On This Day … 12 May


  • 907 – Zhu Wen forces Emperor Ai into abdicating, ending the Tang dynasty after nearly three hundred years of rule.
  • 1510 – The Prince of Anhua rebellion begins when Zhu Zhifan kills all the officials invited to a banquet and declares his intent on ousting the powerful Ming dynasty eunuch Liu Jin during the reign of the Zhengde Emperor.
  • 1551 – National University of San Marcos, the oldest university in the Americas, is founded in Lima, Peru.
  • 1588 – French Wars of Religion: Henry III of France flees Paris after Henry I, Duke of Guise, enters the city and a spontaneous uprising occurs.
  • 1743 – Maria Theresa of Austria is crowned Queen of Bohemia after defeating her rival, Charles VII, Holy Roman Emperor.
  • 1780 – American Revolutionary War: In the largest defeat of the Continental Army, Charleston, South Carolina is taken by British forces.
  • 1797 – War of the First Coalition: Napoleon I of France conquers Venice.
  • 1821 – The first major battle of the Greek War of Independence against the Turks is fought in Valtetsi.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: US federal troops occupy Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: Battle of Raymond: Two divisions of James B. McPherson’s XVII Corps turn the left wing of Confederate General John C. Pemberton’s defensive line on Fourteen Mile Creek, opening up the interior of Mississippi to the Union Army during the Vicksburg Campaign.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House: Union troops assault a Confederate salient known as the “Mule Shoe”, with the fiercest fighting of the war, much of it hand-to-hand combat, occurring at “the Bloody Angle” on the northwest.
  • 1865 – American Civil War: The Battle of Palmito Ranch: The first day of the last major land action to take place during the Civil War, resulting in a Confederate victory.
  • 1870 – The Manitoba Act is given the Royal Assent, paving the way for Manitoba to become a province of Canada on July 15.
  • 1881 – In North Africa, Tunisia becomes a French protectorate.
  • 1885 – North-West Rebellion: The four-day Battle of Batoche, pitting rebel Métis against the Canadian government, comes to an end with a decisive rebel defeat.
  • 1888 – In Southeast Asia, the North Borneo Chartered Company’s territories become the British protectorate of North Borneo.
  • 1941 – Konrad Zuse presents the Z3, the world’s first working programmable, fully automatic computer, in Berlin.
  • 1942 – World War II: Second Battle of Kharkov: In eastern Ukraine, Red Army forces under Marshal Semyon Timoshenko launch a major offensive from the Izium bridgehead, only to be encircled and destroyed by the troops of Army Group South two weeks later.
  • 1942 – World War II: The US tanker SS Virginia is torpedoed in the mouth of the Mississippi River by the German submarine U-507.
  • 1949 – Cold War: The Soviet Union lifts its blockade of Berlin.
  • 1968 – Vietnam War: North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces attack Australian troops defending Fire Support Base Coral.
  • 1978 – In Zaire, rebels occupy the city of Kolwezi, the mining center of the province of Shaba (now known as Katanga); the local government asks the US, France and Belgium to restore order.
  • 1998 – Four students are shot at Trisakti University, leading to widespread riots and the fall of Suharto.

People (Births)

  • 1622 – Louis de Buade de Frontenac, French-Canadian soldier and politician, 3rd Governor General of New France (d. 1698).
  • 1767 – Manuel Godoy, Spanish field marshal and politician, Prime Minister of Spain (d. 1851).
  • 1840 – Alejandro Gorostiaga, Chilean colonel (d. 1912).
  • 1886 – Ernst A. Lehmann, German captain and pilot (d. 1937).
  • 1889 – Otto Frank, German-Swiss businessman and Holocaust survivor; father of diarist Anne Frank (d. 1980).
  • 1903 – Faith Bennett, British actress and ATA pilot during WWII (d. 1969).
  • 1912 – Henry Jonsson, Swedish runner (d. 2001).
  • 1937 – Beryl Burton, English cyclist (d. 1996).
  • 1946 – Daniel Libeskind, American architect, designed the Imperial War Museum North and Jewish Museum.
  • 1960 – Lisa Martin, Australian runner.
  • 1970 – Mark Foster, English swimmer.
  • 1985 – Andrew Howe, Italian long jumper and sprinter.
  • 1997 – Morgan Lake, English athlete.

People (Deaths)

  • 1641 – Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, English soldier and politician, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (b. 1593).
  • 1801 – Nicholas Repnin, Russian general and politician, Governor-General of Baltic provinces (b. 1734).
  • 1864 – J.E.B. Stuart, American general (b. 1833).
  • 1935 – Józef Piłsudski, Polish field marshal and politician, 15th Prime Minister of Poland (b. 1867).
  • 1963 – Robert Kerr, Irish-Canadian sprinter and coach (b. 1882).
  • 1966 – Felix Steiner, Russian-German SS officer (b. 1896).
  • 2016 – Mike Agostini, Trinidadian sprinter (b. 1935).

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