Columbus discovers Trinidad, but manages to overlook Tobago. Christ knows how he missed it, for heaven's sake, it's right next door!
Sebastian Cabot explores the American coast as far as Florida, but is unfortunately shot in the first of the now infamous Floridan tourist murders.
James IV of Scotland invades England, but has his arse whipped at Flodden. Now James, that really wasn't very clever, was it? No. Now, you go over into the corner and be quiet. No dessert for you tonight young man.
Martin Luther, founder of Protestantism, nails to the church door at Wittenburg his condemnation of many practices of the Church of Rome. Amongst these are:
Cortes conquers Mexico. That's all. With three little words, a nation crumbles under invasion. "Cortes conquers Mexico".
Ferdinand Magellan sails around the world for the first time. With the proviso that he himself only makes it as far as the Philippines. Oh well. But he does manage to name the Pacific Ocean. Not a bad feat. And he writes a book later adapted for modern times by Jules Verne, entitled "Around The World In 3 Years And 27 Days".
Martin Luther publicly burns the Papal Bull excommunicating him, proclaiming it to be Papal Bullshit. Protestantism spreads easier than soft-spread butter through Europe. In Switzerland it is established by Calvin, whose followers in France, the Huguenots (pronounced "Hugenose"), get really pissed-off with the Catholics, who have quite small noses. In Scotland the Reformation, as this great movement is called, triumphs by 1560, largely owing to the teaching of Calvin's disciple, imaginary tiger Hobbes.
Babar, Moslem warrior king, captures Delhi. He is helped by confusion amongst the defending army, who are mistakenly told that the barber had arrived to give everyone a quick trim.
Conquest of Peru. Ummm... by... someone. Not sure who. Does it really matter? Probably not, after all, it was a terribly long time ago.
The Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, having taken Belgrade, the island of Rhodes and Budapest, attempts to storm Vienna but is beaten back.
Suleiman the Magnificent, eh? I wonder who thought up that name? From all accounts, his enemies called him Suleiman the Smelly-Trousers. My money would be on Suleiman's own campaign directors.
<Insert Cockney accents and cheap suits here>
"Ullo Phil. What are we gonna call Suleiman during this coming invasion of Vienna then?"
"Well Bob, since he's already invaded Rhodes and Budapest, what say we go for Magnificent?"
"Phil, I've said it before, I'll say it again - You are a genius my son."
Henry VIII gets through more wives than you've had hot dinners. Including Jane Seymour. Wow. I didn't know she was *that* old.
Jacques Cartier discovers Canada, and tries to sell the locals a rather nice line in wrist-watches.
Queen Mary persecutes English Protestants, and becomes known as Vodka And Tonic. Oops, I mean Bloody Mary.
Sir Francis Drake sails around the world in the "Golden Hindquarters", a ship named after his favourite sailor. What can I say. You've got to loooove the Drake. One for the Seinfeld fans there.
Elizabeth (the first one, not the one we have now) succeeds Mary and works out a compromise between the Catholics and Protestants. Then, to show she's not all sweetness and light, she imprisons Mary Queen of Scots by tricking her into thinking the Tower Of London is a tourist attraction.
Fleet of the Christian League, led by Spain, defeats the Turkish fleet at Lepanto and destroys Moslem sea power in the Mediterranean. Yes! The Christian League! Temporarily modifying the sixth commandment to read "Thou shalt not kill except for Moslems, whom thou shalt smite and sit upon and shove red hot pokers into". Well, something like that, anyway.
Holland, losing to Spain at home, are relieved when an army of English hooligans, on a day-trip to check out seedy Amsterdam, decide spontaneously to have a quick game of "throw clogs at the Spaniards". The combined England/Holland team win 3-1. The Police later pick-up three of the English after examining paintings of the scene drawn by Michaelangelo while he's on holiday.
Queen Elizabeth decides to execute Mary Queen of Scots after Mary reminds her of that time that Elizabeth couldn't get a date for the Prom, and called her baldy.
Philip of Spain sends a Great Armada against England. When the news is incorrectly passed to English captain Francis Drake as being an invading "great armadillo", he decides to finish his game of tiddlywinks before fighting.
William Janszoon is walking home one day, trips over a piece of lead piping in the ground, and discovers Australia. It turns out to be such a wide, sprawling brown land that he writes an article in his favourite Explorer's Journal entitled "The Wide, Sprawling Brown Land Down Under". Janszoon realises the tourist potential of the place, and hires a fellow Dutchman, Paul Hogensom, to try and advertise it. The campaign is scuttled when Hogensom leaves his wife and marries a bimbo he has met on his travels. When asked about this, he compares the two, saying "Nah, that's not a wife.... Now *that's* a wife!"
