On This Day in History: April 17

On April 17, more than 80,000 people lost their lives to a volcano in Indonesia. Here is a look at history today, along with famous birthdays.

1534: Sir Thomas More Confined to the Tower of London

Today in history, Sir Thomas More was taken to the Tower of London for his refusal to sign the Oath of Supremacy. Initially treated extremely well, he was able to dedicate his time to his writing. However, over the coming months, he would be stripped of elements that made his life more comfortable than other prisoners. Once he was denied his Benjamin Franklinbooks, More drew the curtains of his cell, making it clear that he had no reason for the light. While imprisoned, his wife and children visited to beg him to take the oath, but More wouldn’t damn his eternal soul to save his body, even though it meant that his children would lose their inheritance. More was executed on July 6, 1535.

1790: Death of Benjamin Franklin

On this day in history, writer and statesman Benjamin Franklin died at the age of 84. He was known for his civic responsibilities, including establishing Philadelphia’s first circulating library, volunteer fire company and the initial stages of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1754, he had proposed the colonies united, but this was rejected by the British. He even went to Britain to argue for large estates to be taxed. He did help to negotiate the Treaty of Paris, and also was also one of the Constitutional Convention delegates.

1815: 80,000 Die in Volcanic Eruption

Rumblings started on April 5, but it was April 17 that the Tambora Volcano in Indonesia finally erupted. Almost 100,000 people died, and the eruption was the largest to ever be recorded across the world. The volcano had shown no signs of activity for centuries before this eruption. Before this date, two eruptions had led to thick ash across the island. This led to tsunamis and rock falls, contributing to the death toll. The deaths were due to various factors, with more than 80,000 due to starvation when the crops failed or were diseased.

1986: John McCarthy Abducted From Beirut

British journalist John McCarthy was abducted in history today. He had been employed by London’s World Wide Television News network to cover the devastation in Beirut, Lebanon. His abduction took place at the airport, whenGiovanni Riccioli he was returning home. Three days earlier, British ambassador John Gray had urged all British citizens to leave the city, but McCarthy wanted to wait for instruction from his employers. The militant group Islamic Jihad had kept him hostage for five years, and he was finally released on August 8, 1991.

Famous Birthdays April 17

Emperor of Eastern Europe, Michael IX Palaeologus–1278

Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria–1573

Astronomer, Giovanni Riccioli–1598

King Frederick I of Sweden—1676

Declaration of Independence signer Samuel Chase—1741

Baseball developer Alexander Cartwright—1820

Out of Africa writer Isak Dinesen—1885

American journalist Harry Reasoner—1923

The Cannibal Galazy writer Cynthia Ozick—1928

Game of Thrones actor Sean Bean—1959

Tool and A Perfect Circle band member Maynard James Keenan—1964

The 100 actor Henry Ian Cusick—1967

Victoria Beckham—1974


Birthdays from HistoryNet.com, OnThisDay.com and FamousBirthdays.com

Featured image from Deposit Photos

Benjamin Franklin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin#/media/File:BenFranklinDuplessis.jpg

Giovanni Riccioli: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Battista_Riccioli#/media/File:Giovanni_Battista_Riccioli.jpg

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