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Up to 1900
- 1041 – Empress Zoe of Byzantium elevates her adoptive son to the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire as Michael V.
- 1508 – The League of Cambrai is formed by Pope Julius II, Louis XII of France, Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor and Ferdinand II of Aragon as an alliance against Venice.
- 1510 - Portuguese conquest of Goa: Portuguese naval forces under the command of Afonso de Albuquerque, and local mercenaries working for privateer Timoji, seize Goa from the Bijapur Sultanate, resulting in 451 years of Portuguese colonial rule.
- 1520 – Martin Luther burns his copy of the papal bull Exsurge Domine outside Wittenberg's Elster Gate.
- 1684 – Isaac Newton's derivation of Kepler's laws from his theory of gravity, contained in the paper De motu corporum in gyrum, is read to the Royal Society by Edmund Halley.
- 1799 - France adopts the meter as its official unit of length.
- 1817 – Mississippi becomes the 20th U.S. state.
- 1836 – Emory College (now Emory University) is chartered in Oxford, Georgia.
- 1848 - Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, later Napoleon III of France, is elected President of France.
- 1861 - American Civil War: The Confederate States of America accept a rival state's pronouncement that declares Kentucky to be the 13th State of the Confederacy.
- 1864 – American Civil War: Sherman's March to the Sea - Major General William T. Sherman's Union Army troops reach Savannah, Georgia.
- 1868 – The first traffic lights are installed outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Resembling railway signals, they use semaphore arms and are illuminated at night by red and green gas lamps.
- 1869 – Wyoming grants women the right to vote.
- 1884 - Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is first published.
- 1890 - In New York City, the New York World Building is completed.
- 1896 - Alfred Nobel dies. From 1901, Nobel Prizes are awarded on this day in his memory.
- 1898 – Spanish-American War: The Treaty of Paris is signed, officially ending the conflict.
1901 – 1950
- 1901 – The first Nobel Prizes are given.
- 1904 – The Pi Kappa Phi fraternity is founded in Charleston, South Carolina.
- 1906 – U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt wins the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first American to win a Nobel Prize of any kind.
- 1927 - The phrase Grand Ole Opry is used for the first time.
- 1932 – Thailand's Constitution is written, forming a constitutional monarchy.
- 1936 – Abdication Crisis: Edward VIII of the United Kingdom signs his Instrument of Abdication.
- 1941 – World War II: Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse – The Royal Navy ships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse are sunk by Imperial Japanese Navy torpedo bombers.
- 1941 – World War II: Battle of the Philippines – Imperial Japanese forces under the command of General Masaharu Homma land on the Philippine mainland.
- 1948 – The UN General Assembly adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- 1949 – Chinese Civil War: The People's Liberation Army begins its siege of Chengdu, the last Kuomintang-held city in mainland China, forcing President of the Republic of China Chiang Kai-shek and his government to retreat to Taiwan.
1951 – 2000
- 1953 – Dr. Albert Schweitzer is given the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work.
- 1963 – The United States Air Force's X-20 Dyna-Soar spaceplane program is cancelled by Robert McNamara.
- 1965 – The Grateful Dead play their first concert, at the Fillmore in San Francisco.
- 1968 - Japan's biggest heist, the still-unsolved 300-Yen robbery, is carried out in Tokyo.
- 1970 – Agricultural scientist Norman Borlaug, "father of the Green Revolution", is given the Nobel Peace Prize.
- 1975 – Activist Andrei Sakharov is given the Nobel Peace Prize, accepted by his wife, Yelena Bonner.
- 1978 – Arab-Israeli conflict: Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin and President of Egypt Anwar Sadat are jointly given the Nobel Peace Prize.
- 1979 - Kaohsiung Incident: Taiwanese pro-democracy demonstrations are suppressed by the KMT dictatorship and organizers are arrested.
- 1983 – Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa is given the Nobel Peace Prize, accepted by his wife, Danuta.
- 1983 – Raul Alfonsin becomes President of Argentina, ending a period of dictatorship.
- 1984 – Apartheid: Cleric and activist Desmond Tutu is given the Nobel Peace Prize.
- 1986 – The Holocaust: Elie Wiesel is given the Nobel Peace Prize.
- 1989 - Carlos Menem becomes President of Argentina.
- 1989 - Mongolian Revolution: At the country's first open pro-democracy demonstration, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj announces the creation of the Mongolia Democratic Union.
- 1996 – Rwandan Genocide: Military Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General and head of the Military Division of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations Maurice Baril recommends that the UN multi-national forces in Zaire stand down.
- 1997 – Kazakhstan's capital city Akmola changes its name to Astana.
- 1998 – Capital punishment is abolished in Bulgaria.
- 2002 – The High Court of Australia hands down its judgement in the internet defamation case of Gutnick v Dow Jones.
