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This Day in History - December 26

December 26

1492 – The first Spanish settlement La Navidad in the New World is founded by Christopher Columbus

1606 – William Shakespeare’s King Lear is performed at the court of King James I of England

1610 – Count Gyorgy Thurzo visits Csejthe Castle in Hungary on orders from King Matthias, and finds Countess Elizabeth Bathory, ruler of Transylvania, aka Blood Countess, torturing young girls in a scene so horrific, the details of it were not discussed at her trial.  Bathory is widely considered to be the most brutal female serial killer of all time, although some accuse her also of being one of the first vampires in history, and is said to have been both a lesbian and witch.  Nonetheless, her cruel torture and murder of servants and peasants made her known in her own day as the Infamous Lady, although much of the true story about her has been fictionalized throughout history. 

Despite being born of nobility, Bathory also was related to unsavory characters such as her uncle that had instructed her in Satanism and an aunt who taught her sadomasochism.  Her husband built a torture chamber in order to please her and she abducted peasants to subject them to tortures such as jamming pins under their fingernails, smearing them with honey and leaving them to be eaten by ants and bees, burning them, stabbing them and biting chunks of their flesh off, among many other mid-evil and gruesome acts.  She even forced one girl to cook and eat her own flesh.  Legend has it that Bathory believed human blood would keep her looking young and healthy, although scholars believe this part to have been added to her history later and is mostly considered to be fiction.  Due to her prominent status, her crimes were largely ignored until she began killing daughters of local nobles, prompting King Matthias to intervene. 

In January of 1611, she and her accomplices were put on trial for 80 counts of murder (although she is thought to be behind between 650 and 1,000 deaths).  All were convicted and all executed by being buried alive, except for Bathory herself, who was instead locked in a room of the castle that only had slits for air and food.  She died in 1614 by starving herself

1716 – English poet Thomas Gray is born

1776 – George Washington leads an attack against the Hessian mercenaries at Trenton, taking 900 men prisoner

1786 – Daniel Shay leads a rebellion in Massachusetts in protest against the seizure of property for non-payment of debt

1792 – English mathematician Charles Babbage is born

1792 – The trial of French King Louis XVI, charged with conspiracy with foreign powers, begins

1806 – The Russians hold off Napoleon’s army at the Battle of Pultusk

1820 – Moses Austin meets with Spanish authorities in San Antonio to ask permission for 300 Anglo-American families to settle in Texas

1825 – An uprising against Tsar Nicholas I begins in Russia

1837 – American Admiral George Dewey is born

1860 – First ever inter-club football match is held between Hallam F.C. and Sheffield F.C. at Sandygate Road ground in Sheffield, England

1861 – Confederate diplomatic envoys James Mason and John Slidell are freed by the administration of President Abraham Lincoln

1862 – 38 Santee Sioux Indians are hanged in Mankato, Minnesota for their part in the Sioux Uprising

1865 – James Nason receives a patent for a coffee percolator

1866 – Brigadier General Philip St. George Cooke, head of the Department of the Platte, receives word of the Fetterman Fight in Powder River Country in the Dakota territory.  During the Fetterman Fight, all 81 men under the command of Captain William J. Fetterman were killed by attacking Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians, causing US forces to withdraw from the area

1890 – German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann dies

1891 – American writer Henry Miller is born

1893 – Founding father of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Tse-tung, is born

1894 – Poet and novelist Jean Toomer is born

1905 – Publisher William Loeb III is born

1907 – US Senator Albert Gore Sr. is born

1908 – Jack Johnson becomes the first black to win the world heavyweight title by knocking out Canadian Tommy Burns in the 14th round near Sydney, Australia

1914 – Actor Richard Widmark is born

1917 – President Woodrow Wilson places railroads under government control as a wartime measure

1921 – Radio and TV personality, actor, musician, comedian and writer Steve Allen is born

1924 – College football player and coach Frank Broyles is born

1925 – Six US destroyers are ordered from Manila to China to protect interests during a civil war there

