Pete’s History Picks, December 12th – December 18th

Guildford’s finest teenage historical scholar, Master Pete Tollywash of time-travelling underpants fame, returns again with his pick of the most interesting events from this week in history. Over to you, Pete.

Hello, everyone. That Barford guy’s let me loose on his blog again. Awesome. It was a bit tricky finding time to write this though. I mean life’s pretty busy anyway when you’re a time-traveller (we’re still not telling Mum about that, by the way. It’s OK. She won’t read this. She can’t even send an email), but when it’s Christmas time and Kev’s just got Dragon Dancer 17 Turbo edition on the Xbox for his birthday, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Yeah, anyway, I’m here again to tell you about the stuff that happened this week in history. Unsurprisingly, as it’s almost Christmas, loads of stuff happened (although Auntie Cheryl claims that’s got nothing to do with it). So, here we go.

December 12th, 1991 - Maastricht Treaty signed to create a European Union


This is Maastricht - Actually looks quite nice.

Everything's about this Brexit thing here at the moment. They’re saying things like, “Food prices are going to go up 'cause of Brexit”, “People might lose their jobs 'cause of Brexit”, “You might have to get a visa to go to Benidorm 'cause of Brexit”. What’s really unfair is that Ms. Cummerbund at school gave me a detention when I told her I’d forgotten my English homework ‘cause of Brexit. Anyway, apparently this Maastricht (some place in Holland) Treaty is kind of where the story started as it created the European Union, which is the thing the UK is leaving. Auntie Cheryl says it was quite a big deal at the time and quite a few people in Britain were against it. So this sort of led to the EU referendum thingy we had in June (although Auntie Cheryl says it’s also a bit more complicated than that).

December 13th, 2003 - Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is captured near his home town of Tikrit

I was a tiny baby when this happened. This Saddam guy was president of Iraq and used to be friends with the United States of America, because he didn’t like Iran, who the Americans didn’t like either. So these Americans supported Saddam in a war against Iran. People say that at the same time he started doing some nasty things to people he didn’t like in Iraq. Later on, in 1990, he invaded his other neighbour, a country called Kuwait. At this point, the USA decided he’d gone too far and went to war with him (with help from some other countries, including the UK). Saddam lost and was kicked out of Kuwait in 1991. He wasn’t happy about this, of course, and he and the US were no longer friends. They didn’t go to war again, but there was trouble every so often between them for the next twelve years. Eventually, in 2003, the US decided it wanted to get rid of Saddam once and for all, and invaded Iraq (again with help from other countries like the UK). This time, they didn’t just beat Saddam, but they captured him and put in place a new government. In the end, Saddam was executed. You probably know all this, ‘cause you probably weren’t a little baby then like me.

December 15th, 533 - Byzantine general Belisarius defeats the Vandals, under King Gelimer, at the Battle of Tricamarum


The guy on the right in the crown is Emperor Justinian. They reckon the other dude is Belisarius.

Well this Belisarius guy obviously didn’t do a very good job of it, ‘cause the vandals were back again last night graffiti-ing the cricket club changing rooms. Anyway, Auntie Cheryl says these were different vandals. In fact, she says they were a tribe who came from what’s now Poland. Because they attacked and looted Rome in the year 455, people started using the word ‘vandalism’ to describe any act of damaging stuff on purpose. These Vandal guys didn’t hang around it seems and in the year 533 they’d left Poland far behind and they were rulers of North Africa (land they’d conquered from the Romans). The Romans, by this time referred to as the Byzantines (I’ll get Barford to explain another time), wanted North Africa back, so the Emperor Justinian sent this Belisarius dude to get it. The Battle of Tricamarum was the last in Belisarius’s war against the Vandals and he beat them so badly that they gave the land back to the Romans. The Romans (or Byzantines) then sailed from there to reconquer Italy which some goths had taken off them (the goths at my school couldn’t conquer a plate of fish and chips, so that’s pretty impressive). Again, Auntie Cheryl says they weren’t those kind of goths but another tribe called 'the Goths' from somewhere around modern Poland or Germany. The Romans only held North Africa for another hundred years or so when these new guys called the Muslims arrived from the Middle East and took it off them again. But that’s a whole other story.

December 16th, 1653 - Oliver Cromwell appointed as Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland

I’ve just come back from my latest time-travelling adventure in Tudor times, where I met a guy called Thomas Cromwell. I thought he was this guy, Oliver Cromwell, but apparently not. Thomas Cromwell was friends with the king, Henry the Eighth in this instance, while Oliver Cromwell definitely was not best mates with King Charles the First, whose head he had chopped off in 1649. Four years later he was made ‘Lord Protector’ of the Republic of England, Scotland and Ireland (poor Wales didn’t get a mention). He was very clear to everyone that he definitely wasn’t a king, even though he got referred to as ‘Your Highness’, his head appeared on coins and he passed the title on to his son, Richard. Richard bottled it, or so they say, and in 1660, King Charles’s son, also helpfully called Charles, became king.

One other event I’d also like to mention that happened on this day in 1773 is something called the 'Boston tea party’. This wasn’t one of those annoying things Mum has on Saturday afternoons where she gets Maureen, Barbara and Auntie Cheryl round to talk about people they knew, but whose names they’ve forgotten. It was actually this big protest in Boston, in the US, where some people who called themselves the 'Sons of Liberty’ jumped on a boat that was full of boxes of tea and threw it all into the water. It was something to do with them being unhappy about tax on tea. This was a big deal and Auntie Cheryl says it was an important step along the way to America’s independence from Great Britain (I didn’t know we ever ruled America. How awesome would that be? Being King of America? Actually I guess that’s kind of what the President is).

December 17th, 1398 - Timur (or Tamerlane) captures and sacks Delhi, beating the Sultan’s army of elephants


Apparently Timur built this mosque in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. It is pretty awesome.

This Timur dude (or Tamerlane as he’s also called) sounds pretty cool (well not if you were fighting him). He was a ‘Turco-Mongol’ emperor from what’s now Uzbekistan and he conquered loads of places. In 1398, he invaded India and marched on Delhi. The ruler of Delhi, the Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud, fought him with an army that had elephants in it (that dude was crazy). Timur’s men were scared of the elephants (fair enough), so Timur got them to load hay onto the back of their camels and set it on fire (poor camels). The flaming camels went running towards the elephants sending the elephants running back at the Sultan’s army. Suffice to say, the Sultan’s army got spooked and Timur won easily.

So there you have it. Quite a week, hey? I hope you found it useful. Oh and if you want to find out more about me and my adventures, just look at Barford’s ‘My Books’ page on this website. Have a great Christmas and I’ll see you in a fortnight.

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