Bunratty Castle, County Clare, Ireland
Bunratty Castle, built in 1425, is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland and contains furnishings, tapestries, and works of art from the period.
The castle is by the N18 road between Limerick and Ennis, near Shannon Town and its airport.
From the Archives: various species of fish from Renard’s Poissons, écrevisses et crabes
In an effort not to disappoint Europeans who saw collections of preserved tropical fish lacking their brilliant colors, Louis Renard (1678-1746) compiled the book Poissons, with fancifully colored engraved plates depicting fish and crustaceans from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).
"The Black Madonna of Częstochowa (Polish: Czarna Madonna or Matka Boska Częstochowska, Latin: Imago thaumaturga Beatae Virginis Mariae Immaculatae Conceptae, in Claro Monte), also known as Our Lady of Częstochowa, is a revered icon of the Virgin Mary housed at the Jasna Góra Monastery in Częstochowa, Poland.
The origins of the icon and the date of its composition are still hotly contested among scholars. The difficulty in dating the icon stems from the fact that the original image was painted over, after being badly damaged by Hussite raiders in 1430. Medieval restorers unfamiliar with the encaustic method found that the paints they applied to the damaged areas ‘simply sloughed off the image’ according to the medieval chronicler Risinius, and their solution was to erase the original image and to repaint it on the original panel, which was believed to be holy because of its legendary origin as a table top from the home of the Holy Family. The painting displays a traditional composition well known in the icons of Eastern Orthodoxy. The Virgin Mary is shown as the ‘Hodegetria’ (‘One Who Shows the Way’). In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the child extends his right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of gospels in his left hand. The icon shows the Madonna in fleur de lys robes.
The icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa has been intimately associated with Poland for the past six hundred years. Its history prior to its arrival in Poland is shrouded in numerous legends which trace the icon’s origin to St. Luke who painted it on a cedar table top from the house of the Holy Family.
One of the oldest documents from Jasna Góra states that the picture travelled from Jerusalem, via Constantinople and Belz, to finally reach Częstochowa in August 1382 by Władysław Opolczyk, Duke of Opole. However more recent Ukrainian sources state that it was taken by Władysław Opolski from the Castle of Belz, when the town was incorporated into the Polish kingdom and that earlier in its history it was brought to Belz with much ceremony and honors by king Lev I of Galicia. The golden fleur-de-lis painted on the Virgin’s blue veil parallel the azure, semee de lis, or of the French royal coat of arms and the most likely explanation for their presence is that icon had been present in Hungary during the reign of either Charles I of Hungary and/or Louis the Great, the Hungarian kings of the Anjou dynasty, who probably had the fleur-de-lis of their family’s coat of arms painted on the icon. This would suggest that the icon was probably originally brought to Jasna Gora by the Pauline monks from their founding monastery in Hungary.
The Black Madonna is credited with miraculously saving the monastery of Jasna Góra (English: Bright Mount) from a 17th-century Swedish invasion,The Deluge.
The Siege of Jasna Góra took place in the winter of 1655 during the Second Northern War / The Deluge — as the Swedish invasion of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is known. The Swedes were attempting to capture the Jasna Góra monastery in Częstochowa. Their month-long siege however, was ineffective, as a small force consisting of monks from the Jasna Gora monastery led by their Prior and supported by local volunteers, mostly from the szlachta (Polish nobility), fought off the numerically superior invaders, saved their sacred icon and, according to some accounts, turned the course of the war.
This event led King John II Casimir Vasa to ‘crown’ Our Lady of Częstochowa (the Black Madonna) as Queen and Protector of Poland in the cathedral of Lwów on April 1, 1656. Another legend concerning the Black Madonna of Częstochowa is that the presence of the holy painting saved its church from being destroyed in a fire, but not before the flames darkened the fleshtone pigments.
The legend concerning the two scars on the Black Madonna’s right cheek is that the Hussites stormed the Pauline monastery in 1430, plundering the sanctuary. Among the items stolen was the icon. After putting it in their wagon, the Hussites tried to get away but their horses refused to move. They threw the portrait down to the ground and one of the plunderers drew his sword upon the image and inflicted two deep strikes. When the robber tried to inflict a third strike, he fell to the ground and squirmed in agony until his death. Despite past attempts to repair these scars, they had difficulty in covering up those slashes (as they found out that the painting was painted with tempera infused with diluted wax).
