Thursday, May 29, 2008

May 29th

I've often thought it might be fun to do a "This Day in History" series (or at least a good mental exercise), but the information is readily available on Wikipedia and various websites. Even sticking to dates I find curious or significant would get to be more of a chore quite quickly. From time to time there are days worthy of notice, and May 29th is one of them.
On this day happened what I feel were one of the saddest and one of the happiest events in history.

In 1453 Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks. The armies of the Sultan Mehmed II Fatih captured Constantinople after a siege; the last Roman Emperor in the east, Constantine XI Palaeologus, died in the battle. We add nothing to these bare facts.

In 1660 Charles II returned to England, entering London on his birthday. John Evelyn wrote in his Dairy:

This day, his Majesty, Charles the Second came to London, after a sad and long exile and calamitous suffering both of the King and the Church, being seventeen years. This was also his birth-day, and with a triumph of above 20,000 horse and foot, brandishing their swords, and shouting with inexpressible joy; the ways strewed with flowers, the bells ringing, the streets hung with tapestry, fountains running with wine; the Mayor, Aldermen, and all the Companies, in their liveries, chains of silver, gold, and velvet; the windows and balconies, all set with ladies; trumpets, music and myriads of people flocking, even so far as from Rochester, so as they were seven hours in passing the city, even from two in the afternoon till nine at night.
I stood in the Strand and beheld it, and blessed God. And all this was done without one drop of blood shed, and by that very army which rebelled against him; but it was the Lord’s doing, for such a restoration was never mentioned in any history, ancient or modern, since the return of the Jews from their Babylonish captivity; nor so joyful a day and so bright ever seen in this nation, this happening when to expect or effect it was past all human policy.

Here is a smattering of other things, sublime and ridiculous, that happened on 29 May:
1886 - Chemist John Pemberton places his first advertisement for Coca-Cola, the ad appearing in the Atlanta Journal.
1913 - Igor Stravinsky's ballet score The Rite of Spring is premiered in Paris.
1942 - Bing Crosby, the Ken Darby Singers and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra record Irving Berlin's White Christmas, the best-selling Christmas album in history, for Decca Records in Los Angeles.
1950 - St. Roch, first ship to circumnavigate North America, arrives in Halifax, Nova Scotia .
1953 - Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay are the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, on Tenzing Norgay's (adopted) 39th birthday.
1982 First visit of a Roman Pope (John Paul II) to Canterbury Cathedral.

People born today include the writers G. K. Chesterton and T. H White, the composer Eric Korngold, and President J. F. Kennedy. For a list of other birthdays and of people who died on May 29th, and other events on this day, see :

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