Posts Tagged ‘England’
On January 31, 1606, four men were dragged by horses (drawn) through the streets of London to the place of their execution. One by one, they were hanged by the neck until nearly dead and, while still alive, cut into four pieces (quartered). After having watched the three men before him suffer so horribly, Guy Fawkes was spared the agony by either falling or jumping from the scaffold and breaking his neck.
Fawkes, Robert Catsby, Thomas Percy, Thomas Wintour and John Wright, along with a number of others, had planned to blow up the House of Lords and King James I on the opening day of Parliament in November of 1605. They had hoped that the Gunpowder Plot, as it became known, would spur a revolt that would bring a Catholic monarch back to the throne and end a long period of persecution against Catholics.
The conspirators had managed to place 36 barrels of gunpowder in the basement of the House of Lords, but Fawkes was discovered guarding the powder and the assassination was foiled. Authorities had acted on an anonymous letter that tipped them off to the plan. Fawkes was tortured into giving up his associates, and all were tried and found guilty of treason. Somewhat ironically, the incident only spurred increased pressure on Catholics.
The foiling of the plot was celebrated with an official national holiday until 1859, and the tradition of Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night) on November 5 persists to this day. Traditionally, the revelry included the burning of a Guy Fawkes effigy made from old newspaper-stuffed clothes and a grotesque mask. Children would go through town asking for “a penny for the Guy” to pay for the effigy and for fireworks. The word “guy” eventually entered everyday language, coming to refer to any male person.
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Most people know Amelia Earhart as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. But there was another pioneering woman pilot who also recorded a “first” by flying solo across the Atlantic. Her name is Beryl Markham, and what makes her solo flight a record is that she did it east to west as opposed to Earhart’s west to east.
Beryl Markham was born in British East Africa (Kenya) in October 1902, one year before the Wright Brothers would make their historic flight. Before embarking on her piloting adventures, she was a racehorse trainer. It was during that time she also saw her first airplane and met the man who would teach her to fly. Beryl Markham earned her commercial pilot’s license becoming the first woman in Kenya to do so.
Beryl Markham’s flight is memorable because she flew westward against the prevailing Atlantic winds which was very dangerous. On September 6, 1936, she left Abingdon airfield in her monoplane, the Messenger, with a destination of New York. The flight was even more treacherous as Markham experienced bad weather and ran out of fuel causing her to bring the plane down in Nova Scotia. This was well short of her destination, but she suffered only minor injuries and caught a plane to New York where she was warmly welcomed.
Learn more about Beryl Markham and her unconventional (for the time) and extraordinary life in eLibrary. Also, use eLibrary to discover other pioneering women pilots. Look for Research Topics on these lesser-known, but no less remarkable aviators: 1) Bessie Coleman, the first licensed pilot of African American descent in the world 2) Amy Johnson, famous British aviatrix who was the first to fly solo from England to Australia and 3) Jackie Cochran, record-setting pilot with over 200 records and director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) in World War II.