June 30, 1559: Henry II of France is mortally wounded in a jousting tournament.
Poor Henry had been celebrating a treaty he’d recently signed with the Habsburgs and the marriage of his daughter when the fatal blow was dealt - by none other than the captain of the king’s own Scots Guard, the Count of Montgomery. Montgomery’s lance struck the king’s helmet and shattered, burying splinters in his face, including one in his eye and brain. Henry’s wife, his mistress, and his sickly son (who would soon become king) apparently all fainted at the sight. On his deathbed, Henry absolved Montgomery of any blame, but the count was so guilt-ridden that he left to Normandy and later converted to Protestantism.
The accession of Henry’s weak and inexperienced son, Francis II, exacerbated the growing conflict that would become the French Wars of Religion.
June 28, 1577: Peter Paul Rubens is born.
My passion comes from the heavens, not from earthly musings.
June 26, 1997: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is published.
Fifteen years ago, the book series that defined a generation began. So have some quotes!
There will be books written about Harry. Every child in the world will know his name. (How right you were, Professor McGonagall.)
Sunshine daisies, butter mellow, turn this stupid fat rat yellow.
Always the innocent are the first victims, so it has been for ages past, so it is now.
‘The truth.’ Dumbledore sighed. ‘It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.’
Once again, you show all the sensitivity of a blunt axe.
There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.
Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves it’s own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.
To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: ‘To Harry Potter – the boy who lived!’
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone(1997)
June 25, 1947: Anne Frank’s diary is published.
In June of 1942, a young girl named Anne Frank received a diary for her thirteenth birthday. Two days later, she would begin a chronicle of her experiences under the Nazi regime - a chronicle that would soon be read by millions of people around the world. Anne and her family (plus four other people) went into hiding in the secret annex behind her father’s office building in Amsterdam - the Achterhuis - shortly after she received the diary. They managed to hide for two years with the help of ordinary Dutch citizens like Miep Gies and her husband before they were betrayed to the Nazis in August of 1944, and subsequently deported in September. Anne and her sister Margot both died in Bergen-Belsen in 1945, only weeks before the camp was liberated; their mother, Edith, died in Auschwitz of starvation; the family that had stayed with the Franks in the Achterhuis, the van Pels, all died in camps as well.
The only survivor out of the original eight was Anne’s father, Otto Frank. It was he who had Anne’s diary published after the war, and, in 1952, an English-language version was published as well, under the title The Diary of a Young Girl; since then, Anne Frank’s diary has been published in over sixty different languages.
In 1946, one Dutch historian wrote of the not-yet-published book:
This apparently inconsequential diary by a child, this ‘de profundis’ stammered out in a child’s voice, embodies all the hideousness of fascism, more so than all the evidence of Nuremberg put together.
Bad Fathers in History and Mythology
King Laius (Λάϊος) - This King of Thebes was warned by the Oracle of Delphi that his future son would eventually grow up to kill him and take his wife Jocasta for himself. A drunk Laius ended up fathering a child (Oedipus) anyway, and so he did what most logical parents would do - he had Oedipus’s ankles bound (or in some versions, staked) together and left the baby to die in the mountains. Of course, Laius eventually got his comeuppance…
Ivan IV Vasilyevich (25 August 1530 – 28 March 1584) - Ivan the Terrible had several children by his first wife, Anastasia Romanovna, but the first to survive to adulthood was the fourth (and second eldest son), Ivan Ivanovich. As such, he was his father’s heir apparent, and according to historical accounts, inherited his father’s temper and cruelty. The Tsar sent his heir’s first two wives to convents because of their sterility, which soured their relationship. In 1581, he beat his son’s then-pregnant third wife, causing her to suffer a miscarriage; when the younger Ivan confronted him, he struck his son’s head with a pointed scepter, mortally wounding him. He did feel bad about it, though.
Herod the Great (74 BCE - 4 BCE) - The king of Judea had many children by several wives. His firstborn (by his first wife Doris), Antipater, was charged with the attempted murder of his father, and he was executed. His next wife, Mariamne, was also executed for allegedly committing adultery. Herod then had his two sons by Mariamne, Alexander and Aristobulus IV, strangled on charges of treason.
Peter the Great (9 June 1672 – 8 February 1725) - Like Ivan, Peter ended up causing the death of his heir - Alexei Petrovich. Alexei, son of Peter’s first wife Eudoxia Lopukhina (banished to a convent), was suspected of trying to overthrow his father; he was then tried and confessed under torture. Peter, unwilling to directly authorize his own son’s execution, was content to allow Alexei to die in prison of wounds sustained during torture instead.
Cronus (Κρόνος) - In Greek mythology, Cronus led the Titans in their overthrow of their own father, Uranus. Fearing the same sort of overthrow by his own offspring, Cronus proceeded to eat all five of his offspring (Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon). The sixth, Zeus, was swapped with a stone disguised as a baby, which Cronus also ate. In most versions of the tale, the adult Zeus frees his siblings from Cronus’s stomach, and together, they overthrow the Titans. I suppose Cronus’s father, Uranus, also warrants a spot on the “terrible father” list - he imprisoned his first children in Tartarus.
