6 July 1484

Portuguese sea captain Diogo Cão finds the mouth of the Congo River.

Diogo Cão was a Portuguese navigator and explorer, notable for his voyages along the west coast of Africa during the Age of Discovery. Born around 1452, he made significant contributions to Portugal’s maritime explorations under the patronage of King John II.

First Voyage (1482-1484):
Diogo Cão is credited with discovering the mouth of the Congo River in 1482.
He erected stone pillars called padrão at various points along the coast, marking Portuguese claims to these territories. One notable padrão was placed at the mouth of the Congo River.

Second Voyage (1485-1486):
Cão continued exploring further south along the African coast, reaching what is now known as Namibia.
He placed more padrões, one of which was found at Cape Cross in Namibia.

6 July 1944

Jackie Robinson refuses to move to the back of a bus, leading to a court-martial.

Jackie Robinson was a legendary African American baseball player who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1947. Before his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, professional baseball in the United States was segregated, with African American players restricted to the Negro Leagues. Robinson’s entry into the MLB marked a significant milestone in the civil rights movement.

However, it is important to note that during that era, racial segregation was prevalent in many aspects of American society, including transportation. Segregation on buses and other forms of public transportation was a common practice in various parts of the country, particularly in the southern states where Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation.

There were numerous incidents involving African Americans challenging segregated seating on buses and other forms of public transportation. The most famous and significant among them is the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, which was sparked by Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. This event played a crucial role in the civil rights movement and the eventual desegregation of public transportation.

While Jackie Robinson was an influential figure in the fight against racial discrimination, his contribution was primarily in the realm of sports and breaking the color barrier in baseball.

6 July 1415

Jan Hus is condemned as a heretic and then burned at the stake.

On 6 July 1415, the Czech religious reformer Jan Hus, condemned as a heretic against the doctrines of the Catholic Church, was burned at the stake. This date has long been a Czech national holiday in his honor.

The story of Jan Hus is more than a question of internal church disputes. As a priest, philosopher, and Master at Charles University in Prague, he is considered, after John Wycliffe, the English theorist of ecclesiastical Reformation, the first church reformer, living before Martin Luther, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli.

Hus was a key predecessor to the Protestant movement of the 16th century. His teachings had a strong influence on the establishment of a reformist Bohemian religious denomination and, more than a century later, on Martin Luther himself.

A century after his death, as many as 90 percent of inhabitants of the Czech lands were non-Catholic; to this day some still follow the teachings of Hus. In asserting their independence from Rome, the Hussites represented an early expression of Czech nationalism.

After earning two university degrees, Hus was ordained as a priest in 1400. In 1402 Hus began preaching in Prague demanding the reformation of the Church.

Hus tried to delineate the moral failings of clergy, bishops, and even the papacy from his pulpit. He enjoyed some local support, but on June 24, 1405, Pope Innocent VII, directed Hus’s archbishop to counter Wycliffe’s heretical teachings, and to ban any further attacks on the clergy. Hus, however, continued to promote Wycliffe’s ideas.

Like Wycliffe, Hus spoke out against indulgences. Hus asserted that no pope or bishop had the right to take up the sword in the name of the Church; that a Christian should pray for his enemies and bless those who curse him; and that a person obtains forgiveness of sins by true repentance, not by a donation of money to the church. Hus’s followers considered the church a fraudulent mob of adulterers and “Simonists,” people who bought their positions.

To some, Hus’s efforts were predominantly designed to rid the Church of its ethical abuses, rather than a campaign of sweeping theological change. To others, the seeds of the Reformation are clear in Hus’s and Wycliffe’s writings. In explaining the plight of the average Christian in Bohemia, Hus wrote, “One pays for confession, for mass, for the sacrament, for indulgences, for churching a woman, for a blessing, for burials, for funeral services and prayers. The very last penny which an old woman has hidden in her bundle for fear of thieves or robbery will not be saved. The villainous priest will grab it.”

