On this day in 1610 – (406 years ago) — King Henry IV of France — credited with promoting religious tolerance, improving infrastructure and public works, and bringing relative peace and prosperity to his country — was assassinated by a Catholic religious fanatic named François Ravaillac. Though Henry had become a popular king, he had also alienated some Catholic zealots by promulgating the Edict of Nantes, which guaranteed religious liberty to Protestants and effectively brought an end to the religious wars that had ravaged France for thirty-six years. Ravaillac, having learned of the route Henry’s open carriage would take through the crowded streets of Paris, was lying in wait when it became caught in a traffic jam. He jumped onto the carriage, fatally stabbed the king in the chest, and was immediately arrested by police. Two weeks later — after several days of interrogation, torture, and a quick trial — he was executed by being drawn and quartered.
On this day in 1931 – (85 years ago) — in Ådalen, Sweden, five people were shot and killed by military troops called in to reinforce local police during a demonstration by thousands of workers on strike against the local timber and pulp industry. The strike had begun as a nonviolent response to pay cuts at one pulp factory in a nearby town, and had quickly spurred solidarity walkouts at other factories across the area. The rallies and marches were peaceful at first, but when the owner of one company hired sixty scabs to come in and break the strike, rising tensions led to fistfights and rock throwing, and the local police were soon overwhelmed. Mounted army troops arrived, and as the situation grew chaotic, they opened fire. Though the soldiers supposedly aimed at the ground to warn and scatter the demonstrators, their bullets hit ten people, five of whom died. Investigators later concluded that none of the demonstrators had been armed. Unfortunately, no one on the scene had yet learned that, earlier the same day, a local government council had already voted to prohibit the strikebreakers from working. In the criminal trials that followed, all but one of the military officers were acquitted, while several strikers received prison sentences. The incident ignited a fierce political debate in Sweden, and led to the formation of a national police force in that country.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi