On This Day in History: March 31

March 31 saw the opening of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the birth of former Vice President Al Gore. Here is a look at this day in history.

1547: King Henri II of France Ascends to the Throne

King Francis I of France died on this day in history, meaning that his son ascended to the throne. Henri, Dauphin of France became King Henri II, although he was never supposed to be king. He had been the second son, but became Henri II of Francethe dauphin when his elder brother Francis died in 1536. After spending time in Spanish captivity, Henri supported his father’s actions and continued them throughout his reign.  March 31 is also given as Henri’s birth date, making his ascension to the throne bittersweet. His reign would come to an untimely end in 1559 when he died after a jousting accident. His elder son would become Francis II, but in the end three of his sons became kings of France and the Valois line ended with Henri’s youngest son, Henri III.

1776: Abigail Adams Makes First Private Push for Equality

On this day in history, Abigail Adams urged her husband John Adams to remember the ladies. As America fought for independence from the British, she wanted her husband and his fellow fighters to not allow men to become tyrants and not give them all the power. It would take another 150 years for women to get the vote, but her letter to the future president was an initial private push for equality.

1889: Opening of the Eiffel Tower

March 31 saw the opening of the Eiffel Tower in a dedicated ceremony. The Tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel, and numerous dignitaries, including the Pierre Tirard, the French Eiffel TowerPrime Minister, attended. The Tower was constructed to honor the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. As the largest man-made structure at the time, many believed it would fall over quickly. Only one worker died during the construction, and the Tower remained the tallest building until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was completed. The Eiffel Tower was almost demolished after just 20 years, but now stands as one of France’s most famous landmarks.

1953: Queen Mary Laid to Rest

The widow of King George V of Great Britain had died a week earlier, after suffering from gastric problems for weeks. She was 85 at the time of her death. On this day, she was laid to rest next to her husband at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. Just days earlier, 12,000 people had filed past to pay their respects to her coffin, as it laid-in-state at Westminster Hall.

Famous Birthdays on March 31

Philippa of Lancaster, Queen of Portugal–1360

Duchess Bianca Maria Visconti of Milan–1425

Pope Pius IV–1499

King Henri II of France–1519

Scientist and philosopher Rene Descartes—1596

Pope Benedict XIV–1675

Composer Johann Sebastian Bach—1685

Chronometer inventor John Harrison—1693

King Frederik V of Denmark and Norway–1723

Composer Franz Joseph Haydn—1732

The Inspector General author Nikolai V. Gogol—1809

Two-stroke motorcycle engine creator Sir Dugald Clerk—1854

Nobel Prize-winning writer Octavio Paz—1914

The Collector author John Fowles—1926

Pulp Fiction actor Christopher Walken—1943

Former vice president Al Gore—1948

Star Wars actor Ewan McGregor—1971


Famous birthdays from HistoryNet.com and FamousBirthdays.com

Featured image from Deposit Photos

Henri II of France: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_II_of_France#/media/File:Henry_II_of_France..jpg

Image of Eiffel Tower in the public domain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eiffel_Tower#/media/File:Construction_tour_eiffel7.JPG

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