Someone made a flippant comment the other day that 2016, as a number and a year, was just weird. This stuck with me a little bit, and, after some consideration, I have to agree. It’s hard to find a certain finesse or appeal to the numbers themselves as a whole, and it got me thinking that you rarely hear about important things happening on the 16th year of any given century. Nothing that immediately jumped to mind, anyway, so that called for a visit to Wikipedia and a glance at what might have happened on the 16th year of any given century.
1916: The year started out with the British Royal Medical Corps making the first ever blood transfusion with stored and cooled blood. World War I was in full swing, which included the first zeppelin bombs from Germany. Dadaism and BMW gets its start, and there’s a revolution in Mexico. J.R.R. Tolkien got married in this year, the Cubs played their first game in what is now Wrigley Field, and the toggle light switch is invented. Norman Rockwell published his first of his iconic Saturday Evening Post cover, Britain initiates Daylights Savings Time, and the shark attack that would later inspire Jaws happens in New Jersey. A huge forest fire caused by lightening destroys two towns in Ottawa, and Woodrow Wilson signs a lot of bills that bring about the Boy Scouts of America and the National Park service. A circus elephant is hanged in Tennessee when she kills her handler, and Margaret Sanger opens her first birth control clinic, which would open the doors to the development of Planned Parenthood. This year saw the birth of the 40 hour work week and the death of Jack London, the development of oxycodon and Gustav Holt’s The Planets. The Olympic Games in Germany are cancelled. Because, you know, all that war and what not. Retta Scott (first credited female animator for Disney), Beverly Cleary, Olivia de Hallivand, Kirk Douglas, and Shirley Jackson all came into the world in this year, while Ernst Mach, Henry James, Franz Marc,Eduard Strauss and Grigori Rasputin all left it.
1816: Tsar Alexander I kicks a bunch of Jews out of Russia, and there’s another fire nearly destroying a Canadian town. Estonia releases its peasants from serfdom, and The Barber of Seville (figaro! figaro!) premieres in Italy. An all-black church is created in Philidelphia, and this was the year that Mary Shelley create Frankenstein while exchanging ghost stories with her hubby, Lord Byron, and John Polidori. Argentina declared its independence from Spain, and Indiana became the US’s 19th state. The development of a rail that could support a heavy locomotive came about this year, as well as the development of an air engine, E. Remington and Sons was founded, and some guy named Laennec invented the stethoscope. Charlotte Bronte, William Henry Webb, Paul Reuter, and Werner von Siemens all entered the world, while Edward Charles Howard and Samuel Hood left it.
1716: Scotland deals with the failure of the Jacobite rising of 1715, and the acquisition of Catalonia concludes the unification of Spain under Philip V, and then there’s pretty much just a bunch of power pulls and plays all about Europe. Natchez, the one of the oldest towns on the Mississippi, is founded, and Kangxi Dictionary is published, being one of the strongest resources for studying Han characters to this day. Aaron Burr Sr., Phillip Livingstone, Charles III of Spain, Friedrich Samuel Bock, and Thomas Gray were all brought into the world, while John Somers and George FitzRoy left it.
1616: My boy Johannes Keplar is accused of witchcraft, while James I is a major fanboy for Ben Jonson. Belém on the Amazon in Brazil is founded, and Samuel de Champlain makes his last trip to the Great Lakes before returning to France after securing Canada. Willem Schouten rounds the southern tip of South America, naming it Kaap Hoorn, after his birthplace in Holland, and the East India Trading Company is having a lot of trouble in Japan. It’s the first record eruption of Mayon Volcano, the most active volcano in the Philippines, and the Roman Catholics officially declare that the idea of a stationary sun is absurd, foolish, and heretical, and Copernicus’s works are banned, but Galileo meets with the Pope himself to defend heliocentrism. Sir Walter Raleigh is released from his imprisonment in the Tower of London, and there’s a lot of things discovered in the New World and all that exploration and stuff. Wilie Shakespeare dies, and Pocahontas (now called Rebecca) arrives in England with hubby John Rolfe and their son. Rubens and Descartes are starting to work on some things that they get noticed for, and the Virginia Company starts distributing land to its shareholders. There’s an earthquake in Germany, people are colonizing and opening schools left and right, and everything seems a big mess in Europe, but it’s a pretty big mess in Japan and China, too, with people fighting for power and declaring themselves khans and kings and emperors. A bunch of cows are dying in Eastern Europe, slave ships are spreading smallpox in the New World, and then there’s all those witch trials going on, too. 1616 is kind of this big fat glorious mess, really. I think, if we manage to do better than 1616 in 2016, we’ll be in pretty good shape. Not a lot of famous people were brought into the world this year, either, but quite a lot of them left: Shakespeare, Cervantes, Juan de Silva, and Takugawa Ieyasu, which ended the Shogunate in Japan.
1516 Charles of Ghent becomes the King of Spain. The Reinheitsgebot Institute starts regulating beer for sale in Bavaria, and the Ottoman Empire declares war against the Mameluks. King Francis and Pope Leo X strengthen the state of the church in France, and Thomas More releases Utopia. A meteorite falls on China, the first known ghetto is established, and the world’s oldest social housing complex (still in use) is founded. Prospero Spani, Queen Mary I, and Matthew Stewart came into the world, while Ferdinand II of Aragon and Hieronymus Bosch left it. Let’s have a year like this. It seemed fairly quiet and nice.
1416: he Republic of Ragusa is the first state in Europe to outlaw slavery, and some guy named Jerome is burned as a heretic. Not even a lot of notable peeps were born or died. So this is either where we don’t have good recordings of history, or we just don’t care about 1416.
1316: Llywelyn Bren leads a revolt against British rule in Wales, there’s a few battles, a switching of popes, and a Great Famine. A bunch of future kings were born, and a bunch of current kings died.
1216: More switches in popes and rulers and battles and what have you. We are in the Dark Ages. There’s not a whole lot being recorded, if anything even is going on.
1116: Baldwin I of Jerusalem tried to take over Egypt, the Aztecs leave Aztlán on their search for what will become Mexico City, China develops and the first modern book is stitched together in China. Thanks, China!
1016: Emperor Sanjō abdicates and is succeeded by 8 year old Go-Ichijō in Japan, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is destoryed in an earthquake, and, surprise surprise, Europe is a mess of people fighting and taking over various thrones and sundry.
16: Germanicus’s Roman army defeats the German war chief Arminius and continues success in Germany, even with storms destroying half his fleet, and Ovid’s “Epistulae ex Ponto” appears.
So, there’s a brief history overview at what 2016 might have to live up to. In general, I wasn’t too far off in saying that not a lot seems to happen on the 16th year of the century, unless we’re talking 1616, because oof. That was one crazy ass year. But enougha bout the past. Let’s get out there and make some history today.