Holland frees herself from Spain, and is soon to be a great power, leading the world in trade, art and science and founding an empire in East and West Indies. So, looking back almost four centuries later, one has to ask - What happened?
Outbreak of the Thirty Years' War, last attempt of the Catholics to stamp out the Reformation in Europe. Okay, it leaves me wondering. Did they call it the Thirty Years' War *during* the war? And if so, was it all planned in advance? "Okay, you guys, now we've only got until 1648 to fit this all in. Seventy great battles, nine overthrown kingdoms, ten national leaders executed..."
Pilgrim Fathers decide they're sick of hanging around Plymouth, and sail in the Mayflower to found the first colony in New England. Yep, I can see the passport now.
Name: John Smith.
Abel Tasman discovers the island just south of the Australian mainland. He returns home afterwards to find pandemonium. Screaming fans, merchandising, in fact, total Tasmania.
Someone realises it's time to stop, and so the Thirty Years War comes to an end. "I survived the Thirty Years War" tunics are a big seller for several weeks afterwards.
Oliver Cromwell, the man known for banning soft-backed chairs, also bans every other fun thing he can think of. Including ice-cream, Nintendo, sex, making air bubbles with BluTack, jokes; you name it, he bans it.
War between Britain and Holland; the British capture New Amsterdam, and rename it New York. The Dutch laugh heartily, saying the new name will never catch on.
Great Plague of London.
Great Fire of London. Not such a great decade for London, really. The Arson squad are still investigating. Shame the Great Fire Brigade didn't respond. Or maybe they didn't have one at the time.
Charles II gets friendly with the Catholics, attacks Holland with France, runs out of cash, and eventually dies. Busy guy.
William Penn establishes the colony of Pennsylvania as refuge, where persecuted Quakers can shelter, some of them no doubt quaking in fear.
The Turks make a final effort to carry Islam into the heart of Europe, but are defeated at Vietnam. Oops, I mean Vienna. (Okay, who gave Ronald Reagan access to this file?)
Yet another Louis (the XIVth) declares France will take on all comers at the coming Euro Bun Fight. Britain, Holland and Austria form a "Grand Alliance" to stop him. But they back down when faced with an army of French container lorry drivers.
Following approval from the Monopolies Commission, England and Scotland announce a merger. They promise that there will be no redundancies, and that profitability of both countries will be enhanced.
George I becomes king. The fact that he can't speak English and has no interest in English affairs is not seen to be a problem by the English parliament, who take advantage of it by being able to chew bubblegum in the house.
A financial crisis, the "South Sea Bubble", produced by wild speculation, ruins thousands. Rumours that the crash was caused by a computer error prove untrue, and it is later blamed on some guy who has disappeared to Singapore.
Sir Robert Walpole, first PM of GB, somehow manages to start a war with Spain that is called, wait for this, I'm not kidding: the "War of Jenkins' Ear". Ah yes, what terrible times indeed when two nations go to war over some bloke's ear.
The War of the Austrian Succession. Which is basically as follows: Prussia attacks Austria; France invades Germany; Britain attacks France; France fights back at Austria and Britain. Etc, etc, etc.
Just when you thought it was safe to turn CNN back on, the Seven Years' War breaks out.
Captain Wallis discovers Tahiti. He almost calls it Wallis island, but then decides that doesn't sound sun-drenched and relaxing enough.
Captain Cook sails around the world in the Endeavour, discovering and mapping lots of things along the way.
The Boston Tea Party brings to a head the long quarrel between George III and the American colonists. When the British governor selfishly hoards the last of the Twinings teabags for himself, the colonists call him nasty names, and prepare for war.
First shots exchanged between colonists and British troops at Lexington. George Washington is made American Commander-in-Chief. He is to be known later as "Stormin' Georgie".
On July 4th, 13 American colonies issue the Declaration of Independence. They also declare Ya Boo Sucks To The British, and We Are The Champions And We're Going To Be A Superpower And You're Not So There Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah.
On January 26th, Australia is colonised, ignoring requests from the local Aborigines to "bugger off back to Pommyland".
Meanwhile, the Founding Fathers draw up the American constition, the preamble of which goes something like:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect fried chicken, establish French fries and protect domestic hamburgers, provide for the common Pizza Hut, promote general fast food and other delicious stuff for ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The French Revolution breaks out like a rash of acne. A young man, Marcel Remington, makes his first entry into the world of blade sales after a discussion with his mate Joseph Guillotin. Remington's guillotine blades become so good that one French nobleman is just about to say he'll buy the company when the blade chops through his neck, leaving him with a slight speech impediment. On July 14th, the people of Paris storm the Bastille prison and have a warehouse party there.
