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Births: Henry VI, King, 1421; Baldassarre Castiglione, courtier, 1478; Sir Edmund Andros, diplomat and governor of Virginia, 1637; Sir David Baird, soldier, 1757; Louis-Joseph Gay-Lussac, chemist and physicist, 1778; Luigi Lablache, bass singer, 1794; Paul Emile Botta, archaeologist, 1802; Gilbert-Louis Duprez, tenor and composer, 1806; August von Mackensen, Field Marshal, 1849; Charles Martin Hall, chemist, 1863; Sir Francis Osbert Sacheverel Sitwell, writer, 1892; Sylvia Townsend Warner, novelist, 1893; Ira Gershwin (Israel Gershvin), lyricist, 1896.

Deaths: Afonso I Henriques of Portugal, after a reign of 73 years, 220 days, 1185; Pope Clement VI, 1352; Dr John Lightfoot, clergyman and scholar, 1675; Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, painter, 1779; Dr Joseph Black, chemist, 1799; Jean-Joseph- Charles-Louis Blanc, socialist journalist and revolutionary, 1882; Anthony Trollope, novelist and Post Office official, 1882; Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederate States of America, 1889; Ernst Werner von Siemens, inventor, 1892; Stella Benson, novelist, 1933; Roy Orbison (Kelton), singer and composer, 1988; Tunku Abdul Rahman, first Prime Minister of Malaya, 1990.

On this day: Christopher Columbus discovered Hispaniola (now Haiti and Dominican Republic), 1492; Sir Colin Campbell's men defeated the Sepoy mutineers at the Battle of Cawnpore, 1857; self-government was granted to the Transvaal and Orange River colonies, 1906; the Powers approved the accession of Prince William of Wied to the throne of Albania, 1913; Bucharest was captured by the Germans, 1916; the independence of Finland from Russia was proclaimed, 1917; in Halifax harbour, Nova Scotia, the French ship Mont Blanc, loaded with 3,000 tons of TNT, exploded, killing 1,654 people, 1917; British troops entered Cologne and US troops occupied Mainz, 1918; the Irish Free State was established, 1922; the Libyan frontier agreement was signed between Egypt and Italy, 1925; India recognised Bangladesh (East Pakistan) as an independent republic, 1971; war broke out between India and Pakistan, 1971; Gerald Ford was sworn in as Vice-President of the US, 1973; Britain's first heart and lung transplant was made; the patient being Mr Lars Ljunberg from Sweden, 1983; in East Germany, Egon Krenz was ousted as head of state, 1989.

Today is the Feast Day of St Abraham of Kratia, St Asella, Saints Dionysia, Majoricus and their Companions, St Gertrude the Elder and St Nicholas of Bari.