On This Day … 15 December


  • 533 – Vandalic War: Byzantine general Belisarius defeats the Vandals, commanded by King Gelimer, at the Battle of Tricamarum.
  • 1025 – Constantine VIII becomes sole emperor of the Byzantine Empire, 63 years after being crowned co-emperor.
  • 1161 – Jin–Song wars: Military officers conspire against the emperor Wanyan Liang of the Jin dynasty after a military defeat at the Battle of Caishi, and assassinate the emperor at his camp.
  • 1167 – Sicilian Chancellor Stephen du Perche moves the royal court to Messina to prevent a rebellion.
  • 1256 – Mongol forces under Hulagu enter and dismantle the Nizari Ismaili (Assassin) stronghold at Alamut Castle (in present-day Iran) as part of their offensive on Islamic southwest Asia.
  • 1270 – The Nizari Ismaili garrison of Gerdkuh, Persia surrender after 17 years to the Mongols.
  • 1467 – Stephen III of Moldavia defeats Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, with the latter being injured thrice, at the Battle of Baia.
  • 1651 – Castle Cornet in Guernsey, the last stronghold which had supported the King in the Third English Civil War, surrenders.
  • 1778 – American Revolutionary War: British and French fleets clash in the Battle of St. Lucia.
  • 1890 – Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull is killed on Standing Rock Indian Reservation, leading to the Wounded Knee Massacre.
  • 1914 – World War I: The Serbian Army recaptures Belgrade from the invading Austro-Hungarian Army.
  • 1917 – World War I: An armistice between Russia and the Central Powers is signed.
  • 1941 – The Holocaust in Ukraine: German troops murder over 15,000 Jews at Drobytsky Yar, a ravine southeast of the city of Kharkiv.
  • 1942 – World War II: The Battle of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse begins during the Guadalcanal Campaign.
  • 1943 – World War II: The Battle of Arawe begins during the New Britain campaign.
  • 1944 – World War II: a single-engine UC-64A Norseman aeroplane carrying United States Army Air Forces Major Glenn Miller is lost in a flight over the English Channel.
  • 1945 – Occupation of Japan/Shinto Directive: General Douglas MacArthur orders that Shinto be abolished as the state religion of Japan.
  • 1960 – King Mahendra of Nepal suspends the country’s constitution, dissolves parliament, dismisses the cabinet, and imposes direct rule.
  • 1961 – Adolf Eichmann is sentenced to death after being found guilty by an Israeli court of 15 criminal charges, including charges of crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and membership of an outlawed organisation.
  • 1978 – US President Jimmy Carter announces that the United States will recognise the People’s Republic of China and sever diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan).
  • 1981 – A suicide car bombing targeting the Iraqi embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, levels the embassy and kills 61 people, including Iraq’s ambassador to Lebanon.
    • The attack is considered the first modern suicide bombing.
  • 1993 – The Troubles: The Downing Street Declaration is issued by British Prime Minister John Major and Irish Taoiseach Albert Reynolds.
  • 2005 – Introduction of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor into USAF active service.
  • 2013 – The South Sudanese Civil War begins when opposition leaders Dr. Riek Machar, Pagan Amum and Rebecca Nyandeng vote to boycott the meeting of the National Liberation Council at Nyakuron.

People (Births)

  • AD 37 – Nero, Roman emperor (d. 68).
  • 1242 – Prince Munetaka, Japanese shōgun (d. 1274).
  • 1789 – Carlos Soublette, Venezuelan general and politician, 11th President of Venezuela (d. 1870).
  • 1886 – Wanda Krahelska-Filipowicz, Polish politician and resistance fighter (d. 1968).
  • 1894 – Josef Imbach, Swiss sprinter (d. 1964).
  • 1920 – Kurt Schaffenberger, German-American sergeant and illustrator (d. 2002).
  • 1923 – Uziel Gal, German-Israeli engineer, designed the Uzi gun (d. 2002).
  • 1923 – Valentin Varennikov, Russian general and politician (d. 2009).
  • 1924 – Ruhi Sarıalp, Turkish triple jumper and educator (d. 2001).
  • 1953 – John R. Allen, American general and diplomat.
  • 1969 – Adam Setliff, American discus thrower and lawyer.
  • 1986 – Iveta Mazáčová, Czech sprinter.

People (Deaths)

  • 1878 – Alfred Bird, English chemist and businessman, invented baking powder (b. 1811).
  • 1966 – Keith Arbuthnott, 15th Viscount of Arbuthnott, Indian-Scottish general and politician, Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire (b. 1897).
  • 1991 – Vasily Zaytsev, Russian captain (b. 1915).
  • 2005 – William Proxmire, American soldier, journalist, and politician (b. 1915).
  • 2012 – Owoye Andrew Azazi, Nigerian general (b. 1952).

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