A MARCH THROUGH TIME
1 March 1493 Europeans first heard of the ´New World´when Martín Alonso Pinzón, a member of the expedition led by Christopher Columbus, returned to Spain in the Pinta
1 March 1498 Vasco da Gama ´discovered´Mozambique
1 March 1815 Napoleon escaped from Elba
3 March 1918 World War I - the Treaty of Brest-litovsk was signed between the Central Powers and the new Soviet State of Russia by which Russia withdrew from the war
5 March 1936 The Spitfire, the wartime fighter aircraft designed by Reginald Mitchell, made its maiden flight from Eastleigh airport in Hampshire
11 March 1917 World War I - Baghdad was captured by the British
14 March 1757 Admiral John Byng was executed by firing squad on the quarter deck of his ship in Portsmouth harbour. Byng had been sent to relieve the British base at Menorca, blockaded by the French, but after a short engagement with the enemy fleet he decided that his forces were inadequate and he retreated to Gibraltar. At a court martial he was charged with neglect of duty, which carried a mandatory death sentence. His case was taken up by Voltaire who corresponded with Richelieu on the matter. Nevertheless, Byng was found guilty and shot. Voltaire used the episode in his book, ´Candide´. "... in this country (England) it is considered a good thing to kill an admiral from time to time, to encourage the others:"
14 March 1915 World War I - the German cruiser Dresden was sunk
16 March 1190 The Jewish massacre took place at York Castle. The entire Jewish community was driven to suicide or murdered by Christian townsfolk
16 March 1956 The invention in Minnesota, USA, of St Urho´s Day by an American of Finnish descent (as a rival to St Patrick). The legend attached to St Urho claims that he banished grasshoppers from Finland and saved the grape crop from destruction. A statue of St Urho holding a pitchfork, with a giant grasshopper impaled on the tines, stands in Menahaga, Minnesota. St Urho´s Day is now celebrated throught the USA with a variety of events, most of which feature Finnish food and involve dressing up as grasshoppers or in the saint´s colours of purple and green. St Urho´s fame has spread as far afield as his ´native´Finland.
20 March 1602 The Dutch East India Company was founded
21 March 1829 A famous duel took place at Battersea Fields, London between the Duke of Wellington (Prime Minister at the time) and the Earl of Winchilsea; both took great care to avoid shooting each other
29 March 1461 One of England´s bloodiest battles took place at Towton in Yorkshire when, in heavy snow, the Yorkists decisively defeated the Lancastrians
31 March 1492 The Expulsion of the Jews Decree was issued by Spanish Monarchs Ferdinand the Catholic and Isabella I of Castile. Jewish people were given 4 months to accept baptism or leave Spain.