On This Day
1099 – First Crusade: Battle of Ascalon Crusaders under the command of Godfrey of Bouillon defeat Fatimid forces led by Al-Afdal Shahanshah. This is considered the last engagement of the First Crusade.
The Battle of Ascalon took place on 12 August 1099 shortly after the capture of Jerusalem, and is often considered the last action of the First Crusade. The crusader army led by Godfrey of Bouillon defeated and drove off a Fatimid army, securing the safety of Jerusalem.
The Crusaders completed their primary objective of capturing Jerusalem on 15 July 1099. In early August, they learned of the approach of a 20,000-strong Fatimid army under vizier al-Afdal Shahanshah. Under Godfrey’s command the 10,200-strong Crusader army took the offensive, leaving the city on 10 August to risk everything on a great battle against the approaching Muslims. The Crusaders marched barefoot, carrying the relic of the True Cross with them, accompanied by patriarch Arnulf of Chocques. The army marched south from Jerusalem, approaching the vicinity of Ascalon on the 11th and capturing Egyptian spies who revealed al-Afdal’s dispositions and strength. (The distance from Jerusalem to Ascalon is about 77 km)
At dawn on 12 August, the Crusader army launched a surprise attack on the Fatimid army still sleeping in its camp outside the defensive walls of Ascalon. The Fatimids had failed to post enough guards, leaving only a part of their army capable of fighting. The Crusaders quickly defeated the half-ready Fatimid infantry, while the Fatimid cavalry barely fought at all. The battle was over in less than an hour. The Crusader knights reached the center of the camp, capturing the vizier’s standard and personal baggage, including his sword. Some Fatimids fled into the trees and were killed by Crusader arrows and lances, while others begged for mercy at the Crusaders’ feet and were butchered en masse. The terrified vizier fled by ship to Egypt, leaving the Crusaders to kill any survivors and gather up a vast amount of loot. Ibn al-Qalanisi estimated 12,700 Fatimid dead.
The first Muslim attempt to recapture Jerusalem ended in complete defeat, but Godfrey failed to exploit the victory and take Ascalon, whose Fatimid garrison was willing to surrender only to Raymond of Toulouse, a condition Godfrey would not accept. The Fatimid base in Ascalon remained a thorn in the side of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and would not fall until the siege of Ascalon of 1153.
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29 BC – Octavian holds the first of three consecutive triumphs in Rome to celebrate the victory over the Dalmatian tribes.
The Roman triumph (triumphus) was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the success of a military commander who had led Roman forces to victory in the service of the state or in some historical traditions, one who had successfully completed a foreign war.
On the day of his triumph, the general wore a crown of laurel and an all-purple, gold-embroidered triumphal toga picta (“painted” toga), regalia that identified him as near-divine or near-kingly. In some accounts, his face was painted red, perhaps in imitation of Rome’s highest and most powerful god, Jupiter. The general rode in a four-horse chariot through the streets of Rome in unarmed procession with his army, captives, and the spoils of his war. At Jupiter’s temple on the Capitoline Hill, he offered sacrifice and the tokens of his victory to the god Jupiter.
In Republican tradition, only the Senate could grant a triumph. The origins and development of this honour were obscure: Roman historians placed the first triumph in the mythical past. Republican morality required that the general conduct himself with dignified humility, as a mortal citizen who triumphed on behalf of Rome’s Senate, people, and gods. Inevitably, the triumph offered the general extraordinary opportunities for self-publicity, besides its religious and military dimensions. Most triumphal celebrations included a range of popular games and entertainments for the Roman masses.
Most Roman festivals were calendar fixtures, tied to the worship of particular deities. While the triumphal procession culminated at Jupiter’s temple, the procession itself, attendant feasting, and public games promoted the general’s status and achievement. By the Late Republican era, triumphs were drawn out and extravagant, motivated by increasing competition among the military-political adventurers who ran Rome’s nascent empire. Some triumphs were prolonged by several days of public games and entertainments. From the Principate onwards, the triumph reflected the Imperial order and the pre-eminence of the Imperial family. The triumph was consciously imitated by medieval and later states in the royal entry and other ceremonial events.
