Moa Bird: licensed under Creative Commons –


The Ship of Fools is written by the German poet Sebastian Brant. Produced in 1494, it tells the story of a shipload of people who go in search of a fool’s paradise. Needless to say, they all die in the attempt! Durer produced some of the illustrations for this book.

At the beginning of his reign Henry VII establishes a personal bodyguard known as the Yeomen of the Guard. Today, their colourful Tudor uniform is worn by the Warders of the Tower of London, popularly known as “Beefeaters”. This name originated with Count Cosimo of Tuscany who, during a visit in 1669, remarked that they were “great eaters of beef”.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century

card games, first introduced in about 1400,

become very popular throughout Europe.

Inxabout 1500 the German locksmith Peter Henlein, working in Nuremberg, begins to make the first portable timepiece, driven by a spring. Known as “Nuremberg Eggs”, they were 4 to 5 inches in diameter and some 3 inches in depth. There was no minute hand - the second hand and a glass cover did not make their appearance until the seventeenth century.

During this reign the first black lead pencil is produced and the mathematical symbols for minus and plus come into general use.

In 1504 Venice sends a delegation to the Sultan of Turkey and puts forward the idea of building a Suez Canal ... not achieved, in fact, until 1869!

And it was around this time - perhaps a little later - that the Moas, giant flightless birds native to New Zealand, became extinct. They were constantly hunted for food by the Maoris, and the leaves, berries and seeds they fed on became increasingly scarce.