1065: Pilgrims under bishop Gunther of Bamberg reach Jerusalem.
1204: 4th Crusade occupies and plunders Constantinople.
1446: Death of Filippo Brunelleschi (b.1377), designer and chief engineer of the dome topping the Florence cathedral. The span and weight of the dome was orders of magnitude larger than ever previously attempted, and Brunelleschi’s innovative thinking and close supervision of the project ensured its successful completion.
1452: Birth of Leonardo da Vinci (d.1519)
1545: French King Francois I orders protestants of Vaudois to be killed.
1689: Husband and wife, as well as first cousins, William III and Mary II are crowned co-regents, King and Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland. They will reign together as co-rulers until Mary dies of smallpox at the age of 32.
1755: Publication of Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language. The project was contracted for three years, but took nine, and remained the standard for our native tongue until publication of the first Oxford English Dictionary in 1928.
1770: British Parliament repeals the Townshend Revenue Acts, which had fueled opposition to British rule in colonial America. The purposes of the acts were to raise revenue in the colonies to pay the salaries of governors and judges so that they would remain loyal to Great Britain, create more effective means of enforcing compliance with trade regulations, punish the Province of New York for failing to comply with the 1765 Quartering Act, establish the precedent that the British Parliament had the right to tax the colonies.
1789: George Washington leaves his Mount Vernon home, enroute to New York City for his inauguration as the first President of the United States.
1814: Napoleon Bonaparte abdicates as Emperor and departs for exile on the Mediterranean island of Elba. He doesn’t say, “I’ll be back” (but he’s thinking it).
1861: Colonel Robert E. Lee resigns from the United States Army.
1865: Shouting “Sic Semper Tyrannis*- the South is avenged!” actor John Wilkes Booth shoots President Lincoln at Ford’s Theater. He breaks his left leg leaping from the Presidential box onto the stage but succeeds in escaping Washington D.C. After getting his leg set by Dr. Mudd (‘your name is Mud’) he continues his flight but is cornered and killed in a burning barn near Bowling Green, Virginia. Lincoln dies the morning of the 15th at 7:22.
1867: Birth of Wilbur Wright (d.1912).
1881: Bat Masterson’s last shootout. In support of his brother James, sheriff of Dodge City, the elder Masterson travels from Tombstone, Arizona to confront and shoot two criminals who were terrorizing the Kansas cattle town. No one was killed, although several were injured. A jury reasoned that his actions were essentially in keeping with the laws of the city at the time and fined him $8.00 for disturbing the peace.
1894: Birth of Nikita Khrushchev (d.1971). The embodiment of the Soviet system throughout the 50s & 60s; one of Stalin and Beria’s lieutenants who outlived them long enough to denounce them and remake the Soviet “state” into his own image.
1912: Cruising through the darkness of a preternaturally calm North Atlantic at normal speed, RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg and sinks. Over 1500 passengers drown in what remains the single biggest non-combat transportation disaster in history.
1918: San Francisco native Douglas Campbell (1896-1990) shoots down his fifth German aircraft to become the United States’ first combat ace.
1947: Birth of Lew Alcindor, who later became Kareem Abdul-Jabar, holder of the NBA record for points scored, six MVP awards and six NBA championships.
1961: Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes 1st person to orbit Earth in Vostok 1.
1964: Sandy Koufax pitches his 9th complete game without allowing a walk.
1964: The British press sensationally reports sentencing of “307 Years!” for the 12 men involved in the August ’63 Great Train Robbery. The heist netted 2.6 million pounds in used English bank notes. The perpetrators received individual sentences ranging from 10 to 30 years.
1972: Launch of Apollo 16, the fifth of six total Apollo flights to land on the moon. Astronauts John Young and Charlie Duke spend just under three days on the surface and collect more than 200 pounds of rock samples. Thomas Mattingly remained with the command module in lunar orbit.
1976: Just days after forming Apple Computer Company (now Apple Inc.) with his friend Steve Jobs, computer hobbyist Steve Wozniak hand-builds and offers to the public a new machine boasting a 1MHz CPU and 4KB standard memory, dubbing it the Apple I. The Apple Computer 1, originally released as the Apple Computer, also known later as the Apple I, or Apple-1, is a desktop computer released by the Apple Computer Company in 1976. It was designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak. The idea of selling the computer came from Wozniak’s friend Steve Jobs. The Apple I was Apple’s first product, and to finance its creation, Jobs sold his only motorized means of transportation, a VW Microbus, for a few hundred dollars, and Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator for $500. Wozniak demonstrated the first prototype in July 1976 at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California.
2019: A fire starts in the construction scaffolding supporting restoration of the lead roof of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. sited in the Seine River’s Ile de la Cite, right in the heart of the city. The fire consumes the 850 year old timber framing for the roof, including the framework and structure of the 1834 spire that adorned the central position between the two belfries and the nave. Despite massive structural and smoke damage throughout the church, including burning timbers crashing through the soaring vaults underneath the “forest” of the roof structure, the vast majority of the cathedrals priceless artwork, treasures, and historical artifacts were not damaged. Cleanup and structural stabilization was completed in December, 2020. Restoration and re-opening is scheduled for completion on April 15, 2024.