Friday, November 17, 2006

St Hugh of Lincoln

Greetings from sunny, if cool, Florence. A full report on our exciting stair-climbing actvities will follow another day. In the meantime, here is something quite interesting I learnt while on the plane.

Today - 17 November - is the anniversary of the death of Queen Mary in 1558, and so the first day of the queenery of Elizabeth I. A decade later, the 17th November was being celebrated as "Accession Day" across the country.
"Elizabth's Accession Day was probably the first political holiday in modern Europe and initiated the string of nationalist holidays that are now a staple of the Anglo-American calendar. While holidays like Guy Fawkes' Day or Independence Day seem perfectly normal today, the notion of a non-religious holiday, or even of a holy day celebrating a living figure, simply unimagineable before this in Europe."

James Shapiro, 1599: A year in the life of William Shakespeare, p. 187.

Shapiro then goes on to detail the various objections and protests to this.

My maths is a bit wobbly, but I think we're two years off the 450th anniversary of this auspicious date. So I shall see you all back here on this day, 2008, to raise a glass to the ginger virgin and the ushering in of godless revelry.


Anonymous said...

How is Florence now? Is she obscenely well as usual? While I liked the Accession Day thing, does Shapiro really make that cursory reference to a holiday for Guy Fawkes's Day?

If so, what the blazes is he going on about? When was it ever a day off, like the Fourth of July?


Anonymous said...

I seem to remember from my reading of Pepys that Guy Fawkes day was a holiday, as was the relevant Accession day (as, of course, it would change with the monarch). I think the loss of these state holidays owes more to modern times than much else.

All this reminds me - the signing and assent of the acts of union between Scotland and England, creating this United Kingdom happened in 1707. You'd think the 300th anniversary of the birth of our nation next year, not to mention the first version of the Union Flag would warrant a holiday.