300 [Spartans]: Hollywood fact or fiction?

Gerard Butler as King Leonidas of Sparta in 300

The 2014 film 300 relates to the tale of the 300 Spartans who fought and fell at the hands of the Persians. How much of the film was fiction? Well, the inclusion of the ‘monster rhino’ in the battle towards the end rather gave the answer to this question away! And the portrayal of Xerxes, the king of Persia, was a bit ‘punk rock’ to say the least. However, the film did have some truth in it – somewhere. What ‘truth’ of the conflict we may know comes from the 5th century BC Greek historian, Herodotus and his Histories.

Herodotus (485-425 BC)

The 300 Spartans (see also the rather less bloody-thirsty 1962 film version of that name) is about the Battle of Thermopylae (‘The Hot Gates’ in the film) which enjoyed a cameo role in the second Persian invasion of Greece in the 5th century BC. But that is not where it all began. The small island of Naxos in the Aegean is where it all began. During most of the 6th century BC (and before) Athens had been controlled by oligarchs – aristocratic families. Then around 510 BC, it became a democracy courtesy of a chap called Cleisthenes. The democratic rule spread among the colonies of Athens – except the island of Naxos. There the oligarchs hung onto power until they were finally thrown out by the democrats in 503 BC. And rightly so.

The less blood-thirsty 1962 film version of the events

That’s when the trouble started. The Naxos oligarchs headed in search of sympathy to fellow Ionians (Greeks) on Miletus (Myletus) on the east  coast of Persia (now Turkey). This place was governed by Aristagoras who sought assistance for his beleaguered oligarchs from Artaphernes, the Persian satrap of Sardis. Artaphernes saw ‘£ or $ signs’ (actually darics) and control of Naxos ahead so he sent a Persian fleet to give Naxos a seeing-to. The Naxians were expecting the intrusion and defeated the Persian invaders.

peloponnesianwars

Map of Aegean showing Naxos (centre) 

Aristagoras panicked as he thought Artaphernes would be severely vexed and take it out on him, so he called for Athenian help. Cleisthenes sent a force and took Sardis but, hearing of a large Persian army heading their way, the Athenians hastened home. This was the Ionian revolt of 500 BC and the remaining Ionian fleet was defeated by the Persians at Lade off the coast of Miletus (see map) in 495 BC. So ended the revolt.

1st Persian invasion

Darius I, king of Persia was none too pleased with the Athenian interference and so began the 1st Persian invasion in 490 BC . Now, looking at the map below, who do you think is going to be victorious?

 The Persian Empire is shaded brown. Greece is up there top left (in white) opposite Lydia – William Hill were offering odds 300 to 1 against a Greek victory

Darius’ force, under Artaphernes and Datis, first overpowered Naxos (well, it started it) then landed at Marathon, on the Greek mainland (see 1st map above) with about 600 hundred ships and some 30,000 soldiers (estimates vary). There were only around 9,000 Athenians and 1,000 Plataeans opposing this Persian force. This is where the marathon runner comes in. He, Phidippides (or Philippides), was sent to summon Spartan assistance [1]. Unfortunately Sparta was otherwise engaged in a religious festival and declined the summons until the festival was over (in about 10 days). The battle could not wait that long but it is not entirely clear why the engagement then took place. The odds were certainly against the Greeks. Herodotus makes no mention of Persian cavalry, so one suggestion is that they (the cavalry) were embarking onto ships to sail around to attack an undefended Athens. The Athenian generals, Callimachus and Miltiades, took advantage and attacked the Persians whilst they were preoccupied with this manoeuvre. Whatever the strategies, the Athenians were victorious with only 192 losses (plus 11 Plataeans) to some 6,400 Persians. The Spartans turned up the next day! [2].

Darius I

2nd Persian invasion

After Darius’ death, his son Xerxes decided that it was time the Greeks were punished for their audacity at Marathon. In 481 BC he set out with another vast army of possibly 150,000 men (we don’t know the exact figure), under Mardonius. In fact, there were two Persian forces – one travelling by land and one by sea. The latter sailed towards Athens and the former came around the mainland and crossed the Hellespont by way of a ‘bridge’ of ships – the first was destroyed by storm but Xerxes persevered and built another. Then the land force marched into Greece and headed for Thermopylae.

