1902 Encyclopedia > Today in History > A disastrous Crusader defeat, Zulus face Briitain's Gatling guns, and more

Today in History - July 4
• A Disastrous Crusader Defeat
• The Zulus Face Britain's Gatling Guns

-- Compiled by James Finlayson-Bald

Saladin and Guy at Hattin, 1187 (image)

The Muslim leader, Saladin, and the Crusader leader and King of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan, after the Battle of the Horns of Hattin (or the Battle of Hattin) in 1187

On this date:

1187--Battle of the Horns of Hattin, when Saladin annihilated the greatest army that the Crusaders had assembled. The Holy Cross was taken by the victor, the Bishop of Acre killed. Taken prisoner were Guy, King of Jerusalem, his brother the Constable Amalric, the Grand Master of the Temple, the Marquis of Montferrat and the Lords of Jebail and Botrun.

1653--The "Barebones Parliament" met for the first time. It derived its name from Praise-God Barbone, a wealthy leather-seller and sectarian preacher. He was admitted Freeman of the Leathersellers Company in 1623 and Liveryman in 1634; and about the same time became minister of a congregation which assembled at his house, the "Lock and Key" in Fleet Street. He was a popular preacher but sometimes his opinions occasioned riots, as on December 19, 1641, when a mob attacked his house and one man was kicked "as if they meant to beate him into a jelly". He was summoned to sit as member for the City of London in the assembly of nominees. He appears to have taken no part in the debates and after the members' resignation in December '53, he sat in no other parliament.

1879--Battle of the Royal Zulu Kraal at Ulundi. The British government was shocked when the Zulus defeated the Imperial troops at Isandhlwana, one of the worst defeats suffered in the 19th century. General Wolseley was quickly despatched to "restore order" (allow British access to the diamond mines), but Lord Chelmsford already had a force in the field. Against 20,000 Zulu Chelmsford had 17,000 troops armed not only with rifles, but the new Gatling (machine) guns. Approaching the royal kraal Chelmsford's army formed a classic square. The Zulu formed a crescent and advanced at a jog to their last great battle. Not one got within 30 yards of the British lines. A hail of lead from rifles and Gatling guns scythed down wave after wave of warriors. "Their noble ardour", wrote one war correspondent, "could not endure in the face of the appliances of civilized warfare." When the Zulu attack faltered, the 17th Lancers charged out of the square to deliver the final blow. When the Zulu King Cetshwayo was captured, the Zulu War ended -- and the Zulu nation. In 1887 Zululand was annexed by the Crown, and once-proud warriors became labourers and houseboys on Natal estates.

1883--The people of France presented the statue of Liberty to the Americans. The figure, said to be modelled on the mother of the sculptor, Bartholdi, is 305 feet high.

-- Murad III, Sultan of Turkey (1546-1595)
-- Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italian patriot (1807-1882)

"To pardon the oppressor is to deal harshly with the oppressed." - Sa'di, Gulistan (1258)

The above article was written by James Finlayson-Bald.
Edited and illustrations added by David Paul Wagner.

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