What happened on this day in history: Tenochtitlán falls to Hernán Cortés, Annie Oakley is born, Julia Child dies, and more from August 13th.
1521: The Aztec Capital Falls To Hernán Cortés
Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés captures Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztec empire, after a three-month siege. With the help of his own forces as well as other Indigenous enemies of the Aztec people, Cortés destroyed the city and captured the Aztec emperor, Cuauhtémoc. This defeat marked the end of the Aztec empire. Cortés claimed Mexico for Spain, and the territory would remain under Spanish rule for 300 years.
1792: King Louis XVI Of France Is Arrested
King Louis XVI of France is arrested for treason and declared an enemy of the people. The French Revolution was in full swing, and the country’s lower classes were fighting back against the country’s vast social inequality and absolute monarchy. Louis and his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, had been forced to flee Versailles and accept a new constitution that reduced them to mere figureheads with no real power.
Marie Antoinette was arrested alongside Louis, and the French National Convention completely abolished the monarchy weeks later. In the end, Marie Antoinette was executed by guillotine on October 16, 1793, ten months after Louis had met the same fate.
1860: Annie Oakley Is Born
Annie Oakley, the famous American sharpshooter, is born Phoebe Ann Moses in Darke County, Ohio. Oakley grew up in poverty and honed her shooting skills while hunting to provide for her family. When she was just 15, she won a shooting contest against a marksman named Frank Butler. The two would later marry and join Buffalo Bill‘s Wild West Show, performing around the world for sold-out crowds and even royalty.
1961: Construction Begins On The Berlin Wall
Just after midnight, soldiers in Soviet-controlled East Germany begin laying down a barbed wire barrier through the city of Berlin, marking the foundation of the Berlin Wall. When residents awoke in the morning, they realized they were suddenly cut off from friends and family members who lived in the other half of the city. The wall eventually grew to become a 27-mile-long brick and concrete structure that stood 10 feet tall. It wasn’t until 1989 that the Berlin Wall finally fell.
2004: Julia Child Dies At The Age Of 91
Julia Child dies at the age of 91 in Montecito, California. A beloved American chef and television personality, Julia Child did not always know that she was destined to be a culinary icon. During World War II, Julia Child worked as a spy for the CIA. It was during this time that she uncovered her love for recipes and cooking, while also developing a shark repellant recipe for the CIA.
After marrying her husband Paul Child, Child moved to France and attended Le Cordon Bleu, one of the most prestigious cooking schools in the world. Later, Child would write several cookbooks and host her own show. From then on, Child became a household name.