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- 920 – Romanos I is crowned co-emperor of the underage Emperor Constantine VII.
- 942 – Assassination of William I of Normandy.
- 1398 – Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud's armies in Delhi are defeated by Timur.
- 1538 – Pope Paul III excommunicates Henry VIII of England.
- 1577 – Francis Drake sails from Plymouth, England, on a secret mission to explore the Pacific Coast of the Americas for English Queen Elizabeth I.
- 1583 – Cologne War: Forces under Ernest of Bavaria defeats the troops under Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg at the Siege of Godesberg.
- 1586 – Emperor Go-Yozei becomes Emperor of Japan.
- 1600 – Marriage of Henry IV of France and Marie de' Medici.
- 1718 – Great Britain declares war on Spain.
- 1777 – France formally recognizes the United States of America.
- 1790 – Discovery of the Aztec calendar stone.
- 1807 – France issues the Milan Decree, which confirms the Continental System.
- 1812 – War of 1812: U.S. forces attack a friendly Lenape village in the Battle of the Mississinewa.
- 1819 – Simón Bolívar declares the independence of the Republic of Gran Colombia in Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar in Venezuela).
- 1837 – Fire in the Winter Palace of Saint Petersburg occurred.
- 1862 – American Civil War: General Ulysses S. Grant issues General Order No. 11, expelling Jews from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.
- 1865 – First performance of the Unfinished Symphony by Franz Schubert.
- 1903 – The Wright Brothers make their first powered and heavier-than-air flight in the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
- 1907 – Ugyen Wangchuck is crowned first King of Bhutan
- 1918 – Culmination of the Darwin Rebellion as some 1000 demonstrators march on Government House in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.
- 1919 – Uruguay becomes a signatory to the Buenos Aires copyright treaty.
- 1926 – Antanas Smetona assumes power in Lithuania as the 1926 coup d'état is successful.
- 1927 – Indian revolutionary Rajendranath Lahiri was hanged to death in Gonda jail of U.P. in India 2 days before the scheduled date.
- 1928 – Indian revolutionaries Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru assassinate British police officer James Saunders in Lahore, Punjab to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai at the hands of the police. The three were executed in 1931.
- 1935 – First flight of the Douglas DC-3 airplane.
- 1939 – World War II: Battle of the River Plate – The Admiral Graf Spee is scuttled by Captain Hans Langsdorff outside Montevideo.
- 1941 – World War II: Japanese forces land in Northern Borneo.
- 1944 – World War II: Battle of the Bulge – Malmedy massacre – American 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion POWs are shot by Waffen-SS Kampfgruppe Peiper.
- 1947 – First flight of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber.
- 1950 – The F-86 Sabre's first mission over Korea.
- 1957 – The United States successfully launches the first Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
- 1960 – Troops loyal to Haile Selassie I in Ethiopia crush the coup that began December 13, returning power to their leader upon his return from Brazil. Haile Selassie absolves his son of any guilt.
- 1960 – 1960 Munich Convair 340 crash: 20 passengers and crew on board as well as 32 people on the ground are killed.
- 1961 – Fire in the Gran Circus American in the city of Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the biggest tragedy in circus history.
- 1967 – Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt disappears while swimming near Portsea, Victoria and is presumed drowned.
- 1969 – The SALT I talks begin.
- 1969 – Project Blue Book: The United States Air Force closes its study of UFOs, stating that sightings are generated as a result of "A mild form of mass hysteria, Individuals who fabricate such reports to perpetrate a hoax or seek publicity, psychopathological persons, and misidentification of various conventional objects."
- 1970 – Polish 1970 protests: In Gdynia soldiers fire at workers emerging from trains, killing dozens.
- 1973 – Terrorism: 30 passengers are killed in an attack by Palestinian terrorists on Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport.
- 1981 – Brigadier General James L. Dozier is abducted by the Red Brigade in Verona, Italy.
- 1983 – The IRA bombs Harrods Department Store in London, killing six people.
- 1989 – The first episode of television series The Simpsons, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", airs in the United States.
- 1989 – Romanian Revolution: Protests continue in Timisoara with rioters breaking into the Romanian Communist Party's District Committee building and attempting to set it on fire.
- 1989 – Fernando Collor de Mello defeats Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the second round of the Brazilian presidential election, becoming the first democratically elected President in almost 30 years.
- 1997 – The United Kingdom commences its Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997, which extends the state's gun ban to include all handguns—with the exception of antique and show weapons.
- 2002 – Second Congo War: The Congolese parties of the Inter Congolese Dialogue sign a peace accord which makes provision for transitional governance and legislative and presidential elections within two years.
- 2003 – The Soham murder trial ends at the Old Bailey in London, with Ian Huntley found guilty of two counts of murder. His girlfriend Maxine Carr is found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
- 2003 – SpaceShipOne flight 11P, piloted by Brian Binnie, makes its first supersonic flight.
- 2005 – Anti-WTO protesters riot in Wan Chai, Hong Kong
- 2005 – Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicate the throne as King of Bhutan.
- 2009 – sinks off the coast of Lebanon, resulting in the deaths of 44 people and over 28,000 animals.
- 2010 – Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire.This act became the catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution. The success of the Tunisian protests sparked protests in several other Arab countries.
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17 de diciembre
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