Category Archives: History

July 12

The Mercantile Reign of Julius Caesar

On the 12th or of July 100 BC Julius Caesar is believed to have been born in Rome, Italy, although this date is debatable. A legendary historical figure, he is renown for opposing the military dictator Sulla as a teenager and almost losing his life over it. In his illustrious military career he was decorated […]

July 06

Marc Bloch on Thaumaturgy

On the 6th of July 1886, French Jewish historian Marc L. B. Bloch was born in Lyon, France. Known as the cofounder of the Annales School of French social history, Bloch is considered a quintessential modernist. Born into an academic Alsacian family, he studied in Berlin and Leipzig, fought in the trenches of the Western […]

June 30

Showmanship and Mass Frenzy: Blondin’s Niagara Stunt

On the 30th of June 1859, French acrobat Charles Blondin crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope. “About 25,000 thrill-seekers arrived by train and steamer and dispersed on the American or Canadian side of the falls (…) Both banks grew “fairly black” with swarms of spectators, among them statesmen, judges, clerics, generals, members of Congress, capitalists, […]

June 26

WWII Heroines: Violette Szabo

On the 26th of June 1921, Violette Szabo, daughter of an English cabbie and a French dressmaker was born in Paris. Raised in Britain, she married at a young age, but lost her husband when he was killed fighting against the Germans, leaving behind a young daughter. A skilled shot with a rifle who could speak […]

June 17

The Guillotine: Does death by decapitation equal instant death?

On the 17th of June 1939, Eugen Weidmann, a convicted murderer, was guillotined in Versailles outside Saint-Pierre prison. He was the last person to be guillotined in public. Since then, until the 10th of September 1977 and the last ever execution by guillotine performed on Hamida Djandoubi, all executions by guillotine were done in private. […]

June 16

Marie Laveau: Voodoo, Race and Female Power

On the 16th of June 1881, Marie Laveau, Louisiana Creole ‘princess’ of Voodoo, died in New Orleans, Louisiana, aged 79. “A nineteenth-century free woman of color, she is a founding figure of the African-American voodoo tradition. Little is known about Marie Laveau and her introduction to voodoo. Originally a devout Catholic, she “miraculously” transformed herself […]

June 07

Beau Brummell: The Dandy as Social Revolutionary

On the 7th of June 1778, the most famous dandy in Regency England Beau Brummell was born in Downing Street, London. Despite his middleclass background, he studied at Eton and Oxford, where he quickly gained popularity among his school friends and tutors, always challenging the official dress codes with his reinvented looks. His wit, originality and […]

June 02

The Portrait Miniature: Art-Object-Memory

On the 2nd of June 1804, Danish 18th century Court miniaturist and Royal Danish Academician Cornelius Høyer died in København, Denmark. The works Høyer executed for the Danish and other European courts were diminutive in size, often 40 mm × 30 mm or approximately 1-1.5 inches, oval or round in shape. Among his best known […]

May 31

Joseph Grimaldi: London’s Biggest Clown

On the 31st of May 1837, Joseph Grimaldi, the most popular entertainer of the Regency period, died in Islington, Greater London, England. His death, precipitated by depression and alcoholism, as well as frequent injuries caused by his risky on-stage behaviour, was a sad coda to his most exciting life. Known as the inventor of the […]

May 23

A Historical Framing of Bonnie and Clyde

On the 23rd of 1934, Dallas outlaws and robbers Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow were ambushed by police and killed in Bienville Parish, Black Lake, Louisiana. Their exploits captured the attention of the American public during the “public enemy era” between 1931 and 1934 in the Great Depression. Though known today for his […]