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Births: Lodovico Ferrari, mathematician, 1522; (Eleanor) Nell Gwynn, actress and mistress of Charles II, 1650; William Borlase, naturalist, antiquarian and cleric, 1695; John Nichols, printer and author, 1745; Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, statesman and diplomat, 1754; Girolamo Crescentini, male soprano singer, 1766; Henry Havelock Ellis, psychologist, 1859; James Augustine Joyce, author, 1882; James Stephens, poet and novelist, 1882; Jussi Bjorling, singer, 1911; Les (Leslie) Dawson, comedian, 1934.

Deaths: Martin Schongauer (or Schon), engraver and painter, 1491; Baldassare Castiglione, writer and courtier, 1529; Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, composer, 1594; Pope Clement XIII, 1769; Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleyev, chemist, 1907; Alexander Vasilievich Koltchak, admiral, shot by Bolsheviks 1920; Sir Owen Seaman, editor of Punch, 1936; Bertrand Russell, third Earl Russell, philosopher, 1970; Alistair Maclean, novelist, 1987; Bernard Braden, broadcaster, 1993.

On this day: King Stephen was defeated and captured at the Battle of Lincoln, 1141; Buenos Aires was founded by Pedro de Mendoza, 1535; the first parliament assembled of Great Britain and Ireland, 1801; a French force occupied Rome after Pope Pius VII refused to recognise the Kingdom of Naples, 1808; bread rationing was introduced in Britain, 1917; following a Russian-Estonian peace treaty, Estonia was declared independent, 1920; 60 countries attended the Disarmament Conference in Geneva, 1932; the remaining German army at Stalingrad surrendered to the Russians, 1943; in Uganda, Maj-Gen Idi Amin declared himself to be absolute ruler, 1971; a mob in Dublin burned down the British Embassy, 1972.

Today is Candlemas (Wives' Feast Day) and the Feast Day of St Adalbald of Ostrevant, St Joan de Lestonnac, The Martyrs of Ebsdorf and The Purification.