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Charles Gabriel Seligman and the Hamitic Hypothesis

Charles Gabriel Seligman and the Hamitic Hypothesis

On December 24, 1873, British physician and ethnologist Charles Gabriel Seligman was born. Seligman‘s main ethnographic work described the culture of the Vedda people of Sri Lanka and the Shilluk people of the Sudan. He was a proponent of the Hamitic hypothesis, according to which, some civilizations of Africa were thought to have been founded by Caucasoid Hamitic peoples. Charles Gabriel Seligman studied medicine at St Thomas’ Hospital. He later worked…
The Battle of Lützen

The Battle of Lützen

On November 16, 1632, the Battle of Lützen, one of the most important battles of the Thirty Years’ War, was fought, in which the Swedes defeated the Imperial Army under Wallenstein, but cost the life of one of the most important leaders of the Protestant alliance, the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf, which caused the Protestant campaign to lose direction. The Thirty Years’ War was a series of wars in…
Andreas Osiander and Copernicus’ Revolutions

Andreas Osiander and Copernicus’ Revolutions

On October 17, 1552, German Lutheran theologian Andreas Osiander passed away. Osiander published a corrected edition of the Vulgate Bible in 1522 and oversaw the publication of the book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the revolution of the celestial spheres) by Copernicus in 1543. Osiander pursued mathematics as a hobby and editted Cardano‘s Artis Magnae, which introduced the theory of algebraic equations. Andreas Osiander studied at the University of Ingolstadt…
From the French Blue to the Hope Diamond

From the French Blue to the Hope Diamond

On September 11, 1792, while Louis XVI and his family were imprisoned in the Temple in the early stages of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution, a group of thieves broke into the Royal Storehouse, the Hôtel du Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, and stole most of the Crown Jewels during a five-day looting spree. Among those was also the Blue Diamond of the Crown of France, later English-speaking historians have…
The Marquise de Brinvillier and the Affair of the Poisons

The Marquise de Brinvillier and the Affair of the Poisons

On July 16, 1676, French aristocrat Marie-Madeleine Marguerite d’Aubray, Marquise de Brinvilliers was found guilty of murder, convicted on the strength of letters written by her dead lover and a confession obtained by torture. Her trial and the scandal which followed it launched the notourious Affair of the Poisons, which saw several French aristocrats charged with witchcraft and poisoning. We’ve already had a focus on Catherine Deshayes Monvoisin, aka La Voisin,…
Jean-Antoine Chaptal and the Industrial Chemistry

Jean-Antoine Chaptal and the Industrial Chemistry

On June 5, 1756, French chemist, physician, agronomist, industrialist, statesman, educator and philanthropist Jean-Antoine Chaptal, comte de Chanteloup was born. Chaptal authored the first book on industrial chemistry and also coined the name “nitrogen. He was the first to produce sulphuric acid commercially in France at his factory at Montpellier and helped to organize the introduction of the metric system. Jean-Antoine Chaptal studied medicine at the medical school at the…
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on Top of Mount Everest

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on Top of Mount Everest

On May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth, located in the Mahalangur mountain range in Nepal and Tibet, using the southeast ridge route. Tenzing had reached 8,595 m the previous year as a member of the 1952 Swiss expedition. Edmund Hillary grew up near Auckland, New Zealand. During a high school trip to Mount Ruapehu, Hillary’s interest…
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. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin received…
The Flying Serpent of Henham

The Flying Serpent of Henham

On May 27 and 28, a mystical dragon creature was allegedly seen in the village of Henham in Uttlesford, Essex. The dragon was described as some sort of a a winged snake, that attacked several people and then hid in the nearby woods. The first sighting is probably published in ‘The Flying Serpent or Strange News Out of Essex’ in 1669. The article described the following: “The place of his…
The Murder of August von Kotzebue and the Supression of the Liberal Press

The Murder of August von Kotzebue and the Supression of the Liberal Press

On May 3, 1761, German dramatist and writer August von Kotzebue was born. In 1817, one of Kotzebue‘s books was burned during the Wartburg festival. He was murdered in 1819 by Karl Ludwig Sand, a militant member of the Burschenschaften, which gave Metternich the pretext to issue the Carlsbad Decrees, which dissolved the Burschenschaften, cracked down on the liberal press, and seriously restricted academic freedom in the states of the…
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