1485: Birth of Catherine of Aragon.
1497: Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama became the first European to sail the east coast of Africa, naming it Natal.
1631: Mt Vesuvius erupts in Italy, killing 4,000.
1653: Oliver Cromwell is appointed Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.
1707: The last recorded eruption of Mt Fuji in Japan.
1770: Birth of Ludwig van Beethoven in Bonn.
1773: The Boston Tea Party – Sons of Liberty protesters throw tea shipments into Boston harbour in protest against the British imposed Tea Act.
1775: Birth of novelist Jane Austen.
1859: Death of writer Wilhelm Grimm aged 73.
1880: Beginning of the First Boer War between British Empire and Boer South African Republic.
1893: Anton Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “New World Symphony” premieres at Carnegie Hall in New York.
1913: Charlie Chaplin begins his film career at Keystone for $150 a week.
1914: German battleships under Franz Von Hipper bombard the English ports of Hartlepool and Scarborough.
1921: The Anglo Irish Treaty is ratified. On the same day, French composer Camille Saint-Saens dies aged 86.
1940: Joe Louis KO’s Al McCoy to win the world heavyweight boxing title.
1944: Battle of the Bulge – Nazi Germany launches a counteroffensive against the Allies in the Ardennes region of Belgium.
1946: Christian Dior and his backer Marcel Boussac found fashion house Christian Dior. On the same day, Thailand joins the UN.
1950: Shirley Temple retires from films aged 22.
1965: Gemini 6 returns to earth. On the same day, author William Somerset Maugham dies aged 91.
1969: MPs vote by a big majority for the permanent abolition of the death penalty for murder.
1977: The Queen opens a new Tube link to Heathrow Airport on the Piccadilly Line.
1979: Four British Army soldiers are killed by a Provisional IRA landmine near Dungannon, County Tyrone.
1980: Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, dies aged 90.
1982: Death of Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars, aged 54.
1989: Death of spaghetti western legend Lee van Cleef aged 64.
1991: Kazakhstan declares independence.
2001: Stuart Adamson, lead singer of Big Country was found dead in Hawaii a month after disappearing from his home. His body was found in a closet in his room at the Best Western Plaza Hotel in Honolulu.
BIRTHDAYS: Tony Hicks, guitarist (The Hollies) 74; Bobby George, darts player, 74; Benny Anderson, keyboards (ABBA) 73; Christopher Biggins, actor, 71; Billy Gibbons, guitarist, (ZZ Top) 69; Robben Ford, guitarist, 68; Benjamin Bratt, actor, 56; Dennis Wise, former footballer, 53; Jonathan Scarfe, actor, 44; Zara Larsson, singer, 22.