When in 1610, the catholic Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II intervened in the War of the Jülich succession by occupying the small, but strategically located, protestant United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg it seemed that would be the fuse to light the keg.
The Defenestration of PragueEver since the reformation the German states had been a powder keg. Lutheranism was widespread, especially in the Northern states, while Calvinism had also gained a foothold, but many of the rulers as well as large parts of the population remained catholic. The Treaty of Augsburg had made Lutheranism legal, but had not resolved the underlying problems as it tied the religion of each territory to the religion of it's ruler.
A combined French-Dutch army was prepared to invade the United Duchies and oust Rudolf, who appealed to his kinsman Philip the Third the emperor of Spain. Philip, who had arranged a truce with the Dutch a year before reluctantly agreed that troops from the Southern Netherlands would come to come to Rudolf's aid.
In the event the invasion of the United Duchies was called off, because the French King Henry IV was assassinated in Paris.
In the meantime Rudolf had been increasingly marginalized by his own brother Matthias who, in the wake of the long and unsuccessful war against the Turks, had forced him to cede Austria and Hungary.
Seeking to maintain at least the Kingdom Bohemia, as well as his now largely ineffectual title as Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf nominated Archduke Ferdinand II of Austria as his heir. Hoping that Spanish backing would prevent Matthias from making a further move against him.
Apart from making many of the Habsburgs, with the possible exception of Ferdinand, unhappy the news also led to riots in Prague. When Rudolf used his army to suppress the riots his brother intervened and had him locked up and forced him to abdicate.
When Ferdinand sent his envoys to Prague they were however badly received, in fact they were thrown out the window (the so-called defenestration of Prague). Although still smarting from the slight by his brother Matthias was appalled by the insult to royal power and marched on Bohemia suppressing the revolt and installing Ferdinand as king.
The conflict served to further harden the divide between the Protestant Union and the Catholic League that had been formed in opposition. When Rudolf died the next year and Matthias became Holy Roman Emperor he started work on uniting the Habsburg lands by making Ferdinand the successor to his kingdoms.
When Ferdinand succeeded Matthias in 1619 he almost immediately went to war against Frederick V, the Elector Palatine and leader of the Protestant Union. Although there was virtually no pretext for this war Ferdinand had secured the support of Philip of Spain, for whom the Palatine would offer a direct road into the rebellious Netherlands, and the non-intervention of the Poles.
Although the members of the Protestant Union marshalled forces in support of the Palatine Frederick was quickly defeated by the Spanish Army of Flanders and Ferdinand's own not inconsiderable army. After subsequent defeats of the Army of Würtemberg and the Army of Brandenburg the power of the Protestant Union was broken and it's members defected in turn.
Although peace negotiations dragged on for several years Ferdinand was able to secure exceedingly favorable terms at the Treaty of Prague. He was crowned king of the Palatine abolishing the ancient title of Elector and his kingdoms were inexorably tied to the Title of Holy Roman Emperor. The defunct Protestant Union was also formally abolished.
While Ferdinand would not play any further role in the armed conflict his role was vital in the reconquest of the Netherlands. Allowing the Spanish to march reinforcements directly to the Dutch border and allowing simultaneous invasions from the South and the West.
Although Ferdinand would spent most of his effort on combating protestantism in the lands directly under his control, his real legacy was in strengthening the Holy Roman Empire. His successors would build on his work, steadily decreasing the number of German states and increasingly centralising control in the capital Prague. As the power of Spain waned the Empire increasingly became the dominant European power alongside France.
In 2011, on this day the demise of former President of the United States Geraldine Ferraro (D-NY) was announced. Her 1984 running mate Walter Mondale called her "a remarkable woman and a dear human being .. She was a pioneer in our country for justice for women and a more open society. She broke a lot of molds and it's a better country for what she did".
Former President Geraldine Ferraro diesShe was seventy-five and had been striving for years with blood cancer. The first female President, she was an inspiration to women's rights and liberals after she ended Reagan-omics after winning the 1988 election against George Bush.
Ferraro grew up in New York City and became a teacher and lawyer. She joined the Queens County District Attorney's Office in 1974, where she headed the new Special Victims Bureau that dealt with s*x crimes, child abuse, and domestic violence. She was elected to the House in 1978, where she rose rapidly in the party hierarchy while focusing on legislation to bring equity for women in the areas of wages, pensions, and retirement plans. In 1984, former Vice President and presidential candidate Walter Mondale selected Ferraro to be his running mate in the upcoming election.
She was an inspiration to her Community being the only Italian American to be a major-party national nominee in addition to being the first woman. And her Vice President, Mario Cuomo, served as President in her footsteps from 2001-2009. While he served longer, she had a much more positive impact.
In 1804, at a party sponsored by the Senate to encourage support for the US Navy as the Barbary War continued into its third year, President Thomas Jefferson was presented with a Mammoth Loaf, a gift from the Navy of bread made from an entire barrel of flour. The term "mammoth" was popularized by opponents mocking Jefferson for his fascination with the diversion of science, supporting the uncovering of a mammoth skeleton. Much to the Federalists' chagrin, "mammoth" became a popular word, and shops soon became stocked with "mammoth" portions of foods as advertisement.
