[When it was completed in January 2010, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill had given Dubai not only the biggest erection in the world but the biggest in history; fortunately, since the country is heavily favoured by the Saudi elite, it's unlikely anyone will fly a plane into it.]
454 CE - Roman Emperor Valentinian III assassinated his top general Aëtius in the Imperial throne room at Ravenna.
1217 - The Estonian tribal leader Lembitu of Lehola was killed in a battle against Teutonic Knights during the Battle of St. Matthew's Day, at a pivotal moment in the Livonian Crusade.
1745 - At the Battle of Prestonpans (near Edinburgh) a Hanoverian army under the command of Sir John Cope was defeated - in ten minutes! - by the Jacobite forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.
1765 - Antoine de Beauterne announced that he had killed the Beast of Gévaudan - a claim which was later proven wrong when the attacks resumed.
1780 - Benedict Arnold delivered the plans for West Point to the British; the plot to seize the military academy and it's prime location alongside the Hudson River, however, failed - and his name has been synonymous with treachery in America ever since.
1792 - The French National Convention voted to abolish that country's monarchy.
1827 - According to Joseph Smith, Jr., the angel Moroni led him to a set of golden plates, some of which he later translated with the aid of a seer stone or stone spectacles into The Book of Mormon; the plates were found buried under Cumorah hill in upstate New York - Manchester, to be precise - and are supposedly the chronicle of the prophet Mormon, a Nephrite who, along with his son, visited America in the 4th Century CE.
1897 - Virginia O'Hanlon's letter to the New York Sun - better known by its accompanying headline 'Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus' - was published; Francis Pharcellus Church's philosophical response has been a part of Christmas lore ever since.
1898 - China's Empress Dowager Cixi seized power and ended that country's Hundred Days' Reform.
1921 - During what came to be known as the Oppau explosion, a storage silo at a fertilizer plant in that German city exploded, killing between 500 and 600; even though only about 10% of the ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate fertilizer at the facility was involved, a 90 m by 125 m crater - and 19 m deep - was created at the site, damage to nearby property was immense, and the blast was heard 300 kilometres away in München.
1937 - J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit was published in the UK by George Allen & Unwin.
1938 - The Great Hurricane of 1938 made landfall on Long Island, New York, killing between 500 and 700 as it roared up the Eastern Seaboard, before finally dissipating in New Hampshire.
1939 - Romanian Prime Minister Armand Calinescu was assassinated in Bucharest by ultranationalist members of the Iron Guard, apparently on orders from Nazi Germany.
1964 - Malta became independent from the United Kingdom.
1970 - The Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets at home on the first-ever showing of Monday Night Football.
1976 - Orlando Letelier - a member of the Chilean socialist government of Salvador Allende, overthrown in September 1973 by Augusto Pinochet - was assassinated in Washington, D.C.
1981 - Sandra Day O'Connor's appointment to the US Supreme Court was unanimously approved by the Senate.
1995 - The Hindu milk miracle occurred, in which statues of the Hindu God Ganesh began drinking milk when spoonfuls were placed near their mouths.
2004 - Construction of the Burj Dubai (now known as the Burj Khalifa) began.
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