18 September 1809

The Royal Opera House in London, UK opens.

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The First Theatre on the site opened as the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden on the 7th of December 1732 with ‘The Way of the World’ by William Congeve. This was a ‘Patent Theatre’ as granted to Sir William Devenant by Charles II, but this second Patent the first was granted to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane actually originally applied to the Duke’s Theatre in Lincoln’s Inn and only ended up with the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden after the Patent was eventually handed down to John Rich, who began building the Covent Garden Theatre in March of 1731.

The Theatre was built on land leased to John Rich from the Duke of Bedford and designed by the architect James Shepherd. The interior being decorated by the Italian Artist, Amiconi, with a capacity of 1,897. Handel arrived here in 1734 and produced many Operas and Ballets. David Garrick appeared here in 1746, fresh from Drury Lane, and it was in this Theatre that a new invention called the ‘Piano Forte’ was first heard in 1767. ‘She Stoops To Conquer’ had its first performance here in March 1773, and the first production of Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals’ was produced at the Theatre in 1775.

17th September 1794

The Battle of Sprimont takes place.

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The Battle of Sprimont, Battle of Esneux or Battle of the Ourthe was a battle between French Republican and Austrian troops on the plateau between the valleys of the Vesdre, the Ourthe and the Amblève, 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of Liège. It occurred on 17 and 18 September 1794 and was a French Republican victory. The battle put a final end to the Ancien Régime in what is now Belgium, then essentially the Austrian Netherlands, Principality of Liège and the Principality of Stavelot-Malmedy.

French troops dislodged Austrian troops occupying the plateau, though the French suffered heavy losses. Associated with the battle are the villages of Sprimont, Esneux, Fontin and the site of the La Redoute, whose name originates in a redoubt involved in the battle.

16 September 1620

Pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower from England.

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The Mayflower sails from Plymouth, England, bound for the New World with 102 passengers. The ship was headed for Virginia, where the colonists–half religious dissenters and half entrepreneurs–had been authorized to settle by the British crown. However, stormy weather and navigational errors forced the Mayflower off course, and on November 21 the “Pilgrims” reached Massachusetts, where they founded the first permanent European settlement in New England in late December.

Thirty-five of the Pilgrims were members of the radical English Separatist Church, who traveled to America to escape the jurisdiction of the Church of England, which they found corrupt. Ten years earlier, English persecution had led a group of Separatists to flee to Holland in search of religious freedom. However, many were dissatisfied with economic opportunities in the Netherlands, and under the direction of William Bradford they decided to immigrate to Virginia, where an English colony had been founded at Jamestown in 1607.

The Separatists won financial backing from a group of investors called the London Adventurers, who were promised a sizable share of the colony’s profits. Three dozen church members made their way back to England, where they were joined by about 70 entrepreneurs–enlisted by the London stock company to ensure the success of the enterprise. In August 1620, the Mayflower left Southampton with a smaller vessel–the Speedwell–but the latter proved unseaworthy and twice was forced to return to port. On September 16, the Mayflower left for America alone from Plymouth.

In a difficult Atlantic crossing, the 90-foot Mayflower encountered rough seas and storms and was blown more than 500 miles off course. Along the way, the settlers formulated and signed the Mayflower Compact, an agreement that bound the signatories into a “civil body politic.” Because it established constitutional law and the rule of the majority, the compact is regarded as an important precursor to American democracy. After a 66-day voyage, the ship landed on November 21 on the tip of Cape Cod at what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts.

15 September 2008

Lehman Brothers files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the largest bankruptcy filing in USA history.

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Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, succumbed to the subprime mortgage crisis it helped create in the biggest bankruptcy filing in history.

The 158-year-old firm, which survived railroad bankruptcies of the 1800s, the Great Depression in the 1930s and the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management a decade ago, filed a Chapter 11 petition with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on Monday. The collapse of Lehman, which listed more than US$613-billion of debt, dwarves WorldCom Inc.’s insolvency in 2002 and Drexel Burnham Lambert’s failure in 1990.

Lehman was forced into bankruptcy after Barclays PLC and Bank of America Corp. abandoned takeover talks on Sunday and the company lost 94% of its market value this year. Chief Executive Officer Richard Fuld, who turned the New York-based firm into the biggest underwriter of mortgage-backed securities at the top of the U.S. real estate market, joins his counterparts at Bear Stearns Cos., Merrill Lynch & Co. and more than 10 banks that couldn’t survive this year’s credit crunch.

Lehman shares dropped 81% in Frankfurt trading to 75 cents from their US$3.65 close in New York on Friday. UBS AG, HBOS PLC, and Axa SA led a decline of more than 3% for European stock markets on speculation a forced sale of Lehman’s assets could lead to further writedowns at other banks.

14 September 1975

Pope Paul VI canonized the first American saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton.

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Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, known as “Mother Seton,” is special to all Americans for historical, humanitarian and spiritual reasons. Though born in the New York City area, she lived in Maryland from 1809 until her death.

Elizabeth Ann Seton was widowed at the age of 29 and left to care for her five children alone. Her late husband’s shipping business had been unstable, and money was scarce. In order to support her family, she attempted to establish a school but met with little success. To the dismay of her friends and relatives, she converted to the Catholic faith. With encouragement and assistance from John Carroll, the first Catholic Bishop of Baltimore, Seton came to Baltimore and established the first free school for girls in 1808. This school, which was the forerunner of the Catholic school system, soon outgrew its original location on Paca Street and moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1809. Also in 1809, Seton founded the first American religious order for women known as the Sisters of Charity. This religious order, later evolved into the Daughters and Sisters of Charity. The order grew throughout the United States and expanded into several foreign countries. Beginning in 1814, Mother Seton and her religious daughters established schools, orphanages and hospitals throughout the world.

On September 14, 1975, Pope Paul VI proclaimed, “Elizabeth Ann Seton is a Saint,” making her the first native born American to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is located in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

13 September 1906

The first flight of a fixed wing aircraft in Europe takes place.

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In 1906, the Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont made public flights in France with his 14-bis. A canard pusher biplane with pronounced wing dihedral, it had a Hargrave-style box-cell wing with a forward-mounted “boxkite” assembly which was movable to act as both elevator and rudder. He later added auxiliary surfaces between the wings as primitive ailerons to provide lateral control. His flight was the first made by a powered heavier-than-air machine to be verified by the Aéro-Club de France, and won the Deutsch-Archdeacon Prize for the first officially observed flight of more than 25 metres. It later set the first world record recognized by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale by flying 220 metres in 21.5 seconds.

The next year Louis Blériot flew the Blériot VII, a tractor monoplane with full three-axis control using the horizontal tail surfaces as combined elevators and ailerons. Its immediate descendant, the Blériot VIII, was the very first airframe to bring together the recognizable elements of the modern aircraft flight control system in April 1908. Where Horatio Phillips and Traian Vuia had failed, Blériot’s was the first practical tractor monoplane and marked the start of a trend in French aviation. By 1909, he had developed this configuration to the point where the Blériot XI was able to cross the English Channel, among other refinements using the tail surfaces only as elevators and using wing warping for lateral control.

Another design that appeared in 1907 was the Voisin biplane. This lacked any provision for lateral control, and could only make shallow turns using only rudder control, but was flown with increasing success during the year by Henri Farman, and on 13 January 1908 he won the 50,000 francs Deutsch de la Meurthe-Archdeacon Grand Prix de l’Aviation for being the first aviator to complete an officially observed 1 kilometre closed circuit flight, including taking off and landing under the aircraft’s own power.

12 September 490 BC

The Battle of Marathon: The Athenians and their Plataean allies, defeat the first Persian invasion force of Greece.

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The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC, during the first Persian invasion of Greece. It was fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes. The battle was the culmination of the first attempt by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate Greece. The Greek army decisively defeated the more numerous Persians, marking a turning point in the Greco-Persian Wars.

The first Persian invasion was a response to Athenian involvement in the Ionian Revolt, when Athens and Eretria had sent a force to support the cities of Ionia in their attempt to overthrow Persian rule. The Athenians and Eretrians had succeeded in capturing and burning Sardis, but they were then forced to retreat with heavy losses. In response to this raid, Darius swore to burn down Athens and Eretria. According to Herodotus, Darius had his bow brought to him and then shot an arrow “upwards towards heaven”, saying as he did so: “Zeus, that it may be granted me to take vengeance upon the Athenians!”. Herodotus further writes that Darius charged one of his servants to say “Master, remember the Athenians” three times before dinner each day.