[Queen of Georgia in her own right from 1184 to 1213, Tamar
was later made a saint of the Georgian Orthodox Church.]
778 CE - The Battle of Roncevaux Pass occurred, during which the heroic Roland - foremost among the paladins of Charlemagne - was killed; the story of his demise was later chronicled in the epic poem Song of Roland, which became the favoured chanson de geste of medieval troubadours.
1040 - Scotland's King Duncan I was killed in battle by his cousin and closest rival Macbeth; in an interesting coincidence Macbeth also died on the same day in 1057, when he was himself killed at the Battle of Lumphanan by Malcolm III, one of Duncan's sons. As interesting as the actual story is, though, it wasn't interesting enough to stop that noted bullshit artist William Shakespeare from distorting the facts beyond all recognition for his play Macbeth.
1185 - Queen Tamar of Georgia consecrated the cave city of Vardzia.
1248 - The foundation stone of Cologne Cathedral - reputed to contain sacred relics of the Three Wise Men - was laid by Archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden; the impressive edifice was finished in August 1880, 632 years less one week later.
1261 - Michael VIII Palaeologus was crowned Byzantine Emperor in Constantinople alongside his infant son Andronikos II Palaiologos, having recovered the city from the Latin Empire earlier that day.
1461 - The Empire of Trebizond surrendered to the forces of Sultan Mehmet II, marking the real end of the Byzantine Empire; Emperor David, who had effected the handover, was exiled forthwith and later murdered.
1517 - Eight armed Portuguese vessels led by Fernão Pires de Andrade met officials of the Ming Dynasty at the Pearl River estuary, marking the first direct contact between Europeans and Chinese.
1519 - Panama City was founded by Pedro Arias de Ávila.
1534 - Saint Ignatius of Loyola and six classmates took their initial vows - in the crypt of Paris' Chapel of St. Denis - that would lead to the creation of the Society of Jesus in September 1540.
1537 - The city of Asunción, in Paraguay, was founded by Juan de Salazar de Epinosa.
1540 - Arequipa, today the second city of Peru, was founded by Garcí Manuel de Carbajal, an emissary of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro.
1843 - Tivoli Gardens - one of the world's oldest extant (and still-intact) amusement parks - opened in Copenhagen; founded by Georg Carstensen, it had been granted a charter by King Christian VIII, who had the good sense to realize that a contented populace doesn't engage in rebellion.
1914 - The Panama Canal was officially opened - nearly two years ahead of schedule - with the passage through its locks of the ship Ancon.
1945 - The Empire of Japan - in the person of Emperor Hirohito - formally surrendered in accordance with the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, bringing the War in the Pacific to a close, and an end to World War II; the event was celebrated for years in Allied countries as V-J Day.
1948 - The Republic of Korea was established, south of the 38th Parallel north.
1961 - Cheered on by spectators from the West, Conrad Schumann successfully fled from East Germany while on duty at the corner of Ruppinerstraße and Bernauerstraße where he'd been guarding the construction of the Berlin Wall (which was then just a low fence topped with barbed wire).
1962 - James Joseph Dresnok defected to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, running across the Korean DMZ to do it; Dresnok still resides in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
1974 - Yuk Young-soo, the First Lady of Korea, was assassinated by Mun Se-gwang with a bullet intended for the President, Park Chung-hee.
1975 - During a military coup in Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rehman was killed along with all of his family members, except Haseena Wajid, who later served as the country's Prime Minister.
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