Keeping Up on the Rent, Even When the Property is Lost

For 800 years the city of London has been careful to make sure it pays its annual rent for two pieces of land it leases from the Crown. In its determination not to fall delinquent in payments, it unfortunately overlooked one thing: the location of these properties. It continues to pay the rent, even though... Continue Reading →

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The Pharoah, Flies, and Honey

Egyptian Pharaoh Pepi II (2284 BC - c. 2216 BC) had an extreme dislike of flies and an ingenious way of dealing with the problem. He would cover servants with honey and use them to lure the flies away from his presence.

This Royal Custom Was a Real Slap in the Face

Who hasn't heard of some unpopular government action and entertained a stray thought about slapping the person who was responsible? In ancient Babylon, that stray thought was actually encouraged to be acted upon. The Babylonian New Year was celebrated each year with elaborate rituals. The ceremonies lasted for several days, with a special program prepared... Continue Reading →

Scottish Independence Started with a Broken Axe

History records that Scots won their freedom at the Battle of Bannockburn on June 24, 1314. The battle raged for two days before the heavily outnumbered Scots defeated the professional military of England's Edward II.  The battle could easily have been over before it started. On June 23, as the two armies caught sight of... Continue Reading →

Scotland Did Not Always Give Sports a Sporting Chance

Scotland is known for its passionate football (American soccer) fans, and it is recognized as the birthplace of golf and home to the most famous golf courses in the world. Did you know that both sports were once illegal throughout the land? King James I outlawed football with the Football Act of 1424. It was... Continue Reading →

Wearing the Crown Takes a Lot of Heart

Robert the Bruce (1274-1329) reigned as King of Scots from 1306 to 1329. He led a ragtag bunch of Scottish farmers to defeat England's Edward II's professional army that was four times the size of Scotland's. He unified the Scots and secured their freedom from England and is remembered as the greatest of Scotland's monarchs. Such... Continue Reading →

Good Manners Overrule Royal Privilege

According to often-repeated legend Lord Kingsale retains a royal privilege that allows him to keep his hat on in the presence of the sovereign. This right allegedly was granted by King John in the 13th century. The problem with the story is that it doesn't appear to be based on any historical fact. Another who is supposed... Continue Reading →

Toast Topper

While serving as U.S. minister to France, Benjamin Franklin attended a dinner in Paris shortly after the British surrendered at Yorktown in 1781. The French foreign minister, Vergennes, began the toasts, saluting his King: "To His Majesty, Louis XVI, who, like the moon, fills the earth with a soft, benevolent glow." The British ambassador rose: "To... Continue Reading →

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