On This Day
1056 – After a sudden illness a few days previously, Byzantine Empress Theodora dies childless, thus ending the Macedonian dynasty.
Theodora Porphyrogenita[a] (Greek: Θεοδώρα Πορφυρογέννητη, Theodōra Porphyrogenítē; c. 980 – 31 August 1056) was Byzantine Empress from 21 April 1042 to her death on 31 August 1056, and sole ruler from 11 January 1055. She was born into the Macedonian dynasty that ruled the Eastern Roman Empire for almost 200 years.
Theodora became involved in political matters only late into her life. After the death of her father Constantine VIII in 1028, Theodora’s older sister Zoë co-ruled with her husbands Romanos III, Michael IV and finally Michael V, keeping Theodora closely watched. After two foiled plots, Theodora was exiled to an island monastery in the Sea of Marmara in 1031. A decade later, the people of Constantinople rose against Michael V and insisted that she return to rule alongside her sister Zoë.
After 65 days Zoë married again, to Constantine IX, who assumed the imperial responsibilities. Theodora seemingly retired to a convent after Zoë’s death in 1050. When Constantine died, the 74-year-old Theodora returned to the throne despite fierce opposition from court officials and military claimants. For 16 months she ruled as empress in her own right before succumbing to a sudden illness and dying at 76. She was the last ruler of the Macedonian line.
1145 – The main altar of Lund Cathedral, at the time seat of the archiepiscopal see of all the Nordic countries, is consecrated.
Lund Cathedral (Swedish: Lunds domkyrka) is a cathedral of the Lutheran Church of Sweden in Lund, Scania, Sweden. It is the seat of the Bishop of Lund and the main church of the Diocese of Lund. It was built as the Catholic cathedral of the archiepiscopal see of all the Nordic countries, dedicated to Saint Lawrence. It is one of the oldest stone buildings still in use in Sweden.
Lund Cathedral has been called “the most powerful representative of Romanesque architecture in the Nordic countries”. At the time of its construction, Lund and the cathedral belonged to Denmark. The main altar was consecrated in 1145 and the cathedral was by that time largely finished; the western towers were built somewhat later. Its architecture show clear influences from contemporary north Italian architecture, conveyed via the Rhine Valley. The earliest architect was named Donatus, though his precise role in the construction of the cathedral is difficult to determine. The new cathedral was richly decorated with stone sculpture, including two unusual statues in the crypt traditionally called “The giant Finn and his wife” about which a local legend has developed. The cathedral was severely damaged in a fire in 1234, and major restoration works were carried out in the early 16th century under the leadership of Adam van Düren. Following the Reformation, the cathedral suffered from lost income and dilapidation. In 1658, the city of Lund and the cathedral became a part of Sweden following the Treaty of Roskilde. Lund Cathedral was the site of the ceremony acknowledging the founding of Lund University in 1668. Repairs were made during the 18th century but in 1832 a complete restoration of the cathedral was recommended. Subsequently, much of the cathedral was restored and rebuilt during most of the 19th century. The work was first led by Carl Georg Brunius and later by architect Helgo Zettervall and not entirely finished until 1893. The changes implemented during the 19th century were extensive; among other things, Zettervall had the entire western part, including the towers, demolished and rebuilt to his own designs.
The medieval cathedral contains several historic furnishings and works of art. Its main altarpiece was donated to the cathedral in 1398, and it also contains Gothic choir stalls, bronzes and an astronomical clock from the 15th century (although heavily restored in 1923). When it was built, Lund Cathedral was lavishly decorated with Romanesque stone sculptures. It also contains late medieval stone sculptures from the time of Adam van Düren’s renovation. After the Reformation the cathedral was also equipped with a decorated pulpit. Of more recent date is the large mosaic in the apse, by Joakim Skovgaard, installed in 1927. Lund Cathedral has six church organs, one of which is the largest in Sweden, and is also used as a concert venue.
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Born On This Day
1168 – Zhang Zong, Chinese emperor (d. 1208)
Emperor Zhangzong of Jin (31 August 1168 – 29 December 1208), personal name Madage, sinicized name Wanyan Jing, was the sixth emperor of the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty of China. He reigned from 20 January 1189 to 29 December 1208.
During his rule, he is credited for ordering the construction of the beautiful Taiye Lake, an artificial lake in Beijing, that remains to this day. He also established many Confucian temples throughout Northeast China and was tolerant of both Han and Jurchen culture and customs. However, the Jin dynasty began to decline as he started neglecting governmental affairs and showing favoritism to one of his concubines Li Shi’er and her family members in political office. The Mongol Tatars who once allied with the Jin dynasty rebelled and joined the rising Mongol Empire. The Southern Song chancellor Han Tuozhou tried to take advantage of Madage’s incompetency by launching an attack on the Jin. However the Jin dynasty defeated the Song, and the Song was forced to pay retribution and execute Han Tuozhou for the Jin.
Madage died shortly after the Song’s failed invasion and was succeeded by yet another incompetent ruler. Seeing the declining state of the Jin dynasty under Madage and his successor, Genghis Khan launched an invasion on the Jin shortly after Madage’s death. The Mongol Yuan dynasty would ultimately conquer both the Jin and Song dynasty, reunifying China after centuries of war between the various empires.
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948 – Jing Zong, emperor of the Liao Dynasty (d. 982)
Emperor Jingzong of Liao (1 September 948 – 13 October 982), personal name Yelü Xian, courtesy name Xianning, was the fifth emperor of the Khitan-led Liao dynasty of China. He improved government efficiency and reduced corruption. He was known with going to war with the Northern Song dynasty. He died during a hunting trip where his wife later served as regent over his still 11-year-old son, the later Emperor Shengzong.
NASA: Astronomy Picture of the Day
By Daryl Gibson, Desert News: America’s most remarkable kid died in Newcastle, Utah — his legacy never will Kevin Cooper’s short life resembled the party game where someone starts with a paperclip and keeps trading up
By Katherine Rapin, Wired: How Scientists Are Cleaning Up Rivers Using Grasses and Oysters In the Delaware River and other waterways across the US, conservationists are restoring aquatic vegetation and beds of bivalves to fight pollution.
By Jordan Mendoza: USA Today: NASA will crash a spacecraft into a 525-foot-wide asteroid in September. Here’s how to watch it.
By Thomas Bwire, NPR Goats & Soda: Whatever happened to the Kenyan farmer who turned a dump into a garden of giveaways?
By Katie Hunt, CNN: DNA analysis solves mystery of bodies found at bottom of medieval well
The researchers believe they all died during antisemitic violence that wracked the city – most likely a February 1190 riot related to the Third Crusade, one of a series of religious wars supported by the church – as described by a medieval chronicler. The number of people killed in the massacre is unclear.
By Noam Hassenfeld, Vox: What did dinosaurs actually sound like? Take a listen. Two tubas, a chicken, and a low-pitched alligator: The weird ways scientists imagine dinosaur voices.
By Rochelle Bilow, The Spruce Eats: The 10 Best Food Commercials of the ’90s You know what? I DO feel like chicken tonight.
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