May 21, 987: France Crowns its First Chapetian King,

The crowing of HUGH Capet, Duke of France, as king is the beginning if the Capetian royal dynasty and marks the start of the history of modern France.

A new ruling dynasty was desperately needed and it began with Hugh Capet (c.940-96). West Franca, an area roughly equivalent to modern-day France, had come under frequent attack from Viking raiders in the late tenth century, and the failure of the Carolingian kings to deal effectively with the menace eroded their authority.  They gave away increasing amounts of land to their nobles to garner support, and consequently the kingdom became a patchwork of virtually independent dukedoms. Meanwhile, the royal domains sharank were given a tiny pocket of land centered on the lle de France, the area around Paris.

Hugh Capet, Duke the France, who owned land around Orleans, was one of the most powerful nobles, known as the Robertians from the family’s founder, Robert the Strong (d.866), three of Hugh’s ancestors – his great uncle Eudes, his grandfather Robert I and his uncle Raoul-had previously been elected king by the nobles in place of weaker Carolingian candidates. When the last Carolingian king, Louis V, died in May 987 with an heir, Archbishop Adalberon of Rhiems had little difficulty in persuading the nobles to elect Hugh as King.

Soon after his coronation, Hugh arranged that his son, Robert, was also crowned. This ensured a smooth succession when Hugh died in 996. The practice of crowning the heir during the king’s lifetime continued and was a powerful contributory factor to the longevity of two Capetian dynasty, a line of fourteen kings is thus regarded as marking the beginnings of the history of modern France.



June 22, 1897: God Saves the Queen,

Britain’s monarchy reaches its zenith with Queen Victoria’s Diamond jubilee.

Victoria’s carriage passes the National Gallery and jubilant bystanders in Trafalgar Square, London.

“The Cheering was deafening, and every face…filled with real joy.”

Could the celebrations for Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee possibly equal those for her Golden Jubilee of 1887? It seemed unlikely, for the seventy-eight-year-old, and increasingly curmudgeonly, queen insisted that she would not alight from her carriage during the planned procession; she would not spend any of her own money in the festivities, and that on no account were any of Europe’s crowned heads to be invited. On Sunday June 20, the actual anniversary of her accession, celebrations was, by royal command muted. At 11:00am, every church, chapel and synagogue in Britain held a special service, Victoria herself attending St. George Chapel in Windsor. She confessed in her journal that she felt “rather nervous about the coming days, and that all should go off well.” She need not have worried, for what followed was a dazzling imperial spectacle.

Victoria described June 22, the climax of the festivities, as a “never-to-be-forgotten day.” From the moment she pressed the button that telegraphed her jubilee message to the empire, all went gloriously well. The sun came out as the guns in Hyde Park announced that she had left the palace, and the actual procession, though routed thoroughly some of the poorer parts of the city, elicited a tremendous response. “No one ever, I believe, has met with such an ovation as was given to me, passing through those six miles of street.” It was the greatest ceremonial occasion in British history.

According to the socialist Keir Hardie, it was “bread and circuses without the bread.” But it was effective. Another socialist, Beatrice Webb, noted that people were “drunk…. with hysterical loyalty.”

Britain was becoming a democracy and the crown had almost no political power left, but monarchy had never been as popular.


August 24, 1831: The World’s First Dynamo,

Faraday’s electromagnetic discovery is a breakthrough in understanding electricity.

A year earlier he had been earning the staggering sum of £1, 000 a year as a scientific consultant. Now Michael Faraday was devoting himself exclusively to research and was living off less than a tenth of that sum. But the cut in pay was worth it. He had long been convinced that magnetism and electricity were closely related. Already he knew that an electric current could produce magnetism, and on August 24, 1831, during an epoch-making period of nine days of brilliant experimentation at the Royal Society in London, he proved that magnetism could produce electricity. Using very simple equipment (a magnet, a copper coil, and a basic ammeter), he demonstrated that moving a wire through a magnetic field induces an electric current whose voltage is proportional to the speed of the movement. Here was, in effect, the world’s first discovered underlines the fundamental operation of most modern-day electrical machines. Faraday had little formal education. He was apprentice to a bookbinder before attracting the attention of Sir Humphrey Davy and becoming dedicated chemist and physicist, and a superb lecturer. He discovered benzene, invented the system of oxidation numbers, devised an early form of the Bunsen burner, developed the laws of electrolysis, and helped along the birth of nano science, as well as giving us the “faraday cage”, the “faraday constant,” and the: faraday effect.”

More than any other man, Michael Faraday made possible the generation of electricity. It took another generation before his discoveries found full practical expression, but humankind is in his debt. More than any other man, Michael Faraday made possible the generation of electricity. It took another generation before his discoveries found full practical expression, but humankind is in his debt.

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