On This Day in History December 17

December 17 – Events:

  • 546 – Gothic War (535–552): The Ostrogoths of King Totila conquer Rome by bribing the Byzantine garrison.
  • 920 – Romanos I is crowned as co-emperor of the underage Emperor Constantine VII.
  • 942 – Assassination of William I of Normandy.
  • 1398 – Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud’s armies in Delhi are defeated by Timur.
  • 1531 – Pope Clement VII establishes a parallel body to the Inquisition in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • 1538 – Pope Paul III excommunicates Henry VIII of England.
  • 1577 – Francis Drake sets sail from Plymouth, England, on a secret mission to explore the Pacific Coast of the Americas for English Queen Elizabeth I.
  • 1586 – Emperor Go-Yozei becomes Emperor of Japan.
  • 1600 – Marriage of Henry IV of France and Marie de’ Medici.
  • 1637 – Shimabara Rebellion: Japanese peasants led by Amakusa Shiro rise against daimyo Matsukura Shigeharu.
  • 1718 – Great Britain declares war on Spain.
  • 1807 – France issues the Milan Decree, which confirms the Continental System.
  • 1819 – Simón Bolívar declares the independence of the Republic of Gran Colombia in Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar in Venezuela).
  • 1834 – The Dublin and Kingstown Railway the first public railway on the island of Ireland, opens in Ireland.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: General Ulysses S. Grant issues General Order No. 11, expelling Jews from Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.
  • 1903 – The Wright Brothers make their first powered and heavier-than-air flight in the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
  • 1919 – Uruguay becomes a signatory to the Buenos Aires copyright treaty.
  • 1926 – Antanas Smetona assumes power in Lithuania via a coup d’état?
  • 1935 – First flight of the Douglas DC-3 airplane.
  • 1939 – World War II: Battle of the River Plate – The Admiral Graf Spee is scuttled by Captain Hans Langsdorff outside Montevideo.
  • 1941 – World War II: Beginning of the Siege of Sebastopol.
  • 1941 – World War II: Japanese forces land in Northern Borneo.
  • 1944 – World War II: Battle of the Bulge – Malmedy massacre – American 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion POWs are shot by Waffen-SS Kampfgruppe Peiper.
  • 1957 – The United States successfully launched the first Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • 1961 – History of Goa: Operation Vijay – India seizes Goa from Portugal.
  • 1967 – Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt disappears while swimming near Portsea, Victoria and was presumed drowned.
  • 1969 – The SALT I talks begin.
  • 1969 – Project Blue Book: The USAF closes its study of UFOs, stating that sightings were generated as a result of “A mild form of mass hysteria, Individuals who fabricate such reports to perpetrate a hoax or seek publicity, psychopathological persons, and misidentification of various conventional objects.”
  • 1970 – Polish 1970 protests: In Gdynia, soldiers fire at workers emerging from trains, killing dozens.
  • 1973 – Terrorism: 30 passengers are killed in an attack by Palestinian terrorists on Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport.
  • 1978 – The Workers Party of Jamaica is founded by Trevor Munroe.
  • 1981 – Brigadier General James L. Dozier is abducted by the Red Brigade in Verona, Italy.
  • 1981 – The Senegambia Confederation is founded.
  • 1983 – The IRA bombs Harrods Department Store in London, killing six people.
  • 1989 – Romanian Revolution: Protests continue in Timisoara with rioters breaking into the Romanian Communist Party’s District Committee building and attempting to set it on fire.
  • 1989 – First free elections in Brazil in 25 years.
  • 1989 – The longest-running American sitcom The Simpsons had its debut.
  • 1999 – The United Nations General Assembly passes resolution 54/134 designating November 25 as the annual International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women.
  • 2002 – Second Congo War: The Congolese parties of the Inter Congolese Dialogue sign a peace accord which makes provision for transitional governance and legislative and presidential elections within two years.
  • 2003 – The Soham murder trial ends at the Old Bailey in London, with Ian Huntley found guilty of two counts of murder. His girlfriend Maxine Carr is found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
  • 2003 – SpaceShipOne flight 11P, piloted by Brian Binnie, makes its first supersonic flight.
  • 2005 – Anti-WTO protesters riot in Wan Chai, Hong Kong

