February 11 Events in History

This article explores significant events that occurred on February 11th, tracing milestones from ancient times to modern scientific achievements.

Highlighting key moments such as the foundation of Japan, pivotal political changes, and groundbreaking discoveries, it offers a concise overview of the day’s historical impact across various domains.

Join us for a brief journey through time, uncovering the diverse and profound ways February 11th has shaped our world.

February 11th – On this Day in History

660 BC – Traditional date for the foundation of Japan by Emperor Jimmu

The traditional foundation of Japan by Emperor Jimmu is a significant cultural event in Japanese history, celebrated annually as National Foundation Day on February 11th.

According to Japanese mythology, Emperor Jimmu was a direct descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu and established his reign in what is now Nara Prefecture.

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His accession is considered the beginning of the unbroken line of rulers in the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy. However, historians and archaeologists debate the historical accuracy of these accounts, as they blend myth with historical fact.

1531 – Henry VIII of England is recognized as the supreme head of the Church of England

This event marks a pivotal moment in British and religious history, known as the Act of Supremacy. The act declared King Henry VIII and his successors as the supreme heads of the Church of England, effectively severing ties with the Catholic Church and the Pope in Rome.

This move was largely motivated by Henry’s desire to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, which the Pope had refused to sanction.

The Act of Supremacy led to significant religious and political changes, including the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the establishment of Anglicanism as a separate branch of Christianity.

Henry VIII

1752 – Pennsylvania Hospital, the first hospital in the United States, is opened by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond in Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Hospital was founded through the efforts of Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond as the first hospital in what would become the United States. Its founding was motivated by the need to care for the sick, poor, and mentally ill in Philadelphia.

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The hospital was established with a charter from the Pennsylvania legislature and funded through public subscription. Pennsylvania Hospital not only marks the beginning of organized healthcare in America but also played a significant role in medical education and the advancement of medical practices throughout its history.

1794 – The first session of the United States Senate is opened to the public

Before this date, sessions of the U.S. Senate were held in secret, with no records of debates or proceedings available to the public. The opening of the Senate sessions to the public marked a significant step toward transparency and accountability in the U.S. government.

This change allowed citizens to be informed about legislative debates and decisions, reflecting the principles of democracy and open government. It occurred during the 3rd Congress, following demands for greater public access to the legislative process.

United States Senate

1809 – Robert Fulton patents the steamboat in the United States

Robert Fulton is credited with developing the first commercially successful steamboat, which significantly advanced transportation in the early 19th century. His patent covered the steamboat technology that utilized steam power to propel boats, thereby revolutionizing river and canal travel.

Fulton’s steamboat, the North River Steamboat (later known as the Clermont), made its first voyage from New York City to Albany in 1807, proving the viability of steam-powered navigation.

This invention opened up new possibilities for commerce, trade, and transportation, facilitating the movement of goods and people over long distances along America’s rivers.

1826 – University College London is founded under the name London University

University College London (UCL) was founded in 1826 as London University by a group of secularists and radicals, aiming to provide education irrespective of religion, which was a radical idea at the time. It was the first university institution to be established in London and the first in England to be entirely secular and to admit students regardless of their religion.

UCL also pioneered the admission of women on equal terms with men. Initially established as an alternative to the Anglican universities of Oxford and Cambridge, UCL has grown to become one of the leading multidisciplinary universities globally, known for its strong emphasis on research and a broad range of academic disciplines.

1858 – Bernadette Soubirous’s first vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes, France

On February 11, 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old peasant girl, reported the first of 18 visions of the Virgin Mary in the grotto of Massabielle near Lourdes, France.

During these visions, she was instructed by the Virgin Mary to drink from a spring within the grotto, which was later found and revealed to have healing properties.

These events led to Lourdes becoming one of the world’s most important sites of pilgrimage and religious tourism, attracting millions of visitors annually. Bernadette’s experiences were recognized by the Catholic Church, and she was canonized as a saint in 1933.

