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Births: Pope Pius IV, 1499; Rene Descartes, philosopher, 1596; Andrew Marvell, poet, pamphleteer and politician, 1621; Francesco Durante, composer, 1684; Franz Joseph Haydn, composer, 1732; Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol, novelist and playwright, 1809; Edward Fitzgerald, translator of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, 1809; Robert Wilhelm von Bunsen, physicist and chemist, 1811; John La Farge, landscape and figure painter, 1835.

Deaths: Philip III, King of Spain, 1621; John Donne, poet, 1631; John Constable, painter, 1837; Charlotte Bronte, novelist, 1855; Sir John Stainer, organist and composer, 1901; John Pierpont Morgan, philanthropist, 1913; Jesse Owens (James Cleveland), athlete, 1980; Enid Bagnold (Lady Jones), novelist, 1981.

On this day: the first instalment of Charles Dickens's Pickwick Papers appeared as a monthly number, 1836; in Paris, the Eiffel Tower was inaugurated, 1889; Whitcomb Judson patented the first zip fastener, 1896; gold was discovered at Klondike in Canada, 1897; the Church in Wales was disestablished, 1920; British coal-miners went on strike, 1921; the US Congress passed the Marshall Aid plan, 1948; the Soviet Union offered to join Nato, 1954; the Dalai Lama was granted political asylum by India, 1959; a Mexican airliner on a flight to Los Angeles crashed into a mountain 80 miles from Mexico city, killing all in the aircraft, 1986; Hampton Court Palace was badly damaged by fire, 1986.

Today is Maundy Thursday and the Feast Day of St Acacius or Achatius, St Balbina, St Benjamin and St Guy of Pomposa.