22nd April- The Battle Of Senhor Glyndwr’s Watch-Repair Shop

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On this day in 1777 British and American forces clashed in the pivotal Battle Of Senhor Glyndwr’s Watch-Repair Shop. The battle was the climax of the Southern Campaign of the great revolutionary war hero General Bartholomew Baltimore

In 1776 Baltimore, incensed by the praise heaped on his arch-rival Washington for his famous crossing of the Delaware, had declared that he would go one better and take the British by surprise by staging a night crossing of the mighty Amazon. The private journal of Baltimore’s daughter, recently discovered rotting in the Detroit public library, suggests that this plan was originally conceived in the mistaken belief that the Amazon was located in upstate New York.1 However by the time the mistake was discovered Baltimore had already sold the stage rights and apparently felt too embarrassed to back out. Thus on February 9th 1777 General Baltimore set out for Brazil with 17,000 infantry, a division of dragoons and the last of the Continental Congress’ gunpowder supplies.

Baltimore’s plan was relatively simple. Boldly crossing the Amazon at Manaus he would strike south at the only British outpost on the river- a small brothel and watch-repair shop run by an alcoholic Welsh transvestite named Owain Glyndŵr.2 Having defeated the British he would then return to America to write lurid memoirs and bask in the adulation of patriots everywhere. However this strategy immediately ran into problems. Firstly the Spanish merchant hired to transport Baltimore’s men to South America proved to actually be the notorious Algerian pirate Felicity Babcock in disguise. Using a complicated series of disguises, sexual innuendo and turning around quickly while holding a heavy ladder Babcock managed to maroon Baltimore’s men on a nearby reef and make off with their supplies, including all the gunpowder, food and Baltimore’s precious supply of scented handkerchiefs and manscara. Ever-resourceful, Baltimore managed to build a raft out of palm leaves and corpses, but by the time he reached Trinidad his men had been forced to eat the dragoon’s horses and, eventually, the dragoons.

In Trinidad further trouble awaited. The islanders, who had spent years persuading each of the major colonial powers that they actually belonged to one of the others and thereby avoiding having to pay tax to any of them, had been extremely alarmed by the arrival of a troop of Hessian mercenaries in British service. By a strange coincidence the British government had gotten wind of Baltimore’s scheme and, deciding that anything so obviously insane must actually be fiendishly clever, sent the Hessians to oppose it. It was these same Hessians who Baltimore’s men came across so suddenly now.3

A fierce battle quickly broke out ending only when Baltimore and the Hessian Colonel, meeting at a local dinner party, decided that this whole nonsense had gone on long enough and agreed to a truce until both sides could reach the Amazon where they could have a proper battle, at the arranged time and place, like gentlemen.

The rest of the journey was without incident and battle on the 22nd of April, 1777 battle was apparently joined, although few records have survived describing it in detail. Curiously both the British and the Americans seem to have been informed that their side won the battle. Attempts to clear up this confusion were not helped when Baltimore’s men and the Hessians both reported that their commanding officers had been eaten by lions on the way back, a claim which was widely accepted at the time but which has subsequently been called into question by recent breakthroughs in geographical zoology. Whatever the truth it is clear that General Baltimore’s bold campaign played an important role in securing freedom for the nascent United States and in inspiring a generation of military men to come.4

1- Chardonnay Baltimore, I Really Wish I Was Adopted: The Diary Of A Revolutionary Girl (Samarkand: Drax Publishing, 1805), 69-76.

2- Probably no relation but for an alternate view see Griff Rhys-Misimovic, From Powys to the Peru: The True Fate of the Immortal Owain Glyndwr (Swansea: The No I’m Not Fucking Crazy Press, 1998), 89.

3- Felicity Babcock, Muahahahaha: My Role In the Discovery of Cloning and Why I Won’t Tell You How I Did It (New Orleans: The New Orleans Automatic Writing and Clairvoyance Co., 1913), 87.

4- See for example Belvedere Smyth, The Cherokee Wars vol. 3: Andrew Jackson’s Crossing of The Nile (Cetshwayo’s Kraal: Drax Publishing, 1875), 198 or Harcourt Carter, The Yellow River Campaign: Ulysses S. Grant’s Finest Hour (Belmopan: Drax Publishing, 1967), 32.

March 11th- The Thrilla in the Basilica

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On this day in 1311 Pope Oddo V emerged bloody but victorious from the Basilica of St. John Lateran to take his place as God’s servant on Earth and leader of all catholicism.

