Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pop History Moment: The House Of Windsor Was Born


On this day in 1917, England's King George V declared the House of Windsor in response to the anti-German sentiment then afoot in England, owing to all that unpleasantness we now know as the First World War; formerly the royal family had gone by the name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and was itself a rather illustrious branch of the House of Wettin.

Luckily, I was able to find this Punch cartoon online to demonstrate what the King was trying to do; July 17th - you may remember, going all the way back to this day's POPnews - is also the anniversary of the founding of that venerable publication. In its typically harrumphing style, the cartoon is entitled A Good Riddance.

Probably the most famous quip associated with the announcement belongs to that noted wit, German Kaiser William II, who said when told of the change, he was looking forward to going to the theatre to see Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha*.

*So funny... My sides... Stop it Kaiser Bill, you're killing me...
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"Lotta Love" by Nicolette Larson

Today would have been the 58th birthday of Nicolette Larson, who died in December 1997 of complications arising from cerebral edema; she is survived by her husband, drummer Russell Kunkel*, their daughter Elsie-May, and a stepson Nathaniel from his previous marriage**.

Larson's biggest hit was this 1979 cover of Neil Young's Lotta Love, which appeared on her album Nicolette. The track contains an entirely rocking flute solo which, according to Wikipedia, was performed by Plas Johnson; for our money here at the Pop Culture Institute, very little rocks a pop song as entirely as a flute solo - except possibly a cello solo, depending on our mood.

*Who had a cameo as doomed drummer Eric 'Stumpy Joe' Childs in the 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap.

**To Leah Kunkel, younger sister of Cass Elliot.

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POPnews - July 17th

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[Tsar Nicholas II and his family are considered saints by
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and passion bearers
by the
Russian Orthodox Church within their homeland.]

180 CE
- The Scillitan Martyrs - 12 residents of Scillium in North Africa - were executed for being Christians following a trial, at Carthage, presided over by pro-consul Vigellius Saturninus, who's been singled out by the historian Tertullian as the first persecutor of Christians in Africa. Not only is this is the earliest record of Christianity in that part of the world but the documents related to the case are among the earliest ever written in Christian Latin.

- The Fourth Crusade - commanded by the elderly Doge of Venice, Enrico Dandolo - captured Constantinople following a siege; after the city fell the Byzantine Emperor Alexius III Angelus fled from his capital into exile, whereupon the city served as capital of the Latin Empire.

1402 – Zhu Di - better known by his era name as the Yongle Emperor - assumed the throne of China's Ming Dynasty.

1453 - During the Hundred Years' War the French, led by Jean Bureau, defeated the English under the Earl of Shrewsbury at the Battle of Castillon; although Shrewsbury was killed in battle, he was later immortalized in William Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part I.

1717 - England's King George I sailed down the River Thames on a barge carrying 50 musicians - an altogether appropriate way to give George Frideric Handel's Water Music its world premiere.

1762 - Catherine II became tsar of Russia upon the murder of her husband Peter III, who'd been forced to abdicate six days earlier.

1771 - During the so-called Bloody Falls Massacre, Chipewyan chief Matonabbee - traveling as the guide to Samuel Hearne on his Arctic overland journey - massacred a group of unsuspecting Inuit; the site of the massacre is now located in Kugluk/Bloody Falls Territorial Park near Kugluktuk in Canada's Nunavut, and was designated a National Historic Site by the Government of Canada in 1978.

1791 - Members of the French National Guard under the command of General Lafayette opened fire on a crowd of radical Jacobins at the Champ de Mars in Paris during the French Revolution, killing as many as 50 people.

1794 - Sixteen Carmelite nuns - the so-called Martyrs of Compiegne - were ordered executed by Maximilien de Robespierre at Paris' Barrière de Vincennes (which is nowadays the Place de la Nation) 10 days prior to the end of the French Revolution's Reign of Terror; the women were thereafter buried in Picpus Cemetery, and their deaths later formed the basis for Francis Poulenc's 1957 opera Dialogues of the Carmelites.

1821 - Future US President Andrew Jackson took possession of Florida at Pensacola under the terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty, serving as the newly created territory's first American military governor; in exchange for renouncing any further claim on Texas, the US paid the Kingdom of Spain $5,000,000.

1841 - The first issue of Punch was published, having been founded by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells; the pre-eminent humour and satire magazine in Victorian Britain, it nevertheless strove to give as little offense as possible. Publication ceased in 1992, was revived in 1996 by Mohamed al-Fayed, and the magazine was finally put to bed for good in 2002.

1856 - The 'Camp Hill Disaster', also known as the 'Picnic Train Tragedy' or simply the Great Train Wreck of 1856, occurred when an excursion train known as the Picnic Special and a regularly scheduled train called Amaringo (both belonging to the North Pennsylvania Railroad) collided between Camp Hill and Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. Over 60 people were killed and more than 100 were injured, even though as many as 1,500 people - most of them children - were on the Picnic Special; nevertheless, at the time it was America's worst rail disaster to date.

1918 - Russia's Tsar Nicholas II and his family were murdered at Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, where they'd been held captive since May, by the Bolshevik Party's state police force Cheka.

1936 - Following the electoral victory of the leftist Popular Front, nationalists led by Francisco Franco (among others) attempted to seize the government of Spain. What was intended to be a swift and bloodless coup quickly became the Spanish Civil War, which lasted 33 months, followed by thirty-five years of fascist tyranny on the part of Franco, who finally died in November 1975.

1938 - Douglas Corrigan took off from New York's Floyd Bennett Field bound for California, when by his own admission he became disoriented - in fact, just about as disoriented as anyone ever has - and flew the 'wrong way', landing him the following day at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel in Ireland. Although he forever after bore the name 'Wrong Way' Corrigan, he was in fact a skilled aviator, as well as one of the builders of Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, and doubts remained until his December 1995 death as to whether or not his unauthorized transatlantic flight was really an accident or merely a protest against the bureaucratic red tape he'd have encountered if he'd wanted to make the flight lawfully.

1979 - Nicaraguan dictator General Anastasio Somoza Debayle resigned and fled to Miami.

1996 - TWA Flight 800 exploded off the northern tip of Long Island, New York, killing all 230 people on board early on in its flight to Paris, including Andy Warhol acolyte and interior designer Jed Johnson, Ana Maria Shorter (wife of jazz musician Wayne Shorter), and fashion photographer Rico Puhlman; the circumstances surrounding the destruction of the aircraft are highly suspicious, and have never been adequately explained.

1997 - After 117 years in business, the final F. W. Woolworth stores closed.

1998 - Tsar Nicholas II and his family were properly buried in St. Catherine Chapel in St. Petersburg, 80 years to the day after their murder. Their remains had been dumped and desecrated in a coalmine following their massacre, then moved to a quarry outside Ekaterinburg, where they'd been covered in lime in an attempt to completely eradicate any trace of them.

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