1199: While making an un-guarded walking tour around castle Chalus-Chabroi, which he was besieging, Richard Coeur-de-Lion, King of England and hero of the Third Crusade, is struck in the neck by a crossbow arrow fired from the ramparts. His wound quickly turned gangrenous, and he died on April 6th. Immediately after the shooting his men captured the assailant, who turned out to be a young boy whose father and two brothers were killed during the siege. As a final act of chivalry, Richard forgave the boy and gave him 100 shillings to begin his life again. The king’s chivalry did not last past April 7th, however; in retaliation, mercenary Captain Mercadier re-captured the boy and had him flailed alive and hanged for regicide. After his death, Richard’s brain was buried at Charray Abbey in Poitou, his heart in Rouen, his entrails in the chapel of Chulus-Chabroi, and the remainder of his mortal remains at the feet of his father’s tomb at Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou.
1306: Robert the Bruce, after years of political maneuvering with fellow Scottish lords, multiple wars with England’s Edward Longshanks, alliances and betrayals against William Wallace, is crowned King of Scotland.
1513: Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon discovers Florida.
1584: Sir Walter Raleigh is granted a royal patent to colonize Virginia.
1634: The first settlers arrive in Maryland, an English colony established by George Calvert, the Lord Baltimore, as a haven for Catholics in the New World.
1603: Death of Queen Elizabeth I (b.1533), after 44 years on the English throne. The daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, she oversees the rise of the British Empire. Prominent figures during her reign include Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, and William Shakespeare. She became known as the Virgin Queen due to her insistence that marriage politics not dilute her authority as sovereign: “I am married to England…” Her immediate successor, Scotland’s James VI, becomes James I of the newly designated United Kingdom. Their combined legacies include the beginning of the end of Spanish dominance of the New World, establishing the colonies of Virginia, Jamestown, Ulster Plantation, and that peerless standard of the English language, the King James Bible
1765: Following on the heels of the Stamp Act, Parliament passes the Quartering Act which requires the American colonies to house and feed the British soldiers sent over to keep order. Like the Stamp Act, this law is not received well in the colonies.
1794: Congress authorizes the construction of six frigates, one of which, USS Constitution, is still afloat and in good sailing condition. Their expense caused critics to question the need for a“six-ship navy.”
1814: Death of Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin who was a long-time foe of capital punishment. Dr. Guillotin, as a member of the new French National Assembly in 1791, introduced a six-point legislative package he thought would rationalize the justice system and lead to the eventual end of executions. Only one part of his reform plan was adopted, with the result that the machine now bearing his slightly modified name- guillotine- was quickly designed and built to administer a fast and painless death to anyone, regardless of age, sex or wealth. The machine thus embodied the Revolution’s rational concepts of equality and humanity. In the hands of the revolutionary French government, it eventually killed over 15,000 people between 1792 and the close of the French Revolution in 1799, and remained in regular- although less vigorous- use through 1930. (FYI- Dr. Guillotin’s reform package: 1) Capital punishment shall be standardized throughout the country; 2) There shall be only one method* of execution, decapitation by a machine that is quick and painless; 3) The victim’s family shall not be harmed; 4) The victim’s family shall not be discredited; 5) The victim’s property shall not be confiscated; 6) The corpse shall be returned to the family for burial.)
1807: The British Parliament abolishes the slave trade. Slavery per se remained legal, but there was now for the British Empire no further commerce in human beings.
1836: Birth of Frederick Pabst – of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.
1847: After a 20 day siege, General Winfield Scott captures the Mexican port city of Veracruz. The battle was the first large-scale amphibious assault in American arms, and to a certain extent what we would now call a “combined arms” joint operation, using both military and naval forces simultaneously. Scott’s systematic planning and execution skills established uncompromising standards for military operations, standards that were seen again fourteen years later during the War Between the States under the leadership of the scores of junior officers who learned their trade under Old Fuss ‘n Feathershimself during the Veracruz campaign and the subsequent march to Mexico City
1865: The Siege of Petersburg- Confederate forces temporarily overrun the Union’s Fort Stedman along the southeastern perimeter of the siege line. The next three weeks will bring the War Between the States to its dramatic conclusion.
1865: In the opening move of the last great campaign of the Civil War, General Grant orders Phil Sheridan’s cavalry to sweep around the southwestern flanks of the Petersburg siege line to block Lee’s expected retreat toward his remaining rail supply line in Lynchburg. A short, sharp fight at Lewis Farm forced the initial turning of the larger Confederate flank.
1866: President Andrew Johnson vetoes a civil rights bill. After his impeachment, Congress sends the same legislation to the States to become the 14thAmendment to the Constitution.
1874: Birth of Robert Frost (d.1963), American poet laureate.
1874: Birth of the great illusionist and escape artist, Harry Houdini
1886: John Pemberton brews his first batch of Coca Cola in Atlanta, Georgia.
1899: Birth of August Anheuser Busch Jr. – more beer.
1911: The U.S. Army formally adopts the M1911 .45 ACP as its standard sidearm. The pistol was designed around two primary requirements: 1) to be self-loading, and; 2) to use a heavy enough projectile to stop the charge of a highly agitated and drugged-up Moro tribesman.
1912: The first of 3,020 Japanese cherry trees are planted on the north bank of the Potomac River near the planned site of the Jefferson memorial.
1917: Birth of Man O’War (d.1947), often considered the greatest race horse of the 20th century, with a W-L record of 20-1-0, the single loss being a second place deriving from a particularly poor start. Man o’War’s grandson, Seabiscuit, carried on his legacy into the 1940s
1939: The Spanish Civil War ends when Madrid falls to Generalissimo Francisco Franco.
1945: Last launch of the Nazi V-2 ballistic missile. Under development since late 1942, its first launch in combat occurred on 6 September 1944. More than 1,100 missiles were fired in the next six months, killing over 2700 Britons. Captured V-2 parts and engineers formed the core of the space programs for both the United States and Soviet Union for the next 25 years.
1964: The strongest earthquake in American history strikes Alaska at 8.4 on the Richter scale. A 100 foot tsunami devastates coastal towns all around the Gulf of Alaska.
1969: John Lennon and Yoko Ono perform a “Bed-in For Peace”on their honeymoon in the Amsterdam Hilton.
1971: Army 1st Lieutenant William Calley is convicted of murder in the My Lai massacre.
1979: A series of serious but solvable water system malfunctions, combined with human error, act to prematurely shut down the cooling system in Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island reactor, raising internal core temperatures to over 3000 degrees and releasing a moderate amount of radioactive steam into the atmosphere. No one dies, although some workers inside the plant are exposed to “unhealthy” levels of radiation. The ensuing public hysteria, unconstrained by logic, reason or engineering expertise, completely forecloses the construction of new nuclear power plants in the United States to this day.
1979: Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Meacham Begin and U.S. President Jimmy Carter sign the Camp David Accords, the first formal peace treaty between Israel and an Arab state since the Jewish state’s founding in 1948.
1989: The tanker Exxon Valdez runs aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, releasing over 11,000,000 gallons of crude oil and contaminating over 1,300 miles of Alaskan coastline. The ship is later repaired and re-named Sea River Mediterranean and worked the Atlantic basin, being prohibited from calling in Alaska. On this date in 2012, she was sold for scrap.
1999: First night of NATO bombing in the Yugoslavia campaign.