Saturday, December 11, 2010


December 31, 192 The Roman emperor Commodus, whose brutal reign ended 90 years of peaceful prosperity, was assassinated. 406 Vandals, Alans and Suebians cross the Rhine, which began an invasion of Gaul. 535 Byzantine General Belisarius completed the conquest of Sicily, defeating the Ostrogothic garrison of Syracuse, and ending his consulship for the year. 1229 James I of Aragon the Conqueror enteredMedina Mayurqa (Palma, Spain) thus consummating the Christian reconquest of the island of Majorca.

1502 Cesare Borgia executed rival leaders. The infamous Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, sought to create a united government over central Italy with himself as monarch. However, the Orsini family headed up a strong league of nobles who stood against him. Borgia acted with great finesse and no scruples: even while he built his own army of loyal soldiers, he convinced the Orsinis and their associates that they had nothing to fear from him. He invited several leaders of the opposition to his castle, Senigallia, where he imprisoned Francesco Orsini, Paolo Orsini, Oliverotto da Fermo, and Vitellozzo Vitelli, all of whom were leaders of the Orsini faction. The latter two were murdered by strangulation. Already in control of Romagna, Perugia, and Urbino, Borgia now stood poised to conquer central Italy. However, his fortunes changed dramatically when his father died. After spending two years imprisoned in Spain, he joined his wife's brother, the King of Navarre, in a campaign against Castile and was killed in battle.

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