The Year was 1582

Or was it 45 BC? Or 1752? Or 1929? Or… This was the year that January 1st became New Year’s Day. The first person to decree this was Julius Caesar in 45 BCE. He was disgusted with the mess the lunar calendar had created over time. And emperors weren’t averse to added or taking days…

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 1601

If ever a child was born with everything going for him, it was Robert Devereux, the 2nd Earl of Essex. His mother Lettice was first cousin to Queen Elizabeth I. When he was 10, Robert’s father died and he inherited a title, great wealth and vast estates. Essex’s genes gave him great good looks, height,…

The Year was 1564

The most successful fraud ever? True, according to none other than Sigmund Freud. And Charles Dickens. And Mark Twain. Who were they talking about? Shakespeare. William was born in April of 1564 to a wool merchant. His parents, John and Mary, his sisters and brothers and all three of his children were unable to read…

The Year was 1151

Did King Arthur actually live? Or Guinevere? Merlin, Mordred – were any of them real? Vaguely real? Their tales of quests, of magic, of forbidden love, of betrayal were sung in ballads for hundreds of years before Geoffrey of Monmouth, a professor at Oxford from 1129 to 1151, included Arthur (books 9 and 10) in…

The Year was 1565

Elin did not want to go to England. She was 15, and she was being made to travel with Princess Cecilia from Sweden to London. The purpose of the trip was to talk young Queen Elizabeth into marrying Cecilia’s brother, King Eric. The other five royal ladies of Princess Cecilia’s retinue were all about her…

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…