It’s history Jim, but not as we know it

Somehow I got to thinking about which century since the Middle Ages has been the most “entertaining”.So I’ve picked through the bones of what each century produced and then given them an overall rating. Right. Let’s get cracking. Oh By the way, I’m excluding the 21st Century because we’re only 7 years in for Christ’s sake! So stop your moaning. Good. Right.

OK, here goes. First up the 16th century. This isn’t an exhaustive list I’ve just picked things out that I think are notable and not bowel collapsingly dull. Here goes. I make no claim as to my historical accuracy either. So there.
16th century, war and politics:

Henry the VII assumes the English Throne, then croaks, but leaves a son who is of course the infamous Henry the VIII. Slavery in the Americas starts, Sweden is liberated (from what I don’t know) Germans peasants revolt (they certainly do) whilst France loses Italy (I’m often doing that). Imperial troops get shirty with Rome (nothing to do with Star Wars), Queen Elizabeth the first is born and then coroneted (not as a baby you fool!), Anne Boleyn is executed and Mary Queen of Scots is born then executed. William of Orange is assassinated, the Battle of the Spanish Armada kicks off and near the end Oliver Cromwell is born.

Science:

Christopher Columbus dies (he was rubbish anyway), Copernicus writes Heliocentric Theory and then snuffs it, Various bits of America are discovered by various people (not important), Michelangelo picks up his tools and sculpts Peitá and later Galileo is born.

Art & culture:

Boy this century is a biggie for art. Brace yourself. Michelangelo put together ‘Madonna and Child’ (and various other daubs) and 8 years later “does up” the Sistine Chapel. In the meantime Leonardo paints some bird who says she’s in a slightly odd mood and it goes on centuries later to become the most famous painting ever (EVER). Later St Paul’s Cathedral burns down, some bloke called Shakespeare is born, Michelangelo dies and Pompeii is discovered. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Religion:

England splits from the Roman Catholic Church and Henry the VIII destroys English Monasteries. The order of the Jesuits is founded (that led on to all that Freemasons’ business), Christianity reaches Japan, Francis Bacon is born, loads of wars of religion begin, the Huguenots are massacred in America just before the St. Bartholomew’s day massacre and lastly Henry IV converts to Catholicism (how odd).

Daily life & health:

Lots of people and I mean LOTS (a serious amount) get ‘flu’ (and I mean proper flu not just a nasty head cold) throughout Europe. Also the great plague first hits London. Record number of “sickies” are taken.

My century rating: 9/10. Great for war with Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn the Spanish Armada and all that caper. Points too for the comedy value of Chris Columbus and those bloody talented chaps – Michelangelo and Leonardo. I’m interested in the whole secret society/Freemasons thing so the creation of the order of Jesuits is a bonus.

Onto the 17th century then.

War & politics:

The Brits decide on a little trip to India. Charles the first is born and Elizabeth the first dies. James the first assumes the English throne, dissolves Parliament (not literally) and then suffers a revolt which starts the English Civil Wars (which then end about 7 years later). The Thirty Years War begins and ends (30 years later obviously) and Sir Walter Raleigh is executed. The last Ming emperor commits suicide, Charles the first is executed and Cromwell starts his Ireland campaign and calls himself rather snazzily “Lord Protector”. Cromwell does some parliament dissolving of his own then dies, Charles the second is later coroneted. The Greenwich Observatory is founded, James the second legs it out of England leaving William and Mary to assume the English throne (that throne has changed hands more times than a festival porta-loo and no I’m not sure what happened to Charles II either). Lastly Russian peasants’ revolt and the Battle of the Boyne happens.

Art & Culture:

Shakespeare does Hamlet (nothing at all to do with cigars), Rembrandt is born, does his thing then dies, and Sir Walter Raleigh writes The History of the World (blimey). Harvard is founded, Daniel Defoe is born and the Great Fire of London burns London to buggery for five days. Rob Roy is born, as is Bach and Handel and the Bank of England is established.

Science:

Galileo invents the Telescope, has a ruddy good look at Jupiter’s moons, recants then dies, blood circulation is discovered (although it was always there) and, oh yeah, some pilgrims landed on some rock somewhere. Isaac Newton is born and discovers why we don’t all float about the place, and the Barometer is invented.

