This Day in History – August 4
August 4 is marked by all sorts of events, starting from the world’s first public smoking ban and the end of the Age of Chivalry in England, to the birth of ‘most dangerous woman in Europe’. If you want to learn what important things happened in the (Royal) History on August 4, read on.
August 4, 1265 – The Battle of Evesham, one of the two most important Wars during the Second Barons’ War.
The army of Prince Edward (future Edward I of England) defeated the army of rebellious Barons led by Simon de Monrfort, 6th Earl of Leicester. Outnumbered two to one, Monrfort had no illusions about the outcome of the battle: when he saw the advancing army of Prince Edward, he allegedly exclaimed “May the Lord have mercy upon our souls, as our bodies are theirs.”
The battle itself was over fairly quickly but the massacre continued for some time. The memory of the disastrous Battle of Lewes, fought in 1264, was still fresh in the memories of the Royalist forces: they showed no mercy or compassion and killed most of the rebels who wanted to surrender. According to the legend King Henry, who was in de Monrfort’s custody and was wearing his colours, barely escaped death himself: the enraged soldiers killed everyone who was in de Monfort’s colours and if he hadn’t been recognized by a former rebel, he would have been murdered as well. The massacre that followed the Battle of Evesham is referred to as an ‘episode of noble bloodletting unprecedented since the Conquest.’ As most of the rebels were brutally murdered, rather than imprisoned, the Battle is often called “the end of the age of chivalry in England.”
August 4, 1521 – Birth of Pope Urban VII
Pope Urban’s papacy lasted only 12 days, thus making his reign the shortest in the history of Papacy. Despite this, he managed to introduce one memorable decree – world’s first known public smoking ban. Pope Urban threatened to excommunicate anyone who “took tobacco inside a church, whether it be by chewing, smoking or sniffing.”
August 4, 1578 – Battle of Al Kasr al Kebir and death of King Sebastian of Portugal
King Sebastian’s troops were defeated by the Moroccans in North Africa and the King himself was believed to be death (although there is some uncertainty as to whether his body was actually found). The battle was a disaster for Portugal in more than one way: King Sebastian was unmarried and with no legitimate heir. He was succeeded by his aged and childless uncle, Henry of Portugal, a Cardinal. Henry of Portugal reigned for less than two years, until the Kingdom was invaded by Philip II of Spain who, as maternal grandson of Manuel I of Portugal, claimed the throne as nearest male claimant. Portugal remained a separate realm of the Spanish Habsburgs until 17th century.
Despite his young age and disastrous Reign, King Sebastian became a stuff of legend. Since there were doubts as to whether he survived or not, that led many Portuguese believe in a “miracle” and return of the “rightful king.” In time, the legend of King Sebastian started closely resembling that of King Arthur: the young monarch was called “Portugal’s Once and Future King”, who would one day return to “save his nation.”
August 4, 1789 – Members of the French National Constituent Assembly take an oath to end feudalism and abandon their privileges
The pledge became the last nail in the coffin of the French Monarchy.
August 4, 1900 – Birthday of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon would marry into the British Royal Family, become the Duchess of York and, upon the unexpected abdication of her brother-in-law, Queen of the United Kingdom (Queen Mother, during the Reign of her daughter). She had been called “the most dangerous woman in Europe” by Hitler and ‘Grandmother of the nation’ by the British people. One of the most beloved of the Royals, she passed away quietly in 2002.
You can read more about Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in this thread.
August 4, 1914 – World War I: Germany invades Belgium
The German attack on the Western Front began with an invasion through neutral Belgium. Because of treaties signed between the two countries, the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. The United States declared its neutrality. With Russia attacking German forces in East Prussia and British, French and other allied soldiers attacking from the west, Germany had to fight on two fronts. That denied Germany the quick victory it was hoping for and, eventually, led to complete defeat.
Tagged Edward I, Military, Pope Urban VII, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Sebastian I, World War I.