In response, three men from the lower classes who openly called the indulgences a fraud were beheaded. They were later considered the first martyrs of the Hussite Church.

Martyrdom and vindication

Sigismund of Hungary, who was “King of the Romans” (i.e., head of the Holy Roman Empire, though not then Emperor), and heir to the Bohemian crown, was anxious to end religious dissension within the Church. He arranged for a general council to convene in November 1414, at Konstanz in southern Germany, on Lake Constance just across from Switzerland. The Council of Constance became the 16th ecumenical council recognized by the Catholic Church. Hus willingly agreed to go to Konstanz, under Sigismund’s promise of safe conduct.

A few weeks after his arrival in Konstanz, Hus was arrested and thrown into the dungeon of the Dominican monastery. In December a formal investigation against Hus began, but Hus was not allowed an advocate for his defense. Transferred to the castle of the Archbishop of Konstanz, Hus was kept for 73 days, separated from his friends, chained day and night, poorly fed, and ill.

On June 5, 1415, his trial began, and Hus was moved to a Franciscan monastery. He declared himself willing to recant if his errors should be proven to him from the Bible, but otherwise defended his reformist protests against the Church.

The condemnation took place on July 6, 1415, in the presence of the assembly of the Council in the Cathedral. After the High Mass and Liturgy, Hus was led into the church. He protested that even at this hour he did not wish anything, but to be convinced from Scripture. He fell upon his knees and asked God to forgive all his enemies.

At the place of execution, he knelt down, spread out his hands, and prayed aloud. The executioner undressed him, tied his hands behind his back, and bound his neck with a chain to a stake around which wood and straw had been piled up so that it covered him to the neck. At the last moment Hus refused to recant and thus save his own life.

“God is my witness that the things charged against me I never preached,” Hus said. “In the same truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached, drawing upon the sayings and positions of the holy doctors, I am ready to die today.”

Hus’s ashes were thrown into the Rhine River.

Responding with horror to Hus’s execution, the people of Bohemia moved even more rapidly away from papal teachings, prompting an announced crusade against them. Pope Martin V issued a papal bull that all supporters of reformers like Hus and Wycliffe be slaughtered. Some two thousand Hussites were thrown into the Kutná Hora mines by pro-Catholic townsmen. The Hussite community became a major military power, and defeated a wave of crusades that lasted until 1434. Fighting ended with a compromise in 1436.

According to Hus, the Church is not the hierarchy; it is the entire body of those who have been predestined for salvation. Christ, not the pope, is its head. It is no article of faith that one must obey the pope to be saved. Neither membership in the Church nor churchly offices and dignities assure that the persons in question are members of the true Church. Hus’s theology predates by almost a century similar developments that would take place in the Lutheran Reformation. His extensive writings earn him a prominent place in Czech literary history.

Nearly six centuries later in 1999, Pope John Paul II expressed “deep regret for the cruel death inflicted” on Hus. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk of the Czech Republic was instrumental in crafting John Paul II’s statement.

6 July 1483

Richard III is crowned the King of England.


Richard III, also called Richard Plantagenet, duke of Gloucester, born October 2, 1452, Fotheringhay Castle, Northamptonshire, England—died August 22, 1485, near Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, the last Plantagenet and Yorkist king of England. He usurped the throne of his nephew Edward V in 1483 and perished in defeat to Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field. For almost 500 years after his death, he was generally depicted as the worst and most wicked of kings. Some of those charges are now regarded as excessive, the work of his enemies, and his supporters have attempted to rehabilitate him. Modern scholars take a more-balanced approach that avoids the extremes of either side.

Richard III presented himself as a reformer committed to justice and morality who would remedy the supposed misrule of Edward IV’s last years and the sexual license of his brother’s court. His signet registers reveal plans to improve the management of the royal estates and the north. He also came to an agreement with Queen Elizabeth and the Wydevilles. She accepted him as king, and he allowed her and her daughters to emerge from sanctuary and provided for them. Unfortunately, his good intentions could not be implemented in a reign of only two years or in the face of serious opposition.