5 October: On this day in history

What events happened on 5 October in history? Dominic Sandbrook rounds up the events, births and deaths…

On this day_Numbers_orange5

5 October 1497

Royal pretender Perkin Warbeck is captured at Beaulieu.

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5 October 1518

To seal England’s recent alliance with France, an elaborate ceremony at Greenwich Palace sees two-year-old Mary Tudor formally betrothed to Francis, the eight-month-old French Dauphin.


5 October 1789

A Parisian mob, mostly of women, marched on Versailles and forced the French royal family to accompany them back to Paris.


5 October 1795: Napoleon gets his first taste of power

The young Corsican officer comes to prominence with a “whiff of grapeshot”

At the beginning of October 1795, fighting broke out in Paris. Six years after the fall of the Bastille, the Revolution was still far from secure. The French countryside was still a turbulent, violent place, while in the capital the bloodletting of the Terror had given way to a mood of growing tension. By 4 October, royalist demonstrations on the streets of Paris seemed in danger of escalating into outright rebellion. That night, watching a play at the theatre, a young Corsican officer called Napoleon Bonaparte heard rumours that the situation was spiralling out of control.

Within hours, Napoleon had turned himself from an obscure general into a national figure. After rushing to the Convention – the country’s governing assembly – in the small hours, he found himself ordered to use all possible means to crush the insurrection. By 9am the next morning Napoleon had lined the streets with cannon, which were loaded with grapeshot – hundreds of metal balls packed into metal cases, which would cause devastating injury to a crowd of civilians. But Napoleon Bonaparte was in no mood to compromise. “The rabble,” he wrote later, “must be moved by terror.”

Carnage ensued. As the cannons roared out their bloody message, hundreds were killed. By 6pm the streets were clear and the uprising was mostly over. As for Napoleon, he was rewarded with promotion – to command the French army in Italy. Thanks to what Victorian historian Thomas Carlyle called his “whiff of grapeshot”, the bloodthirsty little Corsican had taken his first steps in French politics.


5 October 1910

Two days after revolution has erupted in Lisbon, news breaks that Portugal’s last king, Dom Manuel II, has fled the city to the countryside. At nine o’clock that morning, with crowds pouring onto the streets and the city in ferment, the rebels proclaim Portugal’s first republic.


5 October 1930

The British airship R101 crashed on its maiden voyage near Beauvais in France, killing 48 of its 54 passengers and crew. The disaster effectively ended Britain’s use of rigid airships.


5 October 1931

American aviator Clyde Pangborn and New York socialite Hugh Herndon Jr crash-landed their Bellanca Skyrocket monoplane near Wenatchee, Washington, to complete the world’s first non-stop flight across the Pacific.

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105 October 1952

Tea rationing ended in Britain. Restrictions had been in force since January 1940 but a buying rush was not anticipated as the ration had already reached the prewar consumption level of three ounces per week.

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