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^  On a 21 December:
^ 2012 The world did not end ! The 13th baktun of the Mayan calendar begins.
      Since the world did not end yesterday at the end of the 12th baktun, as the Mayas had predicted, there has to be a 13th baktun, and this is its first day. The Mayan date is therefore:
13 baktun /   0  katun  /   0  tun    /  0 winal /  0   k'in  //   04   -   ahaw   //  03 -  k'ank'in    /   g2
13baktun 0katun 0tun 0winal 0k'in   04 ahaw   03 k'ank'in   G2
The 13th baktun's last day will be Sunday 25 March 2407.
In the Mayan calendar: 13 baktun 19 katun 19 tun 17 winal 19 k'in 02 kawak 07 dzek g8
2003 Rigged presidential election in Guinea, from which all other candidates, except one from a marginal party, abstain in protest. Dictatorial president Lansana Conté, in office since seizing power in a coup in 1984 (and “elected” in 1993 and 1998), is “elected” again. In 2001, made-to-order changes in the Guinean Constitution allowed Conté to seek a third term and lengthened it to 7 years from 5. Gravely diabetic, he may well die before the term is ended. On 19 December 2003 the International Crisis Group reported the political situation in Guinea as being in "a state of alarming uncertainty," citing the potential for a future military coup and well-armed movements of unemployed veterans of West Africa's recent wars. Guinea's military is divided by ethnic rivalries, that so far have been kept in check by the government. Conflicts in neighboring Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ivory Coast have flooded Guinea with refugees, who could well be recruited into future conflicts. Guinea has not relieved the desperate poverty of its masses, despite its natural resources: gold, diamonds, and a third of the world's reserves of bauxite. These riches are a mixed blessing, because the greed for natural resources has been a principal motive for civil wars in the region. Human Rights Watch has recently accused Guinea of providing arms to the Liberian rebels “Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy” for use in attacks on Monrovia in July 2003.
^ 2000 Teacher creativity breeds trouble.
      A Japanese junior high school teacher came up with a killer of a test question for his pupils, but parents were not impressed. “What are two legal ways to bump off your spouse?" was the question on the students' end-semester health exam. Outraged parents called the principal of the school in Nara, western Japan to complain, prompting an explanation and an apology, Japanese media said today. The 51-year-old male teacher, the school said, had been simply trying to see if the kids understood that smoking, excessive drinking and eating too many fatty foods were behaviors which, if encouraged, were a recipe for an early demise.
2000 El que fuera miembro de la directiva de ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) en los años ochenta, Santiago Arrózpide Sarasola, "Santi Potros", es entregado por las autoridades francesas a la justicia española.
1999 Dos agentes de la Guardia Civil evitan que la banda terrorista ETA lleve a cabo el mayor atentado de su historia, al interceptar una furgoneta bomba con 950 kilos preparada para explotar en Madrid.
^ 1998 Microsoft asks for more time to alter Java
      Microsoft asks a district court judge for more time to meet the court's specifications regarding the Java programming language. The judge had imposed a preliminary injunction giving Microsoft ninety days to alter its version of Java to conform to Sun Microsystems' specifications. Sun had alleged that Microsoft had undermined Java's ability to run on any platform by writing special extensions to the language that made certain applications perform better on Microsoft's browsers than on Netscape's. Microsoft claimed that the ninety-day period was not enough time to comply with the order and asked for an additional month. However, the following February, a judge ruled that Microsoft would be allowed to create its own independent version of Java, as long as the company did not use Sun's code.
1997 El partido de Slobodan Milosevic consigue, en medio de duras acusaciones de fraude masivo en la celebración de los comicios, imponer a su candidato, Milan Milutinovic, del partido socialista gobernante, como nuevo presidente de Serbia, frente al Partido Radical Serbio (SRS) del ultranacionalista Vojislav Seselj.
^ 1996 Jobs gets job back at Apple
      In a dramatic reversal, Apple announced on December 21, 1996, that prodigal founder Steve Jobs would return to the company. Jobs had left Apple in 1985 to found NeXT Inc., after Apple president John Sculley stripped Jobs of his responsibility for the Macintosh division. Jobs had helped found the company in 1977, encouraging his computer hobbyist friend Stephen Wozniak to build a computer he could sell to hobby shops. By 1979, Apple Computers had become the fastest growing company in history, worth more than $1 billion. In 1979, Jobs led a team of several Apple developers on a visit to Xerox PARC, where the team saw the Alto, an early computer with a graphical user interface, a mouse, and built-in networking capacity. Key elements of the Alto found their way into the Apple Macintosh, released in 1984. After Jobs left Apple, he formed NeXT Inc. and became president of Pixar animation studios. On this day in 1996, Apple announced it would buy NeXT and that Jobs would return to the company as an adviser. His triumphant return to power was complete in the fall of 1997, when Jobs was named interim CEO of Apple.
1995 The city of Bethlehem passed from Israeli to Palestinian control.
^ 1994 Intel accepts Pentium returns
      Responding to a deluge of bad publicity, Intel reversed its policy and said it would replace Pentium chips with no questions asked on this day in 1994. The November 7 issue of Electrical Engineering Times had announced a bug in the Pentium chip that could produce mathematical errors. Intel officials admitted they had known about the flaw for some time but thought it so unlikely to cause problems that they did not disclose the problem. Initially, Intel said it would replace flawed chips only if users showed they engaged in computer work that might be affected by the error. Customers attacked Intel for its position, and in early December, IBM said it would halt shipments of IBM Pentium computers. Bowing to customer pressure, Intel relented and adopted a no-questions-asked return policy. Ironically, six months later, only about three percent of customers had requested a replacement chip.
1994 Firma de un histórico acuerdo de paz en Liberia, que incluye un alto el fuego, creación de instituciones de transición y celebración de elecciones libres.
1993 La pintora Soledad Sevilla, Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas.
1993 Boris Nikolaievich Yeltsin, político e ingeniero ruso, firma un decreto por el que desaparece el legendario servicio del KGB [Komisariat Gosudarstvennoye Bezopasnosti] crea en su lugar el Servicio Federal de Contraespionaje de Rusia (SFCR). [06 Nov 1991?]
1991: 95 share in Madrid Spain 1.3 billion pesetas lottery (#47996)
^ 1991 L'URRS est morte, vive (pas pour longtemps) la CEI !
      À Alma-Ata, au Kazakhstan, les représentants de onze républiques soviétiques constatent le décès de l'URSS (69 ans). L'Union des Républiques Socialistes Soviétiques cède la place à une éphémère Communauté des États Indépendants (CEI).
      Dix ans plus tôt, l'URSS faisait encore trembler le monde. Son armée se battait en Afghanistan et le dernier «tsar rouge», Leonid Brejnev, pointait ses missiles nucléaires sur l'Europe occidentale. Mais dans le même temps, les ouvriers polonais faisaient chanceler le gouvernement communiste de Varsovie avec le soutien du premier pape polonais, l'actuel Jean-Paul II.
     À Washington, le président Ronald Reagan balayait les stigmates de la guerre du Vietnam et engageait les États-Unis dans une course aux armements, la «Guerre des étoiles». Le gouvernement soviétique, victime d'une économie à bout de souffle, s'avérait incapable de suivre son rival sur ce terrain. Il était contraint à des reculades successives sur la question des missiles, en Afghanistan et en Pologne.
      En 1985, l'arrivée à la tête de l'URSS d'un réformateur, Mikhaïl Gorbatchev (54 ans), s'accompagne d'une vaste tentative de modernisation de l'économie et des institutions. Les mots «perestroika» (ouverture) et «glasnost» (transparence) résonnent dans le monde entier. Mais il est trop tard et le régime craque de toutes parts. La catastrophe nucléaire de Tchernobyl et l'insolence d'un jeune pilote allemand qui se pose sur la Place Rouge, à Moscou, en font la démonstration.
      Mikhaïl Gorbatchev a l'immense mérite d'éviter toute effusion de sang. Mais, malgré le prix Nobel de la paix, il ne maîtrise plus les événements. Les conservateurs le renversent le 19 août 1991. Ils sont eux-mêmes battus par l'opportuniste Boris Eltsine qui accède au pouvoir suprême. Il ne reste plus qu'à liquider l'héritage de Lénine. Ce sera chose faite en quelques mois.
— Los presidentes de once repúblicas de la ex URSS acuerdan que Rusia ocupe el puesto de la URSS en el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU y otras instituciones internacionales, así como que controle el "botón nuclear".
1991 Primeras elecciones legislativas en Taiwán en 40 años, con amplia victoria del gubernamental Kuomitang (Partido Nacionalista), que reformará la Constitución.
1990 In a German television interview, Saddam Hussein declared that he would not withdraw from Kuwait by the UN deadline.
1989 Romania's dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's last speech (summarily executed on 25 December)
1989 Los rebeldes tamiles de Sri Lanka anuncian su renuncia a la violencia y su participación en las elecciones, agrupados en el Frente Popular de Liberación Tigre.
1989 US invades Panama and ousts General Noriega
^ 1988 Junk bond firm pleads guilty of securities fraud
      The once high-flying junk bond firm, Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc., pleads guilty to charges of mail, wire, and securities fraud. As part of the settlement, Drexel agreed to hand over a record $650 million in fines, as well as to cooperate with authorities in their ongoing investigation of other Wall Street figures. Drexel in fact helped snare one of its own fallen stars, Michael Milken, as the firm provided evidence that helped mount a damning case against the deposed junk-bond king. Thanks to his former firm, Milken was indicted in 1990 on nearly one-hundred counts of racketeering. Nor was the outcome of the scandal particularly kind to Drexel. Indeed, the firm's finances had already been hit hard by the waning junk bond market of the late '80s; the mammoth fraud settlement further depleted their rather barren coffers. In February of 1990, Drexel filed for Chapter 11.
1986 500'000 Chinese students gather in Shanghai's People's Square calling for democratic reforms, including freedom of the press.
1984 José Antonio Ardanza Garro es elegido presidente del Gobierno vasco en sustitución de Carlos Garaikoetxea.
1979 The US Congress approved $1.5 billion in loans to the financially threatened Chrysler Corporation in an effort to save the battered automotive giant. President Jimmy Carter signed the bill on January 7, 1980. Under the stewardship of Lee Iacocca, Chysler rebounded quickly. By the late 1980s the auto maker was posting record profits.
1976 UN General Assembly passes a resolution declaring 1979--Year of the Child
1973 Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, US & USSR meet in Geneva
1972 Soviet Union signs a separate peace with East Germany
^ 1972 Eight B-52s lost during Christmas Bombing so far.
      The Defense Department announces that eight B-52 bombers and several fighter-bombers were lost since the commencement of Operation Linebacker II on December 18. These losses included at least 43 flyers captured or killed. President Richard Nixon ordered the operation after the North Vietnamese negotiators walked out of the peace talks in Paris. In response, President Nixon immediately issued an ultimatum that North Vietnam send its representatives back to the conference table within 72 hours "or else.” When they rejected Nixon's demand, he ordered a full-scale air campaign against Hanoi and Haiphong to force them back to the negotiating table. On December 28, after 11 days of intensive bombing, the North Vietnamese agreed to return to the talks.
1971 UN Security Council chooses Kurt Waldheim as 4th secretary general (on his 53rd birthday), not realizing he has been a Nazi.
^ 1969 Thailand to withdraw its troops from Vietnam.
      Thailand announces plans to withdraw its 12,000-man contingent from South Vietnam. Thai forces went to Vietnam as part of the Free World Military Forces, an effort by President Lyndon B. Johnson to enlist allies for the United States and South Vietnam. By securing support from other nations, Johnson hoped to build an international consensus behind his policies in Vietnam.
