Today in History – May 4th

By: Chloe Cushing

It’s not, “May the force be with you.”

Today, it’s “May the fourth be with you!” If geeks aren’t already sporting their Star Wars gear – Chewbacca masks, rebel helmets, graphic tees, or meme t-shirts – they will undoubtedly be telling everyone this. Even the secret geeks, who only come out of their carbonite shells this one day a year.

Star-Wars-Day-May-The-4th-Be-With-You1Yes, today is international Star Wars Day.

Though an international Star Wars Day was recognized until 2011, the term, “May the fourth be with you”, was first recorded as being used in 1979, two years after the theatrical release of the first movie, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, when Margaret Thatcher was elected as the first female British Prime Minister. Her political party placed a congratulatory ad in The London Evening News upon her win, reading,

“May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations.”

But Margaret Thatcher (PM 1979-1990) wasn’t the only woman to gain a win on May 4th. In 1959, the first Grammy Awards were covered by ABC. These awards recognized the accomplishments of performers – who ranged from children’s music to R&B – during ’58. Ella Fitzgerald was among the handful of winners, taking home two gramophone-shaped awards under the categories of: Best Jazz Performance, Individual and Pop’s Best Vocal Performance, Female.

Star Wars is considered one of the greatest cinematic experiences in history, inspiring people into all kinds of fields of industry. Margaret Thatcher, during her time as Prime Minister, was the most powerful woman in the world. Ella Fitzgerald will go down as the First Lady of Song, the Queen of Jazz.

220px-Fernando_VII_a_caballoHowever, history will see Ferdinand VII, a fellow monarch, as a tyrant. King of Spain for two months during 1808, and then from 1813 until his death, Ferdinand abdicated when Napoleon Bonaparte took control of Spain and set his brother, Joseph, upon the throne. During the six years the Bonapartes held him in captivity, several riots broke out across Spain in Ferdinand’s name. Eventually, he was restored to his throne in 1813. Yet he found that it wasn’t the same throne that he had left. Under Napoleon’s puppet-king, The people had created a constitution – the Constitution of 1812 – which limited the powers of the monarchy. Before reentering Spain in 1813, Ferdinand had to promise liberals that he would rule by word of the Constitution. He promised, but it didn’t last long.

In 1814, Ferdinand signed the Decree of the 4th of May, abolishing the Constitution of 1812 and returning Spain to an absolute monarchy, where he had full control. Six days later, he ordered the arrest of the constitution’s framers. Ferdinand argued that the Constitution had been made without his consent as king, and therefore was done so illegally. Nonetheless, the rest of the king’s reign suffered from revolts, wars of independence, and political unrest due his exile of all liberals.

The first recorded proposal for the Panama Canal was made by Ferdinand’s predecessor, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. Charles, in 1534, ordered a survey to find a faster route between Spain and Peru. For hundreds of years, many voyagers and government leaders from various countries speculated how to create a safer way of sailing around South America, but it wasn’t until the French’s completion of the African Suez Canal in 1877 that anyone saw of creating a passage through South America.

hith-panama-canal-iStock_000000583342Large-AThe French attempted to create the canal between 1881 and 1894, but a series of scandals, massive amounts of death and disease, and high cost prohibited the project from moving very far over a span of nearly twenty years.

In 1902, the United States acquired the necessary rights and leases to work on the canal project. A Colombian rebellion stopped any progress from being made for a little over a year. In early 1904, the United States purchased all the necessary equipment to continue to the canal, and on May 4th, formally took over the project. It took ten years and three engineers to complete, but eventually, the Panama Canal stretched from the Caribbean Sea to the Gulf of Panama. It’s still used today, and as of 2015, a project to expand it’s capacity is underway.

The War of Roses was a long, bloody conflict which plagued England during the second half of the fifteenth century. It began due to tensions following France and England’s Hundred Years War (which wasn’t actually a hundred years), as well as the mental instability of the English king, Henry VI. It earned it’s name on behalf of the two opposing sides, both factions of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster (who’s symbol was the red rose) and the House of York (who’s symbol was the white rose).

500px-Roses-Lancaster_victory.svgThough there were many battles between the two houses dating back to the reign of Richard II during the 1370s, but the majority of the conflict was done between 1455 and 1487. At such time in 1455, the House of Lancaster sat on the throne of England, but when Henry VI suffered a mental breakdown, his cousin, Richard, 3rd Duke of York, announced his intention to set aside Henry and his heirs and become king himself.

Before he could do that, however, York and his second son were killed. In response to the deaths and the mistreatment of his father and brother’s bodies, York’s eldest son, Edward, took the Yorkist cause upon himself, and after successfully beating Lancasterian forces at the Battle of Townton, became King Edward IV of England.

Edward successfully ruled England from 1460 to 1471, with Henry VI and his heirs exiled in France However, upon being overlooked from several key political positions, Edward’s ally and cousin, the Earl of Warwick, traveled to France and set Henry back on the throne.

300px-MS_Ghent_-_Battle_of_TewkesburyForced to flee only to return with tremendous force, Edward’s last episode in the War of Roses was the Battle of Tewkesbury on May 4th, 1471. There, he successfully defeated Warwick and Henry’s Lancastrian loyalists, as well as Henry’s only child and heir, Edward of Westminster.

Two more battles were fought in the War of Roses after Tewkesbury, both during the reign of Richard III: Bosworth and Stoke. Richard III was infamously killed at Bosworth. In less than half a century, the last of the Plantagenet male line had killed each other off. Henry Tudor, who made his claim by marrying Edward IV’s daughter and through the nobility of his mother’s line, succeeded to the throne as Henry VII. His son would be known for having separating England from the Catholic church and having six wives, and his granddaughter would become the first Queen Regnant of England.

There you have it – six events spanning space and time, and all of which happened today at one point. There are millions more, but one: I don’t know them all, nor can I write about them all; and two: you won’t read them all.

If you want to know more about what’s happened today in history, check out this website below –

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