24 May 1218

The Fifth Crusade leaves Acre for Egypt.

The Crusaders left Acre on 24 May 1218, bound for Egypt, and first launched an attack on Damietta, a key Egyptian settlement which guarded the main route up the Nile river to Cairo, in June of 1218. With ranks boosted as a result of the arrival of a large number of French Crusaders led by Cardinal-Legate Pelagius, the Crusaders believed that they were well on their way to taking control of Damietta, the first step in their bid to capture Cairo, which would then lead to the rest of Egypt coming under their control.

The city managed to fend off the Crusaders for several months, and, in February 1219, offered peace terms that included the cession of the kingdom of Jerusalem and the return of the True Cross. While King John and a large number of Crusaders were keen to accept the terms and return home, Cardinal-Legate Pelagius, who argued that the Crusaders were under the Church’s control, refused, and the fighting continued, with thousands of men losing their lives.

Damietta was taken on 5 November 1219, and, once inside the settlement, the Crusaders looted it for a number of days, as their enthusiasm built for their next attack on Cairo, the final obstacle placed in their path by Egypt. From there, they planned to head straight for their top priority – Jerusalem.

24 May 1956

The first Eurovision Song Contest is held in Lugano, Switzerland.

Inspired by the Italian Sanremo Festival, the idea to organise a pan-European musicial competition was born at a meeting of the European Broadcasting Union in Monaco in 1955. It was decided that the first ever Eurovision Song Contest would be hosted the following year in the Swiss resort of Lugano. The 1956 Eurovision Song Contest was primarily a radio show, although some cameras were taping the contest for the few Europeans who had a television set at that time.

Lohengrin Filipello hosted the programme, which lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes. The seven participating countries each submitted two entries. The songs of the contest were not to exceed three and a half minutes, and the performers were accompanied by an orchestra of 24 musicians, led by Fernando Paggi.The winning song, as announced by the head of the jury, was Refrain, performed by Lys Assia from Switzerland . Lys Assia is the only Swiss contestant to have ever won the Eurovision Song Contest, as Switzerland’s other winner, Céline Dion, is French-Canadian.

The broadcasters from Austria, Denmark and the United Kingdom missed the deadline for participating in the first ever Eurovision Song Contest and only appeared one year later. Only solo artists were allowed to enter the contest. Groups were initially banned – a rule which would only be abolished in the 1970s.

All participating countries sent two jury members to Lugano in order to vote secretly on the songs. The jury members from Luxembourg could not make it to Lugano, so the EBU allowed Swiss nationals to vote on their behalf. The juries were allowed to vote for whatever country they wished to, including their own; The scores of the voting have never been made public, leaving room for lots of speculation. Attempts to reconstruct the voting by interviewing jury members over the past five decades did not lead to any reliable outcome.