March 26, 1804 - Assassin Poisons Mammoth CheeseThe first mammoth gift occurred in 1802 when the town of Cheshire, Massachusetts, sent Jefferson an enormous cheese. Deep in the heart of Federalist territory, the town's Baptist pastor, John Leland, campaigned for Democratic-Republican Jefferson, agreeing strongly on the philosophy of separation of church and state. After Jefferson's victory in 1800, Leland led the town in gathering milk from all of the "freeborn farmers with the voluntary and cheerful aid of their wives and daughters, without the assistance of a single slave", contributed to by over 900 cows, none of them "Federal". The 1200-pound cheese had been transported by sleigh across frozen fields and given to Jefferson, who was greatly thankful but held a personal philosophy against gifts and sent a $200 donation in return.
The cheese was consumed gradually at White House functions over the next two years as Jefferson continued his presidency, approving the Louisiana Purchase and dispatching the Lewis and Clark Expedition. While opposed to Federalist policies such as the National Bank and federal taxes, Jefferson did encourage the West Point Military Academy as, despite his disapproval of militarism, he recognized the need for action in war with the Barbary pirates of Tripoli. Jefferson had refused to pay the continued $1 million per annum ransom and a $225,000 bonus for the change in administration to allow American ships to travel safely, and the Pasha of Tripoli Yusuf Karamanli declared war on May 10, 1801. That August, the USS Enterprise defeated the 14-gun polacca Tripoli. By 1803, the Americans had liberated the seas and blockaded Tripoli.A new article by Jeff Provine
In retaliation, the Pasha decided to dispatch an assassin to kill Jefferson, holding his administration responsible for ending the payout, before which Americans seemed to endure without much issue. The assassin managed to work his way into becoming a servant in the White House. Seeing an opportunity to strike more than just Jefferson, he secretly began poisoning the mammoth cheese with tasteless, odorless arsenic powder. For many months, the Presidential Mansion innocently nibbled at the enormous cheese toward its lethal core. At last the final portions of the mammoth cheese were brought out to be eaten alongside the mammoth loaf, in addition to mammoth amounts of roast beef and alcohol. Jefferson personally cut the loaf and began the celebration, which, according to firsthand accounts, was boisterous as many people quickly became drunk.
Hours later, the effects of the arsenic began to show. Most attendees of the party became extremely ill, and many, including Jefferson, died. The capital was frozen in panic, and an investigation was launched while rumors blamed Federalists. On a ship destined for Africa, the Barbar assassin was discovered bragging during his escape, returned to America, and hanged. The incensed nation called for vengeance against the Pasha of Tripoli. Vice President George Clinton completed Jefferson's term, focusing primarily on building the United States military and won handily in the 1804 election, dispatching an expedition to invade Tripoli soon after. Secretary of State James Madison attempted to continue in office but eventually retired due to ill health.
The war dragged on as the pasha fled into the desert, evading capture for years, and weariness settled into the American nation. The Democratic-Republican Party had shifted its control back to the "Quids" or "Old Republicans" who elected James Monroe to the presidency in 1808. Monroe spent his two terms seeking peace, ending the war in Tripoli through the Ottoman's governing body, the Sublime Porte, who removed the pasha and installed a direct government that would refrain from pirate activity. Monroe also worked to maintain neutrality in the Napoleonic Wars, making him very popular with the Federalists, whose merchant ships became safe under a new treaty against impressing sailors by Great Britain. Later treaties clarified border issues, preventing war from ever occurring between the old mother country and the liberated United States.
Monroe's wide popularity as a centrist figure caused the Federalist Party, which had suffered from a lack of leadership since the death of Alexander Hamilton in a duel, to rework itself into a party stressing united nationalism. Noah Webster became the party's mastermind, enforcing caucuses and promoting his cousin Daniel in the presidential election of 1820 after Federalist Rufus King nearly defeated R-D Daniel Thompkins in 1816. Webster took office, and the Republicans and Democrats split over differences in focus. The Democrats, led by Indian Wars heroes such as Colonel Andrew Jackson, wanted to support the Common Man, while Republicans sought to balance tradition with progressivism.
The three-party political system would become the mainstay of politics in America. All three would become involved in events such as the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal scandal in 1834 as it attempted to connect two of America's most important waterways. Democrats wanted better conditions for the workers, Republicans lobbied for the rights of land owners whose property would be cut across by the canal, and Federalists fought for the canal's completion at any cost. While many issues became stalemated, such as the canal and slavery, other issues, such as the Intercontinental Railroad, would be championed by all sides with resistance only from Native American interests. All three parties also unified against the ideas of Nullification and Secession, attempted by South Carolina and the minor Nullification Party on a number of occasions but always suppressed, usually politically but also through the use of troops by Federalist President Abraham Lincoln.
In 1945, on this day the Chief of the Nazi-Occupied British State David Lloyd-George died. He was eighty-two years old.
After Winston was bustA widely respected, conviction - even firebrand - politician, after a stunning rise to national prominence he took office and served as Prime Minister for six crucial years in the nation's history (1916-22). But the war time coalition fell apart and his illustrious career seemed to be over at the relatively young age of fifty-eight. Against the odds, he later he returned to office but under the most ignominous of circumstances - the Fall of Britain in 1940.
Four years before, he met the German dictator Adolf Hitler at the Berghof in Berchtesgaden (pictured) and discussed foreign policy. Hitler gave Lloyd George a signed picture of himself and said he was pleased to have met "the man who won the war"; Lloyd George was moved by this and replied that he was honoured to receive such a gift "from the greatest living German". Lloyd George also visited Germany's public works programmes and was impressed. He believed Hitler was "the George Washington of Germany".
Nevertheless, Churchill offered Lloyd George a place in his War Cabinet but he refused, citing his dislike of Chamberlain. Lloyd George also thought that Britain's chances in the war were dim, and he remarked to his secretary: "I shall wait until Winston is bust". He wrote to the Duke of Bedford in September 1940 advocating a negotiated peace with Germany after the Battle of Britain.
