26 October: On this day in history
What events happened on 26 October in history? Dominic Sandbrook rounds up the events, births and deaths…
26 October 1512
King Henry VIII commissioned Florentine sculptor Pietro Torrigiani to produce a monument to the royal's parents, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, in Westminster Abbey. Torrigiani (who famously broke Michelangelo's nose in a student brawl) had "to make and worke, or doo to be made and wrought, well, surely, clenly, workemanly, curiously and substancyally, for the sum of £1,500 sterling, a tombe or sepulture of whit marbill and of black touchstone wt. ymags, figures, beasts and other things of cuppure gilt".
26 October 1881: Guns are ablaze at the OK Corral
Lawmen trade bullets with a gang of outlaws in a shoot-out that goes down in Wild West legend
In the popular imagination, the gunfight at the OK Corral has become shorthand for a vanished age of daring outlaws and rugged lawmen, facing each other in the dust of the Old West. The reality, however, was a long distance from the Hollywood portrayals seen in numerous westerns.
Founded near the Mexican border, Tombstone, Arizona was only two years old in 1881, but people flooded in every week. The settlement boasted scores of saloons, a bowling alley, two newspapers and an opera house. It was not a contented place, though. Political rivalries, feuds and communal tensions were rife, not least between the rich saloon interests and rural cowboys. This was where the Earp brothers, representing the town, and the Clanton and McLaury brothers (the cowboys), came in
After weeks of simmering tension, matters came to a head on 26 October 1881. The famous gunfight was an attempt by Tombstone’s newly appointed marshal Virgil Earp, his brothers Wyatt and Morgan and friend Doc Holliday to disarm members of a gang of outlaws, who had defied the law by bringing weapons into the town. Contrary to popular belief, the shooting did not happen at the actual OK Corral, but at a scruffy lot nearby. And it was all over in moments.
The trigger was Virgil’s cry: “Boys, throw up your hands. I want your guns!” Two cowboys drew their revolvers and then somebody (accounts of who that person was differ) fired the first shot. The air was thick with gun smoke, then 30 seconds later, the guns fell silent. Three cowboys lay dead, but a legend was born. | Read more: how wild was the Wild West?