french warships

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November 18th 1720: Calico Jack executed

On this day in 1720, during the ‘Golden Age of Piracy’, the infamous pirate Calico Jack was executed in Jamaica. Born to English parents as John Rackham around 1682, little is known about his early life until he emerged as a feared pirate in the early eighteenth century. Rackham earned the nickname ‘Calico Jack’ due to his penchant for wearing brightly coloured clothes made from Indian Calico cloth. In 1718 he refused a royal pardon, and instead continued as a pirate under his captain Charles Vane. However, after Vane showed cowardice in battle with a French warship, his crew mutinied and chose Rackham as the new captain. Now leading his own crew, Rackham succesfully captured a merchant ship and outwitted Spanish authorities, though was generally not as accomplished a pirate as others like Vane and Blackbeard. Calico Jack took a brief break from piracy, and during this time met two female pirates named Anne Bonny and Mary Read, the former of whom became his lover. In August 1720, Rackham returned to piracy, with the fearsome and foul-mouthed Bonny and Read joining his crew as they ransacked fishermen on the Jamaican coast. In October of that same year, the pirates were discovered by the authorities and captured after a cannon battle; a popular legend holds that the men hid below decks while Bonny and Read fought their attackers. Rackham and his crew were tried and found guilty, though Bonny and Read were spared the noose as they were both pregnant. Calico Jack was executed on November 18th 1720, with his body displayed in a cage on the harbour of Port Royal as a warning to other pirates. Read later died in prison, though Bonny’s fate remains unclear. Rackham is remembered today mainly for popularising the version of the Jolly Roger flag displaying a white skull and crossed swords - which has since become synonymous with pirates - and for his association with the famous Bonny and Read.

“I’m sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man, you need not have hanged like a dog”
- Anne Bonny’s alleged last words to Calico Jack

Some facts about.. Marie Antoinette.

Marie Antoinette was a teen idol.
Unlike during her years as queen, Marie Antoinette captivated the French public in her early years in the country. When the teenager made her initial appearance in the French capital, a crowd of 50,000 Parisians grew so uncontrollable that at least 30 people were trampled to death in the crush.

Her towering bouffant hairdo once sported a battleship replica.
As Will Bashor details in his new book, “Marie Antoinette’s Head,” royal hairdresser Léonard Autié became one of the queen’s closest confidants as he concocted her gravity-defying hairdos, which rose nearly four feet high.
Autié accessorized the queen’s fantastical poufs with feathers, trinkets and on one occasion even an enormous model of the French warship La Belle Poule to commemorate its sinking of a British frigate.

Marie Antoinette had some royal hair flaws.
While Marie Antoinette is famous for her amazing hair, she actually got a lot of criticism for her uneven hairline and high forehead, which her hairstylists regularly fought to conceal and lessen.

A fairy-tale village was built for her at Versailles.
While peasants starved in villages throughout France, Marie Antoinette commissioned the construction of the Petit Hameau, a utopian hamlet with lakes, gardens, cottages, watermills and a farmhouse on the palace grounds. The queen and her ladies-in-waiting dressed up as peasants and pretended to be milkmaids and shepherdesses in their picturesque rural retreat. Marie Antoinette’s elaborate spending on frivolities such as the Petit Hameau infuriated revolutionaries and earned her the moniker “Madame Deficit.”

Marie Antoinette never said “Let them eat cake.”
When told that starving French peasants lacked any bread to eat, the queen is alleged to have callously declared, “Let them eat cake!”
The phrase used to encapsulate the out-of-touch and indifferent royals first appeared years before Marie Antoinette ever arrived in France in philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s description of Marie-Therese, the Spanish princess who married King Louis XIV in 1660. The remark was also ascribed to two aunts of Louis XVI before it was apocryphally tied to Marie Antoinette.

The trumped-up charges against Marie Antoinette included incest.
Nine months after the execution of the former King Louis XVI, a Revolutionary Tribunal tried the former queen on trumped-up crimes against the French republic that included high treason, sexual promiscuity and incestuous relations with her son Louis-Charles, who was forced to testify that his mother had molested him. After a two-day show trial, an all-male jury found the former queen guilty on all charges and unanimously condemned her to death.

She was buried in an unmarked grave and then exhumed.
Following the execution of Marie Antoinette, her body was placed in a coffin and dumped into a common grave behind the Church of the Madeline.
In 1815, after the Bourbon Restoration returned King Louis XVIII to the throne following the exile of Napoleon, he ordered the bodies of his older brother, Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette exhumed and given a proper burial alongside other French royals inside the Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis.

A U.S. city is named in honor of Marie Antoinette.
When a group of American Revolution veterans founded the first permanent settlement of the Northwest Territory in 1788 at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers, they wanted to honor France, which had been instrumental in assisting the patriots against the British. They named their new community—Marietta, Ohio—after the French queen and even sent her a letter offering the monarch a “public square” in the town.

As a young girl, she was considered somewhat of a tomboy.
She played with non-royal children and loved horseback riding and hunting. After she was married, her mother wrote her several letters reminding her to wear clean clothes and to groom her hair.

She was beheaded at 12:15 p.m. on October 16, 1793.
Her last words are reported to have been, “Pardon me, sir, I did not mean to do it.” She accidentally stepped on the executioner’s foot while climbing the scaffold.

Marie Antoinette got nervous, too!
One of Marie Antoinette’s nervous habits was to run her fingers through her hair. Next time someone gives you a hard time for doing the same thing yourself, scoff at them and say, “If the queen of France did it, I can, too.”

End of the Irish Invasion ; — or — the Destruction of the French Armada, caricature by James Gillray
French warships, labeled Le Révolutionaire, L'Egalité and The Revolutionary Jolly Boat, being tossed about during a storm blown up by Pitt, Dundas, Grenville and Windham, whose heads appear from the clouds. Charles Fox is the figurehead on Le Révolutionaire which is floundering with broken mast. The Revolutionary Jolly Boat is being swamped, throwing Sheridan, Hall, Erskine, M.A. Taylor and Thelwall overboard.

The Expédition d'Irlande (“Expedition to Ireland”) was an unsuccessful attempt by the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars to assist the outlawed Society of United Irishmen, a popular rebel Irish republican group, in their planned rebellion against British rule. The French intended to land a large expeditionary force in Ireland during the winter of 1796–1797 which would join with the United Irishmen and drive the British out of Ireland. The French anticipated that this would be a major blow to British morale, prestige and military effectiveness, and was also intended to possibly be the first stage of an eventual invasion of Britain itself. To this end, the French Directory gathered a force of approximately 15,000 soldiers at Brest under General Lazare Hoche during late 1796, in readiness for a major landing at Bantry Bay in December.