1902 Encyclopedia > Today in History > The first ironclad battleship, William the Silent assassinated, Elizabeth I visits Kenilworth Castle, and more

Today in History - July 9
• The First Ironclad Battleship
• William the Silent Assassinated
• Elizabeth I Visits Kenilworth Castle

-- Compiled by James Finlayson-Bald

Turtle Ship (or Tortoise Ship) image

A Korean "tortoise ship" (or "turtle ship"), an ironclad battleship built more than three centuries before the United States launched their ironclad, Merrimac, based on exactly the same design idea.

On this date:

118--Publius Aelius Hadrianus (Hadrian) arrived back in Rome after pacifying the Danubian region and got a lovely Triumph.

1386--Battle of Sempach. Duke Leopold had 4000 Austrians against 1500 Swiss Confederates. The Swiss won when Arnold von Winkelried broke the line of the Austrian spearmen at the cost of his life, and enabled his followers to penetrate their phalanx. The Austrians lost 1500, the Swiss 120.

1497--Vasco da Gama set sail with 160 men and four ships on the expedition that would discover a route to India, alas.

1575--Elizabeth I arrived at Kenilworth Castle for a 19-day, and very costly, visit. On the Queen's first entry "a small floating island illuminated by a great variety of torches... made its appearance upon the lake", upon which, clad in silks, were the Lady of the Lake and two nymphs waiting on her, and for the several days of her stay "rare shews and sports were there exercised". The Earl of Leicester had married the Dowager Lady Sheffield and the Queen was furious, so Leicester was sucking up to her. When he died the Crown hopped in rather smartly and seized Kenilworth.

1584--William the Silent, Prince of Orange, was assassinated. In 1559 he was made Stadholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht by Philip II of Spain whom he served ably as a diplomat. He was, however, horrified by the persecution of the Protestants in the Netherlands. Failure to obtain an agreement which would secure toleration for all was followed (1567) by the arrival of that, arch-fiend, the Duke of Alba, to crush the independence movement and stamp out Protestantism. He forced William to disband his army and take refuge in Germany, but his subsequent cruelty (in five years 18,000 people were executed for the good of their souls, and 100,000 forced into exile) stirred up the antagonism that inspired William's subsequent leadership and led to the emergency of Holland as a separate state. William was chosen as Count of Holland and Zeeland but before he could be installed he was assassinated at Delft by Balthasar Gerard, a Catholic fanatic. The Duke of Alva lived happily ever after, dying in bed aged 74.

1592--Korean Admiral Yi Sun-sin destroyed 120 Japanese war vessels and most of a convoy^of transports in the battle of the Yellow Sea. Admiral Yi used the Kwi-sun or "tortoise-ship" which he had himself invented. The whole deck and sides were covered by a carapace of of ironplate to give protection from missiles and with iron spikes to deter boarders. A ram and archery ports pierced through the plate made the Kwi-sun a formidable opponent. When 300 years later, the Americans seized on exactly the same idea and built the ironclad Merrimac, it was hailed, as the emergence of the true war vessel!

-- Mrs Anne Radcliffe, Gothic novelist (1764-1823)
-- Ottorini Respighi, composer (1879-1936)

"The history of the world is the record of a man in quest of his daily bread."
-- Hendrik van Loon.

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

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