Category: uk

You’re probably thinking sometime in the late 1800s. But it was actually…

The British Empire got some territorial gains after World War I, including Iraq, Oman, and Yemen.

…if they’re deaf. British Sign Language and American Sign Language are different languages, and are not mutually intelligible.

American Sign Language is distantly related to French Sign Language, as an American pastor and major contributor to American Sign Language got training from the National French Institute for the Deaf after the British deaf schools refused to share their teaching methods.

British Sign Language evolved independently from deaf communicators. Evidence of sign language in England dates back to 1576 when the Marriage Register of St Martin’s, Leicester described the vows signed by Thomas Tillsye.

Only one British Prime Minister has ever been assassinated. Spencer Percival was shot on May 11th, 1812 by
John Bellingham, a Liverpool merchant. Bellingham

who had been imprisoned in Russia and believed he was due compensation from the British government, but whose petitions had been denied for 2 years.

Between 260 and 274 CE, a series of generals ruled over the Gallic Empire. What about the Roman Empire, you are thinking? The Gallic Empire was a breakaway state that controlled the former (and future) Roman provinces of Germania, Gaul, Britannia, and for a time Hispania. It had five emperors in 14 years, printed it own coins, elected two consuls each year, and likely even had its own senate.

The Gallic Empire was a symptom of the Crisis of the 3rd Century, when Roman power was seriously challenged and breakaway states including the Gallic Empire and the Palmyrene Empires sprung up. Both were reconquered by the militarily capable Roman emperor Aurelian in 273 and 274, but the crisis did not really end until Diocletian took the purple in 284 CE.

Trinity College, one of Cambridge University’s colleges, has more Nobel laureates than most countries! It has 34 Nobel laureates. Only four countries (the USA, France, Germany, and the UK excluding Trinity College) have more.

By the way, of those 34 laureates, none are women.

Did you know that handwritten sheets – called avvisi – circulated among the cities and courts of Europe in early modern Europe after public mail routes became common? They were bought on the streets or by subscription, and had information and news from cities like Warsaw, Paris, and Madrid. They sometimes even had information from further afield such as Ireland or the American colonies. It is hard to understand now, by the once or twice weekly avvisi were a revolution in news, connecting Europeans more than ever before.

One newsletter, dated March 19th, 1588, describes the famous Spanish Armada which sailed against Queen Elizabeth I of England. It was described as having “140 or more sailing ships and eight months of provisions” plus “17,000 combat soldiers and 8,000 sailors.” The same avvisi also discusses the reconstruction of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, and how problems with pilings were fixed on-site rather than being replaced due to the “inconvenience” of closing the Grand Canal.

  • In 3800 BCE, the Babylonian Empire took the world’s first known census – of farmgoods. They counted
    livestock
    and quantities of butter, honey, milk, wool, and vegetables.
  • In 2 CE,
    China’s Han Dynasty took the oldest surviving census data, showing a
    population of 57.7 million people living in 12.4 million households.
    Chengdu, the largest city, had a population of 282,000.

  • The first modern census in Britain in 1801 didn’t ask people to list their ages.
  • The first census in the US in 1790 only cared about age if the person was a “free white male,” which was sorted by “16 years and upward” and “under 16 years.” All other categories were ageless.
  • In 1853,
    Chile passed the first census law in South America.
  • Britain’s attempt to take a census in India in 1871 was difficult because there were rumors that
    the goal of the count is to identify girls to be sent to England to fan
    Queen Victoria during a heatwave.

An astonishing late Bronze Age collection of swords, axes, spearheads and bracelets were found in Havering, in East London, in 2018. With 453 items it is the 3rd-largest hoard ever found in England! And the largest ever found in London. The Havering Hoard was uncovered as part of routine archaeological excavations before the land was opened up for gravel extraction.

The bronze axe heads and spear heads are shown here; they date to between 800 and 900 BCE.

On the Island of South Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland is a peculiar tomb. The site is a chambered tomb, built into the cliff’s edge around 3,500 BCE, and it wasn’t re-discovered until the 1950s. As you probably guessed from this post’s title, the tomb is the final resting place of 8 to 20 people – and 14 white sea eagles. Recent dating tells us the people were buried in it about 1,000 years before the eagles were.

It’s an amazing example of how a neolithic tomb was in use for many generations, and evolved in its meaning over time. Personally, I think its pretty cool that 1,000 years after their ancestors died, someone added eagles to accompany them.

After bills pass both the House of Commons and the House of Lords in British Parliament, they are required to be given “Royal Assent” by the reigning monarch, at which point they become law of the land and known as an Act of Parliament.

Royal Assent is largely a formality. The last time Royal Assent was not given was in 1707 by Queen Anne. And the last time it was given in person by the monarch was in 1854!