This Week In History

The Death of Caracalla. April 8, 217.

His father, Roman emperor Septimius Severus initiated the Severan Dynasty, a dynasty of military emperors. Caracalla´s birthname was Septimius Severus Bassianus, but became known by the agnomen Caracalla because after the Danube wars he started wearing a hooded Gallic tunic called “caracallus”. Septimius Severus ruled over Rome for 18 years with iron fist and decided to split power between his two sons, Geta and Caracalla, which proved to be a huge mistake, being both corrupt and evil. Caracalla in the end killed Geta in February 212 and made up a story in which a band of assassins managed to get to Geta´s quarters and he had tried to defend him heroically but was finally defeated and his brother killed. Of course, nobody believed him, but as he was now the sole emperor, nobody could do an...

The Battle of Towton. March 29, 1461

The Battle of Towton took place on March 29, 1461 in the city of Towton, Yorkshire, during the English Wars of Roses. It is now considered by historiographers the biggest and bloodiest battle in English territory with Yorkist victory. Edward had advanced from the west to the outskirts of London, where he joined his forces with Warwick´s. This coincided with the withdrawal of Queen Margaret to the north to Dunstable, and so, Edward and Warwick entered London with their army, where they were greeted with enthusiasm, money and supplies by most people in the city, that were Yorkists. With his brother and father both dead in battle, war was by that time a pure dispute for the crown, as Edward of York could no longer argue that he wanted to free his father from his “bad advisors”. The need for E...

The Bostran Era. March 22, 106 AD.

The Bostran Era (also called Arabian Era) started corresponding to March 22, 106 AD. This was the official dating of the Roman Province Arabia Petraea, and it was introduced in order to make it coincide with the regnal years after the inclusion of the Nabatean Kingdom to the Roman Empire. It has the name of the city of Bostra, that soon was the home of the Sixth Legion. The start date of the Bostran Era was a controversial matter, in part because the Chronicon Paschale states that it started at the time of the consuls Candidus and Quadratus (105), while the discoveries of the Cave of Letters´ manuscripts made it clear that the Bostran Era started on 106. The Bostran year was lunisolar: it has 12 months with 30 days with five epagomenal days at the end of each year. The names of the months ...

Commodus sole Emperor. March 17, 1180 AD.

Marcus Aurelius´ reign was characterized by continuous wars. In March 17, 180 AD, after two years leading the campaigns in the Danube himself, he died leaving his son Commodus as sole emperor of the Roman Empire. Therefore, although Commodus´ reign was more or less peaceful if compared with his father´s, it was terribly unstable and turbulent in political terms. His reign was subject to his own infatuations and needs instead of the needs of his people. In words of Dio Cassio: Commodus´ reign marked the transition a golden and silver age to that of rust and iron. This phrase has defined what many modern historians call the Decadence of the Roman Empire. Commodus stayed with his army in the Danube until he proposed a peace treaty to the Germanic Tribes, which didn´t hesitate to accept the Em...

Queen Urraca. March 8, 1126.

Her great-grand parents were a king of Navarre, a king of Aragon, a Castile countess and a king of France, and she grew up in the shadow of her father, king Alfonso VI, nicknamed “The Brave”. Having these origins, it is not strange that Urraca was nicknamed “The Reckless”. In the Middle Ages the image of a woman was always linked to weakness and helplessness. Therefore Urraca´s talent, skill and determination always attracted attention. For sure her personality and the historical circumstances that surrounded her made her the center of political and dynastic intrigues, with stories filled with passion, love, treason and treachery. She was the firstborn daughter of king Alfonso VI and Constance of Burgundy, born probably in Leon around 1081. She was married when she was only 12 to Raymond o...

The Battle of Silva Arsia. March 1, 509 BC.

The Battle of Silva Arsia was a battle that confronted the forces of the Roman Republic and the Etruscans from Tarquinii and Veii, led by the deposed Roman king Tarquinius Superbus. The battle took place in Roman territory, in the Arsian forest. The battle was one of the several attempts of Tarquinius to recover the throne, and may also be analyzed as part of the permanent conflict between the Etruscan cities and a Roman Republic that was growing both in strength and in territorial expansion. The battle is part of the ancient history of Rome, most probably, a legend in great part. In 509 BC, Roman monarchy was overthrown, and the Roman Republic started as the first elections of the first consuls took place. The deposed king, Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquinius “The Proud”), whose family came f...

