April 27 – On this Day in History

This article provides a fascinating exploration of significant historical events that occurred on April 27, arranged in chronological order.

From early military conquests and pivotal battles to groundbreaking technological innovations and significant political shifts, each event has played a crucial role in shaping the world’s historical tapestry.

This journey through time highlights key moments across various domains including politics, culture, technology, and social movements, providing a comprehensive snapshot of this day in history.

April 27th Events in History

711 – Moorish troops led by Tariq ibn-Ziyad land at Gibraltar, beginning the Moorish invasion of Iberia

On April 27, 711, a Berber force under the command of Tariq ibn-Ziyad, commissioned by the Umayyad Caliph of Damascus, landed at Gibraltar.

This marked the beginning of the Moorish invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. Tariq’s army, which was primarily composed of Berbers from North Africa, went on to achieve significant military victories, including the crucial Battle of Guadalete.

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Their success led to almost eight centuries of Moorish influence in what is now Spain and Portugal, profoundly affecting the region’s culture, architecture, and history.

Edward I

1296 – The Scots are defeated by Edward I of England at the Battle of Dunbar

The Battle of Dunbar took place on April 27, 1296, during the First War of Scottish Independence. Edward I of England defeated the Scots, led by John Balliol. The battle was significant as it led to the brutal occupation of Scotland by the English, known as the “Hammer of the Scots.”

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Edward’s victory at Dunbar allowed him to remove the Scottish king from power and assume control over Scotland, leading to further resistance and conflict, notably involving figures such as William Wallace and Robert the Bruce.

1521 – Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan is killed by natives in the Philippines during his circumnavigation of the globe

On April 27, 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed by natives in the Philippines during the Battle of Mactan. Magellan had arrived in the Philippines as part of his expedition to circumnavigate the globe.

He became involved in local tribal conflicts and was killed in a skirmish led by Lapu-Lapu, a local chieftain. His death came after he had successfully crossed the Pacific Ocean, marking him as one of the first explorers to reach Asia from Europe by sailing west.

1565 – Cebu is established as the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines

On April 27, 1565, Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi established Cebu as the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. This event is significant as it marked the beginning of over 300 years of Spanish colonization in the region.

Legazpi’s settlement in Cebu paved the way for the Spanish to expand their influence, convert the local population to Christianity, and control the archipelago until 1898, when the Philippines was ceded to the United States following the Spanish-American War.

1773 – The British Parliament passes the Tea Act, which leads to the Boston Tea Party

On April 27, 1773, the British Parliament passed the Tea Act, which was designed to help the struggling British East India Company by allowing it to sell surplus tea directly to the American colonies, bypassing colonial wholesalers and undercutting local tea merchants.

The Act led to widespread resentment in the American colonies as it was seen as another example of taxation tyranny.

This resentment culminated in the Boston Tea Party, where American patriots protested by dumping 342 chests of British tea into Boston Harbor, further escalating tensions that led to the American Revolutionary War.

1805 – The First Barbary War: United States Marines capture Derna, Tripoli

During the First Barbary War, United States Marines and mercenaries captured the city of Derna in Tripoli (modern-day Libya) on April 27, 1805. This was the first recorded land battle fought overseas by the United States. The conflict began as an effort to stop the Barbary pirates, who were harassing American shipping in the Mediterranean.

The successful capture of Derna, led by officers such as William Eaton and Presley O’Bannon, significantly boosted American morale and international reputation. This event is famously commemorated in the opening lines of the Marines’ Hymn: “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”

1810 – Beethoven composes his famous piano piece, Für Elise

The famous piano piece “Für Elise” was composed by Ludwig van Beethoven on April 27, 1810, although it wasn’t published until 40 years after his death. The piece is officially titled “Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor” and remains one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions.

The identity of Elise remains unclear; some scholars believe she could have been Therese Malfatti, a woman Beethoven reportedly proposed to around the same time he composed the piece. “Für Elise” is characterized by its simple yet captivating melody and is a staple piece for piano students around the world.

1861 – President Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of habeas corpus during the American Civil War

On April 27, 1861, amid the early days of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus along the rail lines from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.

This legal maneuver allowed for the arrest and indefinite detention without trial of individuals deemed threats to military operations.

Lincoln took this action in response to riots in Baltimore and other pro-Confederate activities, which he perceived as direct threats to the capital and the Union’s war effort.

This controversial decision was aimed at suppressing Confederate sympathizers and ensuring the security of Union troop movements.

Abraham Lincoln

1865 – The steamboat Sultana, carrying 2,400 passengers, explodes and sinks in the Mississippi River, killing 1,700

The Sultana disaster occurred on April 27, 1865, when a steamboat carrying approximately 2,400 people, mostly Union soldiers returning home after the Civil War, exploded and sank in the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tennessee.

The tragedy was caused by a faulty boiler explosion. With an official capacity of only 376, the Sultana was severely overcrowded, and the explosion resulted in one of the deadliest maritime disasters in U.S. history, killing an estimated 1,700 passengers.

This event, however, received limited attention at the time as it was overshadowed by the assassination of President Lincoln and the end of the Civil War.

1909 – Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abdul Hamid II, is overthrown

On April 27, 1909, Sultan Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire was deposed after 33 years on the throne. His overthrow was orchestrated by the Young Turks, a reformist and nationalist group that sought to modernize and revitalize the weakening empire.

