Cromwell Statue In London Caught Up In History Whitewashing Battle

Cromwell Statue In London Caught Up In History Whitewashing Battle

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Controversy has erupted in London, England as historians call for the removal of a statue of Oliver Cromwell situated in front of the Houses of Parliament.

The winds of change are blowing east. The New York Times recently reported that after a white nationalist rally turned violent in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12 2017, attention was drawn to “dozens of Confederate monuments around America.” Subsequently, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, has motioned to have hundreds of statues and monuments celebrating controversial Civil War era figures removed from public places.

Political Correction of the Parliamentarian

Now, across the Atlantic Ocean, Oliver Cromwell, who was undoubtedly one of the most controversial figures in the history of the British Isles, has come under the ‘pc’ spotlight. According to The Sunday Telegraph , Jeremy Crick, a social historian from Staffordshire, has compared Crowell to “the Taliban in Afghanistan” for his “anti-religious zeal” and the “wholesale destruction” by Parliamentarian troops of many religious and church buildings during the civil war of 1642 to 1651. “There should be no place for him outside the Palace of Westminster” says Mr Crick who thinks such “unloved statues” should all be removed and displayed in one place, rather than simply being destroyed.

A Century of Contention

The statue of Cromwell has been the source of controversy from even before it was erected outside Westminster in 1899, as Irish Nationalists voted against its installation because of the ghastly activities of Cromwell’s troops on innocent folk during the invasion of Ireland in AD 1649.

Of course, Mr Crick has his critics, for example, John Goldsmith, chairman of the Cromwell Society described his suggestion as “folly” and “attempting to rewrite history”. “It was inevitable in the present debate about the removal of statues that the figure of Oliver Cromwell outside the Palace of Westminster would become a target,” added Mr Goldsmith. But he argues, “The iconoclasm of the English civil wars was neither ordered nor carried out by Cromwell” and that some consider him as “a defender of parliament against external pressure, in his case of course the monarchy.”

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Oliver Cromwell imprisoning Charles I. ( Public Domain )

And not everyone in history thought so lowly of Cromwell; he was “a hero of liberty” in the eyes of John Milton and Thomas Carlyle and Leon Trotsky thought of him as “revolutionary bourgeois.” However, it must be hastily added that his treatment of Catholics in Ireland has been characterized as “genocidal,” yet confusingly, he was selected as one of “the ten greatest Britons of all time” in a 2002 BBC poll .

Statue of Oliver Cromwell outside the Palace of Westminster, London. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

What to do?

As a journalist, I most often report on as many sides of an argument as possible while maintaining a non-judgmental central stance. But not this time. I am going to put my neck on the line. Having studied the meaning of monuments and sacred spaces in other cultures, and considering the recent controversy and violence surrounding Confederate monuments in the US and now the statue of Cromwell in London, and as much as I detest the legacy of division, bigotry and slavery these monuments represent, I think they should remain.

The removal and destruction of statues and monuments is the easy way out of our obligation to ‘understand’ our past with the goal of ‘improving’ our future. The choice on how to see and interpret these statues and the obligation to build on their messages, is ours. Removing statues and monuments is akin to whitewashing history, willingly burying our heads in the sand and denying the inconvenient truths of our past. Read positively, they are iconic of what we were, and no longer are, a reminder of what our forebears sacrificed for our relative freedoms.

The statue of Oliver Cromwell in question is in front of Westminster Hall. ( CC BY 2.0 )

In conclusion, Civil War monuments and Cromwell in London keep alive some of the darkest aspects of western history, none of which should be forgotten. The monuments should remain, and we should constantly remind ourselves of what they represent, so that such occurrences never ever happen again.

The killer king: How many people did Henry VIII execute?

Henry VIII (1491 – 1547) is perhaps the most well known of all England’s monarchs, notably for the fact that he had six wives and beheaded two of them. Besides presiding over sweeping changes that brought the nation into the Protestant Reformation and changed England’s faith, the infamous monarch, ridiculed for his obesity, was also subject to raging mood swings and paranoia. It is estimated that during his 36 years of rule over England he executed up to 57,000 people, many of whom were either members of the clergy or ordinary citizens and nobles who had taken part in uprisings and protests up and down the country.

Victims of Henry VIII’s turbulent reign, who were either executed by him or killed in his name, fell into three principal categories - Heresy, Treason and Denial of his Royal Supremacy as Head of the English Church.

The lives of Henry VII and Henry VIII: Never the twain shall meet

Simply broadcasting or discussing an opinion against the paranoid king could put even the most influential of citizens, including nobility in the Tower of London. Worse fates were to await those who he believed were against him for if someone dared to be against Henry, they were also against God. Such an offence was dealt with by the relatively humane swift swing of the axe. But for those accused of heresy, witchcraft and treason a far worse fate was in store for condemned victims through the barbaric acts of being burned at the stake or hanged, drawn and quartered. It is interesting to note that members of aristocracy and gentry could not be legally tortured unlike commoners.

The following victims of Henry’s displeasure and rage represent only a small proportion of executions which increased in volume during and after the English Reformation. Whether these unfortunates were once adored royal wives, close friends, respected advisors or simply perceived as enemies of the state, they all contribute to a tally of death that makes Henry VIII the most prolific serial killer England has known.

Read more about: Kings and Queens

Henry VIII


Victor-Marie Hugo was born on 26 February 1802 in Besançon in Eastern France. The youngest son of Joseph Léopold Sigisbert Hugo (1774–1828) a general in the Napoleonic army, and Sophie Trébuchet (1772–1821) the couple had two more sons: Abel Joseph (1798–1855) and Eugène (1800–1837). The Hugo family came from Nancy in Lorraine where Victor Hugo's grandfather was a wood merchant. Léopold enlisted in the army of Revolutionary France at fourteen, he was an atheist and an ardent supporter of the republic created following the abolition of the monarchy in 1792. Victor's mother Sophie was a devout Catholic who remained loyal to the deposed dynasty. They met in Châteaubriant, a few miles from Nantes in 1796 and married the following year. [1]

Since Hugo's father was an officer in Napoleon's army, the family moved frequently from posting to posting, Sophie had three children in four years. Léopold Hugo wrote to his son that he had been conceived on one of the highest peaks in the Vosges Mountains, on a journey from Lunéville to Besançon. "This elevated origin", he went on, "seems to have had effects on you so that your muse is now continually sublime." [2] Hugo believed himself to have been conceived on 24 June 1801, which is the origin of Jean Valjean's prisoner number 24601. [3]

