Little Bits of History

June 13

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 13, 2017

1381: The Savoy Palace is destroyed. The palace was built on the Strand, the road leading from crowded, fetid, turbulent London to Westminster and the royal abode. It runs parallel to the Thames and makes access to the waterway possible while upriver of the city’s pollution which was rampant in the Middle Ages. While there were many palaces built in London in the Middle Ages, in 1246 King Henry III granted some land to his wife’s uncle, the Count of Savoy and gave him the title of Earl of Richmond. The house built there eventually came into the possession of Edmund, Earl of Lancaster and his descendants who would become the Dukes of Lancaster, resided there. By the 14th century, the house was the residence of John of Gaunt, the younger son of King Edward III.

John was the power broker of the nation. He had his father’s power bolstered by the wealth of his wife’s family, the Lancasters. John was the richest man in the kingdom and his house was the most magnificent in all the lands. He had collections of tapestries, jewels, and other art. Wat (Walter) Tyler led a Peasants’ Revolt (aka Wat Tyler’s Revolt) beginning on May 30, 1381 until it was successfully suppressed by November of that year.  The peasants had suffered greatly during the Black Plague decades before. The Hundred Years’ War was in progress and needed funding and the tax base lessened with the death of so many workers. A poll tax, a per person tax issued across the board, was the last straw. When an official came to Essex to collect the tax, the populace took up arms in protest.

Some rebels, led by Tyler and John Ball, eventually made their way to London. King Richard II, then 14 years old, fled to the Tower of London for safety. Most of the royal forces were overseas, due to war efforts. On this day, the rebels broke into the jails and released the prisoners and were joined in their advance by townspeople. They attacked Savoy Palace and destroyed everything within it. What couldn’t be burned or smashed, was thrown into the Thames. They blamed John of Gaunt for the introduction of the poll tax. He survived this assault on his property and flourished.

Wat Tyler did not have the same luck. His refusal to pay the 12 pence per adult tax (regardless of wealth or status) was just part of his discontent with the government. He wished for the unpaid labor of serfdom to be discontinued and wanted all to be able to choose career paths and bosses. Richard II met with rebels on June 14 and agreed to some concessions and full pardons upon dispersal. Tyler refused to accept the proposal and on June 15, he and his Kentish followers met with the King, insulted him, and then got into a fight with courtiers. Tyler tried to stab the Mayor of London while being arrested. Although stabbed in the fight, Tyler attempted to escape and only made it a few yards before he fell from his horse. He was decapitated the following day and his head displayed on London Bridge. All concessions were revoked and the entire uprising fell within months.

Masses are always breeding grounds of psychic epidemics. – Carl Jung

Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda. – Hannah Arendt

The mob is the mother of tyrants. – Diogenes

What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by an assassin’s bullet. No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled or uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people. – Robert Kennedy


Unhappy Unbirthday

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 13, 2015
Trooping the Colour

Trooping the Colour

June 13, 1981: Marcus Sarjeant takes a potshot at the Queen. Trooping the Colour is a yearly ceremony where regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies parade before the Crown on his/her official birthday. On this date, Queen Elizabeth II was to witness this event (her actual birthday is in April). Since 1748, Trooping the Colour has been a opportunity for the Royal Family, invited guests, ticketholders, and the general public to celebrate the sovereign’s birth regardless of when the Royal person was born. A date in late May or early June is selected so there is a better chance of good weather. The Queen traveled down The Mall from Buckingham Palace in a royal procession and after receiving the royal salute, she inspected the troops.

Sarjeant was from Kent and was a member of the Scouts. He became a local patrol leader and in 1978 left home to join the Air Training Corps. While there, he won a marksman badge. He left school in May 1980 with seven CSE (Certificate of Secondary Education) passes – academic qualification awards first issued in 1965. He briefly joined the Royal Marines but was unable to tolerate their discipline and left after just three months. He next applied to the Army but stayed for only two days before calling it quits and leaving before even finishing the induction course. He applied to the police and fire service and was not accepted at either post. He worked at a zoo and then at an arts center back near his home in Folkestone, Kent.

