History of Alexandria

Ancient Ruins of Alexandria

Alexandria’s history dates back to its founding in 331 BC, by Alexander the Great, when he decided that the Egyptian port of Rhacotis would be a natural base for future operations in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Located close to the Nile Delta, and well placed for trade and warfare in the Middle East.  Alexander built a new extension to the port of Rhacotis, and renamed the town and port after himself; Alexandria.

Alexander designed the layout of Alexandria, marking the position of the market square, temples, library, museums and royal palaces.  However, he would not live long enough to see the early construction come to be, for he died in 323 BC.

Alexander’s General; Ptolemy brought his body back to Alexandria.

Alexander the Great funeral cortege

In the hot scorching summer of 321 BC, the glittering procession inched its way, like a great golden caterpillar, slowly travelling westwards from Babylon.  At each city along the route, crowds gathered to stare in awe, to pay homage.  Never had there been such a magnificent display: the golden carriage with its garlanded columns, a Greek temple on wheels, an elegant train of sixty-four mules yoked four abreast, halters ringing as they walked; the regiments from Persia, and Macedonia marching in solemn grief and honour; and beneath the temple portico, canopied in purple, fragrant with spices, the coffin of hammered gold.  For the Emperor was dead, Alexander the Great he who had conquered Egypt and Asia, supreme hero and lord to half the known world, cut down by a fever at the age of thirty-three.  Now his body being transported home for burial.

Alexander had been born in Macedonia, a primitive Greek state north west of the Aegean.  Egypt worshipped him as a God.  His upbringing had been Greek in his eyes.  The final seat of his empire was Babylon, where his body had laid in state for some twenty-four months.

Ptolemy, boyhood friend of Alexander, marched an army to Syria, where they awaited the cortege, intent on paying homage to Alexander.  Ptolemy seized control of the cortege, and turned the procession, this gleaming carriage and golden coffin towards Egypt.

A tomb of dazzling splendour glistened in the mid-day sun, as it took shape in Alexandria, the city the Emperor had raised on the Nile Delta and there his body would remain for countless centuries, attended by priests and worshipped by pilgrims.

Under Ptolemy, Alexandria’s successor in Egypt, a new city was born with Alexandria becoming the seat of the Ptolemaic’s kingdom, and so it grew in size, becoming one of the greatest cities of the Hellenistic world.  It began its path, a transformation into a city of learning.

One of Alexandria’s earliest buildings to be constructed was the lighthouse, on the small island of Pharos, close to the harbour entrance of Alexandria.

Alexandria’s Lighthouse

The lighthouse, built in three levels rose some 300 plus feet and crowned with the statue of Zeus.  During the Islamic period, the third tier was replaced by a Mosque.

Around 1200 AD, a mosaic depicting the lighthouse was constructed in the Chapel of St.Zeno in St.Mark’s Venice.

The lighthouse worked by means of a fire at its base, and reflected by mirrors from the top, seen by many a mariner far out to sea.

Royal Library of Alexandria

Alexandria’s famous library was started by Ptolemy I and completed by his successor Ptolemy II, he whose name will be remembered in writing to other rulers, asking them to donate books to Alexandria’s library.  The library grew in size with collections of Egyptian and Greek literature, ancient religions and some 70,000 papyrus scrolls.

Ships entering Alexandria’s harbour were searched and books were seized and taken to the library.  The decision would be made whether to confiscate, replace with a copy or return to said owner.

The Ptolemies projected their city as the home of Greek culture and the centre of scientific research, which led to the construction of Alexandria’s Museum, which was much like a university in stature.

Great scholars were offered the chance to study in Alexandria, the like of:

Eratosthenes, who calculated the circumference of planet Earth within fifty miles, and went on to map and catalogue some 700 stars.

Aristarchus, who promoted the idea that Earth turned on its own axis, as it moved round the sun at the same time.

Third century BC surgeons; Herophilus and Erasistratus scientific studies discovered much about the workings of human anatomy.  They acquired their information via human vivisection, and their patients were convicted criminals.  Celsus a Roman writer of medical history justified their actions in the use of criminals for medical exploration.  These criminals died, that future illnesses could be resolved, they died that many would live.

