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Constantine VIII

Constantine VIII Flavius Porphyrogenitus was de jure Byzantine Emperor from 962 until his death. He was the younger son of Emperor Romanos Empress Theophano, he was nominal co-emperor for 63 years, successively with his father. Basil II died childless on 15 December 1025 and thus left the rule of the Byzantine Empire in Constantine's hands. Constantine had no interest in statecraft or the military, his brief reign is said to have been "an unmitigated disaster", sparking "a collapse of the military power of the Empire". Constantine had no sons, so shortly before his death he married his daughter Zoë to his chosen successor, Romanos Argyros. Constantine's father, Romanos II, was the sixth Byzantine emperor of the Macedonian dynasty. After the death of his first wife, daughter of Hugh of Arles, he fell in love with and married an innkeeper's daughter from the Peloponnese, Theophano. Contemporaries called Theophano the most beautiful woman in Christendom as well as ambitious, an inveterate schemer and utterly amoral.

She bore Romanos four children, including Constantine, born in 960, his elder brother Basil, born in 958. His sister Anna's hand was considered such a prize that Vladimir I of Kiev converted to Christianity in order to marry her. Aged eight, Constantine was engaged to a daughter of Emperor Boris II of Bulgaria but in the end he married a Byzantine aristocrat, daughter of Alypius. By Helena he had three daughters: Eudokia. Romanos died in amidst rumours that Theophano had poisoned him. Constantine and his brother had been crowned co-emperors by their father in March 962; the widowed Theophano installed herself as regent for her sons and promptly purged the imperial government, appointing her own men. Passing over a bevy of suitors among Constantinople's courtiers, she made an alliance with Nikephoros Phokas. Nikephoros, a physically repulsive ascetic twice her age, was the greatest military hero of the Empire. In return for her hand, the childless Nikephoros gave his sacred pledge to protect her children and their interests.

Nikephoros entered Constantinople three months after Romanos' death, breaking the resistance of Joseph Bringas, a eunuch palace official, Romanos' chief counsellor, in street fighting. Nikephoros was crowned emperor in the presence of his nominal co-emperors and Basil. A month he married their mother. Six years Nikephoros was murdered at Theophano's instigation and her lover and co-conspirator John Tzimiskes was acclaimed emperor. Tzimiskes proposed to marry Theophano but the Empress had by been too damaged by gossip and rumours, many of them accurate. Patriarch Polyeuktos refused to perform the coronation unless Tzimiskes removed the "scarlet empress" from the court. Tzimiskes calculated that his legitimacy would be better enhanced by church approval than betrothal to the unpopular empress and acceded to the Patriarch's demands. Theophano was sent into exile and Tzimiskes was crowned, again with Constantine and Basil as co-emperors, he married Constantine's aunt. Following the death of Tzimiskes in January 976, Basil and Constantine took power.

Although the sixteen year old Constantine was nominally co-emperor it was clear that Basil was senior emperor as Basileus Basil II. Constantine as a young man was tall and graceful, he was a superb horseman and trained his own horses, he competed in athletic and wrestling competitions. He had a good grasp of rhetoric, he was a gourmand. He never developed any. Constantine led troops alongside his brother in 989. Basil II had an illustrious reign, earning the sobriquet "Bulgar-slayer", he died childless on 15 December 1025 and Constantine, a sixty-five-year-old widower, became sole emperor as Constantine VIII. He had been a co-emperor for sixty-three years but had always been content to enjoy the privileges of imperial status, without concerning himself with state affairs, he spent his life in the search of pleasure and entertainment, or amusing himself with riding and hunting. He was "of frivolous disposition, he desired nothing more than to pass his life wallowing in extravagant pleasures." Constantine as emperor carried on as he always had – hunting and enjoying life – and avoided state business as much as possible.

