Tuesday, May 18, 2010

POPnews - May 18th

[That the Meiji Restoration was responsible for creating the modern nation of Japan out of the tiny, fractious fiefdoms of the late Edo period via the mighty Empire of Japan is a matter of historical record... The jingoism which marked the 45 years of the Meiji Era (leading to the country's military domination of Asia in the first four decades of the 20th Century as well as its disastrous involvement in World War II which brought all that to an end) though, has only recently begun to be studied by English-language scholars, especially those investigating the reigns of Meiji's successors - his son Emperor Taishō (known in life as Yoshihito) and his grandson Emperor Shōwa (the redoubtable Hirohito). The best of these studies, which comes highly recommended by the Pop Culture Institute, is Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan by Herbert P. Bix, which is such a thrilling read that hopefully one of these days I'll be smart enough to finish it!]

Photobucket1152 - Henry, Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy, married Eleanor of Aquitaine at Bordeaux Cathedral; the groom was a 19 year-old noble who within two years would become Henry II of England, and the bride a 30 year-old mother of two whose marriage to France's King Louis VII had only recently been annulled - albeit reluctantly - by Pope Eugenius III, for failing to provide her husband with a male heir*.  She would have no such trouble with her new husband, eventually providing him with five sons (and three daughters besides!); which is no surprise since, as we now know, the sex of a baby is determined by the father. Three of those sons - or two-and-a-half, anyway - would go on to serve as Kings of England: Richard I (better known as Richard the Lionheart), the hapless King John, and the pseudo-monarch Henry the Young King.

*At the wedding of Louis and Eleanor, which took place in the same church 15 years earlier, things had been quite different in at least one way - on that day the bride was 15 and the groom 17 - although in both instances she was far savvier than he!

1268 - The crusader state of the Principality of Antioch fell to the forces of Mameluke Sultan Baibars during the Battle of Antioch, sending Bohemond VI into exile and his title into extinction.

1302 - Following the so-called Bruges Matins - a nocturnal massacre of French troops garrisoned in Bruges by members of the local Flemish militia under Pieter de Coninck and Jan Breydel - only a handful of troops and the governor, Jacques de Châtillon, managed to escape with their lives.

1593 - Playwright Thomas Kyd's accusations of heresy against his colleague led to the issuance of an arrest warrant for Christopher Marlowe; two days later Marlowe appeared before the Privy Council to defend himself, and ten days after that he was murdered in mysterious circumstances...

1765 - Fire destroyed as much as one-quarter of Montreal, including 100 homes.

1803 - At the outset of the Napoleonic Wars the United Kingdom revoked the Treaty of Amiens and declared war on France; in all there had been peace between the two nations since March 25th of the previous year - surely a record! - but soon enough the new Prime Minister William Pitt was organizing the Third Coalition in an effort to curb Napoleon's desire to reign over the whole of Europe.

1804 - Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of the French by the French Senate.

1811 - The Battle of Las Piedras - the first great military triumph in the struggle for Uruguay's independence from Spain - saw a victory by Jose Artigas over Spain's José Posadas.

1848 - The first of Germany's National Assemblies - the Nationalversammlung - met at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt; its existence was both part and result of the March Revolution which united the 39 states of the German Confederacy.

1869 - Japan's Ezo Republic - founded by the remaining supporters of the defeated Tokugawa Shogunate on the island of Hokkaidō - surrendered to the imperial forces of Emperor Meiji, represented by Prime Minister Kuroda Kiyotaka.

1896 - A mass panic known as the Khodynka Tragedy occurred on Khodynka Field in Moscow during the festivities surrounding the coronation of Russia's Tsar Nicholas II, resulting in the deaths of 1,389 people.

1910 - The Earth passed through the tail of Halley's Comet.

1948 - The First Legislative Yuan of the Republic of China officially convened in Nanking.

1959 - The National Liberation Committee of Côte d'Ivoire was founded in Conakry, capital city of Guinea.

1974 - Under the aegis of Project Smiling Buddha, India successfully detonated its first nuclear weapon, becoming the sixth nation to do so.

1980 - Students in South Korea's sixth largest city began demonstrations, calling for democratic reforms; their efforts would bring about the Gwangju Massacre, one of the most brutal events during the dictatorship of Chun Doo-hwan.

1983 - The Irish Government launched a crackdown to defend its radio monopoly, putting Dublin's popular pirate station Radio Nova off the air.

1993 - During anti-EU rioting in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen - caused by the approval of the four Danish exceptions in that day's Maastricht Treaty referendum - police opened fire against civilians for the first time since World War II, injuring 11 demonstrators by firing a total of 113 bullets against them.

2006 - Nepal's post Loktantra Andolan ('Democracy Movement') government passed a landmark bill curtailing the power of the monarchy and secularizing the Himalayan nation, a crucial step in the process that would eventually see Marxist forces outlaw the stabilizing effects of the monarchy of King Gyanendra.
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