Wikipedia:Today's featured article/March 2013

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March 1
Rhys ap Gruffydd

Rhys ap Gruffydd (1132–97) ruled the kingdom of Deheubarth in south Wales and was one of the most successful and powerful Welsh princes. His grandfather, Rhys ap Tewdwr, was king of Deheubarth, but most of Deheubarth was taken over by the Normans after he was killed in 1093. Rhys's father, Gruffydd ap Rhys, became ruler of a small portion, and Rhys's brothers won back more territory. He became ruler of Deheubarth in 1155, but was forced to submit to King Henry II of England in 1158. Henry invaded in 1163 and took Rhys prisoner for a few weeks, leaving him only a small part of his holdings. Rhys made an alliance with Owain Gwynedd and after Henry's failed invasion of Wales in 1165 Rhys was able to win back most of his lands. In 1171 he made peace with Henry, but following Henry's death he revolted against Richard I and attacked the Norman lordships surrounding his territory. In his later years Rhys had trouble keeping control of his sons, particularly Maelgwn and Gruffydd, who maintained a feud with each other. Rhys launched his last campaign against the Normans in 1196 and captured a number of castles. The following year he died unexpectedly and was buried in St David's Cathedral. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Highway 61 Revisited – Fort Dobbs (North Carolina) – Grand Teton National Park


March 2
The "One Ring" in The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II (BFMEII) is a real-time strategy video game by Electronic Arts. It is based on the fantasy novels The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings live-action film trilogy. The game is the sequel to Electronic Arts' 2004 title The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth. The Windows version of the game was released on March 2, 2006, and the Xbox 360 version was released on July 5, 2006. In the game, the Good Campaign focuses on Glorfindel, an Elf who, with help from the Dwarves and other Good forces, attempts to eliminate Sauron and his army to restore peace in Middle-earth. In the Evil Campaign, Sauron sends the Mouth of Sauron and the Nazgûl to muster wild Goblins as part of his plan to destroy the remaining Good forces with his army. BFMEII received generally favorable reviews from video game critics. Reviews praised the game's integration of the Lord of the Rings universe into a real-time strategy title, while criticism targeted the game's unbalanced multiplayer mode. BFMEII received numerous awards, including the Editors' Choice Award from IGN. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Rhys ap Gruffydd – Highway 61 Revisited – Fort Dobbs (North Carolina)


March 3
Japanese cargo ship SS Kenbu Maru under attack

In the Battle of the Bismarck Sea during World War II, American and Australian aircraft attacked a Japanese convoy, causing heavy troop losses. In December 1942, the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters decided to reinforce their position in the South West Pacific. The plan was to move some 6,900 troops from Rabaul directly to Lae, New Guinea. Strong Allied air power made it risky, but the alternative was for troops to march through inhospitable terrain. The convoy (eight destroyers and eight troop transports escorted by fighters) set out on 28 February 1943. The Allies had detected preparations for the convoy, and codebreakers had decrypted messages indicating its intended destination and arrival date. The convoy came under sustained air attack on 2–3 March 1943. Follow-up attacks by PT boats and aircraft were made on 4 March. All eight transports and four of the escorting destroyers were sunk, and only about 1,200 troops made it to Lae. Another 2,700 were saved by destroyers and submarines and returned to Rabaul. The Japanese made no further attempts to reinforce Lae by ship, greatly hindering their ultimately unsuccessful efforts to stop Allied offensives in New Guinea. (Full article...)

Recently featured: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II – Rhys ap Gruffydd – Highway 61 Revisited


March 4
Buffalo Nickel

The nickel is a five-cent coin issued since 1866 by the United States Mint, composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel. The silver half dime, also equal to five cents, was first issued in the 1790s. The economic upset of the American Civil War drove gold and silver from circulation, and the government at first issued paper currency in place of low-value coins. As two-cent (in 1864) and three-cent pieces (1865) without precious metal content had been successfully introduced, Congress authorized a five-cent piece of base metal; the Mint began striking this in 1866. The Shield nickel, the initial design, was struck until 1883, when it was replaced by the Liberty Head nickel. As part of a drive to increase the beauty of American coinage, the Buffalo nickel (shown) was introduced in 1913; it was followed by the Jefferson nickel in 1938. After using special designs for the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 2004 and 2005, the Mint reverted to using Jefferson nickel designer Felix Schlag's original reverse (or "tails" side), although substituting a new obverse. As of 2013, it costs more than eleven cents to produce a nickel; the Mint is investigating using less expensive metals. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Battle of the Bismarck Sea – The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II – Rhys ap Gruffydd


