Wild West – The ‘Gunslinger’ Myth


The stylised version of a Wild West gunfight. These almost never happened. The stylised version of a Wild West gunfight. These almost never happened.

The Wild West, home of many colourful (often disreputable) characters. Native Americans, gold prospectors, gamblers, cattle ranchers, miners and immigrants scrambled to extend the new frontier. They spread further West in search of their fortunes. With law-abiding, hard-working citizens came criminals. The most notorious were gunslingers, hired guns who’d rob a bank one month, protect a cattle baron the next and then be hired as a town Marshal the month after that. Being a gunslinger didn’t automatically make a man a criminal, some of the best-known were both law enforcers and lawbreakers at different times.

Gunslingers in popular culture.

The popular image of gunslingers comes from cheap novels and films and it’s far more fiction than fact. Hollywood would have us believe that hired guns were either all good (like Gary Cooper’s portrayal in the classic film ‘High…

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Reburial of woman in native Ireland highlights 183-year-old murder mystery | US news | The Guardian

Originally posted in The Guardian.

Catherine Burns will be buried in her native County Tyrone in Northern Ireland on Sunday, 183 years after her attempt to create a new life in the United States came to a grim end in a railroad shantytown outside Philadelphia.The identification of her remains, their return home, and the insight her story has provided into the lives of Catholic Irish immigrants who sailed to the US fleeing prejudice is the result of a remarkable history research project.That project ultimately revealed Catherine’s murder more than a century and a half after it happened. She was 29 years old and already a widow when she left home and sailed from Derry, County Derry, as one of 160 Catholic Irish immigrants bound for the US on a ship called the John Stamp. When they landed in Philadelphia, Catherine must have been hopeful. She soon found work with 57 other Irish Catholic immigrants at a railroad construction called Duffy’s Cut, 30 miles outside the city in the town of East Whiteland. But the immigrants were dead some six weeks after their arrival in 1832.For years, memory of the deaths was little more than a ghost story, and the name Duffy’s Cut had all but been forgotten. The place would be referred to as Dead Horse Hollow for many years. Newspapers at the time reported deaths along the railroad in the camp, but just eight, and all were attributed to the…

via Reburial of woman in native Ireland highlights 183-year-old murder mystery | US news | The Guardian.

History’s most-prolific female murderer died 400 years ago today | FOX31 Denver

Originally posted on FOX31 Denver.

TRENCIN, Slovakia — With a ruined centuries-old castle looming up on the hill above, the Slovakian village of Cachtice could easily take a starring role in a Gothic horror film.

However, exactly 400 years ago, on August 21, the horror was all too real, as the life of the most prolific female mass murderer of all time — a noblewoman by the name of Countess Elizabeth Bathory — came to a grim end.

It’s not an anniversary they’re likely to celebrate in Cachtice, where Bathory’s reign of terror still haunts locals, but for some — me included — there’s a strange fascination.

In the lovely Slovakian town of Trencin, my friend Martin and I are joined by two guides, Ivan Kralik and Peter Pastier, who work in the local tourism office.

They drive us to the town of Cachtice, 30 kilometers away, recounting the story of the Blood Countess.

The macabre name came from her apparent tendency to…

via History’s most-prolific female murderer died 400 years ago today | FOX31 Denver.

18th and 19th Century: Charlotte Corday and the Bathtub Murder of Jean-Paul Marat

Originally posted on 18th and 19th Century.

On the evening of the fourth anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, a twenty-four-year-old woman, with  one purpose in mind, visited the French journalist and radical Jacobin, Jean-Paul Marat. The woman “was rather tall—her admirably proportioned figure full of native grace and dignity. The chief expression of her fair and oval countenance were sweetness and modesty; her clear, open brow, shaded by rich curls of brown hair, enhanced the transparent purity of her complexion—her dark and well-arched eyebrows and eyes of a deep gray…added to her thoughtful and meditative appearance. Her nose was straight and well-formed—her mouth, though rather grave, exquisitely beautiful and her smile full of fascination.” The woman was Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont, better known today as Charlotte Corday.

