10 July 1553

Lady Jane Grey takes the throne of England.

On the afternoon of Monday 10th July 1553, Lady Jane Grey, her husband, Guildford Dudley, her parents and Guildford’s mother arrived by barge at the Tower of London, having travelled from Syon. They were greeted there by Guildford’s father, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and other councillors, before they made their way through the Tower gates, Jane and Guildford walking under the canopy of state.

As the procession reached the Tower there was a gun salute and trumpets blasted to silence the crowd. Two heralds then proclaimed that Lady Jane Grey was now Queen of England before they moved on to proclaim their message in Cheapside and Fleet Street. At Cheapside, a boy declared that it was Mary who was the rightful queen and he was punished the next morning by having his ears cut off.

On this very same day, a letter arrived from Mary informing the council that she was the rightful heir to the throne, not Jane, and demanding their support. As Jane was proclaimed Queen in London, Mary was gathering support for her cause in East Anglia, Jane was going to have a fight on her hands.

9 July 1877

The first Wimbledon Tennis Championships begins.

On 9 July, 1877 the first Championships began at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon.

It is the oldest tennis championship in the world, and is the only ‘grand slam’ event played on grass.

There was only one event in 1877 – the gentlemen’s singles. A field of 22 took part, having paid the one guinea entry fee. It was won by 27-year-old Old Harrovian and ex-Surrey country cricketer, Spencer Gore, who defeated William Marshall 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in front of a crowd of around 200 spectators.

Entrance fee for spectators was a shilling, and the prize for the winner was £12 – roughly £1,300 in today’s money.

Things have changed greatly since then, of course. It’s much more lucrative, for one. This year’s singles winners took home £1,760,000. First round losers were given £27,000.

The number of spectators has gone up somewhat, too. At any one time, there are around 38,500 of them in the grounds, who get through 200,000 glasses of Pimms, 28,000 kilos of strawberries and 7,000 litres of cream. They bought 28,600 ‘official’ towels, and 10,000 umbrellas.

There is no information about what sort of profit the first championships made. But in 1879, the first year for which figures are available, there was a ‘surplus’ of £116. In 2013, that figure was £35,107,812 – 90% of that is handed over to the Lawn Tennis Association to be used to develop British tennis.

8 July 1716

The Battle of Dynekilen forces Sweden to abandon its invasion of Norway.

In 8 July 1716 the Swedish king, Karl XII, raised an army of 20,000 men to meet a planned invasion by Denmark. However, Denmark abondoned the offensive plans and Karl seized the initiative and invaded instead Norway in March 1717 with 8,000 troops. He thought probably he could win an easy victory and use Norway as a bargaining chip with his enemies.

The Swedish king approached the Norwegian capital, then named Kristiania, and occupied the city. When it was clear that the city could not be held, the garrison of Akershus was reinforced and the rest of the Norwegian army withdrew to Lier, southwest of the capital. However, it did not come to a battle since the Norvegians were well prepaired to stop the Swedish army at Gjellebekk, so they turned back before the battle became a large tragedy. Only 39 people lost their life at Gjellebekk.

Norway was at this time in union with Denmark, so invading Norway was political also an attack on Denmark.

Karl concentrated his efforts on breaking through to the the west, but Akershus fortress was too strong to capture, and every road was stoutly held, the people rising en masse to defend their country and cautiously taking the offensive in several small actions. He began his return march to Sweden on 29 April and turned to the equally important task of capturing Fredriksten. This fortress, guarding the southeastern border, was a constant threat to any invader of Norway, and besides, the neighboring city Fredrikshald had a splendid harbor.

After violent fighting Karl captured the city by a surprise attack but had to retreat because the people evacuated it, burning their homes, while the fortress opened fire on the city. He had slight hopes that he might still capture the fortress if his transport fleet lying in Dynekilen, a little inlet a few miles to the south, could reach him with supplies.

The final nail in the invasion coffin was delivered by Norwegian Admiral Peter Wessel Tordenskjold, who on 8 July captured the Swedish supply fleet at the Battle of Dynekil. When the news reached Karl, he broke camp and two days later the last Swedish soldier left Norwegian soil.

In the Autumn of 1718 Karl again attacked Norway. While on an inspection visit to the forward trenches on 30 November, the king was hit in the head by a Norwegian sharpshooter’s round fired from the fortress and was immediately killed.

The Durants write that “he died as he had lived, stupefied with bravery. He was a great general, and won unbelievable victories against great odds; but he loved wars to intoxication, never had victories enough…”

7 July ,1915

The First Battle of the Isonzo comes to an end.

On June 23, 1915, exactly one month after Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary, the Italian army attacks Austro-Hungarian positions near the Isonzo River, in the eastern section of the Italian front; it will become the first of twelve Battles of the Isonzo fought during World War I.

Of all the fronts of the Great War, the Italian was the least well-suited not only for offensive operations but for any form of warfare at all. Four-fifths of Italy’s 600-kilometer-long border with Austria-Hungary was mountainous, with several peaks rising above 3,000 meters. Despite this, the Italian chief of staff, Luigi Cadorna, desperately wanted to satisfy the demands of his government–as well as the other Allies–by making substantial gains of territory against Austria-Hungary upon Italy’s declaration of war on May 23, 1915.

For its part, Austria-Hungary was surprisingly unconcerned with the Italian entry into the war, despite the fact that it opened a third front for an army whose resources were already stretched dangerously thin. In the years before the war, the Austrian commander in chief, Conrad von Hotzendorff, had often suggested a pre-emptive strike against Italy, as well as against Serbia; in 1915, the prospect of confronting an inferior Italian army seemed to lend a new burst of energy to the Dual Monarchy. Germany, though, pressured Austria-Hungary to fight defensively in Italy and not to divert resources from the Eastern Front against Russia. As a result, while the Italians plotted ambitious offensive operations, including surprise attacks across the Isonzo River, the Austrians settled into their positions in the mountains along the rapid-flowing Isonzo and planned to mount a solid and spirited defense.

After a series of preliminary operations on various sections of the front, Italian forces struck the Austrian positions at the Isonzo for the first time on June 23, 1915, after a one-week bombardment. Despite enjoying numerical superiority, the Italian forces were unable to break the Austro-Hungarian forces, Cadorna having failed to assemble adequate artillery protection to back up his infantry troops–a mistake similar to those made early in the war by commanders on the Western Front. Two Austro-Hungarian infantry divisions soon arrived to aid their comrades at the Isonzo and the Italians were prevented from crossing the river; Cadorna called off the attacks on July 7.

In the four battles fought on the Isonzo in 1915 alone, Italy made no substantial progress and suffered 235,000 casualties, including 54,000 killed. Cadorna’s plans for a highly mobile Italian advance had definitively failed, and battle on the Italian front, as in the west, had settled into slow, excruciating trench warfare.