How is a new Pope elected?

The Pope is elected by ballot, the votes being cast by the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church in conclave at the Vatican in Rome.

After the death of a pope, nine days of mourning, the Novendialia, are observed in the Basilica of St Peter's Eighteen days after the Novendialia the cardinals, who have come to the Vatican from all over the world, enter a part to the palace that is closed to outsiders. The doors giving access to it are walled up and messages are passed in by rotas, or turning boxes, set in the walls.

Each morning and afternoon the cardinals vote in the Sistine Chapel. The votes are immediately counted by three scrutineers, who are changed at each session. If no candidate receives the necessary majority of two-thirds plus one, the votes are burned in a stove in the corner of the chapel with wet straw so that black smoke is produced. When a cardinal is chosen, dry straw is used and the resulting white smoke signals the election to the crowd on the piazza of St Peter's.

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Who where the Medici?

The Medici of Florence were the greatest of the many brilliant families who contributed to the cultural splendour and magnificence, as well as the political history, of the Renaissance in Italy. Their first successes were gained as merchants, but the real founder of their wealth and power was Giovanni de Medici (1360-1429) who amassed a great fortune and turned banker and patron of the arts. His sons Cosimo and Lorenzo founded the two main branches of the family.

Cosimo (1389-1464) became the virtual ruler of Florence through his skill in securing the election of friends to positions of power in the city government. He greatly added to the family's riches by developing a large banking and commercial business with branches in London, Rome, Venice, Geneva. Bruges and other centres. He gave generous patronage to artists, writers and scholars, founded libraries and erected splendid buildings.

His most famous descendant was his grandson Lorenzo Magnificent (1449-92), who was the patron of Michelangelo and the painter Botticelli and himself a man of learning. He escaped the fate of his younger brother Giuliano, who was stabbed to death in a conspiracy by florentine rivals, and proved himself an able administrator. His influence among church leaders in Rome secured the election as Cardinal of his 14-year-old son Giovanni, who was later elected Pope Leo X. A nephew of Lorenzo became Pope Clement VII.

In 1560 the two chief-branches of the family were united under Cosimo the Great (1519-74), who took the title of Grand Duke of Tuscany. During the next 200 years members of the Medici married into various royal houses of Europe. the most famous of these was Catherine de Medici (1519-89), great-grand-daughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who married one French king. Henri II, and became the mother of three others, Francis II, Charles IX and Henri III. She was held chiefly responsible for the massacre of Protestants on St. Bartholomew's Eve, August 24, 1572. The ruling branch of the Medici died out in 1737, but descendants of other branches still live in Italy today.

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Where did Lady Godiva ride naked?

Since 1678 Lady Godiva's legendary ride naked through the streets of Coventry, England, has been reenacted every seven or eight years. But today the lady wears a body stocking. The famous ride, if it took place, happened around the year 1057, according to the chronicler Roger of Wendover (d. 1236). Godiva, her long hair falling loosely round her body, rode through the market place accompanied by two soldiers.

Legend has it that lady Godiva pleaded with Leofric, Earl of Mercia, to lessen the towns people's tax burden. Exasperated, the earl declared he would do as she asked, if she rode naked through the town. Lady Godiva did so and the earl cut the towns-people's taxes. Over the years the legend became embellished. The soldiers disappeared and, in the 17th Century, The legend of Peeping Tom crept into the story. Tom is said to have been struck blind because he could not resist peeping at Lady Godiva through a window as she rode by.

The true facts record that Coventry's early fame rested on the foundation of a Benedictine monastery by Leofric and his wife Godgift (the real name of Godiva) in 1043.

The phrase "to send to Coventry" (to refuse to speak with someone) might well have been the fate of Peeping Tom. But although the origin of the phrase is uncertain it seems more likely to have originated during the Civil War. Captured supporters of King Charles were sent by Cromwell's forces to Coventry for imprisonment.

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Who assassinated President John Fitzgerald Kennedy?

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's assassin in 1963 is generally assumed to have been lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old self-styled Marxist. The police evidence is that both the bullets that hit the President were fired by Oswald from a sixth floor window.

The 46-year-old President and his wife jacqueline has come to Dallas, Taxes, on a speaking tour and were on their way in a motorcade to attend an official Lunch when the fatal shots were fired at 12.30 pm on November 22. Kennedy's death was announced officially at 1.30 pm, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the new President before flying back to Washington.

Lee Oswald, who was arrested shortly after the shooting, was being transferred to Dallas county jail on November 24 when Jack ruby, a 52-year old nightclub operator, shot and killed him at close range in full view of a nation-wide television audience. So the evidence against Oswald was never allowed to be tested publicly in a court of law. This led to a spate of theories that Oswald was not really the assassin or that he had accomplices, but these have since been largely discounted.

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Where did the Light Brigade charge?

The famous Charge of the Light Brigade took place eight miles south of the great port of Sebastopol on the west coast of the Crimean peninsula, near the small harbour of Balaclava. During the Crimean War (1854-56), when the forces of France, Britain and Turkey fought the Russian Army, Balaclava was the Allied base. It was defended by lines of earth-works on the hills around the harbour.

On October 25, 1854, Russian forces attempted to break these lines. Over-running some Turks on the heights and seizing their guns, the Russians then descended to the plains and attacked the British forces. The British Heavy Brigade drove them back over a low ridge of hills crossing the plain.

Then occurred one of the most famous feats in the chronicles of the British Army, the Charge of the Light Brigade. Led by Lord Cardigan, 673 horsemen rode up a valley under heavy Russian fire. They charged a mile and a half up the valley to capture some Russian guns. They achieved their objective, but only 195 men returned. Among them was Lord Cardigan, who behaved as if the charge had been of no special significance. Boarding his yacht, where he was living during the campaign, he bathed, dined and went to bed.

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