      The first Thai contribution to the South Vietnamese war effort came in September 1964, when a 16-man Royal Thai Air Force group arrived in Saigon to assist in flying and maintaining some of the cargo aircraft operated by the South Vietnamese Air Force. In 1966, in response to further urging from President Johnson, the Thais agreed to increase their support to South Vietnam. The Royal Thai Military Assistance Group was formed in Saigon in February 1966. Later that year, the Thai government, once again at Johnson's insistence, agreed to send combat troops to aid the South Vietnamese government. In September 1967, the first elements of the Royal Thai Volunteer Regiment, the "Queen's Cobras," arrived in Vietnam and were stationed in Bear Cat (near Bien Hoa, north of Saigon). The Thai regiment began combat operations in October 1967.
      In July 1968, the Queen's Cobras were replaced by the Royal Thai Army Expeditionary Division (the "Black Panthers"), which included two brigades of infantry, three battalions of 105-mm field artillery, and an armored cavalry unit. In August 1970, the Black Panther Division was renamed the Royal Thai Army Volunteer Force, a title it retained throughout the rest of its time in South Vietnam. The decision by the Thai government to begin withdrawing its troops was in line with President Nixon's plan to withdraw US troops from South Vietnam as the war was turned over to the South Vietnamese. The first Thai troops departed South Vietnam in 1971 and all were gone by early 1972.
1968 Apollo 8 is launched on a mission to orbit the moon.
1964 Great Britain's House of Commons votes to ban the death penalty.
1963 The Turk minority riots in Cyprus to protest anti-Turkish revisions in the constitution.
^ 1958 De Gaulle wins 7-year term as French President.
      Three months after a new French constitution was approved, Charles de Gaulle is elected the first president of the Fifth Republic by a sweeping majority of French electors. The previous June, France's World War II hero was called out of retirement to lead the country when a military and civilian revolt in Algeria threatened France's stability.
      A veteran of World War I, de Gaulle unsuccessfully petitioned his country to modernize its armed forces in the years before the outbreak of World War II. After French Premier Henri P tain signed an armistice with Nazi Germany in June 1940, de Gaulle fled to London, where he organized the Free French forces and rallied French colonies to the Allied cause. His forces fought successfully in North Africa, and in June 1944 he was named head of the French government in exile.
      On 26 August 1944, following the Allied invasion of France, de Gaulle entered Paris in triumph. In November, he was unanimously elected provisional president of France. He resigned two years later, however, claiming he lacked sufficient governing power. In 1947, he formed a new political party that had only moderate electoral success, and in 1953 he left politics.
      In 1958, however, a revolt by French colonists in Algeria led to a severe political crisis in France, and de Gaulle agreed to head a new emergency government. Considered the only leader of sufficient strength and stature to deal with the perilous situation, he was made the virtual dictator of France, with power to rule by decree for six months. A new constitution of his design was approved in a national referendum in September, and on 21 December he is elected president of the Fifth Republic.
      During the next decade, President de Gaulle granted independence to Algeria and attempted to restore France to its former international stature by withdrawing from the US-dominated NATO alliance and promoting the development of French atomic weapons. Student demonstrations and workers' strikes in 1968 eroded his popular support, and in 1969 his proposals for constitutional reform were defeated in a national vote. On April 28, 1969, Charles de Gaulle, at 79 years old, retired permanently. He died the following year.
Après qu'une Constitution sur mesure aie été ratifiée par référendum le 28 septembre. Les 23 et 30 novembre les élections législatives ont envoyé à la Chambre une majorité gaulliste. Ce jour, ce sont 80'000 notables qui élisent donc le premier président de la Vème République et de la Communauté française. Quelques jours plus tard, à la télévision (monople d'Etat), le 28 decembre, le général de Gaulle assure : " Guide de la France, et chef de l'Etat républicain, j'exercerai le pouvoir suprême dans toute l'étendue qu'il comporte désormais.”
1948 State of Eire (formerly Irish Free State) declares its independence.
1946 Juan José Gerardi Conedera, born on 27 December 1922, is ordained a priest of the archdiocese of Guatemala. He would become a bishop on 30 July 1967. On 26 April 1998, he would be murdered by Guatemalan military officers, two days after presenting a report on the murders and other human rights violations committed by the Guatemalan military.
1944 German troops surround the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne in Belgium.
1937 1st feature-length color and sound cartoon premieres (Snow White) (Snow White the book)
1933 Dried human blood serum 1st prepared, University of Pennsylvania
1933 Newfoundland reverts to being a crown colony
1928 President Calvin Coolidge signs the Boulder Dam bill.
1923 Nepal changes from British protectorate to independent nation
1921 US Supreme Court rules labor injunctions & picketing unconstitutional.
1911 Se otorga al escritor español José Echegaray Eizaguirre el orden del Toisón de Oro.
1919 Holanda concede asilo político al kaiser Guillermo II.
1910 Over 2.5 million plague victims are reported in the An-Hul province of China.
1908 Andrew Carnegie, who monopolized the steel industry and promoted the cause of unfettered "Individualism," implores the US Congress to "take back their protection; we are now men and we can beat the world.” However, Carnegie failed to avoid steep tariffs being passed into law.
1909 University of Copenhagen rejects Cook's claim that he was 1st to North Pole.
1901 Por primera vez, las mujeres participan en las elecciones comunales, en Noruega.
1898 Scientists Pierre & Marie Curie discovers radium
1891 18 students play 1st basketball game (Springfield College)
1880 En France, Camille Sée, républicain proche de Jules Ferry, impose une loi qui crée les externats pour les jeunes filles. La gymnastique y est obligatoire.
1879 El New York Herald anuncia que Thomas Alva Edison ha inventado el alumbrado por electricidad.
1863 Skirmish at Hunter's Mill, Virginia
^ 1861 Trent crisis escalates
      Lord Lyons, the British minister to the United States, meets with Secretary of State William Seward concerning the fate of James Mason and John Slidell, Confederate envoys arrested by the US Navy aboard the British mail steamer Trent. During the meeting, Lyons took a hard line against Seward and forced the Lincoln administration to release the Confederates a few days later.
      The arrest of Mason and Slidell on November 8 near the Bahamas triggered a major diplomatic crisis between Britain and the United States. The British had not taken sides in the American Civil War and they accepted any paying customers wishing to travel on their ships. When Mason and Slidell were arrested, the British were furious that their ship had been detained and their guests arrested. The British government demanded their release. The Lincoln administration refused, and the Americans waited for the British reaction. The British stood firm by their demand and prepared for war with the United States.
      After Lyons met with Seward, he wrote to Lord Russell, the British Foreign Minister. "I am so concerned that unless we give our friends here a good lesson this time, we shall have the same trouble with them again very soon," wrote Lyons. "Surrender or war will have a very good effect on them." The Lincoln administration got the message, and Mason and Slidell were released within a week. "One war at a time," Lincoln said. The Trent affair was the most serious diplomatic crisis between the two nations during the Civil War.
^ 1826 Republic of Fredonia declares its independence from Mexico
      Five days earlier, in an act that foreshadowed the American rebellions to come, Benjamin Edwards rides into Mexican-controlled Nacogdoches, Texas, and proclaims himself the ruler of the Republic of Fredonia.
      The brother of a corrupt backer of an American colony in Texas, Benjamin Edwards made the bold (and perhaps foolish) decision to rebel against the Mexican government while his brother was away in the United States raising money for his colony. Under the empresario system--which was created by the Mexican government in the 1820s to encourage colonization of its northern provinces--men like the Edwards were allowed to settle Anglo families in Texas. However, many of the Anglo settlers retained stronger ties to the United States than to Mexico, and Benjamin Edwards hoped that many former Americans would support his attempt to split from Mexico. Accompanied by a force of about 30 men, Edwards seized a stone fort in Nacogdoches and declared that the new "Republic of Fredonia" was now independent of Mexican control. Edwards claimed his new nation extended from the Sabine River to the Rio Grande River, and would be governed under the principles of "Independence, Liberty, and Justice.”
      In a bid to build up a defense against the Mexican soldiers who were on their way to quell the rebellion, Edwards quickly negotiated an agreement with the Cherokee Indians offering to share Texas in exchange for military aid. Edwards was less successful in winning the support of the local Anglo and Mexican inhabitants of Nacogdoches, in whose name he was supposedly acting. When the Mexican militia approached Nacogdoches six weeks later, Edwards' ill-planned revolution quickly disintegrated and he fled to the United States for sanctuary.
      While short-lived and premature, Edwards' Fredonian Rebellion nonetheless reflected the growing tensions between the American colonialists in Texas and their Mexican rulers. Less than a decade later, in 1835, other Texans followed in Edwards' footsteps and staged the far more successful revolution that established the independent Republic of Texas.

      The Fredonian Rebellion was a dispute between the Mexican government and the Edwards brothers, Haden and Benjamin. Haden Edwards received his empresarial grant on April 14, 1825. It entitled him to settle as many as 800 families in a broad area around Nacogdoches in eastern Texas. Like all empresarios he was to uphold land grants certified by the Spanish and Mexican governments, provide an organization for the protection of all colonists in the area, and receive a land commissioner appointed by the Mexican government. He arrived in Nacogdoches on September 25, 1825, and posted notices on street corners to all previous landowners that they would have to present evidence of their claims or forfeit to new settlers. This naturally offended the earlier settlers.
      Edwards's grant was located in a difficult part of the country. To the east was the Neutral Ground, inhabited mostly by fugitives; to the north and west were Indians; to the south was Austin's colony; and in Nacogdoches itself were the remnants of previous filibuster expeditions that had failed. The number of grants actually in question was probably very low. According to General Land Officeqv records, thirty-two had been made before 1825. Furthermore, in only one case was someone's land actually sold to someone else. But Edwards's behavior was threatening and served to polarize the old inhabitants against the new.
      An election for alcaldeqv in December provided the occasion for the factions to express their opposition. Samuel Norris was the candidate for the old settlers, and Chichester Chaplin, Edwards's son-in-law, was supported by the new. After the voting Edwards certified Chaplin's election to political chief José Antonio Saucedo in San Antonio. Norris's supporters challenged his claim and charged that the voters in Chaplin's support had come from unqualified voters. Saucedo reversed the election in March 1826 and ordered archives and duties to be surrendered to Norris. The controversy did not settle down, and by the time the news reached Saltillo and federal authorities in Mexico, Edwards appeared to be unwilling to abide by their terms, so in mid-year 1826 the grant was declared forfeit. Edwards was outraged, and he found support in the settlers he had brought.
      On November 22, 1826, Martin Parmer, John S. Roberts, and Burrell J. Thompson led a group of thirty-six men from the Ayish Bayou to Nacogdoches, where they seized Norris, Haden Edwards, José Antonio Sepulveda, and others and tried them for oppression and corruption in office. Haden was released, and in fact his inclusion in the group may have been to cover up his participation in the attack. The others were tried, convicted, and told they deserved to die but would be released if they relinquished their offices. Parmer turned the enforcement of the verdict over to Joseph Durstqv and proclaimed him alcalde.
      As soon as Mexican authorities heard of the incident, Lt. Col. Mateo Ahumada, principal military commander in Texas, was ordered to the area. He left San Antonio on December 11 with twenty dragoons and 110 infantrymen. It was clear to Haden Edwards that his only chance to make good the time and estimated $50'000 he had already expended on his colony was to separate from Mexico. He and Parmer began preparations to meet the Mexican force in the name of an independent republic they called Fredonia. Since they planned to include the Cherokees in their move for independence, the flag they designed had two parallel bars, red and white, symbolizing Indian and white. In fact, although a treaty was signed with the Indian leaders, Richard Fields and John Dunn Hunter, that support never materialized. The flag was inscribed "Independence, Liberty, Justice.” The rebels signed it and flew it over the Old Stone Fort.qv Their Declaration of Independence was signed on December 21, 1826.
      Haden Edwards designated his brother Benjamin commander in chief and appealed to the United States for help. Ahumada enlisted Stephen F. Austin who sided with the government, and Peter Ellis Bean, the Mexican Indian agent, headed for Nacogdoches. When the Mexican officers and militia and members of Austin's colony reached Nacogdoches on January 31, 1827, the revolutionists fled and crossed the Sabine River. The Indians killed Hunter and Fields for involving them in the venture.
