On This Day … 21 October


  • 1096 – A Seljuk Turkish army successfully fight off the People’s Crusade.
  • 1097 – Crusaders led by Godfrey of Bouillon, Bohemund of Taranto, and Raymond IV, Count of Toulouse, begin the Siege of Antioch.
  • 1209 – Otto IV is crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Innocent III.
  • 1392 – Japanese Emperor Go-Kameyama abdicates in favour of rival claimant Go-Komatsu.
  • 1520 – Ferdinand Magellan discovers a strait now known as the Strait of Magellan.
  • 1520 – João Álvares Fagundes discovers the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, bestowing them their original name of “Islands of the 11,000 Virgins”.
  • 1600 – Tokugawa Ieyasu defeats the leaders of rival Japanese clans in the Battle of Sekigahara and becomes shōgun of Japan.
  • 1797 – In Boston Harbor, the 44-gun United States Navy frigate USS Constitution is launched.
  • 1805 – Napoleonic Wars: A British fleet led by Lord Nelson defeats a combined French and Spanish fleet under Admiral Villeneuve in the Battle of Trafalgar.
    • Trafalgar Day (the British Empire in the 19th and early 20th century).
  • 1824 – Portland cement is patented.
  • 1854 – Florence Nightingale and a staff of 38 nurses are sent to the Crimean War.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: Union forces under Colonel Edward Baker are defeated by Confederate troops in the second major battle of the war.
  • 1867 – The Medicine Lodge Treaty is signed by southern Great Plains Indian leaders.
    • The treaty requires Native American Plains tribes to relocate to a reservation in western Oklahoma.
  • 1879 – Thomas Edison applies for a patent for his design for an incandescent light bulb.
  • 1895 – The Republic of Formosa collapses as Japanese forces invade.
  • 1910 – HMS Niobe arrives in Halifax Harbour to become the first ship of the Royal Canadian Navy.
  • 1931 – A secret society in the Imperial Japanese Army launches an abortive coup d’état attempt.
  • 1940 – The first edition of the Ernest Hemingway novel For Whom the Bell Tolls is published.
  • 1943 – World War II: The Provisional Government of Free India is formally established in Japanese-occupied Singapore.
  • 1944 – World War II: The first kamikaze attack damages HMAS Australia as the Battle of Leyte Gulf begins.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Nemmersdorf massacre against the German civilians takes place.
  • 1944 – World War II: The city of Aachen falls to American forces after three weeks of fighting, making it the first German city to fall to the Allies.
  • 1950 – Korean War: Heavy fighting begins between British and Australian forces against the North Koreans during the Battle of Yongju.
  • 1956 – The Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya is defeated.
  • 1959 – President Eisenhower approves the transfer of all US Army space-related activities to NASA, including most of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency.
  • 1967 – The National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam organizes a march of fifty thousand people from the Lincoln Memorial to the Pentagon.
  • 1969 – The 1969 Somali coup d’état establishes a Marxist–Leninist administration.
  • 1987 – The Jaffna hospital massacre is carried out by Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka, killing 70 ethnic Tamil patients, doctors and nurses.
  • 1994 – North Korea and the United States sign an Agreed Framework that requires North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons program and agree to inspections.
  • Armed Forces Day (Honduras).
  • Egyptian Naval Day (Egypt).

People (Births)

  • 1650 – Jean Bart, French admiral (d. 1702).
  • 1868 – Ernest Swinton, British Army officer (d. 1951).
  • 1886 – Eugene Burton Ely, American soldier and pilot (d. 1911).
  • 1919 – Jim Wallwork, English-Canadian sergeant and pilot (d. 2013).
  • 1949 – Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli captain and politician, 9th Prime Minister of Israel.

People (Deaths)

  • 1096 – Walter Sans Avoir, a leader of the First Crusade.
  • 1600 – Ōtani Yoshitsugu, Japanese samurai (b. 1558).
  • 1623 – William Wade, English politician and diplomat, Lieutenant of the Tower of London (b. 1546).
  • 1805 – John Cooke, English captain (b. 1763).
  • 1805 – George Duff, Scottish captain (b. 1764).
  • 1805 – Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, English admiral (b. 1758).
  • 1963 – Józef Franczak, Polish sergeant (b. 1918).
  • 1975 – Charles Reidpath, American runner and general (b. 1887).
  • 1996 – Georgios Zoitakis, Greek general and politician (b. 1910).
  • 1998 – Francis W. Sargent, American soldier and politician, 64th Governor of Massachusetts (b. 1915).
  • 2012 – George McGovern, American historian, lieutenant, and politician (b. 1922).
  • 2014 – Gough Whitlam, Australian lieutenant, lawyer, and politician, 21st Prime Minister of Australia (b. 1916).

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