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800: Pope Leo III crowns Charles the Great (Charlemagne) Emperor of Rome.
1066: William The Conqueror is crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey, completing the Norman conquest of England.
1492: Christopher Columbus’ flagship, the Santa María runs aground and sinks on the north coast of Hispaniola.
1642: Birth of Isaac Newton.
1688: James II lands in Ambleteuse, France.
1741: Astronomer Anders Celsius introduces the centigrade temperature scale.
1868: Despite bitter opposition, US President Andrew Johnson grants unconditional pardons to all persons involved in the Southern rebellion.
1876: Birth of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan.
1899: Shelling on besieged Ladysmith during the Boer War includes one shell containing a plum pudding. On the same day, Hollywood legend Humphrey Bogart is born.
1914: Legendary “Christmas Truce” takes place on the battlefields of the First World War between British and German troops. Instead of fighting, soldiers exchange gifts and play football.
1926: Crown Prince Hirohito of Japan assumes the throne upon his father, Emperor Yoshihito’s death.
1938: Director George Cukor announces that Vivien Leigh will play Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”.
1941: Japan announces the surrender of the British-Canadian garrison at Hong Kong.
1946: Death of comedian W C Fields aged 67.
1954: Johnny Ace shot himself dead backstage at the City Auditorium in Houston, Texas. The R&B singer was playing with a revolver during a break between sets, someone in the room said “Be careful with that thing’’ and he said ‘It’s OK the gun’s not loaded, see’’ and pointed it at himself with a smile on his face.
1957: Serial killer Ed Gein is found not guilty of a series of murders by reason of insanity.
1965: US President Lyndon B Johnson orders a halt to bombing operations in North Vietnam, hoping to spur peace talks.
1967: Paul McCartney and actress Jane Asher get engaged.
1973: Johan Cruyff wins the Ballon d’Or.
1977: Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin meets with President Anwar Sadat in Egypt. On the same day, Charlie Chaplin dies in Switzerland aged 88.
1979: Kevin Keegan wins the Ballon d’Or.
1987: Manson acolyte Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975 and had escaped from prison two days earlier, is recaptured.
1989: Romanian Commuinst dicator Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena are found guilty of genocide and personal enrichment and executed by firing squad.
1991: Mikhail Gorbachev formally resigns as President of the USSR.
1995: Death of singer, actor and TV host Dean Martin.
1998: Bryan MacLean, guitarist with sixties band Love and writer of their hit Alone Again Or from the 1968 album Forever Changes, died of a heart attack aged 62 while having Christmas dinner with a young fan who was researching a book about the band.
2003: The ill-fated Beagle 2 probe which was released from the Mars Express Spacecraft on December 19, disappears shortly before its scheduled landing.
2006: James Brown, the ‘Godfather of Soul’, died at the age of 73 after being diagnosed with severe pneumonia.
2008: Actress, singer, and cabaret star Eartha Kitt died from colon cancer aged 81.
2009: Singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt died from an overdose of muscle relaxants.
2016: George Michael died at his home in Oxfordshire aged 53.
BIRTHDAYS: Pete Brown, lyricist, 79; Jairzinho, legendary Brazilian footballer, 75; Sissy Spacek, actress, 70; Annie Lennox, singer, 65; Robin Campbell, guitar/vocals (UB40) 65; Shane MacGowan, singer/songwriter (The Pogues) 62; Chris Kamara, football pundit, 62; Gary McAllister, former footballer, 55; Helena Christensen, model/photographer, 51; Dido (Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O’Malley Armstron), singer, 48; Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, 48; Sir Alastair Cook, cricketer, 35.