John’s Believe It Or Not… May 22nd

In 334 BC Alexander the Great defeats Darius III of Persia in the Battle of the Granicus. In 1843 Great Emigration departs for Oregon. In 1455 The War of the Roses begins.In 2004 Controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 wins Palme d’Or. In 1958 Jerry Lee Lewis drops a bombshell in London.

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John Fioravanti Stands at the front of his classroom in 2006

It’s A Holiday Monday in Canada! Did you know…

Happy Birthday to John W. Howell! See my Tribute

* 334 BC Alexander the Great defeats Darius III of Persia in the Battle of the Granicus. (Alexander the Great crossed the Hellespont with his combined Macedonian and Greek forces and stepped upon the shores of Anatolia. His goal was simple: to defeat King Darius III, the last king of the Achaemenids, and conquer the vast Persian Empire. In May of 334 BCE, he had his first opportunity when he faced the Persians on the banks of the River Granicus. After receiving word from his scouts of the Persians’ location at Granicus, Alexander advanced towards the river; he had come to realize that he must defeat the Persians to gain the necessary resources to continue on his quest of conquering Persia. As the Macedonian forces neared the river, Parmenion, one of Alexander’s most loyal generals and commander of his left flank, advised Alexander they should wait until morning before attacking. Alexander replied, according to Plutarch, that it would “disgrace the Hellespont should he fear the Granicus.” The historian Arrian spoke of this encounter by saying that Alexander realized that the Persians did not fear him because they did not know him. Alexander rejected Parmenion’s plea, the battle would begin that afternoon but would last barely an hour. Although numbers vary among the various ancient sources, modern accounts number the Persians at 10,000 cavalry and 5,000 Greek mercenary infantry. Alexander’s forces numbered 13,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry. One unique and problematic situation for the Persians was the positioning of their cavalry on the banks of the Granicus; the Greek mercenary infantry — 5,000 strong — was placed behind them. Some historians believe this idea cost the Persians the battle. The Persian cavalry could neither move forward because of the river banks nor pull back because of the location of the infantry. In addition, the one weapon unique to the Persians, the scythed chariot, was almost useless on the muddy riverbank. Was this a tactical error or pure arrogance? Together with the lack of true leadership — besides Memnon — the battle was lost before it was begun.)

The Macedonians charge the Persian lines at the battle of the River Granicus, 334 BC. Artwork by Radu Oltean.
The Macedonians charge the Persian lines at the battle of the River Granicus, 334 BC. Artwork by Radu Oltean.

* 1843 Great Emigration departs for Oregon. (A massive wagon train made up of 1,000 settlers and 1,000 head of cattle, sets off down the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri. Known as the “Great Emigration,” the expedition came two years after the first modest party of settlers made the long, overland journey to Oregon. After leaving Independence, the giant wagon train followed the Sante Fe Trail for some 40 miles and then turned northwest to the Platte River, which it followed along its northern route to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. From there, it traveled on to the Rocky Mountains, which it passed through by way of the broad, level South Pass that led to the basin of the Colorado River. The travelers then went southwest to Fort Bridger, northwest across a divide to Fort Hall on the Snake River, and on to Fort Boise, where they gained supplies for the difficult journey over the Blue Mountains and into Oregon. The Great Emigration finally arrived in October, completing the 2,000-mile journey from Independence in five months. In the next year, four more wagon trains made the journey, and in 1845 the number of emigrants who used the Oregon Trail exceeded 3,000. Travel along the trail gradually declined with the advent of the railroads, and the route was finally abandoned in the 1870s.)

Painting of covered wagons on the Oregon Trail
(www.history.com)

