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On this day:
1497 – The Bonfire of the Vanities occurs, during which supporters of Girolamo Savonarola burn cosmetics, art, and books in Florence, Italy.
A Bonfire of the Vanities (Italian: Falò delle vanità) is a burning of objects condemned by authorities as occasions of sin. The phrase usually refers to the bonfire of 7 February 1497, when supporters of the Dominican priest Girolamo Savonarola collected and publicly burned thousands of objects such as cosmetics, art, and books in Florence, Italy, on the Mardi Gras festival. Such bonfires were not invented by Savonarola, but had been a common accompaniment to the outdoor sermons of San Bernardino di Siena in the first half of the century.
The focus of this destruction was nominally on objects that might tempt one to sin, including vanity items such as mirrors, cosmetics, fine dresses, playing cards, and even musical instruments. Other targets included books that were deemed to be immoral, such as works by Boccaccio, and manuscripts of secular songs, as well as artworks, including paintings and sculpture.
Fra Girolamo Savonarola was a Dominican priest who was assigned to work in Florence in 1490, largely thanks to the request of Lorenzo de’ Medici – an irony, considering that within a few years Savonarola would become one of the foremost enemies of the Medici house and helped to bring about their downfall in 1494. Savonarola campaigned against what he considered to be the artistic and social excesses of Renaissance Italy, preaching with great vigor against any sort of luxury. His power and influence grew so that with time he became the effective ruler of Florence, and even had soldiers for his protection following him around everywhere.
Starting in February 1495, during the time that would normally have hosted the festival known as Carnival, Savonarola began to host his regular “Bonfire of the Vanities.” He collected various objects that he considered to be objectionable; irreplaceable manuscripts, ancient sculptures, antique and modern paintings, priceless tapestries, and many other valuable works of art, as well as mirrors, musical instruments, books of divination, astrology, and magic. He destroyed the works of Ovid, Propertius, Dante, and Boccaccio. So great was his influence that he even managed to obtain the cooperation of major contemporary artists such as Sandro Botticelli and Lorenzo di Credi, who reluctantly consigned some of their own works to his bonfires. Anyone who tried to object found their hands being forced by teams of ardent Savonarola supporters. These supporters called themselves Piagnoni (Weepers) after a public nickname that was originally intended as an insult.
Savonarola’s influence did not go unnoticed by the higher church officials, however, and his excesses earned him the disdain of Pope Alexander VI. He was eventually excommunicated on May 13, 1497. Savonarola was executed on May 23, 1498, hung on a cross and burned to death. Ironically, the papal authorities would take a leaf out of Savonarola’s book on censorship, because the day after his execution they gave word that anyone in possession of the Friar’s writings had four days to turn them over to a papal agent to be destroyed. Anyone who failed to do so faced excommunication.
Although it is widely reported that the Florentine artist Sandro Botticelli burned several of his paintings based on classical mythology in the great Florentine bonfire of 1497, the historical record on this is not clear. According to the art historian Giorgio Vasari, Botticelli was a partisan of Savonarola: “He was so ardent a partisan that he was thereby induced to desert his painting, and, having no income to live on, fell into very great distress.” Writing several centuries later, Orestes Brownson, an apologist for Savonarola, mentions artwork only by Fra Bartolomeo, Lorenzo di Credi, and “many other painters,” along with “several antique statues.” Art historian Rab Hatfield argues that one of Botticelli’s paintings, The Mystical Nativity, is based on the sermon Savonarola delivered on Christmas Eve, 1493.
1907 – The Mud March is the first large procession organized by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).
The Mud March was the name given, after the event, to the first large procession organised by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) on 7 February 1907. More than 3,000 women trudged through the wet, cold and muddy streets of London from Hyde Park to Exeter Hall to advocate for women’s suffrage.
Millicent Fawcett, the leader of the NUWSS and one of the leaders of the march, said of the elements: “The London weather did its worst against us; mud, mud, mud, was its prominent feature, and it was known among us afterwards as the ‘mud march.'” Despite the conditions, the march was described as: “A gay enough procession by most accounts, despite the weather. Little touches of red and white splashed its length with rosettes and favours, posies bound with red and white handkerchiefs programmes, and above the line, white banners with vivid scarlet lettering.”
The march was attended by “titled women, university women, artists, members of women’s clubs, temperance advocates, and women textile workers gathered from all parts of the country.” More than forty organisations were represented at the march. One description declared, “‘[there were] plenty of well-dressed ladies and a few persons of distinction’ to head it up and ‘a long line of carriages and motor-cars to wind it up–altogether an imposing and representative array.'”
