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The Secrets of the mysterious Voynich Manuscript

The Secrets of the mysterious Voynich Manuscript

In 1912, Polish-born antiquarian and bibliophile Wilfrid Voynich bought a mysterious illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system that may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The eponymous Voynich manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, but no one has yet succeeded in deciphering the text. Therefore, it has become a famous case in the history of cryptography. A Strange Manuscript The manuscript counts about…
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Thomas Blood and the Crown Jewels of England

Thomas Blood and the Crown Jewels of England

On May 9, 1671, Anglo-Irish officer and desperado Colonel Thomas Blood attempted to steal the Crown Jewels of England from the Tower of London. Thomas Blood – Background Not much is known about Thomas Blood’s early life. It is assumed that he was born to a successful blacksmith in Ireland. His father owned some land across the country and his grandfather was a member of the Parliament. Historians believe, that he went…
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How the Chernobyl Disaster Started

How the Chernobyl Disaster Started

On Saturday 26 April 1986, at the No. 4 nuclear reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat in the north of the Ukrainian SSR, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster started. It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history and is one of only two nuclear energy disasters rated at seven — the maximum severity — on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the 2011 Fukushima…
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The Council of Constance puts an end to the Three-Pope-Controversy

The Council of Constance puts an end to the Three-Pope-Controversy

On April 22, 1418, the Council of Constance ended, which should put an end to the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V. The Council also condemned as a heretic and facilitated the execution by the civil authority of Czech priest, philosopher, and early Christian reformer Jan Hus. The Council of Constance The main purpose of the Council of Constance was…
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Samuel Johnson and his Famous Dictionary

Samuel Johnson and his Famous Dictionary

On April 15, 1755, after nine years of intensive labor, Samuel Johnson publishes his “Dictionary of the English Language”, sometimes published as Johnson‘s Dictionary. It is among the most influential dictionaries in the history of the English language. I am not yet so lost in lexicography, as to forget that words are the daughters of earth, and that things are the sons of heaven. Language is only the instrument of science, and…
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Hachiko – the Most Famous Dog of Japan

Hachiko – the Most Famous Dog of Japan

On March 8, 1935, Hachiko, a famous Japanese Akita dog passed away, remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, even many years after his owner’s death. Background In 1924, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo, took in Hachiko, a golden brown Akita, as a pet. During his owner’s life, Hachiko greeted him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The…
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Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots

On February 18, (or February 8 according to the old Julian calendar), 1587,  Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed after having found guilty of plotting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. In the Western world, we all might have heard about the rivalry of Queen Elizabeth I [5] and Mary, Queen of Scots. I have learned about the story back at high school in my German lessons, when we were reading Friedrich Schillers ‘Maria…
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The World according to Sebastian Münster

The World according to Sebastian Münster

On January 20, 1488, German cartographer, cosmographer, and a Christian Hebraist scholar Sebastian Münster was born. His work, the Cosmographia from 1544, was the earliest German description of the world. In (Western) Germany, he is best known for his portrait on the former German 100 DM banknote – of course only to people who are old enough to remember the old Deutsche Mark banknotes (valid from 1962-1991). Sebastian Münster – Youth and Education…
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Marcus Tullius Cicero – Truly a Homo Novus

Marcus Tullius Cicero – Truly a Homo Novus

On January 3, 106 BC, Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist Marcus Tullius Cicero was born. Besides his work as politician, he is widely considered one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists. His influence on the Latin language was so immense that the subsequent history of prose in not only Latin but European languages up to the 19th century was said to be either a reaction against or…
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The Encyclopædia Britannica and the Spirit of Enlightenment

The Encyclopædia Britannica and the Spirit of Enlightenment

On December 6, 1768, the first volume of the first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica was published in London as , ‘A Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, compiled upon a New Plan‘. The Britannica is the oldest English-language encyclopaedia still being produced today. The history of its 15 editions alone would be subject of an entire book. But although it might be the most popular encyclopaedia ever printed, it was not the…
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