Monday, 30 December 2013

1927 New Years Day, And A Quick Thank You

Dear readers, I would just like to quickly say I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and have a fantastic New Year.

Thank you all so much for continuing to read my blog, I hope 2014 will be a great year for every one of you and I will continue to do my best to make this blog interesting and informative for you all.

A quick look back to New Year's Day in 1927:

The long-gone New Year's Day tradition: White House open house,
where the president waited to shake hands (1927).

Thank you all,


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Virginia Woolf: A Room of One's Own

I have recently been reading A Room of One’s Own, Virgina Woolf for an essay I am currently writing on her. This is my first (but hopefully not last) Woolf book that I have read, because I love it. I have decided to do quick review from the beach in Dubai (yes, I am in Dubai again). 

The book was originally written as lectures Woolf was asked to give on the topic of “women and fiction.” She a large amount of the book discussing what that even means, describing her thought process as she considers how to write her speech. Woolf then begins her arguments: she discusses how women are limited by their roles in society; how can they write great novels that encompass all kinds of experiences, when they are confined mostly to their homes? Men are able to go into business and to travel the world; their freedom allows them to gain the experiences necessary to write novels of depth. Men also have the advantage of independence and leisure time. Women, however, can’t dedicate themselves to writing because they can’t be independent, and they don’t have the time or a quiet place to themselves in which to write.

Genius cannot shine through without experience behind it. Woolf imagines that Shakespeare had a sister who was equally gifted but never given the opportunity to use her talents. Whereas Sheakespeare married, had children, moved to London, got a job in a theatre, became an actor, met lots of interesting people and became famous, his sister (Woolf names her Judith) would have remained in the house. Although she was just as imaginative and adventurous as her brother, Judith would not have been to school; she would have learned how to darn socks and make stew. She would have been married off regardless of her feelings. Even if she had run off to London with the same gifts as her brother, she would never have gotten into the theatre; if she had tried, the manager might have suggested a cruder profession, and she would have ended up pregnant by an actor manager and then dead by suicide. Woolf argues that women need the same freedoms as men to be able to create art on the same level as theirs.

She argues that, under the circumstances women have historically been forced to write, their personal feelings, anger, and rage, have leaked into their work, marring the pure substance of the story. In order to serve only the story and not oneself, a woman must have the freedom to sit with an untroubled mind. She can’t sit down in a crowded sitting room, constantly interrupted, and have the story flow unimpeded from her pen. She must be able to sit down, financially secure and sure of peace and quiet, to be able to write her story clearly.

A Room of One’s Own is a feminist landmark and it is very interesting to read how a feminist thought a hundred years ago and how, surprisingly, it is still the same things people care about now.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Glorious Revolution

On December 19th 1688, the Glorious Revolution ended the reign of James II after he fled the country thanks to a successful invasion from William of Orange. James's unpopularity stemmed from his wish for the country to return to being Roman Catholic, whilst the English people (who still had painful memories of the English Civil War and Charles II's chaotic reign fresh in their minds), were unwilling to tolerate more years of uncertainty or the possibility of the country being pushed once more into military conflict.

The policies of James II had caused much discontent in both Whig and Tory parties. As a result, leading politicians took it upon themselves to send an ‘Invitation’ to William III inviting the Protestant William to take the throne of the country – along with his wife Mary who was the daughter of James II and granddaughter of Charles I.

William landed at Torbay in Devon in November 1688. James fled to France on December 23rd and in January 1689, William called a parliament which passed the necessary legislation that the Revolution required to be successful. The politicians behind the 1688 Revolution saw James II as being the one at fault for destabilising the constitution as it then stood. Led by Danby, they believed that they were merely taking society back to the time when the social status quo that they wanted existed and where the Protestant faith was guaranteed.

The December 1688 Bill of Rights declared that James had abdicated and that the Crown had legally passed to William and Mary and their heirs. However the political unity shown in the removal of James from the throne did not last long. There were those who viewed Mary alone as the legal heir to the throne as she was from Stuart blood – the daughter of James II and the granddaughter of Charles I. Despite the number of years that had passed, there were still those who held Charles in high regard as a monarch (though not as an individual). The strict legitimists wanted William named as a regent only.

William, a respected Protestant leader from Holland, would not accept this and stated bluntly that he would return to Holland unless he was given full regal powers. The prospect of a political vacuum was not welcomed by anyone.

There were some Whigs, though few in number, who believed that the people of the country should have the final say in who should be monarch.

The Bill of Rights forbade the monarch from being a Catholic and from marrying a Catholic. The Bill of Rights also had a major political bent to it that handed a great deal of power to Parliament. Some historians view it as the start of constitutional monarchy. Prerogative courts such as the Ecclesiastical Commission were banned; taxation raised through anything else other than Parliament was banned; a standing army raised without Parliament’s consent was banned; the prosecution of anyone petitioning the Crown was also banned. The Bill of Rights also stated that calls for a Parliament should be frequent and that there should be Parliamentary debates free from outside interference

The March 1689 Mutiny Act gave the monarch the legal means to maintain army discipline but Parliament had to support this every six months at a time – though this was later increased to a year. The Toleration Act (May 1689) did not introduce classic religious toleration but it did exempt Dissenters (except Catholics and Unitarians) from certain laws. To all intents the act allowed freedom of worship but not full citizenship as the Test and Corporation acts were still in force.

In December 1694, the Triennial Act ordered that no Parliament should exceed three years and that no dissolution of Parliament should be longer than three years. In December 1698, the Civil List was introduced. This provided the Crown with money to pay for its existence - as well as financing extraordinary expenditure such as wars. As war became more and more expensive as time progressed, the Crown came to rely more and more on Parliament for its financial survival.

