Today in History, 18 July: What Happened on this Day – Birthday, Events, Politics, Death & More

Historical Events

64 AD

The Great Fire of Rome begins under the Emperor Nero

In the year 64, a catastrophic event known as the Great Fire of Rome occurred. The fire originated in the city of Rome and quickly spread, engulfing large areas and causing extensive damage. The Roman Emperor at the time, Nero, faced widespread criticism for his alleged role in the fire’s outbreak.


Edict of Expulsion

In 1290, King Edward I of England issued the Edict of Expulsion, which ordered the expulsion of all Jews from England. This edict remained in effect for an astonishing 350 years, resulting in the Jewish community’s absence from England until the edict was finally repealed in 1655.


Canonization of Thomas Aquinas

Pope John XXII proclaimed the theologian Thomas Aquinas a saint in Avignon in 1323. Thomas Aquinas was a renowned philosopher and theologian of the Catholic Church, known for his influential works such as the Summa Theologica. His canonization recognized his intellectual contributions and his status as a revered figure within the Catholic faith.


Florence Cathedral

In 1334, the Bishop of Florence blessed the first foundation stone for the new campanile (bell tower) of the Florence Cathedral. This bell tower was designed by the artist Giotto di Bondone, and it stands as a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The construction of the bell tower took several decades to complete.


Stadtholder William I of Orange

In 1572, the Provincial States of Holland officially recognized William I of Orange as the Stadtholder of Holland, Friesland, and Utrecht. This decision was made during a gathering in Dordrecht, solidifying William’s position as a prominent leader in the Dutch Republic and a key figure in the fight for Dutch independence from Spanish rule.


HMS Investigator

In 1801, HMS Investigator embarked on a voyage commanded by Matthew Flinders to determine whether New Holland (later known as Australia) was one island or two. The ship carried botanist Robert Brown and artists Ferdinand Bauer and William Westall. This expedition made significant contributions to the mapping and exploration of the Australian continent.


Lincoln Calls for Volunteers

In 1864, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln made a call for 500,000 volunteers to serve in the military. This call was part of the Union’s efforts to strengthen its forces and continue the fight against the Confederacy. The volunteers played a crucial role in the Union’s eventual victory.


Mahatma Gandhi leaves South Africa

In 1914, Mahatma Gandhi, the renowned leader of nonviolent resistance, left South Africa after successfully leading campaigns of passive resistance against discriminatory laws imposed on the Indian community. Gandhi’s experiences in South Africa shaped his ideology and tactics, which he later employed in the struggle for Indian independence.


Lucky Luciano Sentenced

In 1936, Charles “Lucky” Luciano, a prominent figure in organized crime in the United States, was sentenced to 30 to 50 years in state prison. Luciano was a leading figure in the Italian-American Mafia and played a significant role in the development of organized crime in the early 20th century.


Spanish Coup of July 1936

In 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, General Francisco Franco issued a manifesto and led an uprising in the Spanish army stationed in Morocco. This coup marked the beginning of Franco’s military campaign to overthrow the Second Spanish Republic, leading to a prolonged and devastating conflict in Spain.


FDR Nominated for 3rd Term

In 1940, the Democratic Convention nominated President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) for an unprecedented third term. This nomination came at a critical time in American history, as the country was on the brink of entering World War II. FDR went on to win the election and served as President until he died in 1945.


Indian Independence Act

In 1947, King George VI of the United Kingdom signed the Indian Independence Act. This act marked a significant milestone in the struggle for Indian independence from British colonial rule and led to the partition of British India into the independent nations of India and Pakistan.


Joe Walcott KOs Ezzard Charles

In 1951, Jersey Joe Walcott achieved a remarkable victory by knocking out Ezzard Charles in the seventh round of their boxing match. At the age of 37, Walcott became the oldest world heavyweight champion at that time, showcasing his skill and resilience in the ring.


Carl Sagan turns 1 billion seconds old

In 1966, the renowned astronomer and science communicator Carl Sagan reached the milestone of being 1 billion seconds old. This event served as a lighthearted and symbolic moment, highlighting Sagan’s popularity and his ability to make science accessible and engaging to the public.


Gemini 10 launches John Young & Michael Collins

In 1966, the Gemini 10 mission was launched, carrying astronauts John Young and Michael Collins. The mission was part of NASA’s Gemini program, which aimed to develop the necessary skills and technology for future manned missions to the Moon. Gemini 10 completed its objectives, including docking with an orbiting target vehicle.


The Intel Corporation is founded in Santa Clara, California

In 1968, the Intel Corporation was founded in Santa Clara, California. Intel is a renowned American multinational technology company that has played a crucial role in the development of semiconductor chips and microprocessors. Its innovations have revolutionized the field of computing and propelled the digital age forward.


Egyptian President Anwar Sadat throws out 20,000 Russian military aides

In 1972, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made a bold move by expelling approximately 20,000 Russian military aides from Egypt. This decision marked a significant shift in Egypt’s foreign policy, as Sadat sought to reduce Soviet influence and pursue a more independent and assertive stance on the international stage.