1809 Rendición de Gerona tras seis meses de asedio por los franceses.
^ 1799 William Wordsworth moves into Dove Cottage
      William Wordsworth, 29, and his sister Dorothy move into Dove Cottage in Westmoreland, England, not far from the home of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Wordsworth and Coleridge had been good friends and colleagues since they met, in 1795. Their collaboration flourished, and in 1798 they published Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems, launching the Romantic movement. The book, which included Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey, sold out within two years. The book's second edition included a preface by the authors, which became an important manifesto of Romantic poetry.
      Wordsworth was born near England's Lake District on 7 April 1770. He lost his mother when he was 8 and his father five years later. Wordsworth attended Cambridge, then traveled in Europe, taking long walking tours with friends through the mountains.
      While studying in France in 1791, he fell in love and had a daughter. Intending to marry the mother, he returned to England to straighten out problematic financial matters, but a series of events prevented their reunion.
      During his 20s, Wordsworth lived with his sister Dorothy and developed a close working partnership with Coleridge. In 1802, after years of living on a modest income, Wordsworth came into a long-delayed inheritance from his father and was able to live comfortably with his sister. That year, he married their longtime neighbor Mary Hutchinson and had five children. The poet's stature grew steadily, though most of his major work was written by 1807. In 1843, he was named poet laureate of England, and he died on 23 April 1850, at the age of 80.
WORDSWORTH ONLINE: The Complete Poetical Works (HTML at Bartleby)
co-author (with Coleridge) of:
Lyrical Ballads (multiple versions of the first edition, with commentary) (HTML, SGML, and page images)
Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems
1790 Samuel Slater opens the first cotton mill in the United States (in Rhode Island.)
1784 John Jay becomes 1st US secretary of state (foreign affairs)
1708 French forces seize control of the eastern shore of Newfoundland after winning a victory at St. John's.
^ 1620 (11 December Julian) 103 Mayflower pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock
      The small band of persecuted Christians had left England three months earlier and had had a difficult two months crossing of the Atlantic. At times storms tossed the little Mayflower (as well as the stomachs of the pilgrims) becoming so fierce that the main deck beam of the ship broke and they almost perished. At other times the sea was so becalmed that the ship and its weary passengers sat motionless in the water for days. In spite of all hardships, however, the Lord was with them and they reached land by the middle of November. Miles Standish and his scouts then began to methodically explore the Massachusetts coast to find the best place for a settlement. They finally decided upon Plymouth, and the Pilgrims at last disembarked on December 21. What was in their minds as they began life in their new land? Their future governor, William Bradford,wrote of their experiences. Here are some of his comments: "They had now no friends to welcome them, nor any inns to entertain or refresh their weatherbeaten bodies, no houses or much less townes to repair to...And for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of that country know them to be sharp and violent, & subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search an unknown coast. Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts & wild men?...which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to the heavens) they could have little solace or content in respect of any outward objects...If they looked behind them, there was the mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar and gulf to separate them from all the civil parts of the world...What could now sustain them but the spirit of God and his grace?"
1553 Refugees from England are helped by Mennonites (led by failed Catholic priest Menno Simonsz) at Wismar (on the Baltic, in Holstein); their leaders repay their rescuers with an attack on their theology.
0069 Titus Flavius Vespasianus, a gruff-spoken general of humble origins, enters Rome and the next day is confirmed by the Senate as emperor (already proclaimed such by his troops on 01 July).
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^  Deaths which occurred on a 21 December:

2008 Nicole Isabel Castro [20 Dec 1981–], she died in her sleep, possibly from an overdose of the drugs prescribed for her bipolar condition. She was a parishioner of Our Lady of the Assumption parish in El Paso, Texas. —(081229)
2006 Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov (or Saparmyrat Atażewiç Nyżazow) Turkmenbashi (“Father of Turkmens” the name he gave himself, egotistic Communist dictator of Turkmenistan since 1985 (as 1st Secretary of the Turkmen Communist Party, then, since 21 June 1991, as President), born on 19 February 1940. —(061221)
2005 Eric Manny, 35, California traffic policeman in a patrol car which overturns during a chase on Interstate Highway 5 between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. —(060807)
2004 Twenty-seven persons at Ilado, Nigeria, by explosion and fire of a pipeline which they had perforated to steal fuel. —(061226)
2004 Twenty-two persons, in a 12:00 (09:00 UT) explosion by a suicide bomber of Ansar al-Sunna, which shoots pellet shrapnel through the large lunch hall tent at “forward operating base Marez” at the airfield of Mosul, Iraq, where US occupation and Iraqi puppet National Guardsmen were waiting for lunch. The dead include 13 US soldiers, 3 Iraqi soldiers, and 5 US civilians, besides the suicide bomber. 69 persons are wounded. Apparently the US forces never learn to avoid large concentrations of people whom the terrorists like to kill.
2004 Six persons when, at 02:00 (23:00 UT 20 Dec), US warplanes hit Hit, a town in Anbar province, Iraq, in its eastern neighborhoods Jamaiya and Sinai. 9 persons are wounded.
2002 Two Afghan children on the ground and all seven Germans soldiers:
Capt. Friedrich Deininger, 53;
Junior Sgt. Frank Ehrlich;
Main Sgt. Heinz-Ullrich Hewußt;
Main Sgt. Bernhard Kaiser;
Main Sgt. Thomas Schiebel;
Main Pfc. Enrico Schmidt;
1st Lt. Uwe Vierling; 31;
aboard a helicopter
which crashes near Kabul, Afghanistan after catching fire. The Germans were soldiers of the Iinternational Security Assistance Force for Kabul (4800 soldiers including 1250 Germans). Their military helicopter was a Sikorsky CH-53 “Sea Stallion”. — (051108)
2002 Sgt. Steven Checo, 22, in a fight started near village Shkin in Paktika province, Afghanistan, at 04:00 when his patrol of the US 82nd Airborne Division approached a suspicious group of some eight men, who ran away and then turned and fired. This is the 16th US serviceman killed in Afghanistan since the US attacked al-Qaeda and the Taliban in 2001, and the first on since Sergeant Gene Arden Vance, ambushed and killed by al Qaeda suspects in the same area on 19 May 2002. In this campaign, the US military has been very successful in limiting its own deaths, while seeming indifferent to the deaths of thousands of allied Afghan fighters and innocent civilians, not to mention the enemy.
2002 Hanin Abu-Samah, 12, Palestinian girl, shot in the leg, in the afternoon, by Israeli troops who were in a gunfight with some Palestinians, in Rafah, Gaza Strip.
2002 Glen Seator, falling from the roof of his three-story house. Born on 05 June 1956, he was a so-called “sculptor” who became known for such works as his 1997 B.D.O., an office salvaged from the remodeling of a building, tilted at a 45 degree angle; or his 1999 remodeling of an art gallery into a check-cashing store..
2001 Five Palestinians, in gunfight started by mourners at the funeral of a 17-year-old Islamic Jihad supporter firing at the Palestinian police station of the Jebaliya refugee camp, Gaza Strip. Police officers return fire. The battle goes on for more than an hour, despite appeals from mosque preachers and the head of Islamic Jihad in the camp.The dead include at least two Islamic Jihad gunmen. About 55 persons are wounded. The al-Aqsa intifada body count now exceeds 840 Palestinians and 240 Israelis.
2000 Ahed Marish, 18, Palestinian hit by heavy-caliber gunfire from an Israeli tank on Thursday as he was walking to his home near the Karni crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
2000 Ahmed Awad, 41, Palestinian, by Israeli gunfire in a clash near the town of Tulkarem In the West Bank. The Israeli military said Palestinians fired at an army vehicle, and soldiers fired back. Palestinians said that Awad was in his house when he was shot.
^ 2000 Al Gross, 82, inventor of the walkie-talkie and a father of wireless communication, in Sun City Arizona
      When Gross, who was born in Toronto and grew up in Cleveland, demonstrated his prototype pager at a medical conference in 1956, it flopped. Doctors told him they didn't want to be bothered during their golf games. Decades later, it delighted him to see such wide use of cellular phones and pagers, a technological offshoot from his first devices. He earned a degree in electrical engineering at Cleveland's Case School of Applied Science, now Case Western Reserve University. Seeing the potential for walkie-talkies, the military recruited Gross into the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the Central Intelligence Agency. There he developed a ground-to-air, battery-operated radio that could transmit up to 50 km. The device is credited with saving lives during World War II.
      After the war, he formed the Citizens Radio Corp. in Cleveland to produce two-way radios for the public. His successful gave Gross the freedom and money to continue inventing. In 1949 he devised the first wireless pager.
      Gross' ideas, for which he held many patents, were so far advanced that most expired before the world was ready for his inventions, and he didn't make much money. “I was born 35 years too soon," he once told the Arizona Republic. “If I still had the patents on my inventions, Bill Gates would have to stand aside for me.”
1995 Sesenta muertos y un centenar de heridos al estallar un coche-bomba en un mercado de Peshawar (Pakistán).
^ 1991 L'U.R.S.S se dissocie
      La création de la Communauté des Etats Indépendants consacre l’éclatement de l’Empire Soviétique. Les anciennes républiques soviétiques, sauf les Etats Baltes et la Géorgie s’associent ainsi dans un nouveau bloc où les relations entre les états ne sont plus marquées par le totalitarisme soviétique.
      Le putsch politique de 1990, en Russie, ne met pas fin au processus de négociation d’un traité d’union entre les états de l’ancien empire rouge. Il reprend au début de septembre. Un traité de communauté économique est paraphé, puis signé en octobre. Mais seules deux des républiques slaves sont présentes. L’Ukraine fait défaut.
      Le projet de traité d’union discuté en novembre au Conseil d’État, organe composé des présidents des républiques sous la présidence de Mikhaïl Gorbatchev, ne sera pas signé. Les présidents préfèrent le renvoyer aux Soviets suprêmes des républiques fédérées pour gagner du temps, en attendant le résultat du référendum en Ukraine, le 1er décembre. Mais l’Ukraine, qui en mars s’était prononcée pour le maintien de l’union, tranche cette fois en faveur de l’indépendance.
      Boris Eltsine change alors de stratégie. Il laisse de côté le président de l’U.R.S.S. et conclut, à Minsk, le 8 décembre 1991, avec les présidents ukrainien et biélorusse un accord sur la création d’une Communauté des États indépendants (C.E.I.). Les compétences de cette dernière sont réduites à celles qui avaient fait l’objet du traité russo-ukrainien du 19 novembre 1990 : coordination de la politique extérieure, coopération dans la formation et le développement de l’espace économique commun, dans les domaines des transports, de la protection de l’environnement, des migrations, de la criminalité.
      Le 13 décembre, à Achkhabad, les chefs d’État des cinq républiques d’Asie centrale expriment le regret d’avoir été ignorés, mais manifestent le désir de rejoindre la Communauté avec le statut de membre fondateur. L’élargissement de la Communauté est réalisé à Alma-Ata, le 21 décembre 1991, avec non seulement les cinq républiques d’Asie centrale, mais aussi l’Arménie, l’Azerbaïdjan et la Moldavie.
      Les onze présidents constatent que, avec la formation de la Communauté des États indépendants, l’union des républiques socialistes soviétiques cesse d’exister. Ils s’engagent à assurer l’exécution des obligations internationales découlant des traités et accords de l’ancienne U.R.S.S. et donnent leur accord pour que la Russie succède à l’U.R.S.S. à l’O.N.U., y compris comme membre permanent du Conseil de sécurité.
^ 1988 Melina Hudson, 16, Flora Swire, 23, Miriam Luby Wolfe, 20, Thomas Ammerman, 36, Alexander Lowenstein, 21, Theodora Cohen, 20, spouses Paula Jablonsky Bouckley and Glenn Bouckley, John Patrick Flynn, John Cummock, Colleen Brunner, Suzanne Miazga, Christopher Jones (born 4 March 1968), 20, Sarah Philipps, 20, Alexia Tsairis, 20, Karen Hunt, 20, Beth Ann Johnson, 21, Robert Leckburg Jr., 30, Richard Monetti, 20, Sgt. Phillip V. Bergstrom, Tony Hawkins, and 238 others on Pan Am Flight 103, and 11 in Lockerbie, as the plane explodes.
