The Year was 1916

Thanks to Steve Ellis for this idea! Should we blame farmers? What about school bus drivers? No. For Daylight Savings Time, we must blame World War I. Making optimal use of daylight was an idea that was used even in ancient times. The Romans adjusted their water clocks for every month. In 1895, a New…

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 1942

That year, 22-year-old Eddie Slovik fell in love and changed his life. Born in Detroit, Eddie was a tough kid in a tough city. At 12, he quit school and got a job in a store. For helping himself to his boss’s gum, he spent a year in jail. Two years later, Eddie and some…

The Year was 1171 [maybe]

Until that year, when he was nine, Temujin had a wonderful life. He was the oldest son of the chief. Then his father was poisoned. Temujin, his mother and his little brothers were kicked out of the tribe. It was a desperate existence. To stay alive, they ate rats. No surprise, Temujin grew into an…

The Year was 453

Even 15 centuries later, this name, Attila the Hun, brings images of barbaric carnage. The word barbarian came from the word Greeks used to designate anyone who was not Greek. To the urbane Greeks, those people sounded like they were saying “bar bar” and thus became known as barbarophonos. Barbarophonos came to mean ‘bearded and…

The Year was 1917

This was the year the unthinkable happened – a woman ran for Congress. And won! The state was Montana and the woman was Republican Jeannette Rankin. Her achievement was monumental because she was a lobbyist for the suffrage movement. In fact, because she had pushed Montana to give women the vote in 1914, they could…

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 1793

On a hot summer day in Paris, concealing a butcher knife in her long skirts, Charlotte Corday appeared at the gates of Jean-Paul Marat’s house. She told the guards she had names of Marat’s enemies – for the guillotine. And she would give them to no one but Marat. His wife had a bad feeling…

The Year was 1939

Why would all these people be coming to this obscure graveyard? The caretaker could not understand the sudden interest in the nondescript grave of a teenage soldier who had died during a skirmish in the British Mandate of Palestine more than 60 years earlier, in 1939. The teenager, named Harry, had lied about his age…