Leader of the British Labour Party Harold Wilson holds a meeting with representatives of the Irish Republican Army

In 1972, Harold Wilson, the leader of the British Labour Party at the time, held a meeting with representatives of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). This meeting aimed to address the ongoing conflict in Northern Ireland and explore potential avenues for peace and resolution. The Troubles, a period of intense political and sectarian violence, marked this era in Irish and British history.


Kim Jong-un is officially appointed Supreme Leader of North Korea and given the rank of Marshal in the Korean People’s Army

In 2012, Kim Jong-un, the son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, was officially appointed as the Supreme Leader of North Korea. He also received the rank of Marshal in the Korean People’s Army, solidifying his authority and succession within the country’s political structure. Kim Jong-un’s leadership has been marked by ongoing international tensions and concerns regarding North Korea’s nuclear program.

Art, Films, and Publications





Mein Kampf

In 1925, Adolf Hitler published his autobiographical and political manifesto titled Mein Kampf. The book outlined Hitler’s ideology, anti-Semitic beliefs, and vision for a future totalitarian regime. Mein Kampf became a foundational text for the Nazi Party and played a significant role in shaping Hitler’s political career.


The Nun’s Story

The film adaptation of the novel The Nun’s Story premiered in 1959. Starring Audrey Hepburn, the film depicted the life of a young woman who becomes a nun and navigates the challenges and conflicts of her religious commitment. The Nun’s Story was critically acclaimed and Hepburn’s performance was praised for its depth and emotional portrayal.


Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses”

In 1980, Billy Joel’s album “Glass Houses” reached the top of the US charts. The album featured the hit single “It’s Still Rock ‘n’ Roll to Me” and solidified Joel’s status as a leading artist. “Glass Houses” showcased a blend of rock and pop elements and played a significant role in music history.


“Kiss From a Rose” by Seal

The song “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal was released in 1994 and became a massive hit. It won Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. With its distinctive melody and powerful vocals, “Kiss From a Rose” remains one of Seal’s signature songs.


“Dreams from My Father”

In 1995, Barack Obama’s memoir “Dreams from My Father” was published. The memoir explores Obama’s early life, experiences growing up in different cultural contexts, and his exploration of racial identity. It received critical acclaim for its introspective exploration of personal and societal themes.

Notable Birthdays:


Robert Hooke

Robert Hooke was an English scientist known for his significant contributions in various fields, including physics, biology, and astronomy. He is most famous for his work in microscopy and his book “Micrographia,” published in 1665. Born in the Isle of Wight, England, Hooke made groundbreaking discoveries using his compound microscope, including his observations of cells in cork, which led to the coining of the term “cell.” He also proposed Hooke’s Law of elasticity, which describes the relationship between the force applied to an object and its resulting deformation.


W. G. Grace

W. G. Grace, born in Bristol, England, was an iconic English cricketer and captain. He is considered one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. Grace played as an all-rounder and held several records, including the highest number of runs scored in first-class cricket—54,896 runs over a remarkable 44-season career. He represented Gloucestershire and played 22 Test matches for England. Grace’s impact on cricket went beyond his playing career; he influenced the development of the game and was highly influential in the transition to modern cricket.


Vidkun Quisling

Vidkun Quisling was a Norwegian politician who served as the Minister of Defense and Prime Minister of Norway from 1942 to 1945. Born in Fyresdal, Norway, Quisling collaborated with the German occupying forces during World War II, establishing a collaborationist government known as the Quisling regime. He is remembered as a traitor and a symbol of collaboration due to his support for Nazi Germany. After the war, Quisling was arrested and executed for his actions.


Herbert Marcuse

Herbert Marcuse was a German-American philosopher and prominent figure in the Frankfurt School of critical theory. Born in Berlin, Germany, Marcuse’s influential works, such as “One-Dimensional Man” and “Eros & Civilization,” analyzed the societal impact of capitalism, consumerism, and technological advancements. He was known for his critique of modern industrial society and advocated for a more liberated and egalitarian future. Marcuse’s writings had a profound impact on the counterculture movements of the 1960s and beyond.


Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid activist, politician, and philanthropist. Born in Mvezo, Umtatu, South Africa, Mandela dedicated his life to fighting against racial segregation and inequality. He was a leading figure in the African National Congress (ANC) and was imprisoned for 27 years for his anti-apartheid activities. After his release in 1990, Mandela played a crucial role in negotiating the end of apartheid and became the first black President of South Africa in 1994. He was a symbol of peace, reconciliation, and social justice worldwide.


John Glenn

John Glenn was an American astronaut, military aviator, and politician. Born in Cambridge, Ohio, Glenn made history as the first American to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962, during the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission. He later served as a United States Senator from Ohio for 24 years. Glenn’s space exploration achievements and his contributions to science and public service earned him a place of honour in American history and the space community.