Ctesibius the scientist invented the Organ, which worked by pushing air through pipes using a hand-operated pump.  Each pipe would be played by pressing a note upon a board.  This would be the beginning of the keyboard.

It was here that the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew into Greek, for the Jews of Alexandria.

Assassination of Julius Caesar

On the 15th March 44 BC, Julius Caesar was assassinated by Senators in the portico of the Basilica of Pompey the Great.  His assassins were Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus along with sixty conspirators.  Caesar was stabbed twenty-three times, dying at the base of Pompey’s statue.

Mark Antony and Cleopatra

Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) became Cleopatra’s consort and lover, and they left Rome for Alexandria.  The city became their base of operations for the next thirteen years, until Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) and Cleopatra were defeated by Octavian Caesar at the “Battle of Actium in 31 BC.

In the year 30 BC Cleopatra and Mark Antony took their own lives.  With Cleopatra’s death, the Ptolemaic line came to an end.

Octavian became Rome’s first emperor, taking the title; “Emperor Augustus” and the city of Alexandria became part of the Roman Empire, ruled by Augustus Caesar.

The city of Alexandria was destroyed in the “Kitos War” of 115 AD, and restored by Emperor Hadrian, a man of learning (117-138AD).  The Greek translation of the Bible, composed in the city of Alexandria was completed in 132 AD, to take its place amongst the great books in the cities library.

Religious scholars frequented the library for research.  Alexandria attracted many faiths.

During the reign of Emperor Augustus Christianity grew in popularity, whilst many disputes took place between Jews and Pagans.

Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (272-337AD) passed the “Edict of Milan” in 313Ad, calling for religious tolerance.  Under this new law Christians were no longer liable for prosecution.

Alexandria a former city of prosperity and learning, became the arena of religious contention between Christian faith and the old pagans.  Very quickly, Christian’s spoke out and struck against the symbols of the old faith, with the intent on toppling it.

Nowhere more than in Alexandria, were these changes more apparent.  For under the reign of Emperor Theodosius I, paganism was outlawed and Christianity was encouraged.

In 391 AD the Christian Patriarch Theophilus ordered that all the pagan temples in Alexandria were to be destroyed, or alternatively converted into churches.

Come 400 AD Alexandria had reached a point where it was in constant religious turmoil.  In 415 AD the Neo-Platonic Philosopher; Hypatia was murdered.  Around this time Alexandria’s Great library was destroyed by fire and the temple of Serapis was also destroyed.

The city of Alexandria became a battlefield for warring faiths.  Then conquered by Sassanid Persians in 619, then Christian Byzantine Empire led by Heraclius claimed the city in 628, and lost it in 641 to Arab forces under Caliph Umar.

In 645 the city was captured by a Byzantine fleet, and lost in 646.  The 975 years of Greco-Roman control had reached its conclusion.

Alexandria came under the control of the pirates of Andalusia (814-827), and later the city would fall into Arab hands.

In the year 828 it was claimed that the body of Mark the Evangelist was stolen by Venetian merchants which led to the Basilica of Saint Mark.

In the years 956-1303-1323, Alexandria suffered at the hands of Earthquakes, which almost destroyed the city.

The city of Alexandria became a forgotten city of the east, until it emerged during the years of the Crusades, and flourished through trade.  In the year 1365, Alexandria was sacked, after suffering at the hands of Crusaders, led by King Peter of Cyprus.

Alexandria fell into decline and by the latter part of the Ottoman period, it had been reduced to a small fishing village.

In 1798 Alexandria was captured by the French army under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte and soon after captured by the British, who held onto it for 150 years.

What was not destroyed by war, nature played its part, destruction by earthquakes as the Port of Alexandria and the lighthouse was lost…


Ireland’s 19th Century Famine (1879)

The Great Famine

Ireland’s last famine had been in 1845-1852 which caused mass hunger and deaths, yet twenty-seven years later in 1879; they had not fully recovered, and would be struck down once again.

