March 28 – On this Day in History

This article provides a detailed exploration of significant historical events that took place on March 28, arranged in chronological order. Each event is expanded upon to offer insights into its historical context, impact, and the figures involved.

From ancient Roman politics and medieval conflicts to groundbreaking scientific discoveries and pivotal moments in modern history, this compilation traverses a wide array of disciplines and eras.

The events selected not only reflect the political and social dynamics of their time but also the enduring influence of these moments on subsequent developments.

March 28th Events in History

37 AD – Roman Emperor Caligula accepts the titles of the Principate, bestowed on him by the Senate

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known as Caligula, became the third Roman Emperor in 37 AD, succeeding his great-uncle and adoptive grandfather Tiberius.

The Senate awarded him the titles of the Principate, essentially recognizing his role as the first citizen but also imbuing him with almost absolute power.

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Caligula’s reign is often characterized by the initial goodwill from the public and Senate, but he is more infamously remembered for his descent into tyranny, extravagance, and the eventual assassination by members of his own guard in 41 AD.

193 AD – After assassinating the Roman Emperor Pertinax, his successor, Didius Julianus, is proclaimed Emperor by the Praetorian Guard

The assassination of Emperor Pertinax by the Praetorian Guard led to a brief and tumultuous period known as the “Year of the Five Emperors.” Didius Julianus, who succeeded Pertinax, came to power in an unprecedented manner: he literally bought the throne in an auction held by the Praetorian Guard, who had declared the empire up for sale to the highest bidder.

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Julianus’ rule was short-lived, however, as he was unable to gain the support of the Roman Senate or the people and was overthrown and executed within months, paving the way for Septimius Severus.

Ragnar Lodbrok

845 AD – Paris is sacked by Viking raiders, supposedly under Ragnar Lodbrok, who collect a huge ransom in exchange for leaving

In 845 AD, a fleet of Norse Vikings, allegedly led by the legendary Ragnar Lodbrok, sailed along the Seine River and besieged Paris. The raid was part of a series of Viking attacks along the coasts and rivers of Europe, exploiting their superior navigation and shipbuilding skills.

The siege ended when Charles the Bald, the King of the West Frankish Kingdom, agreed to pay a ransom of 7,000 French livres (pounds of silver) to the Vikings. This payment, while saving Paris for the time being, encouraged further Viking raids in the region.

1472 – The Yorkist king Edward IV defeats the Lancastrian forces at the Battle of Barnet, securing his hold on the throne of England

The Battle of Barnet was a decisive engagement in the Wars of the Roses, a series of dynastic conflicts for the throne of England between the houses of Lancaster and York.

On April 14, 1471, Edward IV led the Yorkist forces to victory against the Lancastrian army commanded by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, also known as “the Kingmaker.”

Warwick was killed in the battle, effectively ending Lancastrian resistance and consolidating Edward IV’s rule over England. This victory marked a turning point in the Wars of the Roses, leading to a period of relative stability under Yorkist rule.

1776 – Juan Bautista de Anza finds the site for the Presidio of San Francisco

In 1776, the Spanish explorer and military officer Juan Bautista de Anza led an expedition that located the site for the Presidio of San Francisco, part of Spain’s colonial expansion in the New World. The Presidio served as a military fortification and base for the Spanish in their efforts to establish control over the San Francisco Bay Area.

This strategic move not only facilitated Spanish claims and settlements in California but also played a key role in the early development and urban layout of San Francisco. The establishment of the Presidio marked a significant moment in the European exploration and colonization of the American West.

1795 – Partitions of Poland: The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia, a northern fief of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, ceases to exist and becomes part of Imperial Russia

The final partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth led to the complete dissolution of the state, with its territories being divided among Prussia, Austria, and Russia.

The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia, situated in present-day Latvia, was a semi-autonomous duchy under the sovereignty of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In the third and final partition in 1795, this duchy was absorbed into the Russian Empire. This event symbolized the end of an independent Polish-Lithuanian state until the aftermath of World War I, when Poland regained its independence.