Austria and Prussia make war, not love, on France. France retaliates, and before anyone can do anything, becomes a republic. (Huh?!) Then the French further retaliate against the Austrians and Prussians by occupying Belgium. (I think they must have been a bit confused.) Britain joins in war against France with Holland, Spain, Austria and Prussia. Despite sunny weather reports, the Rain of Terror begins.
Only Austria and Britain remain fighting France. A young lad known as Napoleon Bonaparte (Bonehead to his friends) becomes French Commander-In-Chief. He gets to wear a truly impressive looking tunic, with lots and lots of studs on his shoulders.
Britain, Turkey, Austria and Russia combine forces against France. France refuses to go running to teacher crying "help, they're ganging up on me". Bonehead defeats Austria. He adds an "Defeater of Austria" badge to his tunic.
The war between Britain and France is renewed, with Spain on France's side. Bonehead sells Louisiana to the USA. Barings bank help fund the purchase. (Really!)
Bonehead becomes Emperor Bonehead.
One of the Pitts builds an alliance against Bonehead with Austria and Russia. Bonehead gathers an army to invade England. Nelson defeats the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar. Bonehead declines an "I was beaten by the Brits" badge for his tunic.
Bonehead crushes Prussia at Jena, becoming master of Germany. He adds another badge to his tunic, "Master of Germany".
Bonehead makes his brother Joseph the king of Spain. I guess you can do that when you're a dictator. Spain and Portugal revolt, however. (Cue the Spain and Portugal are revolting! jokes).
Bonehead invades Russia. He occupies Moscow, but the Russians burn the city and he runs out of hot water bottles and is forced to retreat in the cold of the Russian winter, his army being destroyed. Tchaikovsky warms up the piano.
Britain and America make peace after America threatens to block hamburger shipments. Paris is occupied, and emperor Bonehead abdicates. He is banished, but escapes and returns to power, but is defeated at Waterloo.
Greeks revolt against Turkish rulers. They publicly mock them in the streets, showing how they can't be used for drawing straight lines because they're curved, and how they can't be used for measuring things because they skip "4" on the inches scale. The Greeks gain independence in 1829, and widely introduce right angles with built in hypotenuses.
(Wow, the computer reckons I spelt "hypotenuses" right...)
Some no-good rotten do-gooder abolishes slavery throughout the British Empire.
Queen Victoria ascends the throne. No no no, it doesn't have enough of a sexual overtone. How about Queen Victoria *mounts* the throne. Yes, that's much better.
David Livingstone discovers the course of the Zambesi, the Victoria Falls and Lake Nyasa, after reading about them in a tribal tourist brochure. And if you're wondering, the rest of that famous greeting goes: "Dr Livingstone, I presume? I've got your replacement American Express card, would you just sign here..."
Britain and Russia go head to head in the Crimean war. When it is found that British HQ is completely out of candles, and electric light bulbs haven't been invented yet, the famous Charge Of The Light Brigade commences.
American Civil War breaks out after eleven southern states decide they'd like to keep their Negro slaves please please pretty please we'll only persecute them a little bit dammit what business of yours if we have slaves anyway bugger off out of it. Abraham Lincoln decides the slaves have more right to freedom than the South has to slaves, and before you can say Civil Rights, war breaks out. Eventually the South surrenders, and General Lee, their commander, is made to prance naked around the Appomattox Court House while people throw rotten fruit at him.
Abraham Lincoln is assassinated. Mystery surrounds the shooting, questions especially asked about why the play was being performed on the grassy knoll in the first place.
The Suez canal is opened, providing a vital shipping link between the Atlantic ocean and the supermarket.
Napoleon III declares war on Prussia, before having his armies completely pounded into the ground at Metz and Sedan. Oops. Bit of a tactical error there.
Russia comes to the aid of Serbs, Montenegrans, Rumanians and Bulgarians under Turkish rule. The Turks are defeated; only under threat from Britain and Austria does Russia stop the war. This sort of thing would have been damned tricky without the leaders being able to have a slanging match on CNN. Not even international phone calls to help. Britain and Austria might take so long to come to an agreement by correspondence, by the time the messengers get to Russia to pass on the threat, Turkey has been turned into the Tsar's new holiday home.
African colonies become more fashionable than basketball cards, as most European countries join in the "scramble for Africa". The French occupy Tunisia, the British take Egypt, and Germany nabs a whole bunch of countries. Italy turns up late, in 1896, and is defeated while trying to take over Ethopia. Nice one, lads.
British settlers get so bored with the African landscape that they start the Boer War. The Boers are naturally not too pleased about this very bad pun, and fight back.
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