The country’s poor farmers, lived as tenant farmers, and were subject to landowners whether they had a roof over their head.  Any improvements to the land or their homes became the property of the landlord upon termination of lease or eviction.

Farm produce and prices had seen a growing economy between 1852 through to the 1870’s, and tenants had seen their rents increase.  With high crop yields, and good sales, everybody was happy.  Suddenly without warning, the weather conditions changed in 1874, covering most of Europe, which saw poor harvests in the following years.

What they had dreaded most, was just around the corner, waiting to strike.  Blight, hit the potato crops of Ireland once again, and the people knew what was coming next; starvation and famine, as many had lived through the previous famine, and lived to tell the tale.

Help came from abroad; Wheat from USA and Ukraine, Meat from Argentina and Australia, to keep the prices down for producers, and help a country weather a bad storm.

Back in the 1850’s, a new form of tenancy agreement had been laid down.  The old lease was referred to as “lease of three lives” which is exactly what it meant within any family unit.  This was replaced by an annual or eleven month lease, thus long-term security had gone.

Twenty-seven years had passed, and the farmer’s and labourer’s had become organised.  Now they were represented by the “National Alliance” better known as the “Land League” (Much like our unions of today), led by Charles Stewart Parnell.  The land league was financed by donations from America, but their actions against landowners, was nothing short of hostile.  They physically blocked evictions in mass and burnt leases in public places, showing their contempt.

One of the worst area’s was Connacht, for it suffered from poor quality of land, more rain than most other parts of Ireland, which equalled poor farmers, and reduced crops and levels of food.

When the first signs of bad crops appeared in the Connacht area in 1879, they knew what was coming… hunger and famine.  They didn’t need to be told, you could see the frightened look upon their faces, and the fear in their eyes.

Parnell’s Land War brought British political reforms for Irelands small farmers and tenants to a head.  William Gladstone, the then British Prime Minister had to act, before it got seriously out of control.  The former Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Act of 1870, was replaced in 1881, with the “Occupation and Ownership of Land in Ireland Act,” which was designed to create official rent reductions, and would recognise the interest of tenants, on leased land.

Parnell, further enhanced his demands upon the British Government, by promising to stop disruptions across the land, if all unpaid rents were cancelled.  They had no choice, but to agree.

The “Wyndham Act” of 1903, was brought in to help Irish Tenant Farmers, and would see an end to their unstable lifestyle.  Over a period of time, they would see their life of poverty fade in the distance behind them.  Tenants could purchase land from their landlords, at a fair price set by the government, and pay the money to the government, spread over many years, without causing any hardship.

Many of the world’s poorest countries have relied on a single crop for survival in much the same way as Ireland did during its famine years.  This has proved to be a disadvantage, as weather and diseased crops can wreak havoc across countries, and thousands of people face hunger, and the thought of famine.

Ireland’s 19th Century Famine (1847-1852)


The people, the country had never properly recovered from the 18th century famine of 1740-1741, where up to a million people are believed to have lost their lives.

Ireland became governed by the English in 1801, and many considered the country was on the verge of starvation, with an ever increasing population.  A high number of the workforce was unemployed, and living standards were low.

Irish Catholics are believed to make up eighty per cent of the population during the 19th century, and most lived in conditions bordering on the verge of poverty.

The impoverished tenants were paid low wages to work the land.  Whilst other’s leased the land from the landowners.  Much land was owned by the Protestants.  Large estates tended to be owned by Anglo-Irish families, who lived in England, and were referred to as “Absentee Landlords.”

In 1843 a Royal Commission was set up under the Earl of Devon, with regards to the occupation of Irish lands.  Those attended were landlords, for not a single tenant was present.

It was said, that the Irish labourer’s family lived on potato and water, their cabins offered little protection against the elements, and a bed or blanket would be classed as a luxury.

The agent or the middleman, leased large areas of land, from the landowner’s, and fixed rents accordingly.  Holdings of land were often broken down into smaller lots, to create larger income, a system known as conacre.

