On This Day … 17 April


  • 1080 – Harald III of Denmark dies and is succeeded by Canute IV, who would later be the first Dane to be canonised.
  • 1349 – The rule of the Bavand dynasty in Mazandaran is brought to an end by the murder of Hasan II.
  • 1362 – Kaunas Castle falls to the Teutonic Order after a month-long siege.
  • 1492 – Spain and Christopher Columbus sign the Capitulations of Santa Fe for his voyage to Asia to acquire spices.
  • 1524 – Giovanni da Verrazzano reaches New York harbour.
  • 1797 – Sir Ralph Abercromby attacks San Juan, Puerto Rico, in what would be one of the largest invasions of the Spanish territories in the Americas.
  • 1797 – Citizens of Verona begin an unsuccessful eight-day rebellion against the French occupying forces.
  • 1861 – The state of Virginia’s secession convention votes to secede from the United States, later becoming the eighth state to join the Confederate States of America.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: Grierson’s Raid begins: Troops under Union Army Colonel Benjamin Grierson attack central Mississippi.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: The Battle of Plymouth begins: Confederate forces attack Plymouth, North Carolina.
  • 1895 – The Treaty of Shimonoseki between China and Japan is signed. This marks the end of the First Sino-Japanese War, and the defeated Qing Empire is forced to renounce its claims on Korea and to concede the southern portion of the Fengtien province, Taiwan and the Pescadores Islands to Japan.
  • 1912 – Russian troops open fire on striking goldfield workers in northeast Siberia, killing at least 150.
  • 1941 – World War II: The Kingdom of Yugoslavia surrenders to Germany.
  • 1942 – French prisoner of war General Henri Giraud escapes from his castle prison in Königstein Fortress.
  • 1944 – Forces of the Communist-controlled Greek People’s Liberation Army attack the smaller National and Social Liberation resistance group, which surrenders. Its leader Dimitrios Psarros is murdered.
  • 1945 – World War II: Montese, Italy, is liberated from Nazi forces.
  • 1946 – The last French troops are withdrawn from Syria.
    • Evacuation Day (Syria), celebrates the recognition of the independence of Syria from France in 1946.
  • 1961 – Bay of Pigs Invasion: A group of Cuban exiles financed and trained by the CIA lands at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba with the aim of ousting Fidel Castro.
  • 1971 – The Provisional Government of Bangladesh is formed.
  • 1975 – The Cambodian Civil War ends. The Khmer Rouge captures the capital Phnom Penh and Cambodian government forces surrender.
  • 1978 – Mir Akbar Khyber is assassinated, provoking a communist coup d’état in Afghanistan.
  • 1982 – Patriation of the Canadian constitution in Ottawa by Proclamation of Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.

People (Births)

  • 1756 – Dheeran Chinnamalai, Indian commander (d. 1805).
  • 1875 – Aleksander Tõnisson, Estonian general and politician, 5th Estonian Minister of War (d. 1941).
  • 1895 – Robert Dean Frisbie, American soldier and author (d. 1948).
  • 1910 – Evangelos Averoff, Greek historian and politician, Greek Minister of Defence (d. 1990).
  • 1911 – Lester Rodney, American soldier and journalist (d. 2009).
  • 1915 – Martin Clemens, Scottish soldier (d. 2009).
  • 1915 – Joe Foss, American general and politician, 20th Governor of South Dakota (d. 2003).
  • 1919 – Gilles Lamontagne, Canadian lieutenant and politician, 24th Lieutenant Governor of Quebec (d. 2016).
  • 1923 – Neville McNamara, Australian air marshal (d. 2014).
  • 1923 – Harry Reasoner, American soldier and journalist (d. 1991).
  • 1952 – John McColl, English general and politician, Lieutenant Governor of Jersey.
  • 1952 – Željko Ražnatović, Serbian commander (d. 2000).

People (Deaths)

  • 1944 – Dimitrios Psarros, Greek lieutenant, founded the National and Social Liberation (b. 1893).
  • 1948 – Suzuki Kantarō, Japanese admiral and politician, 42nd Prime Minister of Japan (b. 1868).
  • 1995 – Frank E. Resnik, American sergeant and businessman (b. 1928).
  • 1997 – Chaim Herzog, Israeli general, lawyer, and politician, 6th President of Israel (b. 1918).
  • 2012 – Stanley Rogers Resor, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 9th United States Secretary of the Army (b. 1917).
  • 2015 – Robert P. Griffin, American soldier, lawyer, and politician (b. 1923).
  • 2015 – Jeremiah J. Rodell, American general (b. 1921).

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