1929 – The Lateran Treaty is signed, making Vatican City a sovereign state

The Lateran Treaty was signed on February 11, 1929, between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See, resolving the “Roman Question” and recognizing Vatican City as an independent sovereign entity.

This agreement ended decades of dispute between the Catholic Church and the Italian state following the unification of Italy, which had included the annexation of the Papal States.

The treaty established the territorial boundaries of Vatican City, ensured the Pope’s independence and sovereignty, and established Catholicism as Italy’s state religion. It also included financial compensation to the Holy See for the loss of the Papal States.

Vatican City

1938 – BBC Television produces the world’s first ever science fiction television program, an adaptation of a section of the Karel Čapek play R.U.R., that coined the term “robot”

In 1938, the BBC made television history by producing an adaptation of a segment from Karel Čapek’s play “R.U.R.” (Rossum’s Universal Robots), marking the first science fiction program ever to be broadcast on television.

The play, originally published in 1920, is notable for introducing the word “robot” to the English language, derived from the Czech word “robota,” meaning forced labor.

The story deals with the creation of artificial people called robots, who eventually rise up against their creators. This broadcast demonstrated the potential of television as a medium for imaginative storytelling, including the exploration of themes like technology, humanity, and the future.

1945 – Yalta Conference between the Big Three (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin) ends with the signing of a pact for the United Nations

The Yalta Conference was a pivotal World War II meeting held from February 4 to 11, 1945, involving U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin.

Held in the Crimean resort of Yalta, the conference aimed to shape a post-war peace that represented not just a collective security order but a plan to give self-determination to the liberated nations of post-Nazi Europe. The leaders discussed the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe.

Among the agreements reached was the confirmation of the establishment of the United Nations, with the aim of fostering international cooperation and preventing future conflicts.

The conference also addressed the partitioning of Germany, the status of Poland, the war against Japan, and the creation of the Eastern Bloc, laying the groundwork for the Cold War.

1953 – The Soviet Union breaks diplomatic relations with Israel

In February 1953, the Soviet Union severed its diplomatic relations with Israel. This dramatic move was a culmination of growing tensions between the two nations, largely influenced by the broader context of the Cold War and regional politics in the Middle East.

The immediate cause was the bombing of the Soviet embassy in Tel Aviv, but underlying issues included Israel’s tilt towards the West amid the intensifying Cold War and the USSR’s support for Arab states in opposition to Israel.

This rupture in relations marked a significant shift in the geopolitical alignments in the Middle East, with lasting implications for Israeli foreign policy and its relationships with Western powers.

1963 – The Beatles record their debut album, “Please Please Me”, in a single day at the Abbey Road Studios in London

On February 11, 1963, in an unprecedented 10-hour session at the Abbey Road Studios, The Beatles recorded their debut album, “Please Please Me”. This marathon recording session produced an album that would catapult the band into unprecedented fame.

Featuring iconic tracks such as “I Saw Her Standing There”, “Please Please Me”, and “Twist and Shout”, the album was a commercial success and marked the beginning of Beatlemania.

The album’s innovative sound and style were significant in the evolution of pop music, establishing The Beatles as one of the most influential bands in the history of music.

1971 – Eighty-seven countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, sign the Seabed Arms Control Treaty, outlawing nuclear weapons on the ocean floor in international waters

The Seabed Arms Control Treaty, signed on February 11, 1971, represented a significant step toward limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

By agreeing to prohibit the placement of nuclear arms on the ocean floor beyond a 12-mile coastal limit, the signatory nations aimed to prevent the expansion of nuclear arms race to the seabed.

This treaty was part of a series of arms control agreements during the Cold War that sought to establish “rules” for the competition between the superpowers, aiming to reduce the risk of nuclear war and limit the environmental consequences of nuclear proliferation.

1979 – The Iranian Revolution culminates in the official overthrow of the Shah’s regime

The Iranian Revolution, a series of events that culminated on February 11, 1979, led to the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the establishment of an Islamic Republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

This revolution was the result of widespread discontent with the Shah’s authoritarian rule, economic disparities, Western influence in Iranian politics and society, and a desire for cultural and religious conservatism.

