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The h2g2 Calendar - 12 - December

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  • 1640 - Catherine de Braganca's father Dom João seizes the Ribeira Palace.

  • 1822 - Peter I is crowned emperor of Brazil.

  • 1930 - Terry Parsons aka crooner Matt Monro is born in Shoreditch, London.

  • 1955 - Rosa Parks starts the Alabama bus boycott by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man - an event mentioned in the lyrics of Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start The Fire'.

  • 1957 - Charles Starkweather begins a killing spree - an event mentioned in the lyrics of Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start The Fire'.

  • 1976 - The Sex Pistols make their infamous appearance on the 'Today' show, heralding the arrival of Punk Music in Britain.

  • 1993 - Luckily nobody is injured in a London rail disaster, when the driver of a train from London Victoria, under the influence of alcohol, makes it all the way to Tattenham Corner station where he forgets to stop at the terminus and takes the train through the buffers.



  • 1818 - Illinois becomes 21st state of the USA.

  • 1823 - Giovanni Battista Belzoni, tomb raider and archaeologist, dies in Guato, Kingdom of Benin.

  • 1944 - A parade is held in London to commemorate the standing-down of the Home Guard.

  • 1948 - Ozzy Osbourne, lead singer of the 1970s heavy metal band Black Sabbath and self-styled 'Prince of F***ing Darkness', is born.

  • 1965 - The Beatles' sixth album Rubber Soul is released in the United Kingdom.


  • 1872 - The Dei Gratia discovers the unmanned Mary Celeste...

  • 1956 - Elvis Presley takes part in a legendary jam session, alongside Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.

  • 1957 - A London rail disaster at Lewisham claims 40 lives when a train crashes into another after the driver failed to see the red signal due to heavy fog.

  • 1962 - John Scott and Daryl Parker make the final prison escape attempt in the history of Alcatraz.

  • 1965 - Gemini VII, one of the Apollo Pathfinders, takes off.

  • 1980 - Portugal's Prime Minister of only 11 Months Francisco Sá Carniero dies in an air crash shortly after take-off in Lisbon.

  • 1992 - The US sends 28,000 troops to Somalia.




  • 1853 - The Great Gauge War begins as hostilities begin between the railroads and the townsfolk in Pennsylvania, USA.

  • 1900 - Jame Ducat - Head Keeper of the Flannan Isle lighthouse - arrives to begin an ill-fated tour of duty.

  • 1941 - Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese on this day - an event mentioned in the entry on Glenn Miller.

  • 1942 - Singer/Songwriter Harry Chapin is born in Greenwich Village, New York City.

  • 1954 - Mike Nolan, original member of the band Bucks Fizz, is born.

  • 1972 - Apollo 17 takes off from Cape Kennedy.

  • 1975 - Indonesia invades the island of East Timor.


  • 1542 - Future Queen of Scotland, Mary Stuart is born at Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian.

  • 1967 - The Beatles' ninth album Magical Mystery Tour is released as a double EP in the UK.

  • 1980 - John Lennon is murdered.

  • 1991 - Russia, Belarus and Ukraine sign an agreement dissolving the Soviet Union and establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States.


  • 1608 - Poet John Milton is born in Cheapside, London.

  • 1917 - In Palestine, field marshal Edmund Allenby captures Jerusalem.

  • 1936 - Former Rear-Admiral and two-time Prime Minister of Sweden Arvid Lindman dies in an air crash shortly after taking off from Croydon, UK.

  • 1935 - The Thorley Taverns' public house chain founder and chairman Frank Thorley is born.

  • 1952 - Bentley and Craig are put on trial for murder at the Old Bailey in London.

  • 1972 - Tre Cool, drummer of Green Day is born.

  • 1992 - Legendary pitcher Greg Maddux fails to be re-signed by the Chicago Cubs.


  • 1815 - Annabella, wife to the infamous Lord Byron, gives birth to a daughter.

  • 1851 - Melville Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal System, is born.

  • 1830 - Birth date of poet Emily Dickinson.

  • 1934 - Reginald Woolmington shoots his wife, and British law is subsequently rewritten to ensure that defendants are 'innocent until proven guilty' - the Golden Thread.

  • 1948 - The UN General Assembly adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. December 10 is International Human Rights Day.

  • 1954 - Seminal jazz saxophonist Charlie 'Bird' Parker makes his last studio recording.

  • 1961 - An atomic bomb is detonated in the New Mexico desert in an unsuccessful experiment for Project Gnome.

  • 1962 - The premiere of David Lean's movie Lawrence of Arabia.

  • 1963 - Black American Soul singer Otis Redding dies in an air crash.

  • 1997 - Julia 'Butterfly' Hill begins a 2-year-long treetop protest against the logging industry.


