Thursday, March 15, 2012

This Day in History: Mar 15, 44 B.C.: The ides of March: Julius Caesar is murdered

Julius Caesar, the "dictator for life" of the Roman Empire, is murdered by his own senators at a meeting in a hall next to Pompey's Theatre. The conspiracy against Caesar encompassed as many as sixty noblemen, including Caesar's own protege, Marcus Brutus.

Caesar was scheduled to leave Rome to fight in a war on March 18 and had appointed loyal members of his army to rule the Empire in his absence. The Republican senators, already chafing at having to abide by Caesar's decrees, were particularly angry about the prospect of taking orders from Caesar's underlings. Cassius Longinus started the plot against the dictator, quickly getting his brother-in-law Marcus Brutus to join.
Caesar should have been well aware that many of the senators hated him, but he dismissed his security force not long before his assassination. Reportedly, Caesar was handed a warning note as he entered the senate meeting that day but did not read it. After he entered the hall, Caesar was surrounded by senators holding daggers. Servilius Casca struck the first blow, hitting Caesar in the neck and drawing blood. The other senators all joined in, stabbing him repeatedly about the head.

Marcus Brutus wounded Caesar in the groin and Caesar is said to have remarked in Greek, "You, too, my child?" In the aftermath of the assassination, Antony attempted to carry out Caesar's legacy. However, Caesar's will left Octavian in charge as his adopted son. Cassius and Brutus tried to rally a Republican army and Brutus even issued coins celebrating the assassination, known as the Ides of March. Octavian vowed revenge against the assassins, two years later Cassius and Brutus committed suicide after learning that Octavian's forces had defeated theirs at the Battle of Philippa in Greece.
Antony took his armies east, where he hooked up with Caesar's old paramour, Cleopatra. Octavian and Antony fought for many years until Octavian prevailed. In 30 B.C., Antony committed suicide. Octavian, later known as Augustus, ruled the Roman Empire for many more years.

In South Africa: The Rand Revolt strikers' stronghold at Fordsburg Square falls to the government

Date: 15 March, 1922

The Rand Rebellion of 1922 was an armed uprising, also referred to as the Rand Revolt or Red Revolt, which occurred during a period of economic depression following World War I. After the war, mining companies were faced with rising costs, and a fall in the price of gold.

A general strike was organized by white trade unions in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1922. This was in response to intensified exploitation of the miners, and a decision by gold-mining industry leaders to replace many white workers with black workers. The strike began in January 1922, and became an open rebellion against the state. Subsequently, the workers took over the cities of Benoni and Brakpan, and the Johannesburg suburbs of Fordsburg and Jeppe. The young Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) took an active part in the uprising.

On 15 March 1922, the South African government's artillery bombarded the strikers' stronghold at Fordsburg Square, and in the afternoon, it fell to the government. Before committing suicide in the building, the two communist leaders of the strike, Fisher and Spendiff, left a joint note: 'We died for what we believed in - the Cause'.

Samuel Alfred (Taffy) Long, heralded by subsequent labour histories as one of South Africa's greatest working-class martyrs, was arrested after the defeat of Fordsburg. He was charged with murder, and later with high treason and the possession of loot.

From 15 to 19 March 1922, government troops cleared the areas of snipers and conducted house-to-house searches of premises belonging to the 'Reds' (Communists). Several arrests were made. On March 16 1922, the Union Defense Headquarters issued a press statement that the revolt had been a socialist revolution organized by Bolshevists, international socialists and communists. The end of the revolt was declared from midnight on 18 March 1922.

  1. Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau
  2. The Rand Revolt [online]. Available at: [accessed 11 March 2009]
  3. The Rand Revolt, 1922 [online]. Available at: [accessed 11 March 2009]
  4. Verwey, E.J. (ed) (1995). New Dictionary of South African Biography, v.1, Pretoria: HSRC.

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