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74 BC – A group of officials, led by the Western Han minister Huo Guang, present articles of impeachment against the new emperor, Liu He, to the imperial regent, Empress Dowager Shangguan. The articles, enumerating the 1,127 offences (sexual debauchery, fiscal negligence, cronyism, etc.) that the ministers found the new emperor to have committed over the course of his 27-day rule, result in the unprecedented impeachment — and summary deposition on the same day — of the emperor by the bureaucracy.
Liu He (Chinese: 劉賀; pinyin: Liú Hè; 92–59 BC) was an emperor of the Chinese Han dynasty with the era name Yuanping (Chinese: 元平; pinyin: Yuánpíng). Originally King (or Prince) of Changyi (Chinese: 昌邑王; pinyin: Chāngyì Wáng), he was installed by the powerful minister Huo Guang as emperor in 74 BC, but deposed only 27 days later, and omitted from the official list of emperors. He lost his original kingdom of Changyi and was demoted to the rank of marquis. He was given the new fief of Haihun in modern Jiangxi Province and became known as the Marquis of Haihun (Chinese: 海昏侯).
Born On This Day
1452 – Abraham Zacuto, Jewish astronomer, astrologer, mathematician, rabbi and historian (d. 1515)
Abraham Zacuto (Hebrew: אַבְרָהָם בֵּן שְׁמוּאֵל זַכּוּת, romanized: Avraham ben Shmuel Zacut, Portuguese: Abraão ben Samuel Zacuto; 12 August 1452 – c. 1515) was a Spanish astronomer, astrologer, mathematician, rabbi and historian who served as Royal Astronomer to King John II of Portugal.
His astrolabe of copper, his astronomical tables and maritime charts played an important role in the Spanish and Portuguese navigation capability. They were used by Vasco Da Gama and Christopher Columbus.
The crater Zagut on the Moon is named after him.
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1625 – Rasmus Bartholin, Danish physician, mathematician, and physicist (d. 1698)
Rasmus Bartholin (/bɑːrˈtoʊlɪn, ˈbɑːrtəlɪn/; Latinized: Erasmus Bartholinus; 13 August 1625 – 4 November 1698) was a Danish physician and grammarian.
Bartholin was born in Roskilde. He was the son of Caspar Bartholin the Elder (1585–1629) and Anna Fincke, daughter of the mathematician Thomas Fincke.
As part of his studies, he travelled in Europe for ten years. He stayed in the Netherlands, England, France and Italy. In 1647, he took a Master’s degree at the University of Copenhagen. In 1654, he received a Doctoral degree at the University of Padua.
He was a Professor at the University of Copenhagen, first in Geometry, later in Medicine. He was also dean of the faculty of medicine, librarian, and rector. He wrote, in Latin, the first grammar of the Danish language, the 1657 De studio lingvæ danicæ.
Rasmus Bartholin is remembered especially for his discovery (1669) of the double refraction of a light ray by Iceland spar (calcite). He published an accurate description of the phenomenon, but since the physical nature of light was poorly understood at the time, he was unable to explain it. It was only after Thomas Young proposed the wave theory of light, c. 1801 that an explanation became possible.
He was a younger brother of Thomas Bartholin (1616–1680).
1530 – Giambattista Benedetti, Italian mathematician and physicist (d. 1590)
Giambattista (Gianbattista) Benedetti (August 14, 1530 – January 20, 1590 in) was an Italian mathematician from Venice who was also interested in physics, mechanics, the construction of sundials, and the science of music.
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By Paul Anthony Jones, Mental Floss: How An Obscure British Comedy Sketch Became The World’s Most Repeated TV Program It’s gained a cult audience all over the world—and is especially popular in Germany.
By Maria Popova, The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings): I Like You: An Almost Unbearably Lovely Vintage Illustrated Ode to Friendship A touching serenade to the little things that add up to the bigness of a true platonic love.
By Ariana Remmel, Audobon Magazine: What’s In a Bird Name? More than 100 North American birds carry the names of people, some of whom were enslavers, supremacists, or grave robbers. A growing movement aims to do away with honorifics all together and bestow monikers that reflect each species’ unique qualities
By Adam Elder, MEL Magazine: The Very Sincere Economics of Greeting Cards Believe it or not, the biggest demographic driving the greeting card industry is millennials.
GeoBeats Animals: No one wanted this special needs duck. Then this woman took him home.
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