#TodayInHistory – January 5
January 5 – Some important events on this day
1463 👉🏼 French poet Francois Villon banished from Paris
1477 👉🏼 Battle of Nancy, Burgundy vs Switzerland, 7,000 + killed including their leader Charles Duke of Burgundy
1554 👉🏼 Great fire in Eindhoven, Netherlands
1709 👉🏼 The Great Frost begins during the night, a sudden cold snap that remains Europe’s coldest ever winter. Thousands are killed across the continent and crops fail in France.
During the winter of 1709, an extreme cold snap occurred in Europe that remains the coldest European winter of the past 500 years. On this day, scientist and theologian William Derham recorded a temperature of -12 degrees Celsius (10.4 Fahrenheit) near London, England, the lowest since he had began recording in 1697. Other temperatures recorded across Europe reached as low as -15 Celsius. Derham stated: “I believe the Frost was greater (if not more universal also) than any other within the Memory of Man.”
Thousands of people were killed, with conditions worsened because the winter happened during two major wars; the Great Northern War in Scandinavia and the War of the Spanish Succession. As many as 600,000 people died in France during the resulting wartime famine.
Modern climatologists have been unable to explain the causes of the winter, but have noted that it took place during a phase called the Maunder Minimum, when unusually low sunspot activity was recorded on the surface of the Sun.
1781 👉🏼 British naval expedition led by Benedict Arnold burns Richmond, Virginia
1896 👉🏼 “Die Presse” newspaper (Germany) publicly announces Wilhelm Röntgen’s discovery of X-rays and their potential for new methods of medical diagnoses in a front-page article
1919 👉🏼 German Workers’ Party forms, precursor to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi)
1930 👉🏼 Mao Zedong writes “A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire”
1940 👉🏼 FCC hears 1st transmission of FM radio with clear, static-free signal
1949 👉🏼 US President Harry Truman labels his administration the “Fair Deal”
1968 👉🏼 Prague Spring begins in Czechoslovakia
Antonin Novotny, the Stalinist ruler of Czechoslovakia, is succeeded as first secretary by Alexander Dubček, a Slovak who supports liberal reforms. In the first few months of his rule, Dubček introduced a series of far-reaching political and economic reforms, including increased freedom of speech and the rehabilitation of political dissidents.
Dubček’s effort to establish “communism with a human face” was celebrated across the country, and the brief period of freedom became known as the Prague Spring.
But on August 20, 1968, the Soviet Union answered Dubček’s reforms with invasion of Czechoslovakia by 600,000 Warsaw Pact troops. Prague was not eager to give way, but scattered student resistance was no match for Soviet tanks.
Dubček’s reforms were repealed, and the leader himself was replaced with the staunchly pro-Soviet Gustav Husak, who re-established an authoritarian Communist regime in the country.
In 1989, as Communist governments folded across Eastern Europe, Prague again became the scene of demonstrations for democratic reforms. In December 1989, Husak’s government conceded to demands for a multiparty Parliament.
Husak resigned, and for the first time in two decades Dubcek returned to politics as chairman of the new Parliament, which subsequently elected playwright Vaclav Havel as president of Czechoslovakia. Havel had come to fame during the Prague Spring, but after the Soviet crackdown his plays were banned and his passport confiscated.
2016 👉🏼 First batsman to ever score 1000 runs in a single innings in cricket – 15 year-old Mumbai schoolboy Pranav Dhanawade is 1009 not out
2020 👉🏼 Chinese professor Zhang Yongzhen publishes the first SARS-CoV-2 genome map online, allowing health professionals worldwide to identify COVID-19