The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack

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Today in History: The St. Bryce's Day Massacre

Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 13, 2018 at 4:55 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (November 13) in 1002 Aethelred II of England (referred to later as Aethelred the Unread or Unready) ordered the death of all Danes in England. The order is controversial to this day and historians argue over whether or not it was intended to be carried out only against Danish mercenaries who had turned on Aethelred or was directed at all Danes in England as a punishment for the raids being carried out against England since 997. Whatever the intention, the infamous St. Bryce’s Day Massacre occurred. In Oxford, the Danes were chased into St. Frideswide church where they attempted to defend themselves. The church was burnt down with the Danes inside.

 

Sweyn’s invasion the following year was probably inspired at least in part by the massacre. It is thought that his sister, Gunhilde, was one of the victims. It was one of the incidents that led to the conquest of England by Cnut in 1016.

 

Winterhaven--Epic New Fantasy Available for Pre-Order

Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 12, 2018 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (0)

5% off if pre-ordered by 2/7/19. By the author of Legionnaire, an epic new military fantasy:


In the far off Duchy of Winterhaven at the edge of human civilization, a young knight investigates a most unusual murder while the Great Lords of the land scheme to expand their borders and take control of the duchy. A decade of relative peace is about to collapse and only young Dhrugal of Edgefield and his brothers and sister stand between Winterhaven and dark-spun chaos.



Today in History: Voyager I

Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 12, 2018 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (November 12) in 1980, Voyager I made its closest pass to the planet Saturn. It had already observed Jupiter and would go on to observe Saturn’s moon, Titan. It had currently left the solar system and is stills ending readings back to NASA. It is expected to lose power to its instruments in 2025.

Today in History: Blueskin Was Executed

Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 11, 2018 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (November 11) in 1724 Joseph Blake, the notorious highway man known as “Blueskin” was hung for his crimes. Blueskin’s career gives an interesting glimpse into the London underworld in the eighteenth century. He left school to become a professional thief, taking up with Jonathan Wild, a crime lord known as the “Thief-Taker General”. Blake’s run of a good luck ended and he was arrested, but avoided the gallows because he gave evidence against his colleagues that got them hung. (I guess there really is no honor among thieves.) Blake thought he was going to be released and given a reward for his testimony but instead the government held him intending to deport him. He eventually gave sureties for his good behavior and immediately returned to crime, this time leaving Wild’s “employ” and working for a thief named Shepherd. Angry at this “betrayal” Wild used his connections with the constabulary (yes, the master thief apparently had policemen on his payroll) to get Shepherd arrested and then gave testimony against him to get him hung. He then got Blake arrested for the same crime. Blake grew angry before court when Wild refused to “put in a good word” for him and slashed his throat with a pocket knife. (Again, no idea how an arrested criminal gets a pocket knife.) Wild nearly died, spent weeks recovering, lost control of his criminal enterprises, and eventually was hung himself roughly a year after Blake was executed. While there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that Blake was guilty of many notorious acts, the actual testimony that convicted him contradicted the evidence given at Shepherd’s trial suggesting that there were serious problems with the courtroom procedures.

Today in History: A Controversial Execution

Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 10, 2018 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (November 10) in 1865, Captain Henry Wirz was executed by hanging for war crimes against Union soldiers committed while commandant of the Andersonville prison (technically named Camp Sumter). The prison was never completed and the men were housed in a sixteen and a half acre open air stockade in tremendously overcrowded conditions. Wirz was charged with and ultimately convicted of conspiring to harm the health of Union prisoners through torture, great suffering, exposure to the elements in winter and summer, providing impure water and insufficient food, and thirteen acts of personal cruelty including stomping and kicking victims. The execution became controversial when it was learned that the star prosecution witness was not the man he claimed to be and had perjured himself. In addition, critics of the execution pointed out that many of the charges (such as insufficient food and the failure to complete building the prison) resulted from a lack of financial support from the Confederate government and were clearly not the fault of the commandant of the prison. The verdict remains controversial to this day.

Today in History: Kristallnacht

Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 9, 2018 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (November 9) in 1938 the Germans began a night of violence against German Jews called Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass. At least 91 Jews were murdered and 30,000 were arrested and shipped to concentration camps where many more died. Houses, homes and schools were demolished, 267 synagogues were destroyed and more than 7000 business were damaged or destroyed. Kristallnacht was followed by additional economic and political persecution of Jews and is widely seen as the beginning of the NAZIs “Final Solution” and the Holocaust.

Today in History: Moctezuma Welcomes Hernan Cortez

Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 8, 2018 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (November Eight) in 1519, Hernan Cortez was welcomed by the Aztec ruler, Moctezuma, into Tenochtitlan with a great celebration. The Spaniards remained as Moctezuma’s guests for several months but their presence was increasingly resented by the Aztecs. Things fell apart when the Spanish massacred the Aztec elites in their temple. The Spanish claimed that they were preventing human sacrifice. The Aztecs claimed that the Spanish just wanted to steal their gold. It seems probable that both things motivated the Spanish.

Today in History: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 7, 2018 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (November 7) in 1908, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in San Vicente Canton, Bolivia—unless you ascribe to the theory that one or both survived and returned to the U.S. where they lived quietly for the rest of their days.

Today in History: Julian the Apostate

Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 6, 2018 at 5:05 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (November 6) in 355, Roman Emperor Constantius II appointed his cousin Julian to be Caesar (and his heir). Julian would go on to become the philosopher-Emperor known as Julian the Apostate. Julian attempted to reverse the Christianization of Rome not through persecution but by cutting off imperial support for the churches, ending preferences for Christians, and mandating that all religions (including those branches of Christianity deemed “heresies” by the Christian authorities) be treated equally under the law. No more persecution of anyone on religious grounds.


Julian might have succeeded in fatally undermining Christianity but he picked a completely unnecessary war with the Persians and died in combat early in his reign. One of the great alternate history questions is: How would the Mediterranean world have developed if Julian the Apostate had reigned to a ripe old age?


Today in History: The Gunpowder Plot

Posted by Gilbert Stack on November 6, 2018 at 5:05 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (November 5) in 1605 the Gunpowder Plot failed to blow up the English House of Lords and King James I. The plotters were Catholics who had given up hoping that James would extend toleration to them in England and decided to start a Midlands revolt which they hoped would put nine year old Princess Elizabeth on the throne as a Catholic monarch. Today, the most famous of the plotters is Guy Fawkes, after whom, Guy Fawkes Day is named, and who’s memory played a prominent role in the graphic novel and movie, V for Vendetta.


An anonymous letter betrayed the conspirators so that Fawkes was caught with thirty-six barrels of gunpowder in the undercroft (a sort of basement) beneath the meeting room of the House of Lords. It proved too difficult for him to explain what he was doing with all of this gunpowder and he was arrested. He and seven other surviving conspirators were hanged, drawn and quartered.



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