Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Franz Ferdinand was heir to the thrones of Austria and Hungary, and it was his assassination in June 1914 that precipitated the outbreak of hostilities.Prior to his death, Franz Ferdinand had considered various schemes to give the Slavic peoples of the empire greater political representation.

Among other things, he explored the concept of a 'United States of Austria' and the replacement of Austro-Hungarian 'dualism' with a form of 'trialism'. It is one of history's great ironies that Princip and the Black Hand assassinated the one Hapsburg who was genuinely concerned with attempts to re-think Austria-Hungary's relations with its ethnic minorities in an effort to create a peaceful association of nationalities under the flag of the Dual Monarchy.

However, such schemes were abandoned following his death on 28 June 1914, and Europe was plunged into four years of carnage. His nephew succeeded him as Austria-Hungary's heir apparent.


Franz Josef, emperor of Austria and king of Hungary, liked to present himself as a 'European monarch of the old school'. As he had been on the throne for 66 years in 1914, it is difficult to repudiate such a claim.Austria-Hungary experienced a long period of decline under Franz Josef. It was militarily defeated by France shortly after he ascended the throne in 1848, and the rise of Italy challenged Austrian power in the south.

The unification of Germany under Bismarck meant that Austria could no longer be regarded as the leading Germanic power.Austria's reluctance to assist Russia during the Crimean War led to a deterioration in relations between the two states.

In 1879, Germany and Austria-Hungary formed a Dual Alliance to provide mutual protection against attack by Russia or France. This was expanded into the when Italy joined in 1882.By the mid-19th century, Hungary had started to demand more political autonomy, and so, in 1867, Franz Josef agreed to the establishment of a 'dual monarchy', which gave Hungary greater control over domestic matters.

However, his plans to give greater self-government to Slavs within the empire were thwarted, and Austria-Hungary's annexation of Bosnia in 1908 created considerable friction with Serbia.Franz Josef was 84 when the war started, and military strategy was largely decided by his generals. He continued to enjoy great personal popularity up to the time of his death in 1916, when he was succeeded by his grand-nephew.


After serving in India, South Africa and the Sudan, Haig became director of military training at the War Office in 1906 and was heavily involved in the formation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).Haig commanded the First Army Corps in 1914 and earned great praise for his performance at Mons and the 1st Battle of Ypres.

In December 1915, when the BEF's original commander, Sir John French, was judged unsuited to the job, Haig took over.He commanded the BEF during the bloody and unproductive campaigns and Passchendaele (3rd Battle of Ypres), and his relationship with Prime Minister was often tense and difficult.A conventional cavalryman through and through, Haig was more willing to embrace the new technologies of the and machine-gun than is often recognised.

However, he did find it difficult to adapt from commanding small forces in colonial wars to commanding mass armies in a European conflict and, until at least the middle of 1917, he was forced to operate within the constraints of a military alliance in which Britain was the junior partner.Haig was commander of British forces during the final push against the Germans in 1918, and he emerged from the war with great credit.
He was voted ?100,000 by a grateful nation and was made Earl Haig in 1919. The rest of his life was devoted to the welfare of ex-servicemen through the work of the Royal British Legion and the Poppy Fund that bore his name.Haig remains a figure of great controversy. On the one hand, he must shoulder part of the blame for failing to call off the 1916 Somme offensive - with its catastrophic loss of life - but in 1918, it was Haig who argued that no further British lives should be wasted and that the war should be stopped.

EMPEROR KARL I 1887-1922

Karl succeeded to the thrones of the Austro-Hungarian 'dual monarchy' following the death in November 1916. A relatively liberal figure, he believed that continuing the war would lead to the destruction of Austria-Hungary, and he made several attempts to negotiate a separate peace with the Allies.

When news of this was made public, it placed a great strain on Austria-Hungary's relationship with Germany. Karl's French wife Zita disliked Germany and this, in part, may have influenced his political decisions.A reformer, Karl banned flogging in his armies, prohibited duels and limited the use of poison gas. He replaced the long-standing chief of staff Conrad von Hötzendorff with his own nominee Arz von Straussenberg to gain more control over military policy.

However, this only succeeded in alienating his military élite. As the Austro-Hungarian empire began to crumble, he began to allow his soldiers to join their national armies, a development that accelerated the empire's disintegration.
Karl renounced his constitutional powers on 11 November 1918, and went into exile in Switzerland in spring 1919. Following two unsuccessful attempts to regain the crown, the successor regime in Hungary prohibited his return, and he died in relative poverty in Madeira in 1922.


As Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1908-15 Liberal government, Lloyd George helped to pass the 1911 National Insurance Act, legislation that helped create the basis of the welfare state. He then served in Asquith's War Cabinet as minister for munitions and secretary of war.

However, disgruntled with the leader's management of the war, he helped to engineer Asquith's removal in December 1916 and became Prime Minister himself.Lloyd George clashed repeatedly with General over the latter's conduct of the war. He also later claimed that he had helped to defeat the U-boat threat by forcing the Admiralty to adopt the convoy system.

Lloyd George represented Britain at the Paris Peace Conference and helped to mediate disputes between US President and French Premier . Britain's dominions were anxious to press their own demands for empire, and so much of Lloyd George's attention was devoted to the expansion of British imperial interests. Britain emerged from the war with territories in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), South West Africa (Namibia) and Togoland (Togo), and mandates in Palestine and Mesopotamia (Iraq).Lloyd George's reputation suffered after the war when it was alleged that he had offered honours in return for financial gain.
By this stage, Britain was racked by high unemployment, economic problems and troubles in Ireland, and Lloyd George was forced to resign in 1922. He never held high office again and declined an offer to join Winston War Cabinet in 1940.


A leading general of the war, Ludendorff worked closely with to fashion some of Germany's greatest military successes.Ludendorff, quartermaster general in von Bulow's Second Army in 1914, helped to capture Belgian forts in the Liège area before being sent east to assist in Hindenburg's defence of Prussia. There he helped to plan the victories and the Masurian Lakes. When Hindenburg became chief of staff in August 1916, Ludendorff followed him as first quartermaster general, forming the .

Hindenburg and Ludendorff, plus leading industrialists and senior army officers, ran Germany as a military dictatorship during the last two years of the war. When Bulgaria sought an armistice on 28 September 1918 and the Allies broke through the on the following day, the generals realised that Germany would lose the war. As a result, they returned power to the civilian politicians.Moving to Sweden after the war, Ludendorff wrote a number of books praising the resilience of the German army. He returned to Germany to take part in the Kapp Putsch and Hitler's failed Beer Hall Putsch, and represented the Nazis in the Reichstag between 1924 and 1928.

Hitler attended his funeral in 1937.A gifted general, questions persist over Ludendorff's temperament and lack of strategic vision. While he had an undoubted eye for battlefield tactics, some critics suggest that he was blind to the bigger strategic picture and this contributed to the ultimate failure of the 1918 Michael offensive. By July 1918, he had only had three days off in four years and when his beloved step-son was killed, he became morbidly attached to the boy's body, refusing to send it home.

When Ludendorff learned that Bulgaria had initiated peace talks with the Allies on 28 September, he suffered a seizure.Hindenburg and Ludendorff can also be jointly blamed for failing to exploit the Russian Revolution more speedily by withdrawing all but a skeleton force from the Eastern front. The 1.5m troops stationed there continued to soak up vital resources, food and transport at a time when they could have been used more effectively in the west.


A former law professor, Orlando held several positions in the Italian government from 1903 onwards before becoming prime minister on 30 October 1917 following Italy's defeat at the Battle of Caporetto.

He replaced General Cadorna with General Diaz, and when a major offensive was launched against the disintegrating Austro-Hungarian army in the last weeks of the war, Italy won a major victory at Vittorio Veneto. The Italians hoped that this would assist their claim for territorial expansion.Orlando represented Italy at the Paris Peace Conference but clashed repeatedly with President over the scale of Italian territorial demands.

Orlando left the conference early and only returned in May 1919 to sign the completed document. His failure to secure territory that matched up with Italy's expectations undermined his position, and he resigned from office in June.Orlando supported Benito Mussolini in the early 1920s, but repudiated him following the murder of the socialist leader Giacomo Matteoti. After World War II, he was the first president of the Constituent Assembly, from 1946 to 1947. He died in Rome in 1952.


A cautious and defence-minded general, Pétain assumed command of the French army in the wake of the 1917 .He had commanded French forces in 1916, where his rallying cry of 'Ils ne passeront pas' (They shall not pass) had inspired his soldiers to an heroic defence. However, General had taken much of the credit for capturing strategic fortresses such as Douaumont and, in December1916, had been chosen over Pétain to succeed Joffre as commander-in-chief.

When Nivelle's spring 1917 offensive ran into major difficulties, Pétain replaced him as commander-in-chief (15 May). He suppressed mutinies in the French army by executing a few ringleaders, granting some concessions and implementing a more defensive strategy. In the latter stages of the war, Pétain's role was subordinate to that of Allied supreme commander Marshal .

