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Today in History: November 27-28
The Byzantine Empire gets a new emperor and a new war, Albania and Panama gain their independence, and more
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November 27, 602: A very disaffected Byzantine army under a general named Phocas executes Emperor Maurice, but only after forcing him to watch the execution of six of his sons. They seem nice. This mutiny set in motion the events that led to the 602-628 Byzantine war against the Sasanian (Persian) Empire, as almost immediately after Phocas became emperor the Byzantine governor of Mesopotamia, Narses, declared a rebellion. He appealed to the Persians—whose emperor, Khosrow II, had been crowned in part due to Maurice’s aid—for help, and there’s your war. The lengthy conflict saw the Persians conquer the Levant and Egypt before they overextended themselves and gave the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, who overthrew Phocas in 610, an opening to counterattack and restore the status quo ante bellum. The conflict battered the two great empires, which worked to the benefit of the new regional power that was just beginning to emerge in western Arabia.
November 27, 1095: During the Council of Clermont, Pope Urban II issues his call for what we now know as the First Crusade.
November 28, 1814: The Times of London is published via a new steam-powered printing press, making it the first major newspaper so produced. The use of the faster steam press took newspapers from a niche business to a mass market one, in the process boosting efforts to increase literacy.
November 28, 1821: Panama gains its independence from Spain and joins Gran Colombia. This date is commemorated as Independence Day in Panama—which is not to be confused with Separation Day, when Panama became independent of Colombia in 1903.
November 28, 1912: Taking advantage of Ottoman weakness and the onset of the First Balkan War, Albania declares its independence from the Ottoman Empire. The move was both opportunistic and defensive, as the Balkan League—Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, and Serbia (particularly Serbia)—had talked about partitioning the empire’s remaining European territories rather than creating any new independent nations. Declaring independence was the Albanians’ way of forcing themselves into the conversation. Commemorated as Albanian Independence Day.
November 28, 1943: Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin begin the Tehran Conference, the first of three major World War II meetings between the leaders of the UK, US, and USSR. The main outcome of Tehran was that Roosevelt and Stalin managed to get Churchill to commit to an invasion of France, in part to force Germany to pull forces away from their eastern front with the Soviets. They also discussed the eventual partition of Germany and creation of the United Nations.
November 28, 1960: Mauritania gains its independence from France. This date is commemorated as Mauritanian Independence Day.
November 28, 1980: The Iranian military’s Operation Morvarid, in the early stages of the Iran-Iraq War, results in the destruction of most of Iraq’s air defenses in the Persian Gulf and southern Iraq, several of Iraq’s oil facilities, and around 80 percent of the Iraqi navy. The success helped Iran blunt Iraq’s initial offensive and forced the conflict into a stalemate that gave the Iranians time to prepare their own offensive.