Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 23 December
1728: Treaty of Berlin between Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI and Frederick William of Prussia.
1831: Outbreak of cholera in Scotland.
1834: Hansom cabs were patented by Joseph Hansom, who immediately sold his rights for £10,000 – but was never paid.
1845: Britain’s longest railway tunnel, three miles and 13 yards long, was opened through the Pennines.
1888: Vincent Van Gogh, suffering severe depression, exacerbated by companion Paul Gauguin’s decision to leave their lodgings at Arles to escape winter, cut off his ear.
1890: More than 60 ships were lost in the North Atlantic during severe storms.
1913: The United States Federal Reserve Bank was founded.
1922: The BBC began regular daily news broadcasts.
1948: Tokyo’s former premier, Hideki Tojo, and six other Japanese war leaders were executed in Tokyo for war crimes.
1986: Voyager, piloted by American Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, landed in California’s Mojave Desert at end of the first non-stop flight round the world without refuelling.
1989: Hundreds died in fierce street fighting in Bucharest between the army and pro-Ceausescu Securitate. Nicolae Ceausescu and wife Elena fled by helicopter, but were later arrested. They were condemned to death in a two-hour trial and were executed two days later.
1990: Plebiscite in Yugoslavian republic of Slovenia showed 90 per cent majority in favour of independence.
1990: The propellers of the QE2 were given a super-shine, resulting in a fuel saving of £4,000 for every day the liner was at sea.
1995: Sixteen members of a Swiss Doomsday cult were found dead in the Alps. Police said they were murdered.
2002: A MQ-1 Predator was shot down by an Iraqi MiG-25, making it the first time in history that an aircraft and an unmanned drone had engaged in combat.
2010: Former MSP Tommy Sheridan was convicted of perjury at the High Court in Glasgow.
Carol Smillie, Scottish broadcaster, 53; Carol Ann Duffy CBE, Glasgow-born poet laureate, 59; Akihito, emperor of Japan, 81; Graham Kelly, chief executive, Football Association 1989-98, 69; Belinda Lang, actress, 61; Dave Murray, guitarist (Iron Maiden), 58; Kenny Miller, Scottish footballer, 35; Eddie Vedder, singer (Pearl Jam), 50; Harry Judd, drummer (McFly), 29; Danny Macaskill, Scottish trials cyclist, 29; Carla Bruni, singer and model, married to French president Nicolas Sarkozy, 47; Matt Baker, TV presenter, 37; Anthony Phillips, musician (founding member of Genesis); Nick Moran, actor, producer, director, 45; Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, TV presenter and socialite, 43.
Births: 1732 Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of mechanical cotton spinning processes; 1777 Alexander I, tsar of Russia; 1812 Samuel Smiles, Haddington-born writer and moralist, author of Self Help (1859); 1888 J Arthur Rank, Lord Rank, film magnate; 1929 Chet Baker, jazz musician.
Deaths: 1761 Alastair Ruadh MacDonnell (“Red Alexander”), Scottish Jacobite spy; 1834 Thomas Robert Malthus, economist; 1972 Charles Atlas, bodybuilder; 1996 Ronnie Scott, jazz club owner and saxophonist; 1997 Donald Gunn Macrae, Glasgow-born professor of sociology at Oxford University.