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25 October 1415, 600 years ago, on Saint Crispin’s Day in northern France, the Battle of Agincourt was fought.

Blood, mud, lots of mud actually, glory, pain and the birth of a national myth. Henry V’s victory at Agincourt left posterity with a powerful tale of winning against the odds that began when the newly crowned king dug out his ancestor’s claim of being the actual King of France back in 1413 and ended with the nearly complete annihilation of a superior French army in northern France, a battle that marks the end of the Middle Ages and the dawn of modernity. But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/10/cry-god-for-harry-england-and-saint.html

Depicted below is Sir John Gilbert: “Morning of the Battle of Agincourt, 25th October 1415“ from 1884

#agincourt600 #culturalhistory #europeanhistory #history #hundredyearswar #medievalhistory #militaryhistory

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14 January - between the 9th and the 15th century, the Feast of the Ass was celebrated by Medieval Christianity north of the Alps.

No one in his right mind would mention Protestantism for its inherent sense of humour and the Reformation and the dawn of the early modern age saw the end of quite a lot of rather peculiar medieval customs, among them the Feast of Fools and the Feast of the Ass. The latter was a celebration of the anniversary of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt and since an ass played a pivotal role, basically, maybe the same beast that was present at the nativity, it was thought befitting that asses would receive their own feast day. Thus, a girl carrying a child rode a donkey through the church, the animal would then be placed beside the altar and the congregation would answer the priest with a hearty “hee-haw”.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/01/the-feast-of-ass.html


Depicted below is Albrecht Dürer’s "Flight from Egypt" (c 1495)

#europeanhistory #folklore #history #medievalhistory #mythology

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15 November 655, #onthisday somewhere in Yorkshire, Penda, the last pagan king of Mercia met his fate at the Battle of the Winwaed.


Two centuries after the Romans had left Britain, or so it is told, the country later known as England was fragmented in various petty kingdoms, founded by Anglo-Saxon tribes, former mercenaries, invaders, settlers. The Ēast Engla Rīce, East Anglia, Ēast Seaxna Rīce, Essex, Cantaware Rīce, Kent, Sūþseaxna rīce, Sussex, Westseaxna rīce, Wessex, Norþhymbra rīce, the kingdom of the Northumbrians and the Miercna rīce, the kingdom of the Mercians, the border people, as the seven territories were called, if not by the people who were supposed to have actually inhabited these places, then at least by their descendants in the days of King Alfred, were obviously on each others’ throats on a regular basis. Along with the Welsh, the Cornish, the Irish and the Picts. Or so the very few sources we have from the days of the Heptarchy, the “rule of the seven”, tell us, like the venerable Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People) dating back to the year 731. And during the first half of the 7th century a ruler rose among the Mercians who would turn the world of the Heptarchy upside down, or at least give it a good try. His name was Penda, son of Pybba, scion of the Iclingas, named for Icel, great-grandson of Offa of Angel, a descendant of Wotan.


But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/02/king-penda-and-battle-of-winwaed-in-655.html


Depicted below is a replica of an Anglo-Saxon helmet from the days of the Heptarchy .

#europeanhistory #history #medievalhistory #militaryhistory


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20 October 1401, #onthisday the pirate Klaus Störtebeker and his crew were executed in Hamburg.


To cut a long story short, the political situation along the coasts of the Baltic Sea was a deep mess by the end of the 14th century. Various factions such as the Kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden, the Holy Roman Empire, the Teutonic Knights, the Hanseatic League and their later rival event, the Kalmar Union, struggled for supremacy and alliances and allegiances changed on a regular basis. And while the city of Stockholm, then more or less controlled by the Hansa with a large German-speaking minority welcomed a Duke from Mecklenburg as their new king, it was a group of privateers that would become the bitter enemy of the mighty merchant’s league, initially formed to victual the city against a Danish and anti-Mecklenburgian Swedish siege in 1389 as blockade runners in the pay of King Albert and harass Danish shipping while they were at sea anyway. During these days the brotherhood gained their name, the “Vitalienbrüder”, Victual Brothers, and when they turned pirate in 1395 and their motto became "God's friends and the whole world's enemies", another nom du guerre for them became famous, Likedeelers ("equal sharers"), since they allegedly shared their booty gained from their raids off Spain and Brabant to England and Norway and, of course, the Baltic littoral factions, among themselves and with the poor living on the coast of their favourite hideouts. They soon became folk heroes.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/02/merchant-and-pirate-were-for-long.html