December 17 – Birthdays:

  • 1239 – Kujo Yoritsugu, Japanese Shogun (d. 1256)
  • 1267 – Emperor Go-Uda of Japan (d. 1324)
  • 1619 – Prince Rupert of the Rhine, commander in the English Civil War (d. 1682)
  • 1632 – Anthony Wood, English antiqurian (d. 1695)
  • 1685 – Thomas Tickell, English writer (d. 1740)
  • 1706 – Émilie du Châtelet, French mathematician and physicist (d. 1749)
  • 1734 – Maria I of Portugal, Portuguese queen (d. 1816)
  • 1749 – Domenico Cimarosa, Italian composer (d. 1801)
  • 1770 – (Baptism) – Ludwig van Beethoven, German composer (d. 1827)
  • 1778 – Sir Humphry Davy, English chemist and physicist (d. 1829)
  • 1796 – Thomas Chandler Haliburton, Canadian novelist (d. 1865)
  • 1807 – John Greenleaf Whittier, American poet and abolitionist (d. 1892)
  • 1830 – Jules de Goncourt, French publisher (d. 1870)
  • 1835 – Alexander Emanuel Agassiz, American scientist; son of Louis Agassiz (d. 1910)
  • 1847 – Émile Faguet, French writer and critic (d. 1916)
  • 1853 – Émile Roux, French physician (d. 1933)
  • 1859 – Paul César Helleu, French artist (d. 1927)
  • 1873 – Ford Madox Ford, English writer (d. 1939)
  • 1874 – William Lyon Mackenzie King, 10th Prime Minister of Canada (d. 1950)
  • 1883 – Raimu, French actor (d. 1946)
  • 1887 – Josef Lada, Czech painter (d. 1957)
  • 1887 – Hermine Reuss, Empress of Germany and Duchess of Bohemia (d. 1947)
  • 1888 – King Alexander I of Yugoslavia (d. 1934)
  • 1892 – Sam Barry, American basketball coach (d. 1950)
  • 1893 – Erwin Piscator, German film director (d. 1966)
  • 1894 – Arthur Fiedler, American conductor (d. 1979)
  • 1900 – Mary Cartwright, English mathematician (d. 1998)
  • 1900 – Katina Paxinou, Greek actress (d. 1973)
  • 1903 – Erskine Caldwell, American author (d. 1987)
  • 1903 – Ray Noble, English bandleader and actor (d. 1978)
  • 1904 – Paul Cadmus, American artist (d. 1999)
  • 1905 – Simo Häyhä, Finnish sniper (d. 2002)
  • 1905 – Érico Lopes Veríssimo, Brazilian writer (d. 1975)
  • 1906 – Fernando Lopes-Graça, Portuguese composer and musicologist (d. 1994)
  • 1908 – Willard Frank Libby, American chemist, Nobel laureate (d. 1980)
  • 1910 – Sy Oliver, American jazz arranger and bandleader (d. 1988)
  • 1915 – André Claveau, French singer (d. 2003)
  • 1916 – Penelope Fitzgerald, English writer (d. 2000)
  • 1920 – Kenneth E. Iverson, Canadian computer scientist (d. 2004)
  • 1922 – Alan Voorhees, American engineer and urban planner (d. 2005)
  • 1923 – Jaroslav Pelikan, American historian (d. 2006)
  • 1926 – Ray Jablonski, American baseball player (d. 1985)
  • 1927 – Richard Long, American actor (d. 1974)
  • 1929 – Jacqueline Hill, English actress (d. 1993)
  • 1929 – William Safire, American columnist
  • 1930 – Bob Guccione, American magazine publisher
  • 1930 – Bob Mathias, American decathlete and congressman (d. 2006)
  • 1930 – Armin Mueller-Stahl, German actor
  • 1931 – Dave Madden, Canadian-born American actor
  • 1934 – Ray Wilson, English footballer
  • 1935 – George Lindsey, American actor
  • 1935 – Cal Ripken, Sr., American baseball coach (d. 1999)
  • 1936 – Tommy Steele, English singer and actor
  • 1937 – Kerry Packer, Australian businessman (d. 2005)
  • 1937 – John Kennedy Toole, American novelist (d. 1969)
  • 1937 – Calvin Waller, US Army general (d. 1996)
  • 1938 – Carlo Little, English drummer (d. 2005)
  • 1938 – Peter Snell, New Zealand runner
  • 1939 – Eddie Kendricks, American singer (The Temptations) (d. 1992)
  • 1940 – Kåre Valebrokk, Norwegian journalist
  • 1942 – Paul Butterfield, American musician (d. 1987)
  • 1943 – Mary Brunner, American former “Manson Family” member
  • 1943 – Ron Geesin, Scottish musician and composer
  • 1944 – Jack L. Chalker, American novelist (d. 2005)
