February 08, 2024

#ThrowbackThursday – 8 February

It’s 8 February, and that means it’s time for another edition of Throwback Thursday! Today, we’re taking a look back at three prominent events that went down on this day in history:

1587 – The End of Mary, Queen of Scots

After being kept in captivity in England for 19 years, Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed. She had allegedly plotted to kill Queen Elizabeth I, her first cousin once removed.

Facing unrest and opposition in her native Scotland, particularly over the mysterious death of her second husband Lord Darnley, Mary was forced to abdicate her throne. After staging a failed military campaign to regain her throne, she fled to England for protection in 1568. Although Mary was initially welcomed by her kin, Elizabeth – unsure of Mary’s true intentions – placed her under house arrest, putting her under the charge of one of Elizabeth’s military commanders, George Talbot.

In 1586, a scheme known as the “Babington Plot” was uncovered, whereby Spain would deploy its military forces to depose and assassinate Elizabeth, a Protestant, and replace her with Mary, a devout Catholic, so that Catholicism could be restored as England’s official religion.

Mary was arrested for her alleged complicity in the Babington Plot. She was subsequently put on trial, convicted of the charge and sentenced to death.

Several months later, on 8 February 1587, Mary met her end when she was beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire. She was 44-years-old.

To this day, historians and critics are divided on Mary, Queen of Scots: many lionise her, while others vilify her. Whether or not she was involved with Lord Darnley’s murder or the Babington Plot are still to be confirmed.

1855 – A Colder Day Than in Hell

The Devil’s abode is known to be a hot and steamy place, but apparently he took the phrase “when Hell freezes over” quite literally when he seemingly graced the mortal realm for a stroll across the snowy landscape of Devon.

In 1855, temperatures in this part of England were said to be extremely cold. This led to some heavy snowfall on the evening of Thursday, 8 February, particularly in Exeter and southern Devon. The next day, residents discovered something rather peculiar.

“On the following morning, the inhabitants of the above towns were surprised at discovering the footmarks of some strange and mysterious animal endowed with the power of ubiquity, as the footprints were to be seen in all kinds of unaccountable places – on the tops of houses and narrow walls, in gardens and court-yards, enclosed by high walls and pailings, as well as in open fields,” a local news publication reported at the time.

Hoof-like in shape and formed mostly in a straight line (one “hoof” ahead of the other), the footprints covered a distance between 60km and 160km. Surprised and troubled, most residents attributed the spoors to Satan himself.

Since then, the mystery of the “Devil’s footprints” has yet to be solved. Some believe the tracks were the work of an animal (a donkey, a pony, or even a mouse!), while others believe that it was all just an elaborate hoax. Still, it doesn’t explain how an animal or person was able to walk such a great distance and make their mark on seemingly unreachable, if not dangerous, surfaces in the dead of a cold winter’s night.

Perhaps the Devil did dare to tiptoe through Devon and its environs for the sake of mischief? Only God knows – literally!

1926 – It’s Walt’s World After All

Walt Disney is the face of the Disney empire, if not the animation industry that he pioneered during his lifetime. It’s no wonder that Walt Disney Animation Studios – his first animation company – bears his name.

But it wasn’t always like that: in 1923, the aspiring American animator formed Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios with his brother, Roy. It was located in Los Angeles, California at the back of a realtor’s office. There, they produced “Alice Comedies” – a series of films combining animation and live-action – and “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit”.

Three years later, on 8 February, the studio was renamed to “Walt Disney Studio”. The decision to change the name was said to be spearheaded by Roy, who remained in charge of the company’s financial and business affairs, while Walt oversaw the entire creative process (and got most of the publicity in the years to follow).

Soon enough, Walt Disney Studio began producing cartoons featuring beloved characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and much, much more.

The company also underwent many name-changes until it officially (and hopefully finally) became Walt Disney Animation Studios – under its many monikers, it went on to produce full-length animated films such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Tarzan”, “Mulan”, “Tangled” and other iconic flicks.

The company is officially part of The Walt Disney Company, a mega conglomerate that practically rules the animation, entertainment and pop culture industries.

Guess we have good ol’ Walt (and Roy!) to thank for that.