On this day on 13th October

On this day in 1399 Henry of Bolingbroke is crowned King Henry IV of England in Westminster Abbey, a few weeks after deposing Richard II. For the next few years Henry had to cope with several revolts against his rule. Between 1400 and 1408 he also had to deal with the uprising in Wales led by Owain Glyn Dwr. Henry was also in constant conflict with Parliament over the subject of taxation. In 1408 the king became ill (possibly leprosy) and increasingly had to rely on his eldest son. Henry, to help him rule the country.

King Henry IV
King Henry IV

On this day in 1536 Pilgrimage of Grace begins in Northern England, protest against KingHenry VIII's break with the Pope. Robert Aske and his rebels entered York on 16th October. It is estimated that Aske now led an army that numbered 20,000. Aske made a speech where he pointed out "we have taken (this pilgrimage) for the preservation of Christ's church, of this realm of England, the King our sovereign lord, the nobility and commons of the same... the monasteries... in the north parts (they) gave great alms to poor men and laudably served God... and by occasion of the said suppression the divine in divine service of Almighty God is much diminished."

Robert Aske leading the march to York.
Robert Aske leading the march to York.

On this day in 1659 Major General John Lambert, John Desborough and Charles Fleetwood helped to remove Richard Cromwell as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. Parliament and the leaders of the army now began arguing amongst themselves about how England should be ruled. General George Monck, the officer in charge of the English army based in Scotland, decided to take action, and in 1659 he marched on London. When Monck arrived he reinstated the House of Lords and the Parliament of 1640. Royalists were now in control of Parliament. Monck now contacted Charles II, who was living in Holland. Charles agreed that if he was made king he would pardon all members of the parliamentary army and would continue with the Commonwealth's policy of religious toleration.

Lambert attempted to arouse resistance to the restoration of the monarchy. He marched against George Monck in November 1659 but his army deserted and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Later he was transferred to Guernsey. After spending 24 years in prison John Lambert died on Drake's Island in February, 1684.

Major General John Lambert
Major General John Lambert

On this day in 1660 Thomas Harrison is hung, drawn and quartered for Regicide. Harrison was one of the fifty-nine jurors who signed the death warrant of Charles I. On the way to his execution, Harrison said: "I go to suffer upon the account of the most glorious cause that ever was in the world." Harrison said on the scaffold: "Gentleman, by reason of some scoffing, that I do hear, I judge that some do think I am afraid to die... I tell you no, but it is by reason of much blood I have lost in the wars, and many wounds I have received in my body which caused this shaking and weakness in my nerves."

Samuel Pepys witnessed his execution: "I went out to Charing Cross, to see Major-General Harrison, hanged, drawn, and quartered... he looked as cheerful as any man could do in that condition. He was presently cut down, and his head and heart shown to the people, at which there were great shouts of joy... Harrison's head has been set up (on a pole) on the other side of Westminster Hall."

Major General Thomas Harrison
Major General Thomas Harrison

On this day in 1902 Arna Bontemps was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Bontemps taught at Fisk University (1943-1965) and Yale University (1969-1972) and wrote a large number of books and plays. Bontemps was a successful novelist, poet, historian and biographer and much of his writing was dedicated to portraying the life of African Americans. Two of his novels, Black Thunder (1936) and Drums at Dusk (1939), dealt with slave revolts and led to accusations that he was encouraging African Americans to resort to violence. Other books by Bontemps include God Sends Sunday (1931), You Can't Pet a Possum (1934), The Story of the Negro (1948), George Washington Carver (1950), Frederick Douglass: Slave, Fighter, Freeman (1959), 100 Years of Negro Freedom (1961), Famous Negro Athletes (1964) and The Harlem Renaissance Remembered (1972). Arna Bontemps died in Nashville, Tennessee on 4th June, 1973.

Arna Bontemps
Arna Bontemps

On this day in 1905 Leon Trotsky helped establish the St. Petersburg Soviet and was eventually elected chairman. He wrote a regular column for the Menshevik newspaper, Nachalo (The Beginning) and wrote editorials for Izvestia (The News), the official Soviet organ. "I wrote articles as well as numerous appeals, manifestos and resolutions. The fifty-two days of the existence of the first Soviet were filled to the brim with work... How we managed to live in this whirlpool is still not clear, even to me... We not only whirled in the vortex, but we helped to create it. Everything was done in a hurry, but, after all, not so badly, and some things were even done very well."

Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky

On this day in 1930 the new German Reichstag opens with 107 NSDAP members in uniform. Adolf Hitler was now the leader of the second largest party in Germany. The German Social Democrat Party was the largest party in the Reichstag, it did not have a majority over all the other parties, and the SPD leader, Hermann Mueller, had to rely on the support of others to rule Germany. After the SPD refused to reduce unemployment benefits, Mueller was replaced as Chancellor by Heinrich Bruening of the Catholic Centre Party (BVP). However, with his party only having 87 representatives out of 577 in the Reichstag, he also found it extremely difficult to gain agreement for his policies.

Paul Weber, Hitler - A German Fate (1932)
Paul Weber, Hitler - A German Fate (1932)

On this day in 1966, 173 US aircraft bomb North Vietnam. B-52 bombers, that could fly at heights that prevented them being seen or heard, dropped 8 million tons of bombs on Vietnam between 1965 and 1973. This was over three times the amount of bombs dropped throughout the whole of the Second World War and worked out at approximately 300 tons for every man, woman and child living in Vietnam. As well as explosive bombs the US air force dropped a considerable number of incendiary devices. The most infamous of these was napalm, a mixture of petrol and a chemical thickner which produces a tough sticky gel that attaches itself to the skin. The igniting agent, white phosphorus, continues burning for a considerable amount of time. A reported three quarters of all napalm victims in Vietnam were burned through to the muscle and bone (fifth degree burns). The pain caused by the burning is so traumatic that it often causes death.

A bombing raid on Hanoi (December 1972)
A bombing raid on Hanoi (December 1972)