Here are three history lessons that aren’t quite what you learned in class:

Saucy Sagas: For what crime was Joan of Arc burned at the stake?

Joan of Arc is a monumental female figure in history,  renowned for her bravery and wit. She was born to a lowly farming family, though by the age of seventeen had managed to become the leader of the French army. Her story began when she claimed to have a vision in which the Archangel Michael told her she must raise an army to drive the English out of France. Joan continued to hear voices, and was urged to dress up as a man and convince the Dauphin to give her an army. She proved successful, and her troops won a series of victories. Unfortunately, Joan was taken prisoner in 1430 and sold to the English. She was put on “trial” though was not allowed to defend herself. Much to the horror of the English, her clever testimonies won her the favor of spectators and witnesses. So much so that her trial was made private, and she was eventually sentenced to life in prison. Seeking a pretext to execute Joan, she was charged with wearing men’s clothing, and burned at the stake the following day. Whether dressed in men’s clothing as part of a trap, or to protect herself from rape, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for the crime of cross-dressing.

Saucy Sagas: The Coronation of King Eadwig of England

Eadwig became king of England in 955. Given that he was 15-years-old, it’s not surprising that kingdom duties were not high on his list of priorities. Shortly after Eadwig’s coronation, the abbot of Glastonbury noticed the young king was missing from the celebratory banquet. When the abbot went to look for Eadwig, he discovered him in bed with two women: the young Aelfgifu and her mother Aethelgifu. Disgusted, the abbot physically dragged Eadwig back to the feast and forced him to denounce Aelfgifu as a “strumpet”.  This caused a long-standing feud between the two, leading to the abbot’s exile, and conflict with the church and nobility for the remainder of his short reign.

Notable Nomenclature: Why are the british royal family called Windsor?

Since the reign of George V, the royal family have been called Windsor. When George V aceded the throne in 1910, he did so as a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The origins of this house were German, and in fact, much of the British royal family have been chiefly German in descent. During WWI, George’s loyalty was questioned due to his Germany routes. Outraged, George issued a royal proclamation, declaring that he and his descendants would be known henceforth as the House of Windsor. Why Windsor? It sound decidedly English. Other names considered were York, Lancaster, Tudor-Stuart and even England,  itself.

Book Recommendation only and not a review by me.


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