Richard III

Caricature of Richard III

Richard III (1452-1485) put his dead brother’s son on the throne, schemed to take the crown, and started a war. He imprisoned his two young nephews in the Tower of London. Still a lot more is in question thanks to his successor Henry VII erasing his predecessor from history.

The last king from the Plantagenet dynasty of England the defeat and death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 more or less ended the Wars of the Roses as well as the Middle Ages.

Henry VII became king after killing Richard III, founding the Tudor dynasty. A schemer himself, Henry promptly waged a publicity campaign painting Richard as a black hearted evil villain. The smear campaign had Richard’s portrait retouched making his eyes slits and the mouth a scowl.

Richard III

The campaign played up a hunchback angle and erased evidence of where Richard’s body was buried.

The body was finally discovered in a Leicester parking lot 500 years after his death. The discovery was made by Phillipa Langley of the Richard III Society. Richard wasn’t a hunchback, but his spine looked like a question mark due to severe scolioses.

Shakespeare's Richard III

A hundred years after his death Shakespeare wrote his cautionary tale of a military genius who plots, schemes and murders his way to becoming king, then starts a war and dies in battle after a brief reign at 32.

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Czech wild west fun

Wild West town in the Czech Republic
Wild West town in the Czech Republic

Apache Chief Winnetou, his braves and German crack-shot Old Shatterhand race horseback into an old western town. They are there to do battle against evil-doers making mischief against law biding citizens.

Karl May movie reenactment

This is part of a wild west reenactment of a hugely successful movie based on one of Karl May most popular books. Read Karl May’s story here.

Karl Friedrich May, German author with his heroes Winnetou and Old Shatterhand
Karl May (center) with his heroes Old Shatterhand & Indian Chief Winnetou

The action takes place on an outdoor stage in an abandoned Czech quarry. Indians and bad guys battle battle it out in front of a jail, a saloon, a railroad with locomotive and a recently robbed bank. The good guys are there to help the sheriff and deputy handle trouble.

Abandoned quarry in Czech Republic converted to an American Wild West town
Abandoned quarry in Czech Republic converted to an American Wild West town

In the stand fans gesture, cheer and boo as the heroes fight the bad guys. Regular festival attendees yell phrases in sync with actors.

The action is nonstop. A locomotive barrels down the tracks, crashes into a building. A bad guy blows up a water tower. A flood streams down walls of the quarry.

Outdoor theater

Outdoor theater is only part of events. The quarry houses an Indian village straight out of the wild west. And inside an extravagant 1870 saloon visitors can dine and drink or enjoy games of chance. On stage magic and old time dance shows delight visitors. Outside in a corral riders and horses perform tricks and stunts. Participants can visit kid friendly horses and goats. Gold mining, and treasure hunting opportunities are part of the excitement at the festival, too.

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Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake, English knight, a navel officer, a pirate

Sir Francis Drake (1540 – 1596) was an English knight, a navel officer, a pirate, and the favorite sea dog of Queen Elizabeth I.


Queen Elizabeth I issued a special mandate encouraging attacking and stealing the bounty of Spanish ships. With the mandate Drake became a privateer. He helped fund Britain’s war against Spain.

Spanish armada

Drake was largely responsible for defeating the Spanish armada bringing Queen Elizabeth her first major military victory and bringing about the supremacy of England ruling the seas.

Sir Francis Drake, English knight, a navel officer, a pirate
Sea dog

First to navigate the globe and claiming California for England, Drake enraged Spanish King Philip II which did nothing to assuage conflicts with Britain.

Despite his exploits he came in and out of favor with the Queen, his fate was unstable.

Simón Bolívar

Simon Bolivar, the great Liberator
The Great Liberator

Simón Bolívar (1783-1830) born Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios was a Venezuelan military genius and political leader. He led a revolution that liberated South American countries that are now Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Bolivia from the Spanish Empire.

Caste System

Born to a wealthy, politically connected, Venezuelan family, Bolívar was still not as high in the caste system as Spaniards born in Spain. This was part of the reason his allegiance belonged to his home in South America.

18th-century liberal thinkers

As a youth his tutor Simón Rodríguez introduced Bolívar to the world of 18th-century liberal thought. In 1804 Napoleon I was approaching the height of his career. Rodríguez and Bolívar sailed to Europe. In Paris Bolívar was discovered to the works of 18th century great minds like John LockeThomas HobbesVoltaireMontesquieu, and Rousseau.

Spanish colonies

As liberation took hold world wide Bolívar came believe that the Spanish colonies were ripe for independence. A year later the the fight for independence began. He sailed for England in hope of eliciting help for the cause from the British. It didn’t work. But Bolívar persuaded exiled Venezuelan Francisco de Miranda to return and lead the revolution. Miranda’s leadership failed. But eventually Bolívar took over, financing the revolution with his own money.

Fight for independence

The attach on New Granada is considered a military masterpiece, as daring and hazardous as Hannibal‘s crossing the Alps. Bolívar’s small army of 2,500 including a British legion forded rivers and and plain during the rainy season. For a week they waded through waist high waters. They crossed the Andes, a mountain range considered impossible by the defending Spaniards. Though Bolívar lost men, the Spaniards were caught flat footed and in 1819 surrendered. This was the turning point of the war.

Peace and legacy

Still it would be nearly another decade before peace was finally negotiated. Simón Bolívar is considered Latin America’s greatest military genius. His legacy is of mythical proportions.

Jacques Offenbach

Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) was a German, French composer and impresario
German, French composer and impresario

Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880) was a romantic era German, French composer and impresario. A child prodigy, at four he studied violin with his father; at nine he fell in love with the cello. At 14 he was accepted as a student to the prestigious Paris Conservatoire.

International Fame

But Offenbach grew bored and left after a year. He was able to make a living as a cellist and conductor. This led to international fame.

The Dream

Finally Offenbach began to compose comic pieces for the musical theatre, his dream. During his life he composed nearly 100 operettas. His work influenced future composers. Many of his operettas continue being staged and performed.

Tales of Hoffmann

E. T. A. Hoffmann, German author of fantasy and Gothic horror
E. T. A. Hoffmann

The Tales of Hoffmann was his final work. It is an uncompleted masterpiece.
The opéra is based on three of T.A. Hoffmann’s stories. While it remains part of the standard opera repertory it has been made into films. The first a 1916 silent German film, followed by a 1923 and a 1951 movie. There will likely be more to movies to come.

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E. T. A. Hoffmann

E. T. A. Hoffmann, German author
Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann

E. T. A. Hoffmann, (1776-1822) born Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann was a German author of fantasy and Gothic horror. He was also a jurist, composer, music critic and artist. Hoffmann is one of the major creators of the Romantic movement.

Jacques Offenbach

Jacques Offenbach, created the opera The Tales of Hoffmann
Jacques Offenbach

His stories were the basis of the famous opéra fantastique by Jacques Offenbach, The Tales of Hoffmann. Hoffmann became the heavily fictionalized hero.


The opéra is based on three of Hoffmann’s stories and was Offenbach’s final work.


Offenbach’s opera was eventually transformed into a 1916 silent German film, a 1923 film and a 1951 movie.

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Nat Love

Nat Love, cowboy, (1854-1921) was born a slave. When slavery ended he traveled to Dodge City, Kansas. He lived the live of a wild west cowboy. Love had a gift for working with horses and won rope, throw, tie, bridle, saddle, and bronco riding contests.
Wild west cowboy

Nat Love (1854-1921) was a slave born on Robert Love’s Tennessee plantation. After the civil war ended and the slaves were freed his parents became sharecroppers. His father Sampson died shortly after and Nat took a job at a local farm to help breaking horses.


Eventually Nat traveled to Dodge City, Kansas where he worked as a cowboy on a cattle drive. From Dodge City it was on to Deadwood in the Dakota Territory.


At a Deadwood rodeo Nat won the roping, bridle, saddle, and bronco riding contests. He said fans started calling him Deadwood Dick. The name was taken from a popular dime novel character.

Captured by Indians

Like a lot of good looking smart men of the time Nat Love was his own best promoter and embellisher. Continuing west he said he was captured by Pima Indians in Arizona and almost married the chief’s daughter.

Calm life

His wild life calming down Nat got a job as a Pullman porter on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad then moved to southern California


Having learned to read and write as a child he published his autobiography entitled Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as ‘Deadwood Dick.’

His final job was a security guard and courier for a Los Angeles securities company.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German professor of theology, a composer, a priest, and a monk.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German professor of theology, a composer, a priest, and a monk. Horrified by the indulgences of the Roman Catholic Church he became a major initiator of the Protestant Reformation.

Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation was a religious reform movement. It swept through Europe in the 1500s. The Reformation divided the Roman Catholic Church. Many religious groups separated due to doctrine. They were listed under an umbrella know as Protestantism.


Martin Luther remains one of the most influential figures in Christianity.

Martin Luther T-shirts available on Amazon

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was an escaped slave. He was an author, editor, diplomat, suffragist, and a national leader of the abolitionist movement.

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was an escaped slave from Maryland. He was an author, editor, diplomat, suffragist, and a national leader of the abolitionist movement.

Orator & writer

A brilliant orator Northerners had a hard time imaging that he had once been a slave. This inspired him to write his first autobiography which became a best seller.


Douglass supported women’s suffrage, though he played a large part in the ratification of the 13th Amendment, 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment to the Constitution.

Constitutional Amendments

  • The 13th Amendment outlaws slavery.
  • The 14th Amendment provides citizenship and equal protection under the law.
  • The 15th Amendment protects all citizens from racial discrimination in voting.

Vice Presidential nominee

Frederick Douglass was the first African American to be nominated for vice president.

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Sir Kenelm Digby

Sir Kenelm Digby (1603 –1665) was a romantic 17th century English figure.

Dashing 17th century courtier

Sir Kenelm Digby (1603 –1665) was a dashing 17th century courtier. During his time on the continent Marie de Medici fell madly in love with him and wrote about him in her memoirs.

An English courtier, diplomat, philosopher, and astrologer Digby was also a privateer.


A privater is a government sanctioned pirate. Captured ships were subject to sale under prize law. The proceeds were divided among the privateer’s sponsors, shipowners, captains and crew.

Thus Digby helped the crown fund wars, but also extracted better treatment for English ships in Algiers and helped free slaves.

He was an English courtier and diplomat. He was also a highly reputed natural philosopher, astrologer. Later he became a leading Roman Catholic intellectual and Blackloist.


Blackloist was one of a school of dissident English Roman Catholics in the 17th–18th centuries, opposed to ultramontanism and advocating obedience to secular authorities.

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