This Week in History 11-21 August

Invasion, A Love Story, Music Icons & the Sad end for a Hero



14th August 1480 Battle of Otranto - Ottoman troops behead 800 Christians for refusing to convert to Islam

Almost forgotten today is Sultan Mehmed I the Conqueror's amphibious attack against Otranto, though in western Europe the Ottoman assault was easily the most electric news of the year. Southern Italy was an obvious target, because of its proximity to Albania and because Ottoman control of both sides of the Adriatic entrance would force Venice to obey the sultan's will. Venice did not want to be seen to oppose the Turks who were vastly superior in strength.

When they attacked Otranto in 1480, Venetian ships helped ferry Turkish troops across to Italy from Albania, though this met with official disapproval in Venice itself. One hundred and forty Ottoman ships carrying 18,000 men crossed the Straits, including forty galleys. After the inhabitants of Otranto refused to surrender, the Turkish commander, Gedik Ahmet Pasha, made clear what would happen to the survivors and pressed on with his assault; the town possessed poor defences and no cannon, and the outcome was predictable.

On capturing the city Ahmet Pasha slaughtered the entire male population, leaving 10,000 people alive out of about 22,000; 8,000 slaves were sent across the Straits to Albania. The elderly archbishop was struck down at the high altar of Otranto Cathedral. Bishop Stefano Pendinelli and the garrison commander, Count Francesco Zurlo, were sawn in two alive.

On August 12, 800 citizens who refused to convert to Islam were taken to the Hill of the Minerva and beheaded without mercy.

These 813 victims were canonized as saints in the Roman Catholic Church in May 12, 2013 The Turks then fanned out across southern Apulia, raiding neighbouring cities. The king of Naples, Alfonso V's son Ferrante, had sent his armies into Tuscany, and once his troops and ships were ready he was able to launch a successful counter-assault.

Thomas Edward Lawrence Born 16th August 1888 and Salim Achmed (Dahoum - the little Dark one)

T.E. Lawrence better known as Lawrence of Arabia was a Boys Own story character in Real Life. Before joining the British Army at the beginning of WWI he was an archeologist and photographer in Arabia. After Lawrence's graduation in 1910 he travelled to Jerablus, Syria and joined an archeological dig. This was the site of Carchemish (Karkamis), the eastern capital of the ancient Hittite empire. The Hittites ruled much of the Middle East from about the 13th through the 9th century B.C.E.° They are referred to in many places in the Bible: Abraham bought the cave of Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite and both David and Solomon enlisted Hittites among their soldiers. David had Uriah the Hittite killed so that he could have Uriah's wife, Bathsheba. Solomon apparently had Hittite wives and sold chariots and horses to the Hittites. This powerful people was, however, defeated by the Assyrian king Sargon at Carchemish in 717 B.C.E.

It was at this dig that Lawrence befriended Selim Ahmad, or Dahoum, a 14-year-old Syrian 'donkey-boy', who was employed at the digging site in Karkamis. Dahoum stood out from the other labourers as he could read and write; Lawrence admired him and took him as a servant and a travelling companion: the two went on a cruise along the Syrian coast. Lawrence took Dahoum with him to England in 1913 and showed him off to his friends who 'were much taken by his beauty'; one of them commissioned a painting of the boy. Lawrence erected a naked statue of Dahoum on the roof of his house at Karkamis after convincing him to pose naked an incident that scandalised the villagers.

It was through Dahoum that Lawrence was first introduced to Oriental dressing when the pair exchanged attire for the first time: An act that marked the beginning of Lawrence's experimentation with Oriental costume. The exact nature of Lawrence's relationship with Dahoum has been subject to much speculation. James argues that 'Dahoum was to Lawrence as squire was to a knight', while Aldrich contends that the pair grew 'inseparable', suggesting a romantic and physical bonding between the couple.46 The extent to which the couple's relationship may have been romantic (and how that may have manifested itself) remains subject to conjecture; it would be difficult, nonetheless, to disregard the Uranian undertones enshrouded in it. Lawrence's love for Dahoum is explicitly declared in the opening poem in Seven Pillars, dedicated to the boy's memory: he died prematurely before Lawrence and the Arab army reached Damascus in 1918.