March 5
Michael Schumacher driving for Benetton

The 1995 Japanese Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on October 29, 1995, at the Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka. It was the sixteenth and penultimate round of the 1995 Formula One season. The race, contested over 53 laps, was won by Michael Schumacher for the Benetton team (pictured) after he started from pole position. Mika Häkkinen finished second in a McLaren and Johnny Herbert third in the other Benetton car. Jean Alesi, driving for Ferrari, started second alongside Schumacher. However, Alesi was forced to serve a 10-second stop-and-go penalty because his car moved forward before the start. Alesi climbed back up to second before retiring on lap 25. Schumacher's rival in the Drivers' Championship, Damon Hill, started fourth amidst pressure from the British media after poor performances at previous races. Hill moved up to second because of Alesi's retirement, but he spun off the circuit on lap 40. Schumacher's win was his ninth of the season, matching Nigel Mansell's record for victories in a season that was set in 1992. Benetton were confirmed Constructors' Champions as Williams could not pass Benetton's points total in the one remaining race. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Nickel (United States coin) – Battle of the Bismarck Sea – The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II


March 6
Giant anteater

The giant anteater is a large insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. It is one of four living species of anteater and is classified with the sloths in the order Pilosa. This species is mostly terrestrial, in contrast to other living anteaters and sloths which are arboreal or semi-arboreal. It is the largest of its family, stretching 182–217 cm (5.97–7.12 ft) and weighing 33–41 kg (73–90 lb) for males and 27–39 kg (60–86 lb) for females. It is recognizable by its elongated snout, bushy tail, long foreclaws and distinctively colored pelage. The anteater can be found in multiple habitats including grassland and rainforest and feeds primarily on ants and termites, using its foreclaws to dig them up and its long, sticky tongue to collect them. The giant anteater is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It has been extirpated from some parts of its former range. Threats to its survival include habitat destruction and hunting, though some anteaters inhabit protected areas. Because of its distinctive appearance, the anteater has been featured in pre-Columbian myths and folktales as well as modern popular culture. (Full article...)

Recently featured: 1995 Japanese Grand Prix – Nickel (United States coin) – Battle of the Bismarck Sea


March 7
James G. Blaine

James G. Blaine (1830–93) was an American Republican politician who served as U.S. Representative, Speaker of the House of Representatives, U.S. Senator from Maine, and twice as Secretary of State. Blaine was born in western Pennsylvania and moved to Maine where he became a newspaper editor. Nicknamed "the Magnetic Man", he was a charismatic speaker in an era that prized oratory. He began his political career as an early supporter of Abraham Lincoln and the Union in the American Civil War. In Reconstruction, Blaine was a supporter of black suffrage, but opposed some of the more coercive measures of the Radical Republicans. Initially a protectionist, he later worked for a reduction in the tariff and an expansion of overseas trade. His efforts at expanding US trade and influence began the shift to a more active American foreign policy. Blaine was a pioneer of tariff reciprocity and urged greater involvement in Latin American affairs. He was nominated for President in 1884, but was narrowly defeated by Democrat Grover Cleveland. Blaine was one of the late 19th century's leading Republicans and champion of the moderate reformist faction of the party known as the "Half-Breeds". (Full article...)

Recently featured: Giant anteater – 1995 Japanese Grand Prix – Nickel (United States coin)


March 8
Battle of Britain class No. 34067 Tangmere

The SR West Country and Battle of Britain classes, collectively known as Light Pacifics or informally as "Spam Cans", are classes of air-smoothed 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive designed for the Southern Railway by its Chief Mechanical Engineer Oliver Bulleid. A total of 110 locomotives were constructed between 1945 and 1950, named after West Country resorts or Royal Air Force and other subjects associated with the Battle of Britain. Incorporating new developments in British steam locomotive technology, both classes were amongst the first British designs to utilise welding in the construction process, and to use steel fireboxes, which meant that components could be more easily constructed during the wartime austerity and post-war economy. They were designed to be lighter in weight than their sister locomotives, the Merchant Navy class, to permit use on a wider variety of routes. They were a mixed-traffic design, equally adept at hauling passenger and freight trains. The classes operated until July 1967, when the last steam locomotives on the Southern Region were withdrawn from service. Although most were scrapped, 20 locomotives found new homes on British heritage railways. (Full article...)

