On this day in 455 AD, the Vandals enter the city of Rome and begin their “sacking” of it. The rape and plunder last for two weeks and mark the end of Roman supremacy on the European continent. Hello, Dark Ages!
On this day in 1566, plague-era physician and infamous prophet Nostradamus dies in Salon, France. In the weeks before dying, he has a silver plate engraved, and instructs his family to bury it with him when he dies. One hundred and thirty four years later, two amateur students of the occult decide to ring in the new century by digging up Nostradamus's grave and drinking wine from his noble skull. They dig for hours, slide the lid off his sarcophagus, and gaze upon his skeleton. Beneath the bony hands folded across the now empty ribcage is the aforementioned silver plate. The braver of the two reaches down and moves the hand, then brings his lantern down to read the inscription: "MDCC." Initials? No… Roman numerals. Seventeen hundred. As in 1700 AD. As in the year in which these two grave robbers then found themselves, hovering over Nostradamus's exhumated corpse. (caveat lector: I'm not 100 percent sure this is true, but I've heard it a lot from people I trust who are in a position to know such forbidden things - ed)
On this day in 1692, Bridget Bishop becomes the first person to go to trial in the Salem witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. She is quickly found guilty, then hanged on June 10.
On this day in 1919, anarchists simultaneously set off bombs in eight separate U.S. cities. Surprisingly organized for a bunch of people dedicated to mass confusion, eh?
On this day in 1924, the US government does something brutally ironic when President Calvin Coolidge signs the Indian Citizenship Act into law, granting citizenship to all Native Americans born within the territorial limits of the United States.
On this day in 1953, Elizabeth II is crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Her Other Realms and Territories & Head of the Commonwealth. This is the first major international event to be televised internationally.
On this day in 1966, Surveyor 1 lands in Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon, becoming the first U.S. spacecraft to soft-land on another world.
On this day in 1997, in a Denver, Colorado court, Timothy McVeigh is found guilty of 15 counts of murder and conspiracy for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
On this day in 2003, Europe launches its first voyage to another planet, Mars. The European Space Agency's Mars Express probe launches from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.
On this day in 2004, the roarin' Mormon Ken Jennings begins his 74-game winning streak on the syndicated game show Jeopardy!
On this day in 2012, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the killing of demonstrators during the 2011 Egyptian revolution.