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Births: Robert Harley, first Earl of Oxford, politician, 1661; Martin van Buren, eighth US president, 1782; Christina Georgina Rossetti, poet, 1830; Karl Friedrich Ludwig Nohl, writer on music, 1831; George Armstrong Custer, cavalry commander, 1839; Sir John Frederick Bridge, composer, 1844; Admiral John Rushworth Jellicoe, first Earl, commander of the Fleet at Jutland, 1859; Jozef Clemens Pilsudski, statesman, 1867; Vitezslav Novak, composer, 1870; Fritz Lang, film director, 1890; Walter (Walt) Elias Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, 1901; Werner Karl Heisenberg, physicist, 1901; Otto Preminger, film director, 1906.

Deaths: Francis II, king of France, 1560; Sir Henry Wotton, diplomat, poet and author, 1639; Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de La Verendrye, explorer and soldier, 1749; Giovanni Battista Morgagni, pathologist, 1771; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer, 1791; Carlo Giovanni Maria Denina, historian, 1813; Friedrich Leopold, Count Stolberg-Stolberg, poet and author, 1819; Thomas Pringle, poet, 1834; Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie Dumas pere, novelist, 1870; George John Whyte-Melville, novelist, 1878; Sir Henry Tate, sugar refiner and philanthropist, 1899; Ex-Emperor Pedro II of Brazil, 1891; Claude-Oscar Monet, painter, 1926; Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, poet, 1931; Jan Kubelik, violinist, 1940; Joseph Erlanger, neuro-physiologist, 1965; Princess Andrew of Greece, mother of the Duke of Edinburgh, 1969; Ethel Edith Mannin, novelist and travel writer, 1984.

On this day: thousands of people died following an earthquake in the Neapolitan area, 1456; James Christie, London auctioneer, held his first sale, 1766; the US brig Mary Celeste was found abandoned in the Atlantic, 1872; German and Russian delegates at Brest-Litovsk signed an armistice for seven days to take effect on 7 December, 1917; a plebiscite held in Greece favoured the return of King Constantine, 1920; under the 21st Amendment, prohibition was repealed in the United States, 1933; Britain declared war on Finland, Hungary and Romania after they refused to withdraw from the war against the Soviet Union, 1941; Britain's first motorway, a bypass around Preston, opened, 1958; the first female British priest was ordained in New Jersey, US 1981; the United Kingdom withdrew from membership of Unesco, 1985.

Today is the Feast Day of St Birinus, St Christian, St Crispina, St John Almond, St Justinian or Iestin, St Nicetius of Trier, St Sabas and St Sigiramnus or Cyran.


Births: Henry VI, King, 1421; Baldassarre Castiglione, courtier, 1478; George Monck, first Duke of Albemarle, admiral and general, 1608; Sir Edmund Andros, diplomat and governor of Virginia, 1637; Chretien-Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, statesman, 1721; Warren Hastings, first Governor-General of India, 1732; Sir David Baird, soldier, 1757; Louis-Joseph Gay-Lussac, chemist and physicist, 1778; The Rev Richard Harris Barham ('Thomas Ingoldsby'), humorist and author, 1788; Luigi Lablache, bass singer, 1794; Paul Emile Botta, archaeologist, 1802; Gilbert-Louis Duprez, tenor and composer, 1806; Charles John, first Baron Darling, judge, 1849; August von Mackensen, German field marshal, 1849; Charles Martin Hall, chemist, 1863; Sir Francis Osbert Sacheverell 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; Egide Charles Gustav Wappers, Baron, painter, 1874; 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), popular singer and composer, 1988.

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; the Germans captured Bucharest, 1916; Finland was declared independent from Russia, 1917; the ship Mont Blanc, loaded with 3,000 tons of TNT, collided and exploded, killing 1,654 people, Halifax harbour, Nova Scotia 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 operation took place on Mr Lars Ljunberg from Sweden, 1983; Egon Krenz was ousted as head of state, East Germany 1989.

Tomorrow 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.