1429: Joan of Arc defeated the English at the Battle of Patay.
1583: The first life insurance policy was sold, according to records in London. It was also the first to be disputed by the insurance company, which refused to pay out on the death of the insured, but the court ruled against and payment was eventually made.
1746: Flora MacDonald met Prince Charles Edward Stuart, and persuaded him to don woman’s clothes as part of an escape plan.
1815: The Battle of Waterloo took place south of Brussels, the scene of Napoleon’s defeat by the troops of Wellington and Blucher.
1822: London’s first nude statue was unveiled in Hyde Park. The bronze figure of Achilles was sculpted by Sir Richard Westmacott. There were embarrassed gasps from onlookers as the statue was unveiled – and Achilles later acquired a bronze fig leaf.
1846: North British Railway was opened from Edinburgh to Berwick-on-Tweed. The inaugural train had five locomotives and 28 carriages, displaying – according to the account in The Scotsman – “the flexibility of a silken cord, while rivalling the eagle’s flight in speed”.
1928: Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer and first to reach the South Pole in 1911, was lost in a flying accident near the North Pole.
1928: Amelia Earhart became the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air. She was passenger to pilot Wilmer Stulz, flying from Newfoundland to Wales.
1940: Winston Churchill spoke the words: “Let us brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British Commonwealth and its Commonwealth lasts a thousand years, men will still say: ‘This was their finest hour.’” This was at the moment that France was collapsing before German forces.
1963: Henry Cooper floored Cassius Clay (later Muhammed Ali) in round four at Wembley. But by the sixth, with Cooper badly cut, the fight was stopped and Clay remained world heavyweight champion.
1967: China announced it had exploded its first hydrogen bomb.
1970: The Conservatives won the general election with an overall majority of 30. Edward Heath became prime minister the following day.
1972: BEA Trident jet crashed near Staines, Middlesex, after take-off for Brussels, killing all 118 passengers and crew.
1972: Stan Mellor retired as a jockey, with 1,049 wins in 20 years.
1975: Killer of Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal was publicly beheaded in Riyadh.
1983: Doctor Sally Ride became America’s first woman in space when the shuttle Challenger blasted off from Cape Canaveral.
1991: Talks on the future of Northern Ireland began in earnest with the first round-table meeting of the province’s four constitutional political parties since 1976.
1993: Irish president Mary Robinson, visiting Belfast, caused a storm of protest when she shook hands with the Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams.
2001: The bodies of 58 Chinese illegal immigrants were found in a sealed lorry container at Dover.
2006: The first Kazakh space satellite, KazSat, was launched.
2009: The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a Nasa robotic spacecraft, was launched.
Sir Paul McCartney MBE, musician and composer, 72; Peter Batty, television and film producer, 83; Michael Blakemore OBE, film and theatre director, 86; Fabio Capello, football manager, 68; Robin Christopher, actress, 49; Ray Cochrane, jockey, 57; Katie Derham, newscaster, 44; Peter Donohoe CBE, pianist, 61; Alison Moyet, singer, 53; Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa 1999-2008, 72; Isabella Rossellini, actress and model, 62; Delia Smith CBE, television cookery writer, broadcaster and football club director, 73; Linda Thorson, actress (The Avengers), 67; Blake Shelton, American country music singer, 38; Richard Gasquet, French tennis player, 28.
Births: 1769 Viscount Castlereagh, statesman; 1886 George Mallory, mountaineer; 1901 Jeanette Macdonald, Hollywood musicals star; 1910 EG Marshall, actor; 1916 Richard Boone, actor; 1920 Ian Carmichael OBE, actor; 1926 Eva Bartok, actress; 1927 Paul Eddington, actor.
Deaths: 1464 Rogier van der Weyden, painter; 1835 William Cobbett, political journalist and radical reformer; 1902 Samuel Butler, novelist (The Way of All Flesh); 1909 Learmont Drysdale, composer; 1928 Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer, first to reach the South Pole in 1911; 1958 Douglas Jardine, England cricket captain whose bodyline bowling tactic caused controversy; 1959 Ethel Barrymore, actress; 2007 Bernard Manning, comedian; 2012 Victor Spinetti, actor and director.