On This Day in History: December 28

December 28 was the day of Europe’s worst ever earthquake. What else happened in history today?

Labor Day

1065: Consecration of Westminster Abbey

One of the most infamous buildings in London, England, Westminster Abbey is not actually an abbey. It’s a church and was originally known as the Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster. On this day in history the church was consecrated and it would later answer directly to royalty. English and British monarchs have been crowned, married, and buried in the church and it remains a popular tourist attraction in England’s capital.

1613: Galileo Spots Neptune

Today in history is marked as the first time Neptune was spotted. It may have been spotted earlier but there are no written accounts of it. Galileo Galilei was the first astronomer to note its existence but didn’t quite know what it was. It would take centuries for others to find out that it was a planet and give it an official name.

1694: George I of Britain Divorces

George I of Great Britain wasn’t actually King of Great Britain at the time of his divorce. He was still the elector of Hanover, and wasn’t even in line for the succession of the British throne after the Stuart Queen Anne. After marrying his wife (and cousin) Sophia Dorothea in 1682, he decided to divorce her due to infidelity–ironic considering George I had a number of mistresses–although infidelity was never used as a reason for the divorce. Sophia was locked away and wasn’t allowed to see her two children. She died of natural causes in 1726, but not before cursing her husband for his mistreatment of her.

1869: First Labor Day in America

Today saw the first ever Labor Day ceremonies, celebrated by the secret society, The Knights of Labor. It was a union of Philadelphian tailors, but soon grew into a national body that would lead to the late 19th century labor movement. The first official observance of Labor Day did not actually happen until 1884, but it started because of this moment.

1895: The First Commercial Movie Screening

On this day in history, France held the first ever commercial movie screening. The Lumiere brothers, Louis and Auguste, had developed the Cinematographe, and had unveiled it back in the March. Over the next few months, they made a series of shorts about everyday life in the country. On December 28, they charged admission for the movie; the first time something like this had ever happened. The next year, movie theaters opened up under the Lumiere brand.

1793: The Arrest of Thomas PaineThomas Paine

Thomas Paine was originally welcomed into France after making his name as one of America’s Founding Fathers. However, he was later arrested for treason, with charges that were never detailed. He was very vocal against the death penalty, and his book The Age of Reason promoted too many controversial ideas for the time. He was imprisoned in Luxembourg, in a former palace, and was eventually released back to America after his imprisonment caused an uproar. Paine died in 1809, penniless after the Americans turned against him due to The Age of Reason, too.

1908: Europe’s Worst Earthquake

The earthquake is still regarded as the worst one seen in the whole of Europe, and killed about 100,000 people—along with a tsunami that followed—in southern Italy. Parts of Messina and Reggio di Calabria were levelled. Most people were in their beds at the time of the earthquake, and there was no warning that it was going to happen. Relief efforts were also stopped due to telegraph lines being cut and railway lines destroyed. Over the days afterwards, tremors led to more destruction.

Famous Birthdays on December 28

Margaret of Austria, regent of the Netherlands–1522

Princess Elizabeth of England, daughter of Charles I of England–1635

President Woodrow Wilson—1856

American philosopher Mortimer J. Adler—1902

Hungarian mathematician, John Von Neumann—1903

Actress Maggie Smith–1934

Actor Denzel Washington–1954

Pianist Rachel Z–1962

Comedy writer Seth Meyers–1973

Heroes actor Thomas Dekker–1987



Featured image from Deposit Photos

Birthdays from HistoryNet.com and OnThisDay.com

Image of Labor Day from 1882 in the public domain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day#/media/File:First_United_States_Labor_Day_Parade,_September_5,_1882_in_New_York_City.jpg)

Image of Thomas Paine in the public domain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Paine#/media/File:Thomas_Paine_rev1.jpg)

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