Germany’s Day of Fate

November 9th is a momentous day to Germans. Many major events in German history occurred on that day: Robert Blum's death in 1848, Kaiser Wilhelm's abdication in 1918, Einstein's Nobel Prize win in 1922, the failed Munich Putsch/Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, Kristallnacht in 1938, and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Since shortly after World War II, November 9th was nicknamed Schicksalstag ("Day of Fate") by some media members. But its current widespread use in Germany started after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"Kaiunbashi Bridge (First National Bank in Snow)" by Kobayashi Kiyochika. It comes from a series of prints "Pictures of Famous Places in Tokyo" (1876–81) where the artist focused on how light, from the new technologies that were being introduced, were transforming Tokyo. The Meiji Restoration had just occurred and industrialization and westernization being rushed in by the new government. The artist’s presentations of dawn, dusk, and night evoked a pensive mood suggesting a personal uncertainty in a moment of major societal change.

The Princess Who Swallowed A Piano

The daughter of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Princess Alexandra Amelie was the only one of her nine siblings who never married. Her father put off would-be suitors by claiming she was in fragile health. But her health wasn’t the only thing fragile about Alexandra. At age 23, the pretty, dark-haired princess was found walking slowly, carefully, bow-leggedly down the corridors of the royal palace. When questioned by her worried parents, she claimed that as a little girl she had swallowed a full-size glass grand piano. The princess was worried that if she bumped into something, the piano inside her would shatter and leave her in bloody shreds.

Besides developing the glass delusion in her early twenties, the princess had a number of other eccentricities that would have been considered symptoms were she not a royal. She had an obsession with cleanliness, and wore only white. In the 1850s, Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte (son of Napoleon Bonaparte's brother Lucien) asked King Ludwig for Alexandra's hand in marriage, but he was divorced from his wife, but Ludwig refused citing Alexandra's "delicate health."

Alexandra Amelie eventually was appointed abbess of the Royal Chapter for Ladies of Saint Anne in Munich and Würzburg. It was a religious community specifically for noble ladies. She became a writer and published original pieces in German as well as translations of French literature. The princess died at 49

Quote taken from Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories From History-- Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie. Alexandra Amalie lived from 1826 to 1875, and lived eventually as an abbess.

Silver Throne of the Maharaja of Dungarpur

This is half of a pair: one was made for the maharajah, one for the maharani. Rajasthan, India, 1854-1855.

Japanese Daimyo's Formal Attire, circa 1830

This outfit is known as a kamishimo, a type of formal wear restricted to high-ranking members of warrior clans. They are easily distinguished by their broad, flaring shoulders. From the crest on the front, the double apricot branches of the Nabeshima clan, we know it was worn by Nabeshima Naomasa, one of the last daimyō in Japan. An innovator who saved his lordship from bankruptcy, Naomasa did a lot of things including establishing a number of industries in his domain, building the first reverberatory furnace in the country, and introducing smallpox vaccination into Japan by experimenting first on his own son.

Nadezhda Durova (1783-1866), was the daughter of a Russian Army officer. When Napoleon invaded Russia, she decided that the boys clearly couldn't handle this, and it was time for a woman to step up. So she disguised herself as a man, and served in a cavalry regiment. She was the first recorded Female Officer in the Russian army, and was awarded the Cross of St George for bravery under fire. Her memoir, The Cavalry Maiden, is a significant document of its era because few junior officers of the Napoleonic wars published their experiences

The World's Most Famously Neutral Countries

Sweden fought in its last war in 1814, and Switzerland fought in its last war in 1815. So although Swiss neutrality is more famous, Sweden’s neutrality is older. (For those interested, Sweden's last military action was an invasion to force Norway under Swedish control. Switzerland's was fighting on Napoleon's side until Waterloo.) Neither Sweden nor Switzerland participated in either world war, and today, neither are members of NATO.

Darwin Was Wrong (About Bees)

In his seminal work, On the Origin of Species, Darwin wrote that bumblebees are the only pollinators of red clover. In 1862 he discovered that this is wrong. Honeybees also pollinate red clover well. He wrote to his friend John Lubbock, “I hate myself, I hate clover, and I hate bees.”

France in Color, 1890 to 1900

Click through the image gallery to see spectacular postcards of France created using the Photochrom process. Though a time-consuming and delicate endeavor, the Photochrom process resulted in color images that were especially amazing in the early days of color photography.

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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