EVENTS, birthdays and anniversaries on March 31.
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 985-foot high Eiffel Tower, costing £260,000, was officially opened. Designed by Gustav Eiffel, it had taken two years to erect.
1892: World’s first fingerprint bureau opened in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
1896: The first zip fastener was patented by Whitcomb L Judson of Chicago. A Swede, Gideon Sundback, refined the design by increasing the number of fastening elements from four per inch to ten and it was successfully marketed in 1913 as the Talon Slide Fastener.
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.
1943: First production of the musical Oklahoma was performed at St James’s Theatre, Broadway
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.
1959: Dalai Lama was granted political asylum by India.
1966: Prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd’s Nationalist Party won greatest election victory in South Africa’s history.
1973: Red Rum won Grand National Steeplechase in record time.
1986: The Greater London Council and other regional authorities were abolished under Conservative reforms.
1986: Hampton Court Palace was severely damaged by fire.
1989: Berkeley Nuclear Power Station, Gloucestershire, closed.
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.
1991: New National Health Service legislation, including the first hospital trusts, came into effect.
1992: The Silence Of The Lambs swept the board at the Academy Awards, with Oscars for Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.
1998: Netscape released the code base of its browser under an open-source license agreement; the project is given the code name “Mozilla” and was eventually spun off into the non-profit Mozilla Foundation.
2007: In Sydney, Australia, 2.2 million people took part in the first Earth Hour.
2014: A United Nations intergovernmental panel warned that “irreversible climate change” would fuel potential food shortages and natural disasters throughout the world.
Ewan McGregor, Scottish actor, 44; Herb Alpert, trumpet player, 80; Roger Black MBE, athlete and broadcaster, 49; Richard Chamberlain, actor, 81; Al Gore, United States vice-president 1993-2001, 67; Shirley Jones, singer and actress, 81; Andrew Oldcorn, golfer, 55; Rhea Perlman, actress, 67; Volker Schlöndorff, film director, 76; Lord Steel of Aikwood KBE, leader of the Liberal Party 1976-88, presiding officer, Scottish Parliament 1999-2003, MP 1965-97, 77; Christopher Walken, actor, 72; Angus Young, Glasgow-born rock guitarist (AC/DC), 60.
Births: 1596 René Descartes, philosopher; 1621 Andrew Marvell, poet; 1732 Franz Joseph Haydn, composer; 1809 Nicolai Gogol, author; 1811 Robert von Bunsen, chemist; 1844 Andrew Lang, Selkirk-born writer and folk-tale collector; 1913 Dai Rees, golfer; 1926 John Fowles, author; 1931 Miller Barber, golfer; 1935 Judith Rossner, novelist; 1959 Sharman Weir, musician, general manager, Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow.
Deaths: 1631 John Donne, poet; 1837 John Constable, landscape painter; 1855 Charlotte Brontë, author; 1946 General Gort, commander of British Expeditionary Force in France; 1970 Semyon Timoshenko, Soviet army marshal; 1980 Jesse Owens, athlete; 1981 Enid Bagnold, novelist; 2002 Barry Took, writer and broadcaster; 2014 Bob Larbey, writer of TV sitcoms.