In the year 8 AD, the Dalmatae, that ancient Illyrian tribe of the eastern Adriatic, fell to the Roman general Tiberius on the banks of the Bathinus. A renowned warrior, Tiberius would ultimately conquer all of Dalmatia, Pannonia, Raetie and briefly Germania as he laid the foundations of the northern frontier. A dark and brooding sovereign, his success on the battlefield did not evoke the love of his people, nor his love for them.
Four hundred years later, Tiberius’s distant successor Theodosious II would exile the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, to a far-flung monastery of Egyptian antiquity. Christological controversies of Nestorianism and Eutychianism exist in the ether of religious faith, but centuries later, battles were still fought on land. In 881AD, Louis the Stammerer, king of Aquitaine and Western Francia, took to the field of Saucourt-en-Vimeu to defeat the Viking hordes. The victory of the Frankish force was put to poetry in 59 rhyming couplets of celebratory verse, still known in Old High German as the Ludwigslied.
In 1031, Olaf II of Norway — you might remember him as Olav Haraldsson — was canonized Saint Olaf by the British Bishop of Selsey, Grimketel. Little is known of the latter, but that he was brought by the former to convert the pagan Norsemen. Along the lines of exploratory evangelizing, Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos de la Frontera across that ocean blue, on this date in history, in year 1492. Writing in his diary, the Italian explorer noted the corresponding expulsion of the Jews, ordered by Ferdinand and Isabella as his three ships put to sea. 35 years later, the first known letter from North America was sent back across the Atlantic by John Rut, writing from Newfoundland. Rut had been dispatched by his liege lord, Henry VIII, to command the British quest for an elusive Northwest Passage.
And then there were the wars. 1601 saw the fall of Transylvania to the hands of Hapsburgs at the battle of Goroszló. Austria, Wallachia and the fearsome Cossacks sacked Transylvania’s troops commanded by Sigsmund Bathory, in an early chapter of military encounters that simmered between the Ottoman Empire and the European counterparts, known better as the Long War.
Forty four years later, in the midst of the Thirty Years War, the second Battle of Nördlingen was fought between an alliance of the Holy Roman Empire and her allies Bavarian Catholic League and the combined forces of France and Protestant Germany. The imperial army of his Holiness fell back in reasonable order, as the battle provided little more than breathing room between invasions of the southern duchy.
Of course, not all battles are fought on land. In 1852, Harvard University won its first “Boat Race” against Yale University, and the first American intercollegiate athletic event. In short order, thereafter, the Second Maori War ignited in New Zealand, Macedonian rebels in Kruševo declared the Republic, thereof. The former lasted years, the latter only days.
On this date, Germany declared war against France, and Kenesaw Mountain Landis declared the interdiction of eight notorious Black Sox. Adolf Hitler collapsed the offices Reichsprasident and Reichskanzler into a furious Führer-ver, before Jesse Owens’ victory in the 100 yard dash offered an American aperitif in Berlin. Sixty-nine years later, Mahoud Ahmedinejad became president of Iran.
All of this…and so much more…on this date in history.
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