" I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library. "
Jane Austen

Back in the day


King Louis XVI of France Tried for Treason

Louis XVI was King of France from 1774 to 1792. One of his greatest responsibilities as king was to deal with the country's enormous debt, but his indecisiveness and conservatism led the people to reject him. During the uprising that led to the French Revolution, he attempted to flee the country but was caught, supposedly when a store clerk recognized his face from the country's coinage. Tried for treason and found guilty, he was guillotined on January 21, 1793. Who was his infamous wife?



Sydney Opera House

Distinguished by its roof of white concrete "shells," Australia's Sydney Opera House is one of the world's most distinctive and famous 20th-century buildings. Danish architect Jørn Utzon's design, which was among the first to use computers for structural analysis, was chosen in 1957 from among 233 competition entries from 32 countries. The Opera House was formally completed in 1973 at a cost of $102 million—10 years late and $95 million over budget. Why did Utzon resign from the project in 1966?

Born on a day like today


Pope Leo X

Leo X, born into the important Florentine Medici family, rose to the papacy in 1513. Pope Leo X was a patron of the arts and a generous almsgiver, but he was also strongly criticized for his lavish lifestyle. He was not greatly interested in the advancement of the Church, and when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, Leo X's subsequent excommunication of Luther did little to stem the tide of the Reformation. What massive animal did he keep as a pet?

Last updated on Friday, 11th December 2009

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