13 May 1861

The Great Comet of 1861 is discovered by John Tebbutt of Windsor, New South Wales, Australia.

The Great Comet of 1861, officially known as C/1861 J1 and informally as the Great Comet, is a famous comet that was first observed by John Tebbutt, an Australian astronomer, on May 13, 1861.

Brightness and Visibility: The Great Comet of 1861 was exceptionally bright, visible to the naked eye, and one of the most spectacular comets of the 19th century. Its appearance was so impressive that it could be seen even during the day close to the sun.

Tail: It had an extraordinarily large and bright tail, which extended across a significant portion of the night sky. At its peak, the tail spread over a great distance in the sky, reportedly up to 90 degrees.

Orbital Characteristics: The comet has a very long orbital period, estimated to be about 409 years, meaning it will not return to the inner solar system until around the year 2270.

Scientific Interest: The appearance of the comet in 1861 provided a unique opportunity for scientists of the time to study the properties of comets more closely. Observations of the comet contributed to the understanding of the nature of comets’ tails, their interactions with the solar wind, and their orbital dynamics.

Cultural Impact: The comet had a significant cultural impact as well, being recorded and described in numerous contemporary accounts and artworks. Its appearance coincided with a period of intense interest in astronomy among the general public.

The Great Comet of 1861 remains a subject of historical interest in the field of astronomy, illustrating the impact such celestial events can have on both scientific inquiry and public imagination.

12 May 1821

The first major battle of the Greek War of Independence against the Turks is fought in Valtetsi.

The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution, was a successful war of independence waged by Greek revolutionaries against the Ottoman Empire between 1821 and 1829. This war significantly contributed to the eventual decline of Ottoman rule in the Balkans and the rise of modern nation-states in the region.
Origins and Causes

The desire for independence had been growing among Greeks for many years, driven by the rise of nationalism and the influence of the Enlightenment, as well as dissatisfaction with Ottoman rule. Greeks were inspired by the successful independence movements of the United States and France.

Key Events

1821: The war unofficially began on March 25, 1821, when Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the Greek flag at the monastery of Agia Lavra in Peloponnese, a date now celebrated annually in Greece as Independence Day.
Massacres: The conflict was marked by massacres on both sides, including notable atrocities against the civilian populations.
Sieges and Battles: The sieges of Missolonghi (1822–1826) and the naval battle of Navarino (1827) were pivotal. The latter saw a decisive intervention by the British, French, and Russian navies.
Diplomatic Efforts: Diplomatic efforts by the Great Powers (Britain, France, and Russia) played a crucial role in the eventual outcome of the war.

Conclusion and Aftermath

Establishment of a Sovereign State: The war concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829, where the Ottoman Empire recognized Greek autonomy, and the subsequent London Protocol in 1830 established Greece as an independent, sovereign state.
Monarchy: In 1832, Otto of Bavaria was chosen as the first king of the newly established Kingdom of Greece.

Legacy

The Greek War of Independence is a key part of Greek national identity and is commemorated every year with parades and celebrations on March 25. The revolution also influenced other nationalist movements in the Ottoman Empire and beyond, contributing to a broader wave of 19th-century revolutions in Europe.

11 May 1857

Indian Rebellion of 1857: Indian rebels seize Delhi from the British

The Indian Rebellion of 1857, also known as the Sepoy Mutiny or the First War of Indian Independence, was a major, but ultimately unsuccessful, uprising against the British East India Company’s rule in India. It began on May 10, 1857, in the town of Meerut and quickly spread across the northern and central parts of India.

The rebellion had several underlying causes:
Economic and Administrative Policies: The East India Company’s aggressive expansion and economic policies severely impacted the livelihoods of many, including peasants and local artisans, due to high taxes and the introduction of British products into the Indian market.
Military Grievances: Indian soldiers, known as sepoys, in the British army were dissatisfied with their pay, conditions, and prospects. The immediate spark for the mutiny was the introduction of new rifle cartridges, rumored to be greased with cow and pig fat, which was offensive to Hindu and Muslim soldiers respectively.
Political Reasons: The doctrine of lapse and annexation policies, which allowed the British to seize the lands of rulers without a direct heir, angered many Indian princes and were seen as a direct threat to the existing power structures.

The rebellion saw various Indian leaders rise to prominence, including Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, Nana Sahib, and the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, who was declared the Emperor of Hindustan by the rebels. Despite some initial successes and brutal battles, the rebellion was not coordinated across different regions, which ultimately led to its downfall.
Suppression and Consequences

The British suppression of the rebellion was marked by widespread atrocities and retribution. The British forces, bolstered by reinforcements from within India and abroad, committed numerous acts of cruelty to regain control.

The rebellion led to significant changes in the British approach to governance in India:

End of the East India Company: In 1858, the British government abolished the East India Company and took direct control of India, marking the beginning of the British Raj.
Military Reforms: The composition of the British Indian army was restructured to prevent similar rebellions in the future.
Policy Adjustments: The British adopted more conciliatory policies towards Indian princes and made attempts to appease Indian social and religious sentiments.