Joseph Stalin (18 December 1878 – 5 March 1953) - Stalin had three children by two wives. His firstborn son, Yakov Dzhugashvili, eventually shot himself, but he didn’t die; Stalin’s first words upon learning of Yakov’s suicide were “He can’t even shoot straight”. Later, during the war, Yakov was captured, to which Stalin coldly replied “I don’t have a son captured in Germany.” The Germans offered Stalin a trade - his son for captured German Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, and Stalin refused. The Germans then proposed to trade Yakov for Hitler’s nephew Leo Raubal, but Stalin refused this proposition as well, merely saying “war is war”. So, abandoned by his father, Yakov was deported to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, where he died (according to German accounts, he ran into an electric fence).
… Happy Father’s Day!
June 19, 1953: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed.
The Rosenberg trial began in March of 1951, and it ended in a guilty verdict and the following accusation by Judge Irving Kaufman, as he delivered the death sentence:
I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-Bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding 50,000 and who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason. Indeed, by your betrayal you undoubtedly have altered the course of history to the disadvantage of our country.
Although few disputed the guilty verdict, the subsequent death sentence was met with much controversy. Jean-Paul Sartre called it a “legal lynching”, while Pablo Picasso referred to it as a “crime against humanity”; others, including Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo, Bertolt Brecht, Fritz Lang, and even the Pope, voiced their opposition to the Rosenbergs’ fate as well, but after two years, President Eisenhower still refused to grant the couple clemency.
On June 19, 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg became the first ever American civilians to be executed for espionage.
June 18, 1815: Napoleon is defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.
We all know how it ends - with Napoleon’s defeat, abdication, and exile; however, the entire battle, regarded as one of the most decisive in history, took place within the timespan of one day. It was fought between Napoleon’s Armée du Nord and the combined forces of the Seventh Coalition under the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian field marshal Gebhard von Blücher (then seventy-two years old). The coalition army, composed of thousands of British, Dutch, Belgian, and German troops (plus Blücher’s Prussians), was described by its British leader as “very weak and ill-equipped”. Still, they outnumbered the French army by a substantial amount.
The battle began in the morning, and by late afternoon, the French forces were retreating, with 25,000 casualties to the coalition’s 19,000. The Duke of Wellington called the engagement “the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life”, but however unsure he was of the outcome before the battle was over, its effects were immediate. Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated for the second and final time six days after the battle, and the Napoleonic Wars, which had rocked Europe for over a decade, were over.
June 16, 1963: Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.
When Valentina Tereshkova was twenty-four, the Soviet Union sent the first man into space - Yuri Gagarin - on the Vostok 1 spaceflight. In October of that same year, it was decided that the Soviet space program would also work towards putting a woman in space. The qualifications for female cosmonaut candidates were similar to the male requirements - mostly consisting of physical and ideological specifications. Because Vostok was completely automatic, no piloting experience was required, and, in 1962, Tereshkova was chosen as one of five candidates. Having only worked in the textile industry (and possessing some experience skydiving), she was not particularly qualified.
After training extensively with the other candidates, Tereshkova was chosen to pilot Vostok 6 into space; at twenty-six, she was ten years younger than the youngest NASA astronaut. On June 16, 1963, she became the first woman (and first civilian) in space.
The American space program would not send a woman into space until twenty years later (almost to the exact date) on June 18, 1983. Interestingly enough, the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft (carrying China’s first female astronaut) launched only hours ago.
June 14, 1777: The United States adopts the “Stars and Stripes” as its national flag.
In 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution that stated:
Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.
The new naval ensign (replacing the first, which still incorporated the Union Jack into its design) eventually became the national flag of the new United States. In honor of the 140th anniversary of this event, President Woodrow Wilson declared in 1916 that June 14th would henceforth be celebrated as Flag Day.
Other facts about the American flag:
- The first change to the number of stars came in 1795, when two were added to the original thirteen for Vermont and Kentucky. Two stripes were also added, but it was decided in 1818 that the number of stripes should thereafter remain at thirteen.
- The flag design longest in use is the current fifty-star design. The flag was last changed in 1960, after Hawaii gained statehood in 1959.
- The flag has been modified twenty-six times since its adoption.
- The designer of the 50-star flag was Robert Heft, who was in high school at the time. His design was for a school project, which he received a B- on… until the U.S. government officially adopted his design.
- Six American flags were placed on the moon (by Apollo astronauts). The first was planted by, of course, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
- The National Flag Code.
June 13, 1934: Hitler and Mussolini meet in Venice for the first time.
The first meeting between Europe’s two new fascist leaders was not successful and, in retrospect, a little amusing. Mussolini had led Italy as Il Duce for nearly nine years, and Hitler had barely held power for one; Mussolini was decked out in ceremonial dress fit for a general - riding boots and all, while Hitler had come in plain civilian clothing; the boisterous Italian leader also found Hitler’s constant quoting of Mein Kampf boring, and he later referred to him as “a silly little monkey”.
Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt (of V-J Day in Times Square fame), who snapped a photo of the two leaders shaking hands, later said that “[Mussolini] didn’t think much of Hitler” and “when Hitler and Mussolini met on June 13, 1934, in Venice, Mussolini was the big shot”. It was true. Hitler’s first coup (the “Beer Hall Putsch”) was an attempt to emulate Mussolini’s successful March on Rome, and Hitler’s paramilitary “brownshirts” were directly inspired by the Italian “Blackshirts”.