This Week In History

The Storming of the Bastille. July 14, 1789.

The Storming of the Bastille took place in Paris on July 14, 1789. Although the medieval fortress only guarded seven prisoners, its fall into the hands of the Parisian revolutionaries symbolized the end of the Ancien Régime, and was a flashpoint of the French Revolution. The surrender of the prison as a symbol of the monarchy´s power and despotism, sent shockwaves not only across France, but also throughout the rest of Europe, echoing as far as Russia. The importance of the Storming of the Bastille was not all that relevant, and its symbolic value overblown as the main representation of the fall of the monarchy´s absolutist power. Over time, the story took on legendary proportions over what really took place. It wasn´t an act as strategically or politically important as presented by romant...

The city of Tyre falls to the Venetian Crusade. July 7, 1124.

The Venetian Crusade, an expedition to Holy Land launched by the Republic of Venice at the request of the Pope, took place from 1122 to 1124 and ended in victory for the crusaders when they took the city of Tyre. This victory meant the start of a period in which the Kingdom of Jerusalem expanded to its largest size under the reign of Baldwin II. On February 15, 1124, the Venetians and the Franks laid siege to the port city of Tyre (now part of Lebanon). Tyre was at the time part of the territory under the control of the Atabeg of Damascus, Toghtekin. The Latin army was commanded by the Patriarch of Antioch, the Doge of Venice, Pons, Count of Tripoli and William I de Bury, the king´s constable. During this time, Baldwin II had been taken prisoner by the Artukid leader, Balak Ghazi, emir of ...

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. June 28, 1519.

Charles I of Spain was also Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire.  He was known as the “Emperor” or the “Caesar”. As Charles I, he first reigned together with his mother, Joanna I of Castille, until 1555, and was king of all the Hispanic reigns and territories, reuniting for the first time in the same person the crowns of Castille (including the kingdom of Navarre) and Aragon. He became Holy Roman Emperor under the name of Charles V on June 28, 1519. As a child, Charles received a humanist and Christian education from the Flemish court. He received through diverse inheritances a huge compound of territories and acquired the imperial election in 1519 (disputed by Francis I of France). Charles set out, with the help of his counsellors, how he could use this immense power. His major concerns be...

The Battle of La Rochelle. June 22, 1372.

The Battle of La Rochelle took place on June 22, 1372 between the Castilian fleet and the English fleet along the coast of the city of La Rochelle, France. This battle was the first phase of what would lead to the siege of La Rochelle by the French, when terrestrial and naval forces of France and Castille took the city that had been in English hands. In 1369, Charles V of France broke the Treaty of Brétigny, therefore renewing hostilities of the Hundred Years War after a nine-year respite. In great measure, the King of France took this decision counting on the support of Henry II of Castille, who had a powerful army that made the offense more likely to be successful. The French king, following his strategy to take English strongholds, e intensified his blockade over La Rochelle, the key po...

The Solar Eclipse of June 15, 763 BC.

A solar eclipse was recorded in the Near East on June 15, 763 BC. But wait, how can we date such an ancient event so accurately?  While little is known about how time was recorded in prehistoric eras, wherever archaeologists turn up records and artifacts, we usually find that there was a concern with measuring and recording the passage of time. In the Old Testament, the Book of Amos (circa 750 BC) reads: “On that day I will make the Sun set at noon and in broad daylight, the Earth will be dark”. (Book of Amos, 8:9). The chronology of the Ancient Near East tries to establish “absolute dates” for the historical events that took place during the first civilizations that appeared in Western Asia between the year 3000 and 500 BC, reaching the moment in which it can be linked to Greek and Persia...

Galba Emperor. June 8, 68 AD.

Servius Sulpicius Galba was Roman Emperor from June 8, 68 until his death. He was the first of the four emperors that reigned during 69, known as “the year of the four emperors“. He had an outstanding political career: he was consul in 33, governor of Germania in 45, and proconsul of Africa in 46. In 45, he was sent by Caligula to Germania to replace Gaetulicus, of whom the emperor had grown suspicious. Galba achieved his reputation by developing efficient military policies and imposing strict discipline among his men. During his reign in Germania, he repelled barbarian invasions that had taken Gaul. Caligula was so happy with Galba´s achievements that he rewarded generously the troops under his command. In the turmoil after Caligula´s death, Galba declined taking the throne, e...

The Stoning of Petronius Maximus. May 31, 455.

