753 BC – Romulus and Remus founded Rome, on the site where the twins were suckled by a she-wolf as orphaned infants. Like Cain before him, Romulus eventually offed his bro-bro. With him out of the way, Romulus became ruler and named the city “Rome” after himself. To populate his town, Romulus offered asylum to fugitives, exiles, and ne’er-do-wells. Sort of like Australia. Rome lacked women, however, so Romulus invited the neighboring Sabines to a festival and abducted their women. Would you be my neighbor?
1509 –Henry VIII ascends the throne of England on the death of his father. Two days after his coronation he arrested two of his father’s ministers, for no reason at all. They were charged with high treason and executed in 1510. This was to become Henry's primary method of dealing with any and all problems in the realm.
1792 – Tiradentes, a revolutionary leading a movement for Brazil's independence from Portugal, is hanged, drawn and quartered. His head was publicly displayed in Vila Rica and pieces of his body were exhibited in other locales to serve as a warning, a reminder or just to be gross.
1816 - Charlotte Bronte, author of “Jane Eyre” and the only one of three novelist Bronte sisters to live past age 31, is born.
1918 – German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as “The Red Baron," is shot down and killed over Vaux sur Somme. He terrorized the skies over the western front in an Albatross biplane, and is considered the most successful flying ace during World War I. He is officially credited with 80 confirmed air combat victories. Eighty-one, if you include Snoopy.
1910 – Samuel Clemens, American author and humorist, well known by his pen name Mark Twain went away. In 1909, he is quoted as saying:
I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'
His prediction was accurate – Twain died of a heart attack on April 21, one day after the comet's closest approach to Earth. Or so Wikipedia would have me believe. I didn’t check.
1926 – Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, is born. She pledged, back in the day: "I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.” That old bat meant it. She has no official engagements on her 84th birthday, except to rub it in Prince Chuck's face.
1947 – Iggy Pop, is born. Happy Birthday, Stooge!
1989 – In Beijing, around 100,000 students start to gather in Tiananmen Square to commemorate Chinese reform leader Hu Yaobang. This does not end well.