Recently featured: James G. Blaine – Giant anteater – 1995 Japanese Grand Prix


March 9

Dobroslav Jevđević (1895–1962) was a Bosnian Serb politician and self-appointed Chetnik commander in the Herzegovina region of Yugoslavia during the Second World War. He was a member of the inter–war Chetnik Association and the Organisation of Yugoslav Nationalists party in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, a Yugoslav National Party member of the National Assembly, and a leader of the opposition during King Alexander's dictatorship. Following the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis in April 1941, he became a Chetnik leader in Herzegovina and joined the Chetnik movement of Draža Mihailović, although he often operated independently from Mihailović. Jevđević collaborated with the Italians and later the Germans in actions against the Yugoslav Partisans. During a joint Italian-Chetnik Operation Alfa, Jevđević's Chetniks, along with other Chetnik forces, were responsible for killing between 500 and 1,700 Bosnian Muslim and Catholic civilians in the Prozor region in October 1942. His force also participated in one of the largest Axis anti-Partisan operations of the war, Case White, in the winter of 1943. In the spring of 1945, he fled to Italy where he resided until his death. (Full article...)

Recently featured: SR West Country and Battle of Britain classes – James G. Blaine – Giant anteater


March 10
Stephen Breyer

United States v. Lara was a 2004 United States Supreme Court case which held that both the United States and a Native American (Indian) tribe could prosecute an Indian for the same acts that constituted crimes in both jurisdictions. In the 1880s, Congress passed the Major Crimes Act, divesting tribes of criminal jurisdiction in regards to several felony crimes. In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled in Duro v. Reina that an Indian tribe did not have the authority to criminally try an Indian who was not a member of that tribe. The following year, Congress passed a law that stated that Indian tribes, due to their inherent sovereignty, had the authority to try non-member Indians for crimes committed within the tribe's territorial jurisdiction. The defendant, Billy Jo Lara, was charged for acts that were criminal offenses under both the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe's laws and the federal United States Code. Lara pleaded guilty to the tribal charges, but claimed double jeopardy against the federal charges. The Court (majority opinion writer Stephen Breyer pictured) held that the United States and the tribe were separate sovereigns, and therefore separate tribal and federal prosecutions did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Dobroslav Jevđević – SR West Country and Battle of Britain classes – James G. Blaine


March 11
David Bowie

David Bowie (born 1947) is an English musician. After "Space Oddity" reached the top five of the UK Singles Chart in 1969, he re-emerged during the glam rock era with "Starman" and the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. In 1975, Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the number-one single "Fame" and the album Young Americans. The soul-inspired sound was a radical shift in style that initially alienated many of his UK devotees. He then recorded the critically acclaimed "Berlin Trilogy" of albums with Brian Eno, all of which reached the UK top five. After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones in the early 1980s with "Ashes to Ashes", its parent album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), "Under Pressure" (a collaboration with Queen) and Let's Dance, which yielded several hit singles. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles. He has not toured since the 2003–04 Reality Tour and has not performed live since 2006. Throughout his career, he has sold an estimated 140 million albums. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him 23rd on their list of the best singers of all time. (Full article...)

Recently featured: United States v. Lara – Dobroslav Jevđević – SR West Country and Battle of Britain classes


March 12
Caen Hill Locks

The Kennet and Avon Canal is a waterway in southern England with an overall length of 87 miles (140 km), made up of two lengths of navigable river linked by a canal. The name is commonly used to refer to the entire length of the navigation rather than solely to the central canal section. From Bristol to Bath the waterway follows the natural course of the River Avon before the canal links it to the River Kennet at Newbury, and from there to Reading on the River Thames. In all, the waterway incorporates more than 100 locks (Caen Hill Locks pictured). The two river stretches were made navigable in the early 18th century, and the 57-mile (92 km) canal section was constructed between 1794 and 1810. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the canal gradually fell into disuse after the opening of the Great Western Railway. In the latter half of the 20th century the canal was restored in stages, largely by volunteers. After decades of dereliction and much restoration work, it was fully reopened in 1990. The Kennet and Avon Canal has been developed as a popular heritage tourism destination for boating, canoeing, fishing, walking, and cycling, and is also important for wildlife conservation. (Full article...)

