399BC: Philosopher Socrates is sentenced to death by the city of Athens for corrupting the minds of the youth of the city and for impiety.
1563: Russian troops occupy Polotsk Lithuania.
1564: Astronomer Galileo Galilei is born in Pisa, Italy.
1710: King Louis XV of France is born in the Palace of Versailles.
1775: Angelo Braschi is chosen as Pope Pius VI.
1804: New Jersey becomes the last northern state to abolish slavery.
1852: Great Ormond St Hospital for Sick Children in London admits its first patient.
1867: “The Blue Danube” waltz by Johann Strauss premieres in Vienna.
1883: Author Sax Rohmer (Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward) is born in Birmingham.
1900: The Siege of Kimberley is broken by British troops under Lieutenant-General John French after a 124 day siege during the Boer War.
1922: Marconi begins regular radio broadcasting transmissions from Chelmsford.
1928: Former prime minister Herbert Asquith dies aged 75.
1933: Prsident elect Franklin D Roosevelt survives an assassination attempt in Chicago.
1936: The Volkswagen Beetle goes into production.
1939: The German battleship Bismarck is launched.
1942: British forces in Singapore surrender to the Japanese.
1944: 891 British bombers attack Berlin in the largest raid by the RAF against the city.
1952: George VI is buried in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
1961: A Boeing 707 crashes at Berg, near Brussels airport seconds before landing, killing 73 people including the entire US figure skating team.
1962: Ray Charles records I Can’t Stop Loving You at United Studios in Hollywood.
1965: Singer and pianist Nat King Cole dies aged 49 of lung cancer.
1968: John and Cynthia Lennon, along with George and Patti Harrison, fly to India to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at his Ashram in Rishikesh. On the same day, blues musician Little Walter (Marion Walter Jacobs) dies in his sleep aged 37 from injuries incurred in a fight while taking a break from a performance at a nightclub in Chicago.
1971: Britain introduces decimal currency.
1976: Singles chart:
- December ’63 (Oh What A Night) – The Four Seasons
- Forever And Ever – Slik
- I Love To Love – Tina Charles
- Rodrigo’s Guitar Concerto – Manuel and the Music of the Mountains
- Mama Mia – ABBA
- Love To Love You Baby – Donna Summer
- Convoy – C W McCall
- Love Machine – The Miracles
- We Do It – R and J Stone
- Dat – Pluto Shervington
- The Very Best of… – Slim Whitmen
- The Best Of – Roy Orbison
- Music Express – Various Artists
- Run With The Pack – Bad Company
- Desire – Bob Dylan
- A Night At The Opera – Queen
- 24 Original Hits – Various Artists
- Station To Station – David Bowie
- The Best Of – Helen Reddy
- How Dare You – 10cc
1977: Bass player Glen Matlock is fired from the Sex Pistols and replaced by Sid Vicious, who couldn’t play bass.
1978: Escaped serial killer Ted Bundy is recaptured in Florida. On the same day, Leon Spinks defeats Muhammad Ali on points to become World Heavyweight boxing champion.
1979: The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album wins album of the year at the Grammy Awards.
1980: At the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, American speed skater Eric Heiden wins the 500m in an Olympic record 38.03s, the first of a record five gold medal sweep.
1981: Guitarist Mike Bloomfield is found dead aged 37 in his car in San Francisco from an accidental heroin overdose.
1984: Half a million Iranian soldiers move into Iraq.
1986: Eight police officers are injured as violence breaks out with striking print workers outside the News International printing plant in Wapping.
1989: Soviet troops pull out of Afghanistan.
1992: Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is found sane and guilty of killing 15 boys,
1995: A friendly match between the Republic of Ireland and England at Lansdowne Road has to be abandoned due to the behaviour of England fans. On the same day, Burundi premier Anatole Kanyenkiko resigns.
1996: A long-awaited report into the sale of arms-to-Iraq in the 1980s is published and contains strong criticisms of Attorney General Sir Nicholas Lyell and Treasury Chief Secretary William Waldergave.
1998: The Angel of the North, a 66ft tall steel sculpture by Antony Gormley is installed at Gateshead.
2002: New Zealand actor Kevin Smith dies aged 38 after falling from a prop tower wile filmng n China.
2005: YouTube is launched.
2013: A meteor breaks up over Chelyabinsk, Russia, injuring over 1,200 people, with 26 to 33 times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb. On the same day, an asteroid with a 50m diameter comes within 27,700km of Earth.
2018: Cyril Ramaphosa is sworn in as South African President. On the same day, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigns.
2019: President Donald Trump declares a national emergency to divert funds to build a border wall, after signing bipartisan spending agreement to avoid another government shutdown.
2020: TV presenter Caroline Flack commits suicide aged 40.
BIRTHDAYS: Brian Holland, songwriter/producer, 80; Glyn Johns, sound engineer/producer, 79; Mick Avory, drummer (The Kinks) 77; John Helliwell, saxophonist (Supertramp) 76; Melissa Manchester, singer-songwriter, 70; Jane Seymour (Joyce Frankenberg) actress, 70; Matt Groening, animator, 67; Hugh Padgham, record producer, 66; Janice Dickinson, model/TV personality, 66; Ali Campbell, singer/guitarist (UB40) 62; Mikey Craig, bassist (Culture Club) 61; Alex Borstein, actress, 50; Renee O’Connor, actress, 50; Ronnie Vannucci Jr, drummer (The Killers) 45; Conor Oberst, singer-songwriter, 41; Gary Clark Jr, guitarist/singer, 37.