Important Bits of History
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JULY 21, 1831: Leopold I Ascended the Throne:
Leopold I, the first Belgian king, ascended the throne. For the previous 15 years, Belgium had belonged to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but the uneasy tension between the north and south (the north was commercial, Protestant, and Flemish-speaking, while the south was increasingly industrial, Roman Catholic, and partly French- speaking) led to Belgium's independence in 1830. Images of the different Belgian kings:

JULY 15, 1099: Jerusalem Captured:
Crusaders captured and ransacked Jerusalem, constituting the last act of the First Crusades. After the city was captured, the Crusaders slaughtered the inhabitants of Jerusalem, mostly Muslims and Jews. The Crusaders were led by Godfrey de Bouillon. De Bouillon became Jerusalem's ruler until his death the following year:

July 10, 1973: Bahamas Attained Full Independence
The Bahamas attained full independence within the British Commonwealth, having been a British colony almost uninterruptedly since 1718. This Caribbean archipelago has been a major hub for tourism since World War II. The name of the islands come from the Spanish words "Baja Mar" (Shallow Sea):

July 7, 1978: Solomon Islands Gained Independence
The Solomon Islands, composed by over 100 islands in the South Pacific, gained independence from Great Britain. The archipelago was named by Spaniard explorers who, believing that gold was present, named it after the legendary King Solomon's mines. The largest island is Guadalcanal, which contains the capital of the Solomon Islands, Honiara:

1848: Danish West Indies Emancipated Slaves
A massive slave insurrection forced officials of the Danish West Indies to emancipate all slaves. Although Denmark had declared slavery illegal in 1792 in the Danish West Indies (which comprised the islands of St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas), local authorities kept assisting planters in securing slave labor. The Danish West Indies were bought by the US in 1917:

July 01, 1960: Ghana Declared a Republic
Three months after becoming independent, Ghana was declared a republic with Kwame Nkrumah as its first president. As part of its effort to unify the various regions, ethnic groups, and languages, the government adopted as its motto "One people, one nation, one destiny." The first republic was overthrown by the military in 1966. The flag and the coat of arms of Ghana:

June 15, 1215 The Magna Carta
King John of England sealed the Magna Carta, the first charter of English liberties, "in a meadow called Ronimed between Windsor and Staines," England. With the Magna Carta, King John agreed to the demands of English barons who wanted to limit the powers of the monarchy. The Magna Carta is considered one of the most important political documents in history:

June 13, 323 B.C.: Alexander the Great
At the age of 33, Alexander the Great, one of the greatest military leaders in history, died in Babylon. Alexander died after a prolonged banquet, leading some historians to believe he was poisoned. Alexander, who was king of Macedonia for almost 13 years, extended the Hellenic Empire all the way to northern India. Even during his lifetime Alexander was already the subject of fabulous legends:

June 12, 1967: Interracial Marriages
In the case Loving v. Virginia, the US Supreme Court handed down a historic decision in favor of interracial marriages. The case involved Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who were arrested in 1959 for violating the state of Virginia's anti- miscegenation law. If they left Virginia for 25 years, they were told, the one-year jail sentence would be suspended. A tribute to Richard and Mildred Loving:

June 11, 1184 B.C.: Troy
Greek soldiers burned down the city of Troy after a ten-year siege. According to legend, the Greeks were attempting to rescue Helen, the wife of Sparta's King Menelaus, whom Prince Paris of Troy had kidnapped. Troy and the Trojan War were believed to be just a myth until the 19th century. Then, the ruins of the actual Troy were found in Anatolia in 1871. UNESCO included Troy as part of its World Heritage List of cultural sites:

June 8, c.632: Muhammad's Death
The founder of Islam, Muhammad, died in Medina at the age of sixty-three. In the Islamic calendar, the prophet died on the 12 of Rabi' al-Awwal, 11 anno hegirae. He died in the presence of his favorite wife, Aisha, whose father, Abu Bakr, became the first caliph. Muhammad's last words were, "O Allah, with the supreme communion." Learn more about the history of Islam:

June 7, 1893: Gandhi in Pietermaritzburg
Mahatma Gandhi was thrown off a segregated train in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, an action that motivated him to develop his philosophy of peaceful resistance. Ghandi lived in South Africa for two decades. "It was after I went to South Africa that I became what I am now," he said. "My love for South Africa and my concern for her problems are no less than for India." The incident at Pietermaritzburg helped awakened his political consciousness:

June 5, 1873: Zanzibar's Slavery
Under pressure by Great Britain, the sultan of Zanzibar, Barghash, abolished slavery. Barghash had been greatly influenced by Sir John Kirk, the British consular representative at Zanzibar. Although forbidden, slavery in Zanzibar continued until at least 1893. Zanzibar used to be a major slave trade center:

June 4, 1994: Taslima Nasreen
Bangladesh ordered the arrest of renowned writer Taslima Nasreen for speaking in defense of women's rights. Later, she was forced to leave Bangladesh after a Muslim group offered $5,000 for her assassination. Nasreen has written several books criticizing Muslim extremism and discrimination against women. Nasreen wrote "Lajj" and "My Childhood," both banned in Bangladesh:

June 3, 1098: Antioch
After a nine-month siege, the ancient city of Antioch (present-day Antakya, Turkey) was taken over by Christians during the First Crusade. At the time of the Roman Empire, Antioch had been a magnificent city, but several earthquakes and hordes of invaders, including the Crusaders, led to its ruin. The Hatay Museum is one of several tourist attractions at Antakya:

May 31, 1902: Treaty of Vereeniging
In Pretoria, representatives of Great Britain and the Boers states signed the Treaty of Vereeniging, officially ending the Anglo-Boer War. Boers, frontier farmers of Dutch descent, came into conflict with Britain when diamond and gold was found in Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The war ended with the capitulation of the Boers.

May 30, 1967: Biafra
The secessionist state of Biafra declared its independence from Nigeria. Biafra was composed primarily by Igbos (also spelled Ibos) who live in southeastern Nigeria. Two months after independence, Nigeria attacked Biafra and a war started that lasted until 1970 with Biafra's surrender. Over a million people died due to war and famine.

May 29, 1453:
Constantinople, the capital of the once-powerful Christian Roman Empire, fell to the Ottoman Empire. The defense of the city was led by Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus while the attack was led by the Turkish Sultan Mehmed II. The conquest of Constantinople marked the end of the Byzantine Empire. The siege of Constantinople lasted for almost two months:

May 27, 1963:
Jomo Kenyatta was elected first prime minister of self-governing Kenya. In the early 1950s, Kenyatta was sentenced to seven years of hard labor for alleged links to the Mau Mau, a clandestine anti-British organization. In 1964, Kenyatta became the first president of Kenya, remaining in that position until 1978. After independence, Kenya faced enormous obstacles:

May 24, 1993:
The African nation of Eritrea gained independence fron Ethiopia after a 30-year civil war. Since the 19th century, Eritrea had been under both British and Italian control, and after World War II, under Ethiopian control. The civil war forced almost one million people to flee their homes. History and issues: The conflict

May 22, 1848:
Martinique Declared Abolition of Slavery
The French island of Martinique in the lesser Antilles declared the abolition of slavery. Abolition created a shortage of labor in Martinique given many former slaves preferred not to work in the sugar cane plantations. To solve the problem, indentured servants were brought from China and India. More about Martinique's abolition of slavery:

May 21, 1991:
Rajiv Gandhi assassinated
Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated at an election rally near Madras, India, by a woman suicide bomber. She detonated an explosive device strapped to her waist, killing herself, Gandhi, and 16 others. Indian courts suspect that Gandshi was killed by Tamil rebels, a group that seeks an independent Tamil state in northern Sri Lanka. Gandhi assumed power after his mother, Indira Gandhi, was killed in 1984:

May 20, 325:
First Council of Nicaea was held The first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church, called by Emperor Constantine I, was held at Nicaea in Asia Minor. More than 300 bishops from all over the Christian world were present. The council defined the date for Easter celebrations, condemned Arianism (which denied the divinity of Christ), and passed the Nicene Creed (used in liturgical worship). Nicaea (also spelled Nicea) is now called Isnik (in Turkey):

May 15, 1811:
Paraguay declared its independence Paraguay declared its independence from Spain and Argentina, a declaration that started on May 14th. Paraguay had depended on Buenos Aires since 1776 when the new Viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata was created. Thus, when Argentina declared its independence in 1810, it sought unsuccessfully to retain Paraguay as an Argentinean province. More on Paraguay's history:

May 13, 1888:
Lei Aurea Princess Isabel of Brazil signed the "Lei Aurea" (Golden Law) which abolished slavery. Slavery was ended in part to appease the efforts of abolitionists, but mostly because it was less expensive for employers to hire wageworkers than to keep slaves. Plantation owners opposed the law because they were not compensated for releasing their slaves. The passage of the law hastened the fall of the Brazilian monarchy.

May 11, 1981
Bob Marley Singer and composer Bob Marley died of cancer at the age of 36. With his group "The Wailers," Marley became one of the most popular and influential reggae musicians. Reggae is sometimes associated with Rastafarianism, a politico-religious movement that worships the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, under his pre-coronation name, Ras (Prince) Tafari. More information about Bob Marley:

May 7, 1832
As a result of the Greek War for Independence, German Prince Otto of Wittlesbach became Otto I, King of Greece. Under Otto's rule, Greece became the first region of the Ottoman Empire to become independent. Otto was highly unpopular due, in part, to his autocratic rule and failure to create a dynasty, and was deposed in 1862.

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