- 2004 – A tombstone commemorating the 35th anniversary of the death of Brazilian guerrilla Carlos Marighella is inaugurated in Salvador, Bahia.
- 2004 – Anil Kumble becomes India's highest wicket-taker, surpassing Kapil Dev's total of 435.
- 2005 – Sosoliso Airlines Flight 1145 crashes near Port Harcourt, Nigeria, killing 108 people. 2 survive.
- 2007 - Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner becomes the first female President of Argentina.
- 2010 - Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo is unable to attend the ceremony in Oslo due to imprisonment.
- 2013 - A memorial service for Nelson Mandela is held in Johannesburg. See Death and state funeral of Nelson Mandela.
- 2014 - Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai becomes the youngest person ever to receive a Nobel Prize, doing so with Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi.
Up to 1900
- 1394 – King James I of Scotland (d. 1437)
- 1538 – Giovanni Battista Guarini, Italian poet (d. 1612)
- 1588 - Isaac Beeckman, Dutch scientist and philosopher (d. 1637)
- 1699 – King Christian VI of Denmark (d. 1746)
- 1751 - George Shaw, English botanist and zoologist (d. 1813)
- 1787 - Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, American educator (d. 1851)
- 1804 – Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi, German mathematician (d. 1851)
- 1810 - Abraham K. Allison, American politician, 6th Governor of Florida (d. 1893)
- 1815 – Ada Lovelace, English mathematician (d. 1852)
- 1821 - Nikolay Nekrasov, Russian poet and critic (d. 1877)
- 1822 – Cesar Franck, French composer (d. 1890)
- 1824 - George MacDonald, Scottish minister, author and poet (d. 1905)
- 1827 - Eugene O'Keefe, Canadian businessman and philanthropist (d. 1913)
- 1830 – Emily Dickinson, American poet (d. 1886)
- 1845 - Wilhelm von Bode, German art historian (d. 1929)
- 1861 - Daisy Greville, English courtesan (d. 1938)
- 1866 - Louis Bolk, Dutch biologist and anatomist (d. 1930)
- 1870 – Mary Bonaparte, pretender to France's Imperial throne (d. 1947)
- 1870 – Adolf Loos, Austrian architect (d. 1933)
- 1878 – Rajaji, Indian independence fighter (d. 1972)
- 1880 – Fred Immler, German actor (d. 1965)
- 1882 - Otto Neurath, Austrian sociologist and philosopher (d. 1945)
- 1882 - Shigenori Togo, Japanese politician (d. 1950)
- 1882 - Louis Wilkins, American pole vaulter (d. 1950)
- 1886 - Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis, English field marshal, 17th Governor General of Canada (d. 1969)
- 1886 - Annie Bos, Dutch actress (d. 1975)
- 1886 - Victor McLaglen, English-American boxer and actor (d. 1959)
- 1891 – Nelly Sachs, German writer (d. 1970)
1901 – 1950
- 1903 – Una Merkel, American actress (d. 1986)
- 1907 – Lucien Laurent, French footballer (d. 2005)
- 1908 - Olivier Messiaen, French composer and ornithologist (d. 1992)
- 1909 - Hermes Pan, American dancer and choreographer (d. 1990)
- 1913 – Morton Gould, American composer (d. 1996)
- 1914 - Dorothy Lamour, American actress and singer (d. 1996)
- 1920 - Clarice Lispector, Ukrainian-Brazilian writer (d. 1977)
- 1922 - Agnes Nixon, American actress, director and screenwriter
- 1923 – Jorge Semprun, Spanish writer and politician (d. 2011)
- 1924 – Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica (d. 1997)
- 1926 - Guitar Slim, American blues guitarist (d. 1959)
- 1934 – Howard Martin Temin, American geneticist (d. 1994)
- 1937 - Raphael Maklouf, Israeli-English sculptor
- 1938 - Yuri Temirkanov, Russian viola player and conductor
- 1939 - Dave Bavetta, American basketball player and referee
- 1939 - Barry Cunliffe, English archaeologist and academic
- 1941 – Kyu Sakamoto, Japanese singer and actor (d. 1985)
- 1941 – Fionnula Flanagan, Irish-American actress
- 1942 - Ann Gloag, Scottish businesswoman
- 1944 - John Birt, Baron Birt, English businessman
- 1948 – Abu Abbas, founder of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (d. 2004)
- 1949 - Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, British journalist and author
1951 – 1975
- 1951 - Ellen Nikolaysen, Norwegian singer and actress
- 1952 – Clive Anderson, British television presenter
- 1952 - Susan Dey, American actress and producer
