1902 Encyclopedia > Today in History > Reformist Czar Alexander II assassinated, Herschell discovers Uranus

Today in History - March 13
• Sir William Herschell discovers the planet Uranus
• Confederates agree to add of slaves to their army
• Alexander II, a reformist Russian czar, is assassinated

-- Compiled by James Finlayson-Bald. Edited and illustrated by David Paul Wagner.

Czar Alexander II of Russia (image)

Czar Alexander II of Russia, who was assassinated. He had been pursuing a vigorous programme of wide-ranging reforms, including the emancipation of the serfs and the abolition of the death penalty. Alexander II's assassination was a massive step back for the reform movement in Russia. In the week that he was killed he was to have issued plans for an elected parliament (Duma). His successor, Alexander III, tore up those plans.

On this date:

1569—Battle of Jarnac in the third French religious wars. The Catholics were commanded by the Seigneur de Tavannes, the Huguenots by the Prince de Conde. The Catholics quickly overpowered the Huguenot cavalry which caused disarray among the infantry. When de Conde was slain the battle ground to a halt, leaving the Catholics victors.

1781—The planet Uranus discovered by Sir William Herschel, who originally named it Georgium Sidus (Latin, the star of George), after George III.

1809—King Gustavus II of Sweden was kidnapped and Charles XIII was named Regent.

1865—The American Confederate Congress agreed to the recruitment of slaves into their army.

1881—Alexander II, Tsar of Russia, was assassinated. A reformer and pragmatist he had managed to make many changes in Russia without overly irritating anyone. An example was the emancipation of the serfs. The Lithuanian landowners asked that relations with their serfs might be regulated in a more satisfactory way -- meaning of course a way more satisfactory to the landowners. Carefully misreading their request, Alexander ordered the formation of committees to ameliorate the conditions of the peasants and congratulated the landowners on their "generous and patriotic intentions" and suggested that landed proprietors of other provinces might follow suit. The opposition to his reign came from the Nihilists, a section of the educated classes from the universities and higher technical schools, and he fell a victim to one of their plots. When driving in a central street of St Petersburg near the Winter Palace he was mortally wounded by the explosion of some small bombs, dying a few hours later.

1955—Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah became King of Nepal.

1976—The Olympic Bravery breaks in two on the French coast near Brest.

Today's birthdays:
— Charles, Earl Grey, politician (1764-1845).
— Hugo Wolf, composer (1860-1903).

Thought for today:
A home, to be a real home, must be a haven to which one can return with a sign of contentment and relax amid cheerful, soothing surroundings. Something like a lounge bar of the better type.
— Lennie Lower.

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This article was compiled by James Finlayson-Bald.
It was edited and illustrated by David Paul Wagner (David Paul Wagner on Google+).

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