6 July 1189
After the death of his father Henry II, with whom he has fallen out, Richard the Lionheart accedes the English throne.
6 July 1483
Richard Duke of Gloucester was crowned King Richard III by Thomas Bourchier, archbishop of Canterbury, in a lavish and well-attended ceremony at Westminster. During the coronation procession the great mace was carried by Thomas Lord Stanley, while the train of Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, was borne by Stanley’s wife, Margaret Beaufort, Dowager Countess of Richmond. Two years later Margaret’s son would become King Henry VII after defeating Richard at the battle of Bosworth with the aid of the Stanley family.
6 July 1781
Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, the future founder of Singapore, was born off Port Morant, Jamaica, on board his father’s ship, the Ann.
6 July 1885: Louis Pasteur unveils his cure for rabies
Pioneering microbiologist risks the wrath of the law by saving a young boy’s life
When nine-year-old Joseph Meister was bitten by a rabid dog, his parents feared the worst. Rabies was a death sentence. But Joseph’s mother had recently read about the work of the pioneering microbiologist Louis Pasteur. If anyone could save her son, she thought, Professor Pasteur could.
On 6 July, having made the two-day journey from their Alsatian village, Joseph and his mother were shown in to see the professor. Pasteur did have a rabies vaccine, developed by his colleague Emile Roux, but it had only ever been tested on dogs. The problem, however, was that since he was not a registered doctor, Pasteur would be breaking the law if he tried to treat Joseph.
To his eternal credit, Pasteur decided to gamble. “The death of this child appearing to be inevitable,” he wrote later, “I decided, not without lively and sore anxiety, as may well be believed, to try.” This was the chance to test the vaccine: “Half a syringeful of the spinal cord of a rabbit, which had died of rabies.” Over the next few days, he injected little Joseph some 13 times. On the final day he gave him “the most virulent dose of rabies”.
It worked. Joseph was cured. Forever indebted to Professor Pasteur, he later became the caretaker of the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The story goes that when the Germans defeated France in 1940, Joseph killed himself rather than let them in. In reality, he was stricken by guilt that he had sent his family out of the city. Believing – wrongly, it turned out – that they must have died during the invasion, he gassed himself in his kitchen. He was 64 years old. | Written by Dominic Sandbrook
6 July 1912
The opening ceremony of the Olympics was held in Stockholm’s Olympic Stadium in the presence of King Gustav V of Sweden. Later that day, Donald Lippincott set a new world record of 10.6 seconds in the heats of the 100 metres.
6 July 1942: Anne Frank enters the ‘Secret Annex’
“All day long we unpacked boxes,” wrote the 13-year-old as her family set up a hidden home
On the afternoon of 5 July 1942, the Frank family had the news they dreaded. For more than two years, they had been living under Nazi rule in German- occupied Amsterdam. Now, as their 13-year- old daughter Anne recorded in her diary, her 16-year-old sister, Margot, had been called up for transportation to a German labour camp.
“A call-up: everyone knows what that means,” Anne wrote. “Visions of concentration camps and lonely cells raced through my head.”
That night, their parents made their final preparations for their flight. “Everything was very strange,” wrote Anne. At 5.30 the next morning, Mrs Frank woke the girls. Two hours later, wearing as many layers of clothes as they could, the Franks closed their front door for the last time, and walked through the morning rain towards Anne’s father’s office at 263 Prinsengracht.
Otto Frank, a successful businessman, had prepared a hiding place on the top floor, nick- named the ‘Secret Annex’. Already the tiny space was stuffed with boxes of belongings. “Mother and Margot were unable to move a muscle,” wrote Anne. “They lay down on their bare mattresses, tired, miserable and I don’t know what else. But Father and I, the two cleaner-uppers in the family, started in right away. All day long we unpacked boxes, filled cupboards, hammered nails and straightened up the mess, until we fell exhausted into our clean beds at night.”
For the next two years, until they were caught by the Germans, this would be their home. | Written by Dominic Sandbrook
6 July 1960
Death of Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan, the Welsh Labour politician who, as minister of health from 1945 to 1951, was the architect of the National Health Service.