Tenley Albright

Tenley Albright is an American figure skater born in 1935 in Boston, Massachusetts. She achieved great success in her career, winning the Olympic gold medal in 1952 and 1956. Albright’s elegance and technical skills made her a celebrated figure in the sport, and she played a vital role in advancing women’s figure skating.


Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson was an American journalist and author known for his distinctive writing style and unconventional approach to reporting. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thompson pioneered a form of “Gonzo journalism” that blurred the lines between fiction and non-fiction. His most famous work, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” is a semi-autobiographical novel that epitomizes his unique style and satirical commentary on American society.


Dennis Lillee

Dennis Lillee is a former Australian cricket fast bowler born in 1949 in Subiaco, Western Australia. Lillee is regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers in the history of the sport. He played for the Australian national team from 1971 to 1984 and was known for his aggressive and skilful bowling. Lillee’s exceptional speed, accuracy, and competitive spirit earned him numerous records and accolades throughout his career.


Richard Branson

Richard Branson, born in 1950 in London, England, is a British entrepreneur and the founder of the Virgin Group, a conglomerate encompassing various industries such as music, travel, telecommunications, and space exploration. Branson’s bold and charismatic personality, along with his innovative business ventures, has made him one of the most recognizable figures in the business world. His ventures include Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, and Virgin Galactic, among others.


Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel, born in 1967 in Alameda County, California, is an American actor renowned for his roles in action-packed films, most notably the “Fast & Furious” franchise. Diesel’s charismatic performances and his portrayal of tough, yet relatable characters have made him a favourite among audiences worldwide. Outside of acting, he is also a producer and has contributed to the success of several films.


Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell is an American actress born in 1980 in Huntington Woods, Michigan. She gained widespread recognition for her portrayal of the title character in the television series “Veronica Mars.” Bell has since appeared in numerous films and television shows, including her voice acting role as Princess Anna in Disney’s animated film “Frozen.” Her versatile acting skills and charming on-screen presence have made her a beloved figure in the entertainment industry.


Priyanka Chopra

Priyanka Chopra, born in 1982 in Jamshedpur, India, is an Indian actress, singer, and former Miss World. Chopra has achieved remarkable success in both Bollywood and Hollywood, starring in numerous critically acclaimed films and TV series. She has also released music albums and collaborated with international artists. Chopra’s talent, beauty, and advocacy for social causes have made her one of the most influential and recognizable Indian personalities globally.

Notable Deaths


Arnulf, Bishop of Metz

Arnulf was a prominent figure in medieval Europe, serving as the Bishop of Metz from 614 to 640. He was known for his political influence and played a significant role in the Merovingian dynasty, particularly during the reign of Clotaire II. Arnulf’s diplomatic skills and close ties with the royal family allowed him to exert substantial authority in the region. His death marked the end of an era for the Bishopric of Metz.


Muhammad ibn al-Qasim

Muhammad ibn al-Qasim was an Arab general who played a crucial role in the early Islamic conquests. Born in 695, he is known for leading the Arab invasion of the Sindh region, present-day Pakistan, in 711. Muhammad ibn al-Qasim successfully captured important cities, including the port city of Debal, and expanded Muslim rule in the Indian subcontinent. However, his life was cut short when he died at the young age of 20, just a few years after his conquests.


Matthew Flinders

Matthew Flinders was an English explorer, navigator, and cartographer who made significant contributions to the mapping and understanding of Australia. Born in 1774, he led several expeditions and became the first person to circumnavigate the continent of Australia, proving it to be a single landmass. Flinders meticulously charted the coastline and named many geographical features, leaving a lasting impact on the country’s cartography. Unfortunately, he died from kidney disease at the age of 40, just a few years after his most significant explorations.


Jane Austen

Jane Austen was an English novelist known for her witty social commentary and insightful portrayals of the lives of the British gentry. Born in 1775, Austen’s works, including “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility,” have become classics of English literature. Despite achieving only moderate success during her lifetime, Austen’s novels gained widespread popularity after her death. She passed away at the age of 41, leaving a remarkable literary legacy that continues to captivate readers worldwide.


George “Machine Gun” Kelly

George “Machine Gun” Kelly, born in 1895, was an American gangster who gained notoriety during the Prohibition era. He was involved in various criminal activities, including bootlegging and kidnapping. Kelly earned his nickname due to his association with the Thompson submachine gun. However, his criminal career came to an end when he was arrested in 1933. Kelly died in prison at the age of 59, serving a life sentence for his crimes.


William Westmoreland

William Westmoreland was an American general who played a significant role in the Vietnam War. Born in 1914, he served as the commander of American forces in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968. Westmoreland implemented the strategy of attrition and pursued a war of attrition against the North Vietnamese forces. However, his leadership faced criticism and controversy, and the war became increasingly unpopular in the United States. Westmoreland retired from the military in 1972. He died at the age of 91 in 2005, leaving behind a legacy deeply intertwined with one of America’s most contentious conflicts.

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