In 1810 Hugo's father was created Count Hugo de Cogolludo y Sigüenza by then King of Spain Joseph Bonaparte, [4] though it seems that the Spanish title was not legally recognized in France. Hugo later titled himself as a viscount, and it was as "Vicomte Victor Hugo" that he was appointed a peer of France on 13 April 1845. [5] [6]

Weary of the constant moving required by military life, Sophie separated temporarily from Léopold and settled in Paris in 1803 with her sons she began seeing General Victor Fanneau de La Horie, Hugo's godfather who had been a comrade of General Hugo's during the campaign in Vendee. In October 1807 the family rejoined Leopold, now Colonel Hugo, Governor of the province of Avellino. Sophie found out that Leopold had been living in secret with an Englishwoman called Catherine Thomas. [7]

General Joseph-Leopold Hugo, father of Victor Hugo

Soon Hugo's father was called to Spain to fight the Peninsular War. Madame Hugo and her children were sent back to Paris in 1808, where they moved to an old convent, 12 Impasse des Feuillantines , an isolated mansion in a deserted quarter of the left bank of the Seine. Hiding in a chapel at the back of the garden, was Victor Fanneau de La Horie, who had conspired to restore the Bourbons and had been condemned to death a few years earlier. He became a mentor to Victor and his brothers. [8]

In 1811 the family joined their father in Spain, Victor and his brothers were sent to school in Madrid at the Real Colegio de San Antonio de Abad while Sophie returned to Paris on her own, now officially separated from her husband. In 1812 Victor Fanneau de La Horie was arrested and executed. In February 1815 Victor and Eugene were taken away from their mother and placed by their father in the Pension Cordier, a private boarding school in Paris, where Victor and Eugène remained three years while also attending lectures at Lycée Louis le Grand. [9]

On 10 July 1816, Hugo wrote in his diary: “I shall be Chateaubriand or nothing”. In 1817 he wrote a poem for a competition organised by the Academie Française, for which he received an honorable mention. The Academicians refused to believe that he was only fifteen. [10] Victor moved in with his mother 18 rue des Petits-Augustins the following year and began attending law school. Victor fell in love and secretly became engaged, against his mother's wishes, to his childhood friend Adèle Foucher. In June 1821 Sophie Trebuchet died, and Léopold married his long time mistress Catherine Thomas a month later. Victor married Adèle the following year. In 1819, Victor and his brothers began publishing a periodical called Le Conservateur littéraire. [11]

Hugo published his first novel the year following his marriage (Han d'Islande, 1823), and his second three years later (Bug-Jargal, 1826). Between 1829 and 1840, he published five more volumes of poetry (Les Orientales, 1829 Les Feuilles d'automne, 1831 Les Chants du crépuscule, 1835 Les Voix intérieures, 1837 and Les Rayons et les Ombres, 1840), cementing his reputation as one of the greatest elegiac and lyric poets of his time.

Like many young writers of his generation, Hugo was profoundly influenced by François-René de Chateaubriand , the famous figure in the literary movement of Romanticism and France's pre-eminent literary figure during the early 19th century. In his youth, Hugo resolved to be " Chateaubriand or nothing", and his life would come to parallel that of his predecessor in many ways. Like Chateaubriand , Hugo furthered the cause of Romanticism, became involved in politics (though mostly as a champion of Republicanism), and was forced into exile due to his political stances.

The precocious passion and eloquence of Hugo's early work brought success and fame at an early age. His first collection of poetry (Odes et poésies diverses) was published in 1822 when he was only 20 years old and earned him a royal pension from Louis XVIII. Though the poems were admired for their spontaneous fervor and fluency, the collection that followed four years later in 1826 (Odes et Ballades) revealed Hugo to be a great poet, a natural master of lyric and creative song.

Victor Hugo's first mature work of fiction was first published in February 1829 by Charles Gosselin without the author's name and reflected the acute social conscience that would infuse his later work. Le Dernier jour d'un condamné (The Last Day of a Condemned Man) would have a profound influence on later writers such as Albert Camus, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Claude Gueux , a documentary short story about a real-life murderer who had been executed in France, appeared in 1834 and was later considered by Hugo himself to be a precursor to his great work on social injustice, Les Misérables.

Hugo became the figurehead of the Romantic literary movement with the plays Cromwell (1827) and Hernani (1830). [12] Hernani announced the arrival of French romanticism: performed at the Comédie-Française, it was greeted with several nights of rioting as romantics and traditionalists clashed over the play's deliberate disregard for neo-classical rules. Hugo's popularity as a playwright grew with subsequent plays, such as Marion Delorme (1831), The King Amuses Himself (1832), and Ruy Blas (1838). [13] Hugo's novel Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) was published in 1831 and quickly translated into other languages across Europe. One of the effects of the novel was to shame the City of Paris into restoring the much-neglected Cathedral of Notre Dame, which was attracting thousands of tourists who had read the popular novel. The book also inspired a renewed appreciation for pre-Renaissance buildings, which thereafter began to be actively preserved.

Hugo began planning a major novel about social misery and injustice as early as the 1830s, but a full 17 years were needed for Les Misérables to be realised and finally published in 1862. Hugo had used the departure of prisoners for the Bagne of Toulon in one of his early stories, "Le Dernier Jour d'un condamné" He went to Toulon to visit the Bagne in 1839 and took extensive notes, though he did not start writing the book until 1845. On one of the pages of his notes about the prison, he wrote in large block letters a possible name for his hero: " JEAN TRÉJEAN". When the book was finally written, Tréjean became Jean Valjean. [14]

Hugo was acutely aware of the quality of the novel, as evidenced in a letter he wrote to his publisher, Albert Lacroix, on 23 March 1862, "My conviction is that this book is going to be one of the peaks, if not the crowning point of my work." [15] Publication of Les Misérables went to the highest bidder. The Belgian publishing house Lacroix and Verboeckhoven undertook a marketing campaign unusual for the time, issuing press releases about the work a full six months before the launch. It also initially published only the first part of the novel ("Fantine"), which was launched simultaneously in major cities. Installments of the book sold out within hours and had enormous impact on French society.

