First Fleet Leaves England for Australia
On this day in 1787, 11 ships known as the First Fleet left England for Australia. On board were 1487 people, including 778 convicts. Their destination was Botany Bay in what was then known as New Holland. The expedition was under the leadership of Captain Arthur Phillip, soon to be Governor Phillip and later Admiral Phillip. The First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay from the 18th January 1788.
An account of the journey can be found at the Internet Archive. I am currently working on a copy of this work for the Tracing our History website.
A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay, by Watkin Tench
George VI Crowned King of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth
Though reigning as king since the 11th December 1936, King George VI was not officially crowned until this day in 1937. His reign lasted until his death on the 6 February 1952, when he was succeeded by the current queen, Elizabeth II.
George VI was crowned King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. He became king following his brother’s (Edward VIII) abdication in 1936.
Luxembourg Independence Maintained
Luxembourg, known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a small country in western Europe bordered by Belgium, France and Germany. It has a population of about 500 000 people and is almost 1000 square miles (2 586 square kilometers) in size. It’s ‘life’ began as a small fortress in 963, from which a town developed and eventually the state of Luxembourg.
Luxembourg lost its initial independence in 1437 and from that point it was ruled by various states, but regained a form of independence following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815. From then however, it lost territory and was greatly reduced in size. Its independence was affirmed with two treaties, the first in 1839 and the second on this day in 1867, following what
is known as the Luxembourg Crisis.
For more on Luxembourg:
American Civil War: Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson Died
On this day in 1863, Confederate General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson died from wounds sustained from friendly fire during the American Civil War. Following a magnificent victory at Chancellorsville on the 2nd May 1863, Jackson was making his way back to his own lines when he was accidently shot by Confederate pickets who mistook him and his staff for Union troops.
Having been returned to Confedrate lines, Jackson survived the amputation of an arm only to die of pneumonia on the 10th May 1863. It was a loss the south could ill afford. He was one of the greatest generals of the war.
England: Thomas Blood Attempts to Steal the Crown Jewels
On this day in 1671, Colonel Thomas Blood attempted to steal the crown jewels of England in a daring robbery that went wrong very quickly. The attempted robbery took place in the Tower of London where the jewels were on public display.
The whole of Blood’s life is interesting, as he continually pops up in the chronology of England’s history during the period of his life (1618-1680). He plays a role in the civil war, was a major player during an Irish revolt against Charles II, was involved in an attempted assassination or two and his attempted theft of the crown jewels.
An account of his life can be found at the Internet Archive:
First Glass of Coca-Cola Sold: Coca-Cola now Celebrates 125 Years
OK, so this may not be of great historical note in the overall scheme of things, but since I am a huge fan of the drink I have to mention it. Coca-Cola is celebrating 125 years of existence in one form or another – what it is today is not what it was back in the beginning. In the United States, Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton invented (or perhaps stumbled upon would be more accurate) Coca-Cola while seeking a ‘remedy’ for headache and fatigue (among other claims of things it cured or helped). It was on this day in 1886 that he sold his first Coca-Cola drink at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1888 Asa Candler bought the rights to the recipe and began mass producing Coca-Cola as a soft drink. The rest they say is history.
For more visit:
Greece: Greek War of Independence – The Battle of Gravia Inn
Today in 1821, during the Greek War of Independence (against the Ottoman Empire), the Battle of Gravia Inn took place. In this amazing battle, Odysseas Androutsos led 120 men against an army of 9 000 men belonging to the Ottoman Army.
Fresh from victory over Greek forces at the Battle of Alamana, the Ottoman Army under Omer Vrioni was moving to attack the Peloponnese. However, they ran into the small force led by Androutsos at Gravia (Greece), who had fortified themselves within the inn.
A number of attacks on the inn took place with the Ottoman Army suffering heavy casualties and the Greeks very few (6 only). Vrioni odered up his artillery and during this time the Greeks managed to slip away through the Ottoman lines.
As a consequence of his heavy losses (some 300 dead and 800 more wounded), Vrioni retreated and withdrew. During this time the Greeks consolidated their position in the Peloponnese, including the capture of the Ottoman capital in the Peloponnese – Tripoli.
Scotland: Independence Gained and Lost
Scotland became a unified kingdom in 843 under King Cináed I, who united the Scots and the Picts. It would grow in size over time, but the Kingdom of Scotland began in 843.
Edward 1 (England) brought the majority of Scotland under his control in 1296, though Scotland regained its independence via the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The wars for regaining Scottish independence was begun by William Wallace and Robert the Bruce (King Robert I). The independence of Scotland was recognized by England with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, signed on this day in 1328.
In 1603 the realms of England and Scotland were united by the accession of James VI to the throne of England. However, it wasn’t until this day in 1707, when the Treaty of Union was passed by the Parliament of Scotland which brought into being the United Kingdom. With this act Scotland lost its independence and there remains a movement to regain it.
Christopher Columbus: Receives His Commission of Exploration from Castile (Spain)
Christopher Columbus was born between the 22nd August and the 31st October 1451, in Genoa (now in Italy). Contrary to common belief Columbus did not discover America, but he did greatly increase European awareness of the New World.
The maritime career of Christopher Columbus began when he was 10 years old. In the years that followed he undertook a number of journeys on the open sea in various roles on various ships. In 1485 he began looking for an opportunity to explore and discover a western route to Asia. He presented his ideas to the king of Portugal and was ultimately frustrated after several attempts. He also tried England, Genoa, Venice and then Spain (Castile) in 1486. He was frustrated in all these attempts (England eventually agreed, but by that time Columbus was already in league with Castile), but the king and queen of Castile (Ferdinand II and Isabella I) retained his services and after many attempts he finally gained the support of Ferdinand II and Isabella I on this day in 1492.
In all, Columbus would make four voyages between Castile and America. His life would end in great disappointment, having been jailed and having the terms of his contract with Castile overturned due to various claims and convictions of abuse of power and mismanagement of the domains over which he governed in the New World. Columbus died on the 20th May 1506 in Valladolid, Crown of Castile (now in Spain).
Louis XIV: Franco-Dutch War – France Invades the Netherlands
The Franco-Dutch War was more than a war between France and the Netherlands, then known as the United Provinces. It involved a host of other nations including Sweden, Spain, England and other less known regions/countries. The war lasted from 1672 to 1678 and ended with the Treaty of Nijmegen.
This day in 1672 saw the beginning of the war with the French invasion of the United Provinces and they quickly made progress into the country. However, as the war continued it quickly became a stalemate-type situation, though the French did gain territory from the Treaty of Nijmegen.
For a more detailed treatment of the war, see the Wikipedia page at: