On This Day … 16 July


  • 997 – Battle of Spercheios: Bulgarian forces of Tsar Samuel are defeated by a Byzantine army under general Nikephoros Ouranos at the Spercheios River in Greece.
  • 1212 – Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa: After Pope Innocent III calls European knights to a crusade, forces of Kings Alfonso VIII of Castile, Sancho VII of Navarre, Peter II of Aragon and Afonso II of Portugal defeat those of the Berber Muslim leader Almohad, thus marking a significant turning point in the Reconquista and in the medieval history of Spain.
  • 1232 – The Spanish town of Arjona declares independence and names its native Muhammad ibn Yusuf as ruler.
    • This marks the Muhammad’s first rise to prominence; he would later establish the Nasrid Emirate of Granada, the last independent Muslim state in Spain.
  • 1661 – The first banknotes in Europe are issued by the Swedish bank Stockholms Banco.
  • 1683 – Manchu Qing dynasty naval forces under traitorous commander Shi Lang defeat the Kingdom of Tungning in the Battle of Penghu near the Pescadores Islands.
  • 1769 – Father Junípero Serra founds California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá. Over the following decades, it evolves into the city of San Diego, California.
  • 1779 – American Revolutionary War: Light infantry of the Continental Army seize a fortified British Army position in a midnight bayonet attack at the Battle of Stony Point.
  • 1790 – The District of Columbia is established as the capital of the United States after signature of the Residence Act.
  • 1809 – The city of La Paz, in what is today Bolivia, declares its independence from the Spanish Crown during the La Paz revolution and forms the Junta Tuitiva, the first independent government in Spanish America, led by Pedro Domingo Murillo.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: At the order of President Abraham Lincoln, Union troops begin a 25-mile march into Virginia for what will become the First Battle of Bull Run, the first major land battle of the war.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: David Farragut is promoted to rear admiral, becoming the first officer in United States Navy to hold an admiral rank.
  • 1915 – Henry James becomes a British citizen to highlight his commitment to Britain during the First World War.
  • 1927 – Augusto César Sandino leads a raid on US Marines and Nicaraguan Guardia Nacional that had been sent to apprehend him in the village of Ocotal, but is repulsed by one of the first dive-bombing attacks in history.
  • 1935 – The world’s first parking meter is installed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
  • 1942 – World War II: Holocaust: Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup (Rafle du Vel’ d’Hiv): The government of Vichy France orders the mass arrest of 13,152 Jews who are held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver in Paris before deportation to Auschwitz.
  • 1945 – World War II: The heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis leaves San Francisco with parts for the atomic bomb “Little Boy” bound for Tinian Island.
  • 1945 – Manhattan Project: The Atomic Age begins when the United States successfully detonates a plutonium-based test nuclear weapon near Alamogordo, New Mexico.
  • 1948 – Following token resistance, the city of Nazareth, revered by Christians as the hometown of Jesus, capitulates to Israeli troops during Operation Dekel in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
  • 1948 – The storming of the cockpit of the Miss Macao passenger seaplane, operated by a subsidiary of the Cathay Pacific Airways, marks the first aircraft hijacking of a commercial plane.
  • 1950 – Korean War: Chaplain-Medic massacre: American POWs are massacred by North Korean Army.
  • 1965 – Vietnam War: South Vietnamese Colonel Phạm Ngọc Thảo, a formerly undetected communist spy and double agent, is hunted down and killed by unknown individuals after being sentenced to death in absentia for a February 1965 coup attempt against Nguyễn Khánh.
  • 1979 – Iraqi President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr resigns and is replaced by Saddam Hussein.
  • 2015 – Four US Marines and one gunman die in a shooting spree targeting military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  • Holocaust Memorial Day (France).

People (Births)

  • 1661 – Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, Canadian captain, explorer, and politician (d. 1706).
  • 1918 – Denis Edward Arnold, English soldier (d. 2015).
  • 1918 – Paul Farnes, famed World War II Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter pilot and one of “The Few” surviving pilots of the Battle of Britain (d. 2020).
  • 1919 – Hermine Braunsteiner, Austrian SS officer (d. 1999).
  • 1929 – Gaby Tanguy, French swimmer.
  • 1935 – Carl Epting Mundy Jr., American general (d. 2014).
  • 1953 – Douglas J. Feith, American lawyer and politician, Under Secretary of Defence for Policy.
  • 1957 – Alexandra Marinina, Ukrainian-Russian colonel and author.
  • 1959 – Jürgen Ligi, Estonian economist and politician, 25th Estonian Minister of Defence.
  • 1964 – Miguel Induráin, Spanish cyclist.
  • 1968 – Larry Sanger, American philosopher and businessman, co-founded Wikipedia and Citizendium.
  • 1977 – Bryan Budd, Northern Ireland-born English soldier, Victoria Cross recipient (d. 2006).
  • 1982 – André Greipel, German cyclist.
  • 1984 – Attila Szabó, Hungarian decathlete.

People (Deaths)

  • 1691 – François-Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois, French politician, French Secretary of State for War (b. 1641).
  • 1796 – George Howard, English field marshal and politician (b. 1718).
  • 1831 – Louis Alexandre Andrault de Langeron, French-Russian general (b. 1763).
  • 1939 – Bartholomeus Roodenburch, Dutch swimmer (b. 1866).
  • 1960 – Albert Kesselring, German field marshal (b. 1881).
  • 1964 – Rauf Orbay, Turkish colonel and politician, Prime Minister of Turkey (b. 1881).
  • 1991 – Meindert DeJong, Dutch-American soldier and author (b. 1906).
  • 1996 – Adolf von Thadden, German lieutenant and politician (b. 1921).
  • 2004 – Charles Sweeney, American general and pilot (b. 1919).

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