Births: Christiaan Huygens, astronomer, physicist and mathematician, 1629; William Henry Bentinck, third Duke of Portland, prime minister, 1738; Joseph Staudigl, bass singer, 1807; Gustave-Lon Huberti, conductor and composer, 1843; Sir Victor Alexander Haden Horsley, physician, 1857; Peter Behrens, architect and industrial designer, 1868; James Branch Cabell, novelist, 1879; Friedrich Albert Moritz Schlick, philosopher, 1882; Edward Chace Tolman, psychologist, 1886; Arnold Joseph Toynbee, historian, 1889; Vere Gordon Childe, archaeologist, 1892; Franois Duvalier, Haitian dictator ("Papa Doc"), 1907.

Deaths: Godwin, Earl of the West Saxons, 1053; Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick ("the Kingmaker"), killed in battle 1471; James Hepburn, fourth Earl of Bothwell, husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, 1578; Thomas Otway, playwright, 1685; George Frederick Handel, composer, violinist and organist, 1759; Thomas Wright, ironfounder and prison philanthropist, 1875; James Clarke Hook, painter, 1907; Dr Ludovik Lazarus Zamenhof, creator of Esperanto, 1917; Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky, playwright and novelist, committed suicide 1930; Ernest Bevin, statesman and trade union leader, 1951; Fredric March (Ernest Frederick McIntyre Bickel), actor, 1975; Agnes Elisabeth Lutyens (Mrs Edward Clark), composer, 1983; Simone de Beauvoir, writer and feminist, 1986; Leslie Charteris, novelist and creator of "The Saint", 1993.

On this day: the Yorkists defeated the Lancastrians at the Battle of Barnet, 1471; two brothers of the Duke of Orange fell at the Battle of Mookerheide during the Netherlands War of Independence against the Spanish, 1574; the Battle of Millesimo ended when Napoleon defeated thethe Austrians, 1796; Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language published, 1828; Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President, was shot by an assassin, John Wilkes Booth, 1865; Alexander Solovieff attempted to assassinate Tsar Alexander II of Russia, 1879; the Pan American Union was established, 1890; the first London production of the musical show Lady, Be Good! was presented, 1926; after Alfonso XIII, King of Spain, abdicated and fled the country, a revolutionary provisional republican government was set up, 1931; the first London production of the operetta The Dubarry was presented, 1932; the Stresa Conference between Britain, France and Italy ended, 1935; the first London production of the musical show Brigadoon was presented, 1949; the first quintuplets in Scotland were born to Mrs Linda Bostock, of Armadale, West Lothian, 1972.

Today is Good Friday and the Feast Day of Saints Antony, John and Eustace, St Ardalion, St Benezet, St Bernard of Tiron or Abbeville, St Caradoc, St John of Vilna, St Lambert of Lyons, Saints Tiburtius, Valerius and Maximus and The Martyrs of Lithuania; today is also the beginning of the Sikh New Year.