Magna Carta 800th Anniversary

Most have heard of the Magna Carta and its dominant role in placing the English king under the law, but also outlining a number of fundamental rights and liberties that still resonate 800 years after is signing by King John on June 15, 1215 in a meadow at Runnymede. The Magna Carta was a crucial…

Remembering Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” Speech

On June 12, 1987 President Ronald Reagan, standing before the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with the Berlin Wall looming behind him, issued his famous challenge to the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” President Reagan’s words that day have been credited with placing considerable pressure on the Soviet…

Jacques Cartier and the discovery of the St. Lawrence River

Great cities, and great landscapes, are often defined by mighty rivers. These rivers can serve as borders, linkages between people and cultures, and as a timeline of a nation’s history thereby marking its transition and development. Few rivers yield more of an influence to the story of Canada than the St. Lawrence River, and its…

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Reach the Summit of Everest 62 years ago today

Human history is very much about documenting challenges to the limits of the human body, mind and spirit. Few adventures are more grueling and gripping to the imagination that scaling Mount Everest, our planets highest peak. On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary and a Nepalese Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, reached the summit of the 29,028-foot (8,848-metre) Mount…

Martin Luther’s 16th Century notes found

BBC News has reported that a “first edition of one of the most important works of the man who inspired the Protestant Reformation has been discovered in a library in France. The publication by German theologian Martin Luther, called On the Freedom of a Christian, dates back to 1520. This was a year before he was…

10 Great Tips from the Middle Ages

Hello Again Everyone, Here is an entertaining re-post from Medievalists.net on advice from those living in the Middle Ages on a range of topics from the new book ‘Ask the Past: Pertinent and Impertinent Advice from Yesteryear‘ by Elizabeth P. Archibald. “Want to know how to garden with lobsters? How to sober up? Grow a…

70th Anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day

May 8th marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of Germany’s unconditional surrender in 1945. In the wake of Adolf Hitler’s suicide on April 30, 1945, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz was appointed President of the Third Reich in the final 20 days before surrender. Provisionally signed in Reims, France on May 7th, Germany’s full unconditional…

The Battle (and rape) of Berlin 1945

This year we will mark 70 years since the end of World War II. It is difficult ethically to weigh loses in one battle over loses in another in a means to declare which conflict was more brutal and severe. However, symbolically the battle for Berlin, which ended on May 2, 1945, was the zenith…

The Fall of Saigon 1975

It has been 40 years since the fall of Saigon to communist forces near the end of the Vietnam War. It is hard to imagine, but the Vietnam War was fought over a period of 20 years, between 1954-55 and April of 1975. The conflict pitted the communist North, backed by China and Russia, against an…

Commemorating the Armenian Genocide

Yesterday, April 24, 2015 marked 100 years since the official beginning of the Armenian genocide. While this date symbolizes the beginning of a horrific period of mass murder, it is by no means meant to imply that acts of violence against Armenians did not occur before or after this date. It is merely a date…

Marking 150 Years Since the Surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox

This past week marked 150 years since General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate Army at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. The American Civil War was an event of paramount importance to the formation of the modern United States, with remnants of social and racial division still present in relations between African Americans and Caucasians to…

Wishing you all a Happy Easter

Hello Everyone, Wishing you all a wonderful Easter weekend with family and friends. May you celebrate this time of the year with peace and goodwill in your heart. Safe travels to all those who will be crossing oceans and countries to meet with family. And, for the kid in us all: have a fun Easter…

Assyria and the Great Library of Ashurbanipal

BBC News ran a wonderful article earlier this week entitled “The men who uncovered Assyria“. The wanton destruction and barbaric inhumanity that Islamic State (IS) has demonstrated in Iraq, Syria and beyond has brought attention to not only the many innocent lives that have been lost, but indeed monuments, historic sites and invaluable treasures of…

Keep your historical mind in shape…

Happy Spring to You All! I have put together several links that may be of interest to those who want to keep their keen historical minds in shape. There are some wonderful seminars, workshops and travel opportunities for those who want to hone their skills and contribute to some amazing historical projects or learn from…

What happened to England’s WWII POW camps

The extent and state of World War II prisoner of war camps in England has not received the due attention it deserves. While the National Archives in London is riddled with sources and documentary evidence of the almost 1,500 camps across the British Isles during the war, war camps is a memory most would rather…

Remembering the bombing of Tokyo on March 9-10, 1945

While I wish not to harp on the aspect of bombing since my last post on Dresden, the bombing of Tokyo in March of 1945 is certainly worthy of remembrance. In a relatively recent article by Henry I. Miller with Forbes in 2012, Mr. Miller noted: “The nighttime fire-bombing of Tokyo on March 9–10, 1945,…

Renowned Hungarian Corvinian manuscripts digitized

The Vatican Library has recently made available as part of is mass digitization program, a set of beautiful manuscripts from the renowned Hungarian Renaissance King Matthias Corvinus. The world famous Bibliotheca Corviniana, the library of Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490), rivaled only the Vatican collection with 2000-3000 volumes of exquisite examples of humanist works, Greek, and Latin texts…