His birthdate is unclear, being his origins quite obscure, but it is widely believed that the late Roman Emperor, Petronius Maximus, belonged to the illustrious Anicius family. He developed his senatorial career during the reigns of Honorius and Valentinian III and was praetor in the first stage of his career in 411. Around 415, he served as tribunus et notarius, an entry position to the Imperial bureaucracy, which would take him to the position of comes sacrarum largitionum between 416 and 419, as well as urban prefect between 419 and 433. In 433, he was elected consul, and from 439 to 441 held the praetorian prefecture of Italy. By the time he obtained the title of patrician in 445, he had become the Roman with most honors outside the Imperial circle. According to John of Antioch, Valent...

The Fifth Crusade. May 27, 1217.

The Fifth Crusade (1217-1221) consisted of a series of military actions initiated by Western Europe in order to recover Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land, by first trying to conquer Cairo under the control of the Ayyubids. Pope Innocent III and his successor, Honorius III, summoned the crusaders, led by the forces of Andrew II of Hungary and Duke Leopold VI of Austria. They tried to attack Jerusalem, but ultimately left the city in Muslim hands. In 1218 two armies, one led by Oliver of Cologne from Germany, and another by William I of Holland, composed of Flemish, Dutch and Frisian soldiers, joined the Crusade. They allied forces with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum in order to attack Damietta (Egypt). The Seljuks launched an attack on the Ayyubids in Syria, trying to free the crusaders ...

Syracuse captured by the Aghlabids. May 21, 868.

Ibrahim I ibn Aglab, governor of the M´Zab Valley (Algeria) since 787, was designated by the Abbasid caliph emir of the Ifriqiya, in response to the anarchy that reigned in the province, that belonged to the Baghdad Caliphate. Ibrahim controlled an area that included the east of Algeria, Tunisia and Tripoli. Although totally independent in everything except for the name, his dynasty always acknowledged their belonging to the Aghlabid Caliphate. He built his palace in the new capital, El Abasiya, to the outskirts of Kairuan, partly so that he could escape from the opposition of jurists and theologians that disapproved their “sinful” way of life as well as the unfair treatment that they had given to the Muslim Berbers. The Aghlabids had to deal in the limits of their emirate against the Berb...

Byzantium, Nova Roma. May 11, 330.

Byzantium was the Greek capital city of Thrace, situated in the Western part of the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait, actually Istambul. It has occupied an outstanding part in History since its founding, around 668 BC, according to Herodotus. Byzantium suffered, as did all Greece, Rome´s tutoring. The city entered a period of decline, although all of the Greek cities in this period were well supplied. During the Macedonian Wars, between Rome and Philippus V, Romans awarded Byzantium with the title of confederate city for their help. In 191 BC the city was a Roman ally and acknowledged as a free city, although it lost this status in 100 BC. Emperor Claudius reduced the city taxes to make up for its losses in the war against Thrace. Vespasian integrated Byzantium in the Roman province of Thr...

The Burning of Edinburgh. May 5, 1544.

The so-called Rough Wooing Wars developed in two conflict periods: the first from 1543 to 1546 and the second from 1547 to 1550, between England and Scotland, in the context of the Scottish Independence wars. Although there were many reasons for the wars, including Henry VIII´s attempt to put an end to the Auld Alliance, a treaty signed in 1295 between Scotland and France, the trigger for the war was by the end of 1543 the Scottish Parliament rejected the Greenwich Treaty, through which the English king tried to unite both crowns by marrying his son, the Prince of Wales  and future king Edward VI, to the future queen of Scotland, Mary I, a newborn at the date of the treaty. The English army started a series of invasions to Scottish territory during that decade, starting with the Sacking of...

The Charge of the Mamelukes. May 2, 1808.

After signing the Fontainebleau Treaty on October 27, 1807, French troops entered Spain on their way to Portugal, and Madrid was occupied by Marshal Murat´s troops by March 23 1808. On the next day Ferdinand VII made his triumphal entrance in the city together with his father, Charles IV, who had been forced to abdicate. Both kings were compelled to go to Bayonne to meet Napoleon, where the Bayonne abdications took place, making Joseph Bonaparte, the emperor´s brother effectively king of Spain. Just before his departure to Bayonne, Ferdinand VII had constituted a Governing Board in Madrid. The truth was that the board was a puppet in the hands of Murat, a simple spectator to the facts that were to come. On April 27 Murat requested (supposedly in the name of Charles IV) to move Charles´s so...

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