This Week in Awesome History: February 13th – February 19th

This week it's the birthday of a pixelated sex icon and Valentine's Day begins with a gruesome beheading.

Paul Tamburroby Paul Tamburro


February 14th, 278 AD: St. Valentine is beheaded

(Video is unrelated to St. Valentine but it has Valentine's Day in the title and is made by the awesome Levni Yilmaz, which is more than enough reason for me to put it here.)

On this day in the year 278 the holy priest Valentine was executed, marking a day that we would later come to know as Valentine’s Day.

Valentine was a priest during the reign of Roman emperor Claudius the Cruel, who banned marriages due to his belief that it was the commitment to their wives that prevented many men from joining the army. However, Valentine believed the ruling to be unfair and therefore continued to perform secret weddings without the consent of the government.

When Claudius became aware of Valentine’s breaking of the law, he sentenced him to be beaten to death by clubs and then beheaded. The sentence was carried out on this day. For his service to the church Valentine was made a saint.

It’s a popular belief that before his death Valentine left a note to a daughter of one of the prison guards he befriended signed ‘From Your Valentine’.


February 14th, 1968: Lara Croft’s birthday

According to videogame mythology, on this day in 1968 Tomb Raider heroine Lara Croft was born. Although the canon of the Tomb Raider series has changed over the years and Lara Croft looks mightily, ahem, perky for a 44-year-old, this is the date that technically should be marked on your calendars for when you want to send Miss Croft a card and chocolates. We’re not sure we’d want to attend her birthday party, though. Too many dinosaurs.


February 15th, 1903: First Ever Teddy Bear is Sold

You’re probably already sick to death of hearing about Valentine’s Day, cards, chocolates, flowers and teddy bears by now, but tough; today is the birthday of the Teddy Bear and we’re gonna celebrate it, dammit!

On this day in 1903 Morris Michtom placed two stuffed bears in his shop window and, after getting permission from President Theodore Roosevelt to use his name, he sold them as ‘Teddy Bears’. Before long the Teddy Bear had rose in fame and copies were being sold worldwide.

There are contrasting thoughts as to what provided the inspiration for the Teddy Bear, but many believe that it was due to an often told story that involved the former President rescuing an injured bear that had been strapped to a tree by hunters.

However, don’t mistake this one act of compassion towards an animal as a defining characteristic of Roosevelt’s personality: he would regularly kill animals for sport and trophies, including one trip to Africa in which he hunted over 6,000.


February 16th, 1923: King Tutankhamun’s tomb is opened

On this day in 1923 archaeologist Howard Carter discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb after a five year search.

Carter was dissuaded from searching the Egyptian desert by a number of people but, after convincing Lord Carnarvon to continue funding him for another year, he finally discovered the steps leading to the tomb.

Inside the tomb remained untouched and virtually identical to how it would have appeared when it was first created, filled with treasures and riches including the sarcophagus of the teenage King of Egypt Tutankhamun.

Inside the sarcophagus lay the perfectly preserved mummy of King Tut, the first one ever to be discovered.

The Tutankhamun exhibition is viewable in its permanent home of Cairo.


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