On This Day 1936 — Edward VIII Talks to the Nation and the World

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On this day in 1936 the instrument of the abdication of King Edward VIII was endorsed by the Westminster parliament in London.

Later on the same day, Edward spoke to the nation and the world via radio, his faltering voice revealing the deep sadness he felt, that could not fulfill his kingly duties and at the same time marry the woman that he loved, the American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

Never formally crowned King, his younger brother, George VI would be coronated the following year. Edward, known as ‘David’ to intimates, would spend the rest of his life in exile with his wife, taking the title ‘Duke of Windsor’. He died in 1972 in Paris.

Copyright Francis 2020

On This Day 1503 Nostradamus is Born

round analog clock
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One of the most famous, and perhaps controversial prophets, astrologers and occultists of all time was reputedly born, one Michel de Nostredame, in Saint-Remy-de-Provence in southern France, today in 1503.

His prophecies, usually in the form of quatrains, or four line verses, have been widely and deeply studied ever since his own time. Many claim he has successfully predicted events like, the death of Charles I of England in 1648/9, the Great Fire of London in 1666, the rise of Napoleon and Hitler and many more besides.

However, it must be said that the often vague wording of his quatrains does allow much scope for interpretation, especially as he does not normally include dates in his prophecies.

One of the few prophecies which does have a date, namely July (or the seventh month, which could mean the seventh astrological month, October) 1999, predicted some awful, warlike a event and the emergence of a powerful ‘king’. As far as I can tell, nothing much during that time, or even that whole year, matches this prophecy.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Amerigo Vespucci – What’s in a Name?

Portrait_of_Amerigo_Vespucci
By Officially unknown (poss. Cristofano dell’Altissimo) – Uffizi, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18157134

We owe Italy quite a lot really, don’t we?

Pizza, pasta, risotto, fine wine, passion, flair, fashion style, not to mention the Romans (and yes, what did they ever do for us?) to name but a few. These are things our lives would be far less rich without.

Well, some say it was around this day in history, May 10 or 11, when someone else Italian set sail on a voyage to what we now term ‘the New World’, namely Amerigo Vespucci.

Born in Florence in 1454, Vespucci is famous for debunking Columbus’ notion that the West Indies and Brazil were in fact the other side of the world, actually the easternmost parts of Asia.

In other words, he envisioned the new discoveries as a completely new, separate landmass from Asia. Originally termed the New World, what the new continent lacked was a proper name. Step up Amerigo Vespucci once again, whose latinised Christian name reads as ‘Americus’.

It was only a small step from there to someone suggesting that this huge piece of earth should be called after him, but with a feminine ending – America – and why not? Are we still grateful to him and Italy?

PS. Of course, we know now that the Vikings founded what they termed ‘Vinland’ in what is now the north eastern seaboard of North America centuries before Columbus, but that’s another story…