In the aftermath of the Fall of Britain his appointment as Chief of State was the result of a number of factors including his working relationship with Hitler and acceptability by the Establishment. Moreover, it was hoped that his prestige as a former Head of Government would project continuity into the British Empire and diminish the significance of Churchill's Government-in-Exile. This insidious development led Churcill to compare him with Philippe Pétain, the Chief of the Vichy French State, but the statement was overshadowed by the declaration of the Duke of Windsor's royal appointment as Prince Regent. Nevertheless, for his largely symbolic role in keeping the country together, he was praised by his incoming successor J.F.C Fuller.
In 1997, following the tragic death of Vice President Albert Gore in the crash of Air Force Two as he returned from a summit in China, President Clinton nominated Gary Condit to become the nation's 46th Vice-President, the second person to be nominated to fill a vacancy in the office since Nelson Rockefeller in 1974.
Gary A. Condit
43rd President of the United StatesThe son of a Baptist minister, he was born in Woodland Junction, Oklahoma on April 21, 1948. In the early 1960s the Condit family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, when Condit's father, the Rev. Adrian Condit, took a position in a Baptist church. In 1967, at the age of 18, Condit married his high school sweetheart, Carolyn Berry. During the same year, Condit's father became a pastor in Ceres, California, and the family moved west with him.
A new article from Althistory WikiaIn 1970, Gary Condit received an associate degree from Modesto Junior College in California, followed in 1972 by a bachelor's degree at California State University, Stanislaus. That same year, Gary Condit won his first race for political office by winning a seat on the Ceres City Council and serving as Mayor of Ceres from 1974-1976.
Gary Condit served a six-year term on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, and in 1983, began serving in the California Assembly, where he was known as a maverick, unsuccessfully challenging liberal speaker Willie Brown and forming moderate alliances.
In 1989, he was elected as a Democrat to the One Hundred First Congress by special election to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of United States Representative Anthony L. Coelho.
In Congress, he became known as an consensus-builder, working with Republicans after they gained control of the House after the 1994 elections. He was a founding member of a group known as the "Blue Dog Democrats," a group of conservative Democrats who often voted with Republicans on major issues like welfare reform.
Following the tragic death of Vice President Albert Gore in the crash of Air Force Two on March 26, 1997 as he returned from a summit in China, President Clinton (May 1) nominated Gary Condit to become the nation's 46th Vice-President, the second person to be nominated to fill a vacancy in the office since Nelson Rockefeller in 1974.
Gary Condit was confirmed by the Senate (90-10), and on August 10, 1997, took the oath of office in the Senate Chambers.
Following the December 19, 1998 impeachment of President Clinton in the House as a result of the Whitewater scandal, and his refusal to respond to a Senate Summons issued in January, 1999, President Clinton was advised by key House and Senate Democrats to resign before what many saw as a certain conviction by the senate and his removal from office.
President Clinton resigned the presidency January 24, 1999, effective noon the following day. Vice-President Condit was sworn in January 25, 1999 at noon in a White House ceremony.
In an address to the nation before a joint session of Congress on January 27, 1999, President Condit called for healing and an end to divisive partisanship. He declared an end to "predatory politics" and said he would, "work with any of goodwill who wished to advance the cause of democracy and freedom".
Condit, a conservative Democrat, has worked well with the Republican-controlled Congress, and is credited with an extensive overhaul of the tax code, and passed the largest tax cut in American history during the One Hundred Sixth Congress.
As a former city, county and state official, President Condit has been especially passionate about eliminating unfunded mandates, those federal rules that dictate action to local governments but which provide no funding. One of the first laws enacted in the Republican-controlled 104th Congress was President Condit's unfunded mandates bill.
President Condit has continued to be a strong voice on key issues from balancing the federal budget to focusing on welfare reform and environmental issues.
In 1917, on this day the S.S. Kristianiafjord left New York Harbour. One of the passengers on board was carrying $10,000 and and a US passport in the name of Lev Davidovich Bronstein.
Trotsky Arrested at Halifax
For the previous three months, the so-called "Jewish Bolshevik beast" Leon Trotsky had been living stylishly in New York, staying rent-free at a luxury apartment with a chaffeured limousine provided ex gratia by the Standard Oil Company. The global capitalist's plan was for Trotsky to link up with his revolutionary colleague Lenin who was travelling across Germany in a sealed train with the bulk of the funds, $5m in order to overthrow the provisional government and end the war with Germany.
But Trotsky never got as far as St Petersburg. At Halifax, Nova Scotia the Canadian immigration authorities arrested Trotsky. Having quickly established the true purpose of his mission, the Canadian Government wisely determined that any plan to end the war between Russia and Germany would result in a troop surge onto the Western Front. Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden was in the process of drafting conscription legislation (the Canadian Military Service Act of 1917) and insisted that the British and American Government drop the Trotsky Plan.
In 1982, ground-breaking ceremonies for the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial take place in Washington, D.C.
Pyhrric Victory by Eric LippsThe Vietnam War was America's second longest, finally ending only in 1978 with the diplomatic agreement mediated by President James E. Carter under which the guerrilla forces of the Viet Cong and the People's Army of Vietnam (formerly the North Vietnamese Army) agreed to lay down arms in exchange for the right to field their own political candidates. Only the Cuban conflict would last longer: at the time of the Vietnam memorial's groundbreaking, the guerrilla war which had begun following the April 1961 Bay of Pigs "intervention" is still in progress.