     New York bound Pan Am jumbo jet explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland, all 258 aboard die. Libya is suspected.Pan Am 103 disintegrated in mid-flight, when a timer on a portable cassette radio packed with explosives blew up in the plane’s forward cargo bay.

     Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York explodes in midair over Lockerbie, Scotland, an hour after departure. A bomb that had been hidden inside an audio cassette player detonated inside the cargo area when the plane was at an altitude of 31,000 feet. All 259 passengers, including 38 Syracuse University students returning home for the holidays, were killed in the explosion. In addition, 11 residents of Lockerbie were killed in the shower of airplane parts that unexpectedly fell from the sky.
      Authorities accused Islamic terrorists of having placed the bomb on the plane while it was at the low-security airport in Frankfurt, Germany. They apparently believed that the attack was in retaliation for either the 1986 bombing attack on Libya in which Gadhafi was the target, or a 1988 incident, in which the United States killed 290 passengers when it mistakenly shot down an Iran Air commercial flight over the Persian Gulf.
      Sixteen days before the explosion over Lockerbie, a call was made to the US embassy in Helsinki, Finland, warning that a bomb would be placed on a Pan Am flight out of Frankfurt. Though some claimed that travelers should have been alerted to this threat, US officials later said that the connection between the call and the bomb was purely coincidental.
      In the early 1990s, investigators identified Libyan intelligence agents Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah as suspects, but Libya refused to turn them over to be tried in the United States. But in 1999--in an effort to ease United Nations sanctions against Libya--Colonel Moammar Gadhafi agreed to turn the suspects over to Scotland for trial in the Netherlands using Scottish law and prosecutors.

     Pan Am "Flight 103"explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 -- In the evening of December 21st. 1988 flight Pan Am 103 exploded and pieces of the plane fell onto the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 259 people on the plane and 11 people on the ground. -- Pan Am 103 climbed into the dark English sky at 6:25 in the evening on December 21, 1988. It headed northwest from London's Heathrow Airport toward Scotland and the North Sea and, ultimately, scheduled destinations in New York and Detroit. The Jumbo Jet carried 259 passengers and crew. The majority were Americans, many of them returning for holiday gatherings with family and friends. But just 38 minutes into the flight, as the 747 cruised at 31,000 feet over the border from England into Scotland, something in the cargo hold exploded. It blew a hole the size of a large dinner plate in the airliner's skin. The loss of air pressure caused a powerful rush that broke the plane to pieces. Six miles below, in the Scottish border town of Lockerbie a wing of the 747 fell directly on three houses, creating a fireball that burned so hot it vaporized the homes and the eleven people inside them.
     189 of the victims were Americans
     The average passenger age was 27 — dozens of students returning home from studying abroad.
Marion Alderman Jablonski of Rome, N.Y., can remember the enormity of all those racks of goods, the way Thomson handed her a blue dress worn by her daughter, Paula.
Anna Marie Miazga, from Marcy. Anna Marie began weeping. She wore a photo of her daughter Suzanne, an SU student,
, Patricia Brunner. Pat is from suburban Buffalo. Her daughter Colleen, of Oswego State, was a passenger on Pan Am
     Rosemary Wolfe, of Alexandria, Va., whose 20-year-old stepdaughter, Miriam, died
     Kathleen Flynn of Montville, N.J., whose son, John Patrick Flynn, was returning on Flight 103 from a European study program.
     Syracuse, N.Y., which lost 35 college students in the crash. 35 Syracuse University students
     said Susan Cohen of Cape May Court House, N.J., the mother of 20-year-old Theodora Cohen, who died in the crash of Flight 103.
     Paul Hudson, a New York lawyer whose 16-year-old daughter, Melina, died on Pan Am 103. Melina was a high-school exchange student on her way home from Exeter
     Across the Atlantic, in the English Midlands, parents of another young victim were equally devastated. Flora Swire was a gifted and vivacious 23-year-old medical student flying to New York to visit her American boyfriend when she died on Pan Am 103.
     Peter Lowenstein, a New Jersey businessman, lost his son Alex

At approximately 7:03 p.m., Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over the Scottish city of Lockerbie, killing all 259 people aboard the plane. Fragments of the plane are scattered around the Lockerbie area, and several large pieces crash into residential homes and buildings in the city, killing eleven people on the ground. The 747 jumbo jet was on its way from Frankfurt to New York via London, and was flying at 9500 m when the explosion occurred. The subsequent investigation by American and Scottish authorities indicates that the blast was caused by a bomb smuggled into the aircraft within a portable radio. Heathrow Airport in London soon comes under fire for its ineffective security measures and the US State Department offers a $400'000 reward for the capture of the terrorists responsible. In November of 1991, US and British investigators simultaneously name Abdel Baset Ali Megrahi and Lamen Kalifa Fhima, two Libyans, as the key suspects in the case. The men were working as airline officials in the office of Libyan Arab Airlines at Luqa International Airport in Malta at the time of the incident, and the prosecutors believe that they could have smuggled the bomb through the luggage transferring system. The US State Department subsequently offers a four-million-dollar reward for the capture of the suspects dead or alive, although there is considerable criticism from the Western media and other groups about the quality of the investigation and its findings.
      For years, Libyan dictator Ghaddafi refuses to surrender the two suspects, but, hoping to get lifted the resulting sanctions against his country, finally agrees that they be tried by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands. On 31 January 2001, that court would convict Abdel Baset Ali Megrahi and acquit Lamen Kalifa Fhima.
1987 Lukacs, mathematician.
1980 Marc Connelly, 90, playwright (One Minute Please)
1980 Potapov, mathematician.
1976 Patodi, mathematician.
^ 1975 Three people killed in attack on OPEC Headquarters led by Carlos the Jackal
      In Vienna, Austria, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as "Carlos the Jackal," leads Arab terrorists on a raid of a meeting of oil ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The terrorists storm in with machine guns, kill three people, and take seventy people hostage, including eleven OPEC ministers. The group, calling themselves the "Arm of the Arab Revolution," demand that an anti-Zionist political statement that they had prepared be read on radio stations across the Middle East. The Austrian government subsequently agrees to negotiate with the terrorists, and eventually allows the terrorists to travel with their hostages to Algeria, where the eleven OPEC ministers and their staff are released unharmed. In 1949, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez was born the son of a millionaire Marxist lawyer in Caracas, Venezuela, and attended Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow where he first became involved with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. During the 1970s and early 1980s, he acted as a freelance terrorist for various Arab groups, and is alleged to have killed as many as eighty people in a chain of bombings, hijackings, and assassinations. Among the famous terrorists attacks he is linked to are the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, the 1975 seizure of OPEC oil ministers, the 1976 Palestinian hijacking of a French jetliner to Entebbe, Uganda, and half-a-dozen attacks on French targets. Nearly apprehended on several occasions, Carlos the Jackal manages to evade international authorities until 1994, when French agents capture him hiding in the Sudan. Secretly extradited to France, he is sent to a French prison where he spends three years before being put on trial in 1997 for the 1974 Paris murders of two French secret agents and a pro-Palestinian Lebanese turned informer. On December 23, 1997, a French jury finds Sanchez guilty, and he is sentenced to life imprisonment.
1960 Bell, mathematician.
1954 Marilyn Sheppard, murdered, wife of Dr. Sam Sheppard, who is accused of the crime.
1946 An earthquake and tidal wave kill hundreds in Japan.
^ 1945 George S. Patton, Jr., 60, the audacious and eccentric American general, dies in a hospital in Heidelberg, Germany, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident near Mannheim.
           Born in San Gabriel, California, in 1885, Patton, whose family had a long history of military service, Patton graduated from the West Point Military Academy in 1909. He represented the United States in the 1912 Olympics--as the first American participant in the pentathlon. He did not win a medal. During World War I, he served as a tank officer in France, and these experiences, along with his extensive military study, made Patton a dedicated proponent of tank warfare.
      During World War II, as commander of the US 7th Army, he captured Palermo, Sicily, in 1943 by just such means. Patton's audacity became evident in 1944, when, during the Battle of the Bulge, he employed an unorthodox strategy that involved a 90-degree pivoting move of his 3rd Army forces, enabling him to speedily relieve the besieged Allied defenders of Bastogne, Belgium.
      Along the way, Patton's mouth proved as dangerous to his career as the Germans. When he berated and slapped a hospitalized soldier diagnosed with "shell shock," but whom Patton accused of "malingering," the press turned on him, and pressure was applied to cut him down to size. He might have found himself enjoying early retirement had not General Dwight Eisenhower and General George Marshall intervened on his behalf. After several months of inactivity, he was put back to work.
      And work he did-at the Battle of the Bulge, during which Patton once again succeeded in employing a complex and quick-witted strategy, turning the German thrust into Bastogne into an Allied counterthrust, driving the Germans east across the Rhine. In March 1945, Patton's army swept through southern Germany into Czechoslovakia-which he was stopped from capturing by the Allies, out of respect for the Soviets' postwar political plans for Eastern Europe.
      Patton had many gifts, but diplomacy was not one of them. After the war, while stationed in Germany, he criticized the process of denazification, the removal of former Nazi Party members from positions of political, administrative, and governmental power. His impolitic press statements questioning the policy caused Eisenhower to remove him as US commander in Bavaria. He was transferred to the 15th Army Group, but in December of 1945 he suffered a broken neck in a car accident and died less than two weeks later.
     --       After the American entrance into World War II, Patton, who been placed in command of an important US tank division, played a key role in the Allied invasion of French North Africa in 1942. In 1943, Patton led the US Seventh Army in its assault on Sicily, and in 1944 commanded the US Third Army in the invasion of France. In December of 1944, Patton's supreme expertise in military movement and tank warfare helped crush the German counteroffensive in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge. Although Patton was one of the ablest American commanders from World War II, he was also one of the most controversial. He presented himself as a modern-day cavalryman, designed his own uniform, and was known to make eccentric claims of his direct descent from great military leaders of the past through reincarnation.
      During the Sicilian campaign, Patton generated considerable controversy when he accused a US soldier suffering from a psychological disorder of being a coward, and then proceeded to strike the young man across his face. The famously profane general was forced to issue a public apology and was reprimanded by General Dwight D. Eisenhower. However, when time for the invasion of Western Europe came, Eisenhower could find no general as formidable as Patton, and the general was again granted an important military post. During one of his many successful campaigns, General Patton was once said to have declared, "compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance.”
1941 Tomás Vargas Osorio, poeta y periodista colombiano.
^ 1940 Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, US author, of a heart attack in Hollywood. He was born on 24 September 1896. His most brilliant novel is The Great Gatsby.
     Fitzgerald was the only son of an unsuccessful, aristocratic father and an energetic, provincial mother. Half the time he thought of himself as the heir of his father's tradition, which included the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Francis Scott Key, after whom he was named, and half the time as “straight 1850 potato-famine Irish.” As a result he had typically ambivalent US feelings about US life, which seemed to him at once vulgar and dazzlingly promising.
      He also had an intensely romantic imagination, what he once called “a heightened sensitivityto the promises of life,” and he charged into experience determined to realize those promises. At both St. Paul Academy (1908–1910) and Newman School (1911–1913) he tried too hard and made himself unpopular, but at Princeton he came close to realizing his dream of a brilliant success. He became a prominent figure in the literary life of the university and made lifelong friendships with Edmund Wilson and John Peale Bishop. He became a leading figure inthe socially important Triangle Club, a dramatic society, and was elected to one of the leadingclubs of the university; he fell in love with Ginevra King, one of the beauties of her generation. Then he lost Ginevra and flunked out of Princeton.
