Pete’s History Picks: 31st October – 6th November

It gives me great pleasure to announce a new feature of my blog. Every week, my esteemed colleague, Master Peter Tollywash (of time-travelling underpants fame), will be presenting us with some of the interesting facts he has discovered about the past. So, without further ado, I hand you over to Guildford’s great historical scholar.

This week in history – 31st October – 6th November

Hi everyone. I’m not really used to this writing about history thingy, but since I started my time-travelling adventures (don’t tell Mum) I’ve become really, like, interested in things that happened a long time ago. One thing I’ve realised is they kind of explain quite a lot of stuff that happens today too. Who’d have thought that, hey? Right, anyway, Barford’s asked me to share with you some of the stuff that I’ve found out about that happened in this week but in, like, history. So here’s the best bits I’ve found from this week in history.

31st October, 1517 – Martin Luther posts 95 theses on Wittenberg church door

This is Martin Luther – looks a bit like Thomas Cromwell who I met on my recent adventure.
This one sounds really boring, right? I thought that too. I was hoping I’d find out something about how the first Halloween happened or something fun like that. But, actually, this one’s a really important event. I’ve recently come back from Tudor England (Barford’s writing that one up at the mo and you’ll be able to read it later in November) and this Martin Luther guy hanging a bit of paper on a church door explains a lot about what was happening while I was there. Before that, though, just so you know, this guy isn’t the same as that Martin Luther King guy (I thought he was to begin with). Barford tells me Martin Luther King was alive in the twentieth century (the one just before this one) and he was really important in getting more rights for African-American people. Anyway, it’s not that guy, although maybe that guy was named after him? Martin Luther wasn’t happy with the way the Catholic Church was being run and he made a list of 95 things he wasn’t happy about or things he wanted to change. This started something called the Protestant Reformation, which would be really important in the history of England (see 3rd November for more).

2nd November, 1355 – King Edward III of England lands at Calais to invade France

Crazy, right? I didn’t know we’d ever invaded France, but Auntie Cheryl tells me it happened a lot (she knows this kind of thing ‘cause she’s a history teacher). I was also surprised as I wondered why the French didn’t just close the Channel Tunnel, but Auntie Cheryl says there wasn’t one then. They had to go in boats. But yeah, apparently we were fighting a lot with the French at this time and actually ruled bits of France. It was part of something called the Hundred Years War which actually went on for 116 years. Though, Auntie Cher says they weren’t fighting the whole time just on-and-off. She also told me that England actually ruled Calais until 1558. Not sure why we were so keen to keep Calais, unless it was for all the big supermarkets that Dad always makes us go to on the way home from camping in France.

3rd November, 1534 – English parliament accepts Act of Supremacy and King Henry the Eighth becomes Head of the Church of England

Henry the Eighth - not a bad likeness actually.
Henry the Eighth – not a bad likeness actually.
As I think I said, I’ve just come back from my latest time-travelling adventure (seriously, don’t tell Mum) and it was in the year 1535. I even met King Henry the Eighth (but that’s enough as I don’t want to ruin the surprise when Barford’s book on the adventure comes out shortly). Anyway, I said that the list that Martin Luther stuck on that church door in 1517 was a really important event, well this is one of the reasons why.  King Henry had really disagreed with Martin Luther in 1517 and even written something in 1522 about why Martin Luther was wrong and a bad’un. But by 1534 Henry was really keen for the Pope in Rome to stop being in charge of the Church of England, partly because Henry couldn’t divorce his wife if he was. So, Henry was quite keen to have a ‘Protestant Reformation’ (the thing Martin Luther started with his list) in England to get rid of the Pope as head of the Church of England. This act of Parliament put Henry in charge instead, meaning he could decide how things worked instead of the Pope. Even now Queen Elizabeth the Second is in charge of the Church of England.

4th November, 1922 – Howard Carter discovers tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt

Tutankhamen's death mask - imagine how heavy that must have been to wear. Oh right, he was dead.
Tutankhamen’s death mask – imagine how heavy that must have been to wear. Oh right, he was dead.
This one’s cool and a little bit creepy, which makes it even cooler. This Howard Carter guy had spent a really, really long time, trying to find the tombs of the old Egyptian pharaohs. I dunno why. Doesn’t he know Egyptian mummies have special powers and can zap you with their laser eyes? Anyway, he really wanted to find them and in 1922 he found the tomb that made him really famous – the tomb of some eighteen-year-old pharaoh called Tutankhamen (imagine being king at eighteen, that would be, like, awesome). Apparently it was full of gold and jewellery and stuff. Not sure where King Tut’s xboxes and iPhones went. After that it all got creepy and people who had been part of the discovery of the tomb, like, started to die in ‘mysterious circumstances’. People were saying it was cursed and this was the pharaoh’s revenge. That Howard Carter guy said it was a load of rubbish, but he wasn’t one of the poor people that ended up mysteriously dead!

5th November, 1605 – The Gunpowder Plot is discovered in the Houses of Parliament

What I really like about finding out about this history stuff is that I’m finding out so much of it is linked. I used to think what happened in history was kind of irrelevant, but apparently it isn’t. Anyway, you know all the fireworks and bonfires we do on 5th November? This is why. And what’s weird is it’s linked to two of the other events I mentioned earlier – Martin Luther King and his list and King Henry becoming head of the Church of England. Guy Fawkes, who was the guy they found with all his gunpowder, was part of a group of Catholics who were unhappy about the Protestant Reformation. They didn’t like the fact that the Pope was no longer in charge of the Church of England and the way Catholics were being treated in England. They hoped that, if they could kill King James the First by blowing him up as he opened Parliament, they could replace him with a Catholic king or queen. Weirdly we now celebrate these people being stopped from setting off explosives by setting off explosives and burning stuff. At least I know why now.

Until next time…

Hope you liked this and thanks to Barford for helping me with spelling and stuff. See you next week for more Pete’s History Picks. By the way, Barford’s recently written a short story about some crazy stuff that happened when I went to a Roman bathhouse. Join his mailing list for a free copy.

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