Religion:

King James does he own “sexed up” version of the bible, the inquisition gives Galileo the “good cop bad cop” treatment (before he died obviously), Francis Bacon dies and so does Descartes.

My century rating: 8/10 – Good for science, reasonable for art and gets most of its points for the comedy value of the revolving door English throne and general madness of the English monarchy.

18th century here we come.

War & politics:

England and Scotland are united, Louis the XIV dies (sorry forgot to mention him earlier), Peter the Great dies (not so great then was he) and William Cavendish is born. George Washington is born as is Patrick Henry, George the III and Thomas Jefferson. The Black Hole of Calcutta “happens” (whatever that is), the little dude with an attitude Napoleon Bonaparte is born and rises to power, the Boston Tea Party happens (did they have scones then do you think?). German peasants revolt (again!), America “bigs” itself up with the Declaration of Independence thingy, achieves its first naval victory (snigger), politely discusses peace with the Brits over brunch and inaugurates its first president – Mr. Washington himself (who then dies before the turn of the century). The treaty of Versailles ends and the American Revolution starts and ends. Bread riots erupt in France (no batons just baguettes), the storming of the Bastille happens and the U.S. Bill of Rights is ratified. Lastly the Jacobins seize power in France (they had stale rolls that were rock hard).

Art & Culture:

Daniel Defoe pens Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders then dies. Cassanova is born as is Goya and two fellas who could bang out a tune or two called Mozart and Beethoven. Jane Austin pops into existence and James Cooks discovers Hawaii (nice one James). Mozart bangs out the Marriage of Figaro and loads of other stuff then dies (poor bugger), somewhere in the middle of all that Lord Byron is born. In the US of A the construction of the White House begins and the century signs off with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone.

Science:

Anders Celsius and Benjamin Franklyn (or Benny as he was known to his mates) are born. Christopher Wren and Isaac Newton go belly up but James Cook starts his mortal journey as does Edmund Halley. Benjamin Franklyn discovers that electricity does more than just make your hair stand on end and make you look like Albert Einstein (who isn’t born yet). Watt patents the steam engine. Cook has a good old poke around Botany Bay and Benny passes away after his work is done in this century.

Religion:

Not much happens except France bans Catholicism (how boring).

Daily life & Health:

Benny Franklyn invents the Bifocal Glasses.

Century Rating 7/10 – Let down by religion, art and culture (redeemed somewhat with Mozart and Beethoven but still) Not much going on science-wise either. Gets points for having Napoleon in it.

Next up the 19th century.

War & Politics:

After a bit of a rebellion by the Irish, Britain and Ireland unite whilst Thomas Jefferson is inaugurated as president of the USA. Britain is busy as they also declare war on France, which kicks of the French Revolutionary Wars. The Napoleonic Wars also get going, the Louisiana Purchase happens and Lewis & Clark bugger off on an expedition. The famous Battle of Trafalgar occurs, Napoleon defeats pesky Prussia and the slave trade is abolished in the British Empire. Abraham Lincoln is born and there’s a revolution in Mexico, which kicks off big time with the Mexican Wars and Latin Wars of independence. Napoleon invades Russia, the 1812 (12 minutes past 6) war kicks off and finishes as does lots (and I mean lots) of other wars and battle type things in Germany, Greece, and Peru – you name a place and basically there was some fracas happening. The American Civil war drags on and on with a bazillion battles all over the shop. Barmy little Napoleon finally slips 6 feet under but not until after the most famous battle of all time – the Battle of Waterloo – immortalises him. Queen Victoria and Albert marry and celebrate by claiming Hong Kong and Canada gets that warm fuzzy feeling by getting themselves all united. The Irish famine happens as does the Gettysburg address and Abe Lincoln is elected president, re-elected and then makes a really bad decision by heading out to catch a show. OK, I have to end this now with one final push. Korea gains independence, Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin (not a nice bloke) are born, the Brits have a punch up with some Zulus and China and Japan have a ding dong. Oh Christ! I’m getting sick of this now. Look. Basically everyone was looking for some fisticuffs in this century – alright? Alright then.

