The Milan Edict. June 13, 313.

Ever since the fall of the Severan dynasty in 235 AD, rivals for the imperial throne had bid for support by either favouring or persecuting Christians. The previous Edict of Toleration by Galerius had been recently issued by the emperor Galerius from Serdica and was posted at Nicomedia on 30 April 311. By its provisions, the Christians, who had “followed such a caprice and had fallen into such a folly that they would not obey the institutes of antiquity”, were granted an indulgence. Wherefore, for this our indulgence, they ought to pray to their God for our safety, for that of the republic, and for their own, that the commonwealth may continue uninjured on every side, and that they may be able to live securely in their homes. Their confiscated property, however, was not restore...

The Surrender of Breda. June 5, 1625.

The capture of Breda in June 5, 1625 was one of the major successes of Spanish arms in the latter stages of the Eighty Years’ War. The Spanish general, Genoese aristocrat Ambrogio Spinola, conquered Breda even against the instructions of his superiors. Before its capture, the Spanish government had decided that siege warfare against heavily defended towns of the Low Countries was too wasteful and that they would concentrate instead on an economic blockade of the Dutch Republic. The bulk of Spanish forces were diverted to the unfolding Thirty Years War. Breda, a city near the frontier of Holland proper had been occupied in 1567 by the Duke of Alba, ten years afterwards recovered by Holach, and again seized by Haultepenne. The town was the seat of the Orange family, who had a castle th...

The Spanish Armada sets sail. May 28, 1588.

The Spanish Armada (Spanish: Grande y Felicísima Armada, literally “Great and Most Fortunate Navy”) was a Spanish fleet of 130 ships that sailed from A Coruña in late May 1588, under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, with the purpose of escorting an army from Flanders to invade England. The strategic aim was to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I and her establishment of Protestantism in England, with the expectation that this would put a stop to English interference in the Spanish Netherlands and to the harm caused to Spanish interests by English and Dutch privateering. Prior to the undertaking, Pope Sixtus V allowed Philip II of Spain to collect crusade taxes and granted his men indulgences. The blessing of the Armada’s banner on 25 April 1588, was similar to the cerem...

Mary Tudor´s second marriage. May 13, 1515.

Mary had been unhappy with her marriage of state to King Louis XII, as at this time, she was almost certainly already in love with Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk. King Henry VIII was aware of his sister Mary’s feelings; letters from his sister in 1515 indicated that Mary agreed to wed King Louis only on condition that “if she survived him, she should marry whom she liked.” However, King Henry VIII wanted any future marriage to be to his advantage. A pair of French friars went so far as to warn Mary that she must not wed Charles Brandon because he “had traffickings with the devil.” When King Henry VIII sent Charles to bring Mary back to England in late January 1515, he made the Duke promise that he would not propose to her. However once in France, Mary pe...

The Dome Collapses. May 7, 558.

On 23 February 532, only a few weeks after the destruction of the second basilica, Emperor Justinian I decided to build a third and entirely different basilica, larger and more majestic than its predecessors, built by Constantius II and Theodosius II. Justinian chose physicist Isidore of Miletus and mathematician Anthemius of Tralles as architects; Anthemius, however, died within the first year of the endeavor. The construction is described in the Byzantine historian Procopius’ On Buildings (Peri ktismatōn, Latin: De aedificiis). Columns and other marbles were brought from all over the empire, throughout the Mediterranean. Even though they were made specifically for Hagia Sophia, the columns show variations in size. More than ten thousand people were employed. This new church was con...

Aelia Eudoxia marries Arcadius. 27 April 325.

On 17 January 395, Theodosius I succumbed to death. Arcadius succeeded him in the Eastern Roman Empire and Honorius in the Western Roman Empire. Arcadius was effectively placed under the control of Rufinus, Praetorian prefect of the East. Rufinus reportedly intended to marry his daughter to Arcadius and establish his own relation to the Theodosian dynasty. However, while Rufinus was distracted by a conflict with the  magister militum of the West, the wedding of Eudoxia to Arcadius was orchestrated by Eutropius, one of the eunuch officials serving in the Great Palace of Constantinople. The marriage took place on 27 April 395, without the knowledge or consent of Rufinus. For Eutropius it was an attempt to increase his own influence over the emperor and hopefully ensure the loyalty of the new...