Oddo, later known as Oddo the Gentle, was the victor in the famous no-holds barred brawl known to history as the “Thrilla in the Basilica” in which the various claimants to the papacy fought bravely for upwards of seven hours for the right to sit on the throne of Saint Peter. The fight, a suggestion of the Holy Roman Emperor Darren VI, aimed to reunite Catholicism, which had spent much of the preceding century riven by conflicts between various Popes, anti-Popes and pretenders.

Organizing the duel had been no mean feat as by the early fourteenth century there were no less than six would-be Popes scattered around Europe. As well as the Roman Pope there was the Avignon Pope, supported by the French and the Le Havre Pope, supported by a different group of French. In response the English, concerned about the development of a “strategic Pope-gap” between them and their hated rivals, quickly declared three new Popes, although two were quietly dropped when it was discovered that they were a pair of middle-aged women from Doncaster and not, as had previously been believed, the Archbishops of York and Salisbury.1

Meanwhile the Spanish and Portuguese had thrown their support behind Rodrigo the Tiresome, second son of King Alfonso of Castile, on the grounds that his anointment as Bishop of Rome would get him out of the country and force him to stop going around telling people about his dreams and talking about the bloody weather for hours on end for God’s sake.2

Finally the appearance in Moravia of a small dog named Lazlo, reputedly able to preform many wondrous tricks such as walking on his hind legs, barking in response to human speech and even preforming simple arithmetic, caused a great stir. Lazlo, now believed by historians to be some sort of greyhound/border collie mix, was quickly declared Pope by an ecstatic crowd and began marching towards Rome, recruiting followers along the way.

Persistent rumours of a seventh pope mustering a vast and merciless army of viking warriors in the north proved to be a ruse by the Livonian costermonger’s guild to drive up the price of herring. Key to this deception was the noted Finnish artist and polymath Erkki Smith, who created a mural of the supposed invasion force so convincing that all who witnessed it were convinced they had seen a living, breathing army (a tactic that Smith would later employ to great effect in his famous conquest of the Walloons). Alas this bold scheme was undone when the owner of the wall upon which the mural was painted, an unnamed local farmer, complained he had not been consulted about its use beforehand and demolished it to make way for a new tithe barn. The herring market promptly collapsed and the Livonian costermongers were forced to take in washing to make ends meet.3

After Lazlo’s ability to preform basic cartwheels on command convinced an army sent by the Duke of Milan to defect to his cause- leaving the path to Rome open- the Holy Roman Emperor was forced to step in to prevent the sacking of the city, which he was planning on sacking later in the year. It was then that he made his famous suggestion of a six-sided melee between the various claimants to finally decide the issue. All quickly agreed, with the exception of Rodrigo the Tiresome, who declared that such events were barbaric manifestations of mankind’s primeval instincts and then attempted to read a poem on the subject at which point he was torn to pieces by an enraged mob of his closest friends and family.

Of the fight itself little of known. It was decided that the dignity of the occasion demanded that proceedings be undertaken in complete privacy, with the sole exception of a timekeeper, two official referees and 18,000 paying spectators. As such first-hand accounts are scarce, although an illustration in the Codex Allegra appears to depict Oddo the Gentle using Lazlo as a flail to batter an unnamed pontiff about the groin.

Regardless all accounts agreed that it was a good, clean fight, with as little eye-gouging and concealed weaponry as could be reasonably expected from clergymen. And so it was that Catholicism was united once again under the wise leadership of the blessed Oddo, who promptly banned the eating of fowl on Wednesdays and declared a new crusade against the heathen Bulgarians.4

1-Margrave Eleazar, The Medieval Costume Party Tradition and its Political Consequences, 1234-1675 (Brasilia: Drax Publishing, 1999), 63-90.

2- Rodrigo the Tiresome, My Side of the Story! (New Orleans: The New Orleans Automatic Writing and Clairvoyance Co., 1913), 87.

3- Amon Krohn-Andersonsensan, Seventeenth-century Tithe Barns: Some Observations on the Temporal Anomalies Thereof (Tashkent: Drax Publishing, 1897.) 67-113.

4- Richard Dawkins, A Brief History and Defence of Christendom (Boston: The Baptist Press, 2011), 23,232

March 10th- The One Day War.

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Although relatively short in length the One Day War of 1524 has gained a reputation among students of history as confusing. But while it is true that the tangled web of powerful families and interlocking alliances that dominated Renaissance Italy can seem daunting to the layman the truth is that the conflict was, as we shall see, a relatively simple one.

