On This Day … 11 December


  • 220: Emperor Xian of Han is forced to abdicate the throne by his son Cao Cao, ending the Han dynasty.
  • 361: Julian enters Constantinople as sole Emperor of the Roman Empire.
  • 861: Assassination of the Abbasid caliph al-Mutawakkil by the Turkish guard, who raise al-Muntasir to the throne. Start of the “Anarchy at Samarra”.
  • 969: Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas is assassinated by his wife Theophano and her lover, the later Emperor John I Tzimiskes.
  • 1282: Battle of Orewin Bridge: Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last native Prince of Wales, is killed at Cilmeri, near Builth Wells, in mid-Wales.
  • 1602: A surprise attack by forces under the command of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, and his brother-in-law, Philip III of Spain, is repelled by the citizens of Geneva. (Commemorated annually by the Fête de l’Escalade.)
  • 1688: Glorious Revolution: James II of England, while trying to flee to France, throws the Great Seal of the Realm into the River Thames.
  • 1792: French Revolution: King Louis XVI of France is put on trial for treason by the National Convention.
  • 1868: Paraguayan War: Brazilian troops defeat Paraguayan at the Battle of Avay.
  • 1899: Second Boer War: In the Battle of Magersfontein the Boers commanded by general Piet Cronjé inflict a defeat on the forces of the British Empire commanded by Lord Methuen trying to relieve the Siege of Kimberley.
  • 1917: World War I: British General Edmund Allenby enters Jerusalem on foot and declares martial law.
  • 1920: Irish War of Independence: In retaliation for a recent IRA ambush, British forces burn and loot numerous buildings in Cork city. Many civilians report being beaten, shot at, robbed and verbally abused by British forces.
  • 1937: Second Italo-Ethiopian War: Italy leaves the League of Nations.
  • 1941: World War II: Germany and Italy declare war on the United States, following the Americans’ declaration of war on the Empire of Japan in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbour. The United States, in turn, declares war on them.
  • 1941: World War II: Poland declares war on the Empire of Japan.
  • 1941: World War II: The Imperial Japanese Navy suffers its first loss of surface vessels during the Battle of Wake Island.
  • 1948: Arab–Israeli War: The United Nations passes General Assembly Resolution 194, creating a Conciliation Commission to mediate the conflict.
  • 1958: French Upper Volta and French Dahomey gain self-government from France, becoming the Republic of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and the Republic of Dahomey (now Benin), respectively, and joining the French Community.
  • 1981: El Mozote massacre: Armed forces in El Salvador kill an estimated 900 civilians in an anti-guerrilla campaign during the Salvadoran Civil War.
  • 1990: Demonstrations by students and workers across Albania begin, which eventually trigger the fall of communism in Albania.
  • 1994: First Chechen War: Russian President Boris Yeltsin orders Russian troops into Chechnya.
  • 2006: Felipe Calderón, the President of Mexico, launches a military-led offensive to put down the drug cartel violence in the state of Michoacán. This effort is often regarded as the first event in the Mexican Drug War.
  • 2007: Insurgency in the Maghreb: Two car bombs explode in Algiers, Algeria, one near the Supreme Constitutional Court and the other near the offices of the United Nations.

People (Births)

  • 1465: Ashikaga Yoshihisa, Japanese shogun (d. 1489).
  • 1861: Frederick Eveleigh-de-Moleyns, 5th Baron Ventry, British Army officer and Anglo-Irish peer (d. 1923).
  • 1897: Ronald Skirth, English soldier (d. 1977).
  • 1908: Amon Göth, Austrian Nazi war criminal (d. 1946).
  • 1909: Ronald McKie, Australian soldier, journalist, and author (d. 1991).
  • 1924: Doc Blanchard, American football player and colonel (d. 2009).
  • 1932: Enrique Bermúdez, Nicaraguan colonel and engineer (d. 1991).
  • 1943: John Kerry, American lieutenant, lawyer, and politician, 68th United States Secretary of State.

People (Deaths)

  • 1582: Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba, Spanish general and politician, 12th Constable of Portugal (b. 1508).
  • 1686: Louis, Grand Condé, French general (b. 1621).
  • 1880: Oliver Winchester, American businessman, founded the Winchester Repeating Arms Company (b. 1810).
  • 1941: John Gillespie Magee, Jr., American pilot and poet (b. 1922).
  • 1951: Mustafa Muğlalı, Turkish general (b. 1882).
  • 1983: Neil Ritchie, Guyanese-English general (b. 1897).

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