TODAY is the feast day of Saint Amalburga, honoured as a virgin, chiefly, it seems, for her steadfast resistance to the determined seduction attempts of Charlemagne, 8th-century Frankish king and Holy Roman Emperor. The virtues of Charlemagne, whom posterity presents as an honourable and cultured medieval hero, did not, it seems, include self-restraint and chivalry. He pursued Amalburga, a nun, relentlessly, once breaking her arm as he attempted to drag her from a church in which she sought refuge. She may, as a result of her tribulations, be the Saint Amalburga (there are three) believed to heal bruises.
10 July 1640: Aphra Behn (above), dramatist, novelist and poet, and the first Englishwoman to make her living from writing, was baptised in Kent. She led an adventurous and independent life, travelling to Surinam in her twenties before marrying Mr Behn, a Dutchman, who died two years later in 1666. As a widow she spied for Charles II in Antwerp during the Dutch War, but he failed to pay her. Imprisoned for debt, she started to write. Her novel, Oroonoko (1688), based on her Surinam visit, is a critique of the slave trade and Christian hypocrisy and sometimes described as the first English philosophical novel. The first of her 15 plays, The Forced Marriage, was performed in 1670. Though highly successful in her lifetime, her work and personal life were attacked as lewd, a criticism she believed was directed at her because of her sex.
1940: Battle of Britain began.
1943: Allied invasion of Sicily
1958: First parking meters in London: 'They've stuck parking meters, outside our door to greet us, and fings ain't what they used to be.'
BIRTHDAYS: Virginia Wade, tennis player, 49; Josephine Veasey, opera singer, 64.Reuse content