Anniversaries

Births: Jean-Francois Millet, painter, 1642; Edward Gibbon, historian, author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1737; Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, author and women's rights champion, 1759; Charles Robert Cockerell, architect, 1788; Abraham Louis Niedermeyer, composer and educationalist, 1802; Friedrich, Freiherr von Flotow, composer, 1812; Herbert Spencer, philosopher, 1820; Ulysses Simpson Grant, general and 18th US president, 1822; Edward Whymper, mountaineer and artist, 1840; Maurice Baring, novelist, playwright and poet, 1874; Wallace Carothers, chemist and developer of nylon, 1896; Cecil Day Lewis, poet and novelist, 1904.

Deaths: Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, 1404; Ferdinand Magellan, navigator, killed by Philippine natives 1521; Gerrit van Honthorst, painter, 1656; Jan Josephszoon van Goyen, landscape painter, 1656; James Bruce, explorer, 1794; Sir William Jones, orientalist, 1794; William Charles Macready, actor-manager, 1873; Emile de Girardin, political journalist, 1881; Ralph Waldo Emerson, author, 1882; Henry Hobson Richardson, architect, 1886; Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin, composer and pianist, 1915; Harold Hart Crane, poet, committed suicide 1932; Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghana, 1972.

On this day: the English defeated the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar, 1296; the Allies - Austrians and Russians - defeated the French at the Battle of Cassano, and extinguished the Cisalpine Republic, 1799; the US forces captured Toronto (York), 1813; the Order of St Michael and St George was founded, 1817; the London Zoological Gardens in Regent's Park opened, 1828; Christina Rossetti, aged 12, produced her first book of poems, 1842; the Sultana steamboat exploded on the Mississippi, resulting in 1,450 lives lost, 1865; Gounod's opera Romeo and Juliet was first performed, Paris 1867; it was stated that Germany would have to pay pounds 650m reparations for damage done by her forces in the First World War, 1921; the Piccadilly Theatre, London, opened, 1928; Guernica, northern Spain, was destroyed in bombing by German aircraft, 1937; in Britain, it was announced that men aged 20-21 would be conscripted, 1939; German troops occupied Athens, 1941; Britain recognised the state of Israel, 1950; Georgy Malenkov became leader in the Soviet Union, 1954; Togo became independent, 1960; Sierra Leone became independent, 1961.

Today is the Feast Day of St Anthimus of Nicomedia, St Asicus or Tassach, Saints Castor and Stephen, St Floribert of Liege, St Maughold or Maccul, St Zita.

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