Recently featured: David Bowie – United States v. Lara – Dobroslav Jevđević


March 13
Amanita muscaria

Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric, is a poisonous and psychoactive basidiomycete fungus, one of many in the genus Amanita. Native throughout the temperate and boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere, Amanita muscaria has been unintentionally introduced to many countries in the southern hemisphere, generally as a symbiont with pine plantations, and is now a true cosmopolitan species. The quintessential toadstool, it is a large white-gilled, white-spotted, usually deep red mushroom, one of the most recognizable and widely encountered in popular culture. Although it is generally considered poisonous, deaths from its consumption are extremely rare, and it is eaten as a food in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America after parboiling. Amanita muscaria is noted for its hallucinogenic properties, with its main psychoactive constituent being the compound muscimol. It was used as an intoxicant and entheogen by the peoples of Siberia and has a religious significance in these cultures. There has been much speculation on traditional use of this mushroom as an intoxicant in places other than Siberia; however, such traditions are far less well documented. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Kennet and Avon Canal – David Bowie – United States v. Lara


March 14
Nikita Filatov

Nikita Filatov (born 1990) is a Russian professional ice hockey player. Since 2012, he has been a member of Salavat Yulaev, a club based in Ufa, Bashkortostan, that plays in the Kontinental Hockey League. He began his career playing for CSKA Moscow in their minor and junior hockey systems. He joined the National Hockey League (NHL) in the 2008 Entry Draft as the top-ranked European skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, and was selected sixth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has played two seasons in North America, splitting time between the Blue Jackets and their previous AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. During the 2009–10 season, Filatov was unhappy with his situation in Columbus and was loaned to CSKA Moscow for the remainder of the season. At the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Filatov was traded to the Ottawa Senators, and then was again loaned to CSKA Moscow. Filatov has represented Russia in international hockey at two World U18 Championships, winning gold and silver medals, and three World Junior Championships, where he has won two bronze medals. He was named to the Tournament All-Star Team at the 2008 World U18 Championships and the 2009 World Junior Championships. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Amanita muscaria – Kennet and Avon Canal – David Bowie


March 15
The Shunzhi Emperor

The Shunzhi Emperor (1638–61) was the third emperor of the Qing dynasty and the first Qing emperor to rule over China, which he did from 1644 to 1661. He was chosen to succeed his father Hong Taiji (1592–1643) by a committee of Manchu princes in September 1643, when he was five years old. Two co-regents were also appointed: Dorgon (1612–50), fourteenth son of Qing founder Nurhaci, and Jirgalang (1599–1655), one of Nurhaci's nephews. Political power lay mostly in the hands of Dorgon. Under his leadership, the Qing conquered most of the territory of the fallen Ming dynasty (1368–1644), chased Ming loyalist regimes deep into the southwestern provinces, and established the basis of Qing rule over China. After Dorgon's death, the young monarch started to rule personally. He tried, with mixed success, to fight corruption and reduce the Manchu nobility's political influence. In the 1650s he faced a resurgence of Ming loyalist resistance, but by 1661 his armies had defeated the Qing's last enemies. He died at the age of 22 of smallpox, against which the Manchus had no immunity. He was succeeded by his third son, Xuanye, who subsequently reigned for sixty years under the name of Kangxi. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Nikita Filatov – Amanita muscaria – Kennet and Avon Canal


March 16
Minke whale penises

The Icelandic Phallological Museum, in Reykjavík, Iceland, houses the world's largest display of penises and penile parts. The collection of 280 specimens from 93 species includes samples from whales (pictured), seals and land mammals. Exhibits are preserved in formaldehyde and displayed in jars or are dried and hung or mounted on the museum's walls and in display cases. The largest item on display once belonged to a blue whale; the smallest, from a hamster, can only be seen with a magnifying glass. The museum claims that it has specimens from elves and trolls that cannot be seen at all since, according to Icelandic folklore, these creatures are invisible. In July 2011, the museum obtained its first human specimen, but the preservation process did not go according to plan and the museum hopes to acquire a "younger and a bigger and better" example. Founded in 1997 by a retired teacher, it attracts thousands of visitors a year—the majority of them women—and has received international media attention. According to its mission statement, the museum aims to enable "individuals to undertake serious study into the field of phallology in an organized, scientific fashion". (Full article...)

