The Lookout

This week in history

This week in history: Joan of Arc was martyred, a ballet causes a riot, and two people made it to the top of Everest for the first time. Plus, London's Big Ben clock goes into operation. Read all about it.

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Joan of Arc (AP)

Joan of Arc martyred
Considered a heroine of France, the 18-year-old claimed to hear the voice of God that told her to lead the French army to several victories in the 100 Years War. She was eventually captured by the British who burned her at the stake as a heretic on May 30, 1431. Five hundred years later the pious war hero was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

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Edmund Hillary, Col. John Hunt and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953 (AP)

First people to summit Mount Everest
Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first people to summit Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, 60 years ago. The amazing feat has been followed by about 3,500 other climbers. The legacy seems to be a dirty one—the mountain is littered with garbage.

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Big Ben clock in London (Getty Images)


Big Ben goes into operation
On May 31, 1859, the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster, commonly known as Big Ben, began operation. The nickname, referring to the bell inside the tower, was officially named the Elizabeth Tower to celebrate the queen's diamond jubilee in 2012.

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Composer Igor Stravinsky (Getty Images)

'Rite of Spring' causes riot
Ballet is not normally associated with outrage, but this dance, provocatively choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky with music composed by Igor Stravinsky and performed on May 29, 1913, in Paris, was too modern for some ears and eyes.

As Slate described it, "As the music became more brutal and rhythmically complex and Nijinsky’s provocative choreographing of the sacrifice of a young virgin unfolded, laughter and catcalls devolved into an outright riot, with the audience becoming so loud at points that the orchestra could not even be heard." One hundred years later, the piece is "indisputably one of the most important and influential compositions of the 20th century."

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