In June 1701, the Act of Settlement was introduced. The Bill of Rights had ensured that Anne would be the rightful heir after William and Mary – along with her heirs. The Act of Settlement wanted to clarify what would happen if Anne left no heirs, as was the case. The act stated that the Sophia of Hanover and her heirs would succeed Anne. The House of Hanover was Protestant and the act ensured that the Protestant faith would continue after Anne died.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Picture of the Month

Embedded image permalink

The first camera ever built. Taken with the second camera ever built.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Nelson Mandela

Nelson MandelaLast night (5th December at 8.50pm local time) Nelson Mandela, who led the emancipation of South Africa from white minority rule and served as the country’s first black president, died aged 95. Mandela is an enduring icon of the struggle against racial oppression and a hero to millions. Mandela had not been seen in public since 2010, when South Africa hosted the soccer World Cup, but he remained a potent symbol of the struggle to end his country’s brutally codified system of racial domination, and of the power of peaceful resolution in even the most intractable conflicts.

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison after being convicted of treason by the white minority government, only to forge a peaceful end to white rule by negotiating with his captors after his release in 1990. He led the African National Congress, a long a banned liberation movement, to a resounding electoral victory in 1994 - the first fully democratic election in the country’s history.

Mandela's death was announced close to midnight and a small crowd quickly gathered outside the house where he once lived in Soweto, on Vilekazi Street singing “Nelson Mandela, there is no one like you.”

Mr. Mandela served as president from 1994 to 1999 and was succeeded by his secretary, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela spent his early retirement years focusing on charitable causes for children and later speaking out about AIDS, which has killed millions of Africans, including his son Makgatho, who died in 2005. Mandela retreated from public life in 2004 at the age of 85, largely withdrawing to his homes in the upscale Johannesburg suburb of Houghton and his ancestral village in the Eastern Cape, Qunu.

Mandela was not only an icon of freedom but also an extraordinary example of the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. In 1964, in an address to the sabotage trial he said "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination."

Born in 1918, Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela was raised in the village of Mvezo in the Transkei in the Eastern Cape. He was one of 13 children from a family with close links to the royal house of the Thembu people. He was only nine when his father died of tuberculosis, and was soon sent from his home village to live as a ward of the Thembu royal house, where he would be groomed for a leadership role. This led to him being sent to a Methodist school, where he was given the name Nelson. He was a diligent student and in 1939 went to Fort Hare University, then a burgeoning centre of African nationalism. It was at Fort Hare that Mandela met the future ANC leader, Oliver Tambo, with whom he would establish the first black law practice in South Africa. Both were expelled from the university in 1940 for political activism.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s during a period of growing tumult in South Africa the ANC launched an armed struggle with Mr Mandela at its head as African nationalists allied with the South African Communist Party challenging the apartheid state. He was arrested and charged with treason in 1956. After a trial lasting five years, Mr Mandela was acquitted. But by this point the ANC had been banned and Oliver Tambo had gone into exile. Nelson Mandela went underground and embarked on a secret trip to seek help from other African nations emerging from colonial rule. He also visited London to meet Tambo. But soon after his return he was arrested and sentenced to five years in jail. Further charges led to a life sentence that would see him spend 27 years behind bars. These years in prison ended his marriage to Winnie Mandela and strained many of the relationships with some of his children.

A short time-line of Nelson Mandela's life: 

1918 Born in the Eastern Cape
1943 Joined African National Congress
1956 Charged with high treason, but charges dropped after a four-year trial
1962 Arrested, convicted of incitement and leaving country without a passport, sentenced to five years in prison
1964 Charged with sabotage, sentenced to life
1990 Freed from prison
1993 Wins Nobel Peace Prize
1994 Elected first black president
1999 Steps down as leader
2001 Diagnosed with prostate cancer
2004 Retires from public life
2005 Announces his son has died of an HIV/Aids-related illness

RIP Nelson Mandela. He was truly an inspiration to millions of people around the world.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Catastrophe by Max Hastings

Earlier this month was Remembrance Day, and in honour I read 'Catastrophe' by Max Hastings (who received a knighthood in 2002), on the history of WWI. The book describes the complex lead-up to and opening weeks of the First World War, before analysing the actual war itself. As a historian, Hasting's objective is not only to pin the principal blame for launching the catastrophic conflict where it rightly belongs (on Austria and Germany) but also to argue that Britain was politically and morally right to fight WWI.

Hastings shows how the Austrians coldly set out to destroy Serbia; how Berlin gave Vienna a “blank cheque”, assuring it of German support; how both countries ignored the certainty that Russia would pitch in on the side of its Slav protégé Serbia; and how Germany’s autocracy, under its mentally unstable Kaiser, deliberately pushed Europe over the edge. Germany recklessly gambled that Britain would stay out of the war, and that even if it did not, they could, anyhow, win it within weeks by knocking out France, before turning to deal with Russia at leisure: the same pipedream pursued by Hitler a quarter of a century later.

Hastings demonstrates the parallels between the two world wars, showing that atrocities such as the Kaiser’s armies as marching through Belgium , though smaller in scale than the Nazis’ crimes in 1939-45 (6,000 civilians murdered rather than six million), were inflicted in the same wanton spirit. With irrefutable logic Hastings argues that if it was right for Britain to wage war in defence of Poland in 1939, then it was also correct to take up arms in defence of Belgium in 1914.

Coming to the war itself, Hastings is also brilliant. He looks not just at the fighting in France and Flanders, but instead across the whole of Europe, describing half-forgotten campaigns on the Drina and Danube rivers with the same spirit that he brings to the more familiar clashes at Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and Ypres.

The book is also incredibly touching because he uses the stories of ordinary people which resonate loud and long with the reader: the conscripted clerks and scholars torn from their ledgers and books, never to return; or the wives and children, suddenly wondering where their next meal would come from, such as the family of the Russian soldier Ivan Kuchernigo. “His five-year-old daughter sat in his arms, pressing against him and saying, 'Daddy, why are you going? Why are you leaving us? Who’s going to earn money and get bread for us?’ She embraced and kissed her father whose own tears were soon flowing.” This is a magnificent and deeply moving book and Hastings has once again show his incomparable skills for writing history.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

50 Years of Doctor Who

50 years ago today, a children's teatime sci-fi show made its debut on the BBC - and went on to change the world, both in terms of television and the imaginations of viewers for generations. To celebrate I thought I would tell you all a few interesting facts about the show which you probably won't have heard of before!

Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction show in the world; the 50th anniversary special will be the show’s 799th episode since it began in 1963.  The nearest rival doesn’t come close – with Superman’s youthful adventures in Smallville achieving 218 episodes across 10 series.

The BBC started colour transmission on November 15th 1969. That meant that the first colour Doctor Who episode was 1970’s Spearhead from Space which introduced the Third Doctor. The record highest viewer figures for an episode of Doctor Who is taken by part four of 1979’s The City of Death – also part of the first Doctor Who serial to be filmed abroad.  16.1 million viewers tuned in, although strike action on the ITV network may take some of the credit. 

Being the mother of Doctor Who is quite a claim, but original producer Verity Lambert was also the first ever female producer at the BBC. Sadly the BBC’s short-sighted decision to junk black and white episodes in the late 60s and early 70s has robbed us of classic episodes of the First and Second Doctors. But fans haven’t given up hope that these episodes survive somewhere in the world.  Those searches have yielded results. The recent discovery of copies of 1968 serials The Enemy of the World and the Web of Fear in Nigeria mean that only 97 episodes of Doctor Who remain missing - that figure stood at 137 in 1981.

The word TARDIS has made the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s the Doctor’s famous time and Space machine, but it’s also a recognised word. Noun. 1. Time machine. 2. A building or container that is larger inside than it appears to be from outside.

Coverage of the assassination of John F. Kennedy delayed Doctor Who’s first broadcast. Doctor Who’s first episode was broadcast the day after President John F Kennedy was assassinated. Popular opinion has it that news coverage delayed the first screening by 10 minutes, but in fact it was only 80 seconds. The show’s first episode was repeated again the following week to make sure it wasn’t missed.

Doctor Who is one of the BBC’s Top five Brands. Last year’s annual report showed that Doctor Who and the Beeb’s other top brands (Top Gear, Lonely Planet, Dancing with the Stars and BBC Earth) made up 30% of their headline sales. The 50th anniversary special the Day of the Doctor has been described as the biggest event in BBC Drama’s history and it’s easy to see why. Scheduled for 7.50pm this Saturday, the episode will be simulcast across the world to almost 80 countries - just imagine viewers in Melbourne Australia who’ll be watching at 6.50am on Sunday morning!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

50 Years Since JFK's Assassination

Fifty years ago yesterday a momentous political and historical event shocked America and the world, when, during a trip to Texas the President, John F. Kennedy was shot as his motorcade drove through Dealey Plaza on 22nd November 1963. To this day there remains some questions surrounding the assassination.

The sequence, number and direction of the shots that were fired in Texas remains a subject for debate with many believing the official government version of events to be implausible and pointing to the existence of a second shooter. Through studying the Zapruder film the Warren Commission concluded that of the three shots that were fired one missed Kennedy completely, another hit him in the neck causing a non-fatal injury, and another - the fatal shot - hit him in the head. Conspiracy theorists claim the Single Bullet explanation put forward by the Commission to explain timing discrepancies in the Zapruder film is implausible and indicates Oswald didn't act alone. It is also the case that around 40 witnesses claimed to have seen gunshots or smoke from the infamous grassy knoll in the northwest corner of Dealey Plaza. Indeed, even the murdered president’s niece, former Maryland Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, recently questioned whether her uncle’s killer acted alone.

In one of the most memorable scenes in Oliver Stone's film 'JFK', based on the book 'On The Trail of The Assassins' by Jim Garrison, the lead character is shown watching the Zapruder film - in particular frames 312 and 313. The footage appears to show Kennedy's head snapping back and to the left. According to Stone, and many other critics of the official version of what happened in Dallas, the footage is evidence that Kennedy was shot from the front. Interviewed recently on CNN Stone remarked that "Most of the witnesses saw a huge exit wound on the back of his right skull, huge. They described the cerebellum falling through the skull in the Parkland Hospital." Many theorists claim during the subsequent autopsy the back of the President's head was patched up.

In his recent book, End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, James Swanson claims that Robert F Kennedy, who was later assassinated himself, took his brother's brain in a bid to hide the true extent of President Kennedy's illnesses. Others have claimed that the brain would help to come to a final conclusion about the direction of the fatal shot that killed Kennedy - hence its disappearance. What happened to the brain remains a mystery.

Thousands of pages of documents related to the investigation of Kennedy’s death remain classified prompting further speculation and allowing unanswered questions to remain unanswered. However in 2017 they will all be released, putting an end to many questions surrounding the President's death.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Other Boleyn Girl

I recently finished reading, and then watching, The Other Boleyn Girl (book by Philippa Gregory). I found the book absolutely fascinating and enjoyed the movie just as much, despite many critics arguing the Hollywood film 'butchered history'.  I have decided to answer some questions on accuracy that people have had with the film

In the film Mary Boleyn was depicted as desiring a quiet country life, devoted to her new husband.
In reality, Mary lived in France for several of her teen years, at court in attendance on Mary Tudor (wife of Louis XII and sister of Henry VIII) and on Queen Claude (wife of Francis I after Louis's death). She was reputed to have had several affairs at the French court, possibly with King Francis himself. Mary was recalled by her father to England in 1519, possibly because of her promiscuous behaviour, and became a maid of honour to Catherine of Aragon, Henry's queen. Mary wed Sir William Carey, a notable courtier (not a simple merchant as portrayed in the movie), in 1520. King Henry attended their wedding. She became Henry's mistress very soon after her marriage, and there is no indication that she was unwilling.

There has also been some controversy over who was oldest, Anne or Mary. The film suggests Anne is the oldest Boleyn child, however most historians agree that Anne must have been younger.  Anne and Mary were at the French court during an overlapping period, though the dates when each first came to France are sketchy. It is known that Mary returned to England first, to be married, in 1519. Anne did not return to England for her own marriage until 1522. Mary's earlier marriage is very strong evidence for her being eldest. In those days, younger sisters just were not married off before elder sisters. Girls had no choice but were contracted in marriage to increase family status; as the eldest girl had the most status, she was always married off first. Also, in 1596 Mary's grandson claimed the family title of Ormonde, based on the fact that Mary was older than Anne (since their brother George died without children). In the absence of male heirs, the title would go to the eldest sister and her children, so it would have been claimed by Elizabeth as Anne's child, had Anne been older than Mary.

