Today in Hystery March 17th

On this day in 180, Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius died, meaning that Commodus was now the only emperor of the Roman Empire. So, if that’s where we get the word commode from, I can imagine what kind of an emperor he was.

On this day in 432, St Patrick was believed to have died. Many years earlier, when he was just a teenager, or a saint-in-training, he was carried off to Ireland from his home in England. In Ireland, he became the slave of an Irish chieftain. Eventually, he would get his black belt in saintery and, it is said, he rid Ireland of all the snakes. However, Ireland never had any snakes…well until those Irish bankers came along and where was Saint Patrick when we needed him then?

On this day in 1577, Martin Frobisher got a commission to hunt for gold in the Arctic; he came back with ships that were loaded down, however it turned out to be worthless, but shiny, gold-coloured pyrites, which were dumped as street ballast in London. Two things came from this; one, the legend that the streets of London were paved with gold, and two, that Martin Frobisher should have taken a miner with him on that trip.

On this day in 1672, England declared war on Netherlands. Not just the country of Netherland but all the Nether regions. You can probably sympathize if you’ve ever been attacked in the nether regions.

On this day in 1829, in Ottawa, Ontario, two hundred Irish canal workers started a riot on Saint Patrick’s Day; one was killed and many wounded. Hold it! Irishmen fighting? Say it ain’t so!

On this day in 1858, in Toronto, Ontario, a riot broke out during the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. One man was stabbed to death. This is why, if you live in Toronto, it’s much safer to go to the Santa Claus Parade. Leprechauns might like fighting, but elves wouldn’t dare.

On this day in 1985 Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney welcomed U.S. President Ronald Reagan to a Canada-US Summit meeting in Quebec City on Saint Patrick’s Day. Fortunately, no deaths were reported.

If your birthday is March 17th, you share it with singer Nat “King” Cole who was born on this day in 1919. Nat got his nickname from the nursery rhyme, “Old King Cole”. I guess if you were looking for nursery rhymes to use for your nickname, that would be a good one, compared to, let’s say, “This Little Piggy”.

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