This Week in History 2-10 August

A King and Eels, A Queen and Blood, A Teen and no Future and a Man with a Spark


8/11/20223 min read

This Week 10th August 22

Henry I is crowned King of England 5th August 1100

He was the Youngest Son of William The Conqueror and considered to be a good King. During his reign the kingdom was mostly peaceful and he secured Normandy as part of the Realm.

Henry seized the Crown when his father was killed in a Hunting accident and his Brother Robert disputed his claim and invaded England from France. After a period of peace, Robert once again attacked Henry and was defeated at the battle of Tinchebray. Henry kept Robert imprisoned for the rest of his Life.

Henry’s son drowned in the ‘WhiteShip’ disaster throwing the succession into doubt. Henry had left the port of Barfleur for England in the early evening, leaving William Adelin and many of the younger members of the court to follow on that night in a separate vessel, the White Ship.Both the crew and passengers were drunk and, just outside the harbour, the ship hit a submerged rock. The ship sank, killing as many as 300 people, with only one survivor, a butcher from Rouen. Henry's court was initially too scared to report William's death to the King. When he was finally told, he collapsed with grief.

Eventually his nephew Stephen of Blois succeeded. Described as Short, Stocky and Barrel-chested with Black Hair. He was a very productive ruler siring 9 boys and 15 daughters from various mistresses.

Interesting Facts

Henry was a bit peeved that his older brothers were gifted Land. So he arranged for a little hunting trip on August 2nd 1100 with William Well, as it turns out, hunting trips can be dangerous. And lethal. Henry "accidentally" shot his brother, William, in the head with an arrow. Oops. William died. Henry Stricken with Grief immediately took control of the Treasury at Windsor Castle

Meals of EELs Henry died by eating too many Lamprey, a type of EEL. Being very fond of this dish he gorged himself to death. Must be something about Royalty. The Borgia’s Henchman Micheletto, killed the King of Naples by pushing him into a pool filled with lampreys that King Firante had built - well according to episode 5 Season 3 of “The Borgias”

August 7th 1650 Elizabeth Bathóry

Born into a Protestant Family that controlled Transylvania, Bathóry was a member of Hungarian Nobility.

Her Uncle Stephen was the King of Poland. Her notoriety came to light after complaints of the disappearance of young girls from the nobility. Upon investigation it was claimed that Bathóry, with the aid of her servants tortured and murdered over 600 girls.

It is believed that the blood of young girls can keep one young. Her servants were executed but Elizabeth, because she was of Nobility was instead locked up in a tower without windows and remained there until her death.

1840 The Lady in Black on Victoria Pass

Near where I live in the Blue Mountains of NSW is Victoria Pass. A road built by Convicts that takes travellers down the dangerous Mountain Pass to the fertile flat plains of the Western Districts.

This was scene of the savage murder of 13-year old Caroline Collits. Caroline’s story is full of tragedy. Her mother took her own life and her father was sentence to be hung, though this was commuted. she and her younger sister were sent to be in the care of the Collits who ran the respectable Hartley Inn. A freed Convict John Walsh groomed both girls and abused them when Caroline was 12.

She married the Collits son left him from their unhappy Union. She went to live with Walsh and her Sister.

Collit had a row with Walsh and the next morning the beaten and abused body of 13 year old Caroline was found dumped along the Pass. John Walsh was convicted of the murder and hung.

Henry Lawson, the famous Australian poet met the apparition as he traversed the pass and wrote: Its look appeared to plead for aid (As far as I could see), Its hands were on the tailboard laid, Its eyes were fixed on me. The face, it cannot be denied Was white, a dull dead white, The great black eyes were opened wide And glistened in the light.

August 6th 1890 William Kemmler becomes the first person executed by Electric Chair.

After an alcohol fuelled binge Kemmler got into an argument with his girlfriend, fetched a hatchet and then hit her numerous times causing her death.

Interestingly his planned execution by Electricity was conveniently used by Thomas Edison as a reason not to adopt the alternative AC/DC electricity promoted by George Westinghouse. He conveniently pushed the idea that Westinghouse’s Alternating Current was more dangerous than his own Direct Current.

Kemmler was calm during the preparation and all seemed to go well. When the doctor checked his state after receiving 1000 volts it was noticed he was still breathing. “Quick, increase the voltage to 2000” he called. Blood vessels burst, the stench was unbearable, smoke rose from the skull-cap. All in all the execution took 8 Minutes.

Needless to say that America adopted Edison’s Direct Current Electricity supply.