Corday was a heroic, although somewhat misguided girl, who was intent on killing Marat. At the death of her mother, her father had sent her and her younger sister to the Abbaye-aux-Dames convent located in Caen. There she read enlightened works and became politically active, sympathizing largely with the Girondins. She also garnered the attention of young man named Monsieur de Franquelin, who perhaps to impress the fair Corday armed himself and enlisted in the battalion of Caen. From a balcony she watched as his battalion passed by and she was so impressed, it confirmed her resolve to do whatever it took to support the Girondins. Moreover, at the time, Corday wanted to prevent what she believed was an impending civil war and she wanted to get even for the September Massacres that she blamed on Jean-Paul Marat, the man she also considered “the most formidable foe of the Girondins.”

Corday had given much thought about how to kill Marat. Her initial plan was to…

via 18th and 19th Century: Charlotte Corday and the Bathtub Murder of Jean-Paul Marat.

96 Years Ago Today: Rosa Luxemburg was murdered in Berlin


1907 or 1908 maybe- rosa luxemburg- rls

96 years ago today, on 15 January 1919, Rosa Luxemburg was detained, interrogated and murdered by right-wing soldiers under the command of socialist Defence Minister Gustav Noske. Today she is remembered around the world for her life and ideas.

Born in Russian-Poland in a middle-class Jewish family in 1873, Rosa Luxemburg emigrated to Switzerland after completing High School and enrolled at Zurich University. Whilst still a student she co-founded the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland (SDKP, later SDKPiL), with Leo Jogiches, Adolf Warszawski and Julian Marchlewski, before being awarded a doctorate in 1897.

The following year, she moved to Berlin and joined the German Social-Democratic Party (SPD), then the largest and most powerful socialist organisation in the world. She rose to prominence on the left-wing of the SPD as a firebrand speaker, journalist and theoretician, writing works on economics, nationalism, imperialism, war, socialism and democracy.

Luxemburg taught at…

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“God’s Banker” and the Fall of Ambrosiano


The Pope and Roberto Calvi


Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. I do. Don’t you?

And everyone loves a conspiracy involving all the big players – bankers, the mafia, the Vatican, the C.I.A., murder. I mean, how juicy can it get?

First, an introduction to “God’s banker” – Roberto Calvi, Chairman of Italy’s largest private bank in the ‘80s, Banco Ambrosiano.

Banco Ambrosiano was founded in Milan in 1896 by Giuseppe Tovini as a “catholic bank” as a counter-balance to Italy’s “lay banks”. Ambrosiano’s purpose was servicing “moral organizations, pious works, and religious bodies set up for charitable aims.” The bank came to be known as the “priests’ bank”; one chairman was Franco Ratti, nephew to Pope Pius XI.

Our man Calvi came to Ambrosiano in 1971 as chief of operations; in 1975 he was appointed as Chairman and began a dramatic expansion of the bank, including creating a…

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Charlotte Corday and the Murder of Marat | Madame Guillotine

Originally posted on Madame Guillotine.

At 7am on the morning of Sunday, the 13th July 1793, a young woman, just twenty-five years of age, with neatly arranged curling chestnut hair and clear blue eyes walked with a firm and steady tread through the already busy sun warmed streets of Paris from her lodging, room 7 in the Hôtel de la Providence, 19 Rue Hérold, to the arcades of the Palais Royal. We don’t know what thoughts ran through her head as she strolled purposely along, perhaps stirring lines written by her great great great grandfather, the celebrated playwright Pierre Corneille, or perhaps she stopped every now and again to enjoy the bustle and excitement that attended the preparations for the next day’s celebration of the fourth anniversary of the fall of the Bastille.

The elegant arcades of the former Royal palace were decorated for the occasion with tricolor banners, while the trees planted in the famous gardens were bedecked with tricolor ribbons that floated slightly in the morning breeze, while everywhere the woman looked she saw young people like herself laughing and smiling as they sang patriotic songs and looked forward to the festivities.

Marie-Anne-Charlotte de Corday d’Armont was not a Parisienne, despite the undoubted elegance of her brown striped silk dress, but was one of the last scions of a somewhat diminished aristocratic family from Caen in Normandy. The street vendor who sold her a newspaper before she…

via Charlotte Corday and the Murder of Marat | Madame Guillotine.