April 13 – On this Day in History

April 13 has witnessed a remarkable array of historical events that have shaped cultures, nations, and the world at large.

From monumental shifts in power and groundbreaking treaties to tragic incidents and awe-inspiring achievements, this day marks important anniversaries across a spectrum of human endeavor.

These events range from the crowning of a Holy Roman Emperor in 1111, the enactment of pivotal laws, catastrophic natural disasters, to groundbreaking moments in science and sports.

Each event not only reflects the complexities of its time but also highlights the enduring influence of these moments on contemporary society.

April 13th Events in History

1111 – Henry V is crowned Holy Roman Emperor

Henry V, a member of the Salian dynasty, was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Paschal II in Rome on April 13, 1111.

This event was significant because it marked a key point in the Investiture Controversy, a conflict between the papacy and secular monarchs over who had the authority to appoint church officials (investiture).

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Henry V’s reign was marked by his ongoing disputes with the papacy over this issue, which eventually led to the Concordat of Worms in 1122, partially resolving the conflict by delineating the powers of the emperor and the pope.

The Edict of Nantes

1598 – King Henry IV of France endorses the Edict of Nantes, granting freedom of religion to the French Huguenots

The Edict of Nantes was issued by Henry IV of France on April 13, 1598. This edict granted substantial rights to the Huguenots, a minority Protestant group in a predominantly Catholic France, including freedom of worship in specified locations and full civil rights.

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It was a landmark document in the history of religious tolerance in Europe, ending the Wars of Religion that had torn France apart for decades. The Edict of Nantes stood until October 1685, when Louis XIV revoked it, leading to renewed religious persecution and the flight of Huguenots from France.

1742 – Handel’s “Messiah” is performed for the first time in Dublin, Ireland

George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah,” one of the most famous and frequently performed choral works in Western music, had its premiere performance in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1742. The work was composed in just 24 days and was performed during Lent, a period leading up to Easter.

The initial performance was a charity event to free men from debtors’ prison, and it was met with great acclaim. Today, “Messiah” is particularly well-known for its “Hallelujah” chorus, often performed during the Christmas season as well as Easter.

1776 – American Revolutionary War: The Society of the Cincinnati is founded in the Thirteen American Colonies

On April 13, 1776, the Society of the Cincinnati was founded by officers of the Continental Army and their French counterparts who served together in the American Revolutionary War.

The society was named after Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a Roman statesman and military leader who was seen as a model of civic virtue.

The organization’s purpose was to promote union and national honor, maintain the friendships formed during the war, and provide mutual support to its members. The Society of the Cincinnati is the oldest patriotic organization in the United States and continues to operate to this day.

1829 – The Catholic Relief Act is passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, removing many of the restrictions on Roman Catholics in the country

The Catholic Relief Act, also known as the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, was passed by the British Parliament on April 13, 1829. This act represented a significant milestone in the Catholic Emancipation process in the United Kingdom.

It removed many of the restrictions imposed by the penal laws on Roman Catholics, allowing Catholics to vote, hold public office, and serve in the military.

The act was a response to widespread demand for Catholic emancipation, particularly in Ireland, and followed years of political maneuvering by figures such as Daniel O’Connell, who led a mass campaign for Irish Catholics’ rights. This legislation marked a key step toward religious and civil liberties in the UK.

1849 – Hungary becomes a republic

On April 13, 1849, Hungary declared itself a republic during the Hungarian Revolution against the Habsburg Dynasty.

This move was part of a series of revolutionary events in Europe during 1848-1849, commonly referred to as the Spring of Nations. Lajos Kossuth, a key figure in the Hungarian independence movement, was named the President of the republic.

This declaration marked a significant moment in Hungary’s struggle for autonomy, challenging the traditional dominance of the Austrian monarchy over Hungarian affairs. The republic, however, was short-lived, as Habsburg and Russian forces defeated the revolutionaries in August 1849, restoring Habsburg rule.

Battle of Fort Sumter

1861 – American Civil War: Fort Sumter surrenders to Confederate forces

The surrender of Fort Sumter marked the official start of the American Civil War. After a 34-hour bombardment by Confederate artillery, Major Robert Anderson of the United States Army surrendered the fort, located in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.

This event followed South Carolina’s secession from the Union, driven by the contentious issue of slavery and states’ rights. The fall of Fort Sumter was a critical event that galvanized the Northern states and prompted four more Southern states to secede, joining the Confederacy.

1865 – American Civil War: Raleigh, North Carolina, is occupied by Union Forces

As the American Civil War was drawing to a close, Union forces led by Major General William Tecumseh Sherman occupied Raleigh, North Carolina, on April 13, 1865.

This occupation was part of Sherman’s broader campaign through the South, known as Sherman’s March, which aimed at devastating Southern resources and infrastructure to hasten the end of the war.

The occupation of Raleigh came just days before General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, which effectively ended the war.

1870 – The New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art is founded

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious museums, was founded on April 13, 1870. The museum was established by a group of American citizens—businessmen, artists, and thinkers—who wanted to bring art and art education to the American public.

Located in New York City, the Met opened its doors to the public in 1872 and has since grown to house over two million works in its extensive collection, ranging from ancient artifacts to contemporary art.

1902 – James C. Penney opens his first store in Kemmerer, Wyoming

James Cash Penney opened his first store, called “The Golden Rule,” in Kemmerer, Wyoming, on April 13, 1902. This store was founded on the principle of treating customers as one would like to be treated oneself.

Penney’s business philosophy was based on offering good-quality products at fair prices and treating his associates as partners, who were later given shares in the business.

