It happened today – 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.

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 from 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.

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.

1998: While parachuting down onto the Villa Park pitch dressed as Santa Claus during half time in the game with Arsenal, RAF parachutist, Nigel Rogoff clips the edge of the Trinity Road stand and falls 80ft onto the side of the pitch. He goes on to receive 177 pints of blood in a 3-month spell in hospital but his injuries result in a leg being amputated.

Singles chart:

  1. To You I Belong – B*Witched
  2. Believe – Cher
  3. She Wants You – Billie
  4. When You Believe – Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston
  5. End Of The Line – Honeyz
  6. When You’re Gone – Bryan Adams & Mel C
  7. Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) – Jay-Z
  8. Tragedy – Steps
  9. Big Big World – Emilia
  10. I Love The Way You Love Me – Boyzone
1998: Th Corrs – Talk On Corners

Album chart:

  1. Lades And Gentlemen: The Best Of – George Michael
  2. Talk On Corners – The Corrs
  3. The Best Of – M People
  4. I’ve Been Expecting You – Robbie Williams
  5. Where We Belong – Boyzone
  6. One Night Only – The Bee Gees
  7. Step One – Steps
  8. Voice Of An Angel – Charlotte Church
  9. The Best Of 1980-1990 – U2
  10. Quench – The Beautiful South

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 dies of a heart attack.

2003: Lauryn Hill launches 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.

2020: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton finishes thirdrd in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to claim a record equalling seventhth Formula 1 World Drivers Championship.

BIRTHDAYS: Dick Van Dyke, actor, 96; Anouska Hempel, actress, 80; Marti Webb, singer/actress, 78; Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, guitarist (Doobie Brothers/Steely Dan) 73; Ted Nugent, guitarist/singer, 73; Tom Verlaine, singer-songwriter (Television) 72; Paula Wilcox, actress, 72; Robert Lindsey, actor, 72; Jim Davidson, comedian, 68; Karl Howman, actor, 68; Steve Buscemi, actor, 64; Jamie Foxx, (Eric Marlon Bishop), actor/singer, 54; Sara Cox, broadcaster, 47; Tom Delonge, guitarist/songwriter (Blink 182) 46; Amy Lee (Hartzler), singer-songwriter (Evanescence) 40; Taylor Swift, singer-songwriter, 32.