On This Day … 23 November


  • 1174 – Saladin enters Damascus, and adds it to his domain.
  • 1248 – Conquest of Seville by Christian troops under King Ferdinand III of Castile.
  • 1499 – Pretender to the throne Perkin Warbeck is hanged for reportedly attempting to escape from the Tower of London.
    • He had invaded England in 1497, claiming to be the lost son of King Edward IV of England.
  • 1531 – The Second War of Kappel results in the dissolution of the Protestant alliance in Switzerland.
  • 1733 – The start of the 1733 slave insurrection on St. John in what was then the Danish West Indies.
  • 1808 – French and Poles defeat the Spanish at Battle of Tudela.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: Battle of Chattanooga begins: Union forces led by General Ulysses S. Grant reinforce troops at Chattanooga, Tennessee, and counter-attack Confederate troops.
  • 1914 – Mexican Revolution: The last of US forces withdraw from Veracruz, occupied seven months earlier in response to the Tampico Affair.
  • 1934 – An Anglo-Ethiopian boundary commission in the Ogaden discovers an Italian garrison at Walwal, well within Ethiopian territory. This leads to the Abyssinia Crisis.
  • 1939 – World War II: HMS Rawalpindi is sunk by the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.
  • 1940 – World War II: Romania becomes a signatory of the Tripartite Pact, officially joining the Axis powers.
  • 1943 – World War II: The Deutsche Opernhaus on Bismarckstraße in the Berlin neighborhood of Charlottenburg is destroyed.
    • It will eventually be rebuilt in 1961 and be called the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
  • 1943 – World War II: Tarawa and Makin atolls fall to American forces.
  • 1946 – French naval bombardment of Hai Phong, Vietnam, kills thousands of civilians.
  • 1955 – The Cocos Islands are transferred from the control of the United Kingdom to that of Australia.
  • 1959 – French President Charles de Gaulle declares in a speech in Strasbourg his vision for “Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals”.
  • 1963 – The BBC broadcasts An Unearthly Child (starring William Hartnell), the first episode of the first story from the first series of Doctor Who, which is now the world’s longest running science fiction drama.
  • 1971 – Representatives of the People’s Republic of China attend the United Nations, including the United Nations Security Council, for the first time.
  • 1974 – Sixty Ethiopian politicians, aristocrats, military officers, and other persons are executed by the provisional military government.
  • 1981 – Iran–Contra affair: Ronald Reagan signs the top secret National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), giving the Central Intelligence Agency the authority to recruit and support Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
  • 1985 – Gunmen hijack EgyptAir Flight 648 en route from Athens to Cairo. When the plane lands in Malta, Egyptian commandos storm the aircraft, but 60 people die in the raid.
  • 2010 – Bombardment of Yeonpyeong: North Korean artillery attack kills two civilians and two marines on Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea.

People (Births)

  • 1402 – Jean de Dunois, French soldier (d. 1468).
  • 1749 – Edward Rutledge, American captain and politician, 39th Governor of South Carolina (d. 1800).
  • 1804 – Franklin Pierce, American general, lawyer, and politician, 14th President of the United States (d. 1869).
  • 1897 – Karl Gebhardt, German physician and war criminal (d. 1948).
  • 1902 – Aaron Bank, American colonel (d. 2004).
  • 1922 – Võ Văn Kiệt, Vietnamese soldier and politician, 6th Prime Minister of Vietnam (d. 2008).
  • 1923 – Daniel Brewster, American colonel, lawyer, and politician (d. 2007).
  • 1923 – Julien J. LeBourgeois, American admiral (d. 2012).
  • 1956 – Shane Gould, Australian swimmer and coach.
  • 1968 – Robert Denmark, English runner and coach.
  • 1980 – Ishmael Beah, Sierra Leonean child soldier and American author.

People (Deaths)

  • 1763 – Friedrich Heinrich von Seckendorff, German field marshal and diplomat (b. 1673).
  • 1833 – Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, French general and politician, French Minister of Foreign Affairs (b. 1762).
  • 1974 – notable victims of the Massacre of the Sixty:
    • Abiye Abebe, Ethiopian general and politician (b. 1918).
    • Aman Andom, Ethiopian general and politician, President of Ethiopia (b. 1924).
    • Aklilu Habte-Wold, Ethiopian politician, Prime Minister of Ethiopia (b. 1912).
    • Asrate Kassa, Ethiopian commander (b. 1922).
    • Endelkachew Makonnen, Ethiopian politician, Prime Minister of Ethiopia (b. 1927).
  • 2005 – Frank Gatski, American football player and soldier (b. 1919).

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