The film shows Anne's anger that Mary won Henry's interest, however in actual fact Anne was sent abroad in 1513, whilst only twelve, and did not return from the French Court (where she went in 1514) till 1522, two years after Mary's wedding to William Carey and her subsequent affair with King Henry.

Mary was also not Henry's only mistress (as the film suggests). Henry had a mistress, Bessie Blount, an unmarried woman who served as maid of honour to Catherine, in 1514, years before Mary Boleyn. He acknowledged her son Henry Fitzroy, born in 1519, as his son. "Fitzroy" means "son of the king." Henry honoured his illegitimate son with the title of Duke of Richmond and Somerset. Henry was known to be unfaithful to his established mistresses as well as to his wives.

There is also some debate over whether Mary's son was indeed fathered by Henry (as the film shows). He may well have been; her affair with Henry ended in mid-1525, and her son was born in early March 1526. His resemblance to Henry was remarked upon, and he was widely assumed to be the king's son. However, Henry never acknowledged him so there is doubt. Henry had acknowledged Bessie Blount's illegitimate son so the fact that he did not claim Mary's son argues against it. But there are reasons he might not have: (1) Bessie Blount was unmarried, so there was no other claimant to be the father, while Mary had a husband who could have been the father and gave the boy a legitimate name. (2) Henry was in love with Anne and may have felt awkward acknowledging a son by her sister. Queen Elizabeth granted her cousin-possibly-brother the title Lord Hunsdon late in his life.

Anne did also not secretly wed Henry Percy, as the film does. She did enter into a secret betrothal with him, which was broken off when his father refused to support it. It is unlikely that their relationship was consummated.

Henry also trusted Anne over Mary (not the other way round, as shown in the movie). In fact, when Mary's first husband William Carey died in 1528, Henry promptly gave guardianship of two-year-old Henry Carey (who may have been his son) to Anne. Henry's surviving love letters to Anne indicate that he was worried about Mary's "easy virtue" (meaning she was promiscuous) and that is why he made Anne the guardian of her nephew. The child was raised at court under Anne's care.

The film lacks a sense of the passage of time. Henry courted Anne for seven years and they were married
for three years before she was beheaded.

In the movie Henry never smiled at Anne once he agreed to annul his marriage. Anne and Henry had a long courtship and a short affair before their three-year marriage. Henry first became attracted to Anne in 1526. They did not wed until seven years later in 1533. He was devoted to her for many years despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that they did not have a sexual relationship for most of that time. All evidence - including Henry's love letters to Anne - indicate that they did not have a sexual relationship until shortly before their wedding, when Anne became pregnant with Elizabeth. He certainly began to lose interest in her sometime around her first or second miscarriage. His worry that she would only bear him a daughter as Catherine had, and the knowledge that he had already weathered one very messy and unpopular shed-a-wife scandal, led him to think of replacing her with another wife as well.

The movie also showed Anne pushing for annulment or divorce. This is true, at least partially. Anne certainly refused to get into his bed until he could marry her. However, it is also true that Henry was already obsessed with having a male heir and very distressed by Catherine's failure to produce a living son. Catherine was six or seven years older than Henry and suffered several miscarriages, still-births, and two short-lived sons. She also bore him Mary, who would later become Queen of England as the famous Bloody Mary. By 1529, the doctors declared that Catherine (about age 42) would have no more children. Henry, who had studied for the priesthood at one point, began to reflect on the verses from Leviticus stating that a man who took his brother's wife would be childless. At this point, Henry was also becoming more and more enamoured of Anne Boleyn. It is possible that he had considered annulment before Anne's arrival, since he was obsessed with the idea of having a male heir. Anne's resistance to his overtures only strengthened his resolve to dissolve his first marriage. The pope stalled on granting an annulment, and Anne stalled on sleeping with Henry. Catherine was banished in 1531 and Anne installed in her rooms in the palace. Sometime between 1531 and 1533, Anne and Henry began a sexual relationship. Anne was soon pregnant, and Henry again had hopes of an heir. He declared his marriage null on the grounds that Catherine had been his brother's wife and therefore the marriage was unlawful, and he married Anne in secret in 1533. The break with the Catholic church was inevitable after that.

The film shows Mary pleading with the king and visiting Anne, however she did not actually intervene on behalf of her siblings. Mary did not visit either of her siblings in prison. There is no evidence that she wrote to them or communicated in any way; certainly she did not approach King Henry on Anne's behalf. It is known that her second husband was overlooked when Henry was passing out favours to Anne's male relatives, and she tried to seek Henry's favour for her husband through highly placed people at court, not by approaching him directly. Henry had already removed her son (and possibly his) from her custody, when her first husband died, and given him into Anne's custody. There is plenty of evidence that Mary had absolutely no influence with the king.


Monday, 11 November 2013

75 Years Since Kristallnacht

On the 9th November Germany marked the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht with solemn ceremonies and touching tributes to the victims. This year, instead of one central memorial event, many smaller commemorations are taking place including art projects, Twitter initiatives and silent vigils.

The attacks of November 9 and 10, 1938, saw Nazi  smash up Jewish businesses throughout Germany, torch synagogues and round up about 30,000 Jewish men for deportation to concentration camps.

At least 90 Jews were killed in the night of violence, also known as 'The Night of Broken Glass', which historians say ushered in the start of the Nazis' drive to wipe out European Jewry.

As part of the unconventional memorials, Berliners and tourists during the day polished around 5,000 "Stolpersteine" memorials for Jews in their neighbourhoods. The "stumbling blocks" are small plaques bearing the names of Holocaust victims embedded in the street in front of their last known address, along with their dates of birth and facts about their deportation.