Tenants property improvements, became the property of landlords, when lease expired or ended, so hardly any improvements were undertaken.  Their security was none, they could be turned out, whenever an agent or landlord wished … they lived in fear of that day coming.

The 1841 census showed Ireland’s population sat a little over eight million, and some six million depended on agricultural work, but did not receive a liveable wage.

They would work for a landlord, and receive a patch of land to feed their family.  It was so small; they had no choice but to grow potatoes.  This forced many people into a peasantry lifestyle.  That piece of land was the difference between life and death.

A report by the English Government in 1845, just before the famine struck Ireland, concluded that one third of all small holdings were insufficient in size, to support families, once rent had been paid.

By the late 17th century, the potato supplemented the principal food diet of milk, butter, bread, and grain products.  By the early part of the 18th century, it became the main food for the poor.

The potato crop failures in Ireland were widespread across the land in 1841 and 1844, and the cause was confirmed as that of “Blight.”  It was put forward, than the infection more than likely originated from America, for Blight had killed off large crops in 1843 and 1844.

By the early autumn of 1845, most of Europe including Ireland had seen their potato crop struck down by this deadly disease, and by December 1846, three quarters of their potato crops had been destroyed, and some three million people faced hunger.

Ireland asked England for help, stating if we belong to the realm, what the exchequer can do for us.  Dublin asked for ports to be open for imports, and money for public works.  Lord Heytesbury, considered they were premature in their request, but it would be investigated.

John Mitchell a young political writer, raised the question of the Potato Disease, and if something was not done soon, millions of people would starve, and famine would spread across the land.  In desperation to get his words across, he produced leaflets which included the phrase: “The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the famine.”

They were indeed dangerous words, and he was charged with Sedition, and sentenced to 14 years and transported to Bermuda, under the charge of the Treason Felony Act.

The Prime Minister at the time was Robert Peel, and he had been shocked by the findings on the report of conditions in Ireland.  This led him to purchase £100,000 worth of maize and cornmeal from America on the quiet, for his own party would not agree with his actions.  The first shipment arrived in February 1846.

Later that year Robert Peel wanted to change the rules of the Corn Laws, which was keeping the price of bread high, thus stopping cheap grain being imported.  Ireland’s people needed help, and his actions placed him on the opposite side of the fence to his own party … but he was doing, what he believed in.

On the 25th June 1846, he lost a vote in the House of Commons, and on the 29th June, as the famine worsened and his hands were tied, he was forced out of office.

Lord John Russell, replaced Robert Peel, and introduced a range of public works projects, so hundreds of thousands of Irish dug holes, and broke up roads, to earn money to feed their families in the short term.  Then administrators under his command halted the public works program, which meant no work, no money to buy food.  So they introduced workhouses and soup kitchens through the Poor Law.

The costs involved in the administration of the Poor Law fell upon the landlords, who in turn evicted their tenants to reduce their liability.

The Times newspaper, stated that England had created mass poverty, allowing landlords to suck the very life-blood from the Irish people.

There was a clause within the Poor Law, making it illegal for those holding a quarter of an acre or more of land, from receiving relief…

So it was, if you leased land, from the landowner, and became an agent.  Then leased the said land to tenant farmers, you had no choice, but to eject your tenants, return the land to the owner, before you can apply for relief.

Records showed that during the worst years of the famine, Ireland still continued to export food, to England.  Their potato crop had failed, even so they exported enough grain crops to sustain the population.  It was referred to as a “money crop” not a “food crop.”  Therefore it was shipped abroad, while their people starved; men, women and children.

The relations between England and Ireland provoked much anger and hostility, as Ireland starved, and the English survived on Irish produce.

Landlords found themselves responsible for paying rates, where tenant’s rents equalled less than £4.00 per year in 1846/47.  This led to mass evictions, thousands evicted, homes levelled and burnt before their very eyes.  It was not surprising that some tenants rebelled, and some landlords died.

