missionary of valor, and the hard impact of military virtues beats meanness out of the world. – Walter Bagehot

The right of conquest has no foundation other than the right of the strongest. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. – Joseph Conrad

Wars of conquest are negative, the subjugation and oppression of other nations is negative, economic exploitation is negative, colonial enslavement is negative, and so on. – Josip Broz Tito

Also on this day: The Blue Planet – In 1966, the first pictures came back from the Moon.
Holy God – In 1948, the World Council of Churches was founded.
Fannie Farmer – In 1902, Fannie Farmer opened her own cooking school.
French Wars of Religion – In 1532, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres began.
Stockholm Syndrome – In 1973, a Swedish bank was robbed.

Stockholm Syndrome

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 23, 2014
Hostages held in the vault

Hostages held in the vault

August 23, 1973: Jan-Erik “Janne” Olsson attempts to rob yet another bank. He was on leave from prison when he entered the Kreditbanken at Normalmstorg in central Stockholm, Sweden. Police were immediately called and two officers entered the bank. Olsson opened fire, minimally wounding one of the officers. The second officer was told to sit in a chair and “sing something” and complied. Olsson took four people hostage and demanded his friend, Clark Olofsson, be brought to the bank along with 3 million Kroner, two guns, bulletproof vests, helmets, and a fast car. Olofsson was a repeat offender of armed robberies and other violent crimes with his first arrest at age 16.

Olofsson was brought to the bank to help with police communications. The two criminals barricaded the inner main vault and placed their hostages there. Negotiators granted them the use of a car, but refused to allow any hostages to leave the building. Olsson called the Prime Minister and threatened to kill hostages and grabbed one, causing her to scream as he ended the call. The next day, Olsson again called the PM and had hostage, Kristin Enmark, speak. She was unhappy with the government response, the PM’s attitude, and wanted the criminals and the hostages to be given permission to leave.

On August 26, police drilled a hole in the ceiling and took pictures of the hostages. Olofsson fired his weapon into the hole, wounding another police officer and Olsson threatened to kill hostages if gas was used. On August 28, gas was used and after a half hour, Olsson and Olofsson surrendered without permanently injuring any of the hostages. Both men were charged, convicted, and sentenced for their actions. Olofsson maintained he was simply trying to keep Olsson calm and the hostages sided with him to help get his conviction overturned. The term “Stockholm syndrome” was coined in response to this crime.

Stockholm syndrome is also known as capture-bonding and is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy as well as other positive emotions toward their captors. The FBI’s Hostage Barricade Database System shows that about 8% of victims show some evidence of Stockholm syndrome. The Lima syndrome is the opposite type of behavior wherein the abductors begin to feel kind emotions toward their victims. This is more likely to happen when there are several abductors and one or more of them disagree with the leader and begin to advocate for the better treatment of the hostages. It is named for the abduction at the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru.

There is a thin line between peace of the brave and peace of the hostage… between compromise – even calculated risk – and irresponsibility and capitulation. – Ehud Barak

Freeing hostages is like putting up a stage set, which you do with the captors, agreeing on each piece as you slowly put it together; then you leave an exit through which both the captor and the captive can walk with sincerity and dignity. – Terry Waite

The rise of computer crime and armed robbery has not eliminated the lure of caged cash. – James Chiles

But even before that, in 1980 I went so far as to write a book about what had happened. And I wrote all about the bank robbery, I went ahead and printed it even though I had no use immunity for it. – Patty Hearst

Also on this day: The Blue Planet – In 1966, the first pictures came back from the Moon.
Holy God – In 1948, the World Council of Churches was founded.
Fannie Farmer – In 1902, Fannie Farmer opened her own cooking school.
French Wars of Religion – In 1532, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres begin.

Holy God

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 23, 2013
World Council of Churches logo

World Council of Churches logo

August 23, 1948: The World Council of Churches (WCC) is officially founded. WCC is a worldwide consortium of Christians. The movement’s roots go back to the late 1800s when student and lay movements called for a unified force. The first meeting of the type was held in 1910 in Edinburgh where a world missionary conference was held. In 1920 an encyclical from the Synod of Constantinople called for a “fellowship of churches.” The idea was predicated on the League of Nations but with religion rather than politics as the underlying principle.

Leaders of more than 100 churches voted to begin the WCC in 1937-38. The outbreak of war delayed their organization. International conferences on “faith and order” (tenets, doctrine, rites) as well as “life and work” (social projects, international watchdog, relief work) were the driving forces during the early years. At the close of World War II, participating churches were encouraged to work with refugees, migrants, and the poor. The displaced and disaffected in the aftermath of war needed services and succor.

