1606 — Guy Fawkes executed for his part in the Gunpowder Plot

Guido “Guy” Fawkes was to some extent the fall guy for his plot – the trigger man for the bombing and the one who got caught, becoming a hero to England and the English (especially Alan Moore and those who read his works). He was arrested, convicted and sentenced to hang – along with seven of his co-conspirators. Fawkes was scheduled to be last to be executed: hung and quartered.

The sentence was carried out at the Old Palace Yard at Westminster, where Fawkes, desiring to avoid the horrific pain of being quartered, leapt from the scaffold and broke his neck, killing himself instantly and with considerably less pain. He remains a martyr, albeit not so much to the cause he himself espoused (he wanted to blow up Parliament for oppressing Catholics, a far cry from the motives of those who wear his mask today).

Referenced in:
Guy Fawkes — The Krewmen

1614 – Countess Elizabeth Báthory dies

The heroine and role model of every goth woman who ever aspired to the title of Queen Bitch, Countess Elisabet Báthory was a Hungarian noblewoman most famous for bathing in the blood of virgins in order to preserve her youthful appearance.

It’s unlikely that Bathory ever actually bathed so, but it is certain that she numbers among the most prolific serial killers of all time, and is possibly the most prolific of female serial killers known to history. Most of her victims were indeed young women (although their virginity or otherwise is a question unlikely ever to be answered).

In 1610, she was arrested along with four of her servants. Three of the servants were later convicted and executed, with the fourh being sentenced to life imprisonment. Bathory herself was never convicted, but remained under the house arrest that had been instituted from the first. Four years later, it appears that she starved herself to death.

Referenced in:

Elizabeth – Kamelot
Love – Unusual Suspect
Countess Bathory – Venom
Báthory Aria – Cradle of Filth
Venus in Fear – Cradle of Filth
Elisabeth Bathory – Dissection
Elisabeth Bathory – Tormentor
Bathory’s Sainthood – Boy Sets Fire
Woman of Dark Desires – Bathory
Once Upon Atrocity – Cradle of Filth
Desire in Violent Overture – Cradle of Filth
The Twisted Nails of Faith – Cradle of Filth
Beneath The Howling Stars – Cradle of Filth
Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids – Cradle of Filth
Portrait of the Dead Countess – Cradle of Filth
Thirteen Autumns and a Widow” – Cradle of Filth
Lustmord and Wargasm (The Lick of Carnivorous Winds) – Cradle of Filth

1633 – Galileo is forced to recant by the Inquisition

Galileo Galilei is one of the people most credited with creating modern science – he is regarded as the father of physics and of observational astronomy. Among his acheivements are the discovery of Jupiter’s four largest moons, advances in telescope design and construction and his famous demonstration of the constant acceleration of falling objects.

An early advocate of the heliocentric theory – the idea that the Earth and the other planets revolve around the sun – Galileo Galilei was denounced for this heretical view by various members of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately for Galileo, he lived in Italy, which at the time was dominated by the power of the church. He was summoned to Rome and tried for heresy (although his true crime seems to be less his heresies and more his willingness to teach them to others).

He was convicted and placed under house arrest for the rest of his life. In addition, he was forced to publicly recant his views – although legend has it that his denial was followed by the muttered words ‘E pur si muove!’ – ‘and yet it moves’ – an explicit contradiction of the Biblical doctrine that the Earth is fixed in space. It will never be known if he actually did say the words – but it’s nice to think that he did.

Referenced in:

Bohemian Rhapsody — Queen

I know, I know, the song only mentions his name… but this is such a cool story, and it’s such a cool song…

1649 – The Rump Parliament appoints a High Court to try the King

The Rump Parliament was what remained of the British Parliament after Colonel Pride had purged it a month earlier, leaving only those parliamentarians who supported the army.

On January 6, 1649, the Parliament appointed a total of 135 men to constitute a High Court for the trial of King Charles I for tyranny. A quorum was declated to be twenty of these appointees.

The trial of Charles I commenced shortly thereafter, and duly returned the guilty verdict it was intended to.

Referenced in:
Oliver Cromwell – Monty Python

1649 — King Charles I of England is executed

The decisive exclamation mark that ends the English Civil War. Never before had an English monarch been deposed, tried and convicted of high treason, and then executed. (To date, no other English monarch has suffered the same fate, either.) The decapitation of Charles the First made plain to the people of England and the courts of Europe that the winds of change were blowing in England.

Charles’ son, Charles II, would eventually be restored to the throne that was his by right of primogeniture, and in the interregnum that followed, England would be variously led by Parliament, by Lord-Protector Oliver Cromwell, and briefly, by Lord-Protector Richard Cromwell (Oliver’s less talented and determined son). The restored king was a damned sight more careful of Parliament, and the gradual decline of the power of the monarchy would only continue from this time onwards.

Referenced in:
Oliver Cromwell — Monty Python

1688 – Pirate Henry Morgan dies

It’s not entirely fair to call Henry Morgan a pirate – he was actually more a privateer, serving the English crown fairly well throughout his long career.

First acheiving the rank of captain in 1661, Morgan was highly successful, and became a romantic figure in England due to his daring exploits. The most controversial of these was the sack of the Spanish colony of Panama City in 1671, a feat all the more impressive because the city lay on the Pacific coast of Panama. Morgan and his men had to traverse the isthmus of Panama to attack from the landward side.

Unfortunately for Morgan, the attack violated a treaty between England and Spain, and he was summoned back to England to face charges. He managed to demonstrate that he had not known of the treaty at the time of the attack, and far from being punished, was knighted and returned to the Caribbean as acting Governor of Jamaica in 1675.

