Fact of the day: 31st July

On this day in 1451 Jacques Cœur was arrested by order of Charles VII of France.

In February 1450 Agnès Sorel, the King’s mistress, suddenly died. Eighteen months later it was rumoured that she had been poisoned, and a lady of the court who owed money to Jacques Cœur, Jeanne de Vendôme, wife of François de Montberon, and an Italian, Jacques Colonna, formally accused him of having poisoned her.

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There was no pretext for such a charge, but for this and other alleged crimes the King, on 31 July 1451, gave orders for his arrest and for the seizure of his goods, reserving for himself a large sum of money for the war in Guienne.

Commissioners extraordinary, the merchant’s declared enemies, were chosen to conduct the trial and an inquiry began, the judges in which were either the prisoner’s debtors or the holders of his forfeited estates.

He was accused of having paid French gold and ingots to the infidels, of coining light money, of kidnapping oarsmen for his galleys, of sending back a Christian slave who had taken sanctuary on board one of his ships, and of committing frauds and exactions in Languedoc to the King’s prejudice. He defended himself with all the energy of his nature.

His innocence was manifest but a conviction was necessary, and in spite of strenuous efforts on the part of his friends, after twenty-two months of confinement in five prisons, he was condemned to do public penance for his fault, to pay the King a sum equal to about 1,000,000 at today’s value, and to remain a prisoner till full satisfaction had been obtained. His sentence also included confiscation of all his property, and exile during His Majesty’s pleasure.

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On 5 June 1453 the sentence took effect. At Poitiers, the shame of making honourable amends was accomplished and for nearly three years nothing is known of him. It is probable that he remained in prison. It is certain that his vast possessions were distributed among the intimates of Charles.

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Fact of the day: 30th July

On this day in 1818 Emily Brontë, English author and poet, was born.

Emily Brontë remains a mysterious figure and a challenge to biographers because information about her is sparse, due to her solitary and reclusive nature.

She does not seem to have made any friends outside her family.

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Her sister Charlotte remains the primary source of information about her, although as Emily’s elder sister, writing publicly about her shortly after her death, Charlotte is not a neutral witness.

Emily’s unsociability and extremely shy nature has subsequently been reported many times.

According to Norma Crandall, her “warm, human aspect” was “usually revealed only in her love of nature and of animals”.

In a similar description, Literary news (1883) states: “[Emily] loved the solemn moors, she loved all wild, free creatures and things”, and critics attest that her love of the moors is manifest in Wuthering Heights.

Over the years, Emily’s love of nature has been the subject of many anecdotes. A newspaper dated December 31, 1899, gives the folksy account that “with bird and beast [Emily] had the most intimate relations, and from her walks she often came with fledgling or young rabbit in hand, talking softly to it, quite sure, too, that it understood.”

Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights was first published in London in 1847, appearing as the first two volumes of a three-volume set that included Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey.

The authors were printed as being Ellis and Acton Bell; Emily’s real name didn’t appear until 1850, when it was printed on the title page of an edited commercial edition. The novel’s innovative structure somewhat puzzled critics.

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Wuthering Heights’s violence and passion led the Victorian public and many early reviewers to think that it had been written by a man.

According to Juliet Gardiner, “the vivid sexual passion and power of its language and imagery impressed bewildered and appalled reviewers.”

Even though it received mixed reviews when it first came out, and was often condemned for its portrayal of amoral passion, the book subsequently became an English literary classic.

Fact of the day: 29th July

On this day in 1567 James VI was crowned King of Scotland at Stirling.

He succeeded to the Scottish throne at the age of thirteen months, after his mother Mary, Queen of Scots, was compelled to abdicate in his favour.

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Four different regents governed during his minority, which ended officially in 1578, though he did not gain full control of his government until 1583. In 1603, he succeeded the last Tudor monarch of England and Ireland, Elizabeth I, who died without issue.

He continued to reign in all three kingdoms for 22 years, a period known as the Jacobean era after him, until his death in 1625 at the age of 58.

After the Union of the Crowns, he based himself in England from 1603, only returning to Scotland once in 1617, and styled himself “King of Great Britain and Ireland”.

He was a major advocate of a single parliament for both England and Scotland. In his reign, the Plantation of Ulster and British colonisation of the Americas began.

At 57 years and 246 days, his reign in Scotland was longer than any of his predecessors.

He achieved most of his aims in Scotland but faced great difficulties in England, including the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and repeated conflicts with the English Parliament.

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Under James, the “Golden Age” of Elizabethan literature and drama continued, with writers such as William Shakespeare, John Donne, Ben Jonson, and Sir Francis Bacon contributing to a flourishing literary culture.

Since the latter half of the 20th century, historians have tended to revise James’s reputation and treat him as a serious and thoughtful monarch.