The critical establishment was generally hostile to the novel Taine found it insincere, Barbey d'Aurevilly complained of its vulgarity, Gustave Flaubert found within it "neither truth nor greatness", the Goncourt brothers lambasted its artificiality, and Baudelaire – despite giving favourable reviews in newspapers – castigated it in private as "repulsive and inept". Les Misérables proved popular enough with the masses that the issues it highlighted were soon on the agenda of the National Assembly of France. Today, the novel remains his most well-known work. It is popular worldwide and has been adapted for cinema, television, and stage shows.

The word used in Guernsey to refer to squid (pieuvre, also sometimes applied to octopus) was to enter the French language as a result of its use in the book. Hugo returned to political and social issues in his next novel, L'Homme Qui Rit (The Man Who Laughs), which was published in 1869 and painted a critical picture of the aristocracy. The novel was not as successful as his previous efforts, and Hugo himself began to comment on the growing distance between himself and literary contemporaries such as Flaubert and Émile Zola , whose realist and naturalist novels were now exceeding the popularity of his own work.

His last novel, Quatre-vingt-treize (Ninety-Three), published in 1874, dealt with a subject that Hugo had previously avoided: the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. Though Hugo's popularity was on the decline at the time of its publication, many now consider Ninety-Three to be a work on par with Hugo's better-known novels.

After three unsuccessful attempts, Hugo was finally elected to the Académie française in 1841, solidifying his position in the world of French arts and letters. A group of French academicians, particularly Étienne de Jouy , were fighting against the "romantic evolution" and had managed to delay Victor Hugo's election. [19] Thereafter, he became increasingly involved in French politics.

On the nomination of King Louis-Philippe , Hugo entered the Upper Chamber of Parliament as a pair de France in 1845, where he spoke against the death penalty and social injustice, and in favour of freedom of the press and self-government for Poland.

In 1848, Hugo was elected to the National Assembly of the Second Republic as a conservative. In 1849, he broke with the conservatives when he gave a noted speech calling for the end of misery and poverty. Other speeches called for universal suffrage and free education for all children. Hugo's advocacy to abolish the death penalty was renowned internationally.

These parliamentary speeches are published in Œuvres complètes: actes et paroles I : avant l'exil, 1841–1851. Scroll down to the Assemblée Constituante 1848 heading and subsequent pages. [20] When Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) seized complete power in 1851, establishing an anti-parliamentary constitution, Hugo openly declared him a traitor to France. He moved to Brussels, then Jersey, from which he was expelled for supporting a Jersey newspaper that had criticised Queen Victoria. He finally settled with his family at Hauteville House in Saint Peter Port, Guernsey, where he would live in exile from October 1855 until 1870.

While in exile, Hugo published his famous political pamphlets against Napoleon III, Napoléon le Petit and Histoire d'un crime. The pamphlets were banned in France but nonetheless had a strong impact there. He also composed or published some of his best work during his period in Guernsey, including Les Misérables, and three widely praised collections of poetry (Les Châtiments, 1853 Les Contemplations, 1856 and La Légende des siècles, 1859).

Like most of his contemporaries, Victor Hugo justified colonialism in terms of a civilizing mission and putting an end to the slave trade on the Barbary coast. In a speech delivered on 18 May 1879, during a banquet to celebrate the abolition of slavery, in the presence of the French abolitionist writer and parliamentarian Victor Schœlcher, Hugo declared that the Mediterranean Sea formed a natural divide between " ultimate civilisation and […] utter barbarism," adding "God offers Africa to Europe, Take it," to civilise its indigenous inhabitants.

This might partly explain why in spite of his deep interest and involvement in political matters he remained silent on the Algerian issue. He knew about the atrocities committed by the French Army during the French conquest of Algeria as evidenced by his diary [21] but he never denounced them publicly however in Les Misérables, Hugo wrote: "Algeria too harshly conquered, and, as in the case of India by the English, with more barbarism than civilization". [22]

After coming in contact with Victor Schœlcher, a writer who fought for the abolition of slavery and French colonialism in the Caribbean, he started strongly campaigning against slavery. In a letter to American abolitionist Maria Weston Chapman, on 6 July 1851, Hugo wrote: Slavery in the United States! It is the duty of this republic to set such a bad example no longer. The United States must renounce slavery, or they must renounce liberty. [23] In 1859 he wrote a letter asking the United States government, for the sake of their own reputation in the future, to spare abolitionist John Brown's life, Hugo justified Brown's actions by these words: "Assuredly, if insurrection is ever a sacred duty, it must be when it is directed against Slavery. [24] Hugo agreed to diffuse and sell one of his best known drawings, "Le Pendu", an homage to John Brown, so one could "keep alive in souls the memory of this liberator of our black brothers, of this heroic martyr John Brown, who died for Christ just as Christ". [25]

Only one slave on Earth is enough to dishonour the freedom of all men. So the abolition of slavery is, at this hour, the supreme goal of the thinkers

Victor Hugo fought a lifelong battle for the abolition of the death penalty as a novelist, diarist, and member of Parliament. The Last Day of a Condemned Man published in 1829 analyses the pangs of a man awaiting execution several entries of Things Seen (Choses vues), the diary he kept between 1830 and 1885, convey his firm condemnation of what he regarded as a barbaric sentence [27] on 15 September 1848, seven months after the Revolution of 1848, he delivered a speech before the Assembly and concluded, "You have overthrown the throne. […] Now overthrow the scaffold." [28] His influence was credited in the removal of the death penalty from the constitutions of Geneva, Portugal, and Colombia. [29] He had also pleaded for Benito Juárez to spare the recently captured emperor Maximilian I of Mexico but to no avail.

Although Napoleon III granted an amnesty to all political exiles in 1859, Hugo declined, as it meant he would have to curtail his criticisms of the government. It was only after Napoleon III fell from power and the Third Republic was proclaimed that Hugo finally returned to his homeland in 1870, where he was promptly elected to the National Assembly and the Senate.

