#TodayInHistory – February 24 min read
February 2 – Some important events on this day
506 👉🏼 Alaric II, king of the Visigoths, promulgates the Lex Romania Visigothorum (or Breviary of Alaric), a collection of Roman law
1349 👉🏼 By this date at least 200 people a day were being buried in London as a result of the Black Death.
The Black Death was the worst pandemic in the history of the world. Peaking between 1347 and 1351 in Europe, estimates of the death toll vary widely, but is generally believed to have killed between 50 to 125 million people. The Black Death was essentially the spread of the disease known as plague (which is sometimes used to refer to the pandemic itself), caused by the Yersinia pestitis bacterium which was carried by the fleas on black rats.
The infection is believed to have originated in China or Inner Asia. Carried along the Silk Road trading route, it destroyed the army of the Mongol ruler Jani Beg, who was besieging the Genoese town of Kaffa in the Crimea. Attempting to weaken the defenders, he flung infected corpses at the Genoese inside the city. Infected sailors went back to their hometown in Genoa, Italy, thus beginning the European outbreak.
The bubonic plague (a distinct form of plague) would cause large swollen spots under the armpits and on the legs, neck and groin; this was followed by vomiting of blood and acute fever. Bubonic plague had a fatality rate of around 80%.
The Black Death had a vast effect on European society. Jewish people were persecuted relentlessly by many during the outbreak, as rumors spread that Jews had deliberately poisoned wells combined with a deep reservoir of medieval antisemitism. On February 14, 1349, several hundred Jews were burned to death in the city of Strasbourg.
Since around half of Europe’s population was wiped out in an exceptionally short period of time, labor suddenly became extremely scarce, and wages for peasants much higher. Tensions around this would be one of the causes of the Peasants’ Revolt in England in 1381.
Recurrences of the plague happened throughout the centuries. Europe’s population did not recover to pre-Black Death levels for 200 years; some places that were extremely hard hit, like Florence, took until the 19th century to recover.
1653 👉🏼 New Amsterdam becomes a city (later renamed New York)
1848 👉🏼 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican–American War: US acquires Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona for $15 million
1876 👉🏼 National League of baseball is founded
1892 👉🏼 Longest boxing match under modern rules; 77 rounds in Nameoki, Illinois between Harry Sharpe & Frank Crosby
1901 👉🏼 Queen Victoria’s Funeral takes place in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, England.
Queen Victoria had reigned over the British Empire for longer than anyone in British history at the time (she was surpassed overall by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015) with a reign of 63 years. She died aged 81 on January 22, 1901, after a period of declining health.
Her funeral saw one of the largest assemblages of royalty in European history. Before her death she had written strict instructions for the service, including that it was to be befitting a soldier’s daughter and the head of the army (of which she was both), and that those present were to wear white instead of black.
After the funeral service, Victoria lay in state for two days, before being buried next to her husband Prince Albert (who died in 1861) at Frogmore Mausoleum at Windsor Great Park. Her son, Edward VII succeeded her; at her death the Victorian era ended, and the Edwardian era began.
1922 👉🏼 James Joyce’s “Ulysses” published in Paris (1,000 copies)
1935 👉🏼 Leonarde Keeler first uses his polygraph machine on criminals later convicted of assault on its findings in Portage, Wisconsin
1943 👉🏼 German 6th Army surrenders after Battle of Stalingrad in a major turning point in Europe during World War II
1971 👉🏼 Idi Amin ousts Milton Obote and appoints himself President (dictator) of Uganda
2020 👉🏼 Palindrome Day: the date 02022020 reads the same forward and backward including in the US and China (last one like this 11 November 1111).
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