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Here you’ll find interesting bits of history from all periods and countries that occurred on a particular day.

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March 28th 1854: Britain and France declare war on Russia

On this day in 1854 in a pivotal moment of the Crimean War, Britain and France declared war on Russia. This conflict originated in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars when Europe tried to rebuild and ensure future stability. One of the concerns was the crumbling Ottoman-Turkish empire, known as the ‘sick man of Europe’. The Russians planned to carve up the European part of Turkey, but Turkey objected and eventually declared war. The war was also prompted by debates over the rights of Christians in the Holy Land, which was under Ottoman control. Britain and France, each with their own interests in the preservation of the Ottoman regime, also joined the war when Russian troops failed to withdraw from the Russo-Turkish border. The allies decided to land in the Crimea to assault the Russian naval base at Sevastopol in order to gain the Black Sea. The siege took far longer than expected, and made Crimea the primary front of the war. The Crimean war was characterised by poor military leadership on both sides and a failure to adapt tactics to modern weaponry. The Battle of Balaclava in October saw the infamous British ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’, a frontal assault against Russian artillery. Eventually Sevastopol fell, the Russians were defeated, and the war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in March 1856. This war has been the subject of much recent discussion due to Russia’s controversial annexation of Crimea, which was previously an autonomous region of Ukraine.

160 years ago today

3 weeks ago
272 notes

February 11th 1916: Emma Goldman arrested

On this day in 1916 the anarchist Emma Goldman was arrested for lecturing about birth control. She had become well known for her powerful speeches on philosophy, labour relations, atheism, sexuality and feminism. She and her peers also engaged in militant anarchism. Goldman and her husband plotted to assassinate industrialist Henry Clay Frick, and President William McKinley’s assassin Leon Czolgosz claimed to have been inspired by her. Goldman was an early advocate of free love and supporter of homosexual rights. She was arrested in 1916 for her lectures on birth control, under the pretense that she had been disseminating lewd and obscene literature. Emma Goldman spent her life in and out of prison, including some time for lecturing on contraception and opposing conscription during World War One. She was deported in 1919 and spent some time in Europe, including in Bolshevik Russia and Civil War Spain. In 1940, Goldman died in Canada aged 70.

"I could never in my life work within the confines of the State"

2 months ago
292 notes

January 9th 1905: Bloody Sunday

On this day in 1905, Russian workers were massacred by Tsarist troops in St. Petersburg, an event which became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’. The workers were staging a peaceful, unarmed march to Tsar Nicholas II’s Winter Palace to petition him. They were gunned down by the Imperial Guard. The massacre, and apparent disregard for the lives of Russian citizens shown by the Tsar undermined support for the government. It also set off the failed 1905 Revolution, and some have said gave impetus to the successful 1917 Revolution, when the Bolsheviks seized power and created the Soviet state. By the Julian calendar, which was used at this time, the massacre occured on the 9th January. By the modern Gregorian calendar, it would have fallen on January 22nd.

"There is no God anymore, there is no Tsar"
- march leader Father Gapon as he saw the massacre

3 months ago
578 notes

December 18th 1879: Joseph Stalin born

On this day in 1879 the future leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, was born in Georgia. In his youth Stalin read works by Marx and became active in the revolutionary movement against the Russian Tsar. After the 1917 revolution by the Bolshevik Party, Stalin quickly rose through the party ranks, becoming general secretary in 1922. After the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, Stalin established himself as dictator of the Soviet Union. Under his rule, millions died due to his forced collectivisation policies and his ‘purges’ of political rivals claimed thousands of lives. He worked with the other Allied powers to defeat Nazi Germany in World War Two. Stalin died of a stroke in 1953.

4 months ago
147 notes

October 17th 1905: October Manifesto

On this day in 1905 Russian Tsar Nicholas II issued the October Manifesto. The manifesto was mainly the brainchild of Count Sergei Witte as a response to the Russian Revolution of 1905. The ‘revolution’ was a period of mass unrest against the government and due to general frustration with working conditions and poverty. The tsar’s manifesto promised civil liberties and an elected Duma (parliament). However, the provisions were not enough for many and civil liberties were still limited. This contributed to the success of the 1917 Communist Revolution.

6 months ago
111 notes

August 20th 1882: 1812 Overture debuts

On this day in 1882, the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s '1812 Overture' made its debut in Moscow. The piece commemorates Napoleon’s failed 1812 invasion of Russia. It was first performed under a tent near the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which was still under construction. The piece was conducted by Ippolit Al’tani. The 1812 Overture is frequently played during fireworks displays.

8 months ago
140 notes

June 30th 1908: Tunguska event

On this day in 1908 just after 7.00am a very powerful explosion occurred in the skies above Siberia, in modern day Russia. The explosion was caused by the breakup and impact of a large meteorite. It was the largest impact event in Earth’s recorded history. The explosion was 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Around 80 million trees were knocked down by the shock wave from the impact. The cause of the event  puzzled scientists for many years, but it has recently been established that a meteorite was the cause.

