Monday, May 03, 2010

POPnews - May 3rd

[Currently in Madrid's Museo del Prado, Goya's painting - depicting the execution of Spanish patriots following an abortive uprising against Napoleonic rule the previous day - is a surprisingly contemporary depiction of the oldest of human horrors (namely war) despite the fact that it was completed in 1814. As befitting the painter considered both the last of the Old Masters and the first of the Moderns, his work combines graphic elements which anticipate expressionism and Fauvism to come yet has a careful composition consistent with the classical styles of the past. The result is as shocking, bold, and unforgettable as the event it depicts in capturing a moment in time...]

1491 - Kongo's King Nkuwu Nzinga was baptised by Portuguese missionaries, taking the name João I; the historical record, though, suggests his was a strategic, rather than heartfelt, conversion...

1791 - Poland's May Constitution - Europe's first modern constitution - was proclaimed by that country's Sejm; King Stanisław August's subsequent address to that body (which was essentially his oath to uphold it) had the assembly in tears, especially those in the Patriotic Party, who had lobbied to ensure its reformist intent was approved intact.

1808 - At the outset of the Peninsular War the same rebels in Madrid who rose up against Bonapartian tyranny during the previous day's Dos de Mayo Uprising were executed by firing squad near Príncipe Pío hill - their leader, Pedro Velarde, having died the previous day in battle. The scene was later painted by Francisco Goya as The Third of May 1808.

1815 - During the Neapolitan War the erstwhile King of Naples, Joachim Murat, was defeated by an Austrian army of Francis I's under Frederick Bianchi at the Battle of Tolentino; the decisive engagement of the war, it returned the rightful Bourbon king to the throne as Ferdinand IV, and was a crucial victory for the Seventh Coalition during the period known as the Hundred Days.

1830 - England's Canterbury and Whitstable Railway opened, making it the first steam hauled passenger railway to issue season tickets and include a tunnel.

1837 - The University of Athens was founded; currently Greece's second largest (after Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) it has been open continuously ever since.

1849 - The May Uprising began in Dresden, making it the last of the German revolutions of 1848.

1860 - Charles XV of Sweden-Norway was crowned King of Sweden.

1915 - The poem In Flanders Fields was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a day after he watched his friend, 22 year-old Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, die; the poem was published that December in Punch and has been a perennial reminder of the horrors of war at every Remembrance Day since.

1916 - Fifteen leaders of Ireland's Easter Rising - including all seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation - were ordered executed in Dublin by General John Maxwell; one rebel who managed to avoid the hail of bullets that day (and for nine subsequent days) was Éamon de Valera, who went on to become the first president of the Dáil Éireann and a towering figure of mid-century politics in that country.

1933 - Nellie Tayloe Ross became the first woman to head the United States Mint when she was appointed to the post by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

1957 - Legend has it Walter O'Malley, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, agreed to move the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles.

1960 - The Anne Frank House opened in Amsterdam.

1973 - Chicago's Sears Tower was topped out as the world's tallest building.

1978 - Legend has it the first unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail (which would later become known as spam) occurred when a DEC marketing representative was sent to every ARPANET address on the west coast of the United States; anyway, it easily shares the title with the April 1994 bombardment of 6,000 usenet groups by online immigration shysters Canter & Siegel.

1991 - The Declaration of Windhoek was signed in Namibia, with an aim to increasing press freedom in Africa.

2003 - New Hampshire's famous natural rock formation Old Man of the Mountain collapsed.

2006 - Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison by a court in Alexandria, Virginia, for his role in the 9/11 Attacks.

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