May 25 – May 31 2020 /Week in History/
The landing of the German plane Mathias Rust on Red Square, the fall of Constantinople, in Rouen at the stake burned Joan of Arc and the beginning of the battle of Tsushima. Read the details of all these events and much more in the new article Week in History.
1963 – Africa Day
On May 25, 1963, the Interstate Organization of African Unity (OAU) was created at the 1st Conference of African Governments in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). This day, when its charter was signed by thirty African countries, by decision of the UN is annually celebrated as the Day of the Liberation of Africa.
The OAU has defined its goals – strengthening the unity and solidarity of the countries of the continent; coordination of actions and development of comprehensive cooperation of African states, protection of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence; the destruction of all types of colonialism and the promotion of international cooperation.
For the successful implementation of these goals, the OAU members pledged to coordinate their activities in the fields of foreign policy, economics, science and technology, defense and security, culture and health. And the main principles are equal rights and non-interference in the internal affairs of member states; respect for their territorial integrity and independence, peaceful settlement of contentious issues, etc.
1896 – The medal “In memory of the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II” was established
On May 26, 1896, the Russian Emperor Nicholas II established the silver medal “In memory of the coronation of Emperor Nicholas II” with his highest personal decree given to the Senate. It was supposed to be worn on the St. Andrew’s order ribbon.
According to the imperial decree, this medal was awarded to: all class , non-class and lower ranks members who were in active service and who were at the time of the coronation in Moscow; all class and other representatives who were in Moscow at the celebrations of the coronation of the emperor; all persons who took part in the preparation and arrangement of the coronation celebrations; as well as medalists, artisans and workers of the St. Petersburg Mint, producing medals.
Moreover, this medal was also awarded to women (which was a rarity for tsarist Russia), who could be assigned to the above categories of awarded. Medals were issued from the Chapter of Orders. All awarded were also issued certificates for the right to wear a medal.
1905 – The Tsushima battle began – the last decisive naval battle of the Russo-Japanese War
The Tsushima battle is one of the tragic battles in the history of the Russian fleet – the naval battle in the Sea of Japan between the fleets of Russia and Japan, which began (May 14) on May 27, 1905 and lasted 2 days in the Tsushima Strait. The battle was preceded by a heavy passage of Russian ships from the Baltic Sea to the Far East with a length of 18 thousand miles (33 thousand km). The Japanese fleet had an advantage in armor, squadron speed and artillery fire. In addition, the Russian defense industry produced shells 10-15 times inferior to the Japanese high-explosive action.
The Tsushima battle was the largest battle of the era of the pre-dreadnought armored fleet, in which the Russian 2nd squadron of the Pacific Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Rozhestvensky suffered a crushing defeat from the Imperial Fleet of Japan under the command of Admiral Togo.
This was the last decisive naval battle of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, during which the Russian squadron was completely defeated. Most of the Russian ships were sunk by the Japanese or sunk by the crews of their ships, some surrendered, some interned in neutral ports. And only four managed to reach the Russian ports.
The Russian squadron lost about five thousand people dead and drowned, of which more than 200 officers. Several thousand sailors were captured. On the interned ships were more than two thousand people. In total, the personnel of the squadron before the battle were 16,170 people, of which only 870 got to Vladivostok.
Despite the victory, Japan itself was exhausted by the war. Therefore, both Russia and Japan strove for peace. In August 1905, negotiations began in the US city of Portsmouth, ending with the signing of a peace treaty that established Japan’s dominant position in Korea. Also, the southern part of Sakhalin Island departed for Japan and the lease rights of Russia to Port Arthur were transferred.
1987 – On Red Square in Moscow, the plane of the citizen of Germany Mathias Rust landed
On the day of the border guard on May 28, 1987, an American-made sports aircraft Cessna violated the airspace of the USSR Untouched by Soviet air defense, it landed in Moscow near Red Square on Vasilyevsky Descent. More precisely, it landed on the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky bridge and rolled over to St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Many cameras and camcorders of tourists recorded the moment when the pilot climbed out of the cockpit and immediately began to sign autographs. After 10 minutes he was arrested. The violator was a citizen of Germany 19-year-old athlete-pilot Matthias Rust. His father was a businessman selling Cessna aircraft in Germany. Rust’s plane crossed the aerial border of the Soviet Union at 14.20 at an altitude of 600 meters above the Gulf of Finland in the Estonian city of Kohtla-Järve. Air defense locators recorded this, and the on-duty missile divisions were put on alert. A fighter was sent to intercept, which quickly discovered the intruder. But it was not allowed to shoot down the “Cessna”, and up to Moscow, Rust’s plane was “escorted.” The fact is that since 1984 an order has been in force in the USSR prohibiting the opening of fire on civilian and sports aircraft.
