1752 And all That by Mark Bowman

I was unsure before Mark started his talk as to how he could speak for an hour on a subject of 1752 and keep us entertained. This fear was dispelled very quickly as Mark spoke confidently and in a very easy on the ear way, keeping the audience attentive for well over an hour and a quarter assuring us all he had edited it down but could probably extend it to three hours, many of us would willingly have sat in our seats for this length of time to continue, but sadly we had to be satisfied with what we had heard. This fascinating subject of time and its recording proved a worthy subject for Mark and one that I, like many of the audience, had no idea how complicated we humans had made it.

Man from early times had attempted to find a way of keeping time, but with differences in lunar cycles, seasons and Earth’s rotation around the Sun there were great differences in records. Julius Caesar the first dictator of the Roman Empire tried in 46 BC to set a calendar but was three months out with the seasons; it was based upon Sosigenes calculations and contained 365.25 days, with 12 months of 30 or 31 days except February which had 28days and 29 days every fourth year. In those years they had two 23rds but no 29th!. In 46BC Julius Caesar adjusted his “Julian” calendar with the seasons and had a year of 445 days.

Mark clearly explained that this calendar laid out dates for re occurring event i.e. solstices and equinoxes but also set a mechanism of calculating Easter. This has to be the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the vernal equinox (usually 20th March)

So Easter can be as early as 22nd March as in 1818 or as late as 25th April as in 1943.The formula was agreed at the council of Nicea in 325AD. At that conference the error of 11 minutes and 15 seconds in the Julian Calendars calculation of each year’s length had built up to 10 days by the time Pope Gregory decreed that the date should be advanced by 10 days in what became known as the Gregorian calendar. Many countries did not adopt this system immediately, Britain waited until 1752 and others of Orthodox religions did not change until the final one Greece moved to the Julian calendar in 1923.

Further complications to the calendar were introduced by Henry the second in 1154 when he moved New Years Day to March 25th in line with Quarter days, Scotland reverted back to January 1st in 1600 but the English waited to 1752. During this period one encountered March 24th 1700 followed the next day by March 25th 1701.

Mark urged caution when dealing with dates in this period with England and Scotland having Old and New style dates.

I along with our entire audience found this and absolutely fascinating talk, delivered in a very easy listening style and format.

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