The revolution’s success marked a significant shift in the political landscape of the Middle East, leading to the establishment of a theocratic state and dramatically altering the relationship between Iran and the West, particularly the United States.

1990 – Nelson Mandela is released from Victor Verster Prison outside Cape Town, South Africa after 27 years as a political prisoner

Nelson Mandela’s release on February 11, 1990, was a pivotal moment in South African history and the broader struggle against apartheid.

After 27 years in prison, Mandela’s freedom symbolized the beginning of the end for apartheid, a system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the South African government.

Mandela’s release was the result of internal and external pressures on the South African government and signaled the start of a transition towards racial equality and democracy in South Africa.

Mandela’s leadership and negotiations in the years following his release were instrumental in the peaceful transition from apartheid to a democratic society, culminating in his election as South Africa’s first black president in 1994.

1997 – Space Shuttle Discovery is launched on a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope

On February 11, 1997, the Space Shuttle Discovery was launched on mission STS-82, marking its second servicing mission (SM-2) to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). This mission was critical for upgrading and repairing the Hubble Space Telescope, ensuring its continued ability to provide unprecedented observations of the universe.

The crew conducted five spacewalks during the mission, installing two new scientific instruments and improving the telescope’s capabilities with new technology.

This mission significantly enhanced Hubble’s scientific contributions, including clearer images and a better understanding of the universe’s age, the existence of black holes, and the properties of remote galaxies.

2006 – Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney accidentally shoots Harry Whittington in the face during a quail hunt in Texas

On February 11, 2006, a hunting accident occurred involving then Vice President Dick Cheney and Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old Texas attorney.

While on a quail hunting trip on the Armstrong Ranch in Texas, Cheney accidentally shot Whittington in the face, neck, and chest with birdshot pellets from a shotgun. Whittington sustained injuries but later recovered.

The incident drew significant media attention and public scrutiny, partly because of the delay in reporting the incident to the press. Cheney described the event as one of the worst days of his life, emphasizing the importance of safety in hunting practices.

2011 – The first wave of the Egyptian Revolution culminates in the resignation of Hosni Mubarak and the transfer of power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces

On February 11, 2011, after 18 days of widespread protests across Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak resigned, ending his nearly 30-year rule. The protests were part of the Arab Spring, a series of anti-government uprisings across the Arab world.

The Egyptian Revolution was characterized by demonstrations, marches, occupations of plazas, non-violent civil resistance, acts of civil disobedience, and strikes. Millions of protesters demanded the overthrow of Mubarak’s regime, citing grievances such as police brutality, state corruption, economic issues, and lack of political freedoms.

Mubarak’s resignation marked a significant victory for the protesters, and power was transferred to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, leading to a period of political transition and uncertainty in Egypt.

2013 – Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation from the papacy, the first pope to do so since Pope Gregory XII in 1415

On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation from the papacy, effective February 28, 2013, citing advanced age and deteriorating strength as reasons that left him unable to fulfill the duties of his office adequately.

This was a historic event, as he was the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years, with the last being Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 to end the Western Schism. Benedict’s resignation led to the conclave that elected Pope Francis as his successor.

His decision was widely discussed and respected for its humility and concern for the welfare of the Catholic Church.

2016 – Scientists announce the detection of gravitational waves, confirming a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity

On February 11, 2016, the scientific community heralded a landmark discovery in the field of physics: the first direct detection of gravitational waves, a phenomenon predicted by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity in 1915.

This observation was made by the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) collaboration, which detected waves resulting from the collision of two black holes billions of light-years away.

The detection of gravitational waves opened a new window onto the cosmos, providing a novel way to observe the universe’s most violent events, such as black hole mergers, that are otherwise invisible through traditional electromagnetic astronomy.

This breakthrough has profound implications for our understanding of the universe, confirming Einstein’s predictions and enhancing our ability to study the cosmos in an entirely new way.