Today in History: July 1-3
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is born, Japan's Toyotomi clan seizes the shogunate, and more
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July 1, 1097: The Crusaders defeat a Seljuk army at Dorylaeum. The outnumbered Seljuks caught the vanguard of the Crusader army by surprise but were eventually worn down as the day went on and the rest of the Crusaders kept rolling in to relieve their comrades. The victory cleared the Crusaders’ path to Antioch.
July 1, 1569: The “Union of Lublin” creates the Polish-Luthuanian Commonwealth. Lublin brought two states (the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania) that had been joined in personal union under the Jagiellonian dynasty since the 1385 “Union of Krewo” into a real union, with a shared parliament and elected monarch. The king/duke of this period, Sigismund II Augustus, had no children and therefore no heirs, and therefore was anxious to change the terms of the Polish-Lithuanian union in order to prevent it from breaking apart after his death. At the same time, Polish nobles were getting tired of financing Lithuania’s wars with Moscow and Sigismund viewed the stronger union as a way to fortify his military. The Commonwealth weakened in the 18th century and was eventually wiped out in a series of three partitions by the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia, and Hapsburg Austria (in the first and third partitions) between 1772 and 1795.
July 1, 1968: The “Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons” is signed by 62 countries. Nowadays that list has grown to 191 signatories. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has prevented the spread of nuclear weapons ever since, except for all the times—India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, South Africa—it hasn’t done that.
July 1, 1997: Sovereignty over Hong Kong passes to China after 156 years of British colonial rule. And they all lived happily ever after.
July 2, 1582: Two vassals of the deceased Japanese daimyō Oda Nobunaga, Akechi Mitsuhide and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, meet at the Battle of Yamazaki, with Hideyoshi’s army emerging victorious. Hideyoshi thus ended Mitsuhide’s rebellion and exacted some vengeance for Mitsuhide’s defeat of Nobunaga, after which the daimyō committed suicide. The shogunate now passed from the Oda clan to the Toyotomi clan, where it resided until Tokugawa Ieyasu took it from them in 1600.
July 2, 1853: Citing the Ottomans’ supposed failure to protect Christian religious sites as a pretext, Russian Tsar Nicolas I sends an army across the Pruth River to occupy Moldavia and Wallachia, both nominally still Ottoman territories. Nicolas assumed that the European powers would not begrudge him a little annexation, as a treat. He was wrong, and the Crimean War ensued.
July 3, 1863: The Union Army of the Potomac defeats the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia at the Battle of Gettysburg. Their defeat ended a brief Confederate invasion of the north and, combined with the Union victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi, a day later, is often considered the turning point of the US Civil War.
July 3, 1866: The Battle of Königgrätz, the key engagement in the Austro-Prussian War, ends with a decisive Prussian victory. The war ended a few weeks later and established Prussia as the dominant German state. This paved the way for German unification under Prussian auspices.
July 3, 2013: A military coup overthrows the Egyptian government of Mohamed Morsi, ending a brief experiment in democracy and returning Egypt to military rule.
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