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Births: Luigi Pulci, poet, 1432; Agostino Carracci, painter, baptised 1557; Jeremy Taylor, theologian, baptised 1613; Gilles Menage, lexicographer, 1613; Frederick William I, King of Prussia, 1688; Napoleon Buonaparte, Emperor, 1769; Sir Walter Scott, novelist, 1771; Thomas De Quincey, essayist and critic, 1785; Sir Henry James Sumner Maine, lawyer and historian, 1822; Leon- Gustave-Cyprien Gastinel, composer, 1823; Edouard de Hartog, composer, 1828; Walter Crane, painter and illustrator, 1845; James Keir Hardie, Labour Party veteran, 1856; Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, composer, 1875; Ethel Barrymore (Ethel Mae Blythe), actress, 1879; Edna Ferber, novelist and playwright, 1887; Thomas Edward Lawrence, soldier and writer, 1888; Jacques-Francois-Antoine Ibert, composer, 1890; Prince Louis-Victor de Broglie, physicist, 1892; Gerty Theresa Cori (Radnitz), biochemist, 1896; Thomas Joseph Mboya, Kenyan leader, 1903.

Deaths: Macbeth, King of Scotland, killed in battle 1057; Philippa of Hainault, Queen of Edward III, 1369; Pope Pius II, 1464; Lilian Adelaide Neilson (Elizabeth Ann Brown), actress, 1880; William John Thoms, founder and editor of Notes and Queries, 1885; Wiley Post, aviator, killed in an air crash 1935; William Penn ('Will') Rogers, humorist, killed in an air crash 1935; Rene- Francois-Ghislain Magritte, Surrealist painter, 1967.

On this day: nearly 500 French ships were destroyed by the Duke of Bedford at Harfleur, 1416; the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) was founded in Paris by Ignatius de Loyola, 1534; the Prussians, under Frederick the Great defeated the Austrians under Baron von Laudon in the Battle of Liegnitz, 1760; the Allies under Suvorov defeated the French at the Battle of Novi Ligure, 1799; the Panama Canal was opened officially, 1914; the first London performance of the musical show Good News was presented, 1928; India became independent, 1947; Pakistan, having separated from India, became independent, 1947; the French Congo became independent, 1960; Bahrain became independent, 1971; in Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was deposed and later killed in a military coup, 1975.

Today is the anniversary of VJ Day, 1945, and the Feast Day of The Assumption of the Virgin Mary, St Arnulph of Soissons and St Tarsicius.


Births: Catharine Cockburn, playwright and philosopher, 1679; Sir Thomas Picton, general, 1758; Heinrich August Marschner, operatic composer, 1795; Moritz Wilhelm Drobisch, mathematician and philosopher, 1802; Arthur Cayley, mathematician, 1821; Johan Siegwald Dahl, painter, 1827; Jules Laforgue, poet and critic, 1860; Henri-Constant-Gabriel Pierne, conductor and composer, 1863; Dame Mary Gilmore, poet, 1865; Georgette Heyer, novelist, 1902; Wendell Meredith Stanley, biochemist, 1904.

Deaths: Thomas Fuller, preacher and biographer, 1661; Andrew Marvell, poet, 1678; Jacques Bernoulli, mathematician, 1705; Matthew Tindal, writer, 1733; Joe Miller, comedian, 1738; Catherine Phillips (Payton), Quaker missionary, 1794; Duncan Phyfe (Fife), cabinet- maker, 1854; Ramakrishna (Gadadhur Chatterji), Hindu mystic, 1886; Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, chemist and inventor, 1899; Jose Maria de Eca de Queiros, novelist, 1900; Umberto Boccioni, futurist sculptor, 1916; Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer, astronomer, 1920; John Coates, tenor, 1941; George Herman 'Babe' Ruth, baseball player, 1948; Louis Jouvet, actor and director, 1951; Bela Lugosi (Bela Blasko), actor, 1956; Wanda Louis Landowska, harpsichordist, 1959; Selman Waksman, microbiologist and discoverer of streptomycin, 1973; Elvis Presley, rock singer, 1977; John George Diefenbaker, statesman, 1979.

On this day: Henry VIII and his army defeated the French at Guinegatte in the Battle of the Spurs, 1513; Prince Eugene of Savoy fought the French in the indecisive Battle of Cassano d'Adda, 1705; Prince Eugene defeated the Turks at Belgrade, 1717; the Jesuits were expelled from Rome, 1773; the American army defeated the British forces at the Battle of Bennington, 1777; British forces led by Cornwallis defeated the American army led by Horatio Gates at the Battle of Camden, New Jersey 1780; during Napoleon's invasion of Russia, the Battle of Smolensk began, 1812; the Peterloo Massacre took place at St Peter's Field, Manchester 1819; the trial of Queen Caroline for adultery began, 1820; the Republic of Bolivia was proclaimed, 1825; the Russians were repulsed by the Piedmontese, the British and the French at the Battle of Tchernaya during the Crimean War, 1855; Wagner's opera Siegfried was first performed, Bayreuth 1876; the Tate Gallery, London, was opened, 1897; the explorer William Beebe descended 3,028 feet (1,922 metres) in his bathysphere into the ocean near Bermuda, 1934; following heavy thunderstorms, flooding devastated Lynton, Devonshire, 1952; Cyprus became an independent republic, 1960; Britain applied for membership of the EEC, 1961; after taking control of most of Northern Cyprus, Turkish forces called a ceasefire, 1974.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Armel, St Arsacius and St Stephen of Hungary.