Recently featured: Shunzhi Emperor – Nikita Filatov – Amanita muscaria


March 17
Nora Roberts

Irish Thoroughbred, the debut novel by American author Nora Roberts (pictured), was first published in January 1981 as a category romance. Like other category romances, it was less than 200 pages and was intended to be on sale for only one month. It proved so popular that it was repackaged as a stand-alone romance and reprinted multiple times. Roberts drew on her Irish heritage to create an Irish heroine, Adelia "Dee" Cunnane. In the novel, Dee moves to the United States, where her sick uncle arranges for her to marry his employer, wealthy American horsebreeder Travis Grant. Although the early part of their relationship is marked by frequent arguments, by the end of the story Travis and Dee reconcile. According to one critic, the couple's transformation from adversaries to a loving married couple is one of many formulaic elements in the book. Although the protagonists adhered to many stereotypes common to 1980s romance novels, Roberts's heroine is more independent and feisty than most others of the time. Roberts wrote two sequels, Irish Rebel and Irish Rose. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Icelandic Phallological Museum – Shunzhi Emperor – Nikita Filatov


March 18
Madeira Firecrest

The Madeira Firecrest is a very small passerine bird that is endemic to the island of Madeira. It is a member of the kinglet family. Before it was recognised as a separate species in 2003, it was classified as a subspecies of the Common Firecrest. It differs in appearance and vocalisations from its relative, and genetic analysis suggests evolutionary separation took place roughly 4 million years ago. It is small and plump, 9–10 cm (3.5–3.9 in) long and weighing about 5 g (0.18 oz). It has green upperparts, whitish underparts and two white wingbars, and a distinctive head pattern with a black eye stripe, short white supercilium, and a crest that is mainly orange in the male and yellow in the female. The female Madeira Firecrest builds a spherical nest from cobwebs, moss and small twigs, and she incubates the eggs and broods the chicks on her own. Both parents feed the young. This species forages for insects and other small invertebrates in tree heath, laurisilva and other woodland. It is common within its restricted range, living mainly at higher levels from 600–1,550 m (1,950–4,900 ft) in all types of forests and scrub, and is not considered to be threatened. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Irish Thoroughbred – Icelandic Phallological Museum – Shunzhi Emperor


March 19
Robert Duvall plays Mac Sledge in Tender Mercies

Tender Mercies is a 1983 American drama film. Robert Duvall (pictured) plays Mac Sledge, a recovering alcoholic country music singer who seeks to turn his life around through his relationship with a young widow and her son in rural Texas. Duvall, who sang his own songs in the film, drove more than 600 miles (966 km) throughout the state, tape recording local accents and playing in country music bands to prepare for the role. He and director Bruce Beresford repeatedly clashed during production, at one point prompting Beresford to walk off the set and reportedly consider quitting. Themes include the importance of love and family, the possibility of spiritual resurrection amid death, and the concept of redemption through Mac Sledge's conversion to Christianity. Following poor test screening results, distributor Universal Pictures made little effort to publicize Tender Mercies, which Duvall attributed to the studio's lack of understanding of country music. Although unsuccessful at the box office, it was critically acclaimed and earned five Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. Tender Mercies won Oscars for Best Original Screenplay for Horton Foote and Best Actor for Duvall. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Madeira Firecrest – Irish Thoroughbred – Icelandic Phallological Museum


March 20
Marines from the 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment patrolling through the town of Haqlaniyah in Al Anbar Province, 2006

The Iraq War in Anbar Province was a counter-insurgency campaign in the Iraq War, waged in the Al Anbar Governorate in western Iraq from 2003 to 2011. It was fought primarily between the United States Marine Corps, with its allies the Federal government of Iraq, and members of the Iraqi insurgency led by Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Almost 9,000 Iraqis and 1,335 Americans were killed during the war in Anbar, mostly between April 2004 and September 2007. Savage fighting occurred in the province in 2004, including the First and Second Battles of Fallujah. Though the fighting initially featured heavy urban warfare, in later years insurgents focused on ambushing the American and Iraqi security forces with improvised explosive devices. Both sides committed multiple human rights violations, such as the Fallujah killings and Haditha killings. In August 2006, several tribes located near Ramadi and led by Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha formed the Anbar Awakening and revolted against AQI. US and Iraqi tribal forces regained control of Anbar Province in 2007 and turned it over to the Iraqi Government in 2008. The last American forces left the province on 7 December 2011. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Tender Mercies – Madeira Firecrest – Irish Thoroughbred


