Believe it or not, we’re coming up on our third anniversary here. And now that the Armchair Anglophile’s found its feet and learned to walk and talk, I think it’s time for it to grow up. So, we’re getting a bit of a fresh look and moving off WordPress to Armchairanglophile.com. Same recaps, history, and recipes you’ve all been enjoying, plus some extras. I’ll be setting up a redirect (hopefully), but this might be a good time to update any bookmarks.

Thanks for all your support over the years, and I look forward to seeing you on the new site!

The Borgias: Check

Lucrezia's Gambit stillPreviously on The Borgias: Caterina Sforza mailed plague to Rome, catching one of the cardinals stupid enough to ignore Cesare’s orders to burn her letter; Lucrezia got rid of the King of Naples, but found there are two others in line before her husband; Cesare and the French army marched into Milan, only to find Ludovico Sforza gone and the place empty.

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SeymourThis Week’s Question:

Jane Seymour, who married Henry VIII on 30 May 1536, was descended from what other English king?

Previous Question:

What’s unusual about one of the ghosts said to haunt Athelhampton House in Dorchester?

Answer:  It’s not human. In fact, it’s not even an animal native to the UK: one of the ghosts is said to be an ape. Sadly, I have no idea what the story is behind that. The other two ghosts are said to be a cooper and the grey lady, who I guess is on extended holiday from Hogwarts.


The Spanish Armada

On May 28, 1588, the ill-fated Spanish Armada started sailing out of Lisbon, heading for the English Channel. The fleet, which consisted of 151 ships, 8,000 sailors, and 18,000 soldiers, was so huge it took two days for the whole thing to make its way out of Lisbon. The English attempted some last-minute diplomacy, but when that failed they battened down the hatches and sent their own, less well equipped fleet, to wait for the Spanish to arrive in Plymouth. Although the English had more ships, they had only half the firepower of the Spanish.

The Armada hit bad weather that forced five of its larger ships to leave the fleet, and they didn’t come within sight of England until July 19, when the Armada was sighted off Cornwall. The news was quickly relayed to London through a series of beacons, but the English fleet was trapped in Plymouth by the tide and couldn’t leave to engage the Spanish. Some of the Spanish commanders hoped to ride into Plymouth on the tide and incapacitate the English ships while they rode at anchor, but King Philip of Spain had forbidden such an action, so the fleet continued toward the Isle of Wight. As the tide turned, 55 English ships left Plymouth under the command of Lord Howard of Effingham and Sir Francis Drake.

The English engaged the Armada on July 21 near the Eddystone Rocks. The Spanish, with their superior firepower, would have the advantage in close-quarter fighting, but the English ships were faster and more agile, a fact they used to their advantage as they bombarded the Spanish from a distance. The day resulted in a draw, although the Spanish were forced to abandon two ships after they collided. Drake looted them for gunpowder and gold, but while doing so, he failed to guide the rest of the English fleet, which ended up scattered and in complete disarray by daybreak. It took them an entire day to regroup, but their speed allowed them to catch up with the Spanish relatively quickly. The two fleets engaged again on July 23, but once again nothing was decided.

The Spanish made their way to Calais in an attempt to pick up an army of 16,000 men led by the Duke of Parma. The army was not prepared to depart, so the Armada was forced to wait for them, leaving the fleet vulnerable. The English took advantage of this by sending eight fireships in amongst the tightly packed Armada vessels. Most of the ships scattered in a panic, and the English closed in, ready for battle.

The two fleets meet again near Gravelines, part of Flanders in the Spanish Netherlands. The English managed to provoke the Spanish into firing, even though the English ships were still out of range. The English fleet then closed in, firing away and damaging many of the Spanish ships. The Spanish lost many of their gunners, and the other soldiers didn’t know how to operate the complex cannons, effectively taking most of them out of the conflict. After eight hours of fierce fighting, the English ships began to run out of ammunition. By 4 p.m., they were forced to pull back. The Spanish lost five ships, and several others were severely damaged.

Despite having almost no ammunition, the English pursued the Armada all the way up to the Firth of Forth in Scotland. By then, the Spanish were suffering from exhaustion and thirst and had no choice but to return to Spain by a very hazardous route.

By September, the Armanda had managed to sail around Scotland and was in the North Atlantic, near Ireland. The ships were battered after their long journey—some only made it because their hulls were literally tied together with cables. The Gulf Stream carried the fleet closer to the coast than they planned, and they were caught in powerful gales that drove many of the ships onto the coastal rocks. Many sailors who weren’t killed by the ships hitting the rocks died of cold in the unusually chilly storms. More than 5,000 men were lost during the gales, and only half of the Armada made it back to Spain. A mere 10,000 men returned to Spain, and many of them were near death from disease, so casualties were even higher after their return home. The English lost a grand total of 50-100 men, with 400 wounded. Not a single one of their ships were sunk.

