8 April: On this day in history
What events happened on 8 April in history? We round up the events, births and deaths…
8 April 1093
The new Winchester Cathedral, built by the normans to replace an earlier anglo-Saxon minster, was dedicated by Walkelin, the first Norman bishop of Winchester.
8 April 1271
The Hospitaller stronghold of Krak des Chevaliers in Syria was captured by the Mameluke Sultan Baibars. Now a World Heritage Site, it is considered one of the most important castles in the world.
8 April 1318: The Scots capture Berwick-upon-Tweed
Robert the Bruce’s men strike a mighty blow against the English
Robert the Bruce appeared unstoppable after his decisive Scottish victory at Bannockburn in 1314. Over the next four years he crushed English power in Scotland, culminating in the capture of Berwick-upon-Tweed in April 1318. This port and stronghold was an important staging point for any invasion north of the border, so losing it was a dagger in the heart to English rule in Scotland.
However, Robert the Bruce was not personally responsible for Berwick’s capture. Rather, it was spearheaded by a Scottish noble called Sir James Douglas, Lord of Douglas, who led a raiding party over Berwick’s walls on 8 April 1318. Fighting broke out inside the town, but Douglas and his men persevered, stoking anarchy among the townspeople and garrisoned soldiers, and ultimately capturing the town for the Scots. The castle itself remained strong for another 11 weeks until it finally capitulated following a harrowing siege – without supplies of food, those inside were forced to surrender.
The recovery of Berwick by the English became a national prerogative. In June 1319, forces mustered at Newcastle but were savagely pushed back by Robert the Bruce as he invaded the north of England. Berwick remained in Scottish control until 1333, when it returned to English hands following the battle of Halidon Hill, during the Second War of Scottish Independence.
8 April 1692
Italian composer, violinist and musical theorist Giuseppe Tartini was born in Piran in the Republic of Venice. His best-known work is the extremely technically demanding Devil's Trill Sonata for solo violin.
8 April 1647
The House of Commons orders 85 tons of Suffolk cheese for its army in Ireland.
8 April 1820
A statue of Aphrodite was discovered in an underground cavern on the Aegean island of Melos by a farmer who was digging in his field. Better known as the Venus de Milo, it is now on display in the Louvre in Paris.
8 April 1898
Horatio Herbert Kitchener's Anglo-Egyptian army defeats Amir Mahmud's Mahdists, storming their fortified camp near Nakheila on the north bank of the Atbara River.
8 April 1929
Indian independence campaigners Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt throw an explosive device in the central legislative assembly in New Delhi. Nobody is hurt.