He was in Paris during the siege by the Prussian Army in 1870, famously eating animals given to him by the Paris Zoo. As the siege continued, and food became ever more scarce, he wrote in his diary that he was reduced to "eating the unknown". [30]

During the Paris Commune – the revolutionary government that took power on 18 March 1871 and was toppled on 28 May – Victor Hugo was harshly critical of the atrocities committed on both sides. On 9 April, he wrote in his diary, "In short, this Commune is as idiotic as the National Assembly is ferocious. From both sides, folly." [31] Yet he made a point of offering his support to members of the Commune subjected to brutal repression. He had been in Brussels since 22 March 1871 when in the 27 May issue of the Belgian newspaper l’Indépendance Victor Hugo denounced the government's refusal to grant political asylum to the Communards threatened with imprisonment, banishment or execution. [32] This caused so much uproar that in the evening a mob of fifty to sixty men attempted to force their way into the writer's house shouting "Death to Victor Hugo! Hang him! Death to the scoundrel!". [33]

Victor Hugo, who said "A war between Europeans is a civil war", [34] was an enthusiastic advocate for the creation of the United States of Europe. He expounded his views on the subject in a speech he delivered during the International Peace Congress which took place in Paris in 1849. The Congress, of which Hugo was the President, proved to be an international success, attracting such famous philosophers as Frederic Bastiat, Charles Gilpin, Richard Cobden, and Henry Richard. The conference helped establish Hugo as a prominent public speaker and sparked his international fame, and promoted the idea of the "United States of Europe". [35] On 14 July 1870 he planted the "oak of the United States of Europe" in the garden of Hauteville House where he stayed during his exile on Guernsey from 1856 to 1870. The massacres of Balkan Christians by the Turks in 1876 inspired him to write Pour la Serbie (For Serbia) in his sons' newspaper Le Rappel. This speech is today considered as one of the founding acts of the European ideal. [36]

Because of his concern for the rights of artists and copyright, he was a founding member of the Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale, which led to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. However, in Pauvert 's published archives, he states strongly that "any work of art has two authors: the people who confusingly feel something, a creator who translates these feelings, and the people again who consecrate his vision of that feeling. When one of the authors dies, the rights should totally be granted back to the other, the people". He was one of the earlier supporters of the concept of domaine public payant, under which a nominal fee would be charged for copying or performing works in the public domain, and this would go into a common fund dedicated to helping artists, especially young people.

Hugo's religious views changed radically over the course of his life. In his youth and under the influence of his mother, he identified as a Catholic and professed respect for Church hierarchy and authority. From there he became a non-practising Catholic and increasingly expressed anti-Catholic and anti-clerical views. He frequented spiritism during his exile (where he participated also in many séances conducted by Madame Delphine de Girardin) [37] [38] and in later years settled into a rationalist deism similar to that espoused by Voltaire. A census-taker asked Hugo in 1872 if he was a Catholic, and he replied, "No. A Freethinker". [39]

After 1872, Hugo never lost his antipathy towards the Catholic Church. He felt the Church was indifferent to the plight of the working class under the oppression of the monarchy. Perhaps he also was upset by the frequency with which his work appeared on the Church's list of banned books. Hugo counted 740 attacks on Les Misérables in the Catholic press. [40] When Hugo's sons Charles and François-Victor died, he insisted that they be buried without a crucifix or priest. In his will, he made the same stipulation about his own death and funeral. [41]

Yet he believed in life after death and prayed every single morning and night, convinced as he wrote in The Man Who Laughs that "Thanksgiving has wings and flies to its right destination. Your prayer knows its way better than you do". [42]

Hugo's rationalism can be found in poems such as Torquemada (1869, about religious fanaticism), The Pope (1878, anti-clerical), Religions and Religion (1880, denying the usefulness of churches) and, published posthumously, The End of Satan and God (1886 and 1891 respectively, in which he represents Christianity as a griffin and rationalism as an angel). Vincent van Gogh ascribed the saying "Religions pass away, but God remains", actually by Jules Michelet, to Hugo. [43]

Although Hugo's many talents did not include exceptional musical ability, he nevertheless had a great impact on the music world through the inspiration that his works provided for composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Hugo himself particularly enjoyed the music of Gluck and Weber. In Les Misérables, he calls the huntsman's chorus in Weber's Euryanthe, "perhaps the most beautiful piece of music ever composed". [44] He also greatly admired Beethoven, and rather unusually for his time, he also appreciated works by composers from earlier centuries such as Palestrina and Monteverdi. [45]

Two famous musicians of the 19th century were friends of Hugo: Hector Berlioz and Franz Liszt. The latter played Beethoven in Hugo's home, and Hugo joked in a letter to a friend that, thanks to Liszt's piano lessons, he learned how to play a favourite song on the piano – with only one finger. Hugo also worked with composer Louise Bertin, writing the libretto for her 1836 opera La Esmeralda, which was based on the character in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. [45] Although for various reasons the opera closed soon after its fifth performance and is little known today, it has enjoyed a modern revival, both in a piano/song concert version by Liszt at the Festival international Victor Hugo et Égaux 2007 [46] and in a full orchestral version presented in July 2008 at Le Festival de Radio France et Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon . [47]

On the other hand, he had low esteem for Richard Wagner, whom he described as "a man of talent coupled with imbecility. [48] "

Well over one thousand musical compositions have been inspired by Hugo's works from the 19th century until the present day. In particular, Hugo's plays, in which he rejected the rules of classical theatre in favour of romantic drama, attracted the interest of many composers who adapted them into operas. More than one hundred operas are based on Hugo's works and among them are Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia (1833), Verdi's Rigoletto (1851) and Ernani (1844), and Ponchielli's La Gioconda (1876). [49]

Hugo's novels, as well as his plays, have been a great source of inspiration for musicians, stirring them to create not only opera and ballet but musical theatre such as Notre-Dame de Paris and the ever-popular Les Misérables, London West End's longest running musical. Additionally, Hugo's beautiful poems have attracted an exceptional amount of interest from musicians, and numerous melodies have been based on his poetry by composers such as Berlioz , Bizet , Fauré , Franck , Lalo , Liszt , Massenet , Saint-Saëns , Rachmaninoff, and Wagner . [49]

Today, Hugo's work continues to stimulate musicians to create new compositions. For example, Hugo's novel against capital punishment, The Last Day of a Condemned Man, was adapted into an opera by David Alagna , with a libretto by Frédérico Alagna and premièred by their brother, tenor Roberto Alagna , in 2007. [50] In Guernsey, every two years, the Victor Hugo International Music Festival attracts a wide range of musicians and the premiere of songs specially commissioned from such composers as Guillaume Connesson , Richard Dubugnon , Olivier Kaspar , and Thierry Escaich and based on Hugo's poetry.

