Thursday, June 11, 2009

Today In History - 11 June: Troy Is Sacked, Stalin Purges, Buddhists Burn, & Justice For McVeigh

Art: Procession Of The Trojan Horse Into Troy, Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo
1184 BC – Troy is sacked and burned after the Greeks use the ruse of the Trojan Horse to gain entry into the city. This brought an end to the Trojan War which had begun over a decade earlier when Paris of Troy stole Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. Some 300 years later, these events would be famously memorialized by Homer in the Iliad. Other related works include Homer's Odyssey, Virgil's The Aeneid, and Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.

1429 – St. Joan of Arc leads the French in their first sustained - and successful - offensive in a generation, engaging the Enlish at the Battle of Jargeau during the Hundred Years' War.

1509 – Henry VIII of England marries his first wife, the beautiful and cultured Catherine of Aragon, widow of Henry's brother, Arthur. Their marriage lasted 24 years and produced six children, though only one that survived, Mary I. Henry, fixated on producing a male heir, would petition the Pope for an annulment, ultimately leading to England's break with the Catholic Church.
1776 – The Continental Congress appoints Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston to the Committee of Five to draft a declaration of independence.

1837 – The penultimate donneybrook, the Broad Street Riot occurres in Boston when a company of Yankee firefighters met with an Irish funeral procession on Broad Street. Fighting broke out, and eventually 1000 people were included in the melee, though no one was killed.

1937 – As part of the Great Purge that reached its height in 1937 and 1938, Joseph Stalin brutally repressed and terrorized the people and leadership of the Soviet Union in order to insure unquestioning loyalty. On this date in 1937, Stalin had eight of his top army leaders executed. According to official Soviet archives, in 1937 and 1938, the NKVD detained 1,548,367 victims, of whom 681,692 were shot - an average of 1,000 executions a day. According to historians, the best estimate of deaths brought about by Soviet Repression during these two years is the range 950,000 to 1.2 million.

1938 – During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Battle of Wuhan starts and the Chinese Nationalist government creates the 1938 Yellow River flood to halt Japanese forces. 500,000 to 900,000 civilians are killed.

1963 – Alabama Governor George Wallace stood at the door of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in an attempt to block two black students,Vivian Malone and James Hood, from attending that school. Later in the day, accompanied by federalized National Guard troops, they were able to register.

1963 – In what became memorialized in a horrific photo, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc burns himself to death with gasoline in a busy Saigon intersection to protest the lack of religious freedom in South Vietnam.

1970 – After being appointed on May 15, Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington officially receive their ranks as U.S. Army Generals, becoming the first females to do so.

2001 – Justice is finally done when Timothy McVeigh is executed for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 and injured more than 800.


1572Ben Jonson, English dramatist whose Ode To The Belly is a hilarious poem on the joys of obesity. Find it here.

1776 – John Constable, English painter (d. 1837)

1864 – Richard Strauss, German composer and conductor (d. 1949)

1879 – Max Schreck, German actor of Nosferatu fame.

1910 – Jacques-Yves Cousteau, French explorer and inventor (d. 1997)

1933 – Gene Wilder, American actor

1959 – Hugh Laurie, English actor and comedian


1488 – King James III of Scotland

1727 – King George I of Great Britain (b. 1660)

1796 – Samuel Whitbread, English brewer and politician (b. 1720)

1879 – Prince Willem of the Netherlands, disgraced heir apparent to the Dutch throne. Sex, drinking, gambling, incest - this story has it all.

1979John Wayne, American actor (b. 1907)

2001Timothy McVeigh, American terrorist (by execution (b. 1968)

Holidays and observances

Kamehameha Day, official state holiday of Hawaii, in honor of its first monarch, celebrated with floral parades, hula competition, and festivals

And in ancient Rome, today was the celebration of Matralia in honor of Mater Matuta, a goddess associated with the sea harbors and ports, where there were other temples to her. Her festival of Matralia, celebrated on June 11 in her temple at the Forum Boarium, was only for single women or women in their first marriage, so sort of a girls day out in the ancient world.

Don't miss Rougeclassicism for their ancient world dates in history.

And for the most interesting in links of current event import, see Larwyn's Linx at Doug Ross's Journal.

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