Oh Henry! The King Doubles Up on His Wives
Early in the year King Henry the 8th of England marries Anne of Cleves in order to secure certain political ties with Germany. It hasn't worked out. King Henry finds Anne unappealing, and his political maneuvers have already fallen apart. By mutual consent and through an act of Parliament, it is now treason to suggest that there was a marriage between Anne of Cleves and the King. She will continue to live in England with the King supporting her. She will call herself "The King's beloved sister." The King will marry Catherine Howard on the rebound. It is a quickie marriage and another mistake. By next year, Queen Catherine will be hopping into bed with King Henry's close friend: Thomas Culpeper. The affair will be short-lived... for both of them.    
Global Warming in the Midst of the Little Ice Age *
The Rhine has run dry, and the River Seine has gone insane. Record temperatures this summer have scorched the earth, ruining the German and French wine industry. The wine industry reached its peak a few year back but it was cut off at the knees during the German Peasants' Rebellion which took place mainly in the German wine-growing regions. (Parts of modern day France and its wine industry are actually part of Germany at this time.) The lack of labor, the break down of infrastructure in the valleys and the ongoing heat and drought have brought that growth to an end. In modern days the Rhine is the busiest river in the world. During World War II the Nazis tried to blow up a bridge across the Rhine. They failed and as the Allied troops came across, a soldier placed a sign that read, "Cross the Rhine With Dry Feet Courtesy of 9th Armored Division." In 1540 you didn't need a bridge. You could walk across the Rhine dry shod.    
Our Father Abraham's Synagogue and the West Bank of the Jordon River
The Jewish community of Hebron [heh-BRAWN] has built a synagogue but struggle to select a name for it. As the legend goes, nine Jewish men are reciting the Yom Kippur prayers with sadness. Yon Kippur is always a tough holiday but Jewish law says that certain very important prayers may only be recited in the presence of a quorum. They are short one man until an anonymous Jew shows up to complete the quorum. When the prayers are completed the man disappears. The congregation believes that it was Father Abraham so they name the synagogue: Avraham Avinu [ahv-rah-HAHM ah-VEE-noo] meaning Our Father Abraham.  
This Year on Wikipedia
Year 1540, Wikipedia.
- * The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
- Treason Act 1540 - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
- Catherine Howard - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 March 2015. “Catherine Howard (c.1523 -- 13 February 1542) was Queen of England from 1540 until 1541, as the fifth wife of Henry VIII who referred to her as his 'rose without a thorn'. Catherine married Henry VIII on 28 July 1540, at Oatlands Palace, in Surrey, almost immediately after the annulment of his marriage to Anne of Cleves was arranged. Catherine was beheaded after less than two years of marriage to Henry on the grounds of treason for committing adultery while married to the King.”
- Thomas Culpeper - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 March 2015. “Thomas Culpeper (c. 1514 -- 10 December 1541) was a courtier and close friend of Henry VIII, and related to two of his queens, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. He is known to have had many private meetings with Catherine after her marriage, though these may have involved political intrigue only, as the one letter she is known to have written him does not seem to suggest intimacy. But under torture, he confessed to adultery, and both were beheaded for treason.”
- Anne of Cleves - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 March 2015. “The marriage was declared never consummated, and she was not crowned queen consort. Following the annulment of their marriage, Anne was given a generous settlement by the King, and thereafter referred to as the King's Beloved Sister.”
- The Lady in the Tower: the Fall of Anne Boleyn. Ballantine Books. ISBN 9780345453211. “So she surely could not have predicted, when the King got up and walked out of the royal stand on that portentous May Day, it would be the last time she'd ever set eyes on him, and that she herself and those gallant contestants in the jousts were about to be annihilated in one of the most astonishing and brutal coups in English history.”
- Thomas Cromwell - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 16 March 2015. “During his rise to power, Cromwell made many enemies, including his former ally Anne Boleyn; he played a prominent role in her downfall.”
- "Chapter 12. A Poor Honest Life", Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings. Ballantine Books. ISBN 9780345521354. “[...] the fortunes of the Boleyns suffered a fatal crash on May 2, 1536, when Queen Anne was arrested on charges of plotting the death of the King and committing adultery with five men, one of whom was her brother, Rochford, who was arrested that same day.”
- Weather chronicler relates of medieval disasters. goDutch (2015). Retrieved on 20 March 2015. “According to Buisman's recent findings, the year 1540 was one with an even more severe summer than was 2003. All over Europe, the heatwave lasted, off and on, for seven months, with parched fields and dried up rivers, such as the Rhine. People in Paris, France could walk on the river bed of the Seine without getting their feet wet.”
