22 January 1788: Romantic poet George Gordon, Lord Byron is born in London

Lord_Byron_coloured_drawing

A coloured engraving of George Gordon, Lord Byron.

Lord Byron was known during his lifetime as having a flamboyant personality and his exploits created several scandals that helped him to become one of the most well known of the Romantic poets. Toward the end of his life, Byron took part in the Greek War of Independence fighting on the side of the Ottoman Empire. A fever contracted while he was in Greece led to his death at age 36. His major works include the narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.

22 January 1901: Queen Victoria Dies at Age 81

After a reign lasting 63 years and 7 months, Queen victoria died at the age of 81 on 22 January 1901. Her son ‘Bertie’ the future Edward VII , and her eldest grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, were present at her deathbed. As she had wished, her sons lifted her body, dressed in white and with her wedding veil covering her face, into the coffin. She had worn black since the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert in 1861. Though Victoria had worn her widow’s weeds for forty years she reportedly disliked black funerals, so many of the banners in London for her funeral on February 2 were purple and white.

Queen_Victoria_Coronation_Portrait

Portrait of Queen Victoria, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1859

22 January 1879: The British Army is Soundly Defeated at the Battle of Isandlwana

isandlwana_battlefield

Memorials that stand on the Isandlwana battlefield today.

The Battle of Isandlwana was the first major encounter of the Anglo-Zulu War. On 11 January the British had begun their invasion of Zululand, an invasion instigated by the British Empire’s High Commissioner of southern Africa. He hoped to draw the Kingdom of Zululand into open war as a pretext for annexing their territory to the empire. On 22 January the main British column, consisting of about 1,800 troops and 400 civilians, was attacked by an overwhelming force of about 20,000 Zulu warriors. Though many of the Zulu warriors fought with the traditional assegai iron spears and cow-hide shields, some of their number were equipped with old muskets and rifles. Sheer numbers alone helped the Zulu warriors overwhelm the British column. Over 1,300 British troops were killed, resulting in the British Army’s worst defeat at the hands of a technologically inferior indigenous force.

battle_of_isandlwana_1879

The Battle of Isandhlwana (1879) Natal, South Africa; painted by Charles Edwin Fripp, 1885.