Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
November 1 is the 305th day of the year (306th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 60 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1512, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, one of Italian artist Michelangelo’s finest works, is exhibited to the public for the first time.
Michelangelo Buonarroti was commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508 to repaint the vault, or ceiling, of the Chapel. It was originally painted as golden stars on a blue sky. The work was completed between 1508 and 2 November 1512. He painted the Last Judgment over the altar, between 1535 and 1541, on commission from Pope Paul III Farnese.Michelangelo was intimidated by the scale of the commission, and made it known from the outset of Julius II’s approach that he would prefer to decline. He felt he was more of a sculptor than a painter, and was suspicious that such a large-scale project was being offered to him by enemies as a set-up for an inevitable fall. For Michelangelo, the project was a distraction from the major marble sculpture that had preoccupied him for the previous few years.To be able to reach the ceiling, Michelangelo needed a support; the first idea was by Julius’ favoured architect Donato Bramante, who wanted to build for him a scaffold to be suspended in the air with ropes. However, Bramante did not successfully complete the task, and the structure he built was flawed. He had perforated the vault in order to lower strings to secure the scaffold. Michelangelo laughed when he saw the structure, and believed it would leave holes in the ceiling once the work was ended. He asked Bramante what was to happen when the painter reached the perforations, but the architect had no answer.
The matter was taken before the Pope, who ordered Michelangelo to build a scaffold of his own. Michelangelo created a flat wooden platform on brackets built out from holes in the wall, high up near the top of the windows. He stood on this scaffolding while he painted.
Michelangelo used bright colours, easily visible from the floor. On the lowest part of the ceiling he painted the ancestors of Christ. Above this he alternated male and female prophets, with Jonah over the altar. On the highest section, Michelangelo painted nine stories from the Book of Genesis. He was originally commissioned to paint only 12 figures, the Apostles. He turned down the commission because he saw himself as a sculptor, not a painter. The Pope offered to allow Michelangelo to paint biblical scenes of his own choice as a compromise. After the work was finished, there were more than 300. His figures showed the creation, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the Great Flood.
365 – The Alamanni cross the Rhine and invade Gaul. Emperor Valentinian I moves to Paris to command the army and defend the Gallic cities.
996 – Emperor Otto III issues a deed to Gottschalk, Bishop of Freising, which is the oldest known document using the name Ostarrîchi (Austria in Old High German).
1141 – Empress Matilda’s reign as ‘Lady of the English’ ends with Stephen of Blois regaining the title of King of England.
1179 – Philip II is crowned King of France.
1348 – The anti-royalist Union of Valencia attacks the Jews of Murviedro on the pretext that they are serfs of the King of Valencia and thus “royalists”.
1512 – The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, is exhibited to the public for the first time.
1520 – The Strait of Magellan, the passage immediately south of mainland South America, connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans, is first navigated by Ferdinand Magellan during his global circumnavigation voyage.
1604 – William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello is presented for the first time, at Whitehall Palace in London.
1611 – William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy The Tempest is presented for the first time, at Whitehall Palace in London.
1683 – The British crown colony of New York is subdivided into 12 counties.
1755 – Lisbon earthquake: In Portugal, Lisbon is destroyed by a massive earthquake and tsunami, killing between sixty thousand and ninety thousand people.
1765 – The British Parliament enacts the Stamp Act on the 13 colonies in order to help pay for British military operations in North America.
1800 – US President John Adams becomes the first President of the United States to live in the Executive Mansion (later renamed the White House).
1805 – Napoleon Bonaparte invades Austria during the War of the Third Coalition.
1814 – Congress of Vienna opens to re-draw the European political map after the defeat of France, in the Napoleonic Wars.
1848 – In Boston, Massachusetts, the first medical school for women, The Boston Female Medical School (which later merged with the Boston University School of Medicine), opens.
1859 – The current Cape Lookout, North Carolina, lighthouse is lit for the first time. Its first-order Fresnel lens can be seen for about 19 miles (30 kilometers), in good conditions.
1861 – American Civil War: US President Abraham Lincoln appoints George B. McClellan as the commander of the Union Army, replacing the aged General Winfield Scott.
1870 – In the United States, the Weather Bureau (later renamed the National Weather Service) makes its first official meteorological forecast.
1886 – Ananda College, a leading Buddhist school in Sri Lanka is established with 37 students.
1894 – Nicholas II becomes the new Tsar of Russia after his father, Alexander III, dies.
