Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Execution of Guy Fawkes


On This Day, 31st January 1606, the infamous Guy Fawkes was executed for his part in the Gunpowder Plot.
During his torture, I mean interrogation, there's a difference apparently, Guy Fawkes was asked the question, "What were you doing in possession of so much gunpowder?"
On November 5th, 1605, Guy Fawkes was found in the tunnels beneath the Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of Gunpowder. Trying to explain your way out of that one and claim innocence would not be easy.
Guy Fawkes asked for the mildly hot poker to be removed from his bottom, a popular interrogation technique still used by the United States, and not torture, as there is a difference. He then said, "to blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains."
"To blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains."
- a popular English drinking game in the early 1600s.

King James, who would have been blown to teeny-tiny bits along with the Palace of Westminster, had Guy Fawkes been able to carry out his plan, had a mild admiration for Fawkes and his steadfastness, resolution, and ability to hold a poker face like no other before him.
The admiration didn't stop the King ordering Fawkes be tortured. I mean interrogated. Although he did indicate the torture, sheesh, interrogation, be light at first.
"Don't use the hedgehogs unless they are completely necessary,"
- the King was heard to say.

Guy Fawkes was tried and found guilty of high treason.
The Attorney General, Sir Edward Coke, took a sip of Pepsi and told the court the conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot should be, "...put to death halfway between heaven and earth as unworthy of both."
And continued, "Their genitals would be cut off and burned before their eyes, and their bowels and hearts removed. After lunch, they would then be decapitated and their dismembered parts displayed so as to become 'prey for the fowls of the air'."
Yep. Sir Edward Coke was a pretty serious guy. Perhaps he should have switched to decaf.
On the 31st January 1606, Guy Fawkes and three of his fellow conspirators, Thomas Wintour, Ambrose Rookwood, and Robert Keyes, were dragged from the Tower of London by a horse to the Old Palace Yard in Westminster.
The other three had their punishments first. Guy Fawkes was to watch as they were hanged, some longer than others, but all were cut down before they died. Whilst conscious, they had their dangly bits sliced off, before they were disembowelled, and finally quartered.
Finally it was the turn of Guy Fawkes. But, it would seem, after being forced to watch the others go through a nasty ending, he didn't much like to suffer it himself.
As he climbed the ladder to the noose, he decided to jump and broke his neck. He was killed instantly. Some say he merely fell, but either way he avoided the eye-watering part of having is little Guy lopped off.
The rest of the procedure was still carried out. His body parts were then distributed to the four corners of the kingdom to be displayed as warning to others that would consider traitorous thoughts.
Fun Fact:
The penis of Guy Fawkes found its way to the Scottish Highlands,
where it was impaled on a twig and set alight using gunpowder from one of the barrels
he had smuggled into the tunnels beneath the Houses of Parliament.

Monday, 30 January 2017

The Execution of Charles I of England


On This Day, the 30th of January 1649, King Charles-The-First-King-Of-England-To-Be-Tried-And-Executed, had his head separated from his shoulders by way of a really sharp axe.
After losing the English Civil war, King Charles-Not-A-Spaniel was imprisoned and tried for treason, and kicking a sick puppy that one time when he was a kid. But, little did the King know, that his days were numbered.
In fact, the king always believed he would be found innocent of all crimes, including puppy-kicking. He couldn't imagine, along with most of the country, that Parliament would not only find him guilty, but they'd also give him the death sentence.
The sentencing was driven by Oliver Cromwell, who hated the king and the monarchy. And puppies. He kicked more than a few in his time. But he had to be seen as a man of the people. So he switched to kicking kittens instead.
Most people break down before they are executed. They cry, they scream, they beg for their life.
Not the Charles-Needed-A-Different-Lawyer. The King asked to wear two shirts. The weather was biting cold, and he didn't want it to cause him to shiver. If the crowds observed him shivering, they might mistake it for fear.
An eyewitness to the execution was interviewed for the BBC News channel afterwards. "We all gasped, we did. They keel'd te king. T'was terrible. An awful thing. But fun."
The eyewitness continued: "They showed his head. Lifted it right up, they did. Dripped blood all over. So we dipped our handkerchiefs in it."
The spectators wanted a souvenir of the day. And those who were close enough dipped their handkerchiefs into the pools of blood dripping on the floor as the King's head was raised and shown to the crowds.
The eyewitness concluded: "That Oliver Cromwell, the one who beat the king, and killed him proper, he did. He watched and smiled. Real pleased with himself, he was. Right proud to kill a king. Watta-git."

