Today in History - July 28
The Turks Use Explosive Bombs in Warfare
French Revolutionary Robespierre Guillotined
Russian Minister Plehve Assassinated
-- Compiled by James Finlayson-Bald
The arrest and attempted suicide of Maximilien de Robespierre, one of the leaders of the French Revolution, in July 1794. He was guillotined the following day without trial. (Image: A 1796 print by an unknown artist.)
On this date:
1480--A second (and successful) siege was begun at Rhodes by Suleiman the Magnificent against the Knights of St.John of Jerusalem. It lasted until December 21 when the Knights surrenderee and were permitted to leave the island. The Turkish army employed explosive bombs, the first time their use was noted in Europe although they had been used in Japan 200 years previously. The Turkish losses through battle and disease was said to be 60,000 men.
1540--Thomas Cromwell, Secretary to Henry Eight, died. He carried out the dissolution of the monasteries and secured a large part of their revenue for the Crown. He supported Henry's personal schemes - he was present at the execution of Anne Boleyn - and by centralising the administration and making it more efficient added to his power. He was loaded with honours, culminating with the earldom of Essex for arranging Henry's marriage with Anne of Cleves. This service proved his undoing. He was widely unpopular for his ruthlessness and self-aggrandisement and so, when the marriage failed, Henry could vent his anger in the certainty of public approval. Cromwell was arrested, condemned by bill of attainder for heresy and treason, and executed.
1794--Maximilien de Robespierre died. At first he attracted little attention: later his rigidity and honesty earned him Marat's description "incorruptible", but it was by his speeches and his gift for putting into words what others were feeling that he gradually gained ascendancy in the Jacobin Club, the meeting place of the extreme Republicans encouraged and supported by the Paris mob. Gradually his name became a symbol of the "Terror". As the Reign of Terror increased his colleagues began to fear for their lives. A scene was staged in the Convention during which Robespierre was denounced and arrested. On the next day after rescue and recapture, he was guillotined with nineteen others.
1904--The Russian Minister of the Interior Plehve, was assassinated. He carried out the "russification" of the alien provinces within the Russian Empire, and earned bitter hatred in Poland, in Lithuania and especially in Finland. He despoiled the Armenian church and oppressed the Americans of the Caucasus, and he was credited with being accessory to the Kishinev massacres. His logical mind and determined support of the autocratic principle gained the Tsar's confidence. He opposed commercial development on ordinary European lines on the ground that it involved both a dangerous proletariat and a prosperous middle class, both inimical to autocracy. He was assassinated by a bomb thrown under his carriage by Sasanov, a member of the socialist revolutionary party.
1945--A B-25 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building.
1958--U.S.Marines landed in Cuba to protect the Guantanomo Naval Base.
-- Beatrix Potter, writer (1866-1943)
-- Leonide Massine, dancer (1896-1979)
-- Rudy Vallee, singer (1901-1986)
"Pessimism, when you get used to it, is just as agreeable as optimism." Arnold Bennett.
The above article was written by James Finlayson-Bald.
Edited and illustrations added by David Paul Wagner.