March 21
Location of Deusdedit's unmarked grave

Deusdedit (died c. 664) was a medieval Archbishop of Canterbury, the first native-born holder of the see of Canterbury. By birth an Anglo-Saxon, and perhaps originally named Frithona, Frithuwine or Frithonas, he became archbishop in 655. The name Deusdedit, which he probably took when consecrated as archbishop, means "God has given" and was the name of a recent pope. He was archbishop for more than nine years until his death, probably from the plague. There is some controversy over the exact date of Deusdedit's death, owing to discrepancies in the medieval written work that records his life. Little is known about his episcopate. The see of Canterbury seems to have been passing through a period of comparative obscurity and Deusdedit only consecrated one bishop; the other new bishops in England were consecrated by Celtic or foreign bishops. He founded a nunnery in the Isle of Thanet and helped with the foundation of Medeshamstede Abbey, later Peterborough Abbey, in 657. He was considered to be a saint after his demise, with a feast day of 14 July. A saint's life was written after his relics were moved from their original burial place in 1091 (location of unmarked grave pictured). (Full article...)

Recently featured: Iraq War in Anbar Province – Tender Mercies – Madeira Firecrest


March 22
"Anne Hutchinson on Trial" (1901)
Anne Hutchinson (1591–1643) was a Puritan woman, spiritual adviser, and participant in the Antinomian Controversy that shook the fledgling Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1636 to 1638. Born in England, she was the daughter of Francis Marbury, an Anglican minister and school teacher. As an adult, she became attracted to the preaching of the dynamic minister John Cotton, and followed him to New England after he was forced to emigrate in 1633. There she shared her religious understandings with women she helped as a midwife, and held meetings at her home to review recent sermons and criticise ministers who did not adhere to Cotton's "covenant of grace" theology. Her religious convictions and outspoken demeanour riled many magistrates and Puritan clergy in the Boston area, and her popularity and charisma helped create a theological schism that threatened to destroy the Puritans' religious experiment. She was tried, convicted and banished from the colony in 1637. After moving to what is now The Bronx, then controlled by the Dutch, she was killed in an attack by native Siwanoy in 1643. She has been called the most famous, or infamous, English woman in colonial American history. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Deusdedit of Canterbury – Iraq War in Anbar Province – Tender Mercies


March 23
Messiah title page

Messiah (HWV 56) is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742, and received its London premiere the following year. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, becoming one of the most frequently performed choral works in Western music. Although its structure resembles that of opera, it is not in dramatic form, but a reflection on Jesus Christ as Messiah. Handel begins Part I with prophecies by Isaiah and others, and moves to the annunciation to the shepherds, the only "scene" taken from the Gospels. In Part II he concentrates on the Passion and ends with the Hallelujah Chorus. In Part III he covers the resurrection of the dead and Christ's glorification in heaven. Handel wrote Messiah for modest vocal and instrumental forces; after his death, the work was adapted for performance with much larger orchestras and choirs. Its orchestration was revised and amplified by (among others) Mozart. Since the late 20th century, the trend has been towards authenticity. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Anne Hutchinson – Deusdedit of Canterbury – Iraq War in Anbar Province


March 24

Rakoto Frah (1923–2001) was a flautist and composer of traditional music of the central highlands of Madagascar. Born to a poor rural family, he became the most acclaimed 20th-century performer of the sodina flute, one of the island's oldest traditional instruments. In 1958, he was selected to perform for the visiting French president Charles de Gaulle, launching his career as a professional musician, and from 1967 he increasingly participated in international music competitions and festivals. Following a decline in popularity in the 1970s, Frah's career revived in the mid-1980s and remained strong until his death. During this period Rakoto Frah recorded ten albums, toured extensively in Madagascar and overseas, and collaborated with a variety of artists, placing him among the most famous Malagasy artists within Madagascar and on the world music scene. Rakoto Frah and his sodina were printed on the 200 ariary Malagasy banknote in honor of his key role in revitalizing and internationally popularizing Malagasy music. Despite the artist's worldwide acclaim, he lived simply and earned little. His death was widely mourned and marked by a state funeral. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Messiah – Anne Hutchinson – Deusdedit of Canterbury