Key people and organisational distinctions
Phillipa (Pippa) Strachey, daughter of Lady Strachey one of the leaders of the procession, organised the march. The Mud March demonstrated Strachey’s skill as an “organizing genius” and led to the planning of many more processions. She was described as the “indefatigable organizer, [the] competent, [and] imaginative” woman who was responsible for the meticulous planning of all future large processions of the NUWSS. Members of the Artists’ Suffrage League produced posters and postcards and designed and produced around 80 embroidered banners for the march.
Millicent Fawcett, co-led the march with fellow “constitutionalist” suffragists Lady Strachey, Lady Frances Balfour, and Keir Hardie. The constitutionalist suffragists, of which the NUWSS was comprised, were “committed by definition to non-militant activity,” whereas the “suffragettes,” of which the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was comprised, employed militant tactics of protest.
Constitutionalists such as Fawcett did not condone the militant tactics of the suffragettes but recognized they needed to be visible and vocal in society to be successful in their cause. One historical scholar suggests that the march demonstrated that the NUWSS “[came to] believe that only the mass demonstration could provide evidence—through its scale[—] that large numbers of women wanted to vote, and through its administration and design that the community at large would gain.”
Some time after the march, Fawcett stated, “We, the old stagers, adopted new methods, one of the most successful of which was the organisation of public processions in the streets.”
Despite the poor weather conditions, thousands of spectators lined the route. The sight of women of all ages, classes, and professions marching side by side—in horrendous weather through muddied streets—was a novelty worth withstanding the elements to witness. Newspapers and magazines in Europe and in the United States fixated on the diversity represented in the march.
The idea that women had a general distaste for “public display” in British society at this time made the participants appear even more dedicated in the eyes of the spectators. As the Manchester Guardian noted: “Nobody can suppose that most of the women who took part [in the march]…can have done so for sport or for the pleasure of the thing…it requires some courage for a woman to step out of her drawing room into the street to take her place in a mixed throng for a cause probably distasteful to many or most of her acquaintances, and to see herself pilloried in the newspaper the next morning by name as one of the ‘Suffragists.'”
At its conclusion, one participant was quoted as saying, “We had done what had seemed to so many the ridiculous thing, and the crowd, by taking us seriously, had robbed it of its absurdity.”
Scholarly insights on long-term effects
Leaders of the suffragist movement, contemporary historians and scholars consider the march to have helped solidify large suffrage processions as a key feature of the British movement.
Deborah Gardener, of the Yale University Press and the New-York Historical Society, cites the Mud March as the first significant, large suffragist procession in England and underlines the positive effect such events had on the image of suffragists in the public eye:
The suffrage marches drew thousands of participants, starting with the three thousand in February 1907—the ‘Mud March’—and ending with forty thousand at the last in 1913, but more important they drew vast crowds (hundreds of thousands) and concomitant press coverage. Both the constitutionalists and the militants understood the value of such reportage in conveying the message ‘that all sorts and conditions of women wanted the vote, and that women who wanted the vote were not as they popularly conceived to be in the public mind or as caricatured in the illustrated press’…the suffragist movement’s capture of the image of ‘womanly’ women, in contrast to popular images of ‘shrieking’ or hysterical women.
In The Spectacle of Women: Imagery of the Suffrage Campaign 1907–14, author Lisa Tickner recognises, as did Gardener, its long-term significance: “The Mud March, modest and uncertain as it was by subsequent standards, established the precedent of large-scale processions, carefully ordered and publicized.” Tickner also observes that the “social mix” represented in the procession was a foretaste of the effect the suffrage movement would have on the interaction between classes in society.
In her book Connecting Links: The British and American Suffrage Movements, 1900–1914, Patricia Harrison suggests that the NUWSS was able to emulate the enthusiasm and resolve of the militants while remaining loyal to the constitutional suffrage movement’s commitment to non-militant tactics by organising processions and demonstrations like the Mud March.
Born on this day:
1726 – Margaret Fownes-Luttrell, English painter (d. 1766)
Margaret Fownes-Luttrell[a] (7 February 1726 – 13 August 1766) was an English artist and wife of Henry Fownes Luttrell. Two of her paintings are part of the Dunster Castle collection, now property of the National Trust. She was the heiress of Dunster Castle, under the stipulation in her father’s will that her husband should take the additional surname of Luttrell. Four portraits of her exist in Dunster castle and a fifth at Bathealton Court.
