Fact of the Day: 30th April

On this day in 1513 Edmund de la Pole, Yorkist pretender to the English throne, was executed on the orders of Henry VIII.

After the death of his older brother, Edmund became the leading Yorkist claimant to the throne. Nevertheless, he succeeded to the title Duke of Suffolk in 1491, though in 1493 Edmund’s title was demoted to the rank of Earl. He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Richard Scrope.

wgr13

In 1501 the headstrong Edmund fled the Kingdom of England with the help of Sir James Tyrrell, who was subsequently executed for these actions. Edmund sought the help of Maximilian I, the Holy Roman Emperor.

In 1502 Maximillian agreed to a treaty not to back de la Pole should he make an attempt on the throne of England. In 1506, Maximilian’s son, Philip of Burgundy, was blown off course while sailing, and reluctantly and unexpectedly became a guest of Henry VII.

helmet

Needing to set sail again in order to claim his wife’s inheritance (Castile), he was persuaded by Henry to hand over the Earl of Suffolk. Henry agreed to the proviso that Suffolk would not be harmed and restricted himself to imprisoning the Earl. The next king, Henry VIII, did not feel bound to this agreement and had Suffolk executed in 1513.

Montaigne, in his “Essays”, said that Henry VII, in his will, instructed his son to put Suffolk to death immediately after his own decease, and he criticisd Henry for requiring that his son do what he himself would not do.

Fact of the day: 29th April

On this day in 1429 Joan of Arc arrived to relieve the Siege of Orleans.

The Siege of Orléans (1428–1429) marked a turning point in the Hundred Years’ War between France and England.

This was Joan of Arc’s first major military victory and the first major French success to follow the crushing defeat at Agincourt in 1415.

download (23)

The outset of this siege marked the pinnacle of English power during the later stages of the war. The city held strategic and symbolic significance to both sides of the conflict.

The consensus among contemporaries was that the English regent, John Plantagenet, would succeed in realizing Henry V’s dream of conquering all of France if Orléans fell.

For half a year the English appeared to be winning, but the siege collapsed nine days after Joan’s arrival.

Fact of the day: April 28th

On this day in 1442 Edward IV of England (d. 1483) was born.

Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death in 1483. He was the first Yorkist King of England.

The first half of his rule was marred by the violence associated with the Wars of the Roses, but he overcame the Lancastrian challenge to the throne at Tewkesbury in 1471 to reign in peace until his sudden death.

Before becoming king he was 4th Duke of York, 7th Earl of March, 5th Earl of Cambridge and 9th Earl of Ulster. He was also the 65th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

Henry VIII

An extremely capable and daring military commander, Edward destroyed the House of Lancaster in a series of spectacular military victories; he was never defeated on the field of battle.

Despite his occasional (if serious) political setbacks — usually at the hands of his great Machiavellian rival, Louis XI of France — Edward was a popular and very able king.

While he lacked foresight and was at times cursed by bad judgement, he possessed an uncanny understanding of his most useful subjects, and the vast majority of those who served him remained unwaveringly loyal until his death.

Fact of the day: 27th April

On this day in 1737 Edward Gibbon was born.

Edward Gibbon (8 May 1737[1] – 16 January 1794) was an English historian and Member of Parliament. His most important work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788. The Decline and Fall is known for the quality and irony of its prose, its use of primary sources, and its open criticism of organised religion.

Edward_Gibbon_by_Henry_Walton_cleaned

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was published on 17 February 1776. Through 1777, the reading public eagerly consumed three editions for which Gibbon was rewarded handsomely: two-thirds of the profits amounting to approximately £1,000.[24] Biographer Leslie Stephen wrote that thereafter, “His fame was as rapid as it has been lasting.” And as regards this first volume, “Some warm praise from David Hume overpaid the labour of ten years.”

Volumes II and III appeared on 1 March 1781, eventually rising “to a level with the previous volume in general esteem.” Volume IV was finished in June 1784; the final two were completed during a second Lausanne sojourn (September 1783 to August 1787) where Gibbon reunited with his friend Deyverdun in leisurely comfort. By early 1787, he was “straining for the goal” and with great relief the project was finished in June.

220px-Blue_Plaque_-_Edward_Gibbon

It was on the day, or rather the night, of 27 June 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last lines of the last page in a summer-house in my garden. … I will not dissemble the first emotions of joy on the recovery of my freedom, and perhaps the establishment of my fame. But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind by the idea that I had taken my everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion, and that, whatsoever might be the future date of my history, the life of the historian must be short and precarious.

Volumes IV, V, and VI finally reached the press in May 1788, their publication having been delayed since March so it could coincide with a dinner party celebrating Gibbon’s 51st birthday (the 8th). Mounting a bandwagon of praise for the later volumes were such contemporary luminaries as Adam Smith, William Robertson, Adam Ferguson, Lord Camden, and Horace Walpole. Smith remarked that Gibbon’s triumph had positioned him “at the very head of [Europe’s] literary tribe.”

gibbon_edward_the_history_of_the_decline_and_fall_of_the_roman_empire_d5351344h

Fact of the day: 26th April

On this day in 1933 the Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, was established.

f2b7c37b053f8d753bdc6b4cea22a131.image.431x550

The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe. Hermann Göring formed the unit in 1933. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of SS national leader, Heinrich Himmler who in 1936 was appointed Chief of German Police (Chef der Deutschen Polizei) by Hitler.

In 1936, Himmler made it a suboffice of the Sicherheitspolizei  (“Security Police”). Then from 27 September 1939 forward, it was administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt  (“Reich Main Security Office”) and was considered a sister organization of the Sicherheitsdienst  (“Security Service”). According to historian Rupert Butler, “From its creation in 1933 until its death in May 1945, anyone living in Nazi controlled territory lived in fear of a visit from the Gestapo…”

HitlerAddressesRallyAtDortmund1933

Fact of the day: 25th April

On this day in 1847 the last survivors of the Donner Party are out of the wilderness.

The Donner Party was a group of American pioneers who set out for California in a wagon train. Delayed by a series of mishaps, they spent the winter of 1846–47 snowbound in the Sierra Nevada.

Some of the emigrants resorted to cannibalism to survive, eating those who had succumbed to starvation and sickness.

images (7)

The journey west usually took between four and six months, but the Donner Party was slowed by following a new route called Hastings Cutoff, which crossed Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and Great Salt Lake Desert.

The rugged terrain, and difficulties encountered while traveling along the Humboldt River in present-day Nevada, resulted in the loss of many cattle and wagons, and splits within the group.

By the beginning of November 1846 the emigrants had reached the Sierra Nevada, where they became trapped by an early, heavy snowfall near Truckee (now Donner) Lake, high in the mountains.

download (22)

Their food supplies ran low, and in mid-December some of the group set out on foot to obtain help. Rescuers from California attempted to reach the emigrants, but the first relief party did not arrive until the middle of February 1847, almost four months after the wagon train became trapped. Of the 87 members of the party, 48 survived to reach California.

Historians have described the episode as one of the most spectacular tragedies in Californian history and in the record of western migration.

Fact of the day: April 24th

On this day in 1953 Winston Churchill was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, the British leader who guided Great Britain and the Allies through the crisis of World War II, is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

In July 1945, 10 weeks after Germany’s defeat, his Conservative government suffered an electoral loss against Clement Attlee’s Labour Party, and Churchill resigned as prime minister.

download (21)

He became leader of the opposition and in 1951 was again elected prime minister. Two years later, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for his six-volume historical study of World War II and for his political speeches; Queen Elizabeth II also knighted him.

In 1955, he retired as prime minister but remained in Parliament until 1964, the year before his death.