Distance

I may not really be around for a while. I’ve had a really tough week and a lot of things have happened, so I’m just feeling the need to live the hermit life a little bit, ya know?

I plan on finally finishing season five of Breaking Bad and doing a lot of reading and spending time withe people who are important to me.

We all go through times like this. And right now, for me, everything really sucks and I just need to be alone.

So if I don’t post anything for a while, it’s not because I’ve quit or I’ve died, I’m just having some quiet time.

If I feel up to it, I might try and schedule a few posts for the next coming days, but we’ll see.

Hope you’re all alright!

x

Fact of the day: 28th July

On this day in 1540 Thomas Cromwell was executed at the order of Henry VIII of England on charges of treason.

Cromwell was one of the strongest advocates of the English Reformation. He helped to engineer an annulment of the king’s marriage to the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon, in order to allow Henry to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn.

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After failure to obtain approval from the Pope, in 1534 parliament endorsed the king’s claim to be head of a breakaway Church of England.

Cromwell subsequently plotted an evangelical, reformist course for the embryonic Church of England from the unique posts of vicegerent in spirituals and vicar-general.

During his rise, Cromwell made many enemies, including his former ally Anne Boleyn; he played a prominent role in her downfall.

He later fell from power after arranging the king’s marriage to a German princess, Anne of Cleves. Cromwell hoped that the marriage would breathe fresh life into the Reformation in England, but it turned into a disaster for Cromwell and ended in annulment just six months later.

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Cromwell was arraigned under a bill of attainder and executed for treason and heresy on Tower Hill on 28 July 1540. The king later expressed regret at the loss of his chief minister.

Fact of the day: 27th July

On this day in 1890, Vincent van Gogh shot himself and died two days later.

I genuinely thought Von Gogh was hundreds of years ago so this was a bit of a surprise for me!

On 22 February 1890, Van Gogh suffered a new crisis that was “the starting point for one of the saddest episodes in a life already rife with sad events.”

From February until the end of April he was unable to bring himself to write, though he did continue to draw and paint, which follows a pattern begun the previous May, in 1889.

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For a year he “had fits of despair and hallucination during which he could not work, and in between them, long clear months in which he could and did, punctuated by extreme visionary ecstasy.”

On 27 July 1890, aged 37, Van Gogh is believed to have shot himself in the chest with a revolver. There were no witnesses and the location where he shot himself is unclear.

Ingo Walther writes that “Some think Van Gogh shot himself in the wheat field that had engaged his attention as an artist of late; others think he did it at a barn near the inn.”

Biographer David Sweetman writes that the bullet was deflected by a rib bone and passed through his chest without doing apparent damage to internal organs—probably stopped by his spine.

He was able to walk back to the Auberge Ravoux, and there was attended by two physicians; however, without a surgeon present the bullet could not be removed.

After tending to him as best they could, the two physicians left Van Gogh alone in his room, smoking his pipe. The following morning (Monday), Theo rushed to be with Van Gogh as soon as he was notified, and found him in surprisingly good shape, but within hours Van Gogh began to fail due to an untreated infection caused by the wound.

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Van Gogh died in the evening, 29 hours after he supposedly shot himself. According to Theo, his brother’s last words were: “The sadness will last forever.”

Fact of the day: 26th July

On this day in 1945 The Potsdam Declaration was signed in Potsdam, Germany.

The Potsdam Declaration or the Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender is a statement that called for the surrender of all Japanese armed forces during World War II.

On July 26, 1945, United States President Harry S. Truman, United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Chairman of the Nationalist Government of China Chiang Kai-shek issued the document, which outlined the terms of surrender for the Empire of Japan as agreed upon at the Potsdam Conference.

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This ultimatum stated that, if Japan did not surrender, it would face “prompt and utter destruction.”

The Declaration was released to the press in Potsdam on the evening of July 26 and simultaneously transmitted to the Office of War Information in Washington. By 5 p.m. Washington time, OWI’s West Coast transmitters, aimed at the Japanese home islands, were broadcasting the text in English, and two hours later began broadcasting it in Japanese.

The Declaration was never transmitted to the Japanese government through diplomatic channels. The Japanese government did not disclose the declaration to the Japanese people. However, the ultimatum was heard by some who listened to the OWI broadcasts, and leaflets describing it were dropped from American bombers.

Although picking up leaflets and listening to foreign radio broadcasts had been banned by the government, the American propaganda efforts were successful in making the key points of the declaration known to most Japanese.

After the successful atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, President Truman in a widely broadcast speech, picked up by Japanese news agencies, warned that if Japan failed to accept the terms of the declaration, it could “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”

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As a result, Prime Minister Suzuki felt compelled to meet the Japanese press, to whom he reiterated his government’s commitment to ignore the Allies’ demands and fight on.

The extent of the Allies’ demands brought home to the Japanese leaders and people the extent of the success Japan’s enemies had achieved in the war.