April 29 – On this Day in History

This article delves into significant historical events that occurred on April 29th, spanning politics, science, sports, and international relations.

Each event is noted for its impact and the lasting changes it prompted. From major political trials to crucial scientific discoveries and pivotal sports moments, April 29th has marked key turning points in history.

These events not only reflect the dynamics of their eras but also influence ongoing discussions and developments. Join us as we explore these pivotal moments, arranged chronologically, to understand their enduring significance.

April 29th Events in History

1429 – Joan of Arc enters the besieged city of Orléans to lead a victory over the English, marking a turning point in the Hundred Years’ War

Joan of Arc, a peasant girl living in medieval France, believed that she was chosen by God to lead France to victory in its long-running war with England.

With no military training, Joan convinced Prince Charles of Valois to allow her to lead a French army to the besieged city of Orléans, which had been under English control since October 1428.

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Her arrival on April 29 marked a significant turning point. Within days, Joan’s forces lifted the siege, a pivotal moment in the Hundred Years’ War that boosted French morale and cemented Joan’s status as a national heroine.

Joan of Arc

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

Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer sailing under the Spanish flag, was killed in the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines. Magellan was attempting to circumnavigate the globe, but his journey ended abruptly when he became involved in a local conflict between rival Filipino groups.

Killed by warriors led by the chieftain Lapu-Lapu, Magellan’s death on April 29 left his remaining crew to complete the first circumnavigation of the Earth without him.

1624 – King Louis XIII appoints Cardinal Richelieu as Prime Minister of France, consolidating royal power

On April 29, 1624, King Louis XIII of France appointed Cardinal Richelieu as his Prime Minister. Richelieu would go on to play a crucial role in centralizing the French government and strengthening the monarchy’s power.

Also Read: April 30th Events in History

His policies included curbing the power of the nobility and enhancing the state’s administrative efficiency, which laid the foundations for French dominance in Europe. Richelieu’s tenure is often seen as a period of significant political and cultural development in France.

1770 – James Cook arrives at Botany Bay in Australia on the ship Endeavour

British explorer Captain James Cook, on his first great voyage of discovery aboard the Endeavour, landed at Botany Bay in Australia on April 29, 1770. This event marked the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia.

Cook’s arrival led to the British claiming possession of the continent on behalf of Britain. Botany Bay was initially named “Stingray Harbour” due to the numerous stingrays found there, but later renamed after the unique specimens of plants collected by the botanists aboard.

1781 – The planet Uranus is discovered by astronomer Sir William Herschel

While the initial discovery was actually made on March 13, 1781, by the German-born British astronomer William Herschel, it was only recognized as a new planet later in that year after significant debate and further observations.

Herschel originally thought he had discovered a comet, but subsequent observations by others confirmed that it was, in fact, a new planet.

Herschel tried to have his discovery named “Georgium Sidus” (George’s Star) after King George III, but the name Uranus (the ancient Greek deity of the sky) was later chosen to align with the classical naming of the other planets.

1852 – The first edition of Peter Roget’s Thesaurus is published

Peter Mark Roget, a British physician, philologist, and lexicographer, published the first edition of “Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases.”

Roget created this guide to assist in finding the word that most precisely fits a meaning or idea, arranged not alphabetically but conceptually into categories and subcategories.

The publication became a critical tool for writers and orators, helping them to enhance their use of the English language. The thesaurus has been continuously updated over the years and remains a fundamental resource in both education and literature.

New Orleans

1862 – New Orleans falls to Union forces during the American Civil War

On April 29, 1862, the city of New Orleans fell to Union forces under the command of Flag Officer David Farragut and Major General Benjamin Butler. This was a significant victory for the Union as New Orleans was the largest city in the Confederacy and a major port.

The capture of New Orleans was a turning point in the civil war because it effectively split the Confederacy in two and blocked Confederate access to vital supplies from the Gulf of Mexico.

1882 – The “Elektromote”, the world’s first trolleybus, is tested by inventor Ernst Werner von Siemens in Berlin, Germany

The “Elektromote,” created by German inventor Ernst Werner von Siemens, was the world’s first trolleybus tested on April 29, 1882. This experimental vehicle was connected to overhead electrical wires and ran along a 540-meter track in Berlin.

The successful demonstration of the Elektromote marked an early experiment in electric public transportation, leading to the development of trolleybus systems in several cities worldwide.

It was a precursor to the modern electric buses and contributed to the broader adoption of electric vehicles.

1916 – The Easter Rising: Martial law in Ireland is lifted and the rebellion is officially over

The Easter Rising, which began on April 24, 1916, was a significant revolt against British rule in Ireland, orchestrated by Irish republicans to establish an independent Irish Republic.

By April 29, the leaders of the uprising had surrendered to British forces, effectively ending the six-day rebellion.

Although initially unsuccessful and leading to the execution of many of its leaders, the Easter Rising galvanized Irish nationalist sentiment and eventually led to the War of Independence and the creation of the Irish Free State.

1945 – The Dachau concentration camp is liberated by United States forces during World War II

Dachau, one of the first Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany, was liberated by U.S. forces on April 29, 1945. Located just outside Munich, Dachau was primarily a political prison camp, and it had become a model for other concentration camps.

