Monday, 1 August 2016

On This Day in History 7 August 1976 Viking 2 Enters Orbit around Mars

On This Day in History
7 August 1976
Viking 2 Enters Orbit around Mars

The Viking 2 mission was part of the American Viking program to Mars, and consisted of an orbiter and a lander essentially identical to that of the Viking 1 mission. The Viking 2 lander operated on the surface for 1316 days, or 1281 sols, and was turned off on April 11, 1980 when its batteries failed. The orbiter worked until July 25, 1978, returning almost 16,000 images in 706 orbits around Mars.


On This Day in History 6 August 258 Martyrdom of Pope Sixtus II

On This Day in History
6 August 258
Martyrdom of Pope Sixtus II

Pope Sixtus II (died 6 August 258) was the Pope or Bishop of Rome from 31 August 257 to his death in 258. He was martyred during the persecution by Emperor Valerian.

According to the Liber Pontificalis, he was born in Greece and was a philosopher; however, this is uncertain, and is disputed by modern western historians arguing that the authors of Liber Pontificalis confused him with that of the contemporary author Xystus, who was a Greek student of Pythagoreanism. He restored the relations with the African and Eastern churches which had been broken off by his predecessor on the question of heretical baptism raised by the heresy Novatianism.
Martyrdom of Saint Sixtus II, 14th century

In the persecutions under Valerian in 258, numerous bishops, priests, and deacons were put to death. Pope Sixtus II was one of the first victims of this persecution, being beheaded on 6 August. He was martyred along with six deacons— Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, Stephanus, Felicissimus and Agapitus. Lawrence of Rome, his best-known deacon, suffered martyrdom on 10 August, 3 days after his bishop, as Sixtus had prophesied.


On This Day in History 5 August 1850 Birth of Guy de Maupassant

On This Day in History
5 August 1850
Birth of Guy de Maupassant

Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant (5 August 1850 – 6 July 1893) was a French writer, remembered as a master of the short story form, and as a representative of the naturalist school of writers, who depicted human lives and destinies and social forces in disillusioned and often pessimistic terms.

Maupassant was a protégé of Flaubert and his stories are characterized by economy of style and efficient, effortless dénouements (outcomes). Many are set during the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870s, describing the futility of war and the innocent civilians who, caught up in events beyond their control, are permanently changed by their experiences. He wrote some 300 short stories, six novels, three travel books, and one volume of verse. His first published story, "Boule de Suif" ("Ball of Fat", 1880), is often considered his masterpiece.


On This Day in History 4 August 1327 Battle of Stanhope Park

On This Day in History
4 August 1327
Battle of Stanhope Park

The Battle of Stanhope Park, part of the First War of Scottish Independence, took place during the night of 3–4 August 1327. The Scots under James Douglas led a raid into Weardale, and Roger Mortimer, accompanied by the newly crowned Edward III on his first campaign, led an army to drive them back. Douglas led, among other ambushes, an attack into the English camp, with 500 cavalry, and almost captured the king.

The Scots had taken up a strong defensive position by the River Wear. The position was too strong for the English to attack but they attempted to get the Scots to fight by drawing up their army on level ground and inviting the Scots to fight and by skirmishing with men-at-arms and archers. Douglas sent them the message that they would stay where they were as long as they liked. This stand-off lasted for three days. On the night of 2–3 August, the Scots decamped overnight moving a short way to a better position within Stanhope Park proper. The English shifted camp to be nearer the Scots.

On the night of 3–4 August, Douglas led a night attack on the English camp. Douglas reached Edward III's tent which was collapsed with him inside and nearly captured the English king. Several hundred English were killed. The English were forced to keep constant improved watch after this. On the night of 6–7 August, the Scottish army quietly broke camp and headed back toward Scotland. The English did not pursue.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

On This Day in History 3 August 1721 Death of Grinling Gibbons

On This Day in History
3 August 1721
Death of Grinling Gibbons

Grinling Gibbons (4 April 1648 – 3 August 1721) was a Dutch-British sculptor and wood carver known for his work in England, including Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral and other London churches, Petworth House and other country houses, Trinity College Oxford and Trinity College Cambridge. Gibbons was born and educated in Holland of English parents, his father being a merchant. He was a member of the Drapers' Company of London. He is widely regarded as the finest wood carver working in England, and the only one whose name is widely known among the general public. Most of his work is in lime (tilia) wood, especially decorative Baroque garlands made up of still-life elements at about life size, made to frame mirrors and decorate the walls of churches and palaces, but he also produced furniture and small relief plaques with figurative scenes. He also worked in stone, mostly for churches. By the time he was established he led a large workshop, and the extent to which his personal hand appears in later work varies.