During the height of the famine, the Irish fled their homeland for pastures new.  It is known that some 100,000 (1847), 90,000 (1849) and 104,000 (1850) fled but this was just a small number known to have escaped to; England, Scotland, America, Canada and Australia.  More often the younger family members were the ones who would seek out a new life.

The famine was responsible for depopulation of an overcrowded country … and as many as 1,500,000 are known to have died.

In 1852, and the famine was over, as Ireland and its people started getting back on its feet.  Then in 1854, nearly two million left their homeland, to avoid starvation and poverty, in the future.

If one takes a look at the history of Ireland, and to this day many questions remain unanswered as to who is directly responsible for the famine that swept through their land.

The exportation of food during the famine to England, as the Irish died from starvation, is a part of history that will never be forgotten!

King Richard III

Richard III Facial Reconstruction a
King Richard III (Facial Reconstruction)

Richard Plantagenet was born on 2nd October 1452 at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire.  He was the youngest son of Richard, Duke of York who died at the battle of Wakefield on 30th December 1460, and his wife, Cecily Neville.

Edward, Richard’s eldest brother, seized the English throne in March 1461, and went on to defeat the Lancastrians at Towton on the 29th March that year.

The newly crowned King Edward IV now assumed responsibility for the upbringing of his brother’s.  George became the Duke of Clarence, and Richard, was appointed Duke of Gloucester.

King Edward IV married a Lancastrian widow; Elizabeth Woodville, who became his Queen Consort of England in1464, but the Earl of Warwick, his most powerful ally, had favoured a political match with a European Princess.

Richard accompanied his brother Edward when he was driven into exile on the continent in 1470 and on their return to England in 1471.  Richard Duke of Gloucester was given command of the vanguard at the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury.

These battles were resounding victories and both the Earl of Warwick, and the next heir, Prince Edward of Wales, were killed in battle, and the former King; Henry VI, died a few days later in London.

Richard now assumed new responsibilities in line with his position.  He had been admiral of England since 1461, and he was now appointed constable.

In 1462 he married the Earl of Warwick’s youngest daughter Anne, who was the widow of Prince Edward who had been killed at Tewksbury.

Richard and his new wife the Duchess Anne took up residence in the north of England, and he became Warden of the West Marches of Scotland, holding the north against incursions from Scotland.  Anne bore him their only child; Edward of Middleham in 1473, also known as Edward Plantagenet.

King Edward IV fell ill in the Easter of 1483, and named his brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester as Protector after his death, and entrusted his young sons, the two little princes; Edward and Richard to his care.  On the 9th April 1483, King Edward IV died, aged 40, and he was buried at Windsor Castle.

Richard hearing of his brother’s death headed to London, fully realizing that the young Prince Edward (aged 12), would become successor to the English Throne.  On route he was joined by the Duke of Buckingham.

Political factions were immediately formed, each believing they had an important role to play in the new government of England.

Richard escorted his nephew, Edward V, the new King of England, to the Tower of London, arriving on the 4th May.

On the 16th June, Richard Duke of York left the sanctuary of Westminster Abbey, and joined his brother in the royal apartments at the Tower of London, ready for the coronation on the 22nd June.

Revelations came to pass, by one Dr. Ralph Shaa, on the 22nd June, brother of the mayor, declaring to the citizens of London, that King Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was illegal.  This was because of a pre-contract of marriage between Edward IV and Lady Eleanor Butler and the clandestine nature of the King’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville.

First their had been a contract of marriage between Edward and Lady Eleanor Butler (born Talbot) before he married Elizabeth Woodville in 1464.  They had their own private wedding, before a handful of witnesses.  No banns were called, no participation by King’s ministers, no priest required … not a wedding in the true sense of the word.

Richard III put forward his argument to Parliament:  The two princes (Prince Edward V and Richard Duke of York), were the children of his other brother, the Duke of Clarence, who was executed for treason.  This would make Richard the rightful heir to the English Throne, as presented to Parliament in the ‘Titulus Regis’ document, and accepted by that assembly.

This news changed everything, and the princes were declared illegitimate, and barred from succession to the English Throne, on the 25th June as pronounced by Parliament.

