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711 – Islamic conquest of Hispania: Moorish troops begin their invasion of the Iberian Peninsula.
1429 – 17-year-old French peasant and hearer of voices, Joan of Arc leads a small force of troops in relieving the city of Orleans, besieged by the English since October. She inspired the French to a passionate resistance and through the next week led the charge during a number of battles. At one point, she was hit by an arrow, dressed her wound and returned to the battle. On May 8, the siege of Orleans was broken, and the English retreated.
Charles VII was crowned king of France on July 17, 1429 in Reims Cathedral. At the coronation, Joan was given a place of honor.
In May 1430, Bourguignon soldiers captured Joan and sold her to the English. She was charged with cross-dressing. No, really. She was told that for a woman to wear men's clothing was a crime against God. She was tried as a heretic and witch, convicted, and on May 30, 1431, burned at the stake. Charles VII did nothing to save the one to whom he owed his throne. He was busy that day.
Exactly 233 years later, the city of New Orleans was captured by the Union army during the Civil War.
1624 – In France, Richelieu assumes as Prime Minister of Louis XIII."The pen is mightier than the sword," written by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 for his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy.
1938 – Bernard Madoff, American convict, who was a financier and Chairman of the NASDAQ, born.
1945 – Adolf Hitler marries his long-time partner Eva Braun in his bunker hideaway. The bride wore black. The couple was married only hours before they both committed suicide.
Also on this day in 1945, the Americans liberate the concentration camp at Dachau. Five hundred German garrison troops guarding the camp are killed within an hour, some by inmates, but most by the American liberators, who are horrified by what they bear witness to, including huge piles of emaciated dead bodies found in railway cars and near the crematorium.
1980 – Legendary film and television director Alfred Hitchcock died of kidney failure in his L. A. home at the age of 80. Hitchcock directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades.
1981 - Truck driver Peter Sutcliffe admitted in a London court to being the "Yorkshire Ripper," the killer of 13 women in northern England over five years. I always confuse him with Stuart Sutcliffe, the first bassist for the Beatles, who died. I watched that movie.
U.S. District Judge Denny Chin threw the book at Bernard Madoff and hurled a 150 year maximum sentence at the disgraced swindler.
During his ruling, Chin said, "here the message must be sent that Mr. Madoff's crimes were extraordinarily evil and that this kind of manipulation of the system is not just a bloodless crime that takes place on paper, but one instead that takes a staggering toll."