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11 January: On this day in history

What events happened on 11 January in history? Dominic Sandbrook rounds up the events, births and deaths…

Published: January 11, 2022 at 6:06 am
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11 January AD 630: Muhammad conquers Mecca

The Muslim prophet returns home with an army of 10,000

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At the beginning of January AD 630, the Prophet Muhammad was preparing to return to his home town. He had been born some 60 years earlier in the Arabian trading city of Mecca and, according to the Qur’an, started receiving divine visions and angelic visitations in about AD 610. After provoking hostility from some locals, he had moved to the rival city of Medina for his own safety. But after eight years away, having converted thousands to his cause, Muhammad was back, with 10,000 armed supporters.

At first the local ruling tribe, the Quraysh, were determined to block his return. But as the Muslim army approached, it became obvious that his strength was simply too great. After days of negotiations, the Quraysh leader, Abu Sufyan, agreed to cede the city to Muhammad and his troops.

So when the Muslim army finally entered the city, there was remarkably little bloodshed. Only a few locals tried to resist, and those who weren’t killed, quickly surrendered. When Muhammad took control, he ordered virtually no reprisals. Only 10 of his leading opponents were arrested, and not all were killed. “He who lays down arms will be safe. He who locks his door will be safe,” he told the people of Mecca. “There is no reproof against you. Go your way, for you are free.”

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Accompanied by advisors, Muhammad now visited Mecca’s holiest sanctuary, the Kaaba. There he removed the existing religious images, though some accounts say he spared those of Abraham, Jesus and Mary. “Allah has made Mecca a sanctuary since the day he created the heavens and the earth,” he told his followers, “and it will remain a sanctuary by virtue of the sanctity Allah has bestowed on it until the Day of Resurrection.”

Julian Humphrys rounds up smaller anniversaries

11 January  1569
The first winning tickets from England's first State Lottery are drawn outside the door of St Paul's Cathedral, London. The Lottery was intended to fund "the reparation of the havens (harbours)… and towards such other publique good workes".
11 January 1613 
Stonemasons digging in a sandpit in Dauphiné in south-east france unearthed colossal bones and teeth which, at the time, were claimed to be those of Teutobochus, the legendary giant king of the Teutons.
11 January  1891
French civic planner Georges-Eugene Haussmann died, aged 91. In the 1850s and 1860s he remodelled Paris, demolishing many of its narrow medieval streets and creating the network of wide boulevards associated with the city today.
11 January  1922
Leonard Thompson, a 14-year-old patient in Toronto general hospital, became the first person to be injected with insulin as a treatment for diabetes. Insulin had been discovered by Sir Frederick Banting, Charles Best and JJR Macleod at the University of Toronto in the previous year and was subsequently purified by James Collip. The extract administered to Thompson caused a severe allergic reaction and future injections were halted while Collip worked to improve the beef-pancreas extract. A second dose was injected 12 days later and this was completely successful.
11 January 1928
Poet and novelist Thomas Hardy dies aged 87 in Dorchester. He had expressed the wish to be buried besides his wife in Stinsford churchyard but in the event only his heart was buried there. His ashes are in Westminster Abbey.

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Authors

Dominic SandbrookHistorian and presenter

Dominic Sandbrook is historian and presenter, and a regular contributor to BBC History Magazine

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