I Saw The World End

Hiroshima Aftermath, cropped version

I went up to the hillside and took a panorama view of the city and found the whole city on fire. – Kiyoshi Tanimoto, Japanese Methodist minister.

The devastation that unfolded in the seconds following the explosion in Beirut has been likened to an atomic bomb. The timing of the analogy is striking as #onthisday in 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

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Defeat of the Spanish Armada

At midnight #onthisday in 1588, the English ignited eight fire ships and cast them into the Spanish fleet which was menacing Blighty. Though the Spanish misjudged the situation, fearing the vessels were hellburners, the effect was to break the crescent formation of the Spanish ships which had hampered English attempts to engage with the fleet.

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Leading From The Front

King George II at the Battle of Dettingen, with the Duke of Cumberland and Robert, 4th Earl of Holderness, 27 June 1743

#OnThisDay in 1743, George II led his troops into battle and defeated the French army at Dettingen, Bavaria. It is a singular event in that it was the last time an English monarch led soldiers into battle. This got me to thinking about leadership and how it is a word which means different things in different settings and to different audiences.

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Peasants’ Revolt

The Death of Wat Tyler

#OnThisDay in 1381, Wat Tyler is beheaded following a skirmish during the Peasants’ Revolt.

But the tale of the revolt begins some months earlier and ultimately had its roots in the socio-economic dislocation which resulted from the Black Death pandemic some forty years before in the 1340s.

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Into the Jaws of Death

Though born more than thirty after the end of the Second World War, the global conflagration suffused my childhood. My father served in the War and carried the scars throughout his life. He was one of the lucky ones. As a consequence, every year I take a moment to remember those who put their lives on the line to secure the freedoms I have enjoyed all my life.

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The Cloud of Unknowing

Revelations of Divine Love

#onthisday in 1373, an anchoress, known as Mother Juliana, recovered from an illness during which she experienced sixteen visions of Christ. Revelations of Divine Love, which contains her visions, is unique not just because of what it contains but because of what it is. The earliest surviving example of a book written in English by a woman.

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Gakyō Rōjin

Hokusai painting the Great Daruma at Honganji Nagoya Betsuin (Nishi-Honganji) in 1817.

Until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice.

Katsushika Hokusai

#onthisday in 1849, aged 88, the artist Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾 北斎) died. He was not only one of the most important artists of the Edo period in Japan, but one of the first Japanese artists to achieve fame abroad. It is hard to talk about Hokusai without mentioning his Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series, of which perhaps the most famous are his Great Wave and Fine Wind, Clear Morning pieces.

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