Saturday, September 25, 2010

July 18th in History


587 or 586 BCE, destruction of Solomon's Temple, aka the First Temple built on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, which housed the Ark of the Covenant. Completed in around 960 BCE, it was destroyed hundreds of years later by the Babylonians and the Jewish nation was exiled in captivity to Babylon in three separate deportations.  Religious and secular sources differ somewhat on the years.  The event is commemorated by the fast of Tisha B'Av.

516 BCE the Second Temple was built on the same site as the First Temple, and lasted until 70 CE.  It was also known as Herod's Temple, until it was destroyed by the Romans on this same day as the First Temple on Tisha B'Av.  Part of the lower level of the western wall is now known as the Wailing Wall.  Jewish traditional belief holds a Third Temple will be built on the same site.

390-387 BC – Roman-Gaulish Wars: Battle of the Allia – a Roman army is decisively defeated by raiding Gauls, leading to the subsequent sacking of Rome for the first time.  But not the last time.  There have been multiple sackings of Rome. Remember the quotation from Julius Caesar to the Gauls, "I came, I saw, I conquered"?

64AD – Great fire of Rome: a fire begins to burn in the merchant area of Rome and soon burns completely out of control for more than five days.  This is the legendary fire where Nero is reputed to have fiddled while Rome burned.  Not quite true; the violin or fiddle hadn't been invented yet, and wouldn't be for a thousand years.
 What's a little thing like being off by a millenia.  The actual legend of Nero's indifference traces to a noted historian who was NOT a contemporary of Nero, named Cassius Deo.  Cassius Deo claimed Nero was singing, in stage dress and playing a lyre.  This appears also not to be true. While Nero was a bloodthirsty monster by many standards, according to the historian, Tacitus, Nero wasn't even in Rome at the time of the fire.  According to Tacitus, Nero rushed back to Rome, and organized a relief effort which he paid for out of his own pocket.  It is also according to Tacitus that Nero tried to blame the resident Christians for the fire, tortured them, rounded them up and had them killed by dogs, and other nasty methods.  However like the other stories, it appears that isn't true either.  What IS true is that Rome burned from an accidental fire, Nero began a program of urban renewal that involved sensible things like the safe distances between buildings - effectively a sensible urban renewal program - after the fire. He also took over a very large part of the burned area for his own personal gigantic palace, taxing the provinces heavily to do so.

1290 – King Edward I of England issues the Edict of Expulsion, banishing all Jews (numbering about 16,000) from England; this was Tisha B'Av on the Hebrew calendar, a day that commemorates many Jewish calamities.  This is the same King Edward, known as Edward Longshanks, that was known as the Hammer of the Scots.  Other readers might remember him best as the King Edward played by actor Patrick McGoohan in the Mel Gibson movie, Braveheart. 

1536 Parliament passed an act declaring the authority of the pope void in England.

1635 – Robert Hooke, FRS, English scientist (d.
1703) Birth of  polymath, scientist, architect; used the word cell to describe the 'unit of life', discovered the law of elasticity known as Hooke's law, and helped to redesign the city of London after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Fires seem to be the recurring theme today.

1811  Birth of William Makepeace Thackeray, English author of Vanity Fair (d. 1863)

1867 – Margaret Brown, American activist, philanthropist, and RMS Titanic passenger (d. 1932)  Known in her lifetime as Maggie Brown, she became known after her death as the Unsinkable Molly Brown for whom a movie and musical of her life were made.  She became famous for convincing lifeboat 6 to return to look for Titanic survivors.

1870 – The First Vatican Council decrees the dogma of papal infallibility speaking ex cathedra. It's only been used once, in 1950.

1872 - Britain introduced the concept of voting by secret ballot.

1887 - Birth of Vidkun Quisling, tried after the war for treason and executed by firing squad  October 24, 1945.  He collaborated with Germany during World War II.  His name entered into the language, like Bendict Arnold.  It became a synonym for traitor and collaborator after Quisling collaborated with the Nazis so that he could rise to power over the subseqent Nazi collaborationist government.  The verb form, 'to quisle' has largely gone out of use, but the noun form continues to refer to traitors and collaborators, or to politicians who appear to have loyalties to other countries or powers against the interests of their own.

1906 – S. I. Hayakawa, American semanticist and politician (d. 1992)

1914 – The U.S. Congress forms the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps, giving definite status to aircraft within the U.S. Army for the first time.


1918 – Nelson Mandela, President of South Africa, Nobel Peace Prize laureate


1921 – John Glenn, American astronaut and politician

1925 – Adolf Hitler publishes his personal manifesto Mein Kampf.

1936 – In Spanish Morocco, military rebels attempt a coup d'├ętat against the legitimacy of the Spanish government, leading to the Spanish Civil War.

1940 -The Democratic National Convention in Chicago nominated President Franklin D. Roosevelt for an unprecedented third term in office.

1944 – World War II: Hideki Tojo resigns as Prime Minister of Japan due to numerous setbacks in the war effort.

1965 – Russian satellite Zond 3 launched.

1966 – Gemini 10 launched, left.

1968 – The Intel Corporation is founded in Santa Clara, California

1969 – After a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Senator Ted Kennedy drives off a bridge; passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, dies.

1986 – A tornado is broadcast live on KARE television in Minnesota when the station's helicopter pilot makes a chance encounter.

2003 - The body of British scientist David Kelly, a weapons expert at the center of a storm over British intelligence on Iraq, was found, an apparent suicide.

2005 – US civilian nuclear agreement, first public joint statement by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the then U.S. President George W. Bush.

         - An unrepentant Eric Rudolph was sentenced in Birmingham, Ala., to life in prison for an abortion clinic bombing that killed an off-duty police officer and maimed a nurse.

         - Gen. William Westmoreland, 91, commander of U.S. forces during the Vietnam War, died.    

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