It happened today – this day in history – December 4

1123: Death of Persian poet, astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher Omar Khayyám.

1154: Nicholas Breakspear is elected Pope Adrian IV, the only Englishman to become pontiff.

1259: Henry III and French King Louis IX end 100 years of conflict between the Capetian and Plantagenet dynasties with the Treaty of Paris.

1534: Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent occupies Baghdad.

1679: Philosopher Thomas Hobbes dies from a stroke aged 91.

1688: General John Churchill (later 1st Duke of Marlborough) changes allegiance from James II to William of Orange.

1745: Bonnie Prince Charlie reaches Derby.

1791: The Observer, the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world, is first published.

1816: James Monroe is elected president of the USA.

1829: Britain outlaws “suttee” (widow burning herself to death on her husband’s funeral pyre) in India.

1840: Sioux chief Crazy Horse (Tashunka Witko) is born in Nebraska.

1843: Robert Schumann’s “Das Paradies und die Peri” premieres in Leipzig.

1844: James Knox Polk is elected president of the USA.

1866: Abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky, is born in Moscow.

1889: Explorer Henery Morton Stanley’s expedition reaches Bagamoyo in the Indian Ocean.

1892: Birth of general and dictator Francisco Franco is born in Spain.

1905: The government of Arthur Balfour resigns.

1908: Haiti’s president General Alexis Nord flees from a military coup. On the same day, the world’s ten leading maritime nations attend a Naval Conference in London; they agree on rules for blockade, convoys, and seizure of contraband.

1915: The Ku Klux Klan receives a charter from Fulton County, Georgia.

1921: The Virginia Rappe manslaughter trial against Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle ends in a hung jury.

1930: The Vatican approves the rhythm method for birth control.

1942: US bombers strike the Italian mainland for first time in the Second World War.

1949: Duncan Stewart, second British Governor of Sarawak is fatally stabbed in the streets of Sibu by Malay student Rosli Dhoby.

1952: Killer fogs begin in London. The term “smog” is used.

1953: Singles chart:

  1. Answer Me – Frankie Laine
  2. Swedish Rhapsody – Mantovani
  3. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Jimmy Boyd
  4. Poppa Piccolino – Diana Decker
  5. Answer Me – David Whitfield
  6. Chicka Boom – Guy Mitchell
  7. Let’s Have A Party – Winifrd Atwell
  8. Hey Joe – Frankie Laine
  9. Vaya Con Dios – Les Paul and Mary Ford
  10. Swedish Rhapsody – Ray Martin

1956: The so-called ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ impromptu jam session took place at Sun Studios in Memphis with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

1961: The birth control pill becomes available on the NHS. On the same day, Floyd Paterson KOs Tom McNeeley in Round 4 to retain the heavyweight boxing title. Also, Tanganyika becomes the 104th member of UN.

1965: The launch of Gemini 7 with astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell. On the same day, in the game against Burnley at Turf Moor, Frank Saul becomes the first Spurs player to be sent off in a League match since 1928.

1968: Following a civil rights march in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, there is a violent clash between loyalists and marchers.


1971: Fifteeen people, including two children, are killed when a UVF bomb explodes in McGurk’s Bar, a crowded Catholic pub in Belfast. On the same day, the Montreux Casino in Switzerland burns down during a gig by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention after a fan shoots a flare gun into the roof. The incident is later immortalised in the song Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple. Also, The Indian Navy attacks the Pakistan Navy and Karachi. The UN Security Council calls an emergency session to consider the deteriorating situation between the two countries.

1974: Writer and existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre visits Red Army Faction leader Andreas Baader in prison.

1976: Composer Benjamin Britten dies aged 63. On the same day, Deep Purple guitarist Tommy Bolin dies from a heroin overdose aged 25. Also, workers at EMI records go on strike, refusing to package The Sex Pistols single Anarchy In The UK.

1977: Jean-Bedel Bokassa crowns himself Emperor of the Central African Empire in a lavish ceremony costing a third of the country’s total budget.

