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August 15, 2007 weds
August 15th, 2007

Birthdays: Napoleon Bonaparte, Leon Theremin- inventor of that weird electronic musical instrument that is featured in all those 50s flying saucer movies, Samuel Coleridge, Sir Walter Scott, T.E. Lawrence of Arabia, Ethel Barrymore, Huntz Hall, Bill Baird, Julia Child, Edna Ferber, Sir Robert Bolt, Rose-Marie, Linda Ellerbee, Oscar Peterson, Mike "Mannix" Connors is 82, Nicholas Roeg, Ben Afleck is 35, Debra Messing is 39

778 AD.-Battle of Roncevaux or Roncesvalles. Legendary battle where Frankish Emperor Charlemagne's top knights -the Palladins: Roland waving his sword Durandel, Oliver and Ogier the Dane fell fighting the Moors. In reality the battle was probably a small rearguard border skirmish with hostile Basques tribesmen in the Pyranees Mountains.  But a poem about the incident called the Song of Roland inflated it into an epic Christian battle against the evil Moslem Moors, wizards and devils. The Chanson du Roland became the top best seller of the Middle Ages, read and enjoyed throughout Europe. When William the Conquerer's Normans went into battle at Hastings in 1066, William¹s minstrel Vailletan sang the Song of Roland at full gallop while tossing his sword into the air and catching it like a parade drum major.

1057-Scottish king Macbeth is defeated and killed by Malcom III Canmore at the battle of Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire. But did Burnham Wood move to Dunsinane?

1097- DEUS VOLT ! GOD WILLS IT! The First Crusade was announced at Clermont by Pope Urban VII. Christian Europe decided that the Holy places in Jerusalem should not be in Moslem hands. In his sermon the Pope addressed the assembled knights in their native French: "Christian warriors who continually seek pretexts for war and rape Rejoice! If you must have Blood, then bathe in the Blood of the Infidels, and Christ will count you among his Warriors! Soldiers of Hell, become Soldiers of the Living God!"  They sewed small strips of red cloth in a cross on their left shoulders and began with a massacre of any Jews they could find. History is at a loss to find any comparable social phenomenon.  It took Islam a generation to understand that this was a Christian Jihad (Holy war) declared on them. The Moslem Emirs were just as feudally divided as the European warlords until they united under the brilliant Kurd Sultan Sa¹Allah-al-Dhin or Salladin.

1100s-1400s- PAX DEI- The Medieval Church tried to limit the carnage of knights fighting and feuding by declaring a Truce of God during Lent and this, the beginning of the harvest season. It sometimes worked, but slaying infidels was still okay year round. See above.

1457 ­ The earliest dated book, "Mainz Psalter," completed.

1549- First Christian missionaries arrive in Japan. A band of Spanish Jesuits led by Father Francis Xavier landed in Kagoshima on the island of Kysuhu.

1620 - Mayflower sets sail from Southampton with 102 Pilgrims.

1794- The first U.S. coin minted in the United States, a silver dollar. Minting of colonial and state currencies had been going on in America for years, Continental Eagles and such. The word Dollar is derived from Thaler from JacobsThaler meaning from the Gift of St. Jacob , a Czech mountain valley where their were rich silver deposits.

1806- For his birthday Napoleon lays the cornerstone for the Arc de Triomphe.

1848 - M Waldo Hanchett patents the dental chair.

1885- Sir Richard Burton completed his translation from medieval Persian of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. There had been earlier attempts like a French edition in 1809, but Burton¹s edition introduced the west to Aladdin and his magic lamp, Sinbad the sailor and Sherherazahde.

1935- Twentieth Century Pictures and Fox Pictures merge to become Twentieth Century Fox.

1935- Humorist writer Will Rogers and his one-eyed pilot Wiley Post are killed when their small seaplane crashed in Barrow, Alaska.

1947- SIXTY YEARS AGO-"The Stroke of Midnight" India and Pakistan, the Jewel in the Crown, get their freedom from Britain after 300 years. The end of the Raj.

1969-WOODSTOCK-Three Days of Peace and Music- The rock concert of the Century opened. The promoters, one of whom was heir to the Polident Denture Cream fortune, were hoping to host 50,000 people and launch a recording studio in the quiet New York farming town. What they got was 500,000 hippies and the social phenomenon that defined the Age. At one point the more conservative elements of the community got a court order to block the land to be used, but farmer Max Yasgur offered his cow farm for the site. Tickets went for $18, but there was such a crush of people at the gates that staffers gave up at one point and let everyone in.
Up till then in the tumultuous 1960¹s any gathering of young people that big meant violence and riot, and at one point New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller threatened to send in the National Guard. But the magic prevailed and there was no violence outside of 200 bad acid trips and one heroin overdose.
Richie Havens was the first act to play, he did six sets and kept stalling because the crowd was so immense they had to bring in the other bands by helicopter. When he ran out of songs to sing Havens started riffing any thing he could think of. This way Havens created his most famous tune "Freedom" with added in spirituals like "Sometimes I feel like a Motherless Child". Drugs, sex and rock & roll flowed freely. At one point someone put LSD into the drinking water of the rescue helicopter pilot . He spent two hours flying in circles over the festival, thinking he was traveling over one huge expanse of people. One hippy had spent the entire night high on LSD. As he started to come down, the first thing he recognized in the dawns early light was Sha-Na-Na on stage doing 50¹s Doo-Wop. He thought he had been sent to Rock Hell.