On this day in history, November 14

Protesters in Harare, Zimbabwe, demonstrate against long-time iron-fisted dictator Robert Mugabe. Picture: onthisday.com

Protesters in Harare, Zimbabwe, demonstrate against long-time iron-fisted dictator Robert Mugabe. Picture: onthisday.com

Published Nov 14, 2023


Some of the more interesting things that happened on this day.

1666 Samuel Pepys reports on first blood transfusion (which takes place between dogs).

1687 England’s King Charles II consorted with a long line of mistresses, but Nell Gwyn, who died on this day, is the only royal mistress in English history to be warmly regarded by the people. Small, slender, and shapely, with hazel eyes and chestnut-brown hair surrounding a heart-shaped face, the young Eleanor caught the eye of Charles Hart, lead actor of a theatre frequented by the king. She became both Hart’s mistress and the theatre’s leading actress. From Hart, Nell was passed on to Lord Buckhurst (Charles Sackville), and then to the king. She described them as Charles the First, Charles the Second and Charles the Third! Her charm, natural wit and complete lack of self-consciousness captivated almost everyone she met. Unlike the king’s other mistresses, Nell never received a title for her services to the crown, but by using clever tactics obtained one for her son. Legend has it that when the boy was six, the king came into the room and Nell said: "Come here, you little bastard, and say hello to your father." The King was shocked, but Nell protested: "Your Majesty has given me no other name by which to call him." The boy was immediately created Earl of Burford! Nell outlived the king, who made ample provision for her on his deathbed.

1770 Scottish explorer James Bruce discovers the source of the Blue Nile at Lake Tana, in north-west Ethiopia.

1840 French painter Claude Monet is born in Paris. He pioneered the impressionist style in his landscapes, including the Haystacks, Poplars, and Rouen Cathedral series.

1854 The Rev Francis Owen, 52, founder of a mission station in Zululand, secretary of Dingane and witness to the killing of Piet Retief and his men, dies in Alexandria, Egypt.

1883 Treasure Island, an adventure story of buccaneers and buried gold, by Robert Louis Stevenson is first published.

1885 SA’s first golf club, the Cape Golf Club (later the Royal Cape Golf Club), is established.

1889 Reporter Nellie Bly sets out from New York to see if she can beat the record of Jules Verne’s imaginary hero Phileas Fogg, who circled the world in 80 days. She returns 72 days later to a tumultuous welcome.

1908 Albert Einstein presents his ground-breaking quantum theory of light.

1914 Field Marshall, Lord Roberts, 82, commander-in-chief of the British forces during the Anglo-Boer War dies of pneumonia at St Omer, France, while visiting Indian troops. He was one of the most successful military commanders of the 19th century.

1967 American physicist Theodore Maiman is given a patent for the world’s first laser.

1968 The Ciskei ‘homeland’ is established.

1989 Swapo wins the first national, democratic election in Namibia.

2017 The Zimbabwean army seizes key sites in the country’s capital, Harare, following tensions over Robert Mugabe's dismissal of vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

2018 Archaeologists announce the discovery of the Greek city of Tenea near Corinth, founded by captives from Trojan War.

2018 A large impact crater, 31km wide and 300m deep, bigger than Washington or Paris and caused by a 1km-wide meteorite, is identified by ice-penetrating radar 1km beneath Greenland’s Hiawatha Glacier. The impact, thought to have been as recent as 12 000 years ago, is believed to have caused global flooding and mass extinctions.

2021 An attack on a military police outpost near a gold mine in Inata, northern Burkina Faso, kills at least 53 people, prompting three days of national mourning.

2022 The earliest evidence of fire being used to cook by humans is found in the study of fish remains dating from 780 000 years ago, at Gesher Benot Ya’aqov in northern Israel.