The Indian Rebellion of 1857 had a lasting impact on the national consciousness of India, fostering a strong sense of nationalism that would eventually contribute to India’s struggle for independence from British rule in the 20th century.

10 May 1773

The Parliament of Great Britain passes the Tea Act, designed to save the British East India Company by reducing taxes on its tea and granting it the right to sell tea directly to North America. The legislation leads to the Boston Tea Party.

The Boston Tea Party was a significant event in American history, occurring on the evening of December 16, 1773. It was a direct protest by colonists in Boston against the British government and the monopolistic East India Company that controlled all the tea imported into the colonies.

At the heart of the issue was the Tea Act, enacted by the British Parliament earlier in the year, which was designed to save the financially struggling East India Company by granting it a monopoly on the American tea trade. The act allowed the company to sell surplus tea directly to the American colonies, bypassing colonial merchants and selling it cheaper than the colonists could. However, it included a tax that the colonists were required to pay on the tea, which they saw as taxation without representation.

As three ships carrying tea docked in Boston Harbor, a group of colonists, led by the Sons of Liberty, decided to take action. Dressed as Mohawk Indians to hide their identities, they boarded the ships and threw 342 chests of tea into the water. This act of defiance was not immediately recognized as significant by the British, but it escalated tensions enormously and led to the implementation of the Intolerable Acts as a

9 May 1671

Thomas Blood, disguised as a clergyman, attempts to steal England’s Crown Jewels from the Tower of London.

Thomas Blood’s attempt to steal the Crown Jewels of England is one of the most audacious heists in British history, taking place on May 9, 1671. Colonel Thomas Blood, an Irish adventurer with a controversial past, hatched a bold plan to steal the jewels from the Tower of London.

Blood disguised himself as a parson and, with the help of accomplices who posed as his wife and other characters, befriended the Jewel Housekeeper, Talbot Edwards, under the pretense of procuring a viewing of the Crown Jewels for his supposed wife. Over a period of visits to gain the trust of Edwards, Blood eventually arranged a private showing of the Jewels for what he claimed were his relatives.

On the day of the crime, Blood and his accomplices knocked out Edwards, who had taken them into the Jewel House to see the regalia. They then smashed the crown, flattened it with a mallet, and stuffed it into a bag. Blood also attempted to saw the scepter in half to make it easier to transport, and one of his accomplices concealed the orb.

However, the thieves were interrupted and captured as they attempted to flee the Tower. Astonishingly, Blood was not executed for his audacious crime. Instead, he was brought before King Charles II, to whom Blood reportedly made a bold and witty appeal. Intrigued by Blood’s audacity and possibly amused by his demeanor, Charles II pardoned him and even granted him land in Ireland.

This extraordinary leniency shown to Blood remains a topic of historical debate and curiosity, highlighting both the daring of the theft attempt and the enigmatic decision of the king’s mercy.

8 May 1945

End of the Prague uprising, celebrated now as a national holiday in the Czech Republic.

The Prague Uprising was a major revolt during World War II that took place towards the end of the conflict, from May 5 to May 8, 1945, in Prague, the capital of Czechoslovakia. This uprising was primarily against the German occupation forces, and it occurred just as the war in Europe was drawing to a close.

By early May 1945, the situation for Nazi Germany was dire. The Allies had advanced deep into German territory from the west, while the Soviet Red Army was approaching from the east. Czech resistance groups saw an opportunity to rise up as the war was ending and the Germans were retreating or surrendering in many areas.

The uprising began on May 5, 1945, initiated by the Czech resistance, particularly the Czech National Council, which took over radio stations and called for a general uprising against the German occupiers. Citizens, police forces, and armed resistance fighters quickly joined the effort, barricading streets and attacking German positions.

The German response was swift and brutal. Reinforcements were sent to Prague to suppress the uprising. Fierce street fighting ensued, with significant casualties on both sides.

One of the unique aspects of the Prague Uprising was the involvement of various Allied forces. Initially, there was confusion and a lack of coordinated Allied support. However, as the Red Army was delayed in its advance towards Prague, a rogue German military unit, led by General Rudolf Toussaint, negotiated a partial ceasefire with the Czech insurgents.

Additionally, U.S. Army units, which were stationed nearby, were requested to help but were restricted by the demarcation lines agreed upon at the Yalta Conference, which designated Czechoslovakia as part of the Soviet sphere of influence.
Conclusion and Soviet Entry

The uprising held out until the arrival of the Soviet Red Army on May 9, which forced the remaining German forces to surrender. The Soviets were greeted as liberators by the Czech population, and the city of Prague was finally free from Nazi control.