Remarkably, not only Hugo's literary production has been the source of inspiration for musical works, but also his political writings have received attention from musicians and have been adapted to music. For instance, in 2009, Italian composer Matteo Sommacal was commissioned by Festival "Bagliori d'autore" and wrote a piece for speaker and chamber ensemble entitled Actes et paroles, with a text elaborated by Chiara Piola Caselli after Victor Hugo's last political speech addressed to the Assemblée législative, "Sur la Revision de la Constitution" (18 July 1851), [51] and premiered in Rome on 19 November 2009, in the auditorium of the Institut français, Centre Saint-Louis, French Embassy to the Holy See, by Piccola Accademia degli Specchi featuring the composer Matthias Kadar. [52]

Stars Played Role in Local Waters : Avalon Tuna Club Members Were Fishing for More Than Compliments in Early Days

The rare appearance of giant bluefin tuna off the Southern California coast in recent weeks has sparked the interest of local fishermen, and for good reason.

Commercially, it has created impressive financial opportunities. Since early November, commercial fishermen netted hundreds of the fish off Santa Rosa Island, each weighing from about 300 pounds up to a Pacific-record fish of 850 pounds.

In mid-November, 233 giant bluefin brought more than $2 million at a Tokyo auction.

Recreationally, these fish represent a powerful, yet elusive prey. Several fishermen, mostly aboard private yachts, have tried, but as of yet no one has been able to get one of the big tuna to swallow a hook.

“I don’t think these fish are even catchable on rod and reels,” said Curt Herberts of the prestigious Avalon Tuna Club. “They can catch them on the East Coast because the water there is only 150 feet deep, and the boat can pretty much stay on top of them. Here, the water is 2,000 feet deep, and they can go clear to the bottom if they like.”

Deep water or not, a challenge is a challenge.

In 1983, Jim Salter of Avalon, fishing in a marlin tournament, battled a 363 1/2-pound bluefin off Santa Barbara Island for 4 hours 38 minutes before successfully landing it at night in rough seas. The 6-foot 4-inch, 210-pound fisherman couldn’t straighten his left arm for 48 hours.

The giant bluefin, powerfully built and perfectly streamlined, has been the primary target of many East Coast fishermen for years, though their numbers have been steadily declining in the last decade.

Mary Barnett, a resident of New Jersey, has caught 100 giant bluefin in her lifetime, including four that exceeded 1,000 pounds. The all-tackle world record is a 1,496-pounder caught off Aulds Cove, Nova Scotia.

The presence of giant tuna this fall warrants a look back to a time when the big fish were abundant and thrived just off the mainland.

At the center of it all was the Avalon Tuna Club, a New England-style building that stands on the waterfront near the Avalon Casino on Santa Catalina Island. This exclusive club was formed just before the turn of the century by Charles Frederick Holder, who with his friends would spend several months each year fishing off Catalina. “They were probably the first rod and reel fishermen in the world,” said Herberts, chairman of memorabilia for the club.

Alec MacCall of the National Marine Fisheries Service agreed, saying, “Up to that time, (commercial fishermen) were hand-lining the tuna.”

Holder’s 183-pound bluefin tuna, caught in 1897, was said to be the fish that sparked the sportsmen’s interest in starting such a club, considered the world’s oldest organized fishing club. Holder’s fish was one of, if not the first, fish ever caught on rod and reel.

Col. C.P. Morehouse’s 1899 catch of a 251-pound tuna still stands as a club record.

Others learned of these big fish providing sporting battles just off the mainland and wanted to get in on the action. The sport grew more popular, and steamship runs to what was then a tiny fishing village became more frequent.

From 1900 through 1937, Tuna Club members caught 6,407 tuna, with most coming in the first quarter of the century. The average weight of the tuna in 1901 was 119 1/2 pounds.

“The wealthy people owned their own boats,” Herberts said. “The others would take the boat over and rent row boats and sailboats (to go fishing).”

But they usually didn’t have to row far, or wait for the wind, according to Hugh Wright, 85, a former club president.

“I remember when I was about 10 years old, I used to fish Catalina in a row boat,” he said. “There would be schools of big tuna just 200 yards from the entrance of Avalon Harbor. Then they were called leaping tuna, not bluefin, because there were lots of flying fish in the area and the tuna could be seen jumping and catching them in the air.”

The late Zane Grey, the noted author and outdoorsman, whose fishing exploits would become legendary, once said he watched a school of 100-pound tuna that took all day to swim past his boat. He felt there were much bigger tuna down deep, but the fishing tackle of the day, he said, was insufficient for the task.

Celebrities and dignitaries payed regular visits to Catalina. Wright remembers watching Charlie Chaplin catch bluefin tuna in a boat alongside his, just outside the harbor.

“They were small tuna, mostly 30-pounders,” he said.

Winston Churchill, on a visit to the United States, once took a train here from New York. He visited Catalina as a guest of the club. “He had a good time and was a great guest,” Herberts said.

Churchill, who was awarded an honorary membership, was apparently so impressed with his visit that after his return to New York, he went to an Abercrombie & Fitch store and bought a present for his host, who later donated it to the club.

“It was a flying head gaff,” Herberts said. “It was very unusual--it had a 7-foot wood handle that screws together with a bronze fly-head, and it’s beautiful.”

Others awarded honorary membership status were former presidents Herbert Hoover and Theodore Roosevelt, the army’s George S. Patton, then a colonel, and the Navy’s Admiral Hugh Rodman.

Celebrities who fished the local waters included actors John Barrymore and Bing Crosby. The late producer-director Cecil B. De Mille’s 1929 catch of a 32-pound dorado, taken on light tackle, still stands as a club record. Two years before that, De Mille caught a 55-pound albacore.

Zane Grey’s son, Loren, chartered a fishing boat in local waters while attending college in 1938 and 1939.

“I had quite good luck,” he said.

His customers included such celebrities as Robert Montgomery, Benny Goodman and Errol Flynn.

Then there is the story of George Pillsbury Jr., who in the 1930s was called “one of the club’s greatest anglers.” While fishing alone one day, Pillsbury hooked and successfully boated 5 marlin, all on light tackle.

“I fished in 1931-32 and there were dolphin, yellowfin tuna and marlin all over the place,” Loren Grey said.

Swordfish abounded in local waters as well, and few fisherman, if any, matched the feats of Zane Grey, whose passion for writing was matched only by his love of fishing, and of James Jump, both of whom became well-known for their lengthy battles with the powerful swordfish.

Zane Grey, who by 1937 held 10 all-tackle world records, including the first 1,000-pound marlin caught on rod and reel, was said to have have hooked 100 swordfish in a single year.

In 1925 he wrote of his 12-hour battle with a swordfish that he estimated to easily exceed 1,000 pounds, describing how the fish, after 11 1/2 hours on the hook, surfaced during the night to feed on a school of flying fish, seemingly unaware that it was even hooked.

