Bizarre, a lover’s suicide pact, brutality and the planet in peril, these are just some of the weird and wonderful things we highlight that happened today in history
1647 The Scots agree to sell the exiled King Charles I, who had lost the English civil war, to England’s parliament for £400.
1649 King Charles I of England is beheaded. On his execution he insisted on wearing an extra shirt because he did not want shivers of cold to be misinterpreted as those of fear.
1661 Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, is ritually executed two years after his death – and on the 12th anniversary of the execution of Charles I. Cromwell and two others are dug up at Westminster Abbey and ‘executed’ for killing Charles. Hanged in chains before being beheaded, the bodies, or what was left of them, were thrown into common graves, and their heads placed on spikes above Westminster Hall. During a storm Cromwell’s head fell from the spike and has since been through numerous hands, in various private and museum collections before being buried at Cambridge University.
1703 The 47 rōnin avenge the death of their master in Japan.
1883 The Ashes Test series comes about when the England team is presented with the ashes of a bail after playing Australia in Sydney.
1889 Archduke Rudolf, Crown Prince/heir to the throne of Austria, writes a tragic note to his wife in the early hours of this day. It read: “I am going calmly to my death which alone can save my good name.” He then put a pistol to the head of his beautiful 17-year-old mistress who was lying in bed beside him and shot her dead. He did the same to himself shortly after. Rudolf had everything that money could buy but that, sadly, did not include much warmth from his mother or the love and respect of his father. His cousin, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was to become heir-presumptive to the throne of Austria-Hungary. But in 1914 he and his wife were shot dead by an assassin on the streets of Sarajevo – tipping the whole planet into the horrific First World War.
1943 Adolf Hitler promotes General Paulus, commander of the 6th Army in Stalingrad, to Field Marshal, hoping he will not surrender.
1945 The Wilhelm Gustloff, full of German refugees, is torpedoed in the Baltic by a Soviet submarine, killing 9 500 people.
1959 The MS Hans Hedtoft, said to be the safest ship afloat and ‘unsinkable’, strikes an iceberg on her maiden voyage and sinks, with the loss of all 95 aboard. Shades of the Titanic.
1981 Twenty-four people die in Operation Beanbag – an attack by the South African army on the ANC and PAC in Maputo.
1982 Richard Skrenta writes the first PC virus code, which is 400 lines long.
2019 Scientists say they found a cavity 10km long and 1 000 feet deep under the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, leading to fears that it might collapse and raise sea levels by two feet.