On this day in history, February 14

Prague, where the other Valentine’s Day massacre – both of which are mentioned here along with the Oscar Pistorius shooting – took place.

Prague, where the other Valentine’s Day massacre – both of which are mentioned here along with the Oscar Pistorius shooting – took place.

Published Feb 14, 2024


More than just dates and boring facts

269 Roman Emperor Claudius II executes two Christian martyrs who share the same name. Two hundred years later, the church sets up an annual feast, Valentine’s Day, in honour of them. The feast evolves outside of the church to become a celebration of romance and love.

1076 Pope Gregory VII excommunicates Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV (for the 1st time).

1349 Several hundred Jews are burnt alive, the rest are hounded from Strasbourg, France.

1400 Richard II of England dies, after being starved by his usurper, Henry Bolingbroke.

1779 English explorer Captain James Cook is killed on the Island of Hawaii.

1840 Boer leader Andries Pretorius issued a proclamation stating that a large stretch of land extending from St Lucia Bay was now the border between the Zulu kingdom and the Republic of Natalia. He was able to do because the Boers helped Dingaan’s brother, Mpande, who succeeded Dingaan under bloody circumstances.

1840 Natal is proclaimed a Voortrekker Republic, with the borders being the Umzimvubu in the south, the Black Mfolozi in the north, the sea to the east. No mention is made of the western border.

1876 Alexander Graham Bell applies for a patent for the telephone, as does Elisha Gray. The US Supreme Court eventually rules that Bell is the rightful inventor.

1900 British forces begin a fourth attempt to lift the Siege of Ladysmith.

1929 Seven people, six of whom are rivals of mobster Al Capone’s gang, are murdered in the St Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago.

1931 The original Dracula horror film, starring Bela Lugosi as the titular vampire, is released.

1941 The German 5th Light Division, Rommel’s Afrika Corps, arrives in Tripoli to give backbone to the Italian-led Axis forces in North Africa.

1945 Prague, a city occupied by the Nazis, is bombed, but no Germans are killed. A city known for its rich history, architectural marvels, and cultural significance, Prague was left in ruins,. When the bombs rained down, 701 people were killed while 1 184 were wounded, all of whom were innocent civilians.

The cause of this tragic event is still a topic of debate among historians. Some believe it was an accident due to bad weather and the similarity between Prague and Dresden from the air. Others argue that it was a deliberate attack, citing the fact that the city was a hub for German troops and supplies. Despite the widespread destruction, none of the city's factories were damaged, nor were any Germans killed.

1990 The Voyager 1 spacecraft takes the Pale Blue Dot photograph of Earth.

1994 King Goodwill Zwelithini tells President FW de Klerk he rejects the interim constitution and is prepared to set up a Zulu kingdom.

2005 YouTube is launched by a group of college students.

2013 Olympian and paralympian Oscar Pistorius kills his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. It makes headlines around the world and the court case will be watched live globally.

2018 Jacob Zuma resigns as president, as instructed by the ANC.

2019 The Egyptian parliament approves measures to enable President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to extend his rule till 2030.

2020 Uefa and a 2-year-ban to Manchester City from European club competition for committing “serious breaches” of club licensing and financial fair play regulations EPL champions also fined €30 million.

2021 At least 60 people killed and hundreds missing after a boat capsizes on the Congo River carrying 700 people in western Democratic Republic of the Congo

2022 The megadrought affecting the American South-west is now considered the worst for 1 200 years according to scientists.

2023 New Zealand declares a national state of emergency after Cyclone Gabrielle causes widespread flooding and devastation across the North Island.