In October 1980, Sarjeant joined the Anti Royalist Movement. On this date, he was unemployed and living with his mother (his father was working abroad). His father owned a .455 Webley revolver. He tried to get both bullets and a license to operate the gun; both were unsuccessful. He joined a local gun club and spent £66.90 for two blank-firing replica Python revolvers. Before the Trooping of the Colours, he sent letters to two different magazines as well as one to Buckingham Palace and in the latter, he warned the Queen of an upcoming assassination attempt. The letter did not arrive until June 16. On this day, he found a spot near the junction between The Mall and Horseguards Avenue, and when Elizabeth rode past (she was seated on her horse), he fired six shots at her.

The horse was startled but the Queen was able to quickly control it; she was unharmed. Two Scots Guards, a police sergeant, and an emergency care worker subdued Sarjeant. The parade continued without further incident. Sarjeant claimed to have been inspired by the assassination of John Lennon and attempts on President Reagan and Pope John Paul II’s lives. He was looking for fame and had not intended to kill the queen. He was found to be mentally competent and tried under the Treason Act 1842. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years imprisonment. He was released after three years when he was 20. He changed his name and has lived quietly since.

I wanted to be famous. I wanted to be a somebody. – Marcus Simon Sarjeant, as he was subdued

Your Majesty. Don’t go to the Trooping the Colour ceremony because there is an assassin set up to kill you, waiting just outside the palace. – Marcus Simon Sarjeant, letter to Buckingham Palace

I am going to stun and mystify the world. I will become the most famous teenager in the world. – Marcus Simon Sarjeant

The public sense of outrage must be marked. You must be punished for the wicked thing you did. – Lord Chief Justice, Lord Lane, on sentencing

Also on this day: You Have the Right – In 1966, the US Supreme Court decided Miranda v Arizona.
Diamonds Are Forever – In 1955, the Mir Mine was discovered.
Hic, Pause, Hic – In 1922, Charles Osborne got a case of hiccups.
Crushed – In 1881, the USS Jeanette sunk in the polar ice.
Mysterious Ludwig II of Bavaria – In 1886, Ludwig died.

Mysterious Ludwig II of Bavaria

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 13, 2014
Ludwig II of Bavaria

Ludwig II of Bavaria

June 13, 1886: King Ludwig II of Bavaria dies mysteriously. Ludwig became King in 1864 at the age of 18. His father, Maximilian II was ill for three days before suddenly dying and leaving his elder son the throne. The young man was ill-prepared for rule, but his youth and good looks made him popular with the ruled. He continued the state policies his father had set in motion and kept the ministers his father had selected. Ludwig’s real interests were in art, music, and architecture. He disliked large public functions and avoided formal events which made ruling Bavaria difficult. He was also loathe to marry and leave an heir. He was engaged, but broke it off. Diaries left behind indicate strong homosexual leanings which were ignored in honor of his religion, Catholicism.

Two years after ascending the throne, the Austro-Prussian War broke out and Ludwig sided with Austria. Prussia won the war and Bavaria came under Prussian control. In 1870, the Franco-Prussian War ended with Prussian victory again and Bismarck moved to complete the Unification of Germany. Bavaria came into the German Empire and was no longer an independent kingdom. Ludwig maintained some autonomy in this situation but lacked a true country to rule. He continued to build lavishly, using his own funds and running himself into poverty. He built himself several castles and decorated them lavishly. Even so, Bavaria suffered fallout from the King’s expenditures. By 1885, Ludwig was 14 million marks in debt. The cabinet was against the King and before Ludwig could fire them, they sought to depose the king.

Conspirators met between January and March 1886 and charges and counter-charges were filed. A panel of psychologists led by Dr. Berhnard von Gudden declared the King to be paranoid and unfit to rule. On June 10, 1886, the King found out he was to be deposed and placed in custody. He was taken to Berg Castle. On this day, the King and von Gudden left the castle to go for a walk in the parkland. No others came with them. When they did not return, a party went out in search of the two men. It was storming out with gale winds and heavy rain when both men were found with their upper bodies out of the water, but legs submerged in the lake. The king’s watch had stopped at 6:54. He was said to be free of any trauma although von Gudden had been assaulted.