Abdul Hamid II had previously suspended the Ottoman constitution and parliament in 1878, ruling as an autocrat. His removal marked the restoration of the Ottoman constitution and parliament, and initiated a period of significant political reform known as the Second Constitutional Era.

This was a critical turning point in the history of the Ottoman Empire as it struggled to stave off decline and partition by European powers.

1940 – Heinrich Himmler orders the construction of Auschwitz concentration camp

On April 27, 1940, Heinrich Himmler, one of the main architects of the Holocaust and head of the SS, ordered the construction of Auschwitz concentration camp.

Located in occupied Poland, Auschwitz initially served as a detention center for political prisoners but evolved into a network of camps where millions of Jews and other victims were exterminated in gas chambers or subjected to inhumane conditions.

Auschwitz-Birkenau became the largest of the Nazi death camps and a symbol of the atrocities committed during World War II. This camp played a central role in the Nazi plan known as “The Final Solution,” which aimed at the systematic extermination of the Jewish people.

1941 – German troops enter Athens during World War II

German forces entered Athens on April 27, 1941, during World War II as part of their campaign to secure strategic locations in Greece against Allied forces. This entry marked the beginning of a brutal occupation of Greece by Axis powers, which lasted until October 1944.

The occupation had severe repercussions for Greece, leading to economic hardship, famine, and a significant loss of life. The fall of Athens was a part of the wider Balkan Campaign, where Germany aimed to support its ally, Italy, and secure its southern flank. The capture of Greece also delayed German plans for the invasion of the Soviet Union.

1960 – Togo gains independence from French administration

On April 27, 1960, Togo declared its independence from French colonial rule. This marked a significant moment in Togo’s history as it transitioned from a French protectorate and colony to an independent nation. Sylvanus Olympio became the first president of the newly independent state.

Togo’s independence was part of a larger wave of decolonization movements across Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, which saw many African nations gain sovereignty from European colonial powers.

The country’s independence came relatively peacefully compared to other African nations, though it later experienced political instability and military coups.

1961 – Sierra Leone is granted its independence from the United Kingdom

Sierra Leone achieved independence from Britain on April 27, 1961. This transition to sovereignty ended over 150 years of colonial rule, and Sir Milton Margai became the first Prime Minister of independent Sierra Leone.

The independence of Sierra Leone was part of a broader decolonization movement across Africa, where many countries gained independence from European powers following World War II.

Sierra Leone’s peaceful transition to independence was seen as a model at the time, although the country later faced significant challenges including civil war and economic difficulties.

1974 – Ten thousand march in Washington, D.C., calling for the impeachment of President Richard Nixon

On April 27, 1974, approximately ten thousand people marched in Washington, D.C., to demand the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

This event was part of the larger public reaction against the Watergate scandal, in which Nixon and his administration were implicated in a series of illegal activities, including a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

The scandal eventually led to Nixon’s resignation in August 1974. The march demonstrated significant public discontent with Nixon’s presidency and was a critical moment in the unfolding of the Watergate scandal that captivated and scandalized the nation.

1978 – Afghanistan’s president is overthrown and murdered in a coup

On April 27, 1978, Afghanistan’s President Mohammed Daoud Khan was overthrown and killed in a coup d’état known as the Saur Revolution. The coup was led by members of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), a Marxist-Leninist party. The event marked the beginning of a series of political upheavals that would engulf the country for decades.

The PDPA established the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, which initiated radical modernization and land reform policies that met with resistance from various sectors of the traditionally conservative Afghan society. This eventually led to armed conflict and the Soviet Union’s invasion in December 1979.

1981 – Xerox PARC introduces the computer mouse

On April 27, 1981, the Xerox 8010 Information System, which included the innovative technology of a computer mouse, was introduced by Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). The device, developed by Douglas Engelbart and refined by Xerox PARC, revolutionized computer user interfaces.

Although the concept of the mouse was invented in the 1960s, its commercial introduction with the Xerox 8010 marked a significant development in making computing more accessible and interactive.

The technology didn’t become widely popular until it was later incorporated into personal computers by companies like Apple and Microsoft.

1986 – The city of Pripyat, Ukraine, is evacuated following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster

Following the catastrophic nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on April 26, 1986, the nearby city of Pripyat was evacuated on April 27. The explosion at the plant released large quantities of radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere, which was one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.

Pripyat, home to about 49,000 people, most of whom worked at the power plant, was severely contaminated by radioactive fallout. The entire city was evacuated and remains uninhabited to this day, standing as a haunting reminder of the disaster.

1992 – The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is proclaimed, consisting of Serbia and Montenegro

On April 27, 1992, following the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was proclaimed, consisting only of the former Yugoslav republics of Serbia and Montenegro.

This new formation occurred amidst the backdrop of intense and violent conflicts in the region, particularly in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was later reconstituted as Serbia and Montenegro in 2003 and ultimately dissolved in 2006 when Montenegro declared its independence, followed by Serbia declaring itself a sovereign nation.

2005 – The superjumbo jet airplane Airbus A380 makes its first flight from Toulouse, France

The Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger airliner, made its maiden flight on April 27, 2005, from Toulouse, France. The A380 is a double-deck aircraft with a capacity of up to 853 passengers in an all-economy class configuration, though typical seating is closer to 500 passengers in a three-class configuration.

This first flight was a pivotal moment in aviation history, representing significant advancements in terms of size and capacity for long-haul airline travel. The A380 was designed to compete with Boeing’s large aircraft offerings and meet the growing demand for high-capacity airliners due to increased global air traffic.