Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This Day In History - June 3: Tiananmen Protest, Khomeini, and The Goddess of War

350 – After the revolt of Magnentius, Roman usurper Nepotianus proclaimed himself "emperor" and entered Rome with a band of gladiators. His reign in Rome would only last four weeks. Magnentius, hearing of the revolt, sent a force to deal with the Nepotianus and retake Rome. They slew Nepotianus, put his head put on a spear and paraded it about the city.

1140 – Peter Abelard was a famed French scholar, secret husband to the Abbess Heloise and later made into a castrati by Heloise's uncle when the uncle thought Abelard had wronged her. He was found guilty of heresy on this date in 1140. He was responsible for the creation of the Church's doctrine as regards limbo.

1539 – DeSoto claims Florida for Spain. He would then travel overland north through Georgia and into South Carolina before turning West, all the while in search of gold and a passage to China. He died in 1542, having reached the Mississippi River.

1621 – The Dutch West India Company receives a charter to create trading posts and settlements in New Netherlands - parts of parts of present-day New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and New Jersey.

1658 – Pope Alexander VII appoints François de Laval vicar apostolic in New France - Canada, Acadia, Hudson Bay, Newfoundland, and Louisiana. He was evidently such a zealot and such an enemy of liquor that the other Jesuits petitioned the Pope to name him to the post of Bishop in Petra, a diocese on the Dead Sea, about as far away from them as he could travel.

1665 – James Stuart, Duke of York (later to become King James II of England) defeats the Dutch Fleet off the coast of Lowestoft. It had little effect on the war. Two years later, the Dutch would actually sail up river and raid the Chatham Dockyards in Medway in what was to be a major embarresment for the Crown.

1800 – President John Adams took up residence in a tavern in Washington, D.C.. Construction of the White House wasn't completed until November.

1839 – Governor of Liangguang Province, China, Lin Tse-hsü destroyed 1.2 million kg of opium confiscated from British merchants. This provided Britain, and more specifically, the British East India Company, with justification to open hostilities with China, resulting in the First Opium War. The British were seeking to force China to open trade, and they succeeded. The war forced an end to China's isolation and is today marked as the start of modern Chinese history.

1885 – Last military engagement fought on Canadian soil occurred when the Cree leader Big Bear escaped from the North West Mounted Police.

1889 – The first long-distance electric power transmission line in the United States is completed, running 14 miles between a generator at Willamette Falls and downtown Portland, Oregon.

1937 – The Duke of Windsor abdicated his crown to marry on this date Wallis Simpson, a twice divorced American socialite.

1940 – Was having been declared three weeks prior, the Luftwaffe bombed Paris as German forces closed in. Paris would raise the white flag of surrender ten days later.

1965 – Launch of Gemini 4, the first multi-day space mission by a NASA crew. Crew-member Ed White performs the first American spacewalk (EVA).

1968 – Valerie Solanas, author of SCUM Manifesto, attempts to assassinate Andy Warhol by shooting him three times.

1989 – China brings a close to the seven-week old pro-democracy protest at Tiananmen Square. China ordered it troops to open fire on protesters, killing hundreds.

1991 – Mount Unzen erupts in Japan in Kyūshū killing 43 people, all of them either researchers or journalists.

2007 – USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) engaged pirates after they boarded the Danish ship Danica White off the coast of Somalia.


1808 – Jefferson Davis, American politician and President of the Confederate States of America (d. 1889)

1917 – Leo Gorcey, American actor and member of the Bowery Boys (d. 1969)


1899 – Johann Strauss II, Austrian composer (b. 1825)

1963 – Pope John XXIII (b. 1881)

1989 – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder, with the help of Jimmy Carter of Iran's theocracy, finally goes to meet Allah.

Holidays and observances

Roman Empire – Ancient Roman Festival of Bellona, Roman goddess of war who is described as the companion of Mars. Appius Claudius the Blind vowed a temple to Bellona that was erected on the Campus Martius.

Confederate Memorial Day observed in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee.

Today is the feast day for the Virgin Mary in Russia, Vladimirskaya, and the feast of Saint Paula of ancient Rome who died in 273. A very wealthy woman and mother of four, Paula turned to religion after being widowed at 32. She became a follower of St. Jerome and, indeed, their relationship may have been more than simple friendship. Paula makes an appearnance in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Chaucer played upon the relationship between Jerome and Paula in the Wife of Bath's Prologue.

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