Although traditionally seen as beginning at around 10:30 A.M. many historians now date the conflict’s origins to the early hours of the morning when it was discovered that the aging Doge of Lucca, Ludovico Communi, had died in his sleep. This was initially a great relief to all concerned as the previous Doge, Giacomo Foderico, had died in someone else’s sleep, causing great confusion and an investigation by the Vatican’s crack team of witch hunters. However as was typical for Italian City States during this period, a labyrinthine succession crisis soon resulted and threatened to engulf the whole of Italy.1

According to the Salic law of inheritance Ludovico’s crown should have passed to his brother’s adopted nephew, Diego Communi. However the Communi’s traditional rivals, the powerful Della Lambrini banking clan, quickly claimed that Ludovico had promised the crown to their allies, the Ferense of Naples, in return for the loan of 17,000 florins and a set of erotic engravings by Titian. The Communi, caught off-guard, were forced to admit that the loan had taken place but claimed that the deal had been invalidated when Paolo Ferense had been excommunicated for spitting on the Pope’s bruschetta. Both sides quickly armed themselves and conflict would have been inevitable had it not been for the intervention of the heretical cleric Verdonicci of Mantua, who claimed that God had declared the luthier Gondini the rightful heir. This outraged the Bennavutto merchant family, who had feuded with Gondini over the grazing rights to two acres of silage on the outskirts of the city and Verdonicci was subsequently assassinated by the Capetian smuggling brotherhood, on whose turf he had been trying to muscle in.

Matters were further complicated by the presence in Lucca of a young Vincenzo Montella, who had arrived the day before to invest in a local bordello. Thinking on his feet he sent word by fast horse to his Uncle, the Duke of Milan, urging him to take advantage of the power-vacuum to attack his brother-in-law, Rudolpho of Pisa. This he did but his forces were bloodily repulsed by Rudolpho’s famous roller-skating cavalry, who had been reinforced by the English condottiere Jonas Smedley and his roving band of snipers.2

What neither Montella or the Duke realized was that their message had been intercepted en route by Catherine of Siena, who quickly summoned her militia and marched on Lucca with the intention of putting her grandson, Lomdardo di Cambiasso on the throne. Catherine also sent requests for aid to her allies the Gnocchi of Florence and the Fibonacci of Cremona. Yet unbeknownst to her Florence had been thrown into great confusion by a strangely northern outbreak of the Sicilian Vespers and could spare no men while her messenger to Cremona had been abducted by the hill-people of Umbria, who forced him to dance and recite scurrilous poetry for their amusement.

Alarmed by this turn of events the Communi and Della Lambrini agreed to set aside their differences and crown the simpleton Rodrigo the Daft as Doge in the hopes that he would prove easily manipulated. However their plans to defend the city against Catherine were complicated by the actions of the Portuguese sailor “Juvenal the Cossack” who had taken advantage of the confusion to plunder the treasury and elope with the former Doge’s nubile young widows. The loss of the treasury left the Communi unable to pay their Hungarian mercenaries, who were threatening to burn down the city unless they were given their back pay and allowed to stop sleeping in the sewers. Order was only restored by the Silanese river pirates, who agreed to fund the war effort in return for the Tyrrhenian islands (which islands exactly were included in this deal was the proximate cause of the 19-years war between Genoa and the Nizam of Hyderabad).

There was still room for one last twist, however, as at the banquet to celebrate his coronation Rodrigo revealed his stupidity to have been an elaborate ruse designed to lull his enemies into believing him harmless and that he had allied with the ambitious Chef’s Guild to poison the guest’s roast capon. Lucca’s most powerful families were wiped out in a stroke- with the sole exception of the di Rembrandis, who would eat no meat in penance for the pledge their ancestors had broken to the Byzantines. Showing the political acumen and cunning that would become his trademark Antonio di Rembrandi quickly bashed in Rodrigo’s head with a serving platter and hurled him from the nearest window. Rodrigo survived but was left a simpleton and Antonio took the crown for himself, thereby ushering in a century of prosperity for the city.3

Meanwhile Catherine of Siena’s forces reached the banks of the Serchio but were struck by a sudden outbreak of pleurisy and forced to turn back. On the way they encountered “Juvenal the Cossack” who Catherine instantly recognized as her long-lost nephew Gabriele, stolen by Norwegians when he was just a baby, and accordingly had him garroted.

1- Walpurgis Smythe, Things That Threatened To Engulf The Whole Of Italy, Vol 13 (Ulundi: Drax Publishing, 1877), 31-44.

2-Rudolpho of Pisa, The Truthful True Story of my True Life and Reign (New Orleans, The New Orleans Automatic Writing and Clairvoyance Co., 1984), 78.

4- Salvador Trelawney, Meat is Murder: How A Vegetarian Diet Can Lead You To Power (Ho Chi Minh City: Drax Publishing, 1969), 132.

