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Births: Nostradamus (Michel de Nostredame) astrologer and prophet, 1503; Tycho Brahe, astronomer and mathematician, 1546; Henry IV of Navarre, King of France, 1553; Daniel Neal, cleric and historian, 1678; James Bruce, explorer of Africa, 1730; Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, admiral, 1775; The Rev Charles Wolfe, poet, 1791; Baldassare Gamucci, composer, 1822; Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, mural painter, 1824; Roger Eliot Fry, painter and critic, 1866; Joseph Jongen, composer, 1873; George VI, King, 1895; Paul Eluard, poet, 1895; Kurt von Schuschnigg, Austrian chancellor, 1897; Shirley Jackson, author, 1919. Deaths: Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, hanged and burnt, 1417; James V, King of Scotland, 1542; Henry Aldrich, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, composer and architect, 1710; Thomas Rymer, archaeologist, 1713; Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1715; Sir William Trumbull, politician, 1716; Giovanni Battista Cipriani, painter and engraver, 1785; Charles III, King of Spain, 1788; Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, composer, 1788; George Washington, first US president, 1799; Conrad Malte-Brun (Malte Conrad Bruun), geographer, 1826; John Claudius Loudon, botanical writer, 1843; George Hamilton Gordon, fourth Earl of Aberdeen, politician, 1860; Albert, Prince Consort, 1861; George Hudson, the 'railway king', 1871; Louis- Jean-Rodolphe Agassiz, naturalist, 1873; Richard Redgrave, painter, 1888; Sir Oswald Walters Brierly, marine painter, 1894; Sidonio Bernardino Cardosa da Silva Paes, president of Portugal, assassinated, 1918; Maurice Baring, novelist, playwright and poet, 1945; Stanley, first Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, statesman, 1947; Will Fyffe, comedian, 1947; Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, novelist, 1953; Juno Kusti Paasikivi, statesman, 1956; Sir Stanley Spencer, painter, 1959; William Bendix, actor, 1964; Walter Lippmann, journalist, 1974; Vicente Aleixandre, poet, 1984; Andrei Dimitrievich Sakharov, scientist, 1989.

On this day: Mary acceded to the Scottish throne, 1542; Alabama became the 22nd of the United States, 1819; the St James's Theatre, London, opened as the Prince's Theatre, 1835; the first section of the London and Greenwich railway opened, 1836; HMS Bombay, 2,782 tons, was destroyed by fire near Montevideo, with the loss of 91 lives, 1864; Max Planck put forward his quantum theory, 1901; Germany put her first U- boat into service at Kiel, 1906; Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole, 1911; Crete was formally annexed to Greece, 1913; Constance, Countess Markievicz, became the first woman to be elected to the British Parliament, although she did not take her seat, 1914; by a large majority, the Danish people voted to sell the Danish West Indies to the US, 1916; women in Britain voted for the first time at the General Election, 1918; Puccini's opera Gianni Schicchi was first performed, Milan, 1918; in Turkey, women were granted the vote, 1934; the League of Nations condemned and expelled the Soviet Union for aggression against Finland, 1939; Archbishop Makarios became the first president of the Republic of Cyprus, 1959.

Today is the Feast Day of Saints Fingar or Gwinnear and Phiala, St John of the Cross, St Nicasius of Rheims, St Spiridion and St Venantius Fortunatus.