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- 69 – Vespasian, formerly a general under Nero, enters Rome to claim the title of emperor.
- 217 – The papacy of Zephyrinus ends. Callixtus I is elected as the sixteenth pope, but is opposed by the theologian Hippolytus who accuses him of laxity and of being a Modalist, one who denies any distinction between the three persons of the Trinity.
- 1192 – Richard the Lion-Heart is captured and imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after signing a treaty with Saladin ending the Third crusade.
- 1522 – Siege of Rhodes: Suleiman the Magnificent accepts the surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who are allowed to evacuate. They eventually settle on Malta and become known as the Knights of Malta.
- 1606 – The Virginia Company loads three ships with settlers and sets sail to establish Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.
- 1803 – The Louisiana Purchase is completed at a ceremony in New Orleans.
- 1808 – Peninsular War: The Siege of Zaragoza begins.
- 1860 – South Carolina becomes the first state to attempt to secede from the United States.
- 1915 – World War I: Last Australian troops evacuated from Gallipoli.
- 1917 – Cheka, the first Soviet secret police, is founded.
- 1924 – Hitler is released from Landsberg Prison
- 1941 – World War II: First battle of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the "Flying Tigers" in Kunming, China.
- 1942 – World War II: Bombing of Calcutta by the Japanese.
- 1946 – The popular Christmas film It's a Wonderful Life is first released in New York City.
- 1951 – The EBR-1 in Arco, Idaho becomes the first nuclear power plant to generate electricity. The electricity powered four light bulbs.
- 1952 – United States Air Force C-124 crashes and burns in Moses Lake, Washington killing 87.
- 1955 – Cardiff is proclaimed the capital city of Wales, United Kingdom.
- 1959 – The Walker family murders are committed.
- 1960 – National Front for the Liberation of Vietnam is formed.
- 1968 – The Zodiac Killer kills Betty Lou Jenson and David Faraday in Vallejo, California.
- 1971 – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto takes over as the fourth President of Pakistan.
- 1973 – The Spanish Prime Minister, Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, is assassinated by a car bomb attack in Madrid.
- 1977 – Djibouti and Vietnam join the United Nations.
- 1984 – The Summit tunnel fire is the largest underground fire in history, as a freight train carrying over 1 million litres of petrol derails near the town of Todmorden in the Pennines.
- 1987 – History's worst peacetime sea disaster, when the passenger ferry Doña Paz sinks after colliding with the oil tanker Vector 1 in the Tablas Strait in the Philippines, killing an estimated 4,000 people (1,749 official).
- 1988 – The United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances is signed in Vienna.
- 1989 – United States invasion of Panama: The United States sends troops into Panama to overthrow government of Manuel Noriega. This is also the first combat use of purpose-designed stealth aircraft.
- 1991 – A Missouri court sentences the Palestinian militant Zein Isa and his wife Maria to death for the honor killing of their daughter Palestina.
- 1995 – NATO begins peacekeeping in Bosnia.
- 1995 – American Airlines Flight 965, a Boeing 757, crashes into a mountain 50 km north of Cali, Colombia killing 160.
- 1996 – NeXT merges with Apple Computer, starting the path to Mac OS X.
- 1999 – Macau is handed over to the People's Republic of China by Portugal.
- 2004 – A gang of thieves steal £26.5 million worth of currency from the Donegall Square West headquarters of Northern Bank in Belfast, Northern Ireland, one of the largest bank robberies in UK history.
- 2005 – In Durrës, Albania was founded Aleksander Moisiu University.
- 2005 – US District Court Judge John E. Jones III rules against mandating the teaching of "intelligent design" in his ruling of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
- 2007 – Elizabeth II becomes the oldest ever monarch of the United Kingdom, surpassing Queen Victoria, who lived for 81 years, 7 months and 29 days.
- 2007 – The painting Portrait of Suzanne Bloch (1904), by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, is stolen from the São Paulo Museum of Art, along with O Lavrador de Café by the major Brazilian modernist painter Candido Portinari.
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