Paris Sacked by Ragnar Lodbrok, 845
Ragnar Lodbrok is one of those semi-mythological figures that figure prominently in history, so it’s difficult to know exactly where history ends and myth begins. It does appear that Paris was captured by Norsemen in 845, and that 7,000 pounds of silver was paid by Charles the Bald (Charlemagne’s grandson) in order for the Vikings to go away without burning the city. In folklore, the Viking leader was Ragnar Lodbrok. (The Vikings then went on to attack other parts of France.)
Ragnar Lodbrok had several wives over his lifetime, two of them famous shieldmaidens. The first was Lathgertha, one of a number of Norse women who joined Lodbrok’s army in order to prevent being placed in brothels by another conqueror. Ragnar was impressed by her fighting skills, and sought to marry her. When he approached, Lathgerta tested him by having him attacked, first by a bear and then by a large dog. He bested them both and won the hand of Lathgerta.
Apparently he never quite forgave or forgot the tests, for he divorced Lathgerta after a while, and married another shieldmaiden, Aslaug. Aslaug was the daughter of the famous hero Sigurd and the valkyrie Brynhilde, and had spent a large part of her childhood hidden in a harp. (Her foster grandfather disguised himself as a harpist, and traveled the countryside playing on Aslaug’s hiding place.)
Aslaug was discovered bathing by Ragnar’s men, who were baking bread at the time, and were so struck by her beauty that they allowed the bread to burn. When Ragnar inquired about the burnt bread, they told him about the girl, and he desired to meet her. Possibly having learned his lesson from his previous wife, this time Ragnar set tests for Aslaug to perform. He commanded her to come to him neither dressed nor undressed, neither hungry nor having eaten, and neither alone nor in company. Aslaug arrived dressed in net, biting into an onion, and with a dog at her side.
Frederick Pabst’s Birthday, 1836
Today is the birthday of Frederick Pabst, the founder of the Pabst Brewing Company. His early life included stints as a waiter and busboy, and as a cabin boy on the Great Lakes. Eventually he earned his pilot’s license and became a captain of a Great Lakes steamer. He also made the acquaintance of a brewer named Phillip Best and married his daughter.
Pabst became a partner with Phillip Best, and when Best retired Pabst became president of the company and took the annual production from 5,000 barrels to 100,000. By 1874 the Phillip Best Brewing Company was the largest brewery in the country. It became the Pabst Brewing Company in 1889 and became the largest brewing company in the world.
Pabst products won many awards: first, at local fairs and expositions, and later at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition and the 1878 Paris World’s Fair. By 1882, bottles of Pabst could be found with blue ribbons tied around their necks to distinguish them from inferior beers. After winning the blue ribbon at the 1893 Columbia Exposition in Chicago, “Pabst Blue Ribbon” became the official name of the beer.
August “Gussie” Anheuser Busch, Jr.’s Birthday, 1899
I’m more of a Bud woman myself, so it bears noting that today is also the birthday of Gussie Anheuser Busch, the man who turned the Anheuser-Busch companies into the world’s largest brewery during his tenure as chairman. He was also responsible for the company’s adoption of the famous Clydesdales as a corporate symbol, and the purchase of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Sources: Chase’s Calendar of Events, 2011 Edition: The Ultimate Go-To Guide for Special Days, Weeks and Months, Editors of Chase’s Calendar of Events; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_28; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnar_Lodbrok; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aslaug; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lathgertha; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Pabst; http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Pabst&GSbyrel=all&GSdy=1904&GSdyrel=in&GSob=n&GRid=783&pt=Fred%20Pabst& http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gussie_Busch; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anheuser-Busch