From 1940, Pétain headed France's collaborationist Vichy regime and was implicated in the deportation of French Jews to Nazi death camps. One of the reasons given for his willingness to collaborate with the enemy was a desire to avoid the terrible bloodshed he had witnessed in World War I. He was sentenced to death in August 1944.
However, this sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by General de Gaulle who, as a junior officer, had served under him at Verdun.


Grandson of Queen Victoria and Germany's last Kaiser, Wilhelm ascended the throne in 1888. He showed an early determination to rule in his own right by removing Bismarck from office in 1890.Germany's economy expanded dramatically under Wilhelm II, and this was accompanied by a marked desire for Germany to play a bigger role on the world stage.

It acquired overseas territories - Togoland (present-day Togo), Cameroon, Tanganyika (mainland Tanzania), South West Africa (Namibia), Tsingtao and various Pacific island groups - and embarked on an arms race with Britain. In so doing, Germany was acting like any other imperial state, but the older, more established empires (Britain, France, Russia) tended to view it as an aggressive, threatening upstart.Wilhelm was dominant in German political and military life in 1914, but during the first two years of the war, he was progressively sidelined by a group of generals and industrialists orchestrated .

In August 1916, Ludendorff and formed the , and they exercised the real power in Germany thereafter.Wilhelm abdicated on 9 November 1918, while Germany was racked by civil and political unrest, and he went into exile in Holland. He devoted the rest of his life to writing his memoirs and propagating the myth of the 'stab in the back'.


A professor of political science at Princeton University before entering politics as a Democrat, Woodrow Wilson won the presidency in 1912 on a platform of moderate, cautious reform. He introduced a graduated federal income tax, approved anti-trust legislation, banned child labour and limited railway workers to an eight-hour day.

He reaffirmed American neutrality in August 1914 and won re-election in 1916.American opinion was strongly isolationist in 1914, but the United States drew progressively closer to the Allies as a result of Germany's aggressive submarine policy, its campaign of subversion within the United States and, finally, its bizarre attempt to incite war between Mexico and the US. Shortly after details of German Foreign Minister Arthur telegram were published in the US press (and Zimmermann confirmed its authenticity), the United States declared war on Germany . In January 1918, Wilson articulated the United States' war aims in his speech to Congress.
Wilson represented the United States at the Paris Peace Conference, but his idealistic aspirations won only partial support. The principle of national self-determination was applied only to Europe (with qualifications), but he did win support for his idea to establish a League of Nations. The Germans had expected Wilson to assume a relatively lenient posture during the peace talks, but Wilson ended up by adopting a fairly tough and punitive stance towards Germany.By the time he returned home, the Republicans had gained control of Congress, and the Senate refused to ratify the Versailles Treaty.
Wilson embarked on a national tour to garner support for it, but suffered a serious stroke that effectively ended his political life. His wife nursed him for four years until his death in 1924 and the United States never became a member of the League of Nations.


Although he was only German foreign secretary for 10 months during 1916-17, Zimmermann exercised a profound influence over world politics and the First World War. From August 1914, Zimmermann, then director of the eastern division of the German foreign office, was in contact with Sir Roger Casement - an Irish-born British consular official and member of the outlawed Irish Volunteers - and agreed to provide help for a planned uprising against British authority. In the event, the ship transporting the German weapons arrived at the wrong time and was intercepted by the British. However, the still went ahead in 1916 and proved to be a major watershed in British and Irish political life.

Casement was hanged for treason.In early 1917, Zimmermann was involved in the scheme which allowed Lenin and other Bolshevik to return to Russia from exile following the first revolution against the Tsar. The foreign secretary and others hoped that Lenin's return would undermine Russia's war effort and destabilise the provisional government. These hopes were realised when the Bolsheviks seized power in October. The new government and the Central Powers quickly concluded a ceasefire and treaty that eventually released half a million German soldiers for service on the Western Front.However, Zimmermann will be best remembered for his unsuccessful attempt to foment war between Mexico and the US in 1917. The to his ambassador in Mexico was intercepted and decoded by British intelligence, and its contents relayed to the American authorities.

Five weeks after details of the telegram were published in the US press (and Zimmermann confirmed their authenticity), the United States declared war on Germany. This greatly influenced the outcome of the entire conflict.


In 1904, Churchill left the Conservatives and crossed the floor of the House of Commons to join the Liberals. He was rewarded two years later by becoming a member of the Liberal government. This would curb the power of the House of Lords and pass the National Insurance Act, the foundation stone of the welfare state.When the First World War began, Churchill was already First Lord of the Admiralty. He had helped to establish the Royal Naval Air Service and generally prepared the navy for war. However, his involvement with the and in the failed campaigns at Antwerp (when he was condemned for sending in raw retarnished his reputation. When Prime Minister Asquith formed a coalition government in May 1915, he was demoted to chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.Unhappy with this position, Churchill returned to soldiering (his first career choice) and commanded a battalion of Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front. However, when Lloyd George became prime minister in December 1916, Churchill rejoined the Cabinet as minister of munitions and later became secretary of state for war and then for air.In the 1930s, Churchill was one of the few establishment voices that warned against Germany's rearmament programme. He became prime minister on 10 May 1940, the same day that Hitler launched his attack on the west.cruits against the Germans)

Blitz: The diary of an air raid

When Paris fell in June 1940, Britain stood alone against Germany. Air attack became the only means to harm the enemy. At first, only German military targets were hit, but with each bomb, the definition grew a little broader: telephone exchanges, railway stations, industrial targets. If workers’ homes were hit, it was a necessary evil.
In September, Hitler gave his reply. If they attack our cities, he said, we will raze theirs to the ground – and the Blitz on Britain began. For the first time in 1,000 years, Britain’s status as an island nation could not protect it. This was an invasion from the air and civilians were the target. By Christmas 1940, people feared that something even worse was coming. It finally arrived on the night of 29/30 December.
This website gives an hour-by-hour account of what happened that terrible night, when German bombers launched their most devastating attack yet on London. This is accompanied by the words of some of those involved in the carnage, computer reconstructions and links to relevant websites and books.29 December 1940: 4pm
Four days after Christmas, on an icy winter Sunday, London is experiencing a lull in the nightly bombing raids for the first time since the Blitz began. The German planes have struck only twice in the past week.
However, at a German airfield in occupied France, the final preparations are being made for an attack that might change the course of the war. The target is London, and in half an hour, the first planes will be airborne.
That evening, the dean of St Paul’s is enjoying the relative calm. After the rush of Christmas services, there is no evensong to conduct, just the nightly ritual of preparing his cathedral for attack. He is tasked with guarding the most highly prized and symbolic target in London: the cathedral dome rising high above the city skyline.Calls to the London Fire Brigade are building an alarming picture. Fire is spreading fast and furiously through the most combustible district of the City. As well as St Paul’s, the area the German bombers are targeting is a maze of narrow alleys that is home to the press, cloth and publishing industries, with five million books stored within its streets.
Two auxiliary firefighters are dispatched to Shoe Lane, an alley just west of St Paul’s. They are some of the new recruits – writers, artists and pacifists drafted in at the start of the Blitz to support the fire brigade. Some of the 1,500 fires that night destroyed Paternoster Row and its immediate surroundings – the centre of Britain’s book trade. Quite a few well-known publishers would later rise from these ashes, including William Collins (now HarperCollins), Hodder & Stoughton (now Hodder Headline), Hutchinson (now part of Random House) and Thomas Nelson, as well as the Publishers Association and Associated Booksellers (now the Booksellers Association). The remains of the wholesale bookseller Simpkin Marshall – which lost four million books on 29/30 December 1940 – would be utilised by Robert Maxwell to form the basis of his decidedly dodgy empire. Many other booksellers and publishers simply did not survive the destruction.
Of the five members of the Feldon family who went into the shelter, only two survived: Winnie and Frederick.
My brother was lucky – he got away without being hit. He was eight years old. He'd never speak about it, what he went through. As he grew up, he was a very quiet lad. He lived on his own, he never had no friends or nothing, you know what I mean? He never said nothing about the war.

London: Arisen from the Flames

Thursday, November 24, 2005

High Hitler

Adolf Hitler dreamt of creating a master race - in his effort to make his dream a reality he was responsible for the Holocaust and the deaths of millions of Jews as well as those regarded as physical and mental defects.

But the Fuhrer himself was an appalling hypochondriac who abused laxatives and suffered for much of his life from stomach cramps and embarrassing flatulence. And that was simply the start...

By the time he committed suicide in 1945, the 'great' dictator was frail with tremors and a shuffling walk - a feeble condition that was kept secret from the world.

The doctor whose job it was to maintain the Fuhrer in vigorous and energetic health to pursue the Nazi project and its military ambitions was Dr Theodore Morell. Hitler had plucked Morell from his lucrative practice in Berlin to be his personal physician in 1936.

