Often seen as the beginning of European imperial hegemony over China, the First Opium War was fought between the British East India Company and the Qing Dynasty from 1839 to 1842. Widespread opium addiction had led to a Chinese ban on imports of the drug in 1729, and the British aimed to reverse this policy. Easily overpowered, China agreed to the Treaty of Nanjing, which fixed tariffs on British goods, opened several Chinese ports to British merchants, and ceded what island to Queen Victoria?
Back in the day
Louis XVI was King of France from 1774 to 1792. One of his greatest responsibilities as king was to deal with the country's enormous debt, but his indecisiveness and conservatism led the people to reject him. During the uprising that led to the French Revolution, he attempted to flee the country, but was caught, supposedly when a store clerk recognized his face from the country's coinage. Tried for treason and found guilty, he was guillotined on January 21, 1793. Who was his infamous wife?
Born on a day like today
Leo X, born into the important Florentine Medici family, rose to the papacy in 1513. Pope Leo X was a patron of the arts and a generous almsgiver, but he was also strongly criticized for his lavish lifestyle. He was not greatly interested in the advancement of the Church, and when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, Leo X's subsequent excommunication of Luther did little to stem the tide of the Reformation. What massive animal did he keep as a pet?