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Births: Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, 1274; Luis de Gongora y Argote, poet and writer, 1561; Sir Kenelm Digby, diplomat and writer, 1603; Frederick I, King of Prussia, 1657; Charles-Antoine Coypel, painter, 1694; Joseph-Jerome de Lalande (Le Francais), astronomer, 1732; Thomas Bowdler, editor and self-appointed censor of Shakespeare, 1754; John Quincy Adams, sixth US President, 1767; Thomas Wakley, founder of the Lancet, 1795; Celestin-Francois Nanteuil, painter and engraver, 1813; Paul Lacombe, composer, 1837; Anna Mehlig (Falk), pianist, 1846; Arthur William Tedder, first Baron, Marshal of the RAF, 1890; Elwyn Brooks White, author, 1899.

Deaths: William Robertson, historian, 1793; Simon Newcomb, astronomer, 1909; Eugenia Maria de Montijo de Guzman, Comtesse de Teba, Empress of France, 1920; Alfred Dreyfus, soldier, 1935; George Gershwin (Jacob Gershvin), composer, 1937; Sir Arthur John Evans, archaeologist, 1941; Lucien Pissarro, landscape painter and book designer, 1944; Paul Nash, painter, printmaker and photographer, 1946; George Gard (Buddy) DeSylva, lyricist and film director, 1950; The Aga Khan III, 1957.

On this day: the Flemings defeated the Count of Artois at the Battle of the Spurs (Courtrai), 1302; the Duke of Marlborough was victorious over the French at the Battle of Oudenarde, 1708; Captain James Cook sailed from Plymouth on his last voyage, 1776; Alexander Hamilton was fatally wounded in a duel with Aaron Burr, 1804; Waterloo Station, London, was officially opened, 1848; the massacre of Christians in Damascus ended, 1860; the Bombardment of Alexandria by the British Fleet began, 1882; the province of Katanga in Zaire was proclaimed independent by its prime minister, Moise Tshombe, 1960; the first television transmissions via Telstar began from Maine, US, to France, 1962; the Prince of Wales opened Britannia Road Bridge across the Menai Strait, 1980.

Today is the Feast Day of St Benedict, St Drostan, St Hidulf, St John of Bergamo and St Olga.


Births: Gaius Julius Caesar, general and statesman, soldier, 100BC; Jean Petitot, enamel painter, 1607; Josiah Wedgwood, potter, 1730; Thomas Guthrie, founder of 'Ragged Schools', 1803; Claude Bernard, physiologist, 1813; Ludwig Molitor, composer, 1817; Henry David Thoreau, author and naturalist, 1817; Karl Heinrich Barth, teacher and pianist, 1847; Sir William Osler, physician, 1849; George Eastman, photographic pioneer, 1854; Charles Cottet, landscape painter, 1863; Stefan George, poet, 1868; Frederick Edwin Smith, first Earl of Birkenhead, statesman, 1872; Amedeo Modigliani, painter and sculptor, 1884; George Butterworth, composer, 1885; Oscar Hammerstein II, lyricist and author, 1895; Kirsten Flagstad, operatic singer, 1895; Pablo Neruda (Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto), poet and diplomat, 1904; Yul Brynner (Youl Bryner), actor, 1915.

Deaths: Jack (John) Cade, rebel leader, 1450; Desiderius Erasmus, scholar, 1536; Jean Picard, astronomer, 1682; Titus Oates, impostor and conspirator, 1705; Alexander Hamilton, statesman, 1804; Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna, writer, 1846; Robert Stevenson, lighthouse engineer, 1850; The Hon Charles Stewart Rolls, aviator and automobile manufacturer, killed 1910; Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, traveller and archaeologist, 1926; Ferguson Wright Hume (Fergus Hume), novelist, 1932; Charles Frederick Goldie, artist, 1947; Douglas Hyde, poet, historian and first president of the Irish Republic, 1949; Mazo de la Roche, novelist, 1961; Kenneth More, actor, 1982.

On this day: William I (The Lion) of Scotland was defeated at Alnwick, Northumberland 1174; the Crusaders took Acre, 1191; Henry VIII married Catherine Parr at Hampton Court Palace, 1543; the Armada set sail from Spain, 1588; William of Orange fought the Battle of Aughrim in Ireland, 1691; the Confederation of the Rhine was formed, 1806; Crimea was evacuated, 1856; Victoria Embankment was opened by the Prince of Wales, London 1870; Britain took possession of Cyprus, 1878; Alfred Dreyfus was pardoned, his sentence quashed and he was restored to his regiment, 1906; 500 people died when the Japanese battleship Kawachi blew up in Tokuyama Bay, 1918; the musical show Bitter Sweet was first performed, London 1929; the Anglo- Soviet agreement was signed in Moscow, 1941; Thor Heyerdahl and a crew of seven crossed the Atlantic from Morocco to Barbados in 57 days, using a papyrus boat, 1970; Sao Tome and Principe became independent, 1975; Reed International agreed to sell the Mirror Group newspapers to Robert Maxwell's Pergamon Press, 1984.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Felix, Saints Hermagoras and Fortunatus, St Jason, St John Gualbert, St John Jones, St John the Iberian and St Veronica.