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Houston, we have a Problem

Houston, we have a Problem

On April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST Apollo 13 was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module upon which the Command Module depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to…
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Egon Friedell’s Fascinating Cutural Histories

Egon Friedell’s Fascinating Cutural Histories

On 16 March 1938, at about 22:00, two SA men arrived at the house of prominent Austrian philosopher, historian, journalist and critic Egon Friedell to arrest him. While they were still arguing with his housekeeper, Friedell committed suicide by jumping out of the window. Before leaping, he warned pedestrians walking on the sideway where he hit by shouting “Watch out! Get out of the way!“. This was the tragic end of a brilliant…
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Thomas Bodley and the Bodleian Library

Thomas Bodley and the Bodleian Library

On March 2, 1544, English diplomat and scholar Sir Thomas Bodley was born. His greatest achievement was the re-founding of the library at Oxford that was named in his honor. Moreover, he established new ideas and practices library of which also modern libraries still benefit today. The Roots of the Bodleian Library The Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford and it is one of the oldest…
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Victoria and Albert – A Royal Wedding

Victoria and Albert – A Royal Wedding

Victoria Alexandrina was born as the fifth in the line of succession and her childhood was rather unspectacular, as her mother kept her from contact with other children and granted her an excellent home schooled education, wherefore she was able to speak many languages. In 1836, Leopold, King of the Beligians, and uncle to Victoria suggested that his nephew Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha should marry his niece Victoria. After a first…
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Johannes Gutenberg – Man of the Milennium

Johannes Gutenberg – Man of the Milennium

On February 3, 1468, German blacksmith, goldsmith, printer, and publisher Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg – or simply Johannes Gutenberg – passed away. His invention of mechanical movable type printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded as the single most important event of the modern period. The Art or Printing The art of printing presumably laid its foundation in Asia around the 6th century, when Buddhistic priests in China built printing block…
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Henry IV and his Walk to Canossa

Henry IV and his Walk to Canossa

On January 25, 1077, Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV arrived at the gates of the fortress at Canossa in Emilia Romagna beyond the Alpes to declare atonement and to pledge for forgiveness from Pope Gregory VII, who had excommunicated Henry earlier from church. Henry’s act of penance became known as the “Walk to Canossa”. It took wisdom, patience, and self-restraint. It was also a brilliant strategy because he basically forced the Pope to forgive…
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Johannes Diodato opens Vienna’s first Coffeehouse

Johannes Diodato opens Vienna’s first Coffeehouse

On January 17, 1685, Armenian merchant Johannes Diodato (Johannes Theodat) was granted the privilege to serve coffee in the city of Vienna, the former capital of the Holy Roman empire. Thereby, Johannes Diodato opened the very first coffeehouse in Vienna and the habit of coffee drinking soon spread over Europe. Science and Coffee Of course we all know coffee. But, not all of us really do love coffee. Before starting my work in…
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J’Accuse – Émile Zola and the Dreyfus Affaire

J’Accuse – Émile Zola and the Dreyfus Affaire

Title page with Émile Zola’s famous public letter ‘J’accuse…!’ On January 13, 1898, French novellist Émile Zola published an open letter in the newspaper L’Aurore entitled “J’accuse” (“I accuse”, or, in context, “I accuse you”). In the letter, Zola addressed the President of France Félix Faure, and accused the government of anti-Semitism and the unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Army General Staff officer sentenced to penal servitude for life for espionage. The Suspicious Bordereau…
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The Golden Bull and the Holy Roman Empire

The Golden Bull and the Holy Roman Empire

On December 25, 1356, the final chapters of the Golden Bull were decreed by the Imperial Diet at Nuremberg and Metz headed by the Emperor Charles IV. The Golden Bull fixed, for a period of more than four hundred years, important aspects of the constitutional structure of the Holy Roman Empire. It mainly regulated the modalities of election and the coronation of the Roman-German kings and emperors by the electors until the…
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The Revenge of the 47 Ronin

The Revenge of the 47 Ronin

In Genroku 15, on the 14th day of the 12th month (元禄十五年十二月十四日, Tuesday, January 30, 1703), in revenge for the death of their prince Asano, 47 Ronin invade the house of the Japanese Shogunate official Kira Yoshihisa in Edo and kill him and his male followers. The story of the 47 Ronin is one of the most celebrated in the history of the samurai. Described by Japanese historians as a ‘National Legend’,…
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