Sunday, April 18, 2010

POPnews - April 18th

[Not only did the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere alert American patriots to an impending British invasion at the outset of the American Revolution, it's since found itself a comfortable niche in pop culture; this 1931 painting by Grant Wood (the painter most famous for American Gothic) is a stylized view of Revere's brave act, but Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Paul Revere's Ride went even further, taking utter liberties with the historical record in the name of art. Plus the entire undertaking is responsible for the phrase 'one if by land, two if by sea' as well, which I always thought was a little too poetic just to be part of the name of a Sandra Bullock-Denis Leary movie, no matter how charming a movie it is.]

1025 - Bolesław Chrobry became the first King of Poland when he was crowned in Gniezno.

1161 - Theobald of Bec - who was appointed by Archbishop of Canterbury by England's King Stephen in 1138 - died; he was succeeded by the altogether more famous Thomas Becket.

1506 - The cornerstone of the current St. Peter's Basilica was laid by Pope Julius II; much of what is now known as Old St. Peter's Basilica - built by Emperor Constantine I between 326 and 333 CE - was taken down or swallowed up by the new building, which was designed by Donato Bramante.

1518 - Bona Sforza - second wife of Sigismund I - was crowned as queen consort of Poland.

1738 - Madrid's Real Academia de la Historia (or Royal Academy of History) was founded by King Felipe V to study history 'ancient and modern, political, civil, ecclesiastical, military, scientific, of letters and arts, that is to say, the different branches of life, of civilization, and of the culture of the Spanish people'; the Academy currently has 370 members.

1775 - Paul Revere and William Dawes warned residents of the countryside around Boston of British troop movements on the evening before the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which would mark the outbreak of the American Revolution. Revere was given the shorter way - via Somerville, Medford, and Arlington - whereas Dawes took a more circuitous route through Boston Neck upon the orders of Dr Joseph Warren to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that they were in danger of arrest.

1797 - At the Battle of Neuwied forces of the First French Republic under Lazare Hoche scored a victory against the Holy Roman Empire and the Hapsburg Austrian forces of General Wermecek.

1831 - The University of Alabama was founded, featuring a strong curriculum of book-larnin', cipherin', and such.

1848 - An American victory by General Winfield Scott against Antonio López de Santa Anna at the Battle of Cerro Gordo opened the way for the US invasion of Mexico during the Mexican-American War; in addition to inflicting heavy casualties against their opponents (including the death of General Ciriaco Vasquez and the capture of his fellow generals Luis Pinzon, Jose M. Jarrero, R. Diaz de La Vega, Manuel Norriega, and Jose Obando) Scott's men forced Santa Anna to flee on horseback without the benefit of his prosthetic leg, which is still on display at the Illinois National Guard in Springfield to this day.

1880 - An F4 tornado struck Marshfield, Missouri, killing 99 people and injuring 100; while there's nothing so unusual about that, according to Ripley's Believe It or Not! one of the survivors was a child in a cradle, found up a tree! That would make this particular tornado one of the most remembered in history, as it has been considered the genesis of the nursery rhyme Rock A Bye Baby, even if it turns out the story is utter bunk; the verse is actually much older, and originated - as these things often do - as an English satire called Lilliburlero.

1909 - Joan of Arc was beatified in Rome by Pope St. Pius X.

1915 - French pilot Roland Garros was shot down and glided (glid?) to a landing behind German lines during World War I; having failed to destroy his plane, its interrupter gear was eventually seized, costing the Allies their tactical edge. The resulting Fokker Scourge brought a new level of carnage to aerial combat.

1923 - Yankee Stadium - also known as The House that Ruth Built - opened; it has since been torn down.

1942 - The Doolittle Raid - the first attack on the Japanese mainland by American forces - was made in retaliation for Japan's earlier attack on Pearl Harbor; although the raid - planned by Lieutenant-Colonel James 'Jimmy' Doolittle - did prove that bombers could successfully be launched from aircraft carriers, the raid was otherwise tactically indecisive.

1949 - The Republic of Ireland Act came into force.

1980 - The Republic of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) came into being, with Canaan Banana as the country's first President.

1983 - A suicide bomber destroyed the US embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people; responsibility was claimed by the Islamic Jihad Organization.

1988 - The US launched Operation Praying Mantis against Iran in the largest naval battle since World War II.

2009 - The Welsh-born actress Stephanie Parker - who played Stacey Weaver on BBC Wales' television series, Belonging - was found hanged near Pontypridd, in an apparent suicide; she was 22.
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