Friday, January 30, 2015


Today, January 30th, is the day that the sleepy little village of Yerba Buena changed its name to San Francisco in 1847 (the year before discovery of gold on January 24, 1848; the treaty of Guadelupe Hildago, which ended the Mexican American War, signed a week later on February 2, 1848; then the Gold Rush the following year in 1849—when the population surged from 800 to 80,000 in a single year; and California Statehood in 1850).

I had already known that January 30th was the anniversary of the beheading of Charles I outside Inigo Jones' glorious Banqueting House in Whitehall. But I hadn’t known that Oliver Cromwell was ceremoniously executed twelve years to the day after Charles. He had already been dead for two years! When I first went to the Henry VII chapel at the very end of Westminster Abbey, I was surprised to see a bronze plaque in the floor: "Oliver Cromwell 1659 -1661." What ... he was only two years old? Could this have been the grandson of the great Lord Protector and regicide of Charles I? Well no, it was the old Puritan himself.

He was buried there for two years until the Stuart Restoration. Charles II had him exhumed, beheaded, burned and drawn and quartered, then secretly scattered twelve years to the day after his father's execution ordered by Oliver Cromwell. Nothing like revenge!
Other notable deaths on this day were Crown Prince Rudolf at Meyerling in 1889, and Mahatma Gandhi in 1947.

The day also marked Adolf Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor in 1933 (of all things, on FDR's birthday, after he was elected in November, but before his inauguration in March 1933 – afterwards changed to January 20th because the electorate didn't want to wait so long for a transfer of power, especially during a Depression.)

Until I Googled, I hadn't known that such illustrious figures as FDR, Barbara Tuchman (a great American historian & one of my favorites), the extraordinary Vanessa Redgrave, and Christian Bale shared their birthdays on January 30th.

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Titian in the Frari (Venezia)