How the Internet would have portrayed Augustine of Canterbury, who led a mission in 595 at the behest of Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great) to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. Shortly after arriving, he founded the monastery of Saints Peter and Paul (later renamed St. Augustine’s Abbey). Though Christianity had already been introduced to Britannia centuries before, it was Augustine’s aggressive work that is credited with bringing the Anglicans and Saxons into Christendom.
How the Internet would have reacted to the 24 May 1847 collapse of the Dee Bridge in Chester. A passenger train used the bridge to cross the Dee River, only to discover the cast iron beam structure was not up to the task. Of the 22 passengers, three were killed and another nine seriously injured. The train guard and the train’s fireman were also killed.
How the Internet would have debunked the myth that St. Patrick rid Ireland of all its snakes. Per The History Channel:
While it’s true that the Emerald Isle is mercifully snake-free, chances are that’s been the case throughout human history. Water has surrounded Ireland since the end of the last glacial period, preventing snakes from slithering over; before that, it was blanketed in ice and too chilly for the cold-blooded creatures. Scholars believe the snake story is an allegory for St. Patrick’s eradication of pagan ideology.
How the Internet would have reacted to the Bristol Channel Floods (a.k.a. The Great Flood of 1607). An estimated 3,000 people were drowned along with an estimated 518 square kilometers of farmland and livestock on 30 January 1607.
How the Internet would have characterized the expansion of the First British Empire (1583-1783) as Great Britain established colonies throughout the world.
How the Internet would have characterized the notorious incompetence and indifference of London Mayor Thomas Bloodworth after his ineptitude allowed the Great Fire of London to consume the city beginning 1 September 1666. When awoken and informed of the fire, which began at the bakery of Thomas Farriner on Pudding Lane, Bloodworth shirked the matter entirely: “Pish! A woman could piss it out,” he groused, refusing to authorize the conventional containment measure of the time, firebreaks. Firebreaks were created by demolishing the buildings around a fire, effectively isolating the area in which a fire could spread. Ultimately, King Charles II intervened and ordered the firebreaks but it was far too late.
For Bloodworth’s gross lack of urgency, the city paid dearly: 85% of London had been destroyed. Of the city’s population of 80,000 people, an estimated 75,000 were left homeless. Samuel Pepys chronicled the event, noting in his diary:
"People do all the world over cry out of the simplicity [the stupidity] of my Lord Mayor in general; and more particularly in this business of the fire, laying it all upon him."
How the Internet would have commented on the sham trial of Joan d’Arc in 1431. Admittedly, this takes a decidedly anti-English position, but who could actually defend her inquisition? Cardinal Henry Beaufort presided over the affair, but it was ultimately the orchestration of Bishop Pierre Cauchon. The illiterate peasant girl deftly parried many of his subtle attempts to provoker her into saying something condemnatory. Frustrated, Cauchon eventually compelled her to abjure under threat of execution. Though she recanted, explaining it had been merely a life-saving measure she had been bullied into by Cauchon, he used it to justify burning her at the stake.
For its blatant defiance of church procedural standards, Pope Callixtus III later nullified the trial’s verdict in 1456 and recognized Joan d’Arc as a martyr. Bishop Caucon, who died in 1442, was retroactively dismissed as a heretic by Callixtus for abusing his bishopric authority to affect secular matters.
Painting is “Joan of Arc is interrogated by The Cardinal of Winchester in her prison.”by Paul Delaroche, 1824.
How the Internet would have commented on how hated was Hugh Despenser. This was a guy who played a key role in dividing King Edward II and Queen Isabella. When the latter ultimately prevailed, Hugh was captured and tried for treason. His execution was particularly gruesome. As chronicled by Jean Froissart:
Directly after his trial (24 November 1326), he was dragged by four horses to the site of his execution. There, a bonfire was lit and biblical scripture was written on his naked body before he was hanged (as a thief). The hanging stopped just before he died, though, so that he could then witness his genitals cut off and thrown into the fire (commonly believed done because he was rumored to be Edward II’s lover). Next, he was disembowelled, and his heart cut out and also thrown into the fire. Lastly, he was beheaded, drawn and quartered.
How much was this guy hated? It was recorded that the enthusiastic spectators cheered upon hearing his death rattle.
How Nicholas Hilliard would have finished his painting, Young Man Among Roses. Hilliard, the greatest English painter of the Elizabethan era, captured in his work the same romantic aesthetic that had swept through literature in the form of sonnets. It is speculated that the subject here is Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex. The painting was completed sometime between 1585-1595.
Okay, this one isn’t based on an actual meme-theme, but rather borrows from the movie poster campaign for From Russia with Love. Sidney Reilly was a debonair, womanizing spy working for His Majesty’s government in the early 20th Century and famously conspired with Bruce Lockhart to capture of Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky in an attempt to overthrow the nascent Bolshevik government. The pair escaped Russia with their lives and, improbably, Reilly requested permission to return for more acts of espionage. Even more improbably, his request was granted!