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Births: Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, 1672; Samuel Spalding, moral philosopher, 1807; Peter Carl (Karl Gustavovich) Faberge, goldsmith, 1846; Howard Hawks, film director, 1896; Benny (Benjamin David) Goodman, bandleader and clarinettist, 1909.

Deaths: Joan of Arc, burnt at the stake at Rouen 1431; Christopher Marlowe, playwright, killed in a brawl 1593; Sir Peter Paul Rubens, painter, 1640; Alexander Pope, poet and satirist, 1744; Francois Boucher, painter, 1770; Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet), philosopher and writer, 1778; Wilbur Wright, pioneer aviator, 1912; Claude Rains, actor, 1967.

On this day: Christopher Columbus set sail on his third voyage, 1498; King Henry VIII was married to Jane Seymour, 1536; the Grenadier Guards were formed, 1656; Napoleon annexed Tuscany, 1808; John Francis attempted to assassinate Queen Victoria, 1842; Memorial Day (Decoration Day) was first observed in the United States, 1869; Cologne was raided by RAF aircraft, 1942; the first hovercraft flight took place at Cowes, Isle of Wight, 1959; Eastern Nigeria declared itself independent, being renamed the Republic of Biafra, 1967; the British Trans-Arctic Expedition completed the first surface crossing of the continent, 3,620 miles in 464 days, 1969.

Today is a Bank Holiday and the Feast Day of St Exuperantius of Ravenna, St Ferdinand of Castile, St Isaac of Constantinople, St Joan of Arc, St Luke Kirby, St Madelgisilus or Maugeille and St Walstan.