Another legend states that, as the robber struck the painting twice, the face of the Virgin Mary started to bleed; in a panic, the scared Hussites retreated and left the painting.” (source)
Annelies Marie Frank (12 June 1929, Frankfurt, Germany — early March 1945, Bergen-Belsen concentration camp) was the most famous diarist of the Second World War. Originally black and white photograph colored by me.
Early gay right’s demonstration, 1970’s.
A rare two shot (superimposed load) wheel-lock pistol dated to 1609. Crafted by Valentin Klett of Suhl, Germany.
Estimated Value: $25,000 - $35,000
Stuff You Missed in History Class has a long tradition of episodes on writers we love, stretching all the way back to 2009’s How Mark Twain Worked. Today we have another personal favorite: Jane Austen. Contrary to popular belief, she wasn’t a quiet spinster who wrote little stories just to amuse herself and her family. Nor was she a real-life version of one of her heroines.
While not so huge as the largest non-avian dinosaurs, Gastornis was nevertheless a giant in its Paleocene and Eocene heyday between 55 and 40 million years ago. In Europe the bird towered over the mammals who inhabited the same forests – the largest herbivores and carnivores of the day were about the size of a German shepherd, with many being considerably smaller. (In North America, where Gastornis fossils were previously labeled “Diatryma“, some of the contemporary herbivorous mammals grew to bigger sizes, but there were still many smaller beasts running about.) So it seemed only natural that the monstrous bird would have preyed on the scurrying mammals, pouncing on “dawn horses” and cleaving lemur-like primates in two with it’s powerful beak. In museums and documentaries, Gastornis marked the last gasp of dinosaur dominance before mammals took over the world.
But recent research has found that Gastornis wasn’t so terrifying, after all. While a 1991 paper concluded that the bird’s beak could have made short work of many small mammals, other publications pointed out that such a beak would have been just as well-suited to cracking seeds and crunching tough fruit. More recently, tracks of Gastornis – née “Diatryma” – found in Washington show that the bird had blunted toes rather than vicious talons, and a preliminary study of dietary clues preserved in the bones of a German specimen of the bird suggested a menu of plants rather than flesh. And now paleontologist Delphine Angst and colleagues have added another line of evidence that Gastornis probably wasn’t a rapacious mammal-muncher.
Chemical signatures in the extinct bird’s bones are at the center of the Naturwissenschaften study. Angst and coauthors studied carbon isotope (δ13C) traces in the bones of Gastornis, small herbivorous mammals the bird lived alongside, and modern hawks and ostriches. This isotope acts as a proxy for diet. Generated inside plants, the carbon isotope becomes preserved in the tissues of herbivores that eat those greens and, further down the line, in the tissues of the carnivores that consume those herbivores. Locked in bones and teeth, this carbon isotope allows paleontologists to outline what individual animals were consuming and how they may have split up resources in the same habitat….
When Angst and coauthors looked at the carbon isotope through the lens of Gastornis being an herbivore, however, the signature was a better match and was comparable to those of herbivorous mammals living at the same time. The bird’s carbon isotope profile was that of an avian that crushed seeds and crunched thick-skinned fruit.
And the researchers went a step further. Through dissections of modern birds ranging from Darwin’s finches to Eurasian sparrowhawks, Angst and colleagues studied the anatomy and connection points of the external adductor muscle in modern herbivorous and carnivorous birds. This is a major muscle that powers bird bites, and the herbivorous, seed-cracking birds typically had wider muscles with increased space for attachment on the lower jaw. That fits they way they feed. Much more power is needed to bust open hard fruits than to tear soft flesh.
The actual muscles of Gastornis rotted away over 40 million years ago, but the bird’s lower jaw shows a wide space for the external adductor muscle to attach. Taken together, the bird’s beak, feet, reconstructed musculature, and chemical signature best fit a large herbivore that snacked on plants rather than the mammals that lived underfoot.
(Read more at Phenomena: Laelaps)
We’ve mentioned (probably too many times) that we get so many ideas from listeners that we can’t possibly cover them all. Within three months of joining the podcast, we’d logged more than 300 episode ideas just from listeners’ suggestions. But sometimes, somebody suggests something that captures one of us so immediately and so completely that it becomes the very next episode we do. That’s exactly what happened when @sharkjack asked us to talk about the Baron of Arizona on Twitter. Not only does this story hinge upon an incredibly ambitious (and kind of crackpot) fraud scheme, but it was also a 1950 Vincent Price movie. In other words, right up Holly’s alley.