The defeat of the Spanish Armada marked the rise of England and the beginning of the decline of the mighty Spanish empire. It was also a significant turning point in the history of naval warfare, as gunnery became more important. The Armada’s defeat fed the legend of Queen Elizabeth, who was on hand to bolster the spirits of her troops waiting on shore for a Spanish land invasion that never came, and it’s thought that the defeat also gave heart to the Protestant movement across Europe, as many Protestants believed God himself had intervened to scatter the Armada and save England.

athelhampton-1This Week’s Question:

What’s unusual about one of the ghosts said to haunt Athelhampton House in Dorchester?

Previous Question:

Sir Thomas More is credited with coining what idealistic word?

Answer:  Kate Whitlaw and dewey are correct: More coined the term ‘utopia’ when he wrote his famous treatise on the ideal kingdom (though your mileage may vary on that). Well done, guys!

borgias32Previously on The Borgias: Cesare headed to France, got married, and was given an army; Micheletto talked Lucrezia out of killing Ferdinand of Naples and then took care of the job for her; Caterina kept gathering her new allies.

Ruffio has arrived at a village that’s been hit hard by the plague. Diseased bodies lie strewn on the ground and a cross burns atop a mound of ashy skeletons. He pauses beside one dead man and uses his sword to remove a scrap of cloth. A woman sitting nearby, defeated, manages to give him a WTF face. He leaves her some coins, like she’s got any use for those.

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Game-of-Thrones-S3E8-03Previously on Game of Thrones: Dany decided she wanted to free all the slaves in the next city in her path, Tyrion was forced into an engagement with Sansa, Gendry was handed over to Melisandre, and Arya found herself a hostage of the Hound.

Arya wakes, gets her bearings, and picks up a giant rock lying nearby before sneaking up on the sleeping Hound. She raises the rock above her head, ready to strike, but he wakes and tells her to go ahead and kill him, but if she fails to do so, he’ll break both her hands. She doesn’t kill him, and he doesn’t break her hands, by the look of it.

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Spencer Perceval is not one of Britain’s better known prime ministers. In fact, he’s really only notable for one reason: the poor man holds the dubious distinction of being the only British prime minister to have been assassinated. He was shot by John Belingham, a failed businessman who was found guilty of the crime and hanged on May 18, 1812.

Bellingham, as you might imagine, was a sketchy figure at best. He tried a few professions, including the navy and factory ownership, and seems to have failed at all of them. In 1803 he was accused of insurance fraud and imprisoned in Russia (which, if you have a choice, is definitely not a country you want to be imprisoned in). He was released at some point, and promptly managed to piss off the wrong person and was thrown in prison again, where he remained until 1808. He was finally able to get back to England in 1809.

Once he was home, Bellingham petitioned the UK government for compensation for his imprisonment. The government ignored him, and although his wife warned him to drop the matter, he ignored her and kept pressing. Failing to get any satisfaction, he decided the best course of action would be to shoot the prime minister. He purchased a couple of guns and had his tailors sew some nifty gun-toting pockets into his coat.

On 11 May, Bellingham went with some family friends to a watercolor exhibition, then excused himself and headed to Parliament. He hung around the lobby until Perceval appeared, then shot the PM and sat down and calmly waited for capture.

Since he was clearly crazy, they wasted no time getting him to trial. The trial began on 15 May, with Bellingham arguing that he was entitled, as a wronged man, to kill the representative of his oppressors. He did add, though, that he would have preferred to kill the Russian Ambassador, as if that would somehow make things better.

A number of people came forward to claim that Bellingham was insane (as if that wasn’t already clear), but the trial judge discounted this evidence and quickly handed down his sentence. Bellingham was duly hanged; his widow swiftly remarried, probably happy to put that particular name behind her forever.

220px-Hans_Holbein,_the_Younger_-_Sir_Thomas_More_-_Google_Art_ProjectThis Week’s Question:

Sir Thomas More is credited with coining what idealistic word?

Previous Question:

What was the name of the man who printed and published the first authorised edition of the King James Bible on 2 May 1611?

Answer:  Robert Barker, printer to James I, printed the first authorised King James Bible in 1611. 20 years later, he published the infamous ‘wicked bible’, which accidentally omitted the word ‘not’ in the sentence ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ For this misprint, he was fined £300 (more than £30,000 today) and deprived of his printers’ license. Most copies of the bible were recalled and burned; it’s estimated only 11 survive today.

Charlotte and CesarePreviously on The Borgias: Lucrezia was forced to screw her new husband in front of his cousin and her brother, who shortly after departed for France to find a wife. Giulia got on Alexander’s bad side for helping her brother attempt to balance the books, and in order to get back on his good side, she came up with a brilliant (and effective) plan to keep all the cardinals loyal. Bianca Gonzaga found her way back into Alexander’s bed, prompting her husband to publicly call Alexander out for sleeping with her.

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