- 'Cross the Rhine With Dry Feet - Courtesy of The 9th Armored Division'. The Canton Independent-Sentinel (March 12, 2015). Retrieved on 20 March 2015. “(March 4, 1945) When the Germans gave the signal to begin demolition of the bridge two explosions occurred, the bridge shuddered, but didn't go down. The American forces overtook the bridge in about 15 minutes. Afterwards the 9th Armored Division put up a sign on the bridge head stating 'Cross the Rhine With Dry Feet Courtesy of 9th Armored Division.'”
- German wine - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 March 2015. “Basically, the wine regions were located in the same places as today, but more lands around the rivers, and land further upstream Rhine's tributaries, was cultivated. The subsequent decline can be attributed to locally produced beer becoming the everyday beverage in northern Germany in the 16th century, leading to a partial loss of market for wine, to the Thirty Years' War ravaging Germany in the 17th century, to the dissolution of the monasteries, where much of the wine-making know-how was concentrated, in those areas that accepted the Protestant reformation, and to the climatic changes of the Little Ice Age that made viticulture difficult or impossible in marginal areas.”
- MUST READ: Collection of Papers in Response to NOAA's 'State of the Climate in 2009'. Climate Realists (August 3, 2010). “Likewise, a major inconsistency of the Report is its stating, with respect to temperature, that 'a particular year can experience record-breaking highs and lows in any given location,' while, 'as a whole, global climate continues to warm.' [...] Yet the Report goes on to describe six such extreme events that occurred in the 'particular year' of 2009, which would have to have been done for no other reason than to imply that these weather extremes were caused by global warming, which flies in the face of their earlier contention that record-breaking low temperatures in any year say nothing about the long-term thermal tendency of the planet.” | accessdate = 20 March 2015 }}
- Rhine. Reference.com (2015). Retrieved on 20 March 2015. “It rises in the Swiss Alps and flows generally north, passing through or bordering on Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, France, and the Netherlands before emptying into the North Sea. [...] The Rhine was declared free to international navigation in 1868 [...] Navigation above Basel is controlled jointly by Switzerland and Germany. [...] The river carries more traffic than any other waterway in the world and is navigable by oceangoing vessels as far as Mannheim, Germany, by river barges to Basel, Switzerland, and by pleasure craft and sightseeing boats on navigable stretches as far as Rheinfelden, Switzerland.”
- "Germany History", The Oxford companion to wine. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198661592.
- The Cooling World. Newsweek (April 28, 1975). Retrieved on 20 March 2015. “The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth's climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic.”
- Sites in Hevron -- Avraham Avinu Synagogue. Yeshiva Shavei Hevron (2015). Retrieved on 20 March 2015. “The synagogue received its name on the basis of a story that appears in Rabbinic literature, in which, one Yom Kippur, there were only nine Jews in Hevron, leaving the community without a tenth Jew to make a minyan. [...] As the holiday commenced, an unknown Jew arrived, and in his merit, the Jews of Hevron were able to pray in a minyan. At the end of the holiday, the man disappeared. He appeared to the rabbi of the community in a dream and informed him that he is Avraham Avinu.”
- Abraham Avinu Synagogue - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 February 2015.
- 1929 Hebron massacre - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 March 2015. “The Hebron massacre refers to the killing of sixty-seven Jews (including 23 college students) on 24 August 1929 in Hebron, then part of Mandatory Palestine, by Arabs incited to violence by false rumors that Jews were massacring Arabs in Jerusalem and seizing control of Muslim holy places. The event also left scores seriously wounded or maimed. Jewish homes were pillaged and synagogues were ransacked. Many of the 435 Jews who survived were hidden by local Arab families.”
- Mohammad Reza Pahlavi - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 20 March 2015. “Several other factors contributed to strong opposition to the Shah among certain groups within Iran, the most notable of which were United States and UK support for his regime, clashes with Islamists and increased communist activity. By 1979, political unrest had transformed into a revolution which, on 17 January, forced him to leave Iran.”
- Obama Mulls Supporting UN Resolution That Pushes Israel Back to Pre-1967 Borders. Breitbart (19 March 2015). Retrieved on 20 March 2015. “President Barack Obama is considering agreeing to a United Nations Security Council resolution &lquot;embodying the principles of a two-state solution that would be based on the pre-1967 lines between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip and mutually agreed swaps,&rquot; a senior administration official has told the New York Times.”