On this day in the year 1098 – (917 years ago) – an army of several thousand European crusaders, who for weeks had laid siege to the town of Ma’arrat al-Numan in what is now Syria, managed to breach the town’s walls. Once inside, the crusaders negotiated a peace agreement with the town’s Muslim leaders. But as soon as the Muslims surrendered, the crusaders launched a massacre, killing some twenty thousand people. Taking control of the town, they found that it was not as rich or well supplied as they had assumed it would be, and the army’s two European leaders fell into a power struggle over control of what was there. Most of the other crusaders mounted their horses and left, proceeding onward to Jerusalem. But a smaller group stayed behind and was soon forced to deal with cold weather and lack of food. Driven mad by starvation after winter set in, the Europeans finally resorted to cannibalism—cutting up, boiling, grilling, and eating body parts of the Muslims they had killed.
On this day in 1899 – (116 years ago) – in Honolulu, Hawaii, a twenty-two-year-old bookkeeper named You Chong became the first person to die in what would quickly become a disastrous epidemic of bubonic plague. The disease was thought to have been brought to Hawaii from Hong Kong aboard the Japanese merchant vessel SS Nippon Maru, which had docked in Honolulu a few weeks earlier, carrying two human corpses and numerous rats infected with plague. As the usually fatal disease spread at first among Honolulu’s residents of Asian extraction, local authorities responded by cordoning off the city’s Chinatown and deliberately setting fire to allegedly plague-infected homes. One such fire went raging out of control, creating a conflagration that burned for seventeen days and destroyed some four thousand flimsy wooden houses. More than five thousand Chinatown residents were left destitute, and were marched off to hastily improvised sanitariums where they were kept under involuntary quarantine for months. Meanwhile, the plague continued spreading across the island of Oahu, eventually claiming more than sixty lives before burning itself out.
On this day in 1933 – (82 years ago) – during an NHL hockey game between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs, the legendary Boston defenseman Eddie Shore, hit by Toronto’s Red Homer, responded by slamming Homer’s teammate Ace Bailey so hard from behind that Bailey went down, hit his head on the ice, and fractured his skull. Homer responded with a punch in Shore’s face that would require seven stitches. Bailey, meanwhile, went into convulsions and was feared to be dying. A four-hour emergency operation saved Bailey’s life, but he never played hockey again. Shore, meanwhile, soon became the first NHL player to use a helmet.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi