On July 17

For those who are fascinated by historical events and facts and how they impact the future, looking back on this day in history, July 17th, is an entertaining way to get through the dog days of summer. We’re not sure what it is about the heat, but this day in history is chock full of uprisings, battles, and executions.

July 17th is a particularly bloody day in history, but there are few bright spots. 

Famous Historical Events 

180 A.D.: In the year 180, six people who resided in Carthage, North Africa, were executed. The reason? They were a part of a growing, underground religious movement – Christianity. This is the earliest record of Christianity in North Africa. 

1203: The Fourth Crusade is well underway. On this day, that Medieval age in history, Carthage is seized thanks to Crusaders aboard a Venetian fleet. After nearly 1000 years, Christianity goes from a tiny, hidden movement to Europe’s dominant religion. 

1762: Catherine the Second becomes the tsarina of Russia after her husband, Czar Peter the Third, is murdered. 

1918: Tsarina Catherine’s descendants and heirs to the Russian throne, The Romanovs, are executed. After a forced abdication, the Russian Czar Nickolas and his wife, children, and a few of their servants are murdered by Bolsheviks in the dingy basement of a house in Siberia – a far cry from the glittering palaces of St. Petersburg. 

Tsarina Catherine

1936: A right-wing uprising, led by Emilio Mola and Francisco Franco, sparks the Spanish Civil War. 

right-wing uprising

1942: Actress Lana Turner marries Stephen Crane. The marriage was later annulled. 

1945: The Potsdam Conference, featuring world leaders and victors of WWII Churchill, Stalin, and Truman, begins with its first meeting. 

1955: Perhaps the only bright spot on our list, Disneyland in Anaheim opens its doors on this day in history. 


1975: Ringo Starr of The Beatles fame divorces wife, Maureen Cox.

2014: A surface-to-air missile, launched from a pro-Russian separatist-controlled territory, and hit Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members aboard the flight died. 

Famous Birthdays

1917: Phyllis Diller

Phyllis Diller

Diller was a 37-year-old mother of six before she got her start in show business. She went on to become a trailblazer for female comedians, and Joan Rivers and Roseanne Barr credit Diller with inspiring them to pursue comedy. She was born in Lima, Ohio on this day in history, July 17th. 

1952: David Hasselhoff

David Hasselhoff

Know affectionately as The Hoff, David Hasselhoff is born in Baltimore, Maryland, on this day in history. He is best known for his lead roles in the famous television series’ Baywatch and Knight Rider. Hasselhoff is also an accomplished singer and has performed on Broadway. 

1954: Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel

The longest-serving head of any government in Europe, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel is born in Hamburg, West Germany on this day in history. 

Famous Deathdays

1790: Adam Smith

One of the founding fathers of the Scottish Enlightenment and a pioneer of political economy, Smith died on this day in history at the age of 67. Smith was the writer of one of history’s most influential economic books, “The Wealth of Nations.” 

1961: Ty Cobb

Ty Cobb

Considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Cobb dies at age 74. His surly attitudes, laced with a palpable undercurrent of racism, often overshadowed his talent on the field. 

The study of past historical events helps us to understand people and ourselves better. It gives us all a framework for moral contemplation, even if July 17th is one of those days in history that seems to be full of violence and bloody intrigue.

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