The Prague Uprising was significant in several ways. It demonstrated the resolve of the Czech people to resist their occupiers and helped to restore a sense of national pride and sovereignty after years of occupation. It also marked a shift in power dynamics in the region, leading to the eventual establishment of a Soviet-influenced communist government in Czechoslovakia for several decades.

The uprising is remembered as a pivotal moment in Czech history, symbolizing the courage and determination of the Czech resistance during a critical period of World War II.

7 May 2000

Vladimir Putin is inaugurated as president of Russia.

Vladimir Putin is a significant and controversial figure in global politics. He has served as both President and Prime Minister of Russia, positions he has held since 1999 in varying capacities. Born on October 7, 1952, in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), Russia, Putin studied law at Leningrad State University, graduating in 1975.

After graduation, he joined the KGB, the Soviet Union’s security agency, and served for 16 years, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Putin retired from active KGB service and entered politics in his hometown of Saint Petersburg. He moved to Moscow in 1996 and quickly ascended the political ranks, becoming the head of the FSB (the KGB’s successor) and then Secretary of the Security Council.

In 1999, President Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin as Prime Minister, and later that year, Yeltsin resigned, appointing Putin as acting President. Putin won his first presidential term in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004. Due to constitutional term limits, he served as Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012 under President Dmitry Medvedev but maintained significant influence. In 2012 and again in 2018, Putin was re-elected as President.

Putin’s tenure has been marked by significant economic growth, military reform, and the reassertion of Russia as a major power on the world stage. However, his administration has also been criticized for authoritarian practices, the erosion of democratic institutions, suppression of opposition, control over the media, and allegations of corruption and election manipulation.

Internationally, Putin has pursued an assertive foreign policy, most notably the annexation of Crimea in 2014, involvement in the Syrian civil war, and ongoing tensions with Western countries. His leadership continues to evoke strong reactions, ranging from staunch support within Russia to severe criticism and sanctions from abroad.

6 May 1954

Roger Bannister becomes the first person to run the mile in under four minutes.

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister, a British middle-distance runner, achieved one of the most significant milestones in the history of athletics: he became the first person to run the mile in under four minutes. This feat took place at the Iffley Road track in Oxford, England, during a meet between the British Amateur Athletic Association and Oxford University.

Bannister’s record-breaking run captured the world’s attention and marked a monumental moment in sports history. His time was 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. This achievement shattered the widely held belief at the time that running a mile in under four minutes was humanly impossible.

Bannister’s accomplishment not only showcased his extraordinary physical abilities but also served as a testament to the power of determination, perseverance, and the human spirit. His achievement inspired generations of athletes and continues to be celebrated as one of the most iconic moments in sports history.

5 May 1912

The first issue of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda was published.

“Pravda,” meaning “Truth” in Russian, was the official newspaper of the Bolshevik Party. Founded in 1912, it played a significant role in shaping public opinion during the Russian Revolution and the subsequent years of Soviet rule. Originally established as an underground newspaper to disseminate Marxist ideas, it became the mouthpiece of the Bolshevik Party after the October Revolution in 1917.

Under the editorship of figures like Leon Trotsky and later Joseph Stalin, Pravda served as a powerful tool for Bolshevik propaganda, promoting communist ideology and the policies of the Soviet government. It reached a wide audience, both within Russia and internationally, and played a crucial role in mobilizing support for the Bolshevik cause during the revolution and the subsequent civil war.

Pravda remained the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) throughout the Soviet era, though its content and focus evolved over time to reflect the changing political landscape. It was known for its uncompromising support of the Communist Party and its leaders, often serving as a platform for official announcements and policy statements.

Despite its name, Pravda was not always a reliable source of objective news. Like other state-controlled media outlets in communist countries, it was subject to censorship and propaganda, with content often tailored to fit the party’s narrative and political agenda.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Pravda underwent various transformations and ownership changes. While it no longer serves as the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, its legacy as a symbol of Soviet-era media and propaganda remains significant.

4 May 1959

The 1st Annual Grammy Awards are held.

The Grammy Awards, often referred to simply as the Grammys, is one of the most prestigious honors in the music industry. Established by the Recording Academy, an organization of musicians, producers, engineers, and other recording professionals, the Grammys recognize outstanding achievements in the music industry across various genres and categories.

The first Grammy Awards ceremony was held in 1959, and it has since become an annual event, typically held in February. The awards cover a wide range of categories, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, and awards specific to different genres such as pop, rock, R&B, country, and jazz, among others.

The voting process for the Grammys involves members of the Recording Academy, who vote to determine the nominees and winners in each category. The nominations are typically announced several months before the ceremony, generating much anticipation and discussion within the music industry and among fans.

The Grammy Awards ceremony itself is a star-studded event, featuring performances by some of the biggest names in music, as well as presentations of the awards to the winners. Over the years, the Grammys have evolved to reflect changes in the music industry and popular culture, but they remain a symbol of excellence and achievement for musicians and industry professionals alike.