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Navigation

Click here for the short ‘On This Day’ pieces that appear in the Daily Telegraph.

Click here for longer features that appear in a range of publications – mainly the Daily Telegraph, but also the Spectator, Prospect Magazine, the Catholic Herald, etc.

Click here for an index to the Feature articles.

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‘On This Day’

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PREHISTORY AND CLASSICAL (up to AD 476)

[597 BC] On this day in 597 BC: King Nebuchadnezzar II sacks Jerusalem and exiles the Jews (16 March)

[354 BC] On this day: an ancient Athenian performer invents the theatre as we know it (23 November)

[241 BC] On this day in 241 BC: The Battle of Aegates brings Roman victory in the First Punic War (10 March)

[49 BC] On this day in 49 BC: Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon (10 January)

[9] On this day: Roman emperor Vespasian, inventor of pay-per-use public toilets, is born (17 November)

[41] On this day in AD 41: Emperor Caligula, the incestuous madman, is assassinated by his Praetorian Guard (24 January)

[250] On This Day in AD 250: The first empire-wide persecution of Christians claims the life of the Pope (20 January)

[395] On this day in AD 395: The Roman Empire is forever cloven in two (17 January)

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MEDIEVAL (476 to 1485)

[516] 1,500 years ago – King Arthur’s epic battle (30 December)

[529] On this day 529 AD: The Code of Justinian, precursor to Europe’s great secular civil codes, is published (7 April)

[532] On this day in AD 532: The Nika riots sweep across Constantinople (11 January)

[624] On this day in AD 624: Victory for Muhammad at the Battle of Badr signals the arrival of Islam as a major force in the Arabian Peninsula (13 March)

[655] On this day: Britain’s last great pagan king is struck down by Christians at the Battle of the Winwaed (15 November)

[747] On this day in AD 747: The Umayyad Caliphate, which ruled from Cordoba to Baghdad, is overthrown (25 January)

[868] On this day in AD 868: The Diamond Sutra, the oldest printed text in the world, goes to press (11 May)

[1012] On this day in 1012: Ælfheah, Anglo-Saxon Archbishop of Canterbury, is murdered at a drunken feast (19 April)

[1016] On this day in 1016: Canute the Great – Viking king of England, Denmark and Norway – is crowned in London (6 January)

[1095] On this day: Pope Urban II launches the First Crusade, sparking flames which still burn today (18 November)

[1102]On this day in 1102: Empress Matilda – fearsome fighter, wife and mother – was born (7 February)

[1120] On this day in 1120: The Knights Templar order of warrior monks is formed (16 January)

[1152] On this day in 1152: Eleanor of Aquitaine marries Henry II (18 May)

[1154] On this day: one of medieval England’s greatest rulers, King Henry II, was crowned (19 December)

[1155] On this day in 1155: Henry the Young King, who was crowned but never reigned, is born (28 February)

[1177] On this day: Crusader forces under the leper king Baldwin IV crush Saladin at Montgisard (25 November)

[1199] On this day in 1199: brave Richard the Lionheart dies (6 April)

[1204] On this day in 1204: The glory of Byzantium is forever extinguished in the Sack of Constantinople (12 April)

[1215] On this day: priests were banned from trying people by fire – paving the way for modern juries (11 November)

[1216] On this day in 1216: the Dominican Order is approved by the Pope (22 December)

[1250] On this day in 1250: the violent death of William II Longespée, one of England’s more unfortunate crusaders (8 February)

[1256] On this day in 1256: the Mongol horde crushes the legendary Assassins (15 December)

[1260] On this day in 1260: Kublai Khan, future conqueror of China, is proclaimed Mongol emperor (5 May)

[1274] On this day in 1274: After kidnap, fire irons, prostitutes, and timeless philosophy, Thomas Aquinas dies (7 March)

[1302] On this day in 1302: Dante Alighieri goes into exile, prompting a melancholy that ends in him writing the Divine Comedy (27 January)

[1355] On this day in 1355: University fracas ends with 93 dead and the birth of a 600-year-long tradition (10 February)

[1413] On this day: Philip IV, one of Europe’s greatest villains, finally gets what he deserves (29 November)

[1324] On this day in 1324: Marco Polo, the great Venetian traveller, dies (9 January)

[1337] On this day in 1337: the illustrious Duchy of Cornwall is born (17 March)

[1389] On this day in 1389: Pope John XXII condemns the mystical contemplations of Meister Eckhart as heretical (27 March)

[1400] On this day in 1400: The deposed Richard II conveniently dies, leaving Henry IV unchallenged

