On This Day in History: February 14

What happened today in history? February 14 may be Valentine’s Day, but it was also the day a major modern medicine discovery was made by Sir Alexander Fleming.

278: The Execution of St. Valentine

February 14 is known as Valentine’s Day around the world. This is linked to the Roman priest Valentine, who was executed on this day in history. Emperor Claudius II’s reign around 278AD is known as one of the worst throughout history. Believing that men wouldn’t join his army because of their attachments to their families, he banned engagements and marriages throughout Rome. Valentine refused to follow Claudius’ orders and wed couples in secret. He was caught and executed through a beating and beheading. The legend states that he left a note for the jailer’s daughter, who he had been friends with, signing “from your Valentine.” There are two other legends about St. Valentine, but February 14 has become the day of love and romance around the world.


1400: Murder of Richard II of England

Richard II of EnglandWhile his date of death is not officially confirmed, this is the date that many historians work with. Richard II had been deposed just over four months earlier by his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke, after ascending the throne at the age of 10 after the death of his grandfather Edward III of England. His cause of death is unknown, but there are theories that he was murdered while in Pontefract Castle so nobody could use him as a pawn for rebellion. Another theory is that he starved himself to death. Nobody will ever know, and it will go down as one of the biggest royal history mysteries.

1884: Death of Theodore Roosevelt’s Wife and Mother

On this day in history, President Theodore Roosevelt suffered a double tragedy. While trying to get a reform bill passed in New York, his mother died of typhoid fever and then just hours later his wife Alice Lee died of kidney ailment Bright’s disease. Alice’s death came just two days after the birth of her and Roosevelt’s daughter, also named Alice. Roosevelt suffered greatly after the two deaths, abandoning politics and his daughter to become a rancher and a sheriff for two years before being forced to return after his herd of cattle was killed during a blizzard.

1929: Discovery of Penicillin

On February 14, 1929 Alexander Fleming discovered the healing properties of mold, accidentally. He had left a plate of staphylococcus bacteria out and uncovered in his lab. When he returned, he noticed that mold called penicillium notatum had fallen into the culture and killed most of the bacteria. This Alexander Flemingwas similar mold that formed on bread, and he created the bi-product of penicillin. It would not be used right away, but now is one of the most commonly used methods of treating bacterial infections.

Famous Birthdays on February 14

First Methodist-Episcopal church ordained black man Richard Allen—1760

Autobiographer Frederick Douglass — 1818

Typewriter inventor Christopher Latham Sholes—1819

Ferris Wheel inventor George Washington Gale Ferris—1859

National Negro Opera Company founder Mary Lucinda Cardwell Dawson—1894

Comedian Jack Benny—1894

The Brady Bunch actress Florence Henderson — 1934

Politician Michael Bloomberg—1942

Shaun of the Dead actor Simon Pegg—1970

Screenwriter Angela Robinson—1971

Wrestler Viscera — 1972

Fred actor Jake Weary — 1990



Featured image from Deposit Photos

Birthdays from HistoryNet.com and FamousBirthdays.com

Image of Richard II of England in the public domain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_II_of_England#/media/File:Richard_II_King_of_England.jpg)

Image of Alexander Fleming in the public domain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Fleming#/media/File:Synthetic_Production_of_Penicillin_TR1468.jpg)

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