Joseph: The Silent Saint

Joseph, the Silent Saint explores one of the greatest biblical mysteries: who, exactly, was the earthly spouse of Mary and father of Jesus?

A humble tradesman, he was descended from royalty. He was counseled by angels, chased into a strange land by murderers and adored by a son who would grow up to be called the King of Kings. And yet not one word of his is recorded in the bible.

Through interviews with leading theologians and priests, and with dramatic re-creations we paint the clearest picture yet of the man who spoke with his actions and shaped the very foundations of Christianity.

VANISHINGS: Adrift In The Atlantic

On the evening of January 29th, 1982, a small sailboat slipped out of the tiny island of Heirro in the Canaries and headed for Antigua in the Caribbean. Steven Callahan, a 29 year old American - sailing single-handed - planned to reach his destination around February 25th. But a storm left him shipwrecked and with no time to send out a distress signal, and he was adrift in a liferaft 450 miles from the nearest land. No one knew where he was. So far as the outside world was concerned, Callahan had vanished without a trace.


June 3, 1991. 23-year-old Denise Huber pulled over on the side freeway to mend a flat tire. She disappeared without a trace. The Costa Mesa Police Department along with family and friends searched desperately for the young Californian native - but found nothing. It was not until 1994 that police, investigating a suspicious truck found themselves working on a case of homicide. Located in the back of the truck was a freezer containing the body of Denise Huber.
When a Chicago landlord unearthed a skeleton, buried in his garden, the police have to resort to the most advanced scientific techniques if they are to find the murderer. the skeleton is soon identified as that of a malnourished child and a fabric analysis is able to discover that the victim was dressed in a particular brand of pyjamas. Hard detective work, and a deathbed confession finally uncover some of the tragic history of the little girl who was murdered in Buckingham Place in the late 1960s.

Hannibal: The Man Who Hated Rome

During the course of this campaign the young Carthaginian general attacked and defeated an ally of Rome; the second Punic War had begun.

Rather than sit back and wait for the inevitable Roman onslaught, Hannibal took decisive action, and headed for the heart of empire - Italy itself.

With a relatively small army of select troops, Hannibal invaded Italy by the little-known overland route. He fought his way over the Pyrenees and reached the Rhône River before the Romans could block his crossing. He descended into Italy and with his superior cavalry overran the Po valley, winning recruits from the Gallic tribes. A Roman force tried to stop him on the Trebbia, only to be wiped out.

In the spring of 217 he crossed the Apennines and marched toward Rome. At Lake Trasimeno he destroyed the main Roman army, but he avoided the strong walls of Rome and moved southward, hoping to stir up a general revolt.

Fearing a general collapse of their Italian powerbase, a mighty Roman army, eight legions strong, marched out to crush the Carthaginian general on an open battlefield.

The two armies met at Cannae 216BC, and Hannibal would win his most famous victory. By utilising brilliant battlefield tactics he defeated a larger Roman force that resulted in the near-annihilation of the Roman army.

However, by 212 BC the tide of war gradually turned against Hannibal. In 211 BC the Romans retook Capua, despite his rapid march toward Rome to entice them away. In 207 BC he fought his way for the last time into a position near Rome, but the defeat and death of his brother Hasdrubal on the Metaurus River made his position hopeless, and he withdrew into the mountains of Bruttium.

Recalled to Carthage in 203 to check the advance of Scipio Africanus Major in Africa, he was decisively beaten at Zama in 202 BC.

George VI

King of Great Britain and Northern IrelandI have learned once again that it is in bad times that we value most highly the support and sympathy of our friends. On December 25, 1951, a frail King George VI, suffering from the effects of lung cancer, delivered his final Christmas address to the British Commonwealth. The second son of King George V, George studied at Dartmouth Naval College and served in the Royal Navy during World War I. He ascended to the throne on December 12, 1936, the day after King Edward VIII, his elder brother, abdicated. Edward, the first English monarch to voluntarily relinquish the throne, agreed to give up his title in the face of widespread criticism of his desire to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American divorcee. In 1939, George became the first British monarch to visit America and Canada, and during World War II, he worked to keep up British morale by visiting bombed areas, inspecting war plants, and touring combat zones. In addition, George and his wife Elizabeth remained in bomb-damaged Buckingham Palace during the war and made a series of important morale-boosting radio broadcasts, for which George overcame a speech impediment. After the war, the royal family made a state visit and tour of South Africa, but a planned tour of Australia and New Zealand had to be postponed indefinitely when the king's health deteriorated in 1949. Despite his illness, George continued to perform state duties until his death on February 6, 1952. He was succeeded by his first-born daughter, who was crowned Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953.

Geoffrey Fisher

Those who God hath joined together let no man put asunder. On November 20, 1947, Princess Elizabeth, heir to the British throne, married her distant cousin Philip Mountbatten in a lavish wedding in London's Westminster Abbey. Philip, a dashing young prince from the Greek royal family, had fought as a British naval officer during World War II. After the war he renounced his foreign titles and became a British citizen, and on the eve of his marriage to Elizabeth he was made Duke of Edinburgh. He was twenty-six, and Elizabeth was twenty-one. The celebrations surrounding the wedding of the popular princess lifted the spirits of the people of Britain, who were suffering from serious economic difficulties in the aftermath of the war. On February 6, 1952, the death of King George VI sent Elizabeth to the throne, and Philip ended his naval career to concentrate on his new official duties as consort of the British monarch. Elizabeth and Philip eventually had four children-Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.

Edward VIII

King of Great Britain and IrelandI have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love. On December 11, 1936, Edward VIII, king of Great Britain and Ireland for 325 days, became the first English monarch to abdicate the throne voluntarily. The eldest son of King George V, Edward ascended to the throne on January 21, 1936, the day after his father's death. He enjoyed immense popularity with his subjects until he announced his intention to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American who was suing her second husband for her divorce. The British government, the Church of England, and a majority of the public opposed the marriage, but the king refused to call off his engagement with Mrs. Simpson. With no compromise possible, and the crisis escalating, Edward announced his abdication on December 11. That evening, Parliament passed a bill of abdication, and the next day, Edward's younger brother was proclaimed as King George VI. The former king was granted the title of duke of Windsor, and on June 3, 1937, he married Wallis Warfield in France.

Edward VIII

King of Great Britain and IrelandI have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love. On December 11, 1936, Edward VIII, king of Great Britain and Ireland for 325 days, became the first English monarch to abdicate the throne voluntarily. The eldest son of King George V, Edward ascended to the throne on January 21, 1936, the day after his father's death. He enjoyed immense popularity with his subjects until he announced his intention to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, an American who was suing her second husband for her divorce. The British government, the Church of England, and a majority of the public opposed the marriage, but the king refused to call off his engagement with Mrs. Simpson. With no compromise possible, and the crisis escalating, Edward announced his abdication on December 11. That evening, Parliament passed a bill of abdication, and the next day, Edward's younger brother was proclaimed as King George VI. The former king was granted the title of duke of Windsor, and on June 3, 1937, he married Wallis Warfield in France.

George Bernhard Shaw

Do good to those who despitefully use you and persecute you. I, who am a much hated man, have been doing that all my life and I can assure you that there is no better fun. George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, critic, and Socialist activist, was born in Dublin to Protestant parents on July 26, 1856. Known for his keen wit and kindly dislike of capitalist society, his dramas, focusing on ideas and issues, revolutionized the Victorian stage. Among his many accomplishments in literature were plays such as Pygmalian, a satire on English class attitudes that became his most popular work, and Heartbreak House, a drama that exposed the spiritual bankruptcy of the generation that had allowed the outbreak of World War I. In 1925, Shaw was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, with the Swedish Academy celebrating his writing as ‘work marked by both idealism and beauty, its stimulating satire often infused with a singular poetic beauty.’ He wrote over forty plays, and continued to write into his nineties. He died in 1950.

1859: Origin of Species published

The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, a groundbreaking scientific work by British naturalist Charles Darwin, is published in England. Darwin's theory argued that organisms gradually evolve through a process he called natural selection. In natural selection, organisms with genetic variations that suit their environment tend to propagate more descendants than organisms of the same species that lack the variation, thus influencing the overall genetic make-up of the species. Darwin acquired most of the evidence for his theory during a five-year British surveying expedition in the 1830s. Visiting places such as the Galapagos Islands and New Zealand, Darwin acquired an intimate knowledge of the flora, fauna, and geology of many lands. His Origin of Species, the first significant work on the theory of evolution, was greeted with great interest in the scientific world but was attacked by religious leaders for its contradiction of the Biblical account of creation.
1867Joseph F Glidden patents barbed wire.
1941World War II: HMS Dunedin is torpedoed and sunk.
1962In Britain, the first broadcast of the satirical TV programme That Was The Week That Was (TW3) introduced by David Frost.
1963Lee Harvey Oswald, accused of the assassination of US President John Kennedy, is shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby while being transferred from Dallas Police Headquarters in Texas.
1965British Government imposes an experimental 70 mph speed limit on motorways.
1972One of the eight 1933 pennies minted in Britain is auctioned at Sotherbys for £7,000.
1985Egyptain commandos storm a hi-jacked aircraft in Malta - at least 40 passengers are killed.
1989Czech politician Alexander Dubcek makes his first public appearance for more than 20 years to address a pro-democracy rally in Prague.
1991Freddie Mercury, lead singer of rock group Queen, dies of AIDS aged 45.
1993The last 14 bottles of Scotch whisky, salvaged from the wreak of the SS Politician which sank in 1941, are sold at auction for £11,500. The episode was the inspiration for the film 'Whisky Galore'.
1955English cricketer Ian Botham.
1942Scottish comedian Billy Connolly.
1963Lee Harvey Oswald is shot and killed in Dallas, Texas after being arrested for the murder of US President John Kennedy.
1991Freddie Mercury, lead singer of rock group Queen, dies of AIDS aged 45.

