Weather has always been a subject of interest to people, even if we still don’t completely have a full grasp of it, not even after all these years and all our technology. The main difference I see now is that we hear about weather all the time. It’s on television, the radio, and even our phones. There are warnings for everything…thunder storms, tornadoes, snow storms, flash floods, and hurricanes. Nevertheless, all the meteorologists can truly do is predict a weather event. It may or may not materialize.

Now, flash back to, oh say 1680 or even to 1521. Other than looking at the sky, how did the people predict the weather? Yes the sky can be a great predictor of coming storms, but unless you knew something about weather patterns, you would be unlikely to have any idea that something like a tornado, flood, or hurricane were coming. Especially in 1680 or 1521. Those dates are rather important in the world of weather. In August of 1521, a meteorological phenomenon occurred in the Basin of Mexico. There were no cameras back them, no cell phones or computers to record the event. The only known description appears in Book XII of the Florentine Codex, which is an account of the Spanish conquest of Mexico written in Nahuatl in the mid-sixteenth century. The account states that just before the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlan a heavy storm which included a whirlwind struck the basin. The whirlwind hovered for a while above Tlatelolco, Tenochtitlan’s twin city. Then it moved to the lake where it disappeared.

When the experts of today look at the account of the phenomenon in the context of the Nahua culture, and comparing it with European descriptions of tornados and waterspouts, they can determine that the phenomenon was indeed a tornado. Their conclusion is further supported by eighteenth and nineteenth century pictorial and written evidence showing that tornadoes do occur in the territory now occupied by Mexico City. Since the tornado of Tlatelolco predates the Cambridge, Massachusetts, tornado of July 8, 1680, which had been thought to be the first recorded tornado in the Americas, the Tlatelolco tornado actually represents the earliest documented tornado in the Americas. Either way, since people didn’t really have much information to go on back then, I’m sure they first said some version of “What is that?!!?” At least, I know I would have.

3rd_duke_of_marlboroughThe dukedom of Marlborough is one of the titles in the Peerage of England. The Peerage of England comprises all peerages created in the Kingdom of England before the Act of Union in 1707. In that year, the Peerages of England and Scotland were replaced by one Peerage of Great Britain. The peerage is a legal system of largely hereditary titles in the United Kingdom, which is constituted by the ranks of British nobility and is part of the British honors system. The dukedom of Marlborough was created by Queen Anne in 1702, for John Churchill, who was the 1st Duke of Marlborough.

I can’t say that I completely understand all there is to about the peerage of Great Britain, but in the peerage, a Duke is a higher rank than a Marquess, Earl, Viscount and Baron. Thus Prince William is the Duke of Cambridge, because as the prince, it would not be right for him to have a lower rank than other members of the peerage. Originally dukes were the rulers of the provinces of the Roman Empire. Now however, the title of duke has become in almost all cases a nominal rank, without possession of an actual principality. The province that a duke was titled over, is known as a duchy. As I said, in modern times dukes aren’t really over a duchy, with the exception of Lancaster and Cornwall, both of which do include land and ownership. Lancaster belongs to Queen Elizabeth II and Cornwall to Prince Charles. The title of duke cannot normally be handed down to female heirs, but the Dukedom of Marlborough is the exception to that rule. It is one of the few titles that allows females to inherit the title, and the only current dukedom to do so.

In the Spencer family, there have been a number of titles, but it wasn’t until Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland, widowed following the death of his first wife, Arabella, daughter of Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of 12 Duke of MarlboroughNewcastle, married Anne Churchill, that the Dukedom of Marlborough first came to the Spencers. With this dukedom, Charles Spencer was first introduced to politics, making this alliance between Sunderland and Marlborough a very important one for Charles and his descendants. From his marriage to Anne Churchill who would become the 2nd Duke of Marlborough, the Spencer family would retain the dukedom for all time. At the current time, the dukedom is at 12, with Charles James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough, born in 1955, as the current duke.

To date, I cannot say how many dukes and duchesses were or are Spencer descendants, for names change with marriages over the years. Nevertheless, the Spencers have played a great part in the peerage of Great Britain, and with Prince William and his descendants, beginning with Prince George, the Spencers will continue to have great influence in that nation for the rest of time.

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