This day in History – August 26, 1071 – Battle of Manzikert

In its approximately 1000 years of history the Byzantine Empire had suffered a number of military disasters.  It survived the loss of Egypt, Syria and North Africa to the Arabs.  It fended off multiple sieges of Constantinople by the Persians, Arabs, Bulgars and other tribes.  The Empire survived the Slavic migration into the Balkans in …

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This day in History – August 21, 1959 – the American Flag gets its 50th Star

Hawaii was an unusual candidate for American statehood.  The Kingdom of Hawaii had long been under American influence (though it tried to play the Americans off against the British).  However, its economy was eventually dominated by the emigre Americans and Europeans.  In 1887 they forced King Kalākaua to accept the Bayonet Constitution – the monarchy’s …

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This Day in History – August 15, 1947 – “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom”

India’s long struggle for freedom came to its bittersweet conclusion on August 15, 1947.  The day itself was chosen by the last Viceroy to coincide with V-J Day that concluded World War II.  India’s struggle for independence was unique at the time in being largely non-violent – though the rising surge of unrest in the …

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This Day in History – June 8, 793 – The fury of the Northmen hits England for the first time

“A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine” (“From the fury of the Northmen deliver us, O Lord”) This would be the despairing prayer uttered in coming years in churches and monastic institutions around Western Europe.  June 8, 793 is often used to mark the beginning of the Viking age.  A group of Norsemen (i.e. Northmen) suddenly …

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This Day in History- June 7, 1494 – Treaty of Tordesillas

In 1493, the year after Columbus sailed west and found “the Indies,” Pope Alexander VI (the notorious Borgia Pope) issued the Bulls of Donation dividing the New World between Spain and Portugal.  The problem was that Portugal felt the Papal grant gave it too little land and prevented their hoped for conquest of India.  So the …

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This day in History – June 6, 1674 – Coronation of Shivaji as Chhatrapati

Until the early 17th century the Marathas were known for being hardy peasants, rather than warriors.  It was Malik Ambar the Ethiopian born prime minister of the dying Nizam Shahi Sultanate of Ahmadnagar who recognized their military potential.  Desperately trying to stop the Mughal Empire’s relentless march into the Deccan his Maratha guerrilla army stopped …

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This day in History – June 2, 455 – The Vandals sack Rome earning linguistic infamy

They were not the first “barbarian” tribe to sack Rome.  The Gauls first did it in 390 B.C. over 800 years earlier.  The Visigoths sacked the city in 410 A.D. an event that shocked the Roman world.  Atilla’s Huns never got as far south as Rome, but they so th0roughly sacked Aquileia in 452 that …

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This day in History – June 1,193 – Execution of Didius Julianus, Emperor of Rome

“But what evil have I done? Whom have I killed?” – Last words of Didius Julianus On those pathetic last words ended the 9 week reign of an Emperor who bought the crown in a public auction, the second in the Year of the Five Emperors. Didius Julianus came from distinguished breeding.  Raised by the …

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