14 August 1040

In Scotland, Duncan I’s rival kills him in battle and succeeds him as king. The new monarch’s name is... Macbeth.


14 August 1462

Mainz printers Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer produced the 2-volume Biblia Latina. It was the first printed Bible to contain the date and place of its printing and the names of its printers.

14 August 1739

King George II signed the charter of the Foundling Hospital which had been established by Thomas Coram to care for abandoned children.

14 August 1791: Voodoo ritual sparks slave revolt

Enslaved people in Saint-Domingue gather and vow to overthrow their French oppressors

In the summer of 1791, the French colony of Saint-Domingue, now modern-day Haiti, festered with tension. Thanks to sugar, the Caribbean outpost was one of the most profitable European colonies in the world. But for its enslaved population it was a living hell, where thousands died from yellow fever and the overseer’s lash.

More like this

When revolution broke out in France, some far-sighted observers wondered whether it might spread west. But it was not until two years later that the storm broke in the Caribbean. According to historical legend, the trigger was a secret voodoo ceremony held on 14 August in the woods of the Bois Caïman in the north of the island.

It was a hot, oppressive night. The chief priest was Dutty Boukman, a Jamaican-born former slave who had worked as a supervisor on a local plantation. It was he who coaxed the crowd to fever pitch, prophesying that they would lead a rebellion that would end slavery in Saint-Domingue for ever. Then a priestess, Cécile Fatiman, slit the throat of a pig and offered its blood to the spectators. Some daubed it on their foreheads; others drank it. They swore an oath to kill the white slave owners and follow Boukman to the end. Then, with supreme symbolism, the clouds burst and the rains poured down.

A week later the Haitian revolution began. Boukman was killed after only three months – but the French were defeated, just as he had foretold. | Written by Dominic Sandbrook

14 August 1851

American gambler, gunfighter and dentist John Henry ‘Doc’ Holliday was born in Griffin, Georgia. He is best remembered for his participation in the gunfight at the OK Corral in October 1881.


14 August 1920

Initial formation of the ‘Little Entente’, a loose alliance between the states of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Romania for mutual defence against potential Hungarian irredentism.

Browse more On this day in history