Once the news was out, that the young princes were illegitimate, they disappeared, never to be seen again.  Were they killed on the orders of Richard III Duke of Gloucester?

The same Parliament, declared Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was to be the next true King of England.

On the 6th July, Richard, Duke of Gloucester was crowned King, together with his wife Anne at Westminster Abbey.

On the 9th April, 1484, Richard suffered his first personal setback, when his son Edward of Middleham, also referred to as Edward Plantagenet, his only son, died suddenly, cause unknown.

Less than a year later on the 16th March, 1485, Richard was to suffer his second personal setback, when his wife, Anne Neville, died of tuberculosis.

King Richard’s reign was overshadowed by the constant threat of a Tudor invasion, and by personal losses he had suffered.

The long awaited and dreaded invasion came on the 7th August 1485, when Tudor’s landed at Milford Haven in Wales.

King Richard III mobilised his forces, and on 22nd August, both armies clashed on Bosworth Field in Leicestershire.

Despite Richard’s much larger and superior army, the battle was lost when the King was slain.  One of his own followers, Sir William Stanley, turned traitor in favour of his step-nephew Henry Tudor.

Richard Plantagenet was the last English King to die on the battlefield.

During his lifetime, Richard had been a loyal brother to Edward IV, administering the north of the realm, and defending the country against the Scots.

The premature death of Edward IV led to a national crisis in which Richard emerged as King of England.

Once Richard had been crowned King of England and his illegitimate nephews were no longer an important factor.  They just disappeared, which led to the greatest controversy surrounding King Richard III: Did he kill his nephews?

According to one story, guards reported seeing the shadow of two small figures, gliding down the steps, in the Bloody Tower, in the late 15th century …  In 1674 workmen found a chest containing two children’s skeletons, believed to be those of the young princes, and were given a royal burial.

Following the death of King Richard III in 1485 at the Battle of Boswoth Field in Leicestershire.  Historical accounts tell us his naked body was taken to Leicester, and buried without pomp or ceremony in the Church of the Grey Friars.

Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, legend has it, that his remains were tossed into a nearby river, by an angry mob.

The mystery that has remained with us, for the last 500 years, is where his body is buried.  The answer to that was answered in September 2012, when archaeologists dug up the skeleton of an adult male who appeared to have died in battle, from under the council car park in Leicester.

The skeleton had a battle wound in the skull, a metal arrowhead lodged between his vertebrae in his upper back.  It showed signs of curvature, which matched Richard III’s believed appearance.  A small penetrating wound, to the top of the head, and a larger one to the base of the skull, along with other shallow wounds to the skull.

What was most revealing and conclusive, were DNA tests showed a direct match to two distant relatives of the monarch.

It was announced to the media on 4th February 2013, the long awaited search was at an end, they had found King Richard III’s remains.

King Richard III’s demise ended the Plantagenet dynasty.  With opinion split over his character.  Some say he was a misunderstood man who ushered in new freedoms, whilst other’s claim he was an evil murderer who killed or had killed on his orders the two young princes in the Tower of London.

The Tudors: Henry VIII’s Wives

the six wives of henry VIII

Henry’s first wife Catharine of Aragon, was a Spanish princess crowned Queen of England in a joint coronation with her husband on the 24th June 1509.

Catherine only gave Henry one child, a daughter named Mary, not the male heir he wanted.

Henry petitioned the Pope for an annulment, which distressed Catherine, when the news reached her, for she could not give him the male heir he so desired.

Political and legal wranglings of the proposed annulment continued for six years.  Then things came to a head, in 1533, when Henry’s mistress Anne Boleyn became pregnant.

Henry rejected the power of the Pope in England, and the Archbishop of Canterbury: Thomas Cranmer granted the annulment.

Catherine was demoted from Queen of England to Princess Dowager of Wales, and died at Kimbolton Castle on the 7th Jan 1536, and was buried at Peterborough Castle.

Henry married his former mistress Anne Boleyn in 1533, making her his second wife, and she gave him a daughter; Princess Elizabeth.

