history

The Salem Witch Trials

The Salem Witch Trials

On September 19, 1692, Giles Corey, who was accused of witchcraft along with his wife Martha Corey during the Salem Witch Trials, was subjected to pressing in an effort to force him to plead, but instead he died after two days of torture. The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. The trials resulted in…
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Johann Friedrich Struensee – A Royal Affair

Johann Friedrich Struensee – A Royal Affair

On August 5, 1735, German physician Johann Friedrich Struensee was born. He became royal physician to the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark and a minister in the Danish government, where he tried to carry out widespread reforms. His affair with Queen Caroline Matilda caused his downfall and dramatic death. Johann Friedrich Struensee – Early Years Johann Friedrich Struensee was born in Halle as the second of six children of the pietist…
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Eugene Vidocq – The Father of Criminology

Eugene Vidocq – The Father of Criminology

During the night of 23 to 24 July 1775, French criminal and criminalist Eugène Vidocq was born. Vidocq is considered the world’s first private detective and father of modern criminology. His life story inspired several writers, including Victor Hugo and Honoré de Balzac. “I thought I could have remained an informer forever, so far from the thought of suspecting that I was a police agent. Even the door closers and the guards had…
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Herostratus burning down one of the Seven Wonders of the World

Herostratus burning down one of the Seven Wonders of the World

On July 21, 356 BC, Herostratus, in an attempt to immortalise his name, set fire to the to the wooden roof-beams of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. For this outrage, the Ephesians sentenced Herostratus to death and forbade anyone from mentioning his name. Eversince this time, the term “Herostratic fame” relates to Herostratus and means, roughly, “fame at any cost”. The Temple of Artemis Modern archaeologist…
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The Case of the Last Condemned Witch – Anna Göldi

The Case of the Last Condemned Witch – Anna Göldi

On June 13th 1782, the maidservant Anna Göldi from the tiny Swiss canton Glarus was executed by the sword as being one of the very last women in Europe condemned for witchcraft. Concerning her case also for the very first time the term ‘judicial murder’ has been coined. Anna Göldi – Background Anna Göldi came from a poor background and worked as a maid. She gave birth to two children. The first died…
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The Viking Raid on the Abbey of Lindisfarne

The Viking Raid on the Abbey of Lindisfarne

On 8 June, 793 AD, Vikings destroyed the abbey on Lindisfarne, a centre of learning that was famous across the continent. This event also is considered as the beginning of the Viking Age, when Scandinavian Norsemen explored Europe by its seas and rivers for trade, raids and conquest. Recently, this first Viking assault has gained more public interest because of the popular tv series “Vikings” (“Wrath of the Northmen“), in which the…
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Joseph-Ignace Guillotin’s Opposition to the Death Penalty

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin’s Opposition to the Death Penalty

On May 28, 1738, French physician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was born. Guillotin is best known for his proposition of the use of a device to carry out death penalties in France, as a less painful method of execution. While he did not invent the guillotine, and in fact opposed the death penalty, his name became an eponym for it. The actual inventor of the prototype was Antoine Louis. “The guillotine is a machine…
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William Whewell and the History of Science

William Whewell and the History of Science

On May 24, 1794, English polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science William Whewell was born. What is most often remarked about Whewell is the breadth of his endeavors. He published work in the disciplines of mechanics, physics, geology, astronomy, and economics, while also finding the time to compose poetry. One of Whewell’s greatest gifts to science was his wordsmithing. Amongst others, he also coined the word “Scientist”. “Every…
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Sir Leonard Woolley and the Excavations in Ur

Sir Leonard Woolley and the Excavations in Ur

On April 17, 1880, British archaeologist Sir Charles Leonard Woolley was born. Woolley was best known for his excavations at Ur in Mesopotamia. He is considered to have been one of the first “modern” archaeologists, and was knighted in 1935 for his contributions to the discipline of archaeology. Leonard Woolley – Early Years Leonard Woolley was born in London, the son of a clergyman, and was brother to Geoffrey Harold Woolley, VC, and George Cathcart Woolley.…
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The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society

The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society

On March 6, 1665, the very first issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society was published. The journal published by the Royal Society was the first journal in the world exclusively devoted to science. Moreover, it is also the world’s longest-running scientific journal. “Had I been a literary man I might, perhaps, have moralised upon the futility of all ambition. But as it was, the thing that struck me with…
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