By the time of its liberation, Dachau had housed over 200,000 prisoners from across Europe. The liberation of the camp exposed the horrific conditions and the brutal treatment suffered by the inmates, significantly influencing the global understanding of the Holocaust.

Tokyo Trials

1946 – Trial of Japanese war criminals for the Tokyo Trials begins, leading to the sentencing of several leaders of the Imperial Japanese Army

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East, also known as the Tokyo Trials, began its proceedings on April 29, 1946.

This was the Pacific counterpart to the Nuremberg Trials and was established to try leaders of the Empire of Japan for three types of war crimes, committed during World War II:

  • Class A (crimes against peace)
  • Class B (war crimes)
  • Class C (crimes against humanity)

The trials were held in Tokyo, Japan, and led to the conviction of several key members of the Japanese military and government, including Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, who was among those executed.

1967 – After refusing induction into the U.S. Army the day before (April 28), boxer Muhammad Ali is stripped of his boxing titles

On April 28, 1967, Muhammad Ali refused induction into the U.S. Army citing religious reasons and opposition to the Vietnam War, which led to his arrest on draft evasion charges.

The following day, on April 29, boxing authorities stripped him of his world heavyweight title and suspended his boxing license. This action marked a significant point in Ali’s career, as it kept him out of the ring during his prime years until his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1971.

1970 – The United States invades Cambodia to hunt out the Viet Cong; widespread protests across the United States follow

President Richard Nixon announced the Cambodian Incursion on April 30, 1970, aimed at disrupting North Vietnamese supply lines and base camps located in Cambodia.

This military action was highly controversial and led to widespread protests across the United States, notably contributing to the tragic events at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, where National Guardsmen shot and killed four students during a protest.

The incursion marked a significant escalation in the Vietnam War and led to increased anti-war sentiment among the American public.

1974 – President Richard Nixon announces the release of edited transcripts of White House tape recordings related to the Watergate scandal

Amidst the escalating Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon announced on April 29, 1974, that he would release transcripts of 46 taped conversations, edited for content he deemed sensitive.

Nixon’s decision was part of an effort to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Judiciary Committee, which was considering articles of impeachment.

The edited transcripts did not satisfy demands for transparency, and later, under Supreme Court order, Nixon released more tapes, which ultimately led to his resignation on August 8, 1974.

1986 – The Chernobyl disaster: Soviet authorities publicly acknowledge the nuclear accident

On April 29, 1986, Soviet authorities publicly acknowledged the catastrophic nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which had occurred on April 26.

The explosion and subsequent release of radioactive material resulted in one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. Initial attempts to downplay the severity were soon overshadowed by the immense scale of the accident, leading to significant health and environmental impacts.

The disaster not only had a profound effect on the local area, resulting in the creation of an exclusion zone around the plant, but it also raised global awareness and transformed nuclear safety standards worldwide.

1991 – A devastating cyclone strikes Bangladesh, resulting in over 138,000 deaths and immense damage

On April 29, 1991, one of the deadliest tropical cyclones in history hit the Chittagong district of southeastern Bangladesh. This cyclone, with winds of around 155 mph and a massive storm surge, caused widespread destruction and resulted in over 138,000 deaths.

The cyclone devastated whole villages, wiped out families, and caused significant economic damage. The disaster prompted extensive international aid efforts and led to improvements in disaster preparedness and early warning systems in Bangladesh.

1992 – Riots erupt in Los Angeles following the acquittal of police officers charged with using excessive force in the beating of Rodney King

Following the acquittal of four Los Angeles Police Department officers charged with using excessive force in the arrest and beating of Rodney King, widespread riots erupted across Los Angeles on April 29, 1992. The civil unrest lasted for six days, during which time people looted stores, set fires, and clashed violently with law enforcement.

The National Guard, Army, and Marine Corps were called in to restore order. The riots resulted in 63 deaths, over 2,000 injuries, and massive property damage. This event highlighted significant racial tensions and led to various police reforms.

1997 – The Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 comes into force, outlawing the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons among its signatories

On April 29, 1997, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), a treaty that outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons, officially entered into force. Signed by 165 countries at the time, the convention marked a significant commitment to arms control and non-proliferation.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was established to enforce the terms of the treaty, including the destruction of all existing chemical weapons and production facilities. The CWC represents a major international effort to eliminate chemical warfare.

2011 – The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton takes place at Westminster Abbey in London

The royal wedding between Prince William, second in line to the British throne, and Catherine Middleton took place on April 29, 2011, at Westminster Abbey in London. The ceremony was a major media event, viewed live by tens of millions of people around the world.

The wedding was noted for its reflection of modern royal traditions and its broad public appeal. The couple was bestowed the titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge by Queen Elizabeth II.

2013 – NBA player Jason Collins becomes the first active male athlete in the four major American professional sports to come out as gay

On April 29, 2013, Jason Collins, a veteran NBA player, publicly came out as gay, making him the first active male athlete in any of the four major American professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB) to do so.

Collins’ announcement was a landmark moment in sports and was met with widespread support from teammates, other players, and celebrities. His courageous decision was considered a significant step forward in the fight against homophobia in sports and contributed to increasing visibility and acceptance for LGBTQ+ athletes.