Monday, May 24, 2010

#20 Rasputin

Like with the explorers, I have made a list of the most influential assassinations in history on a worldwide scale.

20 Rasputin

Grigory Yefimovich Novykh (c.1865-1916) was better known as Rasputin, meaning 'dissolute'. Although we do not know when Rasputin was born, we do know that he was first heard of in the Russian court around 1903. He was said to be a monk from Siberia who could heal the sick and accurately predict drought. In December of 1903, he appeared in the religious academy in St. Petersburg. Rasputin was known by some royal members already, including the Grand Duke Nicholas, whose dog Rasputin was said to have healed, and Grand Duchess Militsa, who introduced Rasputin to the royal palace to see if he could cure the tsar's son, Alexis, a chronic hemophiliac. Although the royal doctors were very suspicious, Rasputin seemed to have a healing affect every time the son had internal or external bleeding. Rasputin later admitted to a friend that the cure he used was a combination of hypnosis, Siberian drugs, and willpower. Rasputin used his position in the royal household to gain influence over the Tsar Nicholas II and the Tsarina Alexandra. He referred to the royal couple as fellow peasants, which Nicholas II was fine with, but the rest of the Russian nobles saw as an outrage. When government ministers tried to complain about Rasputin's behavior. Even the Metropolitan of Russia, the country's leading churchman, complained, but was told that the imperial family's affairs were none of his business. Rasputin was being kept safe by the tsarina's adoration for him. When WW1 broke out, Rasputin deeply opposed the war, but his drunkenness, sexual promiscuity, and willingness to accept bribes kept his reputation from getting any better. By 1915, almost all new ministers needed Rasputin's approval and Rasputin was known to yell at the prime minister. Rasputin, at one point in the war, wanted to go and bless the troops before they fought, but Grand Duke Nicholas, the commander-in-chief (who was once a supporter of Rasputin) threatened to hang Rasputin if he showed up. This threat caused Rasputin to tell the tsar that the army would fail unless the tsar personally led the army. Tsar Nicholas II decided to go to battle, and while he was away, Rasputin convinced Tsarina Alexandra to fill all government and military offices with Rasputin's handpicked candidates. On the battle field in 1916, all Russian troops were retreating except for the army of General Brusilov, and Russia's economy was in ruins. It was as Russia retreated that the Russian ministers finally stood up against Rasputin. Led by Prince Felix Yusupov, a noble who attended Oxford and was to marry the tsar's niece, a group of ministers and nobles plotted against Rasputin. The prince invited Rasputin to his house to meet his wife, who was not there. While Rasputin was at the house, the prince fed him poisoned cakes and wine in the cellar while the rest of the conspirators waited upstairs. After seeing that the poison had no effect on Rasputin, Yusupov gathered the other conspirators and the group went back to the cellar and shot Rasputin in the chest at point blank range. After pronouncing the body dead, some of the conspirators went home, while the rest discussed what they should do next from the main room of the house. When the prince went down to check on Rasputin, Rasputin opened his eyes, grabbed the princes throught and ripped of Yusupov's shoulder piece before the prince ran back up the stairs. The conspirators heard Rasputin climb up the stairs, and as he came through the door, shot him two more times. As he was lying on the floor, the assassins found that Rasputin had not died, but was still breathing with one eye open. The prince then grabbed a metal press and beat it against Rasputin's head until the assassins took Rasputin down to the river and threw it in, but Rasputin didn't drown. When his body was found three days later, an autopsy showed that Rasputin had died of hypothermia. After being buried by the tsar on January 3rd of 1917, but was dug up again a month later during a revolution, and his body was burned in a bonfire. Yusupov was never arrested or tried, and later wrote an account of the plot while in exile. Rasputin's death was not very important, other than the fact that it freed the royal family from his power, but this death is very entertaining and drawn out.

Information From...
By Steven PArissien

Friday, May 21, 2010

Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart

Today in History:

Today (May 21) was the day that both Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart crossed the Atlantic. It was in 1927, at 7:52am on May 20th that Charles Lindbergh went down Roosevelt Field in The Spirit of St. Louis, a monoplane only 28 feet long. After leaving Long Island, Lindbergh went north to Cape Cod and Nova Scotia, crossing the Atlantic over the night. After sighting a small fishing boat, he knew he was reaching Europe, and soon flew over England, Ireland, and soon afterward, on May 21st, landed at the Le Bourget Airport, surrounded by 10,000 onlookers, who mobbed his airplane. Lindbergh had flown 3,610 miles in 34 hours.The next day, in front of the American Embassy in Paris, President Gaston Doumerque of France gave Lindbergh the Legion of Honour. After coming back to the U.S. (by boat) President Calvin Coolidge of the United States presented him with the Distinguished Flying Cross. When Lindbergh arrived in New York, the financial market closed for 'Lindbergh Day', and a parade with 10,000 soldiers and sailors went through the city. On May 21st in 1932, exactly 5 years after Lindbergh arrived in Paris, the American, Amelia Earhart, landed in a field near Londonderry, Northern Ireland after flying 15 hours. She became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Earhart recieved the National Geographic Society gold medal from President Herbert Hoover of the United States and the Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress, and soon became an early feminist icon. Both Lindbergh and Earhart changed history by what they did on May 21st.

