1498: Explorer Vasco da Gama’s fleet landed at Mozambique.
1629: Charles I dissolved parliament and imprisoned nine MPs.
1717: Britain’s first ballet, The Loves of Mars and Venus, created by John Weaver, had its premier at the Drury Lane Theatre, London.
1791: The optical telegraph (semaphore machine) was unveiled in Paris.
1807: US Congress banned the slave trade, with effect from 1 January 1808.
1808: The inaugural meeting of the Wernerian Natural History Society, a former Scottish learned society, was held in Edinburgh.
1855: Aleksandr Romanov became tsar of Russia.
1867: The Jesse James gang robbed a bank in Savannah, Missouri, killing one person in the process.
1882: Robert MacLean tried unsuccessfully to assassinate Queen Victoria at Windsor.
1933: The movie King Kong, starring Fay Wray, premiered in New York.
1939: Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was elected Pope and took the name Pius XII.
1949: The first round-the-world non-stop flight was completed by Captain James Gallagher and his 13-man USAF crew. It took 94 hours, during which the plane, Lucky Lady II, was refuelled four times in flight.
1949: The first automatic street light was installed in Connecticut, United States.
1958: A British team led by Vivian Fuchs completed the first crossing of the Antarctic, covering 2,158 miles from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea in 99 days.
1969: The French-built supersonic airliner Concorde made its maiden flight from Toulouse.
1970: Southern Rhodesia broke away from Britain and became a republic under Ian Smith.
1978: Czech Vladimir Remek became the first non-Russian or non-American to go into space, when he is launched aboard Soyuz 28.
1986: The Queen signed the Australia Bill in Canberra, formally severing any Australian constitutional ties with Britain.
1988 A new political party was born when Liberals merged with the Social Democrats to form the Social and Liberal Democrats.
1990: Nelson Mandela was elected deputy president of the African National Congress.
1994: Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean retired from competitive skating after their disappointment in winning only the bronze medal at the Lillehammer Olympics in Norway.
1995: Financial dealer Nick Leeson, whose multi-million pound dealings on the high-risk derivatives market in Singapore bankrupted Barings Bank, was arrested at Frankfurt airport after a week-long manhunt.
1998: Data sent from the Galileo spacecraft indicated that Jupiter’s moon Europa had a liquid ocean under a thick crust of ice.
2002: As part of the US invasion of Afghanistan, codenamed Operation Anaconda began.
2004: Al-Qaeda carried out the Ashura Massacre in Iraq, which left 170 dead.
2006: Sir Menzies Campbell was elected leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Births: 1316 King Robert II, first of the House of Stewart; 1900 Kurth Weill, German composer; 1917 Desi Arnaz, Cuban-born television producer; 1917 John Gardner CBE, British composer; 1919 Jennifer Jones, American actress; 1923 Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster; 1942 Lou Reed, rock musician.
Deaths: 1606 Saint Nicholas Owen, English martyr; 1791 John Wesley, founder of Methodism; 1930 DH Lawrence, novelist; 1939 Howard Carter, Egyptologist; 2015 Dave Mackay, Scottish footballer.