#TodayInHistory – April 17
April 17 – Some important events on this day
1387 👉🏼 Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” characters begin their pilgrimage to Canterbury (according to scholars).
Best known today for “The Canterbury Tales”, Geoffrey Chaucer is considered the Father of English literature. His work helped legitimize English as a literary language and supplant literary works in Latin and French where were popular in England at the time. His other significant works include “The Book of the Duchess”, “The House of Fame”, “The Legend of Good Women” and “Troilus and Criseyde”.
Born in London around 1343, the exact date and location of his birth remain unknown.
1492 👉🏼 Christopher Columbus signs a contract with the Spanish monarchs to find the “Indies” with the stated goal of converting people to Catholicism. This promises him 10% of all riches found, and the governorship of any lands encountered.
1790 👉🏼 American statesman, printer, scientist, and writer Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia at age 84.
1839 👉🏼 Guatemala forms republic 🇬🇹
1864 👉🏼 Bread revolt in Savannah, Georgia
1869 👉🏼 1st pro baseball games: Cincinnati Reds 24, Cin amateurs 15 ⚾️
1875 👉🏼 Modern Snooker invented by Sir Neville Chamberlain, a bored British officer in Jabalpur, India 🎱
1895 👉🏼 Treaty of Shimonoseki is signed ending the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95)
1941 👉🏼 Yugoslavia surrenders to the Nazis.
During World War II, representatives of Yugoslavia’s various regions sign an armistice with Nazi Germany at Belgrade, ending 11 days of futile resistance against the invading German Wehrmacht. More than 300,000 Yugoslav officers and soldiers were taken prisoner, while only 200 Germans died in the conquest of Yugoslavia.
1961 👉🏼 1,400 Cuban exiles land in Bay of Pigs in a doomed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro 🇨🇺
1969 👉🏼 Alexander Dubček forced to resign as first secretary of Czechoslovakia’s Communist Party.
Dubček was the leader of Czechoslovakia from January 1968 until he was ousted following the Warsaw Pact invasion of his country. During his time in office, he attempted to create a policy called ‘socialism with a human face’ by reducing some of the communist restrictions on the country, and introducing aspects of democracy and economic deregulation. These reforms were not supported by the Soviet Union, of which Czechoslovakia was a satellite state. After months of talks the Soviets and their Warsaw Pact allies invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968, deposing Dubček the following year, who was later expelled from the Communist Party.
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1982 👉🏼 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
1982 👉🏼 Proclamation of the Constitution Act by Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. As head of the Liberal Party, he was Prime Minister of Canada twice, from 1968-1979 and from 1980-1984. A charismatic leader, he inspired “Trudeaumania” in the late 1960s.
2009 👉🏼 Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark becomes the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the first woman to lead the organization
2012 👉🏼 The 8th century St. Cuthbert Gospel, Europe’s oldest intact book, is purchased by the British Library for 9 million pounds.
Of double historical importance, the St Cuthbert Gospel is significant as both the oldest surviving intact European book and for its association with the saint St Cuthbert in whose tomb at Lindisfarne the book was placed a few years after his death in 687.
Originally the small pocket book was thought to be St Cuthbert’s personal copy but it is now though to have been produced slightly later by a scribe from Monkwearmouth–Jarrow Abbey in the north of England. The text is a copy of the Gospel of St John in Latin written on vellum sheets and remarkedly survives with its original red leather binding. It was bought by the British Library after a fundraising campaign.