March 25

Railway tunnel at La Coupole

The Blockhaus d'Éperlecques, La Coupole and the Fortress of Mimoyecques were secret military bases built in northern France by Nazi Germany between March 1943 and July 1944. They were constructed by German specialists, civilian forced labourers and prisoners of war used as slave labour, and were intended to serve as launch sites for the Nazis' secret weapons, the V-2 rocket and the V-3 supergun. La Coupole (railway tunnel pictured) and the Blockhaus, located near Saint-Omer, were designed to launch dozens of V-2 rockets daily against London and other targets in England. The Fortress of Mimoyecques, near Boulogne-sur-Mer, would have housed the V-3 supergun, designed to fire 600 projectiles an hour at London. All three facilities were put out of action by the Allies' Operation Crossbow bombing campaign between August 1943 and August 1944 and were never used for their intended purposes. They were captured by Allied forces in September 1944 and partly demolished on Winston Churchill's orders to ensure that they could not be used to threaten the United Kingdom again. They were abandoned after the war, and opened to the public in the 1980s and 1990s as museums and memorials to the workers and airmen who died during the bombing. (Full articles: Blockhaus d'Éperlecques – La Coupole – Fortress of Mimoyecques)

Recently featured: Rakoto Frah – Messiah – Anne Hutchinson


March 26
James B. Conant

James Bryant Conant (1893–1978) was a chemist, President of Harvard University, and the first U.S. Ambassador to West Germany. As a Harvard professor, he was one of the first to explore the relationship between chemical equilibrium and the reaction rate of chemical processes. He studied the biochemistry of oxyhemoglobin, helped to elucidate the structure of chlorophyll, and contributed insights that underlie modern theories of acid–base chemistry. It was during his presidency of Harvard (1933–53) that women were first admitted to Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School. As chairman of the National Defense Research Committee during World War II, he oversaw the Manhattan Project, which developed the first atomic bombs. After the war, he served on the Joint Research and Development Board that coordinated defense research, and on the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission. In his later years at Harvard, he taught the history and philosophy of science, and wrote about the scientific method. In 1953 he became the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, overseeing the restoration of German sovereignty, and then was U.S. Ambassador to West Germany until 1957. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Blockhaus d'Éperlecques, La Coupole and Fortress of Mimoyecques – Rakoto Frah – Messiah


March 27
Ernest Hemingway in 1923

"Big Two-Hearted River" is a two-part short story written by American author Ernest Hemingway (pictured), published in the 1925 Boni & Liveright edition of In Our Time, the first American volume of Hemingway's short stories. It features a single protagonist, Hemingway's recurrent autobiographical character Nick Adams, whose speaking voice is heard just twice. The story explores the destructive qualities of war which are countered by the healing and regenerative powers of nature. When published, critics praised Hemingway's sparse writing style and it became an important work in his canon. The story is one of Hemingway's earliest to employ his iceberg theory of writing; a modernist approach to prose in which the underlying meaning is hinted at, rather than explicitly stated. "Big Two-Hearted River" is almost exclusively descriptive and intentionally devoid of plot. Hemingway was influenced by the visual innovations of Cézanne's paintings and adapted the painter's idea of presenting background minutiae in lower focus than the main image. In this story, the small details of a fishing trip are explored in great depth, while the landscape setting, and most obviously the swamp, are given cursory attention. (Full article...)

Recently featured: James Bryant Conant – Blockhaus d'Éperlecques, La Coupole and Fortress of Mimoyecques – Rakoto Frah


March 28
James Nesbitt portrayed Adam Williams in Cold Feet.

