On This Day in History January 20

January 20 – Events:

  • 250 – Emperor Decius begins a widespread persecution of Christians in Rome. Pope Fabian was martyred. Afterwards the Donatist controversy over readmitting lapsed Christians disaffects many in North Africa.
  • 1156 – According to legend, freeholder Lalli slays English crusader Bishop Henry with an axe on the ice of lake Köyliönjärvi in Finland.
  • 1265 – In Westminster, the first English parliament conducts its first meeting in the Palace of Westminster, now also known as the “Houses of Parliament.”
  • 1320 – Duke Wladyslaw Lokietek becomes king of Poland.
  • 1356 – Edward Balliol abdicates as King of Scotland.
  • 1502 – The present-day location of Rio de Janeiro is first explored.
  • 1523 – Christian II is forced to abdicate as King of Denmark and Norway.
  • 1576 – The Mexican city of León is founded by order of the viceroy Don Martín Enríquez de Almansa.
  • 1649 – Charles I of England goes on trial for treason and other “high crimes.”
  • 1667 – The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth cedes Kiev, Smolensk, and left-bank Ukraine to Imperial Russia in the treaty of Andrusovo.
  • 1783 – The Kingdom of Great Britain signs a peace treaty with France and Spain, officially ending hostilities in the Revolutionary War.
  • 1788 – The third and main part of First Fleet arrives at Botany Bay. Arthur Phillip decides Botany Bay is unsuitable for location of a penal colony, and decides to move to Port Jackson.
  • 1801 – John Marshall is appointed the Chief Justice of the United States.
  • 1839 – In the Battle of Yungay, Chile defeats a Peruvian and Bolivian alliance.
  • 1840 – Dumont D’Urville discovers Adélie Land, Antarctica.
  • 1840 – Willem II becomes King of the Netherlands.
  • 1841 – Hong Kong Island is occupied by the British.
  • 1885 – L.A. Thompson patents the roller coaster.
  • 1887 – The United States Senate allows the Navy to lease Pearl Harbor as a naval base.
  • 1892 – At the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, the first official basketball game is played.
  • 1920 – The American Civil Liberties Union is founded.
  • 1921 – The first Constitution of Turkey is adopted, making fundamental changes in the source and exercise of sovereignty by consecrating the principle of national sovereignty.
  • 1929 – In Old Arizona, the first full-length talking film filmed outdoors, is released.
  • 1936 – Edward VIII becomes King of the United Kingdom.
  • 1937 – Franklin Roosevelt is inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States. This is the first inauguration scheduled on January 20, following adoption of the 20th Amendment. Previous inaugurations were scheduled on March 4.
  • 1942 – World War II: Nazis at the Wannsee conference in Berlin agree on the “final solution to the Jewish problem.”
  • 1944 – World War II: The Royal Air Force drops 2,300 tons of bombs on Berlin.
  • 1945 – Hungary ends its involvement in the Second World War, agreeing to an armistice with the Allies.
  • 1954 – The National Negro Network is established with 40 charter member radio stations.
  • 1960 – Hendrik Verwoerd announces a plebiscite on whether South Africa should become a Republic.
  • 1961 – John F. Kennedy is inaugurated.
  • 1968 – The Houston Cougars defeat the UCLA Bruins 71-69 to win the Game of the Century.
  • 1969 – The first pulsar is discovered, in the Crab Nebula.
  • 1980 – President Jimmy Carter announces US boycott of Olympics in Moscow.
  • 1980 – Super Bowl XIV-Pittsburgh Steelers-31, Los Angeles Rams-19.
  • 1981 – Iran releases 52 American hostages twenty minutes after Ronald Reagan is inaugurated as U.S. President.
  • 1985 – Super Bowl XIX-San Francisco 49’ers-38, Miami Dolphins-16.
  • 1986 – Martin Luther King, Jr., day is celebrated as a federal holiday for the first time.
  • 1986 – The United Kingdom and France announce plans to construct the Channel Tunnel.
  • 1987 – Church of England envoy Terry Waite is kidnapped in Lebanon.
  • 1990 – Black January – crackdown of Azerbaijani pro-independence demonstrations by Soviet army in Baku.
  • 1991 – Sudan’s government imposes Islamic law nationwide, worsening the civil war between the country’s Muslim north and Christian south.
  • 1992 – Air Inter Flight 148 crashes near Strasbourg, France, killing 82 passengers and 5 crew.
  • 1999 – The China News Service announces new government restrictions on Internet use aimed especially at Internet cafés.
  • 2001 – Philippine president Joseph Estrada is ousted in the EDSA II Revolution and is succeeded by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