This initial establishment laid the foundation for what would become J.C. Penney Company, Inc., a nationwide chain of department stores known for its wide range of merchandise, including clothing, jewelry, and home furnishings.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

1919 – Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: British troops gun down at least 379 unarmed demonstrators in Amritsar, India

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, also known as the Amritsar Massacre, occurred on April 13, 1919, when troops of the British Indian Army, under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer, fired without warning on a peaceful gathering of unarmed civilians, including men, women, and children, celebrating the Punjabi New Year, Baisakhi, in the enclosed garden of Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab.

Official reports listed 379 dead and over a thousand wounded, though local estimates suggested much higher numbers. This brutal action marked a decisive turning point in Indian attitudes towards British rule and became a rallying point for the Indian independence movement.

1941 – World War II: Soviet Union and Japan sign a neutrality pact

On April 13, 1941, amidst the ongoing global conflict of World War II, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a neutrality pact, agreeing to maintain peaceful relations and respect each other’s territorial integrity and inviolability.

This pact was strategically important for both nations; it allowed the Soviet Union to focus on the European front without fearing a Japanese attack from the east, and it provided Japan with the security to focus more on its military operations in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. The pact lasted until 1945, when the Soviet Union declared war on Japan in the final days of World War II.

1943 – The Jefferson Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C., on the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth

The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated on April 13, 1943, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth. The neoclassical building was designed by John Russell Pope and constructed between 1939 and 1943. It features a bronze statue of Jefferson and inscriptions from his writings, including the Declaration of Independence.

The memorial is a testament to Jefferson’s enduring legacy as a Founding Father and the third President of the United States, celebrating his contributions to the shaping of American principles of liberty and governance.

1960 – The first navigational satellite in the Transit series is launched into space by the United States

On April 13, 1960, the United States launched Transit 1B, the first operational satellite of the Transit series, which was the world’s first satellite navigation system. Developed by the U.S. Navy, the Transit system was initially designed to provide accurate location data for submarines equipped with ballistic missiles.

This innovation laid the groundwork for modern GPS technology by demonstrating that satellites could be used for precise positioning and timing across the globe, a capability that has since become integral to military and civilian navigation systems worldwide.

1970 – An oxygen tank aboard Apollo 13 explodes, putting the crew in great danger while they are en route to the Moon

The Apollo 13 mission suffered a critical failure on April 13, 1970, when one of its oxygen tanks exploded en route to the Moon. This explosion severely damaged the spacecraft’s service module, upon which the Command Module depended for power and life support systems.

The crew—James Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise—faced grave danger, as the command module’s resources were sharply depleted. Through remarkable efforts by the crew and mission control, improvised repairs were made using limited resources, such as constructing a carbon dioxide scrubber from spare parts.

The “successful failure,” as it was later dubbed, safely returned to Earth on April 17, 1970, demonstrating extraordinary problem-solving and resilience in the face of life-threatening adversity.

1975 – An attack in Beirut triggers a 15-year Lebanese Civil War

The Lebanese Civil War began on April 13, 1975, when gunmen attacked a bus in Beirut, killing 27 people. This incident is widely considered the spark that ignited the prolonged conflict. The war saw the involvement of various sectarian militias, as well as foreign powers and organizations.

It was characterized by its complexity and the shifting alliances between different religious and political groups within Lebanon. The war resulted in massive loss of life, extensive destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure, and profound social and economic disruptions. It officially ended in 1990, although the country continued to experience political instability.

1992 – The Great Chicago Flood inundates much of the city’s underground tunnel system and parts of its Loop district

On April 13, 1992, Chicago experienced an unusual disaster when a wall holding back the Chicago River breached near Kinzie Street. This incident allowed water to pour into the city’s extensive and largely forgotten freight tunnel system beneath the downtown area, known as the Loop.

The flood inundated basements and sub-basements of numerous buildings with millions of gallons of water, causing significant damage and disruption. The city had to work quickly to seal the breach and pump water out, in an effort that took weeks and cost millions of dollars in repairs and economic losses.

1997 – Tiger Woods becomes the youngest golfer to win the Masters Tournament

Tiger Woods made sports history on April 13, 1997, by winning the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club at the age of 21. Woods finished the tournament with a record-low score of 270, 18 under par, and won by a record margin of 12 strokes, the largest in the tournament’s history.

This victory not only made him the youngest golfer ever to win the Masters but also the first African-American to win this major championship. Woods’ performance at the 1997 Masters is considered one of the greatest feats in professional golf and cemented his status as one of the sport’s all-time greats.

2010 – A magnitude 6.9 earthquake strikes the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China, killing approximately 2,700 people

On April 13, 2010, a devastating earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale struck Yushu County in Qinghai Province, China, primarily affecting the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The quake caused extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure, leading to a significant loss of life and injuries to thousands.

The region’s remote location and the high altitude complicated rescue and relief efforts. The Chinese government and international aid organizations mobilized quickly, but the high altitude and cold weather posed challenges to the timely delivery of aid and the care of the injured.

2017 – The United States drops the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on an ISIS base in Afghanistan

On April 13, 2017, the United States military dropped the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), also known as the “mother of all bombs,” on a suspected Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) base in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. This was the first-ever combat use of the bomb, which is the largest non-nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal.

The target was a complex of caves and bunkers used by ISIS militants, and the strike was aimed at eliminating the fighters and their operational capabilities in the area. The bomb’s deployment was seen as a significant escalation in U.S. efforts to combat terrorism in the region, and it generated widespread attention and controversy regarding the appropriateness and effectiveness of such tactics.