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.

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On this day: the Battle of the Somme

Wounded British soldiers come in from the advanced dressing station at Bernafay Wood on the 19th of July 1916. The photograph was taken by Ernest Brooks, the British military’s first-ever official war photographer.

The Battle of the Somme ran from July to November of 1916 and claimed well over a million lives, making it one of the worst battles in the history of war.

The_Battle_of_the_Somme,_July-november_1916_Q811Wounded soldiers coming in from the advanced dressing station at Bernafay Wood, 19th July 1916.

On this day: British Troops in France

Sherman tanks of the Staffordshire Yeomanry, 27th Armoured Brigade, carrying infantry from 3rd Division, move up at the start of Operation 'Goodwood', Normandy, 18 July 1944. British Arm

British soldiers head off to fight in Operation Goodwood in Normandy, France, on the 18th of July, 1944. Second World War.

The offensive took place between the 18th and 20th, and resulted in 3474 British casualties and the loss of 314 British tanks.

From the collection of the Imperial War Museum.

Book Inspiration

The Landowner's Secret by Sonya Heaney blog-sized

One thing that thrilled me about the cover for The Landowner’s Secret, my upcoming book, was that the designer really took the setting into consideration.

Yes, the story is set in colonial Australia, and yes, I know many people think of Australia in terms of either beaches or deserts. However, *my* Australia is about the mountains and the bush, and my book is set in the shadow of the Brindabella Range.

I look at these mountains every day. I can see them from the backyard, the front yard, from half the windows of the house (which proved pretty scary when fire came rolling down the hills during the devastating Canberra firestorm!).

Here is an image from of the mountains from Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons. I think the view is reflected so well on the book cover:

Mount_Ginini_-_Namadgi_National_Park_-_2 ACT NSW Canberra Region Australia October 2006

Here are a couple of random shots of I’ve taken while in the car (not driving!). The farmland in the second one is where I’ve set my hero’s homestead.

driving-south-canberra-tuggeranong-australia-brindabella-ranges-mountains-anzac-day-25th-april-2015-sonya-heaney

winter-queanbeyan-to-canberra-australia-5th-june-2015-sonya-heaney-oksana-heaney-brindabella-ranges-travel-road-state-border

I know a lot of book covers in this world don’t have a lot to do with what’s actually written on the pages, and I consider myself very lucky that mine does!

On this day: Renovations in Cambridge

Kings_College_Chapel_1987_-_geograph_org_uk_-_882971Kings College Chapel 1987 Kings College Chapel Cambridge with scaffolding renovations 18th July 1987. England Vintage Retro

Source

King’s College Chapel, Cambridge in England is seen here covered in scaffolding on the 18th of July, 1987.

The chapel, built during the Wars of the Roses, is home to the world’s biggest fan vault, and famous for its stained glass windows.

On this day: the Queen Mother in 1979

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother is seen here at the opening of the new library of the London School of Economics on the 10th of July, 1979.

The library – located in the Lionel Robbins Building – is in the former headquarters of major bookseller WH Smith.

Sources: 1234

HM_Queen_Mother_at_the_formal_opening_of_the_new_library_in_the_Lionel_Robbins_Building,_10th_July_1979_(3982886515) London

1979 London British Royals England Britain VintageHM_Queen_Mother_at_the_formal_opening_of_the_new_library_in_the_Lionel_Robbins_Building,_10th_July_1979_(39828

HM_Queen_Mother_at_the_formal_opening_of_the_new_library_in_the_Lionel_Robbins_Building,_10th_July_1979_(3982886717)With Jacqueline Whiteside, library assistant.

HM Queen Mother at the formal opening of the new library in the Lionel Robbins Building, 10th July 1979 London British Royals England Britain Vintage

On this day: Nuclear tests during the Cold War

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7th August 1957: The tail of an airship sticks up in the air after it was brought down by a nuclear test in Nevada, USA.

The downing of the (unmanned) ship came at the height of tensions during the Cold War, at a time Russian/Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, infamous for carrying out Stalinist purges in Ukraine, was repeatedly threatening the West with nuclear annihilation.

928 nuclear tests were held at the site in Nevada. The frequent mushroom clouds, seen for miles, became Las Vegas tourist attractions.