On This Day … 29 February


  • 202 BC – Liu Bang is enthroned as the Emperor of China, beginning four centuries of rule by the Han dynasty.
  • 1246 – The siege of Jaén ends in the context of the Spanish Reconquista resulting in the Castilian takeover of the city from the Taifa of Jaen.
  • 1525 – Aztec king Cuauhtémoc is executed on the order of conquistador Hernán Cortés.
  • 1638 – The Scottish National Covenant is signed in Edinburgh.
  • 1710 – Battle of Helsingborg: 14,000 Danish invaders under Jørgen Rantzau are decisively defeated by an equally sized Swedish force under Magnus Stenbock. This is the last time Swedish and Danish troops meet on Swedish soil.
  • 1728 – Peshwa Bajirao I of the Maratha Empire defeats Asaf Jah I in the Battle of Palkhed.
  • 1838 – Robert Nelson, leader of the Patriotes, proclaims the independence of Lower Canada (today Quebec).
  • 1844 – A gun on USS Princeton explodes while the boat is on a Potomac River cruise, killing six people, including two United States Cabinet members.
  • 1847 – The Battle of the Sacramento River during the Mexican–American War is a decisive victory for the United States leading to the capture of Chihuahua.
  • 1893 – The USS Indiana, the lead ship of her class and the first battleship in the United States Navy comparable to foreign battleships of the time, is launched.
  • 1897 – Queen Ranavalona III, the last monarch of Madagascar, is deposed by a French military force.
  • 1900 – The Second Boer War: The 118-day “Siege of Ladysmith” is lifted.
  • 1922 – The United Kingdom ends its protectorate over Egypt through a Unilateral Declaration of Independence.
  • 1933 – Gleichschaltung: The Reichstag Fire Decree is passed in Germany a day after the Reichstag fire.
  • 1935 – DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invents nylon.
  • 1942 – The heavy cruiser USS Houston is sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait with 693 crew members killed, along with HMAS Perth which lost 375 men.
  • 1947 – February 28 Incident: In Taiwan, civil disorder is put down with the loss of an estimated 30,000 civilians.
  • 1948 – Christiansborg Cross-Roads shooting in the Gold Coast, when a British police officer opens fire on a march of ex-servicemen, killing three of them and sparking major riots and looting in Accra.
  • 1972 – China–United States relations: The United States and China sign the Shanghai Communiqué.
  • 1983 – The final episode of M.A.S.H. airs, with almost 106 million viewers. It still holds the record for the highest viewership of a season finale.
  • 1985 – The Provisional Irish Republican Army carries out a mortar attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary police station at Newry, killing nine officers in the highest loss of life for the RUC on a single day.
  • 1991 – The first Gulf War ends.
  • 1998 – First flight of RQ-4 Global Hawk, the first unmanned aerial vehicle certified to file its own flight plans and fly regularly in U.S. civilian airspace.
  • 1998 – Kosovo War: Serbian police begin the offensive against the Kosovo Liberation Army in Kosovo.

People (Births)

  • 1627 – Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl of Oxford, English soldier and politician, Lord Lieutenant of Essex (d. 1703).
  • 1712 – Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, French general (d. 1759).
  • 1724 – George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend, English field marshal and politician, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (d. 1807).
  • 1833 – Alfred von Schlieffen, German field marshal (d. 1913).
  • 1873 – William McMaster Murdoch, Scottish sailor (d. 1912).
  • 1883 – Seán Mac Diarmada, Irish rebel leader (d. 1916).
  • 1919 – Brian Urquhart, English soldier and diplomat, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.
  • 1920 – Jadwiga Piłsudska, Polish soldier, pilot, and architect (d. 2014).
  • 1923 – Charles Durning, American soldier and actor (d. 2012).
  • 1924 – Robert A. Roe, American soldier and politician (d. 2014).

People (Deaths)

  • 1942 – Karel Doorman, Dutch admiral (b. 1889).
  • 1966 – Charles Bassett, American captain, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1931).
  • 1966 – Elliot See, American commander, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1927).
  • 2003 – Fidel Sánchez Hernández, Salvadorian general and politician, President of El Salvador (b. 1917).
  • 2004 – Andres Nuiamäe, Estonian sergeant (b. 1982).

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