The Year was 1095

They started in 1095 and ended in 1271, but the word we use today only came into existence after 1760. The word? Crusade. In 1570 France, it was croisade. It comes from the Latin cruciare, “to mark with a cross.” In this case, Cross. The Latin base is crux. At the Council of Clermont, Pope…

The Year was 1254

On November 1, 1254, when she was 13, Eleanor of Castile married her first cousin, Prince Edward. At 15, he was tall and strong. And he detested his father, England’s King Henry III. Heir to the throne he couldn’t wait to get his hands on, Edward had to wait another 16 years. Henry in fact,…

The Year was 1618

It was 400 years ago almost to the day (Oct. 29, 1618) that Sir Water Raleigh joked, “This is sharp medicine indeed.” He was talking about an axe. Raleigh had done the impossible – born a commoner, he had been knighted. In Elizabethan England, Raleigh did it with daring, intelligence, talent, and not the least,…

The Year was 1559

This prophecy, in Quatrain #I-35, made Nostradamus famous   The young lion will defeat the old one, In the field of battle in single combat, He will pierce his eyes in a cage of gold, Two wounds in one, and then a cruel death.   But what did it mean? The French King, Henri II,…

The Year was 1540

Court painter Hans Holbein had an off-with-your-head mess on his hands. He knew it the instant he laid eyes on sisters Anne and Amalia of Cleves. For once, Holbein’s boss, Henry VIII, was listening to his political advisor and not his heart. As Henry sought Wife 4th, his chamberlain, Thomas Cromwell, warned him, “Look for…

The Year was 1035

When King Cnut died in 1035, it should have been a simple matter to divide his kingdom between his two teenage sons. King Cnut had a wife, Emma of Normandy. They had a son, Harthacnut.  King Cnut also had a mistress, Aelfgifu. And they had a son, Harold Harefoot. King Cnut ruled two kingdoms, the…

The year was 1745

Sophie von Anhalt-Zerbst was supposed to change her language, her religion, and even her first name to be suitable for her prospective husband’s family. While he stayed in his rooms playing with his massive collection of tin soldier armies, Sophie, alone and friendless in her new country, was studying, often pacing her suite of rooms…

The Year was 401 BC

Mother liked him best. She really did. But his father, King Darius II, did not. Cyrus, a golden boy, was the second son. His older brother, Artaxerxes, was heir to the Kingdom of Persia. When the king was ill and dying, after a 24-year reign of political intrigues and open revolts, Cyrus’s mother rushed him…

The Year was 340 BC

That was the year the Macedonian king decided he couldn’t be bothered to deal with a troublesome rebellion in southern Thrace. So he sent his 16-year-old son to take care of it. Not only did the teenager succeed, he renamed the major city after himself – Alexandria. That was the beginning of Alexander the Great….

The year was 1581

Okay, one of the Ivans was truly terrible. But he had a pretty authentic reason to be. When Ivan, the Grand Duke of Moscow, was three and his little brother Yuri, a deaf mute, was two, their father, Czar Vasily III, died. Their mother acted as regent for the babies, but when Ivan was seven,…