Meanwhile around 120 retailers in Berlin have affixed adhesive film to their shop windows depicting the jagged pattern of broken glass to commemorate the destruction levelled against Jewish merchants. The stickers were concentrated in areas of central Berlin that were targeted by the Nazi looters in 1938, with participants including Germany's most famous department store KaDeWe.

President Joachim Gauck paid his respects at a synagogue in the eastern city of Eberswalde near Berlin which was destroyed in the rampage, and where there is now a memorial made from the building's rediscovered foundations and freshly planted trees.

Churches in Berlin have planned a silent march to the site of an obliterated synagogue in the city centre in which Mayor Klaus Wowereit was due to take part. The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, had called for "honest, emotional concern" on the part of Germans on the anniversary and urged continued vigilance against hatred. 

Remembrance Day

I hope you all found a chance to mark Remembrance Day today with a two minute silence and any other marches or tributes your school/ youth movement may have organised.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


Today I visited Westminster on a Politics school trip. We had a fantastic day, beginning with a tour of Parliament in the morning before watching the House of Commons Questions to George Osbourne, Chancellor of the Exchequer. Of course we went out for lunch (Wagamamas), before visiting the Supreme Court and then watching the select committee on Home Affairs deal with the 'Plebgate' issue and tobacco smuggling.

Combining my passion for history and interest in politics I have decided to do a timeline of the history of Parliament (summarised, of course, or we would be here all day), up until James I in 1603.

1215 - King John agreed to Magna Carta which stated the right of the barons to consult with and advise the king in his Great Council

1236 - Earliest use of the term Parliament, referring to the Great Council

1254 - Sheriffs were instructed to send elected representatives of the counties (knights of the shire) to consult with the king on taxation

1258 - At a Parliament at Oxford, the nobles drafted the "Provisions of Oxford" which calls for regular Parliaments with representatives from the counties

1265 - Simon de Montfort, in rebellion against Henry III, summoned a Parliament which included for the first time representatives of both the counties and towns

1278 - The Clerk of the Parliaments began to compile the Rolls of Parliament, the records of proceedings, particularly the petitions and acts passed

1295 - Model Parliament was made up of nobles and bishops, and two representatives for each county and for each town - the model for future Parliaments

1327 - From this date representatives of the counties (knights of the shire) and of the towns (burgesses) were always summoned together to Parliament

1332 - Knights of the shire and burgesses met together and were called the Commons

1341 - The Commons met separately from the Upper House for the first time

1352 - The Commons began to meet in the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey

1362 - A statute established that Parliament must approve of all taxation

1376 - In the Good Parliament the Commons, led for the first time by an elected Speaker, prosecuted, or impeached, before the lords some of the king's advisors

1397 - Commons moved from Chapter House of Westminster Abbey to its Refectory

1399 - Parliament deposed Richard II and Henry IV's reign started

1401 - During the reign of Henry IV the Commons claimed the right to grant taxation (supply) only after their complaints had been addressed (redress of grievances)

1407 - The Commons successfully asserted its right that it should originate all new taxes in its own House

1413 - Statute insisted that burgesses should reside in the borough for which they are elected. Over the following years, this provision was almost completely ignored

1414 - 
Henry V acknowledged that the approval and consultation of both Houses was necessary to make new laws

1429 - Statute limited the right to vote in county elections to those owning freehold property worth 40 shillings a year

1497 - The Clerk of the Parliaments was no longer a Chancery official and began to keep the acts passed in Parliament (the Original Acts) in Parliament's own archives

1510 - The Clerk of the Parliaments started keeping records of proceedings in the House of Lords - the Lords Journal

1512 - Henry VIII moved the royal family out of the Palace of Westminster after a fire, and left it to the use of Parliament and some government offices

1523 - Speaker of the Commons Sir Thomas More made the first known request for freedom of speech in Parliament

1529-36 - The Reformation Parliament passed legislation touching on every aspect of people's lives and made King-in-Parliament the sovereign lawmaker in the realm

1536 - A statute joined Wales to English administration and allowed its counties and boroughs to return members to Parliament

1539 - Henry VIII suppressed the monasteries and the abbots and priors could no longer sit in the House of Lords, making the Lords Temporal the majority there

1547 - Edward VI handed St Stephen's Chapel over to the Commons for their use

1547 - The Clerk of the Commons started keeping records of proceedings - the Commons Journal

1576 - Peter Wentworth made a speech in the Commons arguing for freedom of speech in Parliament, for which he was punished and committed to the Tower of London

Monday, 4 November 2013


Yesterday was Diwali, the Indian festival of lights. Diwali has been celebrated since ancient times and many different people have different opinions on its origin. Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and HanumanThe most well known story behind Diwali is in the Ramayana, a Hindu myth. According to Ramayana, Rama, Prince of Ayodhya was ordered by his father, King Dasharatha, to live in the forest for fourteen years. So Rama, his wife, Sita, and brother Lashmana left in exile. However Ravana, the demon king of Lanka abducted Sita and took her away to his island kingdom of Lanka. Rama fought against and killed Ravana, rescued Sita and returned to Ayodhya after fourteen years. The people of Ayodhya were so happy to hear of their prince's homecoming that they celebrated by lighting up their houses with earthen lamps (diyas), burst crackers and decorating the entire city beautifully.

This is believed to have started the tradition of Diwali. Year after year the homecoming of Lord Rama is commemorated on Diwali with lights, fireworks, bursting of crackers and merriment. The festival gets its name Deepawali, or Diwali, from the rows (avali) of lamps (deepa) that the people of Ayodhya lit to welcome their King. 

Sri Krishna and Arjun

Thursday, 31 October 2013


Happy Halloween! Because today is Halloween, I, of course, am going to do a short post on the origins of this mysterious festival.

Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. The word Halloween is a shortened version of All Hallows' Evening also known as Hallowe'en or All Hallows' Eve.

Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting "haunted houses" and carving pumpkins. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century including Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom as well as of Australia and New Zealand.

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival, Samhain, which was a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.

The festival would frequently involve bonfires, which many believe attracted insects and then bats to the area, starting off the traditional belief of bats coming out on Halloween. Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.

