Category Archives: This day in History

Battle of Clontarf (1014)

The Battle of Clontarf was a decisive battle fought between Irish forces under the high king of Ireland, Brian Boru, and a Viking army formed by Sitric, king of the Dublin Norse. Brian’s forces defeated the Vikings at Clontarf, near Dublin, but he was killed shortly thereafter by fleeing Norsemen. Brian’s victory broke Viking power in Ireland, but, without a king, the country split into small, separate kingdoms that then fought one another. What was Wolf the Quarrelsome’s role in the battle? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Battles of Lexington and Concord (1775)

The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the opening engagements of the American Revolution. While marching from Boston to Concord to seize colonists’ military stores, a British force of 700 was met at Lexington by 77 local minutemen. After a brief exchange of shots, the outnumbered colonists fell back. The British continued on to Concord, where they were defeated by a militia of about 500. Who had been sent to warn the people of the Massachusetts countryside about the impending British attack? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Hillsborough Disaster (1989)

The Hillsborough Disaster occurred in 1989 during a soccer match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough stadium in England. When the match began, many fans were still attempting to enter the stadium, forming a bottleneck at the gate. When the gates were opened, the push from the crowd crushed many against barriers, resulting in the deaths of 96 people. It remains the deadliest stadium-related disaster in British history. What factors are believed to have led to the disaster? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Californium First Synthesized (1950)

The sixth transuranium element to be synthesized, californium is an artificially produced, radioactive metallic chemical element. A member of the actinide series of elements, it has isotopes with half-lives ranging from about 40 seconds to 900 years. One isotope, californium-252, is used as a neutron source in nuclear reactors. More than 50 years after it was first produced by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, californium was used to create what superheavy element? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Maiden Voyage of World's Largest Ocean Liner, RMS Queen Mary 2 (2004)

The RMS Queen Mary 2 (QM2) is a Cunard Line ocean liner named after the earlier Cunard liner Queen Mary, which was, in turn, named after Mary of Teck, the Queen Consort of George V. With 15 restaurants and bars, 5 pools, a casino, a ballroom, a theater, and a planetarium, the QM2 is the largest ocean liner in the world, and, at the time of its construction, was the longest, widest, and tallest passenger ship ever built. What ship challenged that distinction in 2006? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Innocent III Is Pope (1198)

Lotario di Segni became Pope of the Catholic Church in 1198 at the age of 37, taking the name “Innocent III.” He believed that just as things of the spirit take preeminence over things of the body, so should earthly monarchs be subject to the pope, and he set out immediately to realize this ideal. He was the virtual overlord of Christian Spain, Scandinavia, Hungary, and the Latin East and launched the Fourth Crusade, which went awry when the crusaders did what instead of going to the Holy Land? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Queen Victoria Chooses to Make Ottawa, Ontario, Canada's Capital (1857)

First inhabited by indigenous tribes, the city that became Ottawa was founded as Bytown in 1827 by John By, an engineer in charge of construction of the Rideau Canal linking Lake Ontario and the Ottawa River. In the 1850s, the city was renamed Ottawa—after the Algonquian-speaking Ottawa tribe—when it fell into competition with major cities like Montreal and Toronto to be named capital of the Province of Canada, which comprised modern-day Ontario and Quebec. Why did Queen Victoria choose Ottawa? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Iroquois Theater Fire (1903)

Billed as “absolutely fireproof,” Chicago’s Iroquois Theater was filled with mostly women and children—out of school for the holidays—for a matinée on December 30, 1903, when a curtain caught fire. One actor tried calming the audience, but panic spread. Many escape routes were unmarked, and a stampede ensued. As people fled, the cold air they let in fed the inferno. More than 575 people died—a death toll more than double that of the famed 1871 Chicago Fire. What show had packed the theater? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster (1876)

As the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway train plowed ahead through deep snow on December 29, 1876, a bridge over Ohio’s Ashtabula River fractured with a loud crack, plunging every train car except the lead engine into the river about 70 ft (21 m) below. The wooden cars, equipped with kerosene lamps and stoves, became an inferno. Ninety-two people died, many burned beyond recognition. The accident initiated the standardization of bridge inspection. What became of the bridge’s designers? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

The Messina Earthquake (1908)

Messina is a busy seaport and commercial center in northeastern Sicily, Italy, opposite the Italian mainland. On the morning of December 28, 1908, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit Messina, followed by a 40-foot (12-meter) tsunami. About 80,000 people were killed, and at least 90 percent of Messina’s buildings, including its churches and palaces, were destroyed. Afterward, the city was completely rebuilt under standards for quake-resistant construction. What happened to the survivors? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary