4, 17 and 23 October
This series about linking dates and happenings in history inevitably shows religion cropping up from time to time. October is no exception.
One of the greatest and certainly the first complete English language Bible was printed (4) in 1535, with translations by Tyndale and Coverdale. Many everyday phrases come from this version, as do several allusions made by Shakespeare.
On the same day (4) forty-seven years later Pope Gregory XIII implemented the Gregorian Calendar. This meant that this day was followed by 15 October in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
And on this day (4) too the Roman Catholic Church celebrates two feast days, for Saint Francis of Assisi (died 1226, the same day as the Spanish Saint Teresa of Avila, in 1582) and the Egyptian hermit, Saint Amun.
Avilla, home of St Teresa
A modern-day female saint was Mother Teresa, who was awarded (17) the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She died in September, 1997.
Nobel Prize-winner Albert Einstein fled Nazi Germany on the same day (17) in 1933, taking up residence in the United States, while on the same day in 1947 the 1918 Nobel laureate and German physicist Max Planck died. Planck was the formulator of the quantum theory which revolutionised physics.
Vitaly Ginzburg is a Russian physicist and also a 2003 Nobel laureate, who worked on the Soviet hydrogen bombs but now works on superconductivity: he was born (4) two years before Planck was awarded his prize. Ginzburg died in November 2009.
Prizes of a different kind are those gained in sport. In 1860 the first British Golf Open tournament was held (17) and on the same day in 1969 Ernie Els, the accomplished South African golfer was born.
In 1895 the first US Open Men’s Golf Championships were held (4) on a nine-hole course in Newport, Rhode Island. And golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez was born (23) forty years later.
Another major sport is cricket. Razor Smith was born (4) in 1877 and proved to be a good bowler. He was discovered by W.G. Grace and recommended for the Surrey team in the late 1890s. When the pitch was right, Smith was formidable. In 1909 he took 95 wickets for under thirteen runs in that summer season and the following year took 247 wickets. Smith’s nickname derived from his extreme thinness and he tended to suffer from serious injuries so that after the war he retired to a bat-making firm where he stayed till he died in 1946.
W G Grace, 1883 - Wikipedia commons
October could be construed as a cricketing month. W.G. Grace is synonymous with modern cricket. A six-foot-two giant of a man, he excelled in every aspect of the game, achieving 124 scores in excess of a century, the most notable being 278. Grace died (23) in 1915 on the same day as cricketer Steve Harrison was born in 1978. Twenty years earlier (17), cricketer Charlie Townsend died and a year after that was born (4) snooker champion Tony Meo who plays a game with a lot of balls.
But the most popular ball-game is probably soccer and the greatest exponent of the “beautiful game” celebrates his birthday this month. Brazilian Pele was born (23) in 1940.
These days if you’re a keen follower of sport, it’s likely you’ll have to travel far and wide to support your favourites. And you’d probably take along a travel guide too; Karl Baedeker was a German author and publisher whose Baedeker Guides are still used worldwide today: he died (4) in 1859.
If you’re travelling to follow sport it is doubtful that you would use the Orient Express, however, which first ran (4) in 1883. You can’t beat a nice leisurely train ride, pampered and well fed and watered, I suppose.
Though Scots speed-merchant Richard Noble might beg to differ. Self-taught, he built his first Thrust car in his garage in the 1970s. And in 1983 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada he took the land speed record (4) in his Thrust 2 vehicle, attaining a speed of 633.46mph. [Since then ThrustSSC driven by Andy Green has attained 763.03mph, the first supersonic land speed record (October 15, 1997).]
Another man who liked to travel fast - and spectacularly - was Evel Knievel, the American daredevil motor-cyclist. He was born (17) in 1938 and died November 2007.
A lot of thrust is required to break away from Earth’s gravitational pull and that’s what was achieved by the first artificial satellite to orbit our planet, Sputnik I, which was launched (4) way back in 1957.
Sputnik-1 - Wikipedia commons
Exploration and conflict have always changed the known map of the world. In 1830 the state of Belgium was created after its separation (4) from the Netherlands. (As an aside, we know there aren’t many famous Belgians, but apart from the creator of Tintin, Hergé (Georges Rémi) there’s another one-name cartoonist of note, Peyo who introduced (23) The Smurfs in 1958.)
And the beginning of the United States of America was probably not 1776 since the American Revolutionary war was still being waged against our British troops; that is until General Cornwallis surrendered (17) to the American revolutionaries at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781. [Indeed, Yorktown was not the final conflict in the Revolutionary War…]
A bit closer to home for us here in Spain is the date 1469 when Ferdinand II of Aragon married (17) Isabella of Castile which actually led to the unification of their two kingdoms into a single country, Spain. During their reign the papal bull of 1478 authorised the state-controlled Castilian tribunal, later known as the Spanish Inquisition, which had originally been intended to enforce the uniformity of religious practice. Yet at the hands of inquisitors like Torquemada, it was politicised and claimed thousands of lives on flimsy evidence, often for no other reason than spite.
Ferdinand and Isabella were also responsible for reviving after two hundred years the Reconquest of Spain from the Moors, finally evicting them in 1492, which also happens to be the year that Christopher Columbus made his momentous voyage, which was authorised by these two monarchs. [Columbus Day is 12 October.]
A year later, Pope Alexander VI formally approved the division of the unexplored world between Spain and Portugal. The Treaty of Tordesillas, which Spain and Portugal signed, moved the line of division westward and allowed Portugal to claim Brazil, which also explains the division of the two Iberian languages in South America.
Portugal became (4) a republic in 1910 when King Manuel II fled to the UK. Another republic created on this day (4) was Mexico, in 1824. Spain and Britain were at war during the period 1739-1741 due to commercial rivalry.
Earlier, in 1731, the master of the ship Rebecca, Robert Jenkins had his ear cut off by Spanish coast guards who resented English smuggling. Some years later Jenkins’ story in the House of Commons, reinforced by the carefully preserved ear, forced the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, to declare war on Spain (23). [The War of Jenkins’ Ear (Guerra del Asiento in Spanish] lasted from 1739-1748.]
Commercial rivalry was still alive and well in the next century when in 1813 the Pacific Fur Company trading post in Astoria, Oregon was turned over (23) to the rival British North West Company.
And then there was that first inkling of what was to come regarding oil trading and price hikes in 1973 when OPEC started (17) an oil embargo against many western countries who had purportedly helped Israel fight against Syria.
Oil of a different kind - paint. The famous Dutch painter Rembrandt died (4) in 1669 and was a master of light and shade, exemplified in his ‘The Anatomy Lecture’ and ‘The Night Watch’. A painter who was born on this day (4) in 1861 was Frederic Remington. He captured a time and place, his colourful pictures of the Old West often action-filled and vital.
Rembrandt Wikipedia commons
Western writer Zane Grey’s stories are well-researched and moral books. He was trained as a dentist and practised his profession while writing stories. Eventually he was so successful that he took up writing full time. He died (23) in 1939, having had sixty novels published and about that same number have been printed posthumously.
Several of film-star Charlton Heston’s earliest movies were westerns. Heston was born (4) in 1924. Of course he went on to become Mr Epic with movies like Ben Hur and El Cid. One of his many forays into science fiction was The Omega Man, based on the novel I am Legend by Richard Matheson. Unlike the movie, this gripping book is about vampires.
And vampires made author Anne Rice famous too with her novel Interview with the Vampire. She was born in 1941 on the same day (4) five years earlier than Susan Sarandon who played a vampire in Hunger.
A vamp of a different sort was Rita Hayworth, born (17) in 1918. “Vamp” means a flirt or seductress and she played this type of character often.
An actress who virtually seduced Christopher Reeve off the screen was Margot Kidder, playing Lois Lane in the Superman films. She was born in 1948 on the same day (17) as the co-creator of Superman, Jerry Siegel who was born thirty-four years earlier.
Must fly, as that’s all for today.