The WCC holds assemblies every 6-8 years. The first was held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and ran from August 22 through September 4, 1948 with 147 member churches in attendance. The official founding occurred on this date with four sections organized and the theme “Man’s disorder and God’s design” was taken. The first churches were predominantly Western Protestant faiths but the group has expanded to include many Orthodox sects of the East. With the Second Vatican Council, relations improved between the WCC and the Roman Catholic Church, although it is not a member.

The ensuing assemblies have met in the US, India, Sweden, Kenya, Canada, Australia, Zimbabwe, and Brazil – in that order. The last meeting concluded on February 23, 2006 where Archbishop Anastasios of the Albanian Orthodox Church was unanimously elected as one of the Presidents of WCC. Their current theme is “God in your grace, transform the world.” There are currently 349 member churches. Samuel Kobia, a Methodist minister from Kenya, has been General Secretary since 2004, the sixth man to hold the position. He recently announced he will not seek a second term in office and a new General Secretary should be appointed in September.

“Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters.” – Isaac Bashevis Singer

“God made everything out of nothing, but the nothingness shows through.” – Paul Valery

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – C. S. Lewis

“I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.” – Kahlil Gibran

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The World Council of Churches remains intact with 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches included. Collectively, they represent 590 million people in 150 countries. There are 520,000 local congregations served by 493,000 pastors and priests represented by the group. Olav Fykse Tveit from the Church of Norway is the current General Secretary and took that post in 2010. There are seven Presidents from around the globe. Their tenth assembly is scheduled to take place from October 30 to November 8, 2013. It will be held in Busan, Republic of Korea and their theme is “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.” These gatherings provide a public platform as well as the opportunity for the churches to deepen their commitment to unity. Their profession of faith and devotion to study and prayer may inspire others around the world.

Also on this day: The Blue Planet – In 1966, the first pictures came back from the Moon.
Fannie Farmer – In 1902, Fannie Farmer opened her own cooking school.
French Wars of Religion – In 1532, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres begin.

French Wars of Religion

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 23, 2012

St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres (painting by Francois Dubois)

August 23, 1532: The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres begin. The clash began in Coligny and moved outward to Paris. The French Wars of Religion lasted for years – beginning in 1562 and finally coming to an end in 1598. The Protestants (Huguenots, England, and Scotland) were pitched against the Politique (government of France) and the Catholics who were supported by Spain. There were seven waves of hostilities with this being the fourth wave.

Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France. Today, practitioners are simply called French Protestants. They began as followers of John Calvin (1509 – 1564). The three major issues leading up to the St. Bartholomew’s Day event were: First, The Peace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye which ended the third war of religion on August 8, 1570. This war was a Huguenot setback when their prince de Condé was slain. His replacement was Henry III of Navarre who would later become Henry IV. Second, Henry III of Navarre married Margaret of Valois on August 18, 1572. The marriage between the Huguenot prince and Catholic lady was unacceptable to both sides. Third, the final straw was a failed assassination attempt on Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the Huguenot cosigner of the 1570 peace treaty.

Paris was an anti-Huguenot area and when Henry came to be married, he was accompanied by many well-born Protestants. The Catholic Parlement of Paris went so far as to snub the marriage. The Pope did not give his blessing to the union, either. As the wedding festivities, such as the were, ended, Gaspard was shot while out on the streets of Paris. Maurevert, belonging to the Catholic house of Guise, escaped after shooting the Admiral. Gaspard suffered a shattered left elbow as well as losing a finger on his right hand.

The Protestants demanded Justice, the Catholics stonewalled, partly from fear. Coligny’s brother led 4,000 Huguenot troops to Paris. The King opted to order the killing of two to three dozen Protestant leaders still in Paris for the wedding, including Gaspard. The resulting melee and months of war left thousands dead. Rates range from 2,000 to 10,000 killed in this portion of the seven wars. Discontent between the religions remained and was acted upon both in Europe and in the New World.

We had better dispense with the personification of evil, because it leads, all too easily, to the most dangerous kind of war: religious war. – Konrad Lorenz

The chief contribution of Protestantism to human thought is its massive proof that God is a bore. – H. L. Mencken

Christian: One who follows the teachings of Christ insofar as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin. – Ambrose Bierce

Hospitals perform more miracles than churches. – Luree

Also on this day:

The Blue Planet – In 1966, the first pictures came back from the Moon.
Holy God – In 1948, the World Council of Churches was founded.
Fannie Farmer – In 1902, Fannie Farmer opened her own cooking school.

