Updated:
Original:
Year
1725
Month Day
February 08

Peter the Great dies

On February 8, 1725, Peter the Great, emperor of Russia, dies and is succeeded by his wife, Catherine.

The reign of Peter, who became sole czar in 1696, was characterized by a series of sweeping military, political, economic, and cultural reforms based on Western European models. Russian victories in major conflicts with Persia and the Ottoman Empire greatly expanded Peter’s empire, and the defeat of Sweden in the Great Northern War won Russia direct access to the Baltic Sea. Here, Peter founded the new Russian capital of St. Petersburg, and Russia became a major European power–politically, culturally, and geographically. In 1721, Peter abandoned the traditional Russian title of czar in favor of the European-influenced title of emperor. Four years later, he died.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

First execution by lethal gas

The first execution by lethal gas in American history is carried out in Carson City, Nevada. The executed man was Tong Lee, a member of a Chinese gang who was convicted of murdering a rival gang member. Lethal gas was adopted by Nevada in 1921 as a more humane method of carrying ...read more

The Russo-Japanese War begins

Following the Russian rejection of a Japanese plan to divide Manchuria and Korea into spheres of influence, Japan launches a surprise naval attack against Port Arthur, a Russian naval base in China. The Russian fleet was decimated. During the subsequent Russo-Japanese War, Japan ...read more

Mary Queen of Scots beheaded

After 19 years of imprisonment, Mary Queen of Scots is beheaded at Fotheringhay Castle in England for her complicity in a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth I. In 1542, while just six days old, Mary ascended to the Scottish throne upon the death of her father, King James V. Her ...read more

Americans secure Guadalcanal

On this day in 1943, Japanese troops evacuate Guadalcanal, leaving the island in Allied possession after a prolonged campaign. The American victory paved the way for other Allied wins in the Solomon Islands. Guadalcanal is the largest of the Solomons, a group of 992 islands and ...read more

Spud Webb wins dunk contest

On February 8, 1986, Spud Webb, who at 5’7” was one of the shortest players in the history of professional basketball, wins the NBA slam dunk contest, beating his Atlanta Hawks teammate and 1985 dunk champ, the 6’8” Dominique Wilkins. Anthony Jerome “Spud” Webb was born July 13, ...read more

Irish race horse stolen

Gunmen steal the champion Irish race horse Shergar from a stud farm owned by the Aga Khan in County Kildare, Ireland. The five-year-old thoroughbred stallion, named European horse of the year in 1981, was worth $13.5 million and commanded stud fees of approximately $100,000. On ...read more

Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary sentenced

Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty, the highest Catholic official in Hungary, is convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Communist People’s Court. Outraged observers in Western Europe and the United States condemned both the trial and Mindszenty’s conviction as ...read more

Battle of Roanoke Island

On this day in 1862, Union General Ambrose Burnside scores a major victory whenhis troopscapture Roanoke Island in North Carolina.It was one of the first major Union victories of the Civil War andgave the Yankees control of the mouth of Albemarle Sound, allowing them to threaten ...read more