She was much hated at court; Anne Boleyn.  But her fate was determined by her own actions, following a miscarriage.  She was arrested for adultery and incest, and executed in the Tower of London in 1536.

Jane Seymour, became the third of Henry’s wives in 1536, and provided the King with the much awaited male heir; Prince Edward in 1537.  Sadly, she died two weeks after her son was born.

She was buried in Henry’s own tomb at St.Georges Chapel at Windsor Castle in 1537, and would be the only wife to be buried alongside him.

Henry now had the male heir he wanted, but grieved the loss of his former wife Jane Seymour.

Anne of Cleaves, became Henry’s fourth wife, when they married in January 1540.

After six months the marriage was annulled yet Anne remained in England and on good terms with Henry VIII.  It was his wish that she be treated as the King’s sister.  She died on the 16th July 1557 at Chelsea Manor, and was buried in Westminster Abbey on the 4th August 1557.

Catherine Howard, became Henry’s fifth wife; she being an attractive teenager who caught his eye.

They were married on the 28th July 1540, but her love affairs started within a year of their marriage, and soon reached the ears of a furious Henry.

She was arrested at Hampton Court Palace, taken to the Tower of London, where she was beheaded on the 13th February 1542, aged 21, and buried within the Chapel of St.Peter ad Vincula.

Katherine Parr, would be the last of Henry VIII’s wives, when they married at Hampton Court Palace, on the 12th July 1543.  He was 52, and she was 31.

Henry VIII died on the 28th January 1547, aged 57.

Katherine died 15 months later, on the 5th September 1548 at Sudeley Castle, having married Thomas Seymour, and giving birth to a daughter.  She was buried at St.Mary’s Chapel within Sudeley Castle.

Plantagenet Queen: Isabella Capet

Queen Isabella of France

Isabella Capet the daughter of King Phillip IV of France, and of Jeanne of Navarre, married King Edward II of England, on the 25th January 1308, in Boulogne, France, in an arranged marriage between England and France.  She bore Edward II a son in 1312, the future King Edward III, followed later by a second son and two daughters.

By the 1320’s, Isabella and Edward’s dislike for each other, had scaled to new heights.  Edward would spend more time with his lover Pier Gaveston than with his own wife.

Edward infuriated Isabella, by exiling Isabella’s brother; Charles IV of France.  An act which would see his own wife, take drastic actions against him.  Isabella went to Paris in 1325, to see her exiled brother, Charles IV of France, and craftily arranged that her eldest son, Prince Edward, would join her in France.  The stage was now set for a successful coup, in which Edward II would be deposed and be replaced by his son, Prince Edward … and later murdered at Berkeley Castle.

This was the first time that an anointed King of England had been dethroned since Ethelred in 1013.

In 1326, Edward’s wife, Isabella of France, led an invasion against her husband, and had him imprisoned in Berkeley Castle, and in 1327 he was murdered.

Prince Edward, now King Edward III was crowned king of England in 1327, with his mother Isabella and Roger Mortimer her lover as his regents.

In 1330, Edward III took full control of his duties as King of England, and had Roger Mortimer executed, and allowed his mother to live out the rest of her life at Castle Rising.  She was not permitted to leave the grounds.  She haunts this castle her final resting place, and her screams and manic laughter can still be heard to this day.


A small round object sent around the world … changed the course of human history…

Serendipity - Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

When we celebrate the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus on Columbus Day, we should also be celebrating Columbus’s discovery of the potato. More accurately, Columbus’s introduction of the potato from the New World to the Old World. This introduction of New World foods to Europe and the east is known as the “Columbian Exchange”.

The potato, and other native American plants “…transformed cultures, reshuffled politics and spawned new economic systems that then, in a globalizing feedback loop, took root back in the New World as well.” This quote is from an article in the Washington Post on October 8, 2018, titled “Christopher Columbus and the Potato that Changed the World.” The article is by Steve Hendrix.

An example of the potato’s earth-shattering impact is that it helped eliminate famines and fueled a population boom in parts of northern Europe. This made urbanization possible which, in turn, fueled the Industrial…

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