2 April 1559

The Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis ends the war between England and France. Calais remains in French hands, theoretically for eight years. The following day a second treaty, between France and Spain, sees France renounce its claims on Italian territory.


2 April 1618

Birth in Bologna of astronomer Francesco Grimaldi. A pioneer in the study of light, he coined the term 'diffraction', and built and used instruments to study and map the Moon, where the Grimaldi crater is named after him.

2 April 1801

The Royal Navy attacked and defeated a Danish fleet anchored off Copenhagen. The attack was led by Vice Admiral Nelson who famously ignored the signal to retire hoisted by Sir Hyde Parker, his superior. He famously held a telescope to his blind eye, claiming: “I really do not see the signal.”

2 April 1840

Writer Emile Zola was born in Paris. The author of a string of successful novels including Nana and Germinal, he was an active supporter of Alfred Dreyfus, the Jewish army officer wrongly convicted of giving secrets to the Germans.

2 April 1863

The Richmond Bread riot. Faced with severe wartime food shortages, hundreds of women rioted in the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, demanding that the government release emergency supplies. Property was damaged and shops and stores were looted. Confederate president Jefferson Davis, who had failed to placate the rioters by throwing them all the money he had in his pockets, was forced to deploy troops – and threatened to order them to open fire before the rioters would disperse. More than 70 people were arrested, the majority of them women.

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2 April 1977

21-year-old Charlotte Brew becomes the first woman to ride in the Grand National. Her horse, Barony Fort, refuses four fences from home.


2 April 1982

Argentine forces invaded the Falkland Islands. The subsequent conflict saw the deaths of 655 Argentine and 255 British servicemen before the Argentine garrison at Port Stanley surrendered on 14 June. | Read more about the Falklands War

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