1920 — Construction of the permanent Cenotaph in London begins

Edwin Lutyens was one of the greatest British architects, possibly the greatest of his era. His design for the Cenotaph was originally intended to be a temporary structure, but became so beloved of the British people that it was replaced with a permanent version made of white stone. Its design has often been copied elsewhere in Britain and in other Commonwealth nations, and it is the centre of Remembrance Day events each November 11.

Like all cenotaphs, its design is that of an empty tomb, a memorial to ‘the Unknown Soldier’ – to all those who lost not merely their lives but their identities, but also to all those who served. It is sometimes referred to as “The Glorious Dead.”

Referenced in:
Think Back and Lie of England — Skyclad

1687 – Isaac Newton publishes The Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica

The Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, or in English, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, is one of the foundational works of modern physics and mathematics.

In addition to being the first major treatise to seek to unify all mathematics since Euclid nearly 2000 years earlier, it built upon the works of Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler and Descartes (to name but a few). Famously, it introduced the laws of gravitation and motion, which formed the basis of classical mechanics for centuries thereafter.

Much of the Principia has stood the test of time fairly well – for the most part, it has been refined rather than replaced. Newton’s work remained supreme in mathematics until the 20th century, when relativity and quantum mechanics began to expose it limitations. And although Newton’s laws fail at these extremes, they are superb approximations at the scale of everyday life (in this case, defined as reaching from the smallest visible objects up to entire solar systems).

Referenced in:

History Lessens — Skyclad
Man on the Moon — R.E.M.

1915 – Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity is published

One of the most revolutionary theories of physics of all time, Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity turned the celestial mechanics of Isaac Newton on its head, and set the stage for the quantum mechanical revolution in physics that characterised the Twentieth Century. Along with Heisenberg, Bohr, Schrodinger, Feynmann and others, Einstein’s work changed the way we understand our world, but even in that august company, Einstein is a titan among giants, a man whose name has become a byword for genius.

The General Theory of Relativity resists easy summation. It was created to reconcile various anomalies in Newton’s theory of Universal Gravitation, as well as between Newton and Einstein’s earlier Special Theory of Relativity, and forms an important part of our current understanding of physics, gravitation and cosmology – the Big Bang Theory draws upon it, for example.

Referenced in:

The World’s Address – They Might Be Giants

1649 – Cromwell lands in Ireland

The initial stages of Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland started well for him. His forces triumphed over the Royalist and Irish forces at the battle of Rathmines on August 2, 1649, and Cromwell himself landed in Dublin on August 15, with a fleet of 35 ships. 77 more ships, also loaded with troops and materiel, landed two days later, reinforcing the already substantial forces of Cromwell.

His conquest of Ireland was bloody and brutal. Cromwell’s religious tolerance did not extend to Catholics, whose numbers included the over-whelming majority of the Irish. Cromwell’s invasion marked the beginning of more than three and half centuries of oppression of the Irish Catholic majority by their Protestant British conquerors, ending only in 1922 when the independent Repblic of Eire was formed – and arguably not even then, considering the endless fighting between Protestant and Catholic in Northern Ireland even today.

Another thing that continues to the current day is the upopularity of Oliver Cromwell in Ireland, for understandable reasons.

Referenced in:
Oliver Cromwell – Monty Python