On This Day … 21 August


  • 1140 – Song dynasty general Yue Fei defeats an army led by Jin dynasty general Wuzhu at the Battle of Yancheng during the Jin–Song Wars.
  • 1192 – Minamoto no Yoritomo becomes Sei-i Taishōgun and the de facto ruler of Japan. (Traditional Japanese date: the 12th day of the 7th month in the 3rd year of the Kenkyū (建久) era).
  • 1331 – King Stefan Uroš III, after months of anarchy, surrenders to his son and rival Stefan Dušan, who succeeds as King of Serbia.
  • 1415 – Henry the Navigator leads Portuguese forces to victory over the Marinids at the Battle of Ceuta.
  • 1680 – Pueblo Indians capture Santa Fe from the Spanish during the Pueblo Revolt.
  • 1689 – The Battle of Dunkeld in Scotland.
  • 1716 – Seventh Ottoman–Venetian War: The arrival of naval reinforcements and the news of the Battle of Petrovaradin force the Ottomans to abandon the Siege of Corfu, thus preserving the Ionian Islands under Venetian rule.
  • 1770 – James Cook formally claims eastern Australia for Great Britain, naming it New South Wales.
  • 1772 – King Gustav III completes his coup d’état by adopting a new Constitution, ending half a century of parliamentary rule in Sweden and installing himself as an enlightened despot.
  • 1778 – American Revolutionary War: British forces begin besieging the French outpost at Pondichéry.
  • 1791 – A Vodou ceremony, led by Dutty Boukman, turns into a violent slave rebellion, beginning the Haitian Revolution.
  • 1808 – Battle of Vimeiro: British and Portuguese forces led by General Arthur Wellesley defeat French force under Major-General Jean-Andoche Junot near the village of Vimeiro, Portugal, the first Anglo-Portuguese victory of the Peninsular War.
  • 1810 – Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, Marshal of France, is elected Crown Prince of Sweden by the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates.
  • 1821 – Jarvis Island is discovered by the crew of the ship, Eliza Frances.
  • 1831 – Nat Turner leads black slaves and free blacks in a rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, which will claim the lives of 55 to 65 whites and about twice that number of blacks.
  • 1852 – Tlingit Indians destroy Fort Selkirk, Yukon Territory.
  • 1863 – Lawrence, Kansas is destroyed by pro-Confederate guerrillas known as Quantrill’s Raiders.
  • 1914 – World War I: The Battle of Charleroi, a successful German attack across the River Sambre that pre-empted a French offensive in the same area.
  • 1918 – World War I: The Second Battle of the Somme begins.
  • 1942 – World War II: The Guadalcanal Campaign: American forces defeat an attack by Imperial Japanese Army soldiers in the Battle of the Tenaru.
  • 1944 – Dumbarton Oaks Conference, prelude to the United Nations, begins.
  • 1944 – World War II: Canadian and Polish units capture the strategically important town of Falaise, Calvados, France.
  • 1945 – Physicist Harry Daghlian is fatally irradiated in a criticality accident during an experiment with the Demon core at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
  • 1957 – The Soviet Union successfully conducts a long-range test flight of the R-7 Semyorka, the first intercontinental ballistic missile.
  • 1963 – Xá Lợi Pagoda raids: The Army of the Republic of Vietnam Special Forces loyal to Ngô Đình Nhu, brother of President Ngo Dinh Diem, vandalizes Buddhist pagodas across the country, arresting thousands and leaving an estimated hundreds dead.
  • 1968 – Cold War: Nicolae Ceaușescu, leader of Communist Romania, publicly condemns the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, encouraging the Romanian population to arm itself against possible Soviet reprisals.
  • 1968 – James Anderson Jr. posthumously receives the first Medal of Honour to be awarded to an African American US Marine.
  • 1982 – Lebanese Civil War: The first troops of a multinational force lands in Beirut to oversee the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s withdrawal from Lebanon.
  • 1991 – Coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev collapses.
  • 2013 – Hundreds of people are reported killed by chemical attacks in the Ghouta region of Syria.

People (Births)

  • 1535 – Shimazu Yoshihiro, Japanese general (d. 1619).
  • 1670 – James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick, French general and politician, Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire (d. 1734).
  • 1754 – Banastre Tarleton, English general and politician (d. 1833).
  • 1800 – Hiram Walden, American general and politician (d. 1880).
  • 1897 – Keith Arbuthnott, 15th Viscount of Arbuthnott, Scottish soldier and peer (d. 1966).
  • 1922 – Albert Irvin, English soldier and painter (d. 2015).
  • 1952 – Jiří Paroubek, Czech soldier and politician, 6th Prime Minister of the Czech Republic.

People (Deaths)

  • 913 – Tang Daoxi, Chinese general.
  • 1534 – Philippe Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, 44th Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitaller (b. 1464).
  • 1568 – Jean Parisot de Valette, 49th Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitaller (b. 1495).
  • 1673 – Henry Grey, 1st Earl of Stamford, English soldier (b. 1599).
  • 1853 – Charles Tristan, marquis de Montholon, French general (b. 1783).
  • 1870 – Ma Xinyi, Chinese general and politician, Viceroy of Liangjiang (b. 1821).
  • 1940 – Leon Trotsky, Russian theorist and politician, founded the Red Army (b. 1879).
  • 2007 – Elizabeth P. Hoisington, American general (b. 1918).
  • 2012 – Georg Leber, German soldier and politician, Federal Minister of Defence for Germany (b. 1920).
  • 2012 – J. Frank Raley Jr., American soldier and politician (b. 1926).
  • 2013 – C. Gordon Fullerton, American colonel, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1936).
  • 2013 – Enos Nkala, Zimbabwean politician, Zimbabwean Minister of Defence (b. 1932).
  • 2014 – Steven R. Nagel, American colonel, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1946).
  • 2015 – Wang Dongxing, Chinese commander and politician (b. 1916).
  • 2017 – Bajram Rexhepi, First Kosovan Prime Ministers of UN mission administration in Kosovo (b. 1954).

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