Fact of the day: 21st September

On this day in 1937 J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was published.

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, is a fantasy novel and children’s book by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. The book remains popular and is recognized as a classic in children’s literature. images (1)

Set in a time “Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men”, The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug.

Bilbo’s journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings into more sinister territory. The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of creature, of Tolkien’s Wilderland.

By accepting the disreputable, romantic, fey and adventurous side of his nature and applying his wits and common sense, Bilbo gains a new level of maturity, competence and wisdom.The story reaches its climax in the Battle of the Five Armies, where many of the characters and creatures from earlier chapters re-emerge to engage in conflict.

Personal growth and forms of heroism are central themes of the story. Along with motifs of warfare, these themes have led critics to view Tolkien’s own experiences during World War I as instrumental in shaping the story. The author’s scholarly knowledge of Germanic philology and interest in fairy tales are often noted as influences.

Encouraged by the book’s critical and financial success, the publisher requested a sequel. As Tolkien’s work on the successor The Lord of the Rings progressed, he made retrospective accommodations for it in The Hobbit.

These few but significant changes were integrated into the second edition. Further editions followed with minor emendations, including those reflecting Tolkien’s changing concept of the world into which Bilbo stumbled. The work has never been out of print. images (2)

Its ongoing legacy encompasses many adaptations for stage, screen, radio, board games and video games. Several of these adaptations have received critical recognition on their own merits.

Fact of the day: 20th September

On this day in 1486 Arthur, Prince of Wales (d. 1502), was born.

Arthur Tudor (20 September 1486 – 2 April 1502) was Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester and Duke of Cornwall as the eldest son and heir apparent of Henry VII of England and his wife, Elizabeth of York—daughter of Edward IV—and his birth thus cemented the union between the House of Tudor and the House of York.

He was their eldest child and was born months after their marriage. Arthur was viewed by contemporaries as the great hope of the newly established House of Tudor, as his birth symbolised the end of the Wars of the Roses, during which his great-uncle Richard III, the final Yorkist king, had died in battle. 00d7ef01b434fe4ac71aac9ea58961d7

Plans for Arthur’s marriage began before his third birthday; he was installed as Prince of Wales two years later. He grew especially close to his siblings Margaret and Henry, Duke of York, with the latter of whom he shared some tutors.

At the age of eleven, Arthur was formally betrothed to Catherine of Aragon, a daughter of the powerful Catholic Monarchs in Spain, in an effort to forge an Anglo-Spanish alliance against France.

Arthur was well educated and, contrary to modern belief, was in good health for the majority of his life. Soon after his marriage to Catherine in 1501, the couple took up residence at Ludlow Castle in Shropshire, where Arthur died six months later of an unknown ailment. Catherine would later firmly state that the marriage had not been consummated.

One year after Arthur’s death, Henry VII renewed his efforts of sealing a marital alliance with Spain by betrothing Catherine to Arthur’s brother Henry, who had by then become Prince of Wales. Arthur’s untimely death paved the way for Henry’s accession as Henry VIII in 1509.

His subsequent reign encompassed the separation between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church and Henry’s quest for a male heir, which endured six marriages.

Fact of the day: 19th September

On this day in 1551 Henry III of France (d. 1589) was born.

Henry III was a monarch of the House of Valois who was elected the monarch of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1573 to 1575 and ruled as King of France from 1574 until his death. He was the last French monarch of the Valois dynasty.

As the fourth son of King Henry II of France and Catherine de’ Medici, Henry was not expected to assume the throne of France. He was thus a good candidate for the vacant Polish-Lithuanian throne, and he was elected with the dual titles King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. download (3)

Henry’s rule over Poland and Lithuania was brief, but notable. The Henrician Articles he signed into law accepting the Polish throne established Poland as an elective monarchy subject to free election by the Polish nobility.

Of his three older brothers, two would live long enough to ascend the French throne, but both died young and without a legitimate male heir. He abandoned Poland upon receiving word that he had inherited the throne of France at the age of 22.

The kingdom of France was at the time plagued by the Wars of Religion, and Henry’s authority was undermined by violent political parties funded by foreign powers: the Catholic League (supported by Spain), the Protestant Huguenots (supported by England) and the Malcontents, led by Henry’s own brother, the Duke of Alençon, which was a party of Catholic and Protestant aristocrats who jointly opposed the absolutist ambitions of the king. Henry III was himself a politique, arguing that a strong and religiously tolerant monarchy would save France from collapse.

After the death of Henry’s younger brother Francis, Duke of Anjou, and when it became apparent that Henry would not produce an heir, the Wars of Religion grew into a succession crisis that resulted in a war known as the War of the Three Henrys.

download (4)Henry III’s legitimate heir was his distant cousin Henry, King of Navarre, a Protestant. The Catholic League, led by Henry I, Duke of Guise, sought to exclude Protestants from the succession and championed the Catholic Charles, Cardinal of Bourbon, as Henry III’s heir.

