On This Day … 17 February


  • 1370 – Northern Crusades: Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Teutonic Knights meet in the Battle of Rudau.
  • 1411 – Following the successful campaigns during the Ottoman Interregnum, Musa Çelebi, one of the sons of Bayezid I, becomes Sultan of the Ottoman Empire with the support of Mircea I of Wallachia.
  • 1500 – Duke Friedrich and Duke Johann attempt to subdue the peasantry of Dithmarschen, Denmark, in the Battle of Hemmingstedt.
  • 1621 – Myles Standish is appointed as first military commander of the English Plymouth Colony in North America.
  • 1739 – The Battle of Vasai commences as the Marathas move to invade Portuguese-occupied territory.
  • 1814 – War of the Sixth Coalition: The Battle of Mormant.
  • 1819 – The United States House of Representatives passes the Missouri Compromise for the first time.
  • 1838 – Weenen massacre: Hundreds of Voortrekkers along the Blaukraans River, Natal are killed by Zulus.
  • 1854 – The United Kingdom recognizes the independence of the Orange Free State.
  • 1859 – Cochinchina Campaign: The French Navy captured the Citadel of Saigon, a fortress that was manned by 1,000 Nguyễn dynasty soldiers, en route to conquering Saigon and other regions of southern Viet Nam.
  • 1863 – A group of citizens of Geneva founded an International Committee for Relief to the Wounded, which later became known as the International Committee of the Red Cross.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: The H.L. Hunley becomes the first submarine to engage and sink a warship, the USS Housatonic.
  • 1865 – American Civil War: Columbia, South Carolina, is burned as Confederate forces flee from advancing Union forces.
  • 1867 – The first ship passes through the Suez Canal.
  • 1871 – The victorious Prussian Army parades through Paris, France, after the end of the Siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War.
  • 1919 – The Ukrainian People’s Republic asks Entente and the US for help fighting the Bolsheviks.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Battle of Eniwetok begins: The battle ends in an American victory on 22 February.
  • 1944 – World War II: Operation Hailstone begins: US naval air, surface, and submarine attack against Truk Lagoon, Japan’s main base in the central Pacific, in support of the Eniwetok invasion.
  • 1949 – Chaim Weizmann begins his term as the first President of Israel.
  • 1964 – Gabonese president Léon M’ba is toppled by a coup and his rival, Jean-Hilaire Aubame, is installed in his place.
  • 1972 – Cumulative sales of the Volkswagen Beetle exceed those of the Ford Model T.
  • 1974 – Robert K. Preston, a disgruntled US Army private, buzzes the White House in a stolen helicopter.
  • 1978 – The Troubles: The Provisional IRA detonates an incendiary bomb at the La Mon restaurant, near Belfast, killing 12 and seriously injuring 30 others, all Protestants.
  • 1979 – The Sino-Vietnamese War begins.
  • 1992 – First Nagorno-Karabakh War: Armenian troops massacre more than 20 Azerbaijani civilians during the Capture of Garadaghly.
  • 1995 – The Cenepa War between Peru and Ecuador ends on a ceasefire brokered by the UN.
  • 2008 – Kosovo declares independence from Serbia.
    • Independence Day, celebrates the independence declaration of Kosovo in 2008, still partially recognised.
  • 2011 – Arab Spring: Libyan protests against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime begin.
    • In Bahrain, security forces launched a deadly pre-dawn raid on protesters in Pearl Roundabout in Manama, the day is locally known as Bloody Thursday.
  • 2016 – Military vehicles explode outside a Turkish Armed Forces barracks in Ankara, Turkey, killing at least 29 people and injuring 61 others.

People (Births)

  • 1781 – René Laennec, French physician, invented the stethoscope (d. 1826).
  • 1862 – Mori Ōgai, Japanese general, author, and poet (d. 1922).
  • 1877 – André Maginot, French sergeant and politician (d. 1932).
  • 1908 – Bo Yibo, Chinese general and politician, Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China (d. 2007).
  • 1920 – Curt Swan, American soldier and illustrator (d. 1996).
  • 1929 – Nicholas Ridley, Baron Ridley of Liddesdale, English lieutenant and politician, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (d. 1993).
  • 1933 – Craig L. Thomas, American captain and politician (d. 2007).
  • 1951 – Rashid Minhas, Pakistani soldier and pilot (d. 1971).
  • 1959 – Rowdy Gaines, American swimmer and sportscaster.
  • 1961 – Maria Eagle, English politician, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence.
  • 1989 – Rebecca Adlington, English swimmer.

People (Deaths)

  • 1998 – Ernst Jünger, German soldier, philosopher, and author (b. 1895).
  • 2015 – Liu Yudi, Chinese general and pilot (b. 1923).

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