1902 Encyclopedia > Today in History > The world's first lottery, a mechanical duck, animal comedians, Thomas Bowdler, and more

Today in History - February 24
• The World's First Lottery
• A Mechanical Duck
• Mrs Midnight's Animal Comedians
• Thomas Bowdler, Censor and Prude

-- Compiled by James Finlayson-Bald

Thomas Bowdler - The Family Shakespeare (image)

The Family Shakespeare, edited by Thomas Bowdler

On this date:

303 -- Galerius Maximinus issued the first edict of persecution against the Christians in Rome who were becoming quite tiresome, they would keep breaking things.

1388 -- Albert of Mecklenburg, King of Sweden was turfed out by Margaret, Regent of Norway and Denmark.

1446 -- A lottery was drawn in Bruges (Belgium), the first recorded.

1525 -- Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, crushed the French at Pavia and captured King Francis I. This defeat led to the period of Spanish control of Italy.

1525 -- Richard de la Pole, pretender to the English throne, died on the jousting field. The de la Poles, Earls of Lincoln and Dukes of Sussex, had come a long way. De la Pole meant "of the Pool," the pool was the pool or port of Harwich where they were fishmongers, their name then being Rottenherring de la pole. Anyway they saved their pence, the pounds soon took care of themselves and they began to embark on a series of very clever marriages, and were received by the gentry. One must presume that the price of fish then, matched that of today.

1563 -- Francis Duke of Guise, French military commander, died from a wound received from the Hugeonot Jean Poltrot de Mere on the 19th. His splendid presence, generosity and humanity and his almost unvarying success on the battlefield made him the idol of his soldiers.

1582 -- Pope Gregory in a Bull announced the new Gregorian calendar and the rules governing its implementation.

1587 -- Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of "Don Quixote" was excommunicated.

1709 -- Jacques de Vaucanson died. He was a highly skilled mechanic-inventor. He had a six-foot long automata flute on exhibition in Paris, but his most famous toy was a mechanical duck which swam, waved its wings, quacked, arranged its feathers and could even accept, and ingest, grain which was offered to it.

1753 -- A new entertainment opened in London, "Mrs Midnight's Animal Comedians." They comprised mainly dogs and monkeys who presented a Grand Ballet and a siege in which a monkey town was attacked and taken by an army of dogs. The whole entertainment was set up in a small but elegant theatre and was apparently very popular for some seasons.

1803 -- The U.S. Supreme Court declared for the first time that an act of Congress could be unconstitutional.

1825 -- Thomas Bowdler, censor and prude, died in Wales. He "improved" Shakespeare and an edition of Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."

1903 -- The Guantanamo Naval Station in Cuba was acquired by the U.S.

1966 -- Dr Iwame Nkrumah, President of Ghana, was overthrown by his army.

-- Winslow Homer, artist (1836-1910)
-- Arnold Dolmetsch, musical instrument maker (1858-1940).

"Armaments, universal debt and planned obsolescence -- those are the three pillars of western prosperity." — Aldous Huxley.

The above article was written by James Finlayson-Bald.
Edited and illustrations added by David Paul Wagner.

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