Mr. and Mrs.      He returned to Princeton the next fall, but he had now lost all the positions he coveted, and in November 1917 he left to join the army. In July 1918, while he was stationed near Montgomery, Ala., he met Zelda Sayre [24 Jul 1900 – 10 Mar 1948], the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge. They fell deeply in love, and, as soon as he could, Fitzgerald headed for New York determined to achieve instant success and to marry Zelda. What he achieved was an advertising job at $90 a month. Zelda broke their engagement, and, after an epic drunk, Fitzgerald retired to St. Paul to rewrite for the second time a novel he had begun at Princeton. In the spring of 1920 it was published, he married Zelda, and “riding in a taxi one afternoon between very tall buildings under a mauve and rosy sky; I began to bawl because I had everything I wanted and knew I would never be so happy again.”
      Immature though it seems today, This Side of Paradise in 1920 was a revelation of the new morality of the young; it made Fitzgerald famous. This fame opened to him magazines of literary prestige, such as Scribner's, and high-paying popular ones, such as The Saturday Evening Post. This sudden prosperity made it possible for him and Zelda to play the roles theywere so beautifully equipped for, and Ring Lardner called them the prince and princess of their generation. Though they loved these roles, they were frightened by them, too, as shown by the ending of Fitzgerald's second novel, The Beautiful and Damned (1922), which describes a handsome young man and his beautiful wife, who gradually degenerate into a shopworn middle age while they wait for the young man to inherit a large fortune. Ironically, they finally get it, when there is nothing of them left worth preserving.
      To escape the life that they feared might bring them to this end, the Fitzgeralds (together with their daughter, Frances, called “Scottie,” born in 1921) moved in 1924 to the Riviera, where they found themselves a part of a group of US expatriates whose style was largely set by Gerald Murphy [25 Mar 1888 – 17 Oct 1964] and Sara Wiborg Murphy [07Nov 1883 – 10 Oct 1975]; Fitzgerald described this society in his last completed novel, Tender Is the Night, and modeled its hero on Gerald Murphy. Shortly after their arrival in France, Fitzgerald completed his most brilliant novel, The Great Gatsby (1925). All of his divided nature is in this novel, the naive Midwesterner afire with the possibilities of the “American Dream” in its hero, Jay Gatsby, and the compassionate Princeton gentleman in its narrator, Nick Carraway. The Great Gatsby is the most profoundly US novel of its time; at its conclusion, Fitzgerald connects Gatsby's dream, his “Platonic conception of himself,” with the dream of the discoverers of America. Some of Fitzgerald's finest short stories appeared in All the Sad Young Men (1926), particularly “The Rich Boy” and “Absolution,” but it was not until eight years later that another novel appeared.
      The next decade of the Fitzgeralds' lives was disorderly and unhappy. Fitzgerald began to drink too much, and Zelda suddenly, ominously, began to practice ballet dancing night and day. In 1930 she had a mental breakdown and in 1932 another, from which she never fully recovered. Through the 1930s they fought to save their life together, and, when the battle was lost, Fitzgerald said, “I left my capacity for hoping on the little roads that led to Zelda's sanitarium.” He did not finish his next novel, Tender Is the Night, until 1934. It is the story of a psychiatrist who marries one of his patients, who, as she slowly recovers, exhausts his vitality until he is, in Fitzgerald's words, un homme épuisé. Though technically faulty and commercially unsuccessful, this is Fitzgerald's most moving book.
      With its failure and his despair over Zelda, Fitzgerald was close to becoming an incurable alcoholic. By 1937, however, he had come back far enough to become a scriptwriter in Hollywood, and there he met and fell in love with Sheilah Graham, a famous Hollywood gossip columnist. For the rest of his life Fitzgerald lived quietly with her, except for occasional drunken spells when he became bitter and violent. Occasionally he went east to visit Zelda or his daughter Scottie, who entered Vassar College in 1938. In October 1939 he began a novel about Hollywood, The Last Tycoon. The career of its hero, Monroe Stahr, is based on that of the producer Irving Thalberg. This is Fitzgerald's final attempt to create his dream of the promises of American life and of the kind of man who could realize them. In the intensity with which it is imagined and in the brilliance of its expression, it is the equal of anything Fitzgerald ever wrote, and it is typical of his luck that he died of a heart attack with his novel only half-finished.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, auteur étatsunien de romans et de nouvelles qui mettent en scène l'ambiance et les mœurs des années 1920, qu'il appelait "l'âge du Jazz", à Saint-Paul dans le Minnesota.
      À l'université de Princeton, il délaissa les études classiques pour suivre l'enseignement d'écrivains et de critiques comme Edmund Wilson, auquel il resta lié toute sa vie. En 1917, il quitta Princeton pour devenir officier dans l'armée. C'est dans les camps d'entraînement de l'armée qu'il procéda à la révision de son premier roman, intitulé d'abord "l'Égoïste romantique", et publié finalement sous le titre de This Side of Paradise (1920). Alors qu'il se trouvait dans un camp en Alabama, Fitzgerald tomba amoureux de Zelda Sayre, parfait archétype de la jeune fille fantasque et délurée de l'époque, figure qui deviendra un élément essentiel de la fiction fitzgéraldienne. This Side of Paradise, publié au printemps de 1920, fit de Fitzgerald un homme riche, assez riche tout au moins pour épouser la très mondaine Zelda. Dans ce roman autobiographique, la lost generation, celle de l'après-guerre, totalement désabusée, trouva un reflet de ses rêves brisés, de ses incertitudes et de la vacuité de son existence.
      L'ouvrage suivant, The Beautiful and Damned (1922), un roman d'atmosphère qui dépeint les angoisses et la débauche d'un couple aisé hanté par le pressentiment de la chute prochaine, reçut un accueil plus mitigé. En revanche, les nouvelles de Fitzgerald connaissaient un grand succès, et leurs revenus permettaient d'assurer l'extravagant train de vie de Zelda, entre hôtels de luxe et événements mondains. Sur plus de cent cinquante histoires, l'auteur en retint quarante-six pour les publier dans quatre recueils, parmi lesquels The Children of Jazz (1920) et A Diamond as Big as the Ritz (1935).
      En 1924, les Fitzgerald quittèrent Long Island pour se rendre sur la Côte d'Azur, et ne revinrent s'installer aux États-Unis qu'en 1931. En cinq mois, Fitzgerald acheva The Great Gatsby (1925), fable sensible et satirique sur la quête effrénée de la réussite et l'effondrement du rêve américain. Bien que généralement considéré comme son chef-d'œuvre, The Great Gatsby se vendit mal, ce qui contribua à accélérer la ruine de sa vie personnelle. Zelda sombrait dans la folie (elle fut hospitalisée plusieurs fois de 1930 à sa mort en 1948) et lui dans l'alcoolisme. Il n'en continua pas moins d'écrire, essentiellement pour des magazines. Ce n'est qu'en 1934 que parut son quatrième roman Tender Is the Night, l'histoire à peine voilée, presque la confession, de sa vie avec Zelda. L'accueil très froid qui lui fut réservé accéléra la déchéance de Fitzgerald, déchéance qu'il décrivit lui-même dans The Crack-Up (1945). Fitzgerald, partiellement remis, devint scénariste à Hollywood en 1937, une expérience qui lui inspira son dernier roman, l'un des plus aboutis, The Last Tycoon (1941). Devant l'éclat et l'intelligence de ce livre, pourtant inachevé à la mort de Fitzgerald la nuit du 20 au 21 décembre 1940, les critiques révisèrent leur jugement à l'encontre de son auteur, reconnu aujourd'hui comme l'un des plus brillants écrivains américains du XXème siècle.
     Other works of Fitzgerald: Short stories. Flappers and Philosophers (1920); Tales of the Jazz Age (1922); All the Sad Young Men (1926), includes "The Rich Boy" and "Absolution"; Taps at Reveille (1935). Letters. Letters (1963).

FITZGERALD ONLINE:
The Beautiful and Damned Flappers and Philosophers (1920) — The Great Gatsby
Tales of the Jazz Age
(1922) — Tender is the Night This Side of Paradise
^ 1939 Day 22 of Winter War: USSR aggression against Finland. [Talvisodan 22. päivä]
More deaths due to Stalin's desire to grab Finnish territory.
  • Soviet leader Joseph Stalin celebrates his 60th birthday today. He will not get any part of Finland as a birthday present.
  • Terijoki: in honor of Stalin's birthday, Otto Wille Kuusinen's 'Finnish People's Government' holds a meeting and a parade of the 'Finnish People's Army'. The meeting sends a telegram congratulating Stalin on his birthday. At the same time, enemy aircraft bomb two passenger trains in southern Finland.
  • Southern Finland: enemy fighters strafe a stationary train on the edge of the forest between Helsinki and Turku for 15 minutes, killing three civilians.
  • Ladoga Karelia: Finnish troops in the Tolvajärvi sector launch an assault in the evening to retake the village of Ägläjärvi. The determined assaults by the Finnish strike force of five battalions overcome the main force of the Russian division.
  • Civil defense officials point out that lighting restrictions also apply to Christmas lights. This means, for example, that candles must not be placed beside graves this year, and outdoor Christmas trees must not be illuminated. People should also remember to stay off the streets during air-raid warnings.
  • 1933 Knud Rasmussen, explorador danés.
    1929 Henry Herbert La Thangue, English painter born on born on 19 January 1859. MORE LA THANGUE AT ART “4” DECEMBER with links to images.
    1924 Jean André Rixens, French artist born on 30 November 1846. — more with links to images.
    1917 Wilhelm Heinrich Trübner, German artist born on 03 February 1851.
    1912 Paul Gordan, 75, mathematician.
    1912 Lemoine, mathematician.
    1894 Ramón Martí y Alsina, Spanish artist born in 1826.
    1879 William Jamps Shayer Sr., British artist born in 1788. — a bit more with link to an image.
    1871 Paul Camille Guigou, French painter born on 15 February 1834. — more with link to an image.
    ^ 1866 Fetterman and 80 US soldiers, in rare Amerindian victory.
          Determined to challenge the growing American military presence in their territory, Indians in northern Wyoming lure Lieutenant Colonel William J. Fetterman and his soldiers into a deadly ambush on this day in 1866. Tensions in the region started rising in 1863, when John Bozeman blazed the Bozeman Trail, a new route for emigrants traveling to the Montana gold fields. Bozeman's trail was of questionable legality since it passed directly through hunting grounds that the government had promised to the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. Thus when Colorado militiamen murdered more than two hundred peaceful Cheyenne during the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, the Indians began to take revenge by attacking whites all across the Plains, including the emigrants traveling the Bozeman Trail. The US government responded by building a series of protective forts along the trail; the largest and most important of these was Fort Phil Kearney, erected in 1866 in north-central Wyoming.
          Indians under the leadership of Red Cloud and Crazy Horse began to focus their attacks on Fort Phil Kearney, constantly harassing the soldiers and raiding their wood and supply parties. On December 6, 1866, Crazy Horse discovered to his surprise that he could lead a small detachment of soldiers into a fatal ambush by dismounting from his horse and fleeing as if he were defenseless. Struck by the foolish impulsiveness of the soldiers, Crazy Horse and Red Cloud reasoned that perhaps a much larger force could be lured into a similar deadly trap.
           On the bitterly cold morning of December 21, about 2000 Indians concealed themselves along the road just north of Fort Phil Kearney. A small band made a diversionary attack on a party of woodcutters from the fort, and commandant Colonel Henry Carrington quickly ordered Colonel Fetterman to go to their aid with a company of 80 troopers. Crazy Horse and 10 decoy warriors then rode into view of the fort. When Carrington fired an artillery round at them, the decoys ran away as if frightened. The party of woodcutters made it safely back to the fort, but Colonel Fetterman and his men chased after the fleeing Crazy Horse and his decoys, just as planned. The soldiers rode straight into the ambush and were wiped out in a massive attack during which some 40,000 arrows rained down on the hapless troopers. None of them survived.
          With 81 fatalities, the so-called Fetterman Massacre was the army's worst defeat in the West until the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Further Indian attacks eventually forced the army to reconsider its commitment to protecting the Bozeman Trail, and in 1868 the military abandoned the forts and pulled out. It was one of only a handful of clear Indian victories in the Plains Indian Wars.