The cause of death to the 40-year-old king remains unknown. There is speculation that the king’s enemies assassinated him while he attempted to escape Berg. A loyal man was forbidden to discuss what he had seen, but after his death notes hinted that the king had been shot despite an autopsy report of no foul play. There was also a theory of drowning, but that same autopsy report found no water in the king’s lungs. It is possible that the king died of natural causes as he attempted to escape. The water was only 54⁰ F and he may have suffered a heart attack or stroke while in the cold water. A small memorial chapel was built overlooking the site of his death and each year on this day, there is a remembrance ceremony held.

A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. – Charles Dickens

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery. – Anais Nin

One may say the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility. – Albert Einstein

We have to stop and be humble enough to understand that there is something called mystery. – Paulo Coelho

Also on this day: You Have the Right – In 1966, the US Supreme Court decides Miranda v Arizona.
Diamonds Are Forever – In 1955, the Mir Mine was discovered.
Hic, Pause, Hic – In 1922, Charles Osborne got a case of hiccups.
Crushed – In 1881, the USS Jeanette sunk in the polar ice.

Diamonds Are Forever

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 13, 2013
Mir Mine

Mir Mine

June 13, 1955: The Mir Mine – a diamond mine near Mirny, Eastern Siberia – is discovered. Geologists Yuri Khabardin, Ekarterina Elagina, and V. Avdeenko were part of the large Amakinsky Expedition in Yukat, ASSR (Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic). This region of the USSR was found to contain the first diamond mines in Russia. The mine was worked for almost 50 years, closing on April 30, 2004.

The open pit diamond mine produced 2 million carats annually. Kimberlite, or igneous rock best known for containing diamonds, was open mined leaving a large empty pit behind. The pit itself is 1,725 feet deep with a diameter of 3,950 feet. Giant industrial yellow trucks with 200-220 ton payloads brought ore to the surface, driving along a spiral road carved into the sloping side of the pit. The trip from bottom to top took 1.5 to 2 hours.

The huge pit lies just outside the city of Mirny. Helicopters are forbidden to fly over the scar in the earth as downdrafts have been known to suck them in. With the mine closed, there is nothing left but a huge hole. Today, the Udachnaya pipe, discovered two days after Mir, is still in operation. It is more than 1,975 feet deep and controlled by Alrosa. The open pit method of mining is scheduled to be abandoned by 2010 in favor of an underground technique.

Diamonds aren’t the only commodity gathered by open pit methods. Many building materials are obtained in this way and the pits are then called quarries. Strip mining is also open pit. Metal ores such as copper, iron, gold, and molybdenum are mined in this fashion. There are remarkably huge mines on every continent. Open pit mines occur where the valuable material lies close to the surface and mining usually continues until the seam is exhausted or the cost of bringing the commodity to the surface outweighs the benefit. Rehabilitation of the pits can be brought about by using them for landfills for solid wastes. Water control must be maintained to keep the pit from becoming a lake.

“I never hated a man enough to give him his diamonds back.” – Zsa Zsa Gabor

“Proverbs are mental gems gathered in the diamond districts of the mind.” – William R. Alger

“I’m Jewish. I don’t work out. If God had wanted us to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the floor.” – Joan Rivers

“Diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs.” – Malcolm S. Forbes

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The Udachnaya pipe remains a viable diamond mine operated by Alrosa. The name itself means “lucky pipe”. They did shift to underground mining in 2010 due to prohibitive cost of bringing up the diamonds from the world’s third deepest pit. The Bingham Canyon Mine, a copper mine located in northwestern Utah, is over 0.6 miles (3,168 feet) deep and 2.5 miles wide. It covers 1,900 acres and remains in operation under Rio Tinto Group, headquartered in the UK. The second deepest open pit mine is located in Chile and is also a copper mine. Chuquicamata is 2,790 feet deep. It, too, remains in operation under Codelco, a Chilean state enterprise.