* 1455 The War of the Roses. (In the opening battle of England’s War of the Roses, the Yorkists defeat King Henry VI’s Lancastrian forces at St. Albans, 20 miles northwest of London. Many Lancastrian nobles perished, including Edmund Beaufort, the duke of Somerset, and the king was forced to submit to the rule of his cousin, Richard of York. The dynastic struggle between the House of York, whose badge was a white rose, and the House of Lancaster, later associated with a red rose, would stretch on for 30 years. Both families, closely related, claimed the throne through descent from the sons of Edward III, the king of England from 1327 to 1377. The first Lancastrian king was Henry IV in 1399, and rebellion and lawlessness were rife during his reign. His son, Henry V, was more successful and won major victories in the Hundred Years War against France. His son and successor, Henry VI, had few kingly qualities and lost most of the French land his father had conquered. At home, chaos prevailed and lords with private armies challenged Henry VI’s authority. At times, his ambitious queen, Margaret of Anjou, effectively controlled the crown. In 1453, Henry lapsed into insanity, and in 1454 Parliament appointed Richard, duke of York, as protector of the realm. Henry and York’s grandfathers were the fourth and third sons of Edward III, respectively. When Henry recovered in late 1454, he dismissed York and restored the authority of Margaret, who saw York as a threat to the succession of their son, Prince Edward. York raised an army of 3,000 men, and in May the Yorkists marched to London. On May 22, 1455, York met Henry’s forces at St. Albans while on the northern road to the capital. The bloody encounter lasted less than an hour, and the Yorkists carried the day. The duke of Somerset, Margaret’s great ally, was killed, and Henry was captured by the Yorkists. After the battle, Richard again was made English protector, but in 1456 Margaret regained the upper hand. An uneasy peace was broken in 1459, and in 1460 the Lancastrians were defeated, and York was granted the right to ascend to the throne upon Henry’s death. The Lancastrians then gathered forces in northern England and in December 1460 surprised and killed York outside his castle near Wakefield. York’s son Edward reached London before Margaret and was proclaimed King Edward IV. In March 1461, Edward won a decisive victory against the Lancastrians at the Battle of Towton, the bloodiest of the war. Henry, Margaret, and their son fled to Scotland, and the first phase of the war was over.)

The War of the Roses - Battle of St Albans May 22nd 1455 to Battle of Stoke field 16th June 1487.
The War of the Roses – Battle of St Albans May 22nd, 1455 to Battle of Stoke field 16th June 1487. (Gerald McNamee Photo Images and Digital Art Archive)

* 2004 Controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 wins Palme d’Or. (The director Quentin Tarantino, president of the Cannes jury, announced the winner in front of an appreciative crowd at the Grand Theatre Lumiere. The previous week, an audience in that same theater gave the film a standing ovation after its screening. It was a surprise win, not least because the Cannes festival had historically shunned documentaries. Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Silent World were two of only three nonfiction films to be allowed in competition in more than five decades. Moore’s film was a fierce critique of the foreign policy decisions made by the presidential administration of George W. Bush, principally its response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and its decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld came under the harshest fire from Moore, who had caused a stir the previous year for his anti-war comments during his acceptance of the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for Bowling for Columbine.)

Fahrenheit 9/11 was a call to action that Tarantino and his Cannes jury answered
Fahrenheit 9/11 was a call to action that Tarantino and his Cannes jury answered (The AV Club)

* 1958 Jerry Lee Lewis drops a bombshell in London. (The arrival in the United Kingdom of one of the biggest figures in rock and roll was looked forward to with great anticipation in May of 1958. Nowhere in the world were the teenage fans of the raucous music coming out of America more enthusiastic than they were in England, and the coming tour of the great Jerry Lee Lewis promised to be a rousing success. “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” and “Great Balls Of Fire” had both been massive hits in the UK, and early demand for tickets was great enough that 27 appearances were booked in what promised to be the biggest tour yet by an American rock-and-roll star. There was just one problem: Unbeknownst to the British public and the organizers of the coming tour, Jerry Lee Lewis would be traveling to England as a newly married man, with his pretty young wife in tow. Just how young that wife really was would be revealed on this day in 1958, when Jerry Lee “The Killer” Lewis arrived at Heathrow Airport with his new “child bride.” As the press hounded Jerry Lee and Myra Gail Lewis over the coming week, the Killer tried to go on with business as usual, but his first three shows drew meager audiences, and those that did buy tickets showered him with boos and catcalls. When the Rank chain of theaters canceled the rest of his dates and his fashionable Mayfair hotel encouraged him to seek lodgings elsewhere, Jerry Lee Lewis left the UK, less than a week after his dramatic arrival on this day in 1958. Back home, he would face a blacklisting from which his career would never fully recover.)

Lewis posing with Myrna
(Today I Found Out)

Acknowledged Sources:

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php

* On This Day – History, Film, Music and Sport http://www.onthisday.com/

* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

4 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… May 22nd”

  1. I still don’t know how it was possible for Lewis to wed a girl that young. The whole thing is just….ugh!!!
    A nice round up of historical moments as always, John. And I loved your birthday tribute to John Howell. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that Lewis story was a turn-off – 13 years old. I’ll bet today not many people would bat an eye much less turn their backs on him and his music. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to work closely with John on the RRBC Board for a couple of years. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

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