That fish broke off, convincing Grey that heavier tackle was needed for these powerful billfish. The Tuna Club refused to grant the use of heavier line, so he quit the club.

The fishing line of the day was made of linen, with each thread having a maximum breaking strength of about 3 pounds. The Tuna Club had three categories: three-six tackle, a rod not shorter than 6 feet and a reel spooled with 6-thread line (roughly equivalent to 18-pound test) light tackle, or 9-thread line and heavy tackle, or 24-thread line.

The rods were made of wood or cane, and the reels didn’t have any anti-backspin mechanism. When a fish was hooked, the reel’s handle would often spin uncontrolably, thus the reels were often called “knuckle-busters.” The drag system was a simple leather thumb-pad, which the angler would press onto the spool to slow a fleeing fish.

In 1926, after leaving the club and outfitting his rod with heavier tackle, Zane Grey caught a 582-pound swordfish, and was outdone shortly after that by his brother, known as R.C., who caught a 588-pounder.

Jump’s 365-pound swordfish caught in 1928 is still considered a Tuna Club record.

“Zane Grey and Jimmy Jump were the first ones who really got into broadbill fishing,” Herberts said. “There used to be lots of them.”

Club members caught 2 swordfish last year.

Striped marlin used to be caught in droves, and they were much bigger than those that presently migrate into Southern California waters during the summer.

A.R. Martin of Beverly Hills caught one weighing 405 pounds, and many others topped the 300-pound mark. These days, a fish more than 200 pounds would be considered an exceptional catch, perhaps pointing to a bleak future.

Bill Pigg, a Tuna Club member for more than 40 years, said last year that, years ago, he would often see schools of more than 100 marlin in waters off Santa Barbara Island.

Black sea bass, now a threatened species, were common in the first quarter of the century, and most weighed more than 150 pounds. Hollywood’s Grant Dolge caught the club’s largest from 1926-28, with 3 fish weighing more than 250 pounds apiece.

“I caught two when I was 14 years old,” Loren Grey, 73, said. “One was 156 pounds and the other weighed 186.”

Yellowtail in the 40-pound class made Tuna Club news often, and bigger catches were not unheard of. In 1908, W. W. Simpson of London caught a 60 1/3-pound yellowtail while fishing off Catalina with light tackle.

But after the first quarter of the century, fishing began to decline noticeably. Zane Grey, who once teamed with his brother to catch and release 12 striped marlin in one day near San Clemente Island, gave up on fishing Catalina waters after about 1931, citing a declining broadbill fishery--because of commercial harpooning--as the main reason.

In 1937, there was a slight resurgence and Tuna Club members caught 330 marlin, 30 tuna and 2 broadbill.

Tuna fishermen in those days would suspend a flying fish under a kite and run the kites alongside a school of feeding tuna. “It takes three people to do and it was very difficult,” Wright said.

The kites went back into the closets in about 1940, when, according to MacCall, “things just turned off.”

What happened to all the fish?

“They got caught,” MacCall said. “I believe there was a resident population of the bigger tuna. If you look at the dates some of those fish were caught, you’ll see many were caught in February and March, which are the coldest months.”

MacCall said heavy commercial fishing helped deplete much of the resident fish population. When asked if he was optimistic about the recent showing of giant bluefin, he replied: “Absolutely not.”

Said Loren Grey: “It’s sad, but I’m afraid the good old days are gone forever.”

Around London – Olympics at the Museum of London Oxford wins the Boat Race restoration project at Kew and, Phantom Ride at the Tate…

Diver Tom Daley’s swimming trunks, cyclist Bradley Wiggins’ yellow jersey and a Mary Poppins outfit worn in last year’s Olympic Games’ opening ceremony are among the items on display as part of the Museum of London’s 2012 display. The free display, which opened last week, exactly 200 days after the Paralympics closing ceremony, features a selection of 70 items connected with the Games. Runs in the Galleries of Modern London until 31st October. For more, see

Oxford took line honours at the 159th Boat Race, held on the River Thames last weekend. The Dark Blues – whose crew included Olympic medalists Constantine Louloudis and Malcolm Howard – still trail Cambridge (the Light Blues) – whose crew included another Olympic medallist, George Nash, however, with 77 wins to 81 wins. For more, see or our previous articles – here and here.

Kew Garden’s historic Temperate House has received a £14.7 million Lottery Fund grant for conservation of the Grade One listed building, the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world. The grant – which adds to £10.4 million from the government and £7.7 million from private donors – will also be used to create a “more inspiring” public display for visitors with the overall £34.3 million project completed by May, 2018. The building opened in 1863 and was last refurbished 35 years ago. It houses some of the world’s rarest plants, including a South African cycad (Encephalartos woodii). For more, see

On Now: Phantom Ride. This “haunting” film installation by artist Simon Starling was commissioned by the Tate Britain in Millbank and is located in the neo-classical Duveen galleries. Referencing the late nineteenth century tradition of ‘phantom rides’ – films, often made by cameramen strapped to the front of a train, that gave a dramatic sense of motion as if one is aboard an invisible vehicle – the installation includes a “compelling flow of images” of artworks that once filled the Duveen galleries, creating a sense of movement as the works move up and down the walls. Admission is free. Runs until 20th October. For more, see

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Charles II

Why Famous: Charles was the King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1660 until his death in 1685, and had been King of Scotland from 1649 until he was deposed in 1651. His father, Charles I, was executed at the height of the English Civil War in 1649, after which the younger Charles fled to Europe.

A crisis that followed Oliver Cromwell's death in 1658 - after he had established a dictatorial republic in England - allowed Charles to make his comeback after the monarchy was restored in 1660.

His time in power saw a number of foreign policy crises and religious crises. He signed an alliance with Louis XIV of France in 1670 after promising to convert to Roman Catholicism at a future date Louis aided him in his war with the Dutch. He had numerous conflicts with Parliament, particularly when it was discovered his cousin, James, the Duke of York, was a Catholic and when Charles himself attempted to introduce religious freedom but was struck down by his MPs.

He abolished Parliament in 1681 and ruled alone until his death in 1685. He converted to Catholicism on his deathbed.

Born: May 29, 1630
Birthplace: London, England
Star Sign: Gemini

Died: February 6, 1685 (aged 54)
Cause of Death: Apoplectic fit

The Blitz

I worked in a sewing factory making shirts but they turned us over to make battle dress. If you were.