         On 14 May 1861 William Fetterman joins the US Army William Fetterman, who will later lead 80 of his soldiers to their deaths at the hands of the Sioux, joins the Union Army. By all accounts, Fetterman was a born fighting man. During the Civil War he served with distinction and received at least two battlefield promotions in recognition of his gallantry. Like his better-known comrade George Custer, Fetterman emerged from the Civil War with an unwavering confidence in himself and his military abilities. Moreover, like Custer, his overconfidence eventually proved to be his undoing. After the Civil War, Fetterman was assigned to Fort Phil Kearny in northern Wyoming. Phil Kearny was the most important of a series of forts that the US Army constructed to defend the Bozeman Trail, a wagon road that branched northwest from the Oregon Trail to the gold fields of Virginia City, Montana. The route violated Sioux hunting grounds, and Sioux warriors under Chief Red Cloud attacked travelers and soldiers alike in protest. Fort Phil Kearny was an impressive compound nearly the size of three football fields. The tall wooden stockade around the fort made it nearly impregnable to Indian attack, but the stockade also proved to be the fort's Achilles' heel. In order to maintain the 2800-foot wooden stockade and provide firewood for the bitter Wyoming winters, soldiers traveled several miles from the fort to reach the nearest forests. Frequently, small bands of Sioux attacked the group of soldiers assigned to the "wood train," though casualties had not yet been severe. When attacked, the soldiers quickly took up a strong defensive position behind their circled wagons. The sound of shots alerted the fort of an attack, and the Sioux fled as soon as rescue squads arrived. Soon after Captain Fetterman arrived at the fort in November 1866, he began to argue for troops to pursue and wipe out the Indians who attacked the wood trains. Though he had no significant experience fighting Indians, he regarded them as contemptuous cowards who would be no match for well-trained American troops. He often boasted that with 80 men he could travel through the heart of the Sioux Nation with impunity. Fetterman began openly ridiculing the commander of the fort, Colonel Henry Carrington, for failing to chase down and destroy the Sioux. Carrington, however, had come to suspect the Sioux attacks were only feints designed to lure the larger rescue squad into an ambush and he forbade his officers to pursue the fleeing Indians. Impetuous and overconfident, Fetterman dismissed Carrington's fears. On December 21, 1866, a small band of Indians again attacked the wood train. Carrington ordered Fetterman and 80 soldiers to its relief, but historians dispute whether Carrington explicitly ordered Fetterman not to pursue the Indians that day. Fetterman and his men chased after the Indians, failing to notice that they seemed to be fleeing with a deliberate slowness. The decoys-one of whom was a young brave named Crazy Horse-led the soldiers straight into an ambush of almost 2,000 Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe warriors. Fetterman and all of his soldiers were dead within 40 minutes. The Fetterman Massacre, as it came to be called, was the worst disaster suffered by the US Army in the Plains Indian War until the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876.
    1838 Jan Christianus Schotel, Dutch painter born on 11 November 1787. — more
    1822 José Francisco Ortiz Sanz, escritor y religioso español.
    1781 Gregorio Mayáns y Siscar, erudito español.
    1693 Hendrik Mommers, Dutch artist born in 1623.
    ^ 1597 Peter Canisius, an energetic Dutch Jesuit who established the Catholic counter-reformation in Germany and Austria.
          Né en 1521, fils de Jakob Kanis, bourgmestre de Nimègue, Pierre eut une jeunesse pieuse. En 1536, il vint à Cologne pour étudier le droit, mais il s’appliqua aussi à la théologie et à la spiritualité. Ami des chartreux et des spirituels rhénans, il fut subjugué par Pierre Fabre, un des premiers compagnons de saint Ignace de Loyola et entra dans la toute jeune Compagnie de Jésus le 8 mai 1543. Diacre en 1544, prêtre en 1546, il continua ses travaux d’édition en publiant saint Cyrille d’Alexandrie et saint Léon le Grand.
          L’archevêque de Cologne, favorable aux protestants, tenta d’éloigner Canisius. Celui-ci plaida si bien sa cause auprès de Charles Quint que l’archevêque fut déposé. En 1547, l’évêque d’Augsbourg emmena Canisius comme théologien au concile de Trente. Le concile fut bientôt interrompu, saint Ignace appela son disciple à Rome et l’envoya en Sicile. Dès 1549, Canisius en revint, devenant docteur en théologie à son passage à Bologne.
          Il commença par organiser l’université d’Ingolstadt, puis il entreprit dans tous les pays germaniques le redressement du catholicisme, par la prédication, la diffusion des livres théologiques, le catéchisme et par l’action auprès des papes, des évêques et des princes. Il joua aussi un rôle actif dans l’heureuse conclusion du concile de Trente.
          L’œuvre littéraire de Pierre Canisius est importante et elle connut un succès considérable et durable. Après avoir présenté l’essentiel de la religion dans une " Summa doctrinae " , il la résuma dans des catéchismes qui eurent un tel succès que, durant trois siècles, on employa en allemand le mot " Kanisi " pour désigner un catéchisme. Il défendit le culte de la Vierge.
          En 1581, Pierre Canisius fut envoyé à Fribourg en Suisse. Il recueillit l’histoire des saints du pays et entretint des correspondances avec de multiples personnes. Il y mourut le 21 décembre 1597. Béatifié en 1864, Pierre Canisius fut proclamé saint et docteur de l’Église en 1925. Sa fête, placée alors au 27 avril, a été ramenée au 21 décembre lors de l’établissement du nouveau calendrier.
    1579 Juan “de Juanes” Maçip (or Masip), Spanish artist born in 1510. — more with links to images.
    Boccaccio^ 1375 Giovanni Boccaccio, 62, author.
         It was probably in the years 1348-53 that Boccaccio composed the Decameron in the form in which it is read today. In the broad sweep of its range and its alternately tragic and comic views of life, it is rightly regarded as his masterpiece. Stylistically, it is the most perfect example of Italian classical prose, and its influence on Renaissance literature throughout Europe was enormous.
          The Decameron begins with the flight of 10 young people (7 women and 3 men) from plague-stricken Florence in 1348. They retire to a rich, well-watered countryside, where, in the course of a fortnight, each member of the party has a turn as king or queen over the others, deciding in detail how their day shall be spent and directing their leisurely walks, their outdoor conversations, their dances and songs, and, above all, their alternate storytelling. This storytelling occupies 10 days of the fortnight (the rest being set aside for personal adornment or for religious devotions); hence the title of the book itself, Decameron, or "Ten Days' Work.” The stories thus amount to 100 in all. Each of the days, moreover, ends with a canzone (song) for dancing sung by one of the storytellers, and these canzoni include some of Boccaccio's finest lyric poetry. In addition to the 100 stories, Boccaccio has a master theme, namely, the way of life of the refined bourgeoisie, who combined respect for conventions with an open-minded attitude to personal behaviour.
          The sombre tones of the opening passages of the book, in which the plague and the moral and social chaos that accompanies it are described in the grand manner, are in sharp contrast to the scintillating liveliness of Day I, which is spent almost entirely in witty disputation, and to the playful atmosphere of intrigue that characterizes the tales of adventure or deception related on Days II and III. With Day IV and its stories of unhappy love, the gloomy note returns; but Day V brings some relief, though it does not entirely dissipate the echo of solemnity, by giving happy endings to stories of love that does not at first run smoothly. Day VI reintroduces the gaiety of Day I and constitutes the overture to the great comic score, Days VII, VIII, and IX, which are given over to laughter, trickery, and license. Finally, in Day X, all the themes of the preceding days are brought to a high pitch, the impure made pure and the common made heroic.
          The prefaces to the days and to the individual stories and certain passages of especial magnificence based on classical models, with their select vocabulary and elaborate periods, have long held the attention of critics. But there is also another Boccaccio: the master of the spoken word and of the swift, vivid, tense narrative free from the proliferation of ornament. These two aspects of the Decameron made it the fountainhead of Italian literary prose for the following centuries.
          The influential 19th-century critic Francesco De Sanctis regarded the Decameron as a "Human Comedy" in succession to Dante's Divine Comedy and Boccaccio as the pioneer of a new moral order superseding that of the European Middle Ages. This view is no longer tenable, however, since the Middle Ages can no longer be presented as having been wholly ascetic or wholly concerned with God and heavenly salvation in contrast with a Renaissance concerned only with the human.
          Also, in particular, the whole corpus of Boccaccio's work is basically medieval in subject matter, form, and taste, at least in its point of departure. It is the spirit in which Boccaccio treats his subjects and his forms that is new. For the first time in the Middle Ages, Boccaccio in the Decameron deliberately shows man striving with fortune and learning to overcome it. To be truly noble, according to the Decameron, man must accept life as it is, without bitterness, must accept, above all, the consequences of his own action, however contrary to his expectation or even tragic they may be. To realize his own earthly happiness, he must confine his desire to what is humanly possible and renounce the absolute without regret. Thus Boccaccio insists both on man's powers and on their inescapable limitations, without reference to the possible intervention of divine grace. A sense of spiritual realities and an affirmation of moral values underlying the frivolity even in the most licentious passages of the Decameron are features of Boccaccio's work that modern criticism has brought to light and that make it no longer possible to regard him only as an obscene mocker or sensual cynic.
         Il semblerait que Boccace, de son vrai nom Giovanni Boccacio soit né à Paris, fruit d'une union illégitime entre son père, un marchand florentin, et une femme de la noblesse française. Élevé à Florence, il fut envoyé à Naples vers 1323 pour y suivre des études de comptabilité qu'il abandonna au profit du droit canon, des études classiques et scientifiques. Il trouva sa place dans la cour de Robert d'Anjou, roi de Naples, et il semble même qu'il eut pour maîtresse la fille illégitime de ce roi, Maria de Conti d'Aquino, peut-être la fameuse Fiammetta qui revient si fréquemment dans l'œuvre de Boccace.
          En 1340, il retourna à Florence où il fut chargé de plusieurs missions diplomatiques par les autorités de la ville. En 1350, il rencontra le poète et humaniste Pétrarque avec lequel il entretint une longue amitié jusqu'à la mort de ce dernier, en 1374.
          En 1362, Boccace se rendit à Naples, sur l'invitation d'un ami qui lui promettait la protection de Jeanne Ire, alors à la tête du royaume napolitain. Cependant, l'accueil fut si froid qu'il alla à Venise demander l'hospitalité à Pétrarque (1363) qui non seulement l'accueillit mais lui offrit une maison. Boccace refusa avant de rentrer chez lui, à Certaldo, près de Florence. Au cours des dernières années de sa vie, il se consacra à la méditation religieuse et eut la joie de se voir chargé officiellement de conférences sur Dante (1373). Malheureusement, la maladie le contraignit à arrêter son activité en 1374. Il mourut l'année suivante, le 21 Décembre 1375.
          L'œuvre majeure de Boccace demeure le " Décaméron " (Il Decamerone) qu'il commença en 1348 et acheva en 1353. Boccace y évoque tout d'abord l'histoire de dix amis, sept femmes et trois hommes "de valeur, bien éduqués et discrets", qui se sont réfugiés dans une villa de campagne, aux environs de Florence, afin d'échapper à une épidémie de peste qui sévit en ville. Pour se distraire tout au long des dix jours de leur retraite, ils se racontent des histoires à tour de rôle : ces histoires constituent les fameuses cent nouvelles pleines d'esprit, contées dans l'ouvrage. À chaque fin de journée, l'un des dix protagonistes chante une canzone et, lorsque s'achève la centième histoire, les amis rentrent chez eux.
          Le Décaméron est l'une des plus belles manifestations de la Renaissance italienne, en littérature. Sans même parler des canzoni, avec lesquelles Boccace atteint le sommet de son art, les histoires qui le composent sont aussi variées que riches et le ton employé passe avec finesse de la solennité à l'humour truculent. La maîtrise de l'écriture est parfaite et l'étude des personnages dénote une grande sensibilité.
