Art: Tantallon Castle, North Berwick, Scotland, Thomas Moran
1314 – : The Battle of Bannockburn concludes outside of Stirling Castle with a decisive victory of the 6.500 Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce over a much larger English force. It was the decisive battle of the First War of Scottish Independence with Scotland regaining its independence a decade later.
1340 – A large French fleet that had been gathered for the invasion of England was engaged and destroyed by Edward III of England in the Battle of Sluys, an early and important battle in the Hundred Years' War. It destroyed most of France's naval capacity and virtually insured that the war would be fought on French soil.
1374 – A sudden outbreak of St. John's Dance causes people in the streets of Aachen, Germany, to experience hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion. It was likely caused by ergot poisoning.
1812 – Napoleon's Grande Armée of 650,000 soldiers crosses the Neman River, beginning the invasion of Russia. By November, the Army would be in full retreat, with only 27,000 able bodied soldiers left, the rest ravaged by starvation, disease, or fallen to the war.
1916 – Mary Pickford, a slient film star, is the first actress to get a million dollar contract.
1916 – The Battle of the Somme begins with a week long artillery bombardment on the German Line. There is likely no better example of poor generalship and the cost that means in blood. General Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the British forces, used a cookie cutter strategy of artillery fire followed by massed, slow moving frontal attacks on an enemy dug in and firing machine guns. In two weeks of battle, the Brits would suffer 350,000 casualties, with the 1st day of infantry attacks, July 1, being the bloodiest day in English history. The British suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead. Haig should have been executed.
1948 – Start of the Berlin Blockade. The Soviet Union cut off overland travel from the West to West Berlin in an effort to take de facto control over the city. They would maintain the blockade for almost a year in one of the first battles of the Cold War.
1957 – The U.S. Supreme Court rules that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment in Roth v. United States, a fractured decision that actually led to the vast expansion of the porn industry and the Sexual Revolution of the 60's.
1813 – Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman and reformer (d. 1887)
1895 – Jack Dempsey, American boxer (d. 1983)
803 – Higbald of Lindisfarne. He had been the Bishop of Lindisfarne from 780 until his death. He was present for the famous Viking raid and slaughter at Lindisfarne in 793 and is remembered for memorializing the event in his letters to Alcuin of York.
1519 – Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess of Ferrara and a member of the infamous Borgia family that "came to epitomize the ruthless Machiavellian politics and sexual corruption alleged to be characteristic of the Renaissance Papacy."
1908 – Grover Cleveland, President of the United States (b. 1837)
1987 – Jackie Gleason, American actor and musician (b. 1916)