“It must have been sad do you say? Well I am not sorry to have spent it there and the recollection of it will ever be one of imperishable beauty. At midnight a baritone stood up and in a rich resonant voice sang, Minuit Chretiens. The cannonade ceased and when the hymn finished applause broke out from our side and from the German trenches! The Germans were celebrating Christmas too and we could hear them singing two hundred yards from us. Now I am going to tell you something which you will think incredible but I give you my word that it is true. At dawn the Germans displayed a placard over the trenches on which was written Happy Christmas then, leaving their trenches, unarmed they advanced towards us singing and shouting “comrades!”. No one fired. We also had left our trenches and separated from each other only by the half frozen Yser, we exchanged presents. They gave us cigars and we threw them some chocolate. Thus almost fraternizing we passed the morning. Unlikely indeed, but true. I saw it but thought I was dreaming.” -Letter from a Belgian soldier printed in The Times, 1915
World War I began in July of 1914 with the expectation on both sides that it would be a quick victory. Over the course of 51 months the war would bring a devastating death toll of 15 to 19 million soldiers and civilians. This tragic event would practically destroy a whole generation and cause much pain to the families that had to endure. It is easy to remember the death and destruction this war brought, but it is also just as important to remember the positive points. There were moments that showed there was still hope, kindness, and generosity despite differences. In the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to dive into the unusual occasion of the Christmas Eve truce in 1914. This was truly brought on by the common soldier and the truce itself was unofficial and spontaneous. The men found that despite the death, destruction and bad feelings that had surrounded them since the summer; they could take the opportunity to still share a common experience with their enemy. It seems unbelievable to us now (and definitely to the soldiers then) that Christmas Carols were sung with their enemies. These were the same enemies that had fired shoots at them the day before. This is the story and experience of the Christmas Truce 1914.
Since the Battle of Hastings falls on October 14th this week I was interested in doing a week study of 1066; one of the most important years in English History. In this year the Anglo-Saxon era ends and the England we recognize begins. Often times many studies of English history do not even start until the rule of the Normans. The Norman Conquest in 1066 was the last time (even to the present day!) that England was conquered by a foreign power. To me, that is incredible. William the Conqueror certainly earned his name due to the others who followed in history failed to achieve this even with modern weaponry and advancements.
A year in history that I find the most interesting is 1066. It is a year that changed English history and influenced the rest of European history. Also, I am a big Harold Godwinson (Harold II) fan and I think he deserves a lot more credit that what he is remembered for in history (i.e. getting killed by an arrow to the eye and losing to William). He was a good king and military leader who got put into impossible situations. Granted, he may have had some over confidence in his decision making and just plain bad luck. The whole world knew it was going to be a bad year after seeing the great comet fly through the sky (tho today we know this as Halley’s comet) providing a bad omen.
In my opinion, with just a few situations changed, the history of 1066 (and the course of English history) could have been very different.
I have yet to figure out this blogs main theme, but I am looking to research what I am most interested in (European medieval/renaissance/baroque history and women’s history), but I found the Empress Wu so fascinating I had to post this blurb that I wrote about a month ago. I hope you all will enjoy!
I was listening to a podcast this month and became fascinated with Empress Wu, the only female ruler of China. She was born during the Tang dynasty and lived from 624-705. This is a very early period and it surprised me how such an ambitious woman could become the sole ruler of China and remain the only one for centuries. Wu Zetian had a very interesting life and broke many of the social norms for women during her day, but she is also remembered for her corruptness and ruthlessness when she did take power.
I believe I have not properly introduced myself on this blog before and thought that there should be a post about my own history.
My name is Allison and I am a 25 year old living in the great state of Michigan. I graduated Bowling Green State University in 2016 with a B.A. in history. Currently, I am working in the mortgage industry, but I wanted to create this blog to keep history and continuous study in my life. History has always been my passion since I was a young girl. Continue reading “About Me!”→