Births: William Harvey, physician, discoverer of the circulation of the blood, 1578; Christian Demelius, composer, 1643; Abbe Prevost (Antoine-Francois Prevost d'Exiles), writer, 1697; Jean-Etienne Marie Portalis, statesman and jurist, 1746; Luigi Schiavonetti, engraver, 1765; Prince Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck(-Schonhausen), statesman, 1815; Edwin Austin Abbey, painter, 1852; Sir Frederic Truby King, mothercraft pioneer, 1858; Ferruccio Benvenuto Busoni, musician, 1866; Edmond-Eugene Alexis Rostand, playwright, 1868; Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninov, composer, 1873; Edgar Richard Horatio Wallace, journalist and thriller-writer, 1875; Lon (Alonso) Chaney, actor, 1883; Wallace Beery, actor, 1885; Leonard Bloomfield, linguist, 1887; Dame Cicely Courtneidge, actress, 1893; Edward Tisse, cinematic director, 1897.

Deaths: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and of England, 1204; Robert III, King of Scotland, 1406; Sigismund I, King of Poland, 1548; Dr John Langhorne, writer, cleric and translator, 1779; Dr Isaac Milner, theologian and mathematician, 1820; Chester Harding, portrait painter, 1866; John Frederick Denison Maurice, theologian and founder of Christian Socialism, 1872; Andreas Achenbach, landscape and marine painter, 1910; Ex-Emperor Karl Franz Josef of Austria, 1922; Mortimer Menpes, painter and etcher, 1938; John Atkinson Hobson, economist, 1940; Ferenc Molnar, playwright, 1952; Lev Davidovich Landau, physicist, 1968; Max Ernst, Surrealist painter and sculptor, 1976; Rene Cutforth, journalist and broadcaster, 1984; Elizabeth de Beauchamp Goudge, author, 1984.

On this day: Britain declared war on Prussia, 1806; the title 'Commonwealth of Australia' was adopted, 1891; the telephone link between London and Paris was officially opened, 1891; the Territorial Army was founded, 1908; Old Age pensions were first paid (to British subjects over the age of 70), 1909; the first aviation unit of the British Army was formed, the Air Battalion, Royal Engineers, 1911; the Royal Air Force came into being as a separate arm, 1918; Adolf Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, 1924; a Hebrew University was inaugurated by Lord Balfour on Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, 1925; persecution of the Jews in Germany began, 1933; London's Green Belt legislation came into being, 1935; the United States recognised the Franco government in Spain, 1939; the Battle of Okinawa began when US troops landed there, 1945; electricity undertakings in Britain, both private and municipal, were nationalised as the British Electricity Authority, 1947; the Soviet Union began a land blockade of Berlin, 1948; Newfoundland, up to this date a separate Dominion, became the tenth province of Canada, 1949; the United States Air Force Academy was inaugurated, 1954; the world's first meteorological satellite, Tiros 1, was launched by the United States, 1960; in Manila, a disastrous fire destroyed houses covering a wide area, rendering 70,000 homeless, 1971; 590 US prisoners were released by the North Vietnamese, 1973; in Britain, Purchase Tax and Selective Employment Tax were abolished, and Value Added Tax (VAT) took their place, 1973; boundary changes were made in England and Wales, which affected nearly all counties, 1974; the military side of the Warsaw Pact was disbanded, 1991.

Today is Good Friday and the Feast Day of St Catharine of Palma, St Gilbert of Caithness, St Hugh of Bonnevaux, St Hugh of Grenoble, St Macarius the Wonderworker, St Melito and St Valery or Walaricus.