Today in History: July 22-24
The Egyptian military seizes power, the Nicene Empire seizes Constantinople, and more
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July 22, 838: An outnumbered Abbasid army defeats the Byzantines under Emperor Theophilos at the Battle of Anzen/Dazimon, in eastern Anatolia. The victory allowed the Abbasids to proceed unimpeded to the major Byzantine city of Amorium, in central Anatolia, which they would eventually sack in one of the most devastating episodes of the Byzantine-Abbasid conflict.
July 22, 1209: A Crusader army overwhelms the garrison defending the city of Béziers and subsequently massacres a still-unknown number of its residents. Béziers was the first major armed action of the Albigensian Crusade, called by Pope Innocent III (d. 1216) to eliminate the Cathar heresy that predominated in the Languedoc region (today part of the Occitania region in southern France). The Crusaders had been intending to besiege the city, but a group of defenders made an ill-fated attempt to attack the Crusaders. The much larger attacking army overwhelmed them and then stormed through the still open gates. The number of people killed is unclear—papal legate Arnaud Amalric put the number at 20,000 but that’s almost certainly more people than actually lived in Béziers at the time. The city’s population appears to have been in the low 10,000s and most of those people likely survived.
July 22, 1456: The Siege of Belgrade ends
July 22, 1946: Members of the Irgun, a Zionist terrorist group that was one of the predecessors of the modern Likud party, bomb the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and kill 91 people in the process. Their target was the headquarters of the British mandatory authority and the attack was meant as a response to the British arrest of hundreds of Zionist militants in Operation Agatha in late June. Most Zionist leaders condemned Irgun, which in turn blamed British authorities for not evacuating the hotel despite telephoned warnings about the bomb.
July 23, 1952: Egypt’s 23 July Revolution
July 23, 1970: With British assistance, Qaboos b. Said al-Said overthrows his father, Said b. Taymur, and becomes sultan of Oman. Qaboos, who ruled until his death in January 2020, ended his father’s policy of isolationism and began investing Oman’s oil wealth in development projects.
July 24, 1261: With much of the city’s garrison apparently out on a raid, a small group of soldiers of the Nicene Empire enters and seizes control of Constantinople. Latin Emperor Baldwin II and most of the city’s grandees were evacuated by Venetian ships. The Nicene capture of Constantinople ended a 57 year war to reestablish the Byzantine Empire following its elimination during the Fourth Crusade. The restored empire was ruled by the Palaiologos Dynasty through its final collapse in 1453.
July 24, 1534: French explorer Jacques Cartier erects a cross, bearing the message “Long Live the King of France” (or “Vive le Roi de France,” probably) on the shore of what is now known as Gaspé Bay, in Quebec. Cartier thereby claimed the region (the “region” was later defined as all of modern Canada and a bunch of what is now the midwestern United States) for France, marking that country’s big foray into American colonialism.
July 24, 1910: The Albanian Revolt of 1910 ends in failure with the Ottoman capture of the city of Shkodër. The Albanian defeat was only a temporary setback, as Albanian rebels emerged victorious from a second revolt in 1912. That victory briefly established Albania’s autonomy within the Ottoman Empire until the 1912-1913 First Balkan War secured full Albanian independence.
July 24, 1923: The Treaty of Lausanne formally ends the Turkish War of Independence and establishes the borders of the Republic of Turkey. The treaty superseded the World War I Treaty of Sèvres, which partitioned Anatolia and was so punitive that it motivated the remnants of the Ottoman/Turkish military to resist.