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Edmund Ironside

Edmund Ironside was King of England from 23 April to 30 November 1016. He was his first wife, Ælfgifu of York. Edmund's reign was marred by a war. Edmund was not expected to be King of England. England was conquered by Sweyn Forkbeard at the end of the same year, but he died shortly thereafter, paving the way for Æthelred to return to the throne, which he did, but not without opposition. Sweyn's son, was defeated and returned to Denmark, where he assembled an invasion force to re-conquer England, it would not arrive for another year. After regaining the throne, the royal family set about strengthening its hold on the country with the assistance of Eadric Streona. People who had sided with the Danes in 1014 were punished, some were killed. In one case, two brothers and Sigeferth, were killed and their possessions, along with Sigferth's wife, were taken by Æthelred. Sigeferth's widow was imprisoned within a monastery, but she had captured Edmund's attention. Cnut returned to England in August 1015. Over the next few months, Cnut pillaged most of England.

Edmund joined Æthelred to defend London, but in 1016 Edmund unofficially named himself the Earl of the East Midlands and raised a revolt against his father. Without the king's permission he took Ealdgyth from the monastery, married her. Æthelred died on 23 April 1016. It was not until the summer of 1016 that any serious fighting was done: Edmund fought five battles against the Danes, ending in his defeat on 18 October at the Battle of Assandun, after which they agreed to divide the kingdom, Edmund taking Wessex and Cnut the rest of the country. Edmund died shortly afterwards on 30 November, leaving two sons and Edmund; the exact date of Edmund's birth is unclear, but it could have been no than 993 when he was a signatory to charters along with his two elder brothers. He was the third of the six sons of King Æthelred the Unready and his first wife, Ælfgifu, the daughter of Earl Thored of Northumbria, his elder brothers were Æthelstan and Egbert, younger ones, Eadred and Edgar. He had four sisters, Eadgyth, Ælfgifu and the Abbess of Wherwell Abbey.

His mother died around 1000, after which his father remarried, this time to Emma of Normandy, who had two sons, Edward the Confessor and Alfred and a daughter Goda. Æthelstan and Edmund were close, they felt threatened by Emma's ambitions for her sons. The Life of Edward the Confessor, written fifty years claimed that when Emma was pregnant with him, all Englishmen promised that if the child was a boy they would accept him as king; however that claim may just be propaganda. When Sweyn Forkbeard seized the throne at the end of 1013 and Æthelred fled to Normandy, the brothers do not appear to have followed him, but stayed in England. Æthelstan left Edmund a sword which had belonged to king Offa of Mercia. His will reflected the close relationship between the brothers and the nobility of the East Midlands. Sweyn died in February 1014, the Five Boroughs accepted his son Cnut as king. However, Æthelred returned to England and launched a surprise attack which defeated the Vikings and forced Cnut to flee England.

In 1015 Sigeferth and Morcar came to an assembly in Oxford hoping for a royal pardon, but they were murdered by Eadric Streona. King Æthelred ordered that Sigeferth's widow, Ealdgyth, be seized and brought to Malmesbury Abbey, but Edmund seized and married her in defiance of his father to consolidate his power base in the East Midlands, he received the submission of the people of the Five Boroughs. At the same time, Cnut launched a new invasion of England. In late 1015 Edmund raised an army assisted by his wife's and mother's links with the midlands and the north, but the Mercians under Eadric Streona joined the West Saxons in submitting to Cnut. In early 1016 the army assembled by Edmund dispersed when Æthelred did not appear to lead it due to illness. Edmund raised a new army and in conjunction with Earl Uhtred of Northumbria ravaged Eadric Streona's Mercian territories, but when Cnut occupied Northumbria Uhtred submitted to him, only to be killed by Cnut. Edmund went to London. Æthelred died on 23 April 1016, the citizens and councillors in London chose Edmund as king and crowned him, while the rest of the Witan, meeting at Southampton, elected Canute.