Trick-or treating first became popular in America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and due to increased American cultural influence in recent years, trick-or-treating has started to occur among children in many parts of Europe, and in the Saudi Aramco camps of Dhahran, Akaria compounds and Ras Tanura in Saudi Arabia. In Ohio, Iowa, and Massachusetts, the night designated for Trick-or-treating is often referred to as Beggars Night.

Part of the history of Halloween is Halloween costumes. The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages, and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of "souling," when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of "puling [whimpering, whining], like a beggar at Hallowmas."

Yet there is no evidence that souling was ever practised in America, and trick-or-treating may have developed in America independent of any Irish or British antecedent. The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in English speaking North America occurs in 1911, when a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario, near the border of upstate New York, reported that it was normal for the smaller children to go street guising on Halloween between 6 and 7 p.m., visiting shops and neighbours to be rewarded with nuts and candies for their rhymes and songs. Another isolated reference appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920. The thousands of Halloween postcards produced between the turn of the 20th century and the 1920s commonly show children but do not depict trick-or-treating. It does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the earliest known uses in print of the term "trick or treat" appearing in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939. Thus, although a quarter million Scots-Irish immigrated to America between 1717 and 1770, the Irish Potato Famine brought almost a million immigrants in 1845-1849, and British and Irish immigration to America peaked in the 1880s, ritualized begging on Halloween was virtually unknown in America until generations later.

Trick-or-treating spread from the western United States eastward, stalled by sugar rationing that began in April 1942 during World War II and did not end until June 1947.

Enjoy trick-or-treating or whatever else you might be doing tonight!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Picture of the Month

Bringing down the Berlin Wall, 1989



I went to Russia with school recently on a history trip looking at 20th century Russia. Here are some pictures: 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Al Capone Goes To Prison

On 17th October, 1931, ganster Al Capone was sentenced to eleven years in jail and fined $80,000 for tax evasion, beginning the downfall of one of the most notorious criminals of the 1920s and 30s.

Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1899 to Italian immigrants. He was expelled from school at 14, joined a gang and earned his nickname "Scarface" after being sliced across the cheek during a fight. By 1920, Capone had moved to Chicago, where he was soon helping to run crime boss Johnny Torrio's illegal enterprises, which included alcohol-smuggling, gambling and prostitution. Torrio retired in 1925 after an attempt on his life and Capone, known for his cunning and brutality, was put in charge of the organization.

The brewing and distribution of alcohol was banned from 1920 to 33 and meant Capone could make millions from the black market selling of illegal substances. Capone was at the top of the F.B.I.'s "Most Wanted" list by 1930, but he avoided long stints in jail until 1931 by bribing city officials, intimidating witnesses and maintaining various hideouts. He became Chicago's crime kingpin by wiping out his competitors through a series of gangland battles and slayings, including the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929, when Capone's men gunned down seven rivals. This event helped raise Capone's notoriety to a national level.

Among Capone's enemies was federal agent Elliot Ness, who led a team of officers known as "The Untouchables" because they couldn't be corrupted. Ness and his men routinely broke up Capone's bootlegging businesses, but it was tax-evasion charges that finally stuck and landed Capone in prison in 1931. Capone began serving his time at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, but amid accusations that he was manipulating the system and receiving cushy treatment, he was transferred to the maximum-security lockup at Alcatraz Island, in California's San Francisco Bay. He got out early in 1939 for good behaviour, after spending his final year in prison in a hospital, suffering from syphilis.

Plagued by health problems for the rest of his life, Capone died in 1947 at age 48 at his home in Palm Island, Florida.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Women Were Stone Age Cave Artists

Hand stencils in Puente Viesgo, Spain, date from more than 37,300 years ago

The pioneers of painting were probably women, a study by American archaeologists has found. At least three quarters of examples of one of the earliest forms of cave painting may have been made by women. Stencils created by blowing pigment over an outstretched hand are one of the earliest forms and most common forms of prehistoric art.

Hand pictures have been found all over the world but the best known examples are in caves in south-west France and northern Spain and date from 40,000 years ago. By comparing the relative length of the fingers professors have been able to determine which were made by men and which by women. The findings have overturned the traditional assumption that most, if not all, cave painting was the work of men.

Up till now most archaeologists believed the hand prints, which often share wall space with ochre and charcoal images of animals hunted by Stone Age man were part of a hunting ritual. However the fact that the majority of the hand print paintings were by women suggests that they may also be responsible for the other paintings.

In many hunter-gatherer societies it was the men that did the killing but often the women who hauled the meat back to camp. Many archaeologists believe the hand prints are the signature of an artist.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Disney World Anniversary

On Friday October 1, 1971, after seven years of planning about 10,000 visitors gathered near Orlando, Florida, to witness the grand opening of Walt Disney World. The theme park was 107 acres big and employed about 5,500 cast members.

Resort planners scheduled the opening in October in the hopes that crowds would be small - and they were. The turnout was much smaller than the 300,000 expected. Fortunately the small crowd of 10,000 on October 1, 1971 allowed any problems that sprang up to be fixed with minimal inconvenience, unlike Disneyland's chaotic grand opening day. Even official dedications and other media events were held off until later in the month so as to make sure everything ran smoothly. (The park's actual dedication didn't take place until October 25.  Some visitors even slept in their car overnight at a nearby roadside rest area.

When Disney World first opened (and for many years thereafter), guests purchased a book of ride tickets (similar to what you would get at a carnival or fair). The book consisted of A through E tickets, with the E tickets being the best rides. General Admission was just $3.50 for an adult, $2.50 for a junior, and children were only $1.00 (this included unlimited use for one day of transportation system, admission to MK and all free shows, exhibits and entertainment). Parking was only 50 cents per vehicle.

Walt Disney World held a three-day grand opening celebration starting on October 23. At the end of October 1971, the total attendance was around 400,000. The day after Thanksgiving November 26, 1971 a new peak of 50,000 entered the theme park.

