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Births: Jean Baptiste van Helmont, chemist, 1580; Giuseppe Ribera ("Lo Spagnoletto"), painter, 1588; Edmund Burke, statesman, 1729; Lazzaro Spallanzani, physiologist and chemist, 1729; Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, educational reformer, 1746; Erik Gustaf Geijer, poet and historian, 1783; George William Frederick Villiers, fourth Earl of Clarendon, politician, 1800; Arabella Goddard, pianist, 1836; Adolph Jensen, pianist and composer, 1837; Joseph- Jacques-Cesaire Joffre, French marshal, 1852; John Singer Sargent, portrait painter, 1856; Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman, historian, 1860; John Griffith (Jack) London, novelist, 1876; Ferenc Molnar, playwright, 1878; Curbastro Gregorio Ricci, mathematician, 1883; Hermann Goering, Nazi leader, 1893; Paul Muller, chemist, producer of DDT, 1899; Igor Vasilevich Kurchatov, physicist, 1903; Tex Ritter (Woodward Maurice Ritter), actor, 1907.

Deaths: Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, 1519; Lorenzo di Credi, painter, 1537; Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba, military commander, 1582; Jan Brueghel the Elder, painter, 1625; Pierre de Fermat, mathematician, 1665; Henry Stafford Northcote, first Earl of Iddesleigh, 1887; Sir Isaac Pitman, printer and publisher, 1897; Jean- Leon Gerome, painter, 1904; Nevil Shute (Norway), novelist, 1960; Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, detective-story writer, 1976.

On this day: Protestants in Switzerland introduced the Gregorian calendar, 1701; the Royal Aeronautical Society was founded, 1866; the Zulu War began, 1879; the National Trust was founded, 1895; in the general election, there was a Liberal landslide, 1906; Britain's first supermarket was opened by the London Co-operative Society at Manor Park, Ilford, near London, 1948; more than 200 people were killed during an avalanche in Austria, 1954; the New Zealand parliament was opened by Queen Elizabeth II, 1954; after the Biafran army surrendered, the civil war in Nigeria ended, 1970; the Boeing 747 touched down at Heathrow after its first transatlantic flight from New York, 1970.

Today is the Feast Day of St Arcadius, St Benedict or or Benet Biscop, St Caesaria, St Eutropius, St Margaret Bourgeoys, St Tatiana and St Victorian.