In 1589, Jacques Clément, a Catholic fanatic, murdered Henry III, who was succeeded by the King of Navarre who, as Henry IV, would assume the throne of France after converting to Catholicism, and become the first French king of the House of Bourbon.

Fact of the day: 18th September

On this day in 1180 Philip Augustus became king of France.

Philip II, called Philip Augustus was a Capetian King of France who reigned from 1180 to 1223, and the first to be called by that title.

His predecessors had been known as kings of the Franks but from 1190 onward Philip styled himself king of France.

After a twelve years struggle with the Plantagenet dynasty, Philip broke up the great Angevin Empire and defeated a coalition of his rivals (German, Flemish and English) at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214. download (2)

This victory would have a lasting impact on western European politics: the authority of the French king became unchallenged, while the English king was forced by his barons to sign the Magna Carta and faced a rebellion in which Philip intervened.

Philip did not directly participate in the Albigensian Crusade, but he allowed his vassals and knights to carry it out, preparing the subsequent expansion of France southward.

He checked the power of the nobles and helped the towns to free themselves from seigniorial authority, granting privileges and liberties to the emergent Bourgeoisie. He built a great wall around Paris, reorganized the government and brought financial stability to the country.

Philip Augustus transformed France from a small feudal state into the most prosperous and powerful country in Europe. He died in 1223 and was succeeded by his son, Louis VIII.

Knowing his own declining health would inevitably decrease his political strength, he was the first Capetian king not to have his eldest son anointed to act as co-ruler during his lifetime; instead his son acted as sole king.

Fact of the day: 17th September

On this day in 1630, the city of Boston, Massachusetts was founded.

In 1629, the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s first governor, John Winthrop, led the signing of the Cambridge Agreement, a key founding document of the city.

Puritan ethics and their focus on education influenced its early history; America’s first public school was founded in Boston in 1635.

One of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston was founded on the Shawmut Peninsula in 1630 by Puritan colonists from England.

It was the scene of several key events of the American Revolution, such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Siege of Boston.

Upon American independence from Great Britain, the city continued to be an important port and manufacturing hub, as well as a center for education and culture. download (1)

Through land reclamation and municipal annexation, Boston has expanded beyond the original peninsula. Its rich history helps attract many tourists, with Faneuil Hall alone attracting over 20 million visitors.

Boston was the largest town in British North America until Philadelphia grew larger in the mid-18th century.

Boston’s many “firsts” include the United States’ first public school (1635), and first subway system (1897).

Fact of the day: 16th September

On this day in 1701 James Francis Edward Stuart, sometimes called the “Old Pretender”, became the Jacobite claimant to the thrones of England and Scotland.

James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales was the English son of the soon-to-be-deposed James II of England (James VII of Scotland).

As such, he claimed the English, Scottish and Irish thrones (as James III of England and Ireland and James VIII of Scotland) from the death of his father in 1701, when he was recognised as king of England, Scotland and Ireland by his cousin Louis XIV of France. download

Following his death in 1766 he was succeeded by his son Charles Edward Stuart in the Jacobite Succession. Had his father not been deposed, there would have been only two monarchs during his lifetime; his father and himself.

In reality there were six; the last three Stuarts and the first three Hanoverians. Although the ruling Protestant Stuarts died out with his half-sister, Queen Anne, the last remaining Stuarts were James and his sons, and their endeavours to reclaim the throne whilst remaining devoted to their Catholic faith is remembered in history as Jacobitism.

Moving on…

For those of you don’t know, I recently got out of a seven year relationship. A relationship, that in all honesty, had been over for a very long time. We were no longer in love with each other and stayed together, because it was easier than admitting the truth.

I’m not the type of person who dwells on this sort of thing. I was incredibly upset when it happened. I was wreck. And If I’d still been in love with him, I’d probably still be a wreck now.  images (4)

Only I wasn’t. And, I’m perfectly happy moving on. But this seems to have divided my friends.

I have one friend who has always moved on quickly and admits that. But then I have another friend who thinks that I need to be single and have fun because I was in a relationship for so long.

I’m asking you guys what do you think? If it was you, what would you do?

I understand the whole ‘learn to love yourself’ and to enjoy your own company and, how it’s important to know yourself, before you embark on a relationship. I really do. But for everyone who knows me; I am who I am. I’ve not really changed since I was fifteen. I am comfortable being alone and, spending time by myself – I actually look forward to having an empty house!

I know people think that I’ve never been single as an adult, this is the time I need to take to enjoy myself. Now that would be great, if it weren’t for the fact that all my friends are either married or have boyfriends. Who am I suppose to enjoy being single with?? images (5)

I feel like I’ve been left in an awkward position. No matter how long I wait, the next person I am with will be labelled as the ‘rebound guy,’ (a notion that I don’t believe in, might I add). But If I wait too long, the right person for me might walk on by.

Life’s not easy. And moving on seems to get more and more complicated the older you get.