To defenestrate means to throw someone out of a window. It used to be a popular way to get your point across. But now that us modern folks live a civilized nature, the practice and the word itself have fallen out of fashion. On this day in history, July 30, there were crownings, paperback revolutions, and defenestrations.
Famous Historical Events
1178: On this day, that age in medieval history, Frederick the First was crowned the King of Burgundy, better known as “Barbarossa.” Before that, he was just a mere Holy Roman Emperor. Barbarossa means “red beard” in Italian, and this guy fought in the Third Crusade and was also an outspoken critic of papal authority.
So after years of bravely fighting in the crusades, leading troops, and looking fabulously red-headed while doing it, Barbarossa made a fatal error that cost him his life. While he may have been a calculating and skilled fighter, he wasn’t very good at estimating the density of water versus metal. Impatient to cross a bridge on the way to a battle, Barbarossa, on horseback, jumped into the river to try and take a shortcut to the advancing front line. But, his armor was too heavy, and both he and his noble steed were swept away and drowned.
1419: This day in history in the year 1419 is ominously known as The First Defenestration of Prague. On this day, anti-Catholic Hussites, a religious group pre-dating the Protestant reformation, stormed Prague’s town hall. Their belief? They were followers of the late reformer Jan Hus, whom they believed had been wrongly executed for his beliefs. So they did what any angry medieval mob would do in a similar tizzy. They tossed the judge, mayor, and several city council members out of the town hall windows. If they survived the fall, it didn’t matter. There was a murderous crowd gathered on the streets below to finish the job the windows were too incompetent to do.
1935: On a lighter, less violent note, this day in history marks the 1st publication of a Penguin book, which kickstarted the paperback revolution. In this modern age of 99-cent Kindle books, it can be hard to believe that before 1935, books were a luxury item. Before Penguin was established, books were typically large, often leatherbound hardcovers that were costly to produce and expensive for the average Joe and Jane citizen to buy. Penguin democratized publishing when they created an efficient system for mass-producing cheap paperbacks. The result? Fiction and non-fiction books were brought to the mass market for people of all means to enjoy.
2002: Today in history, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda signed the Pretoria Accord. The Accord was intended to end the Second Congo War. The war did not officially end until a year later. Unfortunately, the aftermath of the war had caused more than 5 million deaths, mostly through the spread of disease and starvation. The death toll from the war’s armed conflicts plus the aftermath made it one of the bloodiest wars fought since WWII.
1818: Emily Bronte
Author of Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte was born on this day in history in West Yorkshire, England. She is the sister of Anne and Charlotte Bronte, famous authoresses themselves.
1898: Otto von Bismarck
Bismarck died at age 83 on this day in history, after successfully unifying a majority of the German states and becoming the first chancellor of a united Germany.
Can we learn anything from history on July 30? Steer clear of windows, and for the love of cheap paperbacks, don’t jump into a river wearing a full suit of armor.