Depicted below is the Reconstructed skull of Klaus Störtebeker


#ageofsail, #culturalhistory, #europeanhistory, #history, #medievalhistory, #navalhistory, #pirates,#socialhistory

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14 October 1066, #onthisday 950 years ago, Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon King of England, fell at the Battle of Hastings.


The situation in England before the conquest was, in fact, a chaos and, ironically enough, it was the Dane Cnut the Great who gave the island the resemblance of political order when it became part of his North Sea Empire in 1016. After his death 20 years later, the confusion went off properly again. Traditionally, the King of England was appointed by the Witangemot, a council of noble advisors, rather than by birthright alone, since the days of Athelstan, when old Wessex essentially became the Kingdom in 927. If Edward the Confessor, one of Cnut’s successors on the throne of England, had promised kingship after his death to Earl Harold of Wessex or William the Bastard of Normandy was debated even back then, when the last monarch of Alfred the Great’s line lay dying. However, by appointment of the Witangemot, Harold was crowned in January 1066. And William the Bastard, famously, vowed vengeance.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/01/the-death-of-king-harold-godwinson-at.html

Depicted below is Harold’s death from the famous Bayeux Tapestry (ca 1070), the scene bearing the inscription Harold Rex Interfectus Est: "King Harold is killed".

#europeanhistory #history #medievalhistory
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9 September 1298 - #onthisday off the Dalmatian coast at Curzola, Marco Polo was captured during a naval battle between Genoa and Venice, the last two Italian maritime republics.



It was not exactly a happy homecoming Marco Polo had after he returned to his native Venice after 24 years of travelling in the Far East. Not only was he met with general disbelief – his hometown was at war as well. Not that war between the great thalassocracies, Italy’s maritime republics, were something out of the ordinary for the last 300 years, but at the end of the 13th century, only two worth mentioning were left and a climax seemed to culminate.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/01/thalassocracies-naval-battles-and-marco.html

Depicted below is a 19th century imagination of a Venetian war galley of the type that was used in Marco Polo’s day.

#history #europeanhistory #medievalhistory
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22 July 1456, #onthisday 560 years ago, the Ottoman siege of Belgrade ended with a victory of the Hungarian warlord John Hunyadi and John of Capistrano’s crusaders, commemorated to this day with ringing the noon bells in church.

When the news of Sultan Mehmed’s capture of Constantinople reached the West, a few weeks before the last battle of the Hundred Years’ War was fought at Castillon, the Holy Roman Habsburgs were just about to recover from their devastating conflict against the Hussite heretics in Bohemia and the Borgia popes in Rome along with the powerful Italian city states preferred to be at each others’ throats, panic began to spread. The threat was real enough. With his new capital established in Constantinople, Sultan Mehmed II, already known as Fatih, the Conqueror, prepared for his big push into Central Europe along the Danube. In his way lay the Hungarian fortress city of Nándorfehérvár, Kriechisch Wyssenburg, Belgrade. With an army of 70,000, an artillery park of 300 pieces and a river fleet of 200 vessels at his command, the Conqueror began the siege on July 4, 1456. The Franciscan fire-and-brimstone priest John of Capistrano managed to incite tens of thousands of peasants in southeastern Europe and a couple of Austro-German knights to crusade against the Turks and with a considerable amount of money from the alms bag of Pope Callixtus III for the Hungarian warlord John Hunyadi, they joined forces and prepared to lift the siege against the odds of a numerically superior and far better equipped army.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2016/07/bulla-turcorum-john-hunyadi-siege-of.html

Depicted below is "The Battle of Nándorfehérvár", as Belgrade was known in Hungarian, a mid-19th century painting by an unknown Magyar artist, showing John of Capistrano in the centre and John Hunyadi on horseback to the left.

