Pope Urban VII: The Shortest Smoking Ban in History

 

The earliest depiction of a European man smoking, from Tabacco by Anthony Chute.

The earliest depiction of a European man smoking, from Tabacco by Anthony Chute.

424 years ago today, on the 27th of September 1590 there came to pass two new of records in history. It marked the end of what would be the shortest Papal reign in history, and it also marked the end of probably the shortest and earliest smoking bans in history. Giovanni Battista Castagna, before taking his more street-friendly rap name of Pope Urban VII, was the shortest serving pope in history, having the job a mere 13 days in total, from his appointment on the 15th of September 1590 until his death due to malaria 424 years ago today. A man of considerable esteem and renown for his piety and learning, his sudden death was no doubt considered as sad to his subjects as his appointment to Pope was jubilant- in only his short stay as the moderator of the Vatican and Catholic faith he achieved a lot, especially considered he was stuck down with the illness that would kill him on a couple of days after being appointed. One of his first acts was “to have a list made of all the poor in Rome that he might alleviate their needs”, not an easy task considering the population of Rome would have been roughly 90,000 at the time. After what probably amounted to a heck of a lot of list-related writers cramp, he ordered the bakers of Rome to make “larger loaves of bread and sell them cheaper”, mitigating their losses out of his own purse. Not done with his campaign of poverty-busting, he instigated the construction of public works around the city of Rome to provide jobs to those who didn’t have any. A strong opponent of nepotism, he forbade relatives from getting jobs in the curia (Roman courts and assemblies), paid off debts owed by the papacy and raised the wages of cardinals who received insufficient pay all out of his own pocket. Possibly the most progressive and modern order set down by our short-stay Pope however, was a ban on a pastime that had come to take over 16th century Europe. According to Jack E. Henningfield’s book An Old-Fashioned Addiction, Urban takes the number one spot for:

“the world’s first known public smoking ban in 1590, as [Pope Urban] threatened to excommunicate anyone who ‘took tobacco in the porchway of or inside a church, whether it be by chewing it, smoking it with a pipe, or sniffing it in powdered form through the nose’

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Referendum 2014: Undecided Independence

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The home stretch is upon us! 18/09/2014- a  date that shall live in infamy- the United Kingdom was suddenly and deliberately voted upon by YES and NO forces of Scotland. Yes, it’s now 2 days until the big decision. If we vote YES, come October negotiations start between the Scottish and UK governments, Scottish Independence Day will arrive on the 24th of March 2016, and on May 5th the Independent Scottish General Election will take place, cementing a place in the history books forever. If we vote NO, Cross party talks will commence on greater powers in Hollyrood, April 1st will see the Scotland Act 2012 come in, giving extra Tax raising powers to the Scottish Parliament and come May 7th, the General election occurs, with Scotland voting on it as part of the union.

So! A lot to take in huh? A lot of unknowns, a lot of promises and claims on both sides. Walking through the streets of most cities and towns there seems to be a strange air hanging over the country, with independence in every conversation, campaigners on every street, claims and promises printed on every leaflet, flier and poster. I can’t say with certainty if it’s an air of excitement or one of fear, but I somehow imagine it’s probably a 51/49% split depending on which you poll you look at. It’s very strange how quickly we’ve gone from a people who so often would joke about those getting too involved in politics, a certain grumpy pride in not getting overly passionate, serious or patriotic about such affairs, to a country bubbling like revolutionary Revolutionary Catalonia in the 1930s. It’s certainly great to see, certainly, in a time when voter turnout rates were plummeting across the board (and in true hipster style I do often wonder where half these people complaining about representation were in 2011, when the pathetic turnout for the Scottish Elections was barely 50% and the winning party only received 45% of that), people becoming interested and passionate about politics again is very encouraging. My hope at least is that this same passion sticks with us no matter which way we vote, but I can already feel the discontent and disillusionment with a vast majority of campaigners if their referendum horse happens to come in last. It with this in mind, and a horrible feeling I’m going to be bombarded with campaigning and articles to read, I have to admit I still haven’t decided what to vote.

