EMPEROR CONSTANTINE CONVENES COUNCIL OF NICEA 20 MAY, 325
Emperor Constantine, famed for issuing the Edict of Milan in 313, which effectively ended the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, and for founding the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, in 324, convenes the First Council of Nicea, a gathering seeking to establish consensus on the basic tenets of the Christian faith.
CHARLEMAGNE CROWNED EMPEROR OF THE ROMANS 25 DECEMBER, 800
A gifted military strategist who strives to unite all Germanic peoples under common rule and convert them to Christianity, Charlemagne is crowned emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo III in Rome. Charlemagne is remembered as a ruthless battlefield commander as well as the defender of Western Christianity. He is sometimes described as the ‘Father of Europe’.
Assassination of Julius Caesar 15 March, 44 BCE
Only days after Julius Caesar is appointed dictator in perpetuum, a conspiracy among members of the Roman Senate results in his assassination near the Theatre of Pompey in Rome. Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus and Decimus Junius Brutus lead the conspiracy among the senators, who fear that Caesar intends to dissolve the body in favour of an absolute dictatorship.
BOSTON TEA PARTY 16 DECEMBER, 1773
The American colonists’ patience with the British Parliament is at an end. Why should they obey a body they had no hand in electing? When the Sons of Liberty in Boston throw three ship-loads of tea into the harbour, the shocked British are set on a path to war.
BATTLE OF HASTINGS 14 OCTOBER, 1066
The Norman Army under William the Conqueror defeats the Anglo-Saxon Army led by King Harold Godwinson at Hastings, the pivotal battle of the Norman conquest of England. William solidifies his claim to the English throne, ushering in an unprecedented period of social, economic, and political change for England and the British Isles.
ZHU YUANZHANG IS CROWNED EMPEROR OF CHINA 23 JANUARY, 1368
After the fall of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, Hongwu Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang is crowned emperor of China and the first of the Ming dynasty. For nearly three centuries the Ming emperors rule China during one of the most stable political and social periods in its history. Among the lasting monuments to the industriousness of the Ming dynasty is the Great Wall of China.
EXECUTION OF WILLIAM WALLACE 23 AUGUST, 1305
A political and military leader during the Scottish Wars for Independence, William Wallace defeated an English army at the Battle of Sterling Bridge in 1297 but met defeat at Falkirk the following year. Wallace is captured in August 1305, taken to London, and hung, drawn and quartered for high treason. He has since become an iconic and polarising figure in British history.
DEATH OF GENGHIS KHAN 18 AUGUST, 1227
Both feared and revered, the great Genghis Khan united the Mongol peoples, embarked on a series of conquests and controlled the Silk Road, which permitted trade and communication between East and West to flourish. After his death, the Mongol Empire becomes the largest in history in terms of land mass.
FIRST ACT OF SUPREMACY 3 NOVEMBER, 1534
The First Act of Supremacy acknowledges King Henry VIII, rather than the pope, as head of the Church of England. The Acts of Supremacy are more of a political statement than a religious movement, although their initiation marks the beginning of the period called the English Reformation. Henry VIII is excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church in 1538.
DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA 29 JULY, 1588
Off the coast of Gravelines, France, an English naval force under Sir Francis Drake and Lord Charles Howard defeats the Spanish Armada, thought invincible by many observers. The defeat of the Armada thwarts the plans of Spanish King Philip II to conquer England and shifts the balance of power in Europe towards Queen Elizabeth I and her court.
BATTLE OF SEKIGAHARA 21 OCTOBER, 1600
The army of Tokugawa Ieyasu defeats the forces loyal to Toyotomi Hideyori, leading to the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which rules feudal Japan from Edo Castle on the site of modern-day Tokyo for the next 268 years. The period of Westernisation that follows during the late 19th century transforms Japan into a respected world power.
PETER THE GREAT ESTABLISHES ST. PETERSBURG 27 MAY, 1703
Peter the Great, Emperor of Russia, establishes the city that will serve as his “window on the West”. A devotee of the Enlightenment, Peter turns his nation towards the West with political, social, military and economic reforms. The gleaming city becomes his capital in 1712, and his reign extends from 1682 to 1725.
Restoration of the British Crown 23 April, 1661
After a protracted civil war, the execution of King Charles I in 1649 and nearly two decades of Commonwealth government during a period known as the Interregnum, Charles II is crowned king of England, Scotland and Ireland at Westminster Abbey in London. During the Restoration, Charles II rules for the next 25 years and becomes one of the most popular kings of England.
NAPOLEON ABDICATES 22 JUNE, 1815
Four days after his shattering defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, Emperor Napoleon I of France abdicates in favour of his four-year-old son. However, a provisional government is installed as the armies of the Seventh Coalition approach Paris. Napoleon is exiled to the island of Elba, where he dies in 1821.
PROCLAMATION OF THE KINGDOM OF ITALY 17 MARCH, 1861
Although years of conflict and unrest are yet to come, the Kingdom of Italy is proclaimed under King Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a united Italy since the 6th century. The capital of the kingdom is moved from Florence to Rome a decade later in June 1871. Victor Emmanuel rules until 1878.
ASSASSINATION OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 15 APRIL, 1865
While attending the play Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., President Abraham Lincoln is fatally shot by assassin John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor of the day. The assassination of Lincoln plunges the United States into mourning and results in a much harsher period of reconstruction for the former Confederate states than Lincoln had envisioned.
TREATY OF FRANKFURT 10 MAY, 1871
The Treaty of Frankfurt ends the Franco-Prussian War with a resounding German victory following the siege and fall of Paris. As a result, the French Second Republic collapses, Germany annexes the long-disputed provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, and the unification of the German Empire is concluded in the same year.
TREATY OF PORTSMOUTH 5 SEPTEMBER, 1905
The Treaty of Portsmouth ends the Russo- Japanese War, a humiliating defeat for the Russian Empire and the first time a noncaucasian nation has defeated a traditional European power in an armed conflict. Japan emerges as a major military force in the Pacific and continues a policy of imperialism that eventually leads to war with the United States.
The Great White Fleet 16 December, 1907
As a show of global naval might and to prompt foreign powers to respect American territorial holdings, President Theodore Roosevelt sends 16 battleships of the US Navy and their escorts — divided into two squadrons — on a voyage around the world. With their hulls painted white, the armada sails the seas until 1909.
“THE LAMPS ARE GOING OUT…” 3 AUGUST, 1914
On the eve of Great Britain’s entry into World War I, Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey comments to a friend: “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.” The words have been alluded to ever since as a prophetic vision of the horror of the coming conflict that would claim millions of lives.
KING EDWARD VIII ABDICATES FOR LOVE 11 DECEMBER, 1936
Upon the death of his father, King George V, Edward VIII assumes the British throne in January 1936. Before the end of the year, however, he abdicates in order to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. The event shakes the stability of the monarchy. Edward is succeeded by his brother, King George VI, who leads the nation through World War II.
THE US ENTERS WORLD WAR I 6 APRIL, 1917
Provoked by Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic and the threat of the Zimmerman Telegram from German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman to Mexico, inviting that nation to declare war on the U.S. and conclude a military alliance, the United States declares war on Germany and enters World War I after President Woodrow Wilson asks Congress for a declaration on April 2.
TREATY OF VERSAILLES 28 JUNE, 1919
The document that ends the catastrophe of World War I essentially places the blame for the bloodshed on Germany, crippling the nation’s economy, restricting its armed forces and saddling it with immense reparations payments. Signed in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, the treaty’s harsh terms are a major cause of World War II, which erupts 20 years later.
DEATH OF PRESIDENT PAUL VON HINDENBURG 2 AUGUST, 1934
The last major impediment to Adolf Hitler’s consolidation of power, President of Weimar Germany Paul von Hindenburg, an aging war hero, dies. Hitler swiftly abolishes the office of president and consolidates its authority with that of chancellor, which he already holds. The Nazi grip on the German government is solidified.
THE ATLANTIC CHARTER 14 AUGUST, 1941
Following their meeting at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt publish the Atlantic Charter, a document containing the common goals of the nations in response to the Axis threat. Britain is already at war with Germany. The US enters World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December.
THE INFAMY SPEECH 8 DECEMBER, 1941
The day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addresses a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war against Japan. He begins his remarks with, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy…” In less than an hour, Congress passes a resolution that plunges the nation into World War II.
TRUMAN FIRES MACARTHUR 11 APRIL, 1951
Fearing the widening of the Korean War, President Harry Truman relieves General Douglas MacArthur of command of US forces in Korea. Egotistical and outspoken, MacArthur has previously criticised the Truman administration and failed to recognise the probability of intervention from Communist China, which occurred in the autumn of 1950. By dismissing MacArthur, Truman reaffirms civilian control of the US military.
Indian Independence Act 18 July, 1947
Royal assent to the Indian Independence Act creates the independent dominions of India and Pakistan. The partition becomes effective on 15 August, and widespread unrest follows as Hindus and Muslims flee across the border. India and Pakistan later repeal the act as they march towards total independence.
NAZI GERMANY SURRENDERS UNCONDITIONALLY 7 MAY, 1945
In a schoolhouse in Reims, France, Nazi Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allies, ending World War II in Europe. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force, sends a message: “The mission of this Allied force was fulfilled at 0241, local time, May 7, 1945.” The Soviet Union does not recognise the surrender and requires a second ceremony in Berlin.
UNITED NATIONS CHARTER 26 JUNE, 1945
The charter of the United Nations is signed by representatives of 50 countries in San Francisco and goes into effect four months later in October 1945. The document establishes the principles of the body and its structure. The five permanent members of the security council include the United States, Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and China.
MAO TSE-TUNG ASSUMES POWER IN CHINA 1 OCTOBER, 1949
Mao Tse-tung proclaims the People’s Republic of China following a protracted war against Nationalist forces under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, who flees the mainland and establishes a government on the island of Formosa. Mao establishes the rule of the Communist Party of China and initiates ruthless reforms.
KRUSHCHEV BELLOWS 18 NOVEMBER, 1956
During a reception for ambassadors from several Western countries at the Polish embassy in Moscow, Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev remarks forcefully, “We will bury you!” Representatives of 12 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) member countries and Israel leave the room. Krushchev was later removed from power on 14 October, 1964.
Cuban Missile Crisis Ends 28 October, 1962
The closest that the United States and the Soviet Union come to an exchange of nuclear weapons during the Cold War ends with concessions on both sides, particularly the Soviets, who agree to dismantle intermediate-range nuclear missiles that have been shipped to Cuba, just 90 miles from the mainland of the United States.
‘ICH BIN EIN BERLINER!’ 26 JUNE, 1963
Five months before his assassination, President John F. Kennedy travels to West Germany and is warmly welcomed. During a speech in west Berlin he declares that free individuals all over the world are citizens of the divided city of Berlin. He proclaims that he takes pride in the words, “Ich bin ein Berliner!”
JOHNSON ENDS CAMPAIGN SPECULATION 31 MARCH, 1968
In the midst of US involvement in the Vietnam War, President Lyndon Johnson, who has completed the term of assassinated President John F. Kennedy and won a landslide victory over Senator Barry Goldwater in 1964, tells a national television audience, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”
THE LAST US TROOPS LEAVE VIETNAM 29 MARCH, 1973
Two months after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, the last US troops leave South Vietnam. Within two years communist forces conquer all of Vietnam, ending a conflict that has persisted since 1945. Following the failure of France to maintain control of its colony in Southeast Asia, the United States has been directly involved militarily in the conflict for eight years.
REUNIFICATION OF GERMANY 3 OCTOBER, 1990
With the Cold War at an end and half a century of partition between the democratic West and the communist East, Germany is reunited as a nation only months after the Berlin Wall tumbles down. The unification process actually results in an enlarged West German state that retains membership in NATO.
GULF WAR VICTORY FEBRUARY 28, 1991
Following the invasion of neighbouring Kuwait by the Iraqi Army of dictator Saddam Hussein, a multi-nation coalition executes a build-up of formidable military forces, known as Operation Desert Shield, and launches an extensive aerial bombardment campaign. This is followed by a ground war, Operation Desert Storm, which forcibly ejects the Iraqis from Kuwait with a decisive victory. Saddam Hussein remains in power in Baghdad.
WATERGATE SCANDAL BEGINS 17 JUNE, 1972
Five men are arrested during an attempt to break into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. The administration of President Richard Nixon denies involvement and engages in a cover-up, which culminates with the indictment of 69 individuals, articles of impeachment against Nixon, and ultimately his resignation in 1974.
U.S. AND COALITION FORCES INVADE IRAQ 20 MARCH, 2003
Alarmed by the ruthlessness of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and his ruling Baath Party, along with reports that Saddam possesses weapons of mass destruction, the United States leads a coalition of military forces in an invasion of Iraq that topples the dictator within six weeks of fighting. However, the destabilisation of the country sparks a long and bloody insurgency.
MAASTRICHT TREATY INTEGRATES EUROPE 1 NOVEMBER, 1993
The Maastricht Treaty, signed by the members of the European Community in February 1992, comes into effect, establishing the three-pillar structure that is designed to integrate the economies and social structure of member countries. These include the European Communities, Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters pillars. It also installs the Euro as the common currency.
Terrorism on 9-11 11 September, 2001
Islamic terrorists under the influence of Al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, hijack aircraft and fly them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon, seat of the US defence establishment in Washington, D.C. A fourth plane crashes into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks claim the lives of more than 3,000 people, and in the aftermath President George W. Bush declares a “War on Terror”. ■