This Day In History, June 11th

What happened on this day in history: Henry VIII weds Catherine of Aragon, the Le Mans disaster kills 82, and more events that happened on June 11th throughout history.

1509: King Henry VIII Marries Catherine Of Aragon

Catherine Of Aragon

Public DomainCatherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife.

King Henry VIII marries his first wife Catherine of Aragon at Greenwich Palace in England. Though their marriage lasted almost 24 years and produced a child, Mary I, Henry desired a male heir. And when that didn’t happen with Catherine, he famously annulled his marriage to her and married Anne Boleyn in 1533.

1770: James Cook “Discovers” The Great Barrier Reef

British Captain James Cook accidentally runs his ship, the HMS Endeavour, into the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. Tasked with exploring uncharted waters by King George III, Cook and his crew nearly wrecked upon the reef and spent several weeks repairing the vessel.

1943: Henry Hill, Inspiration For Goodfellas Is Born

Henry Hill, the inspiration for the movie Goodfellas is born in Brooklyn, New York. At just 14, Hill dropped out of school to begin working for a crime family. Hill and his associate James Burke played major roles in orchestrating the Lufthansa heist, a robbery of the JFK airport, in 1978. Police would later arrest Henry Hill on drug charges, and while in custody, Hill confessed to his crimes in order to save his skin. Hollywood would eventually immortalize Hill’s story in the film Goodfellas.

1955: A Race Car Crashes Into Spectators At Le Mans

On This Day In History June 11

AFP via Getty ImagesPierre Levegh, and his car, in the aftermath of the Le Mans disaster.

French driver Pierre Levegh crashes into the crowd at the Le Mans race, killing 82 people. Levegh, who also lost his life, was driving a Mercedes-Benz when he swerved suddenly to avoid a car that had drifted into his path. But despite the horrific loss of life, the race continued on.

1963: Thich Quang Duc Burns Himself Alive

Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc burns himself alive in Saigon. About a month earlier, South Vietnamese soldiers had opened fire on people displaying a Buddhist flag in violation of the Catholic government’s policies. They killed nine, and so Duc took his own life in protest.

1963: George Wallace Blocks The Entrance To The University Of Alabama

George Wallace, governor of Alabama, blocks the entrance to the University of Alabama in protest of two African American students attempting to enter. The event concludes with President JFK sending the National Guard to force Wallace to stand down.