Dunster Castle in 1733, showing the then recently planted New Way, the mansion (l), Great Gatehouse (c) and stables (r). The motte, with the summer house, is visible in the background
Margaret Luttrell was born on 7 February 1726, the only child and sole heiress of Alexander Luttrell (1705–1737) of Dunster Castle by his wife Margaret Trevelyan (died 1764), daughter of Sir John Trevelyan, 2nd Baronet of Nettlecombe, Somerset, and an artist who made floral paintings. Margaret’s father died on 4 June 1737 at Dunster, at which time he was in debt, “due in part to his personal extravagance and in part to the necessity imposed upon him by his parents of providing a fortune of £10,000 for Anne Luttrell,” daughter of his deceased brother Francis Luttrell (1709–1732) of Venn, Somerset, and wife of Edward Pleydell. As a result, Dunster Castle was thrown into Chancery and closed.
In 1741 Margaret’s mother remarried to Edward Dyke of Pixton and Tetton in Somerset, and young Margaret was raised with two girls in her mother’s care. One was her first cousin, Anne Luttrell, and the other was Elizabeth Dyke, Edward Dyke’s cousin. The family lived at Edward Dyke’s houses, Pixton and Tetton. A “moderate sum” was expended on her education, which included music lessons, and care.
Margaret Trevelyan died in 1764.
Marriage and progeny
On 16 February 1747, when she came of age, in Kingston St Mary Church she married her second cousin Henry Fownes (d.1780) of Nethway House, Kingswear (historically in Brixham), Devon. Both shared as a great-grandfather Edward Yard (1638–1703) of Churston Ferrers, MP for Ashburton in 1685, who himself was a grandson of Thomas Fownes (d.1635), Mayor of Plymouth in 1619. They thus also shared the same great-great-great grandfather as Thomas Fownes’s great-grandson was John Fownes (1661–1731) of Kittery Court, Whitley, Devon, MP for Dartmouth 1713–14, grandfather of Henry Fownes (d.1780), husband of Margaret Luttrell. On their marriage Dunster Castle became the property of her husband (married women in England were legally incapable of owning property until 1882), who adopted the additional surname Luttrell after his own, and adopted the Luttrell arms (but continued to quarter Fownes), in accordance with a stipulation in Alexander Luttrell’s will. They moved into Dunster Castle and updated the interior with Chinese painted wallpaper and new furniture in a Rococo style. New windows were installed in the stair hall and dining room. The marriage was a happy one and resulted in the birth of ten children, including:
John Fownes Luttrell (1752–1816), eldest son and heir, of Dunster Castle, MP for Minehead (1776–1816), the Luttrell pocket borough adjacent to Dunster Castle;
Lieutenant Henry Fownes-Luttrell (1753–1777), 2nd son, who died unmarried.
Rev. Alexander Fownes Luttrell (born 1754), 3rd son, Rector of East Quantoxhead, which manor had been held by the Luttrells since 1232, and Vicar of Minehead.
Francis Fownes Luttrell (1756–1823), 4th son, a barrister of the Middle Temple, a commissioner of customs and MP for Minehead 1780-3;
Lt-Col. Thomas Fownes Luttrell (1763–1811), 5th son;
Margaret Fownes-Luttrell (1747-1792), only daughter, whose three portraits are on display in Dunster Castle, one as an adult by Sir Joshua Reynolds (with a copy) and another as an infant by Phelps. She married John Henry Southcote (1747) on 24 May 1769. They had two daughters.
After her death John married Priscilla Aston and they had 3 sons and a daughter. Josias Southcote (1798) Henry Aston (born Southcote)(1804-1888). Note: He was baptised again in 1821 as Henry Aston. Isabella Southcote (1809) Thomas Southcote (1812)
Margaret Fownes-Luttrell, View of an Imaginary Castle with Two Towers
Margaret Fownes-Luttrell, View of an Imaginary Castle with a Round Tower
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1906 – Oleg Konstantinovich Antonov, Russian engineer, founded the Antonov Aircraft Company (d. 1984)
Oleg Konstantinovich Antonov (Russian: Оле́г Константи́нович Анто́нов, ; 7 February 1906 – 4 April 1984) was a prominent Soviet aircraft designer, and the first chief of the Antonov – a world-famous aircraft company in Ukraine, later named in his honour.
Antonov was personally responsible for designing a number of very successful Soviet airplanes (such as the Antonov An-12) and gliders for both civilian and military use.
Antonov was born on 7 February 1906 in Troitsy (now Podolsky District of the Moscow Oblast), Russian Empire. Russian Ethnicity. In 1912, the Antonovs moved to Saratov, where he attended the non-classical secondary school (now gymnasium №1) and secondary school (now school №23). From an early age, Antonov was fascinated with aviation and spent much of his spare time at the local airfield.
