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A 12th-century illustration of the board game Gospel Dice, of which Israel is credited as a coinventor
Illustration of the game Gospel Dice, of which Israel is credited as a coinventor

Israel the Grammarian (c. 895 – c. 965) was one of the leading European scholars of the mid-tenth century. Most likely a Breton, he wrote theological and grammatical tracts, and commentaries on the works of other philosophers and theologians. When Alfred the Great became King of Wessex in 871, learning was at a low level in southern England, and there were no Latin scholars. The king embarked on a programme of revival, bringing in scholars from Continental Europe, Wales and Mercia. His grandson Æthelstan, king from 924 to 939, carried on the work, inviting foreign scholars such as Israel to his court, and appointing Continental clerics as bishops. After Æthelstan's death, Israel successfully sought the patronage of Archbishop Rotbert of Trier and became tutor to Bruno, later the Archbishop of Cologne. In the late 940s Israel is recorded as a bishop, and at the end of his life he was a monk at the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Maximin in Trier. He was an accomplished poet, a disciple of the ninth-century Irish philosopher John Scottus Eriugena, and one of the few scholars of his time who understood Greek. (Full article...)

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The Hindu goddess Devi
The Hindu goddess Devi

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Kyle Busch, winner of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship
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Tower of London

The Tower of London is a historic castle, founded in 1066 and located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078. The castle was used as a prison from 1100 until 1952, but predominantly served as a royal residence. In the latter half of the 19th century, the Tower was restored to what was felt to be its medieval appearance and many post-medieval structures were cleared out. Today the Tower of London is one of the country's most popular tourist attractions. Under the ceremonial charge of the Constable of the Tower, it is cared for by the charity Historic Royal Palaces and is protected as a World Heritage Site.

Photograph: Bob Collowân

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