This Day in History

King Henry VIII of England Marries Sixth and Last Wife, Catherine Parr (1543)
By 1543, Henry VIII had had five marriages, which respectively ended in one divorce, one annulment, and three deaths—two by beheading. He then married Parr, his sixth and final wife. She had a good influence on the increasingly paranoid king—her third husband—and developed close friendships with his children, even acting as guardian of one of Henry's daughters after his death in 1547. Why, then, did Parr send her beloved stepdaughter, the future Queen Elizabeth I, away the next year? Discuss

Skylab Returns to Earth (1979)
Five years after it was abandoned in orbit, the US space laboratory Skylab began to fall back toward Earth. The impending re-entry and breakup became an international media event, as it was unclear exactly when or where the debris would land. News organizations went so far as to offer rewards for surviving pieces of the spacecraft. The debris finally crashed to Earth in Western Australia, earning NASA a $400 fine for littering from the Shire of Esperance. When was the fine paid?

Rubens's Massacre of the Innocents Sells for £49.5 million (2002)
Misattributed to an assistant of Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens until 2002, when an expert from Sotheby's auction house identified it as the work of the master himself, Massacre of the Innocents is an early 17th-century painting depicting Herod's slaughter of the infants of Bethlehem. One of two paintings Rubens made of the Biblical scene, it fetched £49.5 million ($76 million) at auction and is one of the priciest paintings ever sold. Its style is reminiscent of which Italian painter?

Today

Oscar Hammerstein II (1895)
The grandson of an opera impresario of the same name, Hammerstein studied law before beginning the theater career that made him one of the foremost songwriters in the US. In the early 1940s, he began a prolific and successful collaboration with Richard Rodgers that resulted in plays like The King and I, The Sound of Music, and the Pulitzer Prize winners Oklahoma! and South Pacific. The eight-time Tony Award winner is also the only person named Oscar to have done what? Discuss

John Quincy Adams (1767)
The son of a US president, Adams accompanied his father on diplomatic missions as a child and began his own political career at 14. A talented ambassador, he became secretary of state under President James Monroe. In 1824, he defeated Andrew Jackson in the presidential race, but he was unpopular in this role and lost to Jackson in the next election. He was then elected to Congress, where he served until his death. An outspoken opponent of slavery, he defended what famous mutineers in 1841?

Nikola Tesla (1856)
Tesla was an inventor and engineer known for his revolutionary contributions to the fields of electricity and magnetism. His inventions made possible the production of alternating-current electric power, and his Tesla coil is still used in radio technology. In 1912, he refused a Nobel Prize because he felt his co-recipient, Thomas Edison, was undeserving of the honor. He spent his final years caring for pigeons. What strange habits earned him a reputation as the quintessential "mad scientist"?