13 December has been a date of significant historical events that have left indelible marks on the fabric of human history.
Five historical events that happened on 13 December
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From daring explorations that redefined boundaries to dramatic moments in global politics, this day has witnessed a variety of pivotal occurrences.
In this listicle, we explore five such events, each shedding light on different eras and aspects of our shared past.
Sir Francis Drake Embarks on a Historic Voyage (1577)
When Sir Francis Drake set sail from Plymouth on the Golden Hind, he embarked on what would become a historic three-year journey. His voyage was not just a test of maritime skill and endurance; it was a venture that challenged the known limits of the world.
Drake’s circumnavigation brought back wealth and knowledge, significantly boosting England’s status as a global sea power. His journey was filled with peril, discovery, and diplomatic intrigue, as he navigated through uncharted territories, encountering diverse cultures and claiming new lands in the name of Queen Elizabeth I.
Abel Tasman Discovers New Zealand (1642)
Abel Tasman’s sighting of New Zealand on 13 December 1642, was a landmark in the Age of Exploration. Tasman, sailing for the Dutch East India Company, ventured into uncharted waters, adding substantial new knowledge to the European understanding of the southern hemisphere.
His encounters with the indigenous Māori people, although fraught with misunderstanding and conflict, opened a new chapter in the interaction between Europe and the Pacific peoples.
Tasman’s explorations in the region also led to the mapping of Tasmania (named after him) and parts of the Australian coast, significantly contributing to the European exploration narrative.
The Nanking Massacre Begins (1937)
The Nanjing Massacre, starting on 13 December 1937, is remembered as one of the most barbaric episodes of World War II. When the Japanese army captured the then-capital of China, it unleashed a wave of violence, looting, arson, and mass executions.
The atrocities committed over six weeks claimed the lives of an estimated 300 000 civilians and disarmed combatants. The brutality and scale of the massacre and the subsequent suffering of the survivors have left a lasting scar on the collective memory of the Chinese people and serve as a grim reminder of the horrors of war.
The Texas Seven Escape (2000)
The escape of the Texas Seven from a maximum-security prison was a feat that stunned the nation. These seven convicts, serving long sentences for various serious crimes, executed a complex and daring escape plan on 13 December 2000. Once free, they embarked on a crime spree that included robberies and the tragic murder of a police officer.
The nationwide manhunt that followed was one of the most intense in US history, highlighting issues within the prison system and leading to widespread discussion about criminal rehabilitation and justice.
Saddam Hussein’s Capture (2003)
The capture of Saddam Hussein near his hometown of Tikrit was a watershed moment in the Iraq War. Hidden in a small underground bunker, the former Iraqi leader was found on 13 December 2003, after months of being on the run.
His capture was seen as a significant victory for US and coalition forces and was met with mixed reactions worldwide. While it symbolised the end of Hussein’s oppressive regime, it also opened a new chapter of challenges for Iraq, including political instability, sectarian violence, and ongoing conflicts that continue to shape the region.