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William the Silent is Silenced

William the Silent has the dubious distinction of being the 1st government official in history to be assassinated by handgun. William has been leading the Dutch Revolt against the Spaniards and doing reasonably well despite setbacks, so the King of Spain has had a contract out on him. A lawyer steps forward to do the deed. He asks for no reward other than to have his family taken care of should he succeed and die. This is an easy promise for the King to make since he has no confidence that the lawyer will succeed. The lawyer approaches William dressed as a beggar, pulls a wheel-lock handgun from under his cloak and fires. William the Silent is no more. His last words are...

My God, have pity on my soul; my God, have pity on this poor people.

[1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
A statue of William the Silent can be found on the campus of Rutgers University at the College Avenue Campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The university was founded before the American Revolution by the Dutch Reformed Church. In case anyone was worried, the assassin was captured and beheaded but after having his hand burned off, his flesh pulled from his body with tongs, disemboweled while alive and pulled apart by horses, the beheading seems like an afterthought. William the Silent got the nickname because while he was on a hunt with King Henry the 2nd of France, he listened quietly as the King went on and on about the plans to quell the uprising in the Netherlands. In saying nothing, William learned strategic information that helped the Dutch Revolt. Sometimes it is more important to listen than to speak.

Was It Really Worth 'Flipping Off' the Czar of Russia? *

Ivan the Terrible has a massive stroke while playing chess. This ends his reign of terror, opening the way for his son, age 26, to take control... or non-control. Feodor the 1st is a simple man who likes traveling the land ringing church bells. Calling him an idiot would be an insult to real idiots. Naturally, he has a regent to run things. His name is only important to people who watched cartoons as children in the 1960s. The regent will prove to be a feckless leader. The Romanov Dynasty will gain control in 1613. It will be a welcome relief because between now and then, about 2 million people are going to die from starvation due to a multi-year famine. These troubling times will haunt the Russian mind for centuries to come. [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... 2 million people dead and I'm going to talk about a silly cartoon. I apologize in advance. The name of the regent of the Czar of Russia at that time was Boris Godunov (GAW-doo-nahv). He became the Czar after Feodor's death. The Little Ice Age was the cause of freezing temperatures in Russia that killed the crops during the summer months but Czar Boris got most of the blame for the Time of Troubles as they were called. Regarding cartoons, those who enjoyed the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show will remember the two comic spies: Boris and Natasha. The name "Boris Badenov" is a mocking play on the name of Czar Boris. He has been dead over 400 years, but someone still thought it was worth the trouble to flip him the bird. Amazing! [6] [7]

The Lost Colony of Virginia, the Mystery Begins

Sir Walter Raleigh and friends have managed to pool their funds (and distribute their liability) for the first English colony in the Americas. Raleigh has received a charter from Queen Elizabeth the 1st to colonize the New World which he must exercise quickly or lose the franchise. The purpose of the charter is to establish a colony as a base to bring forth the riches of the New World and to act as a base of operations for English privateers while they prey on Spanish shipping. The colony is established on Roanoke Island, but it is underfunded and in 1587 they will send someone back to England to beg for help. After several delays due to war, the rescue expedition will arrive in 1590. All that will be left will be a single skeleton, the letters 'C R O' carved into a tree and the word "Croatoan" carved into a post. [8] [9] [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
To this day we can only guess what happened to the Roanoke Colony. The word "Croatoan" could have meant that they decided to move to Croatoan Island. Death from disease, Indian attack or Spanish attack seems unlikely. They had agreed to a signal for danger, the Maltese Cross. If they could carve letters into a tree, they could carve a Maltese Cross. (FYI, the Maltese Cross would have been remembered as the symbol of the Knights Hospitaller who had been attacked on the Island of Malta by the Ottoman Turks.) Since many of the structures at the colony were dismantled and the cannons missing, they had obviously moved. To where, no one knows. [12] [13]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1584, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. 1584: Balthasar Gerard, assassin of William the Silent. Executed Today (2015). Retrieved on 26 April 2015. “After 4 days of torture, on this date in 1584, Balthasar Gérard (Geeraerts) finally met his end by beheading on the wheel.”
  2. William the Silent - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 26 April 2015. “Mon Dieu, ayez pitié de mon ame; mon Dieu, ayez pitié de ce pauvre peuple. (My God, have pity on my soul; my God, have pity on this poor people).”
  3. Wheellock - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 May 2015. “A wheellock, wheel-lock or wheel lock, is a friction-wheel mechanism to cause a spark for firing a firearm. It was the next major development in firearms technology after the matchlock and the first self-igniting firearm.”
  4. Ivan the Terrible - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 May 2015. “Ivan died from a stroke while playing chess with Bogdan Belsky on 28 March [O.S. 18 March] 1584. Upon Ivan's death, the Russian throne was left to his unfit and childless middle son Feodor. Feodor died childless in 1598, ushering in the Time of Troubles.”
  5. feckless - definition of feckless. The Free Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 28 May 2015. “feeble; weak; ineffectual; irresponsible”
  6. Boris Badenov - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 May 2015. “Badenov's name is a play on that of the 16th-century Russian Tsar Boris Godunov ('bad enough' vs. 'good enough'). His accent and explosive temper are an homage to Hollywood actor Akim Tamiroff, especially Tamiroff's role in The Great McGinty, a 1940 movie directed by Preston Sturges.”
  7. Time of Troubles - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 May 2015. “After Feodor's death, his brother-in-law and closest adviser, boyar Boris Godunov, who had already acted as regent for the mentally-challenged Feodor, was elected his successor by a Great National Assembly (Zemsky Sobor). Godunov's short reign (1598-1605) was not as successful as his administration under the weak Feodor.”
  8. Roanoke Colony History -- Facts about Roanoke Island Settlement. Totallyhistory.com (2015). Retrieved on 28 May 2015. “Upon landing on August 18, 1590, White found the colony completely deserted. No sign of any of the colonists was found except the word 'Croatoan' carved into a post and 'Cro' carved into a tree. Buildings had been taken down, indicating the colonists did not leave in a hurry, but left intentionally.”
  9. Walter Raleigh - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 May 2015. “Raleigh's plan in 1584 for colonisation in the 'Colony and Dominion of Virginia' in North America ended in failure at Roanoke Island, but paved the way for subsequent colonies. These expeditions were funded primarily by Raleigh and his friends, but never provided the steady stream of revenue necessary to maintain a colony in America. (Subsequent colonisation attempts in the early 17th century were made under the joint-stock Virginia Company, which was able to raise the capital necessary to create successful colonies.)”
  10. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (BOOK), Knopf. ISBN 9780307265722. “Every one of these American enterprises had failed. Soberingly, the attempt, in the 1580s, to take over Roanoke Island, off the North Carolina coast, resulted in great expense--three costly voyages across the Atlantic--and the total obliteration of the colony.” 
  11. Roanoke Island - First English Colonies. NCpedia (North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources) (2007). Retrieved on 28 May 2015. “White returned to London to secure more provisions for his fledgling colony, only to return three years later to find the colony abandoned, with no trace of inhabitants and most structures destroyed.”
  12. What happened to the lost colony at Roanoke?. How Stuff Works (23 September 2008). Retrieved on 28 May 2015. “It appeared they hadn't left under duress; there were no Maltese crosses carved anywhere, the agreed-upon signal the colonists would use to indicate that danger had befallen them”
  13. Maltese cross - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 May 2015. “The cross is eight-pointed and has the form of four 'V'-shaped elements, each joining the others at its vertex, leaving the other two tips spread outward symmetrically. Its design is based on crosses used since the First Crusade.”

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