A network of warehouse-sized rooms, hallways, and office spaces were built under Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. The park that guests see are actually the second and third stories. When Disney World opened in 1971, it was the first theme park to have continuously playing ambient music on pathways between attractions. You could fit the original Disneyland Park in the parking lot of the Magic Kingdom and still have room to park some 300 cars. 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Henry VIII

During the reign of Henry VIII, between 1509 and 1547, an estimated 57,000 English subjects were beheaded. Henry VIII's reign was have been a particularly bloodthirsty one; by contrast, his daughter who was daubed 'Blood Mary' killed fewer than 300 people during her six years as queen.

It is not only the sheer volume of people who died at the hands of Henry VIII, but the controversy surrounding them that makes Henry's reign so notorious. Henry VIII was responsible for the English Reformation, a period of great change characterized by England's break from the Catholic Church. The trouble started when Henry tried to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, after she failed to produce him a male heir to the throne. Henry claimed the marriage was illegitimate because Catherine was Henry's older brother's widow, however the Pope had originally given the permission to marry, and was not about to let them divorce.

What ensued was a political and religious fiasco. In the end, Henry cast out the Catholic Church and established himself as the head of the Church of England, God's representative on Earth. He divorced Cath­erine and married his mistress, Anne Boleyn, in the hopes of getting a son. In the process of achieving this single goal, Henry ordered the beheadings of some of the top political minds of the day, a few cardinals of the Church, at least one nun, a couple of his six wives, and countless members of the royal court who questioned the purity of his motives.

Of course, with tens of thousands of heads rolling, people were executed for a wide variety of crimes. In this blog I want to look at the ten most significant executions of Henry's reign, beginning with the beheadings he ordered immediately upon securing the throne. As one of his first acts as king, Henry ordered the executions of two of his father's top advisors, the notorious Edmund Dudley and Richard Empson in 1510.

Dudley and Empson were two of Henry VIII's unpopular father's tax collectors, blamed with impoverishing the Henry VII's subjects. The two men were claimed to have had stolen money  from subjects under the pretext of various taxes and fees. The people of England despised these men who were held responsible for Henry VII's policies. Immediately upon the death of Henry VII and succession of Henry VIII, the new king made a move to secure his popularity and his image as a king of the people. He found shaky evidence that Dudley and Empson had been embezzling money, his court found them guilty and Henry had them beheaded. They died in public executions in 1510.

Whilst Henry VIII began his reign as a popular monarch, he wasn't without powerful political enemies. Edmund de la Pole had a strong claim to the throne: he was the heir of King Richard III, who had died at the Battle of Bosworth against Henry Tudor. de la Pole was of York lineage, and whilst he had been imprisoned in 1506 Henry VIII had him executed in 1513 to secure his crown.

But that wasn't the end of the Yorks. Henry VIII faced serious opposition from another man, a popular noble and powerful politician, Edward Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham, who sealed his fate when he spoke too much of his claim to the English throne. Buckingham was a descendant of King Edward III and was very popular among the British people; he was seen as a great military leader, unlike Henry VIII. In 1521 rumours emerged of Stafford threatening Henry's kingship and Henry's top advisor at the time, the powerful Cardinal Wolsey, hated Stafford and therefore encouraged the king to take the accusations seriously. That year Henry had Stafford beheaded for treason. Henry VIII never faced another serious claim to his throne.

Threats to his policies, though, persisted throughout his reign. They became common practice once he started his quest to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. One source of significant protest came from an unlikely source, a young servant who claimed to have supernatural insight.

Elizabeth Barton had visions that it was against God's will for Henry to marry Anne Boleyn.  In 1525, with Henry VIII's pursuit to gain permission from the pope to marry Anne Boleyn in full swing, Barton's visions became supernatural evidence of God's will: Henry was not to marry Anne. Her master, the Archbishop of Canterbury made Barton join a convent, where she became a nun and so attained a degree of legitimacy. Barton's visions about the consequences of the king's pursuit eventually became so powerful that they were considered treasonous. She was arrested, and under intense interrogation, she confessed to having faked everything. She was beheaded in 1534. No consensus was ever reached on whether her visions were divinely inspired or the result of a troubled mind. To this day, the Catholic Church gives some credence to Barton's apparent mysticism.

Barton is just one of the many insistent Catholics who lost their heads to Henry VIII's pursuit of a divorce. Cardinal John Fisher became a martyr and a saint when he refused to support the Supremacy Act that made Henry VIII the head of the church and the Act of Succession that made Anne Boleyn the legitimate queen of England.

Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey went to John Fisher when they first came up with the idea of annulling the king's marriage. When Henry and Wolsey approached him for advice, he was clear: An annulment would go against the will of God. They proceeded anyway, and Fisher never relented in his opposition. He openly defended Catherine, making great trouble for Henry. When the Supremacy Act passed in 1534, Fisher, with Sir Thomas More at his side, refused to take the required oath needed. The recently passed Supremacy and Treason Act made denying the king's supremacy an act of treason. Cardinal John Fisher was beheaded in 1535. The Catholic Church made him a saint 400 years later.

Catherine Howard was executed for being unchaste. Henry VIII married Catherine Howard after he annulled his fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves. However it seemed Catherine Howard had had lovers before Henry. The king didn't know this when he married her, and he was humiliated when the truth came out. To make matters worse, the queen had appointed one of her pre-marital lovers to be her secretary. Rumour had it the affair continued after her marriage to the king. The adultery aspect of the charge was never proven, but it didn't matter. Upon learning that he had married a non-virgin, Henry had Parliament pass an act declaring it treasonous for an unchaste woman to marry the king. Catherine Howard was promptly beheaded for treason.

The Seymours accused Henry Howard of supporting the Catholics and made his sister testify against him. She admitted on the stand that her brother was, in fact, a devoted Catholic. This was seen as a rejection of the king's supremacy. The Seymours combined this testimony with the fact that Henry Howard's father had had a claim to the throne before Henry VIII became king (though he never fought for it), and they convinced the king, who was by that time very ill, that the Howards intended to usurp the throne. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was beheaded in 1547, the same year the king died. It was Henry VIII's last execution.

