27 February, 2007

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

According to Historyorb.com, on 26th February 1616 the Spanish Inquisition delivered an injunction to Galileo.

The Galileo entry on Wikipedia reveals that 'this was an order not to "hold or defend" the idea that the Earth moves and the Sun stands still at the centre'.

Anyway, a good excuse to print some of Cardinal Wolsey's favourite lines from Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition sketch:

Ximinez (Michael Palin):
NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!
Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise....
Our two weapons are fear and surprise... and ruthless efficiency....
Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...
and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope....
Our four... no...
Amongst our weapons... Amongst our weaponry...
are such elements as fear, surprise...
I'll come in again.

Here's a link to the sketch on YouTube

24 February, 2007

Commute with Napoleon

A plug for the continuing entertaining podcast on the life of Napoleon by Cameron Reilly (who asks the questions) and David Markham (who supplies the answers).....ideal for listening on the way to work.
Get Napoleon 101 via ITunes or direct from Podcast Network.

20 February, 2007

John Wilkes thrown out of the Commons for lewd "Essay on Women", 21st February 1764

John Wilkes (unflattering etching by Hogarth on right) was thrown out of the Commons in February 1764 for his lewd "Essay on Women"; today in history 2/21.

John Wilkes was an important radical politician in 18th century England, whose ugly features did not prevent him successfully chasing women whilst at the same time championing the cause of Liberty, to the annoyance of George III and his government.

Here's an extract from an entertaining book review by Geoffrey Robertson in the Times Online from March 2006:

Lord Sandwich (famous for declining to rise from his gaming table for lunch, ordering instead “two slices of bread with something in between”) read the poem to the House, declaring that:
“. . . life can little more supply Than just a few good f***s and then we die.”
[sorry , had to censor this! - CW]
This was a golden moment in the history of British hypocrisy. Sandwich faltered, but their lordships shouted “Go on, go on” before condemning Wilkes for publishing an obscene and blasphemous libel. Wilkes had the last laugh — to Sandwich’s suggestion that he would die either by hanging or the pox, he famously quipped: “That depends on whether I embrace your lordship’s principles or your mistress.”

Wilkes was regarded as a hero of Liberty in the United States, and John Wilkes Booth , assassin of Abraham Lincoln, was indeed named after him.
More on John Wilkes from Wikipedia .

14 February, 2007

Kissing Banned in England (again)

Seeing as it's St. Valentine's day and Cardinal Wolsey may be urgently required in the bedchamber, here's a quick link to an appropriate previous post from 1439!

11 February, 2007

New template

Cardinal Wolsey's Today in History now looks a little different - I have adopted a new Blogger template, which includes indexing via labels. It will take a while to add labels to all previous posts, but once done this will provide easier navigation around the blog!

Alexander Selkirk, inspiration for "Robinson Crusoe", rescued from Fernandez Island. Today in history, 1709

On 12th February 1709 Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor, was rescued from Fernandez Island after 4 1/2 years as a castaway. He was probably the inspiration for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, first published in 1719.
Wikipedia has an entry on Selkirk. His ship, the privateer Cinque Ports, was not wrecked, but Selkirk suspected it was unseaworthy and would not last the rest of the voyage (he was right).
At first afraid of the wild beasts that might inhabit the interior of the island, he initially stayed near the beach but was pestered by mating sea lions. Further inland he found wild goats and other food, and was able to build shelter using carpenters' tools he had brought ashore from his ship.
After avoiding detection by two Spanish ships (they did not like privateers and would probably have strung him up , or worse), he was eventually rescued by another privateer, the Duke.
Those of a certain age like myself will recall the haunting main theme to the mid-1960s TV show Robinson Crusoe, compulsory viewing at the time with his adventures enthusiastically recreated in the garden the next day.
The good news is that you can still get the soundtrack album on Amazon, or Youtube...does this bring back any memories?