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Births: Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1118; Masaccio (Tommaso di Giovanni), painter, 1401; Mathurin Regnier, satirical poet, 1573; Jean Racine, playwright, 1639; Benoit-Tranquille Berbiguier, flautist and composer, 1782; Benjamin Disraeli, fIrst Earl of Beaconsfield, statesman, 1804; Thomas Couture, painter, 1815; Ernst Pauer, pianist and musical editor, 1826; Prince Peter Alekseyevich Kropotkin, anarchist revolutionary and geographer, 1842; John Seymour Lucas, painter, 1849; Nathaniel (Nat) Gould, novelist, 1857; Josef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (Joseph Stalin), Soviet leader, 1879; Walter Charles Hagen, golf champion, 1892; Harry Revel, popular composer and pianist, 1905; Frank Hampson, creator of 'Dan Dare', 1918.

Deaths: Giovanni Boccaccio, author, 1375; Catherine of Braganza, consort of King Charles II, 1705; Bernard de Montfaucon, critic and classical scholar, 1741; James Parkinson, surgeon and palaeontologist, 1824; Frank Billings Kellogg, politician, 1937; Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, novelist, 1940; General George Smith Patton, military leader, 1945; Gladys Ripley, contralto, 1955; Sir (Jack) John Berry Hobbs, cricketer, 1963.

On this day: Richard Coeur de Lion was captured by the Duke of Austria, 1192; the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth Rock in North America, 1620; paper money called assignats were issued in France, 1789; the first co-operative store was opened in Rochdale, 1844; anaesthetics were used for the first time in Britain (by Robert Liston), 1846; Charley's Aunt, the farce by Brandon Thomas, was first performed, 1892; the Port of London Authority was inaugurated, 1908; after a colliery disaster at Pretoria Pit, Bolton, 344 lives were lost, 1910; the premiere of the first full-length full-colour animated cartoon (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) by Walt Disney, took place, 1935; General Charles de Gaulle was elected president of the French Fifth Republic, 1958; the first flight of Man around the moon took place when Apollo 8 was launched, 1969.

Today is the Feast Day of St Anastasius II of Antioch, St Glycerius, St John Vincent, St Peter Canisius and Saints Themistocles and Dioscorus.