Xerxes’ bridge of ships across the Hellespont

At Thermopylae, in 480 BC, Xerxes came up against Leonidas, king of Sparta, along with 300 Spartans, 4,500 Peloponnesians, 1,000 Phocians and 1,000 Lacedacmonians. For several days Leonidas held the pass at Thermopyae to allow the remaining Greeks to gather forces to defend Athens. Eventually, a treacherous Malian, Ephilialtes, led 10,000 of Xerxes ‘immortals’ (his top soldiers – sort of ninjas in the film) around a goats’ path in the mountains and came up behind the Spartans. Leonidas had been aware of this track and had position the Phocians to defend it but they were surprisingly surprised by the Persians and fled.  Great!  (Leonidas had sent the other Greeks away by now realising his task was doomed and was just a delaying tactic). Leonidas and his fellow Spartans were all killed at Thermopylae (all except one, Aristodemus who let the field with an eye infectious – bless – but you knew that if you had seen the film [3]) and Xerxes marched into Attica and to Athens.

Persian routes 480 BC

Xerxes entered Athens unobstructed and burned the city to the ground. Believing the Athenians to be in a state of despondency he then attacked their fleet in the Salamis. To his surprise the Athenians were ready and waiting for him. Themistocles was able to keep the Athenian fleet together, engaging the enemy within a confined space, cancelling out the Persian superior number advantage (3:1 advantage over the Greeks – even though a large portion of the Persian fleet had been destroyed by storm on route to Athens – just not their day!). The Greek ships, although smaller in size were less crowded and more skilfully managed. This resulted in the defeat of the Persian fleet, watched by the anxious Xerxes. Retreating Persian ships collided with each other and those soldiers/sailors that managed to escape sought refuge on Psyttaleia, the only Persian occupied island in the vicinity. The Athenian, Aristides, was able to land on the island and disposed of these survivors. As with the previous invasion, Greek loses were small compared to the enormous loses from the Persian camp. A touch of deja vu for the Persians. The Persian land force under Mardonius was finally defeated at the battle of Plataea in Boeotia by the Greeks under Pausanias (not the Greek traveller – he was much later, in 2nd century AD). Plataea, although the major victory by the Greeks over the Persians, does not get the same press as Thermopylae as it does not conjure up the same heroic imagination as Leonidas and the 300 Spartans. Such is life ….. or death.

Leonidas I of Sparta.jpg

Leonidas, king of Sparta

Statue of Leonidas at Thermopylae – the mountains in the background show the barrier the Persians were up against

The remainder of the Persian fleet was destroyed at Mycale, in the eastern Aegean, rumoured (by Herodotus) to have taken place on the same day as the battle at Plataea. It was, in fact, a battle on land not sea, as the Persians, worried about their naval defeat at Salamis, beached their ships at Mycale and awaited the Greeks. The ensuing fight resulted in the total destruction of the Persian force, ending the Persian threat against the Grecian states …….. all because of Naxos.

So all’s well that ends well …… if you were Greek. Under Pericles, Athens went on to build the Parthenon and associated buildings on the Acropolis as a result of Xerxes’ destruction of the city. This, of course, led on to another battle – that of the ‘Elgin’ Marbles (sorry Greek Marbles) which is yet undecided (see post in February).

 

Footnotes:

[1] The actual marathon running race was introduced to the first modern Olympics Games in 1896. It gets its length of 26 miles (around 40 km) from the distance from Marathon to Athens – the other story is that the runner ran this route to announce the Athenian victory at Athens, then dropped dead. The distance from Marathon to Sparta is 150 miles (240 km) which is pushing it a bit even for an Olympic race, so the Marathon-Athens story is the link the Olympic ‘authorities’ stick to.

[2] Whilst visiting Athens in 1972, I dragged my parents and brother to the Marathon site. There is just a mound and a monument there. “We’ve all this way for this!” complained my brother.

[3] In fact, Herodotus tells us that two were sent away with eye infections but one, Eurytus, returned to the battle and his death.

Advertisements

17th century British Travellers to Crete

I have introduced you to some early British travellers to Crete (Spratt and Pashey in the 19th century, Pococke in the 18th century – see January posts) but now let’s go back even further to the 17th century and give you a taster of a couple of others.