#culturalhistory #europeanhistory #history #medievalhistory #militaryhistory
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11 April 1241, #onthisday 775 years ago, a numerically inferior army of the Golden Horde led by Subutai decisively defeated King Bela IV of Hungary at the Battle of Mohi, opening the country and its neighbours to brutal invasion.
 
It was the explosive spread of an empire the world had not seen since the days of Alexander. Over the course of some twenty years, Temüjin, better known as Genghis Khan, meaning “universal leader”, had conquered a territory across East and Central Asia from China and Korea to the shores of the Caspian Sea, twice the size of the Roman Empire at the height of its power. A generation later, Genghis Khan’s successors overran the Old Russian kingdoms and in 1241, they stood on the doorstep of Central Europe, ready for invasion and Poles, Hungarians and the Balkan Principalities had ignored all dire warnings about what kind of an invader was ready to wreak havoc among them in one of the bloodiest campaigns Europe had ever seen.
 
But read more on:
 
http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2016/04/these-terrible-strangers-have-taken-our.html
 
 
Depicted below is a Mongol horse archer from the days of Temüjin.
 
#culturalhistory  #europeanhistory  #history  #medievalhistory #militaryhistory
 
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26 March 1351, #onthisday at the chêne de Mi-Voie, the Halfway Oak between Ploërmel and Josselin on the edge of the Broceliande Forest in Brittany, 30 Franco-Breton and 30 Anglo-Breton knights met to fight a tourney-like emprise, the legendary Combat of the Thirty.

Chivalry was not dead. And while “no prisoners!” or “no mercy!” orders were already given and a bodkin arrow, a crossbow bolt, a cannon ball, a stake rammed in the mud or a pike didn’t care for class distinctions or credit status and Modernity dawned on the battlefields of the Hundred Years’ War, some knightly enterprises were still undertaken and their participants received the fame of present-day sports stars. 

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2016/03/thirty-englishmen-as-lions-brave-did.html

Depicted below is Octave Penguilly L'Haridon’s (1811 - 1872) "Le Combat des Trente" from 1857, with the objection of the Revue française, that: “This is not history herself: living, human, full-blooded [...]. Skillful, ingenious, knowledgeable, well informed about all matters medieval... it lacks the most important quality – life“ … quite like the immediate and subsequent reception of the event itself.

#culturalhistory #europeanhistory  #history  #hundredyearswar #medievalhistory
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27 December 1253, #onthisday , the Franciscan monk, diplomat in the service of Louis IX of France and explorer William of Rubruck reached the court of Great Khan Möngke in Karakorum.  

In 1165, a letter from a fabulous Christian monarch reigning the vast empire of the “Three Indias” right beside the Garden of Eden and ready to relief the Muslim pressure on the Crusader States from the East put the Christian West in a state of turmoil. It was the beginning of the myth of Prester John. Almost a hundred years later, a vast empire did exist in the steppes out East, that of Genghis Khan and his heirs, but they were hardly Christian princes, but might be. Thought St Louis IX of France after blundering through the Holy Land and Egypt and sent a mission to the court of Möngke Khan in far away Karakorum, to proselytize, negotiate an alliance and find out if there was a Prester John after all. 

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/12/on-feast-of-st-john-evangelist-we.html

Depicted below is Jacopo Bassano’s "Portrait of a Franciscan Friar" from around 1542

#culturalhistory #europeanhistory #history #medievalhistory   #mythology

 
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