On this day in 1566, plague-era physician and infamous prophet Nostradamus dies in Salon, France. In the weeks before passing on, he told his friends and servants that he was going to die, and had a silver plate engraved. He instructed his family to bury it with him. One hundred and thirty four years later, officials decided to move his body to a new, more distinguished grave site. Workers dig for hours, slide the lid off his sarcophagus, and gaze upon his skeleton. Beneath the bony hands folded across the now empty rib cage was the aforementioned silver plate with an inscription reading "MDCC", as in 1700 AD in Roman numerals. The very year in which the workers were moving his body. Freaky, no? Also freaky is the fact that, during the French Revolution, two soldiers from Marseilles allegedly dug up Nostradamus's second grave in search of loot. Finding none, one of them decided to drink wine from his skull as a lark. The next day, that soldier was killed in combat. Coincidence? HA!
On this day in 1740, Donatien Alphonse Francois - better known as the Marquis de Sade, is born. A war vet who spent 27 years in jail for adultery (most of it with his wife’s sister) de Sade built a cosmic metaphysics around his taste and appetites. In 1777 he was put in the Bastille. In 1785 he started writing 120 Days of Sodom on 100 tiny sheets, both sides, in a tiny, cramped script. On Bastille Day, it was stolen. Sade joined the Revolution but held on to his aristocratic trappings, claiming capital punishment was wrong because murder should never be political... only pleasure. He died in 1819 having never again laid eyes on his 120 Days of Sodom, which was eventually recovered and posthumously published to much shock and indignation.
On this day in 1953, the first major international event to be televised around the world takes place: the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II! Her Royal Highness is crowned "Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Her Other Realms and Territories" Quite a mouthful.
On this day in 1997, radical right-wing terrorist Timothy McVeigh is found guilty in the bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City which killed 168 men, women and children. He was eventually put to death for his role in the bombing... but do we know all the facts? Thanks to a recent push by Alex Jones, some alternate theories of what really happened in OK City have been bandied around lately. Personally, I think a lot of what's appearing through his venues is simple-minded, knee-jerk "patriot" stuff... but in the interest of fairness, I will post the trailer to the film he is promoting on the subject, entitled A Noble Lie, below. For more (and, in my opinion, superior) coverage of competing OK City bombing weltanschauungs, check out this site.