The Battle of Lake Trasimene. April 24, 217 BC.

The Battle of Lake Trasimene (24 April 217 BC, on the Julian calendar) was a major battle in the Second Punic War. The Carthaginians under Hannibal defeated the Romans under the consul Gaius Flaminius. Hannibal’s victory over the Roman army at Lake Trasimene remains, in terms of the number of men involved, the largest ambush in military history. In the prelude to the battle, Hannibal also achieved the earliest known example of a strategic turning movement. The Carthaginian cavalry and infantry swept down from their concealed positions in the surrounding hills, blocked the road and engaged the unsuspecting Romans from three sides. Surprised and outmanoeuvred, the Romans did not have time to draw up in battle array, and were forced to fight a desperate hand-to-hand battle in open order. The ...

The Battle of Culloden. April 16, 1746.

The Battle of Culloden was the final confrontation of the Jacobite Rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. A well-supplied Hanovarian Government army led by the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II, would face the forces of Charles Edward Stewart, The Young Pretender, in the final confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. “The Skye Boat Song” is a modern Scottish song which has entered into the folk canon in recent times. It can be played as a waltz, recalling the escape of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) from Uist to the Isle of Skye after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden i...

The Pisonian Conspiracy. April 19, 65 AD.

Gaius Calpurnius Piso, a leading Roman statesman, benefactor of literature, and orator, intended to have Nero assassinated, and replace him as Emperor through acclamation by the Praetorian Guard. He enlisted the aid of several prominent senators, equestrians, and soldiers with a loosely conceived plan. Nero had been Emperor since 54 AD, and the ruling class had grown weary of his tyrannical reign. Although the conspiracy ended a failure, it sowed the seeds for the downfall of Nero, his suicide and the ensuing chaos of the Year of Four Emperors. The fact that senators, soldiers, and equestrians were willing to work together outlines the widespread hatred of Nero. It seems as if only Piso and perhaps Plautius Lateranus were driven to participate for the love of Rome. Others plotters, such as...

The End of the First Siege of Rome. 12 March 538 AD.

The First Siege of Rome during the Gothic War lasted for a year and nine days, from 2 March 537 to 12 March 538. The city was besieged by the Ostrogothic army under their king Vitiges; the defending East Romans were commanded by Belisarius, one of the most famous and successful Roman generals. The siege was the first major encounter between the forces of the two opponents, and played a decisive role in the subsequent development of the war. More than a year after the siege begun, the Goths, also suffering, like the besieged, from disease and famine, now resorted to diplomacy. An embassy of three was sent to Belisarius, and offered to surrender Sicily and southern Italy (which were already in Roman hands) in exchange for a Roman withdrawal. The dialogue, as preserved by Procopius, clearly i...

The First Battle of Bedriacum. 14 April 69 AD.

Marcus Salvius Otho, with the support and aid of the Praetorian Guard, had his predecessor Galba murdered in January and claimed the throne. Legate Aulus Vitellius, governor of the province of Germania Inferior, had also claimed the throne earlier in the month and marched on Rome with his troops. Vitellius’ forces were divided into two armies, one commanded by Aulus Caecina Alienus and the other by Fabius Valens. The Vitellian forces included legions XXI Rapax, V Alaudae and powerful vexillationes from all the other legions stationed on the Rhine, together with a strong force of Batavian auxiliaries, a force of around 70,000 men. The forces commanded by Caecina crossed the Alps by the Great St. Bernard Pass to reach northern Italy. They attacked Placentia but were repulsed by the Oth...

Edward The Confessor. April 3, 1043.

Also known as Saint Edward the Confessor, was among the last Anglo-Saxon kings of England. Usually considered the last king of the House of Wessex, he ruled from 1042 to 1066. The son of Æthelred the Unready and Emma of Normandy, Edward succeeded Cnut the Great’s son – and his own half-brother – Harthacnut, restoring the rule of the House of Wessex after the period of Danish rule since Cnut (better known as Canute) conquered England in 1016. In 1041 Harthacnut invited long-exiled Edward back to England, probably as heir because he knew he had not long to live. The 12th century Quadripartitus states that he was recalled by the intervention of Bishop Ælfwine of Winchester and Earl Godwin. Edward met “the thegns of all England” at Hursteshever, probably modern Hurst Spit opp...

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