By the time he became emperor he could hardly walk. He met challenges with persecuting the nobility and ordering an orgy of torture, he filled the senior state positions with nonentities. Within months the land laws of Basil II were dropped, under pressure from the Anatolian aristocracy. "Devoid of any semblance of moral fibre" he would grant any concession. Favouritism failed to win him friends and he persecuted the nobility when he felt threatened by conspiracy; the start of the decline of the Byzantine Empire has been linked to Constantine's accession to the throne. His reign has been described as "an unmitigated disaster", "a break up of the system" and causing "a collapse of the military power of the Empire", he ruled for less than three years before his death on 11 November 1028. On his deathbed, without a male heir, Constantine recalled the senior aristocrat Constantine Dalessenos, Duke of

Arthur Longmore

Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Murray Longmore, was an early naval aviator, before reaching high rank in the Royal Air Force. He was Commander-in-Chief of the RAF's Middle East Command from 1940 to 1941. Born in Manly, New South Wales, the son of Charles Croker Longmore and Janet Murray, he was educated at Benges School and Foster's Academy, Stubbington before entering Dartmouth Naval College, he was commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1904. Having developed an interest in flying, he volunteered for pilot training when the Navy accepted an offer of training facilities by the Royal Aero Club, was one of the four officers to be selected, he obtained flying certificate No.72 in April 1911 at a RAeC meeting that awarded licenses to the pioneer naval aviators C. R. Samson and Wilfred Parke; that year, assisted by Oswald Short of Short Brothers, he devised a way of mounting streamlined air bags on the undercarriage struts and under the tail of a Short Improved S.27 biplane with the construction number S.38—later referred to as the "Short S.38"—and on 1 December 1911, using the air bags for flotation, then-Lieutenant Longmore became the first person in the United Kingdom to take off from land and make a successful water landing in a seaplane when he landed Improved S.27 No. 38 on the River Medway off Sheerness.

Longmore joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1912. Before the outbreak of the First World War he served as a flight instructor at the newly formed Central Flying School and was appointed commander of the seaplane base at Cromarty and of the experimental seaplane establishment at Calshot. During the war he served as Officer Commanding No. 3 Squadron RNAS and as Officer Commanding No. 1 Squadron RNAS before being transferred back to sea duties an officer on the battlecruiser HMS Tiger in 1916. He was made Air Officer Commanding No. 7 Group in 1924, Director of Equipment at the Air Ministry in 1925 and Chief Staff Officer at Headquarters Inland Area in 1929. Subsequent appointments included Commandant of the Royal Air Force College Cranwell in December 1929, Air Officer Commanding Inland Area in 1933 and Air Officer Commanding Coastal Area in 1934, he went on to be Commandant of the Imperial Defence College in 1936. The outbreak of the Second World War found Longmore an air chief marshal and in charge of RAF Training Command.

On 2 April 1940, he was appointed Air Officer Commanding in the Middle East. He did not long enjoy the full confidence of Winston Churchill in that position and was relieved of his command in May 1941, his last role before his formal retirement in 1942 was as Inspector-General of the RAF. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says the following about Longmore during the first few months of 1941: Longmore's constant demands for reinforcements resulted in some unwelcome attention from Churchill, who hated pessimists and senior commanders who complained about their lack of resources. After some acerbic correspondence, in which Churchill accused Longmore of failing to make proper use of the manpower and aircraft he had, Longmore was recalled to London in May 1941, he was succeeded in the Middle East by Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder. In retirement he was Vice-Chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Longmore’s memoirs, From Sea to Sky 1910–1945, were published in 1946. Polling day was set for 25 March 1942.

When nominations closed, it was to reveal a two horse race, between the Conservative Longmore and the Independent Kendall. Longmore received a joint letter of endorsement from all the leaders of the parties in the coalition. Kendall had been supported by the Grantham Labour Party, which withdrew support on orders from Labour Party headquarters; the party kept its collective head down during the campaign, though they did have to restrain Montague Moore, the previous Labour candidate and a few other local Labour members from supporting Kendall. The war was not going well for the Allies; the popular Labour politician Sir Stafford Cripps, who had returned to Britain following a spell as Ambassador to Russia, was brought into Churchill's War Cabinet. One of Kendall's campaign leaflets proclaimed. Independent yet Churchillian." Kendall revealed wartime production figures in his election hustings speeches to criticise the government, but in a way that breached the Official Secrets and the Defence of the Realm Acts.

