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If you could be a “fly on the wall” anywhere and at any time in history, where and when would you choose?

Everyday I wish I were in a position to be a fly on the wall in one place or another. We read so many stories about current events and history and generally accept what we are told. I’m sure that there are many good stories and background about so much of what we learn in books, newspapers, TV, and online.

I’ve always thought the decision-making process that went on during the Cuban Missile Crisis must have been fascinating. Faced with catastrophic possibilities, the stress level in the Oval Office must have been electric. I bet some hot words were exchanged between President Kennedy and his advisers, yet he had to make the final call. Then the excitement that must have exploded in the end when the ships carrying missile parts turned back and returned to the Soviet Union. Whew — it must have been tense. I was a teenager then, and the palpable fear in the country cannot be appreciated by people who weren’t around then.

I imagine that many people interested in medieval history — or just major historical figures — might well be fascinated by the larger than life character, Henry VIII. Apparently he was a robust, accomplished young man, and a fine candidate for becoming king. He fulfilled his father’s wish that he marry Catherine of Aragon, a good move politically. Unfortunately, poor Catherine did not produce the desired male heir, despite 5 attempts. Only one child lived, Mary, but Henry didn’t think woman suited to rule empires. Having fallen in love with one of the queen’s ladies-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn (after having an affair with her sister for years). Thus he decided to seek and annulment from Catherine so he could marry Anne. This is the point at which I would like to enter as a fly on the wall.

Many of his advisers were against this move. One of Henry’s closest and most trusted advisers, Sir Thomas More, lost his head (physically) when he would not uphold Henry’s demands to fight the Pope. Despite repeated requests the Pope continued to say “No,” and Henry married Anne anyway. This caused a split between the English church and the Church in Rome. Henry became the head of the Church in England.  I’d love to have seen Henry in action, trying to persuade his cabinet to go along with his desires, trying to keep Anne happy, and keep up running the country. Apparently Henry became quite obsessed with marrying Anne, and getting rid of Catherine (figuratively). Some believed that Anne was a witch who had cast a spell over the king. I would love to have heard talk among those living in the royal residence during this period. The intrigue must have been at a fevered pitch at times, even though the “turnover” period took about 6 years. How long do flies live?