Early engineering career
At the age of 17, Antonov founded the “Amateur Aviation Club” and later joined the “Organization of Friends of the Air Force”. Later he designed the OKA-1 “Pigeon”, a glider that was entered in a competition in Moscow where he won the first prize, a flight on a Junkers 12 aircraft.
In 1930, Antonov graduated from the Kalinin Polytechnical Institute in Leningrad. He continued to design gliders and in 1931 Antonov became the chief designer at the Moscow Glider Factory. During the next eight years, he designed 30 different gliders including the Standard-1, Standard-2, OKA-6 and the large “City of Lenin” glider. Due to a requirement that all pilots in the Soviet Union had to begin their flight training on gliders, Antonov was able to produce up to 8,000 gliders per year.
In 1938, after an incident when an instructor defected to the West using a glider, the Soviet government reversed its decision regarding glider training, banned the sport of gliding and shut down the Moscow Glider Factory.
Professional designer career and World War II
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Following the closure of the glider factory, Antonov was appointed the Chief Designer for the Yakovlev Design Bureau. In 1940 a new aircraft design bureau under his own management was established in Leningrad.
During World War II, Antonov designed the A-7 military glider used for airbridge supply of the Soviet partisans behind the front lines, and the KT “Kryl’ja Tanka” (“Tank Wings”) biplane glider that was designed to airlift tanks. In 1943, Antonov returned to Yakovlev’s design bureau to fill a vacancy as Yakovlev’s deputy. A great deal of his time and energy was devoted to the improvement of the Yak series, one of the most mass-produced fighter aircraft types of World War II.
Postwar career and establishment of the Antonov company
After the war, Antonov requested that Yakovlev let him work independently, heading Yakovlev’s subsidiary design office at the aircraft manufacturing factory at Novosibirsk. On 31 May 1946, Antonov was appointed head of the newly redesignated facility (subsequently known as the Antonov Research and Design Bureau), which was later moved to Kiev, Ukraine. In September 1946, Antonov, in addition to his management of the design bureau, became the Director of the Siberian R&D Institute for Aeronautics.
The first of the Antonov Bureau’s designs was the SKh-1 (Se’lsko Khozyaystvennyi- pervoy – agricultural-first one) agricultural aircraft, later redesignated An-2, designed to meet a 1947 Soviet requirement for a replacement for the Polikarpov Po-2 which was used in large numbers as both an agricultural aircraft and a utility aircraft. Antonov designed a large single bay biplane of all-metal construction, with an enclosed cockpit and a cabin accommodating 12 passengers.
A series of significant transports followed under Oleg Antonov’s helm. Antonov aircraft (design office prefix An-) range from a rugged An-2 (which itself is comparatively large for a biplane) through the An-28 reconnaissance aircraft to the massive An-124 Ruslan strategic airlifter. The quad-turboprop An-12 and its derivatives became the primary Soviet military transport from 1959 onward. While less well-known, the An-24, An-26, An-30 and An-32 family of twin turboprop, high winged, passenger/cargo/troops aircraft predominate in domestic/short-haul air services in the former Soviet Union and parts of the world formerly under Soviet influence. Antonov also oversaw development of the mid-range (An-72/An-74 jet airplanes family. The world’s largest production aircraft, the An-124 Ruslan, flew for the first time in 1982, and its specialised shuttle-carrying/extra-heavy cargo derivative, the An-225 Mriya entered development still under Antonov’s guidance, but did not make its maiden flight until 1989 after the death of Antonov. In November 2004, FAI placed the An-225 in the Guinness Book of Records for its 240 records. Some of Antonov’s designs are also built abroad such as the Shaanxi Y-8.
Oleg Antonov died April 4, 1984 in Kiev, Ukrainian SSR and has been buried in the Baikove Cemetery.
Honorary titles, awards and legacy
Ukrainian 2006 commemoration coin featuring Antonov’s portrait and aircraft designs.
During his lifetime, Antonov was recognized as a Doctor of Science, Academician of the Academy of Science of the Ukrainian SSR (1968), Hero of Socialist Labor (1966), and elected member of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of the 5th, 6th and 7th convocations.
Among numerous awards, Antonov received the State Award of the USSR in 1952 and Lenin Award in 1962.
Antonov was decorated with three Orders of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, the Order of the Patriotic War 1st class, the Order of the Red Banner of Labour and the Medal “Partisan of the Patriotic War” 1st class.
A street in Kiev’s Solomyanka neighborhood is named after Oleg Antonov.
A coin was minted of copper nickel alloy in 2006 by the National Bank of Ukraine honoring Antonov. In addition, a silver proof coin was issued by the Bank of Russia to commemorate 100 years since Antonov’s birth.
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