El Álamo. February 23, 1836.

The Battle of El Álamo (that took place from February 23 to March 6, 1836) was a major military conflict in the Texan Revolution. It started with a 13-days siege that ended with the final confrontation between the parts on March 6. It confronted the Mexican army, led by General Antonio López de Santana, against a Texan secessionist militia, formed in its majority by American colonists. It took place in San Antonio de Béxar, that was at that time part of the Mexican province of Coahuila y Texas (today, US state of Texas). All the combatants for the Republic of Texas died, except for two of them, which inspired a lot of Texan colonists as well as American mavericks to join the Texan army. Heated by the desire of vengeance because of the cruelty shown by General Santana during the siege, Texa...

The Met. February 20, 1872.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (colloquially known nowadays as The Met) is one of the most well-known museums of the world. It is placed in Manhattan, in the City of New York, and it first opened to the public on February 20, 1872. The collection of the museum has over 2 million pieces from all the world, from treasures from the Classical antiquity, represented in it´s Cyprus and Greece galleries, to paintings and sculptures from almost all the great European masters, as well as a huge collection of American Art. The Museum houses masterpieces of Raphael, Tiziano, El Greco, Rembrandt, Velázquez, Picasso, Pollock, Braque among many others. The Museum houses also a great repertory of Egyptian art, African, Asian, Byzantine and European heritage. In April 13, 1870, the New York State Legislat...

Bardas Phocas against Basil II. February 7, 987.

Bardas Phocas was descendant of the Phocas Clan, an aristocratic family who consistently produced very competent generals that acted supplanting the actual heirs of the Macedonian Dynasty by acting as the authentic rulers of the Byzantine Empire. Let´s not forget that the Byzantine Empire at this time (during the second half of the tenth century) was characterized by long periods of military campaigns and many territories were conquered during this period. When Basil II ascended to the power at the death of his brother John I Tzimiskes in 976, tensions began to surface between the court and the emperor, that tried to rule without any exterior influence. This situation finally resulted in a major rebellion led by Bardas Phocas the Younger, the most powerful man left of the old Phocas Clan. ...

February 1, 1851. Mary Shelley.

  Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, better known by her husband´s surname, Mary Shelley, was a British writer, mostly remembered for being the author of the Gothic novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus (1818), which is actually considered to be the first modern science-fiction novel, starting the genre. She also published and promoted Percy Bysshe Shelley´s works, romantic poet and philosopher, as well as her husband. Both her father and her mother were reputed philosophers and politicians, her mother being also a famous feminist activist that unfortunately died after giving birth of puerperal fever. She received from her father, William Godwin, an education that urged her to join liberal politics, and gave her to read her mother´s memoirs and books, that incremented Mary´s devotion t...

The Murder of Caligula. January 24, 41 AD.

Formally known as Gaius (Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), but better known as Caligula, the third Roman emperor, from 37 to 41 AD, was born to the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He was son of Germanicus, one of the greatest generals of Roman history and adoptive son of Emperor Tiberius. His mother was Agrippina the Elder, a fiercely independent woman, who was married to Germanicus by order of Tiberius in order to bring him closer to the Julian family. As a child he accompanied his father on campaigns in the north of Germania, where he received the nickname of Caligula meaning “little (soldier’s) boot” in Latin, after the small boots (caligae) he wore… a nickname he grew to hate. Germanicus died in Syria, possibly poisoned by order of Tiberius, who saw him and his descendants a...

The Conquer of Mecca. January 11, 630.

The Conquer of Mecca meant the fall of this city (in actual Saudi Arabia) to the hands of Muslims lead by Prophet Muhammad in January 630 AD (8 AH). In 628, the Meccan tribe of the Quraysh and the Islamic community of Medina had signed a truce for 10 years, the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. According to the terms of the Treaty, the Arabic tribes were offered to join whatever side they chose, either the Muslims or the Quraysh. If any of the tribes was attacked, its allies had the right to retaliate. As a consequence, the Banu Bakr aligned with the Quraysh and the Khuza´ah joined Prophet Muhammad. Peace reigned for some time, but motives with origins that date back to pre-islamic era, triggered hostilities that lead to the Banu Bakr attacking the Banu Khuza´ah disregarding the dispositions of the t...

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