 

William Lithgow (1582-1645)

Although the son of a wealthy burgess and educated at Lanark grammar school, Lithgow was not destined to be a scholar. Possibly to escape the ill-treatment by his brothers, he chose to travel and earn a living from his writings. He visited Crete in 1609 and recorded his travels in his Painefull Peregrinations (1632) but his tales and experiences on the island are mainly of woe. On his very first day he was robbed and nearly killed; he then rescued a French slave only to be chased and nearly slain by the slave’s ‘owners’; he was nearly bitten by three snakes having been led to believe that no such venomous reptiles could live on the island; and was to be the near-victim of an Englishman’s desire for the revenge of his brother killed at the hands of a Scotsman (Lithgow was a Scot). His action-filled narrative is somewhat exaggerated at times and it is never very clear which incidents, if any, are actually invented.

William Lithgow, by Hector Gavin, circa 1800 - NPG D28046 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Lithgow dressed as a Turk whilst at ‘Troy’ (well, Old Illium)

He was disappointed with Greece having believed it to be a land of heroes now subdued by the Ottoman Turks and the same could apply to his view of Crete. He commented (keeping his early spelling):

“In all this countrey of Greece I could finde nothing to answer the famous relations, given by auncient Authors, of the excellency of the land, but the name onely; the barbarousnesse of Turkes and Time, having defaced all the Monuments of Antiquity: No shew of honour, no habitation of men in an honest fashion, nor possessours of the Countrey in a Principality. But rather prisoners shut up in prisons, or addicted slaves to cruell and tyrannicall Maisters.”

Title page to his 1632 book

If you go back to one of my June posts, you’ll see my reference to the labyrinth at Gortyns. Lithgow was there and he saw the entrance into ‘the labyrinth of Daedalus’ but did not venture into the cavern: “… I would gladly have better viewed, but because we had no candle-light we durst not enter, for there are many hollow places within it. So that if a man stumble or fall he can hardly be rescued.” He positioned it “on a face of a little hill, joining with Mount Ida, having many doors and pillars.” This must have been the site at Gortyns which is in the south east foothills of the Mount Ida range.

Lithgow and his attendant

In his Travelers to an Antique Land (1993), Robert Eisner said of Lithgow’s writing, “he does not, as they say in creative-writing curricula, bring scenes alive, but instead summarizes, ignores the particulars of the ruins he visits, generalizes, adds historical commentary, and then digresses.” In fact, his description of his fifty-eight days, travelling four hundred miles, is exceedingly brief and uninformative as far as any information regarding the island historically. His work was entertaining but not offering much to the learned traveller. But there we go, can’t all be perfect.

 

George Sandys (1578-1644)

Son of an Archbishop of York, Sandys was educated at Oxford as a gentleman of the University at the age of 11 in 1589, entering St Mary’s Hall but soon after transferring to Corpus Christi. He ‘grew into a gentleman famed for his learning in Classics and foreign languages.’ He was, as were several of his brothers and cousins, admitted to membership of Middle Temple (see one of my December posts) but he was not Called to the Bar as a barrister. Then, he would have had to have trained as a clerk for seven years but it appeared that he left after about a year to marry Elizabeth Norton. His uncle, Myles Sandys, was Treasurer of Middle Temple from 1588-1595. He travelled to Crete two years after Lithgow, in 1611.

                                                                                     George Sandys

R.B. Davis (George Sandys, poet-adventurer: a study in Anglo-American culture in the seventeenth century, 1955) was of the opinion that Sandys did not actually visit Crete, “the ship did not put into any port on Crete, though Sandys does describe country dancing on the island as though he had seen it.” Davis possibly took this view because Sandys’ brief but stylistic report on the island made several references to ancient sources but no mention of visiting any sites or actually landing on the island. Sandys said he was “Much becalmed, and not seldom crossed by contrary winds … until we approached the South-east of Candy, called formerly Creta.”

Replica of 17th century Dutch East India Company ship – in search of Crete(?)

However, Sandys must have gone the island as, in his book,  A Relation of a Journey Begun An. Dom 1610 … etc (1615), he described certain specific areas, such as Mount Ida and Gortyns and its labyrinth. He visited the labyrinth in 1611 but was a little vague as to whether it was actually at Knossos or Gortyns, although his reference to Ida would imply Gortyns as (as mentioned above) the latter is in the foothills of the former:

“For between where once stood Gortina and Gnossos at the foot of Ida, under the ground are many Meanders hewn out of rock turning this way & now that way … But by most this is thought to have been a quarry where they had the stone that built both Gnossos and Gortina being forced to leave such walls for the support of the roof, and by following of the veines to make it so intricate.”

labyrinth

Entrance to Gortyns Labyrinth around the 18th/19th century

Warren believed that Sandys was the first investigator of the cave when he remarked, “Sandys appears as the first British traveller actually to enter the Labyrinth.” Warren obviously didn’t count Lithgow’s visit in 1609 as he didn’t go into the cave (and rightly so – can’t get credit for doing things by halves).

