Monday, September 27, 2010

August 31st in History

    12   Birth of the infamous Roman Emperor, Gaius Caligula, (d. 41)

  161   Birth of Commodus, another Roman Emperor (d. 192)  Commodus fancied himself a gladiator, staging spectacles in which it was always arranged for him to win.  He was assassinated after behaving in excessive, violent, and grotesque ways, different than the excesses of Caligula, but equally disturbing, prompting the drastic action of his opposition.  Historian Edward Gibbon, in his comprehensive 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' cites Commodus' reign as 'the beginning of the decline' of the Roman Empire.
1218   Al-Kamil becomes Sultan of Egypt, Syria and northern Mesopotamia on the death of his father Al-Adil.  He was of Kurdish ethnicity, of the Sunni Ayyubid Sultanate and his territory also included a good part of northern Africa, Israel, Jordan,  and parts of modern Saudi Arabia and Yemen.  Al Kamil defeated the Fifth and Sixth Crusades.  Al Kamil also had a very positive and constructive meeting with St. Francis of Assisi, which later in the Franciscan order being recognized as 'Custodians of the Holy Land' on behalf of Christianity.

Henry VI

1422   Henry VI becomes King of England at the age of 9 months.  His reign, under regents, included the conflicts in France with Joan of Arc.  His reign spanned from 1422 to 1437 under regents, and under his own authority from 1437 to 1461, and again from 1470 to 1471.  He had regents ruling again from 1453 to 1454 because he had a nervous breakdown.  In the course of the War of the Roses, another civil war between branches of the House of Lancaster - Henry - and the House of York, led by his cousin, Edward of York, York won.  Henry VI was kept prisoner in the Tower of London from 1465 until his death in the Tower of London in 1471, where he was possibly murdered by his successor Edward of York, aka Edward IV.  Shakespeare in his history plays, Henry VI and Richard III, accuses Richard III, Edward VI's younger brother, of Henry VI's murder.  Shakespeare also wrote a three-part history play of the life of Henry VI, as well as the more famous Henry V history play with the famous scenes of  Henry V before the Battle of Agincourt, territory lost by Henry VI.

1569    Birth of Jahangir, Mughal Emperor of India (d. 1627).  His mother was a Rajput Princess of Jaipur, a Hindu.  While he expanded the Mughal empire, he was tolerant of religions; he held Hindu law applied to Hindus and Muslem laws to Muslems in civil cases, to respect the different traditions; with one law applied to everyone in criminal cases.

1803   Lewis and Clark start their expedition to the west by leaving Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at 11 o clock in the morning.  This was the third recorded transcontinental crossing of North America, after the Cabeza de Vaca expedition of 1536, and the Sir Alexander Mackenzie expedition of 1789.  Lewis and Clark did not complete their return trip until 1806.

Goya painting of the Peninsular War
1813   At the final stage of the Peninsular War, in the larger group of Napoleonic Wars, the British-Portuguese troops capture the town of Donostia-San Sebastian, resulting in a rampage and eventual destruction of the town. It was the Peninsular War for control of Spain and Portugal which gave rise to the modern word Guerillas, from the use of guerilla warfare, also termed asymmetrical warfare.  The French forces were driven back over the Pyrenees, weakened by Napoleon's ill-conceived war against Russia which reduced the numbers of the 'grand armee' in Spain.  The Peninsular War nominally ended with the Treaty of Valencay, but did not really end until the abdication of Napoleon at the Peace of Fontainbleau in 1814.  It was in the Peninsular War against Napoleon that the British forces were led by Arthur Wellesley, who earned multiple battlefield honors, and was eventually made the first Duke of Wellington.  Wellesley pursued Napoleon into France, eventually defeating him at the Battle of Waterloo. The destabilization of the various nations involved in European conflicts eventually resulted in some of the colonial possessions breaking away from the respective Eurpoean empires in the 19th century.

1864   During the American Civil War, Union forces led by General William T. Sherman launch an assault on Atlanta, Georgia. Sherman conducted a 'scorched earth'' policy, which included ordering the evacuation of Atlanta, followed by much of Atlanta being burned to the ground.


