Five Fun Facts About May 7 History

History never has to be boring, yet that’s how some people teach it.  History books are filled with footnotes and bibliographies and small type that no one is comfortable reading.  However, what if you learned history in terms that made it simple for everyone? What if history became a fun subject to read, so you could tell your friends?  Here are five things that happened today that you can talk about at work:

That’s One Tough Chick – 1429
Joan of Arc, a schizophrenic girl who would later be burned at the stake for dressing up like a man and talking to God (the dress code was REALLY tough back then and only people in the Bible talked to God), ends the Siege of Orléans (not New Orleans, the old one located in northern France).  Why is this important?  First off, the French were led by a woman, which was a real no-no in medieval warfare.  Secondly, it was to become Joan’s first major victory and she would become famous a little while later.  Thirdly, and this was probably the most important factor if you were English or French, was that this battle was the turning point of the Hundred Year’s War – a little tiff the two countries had with each other that ended in bloodshed after 116 years (which boggles the mind why they rounded it off to a hundred years).  Before you get images in your head of a small French army being led by a woman, realize, the French had four generals at the battle, not just her.  They also outnumbered the English by more than two to one.  And she was a woman, dammit!  In all fairness, the siege was going on for over 6 months when Joan showed up – arrow in her shoulder – and ended the whole thing in none days!

NOW We’re Talking About THAT Other Orleans – 1718
Also on this date, in North America, New Orleans was founded by some French guy – because France controlled that part of the land at the time.  To tell the truth, the guy was actually Canadian (being born in Montreal), but his name still sounded French.  If you must know, his name was Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, but your not going to remember it in the morning.  The city is filled with some really neat French architecture, jazz music, and a big party they have every year right before the Catholic Holiday of Lent, called Mardi Gras. It is thought that the party is older than the city, with some texts linking it back to 1699.  Basically, it represents partying your ass off before you have to give up something for Lent.

Beethoven Has A Movement – 1824
The great composer, Ludwig von Beethoven, premiered his Ninth – and possibly his most famous – symphony on this night in Vienna, Austria.  While the composer was completely deaf and couldn’t hear what the musicians were playing, he did stand off to the side and watch the audience’s reaction to the music.  Beethoven was more accustomed to directing, himself, but his disability made it nearly impossible to do it by this time and shared the stage with a guest conductor, named Michael Umlauf, filled in for him.  The piece was a smashing success – even though reports from that night suggest that Beethoven was a few bars off from the actual music.  Nonetheless, the music went down in history – especially the part containing “An Ode To Joy” as one of the greatest pieces of music ever written.

NO, This Event Did Not Send Us To War – 1915
During World War 1, but prior to the United States getting involved, the RMS Lusitania is sunk by the German submarine SM U-20 on this date.  On board, 1198 people were killed in the attack, including 128 American citizens.  The Lusitania was an ocean liner that was carrying passengers.  Even though the Germans had posted a warning in New York papers about people traveling to Britain during wartime, the ship still sailed.  She was hit by torpedoes and sunk in 18 minutes approximately 8 miles off the coast of Ireland.  So, did this get the United States riled up enough to jump into World War One?  Nope.  Even though they often tell you in school that the sinking of this ship got us in the war, it wasn’t until  later (1917, actually) that the United States entered the fighting, towards the end of the War.  The reason, then, was because Germany was attacking all of our merchant ships and wouldn’t stop.

It’s Just Like The French To Lose Another Battle – 1958

Here it was, in Indochina (you know the location as Vietnam) that the French fought their last battle in control over this little country.  The name of the place, Dien Bien Phu, sounds like something you’d order for carryout, but in actuality, it was a valley surrounded by mountains.  In a typical French-display of blunders in the decision-making process, the French began an operation to support the soldiers in the valley and destroy the Vietnamese communist revolutionaries (called Viet Mihn) that had a supply line going into the neighboring country of Laos.  The problem was, the French didn’t know the size of the enemy force and then, underestimated them.  So, here are the French – all 10,000 of them- sitting at the bottom of this valley, when the Vietnamese show up – all 63,000 of them – on the high ground above the French.  Have you ever heard of the saying, “Like shooting fish in a barrel“?  That’s exactly what happened.  The French couldn’t get any supplies to them and basically had to surrender.  In the end, the French lost almost everyone – including 2 American “advisors”.  The Vietnamese lost about 13,000 men.  What happened after this?  The French left Indochina, the people there re-named it Vietnam, and America got stuck fighting in another country’s civil war from 1964-1975.