  • 1851 - Writer Victor Hugo flees France for 20 years of exile.

  • 1863 - Birth of the American astronomer Annie Jump Cannon, who devised the Harvard Classification Scheme system of cataloging stars, and the mnemonic, 'Oh, Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me'. Cannon also made major contributions to the Henry Draper Catalog of stellar spectra, adding over 230,000 stars over a 40 year career.

  • 1936 - The abdication of Edward VIII as King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Dominions beyond the Seas, and Emperor of India becomes effective.

  • 1964 - Alma Mahler-Werfel, daughter of a famous painter, married in turn to a musician, an architect and a writer, dies in New York City, aged 85 years, of heart failure and lung disease.

  • 1987 - Digging on the Channel Tunnel begins from the British side of the English Channel.

  • 1997 - Simon Jeffes, founder member of The Penguin Cafe Orchestra, dies.


  • 627 - A Byzantine army under Emperor Heraclius defeats Emperor Khosrau II's Persian forces, commanded by General Rhahzadh, in the Battle of Nineveh.

  • 1947 - The first ever meeting of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is held.

  • 1988 - Faulty wiring in the signalling equipment leads to a London rail disaster at Clapham Junction in which three trains collide, 35 people are killed and over 100 are injured.

  • 1992 - HRH Princess Anne, The Princess Royal and Royal Navy Commander Timothy Laurence are married in Crathie Church, near Balmoral, Scotland.



  • 1546 - Danish astronomer (also alchemist, astrologer, elk-owner, prosthetic nose-wearer and nobleman) Tycho Brahe is born in Knutstorp Castle, modern-day Sweden.

  • 1895 - Albert Frederick Arthur George Windsor, later King George VI, is born.

  • 1989 - USSR reformer Andrei Sakharov dies of a heart attack hours after an important speech in which he demanded more freedom.

  • 1941 - Japan signs treaty of alliance with Thailand.


  • 37 - The Roman Emperor Nero is born (he died in 68).

  • 1025 - Basil, Emperor of Byzantium and later nicknamed 'the Bulgar Slayer', dies aged 67.

  • 1796 - General Anthony Wayne, hero of the US forces during the Revolution, dies. Each year 'Mad Anthony's Ghost' rises from its grave on this day.

  • 1921 - DJ Alan Freed is born Albert James Freed near Johnston, Pennsylvania.

  • 1944 - The Mysterious Disappearance of Glenn Miller.

  • 1965 - Gemini VIA, one of the Apollo Pathfinders, follows Gemini VII into orbit.

  • 1983 - First broadcast of the TV Series Automan.

  • 2001 - Banks in Holland issue free coins to help people adjust to the Euro Changeover.



  • 942 - William I of Normandy is assassinated.

  • 1778 - Sir Humphry Davy FRS, one of the founding fathers of general anaesthesiology, is born in Penzance, Cornwall.

  • 1903 - The Wright Brothers make their first flight.

  • 1965 - The largest anti-Vietnam protest ever to have been held in Washington DC up to that point in time.

  • 1967 - Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt disappears while swimming near Portsea, Victoria, and is presumed drowned.

  • 2001 - Stuart Adamson, guitarist, singer/songwriter and founder member of Big Country, is found dead in a hotel room.


  • 1707 - Charles Wesley, preacher and hymn-writer, is born.

  • 1777 - The United States celebrates its first Thanksgiving following victory over General John Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga in October.

  • 1863 - Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, is born (d. 1914).

  • 1999 - Julia 'Butterfly' Hill ends her 24 month-long treetop protest.


  • 1154 - Henry II of England is crowned at Westminster Abbey.

  • 1843 - Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is first published.

  • 1953 - Nelson A Rockefeller was sworn in as the 41st vice president - an act mentioned in the lyrics of Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start The Fire'.

  • 1972 - Apollo 17 re-enters Earth's atmosphere and splashes down in the Pacific.

  • 1973 - Ten passengers are killed in a London rail disaster at West Ealing, when an improperly fastened battery door causes a derailment.

  • 1983 - The original FIFA World Cup, the Jules Rimet Trophy, is stolen from the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation in Rio de Janeiro.

  • 1999 - James Bond actor Desmond Llewelyn('Q') dies in a car crash.


  • 1820 - The 20 surviving crewmen of the wrecked Whaleship Essex reach land.

  • 1886 - SS Cormorant runs aground at a beach near Whale Chine, Isle of Wight.

  • 1915 - The day on which the last ANZAC soldier leaves Gallipoli.

  • 1955 - Cardiff is proclaimed the capital of Wales.

  • 1956 - The Alabama bus boycott ended on this day - an event mentioned in the lyrics of Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start The Fire'.

  • 1957 - Singer/Songwriter Billy Bragg, the 'Bard of Barking' is born in - Barking, Essex.


  • Every year - Today is the Winter Solstice, signifying the official beginning of Winter.

  • 1817 - John Keats coins the phrase 'Negative Capability' in a letter written to his brothers.

  • 1940 - US musician Frank Zappa is born (d. 1993).

  • 1968 - The Apollo 8 mission is launched.

  • 1970 - Elvis visits the White House for a meeting with President Nixon, at which he asked (unsuccessfully) to be made an undercover narcotics police officer.

  • 1988 - Cockney Rebel's bass player Paul Jeffreys dies in an air crash along with his wife and 257 others when the Pan American Boeing 747 is bombed by terrorists and crashes near Lockerbie, Scotland.


  • 1905 - Birth of the creator of the first practical electronic computer, Tommy Flowers.

  • 1965 - A 70mph speed limit is applied to all UK rural roads, including motorways, for the first time.

  • 2000 - Madonna is married to film director Guy Ritchie.


  • Every year - Short of ideas for last-minute gifts? Why not make some home-made Christmas Presents?

  • 1954 - Dr Joseph E. Murray performs the first human kidney transplant at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

  • Every year - With only 48 hours to go, brush up on Traditional Christmas Fayre and have a slap-up meal.


  • 1968 - Apollo 8 crewmembers photograph Earthrise for the first time.

  • 1974 - Film Composer Bernard Herrmann, perhaps best known for his soundtrack to Psycho, dies in his sleep, aged 64.

  • 1941 - In World War II, Japanese forces conquer Kuching.

  • 1994 - Shane Warne scores the first hat-trick in Ashes cricket since January 1904.


  • 1776 - George Washington and his army cross the Delaware River on Christmas Day night.

  • 1927 - The first-ever BBC Children in Need Appeal.

  • 1947 - The constitution of the Republic of China comes into effect.

  • 1989 - Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu - a former ally of the USSR - is condemned to death by a military kangaroo court.


  • 1135 - King Stephen ascends to the throne of England - much to the dismay of his cousin Matilda.

  • 1933 - FM radio is patented.

  • 1972 - President Harry S Truman dies - an event obliquely mentioned in Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start The Fire'.

  • 1984 - The first broadcast of the BBC TV Series Miss Marple, episode 'The Body in the Library'.


  • 537 - The Hagia Sophia is finally complete after five years, ten months and four days of building.

  • 1923 - The French engineer and architect Gustave Eiffel dies (b. 1832).

  • 1931 - John Charles, the famous Welsh footballer, is born today.

  • 1968 - The Apollo 8 mission successfully splashes down in the Pacific.

  • 1978 - Big Star band member Chris Bell is killed in a car crash.


  • 1879 - The Tay Bridge collapses, killing 75 train passengers - it would be rebuilt in 1890 as the Forth Rail Bridge.

  • 1950 - The Peak District becomes the UK's first national park.

  • 1976 - Joseph McDade makes a breakthrough in discovering the cause of Legionnaires' Disease.



  • 1922 - Lenin proclaims the establishment of the USSR.

  • 1995 - The lowest ever temperature in the UK, -27.2°C, was recorded at Altnaharra in the Scottish Highlands. It equalled the record set at Braemar, Aberdeenshire, on February 11, 1895 and January 10, 1982.

  • 1999 - Former Beatle George Harrison is attacked in his home by a stalker.


  • 1460 - John 'Bloody Clifford', Lord of Skipton Castle, hacks off the heads of Richard Duke of York and his son, during the Wars of the Roses.

  • 1705 - The death of Catherine de Braganca.

  • 1879 - Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance premieres, in New York.

  • 1941 – Scottish football manager Sir Alex Ferguson is born.

  • 1943 - Henry John Deutschendorf, better known as singer/songwriter John Denver, is born in Roswell, New Mexico.

  • 1946 - Three people die in a London Underground accident when a Metropolitan line train crashes into another train between the Northwood and Northwood Hills stations.

  • 1968 - A prototype Tupolev TU-144 takes to the air, the first supersonic transport aircraft.

  • 1984 - Def Leppard's drummer Rick Allen loses an arm in a car crash near Sheffield.

  • 1985 - Former Rock 'n' Roll teen idol Ricky Nelson dies in an air crash near De Kalb, Texas.

  • 1998 - A leap second was added, making 1998 one second longer than 1999 - a quirk that had to be accommodated by Radio-controlled Clocks across the globe.

  • 1999 - The London Eye was officially opened - although it didn't carry passengers until 1 February, 2000.

  • 2001 - The last day for many European currencies - including the Deutschmark, Franc, Peseta and Lire - before the changeover to the Euro.

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