The Architecture of London: A Short History

The story of London and its magnificent buildings is one of immense beauty and design, the ravages of fire, and the destruction of riots and world war. The city has been built and rebuilt several times over the last 1,000 years. Each new layer adds another dimension to the mystique of this great city's mystique, while each building tells its own unique history.
Buckingham PalaceBuilt: 1700, conversion 1820s Architect: Various
The Palace takes its name from the original owner John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham. In 1762, George III purchased it for his wife, Queen Charlotte. It then became known as "The Queen's House." The house was converted into a palace in 1820 under the design of John Nash. Queen Victoria, the first sovereign to reside there, took up residence in 1837. Further renovations and expansions were made in 1847 and 1913. The grounds include gardens, a Victoria memorial and the Royal Mews (the livery and garage), which dates back to the 1820s.

Houses of Parliament, also known as Westminster PalaceBuilt: 1840-60Architect: Sir William Barry
Portions of the Houses Parliament, that includes the House of Commons and House of Lords, have existed since the 11th century when it was used as a royal residence. A fire in the 16th century destroyed a great deal of the palace when it ceased to be a residence. The House of Commons began to meet in the chapel by mid-century. After yet another fire, this one in 1834, Sir William Barry was brought in to design a structure to incorporate the remaining ruins. Westminster Hall that now stands in the entranceway is the only intact portion of the building from before the 1834 fire. The air raids of the Second World War made their mark on the Houses of Parliament, as they did through most of London, destroying some of the oldest sections of the building.
Big Ben, the famous clock designed by Edmund Beckett Denison, sits atop of St. Stephen's Tower. First installed in 1856, it stands an impressive 98 metres. This particular landmark has come to be synonymous with historical London.

Kensington Palace/GardensBuilt: 16th centuryArchitect: Wren, among others
Among other things, this royal abode is famous as the birthplace of Queen Victoria (1819) and the last residence of Princess Diana. It was known at Nottingham House when built in the 17th century. Additions were made in 1689 by Sir Christopher Wren to prepare it as a royal residence for William III. James Wyatt and William Kent made further renovations over the next century. The extensive Gardens surrounding the Palace are home the Albert Memorial and the Round Pond.

Royal Albert HallBuilt: 1867-71Architect: Francis Fowke/Henry Darracott Scott
Dedicated as a memorial to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort, the Hall is one of London's principal concert venues. There have been a few renovations to the building - most notably to fix the acoustics - in the 1960s.St. Paul's CathedralBuilt: 1675-1700Architect: Sir Christopher Wren
Sir Christopher Wren, who famously redesigned St. Paul's Cathedral, is often considered the great visionary of the "new London" after the Great Fire of 1666. A Cathedral had stood on that spot since 960 CE. Through the centuries, subsequent Cathedrals were built as fire or vandals destroyed the previous ones. (Even before the Great Fire, the Cathedral was in such a state of disrepair that Wren was commissioned for a restructuring.)
Wren's Cathedral, built in Gothic and Baroque styles, is shaped like a German cross. The Dome, which dominates the London skyline, is actually comprised of three separate domes. At the apex of the outer dome is the Golden Gallery that provides one of the best views of the city. The middle dome provides structural support while the inner dome contains the Whisper Gallery (so named because a whisper can be heard from the opposite side). Several naves and chapels are found throughout the Cathedral. The crypt holds the remains dignitaries such as Lord Nelson and Sir Christopher Wren.

Tower BridgeBuilt: 1894
The only movable bridge that still crosses the River Thames. It is 250 feet wide and 200 feet above the water with a pedestrian walkway that extends between the two towers. Until 1976, steam powered hydraulic pumps operated the drawbridge but electric motors are used today. However, there is little need to raise the bridge today as fewer large ships travel the Thames.

Tower of LondonBuilt: 1066Architect: Various
Originally built as a fortress, the Tower stands along the banks of the river Thames. William laid the Conqueror foundations in 1066. A moat surrounds the complex of 13 towers. It has, at various times, housed a menagerie, the royal family, a prison and the crown jewels. It is the site of many executions - and the Bloody Tower - Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Sir Thomas More. Among those imprisoned there were Guy Fawkes and Sir Walter Raleigh. It was to the Tower that Edward II sent his young nephews, never to seen again.
The Tower is home to a garrison of Yeoman warders, or "beefeaters," and ravens. There is a legend that states should the ravens ever disappear from the Tower grounds the state of England would collapse. To guard against this the wings of the birds have been clipped.

Westminster AbbeyBuilt: Portions of building date from 1050 CEArchitect: Various
There is evidence of a monastery on this site as early as the 7th century. Around the year 1050, Edward the Confessor began construction on a large and impressive church in the shape of a cross. This only lasted until 1245 when Henry III had all but the nave destroyed. The Gothic style Abbey that he erected still stands today, with many additions of course. Various architects, including Nicholas Hawksmoor and Sir George Gilbert Scott, contributed designs.
Westminster Abbey has been the site of coronations since the time of William the Conqueror. It is also the resting place of Sovereigns (ending with George II, 1760), writers and dignitaries, including Sir Isaac Newton, David Livingstone, Geoffrey Chaucer and Robert Browning, and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Abbey was damaged a great deal during bombings of the Second World War, but was repaired soon after.

Whitehall PalaceBuilt: First occupied in 1245Architects: Various
Formally known as the York Palace, it was the Archbishops residence from 1245. Cardinal Wolsey lived there until Henry VIII took it over in 1530. Under the King's guidance, Hans Holbein the Younger redesigned the buildings. In the 1600s, James I commissioned Inigo Jones but only the Banquetting Hall was completed. It is not too surprising that fires took their toll on this building, as well. Of the original building, only Jones' Hall still

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Avrocar! Saucer Secrets From The Past

It’s been said there are only two phases to any large military initiative; too early to tell and too late to stop. This was never truer than at the height of the cold war in the 1950s, as America and the USSR were locked in a lethal game of oneupmanship.
It was in this perverse environment of loathing and paranoia that a small group of Canadian scientists began to design and build a flying saucer for the American military.
Lead by Chief Designer John Frost, the Special Projects Group operated under an umbrella of secrecy at aviation giant A.V. Roe Canada. Inspired by reports of strange shapes in the sky, Frost was driven to pursue a radical new idea, a circular wing aircraft with performance characteristics superior to anything else in the sky. It was this promise of vertical take off and landing, blinding speed , and evasive aerobatics that first attracted the US Air Force and US Army.
What followed was an eight year foller coaster ride of innovation and folly as millions of US and Canadian dollars were poured into a project that inspired both awe and ridicule.
AVROCAR! Saucer Secrets From the Past is a thought-provoking, educational, and entertaining documentary.

CONSPIRACY: The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination

On June 5, 1968, just after midnight, Robert Kennedy was fatally wounded in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles following his win in that night's California presidential primary.

The armed assailant was taken into custody that night and was later identified as a 25-year old Palestinian immigrant, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan. He remains in prison to this day for the assassination of Senator Kennedy.

Four days after the shooting, the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI formed Special Unit Senator (SUS), a group tasked with investigating the shooting.

SUS members are keenly aware of the importance of the investigation: their rallying cry, "not another Dallas," invokes the widely maligned Dallas Police investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy nearly three years earlier and their hopes to avoid just such a situation.

In the course of a seven month investigation, SUS concludes that Sirhan was the lone gunman. Three months later, on April 14, 1969, Sirhan was convicted of first degree murder and later sentenced to die in California's gas chamber. His sentence was changed to life in prison in 1972 after the California Supreme Court ruled that the death is penalty unconstitutional.

It was widely accepted by the press and the public that Sirhan was the lone gunman until the mid 1970s when a researcher named Greg Stone obtained an FBI report on the case suggesting that more bullets may have been found by police in the pantry that night than the eight investigators later claimed Sirhan fired.

The FBI report featured photos of investigators pointing to what are labeled "bullet holes" in the doorjamb of the pantry. Stone joined forces with Paul Schrade, who was a Kennedy campaign worker and was also critically wounded that night, and political science professor Philip Melanson. Together the three pressed the LAPD and the FBI for the case files.