1978: Pioneer Venus 1 goes into orbit around Venus.

1980: Two months after the death of drummer John Bonham, Led Zeppelin announce that they will not continue.

1981: US President Ronald Reagan issues an Executive Order allowing the CIA to engage in domestic counter-intelligence.

1983: Undercover SAS soldiers shoot dead two Provisional IRA gunmen and injure a third who escapes at Coalisland, Co Tyrone. On the same day, US jet fighters strike Syrian anti-aircraft positions in Lebanon.

1984: Hezbollah militants hijack a Kuwait Airlines plane, killing four passengers.

1985: President Reagan appoints Vice Admiral John Poindexter as a security advisor.

1990: An Iraqi official reports that Iraq will withdraw from Kuwait if it can retain control of the Rumailah field and keep Bubiyan and Werbah islands; also says that demands that the Palestinian issue be treated separately would not be surmountable.

1991: Terry Anderson, the final American hostage in Lebanon is released after almost seven years.

1993: Frank Zappa dies of prostate cancer aged 52.

1996: NASA’s first Mars rover is launched from Cape Canaveral.

2001: Marike de Klerk, ex-wife of former President F.W. de Klerk is murdered at her home in Cape Town.

2003: US President George W Bush withdraws a punitive tax on imported steel to avoid a damaging trade war between America and Europe.

2005: Tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong protest for democracy and call on the Government to allow universal and equal suffrage.

2005: Gorillaz – Demon Days

Album chart:

  1. Curtain Call: The Hits – Eminem
  2. Intensive Care – Robbie Williams
  3. Confessions On A Dance Floor – Madonna
  4. Never Forget: The Ultimate Collection – Take That
  5. Face To Face – Westlife
  6. G4 & Friends – G4
  7. Ancora – Il Divo
  8. Demon Days – Gorillaz
  9. Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson
  10. Back To Bedlam – James Blunt

2007: AC Milan’s Brazilian midfielder Kaká wins the Ballon d’Or.

2011: Brazilian footballer and manager Socrates (Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Sousa Vieira de Oliveira) dies from septic shock aged 57. On the same day, legendary blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin, best known for his work with Howlin’ Wolf, dies aged 80.

2013: Xavier Bettel becomes Luxembourg’s first openly gay Prime Minister.

2014: US authorities promise a “fair” investigation into the death of African American Eric Garner, after a white New York City cop who held him in a choke-hold faces no charges.

2015: Actors Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas divorce after 19 years of marriage.

2017: The US Supreme Court allows President Trump’s travel ban to come into effect for six mostly Muslim countries.

2018: The Government suffers three parliamentary defeats in one day and is found in contempt of parliament for failing to publish the report in full on Brexit. On the same day, French president Emmanuel Macron drops a controversial rise in fuel tax after three weeks of mass protests. Also, attempts to establish a mob council in Sicily are thwarted when 46 members of the mafia are arrested.

2019: Former England cricket captain Bob Willis dies aged 70 from prostate cancer.

2021: Mt Semeru erupts on Java, killing at least 14 and injuring 56.

2022: Mt Semeru, Indonesia’s highest volcano, erupts exactly one year after its last eruption, releasing gas clouds and rivers of lava on the island of Java.

Jeff Bridges (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

BIRTHDAYS: Freddy Cannon (Picariello), singer, 83; Chris Hillman, bassist (The Byrds), 79; Southside Johnny (John Lyon), singer (The Asbury Dukes), 75; Jeff Bridges, actor/musician, 74; Pamela Stephenson (Lady Connolly), actress/psychotherapist, 74; Paul McGrath, footballer, 64; Sergey Bubka, Ukrainian polevaulter, 60; Marisa Tomei, actress, 59; Adamski, (Adam Tinley) DJ/musician, 56; Jay-Z, (Shawn Carter) rapper, 54; Kate Rusby, singer-songwriter, 50; Tyra Banks, model/TV presenter, 50; Diogo Jota, footballer, 27.