It happened today – this day in history – December 2

1547: Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes, who defeated the Aztec Empire and colonized large parts of Mexico, dies of pleurisy.

1697: St Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the previous building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, is consecrated.

1755: The second Eddystone Lighthouse off the south coast is destroyed by fire.

1790: The Austrian army occupies Brussels.

1802: Britain sells Suriname to The Netherlands.

1804: Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned Emperor of France in Paris.

1805: Napoleon defeats the Russians and Austrians at Austerlitz.

1812: James Madison is re-elected resident of the US.

1814: French philosopher and writer, The Marquis de Sade, dies aged 74.

1840: Gaetano Donizetti’s opera “La Favorita” premieres in Paris. On the same day, William Henry Harrison is elected president of the US.

1848: Franz Joseph I becomes Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia.

1859: Abolitionist John Brown is hanged for murder, treason, and conspiring slaves to revolt at Charles Town, Virginia. On the same day, French post-impressionist Georges Seurat is born in Paris.

1868: The government of Benjamin Disraeli resigns.

1877: Camille Saint-Saëns’ opera “Samson et Dalila” premieres in Weimar.

1883: Johannes Brahms’ 3rd Symphony in F premieres.

1900: Exiled President of the Transvaal, Paul Kruger, arrives in Germany. The Kaiser refuses to meet him.

1901: King Gillette begins selling safety razor blades.

1907: World heavyweight boxing champion Tommy Burns retains his title with a tenth round KO of Gunner Moir in Covent Garden, London. On the same day, the Association of Football Players’ and Trainers’ Union, now known as the PFA is formed.

1914: The Austria army occupies Belgrade, Serbia.

1926: Film director Alfred Hitchcock marries Alma Reville in London.

1939: British Imperial Airways & British Airways merge to form BOAC.

1941: Mobster Louis Buchalter is sentenced to death along with his lieutenants Emanuel Weiss and Louis Capone.

1942: The world’s first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction occurs in the world’s first nuclear reactor at the University of Chicago, overseen by Enrico Fermi.

1948: Southampton full-back Alf Ramsey makes his England debut against Switzerland at Highbury.

1954: The US pledges to defend nationalist China with the signing of a pact of mutual security. On the same day, US Senator Joseph McCarthy, famous for his crusade against communism, is censured for conduct unbecoming of a senator.

1958: The Benelux treaty is signed by Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.

1959: The Malpasset Dam collapses, destroying the French town of Frejus.


1961: Fidel Castro declares he’s a Marxist and will lead Cuba to communism.

1969: Cindy Birdsong, who had replaced Florence Ballard in The Supremes, is kidnapped at knifepoint by a maintenance man working in the building she lives in. She later escapes unharmed by jumping out of his car on the San Diego freeway.

1971: Soviet space probe Mars 3 is the first craft to soft land on Mars. On the same day, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujeira, Sharjah & Umm ak Qiwain form the United Arab Emirates.

1977: A demonstration erupts outside a South African court as a magistrate rules no police are to blame for the death of the leader of the black consciousness movement, Steve Biko.

1979: Crowds attack the US embassy in Tripoli, Libya.

1982: Comedian and writer Marty Feldman dies of a heart attack aged 49.

1985: Death of poet Philip Larkin aged 63.

1988: Thousands of people are feared dead after a devastating cyclone in Bangladesh.

1990: Composer Aaron Copeland dies aged 90 from respiratory failure and Alzheimer’s disease.

Singles chart:

  1. Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice
  2. Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
  3. Unbelievable – EMF
  4. Don’t Worry – Kim Appleby
  5. Kinky Boots – Patrick Macnee and Honor Blackman
  6. Saviour’s Day – Cliff Richard
  7. It Takes Two – Rod Stewart and Tina Turner
  8. Falling – Julee Cruise
  9. Justify My Love – Madonna
  10. Fantasy – Black Box
1990: Michael Bolton – Soul Provider

Album chart:

  1. The Immaculate Collection – Madonna
  2. The Very Best Of – Elton John
  3. Serious Hits Live! – Phil Collins
  4. In Concert – Carreras/Domingo/Pavarotti
  5. The Singles Collection 1984-1990 – Jimmy Somerville
  6. Rockin’ All Over The Years – Status Quo
  7. From A Distance: The Event – Cliff Richard
  8. The Very Best Of – The Bee Gees
  9. Soul Provider – Michael Bolton
  10. Rhythm Of The Saints – Paul Simon

1991: Muslim Shi’ites release American hostage Joseph Cicippio, held in Lebanon.

1993: Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar is killed by police aged 44 in a shoot-out.

1995: Rogue trader Nick Leeson is sentenced to six years in prison for financial dealings which contributed to the fall of Britain’s oldest merchant bank, Barings.

1997: For only the second time in English Football League history, five players are sent off in a single game – four Bristol Rovers players and one from Wigan.

1999: The Government devolves political power in Northern Ireland to the Northern Ireland Executive.

2003: The Darkness singer Justin Hawkins is held for two hours at JFK Airport, New York after police mistake him for a wanted man with the same name and looks.

2004: Ballerina Alicia Markova dies aged 94.

2006: Dave Mount, drummer with 70s band Mud dies in London aged 59.

2008: Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo wins his first Ballon d’Or.

2013: Reggae singer Junior Murvin, best known for the 1976 hit song Police and Thieves, dies in Jamaica aged 67.

2014: Hong Kong pro-democracy activists clash with police as they try to surround the government’s headquarters in some of the worst violence since the protests began. On the same day, saxophone player Bobby Keys, best known for his work with the Rolling Stones, dies of cirrhosis of the liver at his home in Tennessee. Also, comedian Bill Cosby resigns from the board of trustees of an American university following renewed sexual assault allegations.

2017: Egyptian lawyer Nabih al-Wahsh is sentenced to three years in prison for saying women wearing ripped jeans should be raped.

2018: Israeli police recommend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife be charged with fraud and bribery. On the same day, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari denies he has died and been replaced by a Sudanese impostor.

2019: Lionel Messi wins a record sixth Ballon d’Or.

BIRTHDAYS: Connie Booth, writer/actress, 81; Tom McGuinness, guitar, (Manfred Mann/McGuinness Flint/The Manfreds), 80; Mike England MBE, footballer, 80; Rick Savage, bassist (Def Leppard) 61; Nate Mendel, bassist (Foo Fighters) 53; Lucy Liu, actress/director, 53; David Batty, footballer, 53; Monica Seles, tennis star, 48; Nelly Furtado, singer-songwriter, 43; Chris Wolstenholme, bassist, (Muse) 43; Britney Spears, singer, 40; Tal Wilkenfeld, bassist/singer-songwriter/guitarist, 35; Charlie Puth, singer-songwriter, 30.