On April 19, 1988, the researchers prevailed as the LAPD turned over 50,000 pages of evidence; that same year the FBI turned the 4,000 page case file. But their victory was stymied when the LAPD announced that it had destroyed evidence while Sirhan's case was still under appeal; they claimed that this evidence had no evidentiary value.

However, researchers believe that these materials contain evidence of extra bullets suggesting the presence of a second gunman and that the LAPD's own trajectory analysis suggests that Sirhan Sirhan did not fire the shots that killed Robert Kennedy. The destruction of evidence, these critics say, is proof of a coordinated police cover-up.

Additionally, they maintain that Sirhan's defense did an inadequate job of challenging the prosecution's often contradictory evidence relating to his mental state and the LA County Coroner's report.

More than thirty-five years later questions in the Robert Kennedy assassination remain: Was there was a second gunman in the pantry? Is there evidence of a police cover-up? What was Sirhan Sirhan's mental state that night and what drove him to assassinate RFK?

John Foster Dulles

U.S. secretary of stateThe key to successful defense, and the key to deterring attack, is association with others for mutual defense, and that is what the United States seeks in Southeast Asia. On May 7, 1954, Dien Bien Phu, a major French stronghold in northwest Vietnam, fell to Ho Chi Minh's Vietnamese Communists after fifty-seven days of siege. A few hours later, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles announced the French defeat, and called for an expansion of America's military presence in Southeast Asia. In 1949, with military and economic assistance of newly Communist China, Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh forces launched an effective guerilla war against French and southern Vietnamese forces, both of which were armed largely by the U.S. In November of 1953, the French, weary of jungle warfare, occupied Dien Bien Phu, hoping to draw the Viet Minh out into the open where the superior French artillery could be used against them. The Viet Minh attacked the fortified French position, and by March of 1954, some 50,000 Communist troops had encircled Dien Bien Phu. The first Viet Minh assault against the 13,000 entrenched French troops came on March 12, and by late April, the French held only two square miles. On May 7, after fifty-seven days of siege, their positions collapsed. Although the defeat brought an end to French colonial efforts in Indochina, the United States soon stepped up to fill the vacuum, increasing military aid to South Vietnam and sending the first U.S. military advisors to the country in 1959.

Joseph R. McCarthy

U.S. Senator of WisconsinThe only way that I can keep faith with the people who have given me that high honor of manning the watchtowers of this nation is to continue the fight, regardless of how deep the scars may be, regardless of how rough the fight may get. On March 17, 1954, Senator Joseph McCarthy appeared before the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago to discuss the continuing threat of communism, and to defend his conduct against mounting criticism of his investigation of alleged Communists in the United States. That spring, the opportunistic senator had finally overreached himself when he took on the U.S. Army, accusing Secretary of the Army Robert P. Stevens of hampering his investigative committee's attempt to uncover Communist infiltration in the U.S. military. On April 23, 1954, the Army-McCarthy hearings began on Capitol Hill, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower urged Stevens to launch a counterattack against McCarthy. The televised hearings, which stretched over two months, exposed McCarthy to the American public as a reckless and excessive tyrant who never produced proper documentation for a single one of his charges. On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted to censure him. By his death from alcoholism in 1957, McCarthy's influence in American society and government was negligible. However, many of the hundreds of innocent officials and civilians whose reputations had been destroyed by McCarthy and his unlawful accusations never recovered.

Winston Churchill

Conservative backbencherReady to their hands is this new lamentable weapon of the air, against which our Navy is no defense, and before which women and children--the weak and frail--the pacifist and the jingo--the warrior and the civilian--the frontline trenches and the cottage home--all lie in equal and impartial peril. In the years before World War I, Winston Churchill, a military hero and M.P. from Oldham, rose rapidly in the ranks of the British government. In 1911, he was appointed first lord of the admiralty, and he worked to ready the Royal Navy for the war that he foresaw. However, after the disastrous Dardanelles campaign of 1915, for which he was held responsible, Churchill resigned the post. Two years later, his unquestionable military talents won him a new appointment in the government and by 1919 he had risen to secretary of state for war. In 1924, he returned to the Conservative Party, where he played a controversial role in the defeat of the General Strike of 1926. Out of office after 1929, Churchill lost the trust of even his own party, who regarded him a maverick. In the early 1930s, from his lonely seat on a House of Commons backbench, he issued unheeded warnings of the threat of Nazi aggression. In 1935, though still excluded from the government, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin appointed him to the secret committee on air-defense research. Four years later, with the outbreak of World War II, Churchill returned to his post as first lord of the admiralty. Eight months later, with Britain seemingly on the brink of invasion, he was called to lead a new coalition government. A defiant Prime Minister Churchill proclaimed that Britain would ‘never surrender,’ and by 1941 the outnumbered Royal Air Force had won the Battle of Britain. From there Churchill set about recapturing North Africa and the Atlantic, and forging the ‘Grand Alliance’ between Britain, America, and the U.S.S.R., that ultimately crushed the Axis powers.

The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th Centuries was the most influential transformation of culture and working patterns since the advent of agriculture around ten thousand years before. Its effects fuelled change in labour patterns, social structure, the function of the family and the values and attitudes of the individual. It involved more than simply technologTransforming society
The European economy of 1750 was overwhelmingly agricultural. Aristocratic landowners leased their land to tenant farmers who paid for it with the goods which they produced. Non-agricultural items were created by individual families with specific skills (such as making wagon wheels). Only a small amount of economic activity centred around this limited production. Many machines were already known, and there were factories using them, but these were the exceptions rather than the rule. Wood was the only fuel, water and wind the only power. However, in just a few decades European economic life would be turned on its head - it would move from a family based rural economy to a capitalist-based urban system. ical expansion - it was driven by massive social change. Revolution?
There has been much objection to the term revolution because the it suggests sudden, violent, unparalleled change, whereas the transformation was, to a great extent, gradual. Some historians argue that the 13th and 16th centuries were also periods of revolutionary economic change. However, in view of the magnitude of change between 1750 and 1850, use of the term does give an adequate perception of the dramatic social and economic transformation that swept through Europe. Seeds of change
It is impossible to accurately identify the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, but consensus suggests that it began in England when a series of eighteenth century technological innovations forced communities out of their traditional working patterns. These new technologies increasingly forced production out of the home and into the factory. The invention of the steam engine was one of the key factors in driving forward industry. From the Greek inventor Heron of Alexandria to the Englishmen Thomas Newcomen and John Cawley, many people contributed to the work of harnessing steam. However, James Watt's steam engine, patented in 1769, provided the first practical solution. Watt's revolutionary designs resulted in a 75% saving in fuel and made the steam engine far more efficient and practical for industry. Watt's continuing efforts produced a governor, a mercury steam gauge, and a crank-flywheel mechanism; all of which prepared the steam engine for a major role in the Industrial Revolution. The Spinning Jenny, invented by James Hargreaves in 1797 allowed sixteen strands of cotton to be spun together at the same time – doing the work of several labourers in a fraction of the time. The effect on cotton output was dramatic. The Cotton Gin, invented by American Eli Whitney in 1793 mechanised the separation of seeds from cotton fibres. Cotton became cheaper and more expandable but due to the size of the machines, the industry transferred into large factory mills. The mercantile economy was also assisted by the ease and price of travelling around England. Trade thrived in England because there were no internal tariffs or duties on commerce, which was not true of the continental European states. Moving goods around cheaply meant that profits soared and industry thrived. The big railway boom beOverseas Trade
Increased demand in the international market for European goods also drove the conversion to a marketing economy. From the old commercial empire there was a significant English fleet which was utilised in trade with foreign markets from the mid nineteenth century. England shot to the forefront of the new capitalist economy primarily through its navy. Notably, they also still possessed colonies which could furnish raw materials and act as captive markets for manufactured goods. As almost every war that Britain fought in the eighteenth century resulted in the acquisition of foreign territory, the country monopolized overseas trade. tween 1844 and 1847 meant that cargo could be transported around the company cheaply. Population
As the standards of production were rising, so was the English population. Which of these came first in the context of the Industrial Revolution is a long standing historical debate. The previous national economy, founded on the family structure, centered around subsistence. The new manufacturing economy however produced considerable surplus for trade. Profit rose for manufacturers, and population growth became desirable to provide a new labour force. Institutional capitalism
By the 18th Century, the English Parliament was firmly under the control of the capitalist classes. As a result, there was a veritable array of parliamentary legislation that favoured mercantile interests. The enclosure laws of the eighteenth century saw an increase in agricultural production and turned the established rules of land ownership on their head. Lands previously held in common by tenant farmers changed into large private farms, worked by a smaller labour force. This increased the agricultural production and caused the displaced peasants to head for the cities. Subsequently, there was an abundant labour supply to mine coal and iron, and man the factories. The revolution moved economic power away from the aristocratic classes and into the hands of the new middle class, the bourgeoisie. This new force in society was intent on making money, as much and as quickly as possible. Adam Smith’s account, The Wealth of Nations, proposed that the only legitimate goal of government and human activity is the steady increase of the overall wealth of the nation. Wealth had replaced religion, politics and power as the driving force of society. Legacy
The Industrial Revolution has changed the face of nations, giving rise to urban centers requiring vast municipal services. It created a specialized and interdependent economic life and made the urban worker more dependent on the will of the employer than the rural worker had been. Relations between capital and labour were aggravated, and Marxism was one product of this unrest. Doctrines of laissez-faire, developed in the writings of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, sought to maximize the use of new productive facilities. But the revolution also brought a need for a new type of state intervention to protect the labourer and to provide necessary services. Laissez faire gradually gave way in the United States, Britain, and elsewhere to welfare capitalism. The Industrial Revolution also provided the economic base for the rise of the professions, population expansion, and improvement in living standards. These remain primary goals of less developed nations.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Back to our roots

