On This Day … 17 July


  • 1203 – The Fourth Crusade assaults Constantinople. The Byzantine emperor Alexios III Angelos flees from his capital into exile.
  • 1429 – Hundred Years’ War: Charles VII of France is crowned the King of France in the Reims Cathedral after a successful campaign by Joan of Arc.
  • 1453 – Battle of Castillon: The last battle of Hundred Years’ War, the French under Jean Bureau defeat the English under the Earl of Shrewsbury, who is killed in the battle in Gascony.
  • 1771 – Bloody Falls massacre: Chipewyan chief Matonabbee, traveling as the guide to Samuel Hearne on his Arctic overland journey, massacres a group of unsuspecting Inuit.
  • 1791 – Members of the French National Guard under the command of General Lafayette open fire on a crowd of radical Jacobins at the Champ de Mars, Paris, during the French Revolution, killing scores of people.
  • 1794 – The 16 Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne are executed ten days prior to the end of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.
  • 1821 – The Kingdom of Spain cedes the territory of Florida to the United States.
  • 1902 – Willis Carrier creates the first air conditioner in Buffalo, New York.
  • 1918 – Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his immediate family and retainers are executed by Bolshevik Chekists at the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
  • 1918 – World War I: The RMS Carpathia, the ship that rescued the 705 survivors from the RMS Titanic, is sunk off Ireland by the German SM U-55; five lives are lost.
  • 1932 – Altona Bloody Sunday: A riot between the Nazi Party paramilitary forces, the SS and SA, and the German Communist Party ensues.
  • 1936 – Spanish Civil War: An Armed Forces rebellion against the recently elected leftist Popular Front government of Spain starts the civil war.
  • 1944 – World War II: Port Chicago disaster: Near the San Francisco Bay, two ships laden with ammunition for the war explode in Port Chicago, California, killing 320.
  • 1944 – World War II: At Sainte-Foy-de-Montgommery in Normandy Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is seriously injured by allied aircraft while returning to his headquarters.
  • 1945 – World War II: The main three leaders of the Allied nations, Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin, meet in the German city of Potsdam to decide the future of a defeated Germany.
  • 1953 – The largest number of United States midshipman casualties in a single event results from an aircraft crash in Florida, killing 44.
  • 1955 – Disneyland is dedicated and opened by Walt Disney in Anaheim, California.
  • 1962 – Nuclear weapons testing: The “Small Boy” test shot Little Feller I becomes the last atmospheric test detonation at the Nevada National Security Site.
  • 1979 – Nicaraguan dictator General Anastasio Somoza Debayle resigns and flees to Miami, Florida, United States.
  • 1989 – First flight of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber.
  • 1998 – A diplomatic conference adopts the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, establishing a permanent international court to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.
  • 2014 – Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777, crashes near the border of Ukraine and Russia after being shot down. All 298 people on board are killed.
  • Independence Day (Slovakia).

People (Births)

  • 1870 – Charles Davidson Dunbar, Scottish soldier and bagpipe player (d. 1939).
  • 1882 – James Somerville, English admiral and politician, Lord Lieutenant of Somerset (d. 1949).
  • 1896 – Rupert Atkinson, English RAF officer (d. 1919).
  • 1898 – Osmond Borradaile, Canadian soldier and cinematographer (d. 1999).
  • 1917 – Kenan Evren, Turkish general and politician, 7th President of Turkey (d. 2015).
  • 1918 – Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio, Guatemalan soldier and politician, President of Guatemala (d. 2003).
  • 1920 – Gordon Gould, American physicist and academic, invented the laser (d. 2005).
  • 1946 – Ted Sampley, American POW/MIA activist (d. 2009).
  • 1951 – Andrew Robathan, English soldier and politician, Minister of State for the Armed Forces.
  • 1966 – Sten Tolgfors, Swedish lawyer and politician, 30th Swedish Minister of Defence.
  • 1969 – Jaan Kirsipuu, Estonian cyclist.
  • 1971 – Nico Mattan, Belgian cyclist.
  • 1975 – Loretta Harrop, Australian triathlete.
  • 1977 – Leif Hoste, Belgian cyclist.
  • 1981 – Hely Ollarves, Venezuelan runner.
  • 1998 – Rosana Serrano, Cuban rower.

People (Deaths)

  • 1453 – John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, English commander and politician (b. 1387).
  • 1531 – Hosokawa Takakuni, Japanese commander (b. 1484).
  • 1725 – Thomas King, English and British soldier, MP for Queenborough, lieutenant-governor of Sheerness (b. before 1660?).
  • 1928 – Álvaro Obregón, Mexican general and politician, 39th President of Mexico (b. 1880).
  • 1945 – Ernst Busch, German field marshal (b. 1885).
  • 1946 – Draža Mihailović, Serbian general (b. 1893).
  • 2003 – David Kelly, Welsh weapons inspector (b. 1944).
  • 2005 – Edward Heath, English colonel and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1916).
  • 2012 – Forrest S. McCartney, American general (b. 1931).
  • 2013 – Ian Gourlay, English general (b. 1920).
  • 2014 – Henry Hartsfield, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1933).

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