The Linebacker operations of the early seventies had broken the formal power of the Communist regime then in power in Hanoi, at the cost of several million Vietnamese dead from flooding, disease and starvation following the bombing of the North's dike system. The North Vietnamese had refused to simply surrender, however, and they and their Viet Cong allies had waged a fierce guerrilla struggle even after the occupation first of Hanoi and then of the Communists' second capital, Haiphong. At home, the seemingly endless conflict had grown increasingly unpopular, as American troops continued to fight and die even after "victory" had supposedly been won.
President Carter's negotiation of the Vietnam accords had been sharply criticized by, among others, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who said that the peace agreement "granted the Communists what they could not win on the battlefield" and predicted that Vietnamese leftists would now try to subvert the unified government of Vietnam from within. Among the critics was former governor Ronald Reagan of California, who in 1980 would exploit anger over the pact in his successful run for the White House.
The influence of Reagan and his supporters would be revealed in the final design of the memorial, which featured a group of soldiers planting a flag atop a broken wall and bore the names of every American killed in the conflict.
In 1945, on this day Britain's first Socialist Prime Minister, David Lloyd George died in Ty Newydd, Llanystumdwy. He was eighty-two years old.
Death of the GoatBrought up in rural North Wales, he became the Member of Parliament for Caernarvon Boroughs in 1890 and held the seat until 1945. Lloyd George was a member of the Independent Labour Party, and following the 1895 General Election the leader of the party Keir Hardie determined it would be necessary to join with other left-wing groups such as the intellectual and largely middle-class Fabian Society, the Social Democratic Federation and the Scottish Labour Party.
He developed as a national figure during the first decade of the twentieth century by contesting the hereditary power of the House of Lords, describing the peers as "the first of the litter", "chosen at random from among the unemployed" and swore to bring their future before "the great assize of the people".
A radical pacifist, Lloyd George's opportunity arose with the outbreak of the Great War on the European continent. Appalled at the prospect of a military alliance with Czarist Russia, Lloyd George wrote a letter to his wife on the eve of war stating "I am filled with horror at the prospect".
He subsequently launched a backbench revolt that caused Britain's neutrality during the needless slaughter in Belgium and Northern France.
Diminished in authority, the Liberal Government of HH Asquith fell shortly afterwards.
During 1915, Keir Hardie died and Lloyd George became the leader of the Labour Party, forming a new administration during 1916. An ingenious negotiator, Lloyd George persuaded the rump of the Liberal Party to join a national government of unity that broadened Keir Hardie's 1895 popular front. Key to his success in this endeavour was a promise to build upon the social reforms that the Liberal Party had begun in office from 1905.
His many achievements in office included the recognition of Communist Russia, restructuring the Edwardian Labour Relations that were holding back Britain's economic development, and persuading a reluctant France to release her war reparations in exchange for a League of Nations guarantee of her eastern frontier. Perhaps of longer term significance was progress on the island of Ireland; the forming of the Irish Free State was a breakthrough that no Prime Minister since Gladstone had entertained.
Dubbed "the Goat", Lloyd George was brought down by his notorious reputation for sexual laxity.
Exposure of his long term extra-marital affair with his devoted secretary Frances Stevenson scandalised society, and his elder son joined in the criticism of many that there was " something of the night about him". This criticism led the Liberal Party to withdraw from the administration ending his premiership at only fifty-nine years of age, and arguably at the peak of his powers. In a striking paralell with Lenin, with whome he signed an understanding of mutual friendship in 1919, Lloyd George would prove to be a man of power and intellectual prowess that would be succeeded by someone far more ruthless than he.
On this day in 1976, Major League Baseball announced it would expand to 28 teams for the 1977 season. The American League would add the Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners, while the Denver-based Colorado Blizzard and the St. Petersburg-based Tampa Bay Stingrays would join the National League.
Of the four new ballclubs, the Blizzard would be the first to reach the postseason, winning the National League West division title and meeting the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLCS in just their third season; by contrast, the Mariners would have to wait until 1995 for their first playoff appearance.
On this day in 1983, 13-year-old New Hampshire native Paul Michael Levesque attended his first live WWF card; in the main event that
evening Rocky Johnson & Pedro Morales beat Bob Orton and Don Muraco to regain the WWF tag team titles. Fifteen years later Levesque would
himself be competing inthe WWF under the nickname 'Triple H'.
|Paul Michael Levesque|
On this day in 1958, Sandy Koufax racked up 51 points and 46 rebounds as the Celtics won 129-110 over Philadelphia to complete a sweep of the Warriors in the first round of the 1958 NBA playoffs.
In 1979, by signing a worthless agreement with US President James Earl Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Monachem Begin, President Sadat signed his own death waranty.
Both for himself, and for a stable Egyptian state with at least some dialogue with Western powers.. He died for his decision to shake hands with Israel, assassinated in 1981 by extremists in the Egyptian army opposed to the treaty. Those extremists seized the government until regime change arrived with the US Invasion of 1991 (the First Gulf War).
In 1979, US President James Earl Carter signed a worthless agreement with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Monachem Begin.
Mr Carter was cautious, saying the treaty was 'a first step on a long and difficult road.' 'We must not minimalise the obstacles that lie ahead,' he said. Deep divisions between the two sides remain, and even in their speeches following the ceremony the two presidents revealed how far there is still to go. Mr Begin spoke emotionally of how the city of Jerusalem could never be divided; while Mr Sadat was unreservedly frank about the question of Palestinian autonomy.