At Athelney, in Somerset, Time Team revisits the site of one of its first programmes, filmed ten years previously in 1993. Back then, the Team was not allowed to dig within the area of the scheduled ancient monument. So the resulting programme – the first Time Team ever screened – is distinguished by the fact that, 100 programmes later, it is still the only one that doesn't feature any trenches.
Now, as it celebrates its 100th anniversary, Time Team is back – and this time English Heritage has given permission to excavate 400 square metres of trenches.
The historyWe know that Athelney once stood as a lone hill among miles of marshes. The site was fortified by King Alfred, who used it as a base to launch attacks on Danes (Vikings) in the surrounding area. Through great skill – and the luck of the battlefield – Alfred managed to force the invading Danes out of Wessex and eventually out of the whole of southern England. Documentary sources, such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, tell us that Alfred returned to Athelney after these battles and constructed an abbey on the site to give thanks for his victory.
The questIn this special 100th-anniversary programme, Time Team's experts carefully consider the geophysics survey results and place their limited-space trenches after earnest deliberation. Over the three days of painstaking work, the Team discovers not only the original defensive ditches from Alfred's fort, but also evidence for a solid monastic structure. The remains of an iron-working site are also discovered – leading to the tantalising speculation that this might have been the place where Alfred had his weapons produced to supply his army.

The £10-million house: a Time Team special

The £10-million house: a Time Team special
Hidden away in Kent is an architectural gem, a building that is important not because it's bigger or better than any other but because it has survived, complete with all the many changes and bodges made to it over the course of seven centuries. It's a Grade I listed building, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and, according to Pevsner, 'the most complete small medieval manor house in the country'. It's also been the subject of the National Trust's most ambitious and expensive renovation project in its history.
Ightham Mote is a magnificent moated manor house in the small village of Ightham, near Sevenoaks. Beginning in 1989, it has literally been taken apart brick by brick and beam by beam revealing the hidden history of the house for the first time. In this special documentary, Time Team tells the story of this different kind of archaeology as the renovation of the final section of the house, the south-west quarter, was carried out in 2003-2004.

The 'King of Bling'

A chance discovery by archaeologists in Southend reveals an Anglo-Saxon tomb crammed with treasures. It's a burial fit for a king – but who could it be?
Time Team follows the investigation into one of the most important archaeological discoveries in recent times as archaeologists from the Museum of London and specialists from across the world search for clues from the spectacular grave goods.
It's a daunting task. The grave is 1,400 years old, the body has disintegrated and there is only a scattering of written records. But through painstaking laboratory work and historical research the archaeologists begin to decipher the ritual significance of the gold, silver and precious finds placed in the burial chamber.
Tony Robinson and Mick Aston piece together the evidence for this programme and eventually manage to name the man the papers dubbed the 'King of Bling'.

Lost centuries of St Osyth

Back in the seventh century, Viking pirates sailed up a muddy Essex creek. Legend has it they captured a lonely nun who, when offered a choice between her 'modesty or her mortality', chose to die. The nun carried her severed head up the hill to her church where she collapsed. Where she lay a spring bubbled up.
The nun was St Osgyth, or Osyth, the wife of the Saxon king of Essex, who chose the veil rather than consummate her marriage. The site of her death became a shrine and a busy settlement grew up. In the 12th century Richard de Belmais, bishop of London, founded a large Augustinian priory in the middle of the village. This became a powerful establishment, which, by the time of the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s, was one of the wealthiest Augustinian monasteries in Europe.
A few years ago a local boat builder noticed some decayed timbers sticking out of the mud in St Osyth Creek. The tides gradually revealed more of these timbers, which are on a significant bend in the channel. Could they be the remains of a medieval wharf that served the town in its early days?
Time Team was also interested to find out whether they might be the key to unlock a bigger mystery. The present town of St Osyth seems to date only to the 15th century but the famous priory is much older. There must have been a busy settlement servicing it – so where was the original town of St Osyth?

Clinker boat building with Damian Goodburn

This was less of a traditional Time Team 'cameo', and more the attempted creation of a partial 3D model to show us what a section of the Grace Dieu would have looked like, to help us see the complex design more easily, and to demonstrate just how time-consuming it was. From the small section that Damian and Alex Farnell (of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at Southampton) made, we could see just how massive the ship must have been. The very fact that they couldn't finish the small section in the time available demonstrated what a very labour-intensive way this was to build a ship.
Local blacksmith Colin Philips made the nails, and even though I had given him the measurements and commissioned them myself, I was still astonished when I saw just how enormous they were. Each nail weighed more than one and half pounds and was four times the size of the nails normally used in shipbuilding during this period, so it was hardly surprising that Damian was struggling to bend them over by hand!

The bombers in the marsh

On 29 November 1944, two Douglas A-26 Invader US bomber planes crashed into Warton Marsh, eight miles from Preston, in Lancashire. Both planes, along with a number of others, had left Warton Airbase in formation, en route to join forces in the preparations for the Battle of the Bulge, which took place from 16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945. Only one minute off the runway and 1,000 feet into the air, the aircraft collided and came to rest in the marsh. All the crew died. Their bodies were recovered from the planes, but an investigation into the causes of the crash was inconclusive.
When the planes crashed back in 1944, they landed directly on sand. Since then, however, about two metres of silt has built up over the wrecks. It means that the site is a difficult one to excavate, and an earlier attempt to retrieve the aircraft in the 1980s was unsuccessful.
For this programme, Time Team enlisted a veteran air crash investigator, along with the RAF's 'crash and burn' team and other experts to try to find out what caused the crash. Each of the planes, including the engines, was believed to be relatively intact and, it was hoped, would provide the necessary information to determine why these two planes collided.
Local eyewitnesses and fellow flyers in the US Air Force were all called upon to help to build up a picture of what happened on that fateful day in 1944.

The monastery and the mansion

For this programme, the second in the 2005 series, Time Team visited the village of Nether Poppleton, near York. The local residents were itching to know more about the place where they live. Mysterious earthworks cover a field around their church and the locals have bought the land to protect it from development. But what do these earthworks represent?
Most of the houses in Nether Poppleton date from the 18th century or later, and yet the village seems to follow a standard planned medieval layout common throughout Yorkshire. There is also a reference in the Domesday Book to the village as the land of St Everilda. Did this Anglo-Saxon saint have her nunnery here?
Using the enthusiasm of the village residents to the full, on the first day Time Team recruited 50 of them to dig test pits in their own gardens, while Phil Harding and his team tackled the site around the church. In the light of the reference to St Everilda, the Team – and Mick Aston in particular – was especially interested in whether the Norman church was built on the site of an earlier Anglo-Saxon building.
Was the village originally Saxon, Norman or medieval? With Time Team's help, the people of Poppleton were on a mission to find out for themselves.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Prince William (1103-1120)