Newspapers of that time wrote: “The country is in shock! An amateur pilot, and, as luck would have it, German, immediately deplored the huge defense arsenal of the USSR and on such a holiday – Border Guard Day. ” Then Minister of Defense Sergey Sokolov, the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Defense Forces, Alexander Koldunov, and about 300 officers lost their posts. And the people began to call Red Square “Sheremetyevo-3 Airport”.
On September 4, 1987, Rust was sentenced to 4 years in prison for illegally crossing the air border, violating international flight rules and malicious hooliganism. After spending a total of 432 days in pre-trial detention and in prison, on August 3, 1988, he was pardoned by the Presidium of the Supreme Council and expelled from the territory of the USSR. Rust himself said in court that his flight was a “call for peace.”
1453 – The Fall of Constantinople
The capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople (today – Istanbul) fell on May 29, 1453. The city was captured by Turkish troops. Three days the robbery of the city lasted. More than 60 thousand city dwellers were captured. The last emperor of Byzantium, Konstantin XI Paleolog, died in battle, and the church of Hagia Sophia, the main shrine of the Orthodox Church in those days, was converted into the Aya Sofya mosque.
After five and a half centuries, this historic event is an occasion for celebrations in Turkey. City officials organize fireworks and even reproduction of the events. Scientists and public figures are conducting discussions. On the streets you can see the demonstrations. Moreover, with every year the excitement of the Turks during the celebration of this anniversary increases.
Recently, the writer Nedim Gursel provoked a storm of protests in the Islamic press with his work, The Conqueror’s novel. In it, in particular, it is stated that raving of a bloody battle is a “collective pathology” that has nothing to do with the pride of the descendants of the Ottomans. This statement provoked the indignation of the Turks, who believe that the retention of Istanbul affects just the sense of identity of the Turkish people, and Islam, like any monotheistic religion, which emphasizes universalism, has absolutely nothing to do with it.
1431 – In Rouen burned at the stake Joan of Arc
On May 30, 1431, one of the main commanders of the French troops in the Hundred Years War, Jeanne d’Arc, who later became the national heroine of France, was burned at the stake in Rouen as a heretic. According to the treaty concluded in Troyes in 1420, the King of England Henry V became the heir to the French throne, and the future heir King Charles VII was removed from the throne, which was actually the death sentence of French independence and its annexation to England.
To completely subjugate France, the British only needed to connect the occupied north of the country with the territories they had long controlled in the south. The key point that prevented them from doing this was the city of Orleans, the operation to capture which began in 1428. The defenders fought bravely, but the outcome of the siege seemed a foregone conclusion.
Jeanne was visited by visions as a child, and at 17, the Saints appeared to her, urging her to go to the rightful king Charles VII and save the country. In the spring of 1429, Jeanne arrived at Chinon Castle, where Charles VII was, and informed him that her “voices” told her that she had been chosen by God to lift the siege from Orleans, and then elevate Dauphin to the throne and expel the invaders from the kingdom. Karl hesitated at first, but Jeanne managed to convince him. And she was given command of the troops with whom she went to Orleans. Rumor has already claimed that, according to legend, Jeanne is exactly the maiden who will save France. This inspired the army, and as a result of a series of battles in which Joan herself took part, the siege of Orleans was lifted, and the subsequent series of victories of the French troops convinced the French that God considered their cause to be right and helped them.
May 23, 1430 Jeanne was captured by the British. They organized a church court in Rouen, accusing Jeanne d’Arc of heresy and witchcraft, the tribunal sentenced her to death. May 30, 1431 Jeanne d’Arc was burned alive in the square of the Old Market in Rouen.
So the Virgin of Orleans perished, becoming the national hero of France. In 1455-1456, the process of posthumous rehabilitation of Joan of Arc took place in Bourges. In 1920, she was canonized by the Catholic Church.
1859 – The day Big Ben first chimed over London
On May 31, 1859, a clock mounted on the famous tower of the Westminster Palace was put into operation in London. Throughout the world, this building is firmly entrenched in the name of Big Ben, although initially only the largest of the five bells was called so.
Accuracy is the politeness of kings. In London, this expression takes on a literal meaning, because out of several hundred city dials, only one street clock goes precisely – on Big Ben Tower, which is part of the architectural complex of the Palace of Westminster.
Initially, the building was officially called the “Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster”, in the press it was often called the “St. Stephen’s Tower”. In September 2012, by decision of the British Parliament, it was renamed to the Elizabeth Tower, in honor of the 60th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Westminster’s large clock is the third largest Four-Faced chiming clock in the third-tallest Freestanding clock tower in the world. It was designed by Sir Edmund Beckett and Royal Astronomer George Airy. The creation of the clock was entrusted to the clockmaker master Edward John Dent, after the death of which in 1853 the construction was led by his adoptive son Frederick Dent. Frederick completed work in 1854.