Updated:
Original:
Year
1671
Month Day
May 09

Irish adventurer “Captain Blood” steals crown jewels

In London, Thomas Blood, an Irish adventurer better known as “Captain Blood,” is captured attempting to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London.

Blood, a Parliamentarian during the English Civil War, was deprived of his estate in Ireland with the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660. In 1663, he put himself at the head of a plot to seize Dublin Castle from supporters of King Charles II, but the plot was discovered and his accomplices executed. He escaped capture. In 1671, he hatched a bizarre plan to steal the new Crown Jewels, which had been refashioned by Charles II because most of the original jewels were melted down after Charles I’s execution in 1649.

On May 9, 1671, Blood, disguised as a priest, managed to convince the Jewel House keeper to hand over his pistols. Blood’s three accomplices then emerged from the shadows, and together they forced their way into the Jewel House. However, they were caught in the act when the keeper’s son showed up unexpectedly, and an alarm went out to the Tower guard. One man shoved the Royal Orb down his breeches while Blood flattened the Crown with a mallet and tried to run off with it. The Tower guards apprehended and arrested all four of the perpetrators, and Blood was brought before the king. Charles was so impressed with Blood’s audacity that, far from punishing him, he restored his estates in Ireland and made him a member of his court with an annual pension.

Captain Blood became a colorful celebrity all across the kingdom, and when he died in 1680 his body had to be exhumed in order to persuade the public that he was actually dead.

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

the-pill-GettyImages-514867588

FDA approves "the pill"

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the world’s first commercially produced birth-control bill–Enovid-10, made by the G.D. Searle Company of Chicago, Illinois. Development of “the pill,” as it became popularly known, was initially commissioned by birth-control pioneer ...read more

Andrew Cunanan continues murder spree

The body of William Reese, 45, a cemetery caretaker, is found in rural Pennsville, New Jersey, on May 9, 1997. He had been shot in the head with a Golden Saber .38-caliber bullet. Police soon determined that the killer was Andrew Cunanan, a 27-year-old man already wanted for ...read more

West Germany joins NATO

Ten years after the Nazis were defeated in World War II, West Germany formally joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense group aimed at containing Soviet expansion in Europe. This action marked the final step of West Germany’s integration into the ...read more