9 months ago
262 notes

December 18th 1879: Joseph Stalin born

On this day in 1879 the future leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, was born in Georgia. In his youth Stalin read works by Marx and became active in the revolutionary movement against the Russian Tsar. After the 1917 revolution by the Bolshevik Party, Stalin quickly rose through the party ranks, becoming general secretary in 1922. After the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, Stalin established himself as dictator of the Soviet Union. Under his rule, millions died due to his forced collectivisation policies and his ‘purges’ of political rivals claimed thousands of lives. He worked with the other Allied powers to defeat Nazi Germany in World War Two. Stalin died of a stroke in 1953.

1 year ago
72 notes

March 5th 1946: ‘Iron Curtain’ speech

On this day in 1946, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made his famous ‘Iron Curtain’ speech at Westminster College, Missouri. The term had been used prior to 1946, but this was the most public use of it. In the ‘Sinews of Peace’ address, Churchill used the term ‘iron curtain’ to reference a Soviet dominated Eastern Europe. At the time, the West still saw the Soviet Union as an ally after the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two, but Churchill’s speech heralded the onset of the Cold War tensions between the capitalist West and communist Russia. As the Cold War took hold, the phrase became popular as a reference to repressive Communist domination of Europe which hid Soviet actions and set a clear divide in Europe.

"From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the continent”
1 month ago
169 notes

February 2nd 1943: Battle of Stalingrad ends

On this day in 1943, German troops surrendered to the Soviet Red Army in Stalingrad, thus ending the 5 months of fighting. The Battle of Stalingrad is among the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with nearly 2 million casualties. The Germans had attempted to invade Russia and capture Stalingrad, but the Russians fought back and cut off and surrounded the German army. The Russian winter soon set in, with sub-zero temperatures weakening the German forces. Eventually, the remaining army surrendered, and 91,000 were taken prisoner (including 22 generals). The German failure at Stalingrad was a key turning point in the Second World War, as the army never recovered from their defeat.

2 months ago
872 notes

December 20th 1917: Cheka established

On this day in 1917, Russian leader Vladimir Lenin issued a decree that founded the Cheka, a secret police force. Lenin appointed the feared Felix Dzerzhinsky as head of the organisation, which soon became infamous for its brutality. The Cheka was created to deal with enemies of the regime. The organisation ran forced labour camps, put down rebellions and riots, tortured and executed political opponents. The Cheka was known for its cruel methods, such as stripping people in the middle of Russian winter and hosing them with cold water and leaving them to freeze. Lenin’s creation of the Cheka has led some to claim that he really was no better than the tsarist regimes he replaced, and have hailed him just a ‘Red Tsar’. The Cheka began the long line of infamous Soviet state security organisations, which led to the KGB.

4 months ago
139 notes

November 1st 1894: Nicholas II becomes Tsar

On this day in 1894, Nicholas Romanov became the new Tsar of Russia after his father Tsar Alexander III died; Nicholas was aged 26. Nicholas felt unprepared and inexperienced to lead his country. His rule saw Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese War and began Russia’s disastrous involvement in World War One. He was known for violent suppression of protests. He ruled Russia until his abdication on March 2nd 1917 following the Bolshevik revolution. He and his family were then imprisoned and eventually executed by a Bolshevik firing squad in 1918.

5 months ago
213 notes

September 26th 1849: Pavlov born

On this day in 1849, the famous Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov was born. He is best known for his research into classical conditioning. He experimented with dogs and how they would salivate in response to being fed. Each time he fed them he rang a bell, and noticed that soon the dogs would salivate upon the sound of the bell even if they were not being fed. Pavlov was thus a pioneer in the field of conditioning responses. Pavlov won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1904. He died in Leningrad in 1936 aged 86.

6 months ago
209 notes

July 17th 1918: Romanovs murdered

On this day in 1918, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family were murdered by the Bolshevik secret police, the Cheka. The Tsar abdicated in 1917 after the Bolshevik revolution, led by Vladimir Lenin, toppled his regime. Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, his son Alexei, his four daughters (Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia) and several of their servants, were murdered in Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg. They had been roused early in the morning and taken to a basement room where a firing squad shot them. The women, due to their jewel-encrusted clothing, survived the bullets and so were stabbed with bayonets and shot at close range in the head. The bodies of most of the family were found in 1979 and the bodies of Alexei and Anastasia were found in 2007. He and his family were canonized as martyred saints by the Russian Orthodox Church.

9 months ago
319 notes

May 26th 1896: Tsar Nicholas II crowned

On this day in 1896 Nicholas Romanov was crowned Tsar of Russia. He became Tsar in November 1894 upon the death of his father Tsar Alexander III. His reign was marred by economic collapse, military failure in the Russo-Japanese War and the First World War, and bloody repression at home. Nicholas II abdicated on March 2nd 1917 after the February Revolution. His family were imprisoned, and soon after the Bolsheviks took power in the October Revolution, the Romanov family was executed.

11 months ago
245 notes