Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Matter of Dates

Commemorating the Battle of the Boyne.
At the time of the Glorious Revolution, England was still on the Julian Calendar. The Catholic world had made the transition to the Gregorian Calendar after Pope Gregory XIII proclaimed it on February 24, 1582. It was a scientific adjustment with a religious purpose: the correct celebration of the date of Easter according to the First Council of Nicaea. Protestant Europe refused to accept the reform of the calendar. Elizabeth I was on the throne in England and distribution of the Papal Bull ordering adoption of the new calendar was indeed illegal at that time. So the religious divisions in Europe affected not only what date it was but what date Easter was each year.

Thus, according to the Julian Calendar, the Battle of the Boyne occurred on July 1, 1690, while according to the Gregorian Calendar, it occurred on July 12, 1690. England did not adopt the Gregorian Calendar until 1752, at which time the people of England seemed to "lose" eleven days, going to bed on September 2, 1752 and waking up the next morning on September 13, 1752. The Gregorian Calendar is now the internationally accepted calendar dating system, although it still requires adjustment.


Gareth Russell said...

In 1916, the 36th Ulster Division marched into battle at the Battle of the Somme on July 1st, which would have been the technical date their ancestors fought at the Boyne. They proceeded farther than any other regiment and sustained heavy losses, which is why today many Orange Order banners commemorate the 36th rather than the Boyne.

J.K. Baltzersen said...

I believe July 11 would be the correct Gregorian date, madam, as the correction is 10 days for 1500-1700.