The Grantham Communist party in line with the position taken by their national headquarters, circulated a leaflet that urged electors to vote for the Conservative Longmore, so as to show solidarity with the Red Army. Kendall became the first Independent to defeat a government candidate since the war started. I. E.. One of their sons, Wing Commander Richard Maitland Longmore OBE, was killed in action on 4 October 1943, in the course of an attack on a U-boat

Catholic Monarchs of Spain

The term Catholic Monarchs refers to Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, whose marriage and joint rule marked the de facto unification of Spain. They were both from the House of Trastámara and were second cousins, being both descended from John I of Castile, they married on October 1469, in the city of Valladolid. It is accepted by most scholars that the unification of Spain can be traced back to the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella. Spain was formed as a dynastic union of two crowns rather than a unitary state, as Castile and Aragon remained separate kingdoms until the Nueva Planta decrees of 1707–1716; the court of Ferdinand and Isabella was on the move, in order to bolster local support for the crown from local feudal lords. The title of "Catholic King and Queen" was bestowed on Ferdinand and Isabella by Pope Alexander VI in 1494, in recognition of their defense of the Catholic faith within their realms. At the time of their marriage on October 19, 1469, Isabella was eighteen years old and the heiress presumptive to the Crown of Castile, while Ferdinand was seventeen and heir apparent to the Crown of Aragon.

They married within a week. From the start, they worked well together. Both knew that the crown of Castile was "the prize, that they were both jointly gambling for it". However, it was a step toward the unification of the lands on the Iberian peninsula, which would become Spain, they were second cousins, so in order to marry they needed a papal dispensation that Pope Paul II, an Italian pope opposed to Aragon's influence on the Mediterranean and to the rise of monarchies strong enough to challenge the Pope, refused to grant, so they falsified a papal bull of their own. Though the bull is known to be false, it is uncertain, the material author of the falsification; some experts point at Carrillo de Acuña, Archbishop of Toledo, others point at Antonio Veneris. Pope Paul II would remain a bitter enemy of Spain and the monarch for all his life, is attributed the quote, "May all Spaniards be cursed by God and heretics, the seed of Jews and Moors."Isabella's claims to it were not secure, since her marriage to Ferdinand enraged her half-brother Henry IV of Castile and he withdrew his support for her being his heiress presumptive, codified in the Treaty of the Bulls of Guisando.

Henry instead recognized Joanna of Castile, born during his marriage to Joanna of Portugal, but whose paternity was in doubt, since Henry was rumored to be impotent. When Henry died in 1474, Isabella asserted her claim to the throne, contested by thirteen-year-old Joanna. Joanna sought aid of Afonso V of Portugal, to claim the throne; this dispute between rival claimants led to the War of 1475–1479. Isabella called on the aid of Aragon, with her husband, the heir apparent, his father, Juan II of Aragon providing it. Although Aragon provided support for Isabella's cause, Isabella's supporters had extracted concessions, Isabella was acknowledged as the sole heir to the crown of Castile. Juan II died in 1479, Ferdinand succeeded to the throne in January 1479. In September 1479, Portugal and the Catholic Monarchs of Aragon and Castile resolved major issues between them through the Treaty of Alcáçovas, including the issue of Isabella's rights to the crown of Castile. Through close cooperation, the royal couple were successful in securing political power in the Iberian peninsula.

Ferdinand's father had advised the couple that "neither was powerful without the other". Though their marriage united the two kingdoms, leading to the beginnings of modern Spain, they ruled independently and their kingdoms retained part of their own regional laws and governments for the next centuries; the coat of arms of the Catholic Monarchs was designed by Antonio de Nebrija with elements to show their cooperation and working in tandem. The royal motto they shared, Tanto monta, came to signify their cooperation." The motto was used by Ferdinand as an allusion to the Gordian knot: Tanto monta, monta tanto, cortar como desatar, but adopted as an expression of equality of the monarchs: Tanto monta, monta tanto, Isabel como Fernando. Their emblems or heraldic devices, seen at the bottom of the coat of arms, were a yoke and a sheaf of arrows. Y and F are the initials of Fernando. A double yoke is worn by a team of oxen. Isabella's emblem of arrows showed the armed power of the crown, "a warning to Castilians not acknowledging the reach of royal authority or that greatest of royal functions, the right to mete out justice" by force of violence.

The iconography of the royal crest was reproduced and was found on various works of art. These badges were used by the fascist Spanish political party Falange, which claimed to represent the inherited glory and the ideals of the Catholic Monarchs; the establishment of System of Royal Councils to oversee discrete regions or areas was Isabella succeeded to the throne of Castile in 1474 when Ferdinand was still heir-apparent to Aragon, with Aragon's aid, Isabella's claim to the throne was secured. As Isabella's husband was king of Castile by his marriage and his father still ruled in Aragon, Ferdinand spent more time in Castile than Aragon at the beginning of their marriage, his pattern of residence Castile persisted when he succeeded to the throne in 1479