Sandys’ references to other sites are rather limited and Warren’s comment of Sandys leaving a “full description of Crete in his book of 1615, packed with Classical scholarship and ancient history …” is somewhat of an exaggeration. He was certainly interested in Classical literature, having translated Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Book One of Virgil’s Aeneid, but of his travels, generally, he had little to say of antiquities, being more interested in mythology.

Mythology of Theseus and the Minotaur in the Cretan labyrinth

.


Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I have now come to the end of my research of the notebooks of Dr Artemus Smith, archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction. Here is the last extract:

I was obliged to write a reference for a member of my archaeological unit.  It read as follows:

 

Casper Dempsey-Smythe can always be found

hard at work. He works independently, without

wasting the unit’s time talking to colleagues. He never

thinks twice about assisting a fellow employee, and always

finishes given assignments on time. Often he takes extended

measures to complete his work, sometimes skipping coffee

breaks. He is a dedicated individual who has absolutely no

vanity in spite of his high accomplishments and profound

knowledge in his field. I firmly recommend that he be

promoted to executive field officer, and a proposal will be

executed as soon as possible.

 

Addendum: The darn fool was standing over my shoulder whilst I wrote this reference, which I sent to you earlier today. Kindly re-read it, referring only to the odd numbered lines.

art-smth

 

 

Travels in Crete 2: Bramber Tours

I FEAR the weekend interlude into historical trivia has, this week, been interrupted by my expedition to Crete. On such visits Sarah and I sometimes conduct a ‘Bramber Tours’ (that’s what we call it) of a small portion of the island on behalf of whoever comes to join us – in this instance, John and Mavis. Our visitation was for ten days of which John & Mavis were with us for eight. We collected them from the airport at Heraklion and proceeded to the well-trawled Minoan site of Knossos (check out previous posts in June). The Bronze Age ‘palace’ of Knossos (c 1700-1450 BC) is situated just south of the airport and so is, of course, an essential first trip as it is probably the most famous site on the island (well, it is if you are interested in ancient history and/or archaeology). For April the weather was very agreeable, the sun revealing itself without interruption.

knossos_centralcourt_01

Knossos in the Central Court – the buildings are nearly all Sir Arthur Evans’ reconstructions – to the left, the cult rooms (front walls are genuine Minoan); in the centre, Evans’ staircase to his speculative first floor; and to the right (ground floor), the Throne Room

The ‘Bramber Tours’ itinerary for the week consisted of just three trips including the one to Knossos and two from Mochlos, the small village where we all stay (see end of May post last year – the part 1 of ‘Travels in Crete’). The other two visitations were focused on such places tourists are less likely to visit – for reasons, usually, of their obscurity.

The first of these was the Richtis Waterfall. An impressive natural location if you can ever find it. The journey took us eastwards from Mochlos to Exo Mouliana. Here we turned off the village at a sign ‘Richtis Beach’ (which you can only see coming from the other direction!) and drove down hairpin bends (John referred to it as a white-knuckle ride ….. but I knew what I was doing!!).  After about 15 minutes we came to the beach – we ignored that (it’s nothing very much) and turned right into a car park area for the waterfall (although you wouldn’t know it was for the waterfall). Some common sense has to prevail to follow an ‘almost’ obvious path to the waterfall. It took us up and down a rocky terrain, through woodland, occasionally crossing very narrow but shallow parts of the river itself – so it is useful to wear shoes/sandals that you don’t mind getting wet. The excursion through the ‘enchanted forest’  took about 40-45 minutes but depends upon how fast you are proceeding of course. The end result, when the waterfall reveals itself, is worth the effort. We concluded the day, still in glorious sunshine, with a beer or two back in Mochlos at Taverna Kochylia (see, again, end of May post last year).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Richtis Waterfall (some 30 m in height)

The next trip was up into the mountains from Karvousi, just west of Mochlos. Further hairpin bends were are encountered but the ‘road’ (you can just about call it that) is not too bad and, after turning left at the first fork, it leads to the 3000 year old olive tree of Vouves. This tree dates back to the Minoans and is still going strong. It cannot be exactly dated by radioisotopes because its heartwood (naturally occurring chemical transformation …. oh, look it up) has been lost over the years but has been roughly dated by its size and general annual ring growth. This makes it approximately 2000 years but scientists from the University of Crete date it around 4000 years old (well, better for tourism). Anyway, let’s split the difference at 3000 years (which seems to be the general consensus of opinion).  In 2009 it was declared a protected natural monument and was classed as ‘monumental’ by the Association of Cretan Olive Municipalities due to the large size of its trunk. The trunk has a perimeter of 12.5 m (41 ft) and a diameter of 4.6 m (15 ft).