News of the signing ceremony was greeted with angry demonstrations throughout the Arab world. Crowds stormed the Egyptian Embassy in Kuwait, and there was a strike in the West Bank. The PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, told a rally in West Beirut: 'Let them sign what they like. False peace will not last.' He accused President Sadat of betraying the Egyptian people, and said they would eventually eliminate him.
In 2004, the Sheridan expedition to Titan flies over Mars, and the doctors take the opportunity to perform a thorough scan of the planet. They discover an ocean just below the surface, and see the Martians moving about on the surface, reconstructing their surface civilization. They send word back to earth to watch the red planet for signs of trouble.
In 2000, Bill Burke pauses his epic campaign The Busride Of Doom to welcome a new player - his old girlfriend, Kris Robbins. She had died in a car crash coming back from his funeral, and the dead gamer's network had directed her to Burke's campaign. While the other Gamers from Beyond raised cries of protest at playing with the gamemaster's girlfriend, she joined the group and played without too many special favors.
In 1952, Mikhail von Heflin and Velma Porter jump on a train heading south and hide themselves in a cargo car. Exhausted by Europe, Porter tells the Baron, 'Next time one of us wants to go home, it gets to be me; my old house has running water.'
In 1950, Senator Ted Astley of Washington, after facing pressure to reveal the names of the supposed capitalist spies in Washington, D.C.'s circles of power, lets slip to a People's Broadcasting Company reporter the name of Professor William F. Buckley, a scholar on European affairs who has been working in the State Department. Buckley was definitely a sound choice; his sympathy for the European monarchies was well known. It was never proven, but Professor Buckley's career was ruined by the accusation.
In 1911, author Tom Williams was born in Columbus, Mississippi. As the first openly homosexual playwright in the American theater, he was very controversial, but his plays fascinated the world; his tale of confused sexual identity, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, banned after its first week of production in 1955, was revived in the more liberal atmosphere of the 1960's to rave reviews and huge audiences.
In 1793, royalists in Vendee, France rise up against the democratic revolutionaries who have taken control of the country. Mlosh negotiators sent in are slaughtered, and the revolution bombs Vendee into submission shortly afterwards.
In 1668, Conspirators of the Speaker's Line in Mumbai, India are overthrown by the British takeover of the city. Driven underground, they slowly move their work across the border into China, where they conduct experiments in the Gobi Desert.
In 2005, the Taiwanese government called on 1 million Taiwanese to demonstrate in Taipei, in opposition to the Anti-Secession Law of the Republic of China. Around 200,000 to 300,000 attend the walk. The President of the Republic of China, promulgated the law with Presidential Decree No. 34. Although the law, at ten articles, is relatively short, it was met with much controversy because it formalized the long-standing policy of the Republic of China to use 'non-peaceful means' against the 'Taiwan independence movement' in the event of a declaration of Taiwan independence. The status of the island had been in long-term dispute, following Chairman Mao's flight to Formosa in 1949 following the Communist defeat in the Chinese Civil War.
In 1997, thirty-eight group members of the Heaven's Gate cult, plus Applewhite, the group's leader, were found dead in a rented mansion in the upscale San Diego community of Rancho Santa Fe, California. The thirty-nine suicides were the first of millions as the comet Hale-Bopp approached earth. Historically, comets were notable for inciting a degree of panic - but this time, there was good reason to worry. In November 1996, amateur astronomer Chuck Shramek of Houston, Texas took a CCD image of the comet, which showed a fuzzy, slightly elongated object nearby. When his computer sky-viewing program did not identify the star, Shramek called the Art Bell radio program to announce that he had discovered a Saturn-like object following Hale-Bopp.
UFO enthusiasts, such as remote viewing proponent Courtney Brown, soon concluded that there was an alien spacecraft following the comet. Rumours that the comet was being followed by an alien spacecraft gained remarkable currency, and the cult's mass suicide shortly followed by global panic.
In 1857 AUC, Juvo Licentius Morro, a Spaniard in the Roman Republic, constructs the first working steam engine-powered vehicle, a chariot the size of two elephants that is able to move across the roads at great speeds. Juvo's invention revolutionizes travel in the Republic.
In 1979, having won the Presidency on a 'Trust Me' platform, US President James Earl Carter used his startling powers of sincerity to establish a Middle East settlement. During his second term, Carter found a solution to the Palestine problem, and is generally considered the most successful of peacetime US Presidents in the twentieth century.
In 1979, the traitor US President James Earl Carter gave away the Suez Canal to Egypt. Two years before, he had returned the Panama Canal. Republicans wondered if there would be an America worth winning back by the 1980 election.
In 1943, to his horror Joint Chief of Staff George C. Marshall discovered that General Eisenhower's his English driver, Kay Summersby was not just his lover, but most likely a deep sleeper Nazi agent to boot.
Marshall had already decided to escalate, by leaked the news to Mamie. Now he would threaten to fire Eisenhower as well. He also considered leaking false news to the Nazi's via Ike, but dismissed the option as far too dangerous.
And in my dream methought I went To search out what might there be found ; and what the sweet bird's trouble meant,
That thus lay fluttering on the ground. I went and peered, and could descry no cause for her distressful cry ;
But yet for her dear lady's sake I stooped, methought, the dove to take, when lo ! I saw a bright green snake coiled around its wings and neck.
