28 February 1261

Birth at Windsor of Margaret, daughter of Alexander III of Scotland and Margaret, eldest daughter of Henry III of England. In 1281 she was sent to Norway to marry the 13-year-old Eric II and two years later, shortly after giving birth to a daughter, she died there. Her daughter (also called Margaret) inherited the Scottish throne, but her early death in 1290 left no undisputed successor. When Edward I of England was asked to decide between the competing candidates, he saw this as a chance to impose his authority on Scotland.


28 February 1533

Birth at the Chateau de Montaigne near Bordeaux, France of leading sceptic philosopher and influential essayist Michel de Montaigne.

28 February 1638

Members of the Scottish nobility signed the National Covenant in the churchyard of Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh. Ministers and burgesses signed it the next day. Copies were then distributed throughout Scotland for over 300,000 Scots to sign it. Drawn up by churchman Alexander Henderson and lawyer Archibald Johnston of Wariston, the Covenant was an affirmation of the Presbyterian system of church government and a statement of Scottish opposition to Charles I's religious innovations, notably his attempt to introduce, without consultation, the Book of Common Prayer into Scotland.

28 February 1649

Birth in Devon of Arabella Churchill, sister of the future Duke of Marlborough, and a mistress of James VII and II. At court James reportedly showed little interest in her until she fell off her horse one day and was left "in a negligent posture" before him.

28 February 1710

In the last major Danish invasion of Sweden, some 14,000 Danish troops were defeated at the battle of Helsingborg.

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28 February 1712

Birth in Nîmes of French soldier Louis Joseph de Montcalm. In 1759 he was defeated and mortally wounded outside Quebec in a battle that also saw the death of James Wolfe, de Montcalm's opposing commander.

28 February 1900

During the Second Anglo-Boer War, General Sir Redvers Buller's British army relieved the Natal town of Ladysmith which, defended by Sir George White, had been besieged by the Boers for 15 months.

28 February 1904

In Lisbon, two dozen people crammed into a room at the back of a Belém pharmacy to set up a sporting club, which – unlike the clubs so popular with English residents – would be for Portuguese natives only. They called it Sport Lisboa, but it is better known today as Benfica.


28 February 1917

The US government released details of the Zimmerman telegram proposing a German alliance with Mexico.

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