[1408] On this day: the order which gave Count Dracula his name was founded (12 December)

[1461] On this day in 1461: The Battle of Towton, one of bloodiest on English soil, ends in victory and coronation for Edward IV (29 March)

[1468] On this day in 1468: Gutenberg, inventor of the revolutionary printing press, dies (3 February)

[1469] On this day in 1469: Niccolò Machiavelli, author of The Prince, is born (3 May)

[1484] On this day in 1484: the College of Arms, font of heraldry, is founded (2 March)

[1485] On this day: two deluded inquisitors lit the first flames of Europe’s tragic witchcraft hysteria (5 december)

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TUDORS AND STUARTS (1485 to 1714)

[1492] On this day in 1492: The end of Moorish Spain and Islamic rule in mainland Europe (2 January)

[1493] On this day in 1493: A papal bull divides the world in two between Spain and Portugal (4 May)

[1534] On this day in 1534: Elizabeth Barton, traditionalist prophet, is executed for attacking Henry VIII’s divorce )20 April)

[1536] On this day in 1556: Thomas Cranmer, author of Henry VIII’s divorces, Archbishop of Canterbury, and leading Protestant, is burnt at the stake (21 March)

[1542] On this day in 1542: Henry VIII’s 18-year-old wife, Katherine Howard, is beheaded (13 February)

[1542] On this day: Mary Stuart becomes Queen of Scots at six days old (14 December)

[1552] On this day in 1552: Sir Edward Coke – champion of the Common Law, Parliament, and representative government – was born (! February)

[1556] On this day in 1556: David Riccio, rumoured father of James I, is brutally murdered in Scotland (9 March)

[1593] On this day in 1593: Thomas Kyd, roommate of soon-to-be-murdered Christopher Marlowe, is arrested (12 May)

[1582] On this day in 1582: Pope Gregory XIII announces the new Gregorian calendar (24 february)

[1584] On this day in 1584: Ivan the Terrible, bloody and violent tyrant, and oppressor of Russians meets his death (28 March)

[1600] On this day in 1600: Giordano Bruno is burnt alive for his science, 42 years before Galileo (17 February)

[1603] On this day in 1603: James VI of Scotland begins his turbulent reign as King of England (24 March)

[1606] On this day in 1606: Guy Fawkes, treasonous plotter, is executed in Westminster (31 January)

[1648] On this day: Pride’s Purge of Parliament paves the way for the trial of Charles I (6 december)

[1688] On this day in 1688: James II goes into exile, leaving Parliament supreme (23 December)

[1692] On this day in 1692: The Salem witch trials begin with a wave of hysteria (1 March)

[1692] On this day in 1662: Punch and Judy, soon to be integral to British life, arrive on English shores (9 <ay)

[1701] On this day in 1701: Pirate of the Caribbean, William ‘Captain’ Kidd, meets his end at Execution Dock (23 May)

[1713] On this day in 1713: the Treaty of Utrecht is signed, ceding Gibraltar to Britain (11 April)

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GEORGIAN AND VICTORIAN (1714 to 1901)

[1718] On this day: Blackbeard’s last stand (22 November)

[1727] On this day in 1727: Sir Isaac Newton, scientific genius and ‘last of the magicians’, dies (20 March)

[1730[ On this day in 1730: Robert Walpole, consummate wheeler-dealer, becomes Britain’s first prime minister (15 May)

[1731] On this day in 1731: Daniel Defoe, powerful propagandist and father of the English novel, dies (24 April)

[1739] On this day in 1739: Highwayman Dick Turpin is identified by an old teacher, his path to the noose guaranteed (23 February)

[1742] On this day in 1742: The glorious tones of Händel’s Messiah are heard for the first time in public (13 April)

[1757] On this day in 1757: Admiral John Byng, scapegoated for the loss of Minorca to the French, is executed by firing squad aboard HMS Monarch (14 March)

[1775] On this day: Jane Austen was born (16 December)

[1776] On this day in 1776: The Illuminati, the modern day conspiracy theorist’s favourite bogeyman, is founded in Bavaria (1 May)

[1782] On this day in 1782: One of the darkest moments in US history sees 96 Native American Delawares massacred (8 March)

[1788] On this day in 1788: The First Fleet reaches Australia and founds a nation (18 January)

[1789] On this day in 1789: Mutiny! The disagreeable Captain Bligh is cut adrift from HMS Bounty (28 April)

[1792] On this day in 1792: La Marseillaise, revolutionary anthem of the French, is composed in just 24 hours (25 April)

[1797] On this day in 1797: A French invasion of Wales ends in wine-addled surrender (22 February)

[1804] On this day: Napoleon crowned himself emperor in Notre Dame (2 December)

[1832] On this day in 1832: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, celebrated statesman, scholar and author of Faust, dies (22 March)

[1819] On this day in 1819: To supplant the Dutch, Britain founds a new Malacca Strait base – Singapore (6 February)

[1847] On this day in 1847: Samuel Colt finalises the design for his legendary Colt Walker handgun (4 January)

[1849] On this Day in 1849: Katsushika Hokusai – Japan’s artistic master and painter of The Wave – dies (10 May)

[1853] On this day in 1853: Vincent van Gogh, the epitome of the tortured artist, is born (30 march)

[1854] On this day: Pope Pius IX issues the first infallible pronouncement of the modern era (* December)

[1859] On this day in 1859: America’s largest ever sale of slaves reaches its tragic end (3 March)

[1859] On this day in 1859: The birth of Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle (22 May)

[1868] On this day in 1868: Japan overthrows its last shogun and enters the modern era full steam ahead (3 January)

[1879] On this day in 1879: The Battle of Rorke’s Drift, immortalised in the film Zulu, is fought (23 January)

[1881] On this day in 1881: Fyodor Dostoyevsky – profound novelist, philosopher and scholar of tortured psyches – dies (9 February)

[1885] On this day in 1885: General Charles Gordon dies with his men in the bloody Siege of Khartoum (26 January)

[1889] On this day in 1889: Paris’ dramatic icon, the Eiffel Tower, opens (31 March)

[1893] On this day in 1893: Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler’s right hand man, is born (12 January)

[1895] On this day in 1895: the catalysis for Oscar Wilde’s demise is triggered  (3 April)

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1900 to 1945

[1900] On this day in 1900: Archaeologists find the key to a 3,000-year-old lost Greek civilisation (5 April)

[1904] On this day in 1904: the ‘wickedest man in Britain’ completes his manuscript for a new religion (10 April)

[1904] On this day: a Briton invented the electronic component that powers all modern music (16 November)

[1909] On this day in 1909: Joan of Arc, French heroine in the Hundred Years War and national icon, is beatified (18 April)

[1911] On this day in 1911: modern master of guitar music and early influencer of rock and roll is born (8 May)

[1915] On this day in 1915: German zeppelins begin the first ever bombing raid on Britain (19 January)

[1916] On this day in 1916: the savage slaughter of the Battle of Verdun begin (21 February)

[1917] On this day: the Bolsheviks seize power in the Russian October Revolution (7 November)

[1917] On this day: Edmund Allenby captures Jerusalem, ending 730 years of Muslim rule (9 December)

[1917] On this day: the Soviet Union founds the CHEKA, their dreaded secret police force (20 December)

[1918] On this day in 1918: Legendary WWI ace the Red Baron is killed by a shot to the heart (21 April)

[1919] On this day in 1919: The Nazi Party is founded by Anton Drexler (while Adolf Hitler is sent to spy on it) (5 January)

[1919] On this day in 1919: Benito Mussolini, vanguard of Europe’s far-right, founds his fascist party (23 March)

[1922] On this day: Howard Carter unlocks the tomb of Tutankhamun (4 November)

[1923] On this day: Adolf Hitler makes his first grab for power in the Beer Hall Putsch (9 November)

[1933] On this day in 1933: Congress strikes the first blow in the fight to kill Prohibition (20 February)

[1833] On this day in 1933: a fire at the Reichstag lets Adolf Hitler seize absolute power (27 February)

[1935] On this day in 1935: The death of Lawrence of Arabia (19 May)

[1937] On this day in 1937: German bombs rain down on the Spanish town of Guernica (26 April)

[1939] On this day: the German warship Graf Spee meets its end in the Battle of the River Plate (13 December)

[1940] On this day in 1940: The Royal Navy makes its last ever boarding action during the Altmark Incident (16 February)

[1941] On this day in 1941: The Japanese Navy attacks Pearl Harbor, bringing the USA into the Second World War (7 December)

[1942] On this day: Germany invades Vichy France (10 November)

[1943] On this day in 1943: The brutal Battle of Stalingrad convulsed to a dramatic close (2 February)

[1943] On this day in 1943: The audacious and masterful Dambusters raid strikes the Nazi industrial heartland (17 May)

[1949] On this day in 1949: The growing Soviet threat in Europe leads 12 Western nations to form Nato (4 April)

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1945 to PRESENT

[1953] On this day in 1953: Django Reinhardt, Europe’s greatest jazz musician, dies tragically young (16 May)

[1953] On this day: Piltdown Man (21 November)