Thomas Cromwell's poor match-making skills set him on the path to beheading. Thomas Cromwell served as the king's main advisor from 1532 to 1540. He was the one who finally succeeded in getting the king his divorce. It's possible that Cromwell was the mastermind behind the whole English Reformation. Cromwell took over after Cardinal Wolsey's fall from grace. After the death of Henry's third wife Jane Seymour, Cromwell convinced Henry to marry Anne of Cleves, of German royal lineage, for political reasons. Henry couldn't stand Anne, and he had the marriage annulled almost immediately. That was the beginning of Crowell's end. After Cromwell lost the king's support, his enemies used his connection to the Lutherans to convince the king that Cromwell was a heretic. Thomas Cromwell was beheaded for heresy in 1540. He never received a trial.

Thomas More was a statesman, writer and Catholic martyr who refused to swear to the Acts of Supremacy and Succession. This accomplished and respected man became one of Henry VIII's advisors in 1518. Leading up to the Supremacy Act of 1534, More tried to support the king as much as he could without betraying his religious beliefs. He didn't attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn, and he refused to swear to the Acts of Supremacy and Succession. The former offence angered the king, but the latter was an act of treason. He was charged with conspiring with Elizabeth Barton, the nun whose visions had troubled the king. In 1535, he was beheaded for treason. His head sat on display on London Bridge for a month after his death.

Finally, we get to one of the most ironic executions of Henry's reign. Anne Boleyn died by the same law that allowed her to become queen.

While Henry VIII held the throne, England went through changes that would eventually lead to the creation of modern sovereignty -- a nation not beholden to the church -- though Henry never intended it. He was a walking contradiction, a devoted Catholic who rejected the Pope and founded his own religion; a king of the people and an educated humanist who executed tens of thousands of subjects. In the end, Henry VIII produced one male heir, Prince Edward, his son by Jane Seymour. Edward took the throne when his father died; he was 10 years old. He died of illness five years later, passing the crown to Henry's daughter by Catherine of Aragon, Princess Mary. Queen Mary's primary objective became reinstating Catholicism in England. She failed in her quest, though she burned hundreds of people at the stake in the process. Elizabeth I succeed her older sister and reigned for 45 years.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Seamus Heaney

For my English Literature GCSE I studied Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet, who shortly became one of my favourite poets. Sadly, Heaney passed away on the 30th August this year, and so I thought I would write a short post on his life and achievements, in memory of the great poet.

Seamus Heaney was born on 13th April 1939. He was an Irish poet, playwright, translator and lecturer. In the early 1960s, Heaney became a lecturer in Belfast after attending university there, and began to publish poetry. Heaney also lived in Sandymount, Dublin from 1972 until his death. He received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Heaney was a professor at Harvard from 1981 to 1997 and its Poet in Residence from 1988 to 2006. In 2012, he was awarded the Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry. Heaney's literary papers are held by the National Library of Ireland.

Heaney died in the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin on 30 August 2013, aged 74, following a short illness. After a fall outside a restaurant in Dublin, he entered hospital the night before his death for a medical procedure but died at 7:30 the following morning before it took place. His funeral was held in Donnybrook, Dublin, on the morning of 2 September 2013, and he was buried in the evening at his home village of Bellaghy, in the same graveyard as his parents, young brother, and other family members. His son Michael revealed at the funeral mass that his father's final words, "Noli timere" (Latin for "do not be afraid") were texted to his wife, Marie, minutes before he died.

A crowd of 81,553 spectators applauded Heaney for three minutes at an All-Ireland Gaelic football semi-final match on September 1. His poetry collections sold out rapidly in Irish bookshops immediately following his death.

Bill Clinton, former President of the United States, said: "Both his stunning work and his life were a gift to the world. His mind, heart, and his uniquely Irish gift for language made him our finest poet of the rhythms of ordinary lives and a powerful voice for peace...His wonderful work, like that of his fellow Irish Nobel Prize winners Shaw, Yeats, and Beckett, will be a lasting gift for all the world." Harvard University issued a statement: "We are fortunate and proud to have counted Seamus Heaney as a revered member of the Harvard family. For us, as for people around the world, he epitomised the poet as a wellspring of humane insight and artful imagination, subtle wisdom and shining grace. We will remember him with deep affection and admiration."

Upon his death, Heaney's books made up two-thirds of the sales of living poets in the UK. His work often deals with the local surroundings of Ireland, particularly in Northern Ireland, where he was born.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Léon Foucault

Today marks the 194th birthday of Léon Foucault, a French physicist best known for his demonstration of the Foucalt pendulum, a device demonstrating the effect of the Earth's rotation. He also made an early measurement of the speed of light, discovered eddy currents and named the gyroscope.

Jean Bernard Léon Foucault was born on 18 September 1819, in Paris and died on 11 February 1868, also in Paris. Foucault was educated at home, then studied medicine and later went on to study physics. In 1850, he did an experiment using the Fizeau–Foucault apparatus to measure the speed of light; it came to be known as the Foucault–Fizeau experiment, and is often viewed as the final piece of information needed to show that light travels more slowly through water than through air.

In 1851, he provided an experimental demonstration of the rotation of the Earth on its axis. Foucault achieved the demonstration by showing the rotation of a long and heavy pendulum suspended from the roof of the Panthéon, Paris. The experiment caused a sensation and "Foucault pendulums" were suspended in major cities across Europe and America which attracted large crowds. In the following year he used (and named) the gyroscope and in 1855 he received the Copley Medal of the Royal Society for his 'very remarkable experimental researches'. Earlier in the same year he was made physicien (physicist) at the imperial observatory at Paris.

In 1862 Foucault was made a member of the Bureau des Longitudes and an officer of the Legion of Honour. He became a member of the Royal Society of London in 1864, and member of the mechanical section of the Institute a year later. His chief scientific papers can be found in the Comptes Rendus, 1847—1869. Near his death he became an observant Roman Catholic again.

Foucault may possibly have died from fatal multiple sclerosis and was buried in the Montmartre Cemetery.
The asteroid 5668 Foucault was named after him and his name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.