On This Day … 26 January


  • 661 – The Rashidun Caliphate is effectively ended with the assassination of Ali, the last caliph.
  • 945 – The co-emperors Stephen and Constantine are overthrown and forced to become monks by Constantine VII, who becomes sole emperor of the Byzantine Empire.
  • 1500 – Vicente Yáñez Pinzón becomes the first European to set foot on Brazil.
  • 1564 – The Grand Duchy of Lithuania defeats the Tsardom of Russia in the Battle of Ula during the Livonian War.
  • 1565 – Battle of Talikota, fought between the Vijayanagara Empire and the Deccan sultanates, leads to the subjugation, and eventual destruction of the last Hindu kingdom in India, and the consolidation of Islamic rule over much of the Indian subcontinent.
  • 1699 – For the first time, the Ottoman Empire permanently cedes territory to the Christian powers.
  • 1788 – The British First Fleet, led by Arthur Phillip, sails into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to establish Sydney, the first permanent European settlement on Australia.
    • Commemorated as Australia Day.
  • 1808 – The Rum Rebellion is the only successful (albeit short-lived) armed takeover of the government in New South Wales.
  • 1841 – James Bremer takes formal possession of Hong Kong Island at what is now Possession Point, establishing British Hong Kong.
  • 1855 – Point No Point Treaty is signed in Washington Territory.
  • 1856 – First Battle of Seattle: Marines from the USS Decatur drive off American Indian attackers after all-day battle with settlers.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: The state of Louisiana secedes from the Union.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: General Ambrose Burnside is relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac after the disastrous Fredericksburg campaign.
    • He is replaced by Joseph Hooker.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: Governor of Massachusetts John Albion Andrew receives permission from the Secretary of War to raise a militia organisation for men of African descent.
  • 1870 – Reconstruction Era: Virginia rejoins the Union.
  • 1885 – Troops loyal to The Mahdi conquer Khartoum, killing the Governor-General Charles George Gordon.
  • 1911 – Glenn Curtiss flies the first successful American seaplane.
  • 1918 – Finnish Civil War: A group of Red Guards hangs a red lantern atop the tower of Helsinki Workers’ Hall to symbolically mark the start of the war.
  • 1926 – The first demonstration of the television by John Logie Baird.
  • 1930 – The Indian National Congress declares 26 January as Independence Day or as the day for Poorna Swaraj (“Complete Independence”) which occurred 17 years later.
  • 1934 – German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact is signed.
  • 1939 – Spanish Civil War: Catalonia Offensive: Troops loyal to nationalist General Francisco Franco and aided by Italy take Barcelona.
  • 1942 – World War II: The first United States forces arrive in Europe, landing in Northern Ireland.
  • 1945 – World War II: The Red Army begins encircling the German Fourth Army near Heiligenbeil in East Prussia, which will end in destruction of the 4th Army two months later.
  • 1945 – World War II: Audie Murphy displays valour and bravery in action for which he will later be awarded the Medal of Honour.
  • 1950 – The Constitution of India comes into force, forming a republic.
    • Rajendra Prasad is sworn in as the first President of India.
    • Observed as Republic Day in India.
  • 1956 – Soviet Union cedes Porkkala back to Finland.
  • 1986 – The Ugandan government of Tito Okello is overthrown by the National Resistance Army, led by Yoweri Museveni.
  • 1991 – Mohamed Siad Barre is removed from power in Somalia, ending centralised government, and is succeeded by Ali Mahdi.
  • 1992 – Boris Yeltsin announces that Russia will stop targeting United States cities with nuclear weapons.
  • 2015 – An aircraft crashes at Los Llanos Air Base in Albacete, Spain, killing 11 people and injuring 21 others.

People (Births)

  • 1436 – Henry Beaufort, 3rd Duke of Somerset, Lancastrian military commander (d. 1464).
  • 1716 – George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville, English general and politician, Secretary of State for the Colonies (d. 1785).
  • 1880 – Douglas MacArthur, American general, Medal of Honour recipient (d. 1964).
  • 1887 – Marc Mitscher, American admiral and pilot (d. 1947).
  • 1917 – Louis Zamperini, American runner and captain (d. 2014).
  • 1918 – Nicolae Ceaușescu, Romanian dictator, 1st President of Romania (d. 1989).
  • 1923 – Patrick J. Hannifin, American admiral (d. 2014).
  • 1937 – Joseph Saidu Momoh, Sierra Leonean soldier and politician, 2nd President of Sierra Leone (d. 2003).
  • 1981 – Juan José Haedo, Argentinian cyclist.
  • 1984 – Luo Xuejuan, Chinese swimmer.
  • 1985 – Heather Stanning, English rower.

People (Deaths)

  • 1744 – Ludwig Andreas von Khevenhüller, Austrian field marshal (b. 1683).
  • 1799 – Gabriel Christie, Scottish general (b. 1722).
  • 1831 – Sangolli Rayanna, Indian soldier (b. 1798).
  • 1869 – Duncan Gordon Boyes, English soldier; Victoria Cross recipient (b. 1846).
  • 1885 – Charles George Gordon, English general and politician (b. 1833).
  • 1886 – David Rice Atchison, American general and politician (b. 1807).
  • 1891 – Nicolaus Otto, German engineer, invented the Internal combustion engine (b. 1833).
  • 1893 – Abner Doubleday, American general (b. 1819).
  • 1948 – Kâzım Karabekir, Turkish general and politician, 5th Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (b. 1882).
  • 1952 – Khorloogiin Choibalsan, Mongolian general and politician, 12th Prime Minister of Mongolia (b. 1895).
  • 2015 – Tom Uren, Australian soldier and politician (b. 1921).

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