The Bombing in Albert Street

I was in bed, and the first explosive insendry bombs dropped and demolished a row of houses that had been.

I was there during the blitz: The East End of London

My Mother saying DearGod dont let it drop on us, then she would say after, some poor devil got it. There.

Coventry Blitz Pre-Warned.

It is possible not very many people knew, I am assuming it was the government that knew and advised the.

Photos that were contributed with stories in this category.

Luftwaffe Blitz on London

I was a boy of 14 living in London and during the blitz by the Luffwaffe, I read a small item in.


So I was the postman and this was my Christmas present, and I went happily around the shelter, delivering.

Irony of War

We were first bombed out from Britton St. E.C.1, we then moved to Little Sutton St, E.C.1. We carried on.

A German plane crashes

My Mother, Joan Quirk, lived in Milton Avenue, Widnes, and often told us the story of a German bomber plane.

Bath Blitz 1942

26th April 1942 at approx 2330hrs my mother sue was walking home alongside the river Avon in ferry lane.

Matthew Bank Bombs

I recall one night when the Germans bombed Matthew Bank, my father took us to the front door and we watched.

The Night London Caught Fire - December 12th 1941

I remember walking to the edge of the city of London, Aldgate, and seeing the fire engines lined up.

A Teenage Memory

I worked in a new firm in Bessemer Road, Attercliffe for just four days. I got a tram to Bessemer Road.

Memories from N.I

Memories too of Donaghadee and RAF rescue launch based at Harbour, sinking of s.s Troutpool, stranding of.

The Greenock Blitz: Taking Shelter on a Farm

My brother was friendly with Archie Millar, a farmer, and it was to his farm we all went. My brother.

A Strange Bathing: Blitz in Hillingdon

Her mum then ran back to the house to pick up her sister, Celia, and took her to the shelter - only.

Wallasey in the Blitz

I spoke to my parents just before they died regarding their memories of Wallasey in the war,mum in.

Soho Road, Handsworth on Fire

During 1941 there were regular bombing raids on Handsworth in Birmingham — it was horrible, We.

Blitz on Wellington Barracks Chapel

We were having a break and a cup of tea at a Salvation Army mobile canteen when a V1 came down and.

A Magnetic Mine in Dulwich

I went to Dulwich college leaving college in 1939 when they proposed to evacuate the college to Devon, but.

The Lace Market Gets Hit: Nottingham

Apparently,before she was called up for work in munitions,she set out for work as usual in the famous Lace.

The Westminster Hotel

The story that emerges from the following documents held in the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office.

WW2 Playgrounds in Leytonstone

In my little area there were no playgrounds. this is Mayville Road in Leytonstone. The other bomb was in.

Rescue Work in the London Blitz

In a bed was a young girl, aged about 17. She ahd a part of steel girder sticking out of her chestshe.

The Blitz

My mother and I, aged 10, had recently returned from evacuation in Shropshire, as nothing dangerous seemed.

The first air raid: On Southampton

I was 17 when war was declared and living with my mum and dad in Waterhouse Way, Regents Park, Southampton.

The Mayflower Hotel: In Plymouth

His father,my great great granda, who owned the Mayflower Hotel, though they would fly over and bomb the.

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced.


This attack follows on the heels of the Four Days' Battle of 1–4 June 1666 which is normally considered a Dutch victory.

First day Edit

In the early morning of 25 July, the Dutch fleet of 88 ships discovered the English fleet of 89 ships near North Foreland, sailing to the north. De Ruyter gave orders for a chase and the Dutch fleet pursued the English from the southeast in a leeward position, as the wind blew from the northwest. Suddenly, the wind turned to the northeast. The English commander, Prince Rupert of the Rhine, then turned sharply east to regain the weather gauge. De Ruyter followed, but the wind fell and the fleet fell behind. The Dutch van, commanded by Lieutenant-Admiral Johan Evertsen, was becalmed and drifted away from the line of battle, splitting De Ruyter's fleet in two. This awkward situation lasted for hours then, again, a soft breeze began to blow from the northeast. Immediately, the English van, commanded by Thomas Allin, and part of the centre formed a line of battle and engaged the Dutch van, still in disarray and basically defenceless.

The outnumbered Dutch failed to form a coherent line of battle in response, and ship after ship was mauled by the combined firepower of the English line. Vice-Admiral Rudolf Coenders was killed, and Lieutenant-Admiral Tjerk Hiddes de Vries had an arm and a leg shot off. De Ruyter formed the Dutch centre and attempted to reach the van, but the wind was against him and he failed to reunite his forces.

With the Dutch van defeated, the English converged to deliver the coup-de-grâce to De Ruyter's centre. George Monck, accompanying Rupert, predicted that De Ruyter would give two broadsides and run, but the latter put up a furious fight on the Dutch flagship De Zeven Provinciën. He withstood a combined attack by Sovereign of the Seas and Royal Charles and forced Rupert to leave the damaged Royal Charles for Royal James. The Dutch centre's resistance enabled the seaworthy remnants of the van to make an escape to the south.

Lieutenant-Admiral Cornelis Tromp, commanding the Dutch rear, now brought his vessels to De Ruyter's rescue. Tromp ordered his vessels to the west crossing the line of the English rear under the command of Jeremiah Smith. The English rear was now cut off from the centre, and Tromp's squadron began a dogged attack that forced Smith's ships to flee to the west. The pursuit of the English rear lasted well into the night, with Tromp ultimately destroying HMS Resolution with a fireship. After Tromp thrice shot the entire crew from its rigging, Smith's flagship HMS Loyal London caught fire and had to be towed home. The vice commander of the English rear was Edward Spragge, who felt so humiliated by the course of events that he became a personal enemy of Tromp. He would later be killed pursuing Tromp in the Battle of Texel.

Second day Edit

On the morning of 26 July, Tromp broke off pursuit, well-pleased with his first real victory as a squadron commander. During the night, a ship had brought him the message that De Ruyter had likewise been victorious, so Tromp was in a euphoric mood. That abruptly changed upon the discovery of the drifting flagship of the dying Tjerk Hiddes de Vries. Suddenly he feared that his ship was now the only remnant of the Dutch fleet and that he was in mortal peril. Behind him, those ships of the English rear still operational had again turned to the east. In front, the other enemy squadrons surely awaited him. On the horizon, only English flags were to be seen. Manoeuvring wildly, Tromp, drinking a lot of gin to restore his nerve, dodged any attempt to trap him and brought his squadron safely home in the port of Flushing on the morning of 26 July. There, to great mutual relief, he discovered the rest of the Dutch fleet.