Prince William (also known as ‘the Atheling’, Anglo-Saxon for ‘son of the king’) was the only legitimate son of H– the third son of William the Conqueror who had reunited his father’s empire of England and Normandy – and Edith-Matilda, who was descended from King Alfred. So the heir to the throne had a blend of Norman and Saxon blood flowing in his veins, and for many, his future reign promised to be a time of reconciliation.
In 1113, in an attempt to bring Anjou, a long-time rival of Normandy, into his sphere of allegiance, Henry betrothed the 10-year-old William to Isabella, eldest daughter of Count Fulk V of Anjou. The marriage would finally take place in 1119.
William's mother usually served as the king's regent in England while he was away in Normandy, but after her death in 1118, William was old enough to serve in her stead. Closely advised in this role by Henry's administrators, such as Roger of Salisbury, the prince was sometimes referred to as rex designatus (king designate), but he had very little real power.
He was, however, a warrior prince who, even at the age of 17, fought alongside his father during the successful campaign of 1119, which culminated in the defeat and humiliation of the French king, Louis VI ‘the Fat’, at the battle of Brémule.
How did he die?
On 24 November 1120, Henry and his entourage were finally returning to England, having reached the Norman port of Barfleur. The king was offered the state-of-the-art White Ship, but as he had already made his travelling arrangements, he suggested that it would be a treat for his son William to sail in such a vessel.
The snecca – Norse for ‘snakeship’ – was very large by the standards of the time, powered by 50 oarsmen and carrying more than 300 passengers. Among them were 140 knights and 18 noblewomen – in fact, virtually all the ‘bright young things’ of the court. A mood of celebration was in the air and the prince had wine brought aboard to help the party go with a swing. Both passengers and crew were soon drunk, shouting abuse at one another and ejecting a group of priests who had arrived to bless the voyage.
The drinking and carousing delayed the start of the Channel crossing – King Henry had already sailed. Now the roisterers issued a challenge to the captain: despite the fact that night had fallen, could he overtake the king’s ship? He accepted and tragedy soon followed. No one knows exactly why the White Ship sank – the fact that the captain was as drunk as his passengers didn’t help – but traditionally it has been blamed on a known hazard just off the coast: a substantial rock that was submerged at high tide.
As it capsized, the ship was close enough to shore for the cries of those who had been pitched into the black, icy water to be heard – but those who heard them thought it was just more drunken revelry. It is even said that some on the king’s ship heard the cries but carried on sailing for England.
The prince’s bodyguards acted quickly, bundling him into a dinghy and to safety just after the rock was struck. However, as William and his men rowed out of harm’s way, they heard his half-sister Matilda, countess of Perche (one of Henry’s many illegitimate offspring), begging for help. The prince ordered his boat to turn round, and it was rowed back to the spot where the White Ship had gone down. However, the dinghy was the only hope of survival for those in the water, and as more and more of them tried to get into it, their weight pulled it below the surface and everyone – including William the Atheling – drowned.
All but one, that is: a Rouen butcher called Berold, who had only gone on board to collect debts owed to him by the aristocratic revellers.
William's wife Isabella was on another ship and survived him to become a nun and, eventually, abbess of Fontevrault. It is said that, after hearing of the disaster, Henry I never smiled again.
What were the consequences?
Historian Robert Lacey has summed up the immediate results of this catastrophe:
The White Ship was the Titanic of the Middle Ages, a much-vaunted high-tech vessel on its maiden voyage, wrecked against a foreseeable natural obstacle in the reckless pursuit of speed. The passenger list constituted the cream of high society, cast into the chilly waters.
But there were far more important consequences than simply the loss of some members of the upper-class. Desperate to secure his family's succession, Henry made the English barons swear an oath to uphold the rights to the throne of his only remaining legitimate child – his daughter Matilda who had only recently married the Holy Roman emperor. However, although the barons initially swore to accept her as queen when Henry died in 1125, many of them then switched sides and took up the cause of her cousi Stephen of Blois. The result was 14 years of anarchy and civil war that simply would not have happened had the White Ship not capsized off the coast of Normandy that chilly November night.

The Real John Betjeman

Sir John Betjeman's public image is that of a lifelong devotee of the English upper classes. In a 40-year career as a poet, he celebrated the English countryside, poked affectionate fun at the country set and cursed the vulgarity of the lower orders. The same patrician viewpoint informed his writings on architecture. Appointed Poet Laureate in 1972, he was eventually hailed by The Times newspaper: 'By appointmThe Real John Betjeman shows that behind the public image was a more complex reality. Combining hitherto unseen archive material with the testimony of friends ranging from journalist Simon Jenkins to Barry (Dame Edna Everage) Humphries, it shows that Betjeman was a high Tory lyricist who was deeply insecure about his social background and his gift for poetry; a believer in the cohesive force of Christianity who could not himself believe; and an apolitical old buffer who spied for Britain.ent: Teddy Bear to the Nation'. Finding his way
John Betjeman's family background was far removed from the aristocratic milieu he loved. His father, a cabinet-maker, was descended from Dutch immigrants, and, when the First World War broke out, the eight-year-old Betjeman was bullied at school by children chanting 'Betjeman's a German spy!'
At Oxford, he found his niche as an entertainer, adept at amateur dramatics and comic verse. He also struck up a close friendship with the surrealist Edward James. After failing to complete his degree, he worked as a schoolteacher, then in 1930 began writing for The Architectural Review.
In 1932, his first book of poetry, Mount Zion, was published privately by James. The following year Betjeman brought out a polemical history of English architecture, Ghastly Good Taste. In the same year, he married Penelope Chetwode, and they settled in the Oxfordshire village of Uffington, where their son Paul was born in 1937.
During the war
When the Second World War broke out, Betjeman was rejected for active service and went to work for the Ministry of Information. This led to a posting as press attaché to Sir John Maffey, Britain's High Commissioner in Ireland. The Betjemans lived in Dublin from 1941 to 1943, and their daughter Candida was born there.
Betjeman's official job in Ireland, which was neutral in the conflict, was influencing public opinion in Britain's favour. A particular coup was arranging for the battle scenes in Laurence Olivier's patriotic 1944 film of Henry V to be filmed in Ireland.
He also compiled regular reports on the state of Irish politics, including the activities of the IRA – elements of which advocated allying with Germany against Britain, their common enemy. The boy who had been teased as a 'German spy' had grown up to be a British spy.
More dramatic – not to say bizarre – evidence has recently emerged from within the IRA. In search of a coup which would divert attention from the divisions within its own organisation, the IRA planned to assassinate Betjeman. Luckily, Betjeman's prospective assassin recognised his name and jumped to the conclusion that because he was a good poet, he could not be a secret agent. The hit was called off.
After the war
Betjeman resumed his career as poet and architectural critic, dividing his time between London, rural Oxfordshire and the Cornish coast which he had loved as a child. In 1948, his wife Penelope converted to Catholicism, but Betjeman did not follow suit. He became increasingly agnostic: after his father's death, he wrote:
You, God, who treat him thus and thus,Say 'Save his soul and pray.'You ask me to believe You andI only see decay.(On a Portrait of a Deaf Man, 1940)
However, Betjeman retained a strong sense of the value of belief. In Ghastly Good Taste, he had written: 'The only hope that I can put forward is that England will emerge from its present state of intense individualism ... Not until it is united in belief will its architecture regain coherence.' Betjeman longed for unthinking belief, for an end to reflection and doubt:
The church is just the same, though now I knowFowler of Louth restored it. Time, bring backThe rapturous ignorance of long ago,The peace, before the dreadful daylight starts,Of unkept promises and broken hearts.(Norfolk, 1954)
This yearning to be overwhelmed by something greater than himself sometimes took physical forms. His poetry often expresses a longing to be mastered by large, athletic women:
Pam, I adore you, Pam, you great big mountainous sports girl,Whizzing them over the net, full of the strength of five.(Pot Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1940)
After 1948, John and Penelope Betjeman grew apart, the strength of her religious faith coming between them. Betjeman found companionship with Elizabeth Cavendish, whom he met in 1951 – the attraction was mutual, immediate and lifelong.
Later life
In the 1960s and 1970s, Betjeman produced a stream of guidebooks and works on architecture, as well as writing and presenting radio and television programmes. He developed a kind of whimsically observant photojournalism: a celebrated example being his Metroland series, which surveyed the London suburbs bordering the Metropolitan line.
He was also an active conservationist; he campaigned for the preservation of Victorian railway stations and the reopening of disused churches, which he believed could assist the revival of Christianity.
His later years were troubled. Beset by loneliness and the fear of death which had been themes of his poetry since the 1940s, he was further weakened by Parkinson's disease and a series of strokes. He died in 1984, aged 77, and is buried in Cornwall. In a 1974 poem, The Last Laugh, he asked to be remembered, characteristically, as an entertainer.


The Battle of the Somme is the most memorable battle of the First World War. From the massacres of the first day to the muddy quagmire of the end of the offensive, the event loudly heralded the mechanised slaughter of modern warfare, and became a byword for the futility of war.

