We take a close look at our maps of some significant historical anniversaries
Looking at historical anniversaries is a good way of exploring the choice of maps available on the Map Archive, so we've chosen to take a look at some of the most significant events that have taken place in the month of July and the maps that illustrate them. We hope you'll enjoy our small sample of maps, which bring to life the most important events that have shaped world history.
On 8 July 1709 Charles XII of Sweden was defeated at Poltava by Russia. This was a significant turning point in the Great Northern War, which had started in 1700 and brought two mighty powers into conflict: Sweden and Russia, which allied with Denmark-Norway and Saxony-Poland. As these allies made separate peace agreements with Sweden, Russia was left exposed and Charles XII gambled everything on the Battle of Poltava. After his defeat the anti-Swedish alliances reformed, eventually securing victory in 1721.
The Battle of Britain June–September 1940
Following the mass evacuation of Allied forces from France in June September 1940, the Germans launched their campaign of aerial attack on ships in the Channel and British coastal towns on 10 July 1940. The RAF, benefiting from fighting over home territory and radar, proved to be strong opposition. From August onwards the Germans focussed their attacks on airfields, military installations and radar stations. From 7–15 September the Blitz began and bombs rained down on London. On 15 September, known as Battle fo Britain Day, the RAF successfully scattered the Luftwaffe and secured British skies.
In 1789 Paris was famous for its gracious boulevards, grandiose buildings and rich café culture. There was also severe poverty, exacerbated by raised taxation and food shortages, which created tensions between the urban (and rural) poor and thenobility. On 14 July 1789, a mob, looking for arms, stormed the Bastille, a fortress, armoury, and prison. This was the spark that ignited the French Revolution. In the immediate aftermath Revolutionary committees took over local government, and King Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette, along with many members of the nobility, were captured and executed.
On 18 July 1936 a coup broke out amongst nationalist Spanish military officers in Morocco and spread to Spain. It was the result of a call to arms by General Franco, who sought to overthrow Spain's leftist Republican government. The initial assault led to the capture of several cities in the south as well as northern Spain, but the Republicans successfully defended Madrid, central Spain and the Mediterranean littoral. The battle lines were drawn. The conflict was to last three years and lead to over a half a million deaths, before Franco's eventual victory and subsequent dictatorship.