February 8 – Some important events on this day
1587 👉🏼 Mary, Queen of Scots, is beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle aged 44 after being convicted of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth I in the Babington Plot.
Mary Stuart was Queen of Scots from 1547 until she was deposed in 1567. She spent the next twenty years of her life in exile or imprisoned. After she was deposed, she sought the assistance of her first cousin once removed, Elizabeth I, who reigned over England.
This complicated matters however as Elizabeth perceived Mary as a threat and had her imprisoned while a commission of inquiry investigated whether she was responsible for the death of her first husband, which had been the proximate cause of her overthrow.
She spent eighteen and a half years imprisoned in England, and several plots to replace Elizabeth with Mary or have her marry other European royalty came to nothing. On August 11, 1586, Mary was arrested after being implicated in the Babington Plot, another scheme to overthrow the protestant Elizabeth and replace her with the catholic Mary.
She was found guilty on October 25 and sentenced to death. Elizabeth hesitated to sign the death warrant, fearing the precedent it set, and asked her custodian to find a way to “shorten the life” of Mary, but he refused. Elizabeth eventually signed the warrant and the execution was set for this day.
Mary was not executed with a single blow – the first missed and hit her in the back of the head, the second did not completely sever her head, and only after the third did the executioner raise her head to the crowd. Mary was wearing a wig however, and the head fell from his hands, revealing that she had very short, grey hair.
1672 👉🏼 Isaac Newton reads 1st optics paper before Royal Society in London
1807 👉🏼 Battle of Eylau ends inconclusively between Napoleon’s forces and Russian Empire – 1st battle Napoleon isn’t victorious
1855 👉🏼 The Devil’s Footprints, hoof-like marks mysteriously appear for over 60km after a snowfall in southern Devon, England
1924 👉🏼 First execution by lethal gas
The first execution by lethal gas in American history is carried out in Carson City, Nevada. The executed man was Gee Jon, a member of a Chinese gang who was convicted of murdering a rival gang member.
1926 👉🏼 Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio becomes Walt Disney Studios
1960 👉🏼 Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom issued an Order-in-Council, stating that she and her family would be known as the House of Windsor, and that her descendants will take the name “Mountbatten-Windsor”.
1971 👉🏼 Nasdaq Composite stock market index debuts with 50 companies and a starting value of 100
1976 👉🏼 “Taxi Driver” directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster, is released (Palme d’Or 1976)
2013 👉🏼 16 people are killed and 27 are wounded by a market bombing in Kalaya, Pakistan
2013 👉🏼 100, 000 people march to demand justice for the atrocities of the Bangladesh Liberation War in Dhaka
2013 👉🏼 A massive blizzard begins in the US and Canada that resulted in 15 deaths, 5,300 cancelled flights, and loss of power for 900,000 people