[1961] On this day in 1961: beloved British entertainer, George Formby, dies (6 March)

[1963] On this day: Lee Harvey Oswald’s murder was broadcast live on TV (24 November)

[1968] On this day in 1968: Johnny Cash performs at Folsom Prison and cements his legend (13 January)

[1971] On this day in 1971: Decimal Day heralds the end of the “bob” and “tanner” (15 February)

[1972] On this day: Paris’ notorious guillotine claims its final victim (28 November)

[1982] On this day in 1982: General Belgrano is sunk by HMS Conqueror, killing 323 Argentine sailors (2 May)

[1984] On this day in 1984: The Libyan embassy siege, triggered by the murder of Yvonne Fletcher, ends (27 April)

[1988] On this day: A bomb brings PanAm Flight 103 down over Lockerbie, killing 270 people (21 December)

[1990] On this day: The world decided to stop Saddam Hussein’s forces marauding around Kuwait )29 November)

[1995] On this day: Operation Desert Storm ends (30 November)

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GENERAL

On this day: A most violent date throughout history claims the life of many a leader (30 January)

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Features

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Journals

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Index to Articles

The longer (free) articles appear first, then the shorter (paid for, Telegraph Premium) ones appear after.

Free Feature Articles

Ada Lovelace paved the way for Alan Turing’s more celebrated codebreaking a century before he was born

A gutsy British Second World War hero—a woman, and a Muslim, Have you ever heard of her? (Noor Inayat Khan)Amal Clooney should back off. Lord Elgin was a hero who saved the marbles for the world

A stain on history: the burning of Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the mysterious Knights Templar, 700 years ago today

As the Euro elections loom, let’s remember the coronation of our last Anglo-Saxon king

Cathedrals are bursting with colour again

Columbus, greed, slavery, and genocide: what really happened to the American Indians

Cruel, anti-English and almost certainly gay: meet the real Richard the Lionheart

Dresden was a civilian town with no military significance: why did we burn its people?

Duel: Should we return the Elgin Marbles?

Forget the Da Vinci Code: this is the real mystery of the Knights Templar

Forget the Guy Fawkes propaganda – the English Reformation was a violent disaster

Greece knows it has no legal right to the Elgin Marbles: that’s why it won’t sue the UK

Guy Fawkes. Islamists, converts, and terrorism: some things never change

How a Protestant spin machine hid the truth about the English Reformation

How bad a guy was Richard III?

How German is the Queen?

How Protestantism fuelled Europe’s deadly witch craze

If the Turin Shroud is the work of a medieval artist, it’s one of the greatest artworks ever created

In praise of charming but pointless laws—like the Magna Carta

King Alfred was a Roman Catholic. Let’s bury him in Westminster Cathedral

King Richard III: These bones may not be his – but if they are they deserve a Catholic burial in York

Lemmy was a national treasure – a unique collection of swing and amphetamines

Magna Carta trial: The barons’ treason must be exposed

New Year’s Day is too soon after Christmas. Let’s move it back to its proper place—in March

Richard III: we’re burying the wrong body

The 1860s may have been a lost decade, but the 1870s were revolutionary – we can do it again

The bloody underside of the ‘civilized’ Renaissance

The cult of Magna Carta is historical nonsense: no wonder Oliver Cromwell called it ‘Magna Farta’

The dark, deep roots of Britain’s fascination with witchcraft

The Great Tudor Bible myth

The Greeks can have the Elgin Marbles any time they like – if they play by the rules

The Ides of March. The assassination of Julius Caesar and how it changed the world

The man who invented poison gas: a horror story

The spy who saved D-Day (Agent Garbo)

The true story of the Battle of Hastings, today in 1066

The Vikings were no worse than the Anglo-Saxons. Let’s celebrate this rich immigrant culture

This day 2496 years ago. Western civilisation began at Salamis

This is the man who turned Christianity into a global religion. Do you even know his name?

Thomas Cromwell was the Islamic State of his day

Three radical ways to get Britain voting again

Today is the anniversary of the fall of Moorish Spain. Was it really such a wonderful place?

Howard Carter unlocks the tomb of Tutankhamun | On This Day

Two millennia after the sack of Jerusalem, what does history tell us about violence in the Middle East?

We must mark failures like Gallipoli alongside our successes

What Catholic England would look like today

What does the Rosetta Stone tell us about the Bible? Did Moses read hieroglyphs?

What English Catholicism will look like in 2115

What the Crusades tell us about shifting borders in the Middle East

Why the so-called ‘Dark Ages’ were just as civilized as the savage Roman Empire