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Births: Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1118; Masaccio (Tommaso di Giovanni), Florentine painter, 1401; Mathurin Regnier, satirical poet, 1573; Jean Racine, playwright, 1639; Benoit-Tranquille Berbiguier, flautist and composer, 1782; Dr Robert Moffat, missionary and traveller, 1795; Leopold von Ranke, historian, 1795; Sir Joseph Whitworth Bt, mechanical engineer, 1803; Benjamin Disraeli, first Earl of Beaconsfield, statesman, 1804; Ernst Pauer, pianist and musical editor, 1826; Mily Alekseievich Balakirev, composer, 1837; Prince Peter Alekseyevich Kropotkin, Russian anarchist revolutionary and geographer, 1842; John Seymour Lucas, painter, 1849; Nathaniel (Nat) Gould, racing novelist, 1857; Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (Joseph Stalin), Soviet leader, 1879; Walter Charles Hagen, golf champion, 1892; Leroy Robertson, composer, 1896; Harry Revel, popular composer and pianist, 1905; Heinrich Boll, writer, 1917; Frank Hampson, creator of "Dan Dare", 1918.

Deaths: Giovanni Boccaccio, writer, 1375; Vicente Joanes, painter, 1579; Catherine of Braganza, consort of King Charles II, 1705; Bernard de Montfaucon, critic and classical scholar, 1741; Arnauld de Berquin, writer, 1791; James Parkinson, surgeon and palaeontologist, 1824; Niels Wilhelm Gade, composer, 1890; Walter Hines Page, US ambassador and editor, 1918; Emil Dopler, painter, 1922; Kurt Tucholsky, writer and poet, 1935; Frank Billings Kellogg, politician, 1937; Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, novelist, 1940; General George Smith Patton, US military leader, 1945; Gladys Ripley, contralto, 1955; Lewis Terman, psychologist, 1956; Lion Feuchtwanger, novelist and playwright, 1958; Sir (Jack) John Berry Hobbs, cricketer, 1963.

On this day: Richard Coeur de Lion was captured by the Duke of Austria, 1192; the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth Rock in North America, 1620; in North America, the Boston Gazette was first issued, 1719; paper money called assignats were issued in France, 1789; the Turks were routed by the Egyptians at the Battle of Konieh, 1832; the first co-operative store was opened in Rochdale, 1844; anaesthetics were used for the first time in Britain (by Robert Liston), 1846; Charley's Aunt, the farce by Brandon Thomas, was first performed, 1892; the Port of London Authority was inaugurated, 1908; after a colliery disaster at Pretoria Pit, Bolton, 344 lives were lost, 1910; the first newspaper to publish a crossword puzzle was the New York World, 1913; the premiere of the first full-length full-colour animated cartoon (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) by Walt Disney, took place, 1935; an earthquake in Japan caused the deaths of 1,068 people, 1946; General Charles de Gaulle was elected president of the French Fifth Republic, 1958; the first flight of Man around the moon took place when Apollo 8 was launched, 1969.

Today is the Feast Day of St Anastasius II of Antioch, St Glycerius, St John Vincent, St Peter Canisius and Saints Themistocles and Dioscorus.