He died of what was diagnosed as ‘dropsie’ in 1688, although it is possible that it represents the effects of a lifetime of drinking catching up with his liver, or the effects of tuberculosis caught in England, or possibly both.

Referenced in:

El Capitan – OPM
Oh, Jamaica – Jimmy Cliff
Captain Morgan – Tempest
August 24th, 1688 – Amadan
Kingston Market – Harry Belafonte
Henry Morgan – Brien Bohn Hopkins
Can’t Blame The Youth – Peter Tosh
Here Comes The Judge – Peter Tosh
Head of the Buccaneer – Prince Far I
Morgan the Pirate – The Mighty Diamonds

1692 – Bridget Bishop is hanged in Salem

Accused of witchcraft and swiftly condemned and hanged for her supposed crimes, Bridget Bishop was the first person to be killed in the name of Christ during the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials.

She was a resident of Salem Town – not Salem Village, as the majority of the other accused were – and it is believed that she may have been confused with the similarly named Sarah Bishop, a tavern-keeper in Salem Village. She was accused of bewitching five other women who were residents of Salem town (and each of whom would go on to accuse others of similar crimes). In a statement made after her arrest, Bridget stated that she did not know her accusers. Unfortunately for Bridget, she made contradictory statements at her trial (some of which may have been facetious or ironic), and the humourless religious fanatics who tried her were quick to seize on this as evidence of her guilt.

She was approximately sixty years old at the time of her trial, and known to be an outspoken woman in a time that regarded that quality with suspicion at best. She was found guilty, and sentenced to death.

On June 10, 1692, she was hanged. By the time the hysteria died down, another 19 people would be executed with a similar lack of evidence (or indeed, of common sense), and four more would die in prison.

Referenced in:

American Witch — Rob Zombie
They Were Wrong, So We Drowned — Liars
Burn The Witch — Queens of the Stone Age

1692 – The last hangings of the Salem Witch Trials take place

It is perhaps the most infamous outbreak of mass hysteria in American history (with the possible exception of the McCarthy Era).

From February 1692 through to late September of that year, a total of 20 people were executed, with five more nearly dying in prison. Over 150 people were accused. Most of them were accused based on ‘spectral evidence’ – which is to say, dreams and visions. Every person actually brought to court was convicted, although some were pardoned.

I’m not sure what’s more shameful about this whole episode. Is it that it happened at all, or that there are still people who think it didn’t go far enough…

Referenced in:

Salem ’76 – Mary Lou Lord
Lords of Salem – Rob Zombie
American Witch – Rob Zombie
Witch Hunting in Salem – Ishia
Salem 1692 – Ceremonial Castings
The Dead Can’t Testify – Billy Talent
Burn the Witch – Queens of the Stone Age

1776 – The Illuminati are founded in Ingolstadt, Bavaria

They are an ageless conspiracy that has existed since the dawn of time, secretly guiding the affairs of nations and peoples… but they’re also, apparently, a relatively small group of Freemasons living in or around a fairly unremarkable Bavarian town in the 1770’s, led by one Adam Weishaupt (who may or may not also have been, or have replaced, George Washington at some point).

The Bavarian Illuminati, as this group is referred to by historians for simplicity’s sake, quickly grew to a membership of over 2000 men (no women were members) by the time it was suppressed a decade later. Known members other than Weishaupt include Goethe, Ferdinand of Brunswick, Johann Gottfried Herder and the diplomat Xavier von Zwack, with numerous others speculated to be members, including most of the ruling and creative classes of southern Germany, Austria and nearby areas at the time.

Referenced in:
Illuminati — Korn

1788 — The First Fleet lands in Botany Bay

An advance party for the First Fleet to colonise Australia entered Botany Bay on this day. The Governor of the colony, Arthur Phillip, sailed the armed tender Supply into the bay, and weighed anchor. Two days later, they were joined by the other ships of the Fleet. However, the poor quality of the soil led to the entire fleet decamping, and landing instead in Port Jackson 8 days later, at what was named Sydney Cove by the Governor.

The French explorer La Perouse entered Botany Bay on the same day, January 26, too late to claim the land for France. The British penal colony was, of course, never heard from again.

Referenced in:
Who Can Stand In The Way? – Midnight Oil

1788 — The first British settlement in Australia is founded at Port Jackson

On this day in 1788, British soldiers, citizens and convicts landed at Port Jackson in what is now Sydney. They raised a Union Jack, drank a toast, said some prayers and then set about their mission. The ongoing dispossession of the native peoples, the rampant deforestation, the extinction of native species of plant and animal, the destruction of a way of life that had endured for forty thousand years and more, the abolition of ancient languages and stories, and the general dehumanisation of the poor bastards whose only crime was to get in the way of Britain’s ego continues even to this day.

If the citizens of Australia continue to vote for parties which are not members of the Coalition, it may well never be finished…

Referenced in:

Solid Rock — Goanna
Point of No Return — Immortal Technique

1793 — Louis XVI is executed

The last king of France was not even a king at the time of his execution. He had been arrested the previous August and stripped of all his titles and styles when the monarchy was abolished a month later – his name at the time of his death, according to the newly formed French republic, was Citoyen Louis Capet. Louis faced his beheading bravely, and spoke to the onlookers, forgiving those who called for his execution.

The tragedy of it all is that Louis had been one of the greatest reformers in the history of the French monarchy, and had repeatedly instituted (or attempted to institute) policies that would help the common people of France. However, his reforms were repeatedly blocked by a nobility jealous of its privileges – especially those reforms that would have harmed them financially. The reforms they did allow through often proved economically disastrous – Louis and his advisers were poor economists. As king, the ultimate responsibility rested with Louis, and as a man, he paid the ultimate price for it.

Referenced in:
History Is Made By Stupid People — The Arrogant Worms