March 9th-Robriand de Mexses Decides Not To Discover Australia

On this day in 1759 the French explorer Robriand de Mexses reached the coast of Australia but decided against discovering it. De Mexses was initially overjoyed upon reaching the continent, but after a brief landing, burnt all maps of the area and sailed away, never to speak of it again.

De Mexses, the illegitimate son of a Silesian cattle thief and the dowager Duchess of Burgundy, had gained much favour at the court of Louis XV for his quick wit and skill at canasta. In 1734 he distinguished himself during the siege of Milan when only his quick thinking and application of vinegar saved the king’s favourite breeches from a terrible wine stain. As a reward for this bold action he was granted the prestigious title of Royal Lavatory Attendant and the governorship of Tobago. In 1741 he was raised to the rank of general and sent to occupy Berbice, a task which set about with his usual flair and integrity, being thwarted only due to the difficult tropical climate and the cunning tactics of the Dutch general Van Hojdvink, who made life intolerable for the French troops by destroying the colonies’ supply of cafes and very thin cigarettes.  After Van Hojdvink annihilated much of his advance guard by luring them into a local boulangerie and then setting it on fire de Mexses was forced to admit defeat and set sail for France in disgrace. However fate intervened in the form of a slight navigational error that saw de Mexses circumnavigate the globe twice, discovering Alaska and Mauritius along the way, before eventually reaching Marseille.1

Now widely feted as an explorer de Mexses was commissioned by the French East India Company, and its parent company the Royal Bordeaux Catsgut and Prophylactic Corporation, to chart the unexplored wastes of the South Pacific. The voyage was briefly delayed when de Mexses was imprisoned in the Bastille for refusing to lend the Dauphin’s mistress a portable billiard table, but he was able to secure his release after it was discovered that the table in question had been stolen by marauders en route from Calais, and the expedition was able to set off only two years later than planned.2 Along the way he was able to get some measure of revenge on his old adversary Van Hojdvink when he intercepted a shipment of Edam bound for Van Hojdvink’s plantation on Bali, thereby triggering the Fourth Sino-Dutch war.3

Reaching the area early in 1759 de Mexses soon came upon the windswept shores of the Australia continent. Although initially optimistic de Mexses soon decided against discovering the country after a disastrous initial scouting expedition. De Mexses describes the discovery in his journal:

Although initially filled with great excitement by our discovery we soon were dismayed to find that this new land was not everything we had hoped. After rowing ashore my bo’sun, Gregoire, leapt into the surf in order to pull our boat onto the sand, whereupon he was immediately torn to pieces by a great evil fish. Although with much exertion we were able to fend this beast off many of my sailors were in the process stung by the shoal of most queer jellyfish which had clustered around the boat, these stings later proving most fatal. Upon landing we were dismayed to find this new land devoid of even the most basic necessities needed to sustain human life, such as vinyards or patisseries. One crewmember did claim to have seen a boutique art-gallery in the distance but this proved to be a hallucination brought about by heatstroke and despair. To add to our discomfort the coxswain and ship’s carpenter reported themselves stung by strange insects after which they turned a most distressing purple colour, swelled up to four times their normal size and burst like an untended flan. Our cabin boy, Pierre, returned from a hunting expedition reporting that the ship’s chandler had been disemboweled by a sort of enormous rabbit. We were successful in capturing a number of tree-dwelling sloth-like creatures but these proved most bad to eat and we lost three men to the flux, after which the surviving crew members began to express the opinion that we had all been drowned in a shipwreck and now found ourselves in hell. It was at this point that I decided to set sail for France and never speak of this place again for as long as I should live. I daresay that someday some brave fool shall come along and discover this land for himself. May the Lord have mercy on his soul.

De Mexses stayed true to his word, swearing his crew to secrecy and marking the continent down on his charts as an area of empty ocean “full of dangerous icebergs and to be avoided by sailors at all costs,” and it is only through the recent unearthing of his journal that we have learned of his amazing discovery. Sadly the great man himself would not live to see France, either dying of malaise or being killed by Malays on the return voyage.4 Thus ended the story of one of histories’ great unsung explorers and, for his bold prevention of any attempt to establish an Australian colony, a true French hero.

1- Daviokr Ibbenne, Morons: How Imbeciles Created the Modern World (Port-au-Prince: Drax Publishing, 1803), 81-94.

2-Louis, Dauphin of France, I’m Not a Fucking Porpoise (New Orleans, The New Orleans Automatic Writing and Clairvoyance Co., 1914), 78.

3- Piotr van der Snood, Graf Van Hojdvink: The Conqueror of China (Vanhojdvinkstown: Imperial Dutch Publishing, 1999), 89.

4- Pierre Gascon, Eye Woz De Mekshes Cabern Boye (Izhevsk: Drax Publishing, 1769), 109.

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