  • 1944 – Bernard Hill, English actor
  • 1945 – Ernie Hudson, American actor
  • 1945 – Chris Matthews, American journalist
  • 1945 – Jacqueline Wilson, English author
  • 1946 – Eugene Levy, Canadian actor
  • 1947 – Wes Studi, American actor
  • 1949 – Sotiris Kaiafas, Cypriot footballer
  • 1949 – Paul Rodgers, English singer (Free; Bad Company)
  • 1950 – Laurence F. Johnson, American educator
  • 1951 – Ken Hitchcock, Canadian ice hockey coach
  • 1951 – Tatyana Kazankina, Soviet athlete
  • 1953 – Samuel Hadida, film distributor
  • 1953 – Barry Livingston, American actor
  • 1953 – Bill Pullman, American actor
  • 1955 – Brad Davis, American basketball player
  • 1956 – Peter Farrelly, American film director
  • 1957 – Earl Hudson, American drummer (Bad Brains)
  • 1958 – Mike Mills, American musician (R.E.M.)
  • 1960 – Moreno Argentin, Italian cyclist
  • 1961 – Sara Dallin, English singer (Bananarama)
  • 1962 – Paul Dobson, English footballer
  • 1962 – Richard Jewell, falsely accused in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing (d. 2007)
  • 1962 – Rocco Mediate, American golfer
  • 1964 – Ginger, English singer and guitarist (The Wildhearts)
  • 1964 – Frank Musil, Czech ice hockey player
  • 1964 – Michele Tafoya, American sportscaster
  • 1965 – Craig Berube, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1966 – Tracy Byrd, American musician
  • 1966 – Valeri Liukin, Soviet gymnast
  • 1966 – Kristiina Ojuland, Estonian politician
  • 1967 – Gigi D’Agostino, Italian DJ and musician
  • 1967 – Vincent Damphousse, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1968 – Andrey Golovatiuk, Russian politician
  • 1968 – Paul Tracy, Canadian race car driver
  • 1969 – Chuck Liddell, American mixed martial artist
  • 1969 – Chris Mason, English darts player
  • 1970 – Sean Patrick Thomas, American actor
  • 1971 – Alan Khan, South African radio disc jockey
  • 1971 – Antoine Rigaudeau, French basketball player
  • 1972 – John Abraham, Indian actor
  • 1972 – Laurie Holden, American actress
  • 1973 – Konstadinos Gatsioudis, Greek javelin thrower
  • 1973 – Paula Radcliffe, English runner
  • 1974 – Duff Goldman, American chef
  • 1974 – Giovanni Ribisi, American actor
  • 1975 – Nick Dinsmore (Eugene), American professional wrestler
  • 1975 – Milla Jovovich, Ukrainian-born actress
  • 1975 – Sarah Paulson, American actress
  • 1975 – Bree Sharp, American singer/songwriter
  • 1976 – Éric Bédard, Canadian speed skater
  • 1976 – Zsanett Égerházi, Hungarian-born porn actress
  • 1976 – Patrick Müller, Swiss footballer
  • 1976 – Takeo Spikes, American football player
  • 1977 – Arnaud Clement, French tennis player
  • 1978 – Alex Cintrón, Puerto Rican baseball player
  • 1978 – Riteish Deshmukh, Indian actor
  • 1978 – Manny Pacquiao, Filipino boxer
  • 1978 – Neil Sanderson, Canadian drummer (Three Days Grace)
  • 1978 – Chase Utley, American baseball player
  • 1979 – Jaimee Foxworth, American actress and porn star
  • 1979 – Ryan Key, American musician and songwriter (Yellowcard)
  • 1979 – Matt Murley, American ice hockey player
  • 1980 – Ryan Hunter-Reay, American race car driver
  • 1980 – Eli Pariser, American political activist (MoveOn.org)
  • 1982 – Josh Barfield, American baseball player
  • 1982 – Craig Kielburger, Canadian labour activist
  • 1982 – Stephane Lasme, Gabonese basketball player
  • 1982 – Ryan Moats, National Football League running back
  • 1984 – Andrew Davies, English footballer
  • 1985 – Ryuichi Ogata, member of Japanese boy band.
  • 1986 – Vanessa Zima, American actress
  • 1992 – Thomas Law, English Actor
  • 1994 – Nat Wolff, American Singer, actor and songwriter
  • 2007 – James Windsor, Viscount Severn, son of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex

December 17 – Deaths:

  • 942 – William Longsword
  • 1187 – Pope Gregory VIII
  • 1195 – Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut (b. 1150)
  • 1273 – Rumi (b.1207)
  • 1663 – Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba (b. 1583)
  • 1721 – Richard Lumley, 1st Earl of Scarbrough, English statesman (b. 1640)
  • 1830 – Simón Bolívar, Venezuelan-born liberator, six nations (b. 1783)
  • 1833 – Kaspar Hauser, German foundling (b. 1812)
  • 1847 – Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria, second wife of Napoleon (b. 1791)
  • 1907 – William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, Irish-born physicist (b. 1824)
  • 1909 – Léopold II of Belgium (b. 1835)
  • 1917 – Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, English physician (b. 1836)
  • 1917 – Frank Gotch, American professional wrestler (b. 1878)
  • 1929 – Manuel Gomes da Costa, 96 Prime Minister of Portugal and 10 President of Portugal (b. 1863)
  • 1933 – Thubten Gyatso, 13th Dalai Lama (b. 1876)
  • 1940 – Alicia Boole Stott, Irish mathematician (b. 1860)
  • 1957 – Dorothy L. Sayers, English writer (b. 1893)
  • 1962 – Thomas Mitchell, American actor (b. 1892)
  • 1964 – Victor Franz Hess, Austrian-born physicist, Nobel laureate (b. 1883)
  • 1967 – Harold Holt, Australian Prime Minister (b. 1908)
  • 1967 – Jack Perrin, American actor (b. 1896)
  • 1978 – Don Ellis, American jazz band leader (b. 1934)
  • 1982 – Homer S. Ferguson, American politician (b. 1889)
  • 1987 – Linda Wong, American porn star (b. 1951)
  • 1987 – Marguerite Yourcenar, Belgian novelist (b. 1903)
  • 1992 – Dana Andrews, American actor (b. 1909)
  • 1999 – Rex Allen, American actor, singer and songwriter (b. 1920)
  • 1999 – Grover Washington, Jr., American saxophonist (b. 1943)
  • 2002 – James Hazeldine, English actor (b. 1947)
  • 2003 – Ed Devereaux, Australian actor (b. 1925)
  • 2003 – Otto Graham, American football player (b. 1921)
  • 2004 – Tom Wesselmann, American collage artist (b. 1931)
  • 2005 – Jack Anderson, American journalist (b. 1922)
  • 2005 – Marc Favreau, French Canadian humourist (Sol) (b. 1929)
  • 2006 – Larry Sherry, American baseball player (b. 1935)

December 17 – Holidays:

  • Bhutan – National Day (1907)
  • Greek Orthodox Church-Saint Barbaras day – Feast of Daniel the Prophet
  • International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
  • R.C. Saints – O Sapientia ; Saint Lazarus
  • Roman festivals – Saturnalia, in honor of Saturn, began
  • USA – Wright Brothers Day (by Presidential Proclamation)
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