 P1000394

‘3000’ year old olive tree 

Image result for oldest olive tree in crete

Different view of  ‘3000’ year old olive tree (not my photo but gives you a better idea of scale)

Part of this same trip was the Late Minoan IIIC site of Vronda (okay, that’s four trips in all). We returned to the fork (mentioned above), and took the right turn and on up into the mountain. The Minoans headed into the hills after the invasion of the Mycenaeans from mainland Greece around 1450 BC and this is one such site in which they settled. It is interesting to wonder how they actually got there as it’s hard enough by car! The rocky ‘road’ (you can hardly call it that now) is a somewhat difficult terrain to travel. I recall the last time I did it was in a four-wheel drive jeep – much more sensible than a Toyota saloon weighed down by four people. To make matters worse I missed the site and carried on up the ‘road’ that became less and less agreeable. Realising my error it was time to turn back. Well, that was easier said than done on this narrow track. Fortunately I found a small inlet to enable me to carry out the manoeuvre but not before all three of my passengers decided to exit the vehicle and volunteer to walk back down the rubbled pathway to the sought-after Minoan settlement.

Most of Vronda is very late Minoan, 1200-1025 BC (the ‘IIIC’ part of Late Minoan above) and has a fair share of hearth and oven occupied buildings and several small tholos tombs (see those of Mycenae in one of last July’s post). The pattern of buildings suggests the nuclear family as a basic social unit with each family cooking and eating together in large rooms. So now you know.

P1000401
      Vronda – large building with hearth in the middle 

   P1000408

 Vronda tholos tomb entrance (centre) with lintel above

The day was completed with a visit to the Tholos beach down from Kavousi so John could go for a swim before embarking back to Mochlos and Taverna Kochylia for another beer or two (sound familiar?).

tholos beach 2

Tholos beach, Kavousi

P1000380

From Mochlos – I forget which evening this was but the full moon delighted us by rising up from behind the hills 

.


Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I continue my research of the notebooks of Dr Artemus Smith, archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction. Here is another extract:

I decided to introduce a very good friend of mine to my wife the other day and so took him home, unannounced, for dinner at 6:30 pm, after work.
My wife was not impressed. She screamed her head off while my friend sat open-mouthed and listened to the tirade which (cutting it a little short) went a follows  ….

“My hair and makeup are not done.  The house is a mess and the dishes are still in the sink.  Can’t you see I’m still in my pajamas and I certainly can’t be bothered with cooking tonight!  Why the heck did you bring him home unannounced you darned fool?”

I replied with the truth, “Because he’s thinking of getting married.”

art-smth

Charles I – above the Law?

SHOULD Charles I have been tried by a Court of Law or is the Monarch above the law? His trial – well, it wasn’t much of a trial – in January 1649 lasted three days, but not three full days; it was  a bit of a non-event actually. Basically he refused to enter a plea against the charges arguing that ‘the Court’ had no authority to charge him as he was top dog being king. Today, if you refuse to enter a plea it is assumed you are saying you are not guilty and the State (aka the Crown Prosecution) must prove you ‘done it’. In the days of Charley boy, in the 17th century, it was the reverse – if you didn’t enter a plea it was assumed you were guilty.

charles-i-

Charley boy (1600-1649)

The Court in question was the High Court of Justice (not the same High Court as we have today) sitting at Westminster Hall. The judges were the Parliamentary Commission and its President was John Bradshaw who did most of the talking (when the king wasn’t). Bradshaw was a barrister, called to the Bar at Grays Inn (one of the Inns of Court – see my previous blog in December on another one, Middle Temple). The prosecution was led by John Cook, also a barrister from Grays Inn, and it was his task to read out the charges. He would then have had to prove the case against Charles but that was to be unnecessary as Charles saved him the bother.

