Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 31 March
AD307: Constantine I (The Great) began the longest reign in the Roman occupation of England, Wales and Scotland, which was to continue until 22 May, 337.
1492: Jews in Spain were given three months to accept Christianity or to leave.
1652: Scottish Regalia saved from Cromwell by James Granger, minister at Kinneff, who concealed the crown, sceptre and sword in his church.
1889: The 985ft high Eiffel Tower, costing £260,000, was officially opened. Designed by Gustav Eiffel, it had taken two years to erect.
1901: Daimler introduced the Mercedes car, built for Emile Jellinek, Austro-Hungarian consul general in Nice, who named it after his daughter.
1921: Gordon Richards rode the first of his 4,870 winners, Gay Lord, at Leicester.
1939: Britain and France pledged to support Poland if it was invaded.
1941: Germans launched counter-offensive in North Africa.
1948: United States Congress passed Marshall Aid Pact for European recovery.
1949: Newfoundland, with its dependency of Labrador, became tenth province of Canada.
1953: John Christie was arrested for murdering his wife and confessed to six more women’s murders at 10 Rillington Place in Notting Hill, London. In a notorious miscarriage of justice, Timothy Evans had been hanged for killing his daughter in the same house and charged with killing his wife, one of Christie’s victims.
1955: Chinese Communist Party began purge.
1959: Dalai Lama was granted political asylum by India.
1973: Red Rum won Grand National Steeplechase in record time.
1986: Hampton Court Palace was severely damaged by fire.
1990: Up to 200,000 demonstrated in London against the poll tax. The protest march ended in riot, looting and arson in the West End with 341 arrested and 331 police injured.
1990: Oxford won the 136th Boat Race, its 14th victory in 15 years.
1991: New National Health Service legislation, including the first hospital trusts, came into effect.
1991: More than 90 per cent of Georgia’s 3.4 million electorate voted for independence from Soviet Union after boycotting, with five other republics, Gorbachev referendum on new union treaty on 17 March.
Ewan McGregor, actor, 43; Herb Alpert, trumpet player, 79; Roger Black MBE, athlete and broadcaster, 48; Richard Chamberlain, actor (Dr Kildare), 80; Robbie Coltrane, actor and director, 64; Colin Farrell, actor, 38; Al Gore, United States vice-president 1993-2001, 66; Shirley Jones, singer and actress, 80; Andrew Oldcorn, golfer, 54; Rhea Perlman, actress, 66; Volker Schlondorff, film director, 75; Lord Steel of Aikwood, leader of the Liberal Party 1976-88, presiding officer, Scottish Parliament 1999-2003, MP 1965-97, 76; Christopher Walken, actor, 71; Angus Young, Glasgow-born rock guitarist (AC/DC), 59.
Births: 1811 Robert von Bunsen, chemist; 1844 Andrew Lang, Selkirk-born writer and folk-tale collector; 1959 Sharman Weir, musician, general manager, Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow.
Deaths: 1631 John Donne, poet; 1837 John Constable, landscape painter; 1855 Charlotte Brontë, author of Jane Eyre; 1980 Jesse Owens, athlete; 1981 Enid Bagnold, novelist; 1994 Bill Travers, actor; 2002 Barry Took, writer and broadcaster.