Sunday, February 17, 2008

On this day

On February 17, ...
... 1821, Eliza Rosanna Gilbert was born in Grange, County Sligo, Ireland. She and her family moved to India, where her father died 2 years later; eventually she was sent to schools in Scotland and England. Her marriage by elopement at 19 with a British lieutenant faltered within years, and the 22-year-old Irishwoman launched a career under the stage name “Lola Montez, the Spanish dancer” noted for her tarantula dance. Her adventures in Europe included a tumultuous stint as mistress to Bavaria's King Ludwig I, also called "Louis":

Under Montez's influence (the cabinet became known as the “Lolaministerium”), Louis inaugurated liberal and anti-Jesuit governmental policies, but his infatuation with her helped to bring about the collapse of his regime in the revolution of 1848.

Thereafter she journeyed to Gold Rush California and then on to New York, where she died, at age 40, a philanthropist. (credit for circa 1855 photo)

... 1965, Gambia readied to become independent from Britain at midnight. The 1st "African nation conquered by the British," Gambia, an Atlantic Coast state surrounded on 3 sides by Senegal would become "the 21st member of the Commonwealth, as well as the 116th member of the United Nations." In 1981 its capital, Banjul, hosted the conference that adopted the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. (map credit)

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