History is a subject that possesses the potentialities of both a science and an art. It does the inquiry after truth, thus history is a science and is on a scientific basis. Also, it is based on the narrative account of the past; thus it is an art or a piece of literature. Physical and natural sciences are impersonal, impartial, and capable of experimentation. Whereas, absolute impartiality is impossible in history because the historian is a narrator, and he looks at the past from a certain point of view. History cannot remain at the level of knowledge only. History is a social science and art. In that lie, its flexibility, its variety, and excitement.
Let’s discuss a few major Historical events in Today’s History.
1346: Battle of Crecy
Battle of Crecy, a battle that resulted in a victory for the English in the first decade of the Hundred Years’ War against the French. The battle at Crecy shocked European leaders because a small but disciplined English force fighting on foot had overwhelmed the finest cavalry in Europe.
Edward III of England, having landed some 4,000 men-at-arms and 10,000 archers (longbowmen) on the Cotentin peninsula in mid-July 1346, had ravaged lower Normandy west of the Seine and gone as far south as Poissy, just outside Paris, when Philip VI of France, uncertain of the direction that Edward meant ultimately to take, advanced against him with some 12,000 men-at-arms and many other troops. Edward then turned sharply northeastward, crossing the Seine at Poissy and the Somme downstream from Abbeville, to take up a defensive position at Crecy-en-Ponthieu. There he posted dismounted men-at-arms in the center, with cavalry to their right (under his son Edward, the Black Prince) and to their left (under the earls of Arundel and Northampton) and with archers on both wings. Italian crossbowmen in Philip’s service began the assault on the English position, but they were routed by the archers and fell back into the path of the French cavalry’s first charge. More and more French cavalry came up, to make further thoughtless charges at the English center; but while the latter stood firm, the archers wheeled forward, and the successive detachments of horsemen were mowed down by arrow shots from both sides. Those few who managed to reach the English lines died in fierce fighting. Some 15 or 16 further attacks continued throughout the night, each one mown down by the English archers.
By the end of the day, Philip’s brother, Charles II of Alencon, and his allies King John of Bohemia and Louis II of Nevers, Count of Flanders, as well as 1,500 other knights and esquires were dead. Philip himself escaped with a wound from the disaster. Edward went on northward to besiege Calais.
1957: The Soviet Union announces its First Successful launch of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
On this day in history, Tass, the official Soviet news agency, announced that the USSR had successfully launched a “super long-distance intercontinental multistage ballistic rocket (ICBM).” Then, on October 4, the Soviets used the ICBM to blast into orbit the first artificial Earth satellite, a bundle of instruments weighing about 184 pounds called Sputnik, an acronym from a combination of words meaning “fellow-traveler of the Earth.”
Sputnik was followed a month later with Sputnik II, weighing some 1120 pounds and carrying a dog named Laika.
Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, who was at his ranch in Texas the night of October 4 when he heard the news about Sputnik, called for a full inquiry into the state of national defense, opining that “soon [the Russians] will be dropping bombs on us from space like kids dropping rocks onto cars from freeway overpasses.” He wasn’t the only one whipping up public fear and paranoia for partisan advantage.
But Eisenhower had important national security reasons for keeping satellite and military information secret and did not defend his Administration as vigorously as he could have. In 1960, as “The Atlantic Magazine” reported, Kennedy campaigned hard against the Republican “negligence” that had allowed the Soviet Union to overtake the United States in producing missiles. But as early as July 1960, the then-Senator Kennedy had gotten intelligence briefings about Soviet missile capabilities. (Johnson received these as well.) The intelligence told Kennedy and Johnson that there was no gap and that the United States was not lagging behind the Soviet Union in deployed ballistic missiles but instead was significantly ahead. Once Kennedy won the election, he used this knowledge to negotiate with Moscow from a position of strength.