Information From...
Great Stories from History for every day of the year
By W.B. Marsh and Bruce Carrick

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Washington Monument

Of all the monuments in America, few are as famous as the Washington monument. In the early 19th century, the country decided to pay tribute to the man who led the fight for independence against the British. After leading the Continental Army, Washington was elected as the president of the United States in 1789. In 1833, Congress formed the Washington National Monument Society. After three years of raising money, the Society had accumulated $28,000 dollars, which they used to hold a competition for the design. In the end, Robert Mills won. With an estimated cost of $ 1 million, the tower would stand 555 feet and 5.5 inches tall and would be 55 feet and 1.5 inches wide. The construction of the obelisk started on July 4, 1848, but stopped in 1854, when the monument was only 152 feet tall. This halt was partly due to the slowing of contributions and partly because of the beginning of the American Civil War, but in 1876, when the country celebrated 100 years of being independent, Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill for the government to fund the completion of the monument. The dedication ceremony took places the day before Washington's birthday in 1885, but the public was not allowed in until 1888. The Washington Monument now stands over the National Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the Lincoln Memorial, showing the greatness and glory of the nation's first president.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The U.S. Supreme Court Building

In the year, 1932, construction on the U.S. Supreme Court Building started. Designed by Cass Gilbert, construction was finished in 1935. Although the first session of Supreme Court was held in 1790, the official building was not built much later on. At first, Supreme Court was held in the Royal Exchange Building of New York, but was moved to Independence Hall, and later to Philadelphia's City Hall. When the capitol was moved to Washington D.C., the supreme court was given space in the Capitol Building. From 1860 to 1935, when the new Supreme Court Building was finished, the Old Supreme Court Chamber was used to hold court sessions, but in 1929, President William Taft, who was once a Supreme Court Justice, persuaded Congress to give the Supreme Court a permanent home. The building was built on a scale to give the Judicial Branch of government the same look of dignity as the other two branches of government. Above the 16 columns on the west entrance, are the words, "Equal Justice Under Law", and the west entrance doors are cast in bronze. The east entrance of the building has the words "Justice the Guardian of Liberty" above it. On May 4th [Today] in 1987, the Supreme Court building was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Henry VIII's 6 Wives

Today in History:

Today [May 2nd] was the day that in 1536, Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, was imprisoned on the charges of adultery, incest, treason, and witchcraft. Anne Boleyn was one of the 6 wives that Henry VIII (1491-1547) of England had during his lifetime.After his accession to the throne, Henry married Catherine of Aragon on June 11, 1509. Henry was desperate for a male heir for the throne, so he had many children through Catherine, but all the boys she gave birth to died soon after they were born. Cathrine of Aragon did, however, produce Mary, who would later become the Queen of England. After having many attempts to have a male heir through Catherine, Henry VIII decided he needed a wife who would have a son, but when he tried to declare his marriage to Catherine invalid, Pope Clement refused to grant the annulment. Henry, after six years, finally pulled England away from the Catholic Church and formed the Church of England, and married Anne Boleyn on January 24, 1533. His previous marriage to Cathrine of Aragon was declared invalid by Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Anne Boleyn was crowned queen on the first of June of that year. Anne went on to give birth to Elizabeth, who, like Mary, would become the queen of England. Three years later, on May 2, 1536, after Anne Boleyn is unable to have a son, Henry accused her of adultery, incest, treason, and witchcraft, and had her thrown into the Tower of London, where she was beheaded on May 19, 1536. The day right after Anne was beheaded, Henry VII proposed to Jane Seymour, Anee Boleyn's lady-in-waiting, and they were married ten days later. To Jane Seymour, Henry had his only legitimate, male heir, Prince Edward, who would become king after Henry, on October 12, 1537. Twelve days after Edward was born, Seymour died of post-natal fever. Three years after Jane Seymour died, Henry got a new wife, named Anne of Cleves, who was the sister of William, the Duke of Cleves in Germany. The wedding, held on January 6, 1540, cemented the alliance between the Protestant German princes and England against Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire. Henry called Anne of Cleves the 'Flanders Mare' because he said that in person, she looked like a mare. In the summer of 1540, the marriage was ended with another divorce, and Henry married Cathrine Howard on July 28, 1540, less than three weeks after his divorce. After discovering of Cathrine's premarital affairs, he had her beheaded at London Tower on February 13, 1542. Henry's last wife, Cathrine Parr, came on July 12, 1543, who helped Henry in his last years. She took good care of Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward and oversaw their education. Before Henry died, he asked to be buried beside Jane Seymour. Cathrine Parr outlived the king, and married a fourth husband, Lord Thomas Seymour.

Information From...
Kings & Queens of Britain
Charles Phillips

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Philippine Peso

Today in History:

In 1852, today (May 1st), the Philippine Peso was first put into circulation. During the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines, silver and copper coinage was the type of currency, based on a peso of 8 reales, with subdivisions of quarto and octavo real. This all changed in 1852 when the currency was reformed around a peso consisting of 100 centimos, which had the head of a monarch on one side and the crowned arms on the other. Under American rule in 1898, the currency changes to a peso of 100 centavos. The peso of 100 centavos had the picture of Liberty on one side and an eagle with a shield on the other. In 1935, when the Commonwealth of the Philippines was proclaimed, the eagle and the shield were taken off the currency. After being occupied by Japan in 1941 and being liberated in 1944-1945, the Philippines became a republic in July of 1946. After having picture changes on the coins in 1947 and 1958, a series of coin was released in 1967 portraying national heroes. The names of the peso and the centavos were also changed to the piso and the sentimo in 1967. The current coins that are seen today were introduced in 1995. The United States Dollar is currently worth about 44 Philippine Pesos, and in itself, shown much of the history of the Philippines.

Information From...
The Complete Illustrated Guide to Coins & Coin Collecting
By Dr. James Mackay