The poignant poem, which laments the youth's death, has been described as 'one of the most moving tributes to young love ever written'. Tracing Lawrence's deep affection for Dahoum in the poem would also tally with Robert Graves's statement about Dahoum being the 'only person with whom he [Lawrence] had ever been in love'. It is important to note that all of Lawrences friends described the relationship as close and affectionate, but not sexual. Many Later historians are not convinced.

Lawrence Joined The British Army in 1914 and had to Leave Dahoum. Many will know his daring exploits as a spy for the British and his involvement in the Arab uprising against the Turks. Sadly on his return toward the end of the War he found out that the Salim had succumbed to the famine and typhus. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom begin with this poem. It most clearly fits Dahoum, that is Salim Ahmed.

To S.A.

I loved you, so drew these tides of men into my hands and wrote my will across the sky in stars.

To gain you Freedom, the seven-pillared worthy house, that your eyes might be shining for me.

When we came. Death was my servant on the road, till we came near and saw you waiting:

When you smiled, in and in sorrowful envy he outran me and took you apart:

Into his quietness So our love's earnings was your cast off body to be held one moment.

Before earth's soft hands would explore your face and the blind worms transmute.

Your failing substance.

Men prayed me to set my work, the inviolate house in memory of you.

But for fit monument I shattered it, unfinished:

and now The little things creep out to patch themselves hovels in the marred shadow

Of your gift.

1964 Beatles Hard Days Night (August USA)

Directed by by Richard Lester and starring the English rock band the Beatles—John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr— A Hard Days Night portrays 36 hours in the lives of the group as they prepare for a television performance.

The film was a financial and critical success and was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Original Screenplay. Forty years after its release, Time magazine rated it as one of the 100 all-time great films.

In 1997, British critic Leslie Halliwell described it as a "comic fantasia with music; an enormous commercial success with the director trying every cinematic gag in the book" and awarded it a full four stars. In 1999, the British Film Institute ranked it the 88th greatest British film of the 20th century.

The film's title originated from something said by Ringo Starr, who described it this way in an interview with disc jockey Dave Hull in 1964: "We went to do a job, and we'd worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said, 'It's been a hard day ...' and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, '... night!' So we came to A Hard Day's Night."

Interesting Facts.

Did you know John Lennon was Dyslexic and Legally Blind?

John grew up in a place called ‘Strawberry Fields’

Ringo got the idea of ‘Octopuses Garden’ after getting away during recording the White Album and borrowed Peter Sellers Yacht. He claims the Captain told yarns about how Octopuses hide in caves and find trinkets on the bottom of the seabed and place them around their caves - The Octopuses Garden.

‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ was not written about LSD as many claim, but instead about a picture drawn by 4 year old Julian Lennon and a girl he sat next to in school. Lucy Sodden was a real person and in later life as she was ill with Lupus, Julian would visit her and frequently sent her flowers.

1983 AUG 21 Benigno S Aquino JR Assassinated

The Philippines Congress signed into law in 2004, declaring August 21 of every year as "Ninoy Aquino Day," a national non-working holiday, "in order to commemorate the death anniversary of former Senator Benigno 'Ninoy' S. Aquino Jr."

Ninoy Aquino was a prominent Philippine journalist and politician. He served the province of Tarlac as the mayor of Concepcion, provincial vice governor, and provincial governor. As a senator of the 7th Congress, he was the major political rival of President Ferdinand Marcos, and was one of the first to be arrested after the abolition of Congress and declaration of martial law in 1972. Aquino was put through military trial, charged with murder, illegal possession of firearms, and subversion. He endured seven years of incarceration before he was allowed to seek medical treatment in the United States for a heart condition.

After three years in exile, he returned to Manila, but was gunned down before he could set foot on the tarmac. His assassination started a chain of events that would eventually lead to the People Power Revolution of 1986. S. Benigno S. Aquino Jr. was survived by his wife, Corazon C. Aquino; his four daughters; and his son, Benigno S. Aquino S Ill. Both his wife and his son later on became Presidents of the Philippines.

“I have returned on my free will to join the ranks of those struggling to restore our rights and freedoms through non-violence. seek no confrontation. I only pray and will strive for a genuine national reconciliation founded on justice.”