It took Tromp six hours to gather enough courage to face De Ruyter. It was obvious to him that he should never have allowed himself to get completely separated from the main force. Indeed, De Ruyter, not being his usual charitable self, immediately blamed him for the defeat and ordered Tromp and his subcommanders Isaac Sweers and Willem van der Zaan from his sight, and told them to never again set foot on De Zeven Provinciën. The commander of the Dutch fleet still had not mentally recovered from the events of the previous day.

On the morning of 5 August, after a short summer's night, De Ruyter discovered that his position had become hopeless. Lieutenant-Admiral Johan Evertsen had died after losing a leg, De Ruyter's force was now reduced to about forty ships, crowding together and most of these were inoperational, being survivors of the van. Some fifteen good ships had apparently deserted during the night. A strong gale from the east prevented an easy retreat to the continental coast, and to the west the British van and centre (about fifty ships) surrounded him in a half-circle, safely bombarding him from a leeward position.

De Ruyter was desperate. When his second-in-command of the centre, Lieutenant-Admiral Aert Jansse van Nes visited him for a council of war, he exclaimed: "With seven or eight against the mass!" He then sagged, mumbling: "What's wrong with us? I wish I were dead." His close personal friend Van Nes tried to cheer him up, joking: "Me too. But you never die when you want to!" No sooner had both men left the cabin than the table they had been sitting at was smashed by a cannonball.

The English, however, had their own problems. The strong gale prevented them from closing with the Dutch. They tried to use fire ships, but these, too, had trouble reaching the enemy. Only the sloop Fan-Fan, Rupert's personal pleasure yacht, rowed to the Dutch flagship De Zeven Provinciën to harass it with its two little guns, much to the hilarious laughter of the English crews.

When his ship had again warded off an attack by a fire ship (the Land of Promise) and Tromp still did not show up, for De Ruyter tension became unbearable. He sought death, exposing himself deliberately on the deck. When he failed to be hit, he exclaimed: "Oh, God, how unfortunate I am! Amongst so many thousands of cannonballs, is there not one that would take me?" His son-in-law, Captain of the Marines Johann de Witte, heard him and said: "Father, what desperate words! If you merely want to die, let us then turn, sail in the midst of our enemies and fight ourselves to death!". This brave but foolish proposal brought the Admiral back to his senses, for he discovered that he was not so desperate and answered: "You don't know what you are talking about! If I did that, all would be lost. But if I can bring myself and these ships safely home, we'll finish the job later."

Then the wind, that had brought so much misfortune to the Dutch, saved them by turning to the west. They formed a line of battle and brought their fleet to safety through the Flemish shoals, Vice-Admiral Adriaen Banckert of the Zealandic fleet covering the retreat of all damaged ships with the operational vessels, the number of the latter slowly growing as it turned out that only very few ships had actually deserted in the night most had merely drifted away, and now, one after the other, they rejoined the battle.

The battle was a clear English victory. Dutch casualties were enormous, estimated immediately after the battle of about 5,000 men, compared with 300 English killed later, more precise information showed that only about 1,200 of them had been killed or seriously wounded. However the twin disasters of the Great Plague of London and the Great Fire of London, combined with his financial mismanagement, left Charles II without the funds to continue the war. In fact, he had had only enough reserves for this one last battle.

In fact, the Dutch had lost only two ships: De Ruyter had been successful at saving almost the complete van, only Sneek and Tholen struck their flag, and they could quickly repair the damage. The Dutch soon recovered within a month, they again took sea, but only a minor skirmish resulted. During this later fight, De Ruyter inhaled a burning fuse filament that burnt a fistula in his throat he would recover just in time to inflict a severe blow on the English navy in the Raid on the Medway in 1667, when, at last, he could carry out the plan he was prevented from executing in 1666.

But during the weeks that the Dutch fleet was in repair, Admiral Robert Holmes, aided by the Dutch traitor Laurens van Heemskerck, penetrated the Vlie estuary, burnt a fleet of 150 merchants (Holmes's Bonfire) and sacked the town of Ter Schelling (the present West-Terschelling) on the Frisian island of Terschelling. Fan-Fan was again present.

In the Republic, the defeat also had a far-reaching political effect. Tromp was the champion of the Orangist party now that he was accused of severe negligence, the country split over this issue. To defend himself, Tromp let his brother-in-law, Johan Kievit, publish an account of his conduct. Shortly afterward, Kievit was discovered to have planned a coup, secretly negotiating a peace treaty with the English king. He fled to England and was condemned to death in absentia Tromp's family was fined and he himself forbidden to serve in the fleet. In November 1669, a supporter of Tromp tried to stab De Ruyter in the entrance hall of his house. Only in 1672 would Tromp have his revenge, when Johan de Witt was murdered some claim Tromp had had a hand in this. The new ruler, William III of Orange, succeeded, with great difficulty, in reconciling De Ruyter with Tromp in 1673.

Brandt, Gerard (1687), Het Leven en bedryf van den Heere Michiel de Ruiter (1st ed.), Uitgeverij van Wijnen, Franeker


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HERITAGE: Skepta Talks To Link Up TV Backstage After Winning His First MOBO (2014)

The 19th MOBO Awards was a massive night. The 19th edition saw the ceremony return to London for the first time in years, but that was the least of it.

Although Sam Smith dominated — winning Best R&B/Soul Act, Best Male Act, Best Song ("Stay With Me") and Best Album (In The Lonely Hour) — the night belonged to grime.

Skepta won Best Video for "That's Not Me", which famously cost "80 English pounds" to make, and accepted the award on stage in full Nike trackies. It was a huge moment that arrived as grime was finally gaining mainstream acceptance at home and getting the respect it deserved abroad.

Remel London caught up with Skepta after the ceremony to ask him a few questions for Link Up TV. It's a quick one, but they get into grime's ups and downs, earning the respect of the industry, grime's future prospects and more — as well as a slightly surreal cameo from Jammer.

The second half of the video features some words from a fresh-faced Stormzy who made history that night when he won the the MOBOs' first ever Best Grime Act award, beating out Big Narstie, Ghetts, Jme, Lethal Bizzle, Meridian Dan, Novelist, Sox and Wiley.

Watch the video: St Ives - Hunt Issue Title Is Seeings Believing 1941 (December 2022).

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