This Day In History, July 29th

What happened on this day in history: The Spanish Armada is defeated off the coast of London, beloved singer Mama Cass Elliot dies, and more events from July 29th.

1588: The Spanish Armada Is Defeated

The Spanish Armada is defeated by the English during a battle off the coast of Gravelines, France. The Spanish, who hoped to conquer England and bring the country back under Catholic rule, were forced into a retreat after eight hours of fighting. During their return journey, half of Spain’s fleet perished from shipwrecks, storms, and a lack of supplies.

1900: King Umberto I Of Italy Is Assassinated

Today In History July 29

Public DomainKing Umberto I of Italy circa 1882.

King Umberto I of Italy is assassinated by anarchist Gaetano Bresci. In power since 1878, Umberto’s rule was marked by imperialistic and nationalist policies. He was deeply hated by anarchists, who first attempted to assassinate him during his first year in power.

1905: Clara Bow, The Original Flapper, Is Born

Clara Bow, the original flapper and the “it girl” of the 1920s, is born in Brooklyn, New York.

1954: The Lord Of The Rings Is Published

The Lord of the Rings is first published in the United Kingdom. The book’s author, J. R. R. Tolkien, decided to write the series after the success of his children’s book The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings is considered one of the greatest fantasy books ever written and has left a significant mark on popular culture. It is one of the best-selling books in history, with over 150 million copies sold.

1958: NASA Is Founded

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is established by the U.S. Congress. Less than a year earlier, the Soviet Union had taken the first leap in the “Space Race” by sending a satellite called Sputnik I into outer space. NASA, tasked with building out America’s space program, made history about a decade later by putting a man on the moon on July 20, 1969.

1974: Mama Cass Elliot Dies

Mama Cass Elliot

Donaldson Collection/Getty ImagesMama Cass Elliot circa 1970.

Ellen Naomi Cohen, popularly known as “Mama” Cass Elliot, dies in London, England, at the age of 32. After rising to fame as a member of The Mamas & the Papas in the late 1960s, Elliot had recently branched out into a solo career. But she struggled with her weight and died in her London home of heart failure.