This Week In History: January 22-28


This week in history: Coldest temperature recorded in America, a secret marriage of a king, and Dante is exiled. Read more below and dive deeper with The Great Courses Plus.

January 23rd, 1971– A Balmy -80*

The Prospect Creek Camp in Alaska was set up for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System and is about 34 miles from the center of Alaska. The climate is considered subarctic, and in January 1971, the temperatures dropped to −79.8 °F (−62.1 °C). It has been since declared the coldest place in the United States, and misses the North American cold record by only 8 degrees (−87 °F (−66 °C) in Greenland, 1954).

Learn more about intense winters and sweltering summers in The Science of Extreme Weather.

January 25th, 1533– A (Second) Royal Marriage

Image of Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII.

On this day, King Henry VIII, now divorced from Catherine, marries his mistress, Anne Boleyn. This was a public marriage, as they had been secretly married on November 14, 1532. Henry’s marriage to Catherine would be annulled in May of 1533, and Anne would give birth to a baby girl, Elizabeth, in September of that year. History would show that because there was no male heirs, Anne was investigated for high treason and found guilty. Her punishment was beheading. She died May 19, 1536.

Learn more about Henry VIII and his life with The Age of Henry VIII on The Great Courses

January 27th, 1302 – Dante Exiled

Image of Dante Alighieri, image by Sandro Botticelli, Painted by Sandro Botticelli
Dante Alighieri’s portrait by Sandro Botticelli

Dante Alighieri was accused of corruption and financial wrongdoing during the time that he was serving as city prior (Florence’s highest position) for two months in 1300. He was charged with a fine or exile. He considered himself not guilty and did not pay the fine. He chose perpetual exile with the threat of being burned at the stake if he were to return to Florence. During his exile, he penned many of his most popular writings, including the Divine Comedy.

Learn about the rest of Dante’s life in Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition, 2nd Edition.