Friday, March 04, 2011

POPnews - March 4

[It never occurred to me until recently what a hard-on I seem to have for bridges; judging by the number of them which have had their pictures in POPnews - two so far in this week alone - you'd think this was some kind of a specialist blog instead of the scattered ramblings of an intellectual magpie. All this despite the fact that I have no particular fondness for either the science of engineering or the few practitioners of it I've met. Possibly the attraction is an aesthetic one; their tracery of girders aping the delicate filigree of a spider's web so as to belie the harsh industrial reality of their brick and steel and concrete invariably makes for a bloody brilliant photo. It's either that or it's because they're big and hard and long. As soon as I figure out which I'll let you know... Paging Dr. Freud!]

1152 - Frederick I Barbarossa was elected King of the Germans.

1215 - England's hapless King John - excommunicated for refusing to appoint Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury - swore an oath to Pope Innocent III, pledging to join a crusade as penance; the King's actions on this day sent his nobles into a right tizzy, and three months later they compelled him to sign the Magna Carta.

1238 - The Battle of the Sit River was fought in the northern part of the present-day Yaroslavl Oblast of Russia between the Batu Khan and Yuri II of Vladimir-Suzdal; the melee was an important victory for the invaders during the Mongol invasion of Russia.

1351 - Ramathibodi became King of Ayutthaya, which over the next four centuries metamorphosed into Siam, and thence Thailand.

1386 - Władysław II Jagiełło - also known as Jogaila - was crowned King of Poland.

1461 - During England's so-called Wars of the Roses the Lancastrian King Henry VI was deposed by his Yorkist cousin, who then became King Edward IV.

1493 - Explorer Christopher Columbus returned to Europe aboard his ship Niña from his first voyage of discovery to the Americas, putting into port at Lisbon; he returned to Spain ten days later.

1675 - John Flamsteed was appointed England's first Astronomer Royal.

1804 - The Castle Hill Rebellion - in the Australian colony of New South Wales - occurred when Irish convicts (some of whom had been exiled there for their involvement in Ireland’s Battle of Vinegar Hill in 1798) led that colony’s only significant convict uprising, which had been planned by Phillip Cunningham and William Johnston.

1824 - The UK's 'National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck' was founded; in 1858 it was renamed the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), and is still in operation under that name.

1877 - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake premiered at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre.

1890 - Scotland's Forth Railway Bridge - at 1,710 feet in length, the longest bridge in the United Kingdom - was opened by the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII.

1933 - Hoping to quell anti-Nazi rioting, Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss suspended that country's Parliament on a matter of procedure, thereafter ruling as a dictator.

1941 - The United Kingdom launched Operation Claymore on Norway's Nazi-occupied Lofoten Islands, during World War II; initially intended merely as a raid on munitions, during the exercise a crucial component of the Enigma machine was captured, offering Allied code-breakers at Bletchley Park an important advantage.

1977 - An earthquake in southern and eastern Europe and centred on Bucharest killed more than 1,500.

1979 - The first encyclical written by Pope John Paul II - Redemptor Hominis (Latin for 'The Redeemer of Man') - was promulgated less than five months after his elevation to the papacy.

1980 - Zimbabwe African National Union leader Robert Mugabe won a sweeping election victory to become Zimbabwe's first black prime minister; initially a figure of some hope, his rule quickly declined into thuggery and corruption before getting progressively worse.

1982 - Bertha Wilson was the first woman appointed to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada.

2001 - A massive car bomb exploded in front of the BBC Television Centre in the Shepherd's Bush area of west London, seriously injuring 11 people; the attack was the responsibility of the Real IRA.

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