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11 June: On this day in history

What events happened on 11 June in history? We round up the events, births and deaths…

Published: June 11, 2022 at 5:04 am
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11 June 323 BC: Alexander the Great dies after drinking binge

The mighty ruler’s sudden demise sends his empire spiralling into decline

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Alexander of Macedon, master of the world from the shores of the Adriatic to the mountains of Afghanistan, spent the early summer of 323 BC in Babylon. Only a year before, his troops had persuaded him to turn back from a planned invasion of India. But already he was planning new conquests, hoping to strike at the heart of Arabia. On top of that, the 32-year-old king was pressing forward with his plans to integrate Persians and Macedonians, even urging his officers to take Persian wives. And then, some time around the beginning of June, disaster struck.

Accounts of Alexander’s death differ widely. The most popular, told by the historian Plutarch, holds that he was taken ill after a drinking session with his friend Medius of Larissa. In the next few days, Alexander developed a fever. Although he managed to put in an appearance before his worried troops, his condition worsened until he could no longer speak. At last, some time in the night between 10 and 11 June, he died.

Since so many Macedonian rulers fell victim to assassination, speculation has long surrounded Alexander’s death. Many historians have suggested that he may have been poisoned by rivals within the Macedonian elite or by officers outraged by his Persian affectations. The true explanation may be more prosaic. In the festering heat of summer in Babylon, the hard-drinking Alexander may well have succumbed to typhoid or malaria.

His death had a shattering impact. Within weeks the Macedonian empire was already falling apart, as his officers began to carve out their own rival dominions. Even Alexander’s sarcophagus, hijacked and taken to Alexandria, became a weapon in the civil war. “I foresee great contests,” he is supposed to have said, “at my funeral games.” He was right. | Written by Dominic Sandbrook


11 June 1183

Henry ‘the Young King’, son and heir of King Henry II, died of dysentery while rebelling against his father. He had asked for his body to be buried at Rouen and his entrails at Limoges, but the bishop of le Mans seized the corpse and had it buried in his cathedral. The citizens of Rouen threatened force against le Mans, and Henry II insisted that his son’s wishes be observed. The body was reburied in Rouen Cathedral, and is now opposite the tomb containing the heart of Henry’s brother, Richard.


11 June 1509

Seventeen-year-old Henry VIII marries Catherine of Aragon, his brother’s widow, in a quiet ceremony in Greenwich Palace.


11 June 1811

The Honourable Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby was appointed commander of the 12th Light Dragoons. He led the regiment in Spain and also at Waterloo where he survived despite being stabbed in the back by a French lancer.


11 June 1832

Birth of socialite and archetypal ‘Southern Belle’ Lucy Holcombe Pickens. In 1858 she married Francis Pickens; her acceptance of his marriage proposal has been attributed to the fact he had just been appointed ambassador to Russia. While in Russia the couple became firm friends with Tsar Alexander II and his wife, Maria. Returning home in 1860, they were strong supporters of secession from the Union. Francis served as governor of South Carolina; Lucy earned the nickname of ‘the Queen of the Confederacy’ and her portrait appears on some Confederate banknotes.

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11 June 1970

Alexander Kerensky, leader of the Russian provisional government in 1917, died in exile. The Russian orthodox church refused to grant him burial so he was buried in a non-denominational cemetery at Putney Vale, London.

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