64 – Great Fire of Rome: a fire began to burn in the merchant area of Rome and was soon completely out of control. According to a popular, but untrue legend, Nero fiddled as the city burned.
1553 – Lady Jane Grey was replaced by Mary I of England as Queen of England after only nine days of reign.
1860 – Lizzie Borden born. She was tried for killing her father and stepmother with an axe on August 4, 1892, in Fall River, Massachusetts, USA.
The murders, subsequent trial, and ensuing trial by media became a cause célèbre. Although she was acquitted, no one else was ever arrested or tried and she has remained a notorious figure in American folklore. Dispute over the identity of the killer or killers continues to this day.
According to a popular rhyme of the time –
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
Actually, whoever did the deed gave her (step-)mother 18 or 19 whacks and her father 11.
1919 – Following Peace Day celebrations marking the end of World War I, ex-servicemen, unhappy with unemployment and other grievances, rioted and burnt down Luton Town Hall.
The riot started after members of the council arrived to read out the King’s proclamation and many in the crowd expressed their disapproval. Tension boiled over into violence and a number of protesters broke through the police line and forcibly entered the town hall. Shortly after a number of violent clashes took place, with the town hall being stormed by the crowd and eventually set on fire.
During the riot people broke into Farmers Music Shop and dragged pianos into the streets for dancing and singing, including ironically “Keep the home fires burning”. The mayor at the time, Henry Impey, was smuggled out of Luton, never to return.
1979 – The Sandinista rebels overthrew the government of the Somoza family in Nicaragua.