Also on this day: You Have the Right – In 1966, the US Supreme Court decides Miranda v Arizona.
Hic, Pause, Hic – In 1922, Charles Osborne got a case of hiccups.
Crushed – In 1881, the USS Jeanette sunk in the polar ice.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 13, 2012

Drawing of the USS Jeannette

June 13, 1881: The USS Jeannette sinks after being crushed by ice. The ship was originally a gunboat for the Royal Navy and called HMS Pandora. She was first sold in 1875 to Sir Allan Young for use in arctic voyages. James Gordon Bennett, Jr. urged the US government to finance and run an arctic expeditionary voyage. In March 1878, the US government authorized the trip to the arctic and put Lt. George W. DeLong in charge. DeLong and Bennet went to Europe in search of a ship. The Pandora was sold to Bennett who renamed her.

The ship was then sailed by DeLong from Le Harve, France to San Francisco. Once there, the Jeannette was refitted with upgrades including a massively reinforced hull to survive in the arctic ice pack. The ship, while privately owned, was sailed as a naval expedition under their rules and regulations. There were 30 military personnel and three civilians aboard. All the latest equipment had been installed by the time the ship sailed from San Francisco on July 8, 1879.

Jeannette’s last communication came on August 27, 1889 as she left St. Lawrence Bay, Siberia. The ship sailed farther north and passed through the Bering Strait and into the Chukchi Sea. Soon after entering the vast sea, she was caught in the ice pack near Wrangel Island. For the next 21 months the ship drifted closer and closer to her goal as the ice pack moved her along in the freezing waters. The crew kept meticulous records of their scientific experiments as well as meteorological and astronomical observations. Finally the weight of the ice against the hull was too much and on this day, the ship sunk. The crew had offloaded their supplies on to the ice pack and they began their arduous journey back.

The 33 men hauled their supplies using sledges and three small boats. On September 12, they entered the waters and set sail, hoping to reach the mainland. A storm blew in and destroyed one of the three boats. Eight men were lost. DeLong and Chief Engineer George W. Melville piloted the other two boats through the storm successfully although they were separated. They both made landfall, but distant from each other. DeLong’s crew trudged overland for help and all but two of them died in the attempt. Melville was luckier and found locals to assist him. Thirteen men survived the trek and returned with valuable scientific information. The remains of the ship were eventually found on the coast of Greenland, leading to the theory of the constant motion of the polar ice.

The fact that the Arctic, more than any other populated region of the world, requires the collaboration of so many disciplines and points of view to be understood at all, is a benefit rather than a burden. – Bruce Jackson

Even in our day, science suspects beyond the Polar seas, at the very circle of the Arctic Pole, the existence of a sea which never freezes and a continent which is ever green. – H. P. Blavatsky (lived in the late nineteenth century)

There is a cheap literature that speaks to us of the need of escape. It is true that when we travel we are in search of distance. But distance is not to be found. It melts away. And escape has never led anywhere. The moment a man finds that he must play the races, go the Arctic, or make war in order to feel himself alive, that man has begin to spin the strands that bind him to other men and to the world. But what wretched strands! A civilization that is really strong fills man to the brim, though he never stir. What are we worth when motionless, is the question. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Dullness is so much stronger than genius because there is so much more of it, and it is better organized and more naturally cohesive. So the arctic volcano can do nothing against arctic ice. – Samuel Butler

Also on this day:

You Have the Right – In 1966, the US Supreme Court decides Miranda v Arizona.
Diamonds Are Forever – In 1955, the Mir Mine was discovered.
Hic, Pause, Hic – In 1922, Charles Osborne got a case of hiccups.

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Hic, Pause, Hic

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 13, 2011

Anatomy of a hiccup

June 13, 1922: Charles Osborne gets a case of the hiccups. Charles was a farmer inIowaand while weighing a hog, he started to hiccup – and continued to do so for another 68 years. He finally stopped in 1990, 11 months before he died. Early on, he was hiccupping at a rate of 40 times a minute which eventually slowed to about 20 times. Over the years it is estimated that he hiccupped 430 million times. He managed to live a normal life; he married twice and had eight children.