Galileo Galilei

There was a time when priests decreed the laws of science. That was what was happening in Italy and much of the rest of the WAlthough the Renaissance was at its height, it had not led to a liberation in scientific thought. In fact, the Catholic Church – in its Counter-Reformation against the rise of Protestantism – was doing everything it could to keep a grip on its power. The Inquisition, the threat of excommunication and the very real risk of execution – the Church would burn the philosopher Giordano Bruno in Rome in 1600 – they all helped keep potential heretics in their place.
No matter how good your ideas, it was simply not possible to disagree with the Church's view of nature, which was based on the theories of Aristotle (384–322 BC) and Ptolemy (2nd century AD). In the astronomy of the latter, the Earth sat at the centre of a perfect universe, with the heavenly bodies, including the Sun, circling round it, perfect spheres in the celestial dome. And Aristotle's physical laws were also holy writ.
So, when a young, outspoken Italian named Galileo Galilei began contradicting the Church's teachings via his experiments and observations, it was sure to cause a stir.
Chandeliers and pendulums
Galileo did not have an easy start in life. His father Vincenzio Galilei claimed to be of noble birth, but he was simply a musician, one who constantly argued with his patrons about the mathematics behind musical harmony and the rhythms of nature. Such arguments, while perhaps stimulating the young Galileo's mind, tended to reduce patronage, and the family was always short of money.
Galileo was first educated by monks. Then, Vincenzio, hoping that his son might make a better life for himself, decided that Galileo should study medicine. In 1581, at the age of 17, he entered Pisa University, his family having previously moved to Florence.
Legend has it that, during his first year at the university, Galileo noticed a chandelier, suspended from the ceiling in the cathedral, swinging in the wind. By counting the timing of each swing using the beats of his pulse, he observed something that no one had realised before: the time it takes for a pendulum to swing to and fro is the same regardless of the length, or amplitude, of the swing – a property we now call 'isochronism'. This discovery, although probably apocryphal in the detail, would lead to the development of accurate timekeeping regulated with a pendulum.
Birth of the 'wrangler'
Galileo quickly grew bored with the quackery that was 16th-century medicine. The more he observed the world and listened to what he was being taught, the more he realised that something was sorely amiss with 'science'. Just as his father saw that rigid theory was muffling new musical forms, so his eldest son came to see the Aristotelian view as restraining scientific inquiry. But tact was not Galileo's forte. His fiery arguments, quick-witted retorts and quarrels with colleagues and professors led them to nickname him the 'wrangler'.
When Galileo ran out of money in 1585, he dropped out of university to follow his interest in mathematics and science. He returned to Florence, got a position as a lecturer at the Florentine Academy and began inventing in his spare time. His hydrostatic balance brought him early fame, while his 1589 theory of the centres of gravity won him the honourable, albeit poorly paid, post of mathematics lecturer at Pisa University. He remained there for three years and then, in 1592, moved on to a mathematics professorship at the University of Padua, where he flourished for 17 years.
It was during this period that he made a concerted attack on Aristotle's theories on motion that then prevailed in physics. This resulted in his .
From the Earth to the stars
Galileo began to regard Aristotelian philosophy and Ptolemaic astronomy with increasing unease. In 1609, when he heard about a new device that could make distant objects appear closer, he reasoned it might help him study the heavens and so settle his mind. He improved on the original Dutch design of the telescope and began looking skywards.
He saw that the surface of the Moon was not smooth and perfect but full of craters, and realised that the Milky Way was made up of countless stars, none of which was orbiting the Earth. He saw spots marring the surface of the Sun, and crucially observed moons orbiting Jupiter. This last discovery had a profound effect on him. If the Earth truly was at the centre of the universe with all the heavenly bodies circling it, as Ptolemy claimed, how could some of them be spinning around Jupiter?
Galileo rushed into print in 1610 with his book The Starry Messenger. The papal court was at first impressed, despite the fact that Galileo had contradicted Ptolemy and implied that the theory of the Earth orbiting the Sun – propounded by the Polish astronomer Copernicus in 1513 – was true. estern world when Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa in 1564

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

John F. Kennedy thirty-fifth U.S. President

Our unswerving objective, therefore, must be to prevent the use of these missiles against this or any other country, and to secure their withdrawal, or elimination, from the Western Hemisphere. On October 22, 1962, in a nationally televised address, President John F. Kennedy disclosed that U.S. spy planes had discovered the placement of Soviet offensive missiles in Cuba. The president announced that he was ordering a naval blockade to prevent Soviet ships from transporting any more missiles or warheads to the island, and explained that the United States would not tolerate the existence of the missile sites currently in place. Over the next six days, the crisis escalated to a breaking point as the world tottered on the brink of full-scale war between the two nuclear superpowers. Finally, on October 28, in exchange for a secret U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba and to dismantle U.S. missile sites in Turkey, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announced his country's willingness to remove the weapons from Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis ended as suddenly as it began, and the world breathed a sigh of relief. In November, Kennedy called off the blockade, and by the end of the year all of the offensive missiles had left Cuba.

Adolf Hitler Leader of Nazi Germany

We now have arms to such an extent as the world has never seen before. In the summer of 1938, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler began to openly support the demands of Germans living in the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia for closer ties with Nazi Germany. The Czechoslovakian government opposed this threat to its sovereignty, especially after Hitler demanded the immediate cession of the Sudetenland region to Germany in September. By September 23, Czechoslovakia had called for mobilization and war seemed imminent. Three days later, Hitler addressed a Nazi rally at Berlin's Sportpalast stadium, and reassured the German people that if war came the German Wehrmacht would be victorious. Britain and France, ill-prepared for the outbreak of hostilities, seemed to be in agreement, and on September 29, British and French prime ministers Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier traveled to Munich, Germany, to meet with Hitler and seek a resolution to the crisis. The leaders of the great European democracies settled on appeasement of Hitler, and on September 30 signed the Munich Pact, thus giving Czechoslovakia away to German conquest. Daladier abhorred the agreement, but Chamberlain was elated, and upon returning to London praised the Munich Pact for bringing ‘peace in our time.’ The next day, Germany annexed the Sudetenland, and by March of 1939, nearly all of Czechoslovakia was under German control. On September 1, 1939, fifty-three German army divisions invaded Poland despite British and French threats to intervene on the nation's behalf. Two days later, Britain and France solemnly declared war against Germany, and the European phase of World War II had begun

Soviet news agency presenter

The first artificial earth satellite in the world has now been created. Early in the morning on October 5, 1957, word first came from the official Soviet news agency Tass that the U.S.S.R. had launched the world's first artificial earth satellite into space. The spacecraft, named Sputnik after the Russian word for ‘satellite,’ was launched on October 4 at 10:29 p.m. Moscow time from the Tyuratam launch base in the Kazakh Republic. Tass reported that the ‘artificial moon,’ which had a diameter of twenty-two inches and weighed 184 pounds, was circling the earth once every hour and thirty-five minutes. From its altitude of 560 miles, Sputnik transmitted signals back to earth strong enough to be picked up by amateur radio operators. Those in the United States with access to such equipment immediately tuned in, and listened in awe as the beeping Sputnik passed over America seven times a day for three months. According to Soviet authorities, the spacecraft was launched to correspond with the International Geophysical Year, a solar period that the International Council of Scientific Unions declared would be ideal for the launching of artificial satellites to study the earth. However, many Americans feared more sinister uses of the Soviet's new rocket and satellite technology, which was apparently strides ahead of the U.S. space effort. Sputnik was fifty-two times the size of the first planned American satellite, and the latter was not even scheduled to be launched into the next year. The U.S. government, military, and scientific community were caught off-guard by the Soviet technological achievement, and their unanimous efforts to catch up with the Soviets marked the inauguration of the ‘space race.’

Albert Einstein physicist

The development of this frightful means of destruction was ardently demanded by the perils of the time and situation. Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity revolutionized man's view of the universe and made possible quantum theory and ultimately the development of the atomic bomb. In fact, it was a letter from Einstein himself that convinced U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide funding for the secret U.S. atomic program. As a German-born Jew, Einstein fled Germany for the United States after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler seized power in 1934. In the summer of 1939, fellow expatriate physicists Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, and Edward Teller, profoundly disturbed by the lack of American atomic action, enlisted the aid of the Nobel prize-winner Einstein, hoping that a letter from such a renowned scientist would help attract Roosevelt's attention. Einstein, a life-long pacifist, agreed to the venture because of his fear of sole Nazi possession of the deadly weapon, a possibility that became especially troubling after Germany ceased the sale of uranium ore from occupied Czechoslovakia. After reading Einstein's letter, Roosevelt created the Uranium Committee, and in 1942, the highly secret U.S. atomic program became known as the Manhattan Project. On July 16, 1945, an international team of scientists successfully tested the world's first atomic bomb in the desert of New Mexico, and on August 6 and August 9, two U.S. atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, resulting in the eventual deaths of over 200,000 people. Albert Einstein deplored the use of the deadly weapon against the population centers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and after the war urged international control of atomic weapons.

Thomas Edison American inventor

When I look around at the resources of the electrical field today, I feel that I would be glad to begin again my work as an electrician and inventor. Thomas Edison, one of the most prolific inventors in history, was born in Milan, Ohio, on February 11, 1847. With little formal education, Edison gained experience as a telegraph operator and then went on to invent the phonograph, the incandescent light bulb, and a forerunner of the movie projector. In West Orange, New Jersey, he also created the world's first industrial research laboratory, where he employed dozens of workers to systematically investigate a given subject. However, perhaps his greatest contribution to the modern industrial world came from his work in electricity. He developed a complete electrical distribution system for light and power, set up the world's first power plant in New York City, and invented the alkaline battery, the first electric railroad, and a host of other inventions that laid the basis for the modern electric world. He continued to work into his eighties, and acquired a record 1,093 patents in his lifetime. He died in West Orange on October 18, 1931.