On this day on 29th September

On this day in 1348 the Black Death arrived in London. The first symptoms of the Black Death included a high temperature, tiredness, shivering and pains all over the body. The next stage was the appearance of small red boils on the neck, in the armpit or groin. These lumps, called buboes, grew larger and darker in colour. Eyewitness accounts talk of these buboes growing to the size of apples. The final stage of the illness was the appearance of small, red spots on the stomach and other parts of the body. This was caused by internal bleeding, and death followed soon after.

Matthias Grünewald, detail from The Temptation of St Anthony (c. 1512)
Matthias Grünewald, detail from The Temptation of St Anthony (c. 1512)

On this day in 1564 Robert Dudley become Earl of Leicester. For many years it was rumoured that Dudley was the lover of Queen Elizabeth. As the Master of the Horse he was the only man in England officially allowed to touch the Queen (he was responsible for helping Elizabeth mount and dismount when she went horse-riding). According to Dudley's biographer, Simon Adams: "Robert Dudley's peculiar relationship to Elizabeth began to attract comment. This relationship - which defined the rest of his life - was characterized by her almost total emotional dependence on him and her insistence on his constant presence at court.... It also helps to explain his separation from his wife." The Spanish ambassador, Gómez Suárez de Figueroa y Córdoba, 1st Duke of Feria, was one of those who spread these rumours. He wrote to King Philip II: "During the last few days Lord Robert has come so much into favour that he does what he likes with affairs and it is even said that her Majesty visits him in his chamber day and night. People talk of this so freely that they go so far as to say that his wife has a malady in one of her breasts and that the Queen is only waiting for her to die so she can marry Lord Robert."

Robert Dudley
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, by unknown artist (c. 1560)

On this day in 1829 the Metropolitan Police was founded by a bill introduced by Sir Robert Peel. For a long time politicians had been concerned about the problems of law and order in London. As a result of this reform, the new metropolitan police force became known as "Peelers" or "Bobbies".

Metropolitan Police Officers
Metropolitan Police Officers

On this day in 1916 American oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller becomes the world's first billionaire. In 1862 Rockefeller established Standard Oil. In November 1902, Ira Tarbell, one of the leading muckraking journalists in the United States, began a series of articles in McClure's Magazine on how Rockefeller had achieved a monopoly in refining, transporting and marketing oil. This material was eventually published as a book, History of the Standard Oil Company (1904). The various press campaigns against Rockefeller had turned him into one of America's most hated men. A devout Baptist, Rockefeller began giving his money away. He set up the Rockefeller Foundation to "promote the well-being of mankind". Over the next few years Rockefeller gave over $500 million in aid of medical research, universities and Baptist churches. He was also a major supplier of funds to organizations such as the Anti-Saloon League that was involved in the campaign for prohibition. By the time that he died died on 23rd My, 1937, John D. Rockefeller had become a popular national figure.

John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller

On this day in 1918 Allied forces score a decisive breakthrough of Hindenburg Line. In August, 1916, Paul von Hindenburg became Chief of Staff of the German Army. Hindenburg and his quartermaster general, Erich von Ludendorff, decided to build a system of German defence fortifications behind the northern and central sectors of the Western Front. Constructed between the northern coast and Verdun, each sector had its own system of mutually supporting strongpoints backed up with barbed wire, trenchworks and firepower. After the breakthrough the Allied forces were able to gain complete control of these defences. When this happened, the Third Supreme Command realised that Germany was beaten and handed over power to Max von Baden and the Reichstag.

Hindenburg Line
Hindenburg Line

On this day in 1938, Neville Chamberlain, Adolf Hitler, Edouard Daladier and Benito Mussolini discussed the Munich Agreement. Chamberlain and Halifax met Tomas Masaryk, the Czechoslovak minister in London. Masaryk tried to insist that his country should be represented in these talks. However, he was told that Hitler had only agreed to the conference on condition that the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia were excluded. Masaryk replied: "If you have sacrificed my nation to preserve the peace of world, I will be the first to applaud you. But if not, gentlemen, God help your souls."

David Low, Evening Standard (8th July, 1936)
Cyrus Hungerford, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (8th October, 1938)

On this day in 1960 Nikita Khrushchev heckled and thumped his desk during a speech by Harold Macmillan, the prime minister, to the UN general assembly.

Nikita Khrushchev (29th September, 1960)
Nikita Khrushchev (29th September, 1960)