On This Day … 15 February


  • 1113 – Pope Paschal II issues Pie Postulatio Voluntatis, recognising the Order of Hospitallers.
  • 1214 – During the Anglo-French War (1213-1214), an English invasion force led by John, King of England, lands at La Rochelle in France.
  • 1493 – While on board the Niña, Christopher Columbus writes an open letter (widely distributed upon his return to Portugal) describing his discoveries and the unexpected items he came across in the New World.
  • 1690 – Constantin Cantemir, Prince of Moldavia, and the Holy Roman Empire sign a secret treaty in Sibiu, stipulating that Moldavia would support the actions led by the House of Habsburg against the Ottoman Empire.
  • 1764 – The city of St. Louis is established in Spanish Louisiana (now in Missouri, US).
  • 1798 – French Revolutionary Wars: The Roman Republic is proclaimed after Louis-Alexandre Berthier, a general of Napoleon, had invaded the city of Rome five days earlier.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: Confederates commanded by Brigadier General John B. Floyd attack General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union forces Fort Donelson, Tennessee.
    • Unable to break the fort’s encirclement, Floyd surrenders the following day.
  • 1898 – The battleship USS Maine explodes and sinks in Havana harbour in Cuba, killing about 274 of the ship’s roughly 354 crew.
  • 1942 – World War II: Fall of Singapore. Following an assault by Japanese forces, the British General Arthur Percival surrenders.
    • About 80,000 Indian, United Kingdom and Australian soldiers become prisoners of war, the largest surrender of British-led military personnel in history.
  • 1944 – World War II: The assault on Monte Cassino, Italy begins.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Narva Offensive begins.
  • 1945 – World War II: Third day of bombing in Dresden.
  • 1946 – ENIAC, the first electronic general-purpose computer, is formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
  • 1954 – Canada and the United States agree to construct the Distant Early Warning Line, a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic regions of Canada and Alaska.
  • 1965 – A new red-and-white maple leaf design is adopted as the flag of Canada, replacing the old Canadian Red Ensign banner.
  • 1972 – José María Velasco Ibarra, serving as President of Ecuador for the fifth time, is overthrown by the military for the fourth time.
  • 1989 – Soviet-Afghan War: The Soviet Union officially announces that all of its troops have left Afghanistan.
  • 1996 – Embassy of the United States, Athens is attacked by an antitank rocket, by Revolutionary Organisation 17 November, whose first victim was Richard Welch in 1975, leading to the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.
  • 2003 – Protests against the Iraq war take place in over 600 cities worldwide.
    • It is estimated that between eight million and 30 million people participate, making this the largest peace demonstration in history.
  • Liberation Day (Afghanistan).
  • Total Defence Day (Singapore).

People (Births)

  • 1612 – Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve, French soldier, founded Montreal (d. 1676).
  • 1734 – William Stacy, American colonel (d. 1802).
  • 1892 – James Forrestal, American lieutenant and politician, 1st United States Secretary of Defence (d. 1949).
  • 1904 – Antonin Magne, French cyclist and manager (d. 1983).
  • 1920 – Endicott Peabody, American soldier, lawyer, and politician, 62nd Governor of Massachusetts (d. 1997).
  • 1929 – James R. Schlesinger, American economist and politician, 12th United States Secretary of Defence (d. 2014).
  • 1935 – Roger B. Chaffee, American lieutenant, engineer, and astronaut (d. 1967).
  • 1973 – Amy van Dyken, American swimmer.
  • 1975 – Annemarie Kramer, Dutch sprinter.
  • 1976 – Óscar Freire, Spanish cyclist.
  • 1981 – Rita Jeptoo, Kenyan runner.

People (Deaths)

  • 1417 – Richard de Vere, 11th Earl of Oxford, English commander (b. 1385).
  • 1839 – François-Marie-Thomas Chevalier de Lorimier, Canadian rebel (b. 1803).
  • 1848 – Hermann von Boyen, Prussian general and politician, Prussian Minister of War (b. 1771).
  • 1905 – Lew Wallace, American author, general, and politician, 11th Governor of New Mexico Territory (b. 1827).
  • 1970 – Hugh Dowding, 1st Baron Dowding, Scottish air marshal (b. 1882).
  • 2000 – Angus MacLean, Canadian commander and politician, 25th Premier of Prince Edward Island (b. 1914).
  • 2010 – Jeanne M. Holm, American general (b. 1921).
  • 2013 – Sanan Kachornprasart, Thai general and politician (b. 1935).

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