The Dancing Plague of July 1518

Die_Wallfahrt_der_Fallsuechtigen_nach_MeulebeeckEngraving of Hendrik Hondius portrays three women affected by the dancing plague

An engraving by Hendrik Hondius portrays a similar outbreak in the 1560s.

In July of 1518, dancing mania – a phenomenon that occurred across Europe for several centuries – hit Strasbourg, Alsace (France). Approximately four-hundred people danced themselves to exhaustion, and even to their deaths.

The plague began when a woman named Mrs Troffea began to dance in the street.

At the time, it was decided that the people could be cured with more dancing, and so musicians were hired to encourage them – which resulted in more deaths.

One modern-day theory suggest that consumption of fungi containing psychoactive chemicals (similar to LSD) was to blame. Mass hysteria has also been suggested.

On this day: the Twenty-Six Martyrs of Japan

ChristianMartyrsOfNagasakiThe Christian martyrs of Nagasaki. 16-17th-century Japanese painting. Japan Art

The Christian Martyrs Of Nagasaki (painted 16th-17th century).

On the 5th of February, 1597, a group of Catholics were executed by crucifixion in Nagasaki, Japan.

The victims were four Spaniards, one Mexican, one Indian (all Franciscan missionaries), three Japanese Jesuits, and seventeen Japanese members of the Third Order of St Francis (including children).

The atrocity was carried out on the orders of Hideyoshi Toyotomi.

Generations later it was discovered that Japan had a community of underground “hidden Catholics” who had not been discouraged by the persecution.

UrakamiTenshudoJan1946Urakami Tenshudo (Catholic Church in Nagasaki) destroyed by the atomic bomb, the bell of the church having toppled off. 7th January 1946.

The Catholic church of Nagasaki was ground zero when the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945 at the end of the Second World War.

On this day: the first assassination by a firearm

James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray. 1561.

A detail of a 1561 painting of the Regent.

The first recorded assassination by firearm happened in Scotland on the 23rd of January, 1570. James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray and Regent of Scotland was killed at Linlithgow Palace.

Miles Birket Foster painting Linlithgow Palace Victorian era

Miles Birket Foster’s 19th century painting of Linlithgow Palace

The assassin was James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, a supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots.

James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh and Woodhouselee (died 1581) was a Scottish supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots, who assassinated James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, Regent of Scotland, in January 1570.

A nineteenth century depiction of the killing.

Some accounts of the execution were recorded centuries after it happened, making some facts a little bit unclear.

One version states that Lady Mondegreen was killed by a second shot, but this is a myth.

On this day: Arthur, Prince of Wales met Catherine of Aragon

Arthur Prince of Wales c 1500 Portrait of a princess(Infanta Catherine of Aragon or Mary Rose Tudor) circa 1502

The prince circa 1500, and a portrait thought to be Catherine, circa 1502.

On the 4th of November, 1501, Arthur, Henry the Eighth’s older brother, met his future wife. Catherine of Aragon had been communicating with Arthur via letters written in Latin, and yet when they met they discovered they spoke the language differently and couldn’t understand each other.

Both were fifteen at the time of their meeting. They married ten days later.

The prince would die in April the following year, leaving Henry to go on to become king, as well as to marry his wife.