December 21, 2018 all-day

On this day in history:

1140 – – Conrad III of Germany besieges Weinsberg.  Conrad was the first King of Germany of the Hohenstaufen dynasty.

1237 – – The city of Ryazan is sacked by the Mongol army of Batu Khan.  The first mention of Ryazan was under the name of Pereslavl around 1095.  At that time the city was part of the independent Principality of Ryazan.  The first ruler of Ryazan is understood to have been Yaroslav Sviatoslavich, Prince of Ryazan and Murom, cities of Kievan-Rus.  By the 13th century Russia finally existed and Ryazan was the first Russian city to be sacked by the Mongol horde. I know, I know, Putin tries to convince himself and everyone else that Russia is much older than it is so he can claim all sorts of cultural and other heritage treasures that are not Russian – poor, malevolent soul, if he was really a proud Russian he would be satisfied claiming that which actually is Russian and not continually try to claim the heritage of Russia’s neighbors.

1597 – – St. Peter Canisius died and on the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar this date is his feast day. So, who was he?  He had edited and written several volumes on Church history and theology, been a delegate to the Council of Trent.  And, in 1565, the Vatican was looking for something like a secret agent. It was shortly after the Council of Trent and the pope wanted to get the decrees of the Council to all the European bishops. What would be a simple errand in today, was a dangerous assignment in the sixteenth century. The first envoy who tried to carry the decrees through territory of hostile Protestants and thieves was robbed of the precious documents. Rome needed someone courageous but also someone above suspicion. They chose Canisius. At 43 he was a well-known Jesuit who had founded colleges that even Protestants respected. They gave him a cover as official “visitor” of Jesuit foundations. But Peter couldn’t hide the decrees like our modern fictional spies with their microfilmed messages in collar buttons or cans of shaving cream. Peter traveled from Rome and crisscrossed Germany successfully loaded down with the Tridentine tomes — 250 pages each — not to mention the three sacks of books he took along for his own university! But, Canisius was more than an historical errand-boy. Among many other accomplishments Canisius prepared a catechism. During the Reformation, he saw the students in his universities swayed speeches and the well-written arguments of the Protestants. He was given the assignment to write a Catholic catechism. The first issue of the Catechism appeared in 1555 and was an immediate success. Peter approached Christian doctrine in two parts: wisdom — including faith, hope, and charity — and justice — avoiding evil and doing good, linked by a section on sacraments.

1598 – – Battle of Curalaba – The revolting Mapuche inflict a major defeat on Spanish troops in southern Chile.

1620 – – Plymouth Colony – William Bradford and the Mayflower Pilgrims land on what is now known as Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts. You might want to keep in mind – as noted a couple of days ago that settlers left for Virginia to establish Jamestown in 1606.

1826 – – American settlers in Nacogdoches, Mexican Texas, declare their independence, starting the Fredonian Rebellion.

1832 – – Egyptian-Ottoman War – Egyptian forces decisively defeat Ottoman troops at the Battle of Konya.

1861 – – Medal of Honor – Public Resolution 82 – containing a provision for a Navy Medal of Valor, is signed into law by President Lincoln.

1883 – – The Royal Canadian Dragoons and the Royal Canadian Regiment, the first Permanent Force cavalry and infantry regiments of the Canadian Army are formed.

1907 – – The Chilean Army commits a massacre of at least 2,000 striking miners in Iquique, Chile.

1913 – – Arthur Wynne’s “word-cross”, the first crossword puzzle, is published in the New York World.

1937 – – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the world’s first full-length animated feature premieres.

1946 – – An 8.1 M, earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Nankaido, Japan, kills over 1,300 people and destroys over 38,000 homes.

1963 – – “Bloody Christmas” begins in Cyprus, ultimately resulting in the displacement of 25,000-30,000 Turkish Cypriots and the destruction of more than 100 villages.

1967 – – Louis Washkansky, the first man to undergo a human-to-human heart transplant dies in Cape Town, South Africa, having lived for 18 days after the transplant.

1968 – – Apollo program – Apollo 8 is launched from the Kennedy Space Center, placing its crew on a lunar trajectory for the first visit to another celestial body by humans.

1988 – – (a) A bomb explodes on board Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, killing 270.  (b) The first flight of the then-Soviet Union’s Antonov An-225 Mriya, the largest aircraft in the world. The Antonov Serial Production Plant is located in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Two aircraft pictures relating to the same date:



1995 – – The city of Bethlehem passes from Israeli to Palestinian control.

2004 – – Iraq War – A suicide bomber killed 22 at the forward operating base next to the main U.S. military airfield at Mosul, Iraq.

Composed by Robert A. McConnell

Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the writer and not necessarily those of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation. 



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