Saturday, 28 January 2017

History Facts The Burning Ball

On This Day In History in 1393, Charles VI of France is almost killed, accidentally on purpose, by several masked dancers, who happened to be on fire.
The King of France was attending a masquerade ball, The Bal des Ardents, which translates as "The Ball of the Burning Men", which we hope was name after the event. If it was actually called that before it happened, then suspicions would have been aroused.
Charles VI was known for his awesome dance moves. That king could move. Think John Travolta on ice having an epileptic fit whilst holding seven octopi (or octopuses, or octopuddies) who are also having epileptic fits. Strobe lighting was very popular six hundred years ago. It was an issue.
The King of France, never wanting to miss an opportunity, decided to get up and dance. When shouts were heard from the spectators, "Yo, Kingy, You're On Fire!", Charles VI just assumed they were paying him compliments.
Little did he realise, he was actually on fire.
A torch had been brought into the event by his brother, Louis, Duke of Orleans. Now, we're not saying the King's brother had it in for him, but he really did. The two didn't get along. But, boys will be boys. What can you do?
Well, for starters, you can bring a torch into a packed area and set a few dancers on fire, hoping that fire would spread like, well, fire, and hope the king goes up like a roman candle. Pwoooof.
Although four of the dancers were killed, King Charles VI survived the ordeal.

Monday, 23 January 2017

History Fun Fact January 23rd

On This Day, the 23rd of January 1570, James Stewart, not a very legitimate son of King James V of Scotland, and also Regent to his half-nephew, baby King James VI of Scotland, was assassinated.
What was most interesting about the assassination, was the method.
James Stewart, the Earl of Moray was taking a stroll down the main street in Linlithgow, you know, minding his own business, and planning to usurp the throne from his baby nephew, when James Hamilton killed him by way of bullet from a gun.
This was the first recorded instance of assassination by firearm in history.
Rumours that Lady Mondegreen was also shot and killed at the same time is a myth. It's all down to the mistranslation of a poem.
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o' Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.
In the original Scottish, the poem goes:
Ye Hielands an ye Lowlands O,
whaur hae ye been.
They hae slain the Earl o' Moray,
And lain him on the green.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Michael Crawford in Phantom of the Opera

On This Day, the 19th of January 1942, Michael Crawford was born.
Most of those as old as Crawford, who is old, but oh boy, does he look good for it, will know him as the hapless Frank Spencer in the television series Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. Those a bit younger will know him as the star of The Phantom of the Opera.
Those who are even younger than that will be going, "Who the heck is Michael Crawford?" and "Phantom of the what?" and "Opera? I really love watching her television show."
Michael Crawford originally got the role as the Phantom in the Phantom of the Opera completely by chance. Although it may have involved some under the table tickling of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Little Lord Fauntleroys. No one is quite sure as to the details. But the tickling got so out of hand at one restaurant, the riot police were called.
Andrew Lloyd Webber originally cast British Rocker, Steve Harley, in the role of the Phantom. However, Lord Webber soon realised that was a huge mistake and released Harley from his basement.
Webber started his search for a more operatic singer. By chance, Sarah Brightman, Lord Lloyd Webber's wife, who would play Christine, the female lead (wonder how she ended up with that role?), was taking singing lessons.
Michael Crawford happened to be taking lessons at the same place as Sarah. When Webber heard him sing, he asked Crawford to audition, and was hired immediately. Well, immediately after the first round of under-table-tickling. Apparently, apart from a magical voice, Crawford also has magical fingers.

Friday, 6 January 2017

History Fun Facts for January 6th


On This Day in History in 1540, King Henry VIII married his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.
So ugly was Anne of Cleves, the King referred to her as The Flanders Mare. A horse by any other name. But, at the end of the day, that's what you get from internet dating.
He had been shown a picture of her before the marriage took place, and hadn't met. Oh, big mistake. Although we've all been there. The picture bore little resemblance to Anne's actual likeness. They did get married though.
Yet, for some reason it didn't last long. Later that year in July, King Henry-The-Eighth-Wife-Will-Be-A-Keeper decided to get the marriage annulled and move onto the next one. He promised the marriage had never been consummated, and everyone believed him this time. Who'd pork a horse?
Anne lived happily ever after, which couldn't be said for most of Henry's wives. She was referred to, after the non-marriage, as Henry's beloved sister. She outlived Henry and the other wives, and even saw the coronation of Queen Mary I, Henry's ugly duckling.
On This Day, the 6th of January, 1066, Edward the Confessor became the first King of England to be buried at Westminster Abbey.
That probably had nothing to do with him commissioning the building of the Abbey. Just a coincidence. Harold-Soon-To-Lose-An-Eye-To-William-The-Conker-Player was proclaimed king and crowned king on the same day, using Edward's dead body as a throne.
About 100 years after Edward died, he was canonised by Pope Alexander III in an ancient ceremony of digging up his rotting corpse and shooting him out of a cannon. Yep, pretty sure that's how they made someone a saint back then.
He was soon adopted as the Patron Saint of England, until a total git came along and killed a dragon. Sheesh, I hate that George bloke. Killing dragons should never be rewarded.
Also in the news:
On This Day, the 6th of January, 1066, Harold-Soon-To-Lose-An-Eye-To-William-The-Conker-Player was proclaimed King of England, and also crowned King on the same day, using Edward's dead and still warm body as a throne.
Harold would become the first of three English Kings to die in battle. The other two were Richard-Eats-Hearts-Of-Lions (the 1st) and Richard-Killed-My-Nephews (the 3rd).
Richard-Snacks-On-Large-Kitties suffered a serious case of shot-by-arrow, and Richard-Me-No-Seen-Nephews-I-Promise was hit by a car park.