A hiccup or hiccough is an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm, the muscle that stretches along the bottom of the rib cage separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. As the diaphragm spasms, air rushes in and the space between the vocal cords close, resulting in a “hic” sound being produced.

Hiccups can be caused by a variety of things. The most common are intake related. Eating too much too quickly or eating too hot and spicy food can cause the problem. Drinking too much alcohol can also produce hiccups. Swallowing too much air either on purpose or while eating and drinking can bring on the condition. A rapid change in the temperature of the stomach – drinking something hot like coffee and then something cold like ice water – can also cause a case. Smoking and stress or excitement are other causes.

Usually hiccups go away by themselves in a matter of minutes. However, if they last more than 48 hours, they are called persistent hiccups. If they last more than a month, they are called intractable and usually there is a more serious underlying cause. Most cures for hiccups are based on interrupting normal breathing and raising the level of carbon dioxide in the blood. Holding your breath, breathing into a paper bag, drinking water while upside down – all these may work. Being scared, shocked, or frightened might work. If hiccups are intractable, medical intervention may include medication with sedatives, gastrointestinal stimulants, or anti-spasmodic. Treating the underlying medical condition is helpful. There is now available an implant that can be used to stimulate the vagus nerve.

“An inability to stay quiet is one of the most conspicuous failings of mankind.” – Walter Bagehot

“Nowadays most men lead lives of noisy desperation.” – James Thurber

“Everybody should have his personal sounds to listen for – sounds that will make him exhilarated and alive or quite and calm. One of the greatest sounds of them all – and to me it is a sound – is utter, complete silence.” – Andre Kostelanetz

“Silence is the secret to sanity.” – Astrid Alauda

Also on this day:
You Have the Right – In 1966, the US Supreme Court decides Miranda v Arizona.
Diamonds Are Forever – In 1955, the Mir Mine was discovered.

You Have the Right

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 13, 2010

The requisite Miranda Warning (in English)

June 13, 1966: The US Supreme Court decides Miranda v. Arizona which was argued from February 28 – March 1 in a 5-4 decision. The court held that criminal suspects must be informed of their rights 1) to counsel; and 2)against self-incrimination, prior to police questioning. Both inculpatory (evidence leading towards guilt) and exculpatory (evidence leading toward innocence) statements would be admissible at trial only if the defendant were first advised of his/her protected rights.

Ernesto Miranda was 22 years old when arrested for robbery, kidnapping, and rape. He confessed to police and the confession was the only evidence offered at a trial in which Miranda was found guilty and sentenced to 20-30 years in prison. Miranda’s lawyer, Alvin Moore, took the case to Arizona Supreme Court which upheld the decision.

After reaching the US Supreme Court, Chief Justice Warren stated that the nature of police interrogation with the likelihood of coercion made these confessions inadmissible under the Fifth Amendment which protects against self-incrimination, among other things. Miranda was retried with witnesses and other evidence, found guilty again and served 11 years.

The Miranda warning tells suspects that they 1) may remain silent; 2) anything said is considered as evidence; 3) there can be a lawyer present; and 4) if the accused can’t afford a lawyer, one will be provided. Some states later added questions regarding the understanding of the rights and while knowing one’s rights, did the suspect wish to talk. The ruling has been tested and modified over time and it is not a necessary part of law enforcement if the “public safety” is at risk. Studies had shown 3-4% of criminal suspects would have been fully prosecuted but for the fact they were not read their rights as they were arrested. It has also been argued before the Supreme Court the rights are not written as part of the US Constitution. They Court said the reading of Miranda rights has become part of our culture whether or not it is part of the Constitution.

“You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you at no cost. During any questioning, you may decide at any time to exercise these rights, not answer any questions, or make any statements.” – Example of Miranda rights

[The police] invent more than they discover.” – Napoleon

“Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects.” – from Casablanca

“One of the biggest lies in the world is that crime doesn’t pay. Of course, crime pays.” – G. Gordon Liddy

Also on this day, in 1955 the Mir Mine was discovered.

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