[This map of Amsterdam, from Civitates orbis terrarum, was made by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenburg, circa 1572, at which time the city was a major international port - a far cry from the three little shacks in a swamp
it had been just 300 years before.]
312 CE - Roman Emperor Constantine the Great is said to have received his famous Vision of the Cross during the Battle of Milvian Cross; his rival for the imperial throne, Maxentius, was drowned during the fighting - settling the disputed succession in an entirely effective, if unduly brutal, manner. Whether or not divine intervention was responsible for either event is a matter of faith (the Arch of Constantine, which was erected in celebration, bears no Christian imagery, for instance) but as far as history is concerned Constantine's conversion to Christianity at this time would change the world forever... And not for the better either!
939 CE - Edmund I succeeded his half-brother Athelstan as King of England.
1275 - The earliest record of Amsterdam was made on this day; traditionally, then, this is the date of the city's founding.
1553 - Condemned as a heretic, Michael Servetus - one of the most renowned scientists of his day - was burned at the stake outside Geneva. Because that's what Jesus would have done.
1644 - The Second Battle of Newbury, during the English Civil War, provided as indecisive an outcome for the Parliamentary forces commanded by the Earl of Essex, Sir William Waller, and the Earl of Manchester as it did for those of King Charles I's Royalists under his nephew-by-marriage Prince Maurice of the Palatinate-Simmern.
1682 - The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was founded.
1795 - The United States and Spain signed the Treaty of Madrid, which established mutually acceptable boundaries between the Spanish colonies of the Western Hemisphere and the US.
1810 - The US government annexed the former Spanish colony of West Florida.
1838 - Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs issued the Extermination Order, which ordered all Mormons to leave the state or be exterminated.
1870 - Marshal François Achille Bazaine surrendered to the Prussian forces of Prince Friedrich Karl at Metz - along with 140,000 French soldiers - in one of the biggest defeats for France during the Franco-Prussian War, and after the city had withstood a siege lasting more than two months.
1904 - The first underground section of the New York City Subway opened; the city had already been served by elevated lines for 35 years.
1916 - At the Battle of Segale Negus Mikael, marching on the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa in support of his son Emperor Iyasus V, was defeated by Fitawrari Habte Giyorgis - securing the throne for Empress Zauditu.
1924 - The Uzbek SSR was founded in the Soviet Union.
1936 - Wallis Simpson's decree nisi was granted, clearing the way for her to marry England's Edward VIII.
1949 - An Air France flight from Paris to New York City bearing concert violinist Ginette Neveu, boxer Marcel Cerdan (the lover of Édith Piaf), and 46 others, crashed in the Azores, killing everyone onboard.
1962 - Major Rudolph Anderson of the US Air Force became the only direct human casualty of the Cuban Missile Crisis when his U-2 reconnaissance airplane was shot down over Cuba.
1991 - Poland held its first free parliamentary election since 1936.
1992 - Allen R. Schindler, Jr., USN, was brutally murdered by his shipmates Terry M. Halvey and Charles Vins because he was gay.
2004 - The Boston Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years - events captured quite by accident during production of the film Fever Pitch, starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon.
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