One of the great difficulties facing history teachers is how to place events in context. Certainly wars are easy enough, but what do you do with clusters of events happening simultaneously? It's a subject that has interested me for a long time, and is likely to become an irregular series on these pages.
For American's, living in a nation with few reminders of the distant past, events which occurred 100 years ago happened in the dark ages. Any North American event prior to the American Revolution in 1776, is almost pre-history, as is much of European history.
Consider Galileo Galilei. Kids from Catholic schools may be familiar with his dance before the Spanish Inquisition (which began on this date in 1633) in which he was invited to defend his heretical belief that the earth revolved around the sun. The Church taught that Earth was the center of the universe. Under pressure, Galileo recanted, apologized to the church and was placed under house arrest. Eventually, he was forgiven by the Vatican (in 2008).
Would it surprise you to learn that by the time of Galileo's trial, the city of St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest European established,continuously occupied city in what is now the US was already 67 years old? St. Augustine was founded on this date by Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1566.
Only 3 years after Galileo's trial, Harvard University was founded.