This Day In History, January 5th

What happened on this day in history: A domestic servant attempts to assassinate King Louis XV, Amelia Earhart is legally declared dead after disappearing two years prior, and more.

1531: Pope Clement VII Tells Henry VIII He May Not Remarry

Pope Clement VII writes King Henry VIII of England a letter informing him that he is forbidden to remarry. Henry VIII was married to Catherine of Aragon at the time, but he wanted out of the marriage because she didn’t provide him a male heir. Henry divorced Catherine anyway and founded the Church of England, a major event in the ongoing Protestant Reformation — and went on to have six wives.


1757: Robert-François Damiens Attempts to Assassinate King Louis XV

Louis XV of France is stabbed in the chest with a penknife while entering his carriage at the Palace of Versailles. Robert-François Damiens was arrested for attempted regicide. At the time, the traditional punishment for regicide was drawing and quartering, in which an executioner publicly disembowels and dismembers a criminal. Three months later, Damiens became the last person in France to be executed in this gruesome manner.


1933: Construction Begins On The Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Bettmann/Getty ImagesWorkers standing on one edge of the future Golden Gate Bridge in 1935.

Workers begin excavating the dirt that will hold the anchorages for the Golden Gate Bridge, marking the beginning of its construction in San Francisco, California.

When construction was finished four years later in 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, spanning 4,200 feet. The project cost $35 million (equivalent to $500 million today) to complete.


1939: Amelia Earhart Is Legally Declared Dead

Amelia Earhart

Wikimedia CommonsAmelia Earhart with her Lockheed Electra in 1937.

A court order declares Amelia Earhart legally dead two years after her mysterious disappearance. In 1937, Earhart was making a historic attempt to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe.

That July, she and her navigator took off from New Guinea for one of the final legs of their trip, but they never arrived at their next destination. They were never found, and some scientists believe their bodies were consumed by coconut crabs on a remote Pacific island.