1927 – Comedian, actor, author and producer Alan King is born

1932 – A massive earthquake in China kills more than 70,000

1939 – Record producer who was convicted of murdering Lana Clarkson, Phil Spector is born

1941 – General Douglas MacArthur declares Manila an open city due to the onrushing Japanese Army

1941 – The fourth Thursday of November is set as the official US Thanksgiving Day holiday

1941 – Winston Churchill becomes the first British prime minister to address Congress, urging them to back President Franklin Roosevelt’s plans during World War II

1942 – Social activist and author Dan Massey is born

1943 – The German battleship Scharnhorst is sunk by British ships in the Arctic after decoding German naval signs that prove the battleship was on a mission to attack an Anglo-American supply convoy to Russia

1944 – Advancing Soviet troops encircle Budapest in Hungary

1944 – General George Patton relieves besieged defenders at Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge

1945 – The US, Soviet Union, and Great Britain end a 10-day meeting over atomic rule by the UN Council

1945 – TV personality and victims rights advocated who created America’s Most Wanted after the murder of his son Adam in 1981, John Walsh is born

1946 – Mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel opens The Pink Flamingo Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada

1947 – USMC General James T. Conway who commanded 1st Marine Expeditionary Force during the Second Gulf War, is born

1953 – The US announces the withdrawal of two divisions from Korea

1955 – An opera featuring a black cast, Porgy and Bess, opens in Leningrad as an effort by the US to force in Cold War propaganda of American culture

1956 – Carmaker and businessman, Preston Tucker, dies

1956 – American comedian, author, and radio host David Sedaris is born

1962 – Eight people of East Berlin escape to West Berlin by crashing through the gates in an armor-plated bus

1966 – Dr. Maulana Karenga celebrates the first Kwanza, a seven-day black celebration of family and heritage

1966 – Jimi Hendrix writes “Purple Haze.”

1967 – Laotian Premier Souvanna Phouma reports that North Vietnamese troops have started an offensive against government forces in southern Laos

1971 – US fighter-bombers attack North Vietnamese airfields, missile sites, supply facilities and antiaircraft emplacements in raids that last five days

1972 – Former President Harry S. Truman dies

1973 – The Exorcist makes its theater debut and will go on to earn the reputation as one of the scariest movies in history, and in some cases, caused audience members to faint

1974 – American actor and comedian Jack Benny dies

1979 – The Soviet Union flies 5,000 troops to intervene in the Afghanistan conflict

1982 – Time magazine chooses a personal computer as its “Man of the Year,” the first non-human to ever receive the title

1985 – Zoologist Dian Fossey was found hacked to death at a forest camp in Rwanda.  It is widely presumed that poachers angered at her stance against them, were behind her murder, although no assailant has ever been found  

1991 – The Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union formally dissolves the Soviet Union

1996 – The body of JonBenet Ramsey, 6-year-old beauty queen, is found under a blanket in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colorado

1996 – Workers in South Korea’s automotive and shipbuilding industries begin the largest labor strike in South Korea’s history in protest of a new law that made firing employees easier and would cut rights of labor groups to organize

1997 – Greek economist and philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis dies

1998 – The Curies announce the existence of Radium

1999 – A violent, 36-hour windstorm, Lothar, begins, killing 137 and causing $1.3 billion in damages in Central Europe

2000 – Chess prodigy who became the youngest-ever US International Master at age 12, and Grandmaster at age 13, Samuel Sevian is born

2004 – A 9.3 magnitude earthquake strikes the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, moving a full 750 miles of underwater fault line earth up to 40 feet.  The quake ushered in a tsunami, estimated at two times the energy of all the bombs used during World War II, with waves of 80-100 feet high, wiping away entire villages-nearly 1/3 of the victims being children.  The tsunami left over 230,000 dead, 500,000 homeless from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and even South Africa and is ranked as one of the ten worst disasters of all time

2006 – Former President Gerald Ford dies

 


Written by Crystal McCann

Crystal is the Chief Operating Officer of Lanterns Media Network and the owner of Madisons Media. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs and is the proud mother of two adult children.


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