The diarist Evelyn first discovered Gibbons' talent by chance in 1671. Evelyn, from whom Gibbons rented a cottage near Evelyn's home in Sayes Court, Deptford (today part of south-east London), wrote the following: "I saw the young man at his carving, by the light of a candle. I saw him to be engaged on a carved representation of Tintoretto's "Crucifixion", which he had in a frame of his own making." Later that same evening, Evelyn described what he had seen to Sir Christopher Wren. Wren and Evelyn then introduced him to King Charles II who gave him his first commission - still resting in the dining room of Windsor Castle.


On This Day in History 2 August 1892 Birth of Jack Warner, co-founder of Warner Brothers.

On This Day in History
2 August 1892
Birth of Jack Warner, co-founder of Warner Brothers.

Jack Leonard "J. L." Warner (August 2, 1892 – September 9, 1978), born Jacob Warner in London, Ontario, was a Canadian-American film executive who was the president and driving force behind the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California. Warner's career spanned some forty-five years, its duration surpassing that of any other of the seminal Hollywood studio moguls.

As co-head of production at Warner Bros. Studios, he worked with his brother, Sam Warner, to procure the technology for the film industry's first talking picture. After Sam's death, Jack clashed with his surviving older brothers, Harry and Albert Warner. He assumed exclusive control of the film production company in the 1950s, when he secretly purchased his brothers' shares in the business after convincing them to participate in a joint sale of stocks.

Although Warner was feared by many of his employees and inspired ridicule with his uneven attempts at humor, he earned respect for his shrewd instincts and tough-mindedness. He recruited many of Warner Bros.' top stars[4] and promoted the hard-edged social dramas for which the studio became known. Given to decisiveness, Warner once commented, "If I'm right fifty-one percent of the time, I'm ahead of the game."

Throughout his career, he was viewed as a contradictory and enigmatic figure. Although he was a staunch Republican, Warner encouraged film projects that promoted the agenda of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. He opposed European fascism and criticized Nazi Germany well before America's involvement in World War II. An opponent of Communism, after the war Warner appeared as a friendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee, voluntarily naming screenwriters who had been fired as suspected Communists or sympathizers. Despite his controversial public image, Warner remained a force in the motion picture industry until his retirement in the early 1970s.

On This Day in History - 1 August 1966 - Discovery of Lindow Man

On This Day in History - 1 August 1966 - Discovery of Lindow Man

Lindow Man, also known as Lindow II and (in jest) as Pete Marsh, is the preserved bog body of a man discovered in a peat bog at Lindow Moss near Wilmslow in Cheshire, North West England. The body was found on 1 August 1984 by commercial peat-cutters. Lindow Man is not the only bog body to have been found in the moss; Lindow Woman was discovered the year before, and other body parts have also been recovered. The find, described as "one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 1980s", caused a media sensation. It helped invigorate study of British bog bodies, which had previously been neglected in comparison to those found in the rest of Europe.

At the time of death, Lindow Man was a healthy male in his mid-20s, and he may have been someone of high status, as his body shows little evidence of heavy or rough work. There has been debate over the reason for Lindow Man's death, for the nature of his demise was violent, perhaps ritualistic; after a last meal of charred bread, Lindow Man was strangled, hit on the head, and his throat cut. Dating the body has proven problematic, but it is thought that Lindow Man was deposited into Lindow Moss, face down, some time between 2 BC and AD119, in either the Iron Age or Romano-British period. The body has been preserved by freeze-drying and is on permanent display at the British Museum, although it occasionally travels to other venues such as Manchester Museum.