It happened today – this day in history – January 17

1377: Pope Gregory XI moves the Papacy back to Rome from Avignon.

1501: Cesare Borgia returns in triumph to Rome from Romagna.

1595: Henry IV of France declares war on Spain.

1601: France gains Bresse, Bugey, Valromey and Gex in a treaty with Spain.

1706: Birth of Benjamin Franklin in Boston, Massachusetts.

1718: An avalanche destroys every building in Leukerbad, Switzerland.

1746: Jacobites under Charles Stuart defeat Hanoverian forces at the Battle of Falkirk Muir.

1757: The German Diet declares war on Prussia.

1773: Captain James Cook becomes the first to cross Antarctic Circle.

1775: Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play “The Rivals” premieres in London. On the same day, nine old women are burnt as witches for causing bad harvests in Kalisk, Poland.

1827: The Duke of Wellington is appointed British supreme commander.

1852: Britain recognises the independence of Transvaal (in South Africa).

1863: Prime Minister David Lloyd George is born in Lancs.

1873: A group of Native American Modoc warriors defeats the US Army in the First Battle of the Stronghold during the Modoc War.

1874: Armed Democrats seize the Texas government ending Radical Reconstruction.

1885: The British beat Mahdists at the Battle of Abu Klea in Sudan.

1893: Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii is deposed by an American coup and the kingdom becomes a republic. On the same day, former US President Rutherford B Hayes dies of a heart attack aged 70.

1899: Birth of gangster Al Capone in Brooklyn, New York.

1904: Anton Chekhov’s play “The Cherry Orchard” opens at Moscow Art Theatre.

1911: A failed assassination attempt is carried out on French Prime Minister Aristide Briand in the French Assembly.

1912: Scott’s expedition arrives at the South Pole, one month after Roald Amundsen.

1913: Raymond Poincaré is elected president of France.

1915: Russia occupies Bukovina and Western Ukraine. On the same day, the Battle of Sarikamish ends with a Russian victory over Ottoman forces.

1920: The first day of prohibition of alcohol comes into effect in the US.

1938: The Supreme Soviet elects Michail Kalinin as presidium chairman. On the same day, Joseph Kennedy becomes US ambassador to the UK.

1941: Chianf Kai-shek disbands the Communist New Fourth Army after an incident at Maolin, Anhui Province, between the nationalist and communist armies leaves many dead.

1945: Auschwitz concentration camp begins evacuation. On the same day, the Soviet Army enters the devastated city of Warsaw, Poland, and clears German resistance.


1946: The United Nations Security Council holds its first meeting.

1967: David Mason records the piccolo trumpet solo for The Beatles song Penny Lane at Abbey Road Studios in St John’s Wood. He was paid Musician’s Union rate for the session – £27 and 10 shillings. On the same day, The Daily Mail runs a story about a Blackburn Council survey which had discovered 4,000 potholes in the town’s roads. John Lennon uses it for the last verse of a new song he has been writing – A Day In The Life.

1971: Sinn Féin end their 65 year abstentionist policy and agree that any elected representative could take their seat at the Dáil. On the same day, Baltimore Colts beat Dallas Cowboys, 16-13 to win the Super Bowl.

1972: Seven internees escape from the prison ship HMS Maidstone in Belfast Lough.

1977: Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by firing squad in Utah state prison. He had chosen the method of his execution.

1980: A Provisional IRA bomb prematurely detonates on a passenger train near Belfast, killing three.

1981: President of The Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, ends martial law.

1983: The BBC’s new Breakfast Time programme goes on air for the first time with hosts Frank Bough and Selina Scott.

1987: US President Ronald Reagan signs a secret order permitting the covert sale of arms to Iran.

1988: Leslie Manigay is elected President of Haiti.

Singles chart:

  1. Heaven Is A Place On Earth – Belinda Carlisle
  2. Sign Your Name – Terrence Trent D’Arby
  3. I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany
  4. House Arrest – Krush
  5. Stutter Rap (No Sleep Til Bedtime) – Morris Minor and the Majors
  6. I Found Someone – Cher
  7. All Day And All Of The Night – The Stranglers
  8. Come Into My Life – Joyce Sims
  9. Angel Eyes – Wet Wet Wet
  10. Rise To The Occasion – Climie Fisher
1988: George Michael – Faith

Album chart:

  1. Turn Back The Clock – Johnny Hates Jazz
  2. Popped In Souled Out – Wet Wet Wet
  3. Introducing The Hardline According To… – Terence Trent D’Arby
  4. The Christians – The Christians
  5. Bad – Michael Jackson
  6. Faith – George Michael
  7. Heaven On Earth – Belinda Carlisle
  8. The Best Of Mirage: Jack Mix 88 – Mirage
  9. Whenever You Need Somebody – Rick Astley
  10. Life In The Fast Lane – Various Artists

1991: Operation Desert Storm begins as Gulf War Allies send hundreds of planes on bombing raids into Iraq. Iraq fires eight Scud missiles on Israel. On the same day, Harald V becomes King of Norway on the death of his father, Olav V.

1994: An earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale devastates LA.

1995: A massive earthquake destroys whole areas of Japan’s industrial heartland around Kobe, leaving many hundreds of people dead.

2002: Mount Nyiragongo erupts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, displacing an estimated 400,000 people.

2003:Singer Lou Rawls is arrested at Albuquerque Airport after an argument with his girlfriend, Nina Inman turns physical.

2008: Chess champion Bobby Fischer dies from kidney failure aged 64.

2011: Liverpool’s Ryan Babel becomes the first footballer to be fined for comments made on Twitter. He is fined £10,000 for posting a doctored picture of referee Howard Webb wearing a Manchester United shirt.

2013: 106 people are massacred by Syrian army forces in Homs.

2015: Deontay Wilder wins the WBC heavyweight championship by unanimous decision over Bermane Stiverne at MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas.

2016: Mott The Hoople drummer Dale Griffin dies aged 67 from Alzheimer’s disease. On the same day, Tower of Power trombone and trumpet player Mic Gillette dies of a heart attack.

2017: US President Barack Obama commutes WikiLeaks discloser Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence from 35 to seven years. On the same day, the Nigerian military mistakenly bombs a refugee camp in Rann, killing more than 70 people.

2019: Indian spiritual leader Ram Rahim Singh and two aides are sentenced to life in prison for murdering a journalist who exposed sexual abuse at the sect. On the same day, actor Windsor Davies dies aged 88.

2020: Actor Derek Fowlds dies aged 82.

BIRTHDAYS: James Earl Jones, actor, 91; Chris Montez (Ezekiel Christopher Montanez), singer, 79; Eddie Gray, footballer, 74; Mick Taylor, guitarist (Rolling Stones) 73; Ryuichi Sakamoto, composer/musician, 70; Steve Earle, singer-songwriter, 67; Paul Young, singer, 66; Susanna Hoffs, vocals/guitar, (The Bangles) 63; Jim Carrey, actor/comedian, 60; Andy Rourke, bassist (The Smiths) 59; Michelle Obama, former First Lady, 58; Naveen Andrews, actor, 53; Kid Rock, (Robert James Ritchie), singer/rapper, 51; Ricky Wilson, singer (Kaiser Chiefs) 44; Zooey Deschanel, actress/singer-songwriter, 42; Calvin Harris (Adam Wiles), singer-songwriter/producer, 38; Jeremiah Fraites, musician (The Lumineers) 36; José Sá, goalkeeper, 29.