This Day in History

October 21


1096      army of the People's Crusade, part of the First Crusade, is annhilated by the Turkish Army outside of Nicaea   922
1512      Martin Luthur joins the faculty of the University of Wittenberg—remains on the faculty for the rest of his career   506
1687      English poet and politician Edmund Waller dies in Buckinghamshire, England, age 81   331
1765      Italian painter and architect Giovanni Paolo Panini dies in Rome, age 74   253
1772      English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge born in Devon   246
1797      44-gun frigate USS Constitution launched in Boston   221
1805      British fleet led by Vice Admiral Lord Nelson defeats combined French and Spanish fleets under Admiral Villeneuve in the Battle of Trafalgar   213
1805      Lord Horatio Nelson killed in action (age 47) during the Royal Navy victory at Trafalgar   213
1808      Swedish chemist and inventor, likely the first patented female inventor in Sweden, Maria Christina Bruhn dies, around 76   210
1824      Joseph Aspdin is granted the British patent for the production of cement which he calls "Portand cement"   194
1833      Alfred Nobel born in Stockholm   185
1835      South Indian poet and composer Muthuswami Dikshitar dies, age 60   183
1854      Florence Nightingale and a staff of 38 volunteer nurses are sent to Turkey to join the British camp in the Crimea   164
1867      Medicine Lodge Treaty—three treaties signed between U.S. and Native American tribes who are assigned specific reservations   151
1872      French physicist, mathematician, and astronomer Jacques Babinet dies in Paris, age 78   146
1879      Thomas Edison tests first practical electric light bulb   139
1883      first Seventh-day Adventist missionary to Europe John Nevins Andrews dies in Basel, Switzerland, age 54   135
1904      Swiss explorer and writer Isabelle Wilhelmine Marie Eberhardt dies in Algeria, age 27   114
1910      Royal Navy cruiser HMS Niobe arrives in Halifax as the first ship in the Royal Canadian Navy   108
1940      "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Ernest Hemingway published by Charles Scribner's Sons   78
1944      first kamikaze hit occurs on the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia during the Battle of Leyte Gulf—results in minor damage   74
1944      city of Aachen surrenders to American forces—first German city to fall to the Allies   74
1945      women are allowed to vote in France for the first time   73
1959      Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modern art opens to the public in New York City   59
1966      colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan collapses with 1.4 million ft3 covering part of the village—116 children and 28 adults killed   52
1967      Danish astronomer Ejnar Hertzsprung dies, age 94   51
1969      Polish mathematician Waclaw Franciszek Sierpiński dies in Warsaw, age 87   49
1969      American novelist Jack Kerouac dies in St. Petersburg, Florida, age 47   49
1973      Rams defensive end Fred Dryer scores an NFL record two safeties against the Packers   45
1976      U.S. recipients win or share Nobel prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Medicine, Economics, and Literature   42
1980      Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger dies in Vienna, age 74   38
1983      General Conference on Weights and Measures defines the meter as the distance light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 sec   35
1994      Seongsu Bridge over the Han River in Seoul, South Korea, collapses—32 die and 17 others injured   24
2003      discovery photos taken of Eris—dwarf planet larger about same size as Pluto   15
2011      influential Slovene poet, translator, and essayist Tone Pavček dies, age 83   7
2011      launch of a Soyuz rocket from the Arianespace Centre Spatial Guyanais in French Guiana—first launch outside former Soviet territory   7
2011      first two operational satellites in the ESA Galileo global navigation satellite system put into orbit   7
2012      Indian film director and producer Yash Raj Chopra dies in Mumbai, age 80   6
2012      Polish educator, teacher and Holocaust survivor Antoni Dobrowolski dies, age 108—oldest known survivor of Auschwitz   6
2013      Danish writer, storyteller, musician, and artist Rune Torstein Kidde dies, age 56   5
2013      record dense smog in Harbin, China closes schools, roadways, and the airport   5
2014      American newspaperman and the executive editor of The Washington Post Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee dies in Washington D.C., age 93   4
2015      British influential conservationist and author Norman Winfrid Moore dies, age 91   3
2018      Curiosity time on Mars matches the operational time of Spirit—2268 days (2208 sols)   0

Dates are always somewhat ambiguous, the exact date depends on whether local time is used (and local time where) or Universal Time—for events on the surface of the Earth, local time is probably best but for an event that spans across the planet, it is not clear which local time to use!. For events in space it is more ambiguous. Further for dates after the original adoption of the Gregorian calendar but before it became accepted in different countries, the date given may be a Julian date or a Gregorian date depending upon where the event occurred. And, even the year may be different since the first of the year has not always been January 1 in all countries! The attempt is to use a date that is the one that is typically given.

day before yesterdayyesterday tomorrowday after tomorrow