This Day in History

Mexican Emperor Maximilian I Executed by Firing Squad (1867)
In the 1860s, France sought to establish an empire in Mexico. Ferdinand Maximilian, an Austrian navy chief and member of the Habsburg dynasty, accepted Napoleon III's offer of the throne, naively believing that the Mexicans had voted him their king. In reality, Maximilian's only support came from the French army, and the empire was doomed. In 1866, Napoleon withdrew his troops. Maximilian refused to abdicate and was captured and executed, ending the empire. What were his last words? Discuss

Mona Mahmudnizhad and Nine Other Baha'i Women Are Hanged in Iran (1983)
Prior to the 1979 Iranian revolution, the approximately 1 million Iranian Baha'is had generally prospered, despite widespread societal discrimination. Under the Iranian Islamic republic, which regards the religion as heresy, Baha'i was banned, Baha'i property was confiscated, thousands were imprisoned, and several hundred were executed. Among the youngest victims was 17-year-old Mona Mahmudnizhad, who was arrested in 1982 and hanged after several months in prison. What were the official charges?

Last Dusky Seaside Sparrow Dies in Captivity (1987)
Thousands of dusky seaside sparrows once inhabited the natural salt marshes around Merritt Island and the area along the St. Johns River in southern Florida. The non-migratory birds lived exclusively in this small area, and this proved to be their undoing. From the 1940s onward, pesticides, pollution, and habitat loss caused the subspecies' population to decline precipitously. By 1979, just six males remained. Why were the remaining birds eventually relocated to Walt Disney World theme park?


Wallis Simpson (1896)
Simpson was an American socialite for whom English King Edward VIII voluntarily abdicated the throne. Their relationship caused a furor in England because the Church of England at the time did not allow people with living ex-spouses to marry, and, as king, Edward was also head of the church. Simpson's two ex-husbands were still alive when she married Edward on June 3, 1937, just six months after he relinquished his title. How did Wallis and Edward spend the rest of their lives together? Discuss

Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia (1901)
The youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Anastasia was allegedly murdered at age 17 along with her parents and siblings during the Russian Revolution. After the family's execution, rumors swirled that Anastasia had managed to survive. The appearance of several imposters further fueled these rumors, as did the discovery of her family's burial site in 1991 with two bodies missing. Has anyone been able to conclusively prove that Anastasia was indeed killed with the rest of her family?

Edward I of England, AKA Edward Longshanks (1239)
Edward became king upon the death of his father, Henry III, in 1272 but was not crowned until he returned from a crusade two years later. His 35-year reign was characterized by constant warfare, including long and costly campaigns to conquer Wales and Scotland. It was a struggle to fund these endeavors, and he did so, in part, by exploiting the Jews under his rule. Finally, in 1290, he expelled them from England and seized their property. For how long did his Edict of Expulsion remain in effect?