- 1952 - Greg Mortimer, Australian mountaineer
- 1952 - Bernd Jakubowski, German footballer (d. 2007)
- 1953 - Friedhelm Funkel, German footballer and manager
- 1954 – Florentin Smarandache, Romanian artist and writer
- 1955 - Ana Gabriel, Mexican singer
- 1956 – Rod Blagojevich, 40th Governor of Illinois
- 1957 - Michael Clarke Duncan, American actor (d. 2012)
- 1957 - Paul Hardcastle, British musician
- 1958 - Cornelia Funke, German author
- 1959 - Mark Aguirre, American basketball player and coach
- 1960 – Kenneth Branagh, Northern Irish actor
- 1962 – John de Wolf, Dutch footballer
- 1963 – Jahangir Khan, Pakistani squash player
- 1965 – Greg Giraldo, American comedian (d. 2010)
- 1965 - Stephanie Morgenstern, Swiss-Canadian actress, producer and screenwriter
- 1969 - Rob Blake, Canadian ice hockey player and manager
- 1972 – Brian Molko, Belgian-born singer and guitarist (Placebo)
- 1973 - Arden Myrin, American comedienne and actress
- 1974 – Meg White, American drummer
- 1975 – Josip Skoko, Australian footballer
- 1975 – Kristel Verbeke, Flemish singer, actress and host
- 1977 - Andrea Henkel, German biathlete
- 1978 - Summer Phoenix, American actress
- 1981 – Fabio Rochemback, Brazilian footballer
- 1982 - Sultan Kosen, Turkish world's tallest man
- 1983 - Xavier Samuel, Australian actor
- 1983 – Katrin Siska, Estonian singer (Vanilla Ninja)
- 1985 – Charlie Adam, Scottish footballer
- 1987 – Gonzalo Higuain, Argentine footballer
- 1988 - Wilfried Bony, Ivorian footballer
- 1988 - Neven Subotic, Serbian footballer
- 1989 - Ng Chee Yang, Singaporean singer-songwriter, dancer and actor
- 1990 – Shoya Tomizawa, Japanese motorcycle racer (d. 2010)
- 1991 - Dion Waiters, American basketball player
- 1993 - Rachel Trachtenburg, American singer and actress
- 1994 - Matti Klinga, Finnish footballer
- 2014 - Princess Gabrielle of Monaco
- 2014 - Jacques, Hereditary Prince of Monaco
Up to 1900
- 949 - Herman I, Duke of Swabia
- 1041 – Michael IV the Paphlagonian, Byzantine Emperor (b. 1010)
- 1198 - Averroes, Spanish astronomer, physicist and philosopher (b. 1126)
- 1603 – William Gilbert, English scientist (b. 1544)
- 1626 - Edmund Gunter, English mathematician and academic (b. 1581)
- 1665 - Tarquinio Merula, Italian organist, violinist and composer (b. 1594)
- 1850 – Jozef Bem, Polish general (b. 1794)
- 1850 - Francois Sulpice Beudant, French mineralogist (b. 1787)
- 1865 – King Leopold I of Belgium (b. 1790)
- 1896 – Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor (b. 1833)
1901 – 2000
- 1909 – Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota Sioux chief (b. 1822)
- 1917 – Mackenzie Bowell, Prime Minister of Canada (b. 1823)
- 1926 - Nikola Pasic, Serbian politician and Prime Minister (b. 1845)
- 1928 – Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Scottish artist, designer and architect (b. 1868)
- 1936 – Luigi Pirandello, Italian writer (b. 1867)
- 1948 - Na Hye-sok, South Korean journalist, poet and painter (b. 1896)
- 1967 – Otis Redding, American singer (b. 1941)
- 1968 – Karl Barth, Swiss theologian (b. 1886)
- 1972 - Mark Van Doren, American poet, critic and academic (b. 1894)
- 1977 – Adolph Rupp, American basketball coach (b. 1901)
- 1978 - Ed Wood, American director, producer and screenwriter (b. 1924)
- 1979 - Ann Dvorak, American actress and singer (b. 1912)
- 1982 - Freeman Gosden, American actor and screenwriter (b. 1899)
- 1986 – Kate Wolf, American singer (b. 1942)
- 1991 – Headman Shabalala, South African singer (b. 1945)
- 1999 – Franjo Tudjman, President of Croatia (b. 1922)
- 2000 - Marie Windsor, American actress (b. 1919)
- 2001 – Ashok Kumar, Indian actor (b. 1911)
- 2005 – Richard Pryor, American actor and comedian (b. 1940)
- 2005 – Eugene McCarthy, American politician (b. 1916)
- 2006 – Augusto Pinochet, former President of Chile (b. 1915)
- 2006 - Salvatore Pappalardo, Italian cardinal (b. 1918)
- 2010 – John Bennett Fenn, American chemist (b. 1917)
- 2012 - Lisa Della Casa, Swiss operatic soprano (b. 1919)
- 2012 - Iajuddin Ahmed, President of Bangladesh (b. 1931)
- 2013 - Jim Hall, American musician (b. 1930)
- 2014 - Ralph Giordano, German writer and publicist (b. 1923)