January 20 – Birthdays:

  • 225 – Gordian III, Roman Emperor (d. 244)
  • 1292 – Elisabeth I of Bohemia (d. 1330)
  • 1358 – Eleanor of Aragon, wife of John I of Castile (d. 1382)
  • 1435 – Ashikaga Yoshimasa, Japanese shogun (d. 1490)
  • 1554 – King Sebastian of Portugal (d. 1578)
  • 1586 – Johann Schein, German composer (d. 1630)
  • 1664 – Giovanni Vincenzo Gravina, Italian writer and jurist (d. 1718)
  • 1716 – King Charles III of Spain (d. 1788)
  • 1716 – Jean-Jacques Barthélemy, French writer and numismatist (d. 1795)
  • 1775 – André-Marie Ampère, French physicist (d. 1836)
  • 1781 – Joseph Hormayr Freiherr zu Hortenburg, Austrian politician (d. 1848)
  • 1783 – Justus Johann Friedrich Dotzauer, German cellist and composer (d. 1860)
  • 1798 – Anson Jones, 5th and last President of Texas (d. 1858)
  • 1804 – Eugène Sue, French novelist (d. 1857)
  • 1812 – Thomas Meik, Scottish engineer (d. 1896)
  • 1834 – George D. Robinson, 34 Governor of Massachusetts (d. 1896)
  • 1837 – David Josiah Brewer, U.S. Supreme Court Justice (d. 1910)
  • 1855 – Ernest Chausson, French composer (d. 1899)
  • 1867 – Yvette Guilbert, French singer and actress (d. 1944)
  • 1873 – Johannes Vilhelm Jensen, Danish Nobel laureate (d. 1950)
  • 1876 – Józef Hofmann, Polish pianist (d. 1967)
  • 1878 – Finlay Currie, British actor (d. 1968)
  • 1878 – Ruth St. Denis, dancer (d. 1968)
  • 1880 – Walter W. Bacon, Governor of Delaware (d. 1962)
  • 1889 – Allan H. Loughead, American aviation pioneer (Lockheed Corporation; d. 1969)
  • 1891 – Mischa Elman, Ukrainian born violinist (d. 1967)
  • 1893 – Georg Åberg, Swedish athlete (d. 1946)
  • 1894 – Walter Piston, American composer (d. 1976)
  • 1896 – George Burns, American actor, comedian (d. 1996)
  • 1896 – Isabel Withers, American actress (d. 1968)
  • 1898 – U Razak, Burmese politician (d. 1947)
  • 1899 – Kenjiro Takayanagi, Japanese development of television (d. 1990)
  • 1900 – Colin Clive, British actor (d. 1937)
  • 1902 – Leon Ames, American actor (d. 1993)
  • 1907 – Paula Wessely, Austrian actress (d. 2000)
  • 1910 – Joy Adamson, Austrian naturalist and writer (d. 1980)
  • 1915 – Ghulam Ishaq Khan, President of Pakistan (d. 2006)
  • 1919 – Juan García Esquivel, Mexican bandleader (d. 2002)
  • 1920 – Federico Fellini, Italian film director (d. 1993)
  • 1920 – DeForest Kelley, American actor (d. 1999)
  • 1920 – Thorleif Schjelderup, Norwegian author and ski jumper (d. 2006)
  • 1921 – Telmo Zarraonaindía, Spanish footballer (d. 2006)
  • 1922 – Ray Anthony, American trumpeter, bandleader, songwriter and actor
  • 1923 – Nora Brockstedt, Norwegian singer
  • 1924 – Slim Whitman, American singer
  • 1925 – Ernesto Cardenal, Nicaraguan theologian and author and politician
  • 1926 – Jamiluddin Aali, Pakistani poet, essayist and columnist
  • 1926 – Qurratulain Hyder, Indian novelist (d. 2007)
  • 1926 – Patricia Neal, American actress
  • 1926 – David Tudor, American pianist and composer (d. 1996)
  • 1929 – Jimmy Cobb, American jazz drummer
  • 1929 – Bob Denard, French mercenary
  • 1929 – Arte Johnson, American actor
  • 1929 – Glenn “Fireball” Roberts, American race car driver (d. 1964)
  • 1930 – Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., astronaut
  • 1931 – David Lee, American physicist, Nobel Prize in Physics laureate
  • 1932 – Lou Fontinato, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1933 – Ron Townson, American singer (The Fifth Dimension) (d. 2001)
  • 1934 – Tom Baker, British actor
  • 1937 – Dorothy Provine, American singer, dancer and actress
  • 1938 – William Berger, Austrian actor (d. 1993)