          Pour composer cette œuvre, Boccace s'est inspiré à la fois des fabliaux français, des textes de l'Antiquité grecque et romaine, du folklore et de sa propre observation de la vie italienne. Le Décaméron rompt avec la tradition littéraire en ce sens où, pour la première fois au Moyen Âge, l'homme est présenté non plus comme totalement dépendant de la volonté divine mais comme le maître de sa destinée.
         Giovanni Boccaccio nacque nel 1313 (giugno o luglio) in Toscana (forse a Certaldo o a Firenze: oggi non si ritiene più attendibile la notizia di una sua nascita a Parigi).
          Era figlio "naturale" (nato cioè al di fuori del matrimonio) di un mercante, Boccaccio di Chellino, e di una donna di cui non si sa il nome: ma venne riconosciuto e legittimato dal padre, e visse in famiglia con pari diritti rispetto ai fratelli.
          Dopo i primi studi a Firenze, nel 1327 venne mandato dal padre a Napoli prima a far pratica mercantile, poi, vista la sua svogliata applicazione a questa attività, a studiare diritto canonico.
          In quegli anni Giovanni studiò i classici latini, e la letteratura cortese francese e italiana, e scrisse le sue prime opere: Filocolo (1336-38), Filostrato (1335), Teseida (1339-41), Caccia di Diana (1334/38 ) e le Rime (la cui composizione rimanda ad anni diversi). Ebbe anche presumibilmente relazioni amorose, che più tardi esprime, secondo un costume stilnovistico, nella figura di Fiammetta, identificata un tempo con una Maria figlia naturale (anche lei!) di re Roberto d'Angiò e maritata nella casa dei conti d'Aquino: la consistenza storica di questa donna è però oggi largamente messa in dubbio dagli studiosi.
          Nel 1341 dovette tornare a Firenze dal padre il quale aveva difficoltà economiche a causa del fallimento della banca di Bardi. Comporrà nuove opere poetiche e narrative: Ninfale d'Ameto o Commedia delle Ninfe fiorentine (1341-42), Elegia di madonna Fiammetta (1343-44), Ninfale fiesolano (1344-46). Boccaccio frequenta le corti della Romagna (Ravenna, Forlì) in cerca di un impiego.
          Nel 1348 è di nuovo a Firenze, dove assiste alla peste e dopo la morte del padre (1350?) vi rimase per amministrare lo scarso patrimonio. Cominciò a partecipare in vario modo alla vita pubblica e culturale della sua città, e gli furono affidati uffici e ambascerie. Nel frattempo andava componendo quella che noi consideriamo la sua opera maggiore, il Decameron, terminato nel 1351.
     click for complete portrait     Negli ultimi anni si stringe il rapporto di amicizia con Francesco Petrarca, il "glorioso maestro" che lo aveva persuaso a dirigere la mente verso le cose eterne lasciando da parte il diletto di quelle temporali. clic sull'immagine per un ingrandimento
          Il Petrarca lo aiutò a superare una crisi religiosa, indirizzando l'attività del Boccaccio verso la cultura letteraria di tipo "umanistico": le opere tarde del Boccaccio saranno in latino, e fra queste va citata la "Genealogia deorum gentilium", un grande trattato di mitologia greco-romana, che per due o tre secoli rimase il libro più consultato su questo argomento.
          Negli stessi anni si dedica allo studio dell'opera di Dante, per cui ebbe un vero e proprio culto: di questa attività resta il "Trattatello in laude di Dante", e le lezioni con cui commentava pubblicamente la "Divina" Commedia (è stato il Boccaccio ad usare e ad imporre nell'uso questo aggettivo). Morì il 21 dicembre 1375.
    [< CLICK per un ritratto di Giovanni Boccaccio realizzato da Andrea del Castagno (1450)]
    Decameron
          La raccolta di novelle è stata quasi certamente scritta fra il 1349 e il 1353, all'indomani cioè della terribile pestilenza che dal 1348 devastò l'Europa. Come dice il titolo grecizzante l'azione si svolge e si chiude nel giro di dieci giorni. Dopo un "proemio" indirizzato alle "vaghe donne" che per prova conoscano l'amore, la lunga introduzione alla prima giornata dà un quadro terrificante dell'atmosfera di orrore e di morte che circonda Firenze in preda alla peste. Boccaccio immagina che sette fanciulle e tre giovani uomini si rifugino in una villa dei vicini colli per sfuggire al contagio e per trascorrere un po' di tempo allegramente fra amabili conversari, banchetti e danze. Ogni giorno, tranne il venerdì e il sabato dedicati a pratiche religiose, i giovani si radunano su un prato, per raccontare novelle, una per ciascuno; queste si svolgono intorno a un tema prestabilito, proposto ogni volta dal re o dalla regina eletti quotidianamente dalla compagnia. Dopo ciascun gruppo di racconti trova posto una "conclusione" suggellata da una ballata.
    BOCCACCIO ONLINE:
    The Decameron (in Italian and English) _ The Decameron (in Italian and English, with commentary) — The Most Pleasant and Delectable Questions of Love (in English translation only)

     
    < 20 Dec 22 Dec >
    ^  Births which occurred on a 21 December:

    ^ 1991 The Commonwealth of Independent States replaces the USSR.
          In a final step signifying the dismemberment of the Soviet Union, 11 of the 12 Soviet republics declare that they are forming the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Just a few days later, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev announced he was stepping down from his position. The Soviet Union ceased to exist.
          The 11 republics--Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan-signed an agreement creating the CIS. Only Georgia, embroiled in a civil war, abstained from participation. Exactly what they created was open to debate. The CIS was not a new nation, but merely an "alliance" between independent states. The political meaning of the alliance was hazy. The independent states each took over the former Soviet government facilities within their borders. The military side of the CIS was even more confusing. They agreed to sustain any arms agreements signed by the former Soviet Union. The former Soviet defense minister would retain control over the military until the CIS could agree on what to do with the nuclear weapons and conventional forces within their borders. Complicating the situation were terrific economic problems and outbreaks of ethnic violence in the new republics. For Gorbachev, the announcement was the final signal that his power-and the existence of the Soviet Union-was at an end. Four days later, on Christmas Day, he announced his resignation.
    1960 Manolo Tena, cantante, compositor, letrista y escritor español.
    1949 Thomas Sankara, político y militar de Burkina Faso. [ce n'est PAS “100 carats”]
    1937 The Lincoln Tunnel is opened to traffic, allowing motorists to drive between New Jersey and Manhattan beneath the Hudson River.
    1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first, full-length, animated movie feature (by Walt Disney) debuts
    1932 Ringrose, mathematician.
    1918 Kurt Waldheim, minor Nazi, 4th UN Secretary-General (1972-81), Austrian President.
    1917 Heinrich Boll Germany, writer (Group Portrait with Lady, Nobel '72)
    1913 First crossword puzzle in a newspaper: in The New York World Sunday edition.
    1905 Anthony Powell England, novelist (Infants of the Spring)
    1904 Jean René Bazaine, French artist who died in 1995.
    1893 Winifred Nicholson, British artist who died in 1981. — more with links to images.
    1892 Dame Rebecca West journalist/novelist/critic/feminist (or 12/25). WEST ONLINE: The Return of the Soldier
    1891 John W McCormack (D) Speaker of the US House of Representatives (1962-70)
    1879 (09 December Julian) Ioseb Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili "Stalin", Gori, Georgia; Soviet dictator from 1924; he murdered 11'000'000. Stalin died on 05 March 1953.
    1879 Et Dukkehjem (A Doll's House), by Henrik Ibsen [20 March 1828 – 23 May 1906], is first performed in Copenhagen, Denmark, with a revised happy ending. [A Doll's House at another site]
    1878 Lukasiewicz, mathematician.
    1874 Josep Maria Sert i Badia, Catalán painter who died on 27 November 1945. MORE ON SERT AT ART “4” DECEMBER with links to images.
    1874 Juan Bautista Sacasa President of Nicaragua (1932-1936)
    1874 Lynn Joseph Frazier, who would be a farmer, elected governor (Republican) of North Dakota in 1927, narrowly lost a recall election in 1921, was elected US Senator three times, serving from 1923 to 1941. He would die on 11 January 1947.
    1872 Albert Payson Terhune US, novelist. TERHUNE ONLINE: Bruce, Further Adventures of Lad, His Dog
    1859 Gustave Kahn France, poet (claimed to have invented vers libre)
    1857 Francisco Aguilera Egea, militar español.
    1840 Manuel Domínguez Sánchez, Spanish painter.
    1838 La Chartreuse de Parme, novela, es terminada por Stendhal.
    1823 Jean Henri Fabre France, entomologist (insects & spiders)
    1815 Thomas Couture, French Academic painter who died on 30 March 1879. MORE ON COUTURE AT ART “4” DECEMBER with links to images.
    1804 Benjamin Disraeli “Dizzy”, born in England to a Jewish family of Italian origin. But, at the age when he would have been expected to have his Bar Mitzvah, he was baptized into the Church of England on 31 July 1817, after his father quarreled with his synagogue (had Benjamin remained a Jew he would have been barred from British politics). British statesman and novelist who was the favorite prime minister of Queen Victoria (twice: 1868, 1874-80) implacable adversary of the Liberal party leader William E. Gladstone (29 Dec 1809 – 19 May 1898) [whom Disraeli would have been glad to see turned to stone]. Disraeli provided the Conservative Party with a twofold policy of Tory democracy and imperialism. He died on 19 April 1881. — DISRAELI ONLINE: Sybil, or, The Two Nations
    1772 François-Louis-Thomas Francia, Calais French painter and engraver who died on 06 February 1839. — a bit more with links to images.
    1759 Pierre-François Delaunay (or Delauney), French artist who died on 26 August 1789.
    1701 Guillaume Thomas Raphaël Taraval, French artist who died in 1750.
    ^ 1639 Jean Baptiste Racine (birth date guessed: baptism 22 December 1639) (dramatist: Alexandre, Andromaque, Les Plaideurs, Britannicus, Berenice, Bajazet, Mithridate, etc.). (RACINE ONLINE:)
    French dramatic poet and historiographer renowned for his mastery of French classical tragedy. His reputation rests on the plays he wrote between 1664 and 1677, notably Andromaque (1667), Britannicus (1669), Bérénice (1670), Bajazet (1672), and Phèdre (1677).
         Racine's first play, Amasie, was never produced and has not survived. His career as a dramatist began with the production by Molière's troupe of his play La Thébaïde ou les frères ennemis at the Palais-Royal Theatre on 20 June 1664. Molière's troupe also produced Racine's next play, Alexandre le Grand, which premiered at the Palais Royal on 4 December 1665. Thereafter all of Racine's secular tragedies would be presented by the actors of the Hôtel de Bourgogne, more skilled in tragedy.
         Racine followed up his first masterpiece, Andromaque (1667), with the comedy Les Plaideurs (1668) before returning to tragedy with two plays set in imperial Rome, Britannicus (1669) and Bérénice (1670). He situated Bajazet (1672) in nearly contemporary Turkish history and depicted a famous enemy of Rome in Mithridate (1673) before returning to Greek mythology in Iphigénie en Aulide (1674) and the play that was his crowning achievement, Phèdre (1677). [Phèdre in English translation]
         Racine was the first French author to live principally on the income provided by his writings.
         After Phèdre, Racine left the theater to become a historiographer of Louis XIV, publishing in 1682 Eloge historique du Roi sur ses conquêtes. He also wrote Cantiques spirituels (1694).
         By request from Louis XIV's consort Madame de Maintenon, Racine wrote two religious plays for the convent girls at Saint-Cyr: Esther (1689) and Athalie (1691). Probably his last work was Abrégé de l'histoire de Port-Royal. Racine died on 21 April 1699 from cancer of the liver.
         La Thébaïde, presents two legitimate pretenders who are also identical twins. The play centres on the twin sons of Oedipus who slay one another in mortal combat, one defending, the other attacking, their native city of Thebes.
