31 January, 2007

Scots sell Charles I to English Parliament for 40 pounds, 30th January 1647

Scots sell Charles I to English Parliament for 40 pounds, 30th January 1647.

Charles I had entrusted himself to the The Scottish Presbyterian army at Newark after escaping from the siege of Oxford in April 1646. He was kept under guard at Southwell while the Scots decided what to do with him. Eventually Charles was delivered to the Parliamentary forces later in 1647; it was a further two years before his eventual execution in January 1649.

Some important medieval ransoms (with Wikipedia links for more details):

The most famous monarch held for a King's Ransom was of course Richard I (the Lionheart), held to ransom 1192-1194 held by Henry of the Holy Roman Empire. His mother Eleanor of Aquitaine worked to raise the 150,000 marks demanded (around 100,000 pounds, maybe two to five times the annual Crown income at the time, depending on which account you read), by heavy taxes on the church and people. These taxes could be up to a quarter value of property owned, but it was worth it to get rid of nasty King John.

Bertrand du Guesclin, brilliant 14th century French soldier during the Hundred Years War, was captured by the English at Auray in 1364. Charles V of France paid his ransom, but he was captured again whilst commanding French mercenaries against Peter the Cruel of Castille (who had enlisted the help of Edward the Black Prince of England). Du Guesclin had the last laugh against the English as in subsequent campaigns he re-captured sizeable chunks of French territory for the home side. He died on a campaign in the south in 1380.

A little later on, James I of Scotland, held to ransom 1406-1424 by Henrys IV and V of England, was treated as a royal guest. James married the Earl of Somerset's daughter before his return to Scotland, where he reigned until 1437; although he pushed through many good reforms in Scotland , he made enemies and unfortunately James was assassinated aged 43.

Reader suggestions on further historical ransoms welcome...

17 January, 2007

Pilgrims in Boston Spot a UFO. Today in History, 1639

The first UFO sighting in the U.S.A may have taken place on 18th January in 1639 (and again in 1644), when Pilgrims saw "A Great Light in the Night" in Boston.

Here is an extract from an article by Christopher Pittman from 2000, which is based on a book by John Winthrop, 'The History of New England, 1630-1639'.

"One night in March of 1639*, James Everell ("a sober, discreet man"- Winthrop) and two companions boarded a little boat and set out for a trip on the Muddy River in Boston. They had been moving downstream for about a mile when the night's mysterious events began. The three men were suddenly confronted with the appearance of a huge, bright light hovering in the sky. The light "flamed up" as it hovered and appeared to be about "three yards square." As they watched, the light "contracted into the figure of a swine" and moved "swift as an arrow" in the direction of Charlton. For two or three hours, the unidentified light moved back and forth in the sky between Everell's location and Charlton. When the light finally disappeared, the men noticed to their dismay that they had somehow been carried against the tide back to the place where they had started their trip! Governor Winthrop noted, "Divers[e] other credible persons saw the same light, after, about the same place." Some witnesses said the light was occasionally seen shooting out flames and sparks, and indeed, two UFOs matching that description were again seen in Boston in 1644."