On this day in history, December 4

The vigorous loins of this great king ensured that anyone with even a trace of European ancestry can count him as one of their forefathers.

The vigorous loins of this great king ensured that anyone with even a trace of European ancestry can count him as one of their forefathers.

Published Dec 4, 2023


What happened today, back in the day

771 Austrasian King Carloman I dies. His brother Charlemagne – a king in his own right – disregards the rights of Carloman’s heirs and takes control of the entire Frankish realm. The warrior king unites most of Europe under the rule of sword, facilitates a cultural and intellectual renaissance and becomes the first Holy Roman Emperor. In 2013, geneticists assert that anyone with European ancestry is the fruit of Charlemagne’s prodigious loins, among others.

1154 The only Englishman to become a pope, Nicholas Breakspear, is elected and takes the name Pope Adrian IV.

1619 Thirty-eight English colonists disembark in Virginia and give thanks to God. It is the first Thanksgiving in the Americas. The tradition of Thanksgiving lives on in the US.

1642 The influential Cardinal Richelieu, the power behind the French throne and who more than lived up to the prediction by Pope Paul V that ‘he will prove a great rascal’, dies.

1791 Britain’s The Observer, the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world, is first published.

1829 The British ban the practice of ‘suttee’ in India in which females burn themselves to death on their husband’s funeral pyre.

1872 The crew-less American ship Mary Celeste is found by the Canadian brig Dei Gratia. The former had been abandoned for nine days, but was only slightly damaged. No one knows what happened to her crew.

1893 A patrol of 34 British South Africa Company soldiers is ambushed and annihilated by more than 3 000 Matabele on the Shangani River, in Matabeleland.

1954 Burger King first opens in Miami, Florida, a year before Richard and Maurice McDonald start McDonald’s.

1977 Jean-Bédel Bokassa crowns himself ‘Emperor of the Central African Empire’ from atop a golden throne in a ceremony costing $20 million – which then was one third of the nation’s budget.

1991 The last American hostage in Lebanon is released. Journalist Terry Anderson was held for 2 454 days by Islamic Jihad captors.

2001 Marike de Klerk, ex-president FW de Klerk’s former wife, is murdered in Cape Town.

2017 The Winklevoss twins become the first Bitcoin billionaires. They successfully sued Facebook ‘founder’ Mark Zuckerberg for stealing their idea from their social website, ConnectU, in 2004.

2018 French President Emmanuel Macron drops controversial rise in fuel tax after three weeks of mass protests.

2019 North American migratory birds getting smaller, their wings wider due to climate change according to a study by University of Michigan, published in the journal, Ecology Letters.

2022 At least 27 people killed after a bus is buried in a landslide in Risaralda province, western Colombia.