570 A.D.: Birth of Muhammad (per the Shi’a calendar (others put it at April 20th)), (d.632).
711: Moorish troops cross the Strait of Gibraltar to land in mainland Europe, beginning the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, known in Arabic as Al-Andalus (Andalucía in Spanish). The Moors (Berber Arabs from North Africa, recently converted to Islam) fought an eight year campaign against the Christian Visigoths under Roderick, on whose death in battle the Visigoth kingdom essentially collapsed, allowing the Moors to occupy virtually all of present day Spain and Portugal except for the Basque region in the north. They made continued forays over the Pyrenees, eventually taking substantial regions of Gaul under their control. The high water mark for Moorish expansion into Europe occurred at the Battle of Tours (Poitiers) in October of 732. At that battle, Frankish and Burgundian forces under Charles Martel (known at the time as “The Hammer”) won a decisive victory that set the stage for the Christian re-conquest* of western Europe, which ended with the final expulsion of the Moors from Grenada in 1492.
1429: Led by what she claims is a vision directly from God, the young shepherdess Joan of Arc arrives in Orleans, France to relieve the English siege of that city.
1521: Three quarters of the way around the first circumnavigation of the world, Portuguese navigator and explorer Ferdinand Magellan is killed on Mactan Island in the Philippines, only three weeks after making peaceful and productive contact with the indigenous inhabitants. After his death, the expedition continued under the command of Juan Sebastian Elcano, who managed to extend the westward passage all the way back to Spain. One cannot overstate the hardships they endured on their circumnavigation: of the five ships and 234 men who departed three years earlier, Elcano finished with one ship and 18 men.
1599: Birth of Oliver Cromwell (d.1658), alternately remembered as: a) Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of Great Britain, Scotland and Ireland, or; b) Regicide for overseeing the execution of King Charles I.
1607: The English Virginia Company colonizing expedition led by John Smith (who was at that time confined below decks) makes its New World landfall at Cape Henry.
1770: Captain James Cook in HMS Endeavour makes landfall in Botany Bay, Australia.
1773: The British Parliament passes the Tea Act, lowering direct taxation on the East India Company and compensating by mandating a monopoly for their tea trade with America. Activists in Boston are not amused.
1791: Birth of Samuel F. B. Morse (d.1872), American painter and inventor. One of his most interesting paintings, The House of Representatives (1823), is still on display at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC.
1792: Three years into the social cataclysm that became the French Revolution, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle composes La Marseillaise, the new national anthem of the French Republic. The legitimately stirring music is accompanied by lyrics that English speakers would probably prefer to remain in French.
1798: Birth of French romantic painter Eugene Delacroix (d.1863). [Liberty Leading the People (1830); Death of Sardanopalus ((1827).
1805: Led by a United States Agent and Marine Lieutenant Wesley O’Bannon, a small force of Marines and Berber mercenaries capture Derna, Tripoli and overthrow the anti-American pasha. Music lovers now hear something about The Shores of Tripoli ringing in their heads forever.
1810: Ludwig van Beethoven composes Fur Elise. The score was not published until 1867, forty years after the composer’s death in 1827. The discoverer of the piece, Ludwig Nohl, affirmed that the original autograph manuscript, now lost, had the title: “Für Elise am 27 April  zur Erinnerung von L. v. Bthvn” (“For Elise on April 27 in memory by L. v. Bthvn”). The identity of “Elise” is unknown; researchers have suggested Therese Malfatti, Elisabeth Röckel, or Elise Barensfeld.
1861(a): Less than three weeks into the open rebellion of the southern states, President Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus.
1861(b): West Virginia secedes from Virginia after the Old Dominion secedes from the United States.
1861 (c): Slave state Maryland votes not to secede from the Union.
1865(a): Two weeks after Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Confederate General Joe Johnston echoes Lee’s decision and professionalism, surrendering the remnants of his army to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman at Bennett Place, near Durham, N.C.
1865(b): Cornered in a burning barn at Garrett’s Farm in rural northern Virginia, and refusing to surrender himself, John Wilkes Booth is shot dead by Union soldiers.