~'Christabel', Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Pope John Paul II, visiting 'Napolis, has prayed for forgiveness for those involved in the Holocaust. He also spoke of his admiration for Alex Haley who had quite rightly given his people a myth to live by
In 1981, the failed duopoly known as the British political mould was broken by the bold actions of the the Gang of Four who issued a series of false pledges in the so called Limehouse Declaration. The Labour Party was by now unelectable for a generation, and it was essential to rally the electorate behind a new ticket. Today, no one doubts that the 1997 General Election result was entirely due to the middle ground found by the SDP, at a time when dinosaurs such as Michael Foot, Tony Benn et. all were intend on a sharp turn to the left.
|Gang of Four|
In 1981, not for the first time, the Bourgeousie split the Labour Movement when the Gang of Four issued a series of false pledges in the so called Limehouse Declaration. Roy Jenkins, former Labour cabinet minister, David Owen, William Rodgers and Shirley Williams published a 12-point document covering elections, education and international co-operation. Labour Leader Michael Foot quite rightly dismissed the actions of these subversives, and their plan to break the political mould. The British Working Class would not be fooled by publicity seeking ex-ministers who wanted one more slot on prime time TV.
|Gang of Four|
In 1981, the UK Social Democrats launched their new political party pledging to 'reconcile the nation' and 'heal divisions between classes'. At a crowded press conference in London, signalling the start of a massive media campaign to recruit supporters, the party outlined its visiion foe breaking the political mould and of making significant gains at the next General Election. The Gang of Four, the nick-name of the four Labour defectors who set up the SDP, outlined their hopes of winning, with the Liberals, a majority in the Commons.
|Gang of Four|
Roy Jenkins, former Labour cabinet minister, David Owen, William Rodgers and Shirley Williams published a 12-point document covering elections, education and international co-operation. The SDP entered a coalition government in 1987, with Dr Owen returned for a second term at the Foreign Office.
In 2013, on this day of high drama, Government workers were sent home by the forty-fifth US President Willard ("Mitt") Romney. An article from the Deadlocked 2012 Election thread.
Deadlocked Election prevents America going over Fiscal Cliff 3Contrary to emotionally charged (indeed, factually incorrect) headlines such as "Romney to City - Drop Dead!" and "Let Washington go bankrupt!" the Federal Shutdown was in fact a carefully considered scenario that had been extensively "war-gamed" by Romney aides even before the deadlocked election.
The inauguration of Romney-Biden, and subsequent appointment of Paul Ryan as US Secretary of the Treasury had raised a glimmer of hope that a bipartisan agreement might possibly be reached. But instead, Congress had totally gridlocked, and with the Federal Government headed for shutdown, Romney had played the call he had been holding to his chest all long by calling their bluff and sending workers home.
Too late, Congressional Leaders had buckled, but the problem was they could not assemble in the capital to reach a new agreement with the Romney White House because the whole of Washington was locked after the employees have been sent home.
In 1409, Violent Council of Pisa Begins.
March 25, 1409 - Violent Council of Pisa BeginsThe Western Schism had separated the Catholic Church in Europe for over thirty years. As the Middle Ages began to come to a close, the worldly authority of the Church was evident. With the Crusades, the Pope had displayed his ability to exert power over the kings of Europe, who in many ways were subordinate to papal will and arguably commanders for Christendom's armies. Because it was such an important seat of power, the Vatican became fraught with corruption and factional infighting, much of which came from the wealthy families of Italy. In an effort to escape these trappings, the Pope moved to Avignon, France, in 1305. There, however, the corruption grew to a new higher level, and the papacy came under heavy influence from the French king Paul IV, who instigated the destruction of the Knights Templar.
After seventy years, the Papal Curia moved back to Rome under the guidance of Pope Gregory XI. The Italian city-states had organized to shrug off the rule of the Church, and thusly France, and the Church responded by massacring thousands of rebels in Cesena and excommunicating all of Florence. To quell further uprising, the French Pope moved back to Rome to have more direct influence. Two years later, however, Gregory died. The city of Rome rioted, demanding that a Roman be elected pope despite none being eligible. The cardinals finally elected the Neapolitan Urban VI, who had been an effective administrator, but as pope was distrustful and brutal. After five months, disapproving cardinals reconvened and elected a new pope, Clement VII, who returned to Avignon.A new article by Jeff Provine
Europe was thrown into chaos as no one could agree who was the real pope and what to do with the antipope. Royal families became divided, causing wars in Portugal and Castile. When the town of Bruges declared itself a supporter of Avignon, it became partially depopulated as supporters for Rome simply left. The division weighed on Europe even to the point that Charles VI of France suggested that the Avignon pope, whom he supported, to step down. As the fifteenth century dawned, both popes agreed to a meeting but later refused. The cardinals gave up hope and determined to solve the matter.
They convened in the college town of Pisa at the cathedral beside the leaning tower along with 80 bishops, representatives of 100 more, and ambassadors of the kings. Famous universities such as those in Cologne, Paris, and Oxford sent over 300 doctors of theology and cannon law to contribute. Each morning for three days, the meetings opened with a call for the popes to present themselves. The popes did not, and so the testimonies began without them. A group of Germans in support of Rome did appear in April, but their case only caused anger to rise up among those gathered. Two months later, representatives from Avignon appeared as well. Their argument caused laughter to break out among the council, and when the Avignon-supporting Chancellor of Aragon spoke, the Archbishop of Tarragona made a declaration of war.
The people of Pisa heard the rumor of war and misunderstood it to be a declaration of war by the Church against the antipope rather than an ungrounded call-to-arms in Spain. They seized the ambassadors and hauled them up the tower, throwing them to their deaths. The council was shocked, but they determined to finish their business. Antipope Benedict XIII in Avignon took the declaration of war seriously and immediately called upon his supporters to launch a crusade against the Pisans. Not to be outdone, Gregory XII in Rome did the same. The council continued its business with the Patriarch of Alexandria stating, "Benedict XIII and Gregory XII are recognised as schismatics, the approvers and makers of schism, notorious heretics, guilty of perjury and violation of solemn promises, and openly scandalising the universal Church.. to be driven out of the Church". They unanimously elected a new pope, Alexander V, and sent letters to the kings of Europe calling for a crusade to remove both former popes.
Europe became even more divided. War broke out between pro-Avignon Scotland and pro-Rome England, in Portugal, and, especially, among the various cities of the Holy Roman Empire. Emperor Charles IV had died in 1378, and the electors had not yet met due to the Schism. With three popes willing to grant the title, the electors began to tear into one another, backed by France for Pisa, Spain for Avignon, and Poland for Rome. The war became worse as Hussites in Bohemia rebelled after the Pisan pope issued a bull condemning Wycliffism. Sigismund, King of Hungary, worked to suppress the revolt, but his resources proved stretched too thinly to snuff out the movement. The Ottoman Empire, fresh from its own civil war, made great advances in the Balkans while the Christians were divided.
After years of war, an armistice was pronounced, and Europe formally divided. Spain led a coalition of supporters of Avignon (who retreated to Madrid), Rome held Naples and Poland, while the rest of Europe recognized Pisa. Pisa weakened to northern Italy as Protestantism swept northern Europe, limiting Rome's influence to southern Italy, which would never unify with the north again despite a series of small wars attempting to do so in the nineteenth century.
In the sixteenth century, another war of religion would be fought as the Protestants came to the aid of the Huguenots, eventually turning France into a nation without a state-church. England, too, would fall to Protestantism as Calvinists pushed out the influence of the Pisan Church. Eastern Europe, meanwhile, was increasingly swallowed by the Ottomans up to Hussian Bohemia and Orthodox Russia. As the age of empires began, the many different churches of the nations of Europe were spread throughout the world, which became increasingly secular to survive religious disunity.
In 202 BC, on this day the Chu-Han contention between the rival rulers of China ended with the defeat of the Han forces of Liu Bang at the Battle of Gaixia.
Battle of Gaixia
By Ed & Jeff ProvineAn unbroken string of victories by the great leader (pictured) had given Han forces control all of all but the east which still remained under Chu control. The hundred thousand strong Chu army of Xiang Yu had been forced to retreat to Gaixia where unthinkable defeat would have made Liu Bang the master of China. And almost certainly the first Emperor of China since the the collapse of the Qin Dynasty.
But it was not to be. With a unified China seemingly his for the taking, a major dispute broke out between Liu Bang and his most senior officer General Han Xin and the military strategist Zhang Liang. The result of this disunity was that Han Xin withheld his forces in Qi giving Xiang Yu the opportunity to strike the decisive blow against the weakened Han forces.
Ironically, Liu Bang had planned to make General Han Xin the King of Qi and also the King of Chu. Unaware of this intention, a substantially reduced offer was then made by the victorious Xiang Yu, and Han Xin became King of Qi. This negotiated outcome - some would say, treachery - created a third nation that effectively ended the attempt to unify China and bought the Chus the breathing space they needed to consolidate their grip on the East.
In 1847, on this day American forces under General Winfield Scott were defeated at the Mexican port city of Veracruz, serving a severe blow in the war to secure the Texas-Mexico border at the Rio Grande.
Americans defeated at VeracruzOver seven thousand of the twelve thousand men involved in the operation were captured or killed during the siege and subsequent invasion.
Ignoring his generals' advice to reinforce General Zachery Taylor's armies in Texas, President Polk organized a sea-borne invasion of southern Mexican to be led by naval forces under Commodore Matthew C. Perry. The plan was to establish a landing at Veracruz and then march a force of nearly ten thousand troops toward the capital, Mexico City, in order to at least divert the Mexican Army's attention from the north. Capturing the capital was a secondary objective, which would place Polk in a much better position to force the Mexicans to surrender.
A new story by Andrew BeaneThe attempt met with serious challenges. For one, the coastal defenses at Veracruz were better-equipped to withstand a naval attack than the American's expected. Several ships were lost, and thousands of soldiers and sailors drowned under heavy cannon bombardment. In addition, a yellow-fever outbreak took a great toll on the would-be invaders. Only five thousand American troops made it to shore, and were quickly repelled by Mexican Army regulars. Commodore Perry ordered surviving ships to pull back, abandoning the Americans on shore. Among those captured or killed were General Scott, Captain Robert E Lee, Lieutenant George Meade, Lieutenant Ulysses Grant, and Lieutenant Thomas Jackson, though it cannot not be verified which if any of these men are still alive.
Following this defeat, Taylor's force in northern Mexico has been left without reinforcement or a tactical distraction elsewhere on the Mexican mainland. Mexican resolve against American attempts to capture the region of the Rio Grande and California has been strengthened, and Santa Ana may be emboldened enough to invade Texas with the intention of re-capturing the break-away region. American public support for the war will almost certainly wither in the face of this tragic defeat...
In 2015, on this day the movie adaptation of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation won Academy Awards in two of the four categories in which it had been nominated, receiving the Best Cinematography and Best Original Score Oscars. (It lost to 2061: Odyssey Three in the Best Special Effects category and was narrowly edged out for Best Original Screenplay by the controversial Iraq War drama Basra).
On this day in 1956, Sandy Koufax's first NBA playoff run came to an abrupt and highly painful end when he sprained his leg during the second quarter of Game 2 against the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1956 Eastern Division finals. With one of their top scorers out of commission for Game 3, the Celtics fell into a deep hole from which they couldn't pull out; they wound up losing the series to Philadelphia three games to two.
In 1955, US President William Randolph Hearst invited Allen Ginsberg to the Reconstructed White House in San Francisco to congratulate that gentleman on the delicious obscenity of his latest poem 'Howl'. Standing proudly alongside other members of the genre including Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, Hearst noted that the poetry of the Beat Generation was a vital form of escapism for America as it sought to build a counter-culture after the horror of World War III. Ginsberg honoured Hearst by writing some highly offensive graffiti on the West Wing wall.
In 1811, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was expelled from the University of Oxford for his publication of the pamphlet The Necessity of Divinity. Since the Reformation, England had been studiously atheist and even the dons of Oxford were not tolerant of religious worship in the nineteenth century.
In 2004, on the anniversary of Christiaan Huygens' discovery of Titan, Livinia and Jacob Sheridan take off for the Saturnian moon to attempt to expand their knowledge of the strange creatures that caused the first exploratory ship to crash back on earth. They are carrying their nanovirus just in case.
In 1811, Great Britain officially recognizes the Republic of Ireland. The Irish, allied with the first Mlosh Europeans, had won independence 2 years before. Facing a fact of life, the British Parliament decided to reconcile with their former colony, and the recognition allowed them to forge close economic and political ties with Ireland.
In 1133, the founder of the Plantagenet line of popes, Henri Plantagenet, was born in Anjou. As Cardinal of Anjou, he attracted the eye of Eleanor of Aquitaine, former wife of Louis, the Archbishop of France. Through her influence and possessions, Henri raises himself to the papacy in 1154, rules the Holy British Empire until his death in 1189.
In 1584, history's most infamous drug dealer Sir Walter Raleigh was granted a patent to exploit the deadly tobacco narcotic in Virginia. Approximately 5.5 trillion cigarettes are produced globally each year by the tobacco industry, smoked by over 1.1 billion people, which is more than one-sixth of the world's total population. In the year 2000, global smoking deaths reached 5 million making Raleigh the greatest mass murderer in history.
In 1807, the Slave Trade Act becomes law, abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire. The act abolished the slave trade in the British Empire, but not slavery itself; that had to wait for the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. The trade had begun in 1562, during the reign of Elizabeth I, when John Hawkins led the first slaving expedition. One part of the Empire was particularly outraged. The difficulties in the American colonies, which had been bubbling away since 1776, escalated into a Declaration of Unilateral Independence. The colonists of European descent were unable to defeat the combined forces of British, Canadian, African American and First Nations soliders who were united in the belief that a nation so conceived [in slavery] could not endure.
|Robert the Bruce|
In 1306, Robert the Bruce was crowned Robert I, King of Scots, reigning until his death in 1329. Although his paternal ancestors were of Scoto-Norman heritage (originating in Brieux, Normandy), his maternal ancestors were Scottish-Gaels. He became one of Scotland's greatest kings, as well as one of the most famous warriors of his generation, eventually leading Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against the Kingdom of England. He claimed the Scottish throne as a great-great-great-great grandson of David I of Scotland.
|Battle of Bannockburn|
His body is buried in Dunfermline Abbey, while his heart is buried in Melrose Abbey. His heart was to be taken on crusade eventually to the Holy Land, but only reached Moorish Granada, where it acted as a talisman for the Scottish contingent at the Battle of Teba.
The historical significance of Bruce cannot be understated, and it is doubtful whether there would be a Kingdom of Scotland today had he not pursued eight years of guerrilla tactics against the English. His deliberate refusal to meet the English on even ground, have caused many to consider Bruce as one of the great guerrilla leaders of any age. This represented a transformation for one raised as a feudal knight. Bruce secured Scottish independence from England militarily - if not diplomatically - at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Freed from English threats, Scotland's armies could now invade northern England. Bruce also drove back a subsequent English expedition north of the border, and launched raids into Yorkshire and Lancashire. In May 1328 King Edward III of England signed the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, which recognised Scotland as an independent kingdom, and Bruce as its king.
In 1980, the British Olympic Association voted by a large majority to defy government requests and send athletes to the Olympic Games in Moscow. Funds were soon frozen and the team prevented from attending, in order to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
In 2000, deceased gamemaster Bill Burke and his new friend Hamid, the ghost of a Turk from the 12th century, begin their epic Fudge campaign, The Busride Of Doom. Gamer ghosts will speak of The Busride for centuries to come.
In 1998, Adam Pletcher is convicted of attempting to extort $5 million from Bill Gates. Pletcher maintained his innocence throughout the trial, and indeed, was innocent. An acquaintance of his had posed as him in order to threaten Gates and Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer out of money. When John Winston was found doing the exact same thing to Apple Chairman Steve Jobs, Pletcher was released.
In 1997, the first President of Puerto Rico, Roberto Vilella, dies in San Juan, Puerto Rico. After the terrorist campaign of the 1950's, Vilella's peaceful approach to Puerto Rican independence won over the U.S. and vaulted him to the new country's presidency in 1965.
In 1975, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia is murdered by an unknown assailant, plunging the middle eastern monarchy into revolution. Long-suppressed pro-democracy movements clash with those who support the King's son, Prince Khalid, and for 6 long years, the Saudis are unable to restore order to their country.
In 1955, U.S. Customs agent Jack Powell missed a shipment of Alan Ginsberg's Howl, which he was supposed to impound for obscenity charges. The 520 books were distributed around the San Francisco beat scene, and were out of control by that point. Agent Powell lost his job over the mistake.
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© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.