Fannie Farmer

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 23, 2011

Fannie Farmer

August 23, 1902: Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery opens in Boston, Massachusetts. Fannie Merritt Farmer was born in 1857 in Medford, Massachusetts. Her father was an editor and printer and he believed in education for all four of his daughters. Unfortunately, Fannie suffered a stroke while still in high school at the age of 16. The stroke left her unable to walk for several years. She remained at home with her educational plans put on hold. While recuperating, she took up cooking. She turned her mother’s home into a boarding house renowned for fabulous meals.

At the age of 30, she enrolled in the Boston Cooking School. She stayed for two years, studying nutrition, convalescent cooking, sanitation, chemical food analysis, various techniques for cooking and baking, and household management. Fannie was one of the school’s top students and stayed on as the assistant to the director after her studies were completed. In 1891, she became the school’s principal.

Fannie published her best-known book in 1896. The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book used standardized measurements and was a follow-up work to Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book published in 1884 by Mary J. Lincoln. Fannie’s book eventually contained 1,849 recipes as well as household tips for cleaning, food preservation, and nutritional information. The publishers were not sure of sales and would only consent to publish if Fannie herself paid for the first edition of 3,000 books. It sold well. In fact, it is still available today.

In 1902, Fannie left the Boston School and founded her own cooking school. She ran the school, traveled for speaking engagements around the country, and wrote more cookbooks. In 1904, she published a cookbook for foods used to treat various maladies. She was so famous for her nutritional information, she lectured at Harvard Medical School. She spent the last seven years of her life confined to a wheelchair, but it barely slowed her down. Her last lecture was given just ten days before her death. She died at the age of 57 in 1915.

“When we decode a cookbook, every one of us is a practicing chemist. Cooking is really the oldest, most basic application of physical and chemical forces to natural materials.” – Arthur E. Grosser

“The biggest seller is cookbooks and the second is diet books — how not to eat what you’ve just learned how to cook.” – Andy Rooney

“Every year the number of new cookbooks increases, but in spite of them the progress made in this most useful of the arts is not ever overpowering. On the contrary, we must regretfully admit that nowadays people no longer prepare the fine and nourishing dishes that our mothers used to make.” – Anna Dorn, Cookbook Author (1834)

“It is not, in fact, cookery books that we need half so much as cooks really trained to a knowledge of their duties.” – Eliza Acton, ‘Modern Cookery for Private Families’ (1845)

Also on this day:
The Blue Planet – In 1966, the first pictures came back from the Moon.
Holy God – In 1948, the World Council of Churches was founded.

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The Blue Planet

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 24, 2010

August 23, 1966: The first picture of the Earth as seen from the Moon is radioed back from Lunar Orbiter I. The photograph came back from the robotic, unmanned spacecraft showing lunar moonscape in the foreground with a small half disk of Earth in the background – about 236,000 miles distant.

First view of Earth from the Moon

The Lunar Orbiter Program was a series of five unmanned spacecraft operating between August 10, 1966 and August 18, 1967. The purpose of the program was to map the lunar surface in order to find advantageous areas for the Surveyor and Apollo landings. This first mission sent back 42 high resolution and 187 medium resolution photographs, covering 3 million square miles of the moon’s surface.

Lunar Orbiter 2 was launched November 6, 1966 and made 2,346 orbits of the Moon over 339 days. Orbiter 3 was launched the next February 5 and the mission lasted 246 days and made 1,702 orbits. The next mission launched May 4, 1967 with a mission lasting 180 days and making 360 orbits. The last mission, Lunar Orbiter 5 was sent up on August 1 and lasted 183 days orbiting the satellite 1,380 times.

The five spacecraft sent back 2,180 high resolution and 882 medium resolution frames covering 99% of the lunar surface and cost about $200 million. Lunar photography from NASA started on May 9, 1959 from a Vega rocket which sent back 20 photos. Looking for a clear place to land future rockets continued. Eastman Kodak provided the photography equipment to Boeing, the contractor building the spaceships. Kodak had developed a Bimat process that allowed for “dry” processing of film and clearer pictures.

“I believe this nation should commit itself to achieveing the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” John F. Kennedy

“The first year after [President John] Kennedy announced the Apollo program, the NASA budget was doubled,” – Bill Nelson

“They met the challenge. They met it beautifully. The energy that flowed through NASA at that time, the excitement, the adrenaline, it all stemmed from the fact that space had become very crucial to the nation’s reputation and strength in the world.” – Andrew Chaikin

“If we did not have such a thing as an airplane today, we would probably create something the size of N.A.S.A. to make one.” – H. Ross Perot

Also on this day, in 1948 the World Council of Churches is founded.