John Bradshaw (1602-1659)

The trial began on the afternoon of Saturday 20th January. Cook was continually interrupted by the king in his attempts to read out the charges. Cook: “My Lord, on behalf of the [House of] Commons of England and of all the people thereof, I do accuse Charles Stuart here present of high treason and high misdemeanours, and I do, in the name of the Commons of England, desire the charge may be read unto him.” As Cook was about to read the charges, Charles tapped him with his silver-headed cane, saying, “Hold on.” Cook declined to hold on but, instead, carried on reading the charges.  ‘Tap, tap’. Cook ignored the tapping. ‘Tap, tap’ – then the silver head of the cane fell off. Cook ignored it and continued reading. It’s a bit like a comedy show……. Then Bradshaw gave the king a telling off, insisting that the charges had to be read without further interruption. Charles obeyed like a good little king.

‘Fictitious portrait called John Cook’ by Robert Cooper

When the charges had been completed the king was ask how he pleaded to them. He simply replied, “I would know by what power I am called hither. I would know by what authority, I mean lawful… Remember I am your King.” He rattled on a bit more but basically he was saying that this Court had no authority to try him.

Bradshaw responded, “In the name of the people of England, of which you are elected king.” Ooooops, mistake. Charles came back, “England was never an elective Kingdom, but a hereditary Kingdom for near these thousand years.” This went on awhile – same questions on authority by Charles, same answers by Bradshaw. Eventually Bradshaw called an end to the proceedings and adjourned the Court until Monday, at which time he hoped the king would answer the charges. Well, Monday came and went with the same results – the king demanding on whose authority was he being charged and Bradshaw responding with “We are satisfied with our authority…They [the members of Commission] sit here by the authority of the Commons of England.” Charles objected, “The Commons was never a Court of Judicature, I would know how they came to be so.”  Whoa, good point Charley; indeed, the House of Commons was not a Court but Parliament was (and the Commons is part of Parliament). Anyway, stalemate. So Bradshaw adjourned again to the next day to give the king one last chance. Tuesday came and Charles didn’t relent on his point of view so Bradshaw, along with his fellow judges, treated his obstinacy as a guilty plea.

Charles (sitting, wearing hat, with back to you) in ‘the dock’ at Westminster Hall

On the 27th January, the Commissioners (68 of them) reassembled to pass sentence. It was at this stage that Charles attempted to refute the allegations made against him, saying, “I would desire only one word before you give sentence; and that is that you would hear me concerning those great imputations that you have laid to my charge.” A bit late now – and Bradshaw told him so. The clerk (possibly Andrew Broughton) rose to his feet and began reading the Commissioners’ decision, “Charles Stuart, as a Tyrant, Traitor, Murderer and public enemy, shall be put to death, by the severing his head from his body.”  Again the king tried to speak but was told he could not be heard after sentence. On the 30th January 1649 the king was executed. Regicide rules OK.

The idea of criminal law in the UK is that we are judged by our equals. Hence judgements by members of the public (generally) in the Magistrates Court (magistrates are not lawyers, they are members of the public) and likewise with juries (12 members of the public)  in the Crown Court (what do you mean you don’t know about these courts? – to be enlightened, click here). And ‘in the ‘good old days’ aristocratic peers (Lords) had to be tried by the House of Lords. So who is equal to the Monarch to try him/her? Is the Monarch above the law? Obviously not in the 17th century. It hadn’t been tried (excuse the pun) before or since.

 

POSTSCRIPT

John Bradshaw died in 1659, aged 57. Charles II came to the throne in 1660 and the following year, on 30th January, the 12th anniversary of his father’s execution, he had Bradshaw’s and Oliver Cromwell’s (he had died in 1658) remains exhumed and displayed in chains at the gallows at Tyburn where official hangings took place. The following day, their heads were put on spikes outside Westminster Hall and their bodies thrown into a common pit. Charles also had his father’s prosecutor, John Cook, put on trial for high treason for which he was found guilty and hung, drawn and quartered. There’s justice for you.

.


Artemus Smith’s Notebooks

I continue my research of the notebooks of Dr Artemus Smith, archaeologist of great courage, determination and fiction. Here is another extract:

I met my good friend Dr Armani Haberdasher the other day. He said his wife had been complaining about him going to the pub every night so she decided to join him. When they arrived he asked her what she would like to drink. Not being much of a drinker she said she didn’t know so would have whatever he was having. He ordered two whiskeys. When they arrived he knocked his back in one. She took a sipped and exclaimed, “Aaaagh, that’s horrible!”

He turned to her and said, “Well there you go. And you thought I was down here enjoying myself every night.”

art-smth