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Henry H. Bliss & Mary Ward: The Unlucky Automotive Firsts

FATALLY HURT BY AUTOMOBILE

Vehicle Carrying the Son of ex-Mayor Edson Ran Over H. H. Bliss, Who Was Alighting from a Trolley Car

The New York Times, September 14th 1899
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Grand Theft Auto: 1899

So blazed the headlines of The New York Times 115 years ago today in their report that marked a grisly first in American automotive history. On September 14th 1899 68-year-old Henry Hale Bliss, a real estate dealer living in New York City (234 West Seventy Firth Street to be precise, but his original residence no longer exists) became the first man in the Americas to die from his injuries caused by being struck down by an automobile. By the end of the 19th century the automobile was becoming an increasingly common sight on the streets of Cities in the western world, and patents for steam, combustion and electric vehicles were being registered since the early to mid-1800s.  State of Wisconsin in 1875 had offered a $10,000 award to the first individual that could produce a practical substitute for the use of horses and other animals (incidentally leading in 1878 to the first automotive race in America, in which five of the seven entries failed to start and the winner completed the 200 mile course in a time of 33 hours after the only other completer also broke down. More successful than perhaps the first automotive race, in which only one vehicle competed.)

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11/09/1297- The Battle of Stirling Bridge and Wallace & Moray- The Dynamic Duo

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“You gotta pay the toll troll!”

“We come here with no peaceful intent, but ready for battle, determined to avenge our wrongs and set our country free. Let your masters come and attack us: we are ready to meet them beard to beard.”

These are the (apparent) words of William Wallace (Uilleam Uallas), the resistance leader, knight and Guardian of Scotland during the Scottish Wars of Independence. The quote is attributed to him on the eve of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, which happens to have happened 717 years ago today (11/09/1297), in which Scottish forces under Andrew de Moray and Wallace led an incredible victory over the English army on the waters of the River Forth. The Battle is one of the most incredible battles to take place in the history of the British Isles, and is one of the most famous examples of the Scottish “Underdog” victories over the English during the First War of Independence, a particular chapter of Scottish history I’m fascinated by. Unfortunately, horribly inaccurate and over-simplified depictions of Wallace and this battle in particular is all too pervasive, so I thought for the anniversary I’d look at both the men in charge and the battle, and maybe show you a  glimpse of why Scottish history is so much more incredible, bloody, brutal and strange than anything you’d ever find in Game of Thrones. First, let’s look at the big men in charge- William Wallace (obviously) and the under-regarded often forgotten partner in crime: Andrew de Moray.

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Short Story! A Boy in the Woods One Day

Hey folks! So, I’m working on a  secret(ish) project that involves a lot of script writing and story work, and I’m hoping I can talk a lot more about it at length very soon. However, I can show you this, which is a short story I’ve been working on that features the main character. I wrote this mainly as a kind of writing exercise and to see if I could create a kind of unhinged, crazy character and really make the reader feel  ‘inside’ his head. Writing it in first person did make me feel slightly disturbed however… Anyway! I didn’t want to push out the boat to far and let you guys kind of read between the lines at what really happened, but we’ll see how well that worked!

Now, as I’ve said before, my spelling and grammar suuuuuucks, so please excuse & call me about on it! But otherwise I hope you enjoy A Boy in the Woods One Day

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Sunday Night Sketchbook 29/6/14

I’m back!

Hey everyone, this guys on his computer again! These last two months have been bloody fantastic, not least for all the traveling, fun times, marathons, boating, fishing, working, hiking, drinking and general healthy buffoonery I’ve been getting done, but for the fact that it’s given me plenty of time away from the computer and internet to be doodling and drawing in the ol’ sketchbook. Now, this does come with some downsides- more noticeably the fact I have not updated you guys in stuff for weeks! But that changes today! Here’s my collection of drawings from the past few weeks, and rest assured, this is the start of my return! I’ve been planning some blog posts about my travels and what I’ve been up to all this time, as well as some long overdue Youtube series! Anyway, I’m planning a blog update with all my summer plans both so far and in the future but until then- drawings! Enjoy!

Sometimes the beauty of my creations astound me.

Sometimes the beauty of my creations astound me.

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Sunday Night Sketchbook 01/06/14- May bumper edition!

Greeeeetings true believers! I know, what a long time to have gone without posting on my flashy wee blog, but a multitude of events including exams, a marathon and a move home have meant I’ve had little or no time at all for internet duties! Which, honestly is pretty awesome. There’s nothing better than spending time outdoors on my home island, and I had a blast running the marathon so I’m certainly going to make the drive to do more outdoorsy stuff (in fact, keep an eye out here for some updates and what not)! Anyway, let’s get to the artwork! Again, not exactly a months worth of work, but plenty to keep you entertained. Hopefully I’ll be getting back on the drawing horse ASAP (or once the weather gets worse!)

Anyway, enjoy!

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