1865(c): The river steamer SS Sultana, crammed with over 2,400 former Union POWs, explodes, burns and slowly sinks, taking an estimated 1,700 lives to a watery grave on the Mississippi River. The ship was part of a process of repatriating Union POWs, having recently boarded the men in Vicksburg and ferrying them up river to Saint Louis for repatriation and discharge. One family on board noted how the men were crammed in from rail to rail, a point to which the captain testified that the ship was “…over-crowded, not over-loaded.” The semantic distinction was lost when one of the ship’s hastily repaired boilers exploded, igniting a fire in the engine room that quickly spread throughout the ship. Only 800 survived. Coming so quickly on the heels of the bloodletting of the Civil War, the deaths seemed just another dismal statistic in a long string of dismal statistics in that conflict, and the loss was quickly forgotten in the public mind.
1874: Birth of Gugliemo Marconi (d.1937), Italian-born inventor and recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics for his studies of electromagnetic radiation. Marconi migrated to Great Britain and founded the radio manufacturing (now electronics) company that still bears his name.
1915: Opening assault on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula by a British Commonwealth force, primarily troops from Australia and New Zealand, the “ANZACs” who took ferocious casualties during the course of the futile nine month campaign. The assault was the brainchild of First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill (the same), who believed the Central Powers could be defeated through the “soft underbelly” of their putative ally, the Ottoman Empire, also widely known as “The Sick Man of Europe.” After the initial landings, the Turks proved themselves not so sick after all, eventually forcing an ANZAC withdrawal under fire in January, 1916. The battle is credited with awakening the nationalist impulses of Australia and New Zealand, and is celebrated in those countries as ANZAC Day.
1917: Birth of the “Queen of Jazz”, Ella Fitzgerald (d.1996).
1939: Birth of British comedienne Judy Carne (d.2015), whose “sock it to me” schtick on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (ok, that was popular show in the late 60’s, kids (on broadcast television, on only one day a week, so no binge watching) made her a star.
1945(a): Westward rolling Soviet and eastward rolling American troops meet at the Elbe River in central Germany.
1945(b): German Chancellor Adolf Hitler marries his longtime mistress Eva Braun in Berlin’s Fuehrerbunker. They spend their honeymoon committing suicide the next day.
1945(c): United States troops liberate the Dachau concentration camp just outside of Munich, in Bavaria. I visited the camp in 2005, and the sterility of the place is absolutely chilling. The tour guide makes the point repeatedly that Dachau was not an extermination camp per se, like Auschwitz-Birkenau, but that the deaths were the result of overwork, underfeeding, and disease exacerbated by horrid sanitation. Mere days before liberation, a prisoner transport train arrived from Buchenwald, but was moved to a siding just outside the camp and abandoned. Americans investigating the train discovered only 800 survivors of the over 4000 initially loaded into the freight cars. Over 2300 corpses were discovered in and around the train.
1951: Birth of NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt (d.2001 in a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500).
1954: Debut of “White Christmas.” Starring an all-start cast of Bing Crosby, Vera Ellen, Rosemary Clooney, and Danny Kaye, the plot evolved during the final musical tribute to the “old man” who led his troops in WWII.
1964: As part of the postwar surge of de-colonization, Tanganyika and Zanzibar merge* to form Tanzania.
1975: With regular North Vietnamese Army forces entering the outskirts of the city, the United States begins evacuation of American citizens from Saigon in Operation Frequent Wind.
1986: International monitoring devices note the release of huge radioactive cloud near Kiev, in the Soviet Ukraine. The Soviet government makes no comment.
1986 (a): Three days after it exploded and spewed more than 50 tons of highly radioactive steam into the atmosphere, the Soviet government admits to “a malfunction” in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
1986 (b): Boston Pitcher Roger Clemens sets a MLB record of 20 strikeouts in nine innings against the Houston Astros.
1989: Death of Lucille Ball (b. 1911), comedienne extraordinaire.
1992: The Los Angeles Riots begin, triggered by the acquittal of LAPD officers caught on videotape beating Rodney King. On the second day of the riots, King appears on television, pleading, “Can’t we all just get along?” They can’t, and after three days of mayhem, 55 people are dead and hundreds of buildings and businesses are destroyed.
2002: Last successful telemetry received from Pioneer 10, 39 minutes of clean data sent from 79.83 AU from the Blue Planet, enroute to interstellar space, making it the first man-made object to travel outside the Solar System. The probe launched in March, 1972, crossed the Asteroid Belt in July, and in December of 1973 began transmitting the first close-up pictures of Jupiter.