In 1194, Richard I (the Lion-Heart) was crowned king of England for the second time, after earlier surrendering his kingdom to the Holy Roman emperor Henry VI. Within a month Richard went to Normandy, never to return. His last five years were spent in warfare against Philip II, interspersed with occasional truces. The king left England in the capable hands of Hubert Walter, justiciar and archbishop of Canterbury. It was Richard’s impetuosity that brought him to his death at the early age of 42.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus and a representative of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella signed a contract commissioning Columbus to seek a westward ocean passage to Asia. A great number of interests were involved in this adventure, which was, in essence, the attempt to find a route to the rich land of Cathay (China), to India, and to the fabled gold and spice islands of the East by sailing westward over what was presumed to be open sea. Columbus himself clearly hoped to rise from his humble beginnings in this way, to accumulate riches for his family, and to join the ranks of the nobility of Spain. In a similar manner, but at a more exalted level, the Catholic Monarchs hoped that such an enterprise would gain them greater status among the monarchies of Europe, especially against their main rival, Portugal. Then, in alliance with the papacy (in this case, with the Borgia pope Alexander VI), they might hope to take the lead in the Christian war against the infidel.
In 1521, Martin Luther appeared before the Diet of Worms to defend his ideas on church reform. He was informed that he had been called to the meeting to acknowledge as his own the books that had been published in his name and to repudiate them. He briefly acknowledged the books but requested time to ponder his second answer, which was granted. The following day Luther admitted that he had used inappropriate language but declared that he could not and would not recant the substance of his writings. According to a traditional but apocryphal account, he ended his statement with the words, “Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”
Sino-Japanese War: In 1895, the Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed, concluding the war. China was obliged to recognize the independence of Korea, over which it had traditionally held suzerainty; to cede Taiwan, the Pescadores Islands, and the Liaodong (south Manchurian) Peninsula to Japan; to pay an indemnity of 200,000,000 taels to Japan; and to open the ports of Shashi, Chongqing, Suzhou, and Hangzhou to Japanese trade. The Triple Intervention (1895), secured by Russia, France, and Germany, subsequently required Japan to retrocede the Liaodong Peninsula to China in return for an additional indemnity of 30,000,000 taels.
In 1975, Cambodia’s ruling Lon Nol government collapsed, and the communist forces of the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, entered Phnom Penh and forcibly dispersed its citizenry into rural areas.
In 1982, the Canada Act, also known as the Constitution Act, took effect, establishing certain individual rights, preserving parliamentary supremacy, and making Canada a wholly independent, fully sovereign state.
In 2003, Anneli Jäätteenmäki was sworn in as prime minister of Finland, which thereby became the second country (after New Zealand) to install a woman as head of both state and government.
Source material includes Associated Press International and Encyclopædia Britannica.
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Abraham Lincoln