History, Holidays & Observances – November 14

A look at some of the history, holidays, and observances on November 14

Holidays & Observances on November 14

Feast of Saint Nikola Tavelic — a 14th century Franciscan friar who, after evangelizing and converting tens of thousands to Catholicism over a dozen years in Bosnia, traveled to Jerusalem to continue his mission.  Evangelizing among the Muslims of Jerusalem, St. Tavelic was arrested by Muslim authorities who gave him a choice between converting to Islam or being executed for blasphemy.  St. Tavelic was executed this day in 1391.

Major Events on November 14

1851 – Herman Melville publishes Moby Dick

Moby-Dick is the iconic American tale of a ship’s captain whose all consuming obsession for revenge against a whale leads him to ruin and death.  “Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. . . .”  Melville, having sailed on whaling ships, gave detailed and accurate descriptions of life aboard ship on a whaler.  The book only sold 3,200 copies during Melville’s lifetime.  It did not gain recognition or status as a classic of American literature until the early 20th century.

1910 – Naval Aviation is Born

The potential for combining air assets with naval vessels was apparent from the start of the Aviation Age.  Seven years after the Wright Brothers’ first achieved flight, on this day in 1910, Aviator Eugene Burton Ely executed the first takeoff from a ship, the USS Birmingham, in a Curtiss Pusher.  By the time of WWII, aircraft carriers and special planes adapted to launch and land aboard ship had revolutionized naval warfare.

1941 – The Holocaust:  Mass Murder of Jews In Slonim, Belarus

Slonim was a small town in Belarus whose population had swelled with Polish Jews escaping the Nazi invasion of Poland.  By 1941, the population of Slonim had swelled to about 30,000 people, some 70% of whom were Jews.  In 1941, Germany launched the invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, and in June, 1941, took control of the city.  They herded the Jews into a contiguous ghetto and took a detailed census. Einsatzgruppe B, under the command of Arthur Nebe, rounded up over 9,000 of Slonim’s Jews this day in 1941, convoyed them out of the city and executed them.



1960 – Ruby Bridges becomes the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in Louisiana.  She was immortalized in a 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell, The Problem We All Live With.

1967 – American physicist Theodore Maiman is given a patent for his ruby laser systems, the world’s first laser.

Born on November 14

1650 – William III of England, Prince of Orange, King of England, Scotland and Ireland.  He came to power upon invitation of the British Parliament in 1688 in the Glorious Revolution that deposed the Catholic King, James II. William III was offered the Crown conditioned on his assent to to one of the most significant documents in Anglo political history, the English Bill of Rights of 1689.

Died on November 14

565 – Justinian I, an ambitious and ruthless sixth century Byzantine emperor famous for partially restoring the Roman Empire in Europe.

1687 – Nell Gwyn, an extremely popular woman in Restoration England, “pretty witty Nell” was a one time prostitute, then a comic actress, and finally the favored mistress of King Charles II.