Art & Culture:

Victor Hugo, Edgar Allen Poe and Charlotte Bronte are born and Jane Austen pens Sense and Sensibility (yawn) AND Emma (for Christ’s sake that’s enough Jane) then dies. Oh and Charles Dickens is born, sorry Charlie nearly forgot you. Jean-Francois Champollion (what a ponce) deciphers the Rosetta Stone and Lord Byron snuffs it as does Beethoven and Goya. Also popping into existence and strutting their funky stuff are: Lewis carol, Degas, Monet, Mark Twain and Paul Cezanne (crikey! It’s a custard pie full in the face of arty farty genius types) Robert Lewis Stephenson is born and gold is discovered in Australia and California (Yeeeehaaaw!). Bloody hell! There’s still more. Brace yourselves because these are some biggies (and I’m not being funny). Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw are born in this century – I did warn you. If you have to change your underwear then do it now. Better? Great. Let’s move on. Edvard Munch and Toulouse-Lautrec come along for the ride too in this century. Jack the Ripper is going about making himself the most infamous nutter of all time whilst The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes makes its debut and Agatha Christie is born. Tchaikovsky does something about cracking nuts and H.G. Wells (or “Heavy Goods wells” as he liked to be known) pens The Time Machine and War of the Worlds. And last and most certainly least, Noel Coward is born.

Science:

Charlie Darwin is born and sets off on H.M.S Beagle (not a dog) to come up with Creationism. Sorry, I mean On the Origins of Species. Florence Nightingale is born and does all her being nice business. Railroads are invented and so is Photography. Handy. Morse sends the first telegram message, which read: “This is fucking brilliant!” Neptune is discovered to be a planety-type thing and some blokes called Edison and Alexander Graham Bell are born. Livingston buggers off all the way to Africa whilst Sigmund Freud can only manage being born. Henry Ford is also born and comes up with a cracker of an idea about how to transport people around – and sticks two fingers up to Sigmund. AGB invents the telephone and the first phone call is made by his daughter. It lasts 4 hours and 17 minutes and costs $453.26. Elsewhere X-Rays are discovered (somehow) and Marie Currie discovers Radium (was she a wild child or what).

Religion:

Karl Marx is born and never shuts up, Catholics get well and truly emancipated and the Spanish Inquisition comes to an end. The YMCA is founded (party time!) and the Mormons move to Utah for some reason. Finally that really nice, non violent chap with the sandals and glasses is born. You know the one. Never wanted to eat anything. Mahatma Gandhi. That’s the one.

Century Rating: 8.5/10 – Very good for art & culture, science too. Some cracking wars and battles also.

20th century next if you please.

War & politics:

Russo-Japanese war starts and ends (I’ve no idea either), lots of Jew pile into Palestine and the first fuck-off big battleship is launched (H.M.S Dreadnought). World War one kicks off big time (and ends 4 years later), America declares war on Germany and JFK is born. The Turkish War of Independence happens, a certain Margaret Thatcher is born (boo hiss) and the Vatican pops into existence as an independent state. Franklyn D. Roosevelt is elected U.S president whilst some bloke called Adolf Hitler is elected Chancellor of Germany and communists go on a Long March through China. Neville Chamberlain becomes the British Prime Minister (and is later succeeded by Winston Churchill or Winny to his mates), Japan rather rudely invades China and the Buchenwald concentration camp opens. The Nazi’s and the Soviets make a pact on something then they both go and invade Poland, which kicks off World War Two. Germany doesn’t play nice and goes invading various bits of Europe including Britain (which they can’t quite manage because they’re so damn hard those Brits.) Italy and France do a good impression of some surrender Monkeys whilst Roosevelt wins a fourth presidential term. Hitler shoots himself (best decision he ever made) and WW II finally comes to an end (you all know the story of WW II so I’m not going into all that.) Exactly half way through this century the Korean War begins, then Tony Blair is born and Sudan achieves independence (well done Sudan). The Cuban revolution happens, Nelson Mandela is banged up, JFK is assassinated (by the FBI or CIA) and the Vietnam War happens. Eisenhower becomes U.S president then dies, then Richard Nixon becomes the 37th President but then resigns (someone take the job for fuck’s sake). Lots of kafuffle involving Iraq, Palestine, Israel, Syria and Lebanon goes on and on and the Ayatollah Khomeini declares Iran an Islamic Republic (show off). Maggie Thatcher becomes British Prime Minister and gets stuck in by kicking off a war in the Falklands. The Afghan-Soviet war happens, that mentalist Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait and the dramatically named Desert Storm happens. Oh and NATO bombs Serbia for some reason and the Berlin Wall is built and knocked down in there somewhere.

Art & culture:

Oscar Wilde dies right at the start as does Henri Toulouse-Lautrec but on the plus side Picasso begins his Blue Period (bit of an odd fellow) and Walt Disney is born does his stuff then dies. Later Salvador Dali is born, Cezanne dies and Picasso puts on a Cubist exhibition in Paris (nothing dirty). Mark Twain and Tolstoy die and the Titanic sinks (downer). To brighten things up Frank Sinatra and Orson Wells are born (nice one). A bomb explodes on Wall Street, Claude Monet dies, the first talking pictures happen but the edge is taken off by the St. Valentines Day Massacre (Christ this is depressing). Salvador Dali comes up with Persistence of Memory, Elvis Pressley is born (the real King) and Citizen Kane comes out. More bad news as Munch and George Bernard Shaw die but the century hits back with two literary double whammies: To Kill a Mocking Bird (Harper Lee) and Great Expectations (Charles Dickens). Hippie chick Janis Joplin explodes onto the scene leaves her legacy then dies via the ubiquitous drugs overdose, the legendary Schindlers List is made and OJ Simpson is found not guilty (but we all know he was). Century Rounds off with the death of crooner Frank Sinatra.

Science:

The Wright brothers have a crazy idea about flying in something that weighs more than air (and it only bloody works!), Albert Einstein has the proverbial light bulb over the head moment and thinks up The Special Theory of Relativity and Robert Peary reaches the North Pole. Florence Nightingale, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison die as Pluto is discovered (not the dog) and construction begins on the gigantic Hoover Dam. Also dying is Sigmund Freud whilst Golden Gate Bridge is built. This century sees the first use of Penicillin and Atomic Bombs (for wildly different reasons) an oral vaccine for Polio is developed and the “Space Race” begins as Russia launches Sputnik (and Yuri Gagarin) into space. The Americans respond later by plonking Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon for a bit of a stroll. Numerous Apollo space missions follow including Apollo 13, which very nearly does not make it back. Soviet and U.S. space craft dock in space, Viking 2 touches down on Mars whilst back on Earth the good ship (well not good really) Titanic is found. The first personal computers start to appear as AIDS and a bloody great big hole in the ozone layer are discovered. Chernobyl goes horribly, horribly wrong, Stephen Hawkins (one brainy guy) pens A Brief History of Time and a sheep called Daisy is cloned. Oh and the Internet (or Interweb) is invented in there somewhere (it must have been otherwise my blog wouldn’t exist).

Religion:

Not a whole lot going on although one point of interest is that some dude called John Scopes is arrested for teaching Evolution at a Tennessee public school, The Dead Sea Scrolls are found (in the sea presumably) and John Paul II becomes Pope and then gets shot but not killed. To round it off Mother Teresa dies.

Daily life & health:

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, led by Colonel John Hunt, become the first people to climb Mount Everest whilst Elizabeth II is crowed at Westminster Abbey.

Century Rating: 6.5/10 – Great for science, good for war but art and religion let it down big time.

I gave the 16th Century an entertainment rating of 9 out of 10, the 17th century 6, the 18th century 8.5 and the 20th century got 6.5, which means the 16th century is the place to be for entertainment. That’s “where it’s at” as they say (or rather “where it was”).

So there we have it. Concrete proof that 500 years ago the world was a much more entertaining place without road rage, geeks, and capitalism. I’m off for some hypnotic aggression – I mean regression. Hypnotic Regression. I really must stop getting those two mixed up! The first one just doesn’t work at all, it was a complete disaster from the start. We ended up in casualty last time.

Anyway. Thanks for listening. You’ve been a beautiful audience. (By the way Elvis isn’t dead. He lives just off the A12 and works in WH Smith on a Saturday. Nice bloke actually. Goes on a bit though).

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