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; 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; Morton Feldman, composer, 1926.

Deaths: Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, 1519; Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba, military commander, 1582; Jan Brueghel the Elder, painter, 1625; Henry Stafford Northcote, first Earl of Iddesleigh, 1887; Sir Isaac Pitman, printer and publisher, 1897; 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; in the General Election, there was a Liberal landslide, 1906; more than 200 people were killed during an avalanche in Austria, 1954; the Queen opened the New Zealand parliament, 1954; following a rebellion in Zanzibar, the Sultan was banished and a republic declared, 1964; after the Biafran army surrendered, the civil war in Nigeria ended, 1970.

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