On This Day 29th January 1820

George III at the End of his Life

On the 29th of January 1820 George III, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, died at Windsor.  He was born in  1738 and was the son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha.  He became heir to the throne when his father died in 1751, and succeeded  his grandfather, George II, in 1760. He married Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1761, by whom he had 15  (troublesome!) children.

George was the first Hanoverian monarch to use English as his first language. He was also the first British monarch to study science systematically: chemistry, physics, astronomy, and mathematics.

George was determined to recover the prerogative lost to the ministerial council by the first two Georges, but bouts of madness and the way he handled the American Revolution eroded his support and the power of the Crown was granted again to the Prime Minister. Continue reading “On This Day 29th January 1820”

On This Day – 28th January 1547

Henry VIII (Cornelis Metsys)

On the 28th of January 1547 Henry VIII of England died at Whitehall.

Henry had ruled England since 1509, and was only 55 when he died. He was certainly a prime candidate for NewLab’s  drive against obesity, however, one can just  imagine what he would have told them, had they dared to  mention his outrageous size!  It has long been known that Henry did not suffer from syphilis, but I was interested to read that it that he may well have suffered from Type 2 diabetes.

Much has been said about Henry’s marital adventures, but it should, perhaps, be remembered  that the succession wars, poetically named “The Wars of the Roses” , were  neither poetic nor brief. The first major battle was in 1455 and the final episode was the executions of Perkin Warbeck and Edward, Earl of Warwick, in 1499.   Continue reading “On This Day – 28th January 1547”

On This Day – 26th January 1788

View of Port Jackson (Matthew Flinders)

On the 26th of January 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip planted the British flag at Port Jackson on what is now Sydney harbour.  Phillip had arrived with 11 ships comprising 732* convicts, marines and a handful of other officers. The holds were stuffed full of goodies that the Powers-That-Be in the UK thought would be necessary to establish a penal colony.

Contrary to popular belief this was not the first land-fall for the expedition, which had left England some eight months earlier. Following the advice of Joseph Banks, who had  been part of James Cook’s expedition, Phillip had been told to set up his colony at Botany Bay where he landed on the 18th of January. Having decided that the place was unsuitable, he decided to go elsewhere. Continue reading “On This Day – 26th January 1788”

On this Day – 25th January 1533

Anne Boleyn (Holbein)

January 25th 1533 is reputed to be the day that Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn. The wedding was held in secret – hardly surprising since Henry had not had a formal notification from the Pope that  his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon had been annulled!  A notification that Henry would never get, although the Pope had earlier suggested that Henry marry Anne without having his first marriage annulled. The wedding was necessary since it is clear that Anne was already pregnant with the future queen, Elizabeth I.

Anne was an extremely intelligent and beautiful young woman, she was also ambitious. She certainly set her sights higher than marriage to an Irishman in order to resolve a family dispute over the Earldom of Ormand.  But her attempt to marry Henry Percy, the son of the Earl of Northumberland was quashed, not because Henry VIII already had his eyes on her, but because Henry Percy was already betrothed and Anne was simply not of the right ‘class’ to marry into such an illustrious family. Continue reading “On this Day – 25th January 1533”