Matt Hill

The £21,000 Masque


With a cast of over 800, and a budget equivalent to £3 million, James Shirley’s extravagant masque ‘The Triumph of Peace’ was performed on 3rd February, 1634. Unusually, it was such a popular show that, despite the enormous cost of staging it, King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria requested that it be repeated. Though …

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Killing King Carlos


The only Portuguese monarch to be assassinated, King Carlos I, was shot through the neck by Republican activists on 1st February, 1908, as his open carriage rode through Lisbon. His elder son Luis Filipe was also killed, leaving 18 year-old Manuel to become the last King of Portugal. The murder followed Portugal’s former colony Brazil …

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Chimps In Space!


Before Yuri Gagarin, before Alan Shepard… a chimp called Ham was blasted into space for six-and-a-half minutes of weightlessness on 31st January, 1961. He successfully returned to Earth without serious physical injury, albeit over 100 miles away from NASA’s intended splashdown location. Travelling at 5,857 m.p.h, Ham was seated in a special chair called a …

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Let’s Embalm Lenin


The corpse of Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union, was placed on display in Moscow’s Red Square on 27th January, 1924 – where, astonishingly, he remains viewable to this day.  He’d wanted to be buried next to his mother in Saint Petersburg, but after he suffered a series of strokes, the Soviet government instead …

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Lalli and the Axe


According to Finnish legend, a peasant farmer named Lalli murdered the Christian missionary Bishop Henry on the ice of lake Köyliönjärvi on January 20, 1156, dispatching him with an axe blow to the head. It is fair to say things didn’t go terribly well for Lalli after that. He met a gruesome fate that takes …

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The 17th Century UFO


One of earliest recorded UFO sightings in America happened on 18th January, 1644 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony when lights rose out of the water near Boston, zoomed across the sky and vanished over the horizon. The events, as documented by the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony John Winthrop in his journal, took place …

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