" Perhaps the most delightful friendships are those in which there is much agreement, much disputation, and yet more personal liking. "
George Eliot

Back in the day


Russia's Czar Paul I Assassinated

After his mother, Catherine the Great, suffered a stroke, Paul I ascended to the throne. The new czar instituted a number of reforms that angered the nobility and provoked a conspiracy against him. On the night of his murder, Paul was confronted in his bedroom and pressured to sign his abdication. When he refused, the assassins struck him with a sword, strangled him, and trampled him to death. Though he did not participate in the attack, his successor knew about the plot. Who was he?



Hassan-i Sabbah

Sabbah was an 11th-century Muslim missionary who led a community of converts that settled in Alamut, a mountain fortress in what is now Iran, and became known as the Hashshashin, or Assassins. According to legend, Sabbah acquired Alamut by offering its owner 3,000 gold dinars for the amount of land that would fit in a buffalo's hide. When the owner agreed, Sabbah cut the hide into strips and formed a perimeter around the fort. Who did Sabbah have executed for the sin of drinking wine?

Born on a day like today


Captain Kidd

William Kidd was a British privateer who achieved legendary status as a dashing swashbuckler after his death. In 1695, Kidd was commissioned as a privateer to defend English ships from pirates in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. While at sea, he was beset by disease and mutiny and eventually turned to piracy, taking several ships including the Armenian Quedagh Merchant. He was arrested in 1699 and sent to London, where he was hanged. Why do some historians dispute his reputation as a pirate?

Last updated on Tuesday, 23rd March 2010

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