It happened today – on this day in history – December 13

1294: Saint Celestine V abdicates the papacy after only five months.

1466: Death of artist Donatello aged 80.

1577: Sir Francis Drake sets sail from England to plunder Spanish ships, without realising that by turning right at Peru to avoid a conflict he knew he couldn’t win with a fleet of armed ships, he would inadvertently circumnavigate of the world.

1636: The Massachusetts Bay Colony organises three militia regiments to defend the colony against Pequot Indians. This is recognized today as the founding of the US National Guard.

1642: Dutch explorer Abel Tasman sights the South Island of present day New Zealand; initially he calls it Staten Landt and changes it a year later to Nieuw Zeeland.

1643: The Battle of Alton takes place in Hampshire during the English Civil War.

1732: Prussia joins Austria and Russia in signing the Treaty of Berlin, a secret treaty regarding succession to the Polish throne.

1784: Lexicographer Samuel Johnson dies aged 75.

1823: Composer Gioachino Rossini arrives in London.

1864: Paraguay declares war on Brazil and invades the next day.

1913: Foreign minister Sir Edward Grey proposes that southern Albania be divided between Greece and Albania with compensation to Greece in the Aegean islands.

1918: The US army of occupation crosses Rhine and enters Germany.

1920: The League of Nations establishes the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

1928: George Gershwin’s “An American In Paris” premieres in New York.

1937: Japanese troops conquer and plunder Nanjing.

1939: Three British cruisers take on German pocket battleship Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate.

1944: Actress Lupe Velez dies from a drug overdose aged 34. On the same day, abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky, dies aged 78.

1949: The Knesset votes to transfer Israel’s capital to Jerusalem.

1950: James Dean makes his first appearance on screen in a in a TV commercial for Pepsi Cola.

1958: The search for a small bushy-tailed monkey fired into space in the nose cone of a Jupiter missile is called off.

1959: Archbishop Makarios is elected as the first president of Cyprus.

1961: Painter “Grandma” (Anna Mary) Moses dies aged 101.


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1964: US President Lyndon B Johnson and Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz set off an explosion in El Paso, Texas, diverting the Rio Grande, to reshape the US-Mexico border.

1966: The test debut of Clive Lloyd for the West Indies v India in Bombay.

1967: Unsuccessful coup in Greece against King Constantine II.

1969: Diana Ross takes the Latino Casino in Philadelphia to court for $27,500 after her two pet dogs died after eating cyanide tablets left by an exterminator in her dressing room.

1972: More than 300 British victims of the Thalidomide drug are offered a compensation deal said to be worth £11.85m.

1974: Malta becomes a republic.

1981: Military rulers in Poland declare a state of emergency after imposing martial law and placing leaders of the Solidarity trade union under arrest.

1987: Singles chart:

  1. Always On My Mind – Pet Shop Boys
  2. When I Fall In Love – Rick Astley
  3. The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson
  4. Love Letters – Alison Moyet
  5. China In Your Hand – T’Pau
  6. Rockin Around The Christmas Tree – Mel Smith and Kim Wilde
  7. What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For? – Shakin Stevens
  8. Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues ft Kirsty MacColl
  9. The Look Of Love – Madonna
  10. Who Found Who – Jellybean ft Elisa Fiorillo
1987: Michael Jackson – Bad

Album chart:

  1. Now That’s What I Call Music 10 – Various Artists
  2. Hits 7 – Various Artists
  3. Whenever You Need Somebody – Rick Astley
  4. Bad – Michael Jackson
  5. All The Best – Paul McCartney
  6. Bridge Of Spies – T’Pau
  7. The Singles – The Pretenders
  8. Tango In The Night – Fleetwood Mac
  9. Always Guaranteed – Cliff Richard
  10. The Best Of.. Volume 1 – UB40

1991: North and South Korea sign an accord calling for reconciliation.

1995: Riots break out in Brixton after the death of a black man, Wayne Douglas, 26, in police custody.

1996: Kofi Annan is elected Secretary-General of the United Nations.

2001: A group of gunmen breaks through tight security to attack the parliament building in the Indian capital, New Delhi.

2002: Guitarist and singer Zal Yanovsky of The Lovin Spoonful died of a heart attack.

2003: Lauryn Hill launched a blistering attack on the Catholic church, urging religious figures to “repent” whilst speaking on a stage regularly used by the Pope. The former Fugees singer was playing at a Christmas show in Vatican City and addressed allegations of sexual abuse in America, before an audience that included top Vatican cardinals, bishops and the cream of Italian society. On the same day, Saddam Hussein is captured near his home town of Tikrit.

2004: Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko wins the Ballon d’Or.

2008: Dizzee Rascal is arrested in south-east London following a road rage incident involving a baseball bat. On the same day, actress Kathy Staff (Minnie Higginbottom) dies from a brain tumour at 80.

2015: Conor McGregor knocks out Brazilian Jose Aldo in 13 seconds to win his first featherweight title in Las Vegas.

2017: Prime Minister Theresa May loses a key vote in Parliament for an amendment to allow MPs to vote on Brexit.

BIRTHDAYS: Dick Van Dyke, actor, 95; Christopher (Arthur) Plummer, actor, 91; Anouska Hempel, actress, 79; Marti Webb, singer/actress, 77; Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, guitarist (Doobie Brothers/Steely Dan) 72; Ted Nugent, guitarist/singer, 72; Tom Verlaine, singer-songwriter (Television) 71; Paula Wilcox, actress, 71; Robert Lindsey, actor, 71; Steve Buscemi, actor, 63; Jamie Foxx, (Eric Marlon Bishop), actor/singer, 53; Sara Cox, broadcaster, 46; Tom Delonge, guitarist/songwriter (Blink 182) 45; Amy Lee (Hartzler), singer-songwriter (Evanescence) 39; Taylor Swift, singer-songwriter, 31.

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