Les Fleurs du Mal
1867  Death of Charles Baudelaire, French poet, essayist, art critic, early translator of the works of Edgar Allan Poe (b. 1821), one of my favorite French poets. "Genius is no more than childhood recaptured at will, childhood equipped now with man's physical means to express itself, and with the analytical mind that enables it to bring order into the sum of experience, involuntarily amassed.”  -  Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal     
(for my long-time friend and sometimes 'day in history' reader, JH)

1876   Ottoman sultan Murat V is deposed after a reign of only 93 days, due to mental illness, and succeeded by his brother Abd-ul-Hamid II.

1886   An earthquake kills 100 in Charleston, South Carolina.

1888   Mary Ann Nichols is murdered. She is the first of Jack the Ripper's known victims.

1897   Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.

1907   Count Alexander Izvolsky and Sir Arthur Nicolson sign the St. Petersburg Convention, which results in the Triple Entente alliance,  which became the 'Allied' side of the war in WW I against the Central Powers.
1920   First radio news program broadcast by station 8MK in Detroit, Michigan.

1935   President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an act prohibiting the export of U.S. arms to belligerents.
           Birth of Eldridge Cleaver, American political activist (d. 1998)            

1939   Nazi Germany mounts a staged attack on Gleiwitz radio station, creating an excuse to attack Poland the following day, starting World War II in Europe.

1940    Pennsylvania Central Airlines Trip 19 crashes near Lovettsville, Virginia. The CAB investigation of the accident was the first investigation to be conducted under the Bureau of Air Commerce act of 1938.

1943    The USS Harmon, the first U.S. Navy ship to be named after a black person, is commissioned.

1945   The Liberal Party of Australia is founded by Robert Menzies.

1949   The retreat of the Greek Democratic Army in Albania after its defeat in mountain Grammos marks the end of the Greek Civil War.

1958   A parcel bomb sent by Ngo Dinh Nhu, younger brother and chief adviser of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, failed to kill Sihanouk of Cambodia.

Braque Landscape

1963  Death of Georges Braque, French painter in the Cubism movement. (b. 1882)

1978   William and Emily Harris, founders of the Symbionese Liberation Army, plead guilty to the 1974 kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst.

Sally Rand
1979  Death of Sally Rand, American  fan and bubble dancer, ecdysiast, and silent film actress (b. 1904), aka Billie Beck, aka Helen Harriet Beck.  Her stage name, Sally Rand, was given to her by famous director Cecil B. DeMille in the 1920s when she was acting in silent films.

1980    Solidarity strikes in sympathy with the shipyard workers on strike in Gdansk, Poland, followed by more strikes in 1982 leading to the Polish August Agreement.  Effectively organized labor overthrew the dictatorial, corrupt Communist regime.  The August Agreement is celebrated by the 'Day of Solidarity and Freedom'.

Moore sculpture

1986   Death of  Henry Moore, (OM, CH, FBA), English sculptor noted for his massive bronze modern figural works (b. 1898)

1991    Kyrgyzstan declares its independence from the Soviet Union; this day continues to be celebrated as Kyrgyzstan Independence Day.

1992 White separatist Randy Weaver surrendered to authorities in Naples, Idaho, ending an 11-day siege by federal agents that claimed the lives of Weaver's wife and son and a deputy U.S. marshal. This 'Ruby Ridge' incident later is cited as one of the causes for the Oklahoma City Bombing by Timothy McVeigh.
1994   Russia officially ended its military presence in the former East Germany and the Baltics after half a century.   The Provisional Irish Republican Army declares a ceasefire.

1998    North Korea reportedly launches Kwangmyongsong, its first satellite.

1999   The first of a series of bombings in Moscow, killing one person and wounding 40 others.  Called the Russian Apartment Bombings, the series of bombings killed 293 people, and injured another 651, and was carried out by Chechen Islamist militias in conjunction with the Invasion of Dagestan (see 'Make a New Plan, Stan').

2005   A stampede on Al-Aaimmah bridge in Baghdad kills 1,199 people.

2006   Iran defied a U.N. deadline to stop enriching uranium.

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