Cold Feet is a British comedy-drama television series that ran from 1998 to 2003. It was created by Mike Bullen as a follow-up to his 1997 one-off comedy of the same name. The series, set and largely filmed in Greater Manchester, follows three couples experiencing the ups-and-downs of romance. Adam Williams and Rachel Bradley (James Nesbitt, pictured, and Helen Baxendale) are a new couple who go through dating, marriage and the birth of a child. Pete and Jenny Gifford (John Thomson and Fay Ripley) experience parenthood, adultery, separation and divorce. Karen and David Marsden (Hermione Norris and Robert Bathurst) live an upper-middle-class lifestyle, but their marriage disintegrates after each has an affair. The show was a critical and ratings success. Critics analysed the depiction of social issues, the use of popular music, and the relevance of the series to contemporary audiences compared to big-budget BBC costume dramas. The series was a regular nominee at the British Comedy Awards, the National Television Awards and elsewhere. It has been broadcast in over 30 countries and has been remade for local audiences in the United States and European countries. (Full article...)

Recently featured: "Big Two-Hearted River" – James Bryant Conant – Blockhaus d'Éperlecques, La Coupole and Fortress of Mimoyecques


March 29
The crucifixion of Jesus

The Crucifixion and Last Judgement diptych consists of two small painted panels attributed to the Early Netherlandish artist Jan van Eyck, completed c. 1430–40. The left hand Crucifixion wing (part pictured) shows Christ's followers grieving in the foreground, soldiers and spectators in the mid-ground and a brutally physical portrayal of three crucified bodies in the upper-ground, all framed against an azure sky with a view of Jerusalem in the distance. The right hand Last Judgment wing contains imagery associated with the resurrection of the dead: a hellscape at its base, the lost awaiting judgement in the centre-ground, and a representation of Christ in Majesty flanked by a Great Deësis of saints, apostles, clergy, virgins and nobility in the upper section. The diptych is one of the early master-pieces of the Northern Renaissance, renowned for its unusually complex and detailed iconography. Portions of the work contain Greek, Latin and Hebrew inscriptions while the original gilt frames contain excerpts from biblical passages inscribed in Latin and drawn from the books of Isaiah, Deuteronomy and Revelation. The panels were acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1933 while attributed to Jan's brother Hubert. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Cold Feet – "Big Two-Hearted River" – James Bryant Conant


March 30
Joseph B. Foraker

Joseph B. Foraker (1846–1917) was the 37th Governor of Ohio from 1886 to 1890 and a Republican United States Senator from 1897 until 1909. Born in rural Ohio in 1846, Foraker enlisted at age 16 in the Union Army during the American Civil War. After the war, he was a member of Cornell University's first graduating class, and became a lawyer. Interesting himself in politics, he was elected a judge in 1879 and became well known as a political speaker. Although defeated in his first run for governor in 1883, he was elected two years later. Foraker lost re-election in 1889, but was elected senator by the Ohio General Assembly in 1896. In the Senate, he supported the Spanish-American War and the annexation of the Philippines and Puerto Rico. He differed with President Theodore Roosevelt over railroad regulation and political patronage. They also disagreed over the Brownsville Affair, in which black soldiers had been accused of terrorizing a Texas town, and Roosevelt had dismissed the entire battalion. Foraker fought unsuccessfully for the soldiers' reinstatement, and Roosevelt then helped defeat Foraker's re-election bid. In 1972, the Army reversed the dismissals and cleared the soldiers. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Crucifixion and Last Judgement diptych  – Cold Feet – "Big Two-Hearted River"


March 31
HMS Karluk trapped in the ice

The last voyage of the Karluk, flagship of the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913–16, ended in a disaster which led to the deaths of almost half the ship's complement. In August 1913 the ship became trapped by ice in the Arctic Ocean. The expedition's leader, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, then left with a hunting party; while he was away the ship began to drift, preventing his return. When after many weeks the ship was crushed by ice and sunk, its captain, Robert Bartlett, led the 25 crew and expedition personnel across the sea ice to Wrangel Island, 80 miles (130 km) away. In the dangerous conditions, eight men were lost on the march. From the island Bartlett and an Inuk companion set out for the Siberian coast to seek help; they eventually reached Alaska, but weather conditions delayed the organisation of a rescue. On Wrangel Island the stranded party were short of food and troubled by internal dissent; before their rescue in September 1914 three more of the party had died. Some of the voyage's survivors were critical of Stefansson for leaving the ship, although he escaped official censure. Bartlett was hailed as a hero by the public and by his former Karluk shipmates. (Full article...)

Recently featured: Joseph B. Foraker – Crucifixion and Last Judgement diptych  – Cold Feet