On This Day
1568 – Spanish naval forces defeat an English fleet, under the command of John Hawkins, at the Battle of San Juan de Ulúa near Veracruz.
The Battle of San Juan de Ulúa was fought between English privateers and Spanish forces at San Juan de Ulúa (in modern Veracruz, Mexico). The English flotilla of six armed merchant ships under John Hawkins had been trading along the Spanish Main with the cooperation of local Spanish officials. However the central Spanish authorities considered this to be illegal smuggling that violated the Treaty of Tordesillas (which England did not recognise).
Hawkins’ fleet anchored at San Juan de Ulúa to resupply and repair following a storm. They were found there by two Spanish galleons carrying Martín Enríquez de Almanza, the newly appointed viceroy of New Spain. The two commanders agreed a truce that would allow both fleets to use the anchorage. However the Spanish never intended to follow its terms and secretly prepared to attack the English ships. When the English became suspicious of the preparations, Spanish forces began their attack by capturing English cannons on the shore, and attempted to board the English ships. The boarding parties were initially repulsed, but the shore cannons were turned against the English ships, causing heavy damage.
Only two English vessels escaped, as the other four were either sunk or captured. The Spanish lost one ship. The English considered the battle an example of Spanish treachery, whilst the Spanish considered it a necessary response to criminal activity. Resentment engendered by the battle was considered a cause of the Anglo-Spanish War which broke out 17 years later.
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275 – For the last time, the Roman Senate chooses an emperor; they elect 75-year-old Marcus Claudius Tacitus.
Marcus Claudius Tacitus (/ˈtæsɪtəs/; died June 276) was Roman emperor from 275 to 276. During his short reign he campaigned against the Goths and the Heruli, for which he received the title Gothicus Maximus.
Born On This Day
15 – Vitellius, Roman emperor (d. 69)
Aulus Vitellius (/vɪˈtɛliəs/; Latin: [ˈau̯lʊs wɪˈtɛlːijʊs]; 24 September 15 – 20 December 69) was Roman emperor for eight months, from 19 April to 20 December AD 69. Vitellius was proclaimed emperor following the quick succession of the previous emperors Galba and Otho, in a year of civil war known as the Year of the Four Emperors. Vitellius was the first to add the honorific cognomen Germanicus to his name instead of Caesar upon his accession. Like his direct predecessor, Otho, Vitellius attempted to rally public support to his cause by honoring and imitating Nero who remained widely popular in the empire.
Originally from Campania, likely from Nuceria Alfaterna, he was born to the Vitellia gens, a relatively obscure family in ancient Rome. He was a noble companion of Tiberius’ retirement on Capri and there befriended Caligula. He was elected consul in 48, and served as proconsular governor of Africa in either 60 or 61. In 68, he was chosen to command the army of Germania Inferior by emperor Galba. He was later proclaimed emperor by the armies of Germania Inferior and Superior, beginning a revolt against Galba. Galba was assassinated by Otho, and Vitellius then faced Otho in battle. He defeated Otho at the Battle of Bedriacum, and was recognized emperor by the Roman Senate.
His claim to the throne was soon challenged by legions stationed in the eastern provinces, who proclaimed their commander Vespasian emperor instead. War ensued, leading to a crushing defeat for Vitellius at the Second Battle of Bedriacum in northern Italy. Once he realised his support was wavering, Vitellius prepared to abdicate in favor of Vespasian. He was not allowed to do so by his supporters, resulting in a brutal battle for Rome between Vitellius’ forces and the armies of Vespasian. He was executed in Rome by Vespasian’s soldiers on 20 December 69.
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1358 – Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, Japanese shōgun (d. 1408)
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利 義満, September 25, 1358 – May 31, 1408) was the third shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate, ruling from 1368 to 1394 during the Muromachi period of Japan. Yoshimitsu was Ashikaga Yoshiakira’s third son but the oldest son to survive, his childhood name being Haruō (春王). Yoshimitsu was appointed shōgun, a hereditary title as head of the military estate, in 1368 at the age of ten; at twenty he was admitted to the imperial court as Acting Grand Counselor (Gon Dainagon 権大納言).
In 1379, Yoshimitsu reorganized the institutional framework of the Gozan Zen 五山禅 establishment before, two years later, becoming the first person of the warrior (samurai) class to host a reigning emperor at his private residence. In 1392, he negotiated the end of the Nanboku-chō imperial schism that had plagued politics for over half a century. Two years later he became Grand Chancellor of State (Dajō daijin 太政大臣), the highest-ranking member of the imperial court.
Retiring from that and all public offices in 1395, Yoshimitsu took the tonsure and moved into his Kitayama-dono (北山殿) retirement villa which, among other things, boasted a pavilion two-thirds covered in gold leaf (Kinkaku shariden 金閣舎利殿). There, he received envoys from the Ming and Joseon courts on at least six occasions and forged the terms of a Sino-Japanese trade agreement that endured for over a century. In recognition for his diplomatic efforts (and overt displays of subservience), the Chinese sovereign pronounced Yoshimitsu “King of Japan” (Nihon kokuō 日本国王).
In 1407, he set into motion a plan to become “Dajō tenno” (太上天皇), a title customarily applied to a retired emperor. Although unrealized due to his sudden death the following year, this last venture was particularly audacious because Yoshimitsu never actually sat on the Japanese throne. Late in his career, it appears Yoshimitsu sought to legitimize his transcendent authority through the idiom of Buddhist kingship, deploying ritual, symbols, and monumentalism to cast him as a universal monarch or dharma king, not unlike his counterparts in Southeast Asia. His posthumous name was Rokuon’in (鹿苑院).
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By Erica Pandey, author of Axios Finish Line: The outsized power of small acts of kindness
By Madyson DeJausserand, My Modern Met: Author Spends Decades Trying to Find the Woman Who Taught Him How to Read
By David Streitfeld, The New York Times: At eBay, Lurid Crimes and the Search for Punishment The victims of a bizarre cyberstalking operation are trying to hold the chief executive and the culture of the company responsible.
By Jim Robbins, The New York Times: The Godwit’s Long, Long Nonstop Journey Researchers marvel at the bird’s record-holding migratory flight of 7,000 or so miles from Alaska to New Zealand at this time of year. No eating or refueling along the way.
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