  • 1938 – Derek Dougan, Northern Irish footballer (d. 2007)
  • 1939 – Paul Coverdell, American politician (d. 2000)
  • 1940 – Carol Heiss, American figure skater
  • 1940 – Krishnam Raju, Indian actor and politician
  • 1941 – Pierre Lalonde, Quebec singer and television host
  • 1943 – Farhad Mehrad, Iranian musician
  • 1944 – José Luis Garci, Spanish filmmaker
  • 1945 – Robert Olen Butler, American writer
  • 1945 – Christopher Martin-Jenkins, cricket commentator and correspondent
  • 1945 – Eric Stewart, English musician and songwriter (10cc)
  • 1946 – David Lynch, American film director
  • 1947 – Cyrille Guimard, French cyclist
  • 1948 – Natan Sharansky, Russian-born physicist and politician
  • 1949 – Göran Persson, Prime Minister of Sweden
  • 1950 – Liza Goddard, British actress
  • 1950 – Edward Hirsch. American poet
  • 1950 – Chuck Lefley, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1950 – Mahamane Ousmane, President of Niger
  • 1951 – Ivan Fischer, Hungarian conductor
  • 1951 – Ian Hill, British musician (Judas Priest)
  • 1952 – Paul Stanley, American musician (Kiss)
  • 1955 – Wyatt Knight, American actor
  • 1955 – Joe Doherty, Provisional Irish Republican Army member
  • 1955 – Hiromi Ota, Japanese singer
  • 1956 – Maria Larsson, Swedish politician
  • 1956 – Bill Maher, American actor, comedian, and political analyst
  • 1958 – Lorenzo Lamas, American actor
  • 1960 – Scott Thunes, American musician (Frank Zappa)
  • 1960 – Will Wright, American computer game designer
  • 1963 – James Denton, American actor
  • 1964 – Kazushige Nojima, Japanese game scenario writer
  • 1965 – Colin Calderwood, Scottish footballer
  • 1965 – Greg Kriesel, American bassist (The Offspring)
  • 1965 – Sophie, The Countess of Wessex, the wife of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
  • 1965 – John Michael Montgomery, American singer
  • 1965 – Anton Weissenbacher, Romanian footballer
  • 1966 – Stacey Dash, American actress
  • 1966 – Tracii Guns, American guitarist
  • 1968 – Melissa Rivers, American reporter and actress
  • 1968 – Rainn Wilson, American actor
  • 1969 – Patrick K. Kroupa, American computer hacker
  • 1969 – Nicky Wire, British Musician (Manic Street Preachers)
  • 1970 – Mitch Benn, UK comedian, songwriter, actor
  • 1970 – Kerri Kenney-Silver, American actress
  • 1970 – Skeet Ulrich, American actor
  • 1971 – Derrick Green, American singer (Sepultura)
  • 1971 – Gary Barlow, English singer, pianist, songwriter, band member of Take That and
  • producer.
  • 1971 – Brian Giles, American baseball player
  • 1973 – Princess Mathilde, Duchess of Brabant
  • 1975 – David Eckstein, American baseball player
  • 1975 – Norberto Fontana, Argentine racing driver
  • 1976 – Gretha Smit, Dutch speed skater
  • 1977 – Melody, a Belgian singer
  • 1978 – Joy Giovanni, American actress and glamour model
  • 1978 – Sonja Kesselschläger, German heptathlete
  • 1978 – Allan Søgaard, Danish footballer
  • 1979 – Rob Bourdon, American musician (Linkin Park)
  • 1979 – Asaka Kubo, Japanese gravure idol of 20th Century
  • 1979 – Will Young, British singer
  • 1980 – Matthew Tuck, Welsh guitarist (Bullet for My Valentine)
  • 1980 – Philippe Cousteau Jr. Oceanographer/Environmentalist, grandson of Jacques Cousteau
  • 1981 – Freddy Guzmán, Dominican baseball player
  • 1981 – Christine Bleakley, BBC Television Host
  • 1981 – Owen Hargreaves, English international footballer
  • 1981 – Crystal Lowe, Canadian actress
  • 1983 – Paula Taylor, English-Thai actress, model and presenter
  • 1984 – Olivia Hallinan, English Actress
  • 1984 – Toni Gonzaga, Filipina Actress and Singer

January 20 – Deaths:

  • 1156 – Bishop Henry, patron saint of Finland
  • 1191 – Frederick VI, Duke of Swabia (b. 1167)
  • 1479 – King John II of Aragon (b. 1397)
  • 1568 – Myles Coverdale, English Bible translator
  • 1612 – Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor (b. 1552)
  • 1666 – Anna of Austria, wife of Louis XIII of France and regent (b. 1601)
  • 1707 – Humphrey Hody, English theologian (b. 1659)
  • 1709 – François de la Chaise, French confessor of Louis XIV of France (b. 1624)
  • 1739 – Francesco Galli-Bibiena, Italian architect/designer (b. 1659)
  • 1751 – John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol, English politician (b. 1665)
  • 1770 – Charles Yorke, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain (b. 1722)
  • 1779 – David Garrick, English actor (b. 1717)
  • 1810 – Benjamin Chew, Chief Justice of colonial Pennsylvania (b. 1722)
  • 1819 – King Charles IV of Spain (b. 1748)
  • 1848 – Christian VIII of Denmark (b. 1786)
  • 1850 – Adam Oehlenschläger, Danish poet (b. 1779)
  • 1873 – The Venerable Father Basil Anthony Marie Moreau, Founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross (b. 1799)
  • 1875 – Jean-François Millet, French painter (b. 1814)
  • 1891 – David Kalakaua, King of Hawaii (b. 1836)
  • 1900 – John Ruskin, art critic (b. 1819)
  • 1901 – Zénobe Gramme, Belgian engineer (b. 1826)
  • 1920 – Georg Lurich, Estonian wrestler (b. 1876)
  • 1936 – King George V of the United Kingdom (b. 1865)
  • 1940 – Omar Bundy, U.S. army general (b. 1861)
  • 1944 – James McKeen Cattell, American psychologist (b. 1860)
  • 1947 – Josh Gibson, African-American baseball player (b. 1911)
  • 1954 – Fred Root, English cricketer (b. 1890)
  • 1962 – Robinson Jeffers, American poet (b. 1887)
  • 1965 – Alan Freed, American disk jockey (b. 1922)
  • 1971 – Gilbert M. ‘Broncho Billy’ Anderson, American actor, director, writer, and producer (b. 1880)
  • 1973 – Lorenz Böhler, Austrian physician (b. 1885)
  • 1979 – Gustav Winckler, Danish singer (b. 1925)
  • 1983 – Garrincha, Brazilian footballer (b. 1933)
  • 1984 – Johnny Weissmuller, American swimmer and actor (b. 1904)
  • 1988 – Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Pashtun Nationalist & non-violent freedom fighter (b. 1890)
  • 1988 – Dora Stratou, Greek choreographer and folklorist (b. 1903)
  • 1989 – Alamgir Kabir, Bangladeshi film director (b. 1938)
  • 1990 – Hayedeh, Persian singer (b. 1942)
  • 1990 – Barbara Stanwyck, American actress (b. 1907)
  • 1993 – Audrey Hepburn, Anglo-Dutch actress (b. 1929)
  • 1994 – Sir Matt Busby, Scottish football player and coach (b. 1909)
  • 1996 – Gerry Mulligan, American musician (b. 1927)
  • 1997 – Curt Flood, baseball player (b. 1938)
  • 1998 – Bobo Brazil, American professional wrestler (b. 1924)
  • 2002 – Carrie Hamilton, actress and singer (b. 1963)
  • 2003 – Al Hirschfeld, American caricaturist (b. 1903)
  • 2003 – Nedra Volz, American actress (b. 1908)
  • 2003 – Bill Werbeniuk, Canadian snooker player (b. 1947)
  • 2004 – Guinn Smith, American athlete (b. 1920)
  • 2005 – Per Borten, Prime Minister of Norway (b. 1913)
  • 2005 – Roland Frye, American literary critic and theologian (b. 1921)
  • 2005 – Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, Polish journalist, writer, and politician (b. 1913)
  • 2005 – Miriam Louisa Rothschild, British zoologist, entomologist, and author (b. 1908)

January 20 – Holidays:

  • Presidential Inauguration Day in the United States, held every four years since 1937.
  • Astrology: First day of sun sign Aquarius.
  • Ati-Atihan Festival in the Philippines
  • Sinulog Festival in the Philippines (2008)
  • Religious feasts:
    • Feast day of the following saints in the Roman Catholic Church:
      • Sebastian
      • Saint Fabian
      • Euthymius the Great
      • Desiderius
      • Meinrad
  • The Eve of St. Agnes
  • Abadios
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