30 August 526

In Ravenna, the Gothic king Theodoric the Great dies of dysentery, leaving the crown of Italy to his 10-year-old son Athalaric.


30 August 1659

Alexander Lindsay, first Earl of Balcarres, died in exile at Breda. He fought against Prince Rupert at Marston Moor and against the Marquis of Montrose at Alford and Kilsyth before turning Royalist and joining Charles II.

30 August 1791

HMS Pandora sank after running aground on the Great Barrier Reef. She was returning from a voyage to search for HMS Bounty and the mutineers who had seized her. Thirty of the crew and four Bounty prisoners drowned.

30 August 1862

Confederate general Robert E Lee defeated the Federal Army of Virginia under Major General John Pope at the second battle of Bull run.

30 August 1918: Lenin takes a bullet to the lung

Fanny Kaplan’s assassination attempt on the Bolshevik leader ends in her execution

More like this

The evening of 30 August 1918 found Lenin, as so often, making a speech. With Russia being torn apart by civil war, the Bolshevik leader was keen to raise morale among the urban workers who provided the bedrock of his support. That evening took him to the Hammer and Sickle engineering factory in suburban Moscow. At about 10pm, after a passionate address to hundreds of workers, he was escorted outside towards his car, pausing briefly to chat to some activists about the current food shortages. It was then that the shooting started.

According to the official version of events, a woman called out to Lenin from the crowd before levelling her Browning revolver and firing three times. The first shot went through his coat and hit a bystander; the second hit his shoulder; the third punctured his lung. As horrified observers grabbed the unresisting assassin, Lenin’s guards heaved his unconscious body into the car and made for the Kremlin.

Lenin survived, although he was badly wounded and his health arguably never recovered. But the real mystery concerns his assassin. Fanny Kaplan was a 28-year-old member of the Socialist Revolutionaries, previously allies of the Bolsheviks who had since been suppressed by them. In her confession, she supposedly said: “I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution,” and insisted she had acted alone, a claim many historians find implausible, since she was virtually blind.

In any case, Kaplan’s fate was sealed. On 3 September she was led into a garage and executed with a single bullet to the back of the head. A few hours later, the Soviet government issued a blood-curdling declaration, announcing that it was time to “crush the hydra of counterrevolution with massive terror”. The Red Terror had begun. | Written by Dominic Sandbrook


30 August 1940

Death of Sir Joseph John Thompson, the British physicist who discovered the electron in 1897 and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1906 for his theoretical and experimental investigations on the conduction of electricity by gases.

Browse more On this day in history