1896 – A picture showing the unclad (bare) breasts of a woman appears in National Geographic magazine for the first time.
1897 – The first Library of Congress building opened its doors to the public. The Library had been housed in the Congressional Reading Room in the U.S. Capitol.
1911 – The first dropping of a bomb from an airplane in combat, during the Italo-Turkish War.
1914 – World War I: the first British Royal Navy defeat of the war with Germany, the Battle of Coronel, is fought off of the western coast of Chile, in the Pacific, with the loss of HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth.
1915 – Parris Island is officially designated a US Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
1918 – Malbone Street Wreck: the worst rapid transit accident in US history occurs under the intersection of Malbone Street and Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, New York City, with at least 93 deaths.
1918 – Western Ukraine gains its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
1920 – American Fishing Schooner Esperanto defeats the Canadian Fishing Schooner Delawana in the First International Fishing Schooner Championship Races in Halifax.
1922 – The last sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed VI, abdicates.
1928 – The Law on the Adoption and Implementation of the Turkish Alphabet, replacing the version of the Arabic alphabet previously used, comes into force in Turkey.
1937 – Stalinists execute Pastor Paul Hamberg and seven members of Azerbaijan’s Lutheran community.
1938 – Seabiscuit defeats War Admiral in an upset victory during a match race deemed “the match of the century” in horse racing.
1939 – The first rabbit born after artificial insemination is exhibited to the world.
1941 – American photographer Ansel Adams takes a picture of a moonrise over the town of Hernandez, New Mexico that would become one of the most famous images in the history of photography.
1942 – Matanikau Offensive begins during the Guadalcanal Campaign and ends on November 4.
1943 – World War II: Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, United States Marines, the 3rd Marine Division, land on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.
1943 – World War II: In support of the landings on Bougainville, U.S. aircraft carrier forces attack the huge Japanese base at Rabaul.
1944 – World War II: Units of the British Army land at Walcheren in the Netherlands.
1945 – The official North Korean newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, is first published under the name Chongro. Australia joins the United Nations.
1946 – The New York Knicks played against the Toronto Huskies at the Maple Leaf Gardens, in the first Basketball Association of America game. The Knicks would win 68-66.
1950 – Puerto Rican nationalists Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo attempt to assassinate US President Harry S. Truman at Blair House.
1950 – Pope Pius XII claims Papal Infallibility when he formally defines the dogma of the Assumption of Mary.
1951 – Operation Buster-Jangle: 6,500 American soldiers are exposed to ‘Desert Rock’ atomic explosions for training purposes in Nevada. Participation is not voluntary.
1952 – Operation Ivy – The United States successfully detonates the first large hydrogen bomb, codenamed “Mike” [“M” for megaton], in the Eniwetok atoll, located in the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific Ocean. The explosion had a yield of 10 megatons.
1954 – The Front de Liberation Nationale fires the first shots of the Algerian War of Independence.
1955 – The bombing of United Airlines Flight 629 occurs near Longmont, Colorado, killing all 39 passengers and five crew members aboard the Douglas DC-6B airliner.
1957 – The Mackinac Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge between anchorages at the time, opens to traffic connecting Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.
1959 – Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante wears a protective mask for the first time in an NHL game.
1959 – In Rwanda, Hutu politician Dominique Mbonyumutwa is beaten up by Tutsi forces, leading to a period of violence known as the wind of destruction.
1960 – While campaigning for President of the United States, John F. Kennedy announces his idea of the Peace Corps.
1961 – 50,000 women in 60 cities participate in the inaugural Women Strike for Peace (WSP) against nuclear proliferation.
1963 – The Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, with the largest radio telescope ever constructed, officially opens.
1968 – The Motion Picture Association of America’s film rating system is officially introduced, originating with the ratings G, M, R, and X.
1973 – Watergate Scandal: Leon Jaworski is appointed as the new Watergate Special Prosecutor.
1982 – Honda becomes the first Asian automobile company to produce cars in the United States with the opening of their factory in Marysville, Ohio. The Honda Accord is the first car produced there.
1993 – The Maastricht Treaty takes effect, formally establishing the European Union.
2000 – Serbia joins the United Nations.
2005 – First part of the Gomery Report, which discusses allegations of political money manipulation by members of the Liberal Party of Canada, is released in Canada.
2009 – The inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is held at the Yas Marina Circuit.
2012 – A fuel tank truck crashes and explodes in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh killing 26 people and injuring 135.