1512: The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican opens for public visitation for the first time since completion of the great ceiling fresco by Michelangelo
1520: Fifteen months after departing on his epic voyage of discovery, Ferdinand Magellan enters the narrow strait that now bears his name. The “shortcut” between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans cuts off significant distance from the more navigationally straightforward route around Cape Horn, and it avoids the ferocious westerlies and high sea states of the Horn passage. On the other hand, the narrowness of the channel and those same prevailing westerlies make the strait a particularly difficult passage in a sailing vessel, especially for a square-rigged design that does not go well to windward.
1734: Birth of colonial-era explorer, hunter, adventurer and an elected member of the Virginia State Assembly, Daniel Boone (d.1820). After opening up the routes westward from the eastern seaboard into Kentucky, he became one of the nation’s first folk heroes for his exploits in taming the wild frontier west of the Appalachians. He spent his final years even further west in the central Missouri shores of the Missouri River, where he is buried in a modest gravesite near Marthasville, Missouri. [Himself (1820)]
1755: Birth of the Austrian princess Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna, better known as Marie Antoinette (d.1793) wife of French King Louis XVI. Widely regarded during the early days of the Revolution as a spendthrift and empty-headed waste of oxygen, she fought back publicly with a con brio performance as a caring mother and patron of the arts. It was in vain, however, and after the King fell victim to Madame Guillotine, the Queen met a similar fate ten months (DLH 10/16) later under similarly trumped up charges of treason against the French Republic. [Read more…]