Edmund mounted a last-ditch effort to revive the defence of England. While the Danes laid siege to London, Edmund headed for Wessex, where the people submitted to him and he gathered an army, he fought inconclusive battles against the Danes and their English supporters at Penselwood in Somerset and Sherston in Wiltshire. He raised the siege of London, resisted by the citizens, defeated the Danes near Brentford, they renewed the siege while Edmund went to Wessex to raise further troops, returning to again relieve London, defeat the Danes at Otford, pursue Cnut into Kent. Eadric Streona now went over to Edmund, but at the decisive Battle of Assandun on 18 October and his men fled and Cnut decisively

R v Peacock

R v Peacock was an English Crown Court case, a test of the Obscene Publications Act 1959. In December 2009, the defendant, a male escort named Michael Peacock, had been charged by the Metropolitan Police for selling hardcore gay pornography that the police believed had the ability to "deprave or corrupt" the viewer, illegal under the Obscene Publications Act, he was subsequently acquitted through a trial by jury in January 2012. At the time, Peacock was the only individual to have pleaded'not guilty' under the Act in a case involving the kind of gay BDSM pornography which he published. Legal experts said that, following the case, the Obscene Publications Act now "made no sense", it was notable as one of the early cases in the English courts where live tweeting was a significant source of reporting and publicising the deliberations of the case following the 14 December 2011 guidance from the Lord Chief Justice which allowed tweeting in English Courts. The man at the centre of the trial was Michael Peacock, an independent male escort, operating in the profession since November 2004.

A former railway worker, Peacock decided to enter the sex industry in his mid-40s. At the time of the police investigation, Peacock advertised his services on his own personal website, entitled "Sleazy Michael", advertised hardcore pornographic DVDs for sale on the Craigslist website; some of these DVDs included films which featured extreme sexual acts between men, such as BDSM, fisting and urolagnia. While these acts were themselves not illegal in the United Kingdom at the time, the Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command of the Metropolitan Police considered such DVDs illegal under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959, which prohibited the sale of materials that could "deprave and corrupt" the viewer. In January 2009 they sent an undercover police officer to purchase some of these DVDs from Peacock at his home in Finsbury Park, North London. On 14 December 2009, the Metropolitan Police charged Peacock with six counts under the Obscene Publications Act 1959. If found guilty he could have faced a five-year prison sentence.

After being postponed twice, the trial began on 2 January 2012, at Southwark Crown Court in South London. The prosecution claimed that several of the scenes featured in the pornographic DVDs which Peacock sold had the ability to "deprave and corrupt" the viewer and as such were illegal, they suggested that the customers purchasing the DVDs had not been aware of their extreme content, a claim Peacock denied, asserting that those purchasing the pornography "asked me for specific titles or niches, knew what they were getting". Peacock's defence was conducted by the law firm Hodge Allen, his defence solicitor Nigel Richardson described his client as being a well-known member of the London gay community, remarked that "The whole idea of something being depraved or corrupt is outdated." Another of the advocates for the defence, Myles Jackman, tweeted throughout the trial, using the hashtag of #obscenitytrial, through Twitter helped to build up an online support base for Peacock. Jackman recognised it as having important implications for UK law, noting that the verdict would "ultimately clarify the law on the representation" of specialist sexual acts such as BDSM and urolagnia.

During the trial, the defence called for expert evidence from academics studying the media. The jury, of both men and women, were shown several hours of footage from Peacock's DVDs – including images on BDSM, urolagnia and a man being punched in the testicles – in an attempt to decide whether they could "deprave or corrupt" the viewer. Richardson related that although "they were quite shocked they started to look quite bored quickly". During the trial, the court had warned the jury not to convict on any "impulse of homophobic disgust" that they might have regarding the acts taking place in the DVDs. After four days, the trial came to an end on 6 January 2012. In summing up the case, the Recorder James Dingemans QC stated that the jury must decide whether the pornography did breach the Act, noted that "in a civilised society, lines must be drawn", it subsequently took the jury two hours to come to a verdict of "not guilty", deciding that the scenes depicted in the DVDs were unable to deprave or corrupt any viewer watching them.

Nigel Richardson told the press that the jury had recognised that the pornography found in the DVDs would only be seen by "gay men asking for this type of material" and not by the general public. Legal experts said that officers from SCD9, the specialist team within the Metropolitan Police, would be meeting with the Crown Prosecution Service and the British Board of Film Classification to review their guidelines following the jury's decision. Specialist lawyers said the ruling may change the material that adult film producers will make and supply. Sex worker turned writer Brooke Magnanti said the publishing industry would be relieved by the outcome of the case; when asked if he felt he had suffered any homophobia during the experience, Peacock denied it, stating that "Personally, I didn't feel there was any homophobic angle to the questioning, either by the arresting officers or in court. And full credit to the jury. I noticed a distinct change in their reactions over the course of the trial."Defense solicitor Myles Jackman claimed that the verdict had been "a significant victory for common sense".

He considered the trial to be the "most significant in a decade", believing that it "could be the final nail in the coffin for the Obscene Publications Act in the digital age because the jury's

Italian city-states

The Italian city-states were a political phenomenon of small independent states in the central and northern Italian Peninsula between the 9th and the 15th centuries. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, urban settlements in Italy enjoyed a greater continuity than in the rest of western Europe. Many of these towns were survivors of earlier Etruscan and Roman towns which had existed within the Roman Empire; the republican institutions of Rome had survived. Some feudal lords existed with a servile labour force and huge tracts of land, but by the 11th century, many cities, including Venice, Florence, Pisa, Cremona, Città di Castello and many others, had become large trading metropoles, able to obtain independence from their formal sovereigns. Among the earliest city-states of Italy was the Duchy of Naples, Duchy of Amalfi and Venice which, although nominally under Byzantine control, was independent; the other first Italian city-states to appear in northern and central Italy arose as a result of a struggle to gain greater autonomy when not independent from the German Holy Roman Empire.

The Lombard League was an alliance formed around at its apex included most of the cities of northern Italy including Milan, Cremona, Crema, Brescia, Padua, Vicenza, Lodi, Reggio Emilia and Parma, though its membership changed through time. Other city-states were associated to these "commune" cities, like Genoa, Turin and, in central Italy, the city states of Florence, Lucca, Ancona, Città di Castello, Assisi among others. South of Rome and the Papal States were the duchies of Salerno, Duchy of Naples and Duchy of Gaeta. Other independent cities were Bari and Trani, which in 1130 were united in the newly created Norman Kingdom of Sicily.. Amalfi and Venice in the 11th century were autonomous maritime republics. Around 1100, Genoa and Ancona emerged as independent maritime republics too: trade and banking helped support their powerful navies in the Mediterranean in those medieval centuries.. For them – nominally – the Holy Roman Emperor was sovereign. Between the 12th and 13th centuries, Italy was vastly different from feudal Europe north of the Alps.

The Peninsula was a melange of cultural elements, not a unified state. Marc Bloch and Fernand Braudel have argued; the mountainous nature of Italy's landscape was a barrier to effective inter-city communication. The Po plain, was an exception: it was the only large contiguous area, most city states that fell to invasion were located there; those that survived the longest were in the more rugged regions, such as Florence or Venice, protected by its lagoon. The rugged terrain of the Alps prevented the Holy Roman Emperors or various German princes and lords from attacking the northern part of Italy, safeguarding the country from permanent German political control. For these reasons, no strong monarchies emerged as they did in the rest of Europe: authority of the Holy Roman Empire over northern Italian territory after the year 1177, was de facto only nominal. While those Roman, republican sensibilities persisted, there were many movements and changes afoot. Italy first felt the changes in Europe from the 11th to the 13th centuries.

There was: a rise in population―the population doubled in this period an emergence of huge cities the rebuilding of the great cathedrals substantial migration from country to city an agrarian revolution the development of commerceIn recent writing on the city states, American scholar Rodney Stark emphasizes that they married responsive government and the birth of capitalism. He argues that these states were republics, unlike the great European monarchies of France and Spain, where absolute power was vested in rulers who could and did stifle commerce. Keeping both direct Church control and imperial power at arm's length, the independent city republics prospered through commerce based on early capitalist principles creating the conditions for the artistic and intellectual changes produced by the Renaissance. Cambridge University historian and political philosopher Quentin Skinner has pointed out how Otto of Freising, a German bishop who visited central Italy during the 12th century, commented that Italian towns had appeared to have exited from feudalism, so that their society was based on merchants and commerce.

Northern cities and states were notable for their merchant republics the Republic of Venice. Compared to absolutist monarchies or other more centrally controlled states, the Italian communes and commercial republics enjoyed relative political freedom conducive to academic and artistic advancement. Geographically, because of trade, Italian cities such as Venice became international trading and banking hubs and intellectual crossroads. Harvard historian Niall Ferguson points out that Florence and Venice, as well as several other Italian city-states, played a crucial innovative role in world financial developments, devising the main instruments and practices of banking and the emergence of new forms of social and economic organization, it is estimated that the per capita income of nor