1802 – Heinrich Wilhelm Matthäus Olbers discovers 2 Pallas, the second asteroid known to man

The discovery of 2 Pallas by the German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Matthäus Olbers marked a significant milestone in the study of our solar system. Pallas is one of the largest asteroids in the asteroid belt, which lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Its discovery, following the first asteroid, Ceres, by Giuseppe Piazzi in 1801, contributed to the early 19th-century’s burgeoning interest in and knowledge of asteroids. These discoveries challenged existing perceptions of the solar system and led to the classification of a new category of celestial bodies.

1809 – Peninsular War: France defeats Spain in the Battle of Medellín

During the Peninsular War, part of the Napoleonic Wars, the Battle of Medellín took place in Spain between the French forces, led by Marshal Victor, and the Spanish army, commanded by General Cuesta.

The French victory was decisive and marked by the effective use of cavalry and artillery. The defeat significantly weakened the Spanish resistance against Napoleonic France and underscored the difficulties faced by Spain and its allies, including Britain and Portugal, in expelling French troops from the Iberian Peninsula.

Andrew Jackson

1834 – The United States Senate censures President Andrew Jackson for his actions in defunding the Bank of the United States

In a rare move, the United States Senate censured President Andrew Jackson due to his controversial actions regarding the Second Bank of the United States.

Jackson had vetoed the recharter of the bank and initiated the removal of federal deposits, redistributing them to various state banks, in what opponents labeled the “Bank War.”

This was seen as an overreach of executive power by his critics, leading to the Senate’s censure. However, this censure was later expunged from the record, reflecting the contentious and fluctuating nature of political support and opposition during Jackson’s presidency.

1854 – France and the United Kingdom declare war on Russia, starting the Crimean War

The Crimean War was initiated when France and the United Kingdom declared war on Russia, following a long-standing dispute over the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land, then controlled by the Ottoman Empire. Russia’s expansionist policies in the Ottoman territories raised concerns among the major European powers, leading to the conflict.

The war is notable for the involvement of major powers on the Crimean Peninsula and the Black Sea, introducing modern warfare technologies and tactics. It also exposed the need for military and medical reforms, particularly in the British Army, highlighted by the work of Florence Nightingale in nursing.

The war concluded with the Treaty of Paris in 1856, significantly altering the power dynamics in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

1862 – American Civil War: Battle of Glorieta Pass – In New Mexico, Union forces stop the Confederate invasion of New Mexico territory. The battle is dubbed the “Gettysburg of the West”

The Battle of Glorieta Pass was a pivotal engagement in the far-western theater of the American Civil War, taking place in the rugged terrain of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. This conflict was crucial in halting the Confederate attempt to disrupt Union control over the region and potentially access the gold fields of Colorado and the West Coast ports.

The battle ended with a strategic Union victory, largely due to their destruction of the Confederate supply train, effectively crippling the Confederate force’s ability to maintain its presence in the territory. The engagement’s significance in ensuring the Union’s control over the western territories earned it the moniker “Gettysburg of the West.”

1871 – The Paris Commune is formally established in Paris

Following France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the capture of Emperor Napoleon III, Paris was in a state of unrest. The Paris Commune was a radical socialist and revolutionary government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871.

It arose from the city’s working-class population’s desire to resist the conservative government of Adolphe Thiers and to implement progressive policies, including the separation of church and state, the abolition of child labor, and the establishment of a citizens’ militia.

The Commune’s existence was marked by its radical policies and internal conflicts, and it ultimately ended in a brutal suppression by the French Army during the “Bloody Week.”

1910 – Henri Fabre becomes the first person to fly a seaplane, the Fabre Hydravion, after taking off from a water runway near Martigues, France

Henri Fabre’s successful flight of the Fabre Hydravion represents a landmark moment in aviation history. On March 28, 1910, Fabre piloted the world’s first successful seaplane, also known as a hydroplane at the time, over the Étang de Berre, a lagoon near Martigues, France.

This innovative aircraft was capable of taking off from and landing on water, opening new possibilities for aviation, especially in maritime exploration and operations. Fabre’s invention laid foundational technologies for future developments in seaplane design and use.

