It happened today – this day in history – February 16

600: Pope Gregory the Great decrees saying “God bless You” is the correct response to a sneeze.

1486: Maximillian I is elected King of the Romans at Frankfurt

1641: Charles I accepts Triennial Act requiring that Parliament meet for at least a fifty-day session once every three years.

1646: Battle of Great Torrington, Devon – the last major battle of the first English Civil War.

1677: Earl of Shaftesbury arrested and confined in the Tower of London.

1742: Spencer Compton becomes Prime Minister.

1760: Native American hostages are killed in Fort Prince George, South Carolina.

1838: Hundreds of Voortrekkers along the Blaukraans River, Natal are killed by Zulu warriors.

1854: Franz Liszt’s symphony “Orpheus” premieres.

1859: The French Government passes a law to set the A above middle C to a frequency of 435 Hz, in an attempt to standardise pitch.

1861: President Abraham Lincoln stops his train at Westfield on his way to Washington to thank 11-year old Grace Bedell in person for her advice to grow a beard to gain more votes.

1866: Spencer Compton Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington becomes British Secretary of State for War.

1894: British troops occupy Ilorin, Gold Coast.

1899: President of France Félix Faure dies in office.

1916: The US rejects the right of Germany and Austria-Hungary to sink armed merchant ships. On the same day, The German ambassador in Washington announces that Germany will pay an indemnity for American lives lost on the Lusitania.

1918: Lithuania declares independence from Russia and Germany.

1923: Howard Carter opens the inner burial chamber of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb and finds the sarcophagus.

1927: The US restores diplomatic relations with Turkey.

1933: England regains the Ashes, thanks to controversial “bodyline” tactics.

1943: Winston Churchill contracts pneumonia.

1945: Venezuela declares war on Nazi Germany.

1957: Pete Murray begins hosting BBC television’s first rock ‘n’ roll music program The Six-Five Special. On the same day, Ingmar Bergman’s film classic “The Seventh Seal” is released.

1959: Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro becomes the country’s youngest ever prime minister.


1961: US satellite Explorer 9 is launched.

Singles chart:

  1. Are You Lonesome Tonight – Elvis Presley
  2. Sailor – Petula Clark
  3. You’re Sixteen – Johnny Burnette
  4. Rubber Ball – Bobby Vee
  5. Pepe – Duane Eeddy
  6. FBI – The Shadows
  7. Buona Sera – Acker Bilk
  8. Walk Right Back/Ebony Eyes – The Everly Brothers
  9. Rubber Ball – Marty Wilde
  10. Poetry In Motion – Johnny Tillotson

1965: A second report from British Railways Board chairman Dr Richard Beeching outlines the future of the rail network for the next 25 years and results in the eventual closing of many local stations and the loss of more than 70,000 jobs.

1969: Tammy Wynette marries fellow country artist George Jones.

1970: Joe Frazier defeats Jimmy Ellis for the heavyweight boxing title.

1972: Homes and businesses are without electricity for up to nine hours a day from today as the effects of the miners’ strike take hold.

1974: Emerson, Lake & Palmer are arrested in Salt Lake City, Utah, after swimming naked in a hotel pool.

1984: Men’s figure skating world champion Scott Hamilton of the US wins the gold medal at the Sarajevo Winter Olympics.

1985: Ministry of Defence assistant secretary Clive Ponting resigns from his post five days after being acquitted of breaching section two of the Official Secrets Act regarding the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands Conflict. On the same day, Hezbollah is founded.

1992: The remains of former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie are found on the grounds of the Imperial Palace under the private lavatory of dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, who overthrew the Emperor.

1999: Across Europe, Kurdish rebels take over embassies and hold hostages after Turkey arrested one of their rebel leaders, Abdullah Öcalan.

2001: A bomb attack on a bus convoy carrying more than 250 Serbs to a religious ceremony in Kosovo kills seven people.

2002: Thieves break into George Michael’s London home and steal over £100,000 worth of paintings, jewellery and designer clothes, causing £200,000 worth of damage and driving off in his £80,000 Aston Martin DB7. On the same day, former England football manager Walter Winterbottom dies.

2005: The Kyoto Protocol, which aims to slow down global warming, takes effect but the US remains outside the agreement. On the same day, The Apprentice starts on the BBC.

2013: Angelina Jolie undergoes a preventive double mastectomy after learning she had an 87% risk of developing breast cancer.

2015: Singer-songwriter Lesley Gore, dies of lung cancer aged 68.

2016: Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former secretary general of the UN, dies aged 93.

2018: Eminem – Revival

2018: Album chart:

  1. The Greatest Showman – Motion Picture Cast Recording
  2. Divide – Ed Sheeran
  3. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life – The Wombats
  4. Diamond In The Dirt – Mist
  5. Tables Turn – Fredo
  6. Always Ascending – Franz Frdinand
  7. Revival – Eminem
  8. Man Of The Woods – Justin Timbrelake
  9. The Thrill Of It All – Sam Smith
  10. Beautiful Trauma – Pink

2019: Pope Francis defrocks ex-cardinal and archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick for sexually abusing minors and adults.

2020: The ‘ghost ship’ cargo vessel MV Alta is washed up on the Irish coast near Ballycotton by Storm Dennis, after drifting across the Atlantic from Bermuda. On the same day, former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Harry Gregg dies aged 87.

2021: Athens and parts of Greece experience heavy snowfall.

2023: WWII: US Naval History and Heritage Command confirms identity of the wreck USS Albacore, a submarine lost in 1944, discovered by University of Tokyo sonar team in 2022 off of Hokkaidō, Japan.

Christopher Ecclestone

BIRTHDAYS: Lenny Williams, singer (Tower of Power), 79; Lyn Paul, singer, 75; Leighton James, footballer, 71; Levar Burton, actor, 67; Ice-T, (Tracy Morrow), rapper/actor, 65; John McEnroe, tennis legend, 65; Andy Taylor, guitarist (Duran Duran), 64; Christopher Eccleston, actor, 60; Dave Lombardo, drummer (Slayer) 59; Amanda Holden, actress/broadcaster/TV personality, 53; Mahershala Ali (Mahershalalhashbaz George), actor, 50; Valentino Rossi, champion motorcycle racer, 45; Rickie Lambert, footballer, 42; Agyness Deyn, model, 41; Elizabeth Olsen, actress, 35; Danielle Haim, musician/singer/songwriter, 35; The Weeknd (Abel Makkonen Tesfaye), singer-songwriter, 34.