Despite having fathered more than twenty children, when King Henry I of England died in 1135, he left no surviving legitimate sons. He bequeathed his kingdom to his daughter Matilda, but common citizenry and powerful nobles alike rejected her in favor of Henry's nephew, Stephen of Blois, who was crowned King in 1135. However, Matilda had her supporters, and a civil war called the Anarchy broke out between the two factions.
On the morning of June 6, 1944, an armada of landing ships chopped through the icy, stinging waters of the English Channel, ferrying thousands of troops toward the German-held beaches in a surprise attack that changed the course of the war and of human history. On the far eastern edge of the invasion fleet, one landing craft held a special commodity which no other could boast: deployed along with the 1st Special Services Brigade, many of whom were Scottish, 21-year-old Bill Millin, a Royal Marine Commando in direct service to the brigade commander prepared for the landing. Millin, unlike his fellow soldiers, did not prepare a helmet, rifle, or bayonet; instead, he hoisted and readied the traditional and iconic instrument of Scottish warriors: bagpipes.
After nine Crusades spanning nearly 200 years, the successful Muslim Siege of Acre finally expelled the Christian armies from the Middle Eastern coast in 1291. Over time, Turkish armies spread westward, intent on spreading their religion throughout Europe. In 1453, Turks captured the mighty Byzantine city of Constantinople, opening a gateway to the west. In 1523, the Ottoman Empire under 28-year-old Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent besieged the island of Rhodes, at the time defended by order of the Knights Hospitaller, off the southwest coast of Asia Minor. Despite a valiant stand, the Knights eventually ran out of supplies and were forced to withdraw, first to Crete, and then to island of Malta, just south of Sicily. In the years that followed, the Christian Mediterranean kingdoms were under near-constant assault by the Ottoman forces, most notably by ships commanded by the infamous corsair Turgut Reis. In 1551, Reis invaded Malta, but after only a few days, he abandoned the attempt and seized and ravaged the neighboring island of Gozo instead.
In late 1918, a group of American soldiers from the 102nd Regiment of the 26th "Yankee" Division patrolled the area around their foxholes in the Argonne Forest of northeastern France, near the Belgian border. The density of the woodlands allowed infiltration by spies and reconnaissance troops, so patrols regularly monitored the area for any German presence. Private John Robert Conroy from Connecticut, one of the patrolling soldiers, was unique among the soldiers of the 102nd because when he shipped off to war, he brought his dog, a tiny terrier mix named Stubby. During the patrol, Stubby broke free without warning, and immediately darted off into the underbrush, barking as he went. Conroy and other American soldiers followed him, and when they found Stubby, his jaws were clamped around buttocks of a German infiltrator, who was mapping out the American trenches when he was surprised by the intrepid Stubby. The spy attempted to flee, but Stubby tripped him up by nipping at his heels. The American soldiers quickly disarmed and captured the insurgent, but Stubby reportedly took quite a bit of convincing before he would let go of the man's rear end.
In the mid-1860's, Sonoran mercenaries raided a small Apache town near the US-Mexican border, near what are now the cities of Esqueda, Mexico and neighboring Douglas, Arizona. After slaughtering the captured males, they force-marched many of the surviving women southwest to the Gulf of California. Many of the women died en route, and the raiders sold the rest into slavery where they worked in the fields of a local hacienda.
In a memorable scene from the 1975 movie Jaws, Captain Quint, played by Robert Shaw, tells of his World War II experience on board the USS Indianapolis as it sank in shark-infested waters in 1945. Although the characters in the film were all obviously fictitious, the sinking that Quint described was real, and every inch terrible enough to warrant its inclusion in one of the most horrifying thriller movies ever produced.
On the Salita Santa Anna in Naples, not far from the Palazzo Reale, a modest restaurant called the Pizzeria Brandi has been serving various types of pizza in the same building for over 200 years. It first opened in 1780 as the Pizzeria Pietro e Basta Cosi (meaning "the pizzeria of Peter, and that's enough"), but eventually its childless owner, called simply Peter the Pizzamaker, transferred its ownership to Enrico Brandi. Enrico's son-in-law, a pizzaiuolo (pizza-maker) named Raffaele Esposito, managed the restaurant in June of 1889 when the shop got a visit from royalty. King Umberto I of Italy had assumed the throne upon the death of his father a little over ten years earlier; he and Queen Margherita had once lived in Naples and, as they were planning a trip back to the city, they decided to indulge themselves in the local cuisine.
Henry Beauclerc, the youngest and last surviving son of William the Conqueror, served as King Henry I of England after the death of his older brother, William II, in 1100. Nineteen years into his reign, he and his only legitimate son, William the Atheling, celebrated a successful military campaign against Louis VI of France, and the marriage of the teenaged William to Matilda of Anjou, the daughter of a powerful French Count. They remained in Normandy for some time and, on November 25, 1120, King Henry, Prince William, and their respective entourages prepared to cross the English Channel and return to London.
In the early 60s, the Cold War between West and East dominated the political landscape. While America relied on South Vietnam to resist the draw of Communism spreading down from the north, South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem, a Roman Catholic, carried out a policy of repression against the Buddhist majority of the state. As time went on, the Diem administration met Buddhist protests with increasing levels of force, even as American President John F. Kennedy prepared to pull roughly 16,000 US soldiers out of South Vietnam and strike a treaty with the North. Soon, Diem's own generals plotted to overthrow him, to which Diem responded by declaring martial law.
In the summer of AD 79, A Roman fleet rested in the docks of an Italian town called Misentum, on the western horn of the Bay of Naples, about 150 miles south of Rome. In one of its lavish seaside villas, Pliny, the fat, rich commander of the naval detachment who had also achieved some fame as a philosopher, laid on a blanket in the yard, writing his latest work. A sizable staff attended to his wishes, answering every command he instituted.