1939 – Spanish Civil War: Generalísimo Francisco Franco conquers Madrid after a three-year siege

The fall of Madrid to the Nationalist forces led by General Francisco Franco marked the end of the Spanish Civil War, a brutal and devastating conflict that began in 1936. Madrid’s surrender on March 28, 1939, followed a prolonged siege and incessant bombardment, leading to widespread destruction and loss of life.

Franco’s victory established a dictatorship that would last until his death in 1975, suppressing political opposition through censorship, imprisonment, and executions.

The Spanish Civil War is remembered for its ferocity, the involvement of international brigades, and the use of the conflict as a testing ground for new military technologies and tactics by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

1941 – World War II: British Royal Navy ships are deployed to sink the German battleship Scharnhorst

This entry appears to contain an inaccuracy regarding the date and event. The German battleship Scharnhorst was indeed a significant threat during World War II, known for its role in the Atlantic and the sinking of the HMS Glorious.

However, it was sunk by British forces on December 26, 1943, during the Battle of the North Cape, off the coast of Norway, not on March 28, 1941. In this pivotal engagement, the Scharnhorst was intercepted by British naval forces, including the battleship HMS Duke of York, under the command of Admiral Bruce Fraser.

The Scharnhorst was heavily damaged in a fierce engagement and eventually sunk by torpedoes, with a significant loss of life. This victory removed a major threat to Allied convoys in the Arctic, crucial for supplies to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program.

1942 – World War II: In occupied France, British naval forces successfully raid the German-occupied port of St. Nazaire

The St. Nazaire Raid, also known as Operation Chariot, was one of the most daring commando operations carried out by British forces during World War II. Its primary objective was to destroy the dry dock at St. Nazaire in German-occupied France, preventing the German battleship Tirpitz from using it as a base for operations in the Atlantic.

The operation involved ramming the dock gates with an explosive-laden destroyer, HMS Campbeltown, accompanied by commando units attacking German defenses. Despite heavy casualties, the mission was a success, with the dock rendered unusable for the remainder of the war.

This daring raid demonstrated the effectiveness of combined operations and has been celebrated for its audacity and strategic impact.

1969 – Greek poet and Nobel laureate Giorgos Seferis speaks out against the dictatorship in Greece

Giorgos Seferis, a distinguished Greek poet and diplomat who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1963, made a significant political statement against the military junta ruling Greece.

On March 28, 1969, Seferis publicly denounced the dictatorship, which had seized power in April 1967, through a statement read on the BBC Greek Service.

His outspoken criticism was a courageous act of dissent against the oppressive regime, inspiring other intellectuals and citizens to oppose the junta. Seferis’s moral stance against the dictatorship highlighted the power of cultural figures in influencing public opinion and resistance movements.

1979 – The British House of Commons passes a vote of no confidence against James Callaghan’s government, precipitating a general election

The vote of no confidence against Prime Minister James Callaghan’s Labour government was a pivotal moment in British political history, leading directly to the general election of 1979.

This vote came after a winter of widespread strikes, known as the “Winter of Discontent,” which had severely affected public services and led to widespread dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the economy and industrial relations.

The successful motion by the opposition, led by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party, resulted in the fall of Callaghan’s government and the subsequent general election, which saw Thatcher become the Prime Minister. This election marked a significant shift in British politics towards conservative policies and neoliberal economic reforms.

1990 – President George H. W. Bush posthumously awards Jesse Owens the Congressional Gold Medal

Jesse Owens, an African-American track and field athlete who famously won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George H. W. Bush.

Owens’s achievements in Berlin were not only a triumph of athletic prowess but also a powerful statement against Nazi ideology, which promoted racial superiority.

The Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest civilian honors in the United States, recognized Owens’s contributions to sports and his role in combating racial prejudice, affirming his legacy as a symbol of resilience and equality.

2006 – A riot in the French Quarter of New Orleans by residents who were protesting the closing of a bar results in one death

This event reflects the social tensions and issues in post-Katrina New Orleans. The city was still grappling with the extensive damage and displacement caused by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, and many communities were in the midst of rebuilding.

The closure of a local bar, seen by residents as an important community space, sparked protests that escalated into a riot. This incident underscored the broader challenges faced by the city in the aftermath of the disaster, including issues of recovery, community cohesion, and the preservation of local culture and spaces amidst the pressures of reconstruction and gentrification.