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Today in History: June 27-30
The Boshin War begins, World War I begins and ends, and more
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June 27, 1658: An invading Spanish army is defeated by a slightly larger English force in the Battle of Rio Nuevo, the largest battle ever to take place on Jamaica. This was the second Spanish attempt to reclaim the island, which had been captured by English forces commanded by Sir William Penn in 1655. The battle began on June 25 and the English spent two days bombarding a makeshift Spanish fortress before its occupants attempted a breakout in desperation. Of around 560 Spanish personnel at the start of the battle, some 300 were killed or wounded and another 150 taken prisoner. Spain finally gave up its claim on Jamaica in the 1670 Treaty of Madrid.
June 27, 1869: The remaining forces still loyal to the Tokugawa Shogunate are defeated by Meiji forces at the Battle of Hakodate, in southern Hokkaidō. After suffering a series of defeats that included the loss of Edo (renamed Tokyo), the Tokugawa remnants had fashioned themselves into a statelet called the “Republic of Ezo” (Ezo being another name for Hokkaidō) in late 1868 and, aided by several French military officers, focused their defensive preparations on the island’s southern Hakodate peninsula. Meiji forces landed on the island in April and were eventually able to force the rebels to surrender. The battle effectively ended the 1868-1869 Boshin War with the imperial/Meiji faction victorious.
June 27, 1991: The Ten Day War begins when a Yugoslav army invades Slovenia in response to that republic’s declaration of independence two days earlier. It ended on July 7 with the signing of the Brioni Agreement, in which Slovenia and Croatia agreed to delay their independence movements for three months. For Slovenia this meant an end to the fighting, but the Croatian War of Independence continued until 1995.
June 28, 572: The Lombard King Alboin, who had led his people from the region of Pannonia into then-Byzantine controlled Italy (most of which they would come to control for around 200 years) is assassinated by a noble named Helmichis in Verona. Helmichis then married Alboin’s widow, Rosamund, indicating that she supported the assassination or at least wasn’t hugely displeased by it. After a failed attempt to seize the Lombard throne the pair fled to the Byzantine city of Ravenna, which in turn suggests that the Byzantines may have supported or even encouraged the assassination in hopes of making the Lombard king their client. Instead another Lombard noble, Cleph, succeeded Alboin while legend has it that Helmichis and Rosamund murdered one another in Ravenna.
June 28, 1914: A group of six attackers aided by a Serbian irredentist paramilitary group known as the “Black Hand” attack Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife as they’re visiting Sarajavo. Although their initial bombing attempt failed, one of the six attackers, Gavrilo Princip, shot and killed both targets after a reception involving the mayor of Sarajevo and the governor of Bosnia. Arguably one of the most consequential acts in world history, within a month the assassination had caused Serbia and Austria-Hungary to declare war on one another, and when their allies jumped into the pool as well the result was World War I.
June 28, 1919: Five years later, the Treaty of Versailles is signed, ending Germany’s involvement in World War I. This is the most important of the multiple World War I peace treaties, which include the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye with Austria in September 1919, the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary in June 1920, and the Treaty of Sèvres with the rump Ottoman Empire in August 1920. The terms of Sèvres were largely superseded by the July 1923 Treaty of Lausanne that ended the Turkish War of Independence.
June 29, 1444: Albanian rebel leader Skanderbeg (George Castriot) defeats a considerably larger Ottoman army at the Battle of Torvioli by outmaneuvering the Ottomans and striking their forces from behind. This was one of the first major engagements in Skanderbeg’s 1443-1468 rebellion and his surprising victory earned him significant support from Hungary and the papacy.
June 29, 1613: The Globe Theatre in London is destroyed when, during a performance of William Shakespeare’s Henry VII, a stage cannon malfunctions and sets the structure on fire. Only one person was hurt, apparently. The structure was rebuilt the following year but was closed down for good (or at least until its 1997 revival) by Puritan authorities during the First English Civil War.
June 29, 1881: Sudanese religious leader Muhammad Ahmad declares himself to be the Mahdi and begins to establish an independent political entity, kicking off the 18 year long Mahdist War against the British Empire.
June 30, 1520: During La Noche Triste (“the Night of Sorrows”), Hernán Cortés and his forces are driven out of Tenochtitlan by the Aztecs. He regrouped and returned the following year to besiege and ultimately capture the city.
June 30, 1934: In the “Night of the Long Knives,” Nazi leaders purge the Sturmabteilung, including its leader Ernst Röhm, and target other party opponents like German Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen. Estimates of the death toll range from a low of 85 to a high of somewhere around 1000.