         In Andromaque (1667) Racine replaced heroism with realism in a tragedy about the folly and blindness of unrequited love among a chain of four characters. The play is set in Epirus after the Trojan War. Pyrrhus vainly loves his captive, the Trojan widow Andromache, and is in turn loved by the Greek princess Hermione, who in her turn is loved by Orestes. Power, intimidation, and emotional blackmail become the recourses by which these characters try to transmit the depths of their feelings to their beloved. But this form of communication is ultimately frustrated because the characters' deep-seated insecurity renders them self-absorbed and immune to empathy. Murder, suicide, and madness have destroyed all of them except Andromache by the play's end.
         The three-act comedy Les Plaideurs of 1668 offered Racine the challenge of a new genre and the opportunity to demonstrate his skill in Molière's privileged domain, as well as the occasion to display his expertise in Greek, of which he had better command than almost any nonprofessional classicist in France. The result, a brilliant satire of the French legal system, was an adaptation of Aristophanes' The Wasps that found much more favor at court than on the Parisian stage.
         With Britannicus (1669) Racine posed a direct challenge to Corneille's specialty: tragedy with a Roman setting. Racine portrays the events leading up to the moment when the teenage emperor Nero cunningly and ruthlessly frees himself from the tutelage of his domineering mother, Agrippina, and has Britannicus, a legitimate pretender to the throne, poisoned in the course of a fatal banquet of fraternal reconciliation.
         Bérénice (1670) marks the decisive point in Racine's theatrical career, for with this play he found a felicitous combination of elements that he would use, without radical alteration, for the rest of his secular tragedies: a love interest, a relatively uncomplicated plot, striking rhetorical passages, and a highly poetic use of time. Bérénice is built around the unusual premise of three characters who are ultimately forced to live apart because of their virtuous sense of duty. In the play, Titus, who is to become the new Roman emperor, and his friend Antiochus are both in love with Berenice, the queen of Palestine.
         Racine followed the simplicity of Bérénice and its three main characters with a violent, relatively crowded production, Bajazet (1672). The play's themes of unrequited love and the struggle for power under the unrelenting pressure of time are recognizably Racinian, but its locale, the court of the Ottoman sultan in Constantinople, is the only contemporary setting used by Racine in any of his plays, and was sufficiently far removed in distance and in mores from 17th-century France to create an alluring exoticism for contemporary audiences. In the play, the main characters--the young prince Bajazet, his beloved Atalide, and the jealous sultana Roxane--are the mortal victims of the despotic cruelty of the absent sultan Amurat, whose reign is maintained by violence and secrecy.
         In 1673 Racine presented Mithridate, which featured a return to tragedy with a Roman background. Mithradates VI, the king of Pontus, is the aging, jealous rival of his sons for the Greek princess Monime. The rivalry between the two brothers themselves for the love of their father's fiancée is another manifestation of the primordial tragic situation for Racine, that of warring brothers. Against the backdrop of this conflict, the play presents the demise of King Mithradates, who becomes conscious of his own eclipse as a heroic figure feared by Rome.
          Despite a competing play mounted by his enemies on the same general subject, Racine's Iphigénie en Aulide (1674) was a resounding success that confirmed him as the unrivaled master of French theatre. It is an adaptation of a play by Euripides about the prospective sacrifice of Iphigenia by her father Agamemnon, but contains a happy ending in which Iphigénie is spared. Racine's deft insertion in Iphigénie en Aulide of the future as an intrusive force determining the present creates a rehearsal of the Trojan War that culminates in a profound moral illumination revolving around the title character. The play's dénouement, typical of Racine's practice, projects the imagination of the spectator beyond the present action to the future consequences of the acts portrayed on stage.
          Phèdre (1677) is Racine's supreme accomplishment because of the rigor and simplicity of its organization, the emotional power of its language, and the profusion of its images and meanings. Racine presents Phèdre as consumed by an incestuous passion for her stepson, Hippolytus. Receiving false information that her husband, King Theseus, is dead, Phèdre declares her love to Hippolytus, who is horrified. Theseus returns and is falsely informed that Hippolytus has been the aggressor toward Phèdre. Theseus invokes the aid of the god Neptune to destroy his son, after which Phèdre kills herself out of guilt and sorrow. A structural pattern of cycles and circles in Phèdre reflects a conception of human existence as essentially changeless, recurrent, and therefore asphyxiatingly tragic. Phèdre's own desire to flee the snares of passion repeatedly prompts her to contemplate a voluntary exile. References to ancient Greek mythological figures and to a wide range of geographical places lend a vast, cosmic dimension to the moral itinerary of Phèdre as she suffers bitterly from her incestuous propensities and a sense of her own degradation. Phèdre constitutes a daring representation of the contagion of sin and its catastrophic results.
          Esther (1689) is a biblical tragedy complete with musical choral interludes composed by Jean-Baptiste Moreau, who would serve in this same role for Racine's last play, Athalie. The play shows how Esther, the wife of the Persian king Ahasuerus (Xerxes I), saves the Jews from a massacre plotted by the king's chief minister, Haman. With its three acts, its chorus, and its transcendent message that God and truth can be made manifest on stage, Esther breaks sharply with Racine's previous practice in tragedy. It is not one of his major works, despite the beauty of its choruses.
         In Athalie (1691) Racine reverted to his customary approach. Within the one day that is always the temporal duration of his plays, a situation of human origin must be resolved by divine intervention so that the child Joas, the rightful king of Judah, will be saved from his murderous grandmother Athalie. Athalie is a typical Racinian drama except for the fact that fate is replaced in this instance by divine providence. The title character, Athalie, though evil, still remains admirable in her titanic struggle against this superior adversary. Of all the characters never seen on stage but who enrich Racine's texts, from Hector and Astyanax in Andromaque through Venus, Minos, Neptune, and Ariane in Phèdre, the God of the Old Testament in Athalie exerts the greatest impact on the course of dramatic events.
          Racine's art has influenced French and foreign authors alike, among them Émile Zola, Marcel Proust, François Mauriac, Henrik Ibsen, Henry James, and Samuel Beckett.
    1627 Jacob van der Ulft, Dutch artist who died on 18 November 1689.
    ^ 1118 Thomas Becket , à Londres (date présumée).
          Devenu docteur en Droit canonique et diplomate, il aide Henri II Plantagenet à monter sur le trône d'Angleterre. Pour le récompenser, Henri II le nomme Archidiacre de Canterbury et, plus tard, Grand Chanchelier. Ministre préféré du roi, il obtient plus tard l'Archevêché de Canterbury. Mais ses fonctions le changent du tout au tout: il prend le défense du clergé contre le roi, son ami et protecteur. Henri II cherche à se débarasser de cet ami encombrant. Ce sera fait le 29 decembre 1170, quatre chevaliers pénètrent dans la Cathédrale de Canterbury et assassinent Thomas Becket.

     
    Holidays Nepal : Independence Day/Unity Day (1923) / Plymouth, Mass : Forefathers' Day (1620) /
    Le solstice d'hiver dans l'hémisphère Nord. Le "solstice" est l'un des deux points de la trajectoire apparente du Soleil, lorsque celui-ci atteint sa plus forte déclinaison boréale ou australe par rapport à l'équateur céleste. Le Soleil passe en ces points le 21 ou le 22 juin (c'est le solstice d'été qui marque le début de l'été et le jour le plus long de l'année), et le 21 ou le 22 décembre (c'est le solstice d'hiver qui marque le début de l'hiver et le jour le plus court de l'année). Les saisons s'inversent donc entre l'hémisphère Nord et l'hémisphère Sud. Le terme "solstice" vient du latin sol stare qui signifie "le soleil ne bouge pas". En effet, à ces deux dates, le soleil change peu de déclinaison par rapport à l'équateur céleste d'un jour à l'autre, et semble demeurer immobile dans le ciel.

    Religious Observances RC, Luth, Ang : St Thomas the apostle / RC : St Peter Canisius, priest & doctor (opt) / Saint Pierre Casinius - Né en 1521 à Nimègue, aux Pays-Bas, ce jésuite fut un ardent et efficace promoteur de la Contre-Réforme catholique au coeur de l'Allemagne protestante. Par ses prêches et son catéchisme, il réfuta et combattit inlassablement les idées de Luther. Il critiqua par ailleurs les excès du Saint Siège. Il figure depuis 1925 parmi les docteurs de l’Église catholique. / Santos Pedro Canisio, Anastasio, Juan, Juliana, Severino y Tomás.

    DICTIONNAIRE TICRANIEN: ceinture: évangélisateur de la Thuringe.
    TIDBITS FROM TINIBRAINLAND:
         Two Tinibrainers were walking down the road and the first Tinibrainer said, "Look at that dog with one eye!" The other Tinibrainer covers one of his eyes and says, "Where?"
    Thoughts for the day: “No government can be long secure without a formidable opposition.” — Benjamin Disraeli (21 Dec 1804 – 19 Apr 1881)
    “I never deny; I never contradict; I sometimes forget.” —
    to Lord Esher by Disraeli about his relations with Queen Victoria.
    “Never complain and never explain.” —
    Disraeli
    "Change is inevitable in a progressive country. Change is constant." —
    Disraeli in a speech at Edinburgh, 29 Oct 1867.
    "An author who speaks about his own books is almost as bad as a mother who talks about her own children." —
    Disraeli at a banquet given in Glasgow on his installation as Lord Rector 19 Nov 1873.
    "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics." —
    attributed to Disraeli in Mark Twain's Autobiography.
    “When a man falls into his anecdotage it is a sign for him to retire from the world.” —
    opinion of a character in Disraeli's Lothair.
    “There`s so much to say but your eyes keep interrupting me.”
    “There`s not much to say when your eyes keep intriguing me.”
    “There`s so much to see but your eyelids keep interrupting your vision.”
    “There`s so much to say but your
    ‘ayes’ keep interrupting me.”
    “There`s so much to say but your
    ‘I’s keep interrupting me.”
    “There`s not much to say but you keep interrogating me.”
    “There`s not much to say but you keep talking on, and on, and on ...”
    “There's so much to say, but none of it worth hearing.”
    ENIGMATICAL PROPHECIES [from the 1736 Almanack, with the original spelling].
    Which they that do not understand, cannot well explain.
         1. Before the middle of this year, a wind at N. East will arise, during which the water of the sea and rivers will be in such manner raised, that great part of the towns of Boston, Newport, New-York, Philadelphia, the low lands of Maryland and Virginia, and the town of Charlstown in South Carolina, will be under water. Happy will it be for the sugar and salt, standing in the cellars of those places, if there be tight roofs and cielings overhead; otherwise, without being a conjurer, a man may easily foretel that such commodities will receive damage.
         2. About the middle of the year, great numbers of vessels fully laden will be taken out of the ports aforesaid, by a Power with which we are not now at war, and whose forces shall not be descried or seen either coming or going. But in the end this may not be disadvantageous to those places.
         3. However, not long after, a visible army of 30000 musketers will land, some in Virginia and Maryland, and some in the lower counties on both sides of Delaware, who will over-run the country, and sorely annoy the inhabitants; but the air in this climate will agree with them so ill towards winter, that they will die in the beginning of cold weather like rotten sheep, and by Christmas the inhabitants will get the better of them.

    [These 3 prophecies, reproduced in This Day in History for yesterday, did indeed come to pass, but Franklin's readers had to wait one year for the 1737 Almanack to understand them. I will not make you wait that long, Here is Franklin's 1737 explanation of the first prophecy. For the other two, make sure you read This Day in History for the next few days.]
    In my last I published some enigmatical prophecies, which I did not expect any one would take for serious predictions. The explanation I promised, follows, viz.
         1. The water of the sea and rivers i raised in vapours by the sun, is form'd into clouds in the air, and thence descends in rain. Now when there is rain overhead, (which frequently happens when the wind is at N.E.) the cities and places on the earth below, are certainly under water.
         2. The power with which we were not then at war, but which, it was said, would take many full laden vessels out of our ports before the end of the year, is the WIND, whose forces also are not descried either coming or going.

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