Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


***All photos accompanying posts are either owned by the author of said post or are in the public domain -- NOT the property of History Undressed. If you'd like to obtain permission to use a picture from a post, please contact the author of the post.***

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Ghost Ship Octavius

The vast oceans of our planet are equally wondrous and dangerous. There are so many unknowns out there on the endless horizon where the sea and sky meet. Even today, the ocean is a mysterious place. It is no wonder sailors are a superstitious lot, especially mariners of the past. And why not? Phenomena and strange sightings were not easily dismissed as they are now with our scientific knowledge and understanding. Still, there are inexplicable occurrences that happen routinely. Just in the last few decades there have been missing air and sea crafts in the Bermuda Triangle, the discovery of underwater crop circles and temple-like structures, and strange aquatic sounds loud enough to be heard on hydrophones between Greenland and the United Kingdom. The ocean is shrouded in secrets we have yet to unlock and fuels our imagination.

Visualize how scary it might be to come upon a ghost ship floating in the middle of nowhere. Now imagine finding something even more terrifying on board.

That is what happened in 1775 when the crew of a whaling ship discovered the Octavius.

The story begins fourteen years earlier. The Octavius left London, England bound for the Orient with a belly full of trade cargo, more than two dozen crewmen, the captain, and his wife and son. The trip was a success, landing on the Far Eastern shores the following year. With new freight, the three-masted schooner set out to return to England. But this time the captain made a fateful decision based on unseasonably warm. He plotted a course through the brutal, relatively uncharted Northern Passage. That was the last anyone had heard of the Octavius, the ship was declared lost at sea.

That is until the whaling ship Herald happened upon the vessel west of Greenland. No one was on the deck which prompted a boarding party to search the ship. Below deck, the found all twenty-eight crewmen frozen to death. In the captain’s quarters, the captain sat at his desk with his logbook in front of him, pen still in his hand. He was not alone. A woman and a young boy were wrapped in blankets upon the bunk.

The spooked boarding party high-tailed it off the schooner, but not before grabbing the logbook. Because the book was frozen solid, parts of the middle broke away from its binding as they fled. What pages were left was enough for the captain of the Herald to piece together the crew’s probable fate. The last position recorded in the book placed Octavius roughly 250 miles north of Alaska’s northernmost point. And the last entry was November 11, 1762—thirteen years earlier. It is speculated that Octavius had become trapped in the sea ice. At some point, the ice broke and the ship continued on its journey successfully through the passage, but without her passengers.

Fearing Octavius cursed, the Herald left her to drift, never to been seen again.

About the Author      

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October is a Momentous Month for the Tudors...

So many things happened to our beloved Tudors in October! Too many for me to pick just one, so I'm gathering a list here!

  • October 30, 1485 -- Henry VII is crowned king
  • October 2, 1501 -- Catharine of Aragon landed in England, prepared to marry Prince Arthur
  • October 2, 1514 -- Princess Mary Tudor, all of 18, sets sail to marry the 52yo French King. Their wedding took place on the 9th.
  • October 8, 1515 -- Lady Margaret Douglas was born. She was the daughter of Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII and Dowager Queen of Scotland.
  • October 25, 1529 -- Sir Thomas More is named Henry VIII's new Lord Chancellor, ousting Cardinal Wolsey who had served his king (and himself) faithfully for years. Sadly More would also see the same fate. Working for Henry was hazardous!
  • October 27, 1532 -- Anne Boleyn, Marchioness of Pembroke, makes a dramatic entrance into court at Calais to meet the King of France and Henry, of course. The scene wowed everyone, except Henry's wife who was left behind in England as Henry had decided to thrust her aside in favor of the exotic Anne.
  • October 4, 1536 -- Rebels in Lincolnshire started trouble which would become part of the infamous The Pilgrimage of Grace -- the first serious rebellion against Henry VIII's religious changes, you know when he declared himself next to God and thrust the Pope out of England.
  • October 19, 1536 -- Henry VIII writes a letter to his right-hand man, Charles Brandon, that basically gives him permission to use any means necessary to put down the Pilgrimage of Grace rebels. That same night, the rebels decided they were going to take Pontefract Castle. But the threat of it seemed to be enough, because the castle conceded to them the following morning.
  • October 12, 1537 -- Edward VI is born! Finally a legitimate male heir for Henry VIII
  • October 15, 1537 -- The long awaited prince is christened, and his mother, pale and ill, rallied to attend.
  • October 24, 1537 -- Queen Jane Seymour, Edward VI's mother, dies
  • October, 1539 -- Henry VIII's Bible was published
  • October 4, 1539 -- Henry VIII signs a treaty that he'll marry Anne of Cleves, his 4th wife
  • October 18, 1541 -- Margaret Tudor, elder sister of Henry VIII, dies
  • October 1, 1553 -- Mary I (Bloody Mary, 1st legitimate-born daughter of Henry VIII and Queen Catherine of Aragon--see what I did there? She's totally legitimate!) is crowned Queen of England
  • October 16, 1555 -- Mary I burns two religious leaders at the stake -- Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley. They are known as the Oxford Martyrs
  • October 10, 1562 -- Queen Elizabeth I takes ill with smallpox! It is a miracle she lived, a testament to her thriving nature.
  • October 14, 1586 -- Mary, Queen of Scots trial for treason (accused by her cousin Elizabeth I) began at Fotheringhay Castle in England. She begged to speak to her cousin, but was refused. For her part, Elizabeth did delay the sentencing as long as she could, but on October 25th, she ordered her cousin to be put to death. Most historians do believe this was a very difficult decision for her. But in the end, her throne and the validity of her claim to it won out over any blood ties she might have felt to her rival cousin.
  • October 29, 1618 -- Elizabeth I has her beloved Sir Walter Raleigh executed by her heir, James I, who was then king. Ironically, James I, who she named her heir, which united England and Scotland, was the son of her cousin Mary Queen of Scots whom she had executed.