Saturday, 29 October 2016

History Fun Facts October 29th


On This Day in 437, Valentinian III married Licinia Eudozia.
Valentinian III became Roman Emperor at the age of six years. Thanks to various marriages, births, assassinations, appointments, political dealings and one case of bonking between an aunt and a goat, Valentinian III was the son, grandson, great-grandson, cousin, and nephew (twice over), and pet, of Roman Emperors.
Through the marriage to Licinia Eudoxia, the two branches of the House of Theodosius were united.
Licinia was the daughter of Valentinian's cousin, Theodosius II, the Eastern Roman Emperor in Constantinople. Nothing like keeping it in the family. Bunch of sickos.
On the 16th of March, 455, Emperor Valentinian was assassinated in Rome.
Valentinian was in Rome, out on the Campus Martius, about to do a spot of archery practice. He was with his friend and adviser, Heraclius, no relation to Hercules.
As they dismounted their horses, Optelas and Thraustelas, both real names, who had been devout followers of the now undead zombie General Aetius, attacked the Emperor with their swords.
Optelas swiped at Valentinian's head -- a glancing blow.
Valentinian turned to see what occurrence had interrupted his tranquillity on this splendid, sunny ... what the heck is all this blood pouring from the side of my head?
Optelas then delivered the death-strike. Right in the throat. All the way through. Right up to the hilt and then he pushed his hand and arm through the slit. And then his head and shoulders. He couldn't stop there. He climbed all the way through the hole, emerging on the other side covered in honey.
At the same time, Thraustelas, compatriot of Optelas-Honey-Monster, struck down the Emperor's companion, Heraclius. He stabbed him with the pointy end.
It was rumoured at the time, that these two men were goaded into killing the Emperor and Heraclius by Petronius Maximus, as his political advancement had been dealt a crippling blow by Heraclius.
The Emperor had also raped Maximus' wife, Lucina. So, there's a motivation that also sounds plausible.
Onlookers, and a dude called Priscus, noted an odd situation following the death of the Emperor.
True Story: As Valentinian lay dead on the ground, a swarm of bees appeared from nowhere, circled the Emperor's body, and then landed on it and sucked up all his blood.
Now, I know what you're thinking. I made that last bit up, as these articles have "added humour." However, that was an actual account from Priscus. The Bees swarmed the Emperor's body and sucked up his blood.
On This Day In History, 1618, Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded for allegedly conspiring against the English King, James I.
Walter Raleigh was a one time favourite of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Not saying they played does-the-rug-match-the-curtains, but it's entirely possible.
In Brief: On March 20th, 1616, after 13 years, Sir Walter Raleigh was freed from his prison in the Tower of London.
As I said, Sir Walter Raleigh was the one-time favourite of Queen Elizabeth-I-Am-Ginger-It's-Not-A-Wig. Although they did have their rocky patches in an on-off and off-on and almost Off-With-His-Head relationship.
In March 1603, Sir Walter Raleigh and the Queen of Virgins were best of buds. Raleigh was in the good books of the monarch and stood to profit from her generosity.
Then, on the 23rd of March, she kicked the bucket.
As Sir Walter Raleigh said, "Oh, carp-on-a-stick."
Elizabeth the first's successor, King James-Just-Got-An-Upgrade, took a disliking to Sir Walter Raleigh.
Probably due in no small part to a clash of personalities. King James, although 1st of England, had been King James VI of Scotland.
A suave, dashing, charismatic English knight of the Realm, versus the Scottish-Turned-English-But-Still-Scottish King.
There were some differences between them, to say the least.
On the 19th of July, 1603, Walter Raleigh was arrested and charged with treason.
He'd been implicated in the Main Plot, the first but not the last plot that decade, to overthrow King James' rule.
Not yet. There has to be a trial. Sheesh, you guys are bloodthirsty.
Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London - where good men go to die.
On the 17th November, 1603, the trial began in the Great Hall of Winchester Castle.
Although, some might say, the outcome had all ready been decided. But not me. I have confidence.
All those present approached the trial free from any preconceived ideas of Raleigh's guilt. They'd look at the evidence and decided fairly.
The main evidence against Sir Walter Raleigh at his trial consisted of a sworn confession from Henry Brooke, the 11th Baron Cobham. Incidentally, Raleigh and Cobham were best of friends. Obviously not after Raleigh found out Cobham had just stabbed him in the back. But, back in the day, they used to do a spot of ten-pin hedgehog bowling at the local pub.
Sir Walter Raleigh demanded Cobham be summoned to testify at the trial.
On the first day, Raleigh spoke quite passionately and insisted the evidence was mere hearsay: "Let my accuser come face to face and be deposed. Were the case but for a small copyhold, you would have witnesses or good proof to lead the jury to a verdict. And I am here for my LIFE."
Nothing worked. The court refused to summon Cobham and allow him to be cross-examined by Raleigh, who was acting as his own attorney. Not a great idea. But given the foregone conclusion of the outcome of the trial, it probably didn't matter.
Sir Walter Raleigh was found guilty of treason.
Sheesh, what is wrong with you guys?
Not "off with his head". King James decided to spare Raleigh's life. Instead, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, never to be set free.
However, on the 20th of March, 1616, Raleigh walked free from the Tower.
Fun Fact: Walter Raleigh's son, Carew, was conceived and born whilst Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
The following year, in 1617, Raleigh was pardoned by the King. He was then told to sail across the oceans in a great second expedition to Venezuela in search of El Dorado and its famous stash of gold.
And if you happen to find any dinosaurs, bring one of those back, too. Preferably a T-Rex. There're awesome.
But, alas, no gold and no dinosaurs. What a jerk.
It's probably why James I of England decided to seal Sir Walter Raleigh's fate. He was eventually executed in an Off-With-His-Head ceremony on this day in history, 1618.

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